[Free Article] Menendian's Suggested Banned and Restricted Lists (2018)



  • http://www.eternalcentral.com/so-many-insane-plays-suggested-banned-and-restricted-list-updates-2018/

    In this article, I present a framework for restriction; that is, when to restrict and on what grounds. I then apply this framework to:

    Vintage, Old School 94, Old School 95, Old School 96, and Old School 97.

    The plan is to update this article once a year, to revisit key questions and watch the various formats evolve.

    Enjoy!

    Stephen



  • Can we just start our own Eternal governing body?

    #bringbacktype1?



  • That's what we do in Old School :)



  • But I want the new stuff too? :-D



  • Why bother doing a yearly restricted list for a Vintage? I doubt the format will survive that long, what with Mental Misstep ruining it. Or was that Damping Sphere?

    :-D

    Of your quite reasonable suggestions the one I will entertain the most is Shahrazad. I only use hyperbole over my dad body, so believe me when I say that it’s banning was an absolute travesty and literally the worst B&R decision ever made.



  • I like your B&R list so much more than the official list.



  • @naixin said in [Free Article] Menendian's Suggested Banned and Restricted Lists (2018):

    I like your B&R list so much more than the official list.

    That’s the best possible compliment.



  • @smmenen it just makes so much sense. Fastbond would open up new archetypes and it wouldn’t be overwhelming. 4x probe isn’t nearly as abusive without 4x mentor. Perfect information is bleh, but it’s not like storm will dominate (if anything, it’s underperforming atm). Ravager is a good ban because it homogenizes shops too much. Without it, I can see Stax making a comeback.



  • My only question is where can I get 3 more Time Vaults before they spike in value?



  • Thanks for the article Stephen. My two cents:

    Based on your criteria I don't see how workshop can be unrestricted. It chokes out any other strategy trying to play creatures and the entire metagame is warped around it. When we're at the point where we're restricting cards that are fine in modern we've really gone too far shielding a sacred cow.



  • @diophan said in [Free Article] Menendian's Suggested Banned and Restricted Lists (2018):

    Thanks for the article Stephen. My two cents:

    Based on your criteria I don't see how workshop can be unrestricted. It chokes out any other strategy trying to play creatures and the entire metagame is warped around it. When we're at the point where we're restricting cards that are fine in modern we've really gone too far shielding a sacred cow.

    That's essentially the position I took a few months ago, and after the NA Vintage Championship. I told Randy before the event, that if Workshop was 5 or more of the Top 8, I don't see how it can justifiably remain unrestricted.

    Even before that, I said in one of the SMIP podcast that if the restriction of Thorn didn't do it, then maybe Shop had to go.

    But... After watching all of the data since... which shows that Shops are about 30% of the metagame, 25% of Top 8s, and about 55% win percentage... and assuming that holds... I think a more narrowly tailored restriction could achieve the goal of: bringing Workshops Top 8% and overall win % to a more acceptable level.

    I think part of my willingness to entertain non-Shop targets is: 1) restricting Shop is a radical act that harms other strategies, and therefore is not necessarily the most narrowly tailored choice, and 2) it's really hard to project what the exact effect of restricting Shop would be.

    Let me tackle both separately:

    The truth is that deciding what to restrict is a much more complicated subject than most admit or that DCI philosophy and practice acknowledges. The DCI has hardly been consistent in it's policy making. But there is a tendency to hit the 'name' or salient card over a seemingly less powerful card. That makes Workshop or Sphere a much more natural target then Ravager.

    Narrow tailoring assumes that there are multiple ways to solve a problem (which is usually true when it comes to B&R policy), and that the means by which you accomplish that end should be that which has the least collateral harms. Therefore, narrow tailoring will often lead to restrictions that seem facially absurd, in the sense that the restriction target is a less seemingly 'powerful' or salient card.

    But, there have been times that the DCI has actually taken a more narrowly tailored approach. Remember when they banned Dark Ritual instead of Necro? Trinisphere instead of Workshop?

    We discovered that the restriction of Ritual instead of Necro was ultimately wrong, but it was, a priori, the more narrowly tailored choice. Narrow tailoring gives you a higher risk of getting wrong, because there is a greater chance of not doing enough, but it also means that there is a lower overall risk of over-restriction - of restricting too many cards (over breadth - or sweeping too broadly). I consider that a fair trade off. I think the 1999 and 2008 restrictions swept way too far, and were a mistake as a result.

    I also think that there are too many instances where restricting the salient card led to the wrong restriction. Restricting Black Vise in 1997 instead of Prosperity, Mana Crypt and/or Mana Vault is an obvious example. Black Vise was simply the win condition abused by having a ridiculous amount of mana to cast Prosperity. That would have been like restricting Tendrils instead of the fast mana or the draw engine. I also regard restricting Gush instead of Mentor is an obvious example of this problem. Gush got too much of the blame for Mentor's behavior, IMO.

