Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop

@stuart said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

@dr-j Well, I’m comfortable believing Dredge’s detractors that it’s not about losing. I just don’t get the idea that it’s not an interactive or engaging deck to play against. Specifically, unless I have a hand with literal nothing, I’m on the edge of my seat asking myself, Will my hate resolve? Do they have a Nature’s Claim? If not, can I close the game out before they recover? Do they have a Plan B (i.e. Hollow One), and if so, can I answer it? Dredge doesn’t always have it, or you don’t always have it, and I think the tension between those makes for exciting gameplay.

Once in a while there is a good game v. Dredge, but those are less common now that it competently eschews non-CMC-1 Dredge hate on the stack and can put 12 power into play for {0}. The games are a lot different when they revolve around timing Tormod's Crypt's.

The game revolves around their mulligan round. If they kept 7, you are unlikely to win irrespective of your hand to a degree that wasn't possible a year ago and prior. Hollow One and Prized Amalgam are game changers.

Nutty things happen in Vintage, but they generally always involve cards that are restricted. Bazaar of Baghdad is restrictable on its face, but it's kept around for the same reasons Mishra's Workshop is. However, unlike Workshop, Wizards hasn't adequately restricted around it. I believe it's time for that to change.

We need to understand that "Dredging 6" is drawing 6 cards, and Dredging 18 is drawing 18 cards. For {0}. The fewer and fewer cards dumped into the yard that are useless are still just analogous to the cards one draws when actually drawing like excess lands or inapplicable counters. Serum Powder is a 0-mana draw 7. Hollow One is a 0-mana 4/4 with no drawback once in play. Cabal Therapy effectuates Mind Twist, a card banned for many years, onto the opponent for {0}. And these perverse advantages are heaped onto a deck that already wins g1 as a "free gift" 90% of the time. I don't see why this should be acceptable.

Requiring the Dredge player to destroy Dredge hate rather than Force it typically bought another turn and served as a speed bump that extended the game and provided the positive experiences you referenced. "Force ur Dredge hate, lol tap Bazaar" does the exact opposite. They chose a casino deck whose self-destructive need to mulligan is abated by free Draw X's and if they find 1 card in the top 13 or 18, you lose; it didn't matter that you existed, cause "Force ur Dredge hate, lol."

In today's league, I had a lot of matches, some won, some lost. Almost all involved good games that required tight play. Except Round 4. I drew one of my maindeck Jailers, but "lol Force, ur Dredge Hate" and he had a full graveyard before I had a second turn. Game two, he mulliganed a few times so I won. Game 3, he didn't mulligan so it was easy to slip around my dredge hate, and outlast my 2 Wastelands since he had four Bazaars. It was the same experience as it always is. When they mulligan to 5 or less, you win fairly easily and when they don't, you generally can't win or even meaningfully participate in the game.

In all of the other matches I won or lost, I felt good about the experience. During the entire Dredge match, even while winning, I thought about what life would be like if I just sold tens of thousands of $ in Magic cards and bought extravagant new music equipment and maybe the biggest bouquet of flowers for mom the world has ever seen.

This is why the deck needs out. As more and more people come to understand how stacked the deck is against them when they encounter Force of Will dredge, I expect the feeling to spread.

last edited by brianpk80

@brianpk80 said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

Hollow One is a 0-mana 4/4 with no drawback once in play.

there's this card called dack fayden

force of will dredge has been possible for a while now. force is obviously worse than hate removal the more the player mulligans, and when you don't have it on the spot. it also does nothing vs leyline, which is probably the best dredge hate other than crypt

@brianpk80 Yeah I dunno. To me Pitch Dredge isn’t really more egregious than other combo decks that get to play countermagic (Paradoxical and Oath being the big ones that come to mind). But feelings are hard to argue with; if a former Vintage Champ and a bunch of enfranchised paper players don’t wanna play, that’s not good.

@blindtherapy said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

force is obviously worse than hate removal the more the player mulligans.

Right, the game revolves around the Dredge player's mulligan.

@stuart said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

To me Pitch Dredge isn’t really more egregious than other combo decks that get to play countermagic (Paradoxical and Oath being the big ones that come to mind).

