Romanticizing Card Draw Spells with "Card Draw Engine" Propaganda



  • So with the recent discussions surrounding the upcoming B/R announcement, I'm beginning to wonder if we're still poking sticks in the dark or if we really have figured out this format called Vintage yet. I'm learning toward the former and here's why:

    I believe we've romanticized our cards. There used to be an appeal for getting the next card restricted by playing 4 copies of it and winning a lot, getting other people to adopt the deck in the process. @Smmenen sort of did this with Gifts Ungiven and Merchant Scroll. Along with Thirst for Knowledge and Accumulated Knowledge, these cards have been described as "engines" and that "you need to have a card draw engine" to have a good blue deck. This card draw engine propaganda has subliminally forced players to play 4x card draw decks for over a decade. I can look back and feel confident saying that 4x Gifts was wrong and that 3x was the correct number, but the philosophy of playing an unrestricted card as a 4x because it's unrestricted was probably the main reason it was played as a 4-of in Meandeck Gifts and is probably the main reason that people play 4x Gush today.

    If a new Vintage player buys the propaganda then the logical next step is to figure out the card draw engines that are available and choose one. Someone today will see that there is a TfK engine, a Gush engine, a Dark Confidant engine, and so on.

    But what if there is more to it than that? What if by categorizing these card draw spells into different "engine types", we're limiting the possibilities during deck construction and never fully realizing the best card draw packages? Why must Gush and Thirst be described as card draw engines rather than just regular old card draw spells?

    If my draw suite was:

    2 Gush
    2 Thirst for Knowledge
    2 Fact or Fiction

    Someone hypnotized by the propaganda, might say that's wrong because it doesn't fit the 4x-engine criteria. But isn't it possible that something like this could be better than a 4x Gush package?

    Or is it that because Gush is unrestricted, you must play 4? Personally, I don't buy that approach anymore.



  • Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Gush is much more than card advantage. Steve wrote a short novel about its use and I doubt he could do the same for Thirst and likely would have a much shorter book for Gifts. Lumping Gush into other historical "engines" is sort of like putting stripes on a cat and calling it a tiger.



  • @desolutionist maybe Gush is just so powerful but also so demanding? It seems difficult to want tfk and gush for example. In general I agree with your premise though.



  • When one refers to an "engine" they typically aren't referring to one card in isolation - they are referring to all the cards that participate in keeping the deck going. When I refer to the "Gush Engine", I am referring some combination of cantrips, planeswalkers, and restricted draw spells that function as a coherent unit. Gush puts lands into my hand that I can then loot away with Dack. It puts cards in my graveyard for Delve. It helps me chain draw spells together with the cantrips to find the permission I need to not die. In the end it consistently produces much more raw AND virtual card advantage than any other combination of Blue cards in Vintage, whether it be Thirst/Gifts/FoF/etc. The win conditions are incredibly interchangeable though Mentor and Pyromancer are in general the best - I just beat a friend in the two mans with another Troll Gush list since the Daily didn't fire. Game 1, I beat down over his Moat with Silumgar, the Drifting Death. Game 2, I used Gush for double Red to cast Chandra, Flamecaller. Note, Gush can be a 3 or 4 of in these decks, based on metagame - the card itself is less good against Eldrazi or Shops. If I'm going into a heavy Blue metagame, I want 4.

    It's not propaganda; where are you getting that 4 of a card is necessary for an engine? If your draw suite was the cards you mentioned, I would say you were likely wrong because your deck seems to be going in different directions - Gush synergies with cheap efficient counterspells and mana light strategies, Thirst for Knowledge with heavy artifact decks, and Fact or Fiction with Drain-Will strategies. While these aren't mutually exclusive, if you try to incorporate each element you generally end up with a less consistent deck (and arguably less powerful). I can't comment further without knowing the particulars. Overall though, I'm really confused by this post...



  • One could make the argument that Treasure cruise was an engine in recent times even though it was just 4x card draw cards. The engine part came into play when you considered the fact that the first treasure cruise help feed subsequent cruises.

    It was correct to play 4 of them in this regard, because they synergized with themselves and the cards around them, and as a result it was restricted. Why would you play a different card over copies 2-4 at that point when they simply did not work as well.

    Engine to me is different than what you are describing, which feels more like a combo. It is a system because they feed each other. Your deck plays cards rapidly into the yard, you cruise to draw more cards which in turns feeds more cards into the yard and gets you the next cruise faster. Likewise with gush what winds up happening is gush enables more things to happen that then in turn enable more gushing. Engines provide you velocity, the engine is in effect what makes the deck run just like a car engine makes a car run.



  • im slightly confused by the post and i want to make sure i understand before i say anything. is what your saying is that people play four gush for the simple fact that its unrestricted even if its not correct, and that this is proven through past decks such as meandeck gifts?



