My annual, mid-year take on what should change in every format I care about. Five suggested changes for Vintage:

https://www.eternalcentral.com/so-many-insane-plays-vintage-and-old-school-banned-and-restricted-list-recommendations-2020/

Let me know your thoughts!

Best,

Stephen

I think taking PO down a peg would be fair and on par with the restrictions they've made in the past. I've once thought Opal could be the target.

But instead of taking PO down a peg, why not boost everything else UP a peg? Unrestricting Gush, Chalice, and Golgari-Grave Troll would take some players away from PO and onto different decks. Unrestricted Chalice would at least make it pretty risky to play Mox Opals.

@desolutionist I doubt chalice will ever be unrestricted again, because it's decidedly "unvintage." You get to play all your moxen, then stop your opponent from playing any of theirs, for 0 mana. When you are on the play, it's like a free karn, great creator. Null rod at least stops EVERYBODY'S moxen. It's only good after turn 1 when your opponent is playing things like PO that want to cast moxen more than once.

I think WotC has been looking at restrictions to balance more than unrestrictions lately because they want to slow the game down and avoid the "coin flip" perception. If you unrestrict everything, sure, you could viably play any number of strategies, but then you get to where every archetype is so uber-powered, it can win on turn 1. The foil to that would be running 8+ free counterspells, but then you get into the matches of "turn 1 win" vs "counter your opponent's turn 1" and the matches generally become decided on if you had the free counterspell or not on the opener. I think WotC (and most players) want to avoid that situation.

I kind of see it like Magic is a skilled sword fight, and WotC is trying to limit the length and strength of swords to make a balanced and good fight. Although the argument that "everyone could have bazookas" would make no single deck superior is true, it doesn't make for fun, skillful samurai showdowns.

last edited by Thewhitedragon69

@thewhitedragon69 said in SMIP: 2020 B&R Roundup:

@desolutionist I doubt chalice will ever be unrestricted again, because it's decidedly "unvintage." You get to play all your moxen, then stop your opponent from playing any of theirs, for 0 mana. When you are on the play, it's like a free karn, great creator. Null rod at least stops EVERYBODY'S moxen. It's only good after turn 1 when your opponent is playing things like PO that want to cast moxen more than once.

Who decided it’s “not vintage”? Some guy who doesn’t even play Vintage?

Chalice on zero is great on the play and it was fine for years. Gave a lot of underpowered decks a fighting chance.

And I don’t really think anyone cares about the PO mirror match if that’s what you’re getting at. Both players decide to play a boring deck and so they get what they deserve.

I think WotC has been looking at restrictions to balance more than unrestrictions lately because they want to slow the game down and avoid the "coin flip" perception. If you unrestrict everything, sure, you could viably play any number of strategies, but then you get to where every archetype is so uber-powered, it can win on turn 1. The foil to that would be running 8+ free counterspells, but then you get into the matches of "turn 1 win" vs "counter your opponent's turn 1" and the matches generally become decided on if you had the free counterspell or not on the opener. I think WotC (and most players) want to avoid that situation.

Instead of the coin flip perception, you get the highlander perception in which games can be decided on how many and which restricted cards you drew.

I kind of see it like Magic is a skilled sword fight, and WotC is trying to limit the length and strength of swords to make a balanced and good fight. Although the argument that "everyone could have bazookas" would make no single deck superior is true, it doesn't make for fun, skillful samurai showdowns.

WotC / DCI can try but they’ve been terrible at it. The game has changed directions since when I began playing. Their new vision misses the mark for me.

Taking PO down a peg has very little to do with where other decks are in the format.

It has much more to do with peoples' perceptions that PO is doing something too broken, too uninteractive.

It is a subjective view informed by play experience, not an objective view based on metagame share, win rate, or top 8's.

Elevating other decks doesn't change how interactive PO is. Your suggestion is really just going to tick off the people that have a different vision of the format than you by promoting more of the types of games they don't like.

Fwiw, I do not believe any card needs to be restricted right now in Vintage. If you feel you need to address something in PO, I would recommend PO itself - Opal has been seeing play in some fringe strategies like Welder/Painter/Emry/Urza that are new and fresh, but get crowded out by hate directed against PO. To be consistent from an interactivity perspective, you should also hit something in the various Bazaar decks like Hollow One as they are perhaps even more consistent at generating the type of uninteractive games that PO gets a bad reputation for. It boils down to this:

Me, Steve, and Brian:

  • Unban Lurrus,
  • Unrestrict Windfall,
  • Unrestrict Seal - (Not sure if Brian agrees on this, I don't remember for sure).

