So Many Insane Plays – Episode 73 – Eternal Weekend in Review



  • @joshuabrooks Every vintage staple is on an upwards trajectory, so I have no doubt even if it got slashed in half the cost would still shoot up.

    I also have no doubt that restricting the card would increase demand past the equilibrium we have now. Not only would it likely increase the demand for them in Commander while the price is low(ish), but Tribal eldrazi may very well become a real unpowered list again where the singleton most valuable card in the list is shops. If COTV became unrestricted I have no doubt at all that would be the case. I also suspect that it would cause Crucible to spike again, since being able to pull it back after a wasteland or recycling your own mana denial seems really strong against a now hamstrung list.


  • TMD Supporter

    @chubbyrain said in So Many Insane Plays – Episode 73 – Eternal Weekend in Review:

    @smmenen God, that thread is a blast from the past. I think TMD in both its current and previous iterations selects for players that tend to be resistant to B&R changes. However, there are several players in favor of a Chalice restriction like Rich, and many others who thought powerful hate cards should be printed to circumvent Chalice. I wouldn't portray this thread as evidence that Chalice went by "largely without complaint".

    I think you may have been confused or misread by what I said there, because I didn't present and link that thread to suggest that Chalice was largely without serious complaint, from a community vantage point. Quite the contrary, that thread demonstrates that some players were concerned about Chalice, as the subject of that thread was whether Chalice should be restricted or not.

    Rather, what I said above was the above linked thread on Chalice from 2014 was the first thread I could find where the issue or question of Chalice's restriction was broached in a serious way for the first time. I was asserting that there were very few, if any, documented community voices calling for it's restriction until around that point.

    My broader point was that Chalice existed for over 10 years largely without complaint, and therefore it was not restricted - or thought by community members to be in need of restriction - on the basis of abstract concerns such as those you raise. So, the abstract concerns about Chalice you raised, "miserable play experience, warps deck construction, and increases the importance of the die roll" were not regarded as sufficiently problematic - or even real enough - to warrant restriction in their own terms.
    If they were, then Chalice would and should have been restricted years earlier. Cards that raise 'fundamental' play concerns aren't legal for 12 years - more than half of the game of Magic's existence up to that point.

    Rather, Chalice was restricted as part of an ongoing, and still unfinished effort, to rein in Workshop Aggro.

    Therefore, if I am right about that, then if Workshop Aggro is neutered or weakened by other measures, such as restricting Workshop, then it logically follows that it might be a candidate for unrestriction.

    As for previous views on Chalice from 2003 to 2012, I don't think that's a great direction to take this conversation.
    I've said that I don't consider cards to have intrinsic power levels, that they should be judged on context within the current metagame. The audience for Vintage has shifted substantially from where it was in 2012 with the release on MTGO and the VSL. I think Wizards has a different goal for the format than they did in 2012.

    I appreciate - and agree - with the premise that cards acquire power in context. But it is in tension with the concerns you raised. The concerns you raise don't depend generally upon context. Either Chalice makes the die roll more important or it doesn't. Either Chalice warps deck construction or it doesn't. etc. This is true regardless of specific context. So, either those are legitimate concerns about Chalice that bear on the restricted list analysis, or they don't. If they do, then they apply regardless of year.

    I'd also question exactly how much the audience for Vintage has shifted since 2012. I'd wager that the vast majority of players playing Vintage actively today did so before 2014, which was when that thread started. In any case, I don't think the attitudes or preferences of Vintage has changed from 2013 or 2012 to 2015, when Chalice was restricted.

    But, the most important reason that knowing the attitudes and perceptions of players in 2012, 2013 or even 2014 in regards to Chalice matters is because, in my opinion, Chalice was restricted because of Lodestone Golem, and the stream of new printings that have empowered Workshop Aggro. But not for those printings and developments, I don't think Workshop Aggro would have the metagame position it's held for the last few years, and therefore I don't think that Chalice would have been restricted or would have warranted restriction.

