Is it possible to have vintage be community run and maintained?

It is something that has been discussed in the past on these boards. It is pretty obvious that WOTC either doesn't know how to or does not care to run Vintage in the same way it runs something like standard or even modern. There is a financial impetus to this, in that it would need to hire people to spend cycles to actually think about the formats health and being a niche format it just does not pay to do so. We get it.

Looking at the success of commander as a fan run format, is that something the vintage community thinks it could do, and if so is it something we could convince WOTC to relinquish to us? It could be modeled after the Commander rules council, and it would take basically all the responsibility away from WOTC which is something I think they would want.

As a rules council, I think it would have to create and maintain the following:

  • A mission statement for the format. This would include principals and goals that we would adhere too. Commander has a principals document which is their version of it.
  • Maintenance of the B&R lists, which would include some transparency into the decision making process around what criteria a card would have to reach to merit a restriction and/or a ban or to come off those lists, regular evaluations cycles, maybe shared data
  • A centralized web hub, that would maintain updates, changelogs, rules docs, etc, as well as a public explanation of who is on the rules council
  • Possibly public or publicly curated feedback on decision making around rules and B&R changes.

I would like to think this proposal is enticing enough to WOTC that they would listen to it if the community got their ducks in a row. Anyone else think this is a goal worth pursuing?

Based on every B&R ever, what makes you think Vintage players would have enough consensus for a mission statement? Consensus on members? Consensus on anything, really? Commander isn't bound by its rule council. It's a largely casual format whose banned list and "mission" is enforced by individual play groups, producing a flexible format that appeals to a wide player base. Attributing the Commander format's success to its rule council is absurd. And expecting the Vintage equivalent of a rules council to be effective would be absurd. A lesson here is that since events are unsanctioned, people can possibly agree on modified B&R lists or other custom rules similar to how players run events in Commander. I know Legacy players have started pre-Innastrad Legacy games on MTGO.

last edited by chubbyrain1

This would essentially be like drafting a "Constitution" of Vintage. I think it seems worthy to try to attempt. You are never going to get 100% consensus on anything, but you could get a majority public vote that creates a democratic system instead of the dictatorship that we currently have from whoever is policing the format at this point. I mean, generally speaking, I think Democracy >>> Dictatorship.

...The Commander Rule Committee isn't a democratic body.

And you can't have every Vintage player vote or have a voice for a myriad of practical reasons. You want a "vote", write an article on why Vintage would actually be better off with Force of Will restricted. No one is stopping you from making your case.

Commander is possibly the most successful format in magic right now in no small part due to the efforts of the council they have and that fact that WOTC was willing to both support the effort as well as well as legitimize the format. In turn WOTC was rewarded with a format that now moves cardboard for them with probably less involvement than the management of their less profitable ventures like brawl.

@chubbyrain1 said in Is it possible to have vintage be community run and maintained?:

Based on every B&R ever, what makes you think Vintage players would have enough consensus for a mission statement? Consensus on members? Consensus on anything, really?

Consensus may not be the correct word, because I in no way mean that we get a unanimous or even a true majority to agree on everything. That does not even happen in Commander and not every issue is a binary. A representative plurality with transparency would probably be better than what we have right now.

@chubbyrain1 said in Is it possible to have vintage be community run and maintained?:

It's a largely casual format whose banned list and "mission" is enforced by individual play groups, producing a flexible format that appeals to a wide player base

Is it really though? WOTC makes product directly for it with that rules set in mind, there are large events for it all the time that while "unsanctioned" in that they are not point accumulating matches, they basically follow every sanctioning rule including adherence to the BR list, DCI numbers, Floor rules, no proxies, etc.

@protoaddict

The side events at large events are a small minority of the games played and prizes are often awarded not to winners but by alternate metrics - many times it's "here is your prize booster, give it to whoever you want at the end of your match". So if someone shows up with an overpowered combo deck, the get ganged up on and/or get no actual prize despite "winning". The B&R list is largely irrelevant in that context when the game and incentive structure is such that players control the rewards.

If you actually speak to people who play the format, I guarantee you, they don't have the same take on the importance of the CRC.

I think you are proposing to make Vintage a bit more like Old School where there are several banned and restricted lists. Personally, I do not think that the banned and restricted list is the issue that is causing so much frustration in the community.

