[Premium Book] Understanding Gush: Strategy & Tactics (2016)



  • Hi Vintage lovers :)

    For such a prominent part of the metagame, Gush is one of the most misunderstood and poorly played cards in the format. More often than not (and this is not hyperbole), Gush is played incorrectly, even on the VSL.

    This is not surprising, from a simple mechanics perspective. Gush involves many simultaneous decisions: 1) what lands to return, 2) what colors of mana to float, 3) what turn to play Gush, 4) how to sequence Gush with other spells, and much more.

    In case you hadn't seen it, I recently published the first edition of my "Gush book" in five and half years. It hasn't been updated since January/February 2011, and a helluva lot has happened in Vintage in that time.

    http://www.eternalcentral.com/product/understandinggush3e/

    Completely re-written and dramatically expanded (it's 350+ pages, 2nd edition was only 150 pages), the book is much more expansive in scope and coverage, not to mention virtually a complete re-write and reorganized.

    It takes a short time to write a lousy book, and a long time to write a not-lousy book. As a labor of love, I spent an enormous amount making sure that all of my guidance here was more accurate, precise, and clear. I tackled gnarly concepts and hard theory with a clarity that was not present in the original versions. I hope that my precision here will withstand critical scrutiny as well as history.

    For the non-Gush player, there is much here to learn from, including detailed explanations and usage tips for a range of tactics, from countermagic to tutors. In addition, there are dense specialty topics, like an entire Appendix devoted to Doomsday piles, and a "Gush Hall of Fame" - the best Gush decks of all time.

    I hope you enjoy, but more importantly, learn as much as you can from this book. It's also organized in a way that you can take notes, with chapter summaries to jog your memory.

    Anywhere, here's the EC blurb:

    For the first time in over five years, Stephen Menendian’s expert guide and master class on Gush strategies in Vintage has been revised, updated, and expanded. At a time when Gush decks have never been more central to the Vintage metagame, this book is a timely and essential primer to one of the most sophisticated and challenging strategies in the Vintage format. Persistently misunderstood and generally misplayed, Gush requires many simultaneously decisions and precise timing. Maximizing all of the advantages offered by Gush demands deep understanding and strategic insight. This book presents a comprehensive theory of Gush, all of the advantages derivable from Gush, and a complete range of strategies and tactics.

    With hundreds of pages of new content, Stephen has provided a dramatic and comprehensive re-write of this classic. As the Vintage metagame and card pool changes, so too does the understanding and prescriptive guidance of playing Gush strategies. Reorganized and expanded, this 350+ page book widens its scope, and has been carefully re-written from the ground up to provide better guidance, more precise analysis, and clearer explanations. No stone is left unturned, as every aspect of Gush play, design, and theory is covered, including a special appendix on Doomsday strategies, with more detailed descriptions of Doomsday piles than ever before, and an archive of the greatest Gush decks of all time. Beyond the specificity, detail, and practical guidance, this book delves deeper into the theory of Gush, with lessons for any Vintage player – whether they wish to learn Gush decks, learn how to defeat them, or simply to deepen their understanding of the format.

    Thanks again,

    Stephen



  • @Smmenen Stephen, what would you say is the most common mistake people make with Gush?



  • Shit I'm going to need at least three more 4 dollar bills.



  • Congratulations on the monumental achievement of finishing such an engaging project. I have a copy here now; it looks great. I'm deciding whether to read it digitally or print it out in hard copy. Best, -B



  • @kistrand said:

    @Smmenen Stephen, what would you say is the most common mistake people make with Gush?

    The sheer quantity and frequency of Gush misuse makes it difficult to answer this question. I would say "all of the above." But probably the most common mistake with Gush is either a sequencing or timing error. The way in which players sequence Gush with other spells is often wrong, but I'd have to say that the most common error is simply when people play Gush in the turn sequence - either playing it too early or too late, or playing it on the wrong player's turn. I saw this happen on the VSL quite a bit (I specifically recall Tom Martell using Gush in ways I thought were clearly incorrect).

    Although, my perception could be colored by the fact that the most frequent mistakes may not be the most harmful or impactful. Sequencing Gush with other spells happens suboptimally all of the time, but may not be as impactful as playing it on the wrong turn or floating the wrong colors of mana, or returning the wrong lands.

    Cross-posted from another thread:

    @Princess_Power said:

    Steve Menendian might yell at me for saying this but I don’t really think of Gush as a “strategy” anymore.

    Interesting you mention this. The subtitle to the book is "strategy and tactics." But that's really a misnomer. The publisher and I briefly discussed whether the subtitle should be "Strategies and Tactics," and I think that it should, both for parallelism and accuracy. But we didn't want to change the title from the previous edition.

