Vintage Restricted List Discussion



  • @wappla said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:

    How restriction decisions are made is much more important than what exact cards are on the list.

    I would be interested to hear what Vintage players believe the foundational principles of the format to be, and they think how those principles should be expressed as restricted list criteria apart from specific cards.

    This is a tough question to answer. I've only been playing Vintage for around 5 years so a lot of the way I consider the format is shaped by the cards which already existed on the restricted list when I started playing. Having said that, I believe there are cards on the restricted list now which should not be restricted - both cards which should probably have been unrestricted before now and cards which I believe have been incorrectly restricted over the last 5 years.

    Having said that, 'cards which are currently restricted but probably shouldn't be' is probably an inherent flaw in the way the restricted list works. Cards don't exist in a vacuum. Power level is not something which can be assessed purely based on a card's intrinsic attributes - a great deal of a card's power level comes from its interaction with other cards. As a result of this, metagame concerns will always form a part of why a card is or isn't restricted.

    With that in mind, there are several things which we can say about the restricted list as well as the cards which ought to be on the list.

    First, I think the restricted list ought to be as small as possible. Different formats exist for a reason and part of the reason Vintage exists is to allow people to play with as many different cards as possible. Of course, other formats already achieve this aim fairly well. So, I think a distinguishing feature of Vintage should be that it allows as many cards to be legal as 4-ofs as possible. This then means that Vintage as a format should allow for the maximum amount of power, too. As has been argued before, power peaks in a format always result in playability vacuums (I use the word playability not in its strict sense, but in terms of being competitive, or something of that nature). Thus with more powerful cards in the format, the number of cards which are competitively viable is considerably reduced, but I consider this to be a part of the function of Vintage as a format. I also take this to be a very positive aspect of the format.

    As I said before, power level is something which fluctuates. As such, I don't think it is particularly useful to restrict cards based on how power level is perceived. Having said that, I believe that Magic is a game which ought to be some number of things: Magic should be interactive, Magic should be skill intensive, Magic should provide some level of complexity and Magic should be about decision making. I believe the restricted list should be used to shape the metagame so that Vintage tends towards these things. With that in mind, I think that restricting cards which cause the metagame to tend towards uninteractive decks, for example, is a valid and reasonable way to use the restricted list.

    I should acknowledge that the terms 'interactive', 'skill intensive' and 'complexity' could exist in various iterations. I also take this to be a good thing. Nevertheless, cards can exist which push the format towards or away from these properties, or some subset of these properties. Cards which push away from these ought to be considered for restriction.

    For example, in order to make a decision, one must be presented with a decision point. More decision points will often result in a higher level of complexity and thus a more skill intensive format. As such, cards which reduce the length of the game by a drastic amount are unlikely to work towards these aims. By this reasoning, cards which help prolong games are preferable - especially if those cards also present several decision points of their own.

    One of the most important factors in Vintage is the money players have invested in the game. Certain cards represent a tremendous investment in Magic and should be considered particularly important to keep in the format as far as possible. I'm avoiding speaking about any cards in specific, so I won't say anything further on this point.

    Possibly the most powerful resource in Magic is mana. As such, I think that cards which provide an advantage in this regard whilst also being easily accessible for all players in the format are the cards which should be considered the most likely to be restricted. These cards are also the ones which I think should be the least likely to be unrestricted.

    The restricted list is a very powerful tool available to the DCI. It has the capacity to be a very good thing, but it can also be a negative feature of the format. I think a negative aspect of having a restricted list which is too big is is that it would lead to more games being decided by one player drawing their restricted card. I believe this is something which should be avoided.

    Finally, I would like to point out that the restricted list has a diminishing return as Magic ages. As more cards which provide a similar effect are printed, the restricted list's capacity to restrict that effect's presence in the format diminishes. This is something I think is a logical limitation of the format and of the restricted list. I don't think there is a way to fix this without changing one or more of the fundamental principles of Vintage.

    I don't believe that the points I have made above are exhaustive. I would like to point out that I don't value all of the points above equally. Some are more important than others. I welcome any critical comments anyone has on what I have said above.



  • @Serracollector said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:

    @gkraigher Yes. Im even for original ruling on Abeyance, Lotus Vayle, Mox Diamond, and Scorched Ruins. Vayle and Ruins and prolly Abeyance would need restricted, but I love Vintage for the fact that we have broken mana that lets us do fun things earlier. Sorry to derail into a power level errata thing. Not my intention.

