SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?"

@SeanOhh said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

@Smmenen Gush isn't "good against other blue decks," it's good against every deck without Spheres. Remember when people played elves, goblins, humans [sic], etc?

First, Humans won Eternal Weekend Europe last year in a Top 4 of Gush decks.

But you can't pin the absence of Goblins or Elves decks on Gush anymore than you can the absence of Suicide Black or Burn. That's just as delusional as the people who think restricting Gush will bring back Mana Drain to the center of the metagame. Wishful thinking.

Those are outmoded strategies that wouldn't exist even if Gush were restricted. Goblins hasn't been viable in this format since 2004, the last time it won a major tournament.

You wrote a book on the card, you know this, even if you can't admit it.

Of course Gush is an amazing Vintage card. But that's not the issue. The issue is whether it needs to be restricted because its oppressive or dominant. The data just isn't there to support that view.

If I thought Mentor would still be the powerhouse it is without Gush, I'd want to see something else go first.

I don't see how you can't see this. Even @ChubbyRain thinks Mentor needs to be restricted. If Gush is restricted, you can mark it down for a fact that Mentor will follow.

I think there is a real danger that Mentor gets better if Gush is restricted. It's not hard to see why. Gush is a pretty slow card and a big disincentive to playing fulll Moxen, let alone Mana Crypt, etc. Mentor decks want to play Mentors faster with more artifact mana for faster Mentors and monk production. If Gush is restricted, we're gonna see more big mana blue Mentor decks with Top like the 8th place deck from EW Europe (with Delve spells) or like Brian Pallas's deck from the 2015 Vintage Champs top 8. But much better and more tuned. Without Gush in the metagame, I think there is a real danger Mentor will become worse, not better.

I wouldn't even be having this discussion. I think it will still be good, and may need another restriction in the future depending on how things shake out, but I'm not on the "restrict all of it" train. One at a time is okay by me.

Then please answer the question I asked you earlier: exactly what percentage of Gush Mentor pilots do you think would switch to a non-Gush deck if Mentor were restricted?

Because if restricting Mentor suppresses Gush more than restricting Gush suppresses Mentor, then that's the place to start...

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen

I prefer to knock these out via bullet points rather than create walls of text:

  • The major innovation out of Shops after Chalices restriction was Triskelion - hardly a new printing. TKS was printed several months before Lodestone was restricted and was picked up pretty shortly following the restriction. It's unclear what shops deck would have emerged were the opposite true.
  • No, that is not what my logic suggests. I am saying that metagame dynamics determine the long term equilibrium of decks within a format. Restricting Chalice and Lodestone did nothing to change those dynamics - the Gush engine continued to be best combated through the use of Thorn effects.
  • Yes, I believe restricting Mentor will have an insignificant long term effect on the proportion of the metagame that runs Gush. Most Vintage players conform to one style of deck - those that play Blue will eventually continue to chose Gush decks with various win cons.
  • I was the first person to win a major event with JVP and Mentor. It was a hundred person event and I split a Lotus and an Ancestral with Brian. I created and top 8'd with Nahiri Control - Josh Lalo ended up taking down 2nd at EE5 in another 100 person event. I created Saheeli Oath, though I had no real part in the deck perpetuating across the internet. I am not saying that I'm the only person that contributed to the Gush archetype and I certainly don't mean to steal credit from anyone else, but to state that I "prefer playing weaker decks that lose to Gush" is asinine and ignorant.
  • How do you know it's not my preference? My preference is to brew and play a wide variety of different and interesting decks. These decks tend to be Blue but outside of that, they have little else in common. I Notion Thief'ed you out of Champs three years ago, top 32ing with Humanstorm. I played Dragon the year after that (had the Gush Mentor list sleeved up but won a Mox Ruby with Dragon and decided to run it back). Leovold Pyromancer last year (not a good call). I'm bored with Gush because the gameplay is repetitive and I'm bored with the format because it is essentially solved.

