You Decided!

Posted in Feature on April 4, 2006

By Scott Johns

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.

Date Card 1 # Votes % Votes Card 2 # Votes % Votes Vote Total Winning Card
2/10/2006 Commander Greven il-Vec 2340 35.14% Vhati il-Dal 4319 64.86% 6659 Vhati il-Dal
2/13/2006 Sliver Queen 3861 60.78% Vhati il-Dal 2491 39.22% 6352 Sliver Queen
2/13/2006 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind 5059 78.08% Kataki, War's Wage 1420 21.92% 6479 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
2/14/2006 Akroma, Angel of Wrath 4344 59.26% Hazezon Tamar 2987 40.74% 7331 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
2/14/2006 Squee, Goblin Nabob 3343 47.59% Cromat 3681 52.41% 7024 Cromat
2/15/2006 Silvos, Rogue Elemental 3424 62.06% Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero 2093 37.94% 5517 Silvos, Rogue Elemental
2/15/2006 Mistform Ultimus 2295 41.82% Mirri, Cat Warrior 3193 58.18% 5488 Mirri, Cat Warrior
2/16/2006 Phelddagrif 2395 35.54% Keiga, the Tide Star 4343 64.46% 6738 Keiga, the Tide Star
2/16/2006 Kokusho, the Evening Star 4936 72.45% Eight-and-a-Half-Tails 1877 27.55% 6813 Kokusho, the Evening Star
2/17/2006 Kamahl, Pit Fighter 5509 51.49% Kagemaro, First to Suffer 5190 48.51% 10699 Kamahl, Pit Fighter
2/17/2006 Rorix Bladewing 6878 64.24% Verdeloth the Ancient 3828 35.76% 10706 Rorix Bladewing
2/20/2006 Tahngarth, Talruum Hero 5601 55.59% Selenia, Dark Angel 4474 44.41% 10075 Tahngarth, Talruum Hero
2/20/2006 Nicol Bolas 4987 48.77% Volrath the Fallen 5239 51.23% 10226 Volrath the Fallen
2/21/2006 Rubinia Soulsinger 2870 27.59% Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker 7534 72.41% 10404 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
2/21/2006 Atogatog 3207 31.25% Ihsan's Shade 7054 68.75% 10261 Ihsan's Shade
2/22/2006 Ambassador Laquatus 4781 52.05% Gerrard Capashen 4405 47.95% 9186 Ambassador Laquatus
2/22/2006 Godo, Bandit Warlord 2991 32.05% Reya Dawnbringer 6341 67.95% 9332 Reya Dawnbringer
2/23/2006 Baron Sengir 4283 50.28% Captain Sisay 4235 49.72% 8518 Baron Sengir
2/23/2006 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni 5543 64.87% Memnarch 3002 35.13% 8545 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
2/24/2006 Meloku the Clouded Mirror 5955 72.89% Chromium 2215 27.11% 8170 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
2/24/2006 Ertai, Wizard Adept 3981 48.65% Ascendant Evincar 4202 51.35% 8183 Ascendant Evincar
2/27/2006 Arcanis the Omnipotent 6245 71.57% Bosh, Iron Golem 2481 28.43% 8726 Arcanis the Omnipotent
2/27/2006 Braids, Cabal Minion 3880 44.15% Yosei, the Morning Star 4908 55.85% 8788 Yosei, the Morning Star
2/28/2006 Karn, #E8BE6C Golem 3554 42.43% Mageta, the Lion 4823 57.57% 8377 Mageta, the Lion
2/28/2006 Spirit of the Night 6102 72.98% Glissa Sunseeker 2259 27.02% 8361 Spirit of the Night
3/1/2006 Darigaaz, the Igniter 3992 48.13% Kodama of the North Tree 4302 51.87% 8294 Kodama of the North Tree
3/1/2006 Circu, Dimir Lobotomist 4388 52.98% Dromar, the Banisher 3895 47.02% 8283 Circu, Dimir Lobotomist
3/2/2006 Multani, Maro-Sorcerer 3887 46.64% Ghost Council of Orzhova 4447 53.36% 8334 Ghost Council of Orzhova
3/2/2006 Dakkon Blackblade 3209 38.59% Razia, Boros Archangel 5107 61.41% 8316 Razia, Boros Archangel
3/3/2006 Johan 1218 14.22% Visara the Dreadful 7347 85.78% 8565 Visara the Dreadful
3/3/2006 Tolsimir Wolfblood 5103 59.75% Sol'kanar the Swamp King 3438 40.25% 8541 Tolsimir Wolfblood
3/6/2006 Isamaru, Hound of Konda 3900 44.06% Phage the Untouchable 4952 55.94% 8852 Phage the Untouchable
3/6/2006 Eron the Relentless 2340 26.54% Rith, the Awakener 6478 73.46% 8818 Rith, the Awakener
Top 32                
3/7/2006 Sliver Queen 7051 51.45% Silvos, Rogue Elemental 6653 48.55% 13704 Sliver Queen
3/7/2006 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind 10171 73.95% Mirri, Cat Warrior 3582 26.05% 13753 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