Unlike those though, Dredge needs to find one unrestricted card in its Top X cards (not sure how many they see exactly, which varies, depending on the Powders). All of the goods in PO and anything that could make Oath kill you as quickly as Dredge are restricted (ie Time Walk, Mox anything).

@blindtherapy said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

Hollow One is a 0-mana 4/4 with no drawback once in play.

there's this card called dack fayden

There's a card called Sanctum Prelate! Let's unrestrict Black Lotus!

@brianpk80 said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

Unlike those though, Dredge needs to find one unrestricted card in its Top X cards (not sure how many they see exactly, which varies, depending on the Powders). All of the goods in PO and anything that could make Oath kill you as quickly as Dredge are restricted (ie Time Walk, Mox anything).

and there's 4 bazaars vs an average of 16 restricted cards in the average oath list and 23 in the average PO list.

@blindtherapy said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

@brianpk80 said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

Unlike those though, Dredge needs to find one unrestricted card in its Top X cards (not sure how many they see exactly, which varies, depending on the Powders). All of the goods in PO and anything that could make Oath kill you as quickly as Dredge are restricted (ie Time Walk, Mox anything).

and there's 4 bazaars vs an average of 16 restricted cards in the average oath list and 23 in the average PO list.

That’s ignoring the context though- Dredge just needs Bazaar. It can go to 1 card and if it’s Bazaar that’s often good enough (especially in g1). The other decks need a 4 of (or 2 in case of Oath) and some restricted cards to pile on top. It’s really not apples to oranges

I look forward to Smennen’s kids digging up this thread in 20 years and tracing it as the origin of why Bazaar was restricted.

Generally agree with Brian’s points. I continue to hold the opinion that in some form Dredge is necessary for Vintage so that players don’t just get to play Slaver with 15 free SB cards and call that “skill”. But even this is too much.

@ribby said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

I look forward to Smennen’s kids digging up this thread in 20 years and tracing it as the origin of why Bazaar was restricted.

Generally agree with Brian’s points. I continue to hold the opinion that in some form Dredge is necessary for Vintage so that players don’t just get to play Slaver with 15 free SB cards and call that “skill”. But even this is too much.

Agreed. I don't want to destroy any deck; I just believe the "big four" could all use some toning down, ie, Equally Distributed Sanity.
None of this will come from fanciful metagame % analyses; Wizards themselves said this year that they don't abide by them so it's time to stop playing make-believe with numbers.

Dredge happens to be the one that has never had to account for its infractions to the community since the cleaning up of Vintage began in 2015. Of the four, it's also the most awry and downright wrong.

Ideally, I'd regulate several things from Dredge, 1 card from Big Blue (Paradoxical Outcome), ban the Delve spells, ban Mentor, ban Trinisphere, and restrict maybe one more artifact like Ballista. This isn't simply done to address the current malaise, but changes that will pave the way forward for the next decade. A decade from now, this time period should be one looked upon with bewilderment and the question:

"How the hell was that ever legal?"

last edited by brianpk80

@brianpk80 said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

@ribby said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

I look forward to Smennen’s kids digging up this thread in 20 years and tracing it as the origin of why Bazaar was restricted.

Generally agree with Brian’s points. I continue to hold the opinion that in some form Dredge is necessary for Vintage so that players don’t just get to play Slaver with 15 free SB cards and call that “skill”. But even this is too much.

Agreed. I don't want to destroy any deck; I just believe the "big four" could all use some toning down, ie, Equally Distributed Sanity.
None of this will come from fanciful metagame % analyses; Wizards themselves said this year that they don't abide by them so it's time to stop playing make-believe with numbers.

Can you cite this? To my knowledge, the DCI has ever said that they don't look at relevant performance metrics when making decisions.

Aaron Forsythe, on twitter, said that the format is managed for the Vintage community, but they have never refuted the notion that performance metrics matter.

In fact, just the opposite. The last major restrictions in the format explicitly cited Top 8 data: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/august-28-2017-banned-and-restricted-announcement-2017-08-28

"Recently, both the paper and Magic Online Vintage metagames have been in an unhealthy place due to the prevalence and performance of two decks: Shops and Mentor. Data from twelve recent Vintage Challenges reinforces this, with 40% of the Top 8 decks being Shops and 30% being Mentor. Both decks feature strategies that are powerful, stifle diversity, and can be frustrating to play against."

