Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R

Hi everyone,

I'm writing to more thoroughly define an alternative approach to Vintage's ban and restriction policy. Taken out of context, some of the conclusions I've shared may have sounded radical because I hadn't taken the time to comprehensively flesh out the reasoning behind them. I will attempt to do so here. A few months ago, I promised I would elaborate more at some point in the future, but refrained from doing so then because there was a controversial debate brewing and I didn't want to trivialize a clearer statement as a mere response to a petty online argument. It's not necessary that anyone or everyone agrees (though some do) with the arguments raised below but I think it is important that we have a better view of the perspective, rather than the vacuum that currently exists.

The core principle is that the most important attribute in Vintage (and all Magic by extension) is fun. Enjoyment of the game. This should be self-evident, though over a decade of muddied waters has misled many into believing canards like "metagame diversity," "% of top 8's," and "less restrictions" are paramount when, while relevant, they are ancillary to the prime objective of an enjoyable experience.

We begin by acknowledging that fun is not a zero sum game. Magic is not a simplistic "winning is fun, losing is unfun" binary. We've all lost countless games that have been engaging, rewarding and even at times mesmerizing. And by contrast, most have us of won our fair share of "non-games" that were better left unplayed. Increasing the former while decreasing the latter has been a DCI principle in all formats since the dawn of regulation and should remain so.

Secondly, the fact that "fun" is perceived differently by different players is not a legitimate excuse to pretend it does not exist. Doing so would be a casebook example of the McNamara fallacy (aka the quantitative fallacy), a line of thinking that ignores full reality in favor of specious numbers that is seen far too often in the era of big data. One cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that whatever any data says on metgame %'s, a card like Trinisphere is a bad time. The DCI explicitly acknowledged the (obvious) importance of game enjoyment when they restricted it.

To that end, several criteria are universally embraced as promoting positive gaming experiences: agency/interactivity, diversity of options, (relative) game balance, novelty, reward of skill & knowledge, diminution of luck and die-roll, and game length.

Agency

Agency here refers to some degree of control over how the game plays out, drawing from deck building choices, format knowledge, knowledge of rules, familiarity with Vintage's interactions, mulligan decisions, sequencing, and interaction choices. The antithesis of agency is embodied in the "non-game."

In Vintage, we accept that there will be over-the-top plays more than we'd see in any other format. However, we don't accept that these occur without restraint or routinely involve cards that remain unrestricted* (Bazaar and Workshop being avowed ad hoc exceptions). And we have a template for understanding what goes too far over the line because we already have a restricted list. We can see how clearly a card like Paradoxical Outcome falls far outside historical norms simply by acknowledging that less one-sided facile blowout cards like Wheel of Fortune, Timetwister, and Mind's Desire are already restricted. We can appreciate the perversion of 8-12 power worth of Hollow Ones for {0} by reference to the comparatively overpriced and impotent Tinker, a card so offensive to many that it was frequently raised for ban discussion last decade on the back of its Darksteel Colossus interaction alone.

We accept that blowouts will happen riding on the strength of restricted cards, but even these types of non-games are regarded as bugs rather than features of the format. We need look no further than the ubiquitous appeals to players in other formats that always begin with dispelling the myth that Vintage is a turn one irretrievably broken format. Why? Because no one would want to play so many low-quality games. This is a no-brainer. We all agree that better game quality leads to the greater appeal that will grow and sustain the format. We can only register amusement when a Vintage ambassador stresses its strategic depth and downplays the quantity of non-games without espousing policies that promote the former and reduce the latter. To this end, cards that consistently contribute to non-interactive non-games should be discouraged. Doing so also increases the value of skill & knowledge as well as generally increasing game length while decreasing dependence on the die roll. Hence, offensive cards like Ancestral Recall, Tolarian Academy, Chalice of the Void, and so forth can and should be regulated aggressively.

Game Balance

By game balance, I'm referring to the concept of relative and absolute "power level" of individual cards, both in context and as standalone entities. Balance of different decks relates to metagame diversity which will be discussed in different parts below. Here, I'm referring to the calibration of cards' power levels that makes a game like Magic functional.

