Vintage Restricted List Discussion



  • The funny thing is people are arguing two facts: 1 is Mental Mistep, and 2 is Monastery Mentor.

    I only play 3 of each anyway. If Mistep gets restricted, I go to 1 mistep, 1 Misdirection, 1 Trap most likely, or add a 2nd Pyroblast.

    If Mentor gets restricted, I add a Dragonlord Ojutai since I already play a pair of Mana Drains and full Moxen, and maybe a 2nd Vendilion Clique - and the deck will still win.



  • @MSolymossy said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:

    The funny thing is people are arguing two facts: 1 is Mental Mistep, and 2 is Monastery Mentor.

    I only play 3 of each anyway. If Mistep gets restricted, I go to 1 mistep, 1 Misdirection, 1 Trap most likely, or add a 2nd Pyroblast.

    If Mentor gets restricted, I add a Dragonlord Ojutai since I already play a pair of Mana Drains and full Moxen, and maybe a 2nd Vendilion Clique - and the deck will still win.

    I also think a deck consisting of 4 Mental Misstep, 4 Force of Will, lands and singletons could easily 3-1 a daily in the hands of the right pilot too.


  • TMD Supporter

    @The-Gremlin-Lord said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:

    @MSolymossy said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:

    The funny thing is people are arguing two facts: 1 is Mental Mistep, and 2 is Monastery Mentor.

    I only play 3 of each anyway. If Mistep gets restricted, I go to 1 mistep, 1 Misdirection, 1 Trap most likely, or add a 2nd Pyroblast.

    If Mentor gets restricted, I add a Dragonlord Ojutai since I already play a pair of Mana Drains and full Moxen, and maybe a 2nd Vendilion Clique - and the deck will still win.

    I also think a deck consisting of 4 Mental Misstep, 4 Force of Will, lands and singletons could easily 3-1 a daily in the hands of the right pilot too.

    Sounds a lot like 2013.



  • @Macdeath said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:

    @Smmenen

    Just wanted to point out a few dynamics of restricted misstep vs the current mentor/shops dominance and hear your thoughts.

    1- Restricted misstep has the potential to weaken shops as a ripple effect, if Spell pierce, spell snare and/or mana drain replace the slots misstep was in, blue decks would have less dead slots and more ways to interact with shops maindeck.

    2- The blue control vs Storm combo matchup would get really lopsided towards rituals, which weakens mentor.

    This is my feeling. Suppressing Misstep would open space for storm or aggregate combo (which lost a good card in probe) to attack Mentor. It would of course remain a dog to thorns. And because you could resolve sorcery speed Magic: The Gathering cards without watering your deck down with 4 x Derpsteps then midrange fish decks with DRS or other sorcery speed 1's, could get off the ground. They have always preyed on thorns (though, in fairness BUG waned before TKS picked up steam). Right now we have Rock and Rock. Now if nobody makes changes or just copies the last MTGO lists the quagmire will persist. As Soly points out diversifying the threat base might make 'Blue Stew.dec' even better because I can't hate it out with a Dread of Night.

    This is all discounting my main issue with Misstep, which got it banned everywhere else is that you either build a deck to ignore it or play it. Nobody is cutting cards from decks because they get countered by Force of Will but the constant refrain of, eh it just gets misstepped is tiresome.


  • TMD Supporter

    I don't think any of those "ripples," even if they were true, are strong enough to change the structural features of the format.

    If you restricted Mental Misstep, I would predict that it would have zero measurable impact on the % of Mentor in Top 8s or metagames. The problem is Mentor, not Misstep.

    The particular effects of those "ripples" are so complicated that the ultimate outcome is likely offset in at least part by cross-cutting effects.

    For example, although you might make blue better against shops because blue gets to play Spell Pierce instead of Misstep, and Spell Pierce is actually useful against Thorn effects, I'm not sure it really makes that much of a difference. Both Misdirection and Pyroblast will also see more play, and they are often dead against Shops.

