I have been wondering lately about the terms we use to describe decks and how these decks play. Some terms you hear often is fair deck or interactive deck.

I really dislike these terms. In my opinion, there are no fair decks in Vintage. The concept of interaction is really in the eye of the beholder. I do not find counterspells to be interactive.

The idea that a deck is fair because it’s plan for winning is to control the game and take over is not fair. The term fair should be reserved for Standard in my opinion.

Do you think having the concept of a fair deck helps Vintage? If we define every deck as broken does that hurt Vintage?

"Interactive" has a pretty clear meaning. Interactive means does the deck function inherently differently against a goldfish than against an actual opponent. There are decks that range from being no different at all to dramatically different. Most Vintage decks seem to fall somewhere towards the left side of this spectrum as in they have some interactivity, but also have no problem beating up a goldfish.

"Fair" is more vague, but seems to align itself with how many turns the deck takes to win the game. Decks that take roughly 4+ turns are considered "fair". Decks that take less are not. The DCI uses this to decide on bannings so its a very real thing. If you want to argue semantics about their definition of "fair", I guess that's fine though.

I always think of "fairness" (regardless of format) as a measure of how closely a deck sticks to core Magic gameplay: advance your mana by approximately one per turn, play a small number of spells per turn, answer your opponent's threats, attack with creatures, gradually lower your opponent's life total. On that scale a deck is "unfair" to the extent that it seeks to bypass that gameplay and play a different way. So for example, Shops is an unfair deck because it advances its mana way too quickly, Storm is a more unfair deck than that because it completely refuses to even engage with what its opponent is doing beyond answering their disruptive plays, and Dredge is the least fair of all because it sidesteps the basic rules about how cards are drawn and played.

This a relative term, though. In the grand scheme of all things Magic, I don't think there is a viable Vintage deck that is truly fair... decks that are commonly described as fair do still have game-breaking cards like moxes and lotus and stuff like Monastery Mentor or whatever, and I would also say that while countering spells is generally considered a fair tactic, playing a card that just stops your opponent from playing most of their spells (i.e. Lavinia) is probably not. I would still say that it's a useful term even if it isn't perfectly descriptive though, since it does refer to a class of decks that is sometimes worth talking about as a group, and I think people generally know what you mean when you say it, barring a few edge cases.

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