[Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic



  • @protoaddct said in [Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic:
    how shops can make people feel like they didn't even play the game in some matches,

    Pretty much every deck in vintage either can kill you before you meaningfully play the game or lock you out of meaningfully playing the game before you kill them.

    The main issue that folks who enjoy Workshop decks have with the argument that I stole that snippet from is that ultimately it comes down to differing visions of what is fun, what is enjoyable, and what the Vintage format should look like.

    Which is a nice way of saying that "I don't like the way this feels so I want to take away a card from a deck style you enjoy" has a hard time convincing anyone, because they will more or less retort with:

    1. Vintage as a format has an incredibly high blue skew based on the absurd power of blue spells in the history of Magic. If I want to be competitive in Vintage and not play blue your options run from Human Decks, Eldrazi Decks, Dredge (which an argument could be made that pitch dredge decks are blue decks that just don't run power) and Workshops. Many people don't necessarily want to feel like they have to play blue. This is a feeling and player preference, but it is just as valid as not wanting to play against prison decks.

    2. It feels bad to have put a lot of money into acquiring a playset of a card that seems to constantly have a target painted on it because the ability for most people to separate what "feels true" with what is "statistically true" and their own personal preferences is mostly non-existent at the end of the day when we are talking about a game people play for enjoyment. People who do not like the way a deck plays or playing against that deck are more than happy to see that deck nerfed so that their own preferred choices perform better. This is human nature, but frequently it is player preference masquerading as objectivity behind a mask crafted of persuasive argument and statistics that can tell a variety of stories depending on the analysis and the storyteller.

    3. Restrictions have collateral damage. I'd argue that Saturn's Aperture Science deck, which wat its heart is a Workshop-based paradoxical outcome deck is a great deal of fun to both play and play against. So is two card monte. The restriction of Gush critically hurt Doomsday decks. A Workshop restriction likewise hits decks other than the very present Ravager Workshop deck piloted by the author of the article.

    And if those seem like the same tired old arguments that you see every time discussion around restricting workshops takes place, it is because just like the reasons you've posted in a lot of this thread- most of them come down to feelings. And settling the question of "whose feelings are more correct/more valid" is complex and messy. This is why advocating for restrictions has become such a contentious element; "my feelings are more valid than your feelings so your deck should just go away" understandably makes people irritable no matter what deck we are talking about.

    And if you haven't read Chubbyrain's fantastic analysis, I highly recommend doing so.

    Bonus round:

    1a) A strong argument can be made that restricting workshop would not cripple the deck. I don't know if enough testing has/can be done to verify this in one direction or another. It also still does not address the Doomsday/Gush Fringecombo/Workshop issue.

    2b) A lot of the above remains true if you change the card from Workshops to Oath of Druids. At the end of the day, Vintage is time to many, many powerful cards and decks, some of which are critically weakened by the restriction of a namesake card.

    I remain of the opinion that having a meaningful non-blue option is better for diversity than neutering it to the point that it is a fringe deck it what we already concede is a 70% blue field. But I'm also on record as being very, very conservative with restricting cards if only because it seems to take several years for cards consigned there to come off the list.

    And lastly, big thanks to Maxtortion for writing this up, Chubbyrain's detailed analysis of it



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

    Snip

    I still disagree with you. Now I don't want my argument to solely come of as I don't like this card so let's restrict it, I just think that is one factor of my argument. I still contend that the data over time (not just the OP) is pretty compelling.

    If feelings and perception were weighed with the same criteria you outline I don't believe brainstorm would be restricted. Many people got really indignant since a large majority of the format loved the card, but that was a bandaid that needed to be pulled of.

    In response to some of your more compelling points:

    Restrictions have collateral damage. I'd argue that Saturn's Aperture Science deck, which wat its heart is a Workshop-based paradoxical outcome deck is a great deal of fun to both play and play against. So is two card monte. The restriction of Gush critically hurt Doomsday decks. A Workshop restriction likewise hits decks other than the very present Ravager Workshop deck piloted by the author of the article.

    Restrictions also have collateral benefit. You may kill a deck but spawn many new ones. Almost impossible to measure this without extensive testing that no one is going to perform because of the time required to do so. The other thing that has collateral effects on the format is a new set release every 2-3 months, and I do not see people saying we should hold off on releasing new sets until we are all ok with the changes that come from it. Having the format change is honestly a critical part of the structure and longevity of the game, and I mean that for every format. The nature of a CCG is entrenched in this, from the day one conception of MTG itself. The other nice thing about restrictions, they can be undone, unlike a new printing which cannot short of banning a card which really does not happen in vintage. Look at Treasure Cruise. Even restricted you now have decks with 2 Ancestral like cards where you did not in the past. We will now always have that, it is the new normal. Restricting workshops can be undone but we cannot un-print treasure cruise.