Economy is key to discerning power level. If you're "getting" far more than you're "giving," we have an imbalance. For instance, we know from the history of Magic's printings that the going rate for drawing 3 cards is somewhere between 4 and 5 mana (consider cards like Harmonize, Blue Sun's Zenith and so forth). Drawing 3 cards at Instant speed for {U} gives the caster a benefit between 3x and 4x the investment and hence qualifies as one of the most broken cards ever printed. Tinker presents a similar ratio where a target like Blightsteel Colossus is obtained at approximately 25% cost, then factoring in the comparatively marginal cost of the sacrificed artifact and requirement that one of the mana had been blue.

Some cards are degenerately broken in absolute terms (ie Time Walk) while others demonstrate brokenness only in a given context. A good example of the latter is Golgari Grave-Troll which effectively reads "Draw 6" in conjunction with Bazaar of Baghdad. A card can be indefensibly broken even while not seeing much play, like Channel or Show and Tell. As I see it, cards like Tolarian Academy, Mana Crypt, and Monastery Mentor require regulation independently of any given metagame. Mox Sapphire would not become an unrestrictable card if it suddenly vanished from Top 8's for a few months because of its intrinsic imbalance. Whether alone or in specific context, imbalance occurs when something is being yielded far greater than what would be an expected return on investment, a phenomenon that must be limited to eschew an entropy-like degeneration of the game. Hence, for the sake of game balance, power level will always be a critical factor to examine, irrespective of what players happen to be playing at any given point in time.

Novelty

The first few spectacles of cards like Treasure Cruise and Paradoxical Outcome are exciting. Until they're not. Seeing the same play patterns repeat ad nauseam makes for both a drab game and viewing experience. While not a paramount factor, the notion that something is getting very old and very tiring should be considered with a predilection for change and refreshment. Boredom is a legitimate indicator of something being "un-fun." As Magic becomes more of a digital player and online spectator experience, years of "No Changes" becomes increasingly unacceptable. As far as paper goes, the pace of change will not place an unreasonable burden on players since Mishra's Workshop and Bazaar of Baghdad are immune from direct restriction. Acquiring 4 Steel Overseers after the restriction of Thorn of Amethyst for instance is a drop in the bucket contrasted with having to acquire those lands or recoup their losses.

Sanity

Sanity is not a new frontier. It is the foundation of Vintage. It's helpful to understand the historical context of Vintage to appreciate how far off the deep end the present is. Vintage at its most popular was a highly regulated format with cards like Feldon's Cane restricted simply because it could reuse other restricted cards. While we may concede the DCI was at times overly paternalistic, no long term harm was done since wrongly restricted cards were frequently unrestricted in subsequent updates. Hence there is no need for paranoia or unwarranted "caution" about adding cards on a more regular basis. What changes can change yet again. More dynamism in fact would be preferable than maintaining a neglect-ridden status quo.

In the 2000's, a toxic "anything goes" school of thought began to metastasize with leading influencers propagating the notion that a smaller restricted list was an end unto itself rather than a means to achieve a better game. This clearly ridiculous sentiment persisted without serious challenge and coincided with the DCI's increasing lack of interest in Vintage, leading to years of "No Changes" aside from an occasional irrelevant unrestriction. To illustrate, even at the nadir of Workshop misery, the 4x Chalice-Lodestone era, nothing at all was restricted from 2009 (Thirst for Knowledge) until 2015 (Treasure Cruise).

At long last, with increased interest in Vintage due to the Vintage Super League, Vintage Masters, and Eternal Masters, the company now able to monetize the format suddenly began taking responsibility for it. We had a slew of long overdue necessary (though insufficient) restrictions that came to an unfortunate abrupt halt in August of 2017, to the dismay of many. Despite dwindling paper attendance since then, increased malaise with the format's Tier decks, and an explosion of negative play patterns and non-games, the DCI retreated into silence, hiding behind the pretense of "metagame diversity" presumably obtained and supported by weekly Challenges. Granted, metagame diversity is important, but elevating it above enjoying the game puts the cart before the horse. What looks good on paper is often horrific in practice, and the DCI's neglect could move anyone to reasonably infer that they haven't actually watched a single game in over a year.

