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Sleboda

Just For Fun - Define Meta

40 posts in this topic

Sleboda    1,116

It occurs to me that the term "meta" gets used quite often,  but that we may have several definitions of it in use. 

Any good discussion starts with people agreeing on what the words being used actually mean, so I thought it might be fun to see what people think they are saying when they use "meta."

Anyone want to get it rolling? 

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Galas    719

"Metagame" defines the style of tools are used in the competitive aspect of a game,, because they are the most powerfull, flexible, etc...

 

For example, in league of legends, the metagame of the game is the distribution of: one top, one middle, one jungle and two bots. 

The use of tools in a form that differs of the "meta" is defined as "anti-meta". It can manifest in the form of going literally against the meta distribution, or slightly changing it.

In age of sigmar, the actual meta is MW spam and powerfull shooting armies. 

It doesnt means they are invincible or even the most powerfull, but are the perceive as more cómmon and reliable

Edited by Galas
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BaldoBeardo    555

"Meta" is the way the game is played at whatever level, which is broadly a way of saying what tactics and units get seen the most.
So for example if your local group house rule on something, that may well affect the practical use of certain units. Some will see more game time, some will see less. E.g. if your local group decide they think that the reinforcement points idea is crappy, then you'd expect to see a prevalence of armies or units that get the most bang for buck out of not having to pay it.
But even with absolute total vanilla RAW, you'll still see variations.

Metas interact. So for example, if your club is heavily tournament based, then players will likely spend their time practising and tinkering in preparation for the next big tournament.

They have their refined lists, their tactics are solid, and they head off to the tournament and get their arses handed to them from a group from further up the motorway.

They then adapt their choices and playstyle to try and prevent that happening again. The meta has spread from the 'other guys' to your area.
New releases and FAQ s and TO rulings all constantly change it.

There's a concept in evolutionary biology called the Red Queen Hypothesis.
In short, you have to run as fast as you can to stay in the same place - (it's just another way of saying survival of the fittest.)
These same players can go to a tournament the next year and get thumped by a different group of guys. So the cycle continues.

TL:DR - the meta - at whatever level you are talking - is the broadly accepted wisdom on the best way to play, from rules interpretations to list building.

Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk

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Furious    184

I'm thinking "to metagame" simply is to strive to find the absolute most powerful option, or one of the most powerful options, regardless of other factors.

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"Meta" is a word that refers to something about itself.  Meta-language is the language of languages (taken a grammar class before?), and Meta-data is data about data (notice the date created on a file on your computer?).

So Meta-gaming would be the gaming of gaming.  Making a game out of playing the game itself, which would include the list making and mental strategizing in your head in preparation for a game; you are playing in order to later play.  To me, everyone above has accurately described the many aspects of Meta-gaming in the possible contexts of multiplayer tabletop games.

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1 hour ago, Sleboda said:

It occurs to me that the term "meta" gets used quite often,  but that we may have several definitions of it in use. 

Any good discussion starts with people agreeing on what the words being used actually mean, so I thought it might be fun to see what people think they are saying when they use "meta."

Anyone want to get it rolling? 

My definition:

 

meta

Del lat. meta.

1. f. Término señalado a una carrera.

2. f. Fin a que se dirigen las acciones o deseos de alguien.

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wayniac    668

For me, "meta" is generally the trends of the game, at various levels of play.  Much like @Auticus said, you have the "internet" meta which is what you typically see on forums; people theorycrafting what lists are the "best" in general (typically using big international tournaments as guidelines), Regional which is what you often see at regional tournaments, and then local which tends to be the least cared about and generally the most relevant as it's what you normally see at your own store/group and such the one most likely to influence your lists if you aren't going to the Regional or International scene.

However, it's often that the regional and internet/international meta will bleed into everything else, as people see X list wins a big tournament and suddenly all the powergamers, at all levels, will start adapting and using it, so you end up seeing the big name tournament lists in everyday play at the local game store because someone read online that it was "the best".

I saw this a lot in Warmahordes where once a particular list won a big tournament, you would see it (or slight variations of it) on regular game nights as people wanted to naturally use a list that was "proven" to do well.  The "meta" effect here became that even if you had no interest in the competitive scene and netlisting, you would often end up facing them anyways as word quickly spread that they were "the best" as shown by winning major events.