    Restricting Trinisphere instead of Workshop in 2004 was a very successful restriction, IMO. It allowed three different strains of Workshops to emerge and diversify. It was the right call.

    It's possible that no restriction short of Workshop itself can curb Shop deck's dominance. But it's also possible that restricting Workshop itself won't be enough. Take the current Shop Aggro deck, remove 3 Shops, and add 2 City of Traitors, and a Ghost Quarter. Then play Traxos instead of Precurser Golems to bend the curve down even lower. Or Eldrazi Temples and add TKS instead. Either way, that's still a top tier deck, is my guess. It's hard to know. I've been playing alot of Workshops in the last few months, like yourself, and it's not like the old days where you really needed a Shop to explode out.

    I'm not theoretically opposed to a Shop restriction, as I've said many times; but it's also possible that you can achieve the same result by a narrower means.



  • @smmenen As you well know, the issue then becomes that any subsequent printing can undo the effect of the narrow restriction and push Shops back to a problematic place. You then have an unnecessary card on the restricted list (the one you hit to tailor) and the need to add another.

    And this is arguably what happened when Walking Ballista (or Fleetwheel Cruiser or Thought-Knot Seer) was printed. The meaning of the Chalice and then Lodestone restrictions was destroyed by new printings. To restore the meaning of those restrictions, you had to narrowly tailor again, by adding Thorn to the list. We now have add three Modern-legal artifacts to the Vintage restricted list in as many years and are discussing adding another.

    While I agree the strategy of narrow tailoring can be effective at achieving desired metagame percentages in the short term, it leads to restricted list inflation in the long term, as we have seen.



  • @wappla said in [Free Article] Menendian's Suggested Banned and Restricted Lists (2018):

    @smmenen As you well know, the issue then becomes that any subsequent printing can undo the effect of the narrow restriction and push Shops back to a problematic place. You then have an unnecessary card on the restricted list (the one you hit to tailor) and the need to add another.

    And this is arguably what happened when Walking Ballista (or Fleetwheel Cruiser or Thought-Knot Seer) was printed. The meaning of the Chalice and then Lodestone restrictions was destroyed by new printings. To restore the meaning of those restrictions, you had to narrowly tailor again, by adding Thorn to the list. We now have add three Modern-legal artifacts to the Vintage restricted list in as many years and are discussing adding another.

    While I agree the strategy of narrow tailoring can be effective at achieving desired metagame percentages in the short term, it leads to restricted list inflation in the long term, as we have seen.

    While a very plausible claim, the problem is that it isn't necessarily true. While there are many cases in which that claim has proven true (Necro vis-a-vis Dark Ritual in old Extended and Mentor vis-a-vis Gush last year), there are actually plenty of counter-examples or cases where this claim was made and it turned out not to be true. So, there is no neutral and objective a priori way to distinguish between times where it will be true and times when it won't. The short term view is actually all that matters, because the long term (the future) is fundamentally unknowable.

    Also, there is problem of chronology. There were calls to restrict Workshop in 2003 and 2004, especially during the Trinsphere era. That actually presented a pure version of your problem: (that Y is the 'real problem', and if you restrict/ban X, you will ultimately have to restrict/ban Y), where Y = Workshop, and X=Trinisphere. But consider the fact that there were no other Workshop restrictions until 2015. That was an 11 year period where, arguably, no restriction was needed to deal with Workshop. Based upon the interval period, I think it's fair to say that restricting Workshop in 2004 instead of Trinisphere would have been the incorrect decision in relation to format diversity, which is my top line criteria.

    I agree with you that the restriction of Golem has been swamped by events and recent printings. But a neutral and objective policymaker who was only looking at data could not know that at the time (even if the DCI were R&D members and tested a FFL Vintage, they still couldn't 'know' with confidence).

    Assuming you (or anyone) believed that restricting Gush last year was necessary, does that make it 'wrong' to have unrestricted Gush in 2010? Maybe Nick Detwiler thinks so, but I think the fact that Gush was essentially under 15% of the metagame from 2010 to the summer of 2014 shows that it was the right decision in 2010.

    Again, I don't think that restricting Workshop is unreasonable. I've been on record saying so. But I'm not sure that restricting Workshop would even solve the problem, since these Workshop decks lean less on Workshop than any other Workshop deck in the history of Workshop decks in Vintage since they are so low the ground, powering out maindeck spells that can almost all be cast for 2 mana.

