SMIP Podcast #64: Amonkhet Preview, Eternal Weekend Europe and a Restricted Mentor



  • http://www.eternalcentral.com/so-many-insane-plays-podcast-episode-64-amonkhet-preview-eternal-weekend-europe-and-a-restricted-mentor/

    Kevin Cron and Steve Menendian discuss their Amonkhet preview card – Shadow of the Grave, the results of Eternal Weekend: Europe, and the hypothetical world in which Monastery Mentor is restricted.

    Duration: 2:39:25 — 87.3MB

    0:01:00: Shadow of the Grave
    0:57:30: Eternal Weekend: Europe Metagame
    1:24:00: Eternal Weekend: Europe Top 8
    1:56:00: What if Monastery Mentor was restricted?
    Total Runtime: 2:39:25

    0_1492093229270_Shadow_of_the_Grave_EN.PNG



  • The legal standard of "narrow tailoring" is simply inapplicable. When you insist on narrow tailoring, and you also insist that the target of that narrow tailoring is anything other than Gush, you make it artificially easy to preserve Gush. More problematically, any time you insist on narrow tailoring, the remedy will be incredibly sensitive to how you define the problem to be solved. Narrowly targeting Gush Mentor and narrowly targeting Gush tokens decks as a class will produce wildly different policies despite being virtually synonymous in the current metagame. Narrow tailoring produces a tortured "reading" of the metagame (because you have to define a narrow target), and the logical alternative is not sloppy tailoring or broad tailoring but reasonable tailoring. When you insist that "the problem" be defined a single narrow way, you are insisting that all players have the same preferences in order to produce a restriction. This is obviously absurd. Instead, you should be willing to look at different points of view. If almost everyone wants Gush restricted for different reasons, it should probably be restricted even if no single reason is convincing to you personally. In that framework, the belief that you have to identify a single underlying problem (which is separate from the expressed wishes of players) and address it using the best mechanism you individually devise is clearly misplaced.

    I think the fundamental element that people are trying to object to (and which is obviously an expression of preferences like all B&R criteria including metagame dominance) is that the format has become Gush-polar. Even though Gush is not a majority of finishes, and even though it is not performing dominantly by itself, it creates a metagame in which everything ultimately revolves around Gush. It is the eye of the storm.

    You have the Gush decks, then you have the transparently anti-Gush decks utilizing Sphere of Resistance-style effects. In combination, they represent well over half the metagame. In this episode, you said that White Eldrazi was a good deck precisely because it is the best at attacking Mentor Gush. That should be enough to sound the alarm in the back of your mind.

    Obviously, there are always going to be some set of decks that the format "revolves around". That is synonymous with saying a metagame exists. The thing to hope for in restricting Gush is not that the metagame doesn't exist or doesn't feature some decks more centrally than others. The thing to hope for is that 1) a larger number of decks are "central" to the format and 2) players enjoy the ultimate dynamic that emerges more than they enjoy the Gush dynamic.

    You cannot escape subjectivity. The whole reason different formats exist is because different players want to experience different ways of playing Magic. Fundamentally, Vintage is a device for satisfying player preferences, like all formats. If the DCI listens to a select minority and is cavalier with B&R policy, this is not bad because it violates some Commandment Of The Universe, but because such a decision would contradict the preferences of most players.

    As the famous saying goes, "democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." So too with Vintage.


  • Administrators

    @ajfirecracker

    I quite like that post, not that I necessarily agree with your conclusion, but I think you've cleanly laid out what you're looking for in a metagame, which I think is lacking in most of these discussions.

    I think a lot of people share your opinion that (Mentor) + (Anti Mentor Decks) makes up a large percentage of the metagame, and that amount is so high that it's problematic. I don't have a huge problem with that kind of metagame, but I know a lot of people do.

    I'm actually afraid that a Gush restriction will create the exact opposite effect. Having played vintage for 15ish years, my subjective read on the format is that most historical metagames were (Deck) + (Anti Deck), and that usually they take up a much higher percentage of playable strategies than they do now. I think there are a number of restrictions that could happen which would kill Gush decks, but result in a (Good Blue Deck) + (Anti Blue Deck) metagame that's more pronounced than what we have now.

    I think a lot of what people see as diversity in older metagames is an illusion created by insular metagames, a smaller player pool, a lack of tournament data and no magic online. The difference in power level between Gifts and the next best deck was dramatically bigger than the difference between the top 3 or 4 decks today.