    As for "combo getting better," I am not sure. Certainly Misstep is good against Rituals and Duress effects, but Spell Pierce is better against cards like Defense Grid or Wheel of Fortune and Necropotence or Dark Petition. So it's not clear it's all upshot. In fact, I seriously doubt Rituals would get that much better. People would also start playing more Mindbreak Trap, which makes them worse again.

    I've been on record stating that restricting Misstep would make topdeck tutors much better again, because Ancestral is a more reliable play. I'm not sure whether that's a good thing for the format or not, but I tend to think that the format is better when restricted cards are less prevalent.

    Arguments for restricting Misstep based upon concerns about Mentor or Shops in the current metagame are pretty weak. It strikes me that arguments against Misstep sound more in a dislike for the tactical dynamics Misstep creates (like Probe), and not any larger or structural metagame concerns.

    I think there are bigger fish to fry right now, and I don't tend to support restrictions of that nature anyway (the restriction of Probe is a joke, IMO).



  • Being in favor of Missteps restriction is a confluence of the play pattern and the miserable state of deck construction. If a 'Mentor Pilot' replaces them with Mis-D and Pyroblast that to me is fine, one costs Magic: The Gathering mana and the other a card. As you point out they are both narrow and bricks against Thorn.

    I'm not sure about any of the ripples or after effects. I am sure (~93% or so) of the post Gush top 32s/8s and they are as I've pointed out ad nauseum Thorns and Missteps. Thorns being Weldrazi and Shops and Missteps being everything else.

    I also probably have a bias against restricting creatures, but maybe that mindset is sorely outdated.



  • Restricting cards not played in Workshops is a really ineffective way of making Workshops weaker. We just were subjected to this illogic with Gush and Gitaxian Probe.

    And I really don't understand the fawning over Deathrite Shaman. No one ever decided Delver of Secrets or Lightning Bolt or Preordain was unplayable because of Mental Misstep. The reasons Deathrite Shaman is only marginally played is because it's only marginally playable.

    People who play creature decks will be the first to tell you Mishra's Workshop, Sphere of Resistance, and Walking Ballista are far more oppressive design constraints than Mental Misstep.


  • TMD Supporter

    @nedleeds said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:

    Being in favor of Missteps restriction is a confluence of the play pattern and the miserable state of deck construction.

    But those are two separate arguments, and should not be conflated.

    If Misstep were restricted, and the nothing in the metagame changed, then people would be upset about being misled, just as they are about Gush/Probe, when people like Rich claimed on a VSL interview that restricting Gush would reduce the % of Shops (which hasn't happened).

    Restricting Misstep would have zero effect on the prevalence of Mentor.

    I agree that Vintage is awful right now, but I don't think that restricting Misstep would be anything but a superficial change. To the extent that Mentor is a problem (and the DCI said it was restricting Probe and Gush to address Mentor), then Misstep is another red herring, regardless of your feelings about Misstep tactically, which I'm personally ambivalent about.

    @wappla said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:

    Restricting cards not played in Workshops is a really ineffective way of making Workshops weaker. We just were subjected to this illogic with Gush and Gitaxian Probe.

    Workshops have never been stronger, despite the claims that restricting Gush would help. And, we've already restricted Chalice and Golem in the last few years. I'm honestly not sure what can be done. I feel like Vintage has hit a wall, in part because of bad B&R policy.



  • In my initial post about my considerations regarding the restricted list, I said nothing about metagame diversity. Diversity is something which many other people consider to be something that ought to inform restrictions and I would like to outline my thinking in this regard.

    It seems to me that power level and diversity are at odds with one another. Almost no one who plays White and is interested in one mana removal spells plays Condemn or Oust because these cards are typically significantly worse than Path to Exile or Swords to Plowshares. Similarly, decks which are not as powerful tend to be squeezed out of the metagame by more powerful decks. I don't think this is too controversial a point.

    So, let's suppose you buy my argument. If it's true that the two are at odds with one another then it seems to follow that prioritising one will usually mean sacrificing the other. I take it to be a function of Vintage that it provides a home for some of the most powerful cards in Magic's history and as a result I don't think that it should be a surprise to see Vintage be dominated by a small number of very powerful decks.

