February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement

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

@moorebrother1 Noble Fish ran Mental Misstep and did just fine. Young Pyromancer killed Noble Fish.

Be sick if you could play Spell Snare huh?

You know, now that people mention it, a ravager restriction doesn't seem terrible. It can make ravager MUD weaker while opening up the opportunity for different variation of shops. I don't think the number of shop decks is the problem. However, it is concerning how they're all ravager decks (not sure if it's worthy of being restricted yet).

This is the part where I usually suggest something like Unrestricting Channel, because restricted channel is bullshit, but I am going to keep it to myself this time.

@shaman-ben said in February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

This is the part where I usually suggest something like Unrestricting Channel, because restricted channel is bullshit, but I am going to keep it to myself this time.

Don't know if unrestricted Channel is a good idea (I've suggested it here multiple times myself), but it might well lower the 3.8 Misstep number to some degree.

More than anything, we need NEW cards that combat the two primary power centers of Vintage: blue Xerox and Shops w/tax effects. Damping Sphere in Dominaria appears to have been a valiant, but comically-bad attempt at that. I seriously wonder what genius said to themselves, "This will stop Xerox AND Shops."

Wizards needs to print cards in B/R/G that counteract the dominance of Shops and Xerox (I exclude White because it already has most of the hate bears and functions as a lesser-Shops with less vulnerability to artifact removal).

We need Root Maze on a (cheap, not the 3cmc Thalia) creature. We need Naturalize as a Channel ability on a card. We need cards that come out early to hamper Xerox (cheap, not the 3cmc Leovold). A red creature that makes instants and sorceries cost 1 more. A green creature that makes artifacts cost 1 more (tax the tax deck). A black card that does something else Vintage-relevant, like 1cmc spells cost 1 more (weird, but maybe it would work). If they can print Cage to nerf Dredge and Oath (in a surprisingly flavorful way), they can spend a few slots on cards to hit the two strongest engines of Vintage.

At this stage of the game, every color should have tier-1.5 card selection and counter (in a color-appropriate flavor). There should be a green "Force of Wildness" that pitches like FoW to counter artifacts or enchantments, for example. A black instant that says, "For each card target player would draw this turn, they must discard a card or sacrifice a permanent instead."

Blue can be the best at selection and counter, but the other colors shouldn't be cut off entirely. Blue has been given the best cards and then has fetch/duals to splash their win conditions (Mentor, Oath/creature, Tinker/Blightsteel, Tendrils, etc.). The only reliable counterbalance has been a broken land and all the tax effects that are fit to print. Ravagers Shops has the challenge of its ability to anything in response to removal, but if you could afford to cast more than one removal spell in a given turn (due to tax effects) you might have a shot.

I'll stop there for now, since I have to go to work in the morning.

@nedleeds Nah, Noble Fish didn't want to tap out for counterspells. You spend all your mana each turn deploying permanent threats and activating Wastelands that the only counterspells that worked were Force of Will, Daze and Mental Misstep. I got lucky once with a build that ran Spell Pierce, but that's because it was my first outing with the deck and people kept hands game 1 as though I was Workshops all day.

@moorebrother1 said in February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

I can name 2 decks that I abandoned because of Mental Misstep - Noble Fish and Dark Times. Given that Vintage lands is kind of a deck now I think it could work if Chalice was back or Misstep was gone. Noble Fish or any Fish deck for that matter is dead until Misstep is gone.

I'm not sure what you categorize as "Fish decks" but if the category includes all hatebear type decks, then the statement is definitely wrong as Misstep does little to nothing against most Hatebear decks.

I don't get why so many want Misstep restricted. It's certainly not a very powerful card but a situational one for one. In addition it slows down the format and reduces variance.

last edited by Griselbrother

@jhport12 I hope you realize that Damping Sphere was probably designed more for modern. I would be surprised if they gave it serious consideration on the affects on vintage.

@hierarchnoble I ran Abeyance and Silence when I played the deck. You could race token generators back then because I played efficient creatures. My deck looked more like a hatebear deck.

I think hatebear plays differently because it runs about 28 to 30 creature whereas fish run about 20 to 24 and removal and filter or draw.

The hit to lands and dark times hurts more. I used to play a lands deck but I could not get the discard spells through.

Iā€™m not advocating for the card to be restricted. I just do not like one sided arguments.

I am personally hoping to innovate out of this glut.

The blue decks are inbreed and anything that can play through that and still beat Aggro shop and Dredge can do well.