    If your problem is just that you don't like Gush decks, then you're golden. If your problem is that you like strategically diverse metagames, then you're screwed.

    Of course, metagames are complex animals, anything can happen, etc etc.


  • TMD Supporter

    @CHA1N5 Nice job!

    The audio was much improved on my end in this episode.



  • There is another warning bell here. Many decks are designed from the start to be able to beat mentor decks. There is not a range of answer cards designed to trump mentor, whilst retaining applicability to other match-ups. Instead, people need to either attack the gush engine, or the paradoxical engine.

    I still like to ask myself questions:

    • Would gush mentor be as good if chalice of the void was not restricted?
    • Would gush mentor be as good if lodestone golem was not restricted?
    • If mentor was restricted, how would this impact walking ballista?
    • If mentor was restricted, how would this impact smokestack?
    • If mentor was restricted, how would this impact tinker?

    I wonder whether the restriction of chalice was the real flood gate to the CMC1 glut that we see now: probe, misstep, preordain, ponder, recall, swords, flusterstorm, fragmentize, etc...

    If chalice were unrestricted, would this help keep (predominantly blue) decks more honest with their CMC spreads?



  • @rbartlet said in SMIP Podcast #64: Amonkhet Preview, Eternal Weekend Europe and a Restricted Mentor:

    I still like to ask myself questions:

    • Would gush mentor be as good if chalice of the void was not restricted?
    • Would gush mentor be as good if lodestone golem was not restricted?
    • If mentor was restricted, how would this impact walking ballista?
    • If mentor was restricted, how would this impact smokestack?
    • If mentor was restricted, how would this impact tinker?

    These are good questions to ask and one of the ways that B&r additions and subtractions need to be looked at. I want to address 2 of them:

    1. chalice - I am 100% convinced the chalice restriction was a proactive restriction due to the soon-to-be-released sanctum prelate. Now prelate has not had the meta-defining impact most of us thought it would. But imagine a deck packing 4 prelates, 4 chalices, 4 null rods, 4 wastelands, 4 thalias - imagine how consistently that deck is locking its opponent out from playing Magic. I don't think we'll ever see chalice come off the list. I don't think anybody at blizzard wants to test the waters with 8x chalice effects.

    2. I think golems restriction had more to do with the existence of thorn and sphere. Yes it took them a while to get around to it. But I honestly think if sphere or thorn didn't exist, if the deck just had access to golem and 1 other sphere-style effect then golem would not have been restricted. Again I don't think we'll ever see golem come off the list.



  • @Khahan

    If Sanctum Prelate were actually good people would play it. Its existence is not a reason for Chalices restriction. Chalice was restricted because Shops was better than Blue for too long of a period of time. But Chalice wasnt enough to reinstall Blue as #1 so Golem was hit too. Leaving really only a few sphere/thorn effects as the only way to punish the strategy of low CC, and low mana count.



  • I applaud the relevance of these topics. That said, I think the conceptual framework of the Vintage format is at question here. With nothing more than a brief reasoning for restricting and unrestricting, it is difficult to ascertain what the goal is for the format. The game is not static, but constantly evolving with new printings. I have not personally researched what WOTC's or the DCI's objectives are for Vintage, but I have read diversity and fun are among them. I have had an interest in competitive play in other formats, so I have formed my own conclusions about what competitive play is and what facilitates it, as well as hinders it.

    Knowledge of one's deck, its capabilities, its strengths, and its weaknesses, must be examined to evaluate a one's chances of success. The game becomes more simplistic if one is only required to combat around six decks, but can become overly complicated if there are more than six known highly competitive decks. However, when there are less than three power decks, new questions arise. These questions can include: are certain cards more powerful than others, are certain strategies more powerful than others; and if either of these questions are the case, what can a deck builder do to strategically advance their position? When there are no known ways to shift the meta game beyond a constant back and forth (which could largely be caused by player preference such as blue cannibalization) I think potential restrictions should be evaluated.

    In the past few months I have read very persuasive arguments for the restrictions of certain cards, namely Monastery Mentor and Gush. There is no need, or real impact to restating these arguments, because they are well known. Because of the last few months discussions, I have been inspired to critically evaluate the circumstances surrounding Vintage. A few months in this format is equates to a "blink of the eye". Some people think no restrictions are in order, others think otherwise. My research has found that the meta has shifted from Gush, to Landstill, to Mud, to Dredge, and then to Eldrazi (a Thorn of Amethyst variant of Shops of you will). This means that deck builders are still finding options and responding effectively.