And, when looking at other formats, the DCI has gone ever further and examined win percentages in excruciting detail: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/july-2-2018-banned-and-restricted-update-2018-07-02

"Here are the win rates of the most popular decks on Magic Online Competitive Leagues, taken as a snapshot from mid-June. While these numbers can fluctuate from week to week as the metagame churns, they're representative of the ranges we've been seeing over time. Note that the decks are automatically clustered by archetype through a computer algorithm, not manually categorized."

In short, performance statistics play a very large role in the DCI's management of organized play formats. That doesn't mean that they are the only thing that matter, but they do.

On a separate point, the format right now is actually pretty great, imo. The Top 8 of the Vintage Challenge yesterday shows how diverse and balanced the format is: pretty much every archetype made top 8. Qualitatively, pretty much every match I've played lately has been high quality.

I don't think there is any real evidence of 'malaise' other than it being the summer months when folks are on vacation. Pointing to one or two events in one city or region is not evidence of a worldwide "malaise." The Vintage Challenges seem to be doing quite well. The SCG P9 tournament earlier this summer was a success considering the location. I have little doubt that the fall Vintage events will do just as well, if not better, than previous years.

I honestly believe this is one the best Vintage environment we've had in years. Certainly better than the nightmare we had for the last 5 or so years where Shops was just dominating every event. Shops is still too good for my liking, but PO has been pretty amazing for the format, bringing back 'big blue' players and strategies.

The Vintage format was pretty awful from Khans (November, 2014) until really the spring of this year, where it was pretty much in the stranglehold of Shops decks in that entire period, and to a lesser extent TX decks. The Vintage Championship last year was one of the worst disasters I've ever seen, with a Top 8 that had just 2 strategies, and even worse, had 5 Shop decks.

Compared to that, this format is actually much better. It's more diverse, and it's more interactive, and in my experience at the SCG P9 tournament in June and the few leagues I've played more recently, it's more fun.

@smmenen If what you say is true, and you're you so I'm inclined to believe that it is, then there is a huge disconnect between the Leagues and the Challenges. The Leagues are just saturated with Outcome decks.

@oestrus said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

@smmenen If what you say is true, and you're you so I'm inclined to believe that it is, then there is a huge disconnect between the Leagues and the Challenges. The Leagues are just saturated with Outcome decks.

I probably played three leagues in three weeks and in the 15 matches I faced outcome twice, maybe 3 times. I did face Brian Kelly playing his brew with Armasaur 🙂 ,but I have faced far more xerox style decks.

That said, each of the matches I played against outcome was exceptionally close.

last edited by Smmenen

How in Hades did this thread go from “unban Shahrazad” to “ban this that and all the other things” 🙂

Jk, Brian 🙂 I will say though that the last truly banworthy card (Yawgmoth’s Will) eventually became largely irrelevant. It took a decade of printings though. And life is short.

@smmenen said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

@brianpk80 said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

@ribby said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

I look forward to Smennen’s kids digging up this thread in 20 years and tracing it as the origin of why Bazaar was restricted.

Generally agree with Brian’s points. I continue to hold the opinion that in some form Dredge is necessary for Vintage so that players don’t just get to play Slaver with 15 free SB cards and call that “skill”. But even this is too much.

Agreed. I don't want to destroy any deck; I just believe the "big four" could all use some toning down, ie, Equally Distributed Sanity.
None of this will come from fanciful metagame % analyses; Wizards themselves said this year that they don't abide by them so it's time to stop playing make-believe with numbers.

Can you cite this? To my knowledge, the DCI has ever said that they don't look at relevant performance metrics when making decisions.

What is this straw man? I never said they "don't look" at metrics; I said they don't "abide" by them, which is objectively correct given their decisions and admissions re: Mishra's Workshop are not in accordance with the numbers you revere.

Aaron Forsythe, on twitter, said that the format is managed for the Vintage community, but they have never refuted the notion that performance metrics matter.

You would have a point if I'd said they don't "matter." It's very easy to refute manufactured statements! 😉

I don't think there is any real evidence of 'malaise' other than it being the summer months when folks are on vacation.

