Why Dueling Network is Better than Real Life Testing

Patrick HobanHey everybody! We’re just over a week away from the first major tournament of the new format! I hope to see you all in Nashville next weekend where the Circuit Series will be making its first stop of 2014. This week I’m going to bring you an article that could help you prepare for this and other tournaments.

I know that Dueling Network gets quite a bit of flack when it comes to its usefulness in play testing. It seems that the main concern is that the people that you’re playing against aren’t going to be very good. If that is the case, it would seem that the results of your testing could be skewed since it’s not a hard jump to make to realize that playing worse people means that you’ll win more. While that may certainly hold to be true, I find that Dueling Network testing is much more valuable than any testing I can do when playing in real life (I will now refer to this as IRL). I’d like to use this week’s article to explain my view in hopes that you will utilize Dueling Network to achieve maximum benefits from your testing.

Mermail AbyssteusResults Don’t Matter In Testing

I’d like to start by debunking the myth that Dueling Network is not useful because playing against worse players skews results. As I said above, this may be completely true, but then again, so what? As the player who had the best results of anybody in the game last year, I’d like to tell you that results are completely irrelevant when it comes to play testing.  Whether I go 10-0 or 0-10 in testing does not matter to me one bit. Play testing is about understanding the relationships of how your cards interact.  Like I said in my last article, play testing is largely about figuring out what problems your deck has and identifying a solution to fix them.

I’ll give an example of this from this format. The deck I’ve tested with the most is Mermails, but lately I’ve noticed that the deck has a giant conflict in the strategy it uses. Everything the deck does revolves around 2+ card, non specific combos. What I mean by this is that nothing in the deck outside of Diva or Undine does anything on its own. All its plays come from Pike Marksman or Teus Gunde. When I was testing I noticed that the deck does a very good job at reducing the game state to a simplified form. It’ll trade 1 for 1s by using Marksman and Infantry to take cards away from both players. This results on both players having 3-4 cards instead of 6. Well in a deck that revolves around 2 card combos, a simplified game state is not ideal. This is magnified by the fact that other decks have 1 card power plays such as Bear, Tenki, Wolfbark, Armor, and MKII. Through testing I found this to be a major conflict of interests. If I only looked at my record against decks like Geargia and Fire Fist, I probably would have never figured this out. Instead I wanted to look at why I was losing the games I was losing. Now that I have identified the problem I can make an attempt at solving it. Understanding these relationships is what you should take away from testing, not the actual record. This is what will translate to a good tournament when that major event comes. Because of this, why does it matter if you’re playing inferior players? You can still identify what you need to regardless of who you’re playing against and it doesn’t matter that you went 8-2 instead of 7-3 or 6-4.

Eliminating the Social Aspect

So that was my answer for why testing on DN was not worse than IRL testing, but the next logical question that follows is what makes DN better than IRL testing? DN actually has quite a few advantages to it that testing in real life cannot offer. I think the biggest of these is that it eliminates the social aspect of the game. I love the social aspect and have met some of my best friends through the game, but that’s not what you’re trying to accomplish when you play test for an event. If you think about it, the social aspect is actually a big deterrent to effective play testing. If you go over to a friend’s house to play test, you’re going to take breaks more often. You’ll do something else you enjoy doing together like watching a movie or playing video games. Again, while these may be fun, they take away from play testing.

The other advantage to eliminating the social aspect of the game is that you can play significantly more. The more you play the easier it is to see the relationships of cards that I described in the opening, so there is an inherent benefit to playing more. Let’s say you’ve got six hours you’re willing to dedicate to play testing. If you go over to your friend’s house, he may not be willing to play for six hours straight. If he gets done two hours into it, there goes your testing partner and your testing session ended four hours earlier than you intended. There are thousands of people on DN at any given time and you’re always going to be able to find an opponent. If you’re willing to commit six hours to play testing, you’ll be able to play test against people for six hours straight.

Develop Your Own Views

Another advantage to play testing on DN is that you don’t receive any outside influence about how something works. If you’re sitting there playing with a friend, they might give their opinion about how a card interacts with some part of the game. This is likely to skew your opinion. I find it to be much more effective to come to conclusions on your own and then go speak with your friends about how something works. They’ll probably have an opinion about how that interaction works as well so if you are able to develop your own opinion before talking to them, you’ll often get conflicting ideas. Then you can hash out the details and hear more sides to the story to make a more informed decision.

Time and Money Saver

There are certain costs associated with playing in real life. In order to play a deck, you’re going to have to have the cards or proxy them. If you’re doing IRL testing at a local tournament, using a proxy isn’t an option. This means that any ideas you have you’re either going to have to hope that one of your friends has the card or you’ll have to buy it. This can add up very quickly and cost you quite a bit of money. Additionally any time you play test IRL you’re going to be wearing out your sleeves, which already have a very short life as is. Sitting down and playing for a few hours will wear them out quicker and you’ll have to replace them sooner. If you were to play on DN, both of these costs are eliminated. All the cards are free and you don’t have to replace any sleeves.

The other thing that play testing costs you is time. Dueling Network also costs time, but it makes much better use of it than testing IRL does. Let’s say that you have an idea about a card that might be good in your deck. I generally go to locals twice a week, on Tuesday and Saturday, which means that if I have an idea on Wednesday or Thursday, I’d have to wait until Saturday to see if it’s good. You’ll go through a hundred bad ideas before you come up with a single good one so if you’re waiting multiple days to test a single idea, you’re going to end up very far behind in testing. If you play on DN, you can quickly try out your idea that day and make a determination. When it doesn’t turn out to be good, on to the next one and not much time lost.

You’ll also get more value out of your time if you play on DN than if you were to go to a tournament and play IRL. My Saturday tournament starts at 4 and usually goes until about 9:30 or 10. That’s 5 and a half to 6 hours that I’m at the tournament. There are usually five rounds of swiss and a round of top cut before everyone splits in top 4 so at most I’ll be getting six rounds in roughly six hours. Often times it ends up being less than that as my local allows intentional draws which means that if you start out 3-0, you have no reason to not double draw into top 8. In this case I’m only getting 4 matches in 6 hours. If I were playing on DN, I could probably get upwards of 25 matches in during this same amount of time.

That wraps it up for this week’s article. Dueling Network is a vital resource that I think you should all take advantage of when you are testing for an event. Until next time, play hard or go home!

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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