    There is not - and has really never been - just one Gush strategy. Gush supports a range of strategic approaches (hence, Chapter 4 in this book. My intent is that the word strategy here actually refer to plural strategies.

    The classical “gush deck” runs a low number of mana sources and relies on gush+cantrips. This lets the deck get “virtual card advantage” vs higher mana control strategies To me “low mana” in vintage means 17-19 mana sources. These “classic gush” strategies are very effective. For example both the decks in the finals of the last power9 ran 19 mana sources and 3-4 gush: http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mtgo-standings/vintage-premier-2016-06-26 . Though one should note

    However it's hard for me to think of these as fundamentally gush decks. People are having success with Gush deck running very varied amounts of mana. The “Sylvan mentor” decks that were dominating vintage always ran high mana sources. From 18 all the way up to 24. You can see examples in the 4-0 and 3-1 decklists in the dailies. For examples see:

    http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mtgo-standings/vintage-daily-2016-07-04

    http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mtgo-standings/vintage-daily-2016-06-27

    For an example of a 24-mana source deck with mentor-gush see LSV’s last vSL deck: http://magic.wizards.com/en/MTGO/articles/archive/magic-online/vintage-super-league-season-5-decklists (note this only has 2 gush).

    I totally agree. The way I frame this issue in this book is that there are many forms of advantage to be derived from Gush. Not all decks or strategies have to achieve all four levels of advantage, nor should they.

    I personally think Gush is just a fundamentally strong card. Steve is probably right that Gush is a turn3+ play.

    While true, I carve out a number of discrete exceptions to this general guidance, such as decks with Lotus Cobra, Fastbond, etc, or just fueling big plays, like a Storm finisher or a Jace. So, there are decks that "bend" this rule.

    But any deck that is ok with “turn3+” cards and has 12 islands/fetches should probably run 2-3 gush imo. If you run 13+ islands/fetches then 3 gush is probably right! (running 4 gush is very sketchy even with 14 islands/fetches. I would know as I have been doing it for months!) . I have even tested a copy of gush in a petition storm deck and the gush was pretty good. The card is extremely flexible (if you have islands).

    I, personally, don't think the 3 v.4 Gush question turns on the number of lands you run. For decks that run just 13 islands and 14 lands overall, I would argue that the 4th Gush is more important, as those decks are most likely to need Gush's mana advantage power more than decks that run 15-16 lands.

    Restricting gush on power-level makes a ton of sense. The card doesn’t actually require much support. However the decks running gush are fairly diverse. So I could also see not restricting gush. Also note that even specifically mentor has a ton of the metagame share.

    The main argument against restricting Gush is that it's not a dominant strategy in the sense that it has no bad matchups and enjoys monopoly power over the metagame. It's become increasingly clear that Gush strategies are pretty weak to a range of decks in the metagame right now, and while the exact degree to which these matchups are bad varies, and by which Gush decks can combat them waxes and wanes, there can be little doubt that there are multiple bad matchups. Eldrazi, Shops, Dredge, and Humans are all either terrible or soft matchups, although, as always, it depends on the specific Gush deck. There are many other arguments against restriction, but I'd say that's the most important one.



  • Do you investigate the question of 3 vs 4 much? I think it's an interesting window into how different designer's think about the role of the card in their deck and might have a story to tell about the card's shifts in positioning since the Treasure Cruise era.



  • @wappla said:

    Do you investigate the question of 3 vs 4 much? I think it's an interesting window into how different designer's think about the role of the card in their deck and might have a story to tell about the card's shifts in positioning since the Treasure Cruise era.

    Now that you've posed it, it certainly seems like something I should have addressed more directly. :)

    I did discuss the possibility of running less than maximum Gush, and specifically as a 2-of or singleton (circa page 149), but I never directly discussed or analyzed the question of whether to run 3 v. 4 Gush. Perhaps I simply assumed that most Gush decks ran 3 or 4, and that the only matter requiring explanation was when you would run 2 or 1. But when to run 3 v. 4 is certainly worthy of discussion.

    In brief, any Gush deck running the Gushbond engine is going to be running it as a -4 of, and any deck needing Gush to generate additional land drops will likely run it as a 4-of. In the 4-Treasure Cruse and 4 Dig era, I think it was much more justifiable to run less than a full complement of Gush. But, today, with both cards restricted, incorporating 4 Gush is not only easier, but more difficult to justify otherwise.