My reference to elves and goblins wasn't meant to be literal in the sense that I'd expect them to magically return. Just the idea that other non-Gush, non-Thorn decks would be viable. I won't even begin to discuss why I think bringing up the EU humans deck (or the EW standstill deck for that matter) is silly, but let's just say I have my reservations on both counts, albeit for different reasons.

I don't know why you think restricting Mentor suppresses Gush more than restricting Gush suppresses Mentor. Having fewer ways to trigger Mentor in one turn means a LOT. Having fewer ways to get more cards into your hand without paying mana means a LOT. That's less mana available for counters, less "free" counters drawn, etc. It's a lot easier to fight the Mentor when their engine is slower and requires more mana. If the plan is to power out mentors much faster, you're more susceptible to artifact hate, like Null Rod. This isn't a particularly reliable strategy when other decks, such as PO, may rise in numbers, leading to more hate for them as well.

But, as I said before, it could still need a restriction after Gush. I just don't see a reason to give an entire deck the middle finger all at once. However, glossing over the success of a deck like Grixis Therapy in the same time period seems absurd. Not to mention, Brian Kelly and I played Esper Mentor in a 60-some person event (iirc) with only 2 mentors in the deck. I went undefeated in games against blue decks that day, only losing to Will Dayton on TKS shops in the semis, while Brian made it to the finals, only losing in the Swiss to Dredge. So, with all of that being said, I just don't see how Mentor is the worse offender.

Haven't they (un)restricted blue cards specifically to create more diversity within blue decks before? I seem to remember that being a cause of the return of Fact or Fiction, Thirst for Knowledge, and even Gush. Wasn't it also a factor as to why each of those cards was restricted in the first place? It seems like restricting a blue cad for being too good agains blue decks - "valid" or not - is a historical fact of Vintage.

Restricting Gush and not Mentor would just allow everyone to Cavern out their Mentor's and force your opponent to have sudden shock or swords + counter or basically just lose as the Mentor player just voms moxes and gitaxian probes.

Great now you are playing Caverns with Gush and have to make some deck building considerations. At least you don't know exactly what my hand contains, or if you've already probed me have another probe for free after resolution. Also, without 4 Mental Misstep you may actually need to leave up resources to protect the Mentor and not just be able to windmill it with no drawback.

@wappla said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

@nedleeds

Regardless of what you are trying to argue, saying the worst thing to happen to Magic was the border change- something completely superficial with zero effect on gameplay- really undermines your credibility.

Obvious hyperbole is obvious. I'm comparing aesthetics to game play. C'mon.

On a more constructive note, I don't understand how you can point to Deathrite Shaman's past efficacy against Workshops as evidence of Mental Misstep's oppressiveness considering Deathrite Shaman was printed after Mental Misstep. Mental Misstep was just as legal during that period as it is now. Assuming you know this, I think some of the logic of your argument got lost in the philosophical disdain you seem to have for "free spells." Whatever the case, I couldn't figure out what your point was there.

It didn't happen over night things rarely do in Vintage. Misstep became better and better, and during Khans it went bonkers because it was counter a spell +1 mana. Then the token generators (Pyro then Mentor) made it even more obscene to pay no mana for spells because every one cast produced a board advantage. Free got better, first with delve then with tokens. If you can't see that you aren't really looking. Misstep is now the second most played card in the format along with its cohorts. The blue arms race has now consumed itself and produced utter homogeneity and staleness.

alt text

There's the ingredients, start your deck building experience there. Salt with 6 or so cards, huff some freon and head off to play.

Mike Bonde won BoM 2013 with 3 x Spell Pierce and a Steel Sabotage in his deck, along with Missteps. So there were decks that picked up Missteps efficiency early, but Khans pushed it to the top and it's pretty much stayed there.