    1a) A strong argument can be made that restricting workshop would not cripple the deck. I don't know if enough testing has/can be done to verify this in one direction or another. It also still does not address the Doomsday/Gush Fringecombo/Workshop issue.

    I believe the deck would still exist in an weakened but playable format. I also think other decks would get an inherit power boost from a restriction, specifically eldrazi would would very likely start running a singleton workshops to power out Trinisphere, Thorn, Chalice, etc. We really will not know without extensive testing that absolutely no one is going to do or honestly is even capable of doing, as you would need a large enough testing pool over a long enough time to reduce outliers in the results and have confidence in the testing. It's honestly unreasonable to expect that and we have to work with the information we have and our best instincts as players.

    Once again I call on the new set paradigm. If Dominaria sees the printing of a new card that is unintentionally powerful in vintage, perhaps one that not only spawns a new deck type but also cripples an existing list by virtue of it simply doing the same thing better, I think you would actually see a rush to restrict that card. This is basically what happened with Mentor, but since that card does not require you shell out a cars worth of dollars for it, it became less of a sacred cow.

    I remain of the opinion that having a meaningful non-blue option is better for diversity than neutering it to the point that it is a fringe deck it what we already concede is a 70% blue field. But I'm also on record as being very, very conservative with restricting cards if only because it seems to take several years for cards consigned there to come off the list.

    I agree with this. I also believe the format needs more diversity, however I contend you would get that by restricting shops. I don't think you specifically need to restrict shops in and of itself, it could be in tandem with unrestrictions or other restrictions. Lodestone easily comes off the list with a shops restriction. Maybe Chalice of the Void or Thorn.



  • @protoaddct i have zero interest for yet another B/R talk so i will just answer shortly 3 points you made by giving some "food for thought" :

    You said restriction can be undone. That's true but think about what would happen : when restriction occurs people owning them will sell them (most probably for less than what they are worth now). When unrestriction occurs, shop price will rise and get to a much higher value than now. How many shop players will be able to buy again ? My point : for cards of high value (whatever the card), there is no practical turning back when there is restriction.

    You say that Eldrazi would play one shop. They can now and they don't. Why ?

    You say that shop decks would survive even if weakened. We can't know but let's assume you are right and let's think about deck building. Shop is so powerful now that it is fair tradeoff to play 40 artifacts in a deck. Do you think it is a sound strategy to build a deck that rely heavily on a restricted card (probabilities to get it during any single game) more over when playing a deck with no tutor ? My point : shop decks would evolve sooner or later into more colored decks and shop would become sort of another academy. So yes, we might get new decks (maybe tezzeret or whatever) but we would loose the shop pillar because none of them would be anything related to the shop archetype.

    I am advocation nothing here but i think that the whole picture is more complex.



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

    You said restriction can be undone. That's true but think about what would happen : when restriction occurs people owning them will sell them (most probably for less than what they are worth now). When unrestriction occurs, shop price will rise and get to a much higher value than now. How many shop players will be able to buy again ? My point : for cards of high value (whatever the card), there is no practical turning back when there is restriction.

    This is totally factual, however WOTC has never made any promise to the community on a whole that they make restrictions with peoples pocketbook in mind over format health. Buyer beware. I highly doubt anyone on this board is just going to sell all their cards and drop the format for modern though.

    All of this also assumes that the card merits its current price tag, which in many ways is directly because of WOTC not taking action against it as the cards power level increased with new printings. I honestly think the card should have been restricted back when it was 400-500 bucks, and if restricted today would still easily get more than that. I suspect they will land at 600-700 each, and they will be an easy sell because commander wants them. If you have a play set and do not need the money though, even with the restriction I think you would be stupid to move them since the card is never getting reprinted and can really only ever go up. Commander alone will drive demand for the card to keep its price tag at power levels.

    You say that Eldrazi would play one shop. They can now and they don't. Why ?

    Because 4x workshops decks exist and is simply better right now, doing similar things. At 1 of, the shops decks still has Academy, can utilize mox opal more (and all the moxen unlike drazi), and its mana base is so low to the ground that it almost does not need shops. There are also a number of cards they are not using, including things from the old affinity package as well as colored options that could run things like thoughtcast (breeding a new decktype)

    Drazi decks, when not faced with a shops deck that is as consistent as it is now, can still run cavern, temple, and eye and now 1 shops. If they ran more than one shops you start needing to up your card count to change to be heavier artifacts, which then leads you down the path of running moxen and academy and boom, your just another shops deck. Eldrazi would have access to the same spheres as shops which are all artifacts, but the creature base becomes totally different, and they may even run instants like Spatial Contortion or Warping wail as sideboard options which shops never could. Some lists would potentially not even run shops, but still be much more viable as shops decks would be powered down slightly enough to let them content.

