Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R

@mediumsteve

I think before undertaking that task getting input from the community as a whole would be helpful. Its different creating a format from scratch because your playgroup is basically the entire community. If the community is completely resistant to the idea then the major undertaking of the testing would be done in folly.

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.

Did you do this systematically and if so do you have a write up on the methods that you used to develop this list?
(E.g. Was someone responsible for breaking a particular card? Were there specific set time periods / number of matches before you would add/subtract another card?) Any and all information would be helpful.

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

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.

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?

Well stated, Lance. Ironically, this approach is probably the most conservative of all; respect for Vintage's original foundation of sanity. We can see how 15 years of "anything goes and if you don't like it go home" mentality propaganda has warped the paradigm. Fortunately, fear of change is increasingly becoming fringe as Vintage grows into the digital & E-sports age. I hope the regulation starts reflecting this more accurately.

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

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

Of course I love Vintage. This shouldn't even be in doubt. It's the only format where you can play my favorite cards, Library of Alexandria, the Moxen, Dromoka, Memory Jar, Balance, etc. I don't play any other format.

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

DDT and TC would be silly to ban when ancestral is still a card.

Ancestral Recall is an iconic part of Vintage with a long legacy, like Mishra's Workshop, Moxen, Black Lotus and so forth while Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time are not.

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

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.

Thank you, Stuart. It's fine for anyone to disagree with the specific suggestions which might not be 100% optimal; I'm not omniscient (except for that one time with the Rector...). I wanted to put a better statement of the reasoning out there.

@13nova said in Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R:

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.

Although that goes in the diametric opposite direction of what I'd prefer, it would be fun to brew in that environment. It might even be a better time than the status quo. TY for sharing, Mike.

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

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.

TY for the contribution, protoaddict. I expect not everyone would agree with all of the (in some cases admittedly imperfect) suggestions I had, but wanted to at least explain the thought process behind them.

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

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.

That's definitely a more radical change but I wouldn't challenge it if it became popular and implemented.

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

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.

Good questions, Kyler. I don't think there needs to be a firm rule that a "build around" card requires a higher power level to become restricted. Often there's a reason people would build around something (obscenely imbalanced power level) and that reason usually leads to restriction--Gush decks, Flash, and the Balance deck, for instance. As far as Paradoxical Outcome goes, it's not so much an archetype itself but the latest incarnation of the "Big Blue" archetype; one with an expansive mana base and the most brutal win conditions in the format. It has much in common with the Gifts decks of old, Tezzeret decks, and with a sprinkling of Steel City Vault.

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

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.

Well stated. I suggested restricting it, but you raise a good point that Serum Powder is a special type of card that has attributes in common with other pre-game banned cards like Ante cards and Conspiracies.

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

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...

Can we please focus on Brian's actual content?

Thanks, Matt. It's alright if people want to discuss things here other than the content of the original post. I'm not much of a "sanctity of the thread" type of guy, though of course if The Purge is attractive enough, it deserves its own thread.

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

Just because BK's post is long does not mean it is high effort. In fact, it is rather low effort.

It sounds like you're trying to throw daggers for no reason. This isn't a hostile discussion.

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

"Let's restrict or ban cards from every major archetype, except the one that I conveniently play" (Oath).

Before responding directly to this, I have to quote the section above 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.

First of all, I play many more decks than Oath of Druids, which I've only picked up sporadically in the past year. I haven't played it on VSL in years. Secondly, I wouldn't promote policies that serve only to make Magic easier for me to win. That would be shady, I like the challenge of Vintage, and to be frank, I don't need or want a helping hand.

Finally, I suggested a lot of bans and restrictions that would take cards out of most Oath decks. Dig Through Time is crucial for instance not only as a busted spell but to prevent self-milling before Oath activations. I think many Oath decks also play Preordain, Mental Misstep, and Treasure Cruise. If you think the quality of Vintage would improve by restricting Forbidden Orchard (the better candidate, IMO), I'm all ears.

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

Brian could've just put a poll in the initial post.

It would be a good idea to poll generally how popular an extensive clean-up of the format would be. It doesn't necessarily have to be in this thread, though if people would prefer, I could try to add it.

last edited by brianpk80

The Vintage some people would enjoy is not the Vintage other people enjoy. I like the current format and would oppose anything this drastic to change it, partly because it would stop feeling like Vintage.