A note on the:

Conspiratorial Miscomprehension Fallacy

Many of us afford very important space for Vintage in our lives and are invested in the hobby as a labor of love. People who do so should be encouraged to critique the format constructively towards improving its overall quality. It is both inaccurate and insulting to dismiss complaints about specific cards or interactions as veiled attempts to prop up one's own win rate or pet archetype. Many of us play a wide variety of decks and certainly are not looking for affirmative action to edify some perceived fumbling Vintage Magic performance. That would be ridiculous.

Nevertheless, comments persist that miss the mark entirely. A prime example is, "If you can't beat X, then you need to do Y. And stop whining." The issue here is that winning or losing it not the root of the grievance and the comment smears the person raising the grievance as an idiot who doesn't understand how to engage a given strategy/tactic. In reality, the hypothetical person making the comment above is the one who is dim and confused. By failing to differentiate between "enjoyment of the game" and "winning the game," a fundamental miscomprehension is evinced. This is a fallacy based on misunderstanding key premises. Taking a step further, it becomes the Conspiratorial Miscomprehension Fallacy (or CMF for short) when coupled with a belief that B&R arguments are a pretext for some vaguely defined cabal ("blue mages!") to advance their own position. Rather than falling into this trap, we should give other players enough credit not to be so underhanded or pathetic and avoid using the CMF as much as possible.

Spring Cleaning

Given the rot that has been allowed to accumulate despite Wizards insisting they would properly manage the fallout from not testing for Eternal formats, a major Spring Cleaning is the best place to start. Here we'll identify some changes.

First, the format needs a reset button because too many overpowered transgressions have gone unchecked, creating an abysmal "new normal" whose only redeeming factor is the fact that one group of cards that should be restricted is "balanced" by the fact that there's another set of cards that should also be restricted or banned.

Eternal guru Rich Shay recently publicized an initial statement of what I'll refer to here as the Spring Cleaning in his VSL interview by Hipsters of the Coast.

I agree with him, and whatever particulars I could slightly differ on pale in comparison to the enormous concurrence on the need for The Cleaning. Below, I'll outline some changes I would be happy to see implemented and why.

Suggested Changes

Restrict:
-Hollow One
-Serum Powder
-Golgari Grave-Troll

Bazaar of Baghdad is the most broken unrestricted card in Vintage right now by far. It would easily get the axe were it not for Aaron Forsthye's infamous tweet that put "pillars of the format" like Mishra's Workshop (and presumably Bazaar of Baghdad) off limits.

It is a crime that we've restricted four cards to mitigate Mishra's Workshop but zero for Bazaar of Baghdad when the latter is so much more broken than the former. This needs to change immediately.

Mishra's Workshop generates 3 mana, with constraints. Tapping a single Bazaar of Baghdad generates well over a doezn mana of value. How do we figure?

Let's look at a run of the mill Dredge opener. The Dredge player taps Bazaar, discarding Stinkweed Imp, Prized Amalgam, and Serum Powder, plays a Hollow One and passes with a hand of Force of Will, Mental Misstep, Bloodghast, and Narcomoeba. On the next upkeep, the Dredge player draws 5 cards into the graveyard via Stinkeed Imp, revealing another Stinkweek Imp, draws 5 more cards from that, discards them and the Bloodghast, and draws 5 more. 1 Narcomoeba enters play, 1 Bloodghast, and 2 Prized Amalgams scheduled to enter at end of turn, with an Ichorid following that. 2 Cabal Therapies and 1 Bridge from Below. The Narc and Ghast are sacrificed to Cabal Therapy.

What is the approximate going rate for 17 power spread across six creatures, 2 free Duresses, and a leyline of Dack Fayden, even setting aside the drawing of 15 cards? It's certainly a lot higher than a Foundry Inspector and some other artifact. The rate of return is even higher on Bazaar of Baghdad than it is on Ancestral Recall and Tinker.