    Here is a simple counter-factual that supports my point: Suppose we could rewind to just before Worldwake was printed in Jan/Feb 2010, freeze in place the Vintage card pool at that moment so that nothing from Worldwake on would have been printed. If the Vintage metagame had continued to evolve and see play in otherwise substantially the same manner, except no Worldwake or subsequent sets, would Chalice be restricted today or in need of restriction?

    If you believe the answer is 'yes,' then you must believe that Chalice is an inherently problematic card, which, based upon your point of the importance of 'context,' I assume you don't.

    That's why my answer would be no. If we could rewind the card pool to December, 2009, and keep it there like an Old School format, it is difficult to imagine that Chalice would be restricted today. If I am right about that, then it's Chalice's performance, not abstract concerns over it's inherent noxiousness, that explain it's place on the restricted list.

    And you are right, Steve. Un-interactivity is not sufficient grounds for restriction. Wizards said as much when they restricted Lodestone Golem: "If a format becomes very imbalanced, or too many games are not interactive, we examine the cause." This implies that un-interactive cards do have to be a significant proportion of the metagame. Would Chalice be an insignificant percentage of the theoretical post-Shops metagame? I don't think so - I think the remnants of aggro Shops would run it as a 4-of, along with white and colorless Eldrazi.

    "Insignificant" and "significant" are not only relative terms, but they aren't the right question. The question isn't whether Chalice would be an insignificant % of the post-Shops metagame. The question is whether Chalice would be an acceptable level of the post-Shops metagame.

    Acceptable levels of performance and prevalence are often much greater than 'insignificant." I think it's certainly possible that, if Workshop were restricted, Chalice would be an acceptable level of performance and prevalance.

    @smmenen said in So Many Insane Plays – Episode 73 – Eternal Weekend in Review:

    I agree with both of you that Chalice was not going to stop people from playing Moxen. The point of Chalice in Vintage wasn't to get people to move off Moxen. Rather, it was to punish people for making a decision we knew they'd make - to even the score a bit. Budget decks like James Lee's mono red hate deck did this well. That's why Chalice was an important card: It was a budget tool that punished "Mr. Suitcase." That's important in a format like Vintage, where dozens of players show up to play without power.

    Regarding more mana cast diversity, the fact that 4 Chalice compelled people to play cards like Ingot Chewer and Wear/Tear is evidence that it's mere existence prompted mana cost diversification, at the margins. But no one denies that Chalice, by itself, could fundamentally dissuade people from building efficient decks.

    In summary, the issue isn't whether Chalice's existence is enough to get people, beyond those adjustments, to wholesale re-evaluate their mana curve. Punishment without adjustment is enough.

    Do you agree with the crowd that says Shops in its current and previous forms is punishment against the Blue decks running Misstep, Fluster, and Pyroblast? I find this argument similar. It's punishing players for decisions that we knew they'd make.

    I share your low opinion of that argument regarding Misstep/Fluster/Pyro vis-a-vis Shops. Noah Smith raised it when the DCI restricted Lodestone last year, and as I pointed out then, people play those cards for structural and rational reasons.

    If that were a legitimate reason to avoid restricting something from Workshops, then it would have applied with equal or greater force to Chalice, Lodestone, and Thorn - since those cards were all dominating environments with 3-4 Missteps, and even more numbers of Probes, Pyroblasts, and Flusterstorms (since Flusterstorm sees much less play now then it did 2-4 years ago).

    My argument that "Chalice punishes power" may be similar in form, but it's very different in substance and significance. The only way that would be so is if the purpose of Workshops was to "punish Missteps." That's pretty absurd. The purpose of Workshops, as an O'Brien School strategy, is to tax efficient decks, not to punish Red Elemental Blasts.

    On the other hand, the purpose of Chalice - since it was actually designed for Type 1/Vintage - is to punish power. I note that alot of the objections to Chalice are from players who enjoy playing with a full complement of Moxen in non-prison/non-taxing decks. It's understandable that those players dislike what Chalice does. But it was designed with a awareness that those players would not enjoy Chalice. That's why I called in, 2003, "The New Black Vise."