This homogenization led to ripple effects, some of which are just theoretical. For example, the demise of bombs like tinker and will and tezzeret. I think this is in part because the top deck tutors are basically unplayable. They are so unreliable because of the hail of missteps it's not worth crafting a line around them (unless you have a hail of missteps to misstep the misstep that misstepped the misstep ... oh I had Flusterstorm! Look at my skills!). It's also the mana to spell ratio others have clearly pointed out, the Gush deck is just more blue stew and business and a will deck needs more mana to stretch to the late game.

On the topic of Mental Misstep and Gitaxian Probe, I think it's difficult to argue they are fundamentally broken when so many decks omit them entirely.

Many decks omit Bazaar of Baghdad, Lion's Eye Diamond and Library of Alexandria. Your measuring stick is broken because it discounts the synergy of the surrounding cards. This was the thrust of my paragraph. Gush was fine for a time, then the Blue Stew began bubbling, with 8 new free spells, token insanity, the delve mess, then dack fayden further turbo charging the card.

last edited by nedleeds

I agree that Gush Mentor appears to have pushed certain strategies out of the format; however, I believe the decline of most creature decks is related to the fact that attacking into a swarm of free monk tokens is a flawed strategy. I feel the need to point out that many of these decks used to play four Chalice of the Void as a trump against one mana cantrips. Certainly it would seem that having Chalice present in the metagame would affect Gush Mentor as well as all Gush decks since they rely heavily on cards like preordain to maintain consistency with so few mana sources. I would even venture to say that there were far fewer people calling for Gush's restriction on this website before the restriction of Chalice of the Void. The recent posts about Gitaxian Probe, Mental Misstep, Preordain, and Gush could potentially all be addressed simultaneously with the unrestriction of Chalice of the Void; previously the long time natural predator of cantrip strategies.

last edited by Aaron Patten

@Aaron-Patten They played Chalice of the Void as a 0 mana, remove a third of your opponent's manabase from the game; 2 mana, shut off the most reliable answers to creatures in addition to cantrips. Chalice wasn't an answer - It was a huge problem for the format, which became readily apparent once WotC introduced VMA to MTGO and started paying attention to Vintage. And yes, I was calling for Gush to be restricted before Chalice was restricted. It was obvious that a super cantrip in Gush was broken when paired with even 2 Delve spells.

@SeanOhh said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

I don't know why you think restricting Mentor suppresses Gush more than restricting Gush suppresses Mentor.

Then you aren't reading what I've written in this thread.

Just envision a post-Gush environment, and it's not hard to see how Mentor decks will continue unabated, while if Mentor is restricted, a significant % of Gush players will switch to non-Gush decks. The only question is how large that % is.

The reason Mentor decks would continue unabated post-Gush is because Mentor decks with Delve, cantrips, and more Moxen will be just as oppressive. With more mana (like Mana Crypt), you can 1) play faster Mentors, and 2) cards like Top, which are insane with Mentor for Monk generation.

Having fewer ways to trigger Mentor in one turn means a LOT.

But you won't have fewer ways to trigger Mentor. You'll have MORE because you play with more Moxen, Tops, etc. The virtual card advantage that Gush provides is much less relevant now that there is so much filtering in the format with JVP and Dack.

Having fewer ways to get more cards into your hand without paying mana means a LOT.

Yeah, but Gush is slow compared to how Mentor decks post-Gush can accelerate out.

But, as I said before, it could still need a restriction after Gush. I just don't see a reason to give an entire deck the middle finger all at once.

But that's exactly what you want to do to Gush. Don't you see the contradiction?

@ChubbyRain said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

@Smmenen

I prefer to knock these out via bullet points rather than create walls of text:

  • The major innovation out of Shops after Chalices restriction was Triskelion - hardly a new printing. TKS was printed several months before Lodestone was restricted and was picked up pretty shortly following the restriction. It's unclear what shops deck would have emerged were the opposite true.

