[Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic



  • @moorebrother1 said in [Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic:

    My argument is that anyone who knows the meta-game would never play a deck that has a significant disadvantage against Shop.

    I feel like this argument falls apart on its face values as we have seen multiple events where top level pros have played decks that are not advantaged against shops because they assumed (often correctly) that it would not be the majority of the matchups they faced.

    I also think you would need to discount things like the VSL, which is only top level players, because they have incentive to play decks that are not specifically designed to be the best deck, but rather ones that make for the best show.



  • I upvoted this post immediately, because I'm happy to see anyone generating vintage content, but I'm just getting around to reading this now.

    Wow!

    This was a great piece of magic writing and I sincerely hope we can get more like this in the future.

    From the start, the core premise/subject matter is wonderful. There are a lot of articles and posts out there about hypothetical lists with minimal testing-sometimes no testing. These can still be great pieces, but it's rare and very valuable for someone to come into a piece with 100 documented matches under their belt. Besides the overt content of "here's the list and here are the card choices", there's this implicit message of your process. The note-taking, the discipline. Your approach and work ethic toward improving your vintage play is inspiring, and if you're not already a top vintage player, you could easily become one over time if you wanted to be. Even though it's not the focus of the piece, talking about your process (even in passing) gives it a mix of to-the-minute and timeless advice, which is exactly what players looking to improve their magic win rate should be looking for in an article.

    Beyond that, the line-to-line writing is engaging. The subject matter of a pure-strategy article can be pretty dry (interesting, useful, but dry). I'm not going to say this has the raw entertainment value of a Ben Perry tournament report ... but for all the information you're packing in here, you manage to keep a conversational tone, and avoid falling into the "bad high school essay" trap. I know this is no small feat.

    Thanks, again, for writing this, and I hope you decide to mix some more vintage content into your legacy work in the future.



  • @brass-man Thanks! That means a lot.

    I write when I feel like I have something to say, and Vintage has been giving me a lot to say.



  • Thank you for taking the time to undertake this experiment and write this piece. Overall I greatly enjoyed this and for once don’t feel alone as a Workshop pilot who takes copious notes and tracks their results.

    It felt like you slightly undersold the challenges and difficulties of running Shops. I’m not sure if that was done deliberately or if this was just a byproduct of your results which were obviously quite strong.

    I enjoyed the way that you framed the Vintage Metagame with regards to 70% Blue 20% Shops 10% Dredge, but I disagree that restricting Mental Misstep solves this problem. If it’s not Mental Misstep it will be Red Elemental Blast or Spell Pierce, this problem will persist.

    My take on the underlying problem is that Workshops has never actually reached the proportional Metagame percentage that it should given its power level. If the meta were 50% Blue, 40% Shops and 10% Dredge then card’s like Ancient Grudge, Dack Fayden, Hurkyl’s Recall etc would replace some of the Missteps/Pyroblasts and Workshops would thus be weakened.

    I think economically something like this could only happen on Magic Online because of paper card availability in a tournament like Eternal Weekend and we would almost certainly see Mishra’s Workshop restricted before this happened, probably before the Metagame fully adjusted to this because the restrictions of Chalice, Lodestone and Thorn has by and large eliminated the strategic diversity of the Workshop archetype. This has gotten to the point where the big argument amongst Shop pilots is what you want your 7 main deck “flex slots” to be because everything is “Workshop Aggro”. The Blue decks have been homogenized, but to a much lesser degree as there are certainly more than 7 cards separating Oath, Xerox Control, Delver, Outcome, BUG etc despite all of these decks sporting Force of Will, Ancestral Recall and Time Walk. This is a long way of saying that I don’t think this problem is easy to solve and that Mental Misstep being restricted would do little to change the calculus.



  • @will I'm glad you enjoyed the article!

    For the record, I'm not specifically advocating for Mental Misstep to be restricted. I included that argument because I intended this article to be read and understood by a non-vintage audience, and most of them wouldn't have heard that argument before.

    Supply-side restrictions, much like supply-side economics, don't quite work as well in practice as they do in theory.