There's "testimony," silly. You can say you like the metagame, but it's insulting to state the no one feels any malaise. I do. My friends do. Local events have been dwindling all year, before summer, and the metagame was stated as the reason. Do we not count for some reason? If so, what is that reason?

I honestly believe this is one the best Vintage environment we've had in years. Certainly better than the nightmare we had for the last 5 or so years where Shops was just dominating every event. Shops is still too good for my liking, but PO has been pretty amazing for the format, bringing back 'big blue' players and strategies.

I have different experiences, as does Andy, our resident Shops guru. I feel Shops is one of the easier decks to control (which says a lot, since it's not "easy" per se) due to PO and Dredge executing plans that minimize your agency even more. Andy thinks Shops has felt more uphill than ever this year, due to PO.

Compared to that, this format is actually much better. It's more diverse, and it's more interactive, and in my experience at the SCG P9 tournament in June and the few leagues I've played more recently, it's more fun.

How are "Tap Bazaar, lol, Force ur Dredge hate" or Paradoxical Outcome more "interactive" than Jeskai Mentor, Bomberman, UW Landstill, Oath of Druids, Workshops or Dredge pre-Pitch/Hollow One? That makes no sense. The format is more overrun with blowouts now than it has been in a while.

@brianpk80 said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

@smmenen said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

@brianpk80 said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

@ribby said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

I look forward to Smennen’s kids digging up this thread in 20 years and tracing it as the origin of why Bazaar was restricted.

Generally agree with Brian’s points. I continue to hold the opinion that in some form Dredge is necessary for Vintage so that players don’t just get to play Slaver with 15 free SB cards and call that “skill”. But even this is too much.

Agreed. I don't want to destroy any deck; I just believe the "big four" could all use some toning down, ie, Equally Distributed Sanity.
None of this will come from fanciful metagame % analyses; Wizards themselves said this year that they don't abide by them so it's time to stop playing make-believe with numbers.

Can you cite this? To my knowledge, the DCI has ever said that they don't look at relevant performance metrics when making decisions.

What is this straw man? I never said they "don't look" at metrics; I said they don't "abide" by them, which is objectively correct given their decisions and admissions re: Mishra's Workshop are not in accordance with the numbers you revere.

Well, your phrase "fanciful metagame % analysis" isn't exactly precise phrasing to pin down your meaning. But I assumed you were making the same point as you made earlier (in post 57), where you said:

"And the solution will have nothing to do with poring over metagame %'s which has been the wrong lens, but more obviously now that Wizards outright said it's subordinate to other factors, namely promoting our happiness. Inducing players to follow this narrow mathematical analysis has misled the community. Analyzing results %'s and then fabricating an arbitrary system of thresholds to pretend what life would be like if the DCI actually used it is fanciful and absurd."

In other words, you have a disdain - if not outright objection - to "poring over % of the metawgame," which you state is "the wrong lens."

I'm simply saying that % of the metagame matters. A reasonable person reading your post could interpret it as asserting the opposite. I realize that isn't what you said, but you've repeatedly criticized statistical analysis, and in terms that suggest you have a disdain for it, and that the DCI shares that view. I'm simply pointing out that, irrespective of your views, the DCI repeatedly and frequently uses statistical analysis - especially Top 8% and win % - to analyzes metagames.

That's just a fact. And they use that statistical analysis to inform their decisions. That's also a fact.

Aaron Forsythe, on twitter, said that the format is managed for the Vintage community, but they have never refuted the notion that performance metrics matter.

You would have a point if I'd said they don't "matter." It's very easy to refute manufactured statements! 😉

Again, see above, and your quote in post 57. Sure, you didn't say "statistics don't matter." But you've said things like "poring of % of the metagame is the wrong lens." Which may reasonably interpret to suggest that it shouldn't matter, or shouldn't matter very much. And you said a number of things like that.

I don't think there is any real evidence of 'malaise' other than it being the summer months when folks are on vacation.

There's "testimony," silly. You can say you like the metagame, but it's insulting to state the no one feels any malaise. I do. My friends do. Local events have been dwindling all year, before summer, and the metagame was stated as the reason. Do we not count for some reason? If so, what is that reason?

