February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement



  • @chubbyrain Are people picking Paradoxical Outcome to play Paradoxical Outcome or so they also have easy access to Force of Will? Are people picking Oath of Druids to play Oath of Druids or do they assume that it comes with Force of Will? (Oath isn't even blue so I'll let you come to your conclusion on that latter one).

    You are making this assumption that people are selecting a card, and not a deck. My understanding of most people, even brewers (myself included), is that they start with a "overall" deck or core of cards that they want to play. They don't just say, I want this one card. Although I guess they could! Sometimes I tell myself I really just want Force of Will in my deck! I absolutely hate not being able to respond after all... So actually, wait a second, I actually build most of my decks around a reactive card...



  • @smmenen

    And the fact that you play mostly blue+storm combo reveals why you classify Dredge and Workshops with a broad stroke! We are all biased so all of us are wrong!

    Its inappropriate of you to use the word Dredge and not call it "XL Dredge", or to just call it Workshops and not call it "Ravager Shops". How dare you Steve!


  • TMD Supporter

    @vaughnbros said in February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

    @smmenen

    And the fact that you play mostly blue+storm combo reveals why you classify Dredge and Workshops with a broad stroke!

    But I don't. I don't organize Vintage into Blue and Colorless decks. I think that's a terrible way to organize decks.

    I prefer strategic orientations like Aggro-Control, Control, Combo, etc. or "Schools" of Vintage Magic like Robert Hahn did, but modernized (Comer, Weissman, O'Brien, etc.).



  • For me, using card names for naming a whole deck (ie. oath deck, ...) is just a usefull shortcut and we all know what is hiding behind (ie. a deck that aims to cheat a fatty into play using a particular setup ...).

    I agree with what has been said earlier, namely that decks classification in a B&R context is very subjective and as such quite difficult. I have no answer but lets put the finger on some of the problems.

    Saying that every deck using blue is the same archetype sounds stupid to me but on the other hand they differ only with a limited amount of cards and their strategies are often very similar. So where is the truth here ?

    My answer at this question comes from my engineering science background : i would look at the function of each card. Each deck has a plan that is supposed to lead to victory, and each card in the deck is here for a reason related to the said plan (its 'function'). IMHO what makes it difficult to classify decks is that a single card may have different function when they are in different decks. Let me give two simple examples :

    In a aggro shell, Tangle wire will be played after you drop a lodestone golem so you make sure your kill will stay online, whereas in a Stax shell you would play tangle wire before the golem to make sure it will not be hit by a counter (it is oversimplification but i guess you get the idea).

    In a same way, some years ago in Legacy there was 2 decks : tempo thresh and tempo zoo. If you look at both decklists they looks really similar : some creatures were different and some of the counterspells chosen were different. With one deck, the plan was to stick a creature and make sure it goes till the end, the other one planed to deal with what opponent put online and when he has exhausted his ressource kill him with whatever creature. Very similar decks but opposite plan and more important similar cards but slightly different because of their function in the deck.

    So to make it short, one can't look at deck lists and say '90% of the cards are the same so it is the same deck'. It requires a deeper analysis on how the deck is played and why each card is here. That kind of analysis is often done on 'blue' decks and they are categorized but i noticed that very often it is not done on other archetypes (for example, when there was several shop decks (aggro, stax, ...) they were always put in the same). For the sake of fairness, the same treatment shoudl be applied to all archetypes.



  • @smmenen

    You just used the word Dredge! And Storm earlier! If this isn't how you view them, why would you use those words? Or are Dredge/Storm special and they get classified differently?

    Are there any new schools of magic or that's it every possible strategy was defined in 1996?


  • TMD Supporter

    @vaughnbros said in February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

    @smmenen

    You just used the word Dredge! And Storm earlier! If this isn't how you view them, why would you use those words? Or are Dredge/Storm special and they get classified differently?

    Dredge and Storm are not strategic orientations. A strategic orientation is a broad class of strategies, which I listed out above (Aggro, Combo, Control, etc.). Dredge and Storm are strategies, but not strategic orientations.

    Are there any new schools of magic or that's it every possible strategy was defined in 1996?