@jhport12 I do think the BEST solution to metagame woes is a new printing, whenever possible. It rarely happens, but it's the ideal fix when it does. I like to look to Dack Fayden as the card that solved Tinker. People argued for the banning of the already-restricted Tinker for years, and I don't know what the format would look like if cards started getting banned. Tinker became less of a problem for a variety of reasons, but Dack Fayden was a big part of it.

Using that as a model, I think the correct way to design cards to solve a problem isn't to look for answers, but to look for cards that punish the opponent for building or playing a certain way. You're never going to convince people to play less of a card by one-for-oneing that card, there's just no incentive. Similarly, traditional hate cards have a problem if they can be one-for-oned by the opponent (something their opponent has largely already built their deck to do). In order to shift things, the fact that the new card exists has to create more tension for the person running the problem deck than it does for the person running the answer card.

I also particularly like mirror-only cards for balancing metagames. If they're specialized enough, they create a pressure-release valve for top performing decks to cannibalize their other matchups in order to stay relevant. (Unfortunately if they're not specialized enough, they could backfire and make the top deck stronger, I don't know if Misstep is an example of the first category or the second).

I have my own set of cards I think would improve the metagame, which overlaps a bit with yours in some places. I'm a game design junkie and I'd love to chat for hours about hypothetical format crafting techniques, but this doesn't feel like the thread to do it šŸ™‚

That said, I don't believe that Dack was designed with vintage in mind, I think it was a happy accident. I think the cost of developing cards for vintage is more expensive and potentially riskier than just restricting things, and I don't know that they've EVER designed a card specifically to improve the vintage metagame. More to the point, even if they were willing to print cards just for vintage (which is more possible now in a post-commander-world), I doubt they would be willing to put in the work to build up a nuanced opinion on what sort of cards would help and what would hurt. This isn't a critique of WotC, they have a lot of important stuff to deal with and spending their focus here just doesn't make a lot of business sense, especially when they already have the Restricted List as a much more straightforward tool to use.

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

@jhport12 I do think the BEST solution to metagame woes is a new printing, whenever possible. It rarely happens, but it's the ideal fix when it does. I like to look to Dack Fayden as the card that solved Tinker. People argued for the banning of the already-restricted Tinker for years, and I don't know what the format would look like if cards started getting banned. Tinker became less of a problem for a variety of reasons, but Dack Fayden was a big part of it.

I honestly think there's a fair few of broken cards on the restricted list that we should take off, simply because the general power level of answers and the format is a lot higher than it used to be. I'm like...80% that blue could adapt to defeat almost any combo engine that exist. For example, is Flash really that bad to add to the format? It's a cheaper Show and Tell...but it loses just as hard to Containment Priest and Grafdigger's Cage as Oath does, and it requires even more clunky cards.What about unrestricted Fastbond? It's certainly high variance and exceedingly powerful (and there are some additional enablers that didn't exist long ago), but if we only have 1 gush, it's at least 3 cards to go off.

You simply aren't going to get there with fair answers, because @ChubbyRain is going to play them in the blue deck. You need actively 'new' deck paradigms pushed into the metagame--and ones which don't get eventually hated out. Paradoxical Outcomes is at least as busted as the other cards I've noted, and it's a meaningful, but largely marginalized deck right now but it was pretty close to being the new, consistent hotness for a little bit. We need more Paradoxical Outcomes type cards to break the current stagnation--and I'd rather let things off the restricted list to get them than wait for Wizards to print them.

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

You simply aren't going to get there with fair answers, because @ChubbyRain is going to play them in the blue deck. You need actively 'new' deck paradigms pushed into the metagame--and ones which don't get eventually hated out.

I don't know that this is strictly true? Dack Fayden was played both in and against Tinker decks, but it put more pressure on Blightsteel Colossus than it did on non-colossus blue/red decks. Cards don't have a fixed value across the field, they do different things to different decks. It should definitely be possible (though maybe difficult) to design an artifact that hurts Workshop decks in aggregate (a better Kill Switch?), or a blue card that makes blue decks worse (Mindbreak Trap for two non-creature spells?)

But I don't want to make this sound like an argument. I just love talking game design, this stuff fascinates me. I don't consider my ideas of vintage card design to be a serious contribution to the B&R discussion. I don't know that this is a realistic goal to push WotC toward, I just love game-design-as-thought-experiment. TMD has never felt like a great venue for that sort of conversation, but I love the subject so much I can't help but respond šŸ™‚

Just a reminder, Mental Misstep was printed to give non-blue decks an answer to combination type decks and Brainstorm in Legacy. The irony is in the final sentence in that paragraph:

The risk is mitigated, because if it turns out poorly, the DCI can ban the card.