    And I dont believe it would be a goldfish meta. With FoW, MBT, Spheres and Rods and Stony Silences still a plenty, and Flusterstorm, AND Git Probe STAYING restricted, almost all combo decks are glass cannons. Control and MUD would still have its place.

    Um, what "original ruling" on Lotus Vale, Scorched Ruins and Mox Diamond are you talking about? While you are right that Abeyance used to work differently, I can say with great confidence that the other three cards you've listed have never worked the way you seem to think they did.

    If you want them to work closer to their so-called "printed" text, that's one thing. But don't say "original ruling," since their original functionality has been entirely preserved by the current Oracle text.



  • You could pop Mox Diamond like a lotus petal when it first came out, and Im 99% sure Lotus Vayle and Scorched Ruins were the same way. You could tap them as a mana effect, which was faster than any effect at the time, and then sac them and not sac the other lands, which would essentially add a Lotus and 4 colorless lotus to the card pool. I never did this with these cards, but I have done it in the past with Lake of the Dead and Kjeldoran Outpost.



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  • In the olden days, there was a rule that said you could not use cards until you paid their costs. So Mox Dismond, Scorchrd Ruins, and Lotus Vale all work now exactly as they did when printed.



  • Thinking about what constitutes a restriction is a more interesting discussion to me than what cards need restriction.

    1. I believe restriction needs to be about interactivity. If a card ruins the interactivity of the game, then regardless it's 'dominance', it probably needs to be restricted. Examples of this include Lodestone Golem, Chalice of the Void, Trinisphere, and Gitaxian Probe. None of those cards are fun to play against as all of them are designed to inhibit a player's ability to interact. Wizards and the DCI made a statement on exactly this when they said that Perfect Knowledge is not healthy.

    2. Cards that significantly cut the cost/benefit ratio with very little downside. Gush is one of those cards. Mishra's Workshop would be another one, but that card for some reason has not been restricted.

    3. Percentage of player base. Regardless of how well a deck does in a tournament, if 30% or more of the playerbase is playing that specific deck, then something should be done to it in order to increase the diversity of the format.

    4. Performance. If a deck is performing well, so be it. But if the deck is performing so well that it's in 40% of top 8s, and 40% of tournament wins are that specific deck, it's proof the format has been solved.



  • @Serracollector said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:

    You could pop Mox Diamond like a lotus petal when it first came out, and Im 99% sure Lotus Vayle and Scorched Ruins were the same way. You could tap them as a mana effect, which was faster than any effect at the time, and then sac them and not sac the other lands, which would essentially add a Lotus and 4 colorless lotus to the card pool. I never did this with these cards, but I have done it in the past with Lake of the Dead and Kjeldoran Outpost.

    While you are correct that you could do this with KJ Outpost, you are incorrect that it was ever possible to do this with Diamond, Vale, or Ruins. These cards came out under different rules sets (4th Edition for Outpost, 5th Edition for the other 3), and so they worked differently at the time. I'm going to quote myself from Reddit to explain this further:

    Alliances came out when 4th edition rules were in effect, which included something called a "damage prevention/redirection subphase" that would occur every time something was about to take damage or go to the graveyard. The types of spells and abilities legal during this subphase were limited to thing like Regeneration abilities, damage prevention abilities ala Healing Salve, and damage redirection abilities like with Simulacrum. Many of these cards work differently now, so you’d probably have to look at a 4th edition version of each one in Gatherer rather than referring to their current Oracle text to understand.

    Furthermore, though, interrupts or abilities that could be played as an interrupt (such as tapping any of the Alliances lands for mana) were also legal during this subphase. After all, a player would need access to mana to power Regeneration (tapping lands for mana was played as an interrupt), and Healing Salve could still be countered by Counterspell, which was an interrupt at the time. So, there was a bit of a loophole, here.

    Up until 5th edition rules went into effect (with the release of Mirage), it was possible to play a Lake of the Dead, announce that you will be sacrificing the Lake for the Dead for its "comes into play ability," enter the resulting damage prevention/redirection subphase, and then use Lake of the Dead's “add BBBB” ability (an ability playable as an interrupt) before sacrificing the Lake itself.

