Saturday, March 1, 2014
When a Host Plays, He Cheats
I thought this was an interesting perspective. For as long as I have been involved on Magic Online in various Player Run Events, the host has always been a participant. I also almost always play in the events that I run. And I have never even considered that this might be seen as cheating. Here's why:
There is actually surprisingly little a host can do to cheat. Sure, he or she can try to manipulate the pairings to get what might seem like a less-experienced opponent. The host could even make sure that he or she always received the bye whenever eligible to receive it. I suppose the host could even deliberately alter the pairings to try to improve his or her tiebreakers.
Here's the thing though. Those actions, dishonest as they are, are a very minor advantage. And they come with a huge cost. Player Run Events have always been about trust. The players trust that the host will provide the prizes advertised; all of the players assume that the other players won't change their deck or Sideboard in between rounds; the host trusts that none of the players are intentionally losing to another player to then split the prizes. Trust is fundamental to the success of a PRE. Without it, the event will lose players and eventually die out.
So for a host, it makes no sense to try to gain an edge by unfairly manipulating the pairings. The potential loss of trust is massive, and the potential gain from those actions is pretty minor. After all, the host still has to actually win most or all of his matches, and on Magic Online, there is very little you can do to cheat your way to a win.
But I'd love to hear what the community thinks. Is it improper for a host to play in an event he or she is running? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments.