February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement



  • @smmenen I can't speak for @diophan on his thoughts about the format, but I really didn't feel as if the format was huge factor. It was more we were dedicating time and effort into entering events solely to collect data and felt that what I was contributing wasn't making much of a difference. I even had a couple of players tell me that the data we collected was destroying the format. That's hard to hear.

    Since then I've tried to get back to what I enjoy most about the format, which is brewing and exploring different options. Streaming has added a social component to it and way to share what I like about Vintage with others. From that perspective, the format isn't horrible. Outside of Ravager Shops, the format has a lot of diversity and space to explore. Now if you are a competitor and want to play the best deck or feel the deck you like is not at a competitive disadvantage against the field, I understand that frustration. By every empirical measure, Shops is in a class by itself and becoming more popular as a result. Still, people are always looking for different things when it comes to Magic - it's just how it is. Now, a few more challenges like the last and I might change my opinion...

    I played Ravager Shops 5 times in 8 rounds (and dredge twice). TKC55 played Shops 6 times in 9 rounds. Since Shops was 'only' 28% of the meta, I understand this was variance, but that isn't the most interesting tournament lineup in my opinion.

    Edit: FYI, I think the reason Shops hasn't had much of a drop off is that it's basically just shifted further towards a more threat dense aggro deck. The particulars of the matchup might change - for instance, Shops actually got worse against "Mentor" decks with the restriction (54% to 49%) - but the overall power and win rate of the deck is unchanged.



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

    @smmenen I can't speak for @diophan on his thoughts about the format, but I really didn't feel as if the format was huge factor. It was more we were dedicating time and effort into entering events solely to collect data

    But you were doing that for a long, long time. I mean, you started putting together data reports just a month or two after I did one on the Power Nine challenges, like January 2016.

    Why did it take until just the last few months for you and/or Ryan to finally feel the burn out? Sure, it's possible that two years of collecting data just took it's toll, and that the 25th or 26th month was the straw that broke the camels bsck. But its hard for me to conclude other than what neo altoid just said, that the quality of the format has played a role, however small. Counter-factually, if you thought the format was fantastic, even though you putting in the time and effort to do this work, would you feel it was a bear or a burden?

    Put another way: You expressed deep dissatisfaction for many years about both Gush and Mentor. Now both cards are restricted, and it's only after those restrictions that you are now expression exhaustion with the format? I mean, that's a really unfortunate turn of events.

    It's like begging for a new car, getting what you want after years of complaint, and suddenly deciding you prefer bicycling, after moving heaven and earth to get a new car. To wit:

    From that perspective, the format isn't horrible. Outside of Ravager Shops, the format has a lot of diversity and space to explore. Now if you are a competitor and want to play the best deck or feel the deck you like is not at a competitive disadvantage against the field, I understand that frustration.

    But this only underscores my concern: for years you complained about Gush and Mentor. Now Ravager Shops are just as dominant in terms of win % as Gush ever was, but the quote above is a kind of resigned shrug. For real? You took every opportunity to complain about the injustice and oppression of Gush and Mentor, but now hedge the dominance of Ravager Shops - which in terms of persistent win % is as bad or worse than anything Gush ever did - as an issue only "if you are a competitive player?"

    I mean, seriously? Where was this sort of hedged analysis a year ago? I spent countless posts stating that there were other decks that were viable outside of Gush decks, even blue decks, and you would have none of it, dismissing them as not competitive. Now you happily bifurcate the format into 'competitive and non-competitive' decks, saying that the "format isn't horrible," 'from a certain point of view.' I feel like Luke in ROTJ about that.

    This can't be real. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

    You were were tough and hard-headed about calling for the DCI to restrict cards from the Mentor deck. You were a shrill and vocal Martinet for several years. Now, I can't believe how soft, accommodating and shy you in addressing the problem now before us. While you clearly assert that Shops are a problem, and even call for DCI action, your presentation, phrasing and framing of this issue is a sharp and remarkable contrast to how you've addressed the Gush and Mentor issue in the past. You won't even go so far as to suggest an action in this thread yet. Would that you were so generous in holding back when debating over Gush!