  • @cuikui Just wanted to chime in and say that with extremely high stats, you don't need a gigantic sample to justify them. I've worked on understanding stats and their limitations and while most of the time people use unreliable stats, for such high numbers it's very reasonable to consider them serious.

    At first sight those stats would indicate that you're a much better player than the typical online player since even 16 matches is a lot to justify a 93.5% winrate. But considering your other matchups suffer by comparison, one could get the impression that Shops is actually a weak deck ! Of course many factors are at play, like as @ChubbyRain says, difference of the importance of skill in different matchups, possibly you just being better at playing the mirror than other matchups.. Also the sample is big enough to justify the overall winrate for this specific player.

    Please don't take it bad OP, you're clearly a very good player, and the article is interesting, but the data taken in isolation doesn't actually translate to "Shops is top" but "that player is".



  • @timewalking said in [Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic:

    At first sight those stats would indicate that you're a much better player than the typical online player since even 16 matches is a lot to justify a 93.5% winrate. But considering your other matchups suffer by comparison, one could get the impression that Shops is actually a weak deck ! Of course many factors are at play, like as @ChubbyRain says, difference of the importance of skill in different matchups, possibly you just being better at playing the mirror than other matchups.. Also the sample is big enough to justify the overall winrate for this specific player.

    Please don't take it bad OP, you're clearly a very good player, and the article is interesting, but the data taken in isolation doesn't actually translate to "Shops is top" but "that player is"

    I'm a good player, but I'm not the best. My winrate at PTQs (when those were still a thing) was a little below 70%. I've played two GPs, both in Legacy, and neither with any byes. I went 10-5 and 11-4. I've never been on the Pro Tour.

    I know my way around a Brainstorm, but I'm not some Magic savant. I don't believe that I'm doing anything that remarkable with my play. Sometimes, it's quite the opposite.

    That said, I think the main takeaway about my winrate in the Shops mirror vs my winrate in the Blue matchups is that the Shops mirror is a lower-variance matchup than Shops vs Blue.

    When you think about how the matches play out, that makes a lot of sense. In Shops vs Blue, the most powerful Shops draws prevent the Blue player from doing much of anything. The weaker Shops draws get picked apart by powerful artifact hate cards.

    Meanwhile, the Shops mirror is about navigating Arcbound Ravager, Steel Overseer, Walking Ballista, and Hangarback Walker. It's about how to best leverage the ones that likely benefit you over your opponent, and when to Revoker / Spyglass the ones that likely benefit your opponent more than yourself.

    It's about how to sneak in chip shots of damage. It's about realizing when trading resources is better for you or for your opponent. It's about figuring out whose board state is likely to improve more by the next set of turns, and behaving accordingly.

    I'm not a player who suffers from tournament fatigue. I can play 12 rounds of competitive Magic in a day, and still be excited to jam games with friends after. The Shops mirror still makes my brain hurt.



  • @maxtortion To be fair the only other matchup which has a good enough sample size to be taken seriously is Xerox and you get a 14-2 to the 15-1 you get in the mirror, so no significant difference there. Paradoxical and Storm results are of moderate value. The other matchups taken in isolation don't have a big enough sample for the winrate found. It's the overall winrate which might be a bit confounding, but I prefer specific matchup stats.



  • What set of stats and matchup results will actually satisfy people? Every time I see someone come on this board with a well throughout argument, backed up with any sorts of numbers, people just start picking apart the numbers as insufficient or try to find some level of bias within them.

    There have been a number of posts over a period of time where people clearly point out the issue with things like shops and misstep, and then we get to hear responses that mirror the house and senate arguments on gun control, where it's all lip service and saying we need to wait until the bodies are cold until we can even hear anything and then no one actually does anything. In the mean time while we are picking apart the language of the argument or trying to find bias, more games are being played and more tourneys won with the same problem lists in a mostly stagnant format.