    If ancestral recall was unrestricted, knowing it is as powerful a card as it is, do you suspect you would ever see lists running 1 of? Nope, you would see decks that ran 4 and decks that ran 0, because if you ran 4 there is no justifiable reason not to make your deck need 4 of them since the card is that powerful, just as with shops. As a 1 of though, many decks will run it, even some going as far as to splash for it as has happened in the past with some dredge lists.

    You say that shop decks would survive even if weakened. We can't know but let's assume you are right and let's think about deck building. Shop is so powerful now that it is fair tradeoff to play 40 artifacts in a deck. Do you think it is a sound strategy to build a deck that rely heavily on a restricted card (probabilities to get it during any single game) more over when playing a deck with no tutor ? My point : shop decks would evolve sooner or later into more colored decks and shop would become sort of another academy. So yes, we might get new decks (maybe tezzeret or whatever) but we would loose the shop pillar because none of them would be anything related to the shop archetype.

    I think the deck would still be fine and would be justifiable, since the current shops lists that are winning (because of new printings) are just so low in their mana curve they can still function without shops. People still win with the deck off hands with Ancient Tomb or Academy and all the other mana rocks they have. Those hands are substantially less powerful and less prone to create complete blowouts, but they are still really good most of the time. At that point shops functions a lot like lotus, where it can just create monumental turns early on but infrequently as you have to draw it. No one does not run lotus because they can only draw one and they get it inconsistently.

    I am advocation nothing here but i think that the whole picture is more complex.

    I of course agree on the complexity of the situation. Restrictions are almost never not complex, but it is a thing we just have to deal with occasionally. My stance remains that shops as a deck is just better than it has ever been, including when it had 4 lodestones, and better than it should be simply because of Workshops. In retrospect lodestone hands could often be countered by a single Bolt, Plow, or Force of will, but these modern swarm lists are not nearly as vulnerable to that.



  • @protoaddct Not to keep this debate going, but can we look at this from a different perspective? Is there a card that could be printed to sway your view? A new type of Hurkyl's Recall or Meltdown maybe? Part of this is discussion spawns from the fact Shops got some very powerful tools over the last 2 years and Blue decks lost some tools. I think this discussion normally comes as a reaction to card printings that feel unbalanced, similar to Treasure Cruise being very good for blue the Foundry Inspector and Walking Ballista are very good for Shops. Instead of restrictions, I often wonder, what if Wizards just printed some card to equalize this?



  • @moorebrother1 Totally possible. I think it is more likely we see new artifacts that make the deck even stronger (we are about due for a new moxen) before we see one that halts it. Here is the issue with attacking shops on that vector

    The card has to be playable - I know this sounds dumb, but the reality is that we have had cards in the past that are really good against shops but see no play, because they do not have a home to fit into or one to build around it. Pure silver bullets are typically sideboard anyway.

    The card cannot just destroy the archetype - If the card literally just kills the deck, it will likely get restricted. It cannot just be a 1 mana blue shatterstorm or something like that, if anything it may have to spawn an archetype on its own. If its not an archetype in and of itself, what you wind up getting is just a re-balancing of the current decks against themselves and you do not necessarily open up the format at all, which is one of the reasons I think you need to reel in shops in the first place.

    It has to be Fast - Shops is arguably the fastest deck in the format. Not only does it have pretty consistent turn 3 wins when things go its way, there are some games where it in effect wins turn one and then plays solitaire to keep an opponent out of the game by locking out an opponent off trinisphere or sphere of res and back up. Since the nature of those cards is to stop you from playing, whatever answer we get has to be able to come out early enough to matter. We already have a slew of red and white hatebears that cost 2 and they don't seem to do much.

    I believe the card very likely have to be something like a leyline or faerie macabre, something that provides a usable effect without being cast. I could imagine a leyline that said something to the effect of "No land can tap for more than one mana, if a land would produce more than one mana when tapped, instead produce only one mana of any color that land could provide". Little narrow mind you, but you get the point. I really cant imagine them making a faerie Macabre that said Discard this card: destroy an artifact when that effect is almost universally 2 mana. Maybe a macabre that had an addition life and card cost or something?



  • Since it has been suggested that new cards could be printed, I have to ask:

    Why is Serenity played so little in this metagame, outside of Dredge sideboards? I feel like I am missing something obvious.