    But, most importantly, yes, you are correct in the general sense that, as I already said, a narrowly tailored policy approach has a higher risk of "failure" in the sense that more restrictions will be required than a more sweeping approach. That's a given. But there is an important trade off. While it may require more or deeper restrictions in the future, a narrowly tailored policy approach dramatically reduces the risk of unnecessary restrictions.

    In my view, the risk of too many restrictions is a greater harm than the risk of insufficient restrictions, in terms of my goal of promoting overall strategic diversity. Once a card is taken away, it's much harder to get it back then taking away another card to deal with the original problem. To prove this, one need not look further than the fact that before 2015, every single instance in which the DCI had restricted more than 1 card, it later needed to unrestrict a card (with the only exception being Necro and Consult in 2000). For example, in 2001, they could have just restricted LED instead of also restricting Burning Wish and Chrome Mox.

    While I don't think it is valid to speculate about what might happen in future when deciding what to do now, I do think there is one additional point that could justify choosing Y over X: If you discover that a long incidence of restriction debates involving Y, and also conclude that restricting Y instead of a new X would actually allow you to unrestrict other cards. So, if the DCI decided that restricting Workshop now would allow them to unrestrict, say, Chalice, Thorn and Golem, then I think that may tip the balance. So that would require two steps: both that card Y has contributed to several other restrictions, and that restricting Y would not only preclude restricting a new X, but that it could also allow an overall reduction in the number of cards on the restricted list. If only one of those conditions were satisfied, I would find that insufficient.



  • @smmenen Perhaps my reply was too terse. Your final point about thorn and (potentially) chalice being unrestricted is what I was getting at. These restrictions were anything but tailored--they nuked archetypes to save workshop from restriction. That's what makes the situation different from restricting Trinisphere instead of shop.

    The most broken reasonable-to-achieve hand from modern workshops is shop, inspector, mox, and lock piece. The odds of having 4 mana for this sequence go down significantly if you restrict workshop. I don't have a problem with a fast affinity aggro deck in vintage. The problem is that the workshop buys the deck too much tempo with a lock piece or two to kill the opponent before they can regain control. The fact that it makes bigger ballistas to mow down a board of helpless humans is the other half of the problem.



  • @diophan said in [Free Article] Menendian's Suggested Banned and Restricted Lists (2018):

    @smmenen Perhaps my reply was too terse. Your final point about thorn and (potentially) chalice being unrestricted is what I was getting at. These restrictions were anything but tailored--they nuked archetypes to save workshop from restriction.

    Perhaps the DCI was acting to save a sacred cow, but in my framework presented in this article, 'saving workshop from restriction' is not an end in and of itself. Rather, the value of Workshop is instrumental to format diversity, in that it supports the existence of a range of archetypes and strategies that would not, presumably, exist without it. At least, that's likely how I would have viewed it were I the DCI deciding to restrict Golem.

    The most broken reasonable-to-achieve hand from modern workshops is shop, inspector, mox, and lock piece. The odds of having 4 mana for this sequence go down significantly if you restrict workshop. I don't have a problem with a fast affinity aggro deck in vintage. The problem is that the workshop buys the deck too much tempo with a lock piece or two to kill the opponent before they can regain control. The fact that it makes bigger ballistas to mow down a board of helpless humans is the other half of the problem.

    I wasn't arguing that restricting Workshop wouldn't have any effect. A narrow tailoring inquiry just tries to match the means to the ends in a narrowly tailored way to minimize collateral effects. Thus, any narrowly tailoring process needs to have a 1) a clear definition and understanding of the problem, and 2) a theory or prediction about the effects of any particular intervention.

    Suppose that my facts are right, and that Shops is about 30% of the metagame, 25% of Top 8s (which it was in the April, 2018 Challenges), and 55% win percentage, and we all agree it's still too good. What is the goal we are trying to achieve? (I actually believe that Workshop underperforms in the post Champs to present metagame relative to it's 'actual' power, which I expect to be similar to last year's NA Vintage Champs.) But we have to be clear about our goals, because narrow tailoring is all about means-end fit.

    Suppose that two things are true:

    1. Restricting Ravager would cause Workshop Aggro to fall, to say, 27% of the metagame, 22% of Top 8s, and a 53% win percentage

    2. Restricting Workshop would cause the Ravager Aggro archetype to fall to 17% of Top 8s and a 52% win percentage.

    Both seem plausible. Obviously, there is a wide range of possibility around both predictions. But supposing that those are decent forecasts. What is the more narrowly tailored option?

    Narrow tailoring assumes that there are multiple means by which you can achieve the same ends, and you take the least collaterally damaging path. Unless you tie the restriction of Workshop to the possible unrestriction of multiple cards, based upon those assumptions, restricting Ravager seems like the more narrowly tailored choice.