    Of course, this does not mean that we should never expect to see diversity in Vintage, or that diversity is not something which we should prefer over monotony. I think that diversity is something which should be thought of as being better than not diversity. The problem is that I don't think it is logically coherent to push for both.

    Now, you may say that you agree with the logic of my assessment but disagree that a high power level ought to be a function of Vintage. Perhaps you would argue that prioritising power does not mean that no diversity should exist, that we ought to be seeing more diversity than we currently do and that we should restrict cards in order to prompt that change. Well, I think that this is likely a losing battle for three reasons.

    First, the nature of the restricted list means that even if we decide an effect is worthy of restriction, taking that effect out of the format entirely is not possible - which means that there is a base line power level which will always be very high. Second, the diminishing return of the restricted list means that the base line power level of the format is more likely to increase rather than decrease over time. And finally, I believe it is a function of Vintage as a format to provide a home for some cards in Magic's history which cost a significant amount. I think that restricting these cards is basically impossible because I think of them existing as 4 ofs as being a part of the function of the format. If this is the case, and these cards have a high power level, then these cards existing as 4 ofs in the format ensures that the format has a very high base line power level.

    I've seen some people say things like "Vintage is the format with the highest number of legal Magic cards so it should be the format with the most diversity." I think this line of thinking is not logically sound. I think we should expect to see a lower level of diversity in a format with a higher power level. Because of that, it doesn't bother me when the format lacks diversity. That is not to say that I don't think diversity in Vintage isn't a good thing - I think it's a very good thing. I think it's better to have diversity in Vintage. I just don't think it is logically sound to expect to see or to argue for there being both a high power level in Vintage and significant diversity in Vintage.

    As a result of all of this, I didn't say anything about metagame diversity or how it impacts my view of the restricted list. I'm not sure how to factor diversity into my thinking, or if it should be considered at all. Any input would be appreciated.



  • @Jeb-Springfield Your comparison to removal is illuminating. While some people go on and on about needing a diversity of blue draw spells, it would be ridiculous to propose Vintage needs a diversity of white removal spells.



  • @wappla Diversity of competitive decks based on strategic goals and game play, not diversity of card choices...



  • @ChubbyRain wtf ?
    Some1 explain pls



  • @Zylvorak Nobody is advocating that people restrict cards because they are superior to other versions of cards. That's a stupid argument, either cited in ignorance or intellectual dishonesty. The actual argument is that the Gush draw engine produces decks that were superior to other Blue decks. It created a monolithic play experience as Gush is restrictive in deck design and incentives a tap-out, tempo oriented game plan. It was so good at what it does that it warped the metagame to fight on that axis.The best deck in the past two years by far? Ravager Shops, by nearly 10% MWP, because Spheres are ideal at slowing tempo. The argument is not to "make" cards like Mana Drain, Thirst for Knowledge, or whatever, better for the sake of those cards but to create a third major player in the metagame - an instant speed or less tempo-oriented control deck. That's what's meant by diversity - control, combo, tempo, aggro and various combinations of those. Not Swords, Path to Exile, Condemn, Lightning Bolt, etc...



  • @ChubbyRain Except there were at least three strategically distinct Gush decks and getting rid of Gush has done nothing to make the format more diverse. The premise that Gush was one monolithic archetype is as false as calling Swords to Plowshares or Force of Will an archetype.



  • @wappla Delver, Mentor, and Grixis Pyromancer were not strategically distinct...They were all tempo-oriented decks that played the same engine.



  • @ChubbyRain no they were pretty different. Too bad two of them are no longer viable.



  • @wappla Ah, your "nuanced" version of diversity. Saying those decks are different is like saying the different versions of Ravager Shops make them a different archetype. Same basic gameplan, same engine, minor cosmetic changes that can be tweaked based on the pilot and the expected metagame.


  • TMD Supporter

    @ChubbyRain said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:
    The actual argument is that the Gush draw engine produces decks that were superior to other Blue decks.

    Which is not in a justifiable reason to restrict a card. There is always a "best" blue draw engine. We usually only restrict them in Vintage when they dominate the entire metagame, not when they just predominate among other blue decks. Otherwise, we'd be restricting blue draw engines every few months.