At what point do you start looking at creating a player run format instead of violating the core principles of Vintage? If you feel the only way to save Vintage is to ban cards based on power level, or if you feel the only way to save Vintage is to unrestrict almost every card, why can't you create those formats and try to gather interest there? If you feel 3 cards is a better maximum than 4, if you feel WotC is taking Magic in the wrong direction and want to limit the card pool, why not create that format. Old School has proven this approach can be effective and like @GrandpaBelcher is saying, there are people who like the format as is. Drastic change risks alienating the people who do play the format, with unpredictable returns. If you are the DCI, why would you do such a thing when you look at the hard data and you see the format is balanced, events are firing, and tournament attendance on MTGO is actually increasing?

Very well-written piece and I enjoyed reading it, even though I disagree with most of it.

I find it interesting that Rich proposes a major spring cleaning of Vintage when he's talked about how disastrous the restrictions of 2008 were to Vintage many times before. What makes him think the same thing won't happen again?

But more to the point, let's even assume the changes you propose above will ultimately be good for Vintage. Currently there is a game that plenty of people engage with, and for all intents and purposes is popular. As far as I've seen, I understand attendance in the Vintage challenges is fairly high. Is this not taking a game plenty of people currently enjoying and saying "You know what, you can no longer play this game. However, here's this game that looks very similar and is better for you". If I currently enjoy playing and do so regularly Vintage, what makes you think I want my entire format changed like that? Once again, it might be better in the long run, but if a company tells me that I can no longer play something I currently enjoy, but substitutes it with something else, I'm probably not going to want to play that something else.

Why do you think alienating a large portion of your player base is a good idea with massive sweeping changes? You do not enjoy the current Vintage play-patterns but that does not mean everybody shares this opinion. And simply looking at the players who show up to Vintage Challenges does not suggest that Vintage is in any way unhealthy relative to recent times.

Also, Vintage as a format is special. Simply because the DCI has attempted to police how un-fun certain cards are in other formats does not mean they should do so to the same level in Vintage. Vintage is home to strategies that no longer exist anywhere else because WOTC has decided those strategies are unfun, such as Prison. Implementing the same policies of other formats removes these strategies (as it has already done with Workshops no longer being a real prison deck).

I am not going to discuss the specific restrictions because I disagree with the fundamental premise that Vintage is in a bad place and requires "spring cleaning". By extension, I do not think power level bans have a place in Vintage at all.

EDIT: A little tidbit I found. You say that having a small restricted list is not the goal of the DCI. However, please check out this link: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/august-28-2017-banned-and-restricted-announcement-2017-08-28

As we observe the Vintage metagame evolve, we also re-evaluate cards already restricted to see if they might be safe to unrestrict. With Vintage, one of our guiding philosophies is to let players play with as many cards as possible—it's the only sanctioned format where cards like the Power Nine and Library of Alexandria are legal, after all. We discussed two cards as candidates for unrestriction: Yawgmoth's Bargain and Windfall. Since these cards were restricted, other more powerful draw engines have been introduced, such as Griselbrand and Paradoxical Outcome.

Above statement clearly shows that the DCI does indeed care about the size of the restricted list and endeavors to make it as small as possible. A massive spring cleaning and restriction frenzy would be opposed to such a goal, let alone a banning frenzy.

last edited by Hrishi

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

At what point do you start looking at creating a player run format instead of violating the core principles of Vintage? If you feel the only way to save Vintage is to ban cards based on power level, or if you feel the only way to save Vintage is to unrestrict almost every card, why can't you create those formats and try to gather interest there? If you feel 3 cards is a better maximum than 4, if you feel WotC is taking Magic in the wrong direction and want to limit the card pool, why not create that format.

I'm guessing this is directed at anyone who suggested a change since I didn't suggest things like reducing the maximum # of cards from 4 to 3 or unrestricting everything. I also never said Vintage desperately needed to be "save[d]." It's not atrocious and unplayable; there's just a lot of room for improvement, a statement that garners much agreement even while the particulars may diverge.

Drastic change risks alienating the people who do play the format, with unpredictable returns.

And that's why they've never restricted Mishra's Workshop or Bazaar of Baghdad. But they've mitigated Workshop without the sky falling and there's no reason to believe some mitigation of Bazaar would cause the sky to fall.

Restricting the obviously restriction-worthy Paradoxical Outcome is not an earth shattering or unforeseeable change, nor is putting Preordain in the same box as Brainstorm and Ponder. And Mental Misstep going sounds like it would be regarded as a cause for celebration, not anxiety and flight.

