Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever

There are probably only 2 cards on the restricted list that are

  • "Potentially" safe to unrestrict
  • do anything to make you not want to use Lurrus

Monastery Mentor and Narset. Even if unrestricted, I'm not sure that a deck with 4 mentors and 4 Narsets will be the format we want to live in.

There are other unrestrictions that I think could happen, but I think it is mostly a separate discussion.

@chubbyrain1 I don't know that I agree with Tinker being an apt comparison. There are similar elements, if you're using Tinker to power out Blightsteel Colossus: you present a threat and give the opponent essentially a single turn to answer it. But that's not the common use of Tinker these days; instead it fetches Time Vault or Memory Jar and wins the game on the spot.

I can't speak for the power of 4x Necropotence in a Doomsday shell. If you think it would be absurd, I have no reasons to doubt it. I do remember playing against storm combo during the heyday of Dark Petition, and resolving Necropotence was by far the least-threatening thing my opponent would do after generating BBB. At a bare minimum you get one extra turn (and often 2+ turns) to fight back and I won a nontrivial minority of those games.

@protoaddict What about Chalice of the Void? Or would all decks run Lurrus + Chalice and hope to be on the play?

@evouga said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

@protoaddict What about Chalice of the Void? Or would all decks run Lurrus + Chalice and hope to be on the play?

Unrestricted COTV has very little effect on if Lurrus is played or not, so much as it just affects what shells he would go in. There is no tension between running Lurris or COTV because you don't have to pick one, Lurrus does not prevent you from running any number of them. More COTV may prevent the PO shell from rising to the top (or strengthen it, who knows) but some other deck that could just run Lurris and not rely on recurring 0 drops would take its place.

With Mentor and Narset, you actually need to make a choice as to which you want, because you literally cannot have them and the cat as Lurrus' deck building restriction kicks in.

I've heard people say Lurrus.dec could just play removal to kill opposing hatebear companions. So why can't we just run removal to kill Lurrus in the first place? I know running bolts and plows is not as fun as running PO and necropotence, but does that mean it shouldn't be an option? People are talking about grave hate to nerf Lurrus....just kill the f'n cat! It's not like creature removal, especially bolt, are dead cards. Bolt knocks off PWs and is at the least 3 to the face. Why is everyone so averse to running removal instead of searching for niche fixes to stopping the Lurrus ability - just axe the source!

The only reason mentor was restricted was because he's grow wide AND large (and his tokens grow large) so you couldn't solve the problem by offing mentor. Wide alone (pyromancer) or large alone (hydra) are clearly not problematic enough to be restrictable. Lurrus is at worst a 2-for-1 recurring a bauble/remora if you respond to the casting from the grave with a bolt/plow. At best, it's a 3-mana do nothing that you 1-for-1 immediately. If you can't answer the cat because you run a miser's plow (or not even that much), then that seems to be user-error more than a cat problem.

last edited by Thewhitedragon69

I mean, yes people are doing this. The problem is that even in the worst case where you play Lotus, Lurrus, then Lotus again (note the opponent does not get priority to stop you from replaying Lotus) and then the cat gets offed, you’re still up +1 card “for free.”

last edited by evouga

@thewhitedragon69 Are you really trying the "dies to Doom Blade" argument in 2020 on a creature that starts outside the game and lets you recast something immediately from your graveyard?

Edit: The Cat has 9 lives.

Edit 2: That's not how math works. You need to add 1 to each of those. Bolt on a Lurrus from the Companion zone is a 2-for-1. Bolt on a Lurrus with a Bauble is a 3-for-1. Every. Game. A good player won't cast it for less than a 3-for-1. Ideally, the won't cast it if they can't protect it.

last edited by chubbyrain1

There is another consideration worth bringing up.

In the past, players have complained that vintage had become a format where there are no meaningful decisions to be made after the sideboarding and mulligan phases of the game.

From what I've seen, it appears that Lurrus leads to increased interactivity, and leads to the better player winning more often.

For instance, in this video, Andrea Mengucci says that he achieved an overall record of 33-3 with a Lurrus deck, facing a lot of other Lurrus, and that the games are very "grindy", with many games finishing due to a player running out of time due to the sheer weight of so many difficult decision points. Lsv tweets here that he went 8-1 in a challenge with the same deck, mostly facing Lurrus.

One could reasonably hold the opinion that the pro of increased interactivity/gameplay-skill outweighs the con of decreased deck diversity. Perhaps future companion printings can increase diversity and we can get the best of both worlds.


An "attack on your character" would be saying that your shitposting is responsible for the death of this website. Critiquing your no-data/poor-data analysis and saying it falls short of @chubbyrain1's good-data analysis is just stating the facts. Claiming an ad hominem attack doesn't make you right.


People said this for Caw-Blade, yet tournament attendance plummeted and Wizard banned the most expensive Standard card ever.

B&R is a matter of balancing multiple considerations, chief among those diversity, according to WotC own website.

@chubbyrain1 said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:


People said this for Caw-Blade, yet tournament attendance plummeted and Wizard banned the most expensive Standard card ever.