    The upshot of all of this is that, for example, you could have BBBB available on turn 2 if you played a Swamp on turn 1, the Lake on turn 2, and were willing to lose both of your lands. Alternatively, you could have 1R or 1U available on the first turn by playing either Balduvian Trading Post or Soldevi Excavations as long as you were willing to be a land behind for the rest of the game.

    This was specifically disallowed with 5th edition rules. 5th edition rules included a rule that required players to deal with a permanent's "comes into play ability" before any of that permanent's abilities could be legally played, no matter whether that ability was played as an interrupt, "mana source," or otherwise, So, once 5th edition rules went into effect, it was no longer possible to use the “Lake trick.” This is the rule that prevented Lotus Vale and Scorched Ruins and the like from being broken as all hell at the time Weatherlight came out. Once in a while, I run into a player that says “oh, I remember back when you could get 3 mana on the first turn from Lotus Vale.” Those players are wrong; presumably, they are either mis-remembering or just didn’t understand the rules very well at the time.

    6th edition rules, which came out some while after any of the above-mentioned cards first saw print, simplified things by getting rid of the above-mentioned rule and just slapping Lake, Trading Post, Lotus Vale, etc., with the errata similar to what they still have today.

    TL;DR: It was never possible to use Lotus Vale for mana before dealing with its “comes into play” ability. It was, however, briefly possible to use Lake of the Dead (and the rest of the Alliances cycle) for mana before dealing with their “comes into play ability.”



  • Ah. My apologies. As I said I had done it with Lake and Post in Tournaments, I simply did not know about the others. I thought for sure you could pop Mox Diamond like a Lotus Petal. My mistake. Carry on.



  • It is hard to define what I want vintage to be. I have fun playing the current meta, and did so before the last wave of restrictions. I had fun playing ten years ago when I still had paper vintage, playing belcher in a field of 4x trinisphere (well, maybe not toooo much fun). I expect vintage to be the most broken spells ever being cast. Sometimes the games are grindy, some times you die on turn one. I play to cast ancestral recall, black lotus, etc, or to dredge my deck on turn two and kill with a hoard of zombies.
    I do like to see some diversity in the meta though, and a couple cards seems to hinder that a bit right now. For me, mentor and paradoxical outcome are too much. Shops will remain prevelant unless workshops itself is restricted, and I would not want to see the deck killed (or nuke peoples valuable cards). But given the age and price of the cards, and the resistance that causes to change decks much, I don't expect too much diversity, and don't let it hinder my ability to have fun playing the game.
    My preference would be to see Mentor and outcome restricted. I don't mind a larger restricted list, as that is something I expect in vintage. Broken things being restricted. I don't see much on the list that could come off. Maybe ponder or jar.



  • There should be no restricted list. Only the ante cards should be banned. This is vintage. Let's play with all the cards in max quantities. If everything is unrestricted, I'd love for someone to show me what THE best deck would look like. I think you'd have plenty of diversity. FoW is still a thing.



  • It would be coinflip decks even with 4 FoW, MBT, and Derpstep. There are way too many ways to win turn 1 with access to all cards as 4 ofs.



  • There are many ways to win turn 1 now...but they can all be stopped. I would love to see any 75 that would consistently win turn 1 through FoW and misstep consistently. The ONLY thing i could think of is 4 lotus tendrils, playing lotus and triple thoughtseize followed by broken....but that is already 4 cards out of a hand of 7, and leyline of sanctity is a thing. I put out the challenge for anyone to show me a 75 of all non-ante cards allowed as a 4-of that will win turn 1 no matter what the opponent does.



  • 4 mox sapphire
    4 mox jet
    4 Black Lotus
    4 mana crypt
    4 lotus petal
    4 mox opal
    4 twister
    4 dt
    4 tendrils
    4 Po
    4 wheel of fortune
    4 Belcher/Aetherflux Reservoir
    4 Acall
    4 tinker
    4 gitaxian probe/leyline of anticipation

    And Psychosis Crawler could get around Leyline as a win condition, its just obv that those 2 are the fastest/best.

    Way more bombs and draw than 12 counters could stop.

    Edit: If ante cards were allowed I would fit in 4 Dark Rituals and 4 Contract from below and not fear Derpstep at all.



  • So taking things in a different direction, I'm going to ramble about the current metagame and possible restrictions because I'm sleep deprived and avoiding reality.

    I think if anything were to be hit out of Shops, Walking Ballista seems the best bet. Thorn rips too hard into Eldrazi and might weaken Workshops too much. Ravager would gut aggro version of shops decks.