    Well, you'll have to read my History of Vintage Series for the full answer, but no, not every strategy was defined in 1996. Hahn articulated 4 Schools (Handleman, Chang, etc.) that, with historical perspective, are not actually Schools. And some of the key schools had not yet emerged in 1996, or weren't fully blossomed. By 1997 almost all had, except the Comer School does not really come into existence until he creates Turbo Xerox. Part of the reason that the Comer School bloomed late is that you needed to have a format with Strip Mine restricted and you need enough cantrips in existence. Cantrips aren't in Magic until Ice Age, and you need more than that to build around.

    In my history of Vintage series (link in my signature), I include a table at the end of the 1997, 2002, 2007, and 2012 chapters that describe each School, it's design elements, and decks from that school. Dredge is the latest version of the Reanimator School, which begins in nascent form with Mark Chalice's The Machine in 1995, but fully blooms with Alan Comer's Type 1.5 Reanimator deck in 1997. It's always used self-reanimating spells like Ashen Ghoul and Nether Shadow, which today are superceded by Bloodghast and Ichorid in much the same way that Morphling replaced Serra Angel in the Weissman School, etc.



  • @smmenen

    Thank you for fully describing your classification method, and giving me some sources to look at.

    I'm looking at your article right now and I'm not sure that I agree that all the current iterations of Dredge are following a similar strategy as Comer's Type 1.5 deck unless you are painting a very broad brush. Certainly game 1 is typically going to be similar for most variants of Dredge (and they have that game in common with Comer's deck and the other "reanimator" core concepts), but I think it falls apart when you go to games 2/3 for certain builds of Dredge.

    Any version of Dredge with a transformational sideboard becomes a dramatically different deck (which I think are much more common now with the Hollow One printing than any traditional anti-hate build). That may or may not use its graveyard, and may or may not even care about reanimating a single creature. The Hollow One builds just want to drop a quick free, or cheap creature off of Bazaar (Again if a broad enough stroke I guess that's the same as reanimator?), but you also have the Dark Depths builds don't even use the graveyard one lick! Some of my builds of Dredge even function more like a "Control" deck games 2/3 setting up Strip Lock + Countering/Discarding Spells than anything resembling a true "Combo" deck. Eventually I'll win, maybe by comboing off, but also maybe by just attacking with a hardcasted 1/1. Again, you can put these into your "Reanimator" shell with a broad brush, but otherwise they are distinct decks.

    At what point does a classification system simply become useless though? Why classify at all if there are so many categories that no aggregation of data can be done? To give a little more background, as a statistician, the only times I even resort to classification is if I need to. The reality is that they are all artificial and you lose information by making that classification. The problem is that almost always you need to make that classification. Its simply impossible to make any sense out of the data at all without it. So I certainly understand your gripe about me "painting a broad brush", but at the same time, I'd like to actually make some sense out of the data instead of just say, yeah that's nice, but you can't actually classify any of these decks as the same. So what I'd ask is what is a meaningful classification system that is also useful for data aggregation? Instead of Workshops, Dredge, Storm, Xerox, ect, in your opinion, what should we be using? Are there few enough schools (without painting too broad of a brush) where they could even really be used in analysis?


  • TMD Supporter

    I have spent countless hours debating and discussion taxonomies in this forum and its predecessor.

    Over that time, I've always stressed that most taxonomies tend towards what are known as Folk Taxonomies. Even those that purport or pretend to be framed in terms of science, we all know how Linneaus Taxonomy preceded the discovery of DNA and the genome.

    Human beings are natural classifiers. There is an entire branch of human psychology devoted to how this occurs. Most taxonomies are folk taxonomies that work roughly as intended (e.g. avoid snakes with triangular shaped heads or certain fungi or colored berries), but are not precise or scientific.

    Therefore, Taxonomies are only useful to the degree to which they are practically applied. Chubby Rain made the point that we need taxonomies to organize decks and tactics in a way that can inform B&R list policy. I agree. But I also tried to explain that we need them as a way to gain strategic insight, both to guide our play and our design.

    Consider the famous strategy article "Who's The Beatdown?" by Mike Flores. The central insight and entire value of that article is utterly dependent upon dividing the world into "Beatdown" and "Control." If you reject that premise, then the article is incoherent epistemologically.