The Old School community has rules down to which sets are legal and which cards are banned and restricted. The B&R is different based on whether you are on the east coast, west coast or in the midwest in the US, and in Europe they have similar regional differences. This gives players the ability to choose which rules they want to play at their events or among their play groups similar to EHD players.

I personally think that WOTC is doing an OK at job with the B&R and having any group decide will have the same dumb debates that we have seen over the years. If you want Bazaar or Workshop restricted then run an event with it restricted and see how many people show up when people play can show up again or run a Skype tournament and try it out.

If you want WOTC to change MTGO to use some rules from a play group then that will never happen. It is WOTC's platform and they have to maintain it so they should decide the rules and the B&R.

@chubbyrain1

Look, I've been where you are, and its not fun. Lets just try to have a little more fun on here. You are a really good person so I hate to see how upset you get in these discussions. It would be nice if you (and some others) could take these discussions a little more casually. This is a game and a format that we all love! I think we should be able to just have a conversation, and not try to constantly "prove" our points.

Brian did spend those hours writing very thoughtful opinions on the B&R list, and it just turned into one of the worst flame wars that I can recall. So I personally have no desire to spend hours writing another similar article to get attacked immediately by someone that stops reading on the first couple of sentences of my post. The last article that I spent a couple weeks on (collecting data and writing) that I posted here (wasn't even about the B&R list, it was just about dredge) even received the same vitriol. So I haven't had a ton of desire to spend all that time to get a bunch of very negative responses. When Calvin's site was still up and running, I did enjoy writing there though and this site used to be fun to write on. Its disappointing because the community can be a lot of fun in person, but for some reason this forum seems to bring out the worst in people.

Take case and point this discussion here, where Protoaddict basically says: "Hey, why don't we come together as a community and create a better format that works for everyone?" and everyone is going to come in here and tell him that his idea is terrible.

@moorebrother1 said in Is it possible to have vintage be community run and maintained?:

I think you are proposing to make Vintage a bit more like Old School where there are several banned and restricted lists. Personally, I do not think that the banned and restricted list is the issue that is causing so much frustration in the community.

No not at all. I would 100% still want the format to be consistent no matter where you were. And while the banned and restricted list is prominent, I would think that the rules committee would be in charge of other rules changes as well, such as the adoption of new mulligan rules like we just had.

What I am noticing with Vintage is that there is no common understanding nor documentation on the Ethos of the format. Where as with commander there is a mission statement saying what the format should be and represent, and rules changes stem from following those guidelines, Vintage is far more up for interpretation. I would want a format mission statement to include things like:

  • How long in turns should the average game last (WOTC has used this criteria for bannings in the past in other formats)?
  • How often is a turn 0 or 1 kill considered within bounds vs actionable?
  • Are there sacrosanct cards that will never get restricted from the format, such as pillar cards, and that we just accept that new printings that break them will get the axe? IE is there a grandfathered list.
  • Is the goal of the format to preserve the playability of as many cards as humanly possible through restricting and not banning.
  • Is the goal of the format and B&R decisions maintenance or growth?
  • Does the format consider financial aspects of the cards?

I think it's possible from a casual, just for fun perspective. I think the U30 format is the real deal, and I believe there are one or two cards that have questionable placement among the restricted/unrestricted list, but it's alleviated by the fact that the format is just so fun, and there isn't anything else like it, so I don't really care.

I think everyone who belongs to that group is just longing to play Vintage, including all the cards that have been restricted over the last 15 years. I must admit that the currently legal vintage format is essentially legacy with power and that doesn't give people the nostalgic feeling of playing vintage. You're just constantly looking at what card should be restricted next. When so many cards are unrestricted, it's even silly to consider that Lodestone or Mentor should be restricted specifically. Like what is the goal? Once you start restricting cards it just never ends. Brainstorm, Ponder, and Treasure Cruise restrictions are nonsensical to say the least.

How could it be that they're all "design" mistakes? Are we going off of individual deck performance overtime? Who's to say that a 4x Chalice deck is too dominant in the year 2020? It just isn't well articulated.

The point of Vintage has been to allow people to play with every card that's been printed. So how do you design a restriction list with that in mind? You almost don't even need a restriction list. There are so many counter strategies, it's impossible to have a completely dominant deck. Should Black Lotus be restricted? I mean, possibly not. Though it feels right for tradition's sake. Probably the most restriction worthy cards in the game are the power nine, excluding Timetwister.

last edited by desolutionist

You (the general you) already have the power to define a set of rules and invite people to play. This is a grand tradition in magic that predates the concept of an official banlist. There are lots of success stories to model this after, Old School / Middle School, etc.

