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Ensemble Determinization in Monte Carlo Tree Search for the Imperfect Information Card Game Magic: The Gathering

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3 Author(s)
Cowling, P.I. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Univ. of York, York, UK ; Ward, C.D. ; Powley, E.J.

In this paper, we examine the use of Monte Carlo tree search (MCTS) for a variant of one of the most popular and profitable games in the world: the card game Magic: The Gathering (M:TG). The game tree for M:TG has a range of distinctive features, which we discuss here; it has incomplete information through the opponent's hidden cards and randomness through card drawing from a shuffled deck. We investigate a wide range of approaches that use determinization, where all hidden and random information is assumed known to all players, alongside MCTS. We consider a number of variations to the rollout strategy using a range of levels of sophistication and expert knowledge, and decaying reward to encourage play urgency. We examine the effect of utilizing various pruning strategies in order to increase the information gained from each determinization, alongside methods that increase the relevance of random choices. Additionally, we deconstruct the move generation procedure into a binary yes/no decision tree and apply MCTS to this finer grained decision process. We compare our modifications to a basic MCTS approach for M:TG using fixed decks, and show that significant improvements in playing strength can be obtained.

Published in:

Computational Intelligence and AI in Games, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:4 ,  Issue: 4 )