    I find that very frustrating.

    On the other hand, anyone who says that data is bad for the format should be promptly ignored. Ignorance may be bliss, but it's still ignorance. I thank you for your hard work.



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

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

    Are you just tired of Vintage or is there some element of dissatisfaction with the format, in your or Ryan's view? I ask not as a subsidiary or unrelated topic, but because it seems directly germane to the issue at hand.

    I'll give an answer from a different player who know why. It's because Vintage doesn't feel fun anymore. If I want to win, I play shops, and if I want to have fun with cards...well, you're going to run into a wall of Pyroblast and Friends (in addition to shops), and that's just a disaster for your "let's have fun" brew. I attribute an additional portion of me burning out to my choice of Xerox deck being incidentally crushed by the first metagame shift (Stoneforge Mystic is a bad time into Oath and maindecked ancient grudge!), and just finding I finally got sick of the whole dig/cruise/gush/cantrip paradigm that blue has become.

    From a B&R perspective, what would bring me back is...I don't know, just outright ban Khans block from the format--Mentor, Cruise, and Dig simply synergize too well with what the format wants to be doing, and it encourages this awkward blue format where there's very rarely a chance to answer a threat outside of the stack (which pushes blue in into Flusterstorms and Pyroblasts), where before, you could legitimately fight even blue decks on the board as opposed to on the stack.

    That's my 2 cents.

    Between the time when the missteps drank the one drops, and the rise of the Magics online, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Mishra, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Vintage upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!

    http://www.tcdecks.net/deck.php?id=6153

    Delve / Dack / Insane Token Generators really did a number on Vintage, specifically the core 'blue' cards that are now so homogeneous. Above is a link to an event where New Phyrexia was legal. The biggest t1 event in the world at the time by a large margin (483). Shops had 4 Golem, 4 Chalice, 4 Thorn, 4 Sphere (and 4 Metamorph) and managed 1 in the top 8. Incidentally 2 rather unique Gush decks also top 8'ed. You'll notice a lack of 3.8 Missteps. That's because Misstep used to not also be +1 mana and a token. What we are left with is unfortunately a bifurcated format where doing much of anything outside of Misstepping, Bazaaring (which often Missteps) or Sphereing is left.



  • @smmenen The big change was the implementation of the weekly Challenges as it quadrupled the amount of work. When you've been entering events, cataloging data every Saturday since May, it's pretty rough. There was also selling my paper collection to pay medical bills and getting prepared to re-enter medical school after a medical leave of absence. Those events might have contributed to feeling stressed and burnt out even with a hobby I enjoy. It also may have affected the fervor in which I approached banned and restricted discussions, as I'm not planning on going to either Vintage Champs or the SCG. I'm simply trying to make the most of my leisure time.

    Steve, I think you are right - I think the DCI should do something about Ravager Shops. I am planning on writing a much longer piece about it and sending it to WotC on Twitter, something I never did regarding Gush. The question is of course what to hit. My thought process is different than yours in that I don't think one card will prove sufficient. I would

    Restict

    • Arcbound Ravager
    • Walking Ballista
    • Sphere of Resistance

    Unrestict

    • Thorn of Amethyst


  • @chubbyrain like those, though I'd be more inclined to just leave thorn in, not change sphere, and just hit ravager and walking ballista.



  • @winterstar The gist of it is that I think creature decks can't compete with Ravager and Ballista. Sphere is also much more punishing than Thorn against those decks. While I think Thorn was the right card to hit if that was literally the only non-Shop card you were going to hit, if you want to enable decks like Humans, Eldrazi, and Merfolk (or whatever - nonShops creature decks), you are going to have to go after the cards the break that matchup open.



  • @chubbyrain Fair.

    But we also know I'm a degenerate who loves prison decks, so seeing both ballista and ravager go while perhaps unrestricting Thorn is more or less my definition of Magical Christmasland.