We're talking about a deck with an over 80% game 1 win rate that demands half of the sideboard of the rest of the format. This was never acceptable, but the community meekly resigned without a fight since it arose during the period of extreme neglect; nothing was changing. The only saving grace Dredge had was that if you prepared responsibly, you would generally be rewarded for your choices. That has changed with the integration of more free countermagic than most Xerox and even Landstill decks and the fact that it can now just easily convert itself into Delver. Yes, Delver. An undercosted fast threat backed by a wall of countermagic and perpetual card selection. Except that Hollow One is bigger and cheaper than the posterchild for efficiency itself, Delver of Secrets, and the card selection engine also happens to cost {0}. This deck has become a total joke that makes a mockery out of Magic. It would be different if the deck was capable of broken plays requiring restricted cards, but the fact that none of its key components are restricted (not even its 0-mana 1-sided Draw 7) places it far over the line. It is long past time for Bazaar of Baghdad to pay a price like Mishra's Workshop for its continued existence as a 4x.

Hollow One is the easiest culprit to identify because it's so broken on its face. {0} is not the going rate for a 4/4 creature. Serum Powder is inherently suspicious as a one sided free Wheel of Fortune. Golgari-Grave Troll might not fully get the job done without Stinkweed Imp restricted but I'd be interested to see what results and adjust accordingly afterwards.

Restrict:
-Paradoxical Outcome

Where do we even begin with this monster... It's functionally superior to Timetwister and Wheel of Fortune, chains together more easily than Mind's Desire, and is extremely un-fun to witness from the other side of the table. In a recent unscientific poll, a cross section of the Vintage community wanted to see this restricted by a 2-1 margin, an outright reversal of the results from the same inquiry in 2017. Aaron Forsythe expressed that the purpose of the banned and restricted list is to keep current Vintage players happy. This one is a no-brainer.

Restrict:
-Mental Misstep
-Preordain

There's an argument to be made that as atrocious as Mental Misstep is, the things that it suppresses are even worse. That may be possible but I think it's now worth it to put that theory to the test. If the change fails, it can be unrestricted. That we can undo changes is again another reason to support more rather than finding them terrifying, since subsequent changes can remedy experiments gone awry. Mental Misstep is the most desired restriction in the format, even more than Paradoxical Outcome. It is loathed from sea to shining sea, a violation on all three levels of power level, un-fun factor, and saturation. Bye, Felicia.

Preordain enables too much consistency and acquisition of restricted cards just like Brainstorm and Ponder, but perhaps even more conveniently than the latter. Its presence as a 4x in almost every top blue deck gives it a saturation problem. It's not possible to reconcile Ponder's restriction with Preordain being unrestricted. Deferring to the current restricted list, Preordain must be included.

Restrict:
-Phyrexian Revoker
-Walking Ballista
*Foundry Inspector (Possibly)
*Sphere of Resistance (Possibly)

It's clear from the most cursory review of chatter that the player base is still dissatisfied with Mishra's Workshop even though its current mitigations are preferable to what existed previously. Many would like to see Workshop itself removed, and while it meets every metric for doing so, the fact that Aaron Forsythe so recently said it was off the table leaves us only with further mitigation to consider. I consider this a better path since restricting Mishra's Workshop is so drastic after players and theorists spent two decades relying on its presence as a 4x. It's the kind of move that should not be made until all other avenues are exhausted.

Like Thorn of Amethyst and Lodestone Golem, Phyrexian Revoker is not a broken card in a vacuum, but becomes broken contextually via the very broken Mishra's Workshop. Forgetting the "unless [they're] mana abilities" clause was a huge error for Vintage. "Revoker, Name Watery Grave" wouldn't be acceptable in most formats and the nature of Vintage puts it perilously close to this. We know from the statement upon the restriction of Chalice of the Void that the use of Moxen in Vintage is something to be celebrated, not unduly punished. The two mana Stone Rain/Sphere of Resistance that also chips away at the life total is currently the most offensive unrestricted card in Workshop. It is in fact more disruptive than currently restricted Thorn of Amethyst which has no aggro utility. Allowing players to use Moxen, Noble Hierarchs, Deathrite Shamans and so forth to counteract the broken Lotus Land + Taxing plan is something to be encouraged. Revoker contravenes this goal. It should go.

Walking Ballista was a terrible Vintage printing that unnecessarily upgraded an already busted Shops card, Triskelion. While it's simply very strong in other formats, the brokenness of Mishra's Workshop arguably pushes it over the line, as well as giving it reach and direct damage that shouldn't be so easily available. The fact that it deters so many small creature strategies is a net negative for the format. For those reasons, I believe axing Revoker and Ballista are the best next steps to mitigating Mishra's Workshop.