They can't do that in Vintage. Mistakes will last the length of the format, provided WotC keeps with its policy of restriction. I prefer WotC take action based on what we observe in the metagame, rather than print cards that are untested to fix problems whose solutions may create additional problems. If new cards do get printed that change metagame dynamics, WotC should then reexamine the restricted list for potential unrestrictions (and I think they can be more aggressive here).

That said, Flash and Fastbond are awful unrestrictions. Fastbond is capable of truly degenerate things in Vintage cube with Wasteland and/or draw 7s. Flash is not hosed by Grafdigger's Cage, as Flash pilots can shift to Rector Flash to avoid Cage. When the metagame adjusts by running Crypt, they switch back to Hulk. The presence of a 1W hatebear isn't enough to keep that in check. In addition, this is miserable Magic. A clash of overpowered combo vs. overpowered hate card has strategic complexity just barely greater than that of the card game War. "Gee, I hope my hate is in the top 7 cards of my library...6 cards of my library...5 cards of my library...4 cards...Keep, scry bottom, concede. Well that was fun." We already have that with Dredge and I'm of the opinion that we don't need more decks like Dredge in the format.

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

I prefer WotC take action based on what we observe in the metagame, rather than print cards that are untested to fix problems whose solutions may create additional problems.

But this is a false dichotomy, right? Every year we get 1000 new cards that are untested in vintage. We're going to get 1000 untested new cards in vintage whether or not WotC makes an attempt at designing for vintage. Sure, if they try to design for vintage and screw it up, there's a chance the card has a bad impact on the format. Is that chance higher than the already-present possibility that one of those other 1000 cards is bad for the format? Consider that literally every card that has been bad for vintage since the format split 23 years ago is an example of this, because they've implied over and over again that no card is ever designed with vintage in mind.

I don't think it's realistic for WotC to spend time designing for vintage, to the point where I think it isn't worth whatever capital we have to even ask them to do it. But I think that if they were willing to put in the work to seriously design a handful of cards for the format, it would be far more likely that the card actually improved the format, or had no impact, than it would be that the card has a bigger negative impact than the other 1000 cards they were printing that year anyway. WotC is pretty good at designing cards that make formats fun, if they weren't, the game wouldn't be around anymore.

The potential upside seems so much higher than a restriction/unrestriction to me, and the potential downside, while real, is something we already deal with. Any day they could print a card that was so bad for the format that it ruined everything even as a 1-of. Some people probably argue they already have.

But I'm wading pretty deeply into a sea of hypotheticals here. At the present time it's unlikely that WotC has much incentive to test the format ... I think we don't really spend a lot of money as a community. I don't even have a clear picture of if people want a change to the format, in aggregate. I know that people on TMD have some strong opinions, but I also know that EW keeps growing and Leagues keep firing, and the people on TMD are, for the most part, the same old players that were posting here years ago. The data WotC has is different than the anecdata I have, the mindset there might be "People love vintage so much right now we better not mess anything up!"

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

That said, Flash and Fastbond are awful unrestrictions.

Keeping separate ideas separate to make things easier to read/respond to ... Yes. Definitely Yes.

I say this as someone who really loved playing Flash decks, and really wishes he played more Flash when it was legal ... Flash does not create good games of magic. There are parts of a Flash match that I really like, but on the balance there's a whole bunch of feelbads and draw-dependancy.

There's a lot of factors that are impacted by restrictions or new printings, which means there are a lot of factors you can care about when you're forming an opinion on them. B&R discussions here tend to focus VERY heavily on metagame balance, and only occasionally other factors. It's totally fine to prioritize metagame balance as most important, but it's never been most important for me.

Let's say Flash sneaks into a 45% Shops > 30% Oath > 25% Mentor metagame as a relevant deck. Let's say it doesn't dominate, it has a real good Shops matchup, an okay Oath matchup, and a bad Mentor matchup ... all of these things would be pressure to normalize the metagame ... maybe it settles in at 27% Shops; 27% Oath; 27% Mentor; 20% Flash. You've created a far more balanced metagame, but all of a sudden 20% of your matches are Flash, and these are not fun games.

