Randomization problems in sealed product?

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dakerjohn
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Randomization problems in sealed product?

Post by dakerjohn »

I started collecting MECCG recently and have become curious about whether there are major flaws in the randomization of cards in sealed product.

I’ve now opened one sealed box of UL METW starters, and two sealed boxes of UL METW boosters, all purchased from different sources.

I definitely have not been lucky. I’ve pulled 102 rares between these three boxes and have gotten a lot of duplicate and some triplicate rares, and no copies of any of the three most valuable rares in the set (Assassin, The One Ring, Mouth of Sauron). And despite having pulled hundreds of uncommons, I have pulled a lot of copies of some uncommon cards (six copies of Pippin!), and zero copies of a strangely large number of the uncommons.

Maybe that’s just the way the cookie crumbles—some of this would be possible, though unlikely, even if the cards were truly random—but I also have noticed something else: I keep getting the same “runs” of cards. For example, two of the starters I opened in the box of starters had the exact same run of four uncommons in the exact same order. Two of the starters also had the same two rares in them (the third rare was different). And when I opened the second booster box, I noticed that although the top half or so of the packs contained rares that were not also in the first booster box, I then reached about twelve booster packs in an almost unbroken run that contained rares that had also been found in the first booster box. Taken together, these anomalies would be astronomically unlikely if the card distribution were anywhere approaching truly random.

I’ve also opened two boxes of MELE starters, and noticed similar problems with those. For example, 14 of the 30 rares in the second box had also appeared in the first box, which is about six more duplicates than would be expected in a random distribution.

What exactly is going on here? I expect that those who have been collecting this game for a long time know all about it. But I’m very curious, as this frustrating experience has made me rethink whether I want to buy any more sealed product for this game—despite the fact that I really enjoy opening sealed packs a lot more than simply purchasing singles or collections.
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CDavis7M
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Re: Randomization problems in sealed product?

Post by CDavis7M »

I guess you arrived at the conclusion already, but the problem is that you were buying sealed product in the first place. But still, I think you are mostly just unlucky.

I do have 6 copies of Galva and something like 80 copies of Northern Rhovanion but I have opened lots of boxes and not noticed the "streaks" that you mentioned. Though I have never opened a sealed METW booster box. By the way I recommend that you do not buy/open METW booster boxes. You should be opening TW starter boxes instead. The fixed cards in the starter decks are especially important, the booster only cards are mostly fluff (region cards), and the good booster only commons are few and easy to pick up. From here on, you are probably better off buying METW singles.

The situation is a bit different for MELE. You do need the starter boxes of course, and there are good cards in there, but many of the booster only commons are needed for deckbuilding. So you would like to have many copies. Though maybe you are just collecting. Another thing is that MELE has especially "mean" rarity compared to the other sets, which was not repeated. "Mean" in the sense that many of the generally good and generally usable cards became rares, when they were commons in The Wizards for hero players.

The only non-unique rares in TW that people like in many decks is Assassin. There is also Will of Sauron, Snowstorm, Secret Entrance, Vilya, great ship, etc, but those are not as commonly used. They mostly work in specific decks.

Meanwhile, MELE has a lot of non-unique rares that you would like to use in several decks: Ruse, Sneakin, Threats, We Have Come to Kill (all commons in TW for hero versions) not to mention all of the nonunique hazards.
tyhjaarpa
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Re: Randomization problems in sealed product?

Post by tyhjaarpa »

I think you were just unlucky unless there is something with the Unlimited edition as I have not experienced anything like that with Limited edition and I have opened multiple boxes of starters and boosters back in time. Like you said, you most likely are better with buying bulk of cards / singles.

Edit: Getting multiple copies of single rares/uncommon is normal and you can find multiple of same rare from same box I think.
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Theo
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Re: Randomization problems in sealed product?

Post by Theo »

I assume you are aware that there there are multiple rarities of the various different labeled rarities? For METW, it was mostly just the commons that were finicky, but more pronounced for other sets. Was it Pilfer Anything Unwatched that as an "uncommon" was basically as rare as most R2s from MEAS?
dakerjohn wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:09 am I keep getting the same “runs” of cards. For example, two of the starters I opened in the box of starters had the exact same run of four uncommons in the exact same order. Two of the starters also had the same two rares in them (the third rare was different). And when I opened the second booster box, I noticed that although the top half or so of the packs contained rares that were not also in the first booster box, I then reached about twelve booster packs in an almost unbroken run that contained rares that had also been found in the first booster box. Taken together, these anomalies would be astronomically unlikely if the card distribution were anywhere approaching truly random.
I can't speak to MECCG specifically, other than saying that I also noticed the runs. But certainly for another contemporary CCG, Magic, the pack distributions are not random. I think this was originally part of how they were manufactured back in the 90s. Then even in more modern times when the technology to randomize them is presumably cheaper, Magic decided to deliberately keep in and even enhance the non-random properties to balance drafting (and as a sort of reward for hard-core draft players).

It would be really interesting to try to reverse engineer the MECCG methods, and probably wouldn't be too hard if people still opening sealed products collectively cataloged their packs.
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Dgimli
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Re: Randomization problems in sealed product?

Post by Dgimli »

I opened a box of unlimited The Wizards boosters and experienced something similar. I’d have two packs that gave me the same three uncommon cards in order. This happened three or four times with a different set of three.
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