TKS was printed several months before, but it would have eventually emerged how good the Eldrazi were.
Plus, the Vehicles were printed later that year.

  • No, that is not what my logic suggests. I am saying that metagame dynamics determine the long term equilibrium of decks within a format. Restricting Chalice and Lodestone did nothing to change those dynamics - the Gush engine continued to be best combated through the use of Thorn effects.

You are repeating without explaining yourself. You concede that restricting Mentor would, at least in the short term, reduce the % of Gush decks. What you haven't explained is why Mentor wouldn't have a long-term reduction, even if it's less than it's short term %. Saying "metagame dynamics" and "long term equilibrium" is an abstract assertion rather than a prediction. The case of Shops post-Chalice/Golem is inapposite, as their performance was driven, in part, by new printings.

You also concede that restricting Mentor would have a larger effect on Gush than restricting Gush would have on Mentor, which leads to the obvious conclusion to restrict Mentor first.

  • Yes, I believe restricting Mentor will have an insignificant long term effect on the proportion of the metagame that runs Gush. Most Vintage players conform to one style of deck - those that play Blue will eventually continue to chose Gush decks with various win cons.

But what's not clear, then, is why you think the short-term suppressive effect would be significant. What you said here applies to players in the short term just as much as the long run.

I'm bored with Gush because the gameplay is repetitive and I'm bored with the format because it is essentially solved.

But that's Vintage. Restricting Gush won't change that. Control Slaver was the best deck for like 3-4 years. If we started restricting because of a stagnant metagame, it would destroy one of the most appealing aspects of the format. That people can play the same decks year over year.

last edited by Smmenen

@nedleeds My statement was specifically if you restrict gush and leave mentor unrestricted, no reason to concern yourself with running non-islands if you are only on a singleton gush.

@Smmenen said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

Just envision a post-Gush environment, and it's not hard to see how Mentor decks will continue unabated

But, as I said before, it could still need a restriction after Gush. I just don't see a reason to give an entire deck the middle finger all at once.

But that's exactly what you want to do to Gush. Don't you see the contradiction?

Steve, I sure do see a contradiction...

This is a little off-topic. My apologies. @Smmenen touched on this, but I would like to explore it a little more. The restricted list sets vintage apart from other formats. In the past few months, there has been discussion on the reduction on the number of restricted list cards used in decks. When I think about this, the idea that there are cards that were at one point considered too powerful for vintage (and were hence restricted), that are no longer played, as non restricted cards produce decks with a greater chance of winning. Something feels amiss.

I do not know if anyone has data to support this, but if they do, I would love to see it!

last edited by rbartlet

@rbartlet said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

This is a little off-topic. My apologies. @Smmenen touched on this, but I would like to explore it a little more. The restricted list sets vintage apart from other formats. In the past few months, there has been discussion on the reduction on the number of reserve list cards used in decks. When I think about this, the idea that there are cards that were at one point considered too powerful for vintage (and were hence restricted), that are no longer played, as non restricted cards produce decks with a greater chance of winning. Something feels amiss.

It is amiss. Not long ago, Tinker and Yawgmoth's Will were so dominant that they were the posterchildren for discussions about banning. Today, Monastery Mentor + Free Spells outclass them both so embarrassingly, they're marginalized to the fringes. This shows we are in underregulated territory far beyond historical bright lines.

Preordain is not the biggest offender though calls for restricting it are not without merit and its unrestricted status is, as pointed out above by Stephen, certainly incongruous with Ponder being restricted. Note in the above link where Matt (ChubbyRain) and I split the finals of an Eternal Extravaganza, I ran exactly 1 Preordain, only 2 Mentors, but 4 Gush. And while Mr. Murray's style is occasionally more abrasive than I would embrace, he is correct that among his associates, he is regarded as the progenitor of the Jace, Vryn's Prodigy movement in Vintage, Saheeli Oath, and several other successful decks (including, painful as it is to admit, the Cavern Faeries deck featuring a Sower of Temptation that stole my Magus of the Future in the semi finals of a medium sized event and then later stole my Auriok Salvagers in a different T8 and proceeded to randomly combo out on me despite running no Spellbombs with Lotus, EE, and Sensei's Top).

