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)

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

I am against power level bannings but pro restrictions for the most part. I think a feature of the format and even the game is that sometimes, there are just powerful cards that you win with. The restriction of things like Trini and Chalice have demonstrably made them less of an issue, and in the case of trinisphere you had large timeframes where people didn't bother with them at all because it was unreliable to hope to draw when you could just use sphere effects.

DDT and TC would be silly to ban when ancestral is still a card, and quite frankly I don't agree that they are substantially more powerful than something like Gush which is not on your list, or even to some extent Thoughtcast. Historically I believe Gush is actually the most notorious card draw card in the game that leads to the most broken plays.

Mentor is a creature and WOTC has always sided away from restricting creatures except in the worst cases. Remember when people wanted Tarmogoyf banned in every format it was in? There are cards that deal with mentor (sudden shock is tragically underplayed, balance, Supreme Verdict) and yes it cascades if you do not handle it but so do MANY cards in the format. Pyromancer cascades if you don't have an answer to it. Dark confidant can cascade if you don't answer it. Restriction is just fine.

I actually do wonder if part of what you are trying to do to freshen up the format wouldn't be accomplished by making every cards a maximum of 3 copies instead of 4. Forcing some decks to diversify threats and answers as well as increasing the variance of drawing a god hand would lead to a very new format feel.

@brianpk80 Coming from more of a Vintage "Viewer" (with a grain of salt), I would ask two questions:

  1. Do cards that must be built around (like Paradoxical Outcome) have to achieve a higher power level to become unbalanced?

I don't think this actually changes the conclusion of restricting PO. I do believe there is a hesitancy to restricting a card when it would no longer be worth building around a single copy. When a card is in this category, you have essentially banned it without banning it. This situation creates the feeling that you are taking a more extreme action than was intended and creates the feeling that you are "killing an archetype" rather than weakening it. The same could possibly be used to explain the immunity of Workshop and Bazaar.

  1. Why not just ban Serum Powder?

I made this same comment on Frank Karsten's recent article on the London Mulligan. In my opinion, cards that interact with the way players mulligan should go the way of cards that interact with ante. It is antiquated and only support decks that are looking to abuse the ability to mulligan rather than help reduce non-games.

@evouga I like this approach far more than the "restrict and ban more stuff" approach. Then just let things shake out from there. I suspect Trinisphere and Balance would be back on the list pretty fast, though.

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