Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor


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    @brianpk80 said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    I think the series of restrictions was the inevitable result of high level attention suddenly being paid to a format that had been allowed to go so far off the deep end due to neglect. ... As soon as Wizards moved forward with plans to monetize Vintage (VSL/MTGO, Eternal Masters, Vintage Masters), they began reining in its excesasses. Unfortunately, due to the neglect, those excesses were numerous and subsumed into a temporarily skewed vision of what is "normal" or "acceptable" in a competitive but aspirationally vibrant format like Vintage

    While an intuitive conclusion, I don't believe this view withstands close scrutiny.

    It's difficult to look at the Vintage metagame during the period of July 2009-August, 2014, and conclude anything other than that the format was diverse, interesting and fun, especially relative to the period October, 2014-present.

    Don't take my word for it. I have curated a personal database containing this data, but take a look at any of the published metagame reports from that period, such here, here, or here. These are fun, diverse and dynamic metagames.

    Sure, there were complaints, as there always were, about Griselbrand being too good/fast or Dredge being non-interactive, but it was extremely rare for any deck to be more than 25% of the metagame, and even usual for anything to be more than 20%. For example, the best performing deck, Bob Jace, in Q2, 2011, was 12.5% of of the metagame. Now, the third best performing deck, PO decks, is generally more than that.

    The restrictions we've witnessed since Khans was not a result of "higher level attention"; rather, it was absurd, ridiculous, broken printings that strengthened two archetypes while weakening the rest of other "schools of Vintage magic."

    The metagame data up until Khans demonstrates a healthy, diverse and balanced metagame. Compounding Khans was the fact that the very next expansion set after Khans featured Mentor, exacerbating the error of Khans.

    No, the problems in Vintage do not originate in greater attention to the format. Their source is insane printings. Obviously, these aren't mutually exclusive causes. But the primary cause is the latter, not the former. The first season of the VSL, up until the finals, was pre-Treasure Cruise, and demonstrated a much healthier Vintage format.

    The narrative portrait you convey in your post is understandable - even natural, but it's not supported by the facts.

    The tragic 2008 "re-interpretation" (to put it charitably) of Time Vault was the biggest affront that began the era of treating Vintage like an abandoned train wreck beyond repair. It took years for the format to become fun again.

    Rich and I fought for years to get Time Vault corrected. This may be largely forgotten now, but Wizards started the Time Vault wars by surreptitiously issuing errata to Time Vault that nerfed a combo that both Legacy and Vintage players had fairly relied on for more than 8 months: Flame Fusilade. It single-handedly destroyed Brassman's Gifts deck in the process, and was an affront to players in the format. It was an outrage.

    For more than two years, we fought to get this corrected. Although the letter that Rich and I wrote pleading to remove power-level errata ultimately changed policy, Wizards failed to correct the power level errata that was left intact on Time Vault. When I spoke with Richard Garfield at 2008 Nationals, I was able to get the evidence needed to correct this, told Wizards, and the mistake was corrected in short order.

    The final correction to Time Vault may have been unfun for the format, but it was the right thing to do for the game, and the best Time Vault deck was nerfed with a restriction less than 9 months later, when Thirst was restricted.

    From that point on, the format was more diverse than it had been for any time since 2006, a year that is probably the high water mark for the format in term of strategic diversity.

    The problems the format have experienced since October, 2014 are very simple to explain: Khans (Treasure Cruise & Dig Through Time), Fate Reforged (Monastery Mentor), and to a lesser extent, Magic Origins (Hangarback Walker), Oath of the Gatewatch (all of the insane Eldrazi), and Kaladesh (Vehicles & Paradoxical Outcome), and even Commander with Containment Priest, an absurd hoser.

    During that time disaster upon disaster accumulated; "horrible" and "beyond the pale" became the norm and now the antiseptic process is more painful that it would have been had there been timely intervention (including proper printings to address taxing).

    The reason a handful of restrictions has not led to utopia is not because those restrictions were incorrect but because the amount of offensive cards exceeding historical norms of Vintage was allowed to reach saturation levels. It will take more than a little nip and tuck to get that face ready for prime time. I'm glad they're attempting to clean the format again but the attention comes much later than it should have. It's also discouraging to think of how much could have been avoided by effective printings, particularly when they began releasing sets that would never be Standard and Modern legal (thus throwing out the only justifiable excuse for not doing so).

    While it's not an unreasonable position to suggest that the format needs sweeping restrictions to solve it's current problems (and we've been on that course), I don't think most Vintage players want to see that happen, if it can be avoided.

    Just about every card in the Jeskai Mentor deck was/is inappropriate as a 4x: Gush, Probe, Cruise, Dig, Mentor, Misstep, Preordain, and then even JVP + Dack Fayden are comparable to JTMS whose legality was a subject of off and on debate for years. If more of the deck needs to be discarded and whole thing is relegated to the history books, so be it. It might be the most universally despised deck the format has known.

    I don't think that's even remotely true. While there is a long list of despised decks, I don't think Mentor's game play or interactivity elicits the howls of anger and resentment that a great many of the format's more noxious decks did, like TriniStax, Trix, or a fully powered up Flash deck (with 4 Scroll/4 Brainstorm) did.

    I mean, there was a Waterbury where Justin Timoney playing Flash beat Rich Shay so quickly in the finals, that Rich - and others - began sideboarding 6 (yes, six) Leylines in order to have a chance to actually do something before losing to a Turn 1 Flash. Mentor has nothing on that.

    The displeasure that is caused by Mentor has, in my observation, far less to do with the deck's game play than discontentment and boredom with the deck's long dominance. Mentor, while one of the better performing in that history, has hardly earned the ire that a great many other archetypes have, including Dredge. But people don't complain about Dredge as much because it's a tiny fraction of the metagame relative to Mentor.

    Shops has the issue of containing several 4x cards that are interdependently problematic because of 4x Mishra's Workshops. It has the "Academy" problem, where a host of cards end up needing to be restrained due to the problems created by one. However, the case here differs as it would be tangibly cruel to so many community members to restrict the Workshop. It's preferable to restrict other cards that allow the Workshop to stay in the format.

    Why should exceptions be made for Workshop, but not others on that same basis?



  • Whilst randomly packing away MtG paraphernalia this evening, a line of thought appeared in my mind. Something that had been bugging me for a while...

    There was a period when the life expectancy of a vintage deck could be measured in years (floating around tier 1.5 to 2 perhaps?). New cards have had a significant impact on vintage deck building. Workshop-based decks have gone through multiple iterations to get to where they are today. The same is true of mentor. There are outlier decks that win events; but they are just that: outliers.

    Whilst this may be an unfair comparison, look at legacy for a moment. It feels like new cards have had much less of an impact in legacy. This format is relatively healthy, with a variety of viable deck options. For vintage, this may well be a factor of questionable card design as it relates to the broader pool of cards. There are often comments suggesting the lack of vintage consideration in card design. On one hand, having many new high impact cards helps drive change. On the other, there are currently diversity challenges. Does anyone else find it unusual that vintage is evolving at a faster pace than legacy?

    The uptick in b&r updates worries me. The current trajectory feels like there will be more restrictions this year. I still keep asking myself, where are new cards that help set things back on course? Provide balance through new cards.



  • @rbartlet

    Many of the cards that have shoe-horned us as Vintage players into the metagame we have are not viable in Legacy. Workshops and Bazaars restrict what deck designers can do, as they always need to be able to beat the mono-brown strategy as well as the Dredge Menace. On top of that, the cards that are banned in Legacy also help fuel Monastery Mentor. This restricts what we can do with the cardpool provided to us.

    In Legacy, I can name different points in time where Goblins, Elves, Reanimator, and Lands were probably among the best choices to be playing. This could never be said about Vintage, because those decks would not be able to compete with the decks we have in Vintage, due to the small differences in Card pool.