  • @wfain said:

    @desolutionist maybe Gush is just so powerful but also so demanding? It seems difficult to want tfk and gush for example. In general I agree with your premise though.

    Gush being a demanding card is one reason why one might consider playing less than four.

    @enderfall said:

    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Gush is much more than card advantage. Steve wrote a short novel about its use and I doubt he could do the same for Thirst and likely would have a much shorter book for Gifts. Lumping Gush into other historical "engines" is sort of like putting stripes on a cat and calling it a tiger.

    As much as I appreciate Steve, writing a book about Gush shouldn't invalidate the idea of playing less than four Gush. I haven't read the book yet, so I'm curious to read his writings on the topic. But yeah, Gush does some other cool things for sure. Just not without sacrifice.

    @ChubbyRain said:

    When one refers to an "engine" they typically aren't referring to one card in isolation - they are referring to all the cards that participate in keeping the deck going. When I refer to the "Gush Engine", I am referring some combination of cantrips, planeswalkers, and restricted draw spells that function as a coherent unit.

    Ok, thank you. This is what I was looking for. Decks are systematically broken up and presented this way.; there is a nucleus "engine" that keeps the deck going.

    Preordain, Jace, etc. Those cards are going to be played anyway. They were played before without Gush. The "engine" that you're describing is just a collection of blue card draw spells. Card draw is good in general, Im not denying that. I'm suggesting that there are different configurations and is not limited to hosting the Gush show.

    Gush puts lands into my hand that I can then loot away with Dack. It puts cards in my graveyard for Delve. It helps me chain draw spells together with the cantrips to find the permission I need to not die. In the end it consistently produces much more raw AND virtual card advantage than any other combination of Blue cards in Vintage, whether it be Thirst/Gifts/FoF/etc.

    There's the romanticizing. Your saying that your combination of cards is better than any other combination of Blue cards in Vintage. There is no evidence to support this claim.

    The win conditions are incredibly interchangeable though Mentor and Pyromancer are in general the best - I just beat a friend in the two mans with another Troll Gush list since the Daily didn't fire. Game 1, I beat down over his Moat with Silumgar, the Drifting Death. Game 2, I used Gush for double Red to cast Chandra, Flamecaller.

    There are lots of win conditions that can be used in many different decks. But I wouldn't approach deckbuilding from the assumption that Gush core is the best because I wouldn't want that to limit what I could play.

    Note, Gush can be a 3 or 4 of in these decks, based on metagame - the card itself is less good against Eldrazi or Shops. If I'm going into a heavy Blue metagame, I want 4.

    So if you knew you were going to play against Eldrazi/Shops in every round, but you still wanted to play a Blue deck, would you consider 2 Gushes on the basis of just being a decent draw spell?

    You cling to '4' because it will maximize your chances to win to have a greater chance of drawing, what you think, is the decisive card against Blue. That's fine if you think that. I don't think that. Whoever has more Gushes IS NOT who necessarily wins.

    It's not propaganda; where are you getting that 4 of a card is necessary for an engine?

    I'm not saying that 4 of a card is necessary for an engine, I'm saying that "engine" is just part of a romanticized idea of what we think this game is in terms of strategy. I'm suggesting that thinking of the game only through that lens is leaving untapped potential on the table.

    If your draw suite was the cards you mentioned, I would say you were likely wrong because your deck seems to be going in different directions - Gush synergies with cheap efficient counterspells and mana light strategies, Thirst for Knowledge with heavy artifact decks, and Fact or Fiction with Drain-Will strategies. While these aren't mutually exclusive, I can't comment further without knowing the particulars. I'm really confused by this post...

    Why would you criticize me for playing more expensive spells with Gush when you just boasted about playing 4RR cards with Gush? Obviously Gush helps cast expensive spells the same as it helps to cast cheap spells, but the point here is that Gush is also just a fine "draw-2". It's existence doesn't have to reflect in the card choices throughout the rest of of the deck. All of those cards are going in a direction, specifically to draw me cards.

    I'm not trying to be confusing, I'm just presenting a case for new ideas and exploration within deckbuilding.



  • im not sure if this is relevant so if its not i apoligize, but i have never viewed gush as an engine but part of an engine, the same goes for the other card drawing spells. ive always viewed the engine as the collection of the draw spells. an example of this is the draw engine i run in my deck, 4 thoughtcast and the draw 7's, ive always viewed the collection of the cards as the engine but the individual cards as just draw spells, is this what you are suggesting is that we view these spells as just draw spells and then build the engine on that?