  • I didn't read the entire article, but I wanted to join the discussion. I'm not opposed to theorizing ideals for Vintage, so I do appreciate this type of article. I am of the opinion that keeping the format very competitive is a positive objective. I actually think the restricted list should continue to grow without anything coming off of it right now. Wasteland is probably the only card I would be interested in seeing restricted at the moment. It has been showing up as a three of in many decks other than Shops, and it just makes some games turn into games of chance. I am unsure how Shops would proceed without four Wastelands, but I think if it were able to continue as a strong deck it would be a very positive change for the format.

    Your speculation on Fastbond is interesting, but it seems like a card that creates so many strange games such as gaining millions of life with Crucible of Worlds and Zuran Orb among other combos. I feel that this does not increase the competitive level of the format, and that is why I am personally not in favor of it.



  • @Smmenen we have known each other from the original TMD since I joined in 2003/4, and you know how I feel when you want my Workshop cards restricted, especially when most shop decks don't run Crucible main and Blue decks got arrogant aND stopped running Strip/Waste

    All jokee aside, in this case, I would agree 100% that Ravager is absolutely worthy of being Restricted. Especially with Traxos just having come out, being able to ramp up counters and toss them on a massive trampler seems insane

    After that however, I don't want anything touched. I hate brainstorm more than anyone, but I'd rather see it unrestricted than have vintage neutered to the point a card like Phyrexian Revoker can ever be considered restriction worthy. If our only answer to Dack and other walkers is Spyglass it will be miserable

    Everything aside it was extremely well written as always, and I am glad you are still active in promoting vintage



  • @yespuhyren said in [Free Article] Menendian's Suggested Banned and Restricted Lists (2018):

    Especially with Traxos just having come out, being able to ramp up counters and toss them on a massive trampler seems insane

    I find some unstated irony in the fact that you have issue with Ravager putting counters on Traxos but not the land that lets you play Traxos consistently ahead of schedule.

    I disagree with ravager.

    1 - I cannot tell you how many times I had heard the following from people on these boards: "Workshops may need to be restricted, but lets restrict Lodestone and see what happens".... "well, workshops is still too powerful, Workshops may need to be banned but lets add Thorn to the list" .... "well workshops is still too strong but lets add ravager to the list and see what happens."

    At what point do we stop moving the goalposts for this one card? I've said it before and I think I'll say it again, I don't think there is any other non restricted card in the format that has caused as many restrictions as Workshops.

    2 - Ravager has answers that workshops does not. Stifle is actually a powerfully demoralizing play against the modular trigger. The issue there becomes that stifle sees no play because of Mental misstep right now and is something the workshops deck can handle because of sphere effects which are powered out but, you guessed it, workshops.

    At the end of the day I just don't see ravager being that big of a deal. The deck was strong before anyone used ravager and the decks it faced were very similar to what the field looks like now.

    I'm ok with fastbond in the abstract, less so because your justification for it includes the prominence of Mental misstep. If MM gets to the point where it needs to go (as some very openly speculate it will) then I suspect Fastbond would have to go as well.



  • @Smmenen As a returning vintage player,(played early 2000's food chain goblins) I'm having a hard time deciding what deck to play in Vintage. My main concern is the uncertainty of Vintage moving forward. From the outside, it seems as though Workshops is the dominating deck.
    The question I have is if the DCI were to make another fine tailored restriction to the shops deck, how does help with diversity? I think for this to work we would need to see the unrestriction of some cards as well. I'm unsure of what those cards should be but I think executing it during this down time would of gave the community ample amount of time to test and see the results in order to move forward.



  • @diabeticnj said in [Free Article] Menendian's Suggested Banned and Restricted Lists (2018):

    @Smmenen As a returning vintage player,(played early 2000's food chain goblins) I'm having a hard time deciding what deck to play in Vintage. My main concern is the uncertainty of Vintage moving forward. From the outside, it seems as though Workshops is the dominating deck.
    The question I have is if the DCI were to make another fine tailored restriction to the shops deck, how does help with diversity? I think for this to work we would need to see the unrestriction of some cards as well. I'm unsure of what those cards should be but I think executing it during this down time would of gave the community ample amount of time to test and see the results in order to move forward.

    Trying to predict what decks will take off after a restriction is like trying to play the stock market, and that is not even considering what new sets may bring.

    Personally I think I would look at some tier 2 decks that have been pushed out of the format recently and see if any of them were pushed because of shops. If ravager were actually restricted I am not sure that it would necessarily help something like delver/pyromancer since it removes a faster wincon, not specifically the spheres that hold you back or the balista that can ping your guys out of the air. Now if Shops is the card restricted that's a whole new ballgame and honestly it is anyones guess. For all I know shops may have been the thing that prevented Fish or Burn from entering the format.


 

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