Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor

Unrestricting Gush would be a disaster. Turbo Xerox decks will be very strong even with one Gush, one Mentor, and one Misstep.

On the last season of VSL this past Spring, in a conversation with Randy, you expressed strong opposition to the restriction of Mentor. You explicitly said that that should not happen. 4 months ago you vehemently opposed the restriction of mentor but now support it. What's changed?

Do you still maintain your position that mentor should not of been restricted in April?

If Mentor were restricted & Gush unrestricted, I don't think we would have the same problem we have now.

In that same conversation you said that the restriction of Gush was propping up Workshops, and thereby implied that restricting gush would reduce the dominance or prevalence of workshops as well. The opposite has happened. This suggest something fundamentally flawed about your analysis at the time.

Your analysis now proceeds from the premise that turbo Xerox strategies are dominant in the format, but the card that enables them the most, preordain, should remain unrestricted? If turbo Xerox strategies are dominant, the logical thing to do is to restrict the cantrips that enable them, which is why brainstorm and ponder are restricted.

Preordain is arguably better than Ponder, a card that is already restricted. A better solution, I would argue, is to make turbo-xerox strategies fair by restricting preordain & unrestricting gush. With gush they can continue to exist but with preordain restricted they would lose their best cantrip, creating an irreconcilable tension. Gush is maximized with a low mana base, but with all of the best cantrips restricted, you would have to play sub-optimal cantrips and/or additional mana, thereby weakening Gush.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Preordain is arguably better than Ponder, a card that is already restricted. A better solution, I would argue, is to make turbo-xerox strategies fair by restricting preordain & unrestricting gush. With gush they can continue to exist but with preordain restricted they would lose their best cantrip, creating an irreconcilable tension. Gush is maximized with a low mana base, but with all of the best cantrips restricted, you would have to play sub-optimal cantrips and/or additional mana, thereby weakening Gush.

I would also argue that Gush really isn't weakened relative to the field. It still has incredible synergy with Dack Fayden, JVP, the delve spells, JTMS, Mentor, Pyromancer, Managorger Hydra, Nahiri, etc... You still end up with virtually all Blue decks adopting the same Gush Engine, just with other ways of extracting value from the card rather than a tiny manabase.

Good clean well laid out summary that doesn't meander. Also every post on the internet could benefit from your formatting mastery.

Agree on a restricted Misstep opening deck design space that isn't instantly contracted by said decks having to include their own Derpsteps. I'm loathe to restrict creatures but the celerity of Mentor is certainly unmatched.

last edited by nedleeds

@The-Atog-Lord said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Unrestricting Gush would be a disaster. Turbo Xerox decks will be very strong even with one Gush, one Mentor, and one Misstep.

and when they have that one Misstep the Salt will flow 🙂

@ChubbyRain said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Preordain is arguably better than Ponder, a card that is already restricted. A better solution, I would argue, is to make turbo-xerox strategies fair by restricting preordain & unrestricting gush. With gush they can continue to exist but with preordain restricted they would lose their best cantrip, creating an irreconcilable tension. Gush is maximized with a low mana base, but with all of the best cantrips restricted, you would have to play sub-optimal cantrips and/or additional mana, thereby weakening Gush.

I would also argue that Gush really isn't weakened relative to the field.

When you play more land and/or include weaker cantrips like Sleight of Hand/Serum Visions, Gush is inherently weaker in terms of generating virtual card advantage and mana advantage. That's indisputable.

I know it's vintage and all, but am I the only one who thinks certain cards need to be removed completely from the format? I mean banned not just restricted. A restricted Mentor or Misstep is such a high variance thing to play against. Building a targeted strategy becomes nearly impossible when the opponent is a pile of 1 offs(don't give me some BS about Vintage is a 1 of format). At this point I think it would be interesting to see some cards banned outright. Lodestone Golem for example creates a high amount of non games and cant be properly prepared for in deck building. What about banning cards such as Lodestone Golem, Monastery Mentor and Mental Misstep. If they simply restrict Mentor and Misstep I see no reason for the xerox style deck to not slot 2x next best creatures and continue on as they have every time in formats past.

@Smmenen

Weaker cantrips make a weaker deck. But maybe less than you would think. The old grow a tog deck was by far the best deck in the format when it came out, and that played 4 opt and 2+ slight of hand.

As long as a cantrip is good enouph to let you semi reliably choose land or spell the structure of xerox works.

I might be the only person who thinks the "Restricting Mistep will make decks better against workshops" is a foolish argument.

