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

@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.

Is WotC mismanaging the B&r list? In my opinion, they've been pretty responsive to issues the past few years, and dealt with Karn, Forge, Narset, Lurrus, etc in a timely manner. Certainly they're doing a better job managing us than they are Legacy, where the hole is dug way too deep at this point.

WotC is actually doing the damage with the cards it prints. I appreciate their proactive B&R moves, but it's still bad for the format if every new set introduces cards that need to be restricted. And a community-run format doesn't really solve that.

(I have thoughts on proxies, but won't add them here as the thread isn't exactly about proxies.)

I'm getting a lot of views on this post, I do want to say that I'm not trying to actively trash people who love their collections. I view collecting Vintage has an adjacent/related activity to playing Vintage. I'm a player first, but I'm also a collector - I love the history I have with my Power and some of my old cards carry with them a sense-memory of where I was in my life when learned to play Psychatog, or Recoup, or Painter's Servant. A collection doesn't have to be expensive to be meaningful, but making a sacrifice to own something rare can be a positive/meaningful part of the experience for a collector. I just don't believe these two hobbies need to be coupled together in any circumstance where they bring each other down.

(and sorry for derailing the thread, honestly I should know better ❤ 😄 )

last edited by Brass Man

@stuart Add your 2 cents on proxies, Stu. I think they are integral to any version of a "community-run format," as they are likely a starting point for the framework. The B&R list management would be one aspect, but community-run is by nature unsanctioned, so proxies naturally warrant discussion as well.

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

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.

And what makes you think the same thing you're doing now wouldn't happen again? In fact, it would be easier to feel that a player-run version is inadequate and want to make your own. Any B&R discussion whether it be here or on twitter is evidence of that.

Unlike players who are heavily invested in a format, the DCI is meant to make impartial and dispassionate decisions that is good for the game in general. Players have a slightly different desire (which is to maximise their enjoyment), even though those goals are often aligned.

@hrishi I think the best way to create a B&R list would be to set up a list of finite rules for card inclusion. Cards would then be added or removed based on those criteria only. Some examples of rules:

  • The card uses ante
  • The card uses manual dexterity to determine an outcome
  • The card is a non-permanent that causes you to net 2+ more cards than mana spent to cast it in the same turn (This hits ancestral, all wheel effects, and gush, but releases ponder, preordain, brainstorm, etc., and doesn't hit things like harmonize, necropotence, etc. - probably hits PO and ad nauseum)
  • The card is a non-land card that costs 0 and taps to add mana to your pool, castable on turn 1. (this allows lotus bloom and tantalite to live, but hits chrome mox and opal)
  • The card is a non-land card that costs 2 or less and allows you to take more than one turn in a row (hits walk and TV, but lets all the other walk spells and permanents live)
  • The card is a spell that can tutor for a non-permanent spell with a CMC greater than the cost of playing this card. (hits DT, vamp, mystical, etc., but leaves off enlightened, worldly, etc.)

There are other rules you could add if absolutely necessary. I could think of a rule needed perhaps for strip mine...but maybe it's okay as a 4-of. This just provides a non-arbitrary framework for list maintenance. The rules themselves may seem arbitrary, but once adopted, they are unchanging and not up for interpretation. Either a card, no matter how broken or benign, falls under one of the rules or it doesn't. There's no more judgments of "format-warping, diversity-stifling, unfun, etc." It is a black-and-white restriction at that point.

I read a bit earlier in the thread people trying to compare with old school (OS) management. I must react to that because old school is so much different from vintage on that point :

There are several B&R lists (and rules) for OS because of the 'Gathering' part of MTG. When OS was a brand new format, various people agreed to gather around something they enjoyed. They experienced and agreed about what they think is the best experience. This ended up in those different R&R and rules. And there is wisdom in having them still exist : OS cards are a bit less than 1000 so sooner or later the meta is solved (or close enough). Each different B&R produces a different meta which renews the game and make it a more interesting experience in the long run.
In a way, problem that Vintage has to adress is exactly the opposite.

Going back to the subjet of that thread.

I am not very fond of a player management of the format. IMHO the main reason is that it misses the real problem : vintage is not dying because of the B&R management. There are the obvious reasons (reserved list, ...) that every one knows of but i think the real problem is the overall power level in vintage nowadays. Of course, B&R can deal with that but up to some point where it fails. Let me try to elaborate.

In 2011, i went to a BOM tournament and when thinking about what i would play i quickly found out that the meta was basically : play turbo Tezz or play Kudoltha forgemaster (Dredge was there too of course). Historically, Vintage meta has always been quite small but it was the first time i found it that small.

In the following years, a change happened with what was called then the 'Legacy like' decks. It started with BUG and Delver and it never stoped since then. People may say vintage has became powered Legacy but fact is that meta broaden much because of that and that is a good thing in my mind.

But, why did that happen ? When i started Vintage, first thing i learned was 'it is a format where creature strategies are not strong enough'. Somehow, this became false suddenly. Balance between spells and creatures has been a problem since MTG very start (why bother summon a force of nature when opponent need only one mana to sword it ?). Creature power creep is obvious when looking at the various editions and at some point (about 2014) they became good enough for modern vintage. That is not a problem but a hint about something. Power creep in MTG can't be avoided but only slowed down.

In another thread, Brian linked an interesting article about the way Wizard R&D was dealing with it for standard format.

https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/play-design-lessons-learned-2019-11-18

To make it short, they explain that they set the power level range that standard should have and that level is a bit higher than it was. They also design much more cards than before to try to make each standard format a great experience. Results of that is that more and more cards are leaking into Vintage format. I used to be buying playsets of every cards that looked promissing when a new set was published but i stopped : there are just too many of them now !