    Yes, I agree that all taxonomies provide insight and lose information. I already said this: As Gademer and others in the hermeneutical tradition say: That which reveals also conceals. This means that every way of organizing information also masks other insights. Every metaphor that reveals masks some other aspect of reality. That's a given. So the question is which classification scheme is best for which purposes.

    IMO, classifying decks as "blue" is misleading more often than not, for any of these purposes.



  • @smmenen

    Yes, I am not arguing that every form of aggregation/classification hides some of the truth, and reveals other portions of it. I am with you 100% on that.

    As a corollary, I'm also with you that classifying every Vintage deck into: "Blue Control", "Workshops", "Dredge", "Storm", and "Fish" is a less than ideal situation, but I feel it is necessary to make any meaningful use of data to inform my deck building. What I am asking is what better classification is there that would provide an amount of aggregation? (I'll add without biasing towards Blue diversity like has been done with the currently used taxonomic system (i.e. broad stroking everything except for blue control decks))

    Do you think it would be meaningful from a restricted/strategic discussion to classify decks as Control/Aggro/Combo? Essentially lumping Shops/Fish into one, and Dredge/Storm into one? (I gather from your dislike of me using "Blue" as a sweeping class means that you wouldn't like me just renaming it "Control")

    Do you really think it would be useful to classify each deck into schools, given that there are so many?


  • TMD Supporter

    Well, Ryan and Matt have been classifying Vintage decks since January of 2016 on this forum, and rather effectively to my mind.

    In that time, they've covered every single Vintage Power Nine Challenge since January of 2016, and done the same analysis for NYSEs, Waterburys, Vintage Championships, and even Eternal Extravaganzas.

    In that time, their classification system, which borrows from and expands on classification I conducted going back to the mid-2000s, has evolved. What was one called "Gush" decks is not simply called "Xerox," which is just a synonym in my view for Comer School decks.

    So, your question isn't really a hypothetical in the sense that we have ample (and I mean AMPLE) examples of data organization to look at and see if you think they are effective.

    I mean, take a look at judge for yourself:
    http://themanadrain.com/topic/476/vintage-metagame-report-april-to-june/
    http://themanadrain.com/topic/548/8-13-tmd-open-17-complete-metagame-report
    http://themanadrain.com/topic/354/nyse-4-complete-metagame-report



  • Yes, Matt and Ryan previously broke out the other archetypes into different categories that become too small of a sample to really useful from a statistical standpoint, but much more informative as to what was happening.

    Now, we are seeing Matt present data that doesn't have any breakdowns (except for Blue decks) in a restricted list discussion seemingly as an effort to hit cards in Workshops and push blame away from cards like Misstep.



  • @smmenen I feel like you're so close ... Surely different sets of classification are better for different purposes, and you've laid out a comprehensive argument for why your classification system helps people think about the format strategically.

    But the reason why people are using different classifications here isn't because they disagree it's a good fit for that purpose, it's because they have different purposes.

    If your least favorite thing about vintage is a game where you get locked out under spheres, you don't really care if there's a nuanced interplay between Ensnaring-Bridge-Null-Rod-Shops and Thought-Knot-Shops, you just want fewer decks with Sphere of Resistance. If your favorite thing about vintage is playing Dark Ritual, you don't care that Inferno Oath vs Griselbrand Oath is more of a paradigm shift than Esper Mentor vs Jeskai Mentor, you just want fewer decks with Mental Misstep. In fact it's not even internally inconsistent to think of Hollow Dredge and Depths Dredge as different archetypes while building your deck, and the same archetype while in this thread.

    The sticking point here isn't that people's models of the format don't line up, it's that people are modelling entirely different things. Debating over who's map is wrong when people are in different territories is the very essence of concealing through revealing.

    If I think the worst thing about vintage is that Combo Control isn't good enough and @nedleeds thinks the worst thing about vintage is that Combo Control is too good, that's irreconcilable. One of can accept it, or we can both lose, but we can't both win.