    If anything, just starting with Ravager is probably the safest bet. I'm not sure that enabling other sorts of decks is somewhere I want to be making policy from on a systemic level.



  • @childe_roland

    To give a nuanced answer: maybe.

    To expand. I generally find there to be two different thoughts on the interactions of the Workshop deck.

    One: that Workshop enables terribly broken things for the deck, and that the restriction of the card would gut the deck too far- which is to say that it would become a much, much less playable archetype to the extent that the archetype fades. Tied into this line of thought is the concern of other archetypes beyond the hyper-aggressive aggro shops build that would more or less be forever decimated in the wake of such a restriction.

    Two: that the current Ravager Aggro build of the deck would not be too adversely affected by the loss of Workshop, which is a definitive possibility. One of the most common aspects of this perspective is rooted in one of Rich Shay's games from Eternal Weekend in which the Ravager Aggro deck he was piloting turn 3'd his opponent with nary a Workshop in sight.

    Which becomes problematic if in banning a card strongly identified as a pillar of the format, possibly disabling an entire vintage archetype...and then the deck is still dominant to an unsatisfactory degree.

    Many at this point want the deck to be weakened, but not destroyed. Especially if splash damage with other interesting Workshop decks can be avoided (two card monte, aperture science, perhaps throwbacks like Martello, terra nova).



  • @winterstar thank you for taking the time to answer.

    I see restricting Workshop as not as killing the deck entirely, but making it the right kind of powerful, just as adding 1x Workshop to Legacy MUD decks would do. Add to this the P9 available in vintage, the deck seems like it would just make sense as opposed to being oppressive. You could unrestrict Thorn again probably, maybe even Lodestone (if i may be so bold)

    as for Ravager decks doing good without Shops, i have no doubt that the deck is still explosive and/or straight great but thats just because it is a well crafted, sound deck. However without access to 3 mana from a single land drop, which can be doubled up and tripled up over subsequent turns (not taking into account other fast mana), it doesnt seem busted and seems like another deck that Null Rod and Stony Silence and Energy Flux love to play against.

    I think the Workshop might just be the card, but fear of player/collector reaction might be holding them back.

    Has anyone tested or posted results of a mock world where Workshop is restricted?

    edit: I just saw one of the Dominaria spoilers: Damping Sphere. Is this the fix Wizards has decided on?



  • I'll give my 2 cents on why I haven't played nearly as often in the last couple years. We've had a 2 deck format basically since Worldwake was printed (and Gush was unrestricted). This was my first tournament in this new era, and to me it looks almost indistinguishable to a top 8 now (5 blue, 2 Shops, 1 Storm). The core of Blue and Shops has grown so large that restriction hasn't really had much of an effect. Certainly some variations of these blue and shops decks have come and gone, but they are still essentially the same decks (though I do have to admit that the current variations are much easier to play against as they are less oppressively powerful). The blue decks just want to draw cards endlessly and fight everything on the stack (what you actually win / draw cards with is almost irrelevant), and the shops decks want to turn everything into a war of permanents (again what you actually win / build permanent advantage with is almost irrelevant). Both these decks force you to play two extremely conflicting strategies, one stack-based and the other permanent-based.

    So as a result if your fringe deck is good against shops, its probably bad against blue and vice-versa. Eventually it just gets tiring constantly brewing decks just to come to that same conclusion every time, and I just find myself asking the question "Which one of Blue/Shops do I want to beat/lose to today?". Maybe that is a sign of a healthy format in some people's view, but I think it would be much more interesting if I could go into a tournament having to say prepare for Dredge, or Storm, or Oath as the most critical match up instead of just deciding on playing the same game vs Blue/Shops ad nauseam for the last 8 years.

    I find it interesting that some people would ever want to unrestrict any cards that could improve these existing shells, or that some other people still think the metagame has not yet "adjusted". I was there with the latter maybe for the first few years, but we've seen now that these decks have survived numerous restrictions and have remained dominant for 8 years!