  • im not entirely certain i understand this thread but isn't the reason people play 4 gush because the 4 better cantrips are restricted? recall brainstorm cruise dig. if you want to play 10 cantrips you simply go down the list from best to worst and start by adding the max number of each right? and gush is simply 5th on the list so we add 4 and move on to preordain and add 2 of those because the quality/efficiency of the cantrip takes priority over everything else.

    i imagine if we wanted to play 16 cantrips we would be playing the other 2 preordains and then like 4 gitaxian probe. i dont know i dont play gush decks but this is how i see it from the outside.

    edit oh i missed ponder.

    should we apply the same logic to burn spells? we play 4 bolts before adding the first copy of chain lightning right? is there a reason to play the first chain lightning before the 4th bolt?



  • I'm really curious why nobody has brought up the old Gush builds with Fastbond as an example. Played a lot of those, and even post 4 Merchant Scroll it was still pretty obvious that if you played a storm variant (Spanish Gush) you would always want the maximum number of Gushes.

    This is just an example when 4-of seems to be rather obvious: If your fundamental turn is about resolving multiple copies of your engine card, then it is probably safe to say you want 4.

    Nowadays of course this may look different. But to be honest, I've ran unrestricted "engine cards" as 3-ofs or 2-ofs a lot in the last years, and while this was mostly due to casting cost issues (e.g. JTMS) I can't quite grasp the point you're trying to make. For some decks like Oath it is completely straightforward to play their namesake card as a 4-of, as you want to increase the odds of drawing it in the first few turns. For other decks, not so much...



  • @snowydude Bolt vs Chain Lighting is like Ancestral vs Brainstorm: one is strictly better than the other. I think a better comparison would be Gush vs Preordain as Bolt vs Sudden Shock. Sometimes you want one, sometimes the other.



  • @desolutionist The reason that you don't use Gush and TfK in the same deck is that they pull your deck in different directions, because they do very different things. Just because they all draw cards does not mean they are interchangeable. While not a hard and fast rule, you want to build decks around synergy.

    TfK is an instant, so it synergy with Mana Drain. TfK is obviously better in decks with lots of artifacts, so it tends to be the weapon of choice in 5 mox Time Vault decks. These decks are often looking to spend 4+ mana in a turn, so hitting land drops is important.

    Gush is an instant, but it is most often cast main phase to avoid wasting mana. Running 1 mana spells is a good way to put all the mana to use, so Gush decks synergize well with Preordains and cheap creatures. Decks running a lot of cheap spells obviously synergize with Mentor/Pyromancer. Because you are able to make the same 2 land drops over and over, you can trim on lands.

    If you're mixing and matching draw spells is that your deck is trying to do a bunch of different things. If you have a high curve and want to be able to develop your mana, Gush will not be very helpful. If you're looking to chain together multiple spells, TfK isn't a great card.

    It is not impossible that a deck could want more than one type of draw spell, but I can't see why you wouldn't want to max out on the spells that are best in your deck first. What are the other 69 cards in the 2 Gush 2 TfK 2 FoF deck?



  • Who cares if you call it card draw spells or card draw engines? It's the same anyway. People play Gush over TFK because it fits into their deck much better. People play TFK over Gush because it fits into their deck much better. No one plays Fact or Fiction because it sucks.



  • Not sure I understand the point of this thread. Are you saying that Gush is less restrictable if people play 3 and their deck actually gets better by playing something else instead of the 4th Gush?

    Regardless, The "engine" is simply what best fits your deck. Token producers want as many "free" and/or cheap spells as possible. Gush best fits that bill. Want to support a Welder? TfK is clearly better. It's as simple as that.



  • @snowydude Direct comparison of draw spells is not as easy as it is with burn (I mean burn, not removal, because you mentioned Chain Lightning). All you are concerned with burn is efficiency (and sometimes uncounterability). To compare draw spells you have to do much more complex math. In fact, it is complex enough that (from what I observed) there is no general consensus regarding the best mix of cantrips and draw spells.

    I don't think Gush competes for a slot occupied by Preordain or Ponder. Also, in general I would play 4 Gitaxian Probe before 4 Preordain in a "Gush deck" and a lot of people do the same. Many lists play only one delve spell too (or even none). It is very deck dependent. And I guess playstyle / pilot dependent as well, given that people don't agree on a single build.

    PS: I'm not sure if it's correct (of course), but I play 3 Gushes, 4 Probes and 0 Preordains in my Esper Thing in the Ice deck :D

    @desolutionist I saw people trying out 2 Gush + 2 Thirst in Grixis Control / Painter on MTGO. For example this list: http://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/432495#online



  • Something strikes me as off about the whole original post. I don't know if its the premise or the conclusions drawn from the premise. I don't think a 'subliminal propaganda' has forced players to do anything in their deck building (except players who build decks by copying lists and no other means).

