I have not played much Vintage since SCGCon and I have been taking a hard look at the meta-game and Magic in general. I played some Old School, some Modern and some Pauper and I dabbled in Legacy. And, all of these meta-games feel healthy and fun, but something feels off in Vintage.
I am seeing something strange in vintage that is narrowing the meta-game for a field with almost an unlimited card pool. I am hearing from friends that the meta-game is stale. I am finding this argument confusing because I feel that the meta-game is healthy. I really enjoyed playing old school because I love old cards but also because the meta-game is mature but also experiential.
I would describe the meta-game like this:
Tier 1: Shops, Jeskai, Paradoxical, Survival, Dredge
Tier 2: Oath, Delver, Eldrazi, Grixis, LandStill
Tier 3: Lands, Storm, 2 Card Monte, Mana-gorger Hydra
I am trying to figure out why the vintage format feels small right now. There are some very good tier 1 and tier 2 decks but the variety of decks that feel playable competitively has become a smaller set. Looking at Legacy, and Modern the meta-games are expanding and I’m not exactly sure why Vintage is kind of stuck right now.
My first thought is that the new cards are not helping the format. My second thought is that there is not enough innovation and too much herd mentality.
An interesting take on the meta-game is that each one of these decks has very interesting variants. Paradoxical has 3 variations, Jeskai has at least 3 variants and Shops has at least 2 variants. The issue with variants is that most people still feel like they are all the same deck.
Is something going wrong with Vintage? I am not sure. I want to believe that the format with the largest card selection and the most broken cards available is the most interesting.
I find that I am playing more card variety in the lower formats, and this is very unsettling. The last thing I want to discuss is the banned and restricted list. I really want to discuss how to drive innovation and open up the format.
I love what has happened with Survival decks and I think the same needs to happen with other decks. Why not StoneBlade or Humans? How do we create a strong budget deck?