Maybe you think they are fun games. Maybe you think games against shops are much less fun, so it's worth the cost. That's fine, these are subjective experiences ... but optimizing for having as many of your matches be fun as possible (which is what I want out of the format, personally) is a different calculus requiring a different argument than someone optimizing for metagame balance. (If you think that shops is both the most popular and least fun deck, then you might come to the same conclusion either way, but the reasoning to get there is different).

Mostly I think a Flash unrestriction is high risk, low reward. I think Fastbond is probably the same, but I'm a lot more open to that one, as I've never experienced a Fastbond Deck metagame.

@Brass-Man
Playing against Flash is really no different than playing against Dredge. It's pretty much the same thing: the game is all about hate versus removing the hate. And in many cases it's the same hate. If Dredge is allowed to exist, Flash could too.
It's inconsistent logic to say that Dredge can exist, but Flash can't when they are roughly the same thing. The argument that "we shouldn't have more of that kind of deck" is a weak one, since it should either exist or it shouldn't. We don't restrict based upon diminishing returns. That said, I don't really care about Flash one way or the other.

But I have a much stronger opinion about Fastbond. Fastbond actually creates interesting and interactive decks. Take that Land deck that top 8ed the Team Serious Invitational and sometimes appears on MTGO. Unrestricting Fastbond would dramatically boost decks like that. And those decks are great competitors for Workshops.

Fastbond would not go into a Storm Combo deck. Fastbond was restricted in 1996 because Storm Cauldron created a two-card channel. But Fastbond was never restricted because of it's abuse in Restricted List Combo decks. Restricted List Combo decks don't need Fastbond. They have enough unrestricted artifact and other mana acceleration that there is absolutely no need for Fastbond. With Mox Opal, Chrome Mox, Dark Ritual, Grim Monolith, etc. all unrestricted, lands are just bad.

The most broken thing that would happen with Fastbond isn't Fastbond into a Draw7. That wouldn't be good. What Fastbond would allow is:

Fastbond, Fetchland, Crucible, fetch every land out of your deck, Wasteland, Waste all of the non-basics my opponent has. Ghost Quarter all of the basics.

Or, even better, Fastbond, land, land, land, Ramunap Excavator, replay lands, thin my deck, Wasteland you multiple times.

I think that's something that would be fair and should exist in Vintage, frankly. I think it would be good against Shop and Eldrazi decks.

@neo_altoid said in February 12, 2018 Banned and Restricted Announcement:Paradoxical Outcomes is at least as busted as the other cards I've noted, and it's a meaningful, but largely marginalized deck right now but it was pretty close to being the new, consistent hotness for a little bit.

I'm not sure why you think Xerox is so good and Paradoxical decks are marginalized.

I created a table of Top 8s from MTGO Vintage Challenges from January through March 10th (10 challenges for 80 decks):

Archetype # of Top 8s % of Top 8s
Shops 20 (25%)
Paradoxical 17 (21.25%)
Oath 12 (15%)
Xerox 11 (13.75%)
Dredge 6 (7.50%)
BUGĀ® 5 (6.25%)
Mana Drain Control 4 (5%)
Landstill 3 (3.75%)
Merfolk 1 (1.25%)
White Edlrazi 1 (1.25%)

In terms of Top 8 representation, Paradoxical is the 2nd best strategy in the format, close behind Shops. Xerox is 4th.

last edited by Smmenen

@brass-man I think I stated that poorly. My argument is more trying to print powerful cards to prevent banning and/or restricting other cards. To use a recent example, Rampaging Ferocidon was designed as an answer to Felidar Guardian + Saheeli Rai in Standard. Those cards were banned before Ferocidon was released, was an incredibly powerful card in Ramunap Red decks, and was hit with the most recent round of Standard bannings. I think this approach was flawed from the beginning - simply put, this type of combo doesn't really belong in Standard as Standard players don't want it in the format. Felidar Guardian survived the first B&R announcement for about two days, before public outcry led to an addendum with considerable egg on WotC's face.

The formula for an effective hate card is complicated. The best hate cards are typically broad enough that they can be used effectively against fair percentage of the metagame, thereby justifying their SB slot. On the other hand, cards may be made individually powerful and incidentally hateful. Take Ferocidon again. A 3/3 for 3 mana is on or above curve, the 1 life loss is very effective in Red decks, and the 'can't gain life' shuts off one of the most common types of counter-play against Red decks. Perhaps my opinion is skewed by the proposed hypothetical cards players have posted on TMD, but I really like a lot of these cards would create more issues than they fix or be much less effective than players believe.