Steve:

  • Restrict Mox Opal

Brian:

  • Restrict PO
  • Restrict Hollow One

Somehow I'm the minimalist on restrictions...

I must stress that under no circumstances should Gush be unrestricted in Vintage (with or without Fastbond). Mystic Sanctuary has put the final nail in that coffin.

I'm on the "unrestrict a bunch of stuff instead of restricting more cards"-wagon, but if something needs to be taken care off, it's Bazaar strategies, which unrestrictions won't solve (unless you want to unrestrict stuff like Gush, Trinisphere, Flash etc. to compete with Bazaar). Restricting Hollow One would be a good idea, I think. Outcome is fine and not very dominant.

I do, however, think that Misstep and Thorn could safely come off the restricted list, and I would also like to see Windfall, Chalice, Lodestone and topdeck tutors come off the list (Imperial Seal at the very least).

last edited by Griselbrother

@griselbrother The issue is that Chalice and Misstep are pretty effective in Bazaar strategies. The most played anti-Bazaar card right now is Surgical Extraction at 49% of lists because exiling Turn 1 Vengevines is often important for buying yourself time to deal with the rest of the deck. And the majority of Bazaar decks were running Chalice of the Void.

The way to conceptualize the Hollow One Bazaar decks is honestly a lot like Legacy Delver where you want to generate a quick clock and disrupt the opponent long enough for that clock to get there. This is Vintage though so instead of playing a 3 power flier, you get 6-12 power on turn 1, some of it having Haste. Chalice and Misstep are excellent for that purpose and will further exacerbate the swingy gameplay of which these decks are capable.

I think Lodestone Golem is a card that could be considered down the line as Shops isn't the metagame force it once was with FoV printed, but Windfall and Seal are easy unrestrictions that probably could have been unrestricted earlier.

Edit: I would also point out that Mental Misstep was the card that led most restriction polls for years before it was finally hit. Unrestricting Misstep and Chalice ignores how many players feel about these types of cards. I think it's actually better to unrestrict cards like Fastbond that spawn new archetypes and provide a different type of play experience, rather than slot into existing shells (examples, I think are Jar or even Channel).

last edited by chubbyrain1

Unrestrict flash stop paradoxical...;-)

@chubbyrain1 said in SMIP: 2020 B&R Roundup:

@griselbrother The issue is that Chalice and Misstep are pretty effective in Bazaar strategies. The most played anti-Bazaar card right now is Surgical Extraction at 49% of lists because exiling Turn 1 Vengevines is often important for buying yourself time to deal with the rest of the deck. And the majority of Bazaar decks were running Chalice of the Void.

The way to conceptualize the Hollow One Bazaar decks is honestly a lot like Legacy Delver where you want to generate a quick clock and disrupt the opponent long enough for that clock to get there. This is Vintage though so instead of playing a 3 power flier, you get 6-12 power on turn 1, some of it having Haste. Chalice and Misstep are excellent for that purpose and will further exacerbate the swingy gameplay of which these decks are capable.

I think Lodestone Golem is a card that could be considered down the line as Shops isn't the metagame force it once was with FoV printed, but Windfall and Seal are easy unrestrictions that probably could have been unrestricted earlier.

Edit: I would also point out that Mental Misstep was the card that led most restriction polls for years before it was finally hit. Unrestricting Misstep and Chalice ignores how many players feel about these types of cards. I think it's actually better to unrestrict cards like Fastbond that spawn new archetypes and provide a different type of play experience, rather than slot into existing shells (examples, I think are Jar or even Channel).

Those are good points, and I totally agree that unrestricting Chalice and Misstep would benefit Bazaar strategies the most. However, that's not really those cards fault. The bad guy here is Bazaar - not Misstep or Chalice.

Chalice, I would argue, is a more controversial unrestriction than Misstep, which is nothing but a conditional 1 for 1 that actually decreases variance and slows the game down. I think that's great for Vintage, and my personal opinion is that something is wrong when a card like that is restricted. Then the DCI is looking at the wrong parametres when deciding what to restrict.

Chalice is much more powerful than Misstep and much more worthy of restriction, but I don't think it too powerful to be unrestricted. Again, the antagonist here isn't (or wasn't) Chalice but Workshop.

My point is that what really should be restricted is Workshop and Bazaar which would allow a lot of cards to come off the restricted list. Looking at these two cards objectively, it's crazy that they're still unrestricted. I know that these restrictions are not gonna happen, but it's my conviction anyway.

Assuming Bazaar and Workshop won't get restricted, I would still like to see Misstep and Chalice come off the list and Hollow One get restricted instead.

