@brianpk80 said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":
Another crucial point here is that, aside form Stephen, Gush does not have any staunch defenders.
I would amend that a bit to read "visible" defenders.
I've had dozens of people on social media, in person, and here message or otherwise post to the general public how much they hope Gush is not restricted, and what a mistake it would be. And the survey results from the Twitter poll last month and here on TheManaDrain in January suggest that there are many more silent defenders out there as well. In fact, it may well be a solid majority of the Vintage player base.
This goes to my earlier "echo chamber" point. Brian, from observation, I'd hazard a guess that the people you mostly closely interact with in Vintage are the most salient segment of the pro-restriction player base or are disproportionately pro-restriction, a point I made to Sean. But there are many more players out there who are either neutral or opposed to the restriction. They just don't have the visibility/voice that Rich, you, Sean, or ChubbyRain here have, in terms of their willingness to speak out, etc.
In that respect, the parallels to to Team Paragon's B&R list philosophy and active lobbying campaigns are striking: A clique of similarly thinking and oriented players who enjoyed greater visibility than other players, and consequently share something of an echo chamber and 'think-space' in terms of their perception of the format.
Unfortunately, I believe that the people who inhabit this space suffer from a natural psychological blind spot: I'm not singling you out here, but if a person and their friends think one way or agree on a specific point, that doesn't mean that everyone else does, although it's natural to think that way.
Painting me as the sole "defender" masks the degree of uncertainty that some players have or their neutrality on these issues. I hate dragging other people into this, but @diophan said that he could see restricting Mentor instead of Gush, and seeing how things go from there...
We have a very different situation from Chalice of the Void/Lodestone, where a group of players (Shop) who were very tethered to that culture, study, and playstyle felt under attack and defended the cards vociferously. Gush is not deeply bound to people's playing identities the way Mishra's Workshop is. It seems that most of the people calling for restrictions are themselves Gush pilots. I don't see many cases of players feeling wounded, singled out, or brokenhearted by restrictions of Gitaxian Probe, Gush, Monastery Mentor, Mental Misstep, Paradoxical Outrcome, or Preordain.
You are probably right that the average Gush pilot is not as enmeshed or committed to Gush as the average Workshop pilot, but that should not lead us to overlook or minimize that the study, commitment and culture of Gush players that would be deeply injured by an unwarranted and spuriously grounded restriction. After all, you pointed this out last fall in relation to me specifically.
Moreover, while it is also true that the most vocal calls for Gush's restriction have come from people who play Gush decks, I could characterize it as a tactical embrace, rather than a whole-hearted one. Although Rich has demonstrated a passion for Gush decks, it's noteworthy that he was carrying a torch for Control Slaver even in Season 1 of the VSL. Matt has explicitly said he's bored by Gush, to take another example, despite playing Gush decks for a few years now rather continuously while also calling for it's restriction longer than anyone else. And, Brian, you certainly played mostly non-Gush decks in the last 7 years, but I haven't caught you dead playing a non-Gush deck in at least a year. It would be disingenuous for you to say that Gush is your preferred style or mode of blue deck
And while I want to be careful to avoid painting with a broad brush here, I think it's fair to say that many, if not most, of the pro-restriction camp who play Gush decks have preferences for styles of blue decks that are more marginalized by Gush, or are otherwise simply tired of the fact that those decks continue to be marginalized, even if they found it acceptable for a time.
Again, in this respect, it resembles Keeper pilots advocating for restrictions that impinged or predated their preferred style of blue deck. These Keeper pilots may have been compelled to play Gush or Fact or Fiction Accelerated Blue or even Necro decks, but we all know where their hearts lay.
That's my chief criticism. The desire to restrict Gush does not actually arise, as I read the situation, from any deep concern for metagame balance or dominance, but more from a desire to play other blue decks.
And, from my perspective, I think that's an illegitimate motive for restriction, not matter how dressed up it is. That's because the B&R list does not exist to gaurantee that players can play their preferred style or mode of deck. Rather, it exists to ensure that there is sufficient deck choice in the metagame so that players have meaningful choice. If that choice is toggling between Mud and Gush or White Eldrazi and Dredge, so be it. (For the record, I believe that there are more options than those four decks, including Paradoxical decks; but I imagine that's how many critics view the metagame).
Hence, I don't see a player revolt or any decrease in retention if these toxic cards are properly abated.
I think you will be surprised. The 2008 "Summer cleaning" left a deep scar on the Vintage player base, when all they did was restrict 5 blue cards.
I'm afraid that this moment has the same toxic potential, especially given the lobbying of voices on the VSL and elsewhere, calling relentlessly for the restriction of Gush. Only if the DCI acts based upon the soundest empirical evidence and strongest data can we avoid a similarly devastating result, and fracturing of the already tenuous Vintage player base, who are already quite wary and suspicious of "pro players" dictating B&R policy.
I worry about the corrosive effects of visible players calling for restrictions and getting their way. But more than that, I worry about where this leads. If Gush is restricted, I think it will lead to more restrictions in the very near future, beginning with Mentor, and possibly Paradoxical Outcome not far beyond. Players should reflect very carefully about where this path leads.