Some expert players have suggested Foundy Inspector and/or Sphere of Resistance as well. There are credible arguments to be made for either. Stephen Menendian suggested Arcbound Ravager, but I don't believe Mishra's Workshop breaks that card beyond the power level it sees in other formats (it always costs 2, whereas Workshop can regularly create 3/3 and 4/4 Ballistas). Further, as strong as Ravager is, it rewards skill and "Ravager math" games aren't the cause of the major public outcries about unrestricted Mishra's Workshop. It's the taxing. The taxing/mana denial cards are always the culprits (I include Chalice in this) and the current restricted list reflects this. Phyrexian Revoker qualifies as one where Arcbound Ravager does not.

On a final note, I would add that most of the problems the taxing presents has continued unabated because of the design team's absurd lack of relevant printings that address this problem. At first we heard "oh we can't pollute Standard with such cards," and now that they regularly produce Eternal only sets, what's the excuse? There is none. There are so many ways this could have been easily resolved but now the time has long past for counting on new printings to set it right. We'd only be disappointed.

Ban:
-Monastery Mentor
-Trinisphere
-Dig Through Time
-Treasure Cruise

Vintage has a very sprawling ban list, and the last cards added for power level reasons were removed when new printings and changes clarified that they were no longer terribly problematic as singletons (in the case of Channel and later Time Vault) or even as 4x (Mind Twist). Nothing prevents the DCI from banning cards in Vintage for any reason (or for no reason). The four cards above I have identified fill the criteria of having a "terrible warping effect on Vintage" that "has not been sufficiently reduced by restriction."

Monastery Mentor is an oxygen-swallowing atrocity wherever it shows up, whether it's as a 1x or a 4x. The ideal number is 0.

Trinisphere out of Workshop is some of the worst Magic known to anyone. As it becomes more of a spectator sport, this blight will need to go. It will also further loosen the taxing problem that has aggravated so many players.

Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time provide blue decks with two additional Alpha power-level restricted cards that begin to make a joke out of the concept of restriction. A few years ago, both Ryan Eberhart (diophan) and Stephen Menendian floated the idea of banning them to contain what Sean O'Brien refers to as the sprawling "blue stew." I join the assessment that eradicating them now will lead to a better format in the coming decade.

Closing

I hope that the thoughts above give more depth to the reasoning behind some of the conclusions reached by many Vintage players including me.

The key takeaways are:

Enjoyment of the game is paramount; metagame diversity is simply one component.

Dynamic change is welcome and it's acceptable that the pace quickens in tandem with the format being accessible to a wider playing and spectating audience. There is no value to unrestriction fetishism, the ill-guided belief that a shorter restricted list is a goal "for its own sake." That is incorrect. The whole point of the list is to enrich the gaming experience.

Historical perspective: the concept of better quality games is not a radical new concept but rather the foundation of Vintage at its height before its era of total neglect. We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we are still in its aftermath. What we see allowed today is abnormal, not normal.

Blow-outs happen in Vintage, and cards that contribute to them are restricted. Cards like Paradoxical Outcome need to join their other haymaker friends on the appropriate list and unmitigated sacred cow Bazaar of Baghdad needs mitigation like the other sacred cow Mishra's Workshop.

Hopefully, now that it is March, we can pick up the brooms and start sweeping.

Best,

-Brian Kelly

last edited by brianpk80

Brian, I’ve been saying and thinking things exactly like this for over a year now, I can’t say enough how much I appreciate your post. You’ve made it much more clear and understandable than I’m ever able to. Well done.

@duchess said in An Alternate Take on B&R:

Brian, I’ve been saying and thinking things exactly like this for over a year now, I can’t say enough how much I appreciate your post. You’ve made it much more clear and understandable than I’m ever able to. Well done.

Thank you so much, duchess.