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

Playing against Flash is really no different than playing against Dredge. It's pretty much the same thing: the game is all about hate versus removing the hate. And in many cases it's the same hate. If Dredge is allowed to exist, Flash could too.

I think we probably differ on how the Flash matchup played out compared to Dredge. Flash has a dramatically different manabase and a higher base blue-card count than Dredge does, this means the deckbuilding options that Flash has are very different than those that Dredge has, especially when considering options for win conditions that don't get hit by the same hate as the primary gameplan. While Flash wasn't the most consistent deck, it has a different set of consistency issues than Dredge ... the difference in power level between the best and second-best card in Flash is pretty small compared to the difference between Bazaar of Baghdad and whatever the second best card in Dredge is. This means mulligan dynamics are entirely different in the face of hate.

I don't really want to dig too far into that though, as a Flash deck today couldn't possibly resemble 4 Brainstorm, 4 Merchant Scroll decks of yore, so it's possible the best legal version of a Flash deck today actually would have the set of problems you described, I'm really haven't tried to figure out what it would look like.

It's inconsistent logic to say that Dredge can exist, but Flash can't when they are roughly the same thing. The argument that "we shouldn't have more of that kind of deck" is a weak one, since it should either exist or it shouldn't. We don't restrict based upon diminishing returns. That said, I don't really care about Flash one way or the other.

This logic may be inconsistent, but it's not at all my logic. I think Flash in the metagame reduces the average amount of fun I have in a round of vintage. I also think having Dredge in the metagame reduces the average amount of fun I have in a round of vintage. If I had to force-rank them, I think I would enjoy a metagame with Flash and no Dredge more than a metagame with Dredge and no Flash. If Bazaar of Baghdad were restricted I would have the exact same reservations about unrestricting it as I do about unrestricting Flash. (As an aside, Ponder and Thorn of Amethyst are two cards that are currently on the restricted list based upon diminishing returns)

I have a list, in my head, of changes that I believe would make the format the most fun for me. Separately, I have list of changes (which I am less sure about), that I believe would be the best for vintage. These are not the same. The first list I speak about rarely, and never when I'm speaking as admin of the site (I'm not speaking as admin of the site right now, just as a dinosaur vintage player). I especially don't talk about the first list on the rare occasions I'm talking to someone with direct influence over the B&R list.

In my post I wasn't explicitly trying to prevent the unrestriction of Flash, because to be honest, I don't believe it's anywhere on WotC's radar - the card destroyed Legacy overnight (a format they understand a lot better than vintage) and it was restricted as part of the largest mass restriction since Uzra's Block, i.e. maybe the most clearly they've ever stated "we don't like where vintage is right now." I brought it up more just to talk about some of the non-balance reasons people might argue for or against a change, which I feel is underrepresented in the discussion in relationship to how important it is. I'd just kind of like to have a better idea of the things (if anything) people are thinking about besides balance, and I thought that digression might spur that conversation on? It's possible I should have been more direct : )

last edited by Brass Man

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

I don't really want to dig too far into that though, as a Flash deck today couldn't possibly resemble 4 Brainstorm, 4 Merchant Scroll decks of yore, so it's possible the best legal version of a Flash deck today actually would have the set of problems you described, I'm really haven't tried to figure out what it would look like.

I did, in another thread last year. It wasn't that scary.

http://themanadrain.com/topic/1334/cards-to-unrestrict/68

By "flash and Dredge" being roughly the same, I mean the feeling and way in which they interact in the metagame. I completely agree with you that with Scroll and Brainstorm restricted, Flash would be a shadow of it's not-very-impressive-to-begin-with former self. Let's never forget that Flash was legal in the format for a year, and never was more than 10% of Top 8s despite people like Pat Chapin and Gadiel playing it in the Vintage Championship.

In my post I wasn't explicitly trying to prevent the unrestriction of Flash, because to be honest, I don't believe it's anywhere on WotC's radar - the card destroyed Legacy overnight (a format they understand a lot better than vintage)

Honestly, I'm not convinced of either part of that statement. I actually think the DCI does a better job managing Vintage than Legacy. I mean, why is Mind Twist and Earthcraft still banned in Legacy? And Brainstorm not?

And GP Flash was an awesome event, and not just because I finished 21st in that tournament. I would hardly said it 'destroyed" legacy. there were only 3 Flash decks in that Top 8, and it was a pretty amazing event. That said, they made the right decision to ban it.

In any case, my post was mostly about Fastbond, which I think would be a fantastic unrestriction for Vintage. I care less about Flash.

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