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Baneful


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Baneful's Column
March 10, 2014

Being on the COTD Team

I've been on Pojo's Yu-Gi-Oh Card of the Day team for about 2 1/2 months. There are definitely people who have been writing for it much longer than I have and I might develop even more insights then, but right now I have enough thoughts to coalesce into an article. So, for those who are curious, I'll explain what it's like to be on the COTD team and reviewing cards.

The Routine

The routine is simple. At the end of the week, usually Friday or Saturday, Mr. Pojo gives us a list of 5 cards to review to be posted for the next week and we e-mail him our reviews and ratings. It's as simple as that.

I always used to think the COTD was a secret-society that did lots of cool secret activities, but that was probably my overactive imagination at work more than logic. We just review cards. It's laid back, casual, flexible for our schedules and I like that.

There are no "meetings" or anything. We all just individually report to Mr. Pojo. I'm a bit surprised by the lack of interplay and communication between the team members. Maybe some of the others guys talk to each other, but I don't talk to any of them (no animosity though). Everyone basically has their own schedule, their own life, and we all individually contribute what we have to say about the cards.

Context and Hindsight

So when I receive the list of 5 cards, a lot of the time I am familiar with them and form quick opinions about them. At other times, the cards are totally new to me, and I'd have to think for a couple of minutes of what that card would do in a hypothetical competitive match. Would it be the star player of the team or will it sit on the bleachers? I like this in a way. It's a pleasantly balanced mix of familiar and new. I like reviewing old classics as much as I do new soon-to-be classics.

One thing that does concern me is how accurate an assessment of a card is. Hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes I look back and say "wow I was too generous on that card" or "oh, i was a bit too harsh on it". But I would say overall, like 85-90% of the opinions I gave, I can look back and say "yeah, I still stand by it." Sometimes it shocks me when the disparity between my score and the score of the other writers is a big gap.

I totally stand by what I said about the "Gwenhwyfar, Queen of Noble Arms". I still think she was worthy of my high rating and the other reviewers totally slept-on that card. More recently, the Rank-Up-Magic spell card that I rated 4 stars, whilst everyone else rated it a 1 or 2, I might've be wrong there and in hindsight I probably would have rated it a 3. But I didn't have the luxury of seeing other opinions on that card (which was something totally new to me). Though, when all's said and done, and the stats are averaged, you could say both perspectives were provided

Scoring

Scores have been a tradition of Pojo. First, reviewers gave out their own scores and then Pojo started averaging them out when at least 3 or more reviewers rated the card. We also set the divide for Traditional and Advanced format. To be honest, not a lot of people play Traditional, but it helps make things clear for us on what exactly we are rating. Side note: 95%+ of cards aren't good in Traditional, due to how legalized banned cards usually make them obsolete, and will often get a low score

Speaking of which, how do I score cards? Just today, as I worked on some COTD reviews, I decided to change up my review system. Originally, I had a 5-point system. 1 is bad (not reccomended at all). 2 is "meh" (recommendable in rare circumstances). 3 is good (recommended with some caveats). 4 is very good (recommended). 5 is great (essential to the deck; a must-use).

Finding a score system that works is much like finding a map projection that accurately portrays the world. You always sacrifice something. In this case, it's a tug-of-war between precision (accuracy) and parsimony (simplicity). On one hand, can two cards really both be a 4/5, knowing that one is clearly better than the other? On the other hand, what the heck of a difference does it make between 3 and 3.25?

The five point scale worked in terms of overall recommendation, and it probably works great for recommending movies or something, but since the value of a card is more objectively quantifiable, more precise measurement can be made. Too many times, I've given cards 4's when they weren't the great but they felt like they were worth more than a three. I need to be able to seperate the 1's that are not inherently horrible cards as much as they are obsolete (like Negate Attack) from the truly horrible monstrosities (like Gate Guardian).

For now, I'm going to move to a 9-point scale (.5 intervals) to strike that balance. If it doesn't work out, I'll go back to what I had before, though I think my decision will stay because it's for the best.

Baneful's 9-Point Scale:
* 1.0 – Horrible
* 1.5 – Bad
* 2.0 – Mediocre
* 2.5 – Okay
* 3.0 – Good
* 3.5 – Very Good
* 4.0 – Great
* 4.5 – Excellent
* 5.0 – Perfect

COTD vs. Articles

What's the difference between writing COTD reviews and writing an article? Particularly, why are there a wealth of people writing COTD reviews lately, and not so much article-writing going on. Now that I see it on both sides, I do sort of understand why it's easier to write reviews than essay-like articles.

Writing 5 smaller pieces is more flexible than writing 1 bigger piece but time is not the issue. Because I've largely found that it takes the same amount of time for me to write an article than it does for me to write 5 COTD's. And, often the five reviews tend to amount to more words (on average) than my articles do.

Writing an article takes more inspiration, thought and overall construction than putting out a couple of reviews. Article writing is unconditional, and we are unconditional people. If we're at an restaurant and someone asks us about the food, we'll respond. But we're not going to be rambling about food to someone while riding a subway station. Same here. If someone brings up a quick topic like "Sylvan Marshalleaf", it's easy to respond to. But to come up with a topic out of nowhere adds a little more pressure, like writer's block for example.

I see other reasons why people might find writing for the COTD team more rewarding than being a featured writer. It's a team effort. When I'm writing an article, I'm alone in my own corner. When I'm writing a card review, I'm part of a team effort. Also, there's a bit more mystery. I never know what cards Mr. Pojo is going to send me and I don't know what the other people are going to say about it.

Is my opinion going to be popular with the other members or the odd one out? Is the score I award a card going to be close to the average or will it skew the average? Am I going to say something about the card that no one else will or will I be surprised at the things other reviewers mentioned that I totally skated by. Writing an article is you challenging yourself; writing COTD reviews is being challenged by the input of others.

Me, I find merit in both. The COTD's are a great easy way to get words flowing on the page and the simplicity of it is fun. Writing articles can get a bit more hairy, but it's the lack of structure and freedom to express whatever you want that's rewarding in it's own way as well.

Today's Relevance

Since the Pojo forum has overtaken the main site in popularity, the COTD page isn't the very first place that you would need to go for insights of a card, on whether it's good or not. In fact, sometimes I "cheat" and peek on the Pojo forums to see what people have said about the card before I go to review it myself.

Still, the Pojo COTD now definitely has it's place. Comparable to today's terms, it's sort of like a blog. It's a super-accessible place to get the basic scoop on a card. And it works really well for an archive. You can always go on the COTD page and look back at old classics. Sure, the reviews of that card may not be relevant to the context an old card would be used in today, but it definitely provides an accurate snapshot of what card did do for it's time.

Why I Do It?

Why do I do it? Why do I write COTD articles? What's my psychology and motivation behind it? At first, I came to the team to try it out and see what it was like. It was a little dream of mine to write for a part of the website that I have been reading often for years. I also wanted to have a greater presence and involvement on the site.

Now, that I am here, what draws me in is the routine. In a sense, the sameness and predicability of the structure, yet the variation of what's in the structure. I know every weekend, I can look forward to an e-mail of cards I get to review. And every morning, no matter how boring or bad the day is going, I can expect the reviews to be posted up by my lunch break.

Dark Paladin has been writing on the COTD for over 8 years now and he's been consistently writing reviews every day. Lots of writers have came and went over the years, but he has held on for so long with a near-perfect attendance. Surely, he must see the same value and merit that I do toward this longstanding tradition on Pojo.

And what a tradition it has been.

- Baneful

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Contact: banefulscolumn@gmail.com

 


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