Shuffling is Not a Formality

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Shuffling is Not a Formality

On shuffling habits, good and bad.

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Decent article on shuffling practices this week. (thumbs up)
The one thing I would add is that when you are offered your opponents deck to shuffle do it as you would your own. This completely eliminates any chance of foul play from your opponent and also makes it so that if they "get the nuts draw" that you can be assured that it wasn't because of what they've done. A simple cutting the deck doesn't suffice!

Over time, I've adopted the Haiku shuffle: Three pile shuffles, with 5-7-5 piles, with a several riffle shuffles in between. It works well enough.

Nice article. I used to only mash shuffle, but as I started drafting, I found pile shuffling seems to give you a more randomized deck.

Mana weaving seems like a pretty chump way to stack the deck in your favour and I would imagine, though I do not know, that this would be at the very least frowned upon in official play. Outside of official play, I suppose it would only matter to your play group, but I still think it's a dinkish way to "shuffle". And anyway, as you point out, if you mana weave then shuffle, you're either just clumping cards together or randomizing things anyway.

My play group doesn't engage in any shuffling shenanigans, but then again we are strictly casual and just for fun. We all use sleeves so we just alternate between mash shuffling and overhand shuffles and then cut each other's deck before draw. We also play pretty loosely that anytime you have either no basic lands or all lands you may mulligan without penalty. Otherwise we end up with games that just aren't fun for one player, though this happens less in multiplayer games. But in a two player game we feel there's no point in even playing the match if one player gets mana screwed. It's usually a blow out, over in just a few minutes, so rather than wasting time playing out a lopsided match we just opt to have all players relatively happy with their starting hands, within reason.

Since we just play, shuffle, play, shuffle... etc. our cards are generally random enough that no one worries about trying to make sure lands are evenly distributed throughout their deck.

In the end, when it comes right down to it, truly random cards should include stretches where you draw multiple lands in a row (which, given your hand can be beneficial) or none at all even more often, granting that you're playing a 60 card deck with approx. 20 lands.

Shynobee:
Nice article. I used to only mash shuffle, but as I started drafting, I found pile shuffling seems to give you a more randomized deck.

Holy zombie jesus, can you imagine having to sit across from that guy and play a game against him? Talk about annoying. That's one of the reasons right there I have zero interest in playing in any sort of tournament environment. MtG is just one of those games that brings out the worst behaviour and habits in a large amount of players.

The first time I saw a friend 'Mana Weaving' I also cried foul. The argument seems to be that they could stack the deck any way they please, indeed one friend even had a designated order for every card in his deck. However if you really wanted to at the start of a game your opponent is allowed to cut or shuffle your deck, and should he/she want to they could restack the deck and possibly land short you.

After that we never put much thought into it and all ended up doing it. Casual play tends to forego a lot of the more strict rules.

The first time I saw a friend 'Mana Weaving' I also cried foul. The argument seems to be that they could stack the deck any way they please, indeed one friend even had a designated order for every card in his deck. However if you really wanted to at the start of a game your opponent is allowed to cut or shuffle your deck, and should he/she want to they could restack the deck and possibly land short you.

After that we never put much thought into it and all ended up doing it. Casual play tends to forego a lot of the more strict rules.

Zom-B:

Holy zombie jesus, can you imagine having to sit across from that guy and play a game against him? Talk about annoying. That's one of the reasons right there I have zero interest in playing in any sort of tournament environment. MtG is just one of those games that brings out the worst behaviour and habits in a large amount of players.

I wouldn't be intimidated so much by his shuffling, but by his actual MtG skills.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Kibler#Magic:_The_Gathering

EDIT: I think I totally misunderstood your post, and for that, there's this:
http://magiccards.info/query?q=stop+that&v=card&s=cname

Yup, that card would definitely be seen in my decks if I were to play against guys like Brian Kibler. And yeah, I wouldn't dispute that he is probably a very good player and most likely better than me. Then again, I'm not a pro and I don't build decks to crush people, I build decks that are fun to play within my play group's meta game. :)

A quick look at the comprehensive rules for magic (http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Article.aspx?x=magic/rules) reveals this:

103.1. At the start of a game, each player shuffles his or her deck so that the cards are in a random order. Each player may then shuffle or cut his or her opponents' decks.

As a result of shuffling, the cards in a deck must be in a completely random order. If they are not, then that's cheating. You should tell your opponent this, and, in any form of organised play, you should inform a judge.

Do note, however, that you are allowed to shuffle your opponent's deck after he has shuffled it: If you suspect or know that your opponent has stacked his deck usuing the 'mana weaving' technique, then simply deal his deck out into three piles, and place each pile on top of the other. This will have the effect of clumping all of his land together in his deck. This is entirely legal; and it's illegal for him to reshuffle his deck after you have done so.

TheGuy(wantstobe):
Decent article on shuffling practices this week. (thumbs up)
The one thing I would add is that when you are offered your opponents deck to shuffle do it as you would your own. This completely eliminates any chance of foul play from your opponent and also makes it so that if they "get the nuts draw" that you can be assured that it wasn't because of what they've done. A simple cutting the deck doesn't suffice!

Absolutely correct on both counts! It's a great practice to always shuffle your opponent's deck. In fact, at higher REL, it is required.

At Competitive and Professional REL tournaments, players are required to shuffle their opponents' decks after their owners have shuffled them. (Section 3.9)

This makes it your responsibility to ensure that your opponent's cards are randomized, and puts the same burden on them. Of course, in the off-chance that your opponent objects to your shuffling their cards, just call a Judge.

Shynobee:
Nice article. I used to only mash shuffle, but as I started drafting, I found pile shuffling seems to give you a more randomized deck.

I suspect that it's just me, but I find that habit absolutely mesmerizing when done as proficiently as it is there.

Zom-B:
And anyway, as you point out, if you mana weave then shuffle, you're either just clumping cards together or randomizing things anyway.

My play group doesn't engage in any shuffling shenanigans, but then again we are strictly casual and just for fun. We all use sleeves so we just alternate between mash shuffling and overhand shuffles and then cut each other's deck before draw. We also play pretty loosely that anytime you have either no basic lands or all lands you may mulligan without penalty. Otherwise we end up with games that just aren't fun for one player, though this happens less in multiplayer games. But in a two player game we feel there's no point in even playing the match if one player gets mana screwed. It's usually a blow out, over in just a few minutes, so rather than wasting time playing out a lopsided match we just opt to have all players relatively happy with their starting hands, within reason.

Since we just play, shuffle, play, shuffle... etc. our cards are generally random enough that no one worries about trying to make sure lands are evenly distributed throughout their deck.

In the end, when it comes right down to it, truly random cards should include stretches where you draw multiple lands in a row (which, given your hand can be beneficial) or none at all even more often, granting that you're playing a 60 card deck with approx. 20 lands.

Definitely. Assuming you actually shuffle your deck afterwards, mana shuffling is little more than superstition. As far as I know, there's no rules against it in any level of competitive play, since both you and your opponent are both required to actually randomize your deck, so the starting position of the cards is inconsequential to the resulting random pile. You might get some funny looks, but I don't imagine you'd get formally reprimanded.

We also tend to play with friendly mulligan rules to ensure a reasonable match. It's never fun to waste 10 minutes of an hour-long lunch break on a game that's got a clear winner from the opening hand.

Encaen:
On shuffling habits, good and bad.

What a great tips for EVVVRYTIME I'M SHUFFLIN'. With your help, EVVVERYDAY I'M SHUFFLIN' will be the best.

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If mana weaving improves your mana distribution, you have cheated because you did not sufficiently randomize. If it does not, you have wasted your time. Don't mana weave.

I just mash shuffle and try to make it look fancy by fanning the cards so they slide in on their own.

And a lesson for you all, at a free tourney on saturday a kid got a retroactive match loss because he waited till he was losing game 3 to call a judge because his opponent was running delvers in white sleeves. Moral is always use checklists even if your sleeves are unpossible to see through, you won't always get lucky with an idiot.

MaxFan:
The best article about shuffling and how it should be done, here

This is a recommended read for anyone interested in this at all.

During the 1st round of a tcgplayer tournament I presented my deck and my opponent called a judge because I had not randomized my deck. At the time I was a new player (I started just after scars came out) This tournament was when new phyrexia was just released and I was playing boros with SMF with swords and batterskull with lightning bolts and landfall creatures.