3/8/2006 Akroma, Angel of Wrath 7639 65.84% Kokusho, the Evening Star 3964 34.16% 11603 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
3/8/2006 Cromat 4660 40.30% Keiga, the Tide Star 6903 59.70% 11563 Keiga, the Tide Star
3/9/2006 Rorix Bladewing 6844 71.51% Ihsan's Shade 2727 28.49% 9571 Rorix Bladewing
3/9/2006 Kamahl, Pit Fighter 4314 45.07% Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker 5258 54.93% 9572 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
3/10/2006 Volrath the Fallen 2821 35.90% Reya Dawnbringer 5038 64.10% 7859 Reya Dawnbringer
3/10/2006 Tahngarth, Talruum Hero 3971 50.90% Ambassador Laquatus 3831 49.10% 7802 Tahngarth, Talruum Hero
3/13/2006 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni 4664 58.44% Arcanis the Omnipotent 3317 41.56% 7981 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
3/13/2006 Baron Sengir 3283 41.07% Yosei, the Morning Star 4711 58.93% 7994 Yosei, the Morning Star
3/14/2006 Meloku the Clouded Mirror 4046 50.15% Spirit of the Night 4021 49.85% 8067 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
3/14/2006 Ascendant Evincar 3329 41.14% Mageta, the Lion 4763 58.86% 8092 Mageta, the Lion
3/15/2006 Circu, Dimir Lobotomist 4845 57.56% Tolsimir Wolfblood 3572 42.44% 8417 Circu, Dimir Lobotomist
3/15/2006 Kodama of the North Tree 2791 33.02% Visara the Dreadful 5662 66.98% 8453 Visara the Dreadful
3/16/2006 Ghost Council of Orzhova 3806 45.48% Phage the Untouchable 4562 54.52% 8368 Phage the Untouchable
3/16/2006 Razia, Boros Archangel 3755 44.91% Rith, the Awakener 4607 55.09% 8362 Rith, the Awakener
Top 16                
3/17/2006 Sliver Queen 4491 57.09% Rorix Bladewing 3376 42.91% 7867 Sliver Queen
3/17/2006 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni 5166 65.29% Circu, Dimir Lobotomist 2746 34.71% 7912 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
3/20/2006 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind 6586 71.86% Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker 2579 28.14% 9165 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
3/20/2006 Yosei, the Morning Star 3490 38.01% Visara the Dreadful 5693 61.99% 9183 Visara the Dreadful
3/21/2006 Akroma, Angel of Wrath 7625 81.32% Tahngarth, Talruum Hero 1752 18.68% 9377 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
3/21/2006 Meloku the Clouded Mirror 4177 44.67% Phage the Untouchable 5173 55.33% 9350 Phage the Untouchable
3/22/2006 Keiga, the Tide Star 4046 41.48% Reya Dawnbringer 5707 58.52% 9753 Reya Dawnbringer
3/22/2006 Mageta the Lion 5133 52.70% Rith, the Awakener 4607 47.30% 9740 Mageta the Lion
Top 8                
3/23/2006 Sliver Queen 4499 46.11% Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni 5259 53.89% 9758 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
3/24/2006 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind 4776 48.20% Visara the Dreadful 5133 51.80% 9909 Visara the Dreadful
3/27/2006 Akroma, Angel of Wrath 7111 61.63% Phage the Untouchable 4427 38.37% 11538 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
3/28/2006 Reya Dawnbringer 4669 53.15% Mageta the Lion 4115 46.85% 8784 Reya Dawnbringer
Top 4                
3/29/2006 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni 9335 49.13% Visara the Dreadful 9667 50.87% 19002 Visara the Dreadful
3/30/2006 Akroma, Angel of Wrath 10524 68.47% Reya Dawnbringer 4846 31.53% 15370 Akroma, Angel of Wrath

In the end, it came down to Urborg 's second-seed Visara the Dreadful vs. Hammerheim 's first-seed, 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? Click here to find out.

Akroma, Angel of Wrath

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! :)

The Truth

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.

Click to 'Ask 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.

The Bracket

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!

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