    Remember the color pie - blue draws cards. That is one of its strengths. Its what blue does. It should surprise no one that blue has good draw engines. So yes, we all expect powerful draw in the deck when we play blue. And there are a handful of cards that are tier 1 or 2 draws spells that leave cards like Amass the Components in the dust. Some blue draw spells will just be better than other blue draw spells.

    As for the assertion that we must include cards as a 4-of just because its unrestricted - sorry but I don't buy this argument at all. Not that I have to do it nor that I feel its a rampant belief in the community of deck building. Just look at deck lists going back over the past decade or more and you'll find them stuffed with 1-ofs and 2-ofs and even 3-ofs. I think many people may start a decklist with more 4 copies than needed. But then they play test, see how the deck plays out and adjust from there.

    I just don't think there is a rampant belief of a "4-of philosophy" and I don't think there has been a belief in that for at least 10-15 years.



  • @desolutionist How is @ChubbyRain romanticizing? I've played hundreds and hundreds of games with gush and what he is describing is exactly how it works when you are executing your game plan. There are turns where you topdeck a gush and then draw 15 cards because of it along with the Dack you have in play. Are you assuming it's not correct because it sounds too powerful and synergistic to actually work out that way? Gush is a helluva card.

    "There is no evidence to support this claim."
    What counts as evidence to you? The decklists that have done well in the past couple years form an incredible amount of evidence. Brassman putting a couple gush in his painter deck is the only list I can think of that did well with TfK. In that case gush isn't particularly synergistic with the rest of the deck; it's more just an incredibly good card.

    There is a difference between running gush in a deck where there's synergy (a "gush deck") and running gush as a random card because it's powerful. If some weird artifact-heavy blue Angels deck were the best deck in the format then sure, running a 2/2/2 split might theoretically be correct. That's just not the case though. As someone who looks at a lot of decklists, plenty of people are playing non-gush centric decks. Many of those people put in a couple gushes because the card is powerful enough to warrant inclusion. They are not, however, putting up results as consistently with these decks.

    Why do you keep on insisting that everyone runs 4 gush? Look at almost any non-mentor list I've played in the last 2 years. Mentor more frequently runs 4 gush for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that there are more open slots (no 4 of therapy, 4 of delvers, etc.) Again @ChubbyRain is right that if you're only playing against blue decks you want 4 gush. This isn't some stupid guess that he's making. It's something that he, myself, and many others have playtested a ton and it's the conclusion we've come to. Just because the result of 4 gush looks like it could have been made lazily (derp let's put a 4 of in my deck) does not mean that it was actually made lazily.



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    I'm confused by your premise. Lots of people play 1-3 Gush. Lots of people played 1-3 Treasure Cruise or Dig Through Time. Lots of people played 1-3 Gifts Ungiven or Merchant Scroll. I have absolutely played combinations of Gush+Thirst, Dig+Gush, Gifts + Thirst, etc, and I know I'm not alone.

    Could 1-3 Gush be correct for some lists? Yes, of course, it would be ridiculous to dispute that.
    Are those decks outperforming 4 Gush decks right now? No, not at the moment
    Could they (or a new build) outperform 4 Gush decks in the future? Yes, of course.
    Are some people going to default to 4 Gush in their blue decks anyway? Yes, of course.
    Are you allowed to play 1-3 Gush, event though some players will assume it's wrong? Yes, of course.

    What's the question here?



  • I'm offering insight on challenging the status quo. I've been very successful at it. I created the Jace/Gush deck years ago by thinking abstractly during deck construction; not resorting to common belief. If anyone is confused or mad or whatever, you don't have participate in the discussion. I'm at work right now so maybe later tonight I can write some more words if I feel it's worth my time. Obviously if no one else is capable of thinking outside the box here then there really isn't anything else to say.



  • I think I understand what you're trying to say here, but I think with the cards printed in the last 5-6 years, the conventional wisdom from years ago doesn't really apply. The token producing decks don't care about anything other than casting as many spells as possible as quickly as possible (or as slow rolled as you see fit if worried about a sweeper, etc). Git Probe, Gush, and Brainstorm/Ponder/Preordain are unequivocally the best for that purpose. Trapping out for 3 or 4 mana to play TfK or Fact or whatever is simply too slow compared to the so called Gush engine. For other decks, Gush might not be as perfect of a fit, such as Slaver type decks where they can better leverage the downside of TfK or even Gifts for that matter.

    Could another deck better leverage a combination of Gush and TfK and other traditional draw spells? Sure, but how would that deck deal with the speed and velocity of Gush decks? That's the whole point of all the B&R discussions. Gush pushes out every other Blue deck as it is currently configured because for such little resources the deck can go off and create a board state impossible to come back from when they have a full grip of counter magic.


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