    At least five different archetypes are at play here: Landstill, Mud, Mentor Gush, Dredge, and Eldrazi. Without researching further, concerning top four finishes, I am glad that players are able to respond to conditions in the meta. Sometimes different blue archetypes are the response, and in this case it is: two blue decks, one artifact deck, Dredge, and one hybrid hatebears/thorn build. This causes me to ask myself certain questions. What more could I ask for in a format, and can I formulate a response not only to the last known winning deck, but to variations of these five winning archetypes?

    I had taken a break from Magic in my last semester of college (accountancy was my major), so that I could focus on a strong finish. When I returned, I naturally set forth to find the best response to the meta. I think my return to the game was a couple months after Landstill's big finish. My first thoughts were on my pet deck, BUG Gushbond. Early play testing revealed to me that Walking Ballista has killed that archetype, and Gush decks were now using Wasteland, further adding to my detriment. My next thought was that Oath of Druids could be a strong response to Shops, Eldrazi, Dredge, and Gush. This is where things got interesting for me.

    I normally played on Cockatrice, but I found the player base had somewhat deteriorated. I knew at least 60 Vintage players there, but I was lucky to find games now. I set out to build my deck, and It looked like it was going to be Griselbrand Oath/Tendrils. My success was good enough to think that I could achieve good results In a Power Nine Challenge, so I bought the deck on Magic Online. I was surprised to find myself losing the majority of my early games. However, I responded by making slight changes, and within a week or two, I found that my account showed at least an 11-4 record with the deck. I found subtle changes and responses to what I was seeing (namely Sphinx of the Steel Wind) were the reason for the increase in success. After boredom of playing one deck, I traded Oath for Mud. I noticed that I was having more fun, yet marginal results. Within one week, I formulated a simple response, and soon after the deck's results were at 15-2.

    Myself, and others may ask, "what is the significance or cause of these results?" Personally, I have found that prior knowledge, current involvement, and study of the format were the biggest factors in these successes. My past experiences and knowledge of the game definitely guided me. These included: competition from top level Oath players on Coctatrice (and learning from them), my interest in TPS and Gush/Tendrils inspired by Stephen Menendian and Louis Scott Vargas, watching and listening to Rich Shay play Mud and learning some tricks about the deck from watching Erich Froelich (on the VSL if I am correct), and putting to use my theoretical knowledge of competitive play. That said, I am not convinced of the significances. These are not major tournament results, but rather the accumulation of single matches over time.

    Why do these things matter know though? The Oath of Druids/Tendils deck was basically what was missing from top four finishes if I am correct, and Thorn Variants are currently very good. This causes me to believe that the results were not so much a result of my ability to play, but rather to respond to the better decks in the format. Without making this post too much longer, I would like to pose some questions. Why aren't Mana Drain decks present in the top eights of major tournaments anymore? Will players be able to respond to Thorn decks? Do blue decks require more intuition to play successfully? To add a more personal perspective this post, I know from IQ tests that my intuition is not nearly what my interpretive skills are. Does this mean that I or similar minded players are better suited for decks that combat the meta with answers rather than proactive strategies? With five different decks winning major tournaments, is Vintage where it should be? Would restricting one or two cards create more diversity? Are players frustrated with different outcomes from playing different decks? Do the Power levels of certain cards warrant restriction regardless of top level performances?


  • TMD Supporter

    @ajfirecracker said in SMIP Podcast #64: Amonkhet Preview, Eternal Weekend Europe and a Restricted Mentor:

    The legal standard of "narrow tailoring" is simply inapplicable. When you insist on narrow tailoring, and you also insist that the target of that narrow tailoring is anything other than Gush, you make it artificially easy to preserve Gush.

    Your post reveals a deep misunderstanding of the concept of "narrow tailoring," and several related conceptual errors.

    Narrow tailoring is simply the idea that a policy objective be accomplished by a tight means-end fit. It is completely agnostic regarding the goal or objective.

    As a legal principle, it is used to by reviewing courts to ensure that policymakers aren't sweeping more broadly than necessary - overbreadth or overinclusiveness - so that the regulations or laws aren't causing unintentional harms. (Examples include speech restrictions that may inadvertently infringe first amendment rights or a zoning or land use ordinance that, say, seeks to regulate the location of certain kinds of businesses but ultimately infringes on legitimate property rights.)