    Obviously, Chalice is much more powerful in Workshop decks since it scales more easily and fits into the general prison theme. So, if Workshop were restricted, it naturally follows that Chalice would be a weaker card, even if it were still quite good.

    Similar to Shops, I don't think Chalice and "budget decks" will reach a portion of the metagame where skewing your deck around it becomes a worthwhile goal. The only thing it really accomplishes is to increase the number of non-games.

    But that's it's purpose. Chalice was printed with an understanding that it would blow out players with decks with huge numbers of Moxen in their hands on the draw. You can say that's a bad design, but that's how it was designed, and was found acceptable to the Vintage community for 12 years.

    In any case, this is an area where you and I disagree. Performance should, in my view, be the only touchstone for restricted list policy.

    My top line goal for Vintage is that it is a format with as many viable decks as possible in a format where you get to play your cards to the greatest extent possible. Therefore, I support the shortest possible restricted list consistent with promoting format strategic diversity. Restricting cards that are 'non-interactive,' but not statistically dominant is logically inconsistent with my prime objective, since it reduces the possible range of viable decks and reduces the range of strategies in the format.

    Put another way, "interactivity", while sounding nice, is not a neutral concept in relation to Magic strategies. Some strategies are more interactive and some are less so. All things equal, a preference for 'interactivity' tends to mean a policy bias against speed combo, prison, and other such strategies, and a policy preference for slow control decks.

    That's why I think only truly objective measures should be used in managing the B&R list. Otherwise, bias creeps in, as I just showed.

    If Workshops (or some other cards) are restricted, and Chalice can exist in the Vintage metagame without producing a dominant deck, I would support the decision to unrestrict Chalice regardless of the complaints you raise. Those aren't, in my view, legitimate reasons to restrict. The DCI shouldn't be in the business of "picking winners" to borrow a phrase from conservative politicians. A policy preference for 'interactivity' is just that.

    TLDR:

    I am not a booster for Chalice of the Void. But I am a booster for as small of a Restricted List as possible and for a format that has as many viable strategic options (diversity) as possible.

    If Chalice of the Void, regardless of how you feel about it, can be unrestricted without boosting a dominant deck (on account of other restrictions, such as Mishra's Workshop), then I would support it's unrestriction.



  • @smmenen
    This post made me wonder what Vintage would look like if instead of restricting Chalice then Golem then Thorn they restricted Golem then Ravager then Ballista (if it was warranted).

    In my opinion, the restriction of Chalice was the death knell of the Workshop prison archetype. Ravager was far too efficient and Chalice was irreplaceable. At Champs 2015 Ravager Shops was the best flavor of Workshops in a vacuum, but Workshops as a pillar had a lot more diversity than they do now, which was an unintended (I think) consequence of Chalice getting restricted before Lodestone.


  • TMD Supporter

    It's certainly possible to engineer restrictions to incentivize certain kinds of Shop configurations. After all, printings brought us where we were today.

    Trinisphere was initially welcomed by Workshop Control players, but actually made Workshop Aggro the best Workshop deck, especially once Crucible was printed. The restriction of Trinisphere brought Prison back to life. But the real turning point, in my estimation, in terms of long-term trajectory, was Thorn.

    Thorn, more than any other card, was the pivot from spells to creatures. Golem was the next major step in this path. One could imagine that the restrictions of Thorn, Golem, Trinisphere, Ballista and Ravager, and unrestriction of Chalice, could stop the crowding out of Workshop Prison by Workshop Aggro. I, too, would like to see Workshop Control again. But I'm not sure if that's a pipe dream or not.



  • @smmenen I think in the end we place different value on the "interactivity" aspect of the game. Which is fine - it's just how it is and I think we are fine simply disagreeing on it. Thank you for the discussion.