    There have been eras of Vintage when this wasn't the case. I remember a time when Fish was at one point the best deck and when Storm was at one point the best deck. What happened to these days when a fringe deck could become the top dog for more than just 1 event? I know that printings have made it inherently creep towards what it is right now, but that's why we have a restricted list! In my opinion, its time we started to use it more aggressively.



  • @vaughnbros I'm in agreement with your position.

    I know that many vintage players live for the blue on blue interaction. I get and respect that but I get bored with it. I'm not sure what can be done at this point. It would require major changes that the general vintage community would hate.

    In my opinion, WOTC has done a good job crafting a healthy and interesting meta using the B&R in modern. In that format, you can realistically win a major event with no less than 5 completely different combo, aggro, or control builds. I love the variety of that format right now. I wish I could say the same about vintage.



  • To me, the most obvious solution is to require heavy drinking for all participants in all Vintage tournaments. That flattens the skill differential enough that new people and new decks can win.



  • @mace1370 said in February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

    I'm not sure how much good restricting another shops piece (say Foundry Inspector, for example) will do in the long run. As others have pointed out, WotC will print more artifacts and eventually something will get printed and run as 4x in the shops deck and we will be right back to the starting point. Long term, however, what happens when this cycle repeats itself over and over again and shops is full of 1x restricted bombs like Trinisphere? Is the only endgame solution to restrict Workshops itself?

    Here’s another way to look at it: how many cards had to be restricted, and will have to be restricted in the future, so that Workshop could/can remain unrestricted? How many cards could be unrestricted if they decided to restrict Workshop at the next opportunity?


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

    Many at this point want the deck to be weakened, but not destroyed. Especially if splash damage with other interesting Workshop decks can be avoided (two card monte, aperture science, perhaps throwbacks like Martello, terra nova).

    I would like that, personally. I think the deck has a place in the metagame, but I’m tired of it being so oppressive.

    I’ll grant that this is a far-fetched example, but it’s an example nonetheless: I played blue belcher at EW in 2015. One of my losses was to Shops. I was lucky enough to face it only once all day. I managed to win the first game, but I’m certain that’s because my opponent didn’t play a sphere effect in game 1 and didn’t know what I was playing until I dropped Belcher and killed him. I didn’t have a chance in games 2 and 3, because my opponent was playing at least 9 cards that all cost just 2 or 3 mana that literally spelled “game over” for me, because my deck was running 1 land—Academy.

    Yes, it’s a far-fetched case, because most decks run at least a few lands, but the fact is that this particular deck is so successfully stifled by the Shops deck, unless you’re on the play and can win on turn 1. The following year, Shops’ popularity had grown to the point where I knew I was liable to face it a lot more often, and there is literally no way for a Belcher deck to beat a resolved sphere effect, so I played a deck I didn’t like as much and didn’t do as well, of course.

    I would like to see the deck continue to have a role in Vintage, but it would be nice if it didn’t so easily dominate certain strategies into extinction. Its dominance is why I, personally, am not thinking a lot about Vintage lately.



  • @ironroot Would restricting Workshop even kill the deck if they were given back a bunch a bunch of their toys? It seems to me they do just fine with hands that don't have Workshop, and it would still be a singleton.

    Why not discuss restricting the Island-subtype while we are at it. Putting restrictions on peoples mana bases seems to clearest path instead of having to restrict every single decent artifact/draw spell ever printed.



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

    @ironroot Would restricting Workshop even kill the deck if they were given back a bunch a bunch of their toys? It seems to me they do just fine with hands that don't have Workshop, and it would still be a singleton.

    Why not discuss restricting the Island-subtype while we are at it. Putting restrictions on peoples mana bases seems to clearest path instead of having to restrict every single decent artifact/draw spell ever printed.

    If they had never printed the BFZ+ eldrazi maybe people would limp along with a gimped version of shops. But there's no compelling reason to fill a deck with more vulnerable stuff if Shop is gone. And certainly prison shops would be deader than it already is, as bulk rares like Smokestack, Coercive Portal and the 5+ mana artifacts are rendered useless (outside of Tinker ... )



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

    @vaughnbros I'm in agreement with your position.