But hey, I might just be speaking from my own point of view here, as I almost exclusively play Hatebears and that strategy would benefit a lot from having Misstep and Chalice at its disposal.

last edited by Griselbrother

I recognize I'm still one of the odd ones out here but I actually want more restrictions because I feel that part of vintages identity is being a heavily singleton format. My wants are not really based on balance issues at all but rather forcing decks to play variety within their strategy.

I would love to see the following:

  • Mox opal - OP pointed out that it would be consistent with the restriction of other fast mana rocks, and in many deck mox opal really does function as Alpha Mox 6.
  • Force of will - Sacrilege! We no longer live in a world where this is the only option to stop degenerate plays and has become more of a degenerate play enabler than not. FON is a perfectly reasonable replacement to prevent degenerate plays but not encourage them like FOW does, plus we still have access to the singleton MM, Mindbreak trap, etc. I think the addition of FON is actually the thing that pushed FOW over the edge because there is enough critical mass now to do manaless pitch decks or just never allow your opponent a real play.
  • Underworld breach - I think this has been proven at this point to not only play in the same space as another restricted card (yawgs) but to be more flexible and often times a better card. I cannot see a reason to keep one restricted and not the other one, unless people think Yawg's is safe to come off the list (maybe it is?)
  • Workshops - I still believe that not only would that deck still exist and be perfectly viable in a world with 1 shops, I think restricting the card opens up the space for brown decks to not be so homogeneous, and maybe brown Eldrazi could make a come back.
  • Bazaar - I think you would have to restrict this is you made the other restrictions because it would become much more a pillar and its relative power would be much higher. It also forces some degenerate strategies to do things like play mana, which is not an unreasonable expectation in this game. I could be talked down from this one.
  • Preordain - Its power level is on par with the other restricted cantrips, slightly less but I don't think substantially enough to not also merit a restriction, as part of the reason the cantrips are currently restricted is how the selection effect is more prominent when you hit a critical mass of them. More so than that though I just think that the play pattern of a deck that just cantrips all day is obnoxious and leads to drawn out games in a tourney setting.

Other than that I think it's more than safe to remove Lurris from banning as the companion change has made him pretty tame and more of a main deck inclusion than a companion. I also really start to wonder if balance merits inclusion on the restricted list anymore. Does anyone think it would be that degenerate in a world with so many more pitch spells and non mana decks? Not a hill I would die on but I think it merits some questioning.

PO as a 4 of homogimizes all artifact combo decks into a PO shell.

@griselbrother

If things change regarding Workshops and Bazaar, then I'll update my recommendations. However, I don't think we can ignore the presence of other unrestricted cards in the format when considering action.

For instance, I think Thorn and Lodestone Golem are the most clear casualties of Workshops existing in the format. The fact that these cards function as a one-sided Sphere in most cases, when combined with Workshops mana generation, make the tempo disparity in a match too skewed in favor of the Shops player as Shops moved to more of an Aggro game plan.

A similar pattern exists with the Bazaar decks - the tempo gained from Bazaar, combined with the pitch spells and wasteland effects - creates pretty skewed game play from turn 1. You can say Vintage is format in which broken things happen but the frequency of those things is modulated by the restricted list and Bazaar has become much more consistent with the implementation of the London mulligan and printing of Once upon a Time.

Is the fault Bazaar/Shops or the other cards? Does it matter if no action is taken against Bazaar or Shops?

For what it's worth, I've had a lot of success recently with various Hatebearsish lists, including GW Maverick and Azban Humans. I enjoy the archetype, too.

My stance has remained unchanged. Restrict everything. Other than basic lands of course. The format will gain significant stability.

The constant rotation over the last few years has been a huge turn off for me. By the time I get around to building a working deck with the new cards, another restriction or major printing occurs. I simply don’t have the time to devote to the game, like I could as a college student. I think there are a number of other players in the same boat.

The other issue is that the cost of playing is still very prohibitive. Not just with the reserved list that will just keep rising, but the new cards are rarely ever cheap. The mythic rare system along with these limited release sets are a blight on the game. Dropping $50 on 1 copy of some random new card every time they do that is just an awful feeling. The game is expensive enough just throwing money at entry fees.

@vaughnbros said in SMIP: 2020 B&R Roundup:

The other issue is that the cost of playing is still very prohibitive. Not just with the reserved list that will just keep rising, but the new cards are rarely ever cheap. The mythic rare system along with these limited release sets are a blight on the game. Dropping $50 on 1 copy of some random new card every time they do that is just an awful feeling. The game is expensive enough just throwing money at entry fees.

I think the Mythic rare system is no longer a concern. Most Mythics are standard card garbage and it is not uncommon for the most expensive card in a set to be a regular rare. The most important card in any given set as far as vintage is concerned is very often not the mythic anyway, and that still has no bearing on price because the rare can be worth more than all the mythics. That is assuming a set has any cards in it that are relevant at all.