    Designing for humans is about knowing your audience, and not everyone can be in that audience. Whenever WotC changes the B&R list, that audience changes. Perhaps that's why people are so passionate about B&R. People aren't arguing over what makes the format "better", people are arguing over their right to be a vintage player.


  • TMD Supporter

    @brass-man said in February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

    @smmenen I feel like you're so close ... Surely different sets of classification are better for different purposes,

    That's almost exactly what I already said a few posts up. I wrote:

    "So the question is which classification scheme is best for which purposes."

    And I've already stated what those purposes are: 1) understanding the format for B&R list management, and 2) understanding the metagame to identify niches to exploit or attack for deck design purposes, among other purposes.

    I have no problem with people using different taxonomies. I was simply objecting to an approach which sweeps Xerox and Landstill strategies together because they are "blue" for any of these purposes.

    @vaughnbros said in February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

    Yes, Matt and Ryan previously broke out the other archetypes into different categories that become too small of a sample to really useful from a statistical standpoint, but much more informative as to what was happening.

    Now, we are seeing Matt present data that doesn't have any breakdowns (except for Blue decks) in a restricted list discussion seemingly as an effort to hit cards in Workshops and push blame away from cards like Misstep.

    @vaughnbros said in February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

    Yes, Matt and Ryan previously broke out the other archetypes into different categories that become too small of a sample to really useful from a statistical standpoint, but much more informative as to what was happening.

    Now, we are seeing Matt present data that doesn't have any breakdowns (except for Blue decks) in a restricted list discussion seemingly as an effort to hit cards in Workshops and push blame away from cards like Misstep.

    They haven't been entirely consistent over time. But neither was I. Compare:

    http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/vintage/19823_So_Many_Insane_Plays_The_Q2_Vintage_Market_Report.html

    and

    http://www.eternalcentral.com/so-many-insane-plays-2011-q2-vintage-metagame-report/

    I take the layered approach of using multiple simultaneous categories. I organize by tactic, archetype, and engine, at various times.



  • I know that's what you wrote a few posts up, I was agreeing with you as a rhetorical device :P



  • Yes, Brass you make a good point that everyone's goals are different in the sense of where we'd like to see Vintage as a format. Some of just want to play a bunch of blue mirrors all day that is what makes Vintage, Vintage to them. Some of us like the deck/strategy/color diversity that we see in other formats, and would like to see more of it here. Some of us want restrictions/unrestrictions to see a particular deck excel and/or others fail. In these senses, everyone comes into the discussion with a different goal in mind.

    Where I will disagree is that everyone does have two goals in mind:

    1. They want to have fun playing Vintage.
    2. They want to see Vintage be successful.
      I have a hard time believing anyone in one of these discussions doesn't have each other these larger goals in mind during the discussion.

    Most people in this particular discussion also seem to have a similar idea in mind for improving those goals:

    1. Making a change to the restricted list.
      Although, I don't think this is necessarily true of most discussions.

    So no matter how anyone of us slicing and dicing the data up, or classifying each deck, or however they are coming their conclusions, we all have a common goal and a common path to said goal.

    Going back to the data (I'll scrap the "blue" classification) over the last six months, I see the top 22% of the metagame is shops (mostly ravager?) and 16.5% of the meta is "Xerox" (previously Mentor and previous to that Gush) still leading the format in meta % AND match win % despite numerous restrictions, and ample time for the format to "adjust". Both decks being at the top for a quite a while (you can argue however long you like, but I believe its been at least a couple years of regular data showing them at top). I think we can all agree that this is the root cause of our frustration? We have seen numerous restrictions yet, none of them to date have worked.

    So literally the only part we all seem to have disagreements on are:

    1. What action to take on the restricted list?
    2. How did we come to this conclusion?

    What's funny to me is that two people can have totally different views on 2. yet still reach the same conclusion in 1. At the same time, people can have extremely similar views on 2. yet still reach a different conclusion on 1. Now does 2 really matter? I mean in the end, the only actual action being taken is 1. What I really have to wonder is why does it matter if we are reaching the same conclusion?

    So the following conclusions were:
    Restrict something in Workshops (no consensus on what, and most people can't even give a single card).
    Restrict Mental Misstep.
    Unrestrict Flash.
    Unrestrict Fastbond.