    People seem to feel vintage is wide open because it has a wide card pool, but realistically, since there aren't ANY cards banned strictly for Power Reasons, the card pool is rather limited as far as what is playable, due to the power level of cards in relation to one another.



  • @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    The restrictions we've witnessed since Khans was not a result of "higher level attention"; rather, it was absurd, ridiculous, broken printings that strengthened two archetypes while weakening the rest of other "schools of Vintage magic."

    That doesn't hold up to scrutiny because Treasure Cruise, Dig through Time, and Monastery Mentor had no bearing on the restrictions of Lodestone Golem and Chalice of the Void. Their combined noxiousness was static in the first half of this decade. It was the spotlight combined with the format's raised profile and renewed stewardship that resulted in their restrictions, not the milquetoast printing of Hangarback Walker.

    Additionally, Gush has been identified as a problem card historically in multiple contexts prior to Khans of Tarkir. It is the only card in Vintage that had to be restricted twice. The result of its third trial run? It is now the only card in Vintage that has been restricted three times.

    Is a fourth trial run for unrestricted Gush part of a remedy you're seeking? I have doubts this is a realistic goal. And if reversing the DCI's position is part of this program, how effective is a campaign to change hearts and minds when the advocate decries the target persuadable group as an incompetent tyranny meriting withering scorn and universal opprobrium?

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Rich and I fought for years to get Time Vault corrected. This may be largely forgotten now, but Wizards started the Time Vault wars by surreptitiously issuing errata to Time Vault that nerfed a combo that both Legacy and Vintage players had fairly relied on for more than 8 months: Flame Fusilade. It single-handedly destroyed Brassman's Gifts deck in the process, and was an affront to players in the format. It was an outrage.

    I'm aware of the TV/FF combo and encasing deck that precipitated the series of changes but appreciate you sharing the information here for players who were not following Vintage at the time.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    These are fun, diverse and dynamic metagames.

    I've always been troubled by the concept that a diversity of un-fun decks can make for a fun format. Using an extreme example for illustrative purposes, if we had seven decks, with equal metagame share constructed around different abuses the following lands:

    "Tap: Target opponent loses."
    "Tap: You cannot lose the game this turn."
    "Lands lose all abilities."
    "All lands enter play under your control."

    This would be a terrible metagame, despite having "diverse" representation of multiple different shells constructed.

    Adding things like Gush this or Gush that or Flash.dec or Balance.dec or a more degenerate version of Storm to increase "diversity" in a metagame of obnoxious decks is like adding urine and vomit to roadkill on a fecal pastry. Yes, there would be more ingredients in more "balanced" quantities, but the sandwich is still disgusting.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Why should exceptions be made for Workshop, but not others on that same basis?

    Because it would cause tangible harm to a significant number of players and tournament organizers (most of whom are vendors) on account of the fact that a playset is a $2-4K investment. Mishra's Workshop is only restrictable by every objective metric that does not take real life outside the battlefield into account. If the cruelty factor were not enough, then the fact that the format would be at serious risk of implosion due to exodus and lack of tournament support, which causes further lack of interest and lack of tournament support, ad nauseam, should alone be sufficient.

    Bear in mind, I also went on record saying that Gush should not be seriously considered for restriction until 2017 at the earliest because doing so would be incredibly meanspirited to one of our most vocal, visible, and integral format proponents (you). I understand that "doing the right thing" has no place in a strictly mathematical cordoned off analysis, but that's a stronger argument against such detached analysis than against doing something morally defensible in my estimation.



  • The real problem is that we're finally at a point where the restricted list will need to grow exponentially, based on printings of the last 7 years.

    If Thorn of Amethyst (a strong candidate for Restriction) does get restricted, I feel that 4 Spheres, 1 Trinisphere, and 1 Chalice of the Void, and the Corner Case Phyrexian Revoker naming the correct card will make storm a much more viable option. Then what's next? Dark Petition gets restricted? Then we're sitting on a ton of Mentor, and a lot of people will probably move to Oath as a result. Then Oath gets restricted, then what? It's a slipper slope at this point.

    Is there really a problem with Shops and Mentor being the best two decks in the format? People argue about diversity, then later argue about what is the consensus best deck. we are finally at the point where we can define the best deck as one of two options! Is this really a problem?


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    @brianpk80 said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    The restrictions we've witnessed since Khans was not a result of "higher level attention"; rather, it was absurd, ridiculous, broken printings that strengthened two archetypes while weakening the rest of other "schools of Vintage magic."

    That doesn't hold up to scrutiny because Treasure Cruise, Dig through Time, and Monastery Mentor had no bearing on the restrictions of Lodestone Golem and Chalice of the Void.

    If Rich's theory in the OP is true, they certainly did. Rich's theory is that as TX decks surge, so do Shops in predation. If Cruise, Dig and Mentor all boost TX decks, then, according to Rich's theory, Shops are propped up accordingly.

    But my theory is broader than that and also explains this point - I said that the last 6 restrictions were a result of multiple printings. While you may call Hangerback Walker a "milquetoast" printing, it was the precipitating event for a slew of top tier blue pilots like Demars, Shay, Mastriano and Ito to switch to Workshop decks in the 2015 Vintage Championship. I presume, however, that cornering TX decks was also a factor in those deck choices, but, either way, it was printings that drove it.

    Just as Gush decks have, Workshop decks have benefited from major and cumulative printings in recent years moreso than their competitors. That's part of what's caused the metagame imbalance.

    Additionally, Gush has been identified as a problem card historically in multiple contexts prior to Khans of Tarkir. It is the only card in Vintage that had to be restricted twice.

    That's not true, either, Brian. Black Vise was restricted twice as well.

    The result of its third trial run? It is now the only card in Vintage that has been restricted three times.

    Yes, but there is a false narrative, which you are propagating, that the second unrestriction was a mistake.

    Here is a quarter by quarter breakdown of % of Gush decks in the Vintage metagame up until the printing of Khans:

    Gush performance by quarter:

    Q4, 2010: 8.15%
    Q1, 2011: 12.75%
    Q2, 2011: 12.16%
    Q3, 2011: 22.5%
    Q4, 2011: 15.28%
    Q1, 2012: 10.16%
    Q2, 2012: 14.77%
    Q3, 2012: 21.59%
    Q4, 2012: 6.25%
    Q1, 2013: 12.5%
    Q2, 2013: 12.5%
    Q3, 2013: 20%
    Q4, 2013: 21.25%
    Q1, 2014: 11.11%
    Q2, 2014: 5.36%
    Q3, 2014: 10.42%

    That's 4 years of Gush, or 16 quarters. In that entire period, Gush was only more than 20% three quarters out of 16. But 3 of those quarters it was also under 10% as well.

    In fact, that quarterly average is 14.53%.

    That's remarkable: for four years, Gush was less than 15% of Top 8s. It wasn't until Khans was printed that that changed.

    Performance since? There hasn't been a quarter below 25%, which never happened before Khans.

    The demarcation is clear:

    alt text

    I posted that chart on twitter last week.

    In the 6 and half years that Gush was unrestricted, it was fine for 4 of them. And it wasn't just fine in terms of it's % of the metagame, it was fine in terms of play patterns, interactivity, etc. No one complained that the relatively innocuous Gush decks of 2010, 11, or 12 were fun or unfair, etc.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Rich and I fought for years to get Time Vault corrected. This may be largely forgotten now, but Wizards started the Time Vault wars by surreptitiously issuing errata to Time Vault that nerfed a combo that both Legacy and Vintage players had fairly relied on for more than 8 months: Flame Fusilade. It single-handedly destroyed Brassman's Gifts deck in the process, and was an affront to players in the format. It was an outrage.

    I'm aware of the TV/FF combo and encasing deck that precipitated the series of changes but appreciate you sharing the information here for players who were not following Vintage at the time.