I didn't say that no one feels "malaise." What I'm saying is that there isn't much evidence of it, beyond your testimony here, which, of course, is just anecdotal or localized, or reporting what a handful of people said at one or a small number of events. If someone gathered systematic testimony over a diverse geography, that would be another matter.

But the performance & enrollment in the Vintage Challenges, popularity of the Vintage Leagues, etc. all suggest no decline in the popularity of the format.

And, if there is a "malaise," or people not playing because of the format, is there any way to untangle the role that Shops dominating for 8 years has played? Because that's why Chris Pikula, Dave Williams, etc. don't play this format anymore.

I just find it hard to believe that the format is suddenly - the summer of 2018 - worse than it's been the past few summers, where it's been truly abysmal. At least the format is more diverse and open than it's been in the better part of a decade. There are more deck options of varying kinds of strategies or "schools" if you will, and the Vintage Challenges and Vintage Leagues show no evidence of decline compared to, say, this past spring or winter. If anything, the format is much better off now than it was a year ago. And I don't think that's really disputable if you read Ian Duke's comments about the format on August 28, 2017.

I honestly believe this is one the best Vintage environment we've had in years. Certainly better than the nightmare we had for the last 5 or so years where Shops was just dominating every event. Shops is still too good for my liking, but PO has been pretty amazing for the format, bringing back 'big blue' players and strategies.

I have different experiences, as does Andy, our resident Shops guru. I feel Shops is one of the easier decks to control (which says a lot, since it's not "easy" per se) due to PO and Dredge executing plans that minimize your agency even more. Andy thinks Shops has felt more uphill than ever this year, due to PO.

Of course: Shops is finally getting under control. It's gone from literally 45% of Vintage Challenge Top 8s last summer, to 28% this summer. That's a tremendous improvement, and the decline is, in part, a result of PO's rise.

PO has actually given the Vintage format something that is decent against Shops. That's a good thing. But that doesn't mean that Shops isn't still too good. Decks can have weaknesses and still predominate to an unreasonable degree.

PO is really important for the format, as it's helping keep Shops somewhat in balance.

Compared to that, this format is actually much better. It's more diverse, and it's more interactive, and in my experience at the SCG P9 tournament in June and the few leagues I've played more recently, it's more fun.

How are "Tap Bazaar, lol, Force ur Dredge hate" or Paradoxical Outcome more "interactive" than Jeskai Mentor, Bomberman, UW Landstill, Oath of Druids, Workshops or Dredge pre-Pitch/Hollow One? That makes no sense. The format is more overrun with blowouts now than it has been in a while.

When Shops plays a Lodestone Golem, Spheres, and fast threats turn after turn before you can do anything about it, that is literally the definition of non-interactive. Shops are the most non-interactive strategy in any format, past or present. Their entire purpose is to prevent the opponent from doing anything relevant by making it hard for them to play spells.

The matches I've played against PO in the least few leagues have been miles better than average matches against Shops over the last 7 years, in terms of interactivity, and having players make meaningful choices. Like in the finals of the NYSE V Open, where I lost to Ryan Glackin because he literally emptied his hand on turn 1 or 2 with Shops.

My matches against PO have actually been fascinating. It's been a test of iron wills as I play Stony Silence and battle over playing around it, or gradually Fragmentize their artifacts as they try different angles of attack. They are so fascinating they would actually make a great article.

I'm sorry that you aren't enjoying the metagame, but it's at least much better than it was a year ago this time, and that isn't really debatable. The 2017 Summer was one of the most putrid Vintage metagames of all time, as Ian Duke pointed out in his DCI announcement on August 28. And it was followed by the most disastrous Vintage Champs Top 8 of all time: 5 Shops and 3 Oath. Not a good look for the format. The SCG P9 Top 8, and the latest Vintage Challenges, look amazing by comparison, despite Shops still being half of the Top 8, and 100% of the finals. It was still more diverse. And so are the Vintage Challenge Top 8s since. Much more so.

last edited by Smmenen

I do object to the over-reliance on metagame % not only because it seeks to disparage subjective experience but because the raw data itself is corrupted by players' choice and attendance level. For instance, if I decide an afternoon nap would be preferable to playing a challenge, Oath of Druids suddenly has a 25-50% lower metagame representation. Who even knows what happens to the win rate. If two Shop players attend a wedding instead of a Vintage event, there is likewise a palpable decrease. Since these attendance variables happen all of the time, imagining that the results %'s prove whatever it is we might be tempted to believe is its probative value is absurd.