Workshop needs restricting. They have a penchant for printing artifacts iwth a 'fair' mana cost, while only thinking of Standard and Limited. The Workshop deck, with 1 workshop, is still a threat. How many times has someone lost to a workshop deck when they didn't even draw workshop? I know I have.

I'm not sold that Workshop needs restriction. While workshop is the enabler of many powerful effects, the main role is allowing the Shops player to be less affected by the tax effect. In the games where the Shops deck does not draw any spheres, Mishra's Workshop is rarely a problem card. The fact is, outside of a turn 1 Trinisphere, there is nothing that a Mishra's Workshop can cast that is more broken than what a basic island can cast. Eliminating Workshop would only marginally reduce the number of turn 1 sphere effects. Having 2 mana on turn 1 is almost automatic for the deck, even without Workshops. The spheres wouldn't go away from a banning of Mishra's Workshop. If anything needs done, it would be reducing the number of taxing effects. If Thorn is hit, then Eldrazi and Hate Bears also get hit. I would restrict Sphere first.

@walking.dude said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Smmenen

Weaker cantrips make a weaker deck. But maybe less than you would think. The old grow a tog deck was by far the best deck in the format when it came out, and that played 4 opt and 2+ slight of hand.

As long as a cantrip is good enouph to let you semi reliably choose land or spell the structure of xerox works.

I don't deny that. But "works" is not the same thing as being as good as it is now. And I dont really have a strong opinion about whether Preordain should or should not be restricted.

I was simply highlighting the incongruity of a post that frames the issue in terms of Turbo-Xerox (TX), asserts that TX is dominant in the format, and then opposes the restriction of Preordain.

If TX is dominant, you attack the cantrips, which is why Ponder and Brainstorm are restricted, not win conditions. Because if it's TX that is dominant, and not the win condition, then restricting Mentor should have no bearing on the dominance of TX, according to the logic Rich set out. The analysis as presented and conclusions of the OP are logically inconsistent.

@The-Atog-Lord

Dr Shay, thank you for laying your thinking out in a clear and concise manner. While I don't agree with you, I do appreciate you taking the time to express your thinking here.

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@ChubbyRain said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Preordain is arguably better than Ponder, a card that is already restricted. A better solution, I would argue, is to make turbo-xerox strategies fair by restricting preordain & unrestricting gush. With gush they can continue to exist but with preordain restricted they would lose their best cantrip, creating an irreconcilable tension. Gush is maximized with a low mana base, but with all of the best cantrips restricted, you would have to play sub-optimal cantrips and/or additional mana, thereby weakening Gush.

I would also argue that Gush really isn't weakened relative to the field.

When you play more land and/or include weaker cantrips like Sleight of Hand/Serum Visions, Gush is inherently weaker in terms of generating virtual card advantage and mana advantage. That's indisputable.

You are adding qualifiers. If Gush decks develop to generate more raw card advantage and card selection via permanents like Sylvan Library, JVP, JTMS, and Dack Fayden, they may not be weaker in the context of the metagame as they still are generating a long-term advantage, just via a different means.

This post articulates perfectly the defense of Mishra that I have been struggling to express over the last two weeks. Thanks for your insight, Rich.

last edited by cutlex

@ChubbyRain said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@ChubbyRain said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Preordain is arguably better than Ponder, a card that is already restricted. A better solution, I would argue, is to make turbo-xerox strategies fair by restricting preordain & unrestricting gush. With gush they can continue to exist but with preordain restricted they would lose their best cantrip, creating an irreconcilable tension. Gush is maximized with a low mana base, but with all of the best cantrips restricted, you would have to play sub-optimal cantrips and/or additional mana, thereby weakening Gush.

I would also argue that Gush really isn't weakened relative to the field.

When you play more land and/or include weaker cantrips like Sleight of Hand/Serum Visions, Gush is inherently weaker in terms of generating virtual card advantage and mana advantage. That's indisputable.

You are adding qualifiers. If Gush decks develop to generate more raw card advantage and card selection via permanents like Sylvan Library, JVP, JTMS, and Dack Fayden, they may not be weaker in the context of the metagame as they still are generating a long-term advantage, just via a different means.

If that you have a tool that can do 4 things, and you take away two of those things, it's not as good or useful a tool, even if can do those two things well.

last edited by Smmenen

I think sphere of resistance also deserves a hard look at restriction. Don't kill the archetype by restricting Workshop.

Also, Rich since it's been proven that you have say with the DCI through high profile mediums like VSL and well written, thought out, articulate articles, please heavily consider taking the following stance on Zodiac Dragon.