A very important point regarding B&R decisions in general is that while it is intellectually rewarding to craft a rigorous and thorough body of metrics for such determinations and weigh each candidate card accordingly, it would be futile to substitute any such brilliant system for the DCI's own judgment. At 23 years into Magic, I still have no idea who exactly comprises the DCI or even how many persons, robots, cats, et.al. reach these decisions, let alone what process is used. We're all left to (informed) speculation regarding how decisions are made with piecemeal explanations here and there that over the years often seem arbitrary and even contradictory. It's fair, IMO, to believe that however Vintage was regarded in the year 2000, before the grotesque election scandal, before the planes crashed into the skyline, before Madonna's career went straight to hell (ie, ancient history), is not how it is currently regarded. I see it fundamentally as the format where you can play the legendary Power 9 and old powerhouses alongside some of the intriguing cards printed since. Others may see it differently. It's not mandatory that every single card be unbanned/unrestricted to capture that. Nor is it necessary to assume that an outdated tacit acceptance of Vintage as stagnant is where the DCI wants to be in 2017 when Vintage has been more heavily promoted in the past few years than ever with a wider audience that pays more sustained attention to it and hence is more maladapted to inertia + "bad things" (for instance, Mentor Gush). Hence, for those reasons, we don't need to pretend that Vintage is some eternal static molasses, inviolable by the sanity of appropriate restrictions. If it's broken, we're not powerless to fix it.

Another crucial point here is that, aside form Stephen, Gush does not have any staunch defenders. 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. Even people who believe in theory that no restrictions are needed are rather passionless. It's not that they actively oppose changes; they just passively think they might not be needed. Hence, I don't see a player revolt or any decrease in retention if these toxic cards are properly abated. By contrast, I do know several players who have outright left or attenuated their participation in Magic, both online and offline, because of the monotony specifically of Gush Mentor. I find a Spring Cleaning of most of these cards to be an overall net positive.

@p3temangus said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

@nedleeds My statement was specifically if you restrict gush and leave mentor unrestricted, no reason to concern yourself with running non-islands if you are only on a singleton gush.

Got it. Sorry, I missed that. I'm not debating that Mentor wouldn't be super powerful in a cavern / non-Gush strategy. It's actually the first shell I played it in the week it was legal

http://www.eternalcentral.com/team-tusk-presents-bulletproof-monk/

... like with top which is nuts, or with Outcome and Moxes. I just feel like without perfect information and misstep to just run it out there you can actually attack the card much better. Sometimes you certainly won't be able to. But better players who make better reads will be rewarded rather than the linear gameplay we currently see in things like mentor mirrors.

@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.

Warmly, Stephen

last edited by Smmenen

I've read everything in this thread and after seeing that a few people seem to think that only @Smmenen wants Gush to stay unrestricted, I decided to submit a rare post.

I enjoy Vintage as it is right now. I enjoy playing with Gush. I enjoy playing Gush mirrors and I enjoy playing against the other decks which I typically encounter in the format whilst playing with Gush decks. My experience of Gush is that it promotes a pattern of play which is more interactive and (subsequently) typically slower than games in other formats such as Legacy.

One of the things that I especially enjoy about Vintage is that it is a format where attrition strategies are less prevalent. Modern, for example, is a format where Black-Green decks are king because one mana hand disruption spells are the only real universal interaction which exists in the format. Those kinds of strategies exist in Legacy too, but they don't really exist in the same way in Vintage. I like that. I like that the format is different in this way.