  • So far the writing is excellent. I know you are skilled at technical writing and the content here goes beyond that by combining it with exceptionally strong creativity in phrasing and and overall vividness. Very impressive. Incredibly enjoyable read so far. -B



  • @brianpk80 said:

    So far the writing is excellent. I know you are skilled at technical writing and the content here goes beyond that by combining it with exceptionally strong creativity in phrasing and and overall vividness. Very impressive. Incredibly enjoyable read so far. -B

    Brian you made my day! Thank you for the kind words!



  • @Smmenen You're welcome!



  • @Smmenen Great, just grab a copy ! Thank you ;)



  • I will be getting a copy soon! I hope Gush doesn't get restricted on Monday :)



  • @Smmenen ive asked you on twitter before: is the book available as a non digital print? If so, can it be shipped to europe?



  • As long as Gush isn't restricted on Monday, I'll be buying a copy of this. I look forward to reading it!


  • TMD Supporter

    @Smmenen ,

    Writings like this Gush book are the reason I love Vintage. I find this stuff endlessly fascinating. Thanks for contributing to the vast library of Vintage knowledge.



  • I meant to note in my previous post that I have purchased writings by @Smmenen in the past and have never been disappointed. Thanks for your contributions!



  • @Evoclipse said:

    @Smmenen ive asked you on twitter before: is the book available as a non digital print? If so, can it be shipped to europe?

    This might not be what you're looking for, but I've printed digital copies of books via Lulu and been happy with the results. The prices for printing there are very reasonable.



  • @Evoclipse Seconding this...



  • Announcement Date: July 18, 2016
    No changes to any format.

    Now can buy Gush book =D

    er.....tbh, was jst waiting credit card haha



  • @Tutor said:

    Announcement Date: July 18, 2016
    No changes to any format.

    When I first started working on the third edition of this book in 2012, I never could have anticipated that Gush would once again be seriously considered for restriction. Gush wasn't even considered playable by most when the first and second edition of this book was published.
    Even when I resumed working on this in 2014, after a year and a half of the History of Vintage project was under my belt, that possibility seemed unimaginable, despite the emergence of competitive Gush strategies.

    Now we are in a place, after a series of printings and other restrictions, where the re-(re) restriction of Gush seemed a serious possibility. Whether Gush strategies improve their performance over the last few months, decline, or steady out, I'm glad that the DCI at least gave us time to see how Gush strategies do before making a premature and consequential decision.

    Regardless of what happens in the future, it seems we have an opportunity enjoy at least a few more months of this third "Gush era" in Vintage magic. Whether you wish to learn Gush decks or learn how to beat them, I would recommend this book as a way to deepen your understanding and perhaps draw connections and inspire your thinking.

    For folks who have already started reading the book, please be sure to send me any feedback you may have. We've already found and corrected more minor errors, but be sure to let us know if you spot more or have any other suggestions or ideas for improvement.

    We've put alot of effort into making this user friendly - not just as a book you read through and put down - but as a kind of renewable resource. The chapter summary tables are there to jog your memory and for you to take notes on. My goal is that people should be able to read through the book once, but then return to sections or tables in the future to refresh their memories.

    As a PDF, you can even open the PDF in a kindle app or book app on your table or ipad, and you can take notes and highlight passages, I believe.

    @Evoclipse said:

    @Smmenen ive asked you on twitter before: is the book available as a non digital print? If so, can it be shipped to europe?

    Right now it is not - but we are certainly exploring some options for paperback and possibly even hard copy printing. If we do make hard copy/physical printings, it would presumably be shippable anywhere.

    The second edition of the book in January, 2011 was printed into a limited number of hard copies, but this is a much longer book (more than twice as long). So we will just have to see what kind of demand exists for this. If anyone is interested, I recommend reaching out to me @JACO and him know. He can weigh in more on this as well.



  • Finally bought it, Book is amazing.
    My first Gush was in 2003 playing Tuboland by Zvi Mowshowitz. Couldnt buy P9, and just had Mox Pearl and BL, so built Parfait deck. After a period of extended tournaments using Gush+Exploration, got a better job, bought others P9 and decided try a decklist with Gush + Fastbond that I read "Gardening In Vintage: How To Gro-A-Tog And Clip A Lotus".
    Won a LGS tournament but Vintage (T1) wasnt a solid format here, played against kitchen table decks. Decided to start Vintage articles, finance and everything to show how can be a "cheap and healthy" format. Took a break, sold eveyrhing and now Im trying to get P9 again and dont care how much or how long, want someday meet community and play again IRL.

    And when I saw a book about a card that made me play Vintage 13y ago, I wanted it. It's a must read. And for sure will read again and again. Gush is a good card, but couldnt believe its more than "bounce dual to protect against wastelands" or "mana + draw generator" like I tought.

    Now, let me back and try finish read it hahaha

    Ty @Smmenen !!


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to The Mana Drain was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.