Edited by wayniac

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Galas    719
18 minutes ago, wayniac said:

For me, "meta" is generally the trends of the game, at various levels of play.  Much like @Auticus said, you have the "internet" meta which is what you typically see on forums; people theorycrafting what lists are the "best" in general (typically using big international tournaments as guidelines), Regional which is what you often see at regional tournaments, and then local which tends to be the least cared about and generally the most relevant as it's what you normally see at your own store/group and such the one most likely to influence your lists if you aren't going to the Regional or International scene.

However, it's often that the regional and internet/international meta will bleed into everything else, as people see X list wins a big tournament and suddenly all the powergamers, at all levels, will start adapting and using it, so you end up seeing the big name tournament lists in everyday play at the local game store because someone read online that it was "the best".

I saw this a lot in Warmahordes where once a particular list won a big tournament, you would see it (or slight variations of it) on regular game nights as people wanted to naturally use a list that was "proven" to do well.

Thats happen everywere. In League of Legends, for example. You always see that one pro player in the big world tournament that uses a Hero with a set of Items totally different of how its played, and normally they used that new strategy with good results because they are pro-players for a reason. And then you see thousands of people trying those same "builds" of items and tactics in normal play, normally with horrible results :D 

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Galas    719

Oh yeah, in games like the ones of GW where the list building is so important the fact that you "copy" a good list is a big plus to your winning chances. In the example I put, as you need to have reflexes and in general its a game that depends more in the actual decisions and knowledge IN THE game of the player, the fact that you copy a build/list of items don't help you much if you don'w know how to use it or aren't as good with the game mechanics.

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swarmofseals    361
2 hours ago, Furious said:

I'm thinking "to metagame" simply is to strive to find the absolute most powerful option, or one of the most powerful options, regardless of other factors.

Huh, that's interesting. This is actually quite the opposite definition to what I am used to.

 

To me, "the metagame" simply represents the set of what is currently being played (and how prevalent those choices are) within a given system. The system could be very small (the local metagame of a specific at-home play group) all the way up to global, the set of all people currently playing the game. A shorthand and non-technical way of asking the question of "what is the metagame?" would simply be "what lists are people playing and how common are they?"

 

The verb "to metagame" means to tailor your own choices to be effective against whatever you expect to be prevalent in the metagame that you will be playing in. This is critically different from what you are saying in that you are not trying to find the objectively or abstractly most powerful choice. You are trying to find the choice that gives you the greatest chance of winning against the specific competition that you expect to face. 

 

Here's a simplified example. Imagine that there are Five possible lists. List A beats list C, D, and E 95% of the time. List B beats list A 75% of the time but only beats lists C, D, and E 10% of the time. Lists C, D, and E are all 50% to win against each other, 90% to win against list B, and 5% to beat list A. 

The objectively most powerful list is list A. Simply choosing to play list A is not metagaming, however. The "metagamed" choice would depend entirely on what you expect other people to bring to the tournament. If you expect a lot of people to bring C, D, and E and few people to bring B, then A is the metagamed choice. Similarly, if you expect a lot of list A (which seems likely given how powerful it is) and not so much of C, D, and E, then list B is the metagamed choice for that tournament even though its probably the least powerful list from an objective standpoint. If you expect the tournament to have a lot of list B and not much A, then the best choice would be any of C, D, or E. So the "metagaming" depends entirely on what you expect others to play and very little to do with what is objectively most powerful.

This example also serves to illustrate how metagames are likely to evolve over time. If there is no well-established metagame, then the best choice is probably going to be A simply because it has the best overall matchups. Once people realize that A is really popular, then the share of the metagame that chooses list B will likely rise. This in turn will suppress list A. As people realize that list B is becoming popular and A is fading, the will switch to C, D, or E as a counter to B. And then the cycle will repeat.

The way to get an edge in the tournament is simply to correctly predict what other people will play and make the right choice for that mix of opponents. The psychology can get very complex. Lets say A has been making a lot of waves. Do you take B to counter A, or do you try to take a step ahead and predict a lot of other people will be taking B and thus skip ahead to C/D/E? That's metagaming. 

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Furious    184
15 minutes ago, swarmofseals said:

Huh, that's interesting. This is actually quite the opposite definition to what I am used to.

 

To me, "the metagame" simply represents the set of what is currently being played (and how prevalent those choices are) within a given system. The system could be very small (the local metagame of a specific at-home play group) all the way up to global, the set of all people currently playing the game. A shorthand and non-technical way of asking the question of "what is the metagame?" would simply be "what lists are people playing and how common are they?"