    Banned and Restricted List policy provides a perfect analog to apply this concept. It does so by requiring the DCI to first define the problem, and then to select the restriction that is most narrowly tailored to solving that problem, and sweeping no broader than necessary. In practice, this may mean one restriction that is capable of solving a problem rather than two.

    What you are getting tripped up on here is that you are confusing the narrow tailoring element with the determination or selection of an objective. Those are two separate steps.

    The first step is to define the problem or objective. You said "you also insist that the target of that narrow tailoring is anything other than Gush, you make it artificially easy to preserve Gush. "

    The premise is erroneous. It's not up to ME to define the problem. What I said in the podcast is this: The initial threshold inquiry is to decide whether there is a problem or not. IF The DCI decides that there is a problem, then it needs to define the problem.

    Your quote above suggests that I am defining the problem as "not Gush." That's not at all what I said. Listen again to that segment of the podcast.

    What I said is that I have only heard two problems or objectives articulated:

    1. That the Gush Mentor deck is a problem

    2. That Gush crowds out other blue decks.

    Yes, I've argued that the second is not a legitimate reason to restrict a card, for a variety of reasons I will not rehash here. But I've NEVER presumed that the 2nd is not an objective that some players have identified for policy redress.

    More problematically, any time you insist on narrow tailoring, the remedy will be incredibly sensitive to how you define the problem to be solved.

    Of course! That's a feature, not a bug! That's the entire point of narrow tailoring!

    In fact, that's the entire point of that segment of the podcast. We must insist on clearly defining the problem so that the policy mechanism avoids overbreadth and overinclusiveness.

    Narrowly targeting Gush Mentor and narrowly targeting Gush tokens decks as a class will produce wildly different policies

    Exactly! That's the point!

    When you insist that "the problem" be defined a single narrow way, you are insisting that all players have the same preferences in order to produce a restriction. This is obviously absurd.

    It's only absurd because you added an absurd step in between. Insisting that the policymaker settle upon a a clear definition of the problem does not mean that all players share the same view of what constitutes the problem.

    Players can think Oath of Druids or Bazaar of Baghdad (or Gitaxian Probe) is a problem without the DCI believing that. People can think whatever they want. Similarly, a city council does not have to act on behalf of a single enraged constituent (or group) complaining about fluoridated water or a proposed apartment building. Vintage players are able to hold their own ideas about what the greater good is, just as any set of constituents may relative to any policymaker.

    I know that the DCI believes that there should be consensus that a problem exists before they act. I'm simply insisting on an additional step: that not only should there be consensus that a problem exists, but consensus and then clarity on how to define that problem before they act. That doesn't mean washing out the varied views on how to articulate the problem or what kinds or types of problems exist.

    Just as city councils or other legislative bodies don't usually act in response to a single enraged constituent, nor should the DCI act on minority concerns about Vintage. Rather, there should be consensus that there is a problem and consensus on what that problem is before acting. But requiring consensus on problem definition before a policy response does not require anyone to conform to the consensus view; that's just how democracies and other utilitarian systems, like the DCI's management of the B&R, operate. Only if consensus is forged on the problem first, will the policy solution maximize player happiness and satisfaction in the format.

    Instead, you should be willing to look at different points of view. If almost everyone wants Gush restricted for different reasons, it should probably be restricted even if no single reason is convincing to you personally.

    No! This isn't about me or what I personally believe or not. It's about the policymaker or regulator - The DCI - defining the problem.

    YES, of course there are a many different points of view! But requiring the DCI - and by extension to the community - to come to a consensus first on how to define the problem - is not only logical, it's sensible.

    If you pursue a restricted list policy that is scattershot - that tries to accommodate conflicting points of view rather than a consensus view - then you result in different restrictions.

    As I said, I've only heard (up to the point of recording) two particular objectives articulated in connection with the current debate over the Gush Mentor deck. My argument is that the DCI - and the community - needs to decide which problem it's trying to solve first (after satisfying the initial threshold question of whether there is a problem or not), and then design a narrowly tailored policy response.

    In that framework, the belief that you have to identify a single underlying problem (which is separate from the expressed wishes of players) and address it using the best mechanism you individually devise is clearly misplaced.

    It's not misplaced at all. It's the only way to ensure that we have as few restrictions as possible and that the restriction produces as little harm as possible.