    @Will This is interesting. I would point to the waning of Prison shops prior to the restriction of Chalice of the Void as evidence that it wouldn't have the desired effect. The structural factors that led to a decline in Martello, Espresso, and Terra Nova aren't addressed by the restriction. Moreover, the vast majority of the Magic community outside of these forums places a high emphasis on interactivity. If the prison decks persisted in the metagame, I doubt they would survive the scrutiny of MTGO and the VSL.



  • @chubbyrain

    Going into Vintage Champs 2015 I knew that my Martello Shops list couldn’t reliably beat Ravager Shops, but I thought I was favored against everything else, including the Delve decks. I went 8-2 that year, losing at 8-1 to Brian Kelly, with my other loss being to a weird Ravager Shops Deck with Null Rods. The N.Y.S.E. guys had several strong finishes that year as well, piloting a Terra Nouveau list that played Tabernacles, Tangle Wires, Null Rods and Darksteel Juggernauts. I don’t think that Workshop prison would have faded out if Chalice hadn’t gone.

    All I have to say about interactivity is that it can be interpreted in more than one way, but I agree with you in general about the VSL and MTGO.


  • TMD Supporter

    @chubbyrain said in So Many Insane Plays – Episode 73 – Eternal Weekend in Review:

    @smmenen I think in the end we place different value on the "interactivity" aspect of the game. Which is fine - it's just how it is and I think we are fine simply disagreeing on it. Thank you for the discussion.

    Sharp disagreement on a small number of issues can obscure broad agreement on a larger number, which I suspect is the case between us.

    Over the years, there have been plenty of vintage players who have complained about the lack of "interactivity" in the format or in certain matchups. I can recall intense debates from the early 2000s. So, you aren't the first player to raise this as a concern.

    That said, I would like to clarify my position here based upon what you said above. The issue isn't whether I personally value interactivity or not in Magic game play; it's whether and to what extent I believe interactivity should be used as a consideration in managing the B&R list. While I do think that the concept of 'interactivity' is inherently biased, and contains a subtle preference for control decks, and especially slower control decks, it is not the case that I think that some concept of "interactivity" is an irrelevant consideration in managing the B&R list. It is a factor, but I would not consider it central, either as a matter of historical or normative practice. Much like extracurricular activities or a strong personal statement are relevant considerations in evaluating a college applicant, GPA/SAT and coursework is of much greater significance, traditionally.

    In a similar manner, for me, performance in Vintage tournaments (as measured by % of Top 8s, or other similar measures) is the primary factor in determining whether a card merits restriction, not abstract and unquantifiable concerns like "power" or "interactivity." You could literally substitute the word "interactivity" for "power" in my retort to Bobby Victory in this post, and the post would lose none of it's force of meaning.

    A 4 quadrant matrix of possibilities of performance by interactivity illustrates this well: if a card is 0% of Top 8s, no matter how non-interactive the game play is it fosters, there is no chance that it would be or should be restricted in Vintage. At the other end of the matrix, a card that is dominating tournaments will not be spared restriction no matter how interactive the game play it fosters proves to be.

    The thought experiment/hypothetical I raised in my previous post brings this into focus: If we could rewind Vintage to the December, 2009 card pool, before Worldwake, and keep it there like an Old School format, but otherwise provide the same visibility and attention as Vintage now gets on MTGO and the VSL, what are the chances that Chalice would be restricted? I'd put it south of 5%.

    In short, changes to the card pool (such as the printing of Lodestone Golem) and thereby the performance of Shop decks - not changes in attitudes or attention (or any of the other concerns you cite, by themselves) - explain the restriction of Chalice.



  • I haven't played in more than six months, but I have been following tournament results. I was basically waiting for all of the restrictions to take place that seemed inevitable. Anyway, I decided to start playing again because enough the cards had been restricted. However, it is apparent that something needs to be done again. In MUD's defense, it adds stability and predictability to the format. In doing so, it also limits what everyone can play successfully. One example (which is no longer relevant) is what Walking Ballista did to Gush Bond decks. It became a very consistent way to lose because the combo often required the player to go below five life. In my opinion, Walking Ballista is the card to restrict because it adds an incredible amount of win conditions to the deck. It can do an incredible amount of damage, or it can eliminate all types of problems. If this type of utility is to remain, I would have to insist on restricting Mishra's Workshop. We all know what this card is. A free dark ritual for a deck that is not limited by color restraints.