The bans would be the most ambitious change, but likely enjoyed in retrospect for years to come. Restriction hasn't sufficiently contained the damage from printing two more Alpha-level restricted cards in Cruise + Dig. Land, Trinisphere, good game, is unacceptable in the era of digital spectators. And frankly, the world is a better place without Monastery Mentor. There's no way to quantify obscenity; as the Court once said, you know it when you see it. 🙂

If you are the DCI, why would you do such a thing when you look at the hard data and you see the format is balanced, events are firing, and tournament attendance on MTGO is actually increasing?

You realize it's possibly to enjoy Vintage and play it often while still wanting to see it improve. Supermajorities wanted Mental Misstep and Paradoxical Outcome restricted last time the question was polled, many respondents being active players.

If I had to imagine the DCI's approach to Vintage, it begins with a sigh like an obligatory chore. "Do the numbers still look good on paper, great, moving right along, let's talk about Modern."

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

Very well-written piece and I enjoyed reading it, even though I disagree with most of it.

Thank you, Hrishi. I'm glad you asked insightful tough questions and will attempt to meet the stress test.

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

I find it interesting that Rich proposes a major spring cleaning of Vintage when he's talked about how disastrous the restrictions of 2008 were to Vintage many times before. What makes him think the same thing won't happen again?

Although I can't speak on his behalf directly, my understanding is that he believes it was simply the restriction of Brainstorm that was negative for the format, not the quantity of cards axed or even the identities of the others.

Personally, I don't think the 2008 restrictions were bad for Vintage. I was happy to see them. I think Vintage festered afterwards because the event was immediately followed by the horrible errata change to Time Vault coupled with the printing of Tezzeret the Seeker. Magic never had an inherent "defense" against "infinite turns" the way it has built in answers to losing life, being decks, discard, counterspells, anything and the abrupt out of nowhere ends to games without even a "storm" preceding it was demoralizing.

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

As far as I've seen, I understand attendance in the Vintage challenges is fairly high.

With respect, this confuses actively playing Vintage with unqualified support for every attribute of its current form. I play Vintage frequently, as does Rich, as do many people who would like to see some quantity of changes occur. One can even host and produce an entire show or podcast devoted to Vintage while still desiring some form of change.

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

if a company tells me that I can no longer play something I currently enjoy, but substitutes it with something else, I'm probably not going to want to play that something else.

Two points. First, one may enjoy playing Magic without enjoying a metagame with 4 Monastery Mentors. Second, changing the experience is exactly what happens with every change restriction, ban, unban, and unrestriction. Unrestricting Regrowth "substitute[d]" something that may have been enjoyed with "something else." So did printing Memoirs of Ravnica Part VII and Theros, which we both agree was terrible.

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

The DCI does indeed care about the size of the restricted list and endeavors to make it as small as possible.

There's a difference between wanting players to have great freedom and unrestriction fetishism, which is the belief that unrestriction is good for its own sake, without regard to its impact on the quality of gameplay. The DCI is not blithely unconcerned about game quality unlike a diehard unrestriction fetishist.

last edited by brianpk80

You keep citing poll numbers and supermajorities, but the people who vote to ban stuff are not necessarily representative of the Vintage community. A lot of people complain on social media who barely play or don't play.

Do you want b&r to be dictated by online polls? I don't either.

@brianpk80

Brian,

I made a post a year or two ago that attempted to discuss whether certain cards should become sacred cows or not (at the time saying, "should the printing of a new card like Hangarback, be able to precipitate the restriction of an iconic card like Workshop"). Like all posts during that period, it quickly devolved into an "I hate Workshop, I love Workshop" post and lost sight of the original intent.

One of my favorite things about Vintage is the ability to form long term relationships with certain cards.

I think this is why you, personally, can justify banning a card like Dig Through Time, but not Demonic Tutor or Force of Will. Our memories of Dig Through Time are short. Our memories of Demonic are infinite (just like Workshop vs. Foundry Inspector). I don't think too many people would bemoan the loss of a "newer" card in favor of preserving an old one.

I think this is why looking at B&R strictly through empirical data is difficult (as you seem to agree), as the presence of Sacred Cows dilutes much of that value. If we were being honest, half the B&R is probably being propped up by our affinity to certain cards.

This is why I agree with you that it is a "feel" thing. My only issue is arbitrating "feel." It is about as subjective as you can get. For instance I love Phyrexian Revoker, as it's one of the only tools Shops has anymore to deal with a blowout card. I would gladly trade the Arcbound decks of now for the Lodestone/Stax decks of yesterday. You on the other hand have hated the card for years.

I know in the past you have supported Sacred Cows. How do you recommend we do that and by what criteria? For many years, Bazaar was synonymous with Dredge. Nowadays, you could hit 2-3 varied archetypes.

