That’s my take on it as well. I’ve spent years thinking the game would revert back to what I enjoyed or that maybe I would find the right deck to catalyze a change, but when I take a step back and realize I’m playing with restricted cards like Mental Misstep and Gitaxian Probe against cards like Oko and Narset and they just keep printing newer and better cards it makes me rethink what I’m getting out of it.
The last match of Vintage I’ve ever played was against Dredge. Shortly into game 1 I just conceded the match because it just felt so scripted. I just flat out didn’t want to play.
Now when I observe Vintage games involving one person sitting idle while they other is chaining Outcomes together, it just reinforces my beliefs. I believe Outcome is probably an exciting deck for a Vintage newcomer, but there are only so many ways it can play out. There’s no “end game” so to speak. Sure you can “micro” cards like Null Rod against PO or Tormod’s against Breach and say “look these strategies are beatable”; but it’s not even about having the capacity to beat oppressive strategies, it’s about having the capacity for fun.
There’s nothing wrong with the game but I have trouble with finding fun with it right now. I’m glad I can at least vent about it.
I feel like the format has changed a lot with new printings and restrictions, but I think it is not necessarily bottlenecking in a critical mass as much as it is turning directions like a winding road.
Back in its heyday, it was gushatog, oath, and trinishops with an occassional fish deck (literally blue fish). That was 2002ish. Then planeswalkers came out and that card type got pushed to the limits with narset, oko, karn (consider that the OG "this is too busted" PW, Jace TMS, is now virtually unplayable!) But now we're seeing a new direction to the game - creature's matter/self mill. With Thassa and Jace o' mysteries and underworld breach to go along with arcanist, delve spells, etc., milling yourself has become a win condition.
Cards like DRS started the creature push, but now vengevine, hollow one, stonecoil, collector ouphe, and others have made the game slow down from the "chain my gushes" days of magic and made the attack phase as relevant as it was in old school times.
The only storm cards we really got any time recently was PO, and since then ouphe, karn, narset and such have just punished the "draw deck/drop jewelry" strategies. The game looks fundamentally different, but not in that there's only 1 viable deck from saturation. As a guy who always hated the shops/blue-draw/bazaar triangle of the vintage format, I'm very happy that we've finally broken that trifecta. Those are still powerful axis cards, but decks not even running or needing those engines are doing great things. BUG is a deck, oko oath is a deck, thassa+consult is a deck, hollow vine is a deck, fastbond is a deck, and to a lesser extent fringe decks (like my own welder deck) have become playable and respectable in the meta - hell, even freaking NINJAS...I repeat, NINJAS, have the ability to win. And of course dredge, PO/storm, shops, and xerox are still decks. That's more diversity in viable strategies than I've ever seen in vintage, honestly. Any of those decks can play well and win, whereas before only the three axis REALLY could win and fringe decks had barely a puncher's chance. I think Vintage is as good as ever, if not better.
Put it this way - I ONLY played vintage from 1994-2008 and then modern came out. Vintage got stale to me and Modern became my go to format. But in the past year or so, Vintage is now my fave format again. That says a lot about the meta to me.
Yes, you highlight the shift well. The power creep has mostly generated an imbalance towards creatures/PWers, whereas prior the imbalance occurred from instant/sorcerers/sphere effects. Very different dynamics to the typical Vintage game because of that.
I also empathize with the long gap between turns from PO, Dredge, ect. Sitting there for 10 minutes watching my opponent combo is quite frankly just unfun. Although that’s always been an issue with Vintage. Hearthstone has implemented a clock for each turn based (I think it’s about a minute?). That makes it near impossible to do these stupidly long turns in your deck with 1 real win con (or none in some cases).
I think one reason for this is that WotC sees permanents as more ripe for interaction - my ouphe shuts down your mox, and you can bolt my ouphe - as opposed to the stack, where you basically get FoW or nothing. WotC has used "interaction" in just about every justification for restriction in the past 10 years and "deck variety" in every justification of unrestrictions. If they shift the game to permanents (PWs, creatures, colored artifacts, enchantments as we've seen in the past few years), then you run into less issues of denying interactivity. The outliers were pushed PWs like Oko, Karn, Narset (and the giant mistake that was trinisphere back in the day) because they were so cheap and strong and reeeeaally hard to kill. If they start printing more cards like Fry (a 4x of in my red deck SBs), magmatic sinkhole, or the elderspell, then they can keep pushing PWs. Right now there are just so few versatile , splashable, adequate PW answers, that PWs have had some problematic "I take over the game for 3-4 mana" issues.
The problem is that it has taken away the uniqueness of the game compared to other card games, and actually doesn't follow the thematic parts of the game.
The gameplay uniqueness of magic was that it was a primarily spell driven, highly interactive game for the first 10 years or so before the great shift towards permanents happened. Spells had an allure to them, an element of deception and surprise from using instants. Draw, land, pass with the ability to do some End of Turn and follow it with another powerful set of spells on your turn, if you wish. Permanents are much more typical of these types of card games, from Pokemon to Hearthstone, every card game has always stolen the concept of permanents and these other games have often done it better.
From a lore perspective, instead of being a Planeswalker ourselves casting powerful spells against eachother (only occasionally summoning an ally in the form of a creature), we are just summoning a bunch of creatures and PWers to do all of the work for us. It feels less fun being forced to play a Summoner class of Wizard.