    My point, however, was that there is no linkage between the removal of power level errata on Time Vault and a creeping neglect of the format. The years 2010-2014 were a wonderful period for the format.

    The troubles in this format didn't start until Khans (and it was a perfect storm of Dack, Delve, and Mentor), not your theory that the format was under some form of neglect, and that heightened visibility started a clean-up process.

    The proof is in a simple counter-factual? From July, 2009 until Khans, what should or could have been restricted? That's not a rhetorical question, but a serious one.

    If the format was as neglected as you suggest, then there should have been many restrictions in that period.

    There is only one card, by my eyes, that was even a viable candidate: Lodestone Golem. But when could it have been done? The only obvious time was after the 2012 Vintage Championship, where Golem was 50% of the Top 8. But it wasn't even the winning deck, and fell off a bit after that.



  • @MSolymossy said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    If Thorn of Amethyst (a strong candidate for Restriction) does get restricted, I feel that 4 Spheres, 1 Trinisphere, and 1 Chalice of the Void, and the Corner Case Phyrexian Revoker naming the correct card will make storm a much more viable option. Then what's next? Dark Petition gets restricted?

    This slippery slope is a logical fallacy. Storm being more viable than it is now is a far cry from "~35% metagame". Spell based Storm has also been taken over by it's permanent-based cousin, Paradoxical, which can also be combated from the Shops deck with Null Rods as long as they move towards the more aggressive Precursor Golem style of play.

    Storm has a long, long way to go to be a huge metagame portion like Shops or Mentor, so claiming there would be a slippery slope that results in Petition being restricted seems more than just alarmist.

    Then we're sitting on a ton of Mentor, and a lot of people will probably move to Oath as a result. Then Oath gets restricted, then what? It's a slipper slope at this point.

    I don't know about all this. Shops seems totally playable if it lost a Sphere (and probably Sphere, not Thorn). Even if Mentor didn't get hit with a restriction, i don't know that Storm will pop up in any significant and format-warping manner, but to then suppose people move to Oath? I think Mentor can beat Oath, or there would be a lot more Oath, since it can be pretty favorable against the Shops decks.

    Is there really a problem with Shops and Mentor being the best two decks in the format? People argue about diversity, then later argue about what is the consensus best deck. we are finally at the point where we can define the best deck as one of two options! Is this really a problem?

    Yes. There can be a best deck in a diverse metagame. We can have both. Imagine a world where there's a handful of 12% meta share decks, one top deck at like 20%, and then another 20% some homebrew and hybrids and such. Sounds amazing to me, provided it isn't "Here are 6 decks that win on T1, and you can't win if you are on the draw. Pick one".

    It's really a problem. 7 out of 10 people are playing 1 of 2 decks. It might be toelrable if they played on the same axis, but cards great vs Mentor are awful vs Shops and vice versa.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    If the format was as neglected as you suggest, then there should have been many restrictions in that period.

    This might not be entirely true? I would think it's possible that instead of sloppily restricting cards in such a period, that they would perhaps avoid changes altogether.



  • @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    That's not true, either, Brian. Black Vise was restricted twice as well.

    That's correct, my mistake. It has no bearing on the argument though, which is that Gush is an inherently problematic card and more pertinently that there is very little chance that the DCI is going to give it a fourth opportunity to remind us of what already known.

    What would Gush itself say if it were to be anthropomorphized?

    Gush: "I promise I have changed my ways. I'll behave this time."

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    While you may call Hangerback[sic] Walker a "milquetoast" printing, it was the precipitating event for a slew of top tier blue pilots like Demars, Shay, Mastriano and Ito to switch to Workshop decks in the 2015 Vintage Championship.

    That's not accurate as the reason blue mages made the switch was because the objective raw power level of Shops was so far above the other contenders in the metagame that not playing Shops was deemed to be an impediment for players whose primary goal was to win the event. This raw power level can be attributed to 4 Workshops, 4 Chalices, and 4 Lodestone Golems more than anything else. Hangarback Walker was a cute 2x that gave the deck an edge in the mirror while being mediocre to irrelevant in most other match-ups.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    If Rich's theory in the OP is true, they certainly did. Rich's theory is that as TX decks surge, so do Shops in predation. If Cruise, Dig and Mentor all boost TX decks, then, according to Rich's theory, Shops are propped up accordingly.

    While any deck becoming a better choice due to fortification by recent printings may make its predator a good metagame call, the strengthening of a prey deck is not what justifies actual restrictions in its predator. That would be silly. In fact, the opposite should be true. Let's illustrate:

    Griselbrand makes Oath of Druids stronger.
    Storm preys on Oath of Druids.
    If Dark Ritual were restricted, it would be because of Griselbrand.

    The illogic speaks for itself.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    My point, however, was that there is no linkage between the removal of power level errata on Time Vault and a creeping neglect of the format. The years 2010-2014 were a wonderful period for the format.

    No, late 2008 until circa mid 2011 was an abysmal period in Vintage history defined by taking unlimited turns and winning with one swing, which was obscene but then became an accepted norm allowing further obscenities to become justified and normalized (including LSG+Chalice). The prevailing pushback was "[If you don't like driving three hours to lose on Turn 1.5, go play Legacy]" and that was antithetical to growing the format.

    The printing of Mental Misstep enabled decks like Bomberman and Landstill to compete at a high level and in 2012, Cavern of Souls opened up a lot of exciting design space. The format became more enjoyable than it had been previously even while several ailments still persisted without treatment.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Gush performance by quarter: <snip>

    Yes, Gush became a more popular choice after M14 (Young Pyromancer) and the Tarkir block. Dig through Time and Treasure Cruise raised the profile of Gush decks and certainly did play an... important role in realizing their own restrictions. :-D They additionally precipitated the restrictions of Gush and Gitaxian Probe by drawing so much of the player base's attention to those cards that were already previously broken. However, Treasure Cruise and Dig through Time were not implicated in the restrictions of Lodestone Golem or Chalice of the Void, nor should they have been.

    As I didn't hear any response from you regarding the reason we treat Mishra's Workshop differently than we treat other cascading problematic cards like Tolarian Academy, I'm hopeful you found the explanation persuasive.

    I am sincerely curious if you intend to campaign specifically for unrestricting Gush. I don't have any quarrel with you (the contrary--I respect your intellect and contributions) but it doesn't escape attention that if you do want to assemble a unified majority to support your cause, it might help to build bridges and use effective persuasion techniques instead of villainizing persons with whom you disagree, including the DCI. The mumblings about a conspiracy to revive Keeper/Control Slaver are off the wall and that ultimately discredits some of the points you make that are legitimately worthy of consideration.


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    @brianpk80 said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    That's not true, either, Brian. Black Vise was restricted twice as well.

    That's correct, my mistake. It has no bearing on the argument though, which is that Gush is an inherently problematic card

    Except that's what I disagree with. And this is not a philosophical disagreement. It's not a disagreement over style, tone or values. This is a factual one:

    The reason I so carefully showed you that data was to illustrate this point: For four full years, Gush was fine - it was below 15% of the metagame on average that entire time. It wasn't until Khans that Gush started acting out.

    The same thing was true in 2008 when Gush was previously restricted: It was Brainstorm and Merchant Scroll that were the problem. The DCI should never have restricted Gush in 2008 - it was Brainstorm and Merchant Scroll that needed restriction. The DCI over-reacted and over-restricted.

    The proof of this is what happened when the DCI unrestricted Gush in September, 2010: nothing. It was perfectly fine for four years! A card that is "inherently problematic" can't exist in a format for four years without incident and be fairly described as such.

    All of the data shows that Gush is not "inherently" problematic, but has been perceived to be so because of other cards. In
    2008 it was because of Scroll & Brainstorm. Today, it's because of Dig and Cruise, and Mentor.

    What would Gush itself say if it were to be anthropomorphized?

    Gush: "I promise I have changed my ways. I'll behave this time."