 

The verb "to metagame" means to tailor your own choices to be effective against whatever you expect to be prevalent in the metagame that you will be playing in. This is critically different from what you are saying in that you are not trying to find the objectively or abstractly most powerful choice. You are trying to find the choice that gives you the greatest chance of winning against the specific competition that you expect to face. 

 

Here's a simplified example. Imagine that there are Five possible lists. List A beats list C, D, and E 95% of the time. List B beats list A 75% of the time but only beats lists C, D, and E 10% of the time. Lists C, D, and E are all 50% to win against each other, 90% to win against list B, and 5% to beat list A. 

The objectively most powerful list is list A. Simply choosing to play list A is not metagaming, however. The "metagamed" choice would depend entirely on what you expect other people to bring to the tournament. If you expect a lot of people to bring C, D, and E and few people to bring B, then A is the metagamed choice. Similarly, if you expect a lot of list A (which seems likely given how powerful it is) and not so much of C, D, and E, then list B is the metagamed choice for that tournament even though its probably the least powerful list from an objective standpoint. If you expect the tournament to have a lot of list B and not much A, then the best choice would be any of C, D, or E. So the "metagaming" depends entirely on what you expect others to play and very little to do with what is objectively most powerful.

This example also serves to illustrate how metagames are likely to evolve over time. If there is no well-established metagame, then the best choice is probably going to be A simply because it has the best overall matchups. Once people realize that A is really popular, then the share of the metagame that chooses list B will likely rise. This in turn will suppress list A. As people realize that list B is becoming popular and A is fading, the will switch to C, D, or E as a counter to B. And then the cycle will repeat.

The way to get an edge in the tournament is simply to correctly predict what other people will play and make the right choice for that mix of opponents. The psychology can get very complex. Lets say A has been making a lot of waves. Do you take B to counter A, or do you try to take a step ahead and predict a lot of other people will be taking B and thus skip ahead to C/D/E? That's metagaming. 

 

I agree - what you're describing seems to just add the word "situational" to what I intended to communicate. You can't always guess your opponent, so most who want to metagame against a blind pool of opponents would wisely go with list A - statistically that list will win the most. Then yeah you get into a logical loop where everyone will bring list A because that's the statistical winner, until a few people catch on to bring B, which then becomes the meta and so on and so on. There isn't usually one best thing that beats all - there's typically a small list that tops the tiers.

The "other factors" I meant are things like, in the case of AoS, aesthetic, price, lore, or in the case of online gaming, character, play style, aesthetic again etc.

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29 minutes ago, Auticus said:

Thats how in 3rd edition 40k I won a fair share of RTTs and placed high at the GW GTs... I played eldar starcannon spam, which was filthy against marine lists, and 9 out of 10 opponents were playing Blood Angels or Space Wolves.  Because I had that hard counter, my list enabled me to win easily.

I'm surprised there weren't more starcannon spam lists when I played then there were because of how effective they were back then against the heavily prevalent marine meta.

But wasn't that back in the day before so many people were using the Internet to share list ideas and tactics?  I remember reading once that the "Leafblower" Imperial Guard tank and transport heavy army was the first "netlist" to be seen, in as much as people saw what had won at other tournaments and began to copy it.  That was back when I was first starting to get into wargaming, back in mid 5th edition 40K.

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wayniac    668
4 minutes ago, BunkhouseBuster said:

But wasn't that back in the day before so many people were using the Internet to share list ideas and tactics?  I remember reading once that the "Leafblower" Imperial Guard tank and transport heavy army was the first "netlist" to be seen, in as much as people saw what had won at other tournaments and began to copy it.  That was back when I was first starting to get into wargaming, back in mid 5th edition 40K.

No, people were using the internet then.  I recall being on DakkaDakka during 3rd edition discussing lists and whatnot with tons of people.  The days of starcannon spam, and "Mauleed Marines" (6-man Las/Plas squads when that was still a thing) and discussing the then-brand new Tau army.

Edited by wayniac
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1 minute ago, wayniac said:

No, people were using the internet then.  I recall being on DakkaDakka during 3rd edition discussing lists and whatnot with tons of people.  The days of starcannon spam, and "Mauleed Mariens" (6-man Las/Plas squads when that was still a thing) and discussing the then-brand new Tau army.