At the time I had thought my opponent was trying to get a free win but the judge only gave me a warning because it was unintentional and my opponent gave me a basic understanding of how to at least shuffle your deck correctly. At the time his name didn't mean much to me but after getting into magic more I realized just who he was. His name was Michael Flores.

Since then I've had made it a habit to just table shuffle just to make sure my deck is 60 cards and make sure to riffle shuffle often and to do the same for my opponents deck.

jp201:

At the time I had thought my opponent was trying to get a free win but the judge only gave me a warning because it was unintentional and my opponent gave me a basic understanding of how to at least shuffle your deck correctly. At the time his name didn't mean much to me but after getting into magic more I realized just who he was. His name was Michael Flores.

So you got paired with Mike Flores in the first round? Talk about tough luck. This is the reason the pros get byes at big official tourneys.

I prefer to mana weave, then re-order by larger clumps (multi-cut), then riffle shuffle several times, alternating with more multi-cut shuffles.

Mana weaving when taking precautions to avoid initial re-integration works great to avoid clumping. While decks are supposed to be "random", you can't achieve perfect randomness in the time and techniques people use to shuffle. So you may as well influence it towards a more even distribution of land then leaving the deck to re-integrate after a play session where all your lands are clumped.

When I'm playing to win, I don't care if my deck is random, that's my opponent's job. I'll shuffle enough for due diligence and to avoid actually stacking it, but the lack of true randomness/thoroughness in shuffling means that leaving resources clumped will work against me more often then for me.

In casual play it doesn't matter, we'll mulligan until everyone has a hand worth playing against. One sided games due to resource deprival/over-abundance aren't fun to play.

Encaen:

Shynobee:
Nice article. I used to only mash shuffle, but as I started drafting, I found pile shuffling seems to give you a more randomized deck.

I suspect that it's just me, but I find that habit absolutely mesmerizing when done as proficiently as it is there.

No, its not just you. Kibler's shuffling is pretty damn close to hypnotic.

Yeah... I've gotten into the bad habit of mana-weaving. At my last FNM session, I ended up hitting land clumps at the worst possible times. Had to mulligan thrice at one point.

Now, for an unrelated FAQ question:

Mahorfeus:
Yeah... I've gotten into the bad habit of mana-weaving. At my last FNM session, I ended up hitting land clumps at the worst possible times. Had to mulligan thrice at one point.

Now, for an unrelated FAQ question:

When increasing vengeance resolves it puts copies of the targeted spell directly on to the top of the stack. As these weren't cast but just appeared out of thin air they don't trigger the extractor only the original one does.

Mahorfeus:

No, because you never actually "cast" the copy.

706.9. To copy a spell or activated ability means to put a copy of it onto the stack; a copy of a spell isn't
cast and a copy of an activated ability isn't activated.

Interesting article about a very interesting subject.

Though I think it is really lacking a short explanation for many of the shuffling techniques mentioned. An overview over the different shuffling techniques would have made the article much more informative and probably more enjoyable to read.

Zom-B:
Holy zombie jesus, can you imagine having to sit across from that guy and play a game against him? Talk about annoying. That's one of the reasons right there I have zero interest in playing in any sort of tournament environment. MtG is just one of those games that brings out the worst behaviour and habits in a large amount of players.

Thats what turned me away for a few years, they had to add insult to injury to my loss.

I don't understand the basic terminology being used here.
Mash shuffling? Pile? Riffling? Whatzit?

When I was playing, we'd just spread our cards out all over the floor then gather them up again. Seemed to work fine.

Kwil:
I don't understand the basic terminology being used here.
Mash shuffling? Pile? Riffling? Whatzit?

When I was playing, we'd just spread our cards out all over the floor then gather them up again. Seemed to work fine.

Mash shuffling is splitting the deck and cramming them back together. Pile shuffling is taking the top card and placing that down into any number of smaller piles, so ending up with say 6 piles of 10 cards. Riffle shuffling is splitting the deck and flexing the two smaller stacks so that they fall back together one on top of the other.

rofltehcat:
Interesting article about a very interesting subject.