Remember that Commander was not an official format that WotC handed over to a Council, Commander is a player-designed format that a Council handed over to WotC.

The challenge you face isn't convincing WotC, it's convincing players that format you've defined is something they'd want to spend their time and money on. I think you'd need something more concrete to get a player interested.

This post lays out .... "Define a Mission Statement. Transparent B&R Choices. Easily navigable website. Responding to player feedback" as steps in building a format. I think these are great steps. I think if you were designing a format, following those steps would be admirable. I don't think I have enough information to be excited about playing a game, as these criteria could define Vintage or Standard or Uno. I don't think you can pick the Council without a rough mission statement in advance, because opinions on that sort of thing vary widely within the community.

I think, to achieve what you want, you're going to have to draft up a more clear view of what you have in mind, and then present it to the community as an option. Find people who want to play, host tournaments if you have to. If you can't find people who are excited enough by your idea to play a few test games, it's going to be a lot harder to convince the broader community.

All of this is predicated on my belief that player-run format variants are fun and worthwhile, and offer similar value to an official WotC shift on policy. Personally I don't think WotC's position is super important when it comes to how I enjoy Vintage, but if it's really critical for you, I think you'll still be able to make a better case for the strength of your idea if you can prove that there are people who enjoy it more than stock Vintage.

If you're completely dead set against the idea of just playing the cards you enjoy playing in an unsanctioned event, I think you (@Protoaddict ) are probably right that WotC is convinceable. I believe they're more open to this sort of thing than the general vintage community/magic community seems to think. That said, you'll never convince WotC of anything by posting on TMD. If you want to change their mind you need to make your case where they'll actually be around to hear it - a magicfest, twitter, their email, etc.

Before the shutdown, Deal Me in Games was discussing utilizing its own B&R list. We interviewed a handful of local players for their thoughts on a B&r list as well as having the event organizer (myself) and event sponsor (deal me in's owner) submit lists. Then compiled a B&r list which we were discussing utilizing for our 2020 T1 events. If we ever get back up and running, we revisit doing this.

But to be honest, regardless of altering the B&R and which stores B&r to use etc, I wonder just how much longer paper vintage has to live. I don't think its a 'sky is falling' moment to declare that paper vintage was on life support. And now with a multi-month shut down of shops and events and potentially a year off from the biggest vintage events each year, I'd have to say that somebody's hand is on the plug.

I've supported Vintage since the early 2000's when I got CCG to start up their tournaments which became the blue bell events. I took a break from magic and when I came back I got Deal Me In to start up a vintage series. I'll always support it as long as there's a player base. But over the years I've seen the player base dwindle down to next to nothing.

So the question shouldn't be what B&r list should we use. The question SHOULD be, what can we do to bring paper vintage players back? I'd love to hear some answers from members like chubby and brianpk who have migrated to online as their primary focus. What would it take to get you guys and others who have moved away from paper vintage back?

last edited by Khahan

@Khahan players are leaving older formats in paper due to accessability of cards. While proxy events are fine in conceptz its a novelty that wears off. Many players who have an interest in learning the format will play a few times with the proxy deck, then move on once they realise they'll never be able to afford the actual cards.

The #1 problem killing paper magic for old formats has always been and will always be the reserve list.

@tittliewinks22 said in Is it possible to have vintage be community run and maintained?:

@Khahan players are leaving older formats in paper due to accessability of cards. While proxy events are fine in conceptz its a novelty that wears off. Many players who have an interest in learning the format will play a few times with the proxy deck, then move on once they realise they'll never be able to afford the actual cards.

The #1 problem killing paper magic for old formats has always been and will always be the reserve list.

Except that I'm seeing a decline in attendance. Meaning people who used to come, therefore they have access to cards, are no longer coming. The reserve list is blocking new people from getting into the format and definitely is a contributing factor. But its one we can do nothing about.
Players with access who have played paper but move to online - that is something we may be able to do something about.

I agree with you 100% that the reserve list is a major problem. Its just a different problem than I'm asking about.

