After 64 different match-ups and over half a million (583939) votes, we've at last got a winner. It all started back on Friday, February 10, with a special lead-on vote between first mate Vhati il-Dal and Commander Greven il-Vec to see who would get the last open slot in the contest and the chance to face Sliver Queen in the first round of bracketed voting. This match-up actually came from the storyline, where Vhati tries to take Greven out by firing the Weatherlight's cannons at his commander. Failing to get the job done, Vhati is then thrown overboard to his death by Greven. In the fan vote, however, Vhati got his revenge, and with that, the latest You Decide! was underway.
This time around, for several reasons, R&D wanted to get a gauge on which legends the readers were most interested in. With such a nebulous goal, "You Decide!" made perfect sense, since there wasn't any one criteria R&D was looking for beyond "which legends do the readers like?"
Before we get to the winner, here is a table of all the votes that got us here along with the first look at how the votes from each vote actually totaled up.
In the end, it came down to
Visara the Dreadful
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
. And it ended in a blowout, with the winner taking 11109 votes vs. 3404 for the loser, a decisive 70/30 smiting. Ready to find out which legend took it all?
So What Does it all Mean?
Over the course of more than 2100 posts just on our own message boards, tons of theories were presented for the latest version of You Decide!, many of which took on whole groups of supporters. With all that in mind, first off, let me say that it was all real. We didn't monkey with even one vote. The totals you see above are exactly how you, the readers voted.
Now, I can't say I blame anyone for thinking something was up. First off, we obviously have a history of "having fun with" the readers, as we like to put it around the office. Second, we intentionally timed it so that it would obviously end right around April Fools. Given that the first You Decide! had been the setup for an April Fools gag, part of the fun this time around was letting people play with the idea that we were just messing with them again. As many posters put it, "Man, they already messed with us once on April Fools using You Decide, so it would be too obvious to do it again. But then, maybe that's what they want us to think!"
Along those lines, posters came up with increasingly intricate theories on how (and why) we were rigging things. The funniest part of this was the fact that, by total coincidence, we ended up with an all-Black/White final four, right during Orzhov Week. Readers understandably posted that something like that couldn't happen by chance. "What would the odds be?!" was heard quite a bit that week. In addition, there were other funny coincidences, such as the fact that the final four ended up with a first seed, a second seed, a third seed, and a fourth seed! Crazy and amazing, but also totally coincidence. The same goes for the regions. I was looking for flavorful equivalents to the regions in the NCAA March Madness tournament so that readers could refer to the bracket quadrants by name. I've always loved the legendary lands from Legends, so I just picked the four that didn't actually interact with legendary creatures. (Sorry, Karakas !) Some very involved conspiracy theories involving the regions (and cards assigned to them) were put together, but I can honestly tell you that it was all coincidence. We picked four regions and then just used those names for the brackets we'd already decided upon.
Now, I know we've messed with you in the past, but I promise we're not this time around. April Fools is over and a couple days past, so I'm here to let you know this time around everything has been on the up and up. In fact, this time we messed around with you by not messing around with you! :)
So, here's what's actually been going on. R&D came to the web content team shortly after we got back from the December holiday break because they wanted to gather as much data as possible about which legends people liked the most, which ones they thought were the coolest, and why. The problem was, it was an extremely broad question. They weren't just looking for something simple like "which card do they think is most powerful" or "which card do they like the flavor most." Instead, R&D was looking for a broader view of how people rate various legendary creatures, and what kinds of things they use to form those opinions. Given that broad set of data they were looking for, it was a perfect opportunity to bring back "You Decide!" since that's exactly the kind of data we get from that.
And so, after almost two months of voting, R&D has exactly what it was looking for. Between the votes and over two thousand message board posts, we've got everything we need for the questions we had going in.
So what was the point of it all? Well, first off, we hope you had fun with the actual experience of You Decide! – choosing your favorites, wondering what it was all about, and taking part in the great conversations on the boards. Our belief is that even just that experience is a lot of fun for the readers. In fact, we're planning on trying out a new feature soon letting people do just that. Called "Head to Head" or something similar, the idea is to just give you fun votes from time to time to debate and have fun with. Unlike the You Decide! series, which also lead to something else, the idea behind Head to Head is just the fun of voting and debating. We'll try it out in a bit and see what the readers think. (Have a cool vote you'd like to propose? Post it in the forums and maybe we'll use it!)
But for this You Decide! there will definitely be a number of results from how things played out. Some of it's big and off in the distance, and some of it's fun and soon. First off, the stuff I can tell you. On Monday, June 12th, magicthegathering.com will host Akroma, Angel of Wrath Week, which should give us plenty of options to have some fun. As part of that, we're going to turn the mike over to Akroma and give you the chance to ask her the questions you've always been dying to know. Whether it's story, mechanics, flavor, design, development, you name it, send in your questions for her and we'll have Akroma answer the best on Ask Wizards during her theme week as part of the festivities. However, for that one, please do not use the normal Ask Wizards email form for Akroma.
Instead, click here and send in your best questions for Akroma to answer. Some quick notes on that, If you like interactive opportunities like this, please only send in actual, serious questions. I love giving you the chance to interact with the site, but the more frivolous or intentionally unusable submissions people send in, the more time it wastes on our end, making doing things like this that much tougher. Also, take a moment to ask yourself if it's something we can really answer. "How many merfolk are you printing in 2007 and what do all the cards do?" isn't very likely to get a response, so try to stick to things we can actually answer and you're that much more likely to get to actually read your question (and its answer!) on the site.
Akroma Week should be fun, but that's definitely the smallest part of what this You Decide! will lead to. As I mentioned, what R&D was really looking for here was market research. In the process, we've learned a lot, from both the cards that did the best as well as a number of the cards that surprised people by completely tanking. For those that don't know, R&D has been playing along as well.
In fact, once we knew the brackets, shortly before we published them live, R&D had a big internal contest to see who could best predict the results. In the end it was Paul Sottosanti that got a free box of Guildpact boosters for coming out on top.
But, you might say, I haven't told you the rest of what happens! Well, you're right. I can't. Not yet. But here's what I can say. First off, there are several things we're going to be able to point back at in the coming months and longer and say "Remember that You Decide? Here's what we learned there, and how it led to this." In fact, that's going to happen more than once. How long will that take? Months and longer. But even if that's all I can tell you, I'm guessing that might tell you a lot.
So what does it all mean? The answer is, it's big enough that I'm not allowed to tell you. Let's just say that I think you'll be blown away - more than once. For the first big surprise, you're going to have to wait until this Fall. I'd think sometime around, say, early October. What surprises await? Share your thoughts in the message boards, see what others think, and as those opportunities come we'll make sure to let you know each time we come to one of the big things that came from this edition of You Decide!