    You cannot escape subjectivity.

    Of course not. But you are confusing means and ends, the intervention and the objective. Any policy devised by any policymaker at root will be based upon values, preferences, and many other subjective qualities.

    Whenever a city council devises an ordinances or a legislature enacts a statute, it is doing so based upon subjective elements. Courts call this the "government interest." The analog here might be the "Vintage interest."

    The ends here are necessarily subjective - it is a function of the Vintage player base's preference set. But the means to get there is less so. Once an objective has consensus, then the DCI should select the policy intervention (the means) that is narrowly tailored to accomplish that objective.

    By insisting on a tight means-end fit, we ensure that restrictions accomplish legitimate policy objectives while minimizing any broader harm.

    If the DCI listens to a select minority and is cavalier with B&R policy, this is not bad because it violates some Commandment Of The Universe, but because such a decision would contradict the preferences of most players.

    Exactly! That's why narrow tailoring should be insisted upon here. Without narrow tailoring, the policy intervention risks contradicting the preferences of most players.

    Insisting on narrow tailoring does not require the Vintage community to wash out different points of view or insist on a false objectivity. Rather, it simply requires that the DCI decide which problem it seeks to address, and then to select the policy internvention among them that is most narrowly tailored to accomplishing that objective.


  • TMD Supporter

    @Brass-Man said in SMIP Podcast #64: Amonkhet Preview, Eternal Weekend Europe and a Restricted Mentor:

    @ajfirecracker

    not that I necessarily agree with your conclusion, but I think you've cleanly laid out what you're looking for in a metagame, which I think is lacking in most of these discussions.

    Agreed. Adam has articulated a clear objective: he thinks the metagame is Gush polarized, and that the policy objective should be to de-polarize it.

    That's a perfectly fine objective to articulate. And, frankly, if true, I think that's probably also a legitimate policy objective, even if Gush isn't, by itself, dominant.

    BUT, I don't think that's what concerns most players who want a Restricted change. The FB poll and other data points suggest that the objective or problem people are most concerned about is the prevalance of Gush Mentor. A minority of players are concerned about a Gush polarity or the issue of Gush pushing out other blue decks.

    Insisting on a clear objective not only helps us examine which intervention is most likely to achieve that objective, but it also helps us spot differences in opinion in how Vintage players define problems in the format. While Adam's objective is a clearly articulated and even a legitimate objective, it's not clear that there is consensus among players that they view that as a problem.

    I think your analysis or forecast happens to be the most accurate. And, I'm hopeful that if the DCI sees a problem, it will recognize that the narrowly tailored option is to restrict Mentor first, and see what happens.

    On a more directly on topic point: I am very happy with how this podcast turned out!



  • An hour on Shadow of the Grave, huh? I don't see this being remotely playable, so I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.



  • @Smmenen said in [SMIP Podcast #64: Amonkhet Preview, Eternal Weekend Europe and a Restricted Mentor]

    Agreed. Adam has articulated a clear objective: he thinks the metagame is Gush polarized, and that the policy objective should be to de-polarize it.

    That's a perfectly fine objective to articulate. And, frankly, if true, I think that's probably also a legitimate policy objective, even if Gush isn't, by itself, dominant.

    BUT, I don't think that's what concerns most players who want a Restricted change.

    This has literally been my position for 2+ years...


  • TMD Supporter

    I'm not going to dig for it now, but the argument you've expressed most frequently on these boards is that Gush suppresses other blue decks. That may be conceptually related to the 'Gush polarizes the metagame' problem articulation, but it's not coterminous. Those problems can produce a different spread of decks, and you can have one without the other.

    In either case, I don't believe either problem is the one that animates most Vintage players who want a restriction, or else the poll numbers on Mentor and Gush would be reversed.



  • @Smmenen

    My argument has always been that Shops and Gush fundamentally push the format in two contradictory directions. I used the suppression of other Blue decks as evidence of that point. You hijacked this and portrayed my argument as favoritism for other Blue decks. I assumed you did this intentionally, which is why I got pissed off at you continually misrepresenting my views...