    A better analogy would be someone who behaves perfectly well for four years, who is polite, a perfect gentlemen/gentlewoman, never cross, and a perfect father/mother/sister/brother/husband/wife/employee/boss, etc.

    But then starts hanging out with the wrong people who are heavy drug users or heavy drinkers, and he starts acting out on the job and at home two and a half years until you put them in a treatment facility or a jail.

    That's Gush. Good guy, bad company.

    You can't behave exceptionally well for four full years and then claim he's a rotten egg.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    While you may call Hangerback[sic] Walker a "milquetoast" printing, it was the precipitating event for a slew of top tier blue pilots like Demars, Shay, Mastriano and Ito to switch to Workshop decks in the 2015 Vintage Championship.

    That's not accurate as the reason blue mages made the switch was because the objective raw power level of Shops was so far above the other contenders in the metagame that not playing Shops was deemed to be an impediment for players whose primary goal was to win the event. This raw power level can be attributed to 4 Workshops, 4 Chalices, and 4 Lodestone Golems more than anything else. Hangarback Walker was a cute 2x that gave the deck an edge in the mirror while being mediocre to irrelevant in most other match-ups.

    But Brian, that doesn't make sense either.

    If it were simply true that those players switched to Shops for the 2015 Championship because Shops/Chalice/Golem were more powerful than anything else, then why didn't those players switch to that archetype before then? That is, those three cards were unrestricted and available to them in the 2014, 2013, 2012, and even 2011 Vintage Championships.

    Saying that 4 Golem/Chalice/Shops simply had more "raw power" as the explanation for why those players played them is clearly insufficient, or else it would have occurred earlier.

    There are two obvious explanations, which I've already mentioned: 1) These players wanted to corner TX decks, and Rich Shay's theory is operative here, that Shops predate TX. Or, mine 2) that cumulative printings, and the proximate printing of Hangarback, triggered that change.

    My explanation is actually supported by contemporary statements by the players at the time. See: http://www.vintagemagic.com/blog/paul-mastriano-eternal-weekend-4thplace-vintage-championship/

    "About a week before the tournament Brian called and said he was thinking about running the same deck we played at Gencon. From working with Brian in the past, his philosophy on deck building has always to take a good idea and try to push it to the limit. HANGARBACK WALKER was good, so I thought we should be playing the deck that would allow us to “Hangarback harder“ than anyone else. It didn’t take much convincing, and we soon had a build that we thought would give us the best chance at winning."

    It's probably the convergence of both those factors, but I think the historical evidence and record suggests that Hangarback really was the precipitating cause, if not the root cause. Sorry.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    If Rich's theory in the OP is true, they certainly did. Rich's theory is that as TX decks surge, so do Shops in predation. If Cruise, Dig and Mentor all boost TX decks, then, according to Rich's theory, Shops are propped up accordingly.

    While any deck becoming a better choice due to fortification by recent printings may make its predator a good metagame call, the strengthening of a prey deck is not what justifies actual restrictions in its predator. That would be silly. In fact, the opposite should be true. Let's illustrate:

    Griselbrand makes Oath of Druids stronger.
    Storm preys on Oath of Druids.
    If Dark Ritual were restricted, it would be because of Griselbrand.

    The illogic speaks for itself.

    I happen to agree with you here. I think Rich's theory is wrong, but you'll notice I caveated my point here by saying "If Rich's theory in the OP is true..." So, I was not taking that position: simply pointing out that Rich's theory offers one possible answer.

    Rich's argument is that, despite it's dominance, Workshop's performance is really because of TX strategies. And that, when TX are brought under control, Shops will fall with them. But that didn't happen in April, and I don't see that happening again. In fact, when TX cards were restricted, Shops increased, not decreased. This happened when Dig was restricted and Gush. So, I happen to agree with you here, as my first few posts in this thread suggest. But your point here undermine's Rich's analysis in the OP.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    My point, however, was that there is no linkage between the removal of power level errata on Time Vault and a creeping neglect of the format. The years 2010-2014 were a wonderful period for the format.

    No, late 2008 until circa mid 2011 was an abysmal period in Vintage history defined by taking unlimited turns and winning with one swing, which was obscene but then became an accepted norm allowing further obscenities to become justified and normalized (including LSG+Chalice). The prevailing pushback was "[If you don't like driving three hours to lose on Turn 1.5, go play Legacy]" and that was antithetical to growing the format.

    I just don't agree with this. I think there was a miserable time, but it wasn't the time you said. It was September, 2008 until June, 2009, when Thirst was restricted. The restriction of Thirst largely corrected the most egregious parts of the format.
    In the two months before Thirst was restricted, Tezzeret was more than 26% of the metagame. The two months after the restriction, it was only 15% of the metagame.

    Here is a file I keep on a computer that has this data:

    alt text

    This shows all of the engine level data from September, 2008 through Q2, 2010.

    I mean, I already linked to three separate metagame reports from that period in post 105, and they all show this.

    Take this one: http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/vintage/20884_The_Long_and_Winding_Road_The_Q4_Vintage_Metagame_Report.html

    For example:

    alt text

    That's an amazing metagame. Time Vault decks were only 15% of the metagame. Even if people didn't like what Time Vault did, that's hardly a problematic level.

    The printing of Mental Misstep enabled decks like Bomberman and Landstill to compete at a high level and in 2012, Cavern of Souls opened up a lot of exciting design space. The format became more enjoyable than it had been previously even while several ailments still persisted without treatment.

    But Gush was unrestricted during this time. If Gush was inherently problematic, it was problematic in a period in which you described as "more enjoyable," then clearly it did not destroy that enjoyment, and therefore Gush can exist in a healthy and enjoyable metagame.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Gush performance by quarter: <snip>

    Yes, Gush became a more popular choice after M14 (Young Pyromancer) and the Tarkir block.

    But Young Pyromancer actually didn't change the baseline average for Gush decks. It was Tarkir that did it, as my line chart shows.

    You have Gush decks going from 10% of Top 8s in Q3, 2014 to 35% in Q4, 2014. That's not explained by Young Pyromancer.

    Dig through Time and Treasure Cruise raised the profile of Gush decks and certainly did play an... important role in realizing their own restrictions. :-D They additionally precipitated the restrictions of Gush and Gitaxian Probe by drawing so much of the player base's attention to those cards that were already previously broken. However, Treasure Cruise and Dig through Time were not implicated in the restrictions of Lodestone Golem or Chalice of the Void, nor should they have been.

    Facts are stubborn things. Gush was 10% of the metagame the quarter before Khans, and hasn't been less than 25% of the metagame since Khans. It's Dig and Cruise, exacerbated by Dack & Mentor, which explains Gush's post-Khans performance. I don't understand why it's so difficult to accept that Khans - even with Cruise and Dig restricted - is the underlying factor that is behind Gush's restriction.

    The previous four years of acceptable, well-behaving Gush proves this.

    I'll go further: I think it's pretty clear that had Khans not been printed, Gush would not be restricted today.

    As I didn't hear any response from you regarding the reason we treat Mishra's Workshop differently than we treat other cascading problematic cards like Tolarian Academy, I'm hopeful you found the explanation persuasive.

    I do not find your explanation persuasive, but I also do not want readers to misunderstand my position.

    I do not believe that Mishra's Workshop should be restricted right now. But I don't think your logic makes much sense. You point towards the quantifiable monetary investment that Workshop players enjoy as a critical factor. But I fail to see why that is more important than the much more valuable time investment that players make with specific archetypes or engines.

    My time, as everyone's time, has an economic component or value to it. Those investment, for pretty much everyone, is far more valuable than the far more nominal value of $2-3K in Workhshop as a physical card or form of capital.

    The logic of not restricting a card because of it's physical value cannot be neatly cabined to that, as the time value investment in a card is far more valuable. Ultimately, such an argument knows no logical stopping point, and could arguably apply to every single restriction consideration, except for cards that brief emerge and are promptly restricted, like Treasure Cruise.