How do you reconcile empirical data with "feel" data and what would be the best way to do that aside from committee? Right now, it just comes down to decibels (frequency and volume). Do you preserve cards or decks? And how?

last edited by joshuabrooks

I really think its time Vintage went to a B&R&S list - Banned ( 0 copies) Restricted (2 copies max) and Singleton (1 copy max).

The only argument ever presented against this that I have seen is that it could be too confusing for new players. What new players?

I would like to see some changes, can't lie that I felt a little disappointed when I saw "no changes" in the latest B&R announcement (and I'm sure I'm not the only one).
But I think some of the solutions listed in this thread are a little too drastic. On one hand, some people are advocating to restrict everything that is deemed "unfair" (even advocating for Banning cards) and on the other hand, people want to massively unrestrict.

Back in 2012-13 (when Vintage was in its so-called "golden Age"), some people were advocating for restricting oath because oath into Griselbrand is just bonkers.
The problem if you start restricting every card that is alienating and unfun to play against, is that you'll constantly need to restrict more and more cards until we end up playing legacy with a restricted list instead of a banned list.
Banning cards is an absolute no go in my mind and goes against the "spirit" of the format.

Mass un-restrictions with the possibility of re-restricting a bunch of problematic cards also seems completely chaotic for reasons Chubbyrain mentioned (no incentive to build a deck you know is going to get restricted, potential for absolutely poor gameplay, ... etc)

I think we can find some sort of middle ground that helps bring back the current tier 1 decks back into the fold so that we can see less non-games and adds more diversity by making marginalized decks viable again.
To achieve this goal, below is a list of B&R changes that I believe would help.

Restricted:
-Preordain
-Mox Opal
-Hollow One
-Bridge from Below
-Some combination of Foundry Inspector, Arcbound Ravager and/or Walking Ballista
-Mental Misstep

Unrestricted:
-Windfall
-Fastbond
-Flash
-Demonic Consultation

Here is my logic behind the restrictions listed above, in order to put current tier 1 decks on a level playing field with decks that have fallen out of favor:

Preordain restricted would take away the critical mass that lets xerox decks snowball into the restricted draw spells. Also helps by limiting PO's ability to set up in the early game and find answers to the silver bullets. The main collateral damage is Oath which really needs preordain to shore its inherent inconsistency. Xerox being weakened leaves room for more diversity within blue decks by making decks like Rector Flash, Landstill, Blue Moon, Grixis, ... viable again

Mox Opal is one of the vital cards PO needs to be able to chain multiple outcomes and achieve a critical mass of artifacts to abuse Outcome. I would rather not Restrict Outcome itself immediately because it would kill the deck and I believe that Preordain and Opal restricted should be enough to make the deck more tolerable as a first measure.

Hollow one lets dredge decks completely sidestep Hate and Makes Survival a little too consistent at being able to play 2 creatures a turn for Vengevine recursion or sidestep graveyard hate entirely. Survival is still extremely underrated, underestimated and I believe currently grossly underrepresented.

While the restriction of Golgari Grave-Troll should have a profound impact on Dredge, I believe it does not fundamentally address the problem. Bridge for Below would be much better a slowing dredge down/increase diversity within the Archetype and by reducing the number of hate cards players would be playing in their sideboard, put the deck at a different equilibrium between sideboard hate and its own viability.

For shops, I think the main problem is that despite restrictions the deck has gotten a lot faster and Workshop aggro has completely crowded out the other Shops variants. So, rather than restrict lock pieces I think a better approach would be to restrict some of the cards that enable the aggressive component of the deck. Doing so will reduce the number of non-games and increase the diversity within workshop decks (make Smokestack and Kuldotha's Forgemaster great again).
Foundry Inspector sped up aggro shops so much that even if you have fewer ways to disrupt your opponent and can't consistently deploy a lock piece every turn, you just gained so much speed that you don't need as much disruption. Basically negating the impact of the restriction of lock pieces like thorn and chalice.
Arcbound Ravager is basically the core of the deck at this point, with many of the deck's synergies being centered around the card (Walking Ballista, Steel Overseer, Hangarback Walker, ...). Restricting it would make many of these creatures much worse and probably force a complete rehaul of the creature suite.
Walking Ballista is just way too efficient and so much better than a similar card that was already heavily played (Triskelion). Restricting Ravager might be enough to bring it back to an acceptable level but both should not be allowed to remain unrestricted together.

Mental Misstep is just dreadful for gameplay and format warping. The old adage of "but it regulates the problematic decks" is mostly a fallacy, it is used as much as uninteractive card as it is used as an interactive card. The decks that it supposedly keeps in check can also run it and for those that can't (like DPS), were they to become problematic, there are numerous sideboard answers and worst-case scenario cards that can be restricted to reduce the consistency of those decks.