The metagame is as bad as it was last year, because of the refinement of Pitch Dredge. It's an outrageous blue deck whose hand is sculpted by a free Dack Fayden and whose Arabian Nights land draws ~18 cards instead of 1. While I always thought Cabal Therapy was over the line, I never hated playing against Dredge the way I do this year.

Paradoxical Outcome/Big Blue is not a horrible deck in and of itself--it's simply the single card Paradoxical Outcome that I and several others take issue with. There's no historical metric that would excuse that degree of one-sided card draw and self-replication (ie the Mind's Desire problem).

Shops has its issues, but they are far eclipsed by the Dredge deck and the illegal-power-level 4x namesake in PO. Getting rid of its free win-ball and then restricting Walking Ballista or Revoker should abate any lingering concerns.

I will write about this more in depth in the coming weeks. I have started an article to post here and without any intention of rushing it.

Either way, although we differ starkly on views of the format, I am thankful that your perspectives are stated eloquently. I hope that a fleshed out new theory adopting a "qualitative experience" perspective will help fill the vacuum that's been there for many years.

last edited by brianpk80

@brianpk80 said in Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop:

I do object to the over-reliance on metagame % not only because it seeks to disparage subjective experience but because the raw data itself is corrupted by players' choice and attendance level. For instance, if I decide an afternoon nap would be preferable to playing a challenge, Oath of Druids suddenly has a 25-50% lower metagame representation. Who even knows what happens to the win rate. If two Shop players attend a wedding instead of a Vintage event, there is likewise a palpable decrease. Since these attendance variables happen all of the time, imagining that the results %'s prove whatever it is we might be tempted to believe is its probative value is absurd.

If that's how the DCI handled such data, you might have a case. But the DCI's use of data to inform it's management of formats is much more sophisticated. They aggregate data to statistically significant levels. The DCI does not use a single or even a handful of events to conclusively determine win rates. Again, look at Ian's July B&R announcement.

Even Matt and Ryan's (apparently now defunct) monthly analysis aggregates data from weekly to monthly and even quarterly data to wash out alot of statistically insignificant noise. Your complaint here is less to do with data itself, then the misuse of data, which is a valid complaint.

That's actually why win % percentage is a superior metric to Top 8s. Top 8 data is a function of representation and win percentage, but when win % can be got, and the DCI can and does get it - it's the next best thing. But the use of win % addresses one of the two key concerns you raise: if you aren't in attendance, and no one else is playing Oath, then Oath's win percentage isn't impacted by your 'nap.'

Ian's article illustrates that they can use MTGO to collect algorithmic win percentage for decks in any format at statistically significant levels.

The reason data is important is because it's objective: it's a way to go above the bleating din of shouting voices, who rarely seem to agree on anything when it comes to Vintage. And no wonder, as the Vintage player base is factionalized into competing "Schools." Such data sorts out what's actually doing well from what players perceive, since perception is so often wrong.

Contrary to what you are suggesting, in the long history of Vintage, the 'subjective experience' has, more often than not, been the standard for DCI management. And, it's resulted in countless absurd and unnecessary restrictions, impairing the well deserved fun of countless victims, players on the wrong end of these restrictions who suffered as a byproduct of them.

The darkest eras of this format were the times in which the DCI was more often than not captured by the loudest voices in the format, the bleatings of players like Oscar Tan or Brian Weissman, complaining about how "unfun" non-blue decks were, and resulting in surveys like this one:

http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/misc/5980_You_CAN_Play_Type_I_108_The_State_Of_The_Metagame_Address_The_Charts.html

Was there anything Weissman didn't want to restrict? From that table, it's hard to tell.

At one point, Weissman threatened a boycott unless Mind Twist was banned - a tactic that actually proves successful in 1996.

No one is trying to 'disparage' subjective experience. But the problem is that there is no neutral way to fairly adjudicate results on the basis of this. That's why it's subjective.