B&R is a matter of balancing multiple considerations, chief among those diversity, according to WotC own website.

If that were WOTCs actual practice that they followed I would start questioning why a lot of cards are and are not on the restricted list right now.

But on the topic of attendance, over what time period and using what adjustments do we think WOTC is using to control for the Pandemic? I would actually wager that tourney attendance for Vintage is actually less impacted than most other formats simply because it has a higher percentage of diehards than other formats have.

I think FOW prevents the domination of other cards more than dominating the format itself. Funny meme though.

Perhaps aside from the comedy value, I'm not sure that there's much point behind that meme image. Force of Will is a support card that fits into almost any blue deck; Lurrus is a centerpiece that pigeonholes you into using a tiny subset of the Vintage-playable permanent pool. (You could argue that Force of Will forces you to play blue cards; but with the exception of e.g. Dredge, most decks play Force of Will because they're running other busted blue stuff, and not vice-versa). Moreover Force of Will is a "brake" card (stops your opponent from doing busted stuff, at the cost of card advantage) while Lurrus is an "engine" (accelerates your own strategy).

If you want to make a meme I think replacing Force of Will with something like Bazaar of Baghdad would be far more on-point.

@tittliewinks22 said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

I think FOW prevents the domination of other cards more than dominating the format itself. Funny meme though.

Force has been the preeminent card that has determined the shape of the entire format with the exception of the moxen and lotus. Even now when there are viable alternatives (Force of Negation for instance) Force is still a 4 of in pretty much any blue list. It certainly sees more play than some other cards on the restricted list like timetwister.

last edited by Protoaddict

Force of Will is played in ~75% of decks for 20+ years. That means 75% of decks are blue heavy restricting the card pool significantly. Its ability to stop almost every threat for 0 mana holds back a large number of combo decks. It’s card disadvantage drawback is what makes every good value card able to break the format.

Ignore the obvious problem cards in the format, and you will keep having to create a witch hunt every few months.

@protoaddict Sure. Force of Will is "the glue that holds the format together." Nobody is accusing Lurrus of too effectively keeping the opponent's broken T1 plays in check.

Restrict Force of Will (and Force of Negation, now) and you have a format of combo decks competing against each other for who can most consistently get the T1 or even T0 win. Sounds like fun----for one or two matches.

@vaughnbros Setting aside the fact that the top decks currently in the format are combo decks---which combo decks are being "held back"? Combo decks combat Force of Will either with hand disruption (Thoughtseize), on-board countermeasures (Defense Grid), or their own countermagic (Pact of Negation et al.). Countermagic is a necessary speedbump keeping combo decks in check, not some bogeyman preventing combo from thriving in the format. (I do agree that Mental Misstep used to inhibit use of Dark Ritual too severely.)

last edited by evouga

@chubbyrain1 I agree, but that's a problem with the companion mechanic, not just Lurrus. As far as Lurrus itself, creature removal handles it well. It seems a lot of people are running DPS/PO style decks without a single removal spell and saying "I can't handle Lurrus, ban it!"

The card is hella strong, I get it. The mechanic itself may be ban-worthy because starting with 8 cards vs 7 cards before mulligans with nary a deck restriction is just unfair off the bat. But I think that's an issue with the mechanic, not the cat itself. The cat can be handled, and it's a 3-for-1. So is standstill, but that's not ban worthy. I'm all for fixing the mechanic to be more fair. Maybe it should have read something like "If this is your companion, start the game by putting one card from your opening hand on the bottom of your deck." That's MORE fair than it is now, though maybe still tilted due to the consistency of always being in your opener.

My point mainly is, if you're going to hit the mechanic on the grounds that it's a +1 to your starting hand, I'm all for that. If the argument is that the cat's effect is too strong, I can't get on board with that as a reason to ban. Fixing the mechanic is fine, banning the single card, I'm against.

last edited by Thewhitedragon69

The idea that these Force of Wills stops "broken" T1 plays is completely false as many of those decks play Force of Will themselves. Force of Negation has a built in fail safe from being able to be played in those scenarios as it is only free on your opponent's turn.

The idea that a "support" card can not be broken is also completely false. Mishra's Workshop, Bazaar of Baghdad, Ancestral Recall, Black Lotus, and many other broken cards can all be classified as "support" cards since they don't actually win the game on their own. Most decks consist of a collection of "support" cards with a handful of "win conditions". Continuing down the path of restricting every decent win condition in favor of these other clearly degenerate "support" cards has left Vintage in a state of constant turmoil. The rotating eternal format.

@vaughnbros said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

Mishra's Workshop, Bazaar of Baghdad, Ancestral Recall, Black Lotus

No, nobody would seriously classify these cards as "brake" cards. They all (massively!!!) accelerate your own strategy, while doing nothing to stop your opponent, other than by allowing you to win more quickly.

Other Vintage-playable brake cards include:

  • hand disruption like Thoughtseize
  • removal like Force of Vigor and Swords to Plowshares
  • cards the limit graveyard abuse, including Grafdigger's Cage and Soul-guide Lantern
last edited by evouga
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