    One could argue that Arcbound ravager is the issue, but I think the card is good for the format. It promotes an aggro strategy that sets the bar for others. As for the cards that have already been restricted, I would say they do not need to come off the list. Why repeat the past. This archetype has caused so much commotion for so many years that is should not be given back tools that help it dominate. I think that restricting Workshop would probably open the format to many new archetypes. However, I don't know how many vintage enthusiasts want a brand new format.

    If Walking Ballista were restricted I would not be opposed to Thorn of Amethyst being unrestricted. I never thought I would be advocating anything positive for sphere effects, but I do appreciate the Eldrazi deck. Without Ballista, these to archetypes would probably be more evenly positioned against one another, while seemingly returning to the format to a previous state minus Ballista. To me, this a good an acceptable outcome, but we will have to see what happens.


  • TMD Supporter

    Apropos my exchange with @ChubbyRain above on Chalice of the Void, in doing a final edit on my HoV: 2007 article, including some clean-up research, I encountered this article, which I have no memory of every reading before. (Here is the full TMD thread regarding it).

    Written in 2008, the author argues, that something in the Dredge deck should be restricted, as it defies common principles of interactivity and fairness.

    When the author interviewed me regarding my opinion, he quoted me at length. I will share the entire exchange here - my opinion, and his reply, as I think it illustrates the fundamental point of disagreement:

    Steven Menendian (Smmenen) seemed to be in a similar position as Bert Kyle. As the first person to top 8 with Ichorid in a major event (beating me in the last round of swiss at an SCG Power 9 event to get there) and a long-time advocate of the deck, this was also expected. Steve explained that "I don't consider the Ichorid deck to be particularly healthy as it is not a very interactive deck. That said, I think it is not unhealthy for the format as a whole as it provides another deck option for people. Ichorid will never, in my view, dominate Vintage in terms of tournament wins or top 8s %. It will probably never reach more than 15% of top 8s."

    However, Steve’s analysis is large chunk of the reason I feel the deck needs to go. The fact is that it’s not played that much, it doesn’t win that many tournaments and it probably won’t be flooding a top eight near you. Yet its influence is so great. It is hardly played and rarely wins, but if you don’t pack at the bare minimum four Leyline of the Void, there’s a good chance you can get knocked out of contention for first place.

    Here is another similar exchange over Flash between @JACO and @Shock-Wave in the old forums, here.

    Shockwave wrote an entire article on why he felt Flash should be restricted: https://web.archive.org/web/20090228004008/http://magiceternal.com/vintage/flash.html

    Here is what Jaco said in response:

    I examine all tournament results I can find, and I have never seen Flash demonstrate any kind of consistent domination of tournament play. Perhaps you can show me these results that would lead to a legitimate reason for it's restriction, based on the data you mentioned you collected.

    Here was Rich M's reply:

    I think you're misunderstanding my position about why Flash deserved restriction. Again, it was never based upon format dominance, but a unique combination of factors which made it very bad for the format.

    And, again, Jaco's response:

    I don't think I misunderstood. I read your article and thought it was well written, even though I disagreed with the the content. I believe in objective measurements when restricting cards, and I don't believe your "unique combination of factors" provide a compelling and objective reason for restriction.

    The main crux of your argument seems to be interactivity, and that Flash limits interactivity because of the potential speed of the combo. To me, it is not any different than a deck like Charbelcher, which seeks to use it's leverage (speed) to attempt to win the match. In your eyes, it seems that speed is an attempt to limit interactivity, while in mine it is using the advantages of the deck's design. Another observer could say that your own creation (Landstill) seeks to limit interactivity by discouraging the opponent from playing spells, or risk losing to an avalanche of card advantage created by the card Standstill. Should we restrict that card too? I don't think so, because there is no prolonged period of tournament dominance of the card, and no objective reason to restrict it, just as there has been no historical data to support the contention that Flash has demonstrated any tournament dominance for an extended period of time.

