Archive for the ‘Epistemic Logic’ Category

Excerpt from Ben’s Final Paper

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to deal with these papers, but maybe some will be posted in full, some may just be parts, and some may get comments as well.

In any case, here’s an excerpt from a paper by Ben G., who wrote about his madness deck and the idea of information in Magic:

While studying epistemic logic, I found that the idea of controlling information was really interesting to me; what value do we place on information, and how do we control it with our actions? The general impression I got from the class is that information is valued relatively poorly, but is still valued. That is to say, the aspect of information shouldn’t change whether a player should perform an action, but it should change when or how an action is performed. If a player can play a creature, they should wait until after the combat phase so that they limit the information available to the opponent. Unless, of course, playing the creature earlier gives any advantage, in which case that value overrides that of the information revealed.

I think this is a really interesting point to make, about the when and how, not the whether. The way I see it, you use information primarily to let your opponent make mistakes. A classic example is “drawing the counter” when you slow-roll your hand or play cards in an atypical order to make your opponent waste counterspells on non-essential things.

Information is a favorite topic for Magic writers. I actually just saw one from Ben Stark on channelfireball about it that I actually haven’t read it. It’s a hard topic to address because I think the scope of Magic is too large to explain how information should affect your play-by-play. Instead, I think the general guidelines that writers give you are the best part because they make you think about playing Magic differently.

Assigning Damage with Steve Sadin

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Steve Sadin put up an interesting article on the wizards site this morning. If you aren’t aware of recent rule changes, by the old rules, an attacker could assign damage to blockers in any way they wanted to. That’s not the case now. New rules in magic say you need to order blockers and damage is assigned so that there’s enough to kill each one in a row. It’s an interesting article to me because he talks a lot about what you think your opponent has in their hand. Moreover, there’s implicit signaling going on between the two players here: because the other player double-blocked with the elf and minotaur, then you know something more about what they know to have made that choice.

This fits into a topic in epistemic logic related to public knowledge. So a classic example of how this sort of thing matters is the puzzle of dirty children. I have very limited time, so you can go read on your own. Anyways, it gets interesting because the children learn from each other’s responses (in theory; real college students weren’t smart enough to figure this out, so I don’t think the toddlers could either). When one announces something, it becomes public knowledge so everyone knows what they know (or they at least know that the speaker knows something).

I’m a little sad Zvi isn’t still writing “The Play’s the Thing,” but I know he got a lot of crap for what he wrote, so I don’t blame him. Still, I think this is going to be very helpful for the class.