    If Workshop needs to be restricted upon objective metagame or subjective game play criteria, then it should be, regardless of the monetary impact. However, as I said, I don't think it should be. I just don't find the point that a special monetary consideration or factor should be weighed persuasive whatsoever.

    I am sincerely curious if you intend to campaign specifically for unrestricting Gush. I don't have any quarrel with you (the contrary--I respect your intellect and contributions) but it doesn't escape attention that if you do want to assemble a unified majority to support your cause, it might help to build bridges and use effective persuasion techniques instead of villainizing persons with whom you disagree, including the DCI. The mumblings about a conspiracy to revive Keeper/Control Slaver are off the wall and that ultimately discredits some of the points you make that are legitimately worthy of consideration.

    First of all, there were explicit statements made by restriction proponents that they hoped Control Slaver and other Mana Drain decks would be more viable by restricting Gush. That's not a conspiracy - that's a documented record.

    But more importantly, no, at this time, I do not intend to campaign for the unrestriction of Gush. I'm a practical/pragmatic person, and I doubt the DCI would entertain such a campaign so shortly after it restricted Gush.

    Rather, I'm going to let this metagame play out, so that people can see, and clearly so, that it was Dig/Cruise, and Mentor and Dack that led to the restriction of Gush.

    When Mentor is restricted, we will finally be able to observe what happens to the Dack-Delve draw engine. If it falls off significantly, then that will prove that it was Mentor, not Gush, that should have been restricted in April, as most Vintage players knew and wanted in your poll. If it doesn't, then that will also prove that Gush was not the problem, but rather than the inherent power of the Dack-Delve engine is format warping, and Gush had nothing to do with it.

    So I don't have to do anything to make my case, except let this metagame unfold, and allow the data to illuminate the actual underlying forces for me.

    Third, I think a bigger part of the issue is that, regardless of Gush's actual performance, people are sick of it and decks like it. I think a few years on the restricted list would do Gush a world of good, as it will give time for people to miss Gush, and remember Gush's upsides, rather than unrestrict it at a time where people have bad, conjoined memories of Mentor, Dig, and Cruise.

    Someday, yes, but not right now.



  • @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Except that's what I disagree with. And this is not a philosophical disagreement. It's not a disagreement over style, tone or values. This is a factual one:
    The reason I so carefully showed you that data was to illustrate this point: For four full years, Gush was fine - it was below 15% of the metagame on average that entire time. It wasn't until Khans that Gush started acting out.

    This is a point of distinction we have. I have less faith in data because the many factors that skew something like tournament results render them untrustworthy specifically as a source for gauging an individual card's power or offensiveness. To illustrate, if a card like Ancestral Recall were unrestricted but a period of time existed where, for whatever reason, decks containing 4 copies were below a certain threshold, that has no bearing, for me, on whether the card is something that should or should not be restricted.

    This isn't a case of facts being in dispute. It is an actual philosophical difference. Your view measures a card's restrictability as a function of the quantity of appearances it makes in a series of tournaments that are recent in nature, relative to other cards doing so or the total pool of played cards. It focuses almost exclusively on a specific metagame at a specific point in time, namely, the present. I assess cards' restrictibility in terms of their effect on game play, raw power level and relative power level vis-a-vis other existing cards, and intangibles like "fun" factor and "outrageous!" factor, the appraisals of which elude verbal capture and recall the Supreme Court's obscenity test from the 1960's, "I know it when I see it."

    By this metric, a card like Show and Tell would earn a red flag despite the fact that there's no activity in the current metagame that supports doing so. Because subjective card choice and deck choice considers other factors than simply winning, tournament results have less probative value regarding a card's power level or offensiveness for me. The fact that a card is not the flavor of the month does not establish by itself that the card is not restriction worthy. When a card with potential for abuse becomes one that is actually abused, that card's inherent power did not rise when it began to see play. It was static whether played or unplayed. Actual heavy play and abuse is a secondary effect of the underlying power level and abuse potential. In essence, Gitaxian Probe was as broken when released in the Spring of 2011 as it was when it was restricted in April of 2017. New printings may of course effect the relative or contextual power level or offensiveness of a given card, but again, that power level is still my primary focus rather than popularity, the happenstance of what a particular group of human beings is playing at a given moment in time.

    Additionally, my view on what is acceptable in Vintage is more conservative while yours is more libertarian. This may be a product of having been reared in the 1990's during an era of heavier restraints and then leaving the format sporadically for years at a time and returning with culture shock. I don't think your perspective is unreasonable or that mine is objectively superior. However, we are not having a factual dispute but instead are reaching dissimilar conclusions due to philosophical differences.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    A better analogy would be someone who behaves perfectly well for four years, who is polite, a perfect gentlemen/gentlewoman, never cross, and a perfect father/mother/sister/brother/husband/wife/employee/boss, etc.
    But then starts hanging out with the wrong people who are heavy drug users or heavy drinkers, and he starts acting out on the job and at home two and a half years until you put them in a treatment facility or a jail.
    That's Gush. Good guy, bad company.
    You can't behave exceptionally well for four full years and then claim he's a rotten egg.

    Thoroughly enjoyed.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    You point towards the quantifiable monetary investment that Workshop players enjoy as a critical factor. But I fail to see why that is more important than the much more valuable time investment that players make with specific archetypes or engines.
    My time, as everyone's time, has an economic component or value to it. Those investment, for pretty much everyone, is far more valuable than the far more nominal value of $2-3K in Workhshop as a physical card or form of capital.

    Acknowledging the truism that everyone's time is valuable is not inconsistent with opposing a Workshop restriction. In addition to the lost financial investment, over a decade of scholarship, study, and design would be out the window. An entire culture and role identity (dedicated Shop players) has been built around the foundation of 4 Mishra's Workshops as a fundamental presence in the format, for nearly two decades. It's an ad hoc case.

    Secondly, it's inconsiderate to blithely write off $4,000 as no big deal. I don't own any Workshops now (the last time I won one, I couldn't get rid of it soon enough, distasteful robot maker that it is) but I'm aware that we live in a declining country where fewer than half of the citizens have $500 to cover an unexpected emergency. I would describe a dismissal of that concern for people who own Workshops as "draconian," but I know Dromoka and Ojutai take issue with the use of that term due to their heritage. :-D

    And perhaps most significantly, in my view restricting Mishra's Workshop would be the largest seismic event in B&R history causing lost confidence, disillusionment, and a self-compounding cycle of retirements and less TO support.



  • @brianpk80 said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    This isn't a case of facts being in dispute. It is an actual philosophical difference. Your view measures a card's restrictability as a function of the quantity of appearances it makes in a series of tournaments that are recent in nature, relative to other cards doing so or the total pool of played cards. It focuses almost exclusively on a specific metagame at a specific point in time, namely, the present. I assess cards' restrictibility in terms of their effect on game play, raw power level and relative power level vis-a-vis other existing cards, and intangibles like "fun" factor and "outrageous!" factor, the appraisals of which elude verbal capture and recall the Supreme Court's obscenity test from the 1960's, "I know it when I see it."

    Being a scientist myself I would say that you Brian have a qualitative approach and Stephen's is quantitative. The former is usually better when seeking deep understanding of a phenomenon and is used with low-n samples whereas the latter seeks to get the big picture, the overarching patterns so-to-speak, but needs a much higher N to work reliably. Just as in science, I think both of your approaches are needed here: we need to see the patterns but also to know why these are. Whether the sample sizes in Vintage are sufficient or not for a robust quantitative analysis is of course hard to tell, but Magic's just a game after all so doesn't need to be that serious and strict all the time.



  • @kistrand

    Thank you, kistrand.