    The exchange here is essentially the same as the exchange I just had over Chalice.
    Round and round we go. Nothing new under the sun :)



  • @smmenen I think there is a substantial difference between people's opinions on interactivity when taken independently and when taken as a collective. An individual's opinion is subjective while group's "opinion" is objective. Take for instance presidential approval ratings. If I ask you "Do you approve of the job President X is doing?", that response doesn't have a verifiably right or wrong answer, which makes it subjective. I can disagree with your opinion, but it is your opinion and I can't tell you what your opinion is. However, if I ask "Do Americans approve of the job President X is doing?", that response does have a verifiably right or wrong answer. I can look up polling data on Gallup from when Truman was president and give you the answer. While you may disagree with that answer, it is a discussion of the methodology and the strength of the results - the same type of discussion scientists have every day. So while individual opinions on interactivity might be subjective, collective opinions on interactivity are objective, with the usual epistemological limitations.

    It should be noted that Flash was ultimately restricted, despite (I am assuming the accuracy of this) an empirical lack of dominance. Chalice was restricted only partially due to "dominance":

    Workshop decks have become more and more popular. However, too many games are effectively decided by the first player's first turn. A major problem is that a turn-one Chalice of the Void for 0 deprives the opponent an opportunity to put Moxen on the battlefield. While players can adapt by not playing Moxen, the point of the format is to provide a place to play those cards. Chalice of the Void is restricted.

    In fact, balance and dominance aren't mentioned at all here. Popularity is, which could be construed as dominance, but the bulk of the explanation centers on interactivity. Now I agree that interactivity is not the sole determinant. However, I think there is considerable evidence that the DCI looks at the collective opinions on interactivity and uses them as rationale for restriction. It makes sense for them to do so. The DCI is not a court of law, but instead the governing body of a game. Their mandate is profit driven and while I'm sure they try to be fair in their decisions, at the same time they are trying to maximize profits for their game and "fun" in the collective sense is more important.


  • TMD Supporter

    I've heard @Smmenen mention many times on the SMIP podcast that one of his major tenants of Vintage "is keeping the B&R list as small as possible." This comment doesn't seem to be debated much on this forum, so I was curious if most other Vintage players feel the same way? I only ask because I personally have never cared on the length of the B&R list.

    I know this type of belief sounds great in concept, but the corollary statement is often "people should be able to play as many of their cards as possible," and I've often thought this to be a little bit of a fantasy in Vintage. Realistically, the average Vintage player will play with <200? 500? 1000? cards. Due to so many cards being absolutely, strictly better, there are "soft caps" on the playability of the average Vintage card. Then factor in that most decks already have 15-20 of their 75 cards fixed before deckbuilding even begins and the available card pool quickly shrinks.

    I know this isn't a higher-level debate, but I'm curious if the interest in a B&R "as small as possible" is an abstract concept or a fixed principle (and not necessarily to Steve, but anyone else who agrees)? There are plenty of players that would like to see the B&R cut down much further, so the spectrum on this seems pretty broad. I personally would prefer to see a much larger B&R list if it meant dozens of more decks were viable (but I might be alone in placing a premium on vast meta diversity)

    Players who agree with a B&R "as small as possible:"
    How steadfast are you in this principle (what's your threshold for un/restriction)?
    What are your parameters or your end goal? (where on the scale of B&R brevity vs deck variety do you reside?)
    Is B&R brevity even contradictory to deck variety?

    Or is it much more simple than this, in that you just think Magic players are horrible at metagame crafting and you'd just prefer a higher standard for restriction and only limit the truly broken cards?



