Author Topic: Magic # Discussion thread  (Read 2152 times)

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Offline TPIRfan#9821

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Magic # Discussion thread
« on: June 17, 2022, 07:31:15 PM »
Is it that time again? Priceless summer where there's nothing but speculation and maybe a couple new episodes sprinkled in here and there? Good.

Pricing game frequencies can be a bit finicky. There's a reason Double Prices, Money Game, and Squeeze Play hit 1700, 1600, and 1500 plays respectively this season, while Rent just hit 100. Some games are just naturally quicker than other games, and thus they get played more.

The same holds for pricing games in the same category: One Wrong Price and Most Expen$ive take less time to play than Eazy az 123. So, when it comes time to choose a 3-prize game for a lineup, Eazy gets chosen less.

The same can be said for most of the 2-prize games. Bargain Game, Do the Math, 1 Right Price, and Switch? all have one quick 50/50 action, so you see them more than Double Cross, a game that involves dragging along a touchscreen.

Then there's Magic #. It's shown up twice this season, on October 8th and November 17th, and peaced out. This isn't unheard of for our little PoundChamp: back in Season 42, it had two playings early in the season, and then disappeared until May. We haven't had that third sighting this season, leading to talks about it maybe getting retired.

I just feel it's odd that it's gone now, when since Season 42, the game's been played at least six times. However, before its long absence this season, the general feeling I got from this board was that something was fundamentally flawed with the game. Why exactly is it being neglected?

I just want to hear your thoughts on this. Here are a few starting points from me:

The game takes too long to play:
I don't know if anyone keeps track of timings anymore? The latest data I could find is from Season 45. Here were all the 2-prizer timings, and a couple games that are more 1 big prize and one small prize, but added for the sake of comparison (min:sec):

2:55 Switch?
2:56 1 Right Price
3:15 Do the Math
3:18 Bargain Game
3:38 2 for the Price of 1
3:39 Double Cross
3:40 Safe Crackers
3:59 Magic #

To be fair, back at the start of Season 49, they recalibrated the range on Magic # to go faster than before. I don't think that's enough to make it even quicker than Double Cross.

It's hard to make a "middling" setup / it's either too easy or too hard / $5,000 minimum:

Starting in Season 42, the show imposed a soft minimum of $5,000. COVID broke that rule a couple of times last season, by less than $25 both times, but with that change, the show also seems to avoid having two prizes with the same thousands digit offered in the same package.

I originally thought a combination of the two was part of the justification for why the ranges were so big, but looking at the win/loss ratio overtime, it seems like that alone isn't the reason.

In Season 37, the game had a record of 2-5. In Season 38, 0-5. In Season 39, 1-4. Out of those 17 playings, only two had a range over $1,500. Fast forward to Season 41, and the game had a record of 8-2. From that season onward, aside from one playing in Season 43, the spread never dipped below $1,500. Since then, the only two losing seasons for the game were Season 42 (1-2, I'd chalk that up to small sample size) and Season 46 (3-5).

Since Season 45, the majority of setups hovered around the $2,000-$3,000 range, with the occasional $6,000 range or so that gets some of us complaining. The game has a record of 18-4 since then. Wins seem to be easier to set up than losses in this game.

People hardly ever overshoot, just undershoot:
On June 16th, 2021, Magic # was lost by overshooting the target. This was the first time this happened since April 25, 2003.

Maybe that sole over is a side effect of the aforementioned speedup Magic # got last season? However, for most of the losses, it's definitely a case of people underestimating the cheaper item and just going too low.

I've seen people propose a Do The Math/Check Game -esque bonus, where the contestant gets the magic number in cash if they win? That would probably fix the problem of people going to soft, but that would have to be balanced with the difficulty.

The game's electronics are outdated, making it a pain to work with:
This is mainly here for the "maybe it's getting refurbished" crowd. I guess the set uses eggcrates, and it's in that group of games that are never played first or second, probably to make sure the electronics work right away. (I've never liked the video wall between the two games or the design on the price tags either. What is it supposed to be, lightning? Lightning going with a magic number with images that feel like they're torn from an early-2000s website feels clunky nowadays, but that's probably out of scope of this discussion)
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Offline PimpinJC

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Re: Magic # Discussion thread
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2022, 10:07:34 PM »
Add in another category: contestant are easily confused / clueless when playing the game.  How many times have we seen the contestant move the number up and down repeatedly by maybe $100 total.  There’s no point in doing that…the spread between the high and low prize is typically in the thousands.  Any number between the two prizes wins.  What specially are they trying to do?  It’s as if they’re looking for a specific price in between them.