I haven't posted here in quite some time, but after reading this felt I needed to dust off just to say the same thing Dutchess did. Great read, I agree on almost everything and really think you hit the nail on the head. People tend to forget while fun is subjective there are things that are just objectively not a fun experience. On the BnR topic, is there any card you want off the list that you feel would have an impact that is reasonable and not just be for show and ultimately end up a non factor (Crop Rotation / Thirst come to mind)

Great article Brian. Thanks for taking the time to construct it.

I’m curious as to your thoughts on whether (apparent?) malaise with the format is a B&R problem or possibly also a MTGO problem (in other words: can Vintage as a format handle the scrutiny and frequency that 24/7 online gameplay bring?)

People often fondly reflect back on pre-Khans as a golden age, but I often wonder if that’s also a concurrent effect of Vintage transitioning from a weekly/monthly paper format to a hourly digital format as MTGO had a popularity spike.

Just a thought.

Great work! Well articulated. Hard to disagree with.

last edited by joshuabrooks

Very good article. I may disagree with you about Dredge, but I agree with your overall assessment.

I would mourn a loss of Golgari Grave-Troll, but it is ok if the entire format is getting more civilized. Just right now it is some kind of an arms race that ruins all the fun.

On a separate note, I would suggest Force of Will as a candidate for restriction. Playing Magic is all about casting and resolving spells. Force of Will is definitely unfun card to play against. Not broken, though.

Mindbreak Trap is fine as it allows to cast and resolve spells. Specifically the first two. So if you are greedy and want to cast more spells, an opponent may have an answer for you.

And finally, two word - fetch lands. And I talk about Onslaught and Zendikar fetch lands and their reprints. Mirage fetch lands are cool and pretty balanced (not to mention beautiful artwork).

@bibendum said in Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R:

I haven't posted here in quite some time, but after reading this felt I needed to dust off just to say the same thing Dutchess did. Great read, I agree on almost everything and really think you hit the nail on the head. People tend to forget while fun is subjective there are things that are just objectively not a fun experience. On the BnR topic, is there any card you want off the list that you feel would have an impact that is reasonable and not just be for show and ultimately end up a non factor (Crop Rotation / Thirst come to mind)

Thank you for taking the time to post this. Unrestricted Fastbond without unrestricted Gush probably would not break the format in half while making interesting appearances. It's actually less threatening in practice than Manabond in Lands. Fastbond was originally restricted because of Storm Cauldron and that's not a dangerous combo anymore; it still needs an outlet unlike Painter/Grindstone or RiP/Helm and the component cards are not as useful as Rest in Peace or some of the Auriok combo cards. Windfall is certainly not the most transgressive play in a world of 4x Paradoxical Outcome, but then we have to wonder if that's the world we want in the first place.

@joshuabrooks said in Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R:

Great article Brian. Thanks for taking the time to construct it.

I’m curious as to your thoughts on whether (apparent?) malaise with the format is a B&R problem or possibly also a MTGO problem (in other words: can Vintage as a format handle the scrutiny and frequency that 24/7 online gameplay bring?)

People often fondly reflect back on pre-Khans as a golden age, but I often wonder if that’s also a concurrent effect of Vintage transitioning from a weekly/monthly paper format to a hourly digital format as MTGO had a popularity spike.

Just a thought.

Great work! Well articulated. Hard to disagree with.

Thank you, Josh!

Magic has been playable online for almost 20 years through various programs (though admittedly without the promotion of MTGO specific things like VSL) so I don't think being able to play it online is what deflated interest in the format, since we were always able to access it. I think it is a B&R problem. They haven't gone far enough in breaking up the despised Cantrip/Dack/Delve + tokens engine or for many people the Workshop vice grip. Paradoxical Outcome looked refreshing for about two weeks until most of the community ended up on the same page that it's far out of bounds as a Magic card. And now Dredge plays more free counterspells than Landstill and can kill you quickly without ever using its graveyard. People were reluctantly willing to give Dredge a pass on account of the fact that you would be rewarded for running a high volume of hate; with that no longer being the case, it's indefensible.

@chronatog said in Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R:

Very good article. I may disagree with you about Dredge, but I agree with your overall assessment.

I would mourn a loss of Golgari Grave-Troll, but it is ok if the entire format is getting more civilized. Just right now it is some kind of an arms race that ruins all the fun.