    Everyone seems to be super ok with 300 new potential cards entering the format every 3 months and the shakeup they cause, even when they destroy other existing strategies, but not ok with talking about a single card that is known to be at the least potentially the source of issues with the format. Cards with a lower structural impact on the format like delver and rest in peace have entered the format almost every set in the past few years and pushed out strategies over and over again (Remember rituals used to be considered a format pillar, or fish) but we continue to treat certain cards like sacred cows because of their history and/or price tag.



  • @Maxtortion @Timewalking @Cuikui

    I wrote a response to much of this here: http://www.themanadrain.com/topic/1766/math-and-max-a-statistical-analysis-of-100-matches-with-the-best-deck-in-magic

    @Protoaddct We need our Missteps to defend us from tyrannical governments. And all data collection should henceforth be outlawed under the Dickey amendment! Kidding aside, this is a really complicated issue that is generally discussed rather poorly. I think a comprehensive look is warranted an will try to put something together.



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    Man how is this 20+ creature aggro deck with no 1 cmc spells winning so much? I guess we'll never know.



  • @nedleeds This makes no reference to anything in Max's article nor to anything in subsequent posts. It is for all intents and purposes a B&R spam post that could be cut and pasted into any thread concerning Shops. Not that I necessarily disagree with you...I just think these are the types of posts @Brass-Man was trying to cut down on.



  • I think it's a large part of why "its the best deck in Magic".

    Edit: Maybe also it's because there isn't 1 removal spell in the top 10 most played cards. A 20+ creature deck that ignores 4-6 cards in 60% of the field, a field where there are no removal spells in the top 10 most played cards.



  • @protoaddct I wrote an article on the matter of stats misuse : https://timewalking.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/5-magic-stats-myths-debunked/

    Basically you can forget about having solid stats to justify winrates in the 45-55% range, for 60% it can happen.


  • TMD Supporter

    @nedleeds said in [Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic:

    I think it's a large part of why "its the best deck in Magic".

    Edit: Maybe also it's because there isn't 1 removal spell in the top 10 most played cards. A 20+ creature deck that ignores 4-6 cards in 60% of the field, a field where there are no removal spells in the top 10 most played cards.

    Actually, Max's article is a devastating argument against the case for restricting Misstep. Restricting Misstep will just replace those slots with other cards that are bad against Shops, so restricting Misstep will have no net effect on Shops.

    Restricting Misstep won't make Shops weaker in the metagame.



  • @Maxtortion I just wanted to pop on here and say thanks for writing this article. I purchased Ravager Shops on MTGO about 10 minutes after reading your article and basically have my investment back at this time.

    "As a Spike, sustaining a win rate over 80% was invigorating."

    I currently have a 80% win rate albeit in 4 leagues thus far but you are right that it definitely feels good (3-2, 4-1,5-0, 4-1).



  • @smmenen said in [Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic:

    @nedleeds said in [Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic:

    I think it's a large part of why "its the best deck in Magic".

    Edit: Maybe also it's because there isn't 1 removal spell in the top 10 most played cards. A 20+ creature deck that ignores 4-6 cards in 60% of the field, a field where there are no removal spells in the top 10 most played cards.

    Actually, Max's article is a devastating argument against the case for restricting Misstep. Restricting Misstep will just replace those slots with other cards that are bad against Shops, so restricting Misstep will have no net effect on Shops.

    Restricting Misstep won't make Shops weaker in the metagame.

    But it will make 1cc spells that are good against shops, that cost actual MTG mana playable. If bloo stew players just stuff 2 Flusters and a Pyro in their decks post skillstep restriction and still complain about losing to a bunch of 1 and 2 toughness creatures all hope is truly lost.



  • @timewalking I read the post and I get the math, my point was more philosophical in nature I think.

    Numbers do not even need to reveal a problem for me, even though I believe they do when you take this article and compound it with the various ones we have had over time. The problem is rooted in player perception and feelings as much as win rate and format health, which are not dictated by stats.

    A deck can be microscopic in its representation and still be an issue for the format and the game because of how it makes players feel. Let's just say there was a vintage card that was legal, of a comparable power level to shops, unrestricted, and hyper rare. Like copies numbering in the 100s as opposed to 1000s. Obviously this card would carry a huge price tag if you could even find it.