    But Ballista...losing three of them would weaken the deck without destroying it.



  • IMO if MUD were to lose anything that would hurt it but not kill it, I would choose Revoker or Ancient Tomb.



  • If they would restrict Ancient Tomb before Mishra's Workshop, they'd be flat out saying "we care more about your financial investment than the actual health of the format", which would be disastrous.

    Walking Ballista is not even the best CREATURE In the Workshop Deck, let alone the best CARD.

    To me, Workshops now are fine. If you really NEED to take care of something, it's either Thorn of Amethyst or bust, and it would be the absolute wrong call to restrict Thorn*

    *unless you unrestrict Chalice of the Void at the same time.

    This conversation is useless, though.



  • There are some that argue that White Eldrazi is a better Thorn deck, that's certainly debatable; the argument has waned a bit with Ballista. But to the point of a 'Thorn Deck' restriction, if you restrict workshop the internet just shuffles into that deck. Or as others have mentioned just gives up as $2,400.00 in cardboard gets vaporized.


  • TMD Supporter

    I'm not convinced Shops needs a neutering (it always seems to get better when shops players are forced to adapt), but since this is the thread for pontificating and throwing things against the wall, and many people seem to have their hearts set on Thorn, what about:

    Unrestrict Golem
    I'm sure everyone will chime in on how 1st Turn Golem with a Strip Mine happens 95% of the time, but it really doesn't. Thorn/Sphere into Golem is more of the issue.

    Unrestrict Chalice
    I think this card never should have been restricted. It kept Mentor/Pyro in check (forcing them to diversify their CCs), it's a dead card mid/late game, and the Chalice for zero, while potent now, was a 50/50 then. Many shops players weren't even playing them. Not to mention, Chalice worked in many other decks besides Shops.

    Unrestrict Probe
    I hate this card from a flavor perspective, but I think Chalice would keep it in check.

    Restrict Thorn
    I don't want to see it go, but if the exercise is assuming Thorn or Workshop, I'd much rather see Thorn go. Or else Shops will become a deck that is almost all modern frames, printed post-2009, and might as well be playing Legacy or modern.

    Let's face it. Vintage is a flawed and unbalanced format (MTGO has proven this with a much more rapid metagame than paper), but we love it for what it is and what it was. Some cards are iconic and need to be untouchable preserved and viable as long as possible (Bazaar, Tolarian, FoW, Workshop, Wasteland, Fetchlands, Ancestral, etc).



  • @joshuabrooks I agree with some things being untouchable but tolarian and ancestral are restricted. They were already touched.



  • @joshuabrooks said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:

    I'm not convinced Shops needs a neutering (it always seems to get better when shops players are forced to adapt), but since this is the thread for pontificating and throwing things against the wall, and many people seem to have their hearts set on Thorn, what about:

    Unrestrict Golem
    I'm sure everyone will chime in on how 1st Turn Golem with a Strip Mine happens 95% of the time, but it really doesn't. Thorn/Sphere into Golem is more of the issue.

    Unrestrict Chalice
    I think this card never should have been restricted. It kept Mentor/Pyro in check (forcing them to diversify their CCs), it's a dead card mid/late game, and the Chalice for zero, while potent now, was a 50/50 then. Many shops players weren't even playing them. Not to mention, Chalice worked in many other decks besides Shops.

    Unrestrict Probe
    I hate this card from a flavor perspective, but I think Chalice would keep it in check.

    Restrict Thorn
    I don't want to see it go, but if the exercise is assuming Thorn or Workshop, I'd much rather see Thorn go. Or else Shops will become a deck that is almost all modern frames, printed post-2009, and might as well be playing Legacy or modern.

    Let's face it. Vintage is a flawed and unbalanced format (MTGO has proven this with a much more rapid metagame than paper), but we love it for what it is and what it was. Some cards are iconic and need to be untouchable preserved and viable as long as possible (Bazaar, Tolarian, FoW, Workshop, Wasteland, Fetchlands, Ancestral, etc).

    You start by saying shops dont need neutering and then you continue by saying we should unrestrict cards to make it a lot more powerful when it's already a top tier deck??? Seriously?

    Following that reasoning I don't think mentor and outcome need to be neutered either. The DCI should probably unrestrict brainstorm, dig through time and Gush for mentor. And mana vault + merchant scroll for outcome.


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