  • While I basically agree with @ChubbyRain's assertion of polarity, I find it absurd that people complain about the fairest deck in the format. If you're not playing against Gush decks, you are probably playing against:

    • a graveyard deck that kills you on turn 2.5 without casting any spells
    • a deck with four lands better than Black Lotus that prevents you from casting any of the cards in your deck
    • decks that aspire to kill you on the first turn with the Storm mechanic

    While it's certainly true that Gush sits on a bunch of worse decks such that most matchups are against things much worse to play against than Gush, the idea that those things go away if you get rid of Gush is lunacy. Workshops, Dredge, and Combo will not magically get worse if you weaken the Gush deck. The idea that there are a bunch of blue decks sitting out there that can compete with strategies as divergent and fundamentally broken as those but somehow can't beat Monastery Mentor is pretty silly. Furthermore, if that good-against-everything-but-Gush deck does exist, getting rid of the Gush deck will just lead to another, more oppressive blue overlord.

    In other words, either whatever replaces Gush is better against non-blue archetypes and thereby produces a more oppressively blue format than we have currently or whatever replaces Gush is worse against non-blue archetypes and Vintage will feature more non-games delivered by Workshop, Dredge, and Mox Opal. If Wizards took the common sense approach and restricted Mishra's Workshop and Bazaar of Baghdad, the format would have far fewer non-games, and you would actually have space in your deck to combat a 3-mana 2/2 and a turn three Divination.


  • TMD Supporter

    @ChubbyRain said in SMIP Podcast #64: Amonkhet Preview, Eternal Weekend Europe and a Restricted Mentor:

    @Smmenen

    My argument has always been that Shops and Gush fundamentally push the format in two contradictory directions. I used the suppression of other Blue decks as evidence of that point.

    You may believe that, but it's just not true. And I'm going to prove it right now.

    I can't claim to have systematically read or reviewed every public forum post you've ever made, but based upon the evidence I've reviewed, this is simply not true.

    The line of argument you have most consistently developed over the past few years in the public forum posts I've read is that "Gush suppresses other blue decks" line of argument. To say that you've simply used that as evidence, or in logical support for the other problem, is disingenuous at best.

    For example, on May 1, 2016, here was one of your earlier posts on these boards explicitly on this point (post 34) in a very lengthy thread debating whether Mentor should be restricted:

    @ChubbyRain said in Discussing Gush Mentor (beating it, restriction discussion, anything):

    The card has been restricted...TWICE. I don't think there is a very, very heavy anything to prove there. This is a classic case of focusing on the win condition rather than the enabler, though in the end both cards are problems - Gush hurts the diversity of Blue decks by being the superior draw engine and Mentor hurts the diversity of creatures in the metagame.

    As that post illustrates, the key theme and main argument is that Gush suppresses other blue decks. You don't mention, at all, a metagame polarization between Gush and anti-Gush decks. Not one peep about that.

    Later that same day, Rich reiterated your argument saying that "Until Gush is restricted, other Blue decks won't be good choices." As of May 1st of last year, this separate objective I articulated in this podcast, of "restricting Gush to diversity blue decks," was already well developed.

    If you think there was any ambiguity in your position, well you absolutely resolved with a post a few days later, on May 3, where you wrote:

    @ChubbyRain said in Discussing Gush Mentor (beating it, restriction discussion, anything):

    This is a fair statement but I think it also highlights our fundamental disagreement - we aren't necessarily addressing the same problem here. One problem is that Gush and the draw engine associated with it (Dig, Cruise, Preordain, Dack, etc.) has pushed out other Blue draw engines, like Thirst, Gifts, JTMS, FoF, etc.JTMS, FoF, etc.

    No one fairly reading that thread could reasonably mistake this line of argument as a subsidiary point or as evidence for a broader "polarization" argument.

    Then, a few months later, in a completely separate thread, you reiterated the same point:

    @ChubbyRain said in Lodestone VS TKS:

    I just wish the DCI would have killed Gush along with it to allow such diversification to happen to the 30-40% of the metagame made up of generic Gush decks with interchangeable win conditions.

    Again, no mention of a format polarization. Your main argument is clear: Gush suppresses other blue decks.

    Then, a little over a month after that, you again reiterated your 'blue suppression' argument by analogizing to Splinter Twin (which you did in another thread recently):

    @ChubbyRain said in Vintage Metagame Report - April to June:

    @Smmenen said:

    There is usually going to be a dominant blue draw engine within the span of blue decks. I don't have any problem with that. What I have a problem with is when that blue draw engine begins to dominate the format more broadly.

    So, I think people are talking about "diversity" at two different levels. The level that matters to the DCI is the format more broadly. The level that some people are complaining about is "within blue decks."