    The DCI's explanation for the restriction of Gush is not framed in terms of dominance of blue decks, but rather concerns over Mentor in the metagame. So, I don't think this particular argument deserves any credit, seeing as that doesn't appear to be what motivated the DCI. But there is a deeper problem.

    Not only should we not give it credence in concept, it's too deeply flawed to apply. That argument takes this form: [Card R in Strategy A dominates subset S]. In this particular instance, the argument you presented is that Gush in tempo strategies dominates blue decks.

    When diagrammed as such, it's flaws become immediately obvious. For starters, it's a very slippery slope. Does ANY time that a blue draw engine predominates among blue decks it require restriction? If not, how do you know when and when not? And what about other forms of dominance among other sub-groupings? If Ravager (card R) predominates or drives a particular style of Workshop strategy (subset S), then should it be restricted on that narrow ground alone? The line-drawing exercises this kind of B&R policy management invites are impossible to resolve with even a semblance of objectivity.

    It created a monolithic play experience as Gush is restrictive in deck design and incentives a tap-out, tempo oriented game plan. It was so good at what it does that it warped the metagame to fight on that axis.The best deck in the past two years by far? Ravager Shops, by nearly 10% MWP, because Spheres are ideal at slowing tempo.

    This can now be called the "Gush fallacy," because it's been proven fallacious in the post-restriction metagame. The proof is in the pudding.

    If Gush was restricting deck design and incentivizing tap-out, tempo oriented game plans, and therefore also helped make Shops the best deck, then why has the restriction of Gush not changed anything about the prevalence of token-generating, tempo game plans or the dominance of Shops? If anything, Mentor and Shops are slightly more prevalent and dominant than before the restriction. As a matter of logic, the argument you presented cannot hold water. Something can't both be incentivizing something and yet have apparently no negative effect on that incentive when it's gone.

    Bottom line: if Gush was truly responsible for what you say it was, then it's restriction should have had some effect on tempo-oriented game plans and the dominance of Shops. Yet, the restriction has had neither. Given that fact, the arguments presented by the pro-restriction crowd before 4/24 are now unveiled as the sham that many of us always knew they were. Gush was a red herring, and took the bullet for deeper structural forces that uncontinue unabated.

    The blame heaped on Gush as respects Shops and tempo/token strategies was completely unwarranted, and now everyone knows it.

    The hew and cry against Gush was, as Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth, "sound and fury, Signifying nothing." And, like Macbeth, it's restriction is an appalling tragedy.



  • @Smmenen What was the best Blue draw engine prior to the printing of the Delve spells? Dark Confidant? Jace, the Mindsculptor? Standstill? Gush? The answer is that there wasn't one - Vintage was incredibly diverse in 2013 with 7 unique archetypes present in the top 8 of Champs. Frankly, the claim that there is always a "best" blue draw engine is fraudulent. In my relatively short experience playing Vintage, the only time there was a "best" draw engine was following Khans. Maybe historically this has not be the case, but that falls into the trap of traditional thinking where you justify the flaws of the present based on the flaws of the past without correcting them. Regarding dominance, it's hypocritical for you to advocate for the restriction of Preordain, which is hardly dominant. Mentor wasn't even dominant in the traditional sense at the time of the last B&R announcement. That doesn't mean that I dismiss your opinions on the matter - just that I consider the logic you are using to dismiss my opinion as flawed. They equally apply to your own proposed restrictions.

    As for your argument, [Card R in Strategy A dominates subset S], I disagree that Blue is a relevant subset. It is certainly not equivalent to Shops in metagame share or available card pool. Blue should be broken down into several different subsets based upon the relevant strategies in Vintage: tempo decks, control decks, combo decks, aggro decks. With Gush, you had very similar decks being the best types of decks in these schools of Magic. Gush decks were the best tempo decks in the format, the best control decks, the best combo deck (not Doomsday - the token makers gave the deck a powerful combo finish with Time Walk), and the best aggro decks with decks varying by less than 10 cards. This isn't simply dominating subsets but homogenization of the schools of Magic within the format. In every other competitive format, Wizards goes to great lengths to make sure formats don't decay into a relatively small number of decks. Is Vintage a competitive format that should be subjected to the same level of management? Or is it a casual format in which the attachment to specific cards like Gush takes precedence over generating a competitive and balanced metagame?