Maybe I’m wrong, but with as many problems as you discussed with the game, I can’t see it being refurbished when the controls finally die for the game.  Maybe the absence in Season 42 was because the controls malfunctioned and it was fixable.
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Offline gamesurf

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Re: Magic # Discussion thread
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2022, 12:05:35 AM »
FWIW, my hypothesis is reason number 4: the electronics just broke.

Reasons 1-3 on their own aren't enough of a reason to retire it (why go though so much trouble to make the game as winnable as possible if you're intending to kill it) but they were enough of a drawback to keep TPTB from simply swapping out the game's electronics with a monitor and Raspberry Pi.

If it turns out to be gone for good, I'll be sorry to see it go. I enjoyed the leever and the geezmo when they showed up. But you could usually tell beforehand whether the contestant had won or lost, and that made it predictable.

I think you could get creative with making a replacement two-prizer that uses the same concept. Picking which of a few given price tags is the "magic number", for example, or having a lever controlling a conveyor belt with list of ascending price tags that need to be matched with prizes, Bump-style. It's a simple enough idea that you could find a variant that doesn't get hurt by inflation, and the lever and presentation were cool, I would want to see them recycled into something new.
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Offline FanOfDrew87

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Re: Magic # Discussion thread
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2022, 10:10:23 AM »
Or, they should just do away with the prop with the lever and have the contestant simply say the amount that (s)he believes is between the two prices.  That idea may make Magic # a much simpler and much quicker game to play and can allow the game to be played as a first pricing game on an agenda.

The familiar prop with the lever was in use since 1992 - the prop is nearly 30 years old.  So it may make sense as to why the prop is showing signs of failing and may need to be refurbished after all these years.

I read somewhere that Magic # cannot be played earlier than the third pricing game on any agenda.  Apparently, Magic # was played as the second pricing game on the April 30, 2001 episode.  But maybe that was because the producers found more time to prepare the game because 3 Strikes - known for its extended play - was the first pricing game that day.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2022, 10:15:42 AM by FanOfDrew87 »

Offline JayC

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Re: Magic # Discussion thread
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2022, 12:06:52 PM »
Just having the contestant say what amount they want for the magic number removes the gimmick of the game and would make it very dull though.

I could see the game getting refurbished to be electronics based, so rather than the lever the contestant swipes up and down on a touchscreen to set the number.

Offline CaptainPrice

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Re: Magic # Discussion thread
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2022, 12:45:44 PM »
I read somewhere that Magic # cannot be played earlier than the third pricing game on any agenda.  Apparently, Magic # was played as the second pricing game on the April 30, 2001 episode.  But maybe that was because the producers found more time to prepare the game because 3 Strikes - known for its extended play - was the first pricing game that day.

Actually, it cannot be played first due to the computer needing time to boot up. It's been played second several times.

In its inaugural season, Magic # was played second nine times. It was played second on December 24, 2007, which I believe is the most recent time it has appeared in that slot. I might have missed a playing or two.

Offline BillyGr

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Re: Magic # Discussion thread
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2022, 03:06:20 PM »
Actually, it cannot be played first due to the computer needing time to boot up. It's been played second several times.

In its inaugural season, Magic # was played second nine times. It was played second on December 24, 2007, which I believe is the most recent time it has appeared in that slot. I might have missed a playing or two.

Though that could be solved by simply starting the computer a few minutes BEFORE the taping begins, so it has enough time to boot up by the time the first game is ready to be played.

Offline blozier2006

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Re: Magic # Discussion thread
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2022, 07:06:28 PM »
Though that could be solved by simply starting the computer a few minutes BEFORE the taping begins, so it has enough time to boot up by the time the first game is ready to be played.
The thing is, that would make too much sense.