  • Aether Revolt - Walking Ballista
  • Guilds of Ravnica - Assassins Trophy
  • Ravnica Alliegiance - Kaya?
  • War of the Spark -Teferi, Karn
  • Eldrane - Oko, borrower, Once upon, Mystic Sancturay all below the most expensive version. Also alternate arts tanked standard frame cards so they are now even cheaper
  • Theros - Thassa's Oracle

The addition of fixed product like commander decks and secret lairs have not shown to have a substantial effect on staple cards either, unless the one you want is specifically the fancy framed one.

That being said, the game is expensive, no doubt. If you play the MTG Finance game and get into the trading/wheeling and dealing part of the hobby it becomes a little easier but thats not for everyone. I do not think if we suddenly got rid of Mythic cards it would make the finance that more manageable though, and the reserve list does far more to the cost people experience to get into vintage than any new printings.

@protoaddict

Its not, sure there are some rares/uncommons/commens that become playable, but there are still a number of mythics. The most recent card that I would like to play, but can't reason the sticker price is Wrenn and Six, the is $70 a piece that's $280 for a playset. That's an absurd price point. I can buy an entire gaming system for that amount. I can buy at least half a dozen other games for that amount.

To top that off, I am paying real dollars just to even play the game against a decent opponent online (sure there are prizes, but they pale in comparison to the entry cost).

When there were actual physical cards and store fronts to support, I could understand the cost (at least a bunch of the money was going to someone I knew), but its mostly an online game now (especially with the pandemic).

I'm pretty sure this is the most expensive game out there (at least the most expensive that I am aware of), and its not even remotely close.

@vaughnbros said in SMIP: 2020 B&R Roundup:

I'm pretty sure this is the most expensive game out there (at least the most expensive that I am aware of), and its not even remotely close.

Apparently you have never played Golf.

I mean, one would make the argument that the cards you buy for magic maintain their values better than other products and can actually appreciate in value unlike almost any other game. Most videos games cannot even be traded or resold at this point, and consoles resell for pennies on the dollar.

The game does have a high bar to entry, and there is a tinge of irony to the fact that people with 20-40k price tag decks are complaining about a 75 dollar card, but in honestly most other magic formats are even more expensive to keep us with at this point. Standard basically requires you to buy a new deck every 3 months. Modern and Pioneer you run the risk of your entire strategy being banned because they remove a pivotal card.

I would love to see the price tag go down, but most of the pricing is driven by the free market right now with the exception of the fixed product with set MSRP, but even they get gouged. WOTC has even taken very public steps to reprint staples and pricy cards like grim tutor as of late, and they get yelled at for doing that as much as they get yelled at for not doing it. I'm not sure you can put the genie back in the lamp at this point.

@protoaddict

I mean, sporting events are a totally different class, but sure some are very expensive. They are expensive for legitimate reasons though usually (you need a lot of land). Magic is only expensive because they choose to make it expensive.

The loss of re-selling is still significant, with exception to only a few cards. The “collector” portion of Magic’s hurts the “game” part of magic.

Wizards could make significantly more money by reducing cost. These cards are highly elastic. If you provide a cheaper supply, you will get more demand. The game will end up with more users, those users will have a better experience (shorter match finding, more bloggers), and other benefits of having a larger more popular game.

This is getting off topic though. My main point is that through Restricting everything you reduce the need to keep purchasing play sets of expensive new cards. At most you need to get 1.

@vaughnbros said in SMIP: 2020 B&R Roundup:

This is getting off topic though. My main point is that through Restricting everything you reduce the need to keep purchasing play sets of expensive new cards. At most you need to get 1.

Other discussion aside, I have long loved this idea and would love a singleton vintage format.

Maybe highlander Vintage is the only way to move forward with the new cards. I’d at least be interested in trying it out.

If not highlander then the restrictions shouldn’t be so biased as to allow Workshops, PO, and Bazaar but disallow Gush, Channel, etc. What makes Workshop or PO so much more vintage worthy than Gush?

People claim PO is non issue because of Null Rod. (LOL) meanwhile there’s another two mana artifact called Ankh of Mishra that has similar affect against Gush strategies. It’s just craziness. This restriction list is very dumb.

It seems to me that PO players just want to play by themselves anyway so I’m happy to give them what they want and play other formats.

last edited by desolutionist

@desolutionist

I’d be very happy with turn time limits, while we are discussing ways to improve Vintage and magic in general. Watching someone combo for 10 minutes straight, while I just click “ok” over and over again is the dumbest, most boring part of the game.

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