  • @joshuabrooks The smaller the banlist, the better, mainly because a big Restricted List falls in either 2 categories: it's either restricting cards that shouldn't be restricted (because no one's using them in good decks anyway); or it moves the format towards 60-card Highlander, which is bad for playability.

    I think that even if we discuss DCI's restriction policy over the last years, their UNrestriction policy has been top notch. For example, why would you keep Gifts restricted when it does nothing to the meta other than allowing us to play the awesome card it is?



  • @joshuabrooks I agree with you. I think it's a meaningless position. Yeah, the DCI shouldn't be restricting cards left and right, but if a card is worth restricting based on the criteria of balance, interactivity, and diversity, then shouldn't it be restricted? I think everyone feels that only cards worthy of restriction should be restricted, so we all feel the restricted list should be as small as possible. So the argument should be whether or not card X should be restrict or card Y should be unrestricted. The size of the list is not relevant to that discussion.


  • TMD Supporter

    @joshuabrooks said in So Many Insane Plays – Episode 73 – Eternal Weekend in Review:

    I've heard @Smmenen mention many times on the SMIP podcast that one of his major tenants of Vintage "is keeping the B&R list as small as possible." This comment doesn't seem to be debated much on this forum, so I was curious if most other Vintage players feel the same way? I only ask because I personally have never cared on the length of the B&R list.

    I know this type of belief sounds great in concept, but the corollary statement is often "people should be able to play as many of their cards as possible," and I've often thought this to be a little bit of a fantasy in Vintage. Realistically, the average Vintage player will play with <200? 500? 1000? cards. Due to so many cards being absolutely, strictly better, there are "soft caps" on the playability of the average Vintage card. Then factor in that most decks already have 15-20 of their 75 cards fixed before deckbuilding even begins and the available card pool quickly shrinks.

    I know this isn't a higher-level debate, but I'm curious if the interest in a B&R "as small as possible" is an abstract concept or a fixed principle (and not necessarily to Steve, but anyone else who agrees)? There are plenty of players that would like to see the B&R cut down much further, so the spectrum on this seems pretty broad. I personally would prefer to see a much larger B&R list if it meant dozens of more decks were viable (but I might be alone in placing a premium on vast meta diversity)

    Players who agree with a B&R "as small as possible:"
    How steadfast are you in this principle (what's your threshold for un/restriction)?
    What are your parameters or your end goal? (where on the scale of B&R brevity vs deck variety do you reside?)
    Is B&R brevity even contradictory to deck variety?

    Or is it much more simple than this, in that you just think Magic players are horrible at metagame crafting and you'd just prefer a higher standard for restriction and only limit the truly broken cards?

    I largely addressed this issue in another thread, so I will simply recapitulate my key points here:

    The reason that the difference between a 40 and 50 card Restricted List is not mere fetishism is because those 10 cards, could, in theory, mean 10 more possible viable decks.

    The entire point of the Vintage format is that it's the last place to play all of your cards, and to the maximum extent possible. This isn't just my view of the format. The DCI said this several times: Regarding the Restricted List, "we'll keep looking for things to take off the lists with the goal of having them be as short as possible."

    I think the most important goal for the DCI is not to maximize a perception or feeling of interactivity, but to maximize the quantity of possible viable decks and promote metagame diversity. That is the prime directive, and anything else, should be subsidiary in my opinion, including complaints about game play. I would prefer to have players make meaningful deck choices than meaningful in-game choices, if confronted with a Hobson's/Sophie's choice like that.

    To put it in extreme terms to illustrate the point, as between a Vintage format with one viable deck that is deeply interactive and engaging (a format of Keeper mirrors, say), or a format with many decks, but many of which are largely non-interactive or "outrageous" according to your standards, I would prefer the latter to the former. Meaningful deck choice is the most important choice in the Vintage format.

    I prefer a format with outragenous decks like Dredge and Prison and Oath and Show and Tell and Storm to a format where such outrageous decks are excised in the interest of "interactivity."

    It follows from those starting principles that desiring a 40 instead of 50 card restricted list isn't fetishism. It's a logical conclusion derived derived from first principles, which seeks more viable deck options for each player.