For the list of cards I listed as potential un-restrictions, the DCI would obviously have to wait for the meta to adjust post restrictions before making the move.

Windfall is just such a bad card in today's meta (and has been for a while), I would be surprised if it sees any play at all if unrestricted, since it sees virtually no play right now and is not a build around card. If some unforeseen consequence somehow still happens, I doubt it becomes as warping as something like Treasure cruise and it can always go back onto the list 3 months later.
Although since Windfall does not really help any marginal deck or make new ones possible, an argument can be made that it is not worth the "risk".

Fastbond is far less likely to be a problem without its partner in crime Gush. It would help to make Lands more viable if anything. Even if it does sometimes lead to non-games, probably nowhere near as consistently as has been acceptable historically, and in the end the benefits most likely outweigh the drawbacks.

Flash has some non-trivial amount of risk associated with it. But if the best deck it can be played in is Rector Flash, it is unlikely to prove problematic. It is extremely susceptible to graveyard hate and would replace Cabal therapy (which would have an already tight deck on slots scramble to make room for disruption). I think the upside, that it helps to make a deck that is almost viable actually viable, is worth the risk that the card represents.

Demonic Consultation is basically worse than Burning Wish and Dark Petition for decks with a high number of restricted cards and singleton win cons. It would likely promote diversity by benefiting decks with 4of combos pieces like Dark Depths or Two Card Monte (maybe even create a Lab Maniac deck?).

last edited by Macdeath

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

I really think its time Vintage went to a B&R&S list - Banned ( 0 copies) Restricted (2 copies max) and Singleton (1 copy max).

The only argument ever presented against this that I have seen is that it could be too confusing for new players. What new players?

There are plenty of new players on MTGO. The online format is thriving.

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

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

I really think its time Vintage went to a B&R&S list - Banned ( 0 copies) Restricted (2 copies max) and Singleton (1 copy max).

The only argument ever presented against this that I have seen is that it could be too confusing for new players. What new players?

There are plenty of new players on MTGO. The online format is thriving.

Doesn't that take away the problem of remembering how many of each you can have? Its all programmed in so if you have a 2 of and try to add a third it tells you the deck is now illegal. Or does mtgo not do that?

@brianpk80 I really respect your analysis and points. I have danced around some of these points myself. There is a very big challenge here there you are not addressing and that is the player base itself.

I have written several posts over the past year or so trying to become a better player and understand the meta game. But, the most insight I gained was looking at the split between Old School and Vintage.

I have learned that Vintage probably has the most diverse group of players. It is not the largest group but a very diverse group. This causes all kinds of perception issues. I was primarily a paper player and since I have had my 3rd child late last year, I am now primarily a digital player. This has changed my view on all of these discussions.

There is a HUGE gulf between who plays paper, how they play it and why compared to the digital format. It is literally 2 different formats. There is also a very large split in the Vintage community basesd on age and income. I am a 40 something professional, and my view of what I want from the game is very different from a 20 something college kid or young professional.

With all of that said, I think your points are good but the conclusions are not quite what people are looking for in this format.

People play Vintage for many, many reasons. I myself switch from nostalgia to competitive to goofing around and some times just experimenting. I like your premise and I like several of your points but I do disagree with the recommended actions.

The primary reason that I disagree with your recommended actions is because I have found that most people like Vintage the way that it is. Some people leave and some people join, but most people actually like what Vintage is now and what it has been aside from a few periods of single cards that messed up the format.

The reason for this is that Vintage is the place where busted things happen. If you are playing a control style deck you have to expect that Shops will try to overpower you in the first 3 turns, and the dredge is just a bad math up for you game 1. If you are playing Dredge you know that you have to win game 1 and fight like hell to win one of the next 2 games.

I look at Legacy where they killed off Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe just to get the same format from 2014, and that is because they won't ever touch Brainstorm, Force of Will, Dark Ritual and Chalice of the Void. Those card define Legacy. Vintage is defined by the core restricted cards from Alpha/Beta, Mishra's Workshop, Bazaar of Baghdad and whatever budget option beats those things.

This is not a bad thing it's just what it is. Our meta-game is surprisingly small compared to Modern given our card pool because similar to Legacy it is about efficiency. I play many formats and each format gives me something different. I primarily play Vintage and I have not only accepted the meta-game but I have come around to enjoying it.

last edited by moorebrother1

@brianpk80 said in Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R:

Hi everyone,

-Brian Kelly

Well thought out article and I agree with much of your diagnosis. I don't agree with all of your prescriptions but I'm not off by much. The best thing that can happen for Vintage at this point is to create a Vintage B&R for however many more years MTGO lasts and a Type 1 B&R for paper.