    I know that many vintage players live for the blue on blue interaction. I get and respect that but I get bored with it. I'm not sure what can be done at this point. It would require major changes that the general vintage community would hate.

    In my opinion, WOTC has done a good job crafting a healthy and interesting meta using the B&R in modern. In that format, you can realistically win a major event with no less than 5 completely different combo, aggro, or control builds. I love the variety of that format right now. I wish I could say the same about vintage.

    The edges are harder in Legacy than in Modern and harder in Vintage than in Legacy. Meaning the best things you can do are so much better. Case in point, Through the Breach -> Show and Tell / Sneak Attack -> Oath / Tinker. Serum Visions -> Brainstorm / Ponder -> Blue Stew Delver Restricted. Eldrazi Temple -> Ancient Tomb -> Shop. Faithless Looting -> Breakthrough -> Bazaar. Spell Snare -> Force -> Misstep.

    If you want diversity in deck building to even get off the ground, for people to try either new or dormant cards WotC would have to IMO perform additional restrictions. This is barring a new absurd Commander printing that directly makes the current stalwarts worse. Starting with Misstep from Blue Stew, and then taking probably Ravager and/or Ballista. This would pave the way for tier B hate bear decks, dark depths based decks and maybe forms of non-Shop aggro ... these decks could begin the deck building exercise nearer to 60 cards instead of 50 cards.



  • @nedleeds

    I mean when we are at the point with Shops that we are considering restricting a slightly better than Triskelion, I think things have gotten pretty bad. The printings of creatures on Ballista/Hangarback level aren't going to stop anytime soon. You have to hit the mana base if you are going to hit anything. If not Workshop is off limits then Wasteland, or Ancient Tomb.



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

    I'll give my 2 cents on why I haven't played nearly as often in the last couple years. We've had a 2 deck format basically since Worldwake was printed (and Gush was unrestricted).

    This is just absolutely false.

    This graph shows Gush decks as a % of Top 8s since the unrestriction of Gush in 2010 until it's re-restriction early last year:

    ![alt text](0_1520982429017_a8378715-3786-417b-8108-c809a950bb92-image.png image url)

    To say that the format is the same since Worldwake is just false.

    For exactly four years (October, 2010-October, 2014), Gush averaged 13.55% of Top 8s, and just three times was above 20% of the Top 8 metagame in only 3 of 16 quarters. And never more than 23%.

    This was the quarter by quarter breakdown through most of that period:

    ![alt text](0_1520982629176_452888ef-807e-4c34-82af-79f7850dde13-image.png image url)

    In contrast to the pre-Khans period, Gush's AVERAGE from Q4, '14 until it's restriction was higher than the highest peak in the period before. So it's not even comparable.

    Gush performed better in the period Q4, 2014 through Q4 2016 than it had ever performed in it's history, including 2003 and 2007-8. So, this idea that Gush was dominant from the moment it was unrestriction is empirically false and a false narrative.

    My history of Vintage series shows this in other ways that are less quantative as well, by descibing the currents and trends. For example, BUG Aggro-Control with DRS and Abrupt Decay won BOTH Bazaar of Moxen events in 2013. Dredge had a period from late 2011 through mid-2012 where it won the biggest events in the format, including American and European. This idea that you are simplifying the format into a two deck horse race, with Gush and Shops dominating since 2010/11 is just historically false. The format has qualitatively changed during that period, with the biggest changes being the introduction of Dack, Cruise, Dig and Mentor within a 7 month period. The format before can't even be compared meaningfully to the period before. Totally different formats.



  • @smmenen

    I don't care about just Gush man. That wasn't what I was saying in the slightest. Please re-read the post.



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

    @smmenen

    I don't care about just Gush man. That wasn't what I was saying in the slightest. Please re-read the post.

    You said:

    "We've had a 2 deck format basically since Worldwake was printed (and Gush was unrestricted)"

    That's just not true. Not even close.


 

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