    Now obviously not every restriction renders a deck unviable, but restricting cards like Doomsday or Oath of Druids plucks decks out of the environment that give Vintage flavor and make it interesting. Those strategies rely on 4-ofs, and can't function with a single Oath or Doomsday, since so much of the deck is constructed around it. Restricting those cards renders those decks effectively non-viable.

    In summary, a smaller restricted list creates more potential deck design and selection options in the format that is the last home for Magic cards. In addition, I believe that using restriction to stop a dominant deck is the only truly legitimate basis for restriction. Any other ground for restriction is 1) too subjective and subject to bias or, more importantly, 2) has the potential to undermine the more important goal of promoting diversity. That's because if a restriction occurs because of grounds other than stopping a dominant deck, it risks reducing format diversity.

    I don't mind considering other factors, such as interactivity, but only in conjunction with dominance/metagame prevalance. I would only use other factors as tie-breaker, and never justify a restriction of a card that wasn't heavily played.

    The only thing I didn't say, but wish to add, is the violence and harm done to players when restriction occurs. While most players breathe relief at restriction, we must never forget that someone, somewhere is upset by any given restriction. From a purely utilitarian perspective, this is acceptable - we want to maximize happiness, and that sometimes means making some people unhappy.

    But the problem in Vintage is that the player base is organized into factions that are largely, but not entirely, discrete and insular. That is, you have cohorts of Workshop players, cohorts of TX players, cohorts of Dredge players, and so on.

    Restriction is a very grave action. Every restriction harms one segment to the benefit of another. If Bazaar were restricted, the Dredge players would cry foul. If Workshop were restricted, the Workshop players would be upset. And so on.

    Think of it like a government program or benefit. Restriction is like taking away some resource from one group for the benefit of other groups. When the government does it, people complain that the government is favoring one group or another.

    I think there are far too many people who are cavalier about weighing these harms. These are real harms. There are people who literally quit Vintage when their favorite cards are restricted, no matter how necessary those restrictions may be. Someone posted here on these boards that he quit when Lodestone was restricted. There are many reports of people quitting due to the '08 wave restrictions.

    If the Vintage player base were organized uniformly, and deck choices weren't formed by years of experience in "Schools of Magic," restriction would look less like one group lobby the DCI to harm another group. But that's what it looks like.

    Historically, I have typically been an opponent of most restrictions. I led the movement to stop restricting cards in the early 2000s, when restriction was far too prevalent, and when Keeper players regularly called for restrictions in a way that had the appearance of favoritism, if not the actual reality. Because of my long history with the format, and that community memory, I'm especially sensitive to how different groups feel or regard various restrictions, and the legitimate claims of bias that seep into so many of these debates.

    Every call for restriction should not only be evaluated on it's merits, but through a lens of how it divides the player base.

    That's one reason that I feel that only the most objectively defensible criteria should be used to support restrictions, and that restrictions should only be used as an absolute last resort. It follows that I feel that the restricted list should be as small as possible in pursuit of the goal of maintaining format diversity. And the DCI agrees, as I quoted above.

    On the unrestriction side, I would consider unrestricting any card that has a low risk of generating a dominant deck. Once under consideration, factors such as interactivity may be weighed, but I wouldn't consider them a complete bar.

    This is partly why I think that Gush should not have been restricted. With Mentor restricted, the truth is that we simply don't know how prevalant Gush would be. Matt thinks it would be dominant; I'm more much more skeptical. If the restriction of Mentor brought Gush decks to an acceptable level or % of the metagame, then Gush should not also be restricted. But, there may be disagreements exactly what is considered "acceptable." I think that Gush decks, with Mentor restricted, are very unlikely to be more than 30% of Top 8s. If Gush were unrestricted this past Eternal Weekend, I don't believe it would have made a bit of difference to that Top 8.

    The restriction of Probe is a complete farce, and unnecessarily wounded already weak decks like DPS.


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