Also, always, always restrict Misstep in all formats.

The restricted list is a feature of the format unique to the format. No other sanctioned format has a restricted list, only a banned list. You can say whatever you want about what people believe vintage to be but the objective truth is that the restricted list is a feature, not a bug, and therefor you have to ask what the restricted lists purpose is for.

As a result I do not believe any card should be sacrosanct enough not to be considered for restriction, but I do believe that banning a card on power level alone is a total non-starter for the format. Restriction allows the card to see controlled play. If ancestral recall is too much of a format staple to be banned then I see no reason why Treasure Cruise/DDT/MM should not be considered it as well, since what makes a card a staple of the format is in large part subjective player opinion.

Yes if you restrict Bazaar or Shops you cripple a pillar, but they are still playable in the format and likely would remain played. I have speculated for some time that if you restrict shops, not only would shop decks still exist with a singleton copy and the multitude of other mana producers they have access to, but other decks with heavy artifact components to them like eldrazi would start to use them as the deck overall became more viable because it was not competing in the same space as shops. Basically restricting workshops would make it see play in a larger variety of decks because those decks would no longer be inferior builds simply because they cannot utilize shops at 4x. Likewise Dredge is such a powerful ability that it is almost impossible to imagine it going away just because Bazaar is restricted. If you look at that list in any other format it is still a powerhouse and often times only with things like faithless looting. I can actually think of match ups I have had where if instead of opening with bazaar I opened with red mana into burning inquiry I would have potentially been in a better position because of what the card can do to an opponents hand. Let's see build of dredge that are not just pitch. Lets see how other decks use a singleton bazaar when dredge is not the only viable choice (Phoenix/Hollow one I am looking at you.)

Other formats of Magic that are affected by new set releases more so than vintage have sometimes massive shakeups every 3 months just because of the new sets release. Part of the allure of the game is that it is ever changing, and anyone who dislikes change at that level should consider another game in my opinion because it was always the promise of Magic that it would be ever evolving.

I am also frankly in favor of restricting certain cards because of availability if they also cross the power level threshold, which I know is not a popular stance. If all of these changes are solely to help the health of the format, then lowering the bar to entry and upping the availability of competition on the marketplace is the only way to ensure new players. Every format has a minimum player population they require to sustain the format, and typically the more player the more support the format gets.

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

@brianpk80

Brian,

I made a post a year or two ago that attempted to discuss whether certain cards should become sacred cows or not (at the time saying, "should the printing of a new card like Hangarback, be able to precipitate the restriction of an iconic card like Workshop").

I remember that.

One of my favorite things about Vintage is the ability to form long term relationships with certain cards.

I think this is why you, personally, can justify banning a card like Dig Through Time, but not Demonic Tutor or Force of Will. Our memories of Dig Through Time are short. Our memories of Demonic are infinite (just like Workshop vs. Foundry Inspector). I don't think too many people would bemoan the loss of a "newer" card in favor of preserving an old one.

Yes, exactly. Nothing from Khans has the kind of legacy as the pre-2000 defining cards in Vintage. Arguably a few things from last decade are close, like Crucible of Worlds, Dark Confidant, certainly fetchlands, Sensei's Top and so forth. And Mentor/Dig/Cruise/Ballista are light years away from even those, let alone Demonic Tutor as you mentioned.

I think this is why looking at B&R strictly through empirical data is difficult (as you seem to agree), as the presence of Sacred Cows dilutes much of that value. If we were being honest, half the B&R is probably being propped up by our affinity to certain cards.

I think there's a lot that keeps a few cards unrestricted including price factor, which is not an unreasonable concern as far as paper goes. I care about Vintage players who collect and are invested in the hobby and it would extremely cruel to dictate a loss in the four or five (or even six) figures as well as counterproductive to the goal of sustaining and broadening the format.

Most of the cards that receive great affinity are at least restricted however.

I know in the past you have supported Sacred Cows. How do you recommend we do that and by what criteria? For many years, Bazaar was synonymous with Dredge. Nowadays, you could hit 2-3 varied archetypes.

I would put it up for a vote. Bazaar and Workshop are the two most obvious auto-includes but it's not for me alone to say whether this definitively extends to Mana Drain, Force of Will, Dark Ritual, Null Rod (once called a "pillar"), or others.