On a separate note, I would suggest Force of Will as a candidate for restriction. Playing Magic is all about casting and resolving spells. Force of Will is definitely unfun card to play against. Not broken, though.

Mindbreak Trap is fine as it allows to cast and resolve spells. Specifically the first two. So if you are greedy and want to cast more spells, an opponent may have an answer for you.

And finally, two word - fetch lands. And I talk about Onslaught and Zendikar fetch lands and their reprints. Mirage fetch lands are cool and pretty balanced (not to mention beautiful artwork).

Thank you, Chronatog. An "arms race that ruins all the fun" is an apt description. I think Force of Will is a card that meets most restriction metrics, but I also think it qualifies as one of the sacred cows. I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest restricting it at all. And I would only have to cut two, while everyone else cuts three. 😛

I don't know if restriction can accomplish much with regards to fetch lands, since there are seven fetch lands than can grab a Volcanic, seven that can grab a Bayou, and so forth. They would have to be banned, and Wasteland might then require restriction (and a ban in Legacy without fetchlands there).

I don't think restricting Force of Will would be good for the format. Unlike Mental Misstep, FoW is card-disadvantageous and so is used, grudgingly, as an emergency measure to stop turn 1 or 2 backbreaking tactics like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Tinker, draw 7s, etc. Between Force of Will and more frequently successful Turn 1 broken plays, I think Forces are the lesser evil.

No Force...no workshop...no bazaar..ecc.ecc

Vintage singleton?

last edited by babau

I'd be fine with most of these changes, but I think it would be far better as a community to move to a Highlander format for Vintage. This removes any needs to constantly discuss and re-evaluate the B&R list.

We have 4 fetch lands in each color and multiple versions of City of Brass that are good now so mana fixing is very well possible in a highlander format.

A lot of blue decks and storm decks are already highlander so they are relatively not affected as much and serve as the core decks that would instantly carry out.

We've already reached a fairly critical mass of spells, where I think I have ~150 cards that I want to play in Dredge and Shops. So I am 100% confident I can build a functional Dredge list without 4 Bazaar and that is likely the most difficult deck to build, and 110% confident I can build a Shops deck without Shops.

We also have ~50 versions of high caliber graveyard hate, ~12 playable free counterspells, ~1000 ways to deal with Storm that aren't counterspells. The tailored hate, and necessity of Force of Will are overstated. We can survive without these cards being 4-ofs.

@evouga

Turn 0 or 1 Force is a broken play, and Force has been shown to support broken strategies like Dredge and Outcome Storm.

Are you sure that you even enjoy this format? Why not play something else?

@mediumsteve

In my opinion, this is a terrible mentality that holds Vintage back from growing as a format. We are all well aware that some of these cards are absolutely broken, yet there is always a huge backlash from conservatives about restricting cards.

Take for example, Walking Ballista, this card was a clear and clearly big upgrade over a card that was already seeing 4-of play in a major archetype, Triskelion. There is really no reason we should have had to sit around for years waiting for this card to get hit with a restriction (and its still unrestricted).

Or another example, Mental Misstep, this card was banned in every other format over 5 years ago now and has been a consistent 4-of in half of the decklists for that time period now.

Why is this format so slow to respond?

I think 4 is too high to be the Workshop/Bazaar per-deck maximum. But I can understand the argument that 1 is too low.

Why not try setting the limit at 2 or 3?

Singleton stop any discussion.....open to different cards....different cards open to different strategy .... For vintage Is the definitive upgrade.

@vaughnbros said in Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R:

@mediumsteve

In my opinion, this is a terrible mentality that holds Vintage back from growing as a format. We are all well aware that some of these cards are absolutely broken, yet there is always a huge backlash from conservatives about restricting cards.

Appeasement by caving to the loudest voices won't solve anything. There's no amount of restrictions or format tinkering that will make him happy. I look forward to the next Twitter rant about whatever new broken card WOTC prints this year.

And from a power level perspective, these changes don't even make sense. Ban Treasure Cruise but leave Ancestral Recall legal? Apart from being silly, it shows that even BK acknowledges that there are some cards that are simply a part of the Vintage experience.