    Now, I would literally do all of these things. As I started this discussion, I'm really sick and tired of the format having the same decks at top for what seems to be quite a while (again I guess arguable as to how long; In my viewpoint its been 8 years, in others maybe only 6 months). So lets shake everything up. Do it all. Unrestrict everything that won't benefit the big 2. Restrict a bunch more cards in the big 2. At least we get a different, fresher format that people can start to enjoy again.



  • @vaughnbros So I start out completely agreeing with you, but we end up differing pretty fast.

    everyone does have two goals in mind:

    1. They want to have fun playing Vintage.
    2. They want to see Vintage be successful.

    Completely on board. I assume everyone here is is acting in good faith, and if there are a few bad actors? well? fuck'em. Most vintage players want other people to play vintage.

    but then the very next line is

    Most people in this particular discussion also seem to have a similar idea in mind for improving those goals:

    1. Making a change to the restricted list.

    and that's where I'm lost.

    Both decks being at the top for a quite a while ... I think we can all agree that this is the root cause of our frustration?

    I'm not sure you realize how fundamentally people differ on this. I like Mentor mirrors. I think they're just great Magic. I think the gameplay decisions are deep and the deckbuilding decisions fascinate me. When Monastery Mentor got restricted and the deck got less popular, the average amount of fun I had per round of Magic went down. When I enjoy a matchup and the incidence of that matchup gets reduced because of a restriction, my frustration doesn't come from one deck being dominant for too long, it comes from other players campaigning for that restriction. I like narrow metagames, I can understand narrow metagames. A good deckbuilder is rewarded for making nuanced choices in narrow metagames. In a broad metagame they're subject to the DCI Reporter RNG. When those changes happen, I get frustrated and the game gets less fun for me, but I try to avoid talking about my personal preferences because I'm a good little spike and I feel that my job as a player is to win with the cards that are legal, not to change which cards are legal until I win.

    I feel like campaigning for format changes as TMD admin is unfair, and my goal is to maximize fun for vintage as a whole, not for myself.

    But what is Vintage as a whole? I get that some people don't like the format right now and I get that some of those people are in this thread. MOST people don't like vintage. MOST people don't like Magic at all. MOST people would rather play FreeCell. TMD is a niche within a niche within a niche. It's hard for me to reconcile the "everyone knows there's a problem" attitude in this thread with the fact that Leagues keep firing, and EW keeps trending upwards year after year. It's not lost on me that TMD is not growing at the same rate. The brand new archetypes popping up every few weeks on magic online? The people building those decks aren't posting them here. Here we just talk about how there's no room in the format for new archetypes.

    So who decides what counts as Vintage being successful? I'm a dinosaur who thinks that vintage will never be as good as it was when shops was just okay and you could play 4 Brainstorm. If I'm having more fun, is that successful? If the MTGO pro who just dropped $3k on a set of Workshops gets to protect their investment, is that successful? If the FNM player who tried vintage and quit because he was steamrolled by Spheres give the format another chance after a Workshop restriction, is that successful? Who's spending more money? Who's hosting more tournaments? Who's writing more articles? Who's bringing more players into the format? Who's more fun to play games with? Who counts more and who counts less? It's an ugly question but everyone has an answer whether or not they're trying to.

    I think if you ask the question "What's best for vintage" and it always just happens to be the thing that makes the game more fun for you, you might be missing some perspective.

    The most clear example for me personally, I believe the following two things:

    • For some Vintage players, the presence of Mental Misstep makes the average game of Vintage Magic better. It makes games more skill testing, makes it easier to metagame against blue decks, and creates interesting deckbuilding decisions.
    • For some Vintage players, Mental Misstep is a genuinely frustrating card. Some people just really don't like playing against it, and they feel that it constricts their choices, and that makes Vintage less fun for them.

    Where does that leave me? Who counts more? The % of the metagame made up of Blue decks as compared to White Eldrazi decks doesn't remotely matter. People who think Misstep is good for the game think it's good no matter how many people are running it. People who think it's bad for the game think it's bad no matter how many people are running it. I don't have a great idea of how many people who play Vintage even have an opinion on this.