How do you reconcile empirical data with "feel" data and what would be the best way to do that aside from committee? Right now, it just comes down to decibels (frequency and volume). Do you preserve cards or decks? And how?

That is an excellent question. The fear with elevating too much "subjectivity" is a spree of aimless and irrational decisions. I think two methods can alleviate this and another point I'll raise helps put more perspective on that concern.

First, there's always the democratic route. If the purpose of the format is to make the player base happy, some method of assessing player desires which is as maximally inclusive/representative as possible can be coordinated and executed.

Secondly, we could trust in a body of humans, in this case the DCI, to make judgment calls openly taking into consideration things that are difficult to quantify mathematically. We don't need a dissertation with 5,000 graphs, Venn diagrams, statistical regressions, and a quantum physics proof to know that Trinisphere is not fun.

And on that note, trying to use the current pretentious faux-math based approach has in fact led to results that are just as irrational and aimless, arguably even more so, than openly considering non-quantitative factors. We have a restricted list with Ponder but not the arguably superior Preordain. Lodestone Golem is restricted for its efficiency with Workshop while Hollow One is not for its efficiency with Bazaar. Windfall is restricted but Paradoxical Outcome is not. Four cards are restricted specifically to mitigate Mishra's Workshop and zero are restricted to mitigate the arguably even more overpowered Bazaar of Baghdad. Lotus Petal is restricted but Mox Opal isn't.

Given the above, it looks like we'd actually end up with a more coherent and "rational" result using an approach that openly acknowledges the qualitative and subjective factors that go into gameplay rather than the absurdities that result from relying on metagame %'s and "balance," regardless of how diseased each part of that balance is.

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

The only argument ever presented against this that I have seen is that it could be too confusing for new players. What new players?

🙂 I wouldn't oppose that change.

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

I would like to see some changes, can't lie that I felt a little disappointed when I saw "no changes" in the latest B&R announcement (and I'm sure I'm not the only one).
But I think some of the solutions listed in this thread are a little too drastic. On one hand, some people are advocating to restrict everything that is deemed "unfair" (even advocating for Banning cards) and on the other hand, people want to massively unrestrict.

This was an excellent post from top to bottom. Though I'm a bit more gunshy on Flash, all of your recommendations accomplish the goal of improving the quality of Vintage matches, very efficiently.

@moorebrother1 said in Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R:

@brianpk80 I really respect your analysis and points. I have danced around some of these points myself. There is a very big challenge here there you are not addressing and that is the player base itself.

Thank you, moorebrother.

To be clear, the suggested changes are much less important than what precedes them. I wouldn't expect universal agreement on every suggestion I made, nor would I want to shove them down the throats of an unwilling player base. However, I believed and still do that there should be more written on the school of thought that elevates play experience and game quality, subjective as they may be, to the height of importance that they should occupy being that this is a game played for fun. The stagnant math-only approach is riddled with its own subjective biases, hasn't worked and isn't working.

@moorebrother1 said in Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R:

I like your premise and I like several of your points but I do disagree with the recommended actions.

I'm glad to hear that. It's better to have shared goals and disagree on the means of achieving them than it is to have widely divergent goals. IE, I don't subscribe to unrestriction fetishism, where "A small restricted list helps someone sleep better at night, gameplay be damned."

@moorebrother1 said in Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R:

I have found that most people like Vintage the way that it is.

I have had different experiences. I hear constantly about malaise with the certain aspects of the format from current and ex-players. However, it's not apocalyptic. Vintage is still the best format by far, IMO, but almost everyone I know wants to see at least some thing(s) change. I know people that bitterly loathe Paradoxical Outcome (the card, not the deck), same for Mental Misstep, etc. And our VSL audience of course hates Workshop.

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

Well thought out article and I agree with much of your diagnosis. I don't agree with all of your prescriptions but I'm not off by much. The best thing that can happen for Vintage at this point is to create a Vintage B&R for however many more years MTGO lasts and a Type 1 B&R for paper.
Also, always, always restrict Misstep in all formats.

Thank you, Sean. Whether to split paper/MTGO would make a good unscientific poll inquiry to get a rough assessment of how popular it would be. Appreciate the suggestion.

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

Part of the allure of the game is that it is ever changing, and anyone who dislikes change at that level should consider another game in my opinion because it was always the promise of Magic that it would be ever evolving.

Well stated.

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

I do not believe any card should be sacrosanct enough not to be considered for restriction.