    Why do you say that the DCI only cares about the more broad definition of diversity? A major part of why Splinter Twin was banned in Modern is that it became the default control option in the format.

    The claim, now asserted, that you have consistently been arguing that the problem of Gush is that it polarizes the metagame is simply not factual, at least as far as the evidence on these boards go. While it's possible that you have made that argument in the time frame you claim, what is undeniably clear is that the point you made over and over again is that Gush suppresses other blue decks. I don't see how you can possibly deny that when the evidence is so abundant.

    It's unfair to accuse me of having "misrepresenting" you position (let alone get upset about it), when you've asserted this position over and over and over...



  • @Smmenen ...Remind me never to use absolutes in a conversation with a lawyer...

    Steve, I've been on the re-restrict Gush line for years, since the Delve spells were printed. It wasn't a position I adopted haphazardly: while trying to beat Gush and Shops (later Eldrazi), I realized that the measures I would take to address one - running more expansive manabases, flexible counterspells, etc. - were directly opposed to those the measures I would take to address the other - in essence, the format was polarized between Gush and Thorn decks with no common ground for other decks to exploit. I've had numerous conversations with people at events and on Facebook on this point. The effect of this polarization is that it limits diversity to the point where other Blue draw engines are not viable - they have fundamental flaws against a third of the field that cannot be overcome through deckbuilding choices. It's why I've been arguing that a Mentor restriction won't undo the dynamics of the Vintage Metagame.

    As for using the word "always", the meaning I was going for was that "My argument has always been based on the premise that Shops and Gush fundamentally push the format in two contradictory directions". It wasn't what I typed, but it was what I meant and I regret that I didn't reread my sentence and interpret it literally. It's a learning impediment - an expressive language disorder - that I've been dealing with since kindergarten. It still comes up in Magic events - I've lost several games because I said the exact opposite of what I meant, including losing out on a Mox Jet at Calvin's Invitational by saying I was using colorless instead of Blue mana.



  • I definitely understand the argument that Gush and Mud can cause one to build decks to combat both. Traditionally, I really enjoyed playing blue decks. In fact, if I had every deck on Magic online, I would play blue-based decks more than any other deck regardless of success. On Cockatrice (where the cards are free) I would break up the monotony by playing Mud and Dredge. I can say with confidence that I have played thousands of Vintage matches while analyzing results to tune my decks. One thing that has always disturbed me was blue cannibalism. This practice has always showed up at times when it seemed so out of place, or frankly just the wrong call. It has always seemed like a way to ignore Mud when it is time to prepare to play against it, and to push one's blue deck to its limits to enjoy the game more. I think that the major problem with this is that when I start to tune my deck to play Mud, even slightly, others strengthen their own decks to play against blue decks. I believe that Monastery Mentor makes this issue even greater. I have played countless people that have only ever played with a Mentor deck, and completely botch any attempts to play another deck. This is natural, and part of the learning process, but I think Mentor is sometimes an easy escape from another format. While it normally shouldn't be that big of an issue, Mentor decks are incredibly powerful and rewarding to play mistakes.

    If Mentor were a restricted card, I believe that Mana Drain decks would be able to gain a threshold in the format again. I also think that Oath decks would fair much better. At the moment, I think that Oath is a good choice, but the relevant Oath builds right now are not as easy play as others. I don't want to portray a position where I think Oath is the go-to deck for new players because it can be fast and rewarding, but this style of deck has a role in Vintage. I am not completely convinced action is necessary, but when players do not attempt to explore the strengths of different archetypes, a formats issues can be highlighted. In this case, Mentor decks fueled by Gush push out different blue archetypes in my opinion, or even are just an easy go-to blue deck instead of using a Mana Drain or possibly Oath deck.

    I am convinced that Gush is not a problem whatsoever, but rather Monastery Mentor is. Gush has even grown weaker with printings in the last few years in my eyes. I would also like to address the Dig Through Time Restriction. I do not think this card is over powered in Vintage, and I contest that it should never have been restricted. I think it had the unfortunate timing of being printed when Tempo decks were successful enough to include it as a four of if one so chose. My play experience caused me to think that Dig Through Time was actually a set back to most decks as more than a singleton because it would just get stuck in hand early in the game. However, Treasure Cruise fueled by Preordain made it work out. Now Paradoxical Outcome is in the format, and it is far more effective than Dig Through Time, but there is almost no complaint against it.