  • Just wanted to point out one thing, the only reason Gush was a fine card for a couple years is that the decks that could best utilize it (doomsday, gush storm) were heavy dogs to Workshops. While RUG delver made great usage of gush, it was playing tarmagoyfs and delvers in a see of Oath of druids and time vault decks.
    Gush wasn't dominating because the decks that could play it were poorly positioned it's as simple as that. If the metagame hadn't been so warped around workshops, gush would have been a problem back then as well.

    As soon as more credible and resilient threats were associated with Gush, it started occupying more and more of top 8's.
    After the printing of young pyromancer, UR delver (popularised by Smmenen) quickly became one of the best blue decks in the format, dominating most blue decks except Oath of druids which was a natural trump to the creature based strategy. Dack fayden and then the delve spells pushed the deck into a dominant position due to enabling a critical mass of card advantage and quality.

    Then when monastery mentor was printed the deck gained an oops I win combo finish that was also conveniently almost impossible to answer. Broken cards have always existed but were usually narrow and almost always susceptible to some form of efficient trump card.
    Before Mentor, gush decks were somewhat balanced vs the metagame since although they had the better draw spells, they had less efficient win conditions. UR delver was clearly better than other blue decks at drawing cards and executing its game plan consistently, but it was a slow and grindy deck and one small variance slip after maintaining control for multiple turns could easily cost you the game. It was also a huge dog to Oath of druids and Slice and dice, where Mentor the card has virtually 0 weaknesses and wins out of nowhere.
    So in essence, Gush mentor was the better control deck, and had the best (one card virtually unanswerable) combo in the format.
    I find it hard to believe that Pyromancer Gush would be as good as non gush mentor is today, but the issue with gush is that as soon as another card that synergizes with it a little too much gets printed, gush would have to be restricted again.

    Mentor is an outrageous card but so is Gush. Either leads to a consolidation of the blue portion of the metagame into one deck and leaves room only for workshops to thrive, since both cards are inherently weak to taxing effects and mana denial.


  • TMD Supporter

    @Smmenen
    Steve, honest question here, I'm not trying to be a firestarter at all:

    Brian kind of hinted at it, but I'm curious what about the Gush restriction has you most bothered? You keep talking about why it shouldn't have been restricted, but rarely the macro consequences of it being restricted.

    Is it your perceived injustice of the restriction?
    Your affinity for the card (book, success, etc)?
    Your time invested in learning the archetype (much like a shops player or storm player)?
    Or that you think it is a crucial card for Vintage? (I.e. Pillar)

    There've been dozens of unjust restrictions over the years, and you probably have more time, money, and effort invested into Gush than almost anyone, so I'm genuinely curious if it goes beyond that.

    I guess what I am trying to say is: from a non-statistical perspective, and a non-biased perspective (which I think is almost impossible as a vintage player), what are the consequences, as you see it, of restricting Gush? I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts on that aspect of the debate.



  • @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    When Mentor is restricted, we will finally be able to observe what happens to the Dack-Delve draw engine. If it falls off significantly, then that will prove that it was Mentor, not Gush, that should have been restricted in April, as most Vintage players knew and wanted in your poll. If it doesn't, then that will also prove that Gush was not the problem, but rather than the inherent power of the Dack-Delve engine is format warping, and Gush had nothing to do with it.

    So basically there is no scenario in which you will concede that Gush was problematic...

    Also, see again my argument that cards are not intrinsically good, bad, or problematic. Should we unrestrict Strip Mine? It is legal as a four-of in Old School, so by your logic it should be obvious that Strip Mine isn't the problem. Restrict Wasteland, unrestrict Strip Mine.

    I really don't get why Vintage players in particular want to focus on cards in isolation. Gush is one of the most potent enablers in the format and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that eventually it would accumulate enough synergies that restricting those other cards fails to bring it into line. While perhaps it would have been nice to restrict Mentor and confirm how Gush continues to drive blue-decks towards the Delve engine, I sincerely doubt a different outcome would have been reached.



  • @Smmenen Dig and Cruise were obviously design mistakes. However, they can not be un-printed, and are here to stay. Do you believe that we have reached a critical mass of brokenness that restrictions can not undo?



  • @brianpk80 Only argument I would make on the workshop value part is, if someone does not have $500 to cover emergency expenses, but own a $20k shops deck, they have life priorities mixed up.
    I don't think workshop needs restricted, but I don't agree that the financial value of a card should be part of the discussion. We are talking a format where a lot of the cards cost a ton of money.



  • @Smmenen

    "For more than two years, we fought to get this corrected. Although the letter that Rich and I wrote pleading to remove power-level errata ultimately changed policy, Wizards failed to correct the power level errata that was left intact on Time Vault. When I spoke with Richard Garfield at 2008 Nationals, I was able to get the evidence needed to correct this, told Wizards, and the mistake was corrected in short order."

    This is the article that years ago sparked my desire to crusade and champion Zodiac Dragons reversion back to its original intent. The card doesn't do today what it was intended to do in design.

    Join me Steven. You also have a lot of influence on these things!

    Bring Zodiac Dragon to Vintage!


  • TMD Supporter

    @gkraigher said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen

    "For more than two years, we fought to get this corrected. Although the letter that Rich and I wrote pleading to remove power-level errata ultimately changed policy, Wizards failed to correct the power level errata that was left intact on Time Vault. When I spoke with Richard Garfield at 2008 Nationals, I was able to get the evidence needed to correct this, told Wizards, and the mistake was corrected in short order."

    This is the article that years ago sparked my desire to crusade and champion Zodiac Dragons reversion back to its original intent. The card doesn't do today what it was intended to do in design.

    Join me Steven. You also have a lot of influence on these things!

    Bring Zodiac Dragon to Vintage!

    I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I do not support that position. And I'll explain why it's a problematic position.

    Power-level errata was a policy tool in the early days of Magic where cards were periodically nerfed or changed away from their original design intent and ruled functionality to weaken them or break up some crazy combo. This happened to cards like Time Vault and Basalt Monolith, among many others.

    Power level errata is a bad thing for magic. It makes cards ahistorical, weakening them, and disrupting settled expectations of older players who once played with those cards. It's bad policy.

    But removing power level errata does mean making all cards work as their text suggests. Zodiac Dragon, like Lotus Vale and Scorched Ruins, was never intended, designed, or ruled to function the way you suggest.

    Magic has gone through many rules changes, which I document in that link. But part of preserving the original functionality of cards means that cards should function as they were intended to function, not as they might appear to function today. The format no longer has interrupts, continuous artifacts, "mana sources," or even poly artifacts. Yet, there is a need to make sure that cards that were created under older rules sets function the way they were supposed to function.

    If the Rules Manager were to apply a policy of making cards work as the text suggests, it would be a policy disaster for Vintage, with Scorched Ruins and Lotus Vale being absurd. That should never happen. More than that, it would actually result in new power level errata, since cards' functionality would be different than they were itended.

    @mourningpalace said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen Dig and Cruise were obviously design mistakes. However, they can not be un-printed, and are here to stay. Do you believe that we have reached a critical mass of brokenness that restrictions can not undo?

    Not yet, but that possibility is foreseeable.

    It's always been a possibility in Vintage that a critical mass of restricted cards might form the corpus of a dominant deck, and there is no restriction that can rein it in. That once seemed more likely for a kind of Academy deck or even a Mana Drain control deck built around Tinker/Will/Time Vault. But the metagames changed and new printings allowed us to move in the other direction, and unrestrict a bunch of those cards, and the most egregious cards were moved to the periphery of the format.

    But, it is now possible to imagine that that scenario has returned. As I said many posts up, it's possible that the Dack-Delve engine is so good that even if all of the components around it were restricted it could still remain the format's premier blue engine. I'm not saying that is a particularly likely scenario - just that it's possible.