A lot of people share that view, which is not unreasonable. For now, it does appear that the Forsythe tweet simplified things by foreclosing that debate entirely for all current practical purposes.

last edited by brianpk80

@brianpk80

Casual vintage player here. Don't post on TMD, never owned any power, never played on modo, never played in champs/nyse/waterbury/any big vintage event, started playing in '01 so zero interest in OS. Just casually play at local monthly events for the only format I can play my beloved Fastbond.

100% agree with everything in the OP (including bannings) and it's refreshing that some of the iconic humans of vintage have thoughts that align with mine, coming from the little guy. The only reason I still play vintage despite heavy disdain for the format is that I play my own brew and get to play FB: a clearly more egregious card than PO 😉 . If I didn't have that passion, I'd have left a long time ago due to - like you mentioned - player agency being at an all time low.

One other thing that I think you slightly imply but don't state explicitly is that, at least imo, vintage would be a better format overall if the power of the format came from effect uniqueness rather than just rather than just sheer cost:reward reductions. For example, cards such as Gush, Standstill, Tezzeret, Doomsday, etc promote agency and decision making that is not present anywhere else in magic while still making you feel as though you're doing something incredibly powerful. As opposed to something like "To get a 4/4, I have to pay 4 mana in standard, 2 in modern, 1 in legacy and 0 in vintage" (replace with things like 'To draw 3 cards I have to pay" or "To cast a 3 mana colorless spell I need X lands"). Maybe I'm just nostalgic, but I had a lot more fun solving Gush+Bond+Lotus Cobra mana/storm puzzles than simply casting one card, PO, for -4 mana.

@brianpk80 said in Quality of Experience - An Alternate Take on B&R:

Lodestone Golem is restricted for its efficiency with Workshop while Hollow One is not for its efficiency with Bazaar. Windfall is restricted but Paradoxical Outcome is not. Four cards are restricted specifically to mitigate Mishra's Workshop and zero are restricted to mitigate the arguably even more overpowered Bazaar of Baghdad. Lotus Petal is restricted but Mox Opal isn't.

Lodestone has 1 more power and makes your opponent cast less spells.
Windfall draws 6 or 7 cards but they can be anything instead of requiring a deck of moxes.
If bazaar is arguably more overpowered, what do you think accounts for the meta share and win rates/Top8's of Shops vs Dredge?

Are all of these truly comparable?

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

@brianpk80

100% agree with everything in the OP (including bannings) and it's refreshing that some of the iconic humans of vintage have thoughts that align with mine, coming from the little guy. The only reason I still play vintage despite heavy disdain for the format is that I play my own brew and get to play FB: a clearly more egregious card than PO 😉 . If I didn't have that passion, I'd have left a long time ago due to - like you mentioned - player agency being at an all time low.

Thank you, reb.

One other thing that I think you slightly imply but don't state explicitly is that, at least imo, vintage would be a better format overall if the power of the format came from effect uniqueness rather than just rather than just sheer cost:reward reductions. For example, cards such as Gush, Standstill, Tezzeret, Doomsday, etc promote agency and decision making that is not present anywhere else in magic while still making you feel as though you're doing something incredibly powerful.

I hadn't thought of a uniqueness angle per se, though cards with more sophistication like Standstill, Ravager, Forgemaster, Trinket Mage and so forth are certainly more interesting than vomiting a bunch of 4/4's on the table for {0}.

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

Lodestone has 1 more power and makes your opponent cast less spells.
Windfall draws 6 or 7 cards but they can be anything instead of requiring a deck of moxes.
Are all of these truly comparable?

They're comparable. Comparisons are made between two subjects that share attributes but are not identical. Golem/Hollow One and Windfall/PO share many attributes without being identical. Hence the comparison.

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

If bazaar is arguably more overpowered, what do you think accounts for the meta share and win rates/Top8's of Shops vs Dredge?

Bazaar generates more value with less investment than Mishra's Workshop, regardless of what players subjectively decide to play on any given weekend. There's an example above illustrating how much it yields contrasted with the trivial investment of tapping a land. Regarding tournaments, if a dozen players randomly decided to play Sky Diamond instead of Mox Sapphire and those players outperformed the ones running the Sapphire, it wouldn't make Sky Diamond a better card. This notion of players' subjective deck/card choices influencing results further makes relying on that data inherently suspect.

@brianpk80

Bazaar is more efficient, but so graveyard hate. There isn’t a 0 mana Hurkyls (Crypt, Rav trap), a leyline that states no artifacts can be played (Void), cards that say Workshop doesn’t work (Needle, Glass) or numerous permanents that cut off large portions of your deck (Priest, Cage). If we printed hate cards as powerful as the ones Dredge sees then we probably don’t have an issue with these other decks.

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