It's always cool to learn about "back in the day" in this hobby :)

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swarmofseals    361
49 minutes ago, wayniac said:

No, people were using the internet then.  I recall being on DakkaDakka during 3rd edition discussing lists and whatnot with tons of people.  The days of starcannon spam, and "Mauleed Marines" (6-man Las/Plas squads when that was still a thing) and discussing the then-brand new Tau army.

I played 40k in those days too, albeit not super competitively. I had pretty much stopped playing by the time Tau came out. I remember people complaining endlessly about Eldar, particularly wraithlords. I played both Eldar and SMs (generic) back then, and particularly remember one tournament game where I brought my marines and played an Eldar opponent in the second round who was packing 3 wraithlords and a ton of aspect warriors. My SM list was built on the theory that basic marines were undercosted. While a lot of other Marine players were loading up on powerful HQ choices and vehicles, I went with 6x10 tactical marines, some devastators, and a 5 man assault marine jetpack squad led by a chaplain. I showed up for the tournament 250-500 points light (I had though the point value was lower) so I threw in a Whirlwind and a Dreadnought at the last second because it's all I had. That poor Eldar player playing the allegedly cheeseball list got tabled without taking out a single unit. It felt like I was playing a WWI historical or something. 

 

1 hour ago, Furious said:

 

I agree - what you're describing seems to just add the word "situational" to what I intended to communicate. You can't always guess your opponent...

...The "other factors" I meant are things like, in the case of AoS, aesthetic, price, lore, or in the case of online gaming, character, play style, aesthetic again etc.

I see what you mean by other factors now. It's absolutely true that you can't always guess your opponent, but I'd still contend that what you described in your original post is simply list building to win, which is different from metagaming. Metagaming specifically referring to the process of attempting to guess what you will be facing and tailoring your choices to those expectations. Of course you can be wrong and metagame poorly, or you can decide that you don't have enough information and not metagame at all, instead trying to build a force that is good in a vacuum. 

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Turragor    1,107

It's interesting if a bit hard to pin down. I'm going to go off on a just had my coffee and am about to start work tangent of sorts during this, I can feel it...

Strictly speaking metagame just means strategy.

It is the level above the actual game activity in any competitive game. So as some have linked to or posted - consideration for what your opponent(s) might take or how they might play and what is best to take against them, or how to adapt your style against theirs.

But that's been around for hundreds and maybe thousands of years. It's how any contest between people works (roughly).

Wars, any ancient 2 player game (chess, go) - it's just strategy and often kept secret until it needs to be revealed.

This modern idea of "meta", born from competitive videogames is specifically connected to our times.

Whereas previously you might need to be an apprentice, belong in a clique or join a secret, closed group to learn or find out about the strategic secrets of the best players or generals, now all you need is the internet.

That traditional strategic approach I talked about remains at the top echelons (those who play the most often or the most competitively or, in some cases, professionally) where cutting edge strategies are hatched.

Then the modern concept of 'meta' comes into play. Everyone and their internet accessing dog starts to adapt or copy the most successful strategies that they saw or heard reported.

So meta means copying known, successful strategies. In that way it is ultimately human. It's like, our nature. No one figures out all the survival strategies we know. We are shown.

And there is no one, who isn't at the very top, who is not copying when they mention the meta in connection with their lists.

It is popular and it works because it is efficient. You don't invest your own resources (time and money) into lists or strategy. You don't need 50 or 60 games to refine a list before an event.

You can't really hate the meta, even with its flaws, because it is so all encompassing. Everyone uses it - even if they say they hate it.

If you have an army that you've built and ever thought "these guys work I'll take them" and you haven't tried them against nearly all opponents and armies, you're just using the 'meta'.

To truly free yourself from the meta is something that requires far too much time and money. So I say embrace it but maybe do so in a smart way (if you can).

You know which way it might turn so think a step or two ahead... of course that means you're taking some risks with what you buy, paint and play with.

Can you afford that risk? I for one am not sure I can.

tl;dr

It is people copying ideas and that works but some people don't like it

 

Edited by Turragor

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WoollyMammoth    449

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metagaming

Metagaming is any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself.
In simple terms, it is the use of out-of-game information or resources to affect one's in-game decisions.

In regards to Warhammer, "Meta" is the knowledge of what armies/strategy are popular right now. Knowing what the "meta" is means knowing what you are most likely to play against and as such can tailor your list to be prepared for the kinds of things you are likely to run up against.

For example a Stormcast player might "metagame" by bringing Fulminators and a Castellant with the Tempest lantern artefact in order to be well prepared against shooting armies which are currently meta.