    Now let's say you have a large event, like a worlds, where you get the top players from around the world bringing their A game. This card represents a unique deck archetype and a number of player bring that deck, lets say 20%, the ones who have it and/or can afford it. Over the course of the tourney the deck has about a 55% win rate against non mirror matches, puts 2 copies into the top 8, and perhaps even wins the tourney. Is that a problem? I submit that it is for the following reasons:

    Feels bad - It does feel bad for some players to lose to a card they will never have an opportunity to own or play themselves. It makes the format inaccessible and lowers player confidence that the format is sustainable. It may also just be a card that is "un-fun" to play against, which is purely based on perception and not power level. Un-fun can not be quantified with win rate stats, because you can win or lose, with or against it, and it can still be un-fun, and because the scarcity of the card will make it only an issue at some events, giving tourney appearances a coin flippy nature between fun and Un-fun.

    Chaos Orb is a prime example here. On its face the card is not that powerful in a vintage context, at least not powerful enough to be banned. It is banned because of the logistical problems it contains, but within those logistics are a level of feeling. Even if everyone was able bodied enough to actually play the card mechanically (IE, have functional arms, ability to stand when needed) the card feels really bad because of its randomness, both for the player who flips it funny and has it miss and for the player on the receiving end who fells like they just lost to a card that had a lucky flip or that they didn't space our their cards properly.

    Why Bother Teching - Because of the cards scarcity, it raises the volatility in its appearance. Why would you tech for the card in a more local event when you know that no one who normally comes there owns the card? What happens if one person does show up with it and then the whole field is unprepared and they win as a result of the cards rarity/pricetag? Statistical analysis may show you what the best sideboard play will likely be for any given event, but a single outlier event can damage peoples perception, and perception in many ways is even more important than facts when it comes to influencing, as you can ask any politician.

    Stratified tourney results - Because of the cards rarity and price tag, you would wind up with average tourneys where no one really plays the card at all, and top level tourneys like worlds where the formats meta looks and plays completely differently because the card becomes a factor. Not based on performance specifically, but price and scarcity. This skews numbers and furthers skew perception. We already have this to some extent, because budget players tend to play in smaller events that have less investment more frequently than major events. You see more blood moon builds in 16 man weekly events than at worlds. But it is generally accepted as not ideal.

    With stratified results, the statics do not show the full story of the card. Once you average out all the events you would see that the deck list was not particularly overpowered because its win-rate was within expected limits, its representation is low enough not to represent significance, etc. Bringing it back to the gun debate as a metaphor, if you took every school in America, counted every day that every school did not have a gun violence event, and then showed that as a percentage, it would be very low. In America there are 131,890 Public and private schools. Students attend schools 180 days a year. There were something like 300 school shootings in 2017. Statically that means on any given school day there is a 0.0012% chance of being in a school with a shooting, an incredibly low likelihood you will be involved in one. That number is still too high however because of what it represents, even though a purely statistical analysis bears out otherwise.

    Now, shops is not at this level, this is a metaphor. But when you consider the way the pricetag has been moving on the card, the physical number of copies or playsets of the card available to the world that is ever dwindling, and the nature of the game itself and how shops can make people feel like they didn't even play the game in some matches, I think it still represent a problem that it is not on the restricted list.



  • @nedleeds @Smmenen

    I posted the argument about Misstep not because I agree with it, but because I intended this article for a largely non-Vintage audience, and most of them wouldn't have heard it before.

    As @Smmenen points out, as long as Blue decks are ~70% of the metagame, like they are now, it is 100% correct to be pre-boarded against Blue, and have dead cards vs Shops in your maindeck. I touch on this in my article.

    Do you know what other deck is also pre-boarded against Blue, with around 7 dead cards in its maindeck against Shops?

    Shops!



  • UPDATE: another 3 leagues in the books with a solid 12-3 record. Highlight was going 4-1 in the last league with all wins 2-0 and my one loss 1-2 to our hero Maxtortion


 

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