Another thing which I really enjoy about Vintage is that the format has very high power peaks. My thinking is as follows: in a format where there is a power peak, there will always be a playability vacuum as a result. In Legacy, no one plays Condemn or Oust as one mana creature removal in White because Swords to Plowshares exists. I like that Vintage is a format with relatively few power peaks, and that those power peaks are very high. It creates an enemy to fight, rather than having the sea of mediocrity which exists in Modern, for example.

I am reluctant to post and argue my position too fervently for several reasons. One of those reasons is that I don't believe my voice has the capacity or carries the weight to make a difference at all. Another reason is that I am acutely aware of the fact that my opinions are not perfectly informed - they're shaped by my experiences and preferences. As such, I know that my opinions are enormously subjective and so I don't believe they are worth anything to anyone else. Which I think is totally fine.

With respect to a change in the format, I have said on Facebook that I believe that part of the problem with Vintage right now is that people seem to be unhappy with the pattern of play that Monastery Mentor promotes. I mentioned that people dislike that Mentor is mostly immune to removal and that it is so powerful while requiring no synergy in order to be both an efficient defensive or offensive tool.

I suggested that if people are dissatisfied by the pattern of play which Monastery Mentor promotes, then restricting Mentor rather than anything else would be preferable - partially because cards like Preordain, Gitaxian Probe and Gush go into other strategies which people find less infuriating to fight (like Storm, Oath of Druids or Fastbond based combo decks).

Another thing which leads me to believe that perhaps Mentor is the card to restrict is that the Gush decks we see today are very powerful without maximising the power of Gush. If I'm not mistaken, Steve made this point previously, saying that Gush decks play more land and often don't even play four copies of Gush. It is my opinion that the efficiency of Monastery Mentor is an enormous chunk of the reason that control decks can exist in this manner. By providing a win condition which is highly challenging to efficiently interact with while having such a low opportunity cost, people can play Gush decks in a way which I would imagine wouldn't be possible without Mentor.

There are many other factors which influence contemporary deckbuilding: the printing of the Eldrazi and the restriction of Lodestone Golem has resulted in a scenario where many players are incentivised to play Swords to Plowshares as removal instead of Lightning Bolt, the printing of the Delve spells and Dack Fayden has also had a tremendous impact on the format, Containment Priest's printing has changed how we typically fight graveyard or Oath strategies and Paradoxical Outcome's printing has drastically increased the stock of Stony Silence. These things all work in unison such that isolating their impact may not be possible.

I don't know what the best thing is to do going forwards, but I can say that I enjoy Vintage with Gush. I really love that Vintage is a format which massively rewards skill and provides players with agency which I don't think we get in other formats. Gush is a part of that for me.

It is very possible that I'm wrong and I will continue to read the opinions of others and challenge myself to consider things from their point of view.

I regret that the forum software allows me to like your post only once. Your single post was more effective and compelling than my last dozen.

last edited by Smmenen

I think the other thing people are missing is that free spells like Mental Misstep, Gitaxian Probe, and Gush all reduce the power of moxen, and this is a very good thing. I wrote at length about the subject nine months ago, and neither my views nor the fundamentals of the format have changed much since then.

It is a really good thing that the best blue deck in the format rarely plays all five moxen in a world where Chalice of the Void is restricted. Gush is the single best card at reducing the equity staked in the power nine. Without Gush we would have a diverse format only because no one would know what the best deck is. That type of false diversity exists in Modern and Legacy and is not desirable, and it would be awful for Vintage to inject more randomness in the form of more severe matchup lotteries in the format's already miniature tournaments. As I wrote in "Decisions," it is a huge mistake to trade in-game decisions for deckbuilding decisions. Restricting cards like Mental Misstep, Gitaxian Probe, and Gush would significantly reduce in-game decisions because having fewer copies of them would increase the equity inequality in your deck, leaving you and your opponent more at the mercy of your draws and less reliant on your actual decisions.