    And, if it's possible, it means that we should be more circumspect about the path we are on, and not just continue down this tactical route of just restricting cards and hoping it makes a difference, but try to cast out further and think more strategically about our options and what happens if more restrictions don't work. One possibility is to bring back the banned list. Another is to try to put more energy into unrestrictions than restrictions.

    So, no, I don't believe we are at the critical mass point yet. But it's possible that we might get there in a year or so.

    @ChubbyRain said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    When Mentor is restricted, we will finally be able to observe what happens to the Dack-Delve draw engine. If it falls off significantly, then that will prove that it was Mentor, not Gush, that should have been restricted in April, as most Vintage players knew and wanted in your poll. If it doesn't, then that will also prove that Gush was not the problem, but rather than the inherent power of the Dack-Delve engine is format warping, and Gush had nothing to do with it.

    So basically there is no scenario in which you will concede that Gush was problematic...

    I think you are misunderstanding what I mean by "the problem." The problem wasn't Gush. It's that the Dack-Delve draw engine is too good, in the latter case quoted above.

    So, no, I would not concede that Gush was problematic, because the four years in which Gush was unrestricted before Khans, it was fine.

    But just because I wouldn't concede that Gush wasn't the problem doesn't mean I wouldn't have felt it shouldn't be restricted. If Mentor is restricted, and Gush is unrestricted, and Gush performs at an unhealthy level of Top 8s, then I would have supported it's restriction.

    Also, see again my argument that cards are not intrinsically good, bad, or problematic. Should we unrestrict Strip Mine? It is legal as a four-of in Old School, so by your logic it should be obvious that Strip Mine isn't the problem. Restrict Wasteland, unrestrict Strip Mine.

    I've said this many times, but dominance is not the only justification for restricting a card. Neither the restrictions of Trinisphere nor Flash, nor even Chalice really, can be explained on that basis. Trinisphere was 26% of Top 8s in the two months before it was restricted. Flash was 8.3% of Top 8s in the two months before it was restricted.

    There are cards that may never become dominant in the sense of being more than 30% of Top 8s consistently, but nonetheless create noxious or unfun play patterns, and therefore the DCI is certainly within it's right and justified in taking action on those cards, whether I agree with it or not.

    Strip Mine is one of the most unfun cards ever printed. Even if it were possible to unrestrict Strip Mine without making a dominant deck (which I don't think is a supportable position), I wouldn't unrestrict Strip Mine because of it's basic game play patterns. That's why I oppose unrestricting Strip Mine in Old School.

    I really don't get why Vintage players in particular want to focus on cards in isolation. Gush is one of the most potent enablers in the format and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that eventually it would accumulate enough synergies that restricting those other cards fails to bring it into line. While perhaps it would have been nice to restrict Mentor and confirm how Gush continues to drive blue-decks towards the Delve engine, I sincerely doubt a different outcome would have been reached.

    I disagree with you. I think it would have been a statistically significantly observable different outcome. I think somewhere between 20-33% of Gush players would have switched to a non-Gush deck if Mentor was restricted instead of Gush.

    Whether that's enough of a decline to prevent Gush from also eventually needing restriction, I'm less confident of. But I am certain that restricting Mentor would have brought Gush down by an observable statistical percentage, unlike the restriction of Gush on Mentor, which has had no statistically observable effect.

    So, you might be right that Gush would have also needed restriction. But I think you are wrong that it wouldn't have made any difference. I, too, wish that they had restricted Mentor instead so we could really know.

    @joshuabrooks said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen
    Steve, honest question here, I'm not trying to be a firestarter at all:

    Brian kind of hinted at it, but I'm curious what about the Gush restriction has you most bothered? You keep talking about why it shouldn't have been restricted, but rarely the macro consequences of it being restricted.

    Is it your perceived injustice of the restriction?
    Your affinity for the card (book, success, etc)?
    Your time invested in learning the archetype (much like a shops player or storm player)?
    Or that you think it is a crucial card for Vintage? (I.e. Pillar)

    There've been dozens of unjust restrictions over the years, and you probably have more time, money, and effort invested into Gush than almost anyone, so I'm genuinely curious if it goes beyond that.

    I guess what I am trying to say is: from a non-statistical perspective, and a non-biased perspective (which I think is almost impossible as a vintage player), what are the consequences, as you see it, of restricting Gush? I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts on that aspect of the debate.

    While many of those things bother me, by far the biggest thing that bothers me is that I don't believe cards should be restricted unless absolutely necessary.

    Vintage is a format where you get to play with all of your toys. Whenever the DCI takes away someone's toys, it's a bad day for the format and the community. That should only happen under the most dire and necessary circumstances.

    What bothers me the most about the restriction of Gush is my belief that if Mentor had been restricted instead, Gush may not have needed restriction. And this isn't simply a principled utilitarian objection; it's also a consequentialist one: Whenever cards are restricted unnecessarily, it makes it more likely that other cards will be unnecessarily restricted. This is because 1) when you hit the wrong card (as the DCI did when they restricted Chalice instead of Golem), you later have to make more restrictions to solve the problem (as the restriction of Golem later proved). This is also because 2) when you make unnecessary restrictions, you weaken the pillars of the format, and make it more likely that another non-dominant card will become dominant. That's why I say that Gush's restriction makes it more likely that PO will eventually need restriction, when it probably wouldn't if Gush was unrestricted.

    @Macdeath said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Just wanted to point out one thing, the only reason Gush was a fine card for a couple years is that the decks that could best utilize it (doomsday, gush storm) were heavy dogs to Workshops. While RUG delver made great usage of gush, it was playing tarmagoyfs and delvers in a see of Oath of druids and time vault decks.
    Gush wasn't dominating because the decks that could play it were poorly positioned it's as simple as that. If the metagame hadn't been so warped around workshops, gush would have been a problem back then as well.

    As soon as more credible and resilient threats were associated with Gush, it started occupying more and more of top 8's.
    After the printing of young pyromancer, UR delver (popularised by Smmenen) quickly became one of the best blue decks in the format, dominating most blue decks except Oath of druids which was a natural trump to the creature based strategy. Dack fayden and then the delve spells pushed the deck into a dominant position due to enabling a critical mass of card advantage and quality.

    Then when monastery mentor was printed the deck gained an oops I win combo finish that was also conveniently almost impossible to answer. Broken cards have always existed but were usually narrow and almost always susceptible to some form of efficient trump card.
    Before Mentor, gush decks were somewhat balanced vs the metagame since although they had the better draw spells, they had less efficient win conditions. UR delver was clearly better than other blue decks at drawing cards and executing its game plan consistently, but it was a slow and grindy deck and one small variance slip after maintaining control for multiple turns could easily cost you the game. It was also a huge dog to Oath of druids and Slice and dice, where Mentor the card has virtually 0 weaknesses and wins out of nowhere.
    So in essence, Gush mentor was the better control deck, and had the best (one card virtually unanswerable) combo in the format.
    I find it hard to believe that Pyromancer Gush would be as good as non gush mentor is today, but the issue with gush is that as soon as another card that synergizes with it a little too much gets printed, gush would have to be restricted again.

    Mentor is an outrageous card but so is Gush. Either leads to a consolidation of the blue portion of the metagame into one deck and leaves room only for workshops to thrive, since both cards are inherently weak to taxing effects and mana denial.

    While a seemingly persuasive narrative, I don't think it's empirically true. With the exception of the three months that Treasure Cruise was legal, I don't think that Gush's Workshop matchup was fundamentally that much better in the last year than it was in 2013. We have Vintage challenge metagame breakdowns that are sorted by matchups. All of the data we have consistently show that Workshops had and have generally always had a good Gush matchup. So the idea that Gush was fine for four years because it had a bad Workshop matchup , but now needed to be restricted because it doesn't have a bad Workshop matchup is belied by the aggregate empirical evidence. While you can point to new printings like Dack, Workshops also benefited from new printings as well, like Ballista.