    At least we get a different, fresher format that people can start to enjoy again

    At the expense, of course, of anyone who enjoys it now.



  • @brass-man

    It sounds like you are in the class of individual that I described that wants endless Blue mirrors. But you also seem to want no changes to the restricted list? You wouldnt say want Mentor back? Or Brainstorm back? Or see Workshop be restricted?



  • Pro and high level players choose their decks according to the meta and what they feel would be the best strategy. In theory this is the best way to do but in the real world they are just a very small % of vintage players. Most of us are just playing one kind of deck (or a very small number of them) because it is the kind of deck that suits our playing style and we have fun with it (another reason is card availability/price of course but that is not the point here).

    From that point, the (theorically) best metagame would be the one where each 'playing style' can be incarnated by at least one deck (several would be best of course). As an example, i am just very bad at playing combo decks : whatever the deck or the format and how hard i try ... i always loose. It is just not my style. On the other hand, i know players that seem to be always playing combo decks whatever the incarnation or format (storm, belcher, elves, ....). I don't know what would be an adequate list of 'playing styles' but i presume you understand what i mean here.

    I won't come back on what has been said on the classification of decks from a meta management point of view, but what i just said can put a different light on that problem. Note that i am advocating nothing nor judging here, i am only trying to put some light on the facts :

    Let's have a look at the recent restrictions as an example : golem, chalice and thorns restrictions lead to the fact that prison shop does not exist any more and shop archetype is now only ravager builds. Let's see how people react to that :

    • For 'blue' players a shop deck is a shop deck and they don't care about the details. So they look at the numbers and see that shop archetype as a whole is still high so they scream "Nothing changed, we need more restriction and so on ..."
    • Aggro shop players are quite happy (i presume)
    • Control/prison shop players are frustrated. Unless they find another deck in the format that suits their style (and they can afford to play) they won"t have much fun. They could try ravager decks but it is a really different style (same difference as between 'Death & Taxes' and '4C control' deck in Legacy for example).

    So basically the result of those restrictions is that the overall frustration of the vintage communauty has increased. Maybe they were a necessary evil, i don't know and i won't judge but this is a result that can explain some of those endless talks on that topic.

    My conclusions are :

    • Some amount of categorization is necessary because it is not the same people who play decks that could look very similar from a quick glance. 'Playing style' could be a criteria (i don't know if that can be done practically or if it would lead to something different from the usual criterium).
    • Statistical are great but they are tools, the real stuff are people who are playing.
    • The 'perfect' metagame for me would be one where any new player who wants to try the format and looks at the available/competitive decks could always find one that will suit his playing style and have a reasonable chance of winning with it.


  • I really can't believe I have to keep doing this. Shops decks are incredibly homogeneous at present. Non-Ravager Shops was 2.6 % of Champs this year. It's about the same in the online metagame. When I looked it up for someone else before the Thorn restriction, it was like 88% Ravager Shops, 11% 'Control' Shops, and 1% Combo Shops, and that percentage has likely been skewed further towards Ravager online. It's not worth it to me to put in the extra work. You want to do this @vaughnbros, you put in the effort.

    And so what if you lump all Force of Will decks together? You see a large metagame share and a near 50% win rate. What does that prove? Absolutely nothing other than that the card is played a lot. Which is pretty much what you get with our metagame breakdown. Or a casual glance at the format. Your argument is unchanged - it's still absurd. I'm done with this topic...



  • @chubbyrain

    Sigh. Yes, its been gone through before so I dont understand why you cant take the criticism and adapt from it. I appreciate the data collection, but just because you collected doesnt give you the right the skew it to whatever message you want and then be completely dismissive of all complaints/conclusions that others make of it. By this aggregation method and what seems to be an ad hoc exclusion criteria, you have basically tailored your data to what seems like a previously decided upon conclusion. This type of analysis is a fairly extreme form of bias, and nearly the exact opposite of the purpose of data (to find an objective truth). You are doing a disservice to all data analyses and science in general with an analysis like this, and your complete disregard for your peers' opinions on the matter. If you didnt want you have a discussion about the data as its concerned towards the Restricted list, maybe dont make a post with that as the focus? I dont know that seems like a pretty easy way to avoid the conversation.


 

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