Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R


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:


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.


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).
Demonic Consultation
Imperial Seal
Lion's Eye Diamond
Lodestone GOlem
Lotus Petal
Memory Jar
Thorn of Amythest

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
Chalice of the Void
Demonic Tutor
Dig Through Time
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
Tolarian Academy
Treasure Cruise
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
Sol Ring
Strip Mine
Time Vault
Time Walk
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.

I do like the idea of the "reset" in theory, but how do you practically complete the list in a timely enough manner to not upset the entire format with a restriction every few months?

I'd also even take more cards off of your list @evouga
Mind's Desire is not clearly better than other storm spells in a world of 4-Trini, 4-Lodestone Shops.
Tinker. I think this card is actually worse than Mentor.
Yawgmoth's Will. This is mostly a mid to late game spell in a format that would be dictated by turn 1 plays.
Demonic Tutor. Almost everything is unrestricted so there isn't much to fetch.
Strip Mine. This is Wasteland in like 90% of times, and wasteland is no where near the list.

Just leave the list at Balance, draw 7s, time walk, ancestral, fast artifact mana. I.e. Stick to is the question of: Is this card too broken if someone wins the die roll?

Thank you for your thoughtful evaluation, Brian. I feel like Vintage would be a better format if your suggestions were implemented.

Only TMD is capable of a thread that starts with "we need sanity and we need to restrict/ban all these cards" to "Vintage: The Purge" in less than one page...

Vintage: The Purge is a terrible idea. The player base is nowhere near a sufficient enough size to support solving such a format in a timely manner. And there is no incentive for players to take it seriously...the reward for brewing a successful deck and solving a metagame is getting your deck restricted in 3 months. Any competitive player should just sit out because the format is going to be in a constant state of flux and learning a deck or the metagame is a risky proposition. Anyone who doesn't like a deck should just wait for it to get restricted rather than try to solve it. This type of approach didn't save 1v1 commander on MTGO and it would destroy competitive Vintage for no real benefit.

Can we please focus on Brian's actual content?

last edited by ChubbyRain


Brian's suggestion, Vintage PURGE edition, Vintage Highlander, and others I think all fall under the title of the thread: "An Alternate Take on B&R"

Most takes seem to revolve around restriction or unrestricting 1 or 2 cards. Wizards has gone this route basically since the split from Legacy, but the reality is that the format probably needs much more dramatic restrictions or unrestrictions to have any real effect on most of the "pillars" of the format that have been leading the way for the last decade +.

Jesus, Flash is too good because of Rector but Channel into any colorless spell is OK for the initial list. This is incredible...

@vaughnbros - I mean, if you literally read the second part of the title and then ignored the thousands of words that follow, you can make the conclusion that this thread is about alternate takes and not Brian's recommendations on the Banned/Restricted list. Otherwise, you are kind of just hijacking the thread and really should just create a new one.


You are creating a reductionism of his initial post by saying it is only about his recommendations as most of Brian's post is about how to think about the B&R list differently than his specific recommendations. If people have a differing view on how to think about the list they are not allowed to say so?

@vaughnbros Yes, of course! Expressing your opinion is great and you should the same right to comment on your hobby as the rest of us. But don't you think it's a better result for all involved if the actual discussion of the list and the merits of a reset are brought up in a separate thread with maybe a link here? Brian spent a lot of time writing up his opinion so he could get feedback and reactions and I'm sure you would like feedback and reactions on a reset idea (I actually think it would be interesting as a player-run format to start/just not as a competitive or online format). This is an organizational critique, not an effort to silence anyone.


If you want to have a discussion then we discuss, not a debate where we all draw lines in the sand and only say Yay! or Nay! if that were the case, Brian could've just put a poll in the initial post. This discussion about derailment is itself a bigger derailment than any of the other comments.

You also somehow have taken my comment out of context, I wrote one post responding to the initial comment about it leading with it sounds implausible in practice. I've now written 5 posts in this thread (3 to you) about actually having a discussion instead of just trying to silence those that disagree (something that was brought up in the initial post).

My initial response was agreeing with Brian's original post, and suggesting to go even further on the restriction. Brian have often seen eye-to-eye in high level B&R talks. If we want to get into specifics, ummm, there is nothing to discuss other than I'd restrict more... as I initially. I agree with all the particular cards he noted.

Just because BK's post is long does not mean it is high effort. In fact, it is rather low effort. "Let's restrict or ban cards from every major archetype, except the one that I conveniently play" (Oath).

What am I suggesting, exactly? How about BK and his friends start playtesting the post "Spring Cleaning" vintage. Find out if it really is better or worse than the current meta. Find out what's broken or what's too restrictive, make changes, and present your findings. Because I guarantee that the first draft of the "Spring Cleaning" B&R list has many flaws, and it's only a matter of time before that metagame gets broken, one way or the other.

As someone who has taken part in creating a format (Middle School), decisions about card legality and rules were made with a lot of research and testing. I expect the same from my peers.

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