Tuesday, 4 March 2014

On the practice of theory crafting in general

After a couple of false starts, I finally got to discuss theory crafting vs net decking with a good friend of mine. The context is Hearthstone, but I feel that the principles are applicable to Path, too. Specifically, is it ever a good idea to make your own [build] rather than following someone else's, and why? (Oh, and incidentally, what's the term for the Path equivalent of net decking?)

Name redacted for privacy. If there's no name beside the timestamp, they aren't my words.

His perspective: there is no need for anyone but the absolute top tier players to ever theory craft anything. Ever. The best players have already come up with the best solutions.
[3:27] People don't understand games
To theorycraft
Is to expand on what the best players have already attempted
[3:43] No amount of good
Or productivity
Is offset by the stupidity that comes out from the masses
When they believe they're special
[3:45] Kirielis: I agree with you that good theory crafting only shows up when people actually understand what they're doing
And I disagree with you that those who don't understand should stop crafting entirely
Those who don't try to understand, absolutely
[3:48] Kirielis: Bad theory crafting is painful, sure. But IMO, when explanations are given and logic followed, then there's hope - not for the concept, but for the person
After all, you never understand if you don't try to
And some of us happen to work it out by play testing
Or by making something and asking for comments on it
 The discussion continues:
[3:54] Theorycrafting and playtesting is not a substitute for netdecking
That's substituting your insights for someone else's
Rather than supplementing yours with theirs
I've always seen netdecking as, in its worst form, blind following without thinking. He points out that that's dependent on the player, rather than the act of netdecking itself. (I'm inclined to agree. Sadly, that seems to be the prevalent form of play when it comes to netdecking.) In the best form, I think, it's basically just playing someone else's [build] as a way of getting to better understand the game and how it's played.
[4:00] You also learn more about yourself
Specifically, you learn about what is and isn't feasible in what you want to do
Which is more important than any possibility of a breakthrough in meta
So yeah
Go netdeck
Don't write it off as some sheepish behavior
Use it as a learning experience
A jumping off point
There was another part of the discussion, about ideas, convergent evolution and publicity of builds (just as an example, multiple different people have constructed quillrain CoC builds, not all of whom have posted on the forum), but that kind of fell by the wayside.

As a final note, I will elaborate on my statement that "those who do not try to understand the game should not theory craft". Does anyone remember the difference between a newb and a n00b? Yeah, one is willing to learn...the other just refuses to accept that anyone else might have a point. In the most extreme case, not even willing to accept that the game might not work that way. These are the guys who post a build concept, get the unrealistic bits shot down by people like me, and go on to disagree with us and make the character anyway. Then they whine when it fails, and ask "why did it fail? my concept was solid". No way, really?

I'm looking forward to playing some builds in Invasion. Some of them might even be my own. Patch notes broke what I wanted to start with, or at least made it a lot harder, so I'm kind of scrambling for something else right now and if that fails I'll just netdeck one. Sure it's unlikely to be point-for-point identical to the posted version, but they'll agree on pretty much all the important/significant bits. And there's my opinion of net decking, right there in my actions.

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