  • @miketheprof Serenity has a couple major problems, the largest of which is that it blows up all your own artifact mana. The card isn't much of a 5 for 1 blowout when you are nuking 1 or more of your own moxes. Additionally, Serenity is incredibly slow. The current iteration of Shops kills so quickly that a 1 turn delay may give the Shops player enough time to kill you, or else set up Ravager+Factory. A 6+ power creature immune from sorcery speed interaction is surprisingly tough for many decks to beat.

    Lastly, when comparing Serenity to other hate cards, it is somewhat similar to Hurkyl's Recall in that it gives you 1 turn to do whatever broken thing you want unencumbered by taxing effects or graveyard hate. There are very very few decks that need a 1 turn window to go off that simultaneously do not need a large base of artifact mana or a key enchantment in play. The only current viable deck that can play it effectively is Dredge or a blue control deck, and the control decks already have effective hate in Ancient Grudge and By Force.



  • @ravager101 I am aware of all of those issues and they don't seem like particularly amazing arguments to me.

    I can see the argument that Serenity is "slow" in that your opponent knows it's coming, of course, and you are correct in that it blows up your own artifact mana.

    But as you mentioned, people are playing Ancient Grudge and By Force. I can see Grudge being better in a way, since the 2-for-1 can be distributed over multiple turns, but then you're getting hit by sphere effects twice over, so it has its downsides. I don't think Serenity is any slower than By Force against a deck that dumps its hand on the table in the first 2 turns. On a side note, I am not sure I'd agree that Ancient Grudge or By Force can be considered "effective hate", but that is an entirely different discussion.

    Also, I wasn't suggesting that you could only rely on Serenity. There are scenarios where Ravager + Factory still kills you, but only about 20% of keepable hands are going to contain that combination. And about 20% of the time, you'd have Swords + Serenity (assuming you're playing 4 of each) as a solution.

    I also don't agree with your comparisons to Hurkyl's. Being able to replay all the cards is significantly different than destroying them when you're not combo-ing out. The lower-to-the-ground variants of Shops will, in many cases, have played most of their hand when you cast Serenity.

    Aside from "I'm not playing white", this isn't making sense to me. There was a whole year where nearly every blue deck was in white for Mentor and we still didn't see anything in sideboards except for 1-for-1 artifact removal (with a few exceptions).

    Have you (or anyone that you know) actually tested this card in the matchup with a significantly large sample? I am happy to be wrong about this, but anecdotal evidence is all I've seen.



  • @miketheprof The issues with Serenity (aside from those mentioned by @ravager101) have to do less with the card but more with the decks in the format.

    1. Most Xerox token decks are moving away from White following Mentors restriction. My current Mentor list has 1 Mentor and 1 Wear/Tear as the only white cards in the main. The main advantage to White has been the Dredge and Oath hate. I'm not even running a copy of Swords in the 75...I find Lightning Bolt better right now. If I wanted to play Serenity, I would have to redo the mana base with more Tundras and basic plains. That would make the deck less consistent and arguably worse against Shops.
    2. The URW decks that are truely 3 color (and not 2 with a white splash), are running 2 or so copies of Stony Silence as hate against Shops and against PO. Is Serenity better than Stony Silence? Maybe in the shops mirror, yes, but almost certainly not against the rest of the field. And Serenity does not interact well with Stony Silence.
    3. The other UW deck that could run Serenity is Landstill. There you have the same issues with destroying your own Stony Silence. As a result, those decks are running Energy Flux as a one-sided serenity against the opponent.
    4. I haven't fooled around too much with Sylvan Mentor recently but blowing up my own Sylvan Libraries is a concern. I keep Sylvan Libraries in on the play as turn 1 Library is great, even against Shops. I board them out against Shops on the draw, but that scenario is when Serenity would likely be at its worst.

    I can see Serenity being very good against Shops. However, there are as many or more PO and Blue Control decks as Shops. That has been the crux of the matter - it's not just enough to beat Shops but you have to beat Shops while remaining competitive against the rest of the field, and that's pretty hard to do.

    Edit: I agree with you on By Force. By Force only makes sense IMO in a deck running the full artifact mana package with Crypt and Vault. Those decks especially don't want the symmetrical effect of Serenity. I've been loving Shattering Spree in my deck as I find I have to cast it for 1 a pretty high percentage of the time.

    Edit 2: I have an idea of a list that could run Serenity. I think it would be good in the Nahiri deck. Once I revisit it, I'll try several copies in the SB.



  • @ChubbyRain I definitely understand that white is not a primary color anymore, etc. Also, I was suggesting Serenity purely as a sideboard option. It doesn't change anything if you're not in white, but I thought I'd make that clear.