Working from the assumption that Vintage is in a bad place, I find all of @brianpk80's proposed restrictions to be completely reasonable. Not sure about the bannings, though I see where he's coming from. Now, as someone who enjoys contemporary Vintage I'm less sure about all this, but I still think this was a well-reasoned piece.

Vintage Singleton sounds fucking miserable, though.

@mediumsteve

Instead we should brush off all criticism of the format with a generic:

"If you don't like it, go play another format."

The biggest problem with Restrictions in my opinion is that there are so many cards that were restricted, and stay restricted, with no real regards for how they interact with cards printed since their restriction.

You really want a spring cleaning? Wizards should come out and say, basically, **We are doing a grand experiment with regards to vintage. We are unrestricting every card that is not incredibly obviously detrimental to the game as it relates to the Vintage Format. We will closely watch the format and make adjustments via restrictions every announcement until the format balances itself **

I think the following cards could be unrestricted (WITH this theory in mind).
Balance
Channel
Demonic Consultation
Fastbond
Gush
Imperial Seal
Lion's Eye Diamond
Lodestone GOlem
Lotus Petal
Memory Jar
Necropotence
Ponder
Thorn of Amythest
Windfall

There is a VERY HIGH chance that many of these cards get re-restricted, but I'd be very interested to know what Lion's Eye Diamond could do in a format that has more than Force of Will/Duress/Mana Drain to interact with it, and I'd also like to see how Memory Jar would play out. Keep in mind, I'm not proposing this as a permanent solution - Wizards would just Re-restrict anything dominating every 3 months until the format re-balanced itself with a PROPER list.

As an FYI, this would be the new list to start with for my theory.

Ancestral Recall
Black Lotus
Brainstorm
Chalice of the Void
Demonic Tutor
Dig Through Time
Flash
Gitaxian Probe
Library of Alexandria
Mana Crypt
Mana Vault
Merchant Scroll
Mind's Desire
Monastery Mentor
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Mox Pearl
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Mystical Tutor
Sol Ring
Strip Mine
Time Vault
Time Walk
Timetwister
Tinker
Tolarian Academy
Treasure Cruise
Trinisphere
Vampiric Tutor
Wheel of Fortune
Yawgmoth's Will

Flash stays on because of the interaction with Academy Rector.

Brainstorm stays on because it would be an automatic 4x in any deck that taps for blue mana, and would create what happened in 2007 again, where every deck was a brainstorm deck.

Chalice and Trinisphere stay on for their ability to create non-games.

Gitaxian Probe stays on because Free perfect information is bad for any competitive game.

The tutors stay on because of the other unrestrictions. I would love to unrestrict Merchant Scroll, but couldn't in a format with 4 gush and 4 fastbond.

last edited by 13NoVa

I like the idea of a Grand Experiment, but if we're going to do it, we should go whole hog, and not second-guess ourselves and special-plead why some cards are more dangerous than others. In particular, I'm not convinced these cards are "incredibly obviously detrimental to the game as it relates to the Vintage Format."

Brainstorm: legal in Legacy without issues, was legal in Vintage for a long time without major issues
Chalice of the Void: was legal in Vintage for a long time without major issues
Dig Through Time: "just" a late-game draw spell
Flash: one of many 2-card combos in Vintage
Gitaxian Probe: "free perfection information is bad" is not the same as "incredibly obviously detrimental"
Library of Alexandria: pretty terrible outside of the blue mirror
Memory Jar: only "incredibly obviously" broken in format with unrestricted Tinker
Merchant Scroll: it's not "incredibly obvious" that tutoring up Gush is even all that good in a deck with much stronger Shops decks
Monastery Mentor: not "incredibly obviously detrimental" in a format with stronger Shops and powerful alternative combo engines
Mystical Tutor: slow tutor in a much faster format
Treasure Cruise: "just" a late-game draw spell
Trinisphere: probably very unfun, but not incredibly obviously so in a completely different format

Leaving as "incredibly obviously detrimental" only

Ancestral Recall
Black Lotus
Demonic Tutor
Mana Crypt
Mana Vault
Mind's Desire
Moxen
Sol Ring
Strip Mine
Time Vault
Time Walk
Timetwister
Tinker
Tolarian Academy
Wheel of Fortune
Yawgmoth's Will

last edited by evouga
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