To sum up before going back to vintage, fact is we are going to see more and more new cards in Vintage.

Some of those cards are too strong in vintage context and the B&R list can deal with them. Still, one of them find a place in most Vintage decks. Some new cards don't deserve being restriced but they do improve existing decks. IMHO the real problem is the density of those cards. Decks are getting stronger and stronger and the pace at which this is happening is making it very problematic (if not out of controle). Out of experience, take a deck you were playing last year or the year before and try it in the current meta. Chance are that you will find the deck to be obselete ... not 'need to be updated' but most probably one turn too slow. That power creep is making the format much quicker than it was up to a point were the critical turn is much too often 'opening hand'.

What are MTG games that you remember or enjoyed ? The ones were you had to battle, where your choices were critical. Mulligan choices are important but there is not much satisfaction in games that end there : you play at your best and objectively make no mistake but you loose because opponent hand was just stronger. This has always happened in MTG games but when it happens much too often it is a real problem.

I am not saying that new cards in the format is a bad thing but saying that managing power level in the format is like walking on the very thin line.

I asked many former vintage players why they stopped. There were personnal reasons of course but the most common answer directly related to the game was : games were boring and not interesting.

Ultimately, the B&R can't deal with that problem unless a really big number of cards are banned and restricted (i am not advocating that but that is just the point : going to that would hint its failure). I don't know what is the good answer to that but i presume it would be a drastic change in the format.

To ends in a more positive way, there is an OS variant that i tried recently that has an interesting rule. Basically the format is no sideboard, exactly singleton 60 cards and 7 points. For example : lotus, LOA, trall and sol ring costs 4 points, moxen mindtwist and walk 3 points, and so on. What is interesting is that system balance card power in a deck but it also adress card availabily (if you don't have power you know that if your opponent has chosen to be playing moxen he won't be able to play other strong cards that you will be playing). I don't know if this would work for vintage (probably not because there are too many cards) but it is an example of alternate way to deal with power level in a format.

last edited by albarkhane

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

I asked many former vintage players why they stopped. There were personnal reasons of course but the most common answer directly related to the game was : games were boring and not interesting.

But compared to what? I think it's important for people to pinpoint when they felt game play was so much better. Too often, however, it's just a generalized feeling rather than a specific period or instantiation of Vintage.

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

But compared to what? I think it's important for people to pinpoint when they felt game play was so much better. Too often, however, it's just a generalized feeling rather than a specific period or instantiation of Vintage.

Of course, there can be many reasons behind such a feeling. The only thing i can tell is that at some point they disliked the experience so they quited to do something more pleasant in their eyes and they never came back. Many of them still have the cards but they just don't feel like coming back (often but not all play OS instead).

What i was trying to pinpoint with that exemple was just that people enjoy Vintage because of the high level of play and that tricky choices often decide who wins or loose. When choices are not important any more (whatever the reason : one deck too strong, too much variance, ....) , people loose interest for the format.

The whole point of my long text was just to say that sooner than we may want we might have to face a "playability" problem in vintage. If that happens, the only solution is drastic power decrease and that is something that most players don't like. So maybe some anticipation is best.

However this only "gut feeling" from a (very) long time Vintage player and i have no answer to that nor many objective arguments to back it up.

I don't think a player concensus on individual cards in B&R is really possible. Even if we could get some sort of board of players or even take polls, the amount of sets WotC cranks out and the shifting meta as such makes keeping ahead of it impossible. I also doubt WotC would relinquish control.

I still think a static set of rules for the B&R list would be best. It should be a comprehensive list with the rules voted on through a centralized, widespread poll with perhaps a month's time to vote. Surely Facebook and Twitter, all linking to the one poll, could gather millions of votes and hit the majority of Vintage players.

I envision something like my list of example rules plus several more. We could start on TMD to make a list of B&R guidelines (I'm actually going to start this thread). Each post could suggest ONE rule and any rationale for it. The rules should be generic, not card-nerfing-specific, and have an overall positive effect on the constraints of the format.

Given this last banning, an example of an overarching rule that isn't card (i.e. Lurrus) specific could be something like: Cards can not allow any player to start with more than 7 cards in hand, "either in actual hand size or through access to another zone."

The rationale could be: "outside of mulliganing, having one player begin the game with a larger hand size is just strictly unfair and it results in all players having to adopt that strategy or begin every round at a disadvantage."

This would not specifically nerf any one companion, but would get at the core issue that people felt it was problematic: starting with +1 card is just unfair. This would also stop WotC from making any similar card that would impact vintage on this angle. Keep in mind, other formats like Commander are unaffected by these rules/list.

Khahan, I love Paper Magic. I wish I could go to more events. It was more accessible when I lived 20 minutes away from The Player's Guild and before I had a few things pop up in the past few years that made regular travel out of state on the weekends not as possible to do regularly as I'd prefer. It has nothing to do with the caliber of events; as far as I can tell they've all been great. I still consider myself an IRL Paper Player first, despite enjoying MTGO quite a bit.

I agree with Brian. It had been a confluence of life factors that has impacted my ability to play paper Magic (school, health, etc), rather than a flaw in paper events. When I used to go to events, it was a 1.5 to 2 hour drive each way. I also think there are going to be challenges going forward with COVID-19 - for instance, my school strongly discourages nonessential travel at the moment and the policy is evolving with regards to screening and quarantine. The situation is complex ethically, and likely outside the scope of this thread. But as it is now, paper events aren't really on the table for me.

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