Offline tpir04

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Re: Magic # Discussion thread
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2022, 08:12:20 PM »
The thing is, that would make too much sense.
It's more than that. The power outlet they most often use for games which use electricity is between Door 1 and Door 2. The cord for any game plugged in before Drew's entrance would be visible when the camera pans across the stage.
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Online brosa0

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Re: Magic # Discussion thread
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2022, 08:29:25 PM »
Magic # is my favourite pricing game.  It's such a simple yet different concept for a game and it's a great game for audience participation like Range Game and That's Too Much, so it would be disappointing if it were to be retired particularly as there are ways its problems could be resolved.   

The staging of the game could be better, and I would like to see it do a Danger Price and fully move behind the big doors so that the magic number is physically between the two prizes.   This would make it easier to shoot, and more intuitive for the contestant to understand what they're meant to do.   

I actually think Do The Math has the ideal staging for Magic #, with the two prizes listed on either side with a large number on the main screen in the middle:



Instead of the prize screens being on the left/right sides of the number like they are for Do The Math, for Magic # they could position them on the top edge (for the higher-priced prize) and the bottom edge (for the lower-priced prize) to make it clear that the number needs to be between them.   There are plenty of ways to dress up the display screens to give the game its own distinct image.

The 'lever' or mechanism to change the magic number would be next to the big doors, where the contestant is already standing.


The issue with increasing prize values and their effect on setups has been resolved in other games (e.g. Clock Game, Check Game, Grocery Game) and can be resolved in Magic #'s case in several different ways if needed - e.g. going the Clock Game route of two medium prizes and a bonus main prize, or turning it into a fee game with small items or even grocery items.

Offline Guint

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Re: Magic # Discussion thread
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2022, 09:12:30 AM »
Just reading through this, and I really don't have an opinion one way or the other, but I did want to bring up some things for clarification:

Actually, it cannot be played first due to the computer needing time to boot up. It's been played second several times.

In its inaugural season, Magic # was played second nine times. It was played second on December 24, 2007, which I believe is the most recent time it has appeared in that slot. I might have missed a playing or two.

Magic # has not been played 2nd since 12/24/07. It can no longer be played 2nd (along with several other games, so it's not really the reason it gets shafted) because now the 1st and 2nd games are in the same act, leaving not much time to boot it up and make sure the electronics work. Prior to the combination of the 1st act, it could be played 2nd.

Though that could be solved by simply starting the computer a few minutes BEFORE the taping begins, so it has enough time to boot up by the time the first game is ready to be played.

As others have stated, the game has to be in place to get the electronics, but that would require the game to be seen during the entrance and they don't want that. This isn't the case for every stage game, but some either have little to no electronics, or reliable enough electronics, that it can be moved into place and booted up very quickly. Magic # in comparison can take a long time to boot up.

Which, again, isn't holding the game back from being played, because there are about 20 games in the rotation that can't be 1st or 2nd.

The game's electronics are outdated, making it a pain to work with:
This is mainly here for the "maybe it's getting refurbished" crowd. I guess the set uses eggcrates,

The eggcrate display isn't the reason for the outdatedness of the prop's electronics, although the eggcrate display is in and of itself an outdated concept.

Those with more of the backstage knowledge than I do can feel free to correct me on this, but if memory serves me well, Magic # was the first game that was computerized in order to make the numbers go up/down with ease. As an aside, this resulted in it being the most expensive pricing game to make to that point, a record I believe it held for almost 20 years until Rat Race broke it. Despite some major work done to speed up the computer/fix it, it's still essentially been running with the same computer since the beginning (though again, I know it's had some work done on it in the last 10 years, so maybe they switched it out?) At any rate, it may just simply be that the game's internal functions are just simply too difficult to repair at this point.


Offline tpirfansince1972

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Re: Magic # Discussion thread
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2022, 03:46:59 PM »
Sadly, more and more time constraints I fear will cause this game to be retired.

As a fan of the card game Acey-Deucey, I always liked this pricing game, trying to get in between the high and low numbers (prices in this case).

Maybe retool this game somehow and call it "In Between", and amend the electronics so the player can set each of the 4 digits separately (thousands digit, hundreds digit, tens digit and ones digit) with the up and down arrows.