I actually think the game was more creature centric/permanent based in the beginning. CoP:color was the best defense. Nev disk was your "answer." Your win typically centered around white knight, serra angel, serendib efreet, or the bombastic Shivan Dragon. Even spells relied on permanents - you needed mana flare and lands or mana vaults and basalt monoliths for the awesome braingeyser/fireballs. Yes, there was always the occasional channel/fireball, but creature beats were the thing in the old days. Even "The Deck" relied on moat, tormod's crypt, feldon's cane, millstone, serra angel, the abyss, and other permanents. Even the spells were primarily to interact with permanents - like plow and disenchant.
But once we got into gush times, by then we had gush, FoW, misdirection, duress, mana drain, counterspell, and some forms of cantrips paving the way to the lands + 35 instant/sorcery spells + 2-4 kill cards decks. It was no longer about creatures or even more than a handful of permanents then. I think that is when the old Vintage we think of departed from old school (and OS is more the kind of format Pokemon, etc. copied.)
I think the current shift is getting back to it's OS roots, though not the spell-slinging vintage of 2000 and beyond that many of us remember. But I definitely agree that PWs are problematic to the flavor of the game and do take away from the core of "I AM THE PLANESWALKER" that made the feel awesome. Now we are more of a general for our creature soldiers and PW lieutenants and less the powerful wizard that drives all the action. I do miss that.
I think that MTGO has made playing Vintage much less enjoyable. I know several players out there brew and make new decks and experiment with regular the arch-types but MTGO creates so many feel bad moments and since there is not any real conversation it feels so much worse.
I look at the Vintage MTGO results and it all looks so simple, there are 5 or 6 decks to beat and you play one of those or you cannot win. It so much more complex than that. I think Vintage is in a really good place right now the format is wide open. You can really brew and think outside the box and a lot of things can win.
The MTGO feedback loop can be brutal but MTGO is not Vintage. I am only focusing on paper events for this year and it has made me see Vintage in a very different light. It is different for everyone but that is working for me.
@fsecco I mean, it literally not the same game, but sure, there is was nostalgia involved. The game doesn't have really any nostalgia feel for me anymore since its evolved so far.
I mean, it literally is the same game.
As someone that started playing by buying unlimited starters and packs, the current permanent centric play feels more like the real origins of the game. The first time I saw a deck that didn't feel like really playing magic was when Prosbloom hit. That was not Magic to our playgroup.
I stopped playing at the beginning of the Urza block because it didn't feel like the same game. I got back into it right before Mirrodin block hit because I was working in a comic shop part time in Jasper Alberta. It was all young kids who just discovered it, and myself and a couple of older guys were teaching them. It reminded me why I got back into the game. They were all trying to cast ridiculously inefficient creatures that looked cool. It reminded me of turning Lord of the Pit, Shivan Dragon and Force of Nature sideways ftw.
I love Vintage, but it has never really felt like true Magic to me. The spell and combo centric nature of it was just a product of being able to cherry pick the top 1% of the cards available over decades of sets.
@wfain Basketball didn't have 3-point shots when it was created. Is it not the same game? I don't get this at all.
Saying this about Magic is just absurd - just take games like Gwent, that actually had complete reboots, and that actually feel like different things.
Anyway, I just thing disliking the game is OK, but it's not the game's fault. It's not like we're playing a game without expansions like...... Well.... Chess.
Change in Magic's nature since day 1.
I agree. Games that don’t have static rules (like basketball and magic) evolve over time. Things change. People figure different ways of playing/winning. It’ll look different, and maybe unattractively so, to some (looking at you Houston Rockets), but they’re still dribbling an 8psi leather ball and shuffling up some lands and spells.
Basketball evolved in a good way for my tastes.
Just corrected that for you in a way that sums up all this discussion.
Also, it is still literally the same game, it's still called Basketball, and no one will ever argue it's not (literally).
By the way, just got my Sekiro platinum last night. You should try it, it's awesome.
Basketball evolved in a good way. It’s also not really the same game as it was at the start. The 3 point line, lane expansion, and numerous other rules changes have drastically altered effective strategies.
Changing effective strategies does not make it a different game. You still have to pass, shoot, defend, rebound. The fundamental gameplay is the same as it has been for the past 70 years. The spaces used on the court are different and the skill-level of the players is different. The shots come from different places, but you’re still playing basketball.
This is sort of an absurd semantic argument anyway. We’re basically arguing whether a change in style, strategy, and some rules effectively turns a game into a completely new game. We’re (stupidly) debating the identity of the Ship of Theseus.
It seems like a handful of people "want a different feeling" for the format they grew up on, and time has passed them by as new, exciting, and powerful printings have changed the format. This isn't much different than those who grew up on ABU and then saw the printings of Urza's block and then Mirrodin block radically reshape the format (adjusted for those eras). The thing unique about Vintage is that it is specifically dedicated to be the eternal resting home for the hideous design mistakes of Magic past and present, even if we seek some semblance of balance every now and then. It is supposed to be wild and ever-changing.
If you are looking for a different feeling, I don't really recommend ditching Vintage per se, but also take a look at diving in to some of the other retro formats out there that people are playing. I have been playing a good amount of Middle School, and there are other formats like PreModern or HyperExtended that are similar (also unpowered and much cheaper than Vintage and Legacy). If you are searching for something that is akin to 2000-2003 era Vintage, there is also a format known as Classic that you might find fun (1993-2003, pre-Mirrodin, fully powered). There is no shortage of player created throwback formats out there to capture a different nostalgia, and they are fun to mix in to your arsenal so nothing ever gets stale.