But even if we could quantify it, say, using a survey that asks players on a 10-point scale to rank whether they consider a strategy 'interactive' or not, there is a tension between regulating decks on that basis and the other aim for promoting strategic diversity.

The July Vintage Challenges Top 8s were as follows:

28% Shops
19% Turbo Xerox decks (Jeskai Mentor, Esper Mentor, Delver, and Pyromancer)
19% PO
9% Eldrazi
9% Dark Ritual comibo decks
3% Dredge
3% BUG and BUGr Control decks and Aggro-Control Decks

Suppose I was taking a subjective survey ranked those strategies as follows on a 10 point 'interactivity' scale using your mode of thought, I might rank them as follows, with 1 being the least interactive, and 10 being the most:

Shops - 2
TX - 7.5
PO - 3
Eldrazi - 3.5
Dark Ritual Combo decks: 1.5
Dredge - 2
BUG & BUGr - 9

Basically "1s" are reserved for glass cannon combo decks and trinisphere like prison decks, and 10s are for highly interactive control decks.

As this exercise illustrates, a preference for what you call "fairer" or less swingy games is really just a gussied up way of expressing prejudice against fast combo decks, Dredge, and Shops, and a preference for blue decks. A format more centered around decks like Bomberman, Landstill, Leo decks, etc. may be your idea of a good format, but it sounds like dispiriting to me.

Part of what makes Vintage so special is its explosiveness and more bomb throwing than an ISIS convention. Similarly, prison decks like Shops today, Nether Void in the past, and Winter Orb decks before that, have always been a part of this format, although I wish there were fewer of them these days.

As between a format that has 6-7 very different strategies, some of which are highly 'interactive' according to a subjective scale or fewer starkly different strategies, but all or most of which are highly 'interactive' according to a subject scale, I would take the former over the latter any day of the week.

The logical conclusion of your complaints suggest that you want a format with a much lower power level over a format that is truly strategically diverse (that is, not all blue or grindy blue-ish decks) and that attack along very different dimensions.

Our long format nightmare, which really began around 2011 or 12, when Grafdigger's Cage and cards like that begin pushing out all of the great big mana decks from the format, is finally ending, and Vintage is finally escaping the grasp of the Turbo Xerox and Workshop hellscape it's been in for far too long. PO is really the reason why.

If I wanted to play a format of grindy games of Magic every round, I would play Legacy. The reason we play Vintage is because of the thrill of the format, and the tremendous strategic diversity. The myriad shades of blue decks don't make Vintage great. What makes Vintage great is the stark strategic diversity. It's that you can play against a Dark Ritual Bargain deck one round, Dredge the next, a big mana blue deck like PO after that, and a Jeskai deck and Landstill after that. A format in which I played against decks clustered around the control and aggro axes all day long, like BUG, Oath, Kolaghan's Command or Subterranean Tremors decks, Landstill, and Bomberman, would be a poor Vintage indeed. The only thing that I can imagine being worse than that is playing against Shops and Eldrazi all day long.

While I always thought Cabal Therapy was over the line, I never hated playing against Dredge the way I do this year.

Not even in 2009? I remember players really hating Dredge around that time. Back then, players had so few diverse answers to hate out Dredge. It was basically: Did you have Leyline and/or Jailer? If not, you probably lose.

If I were able to have surveyed players back in 2009, I imagine the hate for Dredge today, even accounting for your opinion here, is far less intense or extreme than it was back then.

last edited by Smmenen

I wouldn't put too much stock in WotC's methodology unless they actually reveal it. My suspicion is there is a lot more sampling error than any of us think. Any quantitative analysis is about minimizing sources of error, and focusing solely in win% won't do that.

For one thing, you would need identical lists. Comparing archetypes is going to inject error and complexity that is pretty difficult to correct. This is the same reason why things like tracking surveys use identical questions for years and years. Changing even the phrasing can lead to different results and makes the data incomparable.

It's fine provided the results acknowledge limitations and sources of error, but people tend to like making bold statements off data that won't generalize where they want it applied. Honestly, that's where subjectivity comes into play. No one should want a truly data driven format. Subjective experience matters and is measured quite differently from win rate.