As much as I disagree with the DCI on a number of their decisions, I believe they do a better job of managing the Vintage B&R list than any group of community members could. The last thing Vintage needs is the old school effect where there are a million different B&R rulesets when the community is already small enough.

As much as everyone is ready to say the DCI are clueless, can you not see what a difficult job it is trying to please such a diverse group of players and their various wants? Do you really think a community could accomplish this and not have similar complaints flare up anyway?

So I kinda disagree with the initial premise that WOTC "doesn't know how to" or "does not care" to run Vintage.

@hrishi

My biggest problem is that a couple of sentence explanation is often the most transparency we get on their decision making process. This leads us to have to make up stuff on how they are handling the list. It seems to me that they don't actually have any logic, or cohesive mission statement for the format. They just give the squeaky wheels more grease, and hope that it doesn't fall off the tracks. So in essence, the B&R list is run by community members just not community members as a whole, but those that are willing to complain a lot publicly about it.

last edited by vaughnbros

@hrishi said in Is it possible to have vintage be community run and maintained?:

The last thing Vintage needs is the old school effect where there are a million different B&R rulesets when the community is already small enough.

Why do some of you seem to think that any community managed format would eventually have multiple iterations of B&R? I'm not saying that the format is no longer sanctioned. It is still WOTCs format. I am in effect asking them to outsource the playtesting B&R discussions, etc to a volunteer community who is more invested and knowledgable of the format.

If WOTC says "this is our official sanctioned rules sets" then it is still one set of rules for vintage, period. There are multiple rules sets now as it stands with experimental versions of the format like U30, but they are not vintage and we all understand that.

@tittliewinks22 said in Is it possible to have vintage be community run and maintained?:

While proxy events are fine in conceptz its a novelty that wears off.

This kills me every time, but I hear it happen so often that I know it's a real problem.

For me it's always been really clear that proxy Vintage is the exciting format I love, and sanctioned Vintage is a cute unsustainable novelty where rich kids get to play Lions vs Christians. As one of the Rich Kids who bought power in 2002, sanctioned Vintage always feels so fake to me, winning a sanctioned event never feels like it counted, I have no idea how many of my opponents were better than me but couldn't afford to win.

Even ignoring the power imbalance, the real-card obsession always felt so weird to me. Now more than ever. Like if you saw two billionaires playing tennis with solid gold rackets, you'd want to watch them for a minute, but it would be pretty obvious those people don't care much about tennis.

To me a proxy will always symbolize love of the game, an emphasis on the abstract strategy, an inviting and welcoming community, a personal sense of aesthetics, the inclination to try new deck ideas and strategies. It's everything about the Vintage hobby that I love, without the parts I hate.

But sometime long ago, playtest cards lost some PR war. New players basically always see proxy Vintage as a stepping-stone to sanctioned Vintage, which they'll never play, rather than seeing sanctioned Vintage as a marketing campaign to get people curious about the superior proxy Vintage. I don't expect to reverse public opinion on the issue, but I feel compelled to post something like this whenever the subject is brought up, in case I can sway a person or two to see what I see.

last edited by Brass Man

@brass-man I 100% agree. I've sold out of power multiple times and can thank sanctioned tourneys for gaining 5 pieces of it...but I always felt like I battled the same "well-off" folks while just curb-stomping people that played unpowered grizzly bears or some BS along the way. I've heard the argument that many games are elitest, but that doesn't mean they should be, nor is the competition actually better off for having a wallet barrier.

I've heard a counterargument that the wallet-barrier is actually good: that it stops random timmy from playing in sanctioned events, giving experienced matchups a virtual bye and skewing the real competition. The thinking is that only good and serious players invest in the cards and thus the sanctioned event is the cream of the crop every round.

I see the logic, but it falls flat to me, based on experience. Timmy still plays because daddy paid his entry fee and Timmy is now running a far inferior deck - because daddy doesn't likely have a second set of power to give Timmy. Even if it is a vastly better player than me who enters, hoping to run a lesser deck to win the power and better his deck - when we match up, that's like me playing a deck with Lurrus as companion where companions are banned only for him/her: it's just an unfair start. No matter how much better that player is than me, his opener of dual land, pass will never best my opener of library, lotus, ancestral, walk.

I think there needs to be a measure of quality in a proxy for readability and appropriateness, but proxies are certainly better for a competitive scene than just the good-ol'-boys club.

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