  • TMD Supporter

    @ChubbyRain said in SMIP Podcast #64: Amonkhet Preview, Eternal Weekend Europe and a Restricted Mentor:

    @Smmenen ...Remind me never to use absolutes in a conversation with a lawyer...

    Steve, I've been on the re-restrict Gush line for years, since the Delve spells were printed. It wasn't a position I adopted haphazardly: while trying to beat Gush and Shops (later Eldrazi), I realized that the measures I would take to address one - running more expansive manabases, flexible counterspells, etc. - were directly opposed to those the measures I would take to address the other - in essence, the format was polarized between Gush and Thorn decks with no common ground for other decks to exploit. I've had numerous conversations with people at events and on Facebook on this point. The effect of this polarization is that it limits diversity to the point where other Blue draw engines are not viable - they have fundamental flaws against a third of the field that cannot be overcome through deckbuilding choices. It's why I've been arguing that a Mentor restriction won't undo the dynamics of the Vintage Metagame.

    As for using the word "always", the meaning I was going for was that "My argument has always been based on the premise that Shops and Gush fundamentally push the format in two contradictory directions". It wasn't what I typed, but it was what I meant and I regret that I didn't reread my sentence and interpret it literally. It's a learning impediment - an expressive language disorder - that I've been dealing with since kindergarten. It still comes up in Magic events - I've lost several games because I said the exact opposite of what I meant, including losing out on a Mox Jet at Calvin's Invitational by saying I was using colorless instead of Blue mana.

    I'm very sorry about your learning impairment - I will try to bear that in mind and ask for clarification in the future. But, then why get upset with me (or, as you put it above, "pissed off") for fairly representing your views as you've expressed them in more than a half dozen different threads, and characterize what I said as a "misrepresentation"? All I did was virtually quote verbatim your previous posts, which I've catalogued above.

    That's hardly fair.

    Regarding the substantive description of the polarization problem: Although you said that you've been making the same argument Adam has been for years now, the way you just articulated it is substantively and conceptually different than how Adam Pierce articulated it in the second post in this thread.

    I would rephrase that articulation of the problem as follows:

    1. Gush creates a polarized metagame where the predominance of decks are either Gush decks or decks specifically attacking Gush decks by using Thorn effects. For simpliciy's sake, I call this the Deck v. Anti-Deck metagame problem.
      Recall he said "You have the Gush decks, then you have the transparently anti-Gush decks utilizing Sphere of Resistance-style effects. In combination, they represent well over half the metagame."

    In contrast, I would summarize your most recent articulation of the problem as follows:

    1. Gush and Thorn decks create a metagame polarization where it is difficult (impossible?) to design a strategy that can attack both because they push the metagame in different directions because of their very different vulnerabilities.

    For simplicity's sake, I'll call this the "Scylla and Charybdis" problem based upon your point that " the format was polarized between Gush and Thorn decks with no common ground for other decks to exploit." That is, you have to choose between one of two evils, and there is no way around both.

    Despite superficial similarity, those problem statements are very, very different in important ways.

    As I've said before, I am actually sympathetic to (1). If a deck creates a metagame that is basically Deck v. Anti-Deck, I consider that almost as much of a concern as when a deck just dominates by itself.

    But the Scylla and Charybdis problem (#(2)) does not really call out, in my view, for a policy response. It's just a variant of the Rock, Paper, Scissors problem, where Rock beats Scissors, but loses to Paper. The presence of Paper makes it very difficult for Rock to win tournaments, and so on. In my view, that's not a problem that warrants a policy response, because that "problem" is just a natural metagame dynamic inherent to Magic. Every deck is a constraint on another deck, and with every constraint, you shrink design space.

    It's possible that Gush and Thorn take this to an unreasonable extreme but the cure may be worse than the problem for reasons @wappla just stated ("Furthermore, if that good-against-everything-but-Gush deck does exist, getting rid of the Gush deck will just lead to another, more oppressive blue overlord") or @Brass-Man articulated on FB. I've said this before, but I think that the pro-restriction of Gush crowd overestimates the positive effects they hope will materialize from that and underestimate the real downsides, which Andy Probasco so presciently described...

    In any case, the problem that you've most frequently expressed in relation to Gush, and even called specifically "the problem" was how Gush suppresses other blue decks.



  • @wappla So Gush just happens to be precisely good enough against non-blue decks? That's a bit silly.



  • @ajfirecracker If you call 42% against Shops and worse against Eldrazi good enough


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