    I guess what I am trying to probe is the depth to which sideboard options have truly been explored. Discussions suggesting particular restrictions seem to assume that this exploration has been sufficient, but I've never been convinced of that. I feel that this general plan of playing 1-for-1s (or near enough, anyway) against Shops is akin to jamming a handful of Coffin Purges as your Dredge hate and hoping it works out.

    I'm very interested in your results from that Nahiri deck though, whenever you get around to it 🙂



  • @protoaddct
    The following card will be printed in Dominaria.

    Damping Sphere
    { 2 }
    Artifact
    If a land is tapped to produce two or more mana, it produces { ◇ } instead of any other type and amount.
    Each spell a player casts costs { 1 } more to cast for each other spell that player has cast this turn.



  • Judging by my recent experience in leagues, this article has apparently caused a huge uptick in both Workshops players and awareness in non-Workshop deck building. I have zero trophies since you've published this and three during the week prior, and I'd call myself a mediocre-at-best player with the deck. I've also found myself and the Vintage streamers I follow running up against the deck much more often. I agree with all of the points in this amazing article, but it is a snapshot of that time and the field has adapted.



  • @hierarchnoble isn't that the amazing thing with leagues? I swear I have seen more Oath and Dredge in my last 10 league matches than in the 30 before that.



  • Shops has seemed more prevalent, but I think it's more likely that you are experiencing variance than the format actually adjusting with regards to your win rate. Based on the last challenge, Shops was 35% of the metagame and still had a 60% win rate against the field. I wrote the statistics complement to this article to make the point that it's really hard to gauge metagame dynamics from a sample size of one. Keep your head up, Mike. We all have those nights where we forget to register Time Walk and Tinker in our Blightsteel deck...

    Also, it's really hard to actually 5-0 a league. I have a 60+% win percentage, which I'm pretty happy with as I play a wide variety of decks with many being brews. The odds of me 5-0'ing a given league are around 8% or 1/12 leagues. At 20 leagues, I'm running below average with a grand total of 0 trophies... It gets frustrating to be be on the wrong side of variance but that's just how it is. I think the math would say you were running way above average to get 3 trophies in a week, and this current losing spree is a regression towards the mean.



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

    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.

    If Missteps get replaced by Pyroblasts, that indeed will have little effect on the blue-vs-blue match, and also on the blue-vs-shops match. However, there can be effects on other matchups that can theoretically have cascading effects.

    Misstep differs from Pyroblast in that it has utility against non-blue decks, some of which might match up favorably against shops. For example, Vintage Lands. Restricting Misstep could make a deck like Vintage Lands more playable, which could force shops to devote more sideboard slots to that matchup, which could weaken shops as a whole.

    As it stands, shops decks are effectively able to pack hate against Vintage Lands without using up a single slot in their 75. Instead, they are packing the required hate in the 75 of their blue opponents.



  • @dshin Dedicating SB slots to a specific matchup doesn't necessarily weaken Shops against the field - rather it shifts win rates from one matchup to another. Dedicating slots to the mirror weakens Shops matchups against the field, but that's unlikely at the 20-30% metagame slice.

    Also, why do people assume Vintage Lands will beat Shops at a significant rate? People have been repeatedly saying this about Oath, and the data disproves that. And why do people assume that Vintage Lands will increase in play while assuming combo decks like Belcher and DPS (statistically good matchups for Shops) stay suppressed? Doesn't a Misstep restriction make Dark Ritual and Expedition Map better, just like Crop Rotation? And will Shops stay the same or will people change their lists and incorporate more 1 drops, like Skullclamp?

    Restricting Misstep thinking it will hurt Shops is a really tenuous position at best.



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

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

    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.

    If Missteps get replaced by Pyroblasts, that indeed will have little effect on the blue-vs-blue match, and also on the blue-vs-shops match. However, there can be effects on other matchups that can theoretically have cascading effects.

    Misstep differs from Pyroblast in that it has utility against non-blue decks, some of which might match up favorably against shops. For example, Vintage Lands. Restricting Misstep could make a deck like Vintage Lands more playable, which could force shops to devote more sideboard slots to that matchup, which could weaken shops as a whole.

    As it stands, shops decks are effectively able to pack hate against Vintage Lands without using up a single slot in their 75. Instead, they are packing the required hate in the 75 of their blue opponents.

    Vintage.. Lands!? Well, since that deck couldn't be any less playable than it already is, I guess you're right.

    The only thing restricting Misstep accomplishes is that even more start playing red in combination with blue than what we already see right now. Color combinations like UWB will get pushed out in the dark.


 

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