WotC should be spending time measuring things like satisfaction with a given format, whether we're talking about Vintage or Standard. They could develop a validated tracking metric and collect data weekly, bi-monthly, whatever, and measure self-report satisfaction with a given format over time. It would help them an awful lot when it comes to delivering sets that are optimized for what people want to play. Their current market research does not impress me.

This is a long winded way of saying win% is a heuristic, not a complete picture.

I agree. But in the absence of such a survey Tournament results are the only empirics we have, and neutral, without strategic bias. A preference for “interactivity” generally expresses itself As a preference for blue decks, which is a problem as I just illustrated.

@brianpk80 Brian, I really don't understand your view that dredge is a problem. The deck forms less than 10% of most metagames and, I would imagine, not much more of top 8s. It is a deck that gets frequently slaughtered by Shops (even game 1) and struggles with PO decks. Just because the "fairer" blue decks have an unfavorable matchup v.s Dredge and need to dedicate more hate than other decks do does not make Dredge a deck that requires action taken against it. I think you have a personal "feel bad" set of experiences vs. cards like Cabal Therapy that belong no where near the restricted list. . . EVER. . . PERIOD. Targeting Therapy for restriction is on the same level of ludicrous as when folks wanted to target Dark Petition. It isn't even open for debate.

As to the shops restrictions you suggested, I'd be careful. Shops, as an archetype, is hanging on by a thinner thread than I think people realize. While I would love to see Ballista go I really don't think you can tamper too much with Shops without making it lose to hard to to much of the field. Ballista is a major reason shops beats up on URw Pyromancer/Mentor. Without Ballista they could probably just start running 3-4 Pyromancers and beating shops more readily again. PO I could see restricted. Mainly I say this because chaining POs is many orders of magnitude more broken than playing your FIRST PO. I think PO is on par with Treasure Cruise in a deck designed to abuse it and Treasure Cruise is on the restricted list. I think on precedence alone PO should have gotten the axe a while ago. My thoughts on the restrictions/unrestrictions that should happen going forward are that PO, Mox Opal and Preordain be restricted and Demonic Consultation be unrestricted. That is what I'd do.

-Storm

My biggest question here is what are restrictions actually for? Are they to bring problematic decks and metagames in line or are they a tool to shake up and create a metagame? It feels like, more and more, some people want restrictions to create a "better" metagame and to shake up the format. I've always said restrictions should only be used as a last resort.

Imagine if we restricted Dark Petition 2-3 years ago when people clamored for it. It would very likely remain on the restricted list for a long time to come, and nobody would entertain the idea that it could be safe. However, as we've seen, it's not even close to being a problem. It's ludicrous to even think about.

Vintage is the last place where people get to play all cards. While an argument can be made that restrictions still let you play with them, in reality this isn't actually true. Many cards are very playable as a 4-of, but completely unplayable as a 1-of.

Essentially, when cards get restricted, one of three things happen.

  1. The card is so busted that is still finds a home as a 1-of in almost any deck that can support it. It can remain a card that people build around even as a 1-of. An example is both Tinker and Yawgmoth's Will.

  2. The card sometimes sees play as a 1-of in decks but it isn't strong enough to go everywhere, but it has only a small presence in Vintage. An example is Gush, Memory Jar and Merchant Scroll.

  3. The card is effectively "banned". What I mean by this is, the card can see play as a 4-of, but is essentially pointless as a 1-of as the card requires building around, and it's not worth doing so when you play a single copy. You might still see it from time to time but it's virtually non-existent. Examples include Windfall, Channel and Fastbond.

What I mean by this large rant is, when people want cards restricted, sometimes those cards actually get banned, for all intents and purposes, because it's not really possible to play many cards as a 1-of. Vintage is the last place people can play these cards, and I would highly prefer a very lenient restricted list in order to make this possible. Instead of making Vintage a format where you get to play with all iconic cards of MTG's history, many of them are actually "banned".

I get incredibly disappointed each time I look at the restricted list and see a number of cards I never got to experience in its heyday, and probably never will get to experience because of the way the restricted list is slow to change.

Vintage, to me, is not just about playing shiny new Standard Mythic with Moxen. There's nothing special about that. It's meant to allow cards from MTG's entire history. Instead, the way things are going, we'll end up with Highlander, with a restricted list stretching miles long.

last edited by Hrishi
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