    As for the "Gush" fallacy, I have a lot more to say on this. The short of it is that changes in win rates precede changes in metagame share. If you look at Shops performances in major events over the last year, the NYSE win rate of 54% is lower than its average of 61%. Of the seven events we looked at, only one event had a lower win rate (EE5). Again, I put relatively low stock in the results of a single event and we lack the necessary data to determine statistical significance and a trend (this is the first large event in the post-restriction metagame), but it takes time for people to experience a 5-10% change in their deck. If the difference is 1-2 games out of 20 and the average player plays a 5 round Vintage tournament once or twice a month, you are looking at several months for Vintage players to come to the conclusion that their Shops deck got worse. At which point some players will switch archetypes and the metagame prevalence will fall. Now, in larger tournaments like Standard, you get 9-10 round events nearly every other week, the metagame evolves much more rapidly.

    Hopefully, this post was civil. These are some of my thoughts on the matter, though I lack your eloquence and it is too late tonight for me to come up with an adequate Shakespearean quote with which to conclude.


  • TMD Supporter

    @ChubbyRain said in Vintage Restricted List Discussion:

    Again, I put relatively low stock in the results of a single event and we lack the necessary data to determine statistical significance and a trend (this is the first large event in the post-restriction metagame), but it takes time for people to experience a 5-10% change in their deck. If the difference is 1-2 games out of 20 and the average player plays a 5 round Vintage tournament once or twice a month, you are looking at several months for Vintage players to come to the conclusion that their Shops deck got worse. At which point some players will switch archetypes and the metagame prevalence will fall.

    So, your answer is that Shop actually got worse with the restriction (as your theory of the restriction would suggest), but players just haven't figured it out yet? Are you kidding?

    Workshops are kicking ass, and seem to be doing just as well, if not even better, than they'd been doing in the period before 4/24.

    And what do you mean we don't have statistically significant data? There have been 8 Vintage challenges since the restriction, each with well more than 30 players, the usual minimum for statistical significance, and the NYSE, and a handful of other relevant tournaments.

    Do you really think that Workshop decks will be any less prevalent in 3 months time? 6 months time?

    They aren't going anywhere, man. Workshops weren't artificially propped up by "tempo" decks. They are propped up by Vintage itself.

    And what about tempo-based tokens strategies? You said that Gush " incentives a tap-out, tempo oriented game plan."

    Again, if that were true, then why has there been no diminution in these strategies with Gush's restriction? Even Delver decks have persisted in new forms.

    This isn't a debate over facts, policy or even values. This is just a matter of pure, abstract logic. Something can't both be incentivizing something and yet have apparently no negative effect on that incentive when it's gone. It's logically impossible.

    As I said, the arguments for restricting Gush have now been unveiled and unmasked. Neither Shops nor Tempo-based blue decks have diminished one bit since the restriction, demonstrating, for all to see, as I said before, that Gush was a red herring, and took the bullet for deeper structural forces that uncontinue unabated. It's restriction has thus far done absolutely nothing - nothing at all - to address the two problems you presented as justifying it's restriction (to wit: "It created a monolithic play experience as Gush is restrictive in deck design and incentives a tap-out, tempo oriented game plan. It was so good at what it does that it warped the metagame to fight on that axis.The best deck in the past two years by far? Ravager Shops, by nearly 10% MWP, because Spheres are ideal at slowing tempo.").

    Your only answer appears to be: it's too early to see and we don't have enough quality data. When will you be satisfied? How much more do you need to see?

    As for your argument, [Card R in Strategy A dominates subset S], I disagree that Blue is a relevant subset.

    First of all, that's not my argument; it's yours. Second, I didn't say that blue decks were the relevant subset. You did. You said: "The actual argument is that the Gush draw engine produces decks that were superior to other Blue decks."

    The relevant subset, according that the framing of your argument" is "blue decks."


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