If you only play against one friend with Fyreslayers, then your meta would be Fyreslayers. Meta-Gaming would be to build a list specifically strong against Fyreslayers.

Edited by WoollyMammoth
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Sleboda    1,116

I'm glad we have had such nice input! It looks like folks are done contributing, so I'll chime in. I will say, there are some thoughts here I had not directly considered, so thanks for sharing.

After reading what people have said, and acknowledging that languages evolve, I am of the opinion that we, as a whole, really are misapplying the term. Just because a term gets wrongly used a bunch of times, doesn't mean it becomes right.

Without creating new definitions, and keeping it as simple as possible, a meta-X is X about X.

For us to use Meta-Gaming as a term, we would have to be talking about a game about games. Meta-Data works because we are using data to describe data ("This array of numbers contains only even numbers."). Meta-Language works because we are using language to describe a language ("You must use the infinitive ("This needs to be painted.") or a gerund ("This needs painting.") instead of the incorrect "This needs painted.").

Using "meta" to say that mortal wounds are popular right now because of Skyfires is just not using the right term, such as the "environment" is mortal wounds heavy right now because of Skyfires. You could also say that you should be aware of the "popularity" of mortal wounds lately because of Skyfires. You could even say that it would be wise to have a "strategy" to counter mortal wounds currently because you are likely to see lots of Skyfires at events.

Yes, "meta" is a short way to say it, but it is also inaccurate. Popularity =/= Correctness.

Strategy, popularity, environment and other words do exist and are accurate for what we are talking about.

I really do think that people are doing themselves a disservice (sounding "too cool for school" or just ignorant) when they toss around the term "meta" when it's simply the wrong word.

 

Then again "ain't" was wrong forever too, and then enough uneducated people used it that the established language experts conceded and added it to the dictionary. Maybe someday enough misuse will happen to change the meaning of "meta" but today is not that day. :)

 

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Phoenixlaw    0
 
1
(of a creative work) referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential.
"the enterprise is inherently ‘meta’, since it doesn't review movies, for example, it reviews the reviewers who review movies"
 
a quick google  leads me to ask if this is the meaning people have in mind - more to do with predicting what other players will be taking and how to combat that as opposed to taking what is on paper the most powerful lists 

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KnightFire    208

The meta-game is the "game about how to play the game". It is the "rock/paper/scissors" that applies in warhammer, and in other similar "list building" or "deck building" games. 

It works like this:

Certain armies are popular for one reason or another (e.g. because they are new, or strong, etc). Those armies can be considered a choice in a game of rock/paper/scissors, for arguments sake, lets call the most popular army rock. Those armies will have inherent weaknesses, and armies that exploit those weaknesses (paper), but will also have strengths that will make them strong against other armies (scissors).

The metagame, is the game of knowing what is popular, and what other people are likely to choose (will they go rock, paper or scissors), which influences the choices you should make when selecting your army. When people say "rock is strong in the current meta", they mean either there isn't a lot of paper around, or there are a lot of scissors around. 

 

As someone who has studied game theory, I can tell you it is the correct word, and generally being applied correctly (even if people don't know why, and are just copying others using it).

 

Edited by KnightFire
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Sleboda    1,116
44 minutes ago, KnightFire said:

The meta-game is the "game about how to play the game". It is the "rock/paper/scissors" that applies in warhammer, and in other similar "list building" or "deck building" games. 

 But that's not a "game" about how to play.  It's quite simply your strategy.  Deck building games are not called that because you play some sort of game with an objective of building a deck. They are called that because you need to assemble a deck in order to play.  Picking your cards isn't a game.  It's a step in your preparation to play a game. 

AoS could be called a "miniature collecting, assembling, and painting game." That does not make any of those activities games themselves. 

Asking one's self "How shall I take into account defenses against mortals wounds" is not a game at all, let alone a game about games.

Even Fantasy Football is not a metagame. It's just a game based on statistics from another game.

A metagame would need to be a game where the players take actions (within that game, while playing it) that, for instance, result in your character/token getting permission from mom to go to Ted's for game night. A game about games.

While I get that the term metagaming has some highly limited validity based on massive hijacking and misuse (thus evolving the language in the same way that slang does), the use of "meta" on its own to rebrand, so to speak, the existing and perfectly functional and effective terms such as "environment" or "popularity " or "strategy" is just poor.

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