Though I think it is really lacking a short explanation for many of the shuffling techniques mentioned. An overview over the different shuffling techniques would have made the article much more informative and probably more enjoyable to read.

Sorry about that! In researching the subject I found that written descriptions of shuffling techniques is usually pretty vague and leaves a bit to be desired. Try these instead!

The only shuffling tactic I know of which never clumps stuff together is throwing all the cards in the air and picking them back up. Time consuming, sure, but simple and effective ;)

... I nearly fell asleep reading that. You really needed to provide explanations as to what the different shuffles are.
Anyway I will stick to just the traditional way of shuffling cards.

http://www.pokerology.com/poker-articles/how-to-shuffle-cards/

There used to be a jerk at my local gaming club who would always mana weave his lands and then shuffle once...just once. He refused to shuffle further saying that his cards were valuable and refused to put any more wear on them than possible.

It wasn't an officially sanctioned tourney so I couldn't have the official ref make him shuffle more...and he was a big buyer from the game store owner so the owner never gave him any crap about it.

Encaen:
Riffle Shuffling"]Now with more Magic!

Ricky Jay is pretty amazing. I can't even fathom such card manipulation. It's a mindbottling combination of dexterity and mental prowess.

Kross:
I prefer to mana weave, then re-order by larger clumps (multi-cut), then riffle shuffle several times, alternating with more multi-cut shuffles.

Mana weaving when taking precautions to avoid initial re-integration works great to avoid clumping. While decks are supposed to be "random", you can't achieve perfect randomness in the time and techniques people use to shuffle. So you may as well influence it towards a more even distribution of land then leaving the deck to re-integrate after a play session where all your lands are clumped.

But that's just it, there's no such thing as "perfectly random". True randomness would mean that with each draw you have an equal chance to draw any card in your deck you haven't already drawn. Anything like mana weaving, re-ording by clumps or any other technique actually reduces disorder and would result in a less random distribution of cards.

Probably the only way to truly randomize a deck would be to go into a pitch dark room, throw all the cards up in the air, collect them all, somehow making sure all are face down, into a pile and then allowing your opponent to cut and/or shuffle.

Personally I think a good eight to twelve shuffles of at least two kinds, usually mash + overhand, is good enough to have a reasonably "random" order of cards, wherein you will get enough mana to play your spells, but not so much that it floods your hand. Of course, with truly random ordered cards this is always a possibility and should be expected.

Personally I've never heard of this "mana-shuffling" business, but if I saw someone doing that I'd immediately call them a cheater. Being "mana-screwed" or "mana-drowned" with your opening hand is part of the game...which is why they have mulligans in the first place. Not enough land? Too much land? Too many big cards? Too many lesser cards? Shuffle up and try again.

I use a variety of shuffle methods. The classic "cut the deck in half and shuffle" technique, the technique of dealing out every card in the deck into 6 piles in a random order then stacking those six piles back up in a random order. And if the playing area is big enough, I'll even do the messy (and annoying :P) technique of just spreading your deck out across the table, mixing the cards around, then bringing them all back together into a reformed deck. I'll do each a couple of times before I consider my deck properly shuffled. Except for in-game shuffle effects (i.e. Elixir of Immortality), in which case I'll just do a couple classic shuffles and move on for the sake of time.

As for the question...

Great article, one that sadly needs to be posted at the local hobby shop that I play at.

I think the most often reason cited for mana shuffling comes from players refusing to bother shuffling between games. If you play a long game, at the end, and if you manage your cards at all, you are going to have a clump of mana, creatures and spells. Too often I see players scoop up their cards at the end of a match and then give them a couple of overhand shuffles and then complain about getting pockets of mana, creatures, spells, etc.

The only time I think mana shuffling is ever condoned is when I am introducing a new player to the game because its an easy way to ensure that a person has a decent supply of mana without having a mana pocket throw them off. Also because when I help a new player build a deck, its full of low cost cards, so it means they get to play a variety cards early on.

I do appreciate this article for new players - in my playgroup, we mana shuffled all of the time before we started getting involved with Friday Night Magic and the like. We just didn't know any better.

I do wish that there were more articles for higher level players though. Or ones involving Magic flavor, because those can appeal to both newbies and oldies.

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