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. 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

@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.

@chubbyrain

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.

@chubbyrain

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.

@dshin Two dacades ago I enjoyed playing MECCG - Middle Earth Collectible Card by Iron Crown Enterprises (fun game, complex rules, beautiful artwork - wikilink). You could have only three copies of non-unique card in your deck, and only one copy of Unique card. I liked it more than 4x in MtG because it reduced brokenness and wallet damage 🙂 . So there are merits in your suggestion.

last edited by Chronatog

@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.

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