Rogue deckbuilding decisions already get pretty steep rewards because of how attuned stock lists are to other stock lists. Good players have been exploiting that for over a year now, whether it's a Narset in Mentor, Dragonlord Dromoka in Oath, or Gisela in Eldrazi. The metagame has been very dynamic. Mentor hasn't been built the same for any two months in a row for the past 18 months. Good players have been constantly changing their decks to win the most matches possible. When you accept the design constraints of playing the best cards in the format rather than constantly complain about how those design constraints should be restricted, things are fine.

At least until someone goes Workshop, Trinisphere and none of your decisions matter.

I think a reading of my article would definitely support Monastery Mentor's restriction. Like Thirst for Knowledge or Gifts Ungiven, it increases the equity of moxen. I think most people's issues with Gitaxian Probe and Mental Misstep are really a problem with the 1/1 prowess token they generate. I don't think Monastery Mentor needs to be restricted, but it's the only valid candidate in the Gush archetype and I wouldn't much mind if it were.

last edited by wappla

@Smmenen

Oh dear. I have never accused you of bias in defending Gush despite the fact that, with all respect, you have the most salient reason for doing so, as the author of multiple editions of Understanding Gush (which is really a great book). In fact, I could not fault you for such predilection, which I do believe comes from your enjoyment of the card's manifold applications rather than pecuniary self-interest. I don't know if you remember this or even saw it, I said on multiple occasions in 2016 that I oppose restricting Gush at that time because it would deal a blow to one of our most dedicated and productive community members (you) to render your high quality work moot. I said I would be open to considering restricting it in 2017.

Given my decision to refrain from attacking your credibility as being undermined by bias despite there being such an obvious basis for doing so, it is a little perplexing to see you mischaracterize me as an out-of-touch member of a Keeper-fan "echo chamber," though gratefully your manner of doing so was neither disrespectful nor undiplomatic. However, my perceptions are based on firsthand gameplay observations and my sense of the community attitude towards Mentor Gush is not defined only by what my friends think. I interact with many people at paper events and constantly hear calls for restricting Gush, Monastery Mentor, Mental Misstep, and/or Gitaxian Probe. Some for Paradoxical Outcome or Thorn of Amethyst, not many for Preordain or Ancient Tomb. The sentiment is prevalent throughout the VSL, many members with whom I do not interact with often outside of the show. And the comment section there, on articles, on social media... cannot be quantified I suppose, but there's a palpable sense that Gush Mentor is reviled. And it may be more because of Monastery Mentor than Gush.

I don't think of restrictions primarily as ways of tinkering with metagame balance. I think of individual cards, both in a vacuum and in a given context, and whether they cross the ineffable threshold of being an "outrage!" or extremely "un-fun" which is a criterion that requires utmost respect, since Magic is supposed to be "fun," even though attempts to define that have been so awkward and clumsy in the past they've unfairly made the criterion itself seem laughable. Monastery Mentor and Gitaxian Probe are outrageous. Mental Misstep is un-fun, and lose-lose for all parties. "Let's start the game with a Misstep war and then play like we both mulled to 4." Shame on that. I would rather play 0 and never see it again. "I sure hope this Birds of Paradise resolves" is a cruel and ridiculous predicament, illustrative of the toxicity of that card's stranglehold.

Gush is definitely restriction worthy but I do agree with you that restricting it would not stop Monastery Mentor from continuing to infect the format, so it's not #1 on my list of cards to go. There are several cards across all archetypes whose unrestriction is questionable from a power-level standpoint that don't come up for discussion as much because circumstantially, players have not been abusing them en masse in a given season (Show and Tell, for instance). That doesn't make them any more or less acceptable though, from a perspective that isn't very attached to the metagame at just one period in time. But I assure you there is no particular "pet deck" I'm secretly yearning to revive that colors any assessment here (What deck would that even be?). Likewise, Rich is not secretly conspiring to revive Control Slaver; he accepted long ago that its moment has passed. Respectfully, those are ridiculous insinuations.

last edited by brianpk80
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