    As for your view that Gush is just inevitably going to be abused again by some new printing, fine. Then Gush should be restricted when that new printing occurred. But the fact that it existed for four years without incident suggests that it's not inevitable.

    @kistrand said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @brianpk80 said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    This isn't a case of facts being in dispute. It is an actual philosophical difference. Your view measures a card's restrictability as a function of the quantity of appearances it makes in a series of tournaments that are recent in nature, relative to other cards doing so or the total pool of played cards. It focuses almost exclusively on a specific metagame at a specific point in time, namely, the present. I assess cards' restrictibility in terms of their effect on game play, raw power level and relative power level vis-a-vis other existing cards, and intangibles like "fun" factor and "outrageous!" factor, the appraisals of which elude verbal capture and recall the Supreme Court's obscenity test from the 1960's, "I know it when I see it."

    Being a scientist myself I would say that you Brian have a qualitative approach and Stephen's is quantitative. The former is usually better when seeking deep understanding of a phenomenon and is used with low-n samples whereas the latter seeks to get the big picture, the overarching patterns so-to-speak, but needs a much higher N to work reliably. Just as in science, I think both of your approaches are needed here: we need to see the patterns but also to know why these are. Whether the sample sizes in Vintage are sufficient or not for a robust quantitative analysis is of course hard to tell, but Magic's just a game after all so doesn't need to be that serious and strict all the time.

    While I appreciate the kind words, I find this dichotomy a bit reductionist.

    Although I've presented quite a bit of empirical statistical evidence, I've hardly ever reduced my position to a pure quantative analysis.

    This may have been overlooked in my earlier posts, but I asserted both that 1) Gush was under 15% of top 8s for four years, 2) AND that the metagame was fun, dynamic, and healthy, not just diverse.

    So my claims are not purely quantitative: I was making a quantitative and a qualitative claim. Gush was not only a very safe presence in the field in terms of metagame representation, but the decks it powered were also healthy for the metagame with interactive and interesting play patterns.

    Brian hasn't pointed to a single instance of a problematic Gush deck from September, 2010 until Khans. And that's because there were none. Instead, he's just offered a few blanket assertions that the the format from late 2008 until roughly 2012 was not healthy. While I presented quantitative evidence that the format was diverse, I also suggested that the format was qualitatively healthy as well. Sure, there were people complaining about Grisel Oath and Dredge, etc. The only thing that I felt was somewhat oppressive in that period was Lodestone Golem, which dominated the Vintage Championship in late 2012, and was fairly obnoxious thereafter. But that's the in which Brian thinks the metagame became better.

    In any case, Brian asserts that the metagame became better in late 2012. So, even by his own narrative, Gush was fun for two years, instead of the four that I claim.

    @brianpk80 said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Except that's what I disagree with. And this is not a philosophical disagreement. It's not a disagreement over style, tone or values. This is a factual one:
    The reason I so carefully showed you that data was to illustrate this point: For four full years, Gush was fine - it was below 15% of the metagame on average that entire time. It wasn't until Khans that Gush started acting out.

    This is a point of distinction we have. I have less faith in data because the many factors that skew something like tournament results render them untrustworthy specifically as a source for gauging an individual card's power or offensiveness. [...]
    This isn't a case of facts being in dispute. It is an actual philosophical difference. Your view measures a card's restrictability as a function of the quantity of appearances it makes in a series of tournaments that are recent in nature, relative to other cards doing so or the total pool of played cards. It focuses almost exclusively on a specific metagame at a specific point in time, namely, the present. I assess cards' restrictibility in terms of their effect on game play, raw power level and relative power level vis-a-vis other existing cards, and intangibles like "fun" factor and "outrageous!" factor,

    Fair enough.

    Permit me to clarify, then, since I think my position was misunderstood. I was claiming that the Vintage format from September, 2010 until Khans was both quantitatively diverse and that the format was qualitatively interesting, interactive, and dynamic in that period as well.

    The restriction of Thirst in 2010 did help rein in the excesses of the Tezzeret/Time Vault strategy. And while Bob/Jace decks were the best performing deck for a long while in that period, they were hardly an oppressive menace, and Null Rod strategies were quite prominent as well after that restriction, and helped keep those decks somewhat in check. Rather, they were mostly like Control Slaver, an widely acknowledged "best deck" that only a clear minority felt was ever was truly oppressive or needed restriction.

    And by February 2012, with the printing of Grafdigger's Cage, most of the complaints about the format were mooted, as you had a card that singlehandedly weakened Tinker, Will, Oath, and Dredge.

    I understand your point, and readily acknowledge that it's possible that a deck or a card can be problematic even if it is not dominant. But Gush was neither dominant nor problematic in that way.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    You point towards the quantifiable monetary investment that Workshop players enjoy as a critical factor. But I fail to see why that is more important than the much more valuable time investment that players make with specific archetypes or engines.
    My time, as everyone's time, has an economic component or value to it. Those investment, for pretty much everyone, is far more valuable than the far more nominal value of $2-3K in Workhshop as a physical card or form of capital.

    Acknowledging the truism that everyone's time is valuable is not inconsistent with opposing a Workshop restriction. In addition to the lost financial investment, over a decade of scholarship, study, and design would be out the window. An entire culture and role identity (dedicated Shop players) has been built around the foundation of 4 Mishra's Workshops as a fundamental presence in the format, for nearly two decades. It's an ad hoc case.

    Secondly, it's inconsiderate to blithely write off $4,000 as no big deal. I don't own any Workshops now (the last time I won one, I couldn't get rid of it soon enough, distasteful robot maker that it is) but I'm aware that we live in a declining country where fewer than half of the citizens have $500 to cover an unexpected emergency. I would describe a dismissal of that concern for people who own Workshops as "draconian," but I know Dromoka and Ojutai take issue with the use of that term due to their heritage. :-D

    And perhaps most significantly, in my view restricting Mishra's Workshop would be the largest seismic event in B&R history causing lost confidence, disillusionment, and a self-compounding cycle of retirements and less TO support.

    I did not mean to suggest that the $2-4K investment in MIshra's Workshop is insignificant or trivial or not worthy of concern, and I agree that my post could be fairly read that way. What I meant was that the time investments that Shop players make with Shops is just as valuable, in many cases, if not more so. And that this extends to other decks and cards.

    Rather than dismiss the concern you bring up, I endorse it, but raise you.

    I acompletely agree that the effect of restricting Mishra's Workshop on Workshop players would be draconian, but, and here is where I part company with you, I feel the same way about most restrictions. The only exception being those like Treasure Cruise, where players have not really been settled into playing with the card, or cards that are preemptively restricted like Time Vault or Mind's Desire.

    I wish that you felt the same way you feel about a possible Workshop restriction as you do about most other card that might arise under consideration for restriction.

    But because I feel that every restriction just about is draconian, it also shows why I don't find your argument persuasive in the specific case of Workshop: I think we should treat all restrictions that way, rather than make a special exemption for Mishra's Workshop.



  • @gkraigher said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen

    "For more than two years, we fought to get this corrected. Although the letter that Rich and I wrote pleading to remove power-level errata ultimately changed policy, Wizards failed to correct the power level errata that was left intact on Time Vault. When I spoke with Richard Garfield at 2008 Nationals, I was able to get the evidence needed to correct this, told Wizards, and the mistake was corrected in short order."

    This is the article that years ago sparked my desire to crusade and champion Zodiac Dragons reversion back to its original intent. The card doesn't do today what it was intended to do in design.

    Join me Steven. You also have a lot of influence on these things!

    Bring Zodiac Dragon to Vintage!

    If I recall correctly, Zodiac Dragon is not truly a power level errata. It was released and written under a different set of rules and the text as printed on the card under those rules were meant to have it act the way the errata it was given for updated rules has it act. In other words, the errata on Zodiac Dragon is a functionality errata to keep the card working as intended despite a templating change.


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