Change the Oracle text to what it says word for word on the card.
Restrict it in Vintage and ban it in Legacy.
Judge promo or reprint immediately.

The fact that this card doesn't do what it says on the card is an outright tragedy.

  1. Portal 3 was meant as a stand alone set.
  2. There are 8 different cards in Portal 3 that have text about discarding cards.

http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/Default.aspx?action=advanced&set=+["Portal Three Kingdoms"]&text=+[Discard]

  1. In the release notes, Riding the Dilu horse was errated (to not end at end of turn) while Zodiac Dragon was left alone. (This is actually the greatest argument that the card doesn't do what the designers intended it to do)

https://www.wizards.com/magic/generic/cardlists/p3k_en_spoiler.txt

source is this page https://www.wizards.com/magic/p3k/p3k_edition.asp

  1. Serra Avatar from Urza's Saga has the closest text ability of shuffling it back into your library. "From anywhere" was errated to that card. That errata has since been removed because it is verbose.

  2. Abundance (also Urza's Saga) has an replacement "may" ability and hasn't been errated.

Zodiac Dragon should have a replacement ability, not this nonsensical triggered one it currently has.

Allowing the card in Vintage would help dredge out, and create survival of the fittest archetypes. Or you can just play wild mongrel. All of these seem fair compared to Time Vault Voltaic Key.

Please champion Zodiac Dragon in Vintage.

last edited by gkraigher

@The-Atog-Lord

I'm responding to the original post directly because I think point two raises a very important idea that is lost in the subsequent comments.

Strategies that go "over the top" rely on one mana spells to bridge the gap. Land acceleration decks need fast bond or crop rotation. Creature + null rod decks need birds and elves instead of moxen. Urzas tron decks (or probably cloud post) need expedition map.

In another post I mentioned how combo decks need one mana discard spells to set up for going for the next turn.

Misstep really chokes off a lot of angles for innovation. And is, in my opinion, the number one candidate for restriction. Not that I'd mind mentor.

@Arcranedenial said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

I know it's vintage and all, but am I the only one who thinks certain cards need to be removed completely from the format? I mean banned not just restricted. A restricted Mentor or Misstep is such a high variance thing to play against.

Banning cards in Vintage has come up from time to time as a topic of interest without either a firm resolution embracing it or rejecting it. The format has a history of banning cards purely for power level (Channel, Mind Twist, and certain interpretations of Time Vault) and the idea was flirted with in discussions of Tinker, Yawgmoth's Will, and again Time Vault after its disastrous re-re-re-re-re-wording in 2008. Banning Dig through Time and Treasure Cruise has been raised recently as one possible amelioration to the 1x-Gush Mentor deck's nuisance factor. I have no objection to bans in the abstract if they make the format more enjoyable. The banned list already has an absurdly high # of cards on it for many different reasons and power level bans are not without precedent.

Kudos to Rich for a very substantive high-caliber post. I'm agnostic on whether Preordain is restriction worthy. I do think it's generally better than Ponder as Stephen suggested and there strong arguments for either case.

For all of the problems Mental Misstep creates, I'm hesitant to unleash the ones it abates. E/V/M Tutor, triple Voltaic Key.dec is disgusting and I would prefer Wizards printed something to adequately address the Thoughtseize/Duress conundrum before taking the blue Phyrexian lid off the trash heap.

Awesome post, Rich! I don't often post here but had to speak up in agreement.

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

I was simply highlighting the incongruity of a post that frames the issue in terms of Turbo-Xerox (TX), asserts that TX is dominant in the format, and then opposes the restriction of Preordain.

If TX is dominant, you attack the cantrips, which is why Ponder and Brainstorm are restricted, not win conditions. Because if it's TX that is dominant, and not the win condition, then restricting Mentor should have no bearing on the dominance of TX, according to the logic Rich set out. The analysis as presented and conclusions of the OP are logically inconsistent.

Steven, you're using your lawyer powers for evil here - you strawmanned Rich's argument. He doesn't argue that it's bad that TX is dominant. If he were to have argued that, then I agree the correct approach is to kill the cantrips.

However, Rich actually advocated for diversity. I can't imagine anyone arguing against diversity as a hallmark of a good metagame. His proposed policy for achieving that was to weaken TX decks without killing them - a fine line to walk. The point of banning Mentor is that it (1) allows for greater diversity of TX shells, and (2) reduces the overall power level for them (because Mentor is so ahead of the curve). This allows the rest of the metagame dilate to target different sets of decks.

It's fair to question if TX will still be dominant and if so to what extent with the restriction of mentor, but I'd guess that it would open the format up considerably more than banning Preordain would.

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