Thoughts on restrictions



  • There has been much written around here on the recent restrictions of Lodestone Golem and Chalice of the Void, and about potentially restricting Monastery Mentor and Gush. I'd like to stop and compare to what I believe was a similar situation in the past.

    Ravnica introduced dredge in 2005, and Future Sight introduced Bridge from Below and Narcomoeba in 2007. Thus the dredge archetype as we know it today was born. Dredge might not have ever dominated the format, but it did warp it significantly. The reality emerged that the deck would win 90+% of its Game 1's, and that every other deck would need to use half of its sideboard to deal with it. There were some who called for the deck to be dealt with by the B/R list, with Bazaar of Baghdad and Bridge from Below being the two main candidates.

    Rather than resorting to the B/R list, however, WotC printed more answers. The introduction of Dredge was shortly followed by specialized answers like Leyline of the Void, Ravenous Trap, and Yixlid Jailer. Later came more versatile answers like Grafdigger's Cage (also attacks Oath/Tinker) and Rest in Peace (also attacks Yawgmoth's Will/delve) - both cards have seen maindeck play in vintage.

    Going back to the original purpose of this post: I would broadly categorize Vintage as featuring 3 different power mechanisms: dredge, spell-count-advantage (i.e., I cast more spells than I should in normal Magic - the key to Storm, Mentor, Pyromancer), and mana-advantage (i.e., my lands produce 2+ mana, all spells costs more). There are others - something like Oath is perhaps a distinct power mechanism - but I'll focus on these 3.

    For all this talk about the need to restrict Gush, we should pause and think about the rather embarrassing fact that a card like Ponder is restricted in Vintage. Restricting Ponder to curtail spell-count-advantage is akin to restricting Stinkweed Imp to curtail dredge. It's dodging the fundamental issue. Same goes for restricting Lodestone to curtail mana-advantage.

    I believe it is possible to curtail spell-count-advantage and mana-advantage in the same way we curtailed dredge: by printing more hate cards, both specialized and versatile. Here are some of my own ideas:

    • White Hate Bear: creature, 2/2, costs W1. Artifact spells are no longer considered artifact spells.
    • Green Hate Bear: creature, 2/2, costs G1. All lands produce 1 less colorless mana when tapped for mana.
    • Black Hate Bear: creature, 2/2, costs B1. If a player would draw a card except the first one he or she draws in his or her draw step each turn, that player discards a card instead.
    • Force of Mephistopheles: instant, costs BB3. You may exile a black card in your hand and sacrifice 1 life instead of paying casting cost. Until end of turn, if a player would draw a card except the first one he or she draws in his or her draw step, that player discards a card instead.

    If these 3 cards were printed, I think Gush/Mentor would be weakened, and Ponder/Chalice/Lodestone could be unrestricted.



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  • The problem with that approach is that they've been following that approach for a while and I don't think many people like the direction it's taking us. People want to play Vintage; they want their deck to do powerful things. People don't want to play with a bunch of hate bears. There used to be only 1 hate bear deck but now the hate bear concept is just spread across all the major archetypes and that's not okay.



  • People want to be able to play lotus, moxes, academy, ancestral, walk, tinker, oath, storm for a billion and tendrils you in the face while BSC swings for overkill. If you can't do that on turn 1, you aren't playing vintage and should be playing standard instead.



  • I think there's a reasonable middle ground. We should have strong tools to fight different strategies, and the best strategy doesn't have to be "broken" but at the same time having a ton of hatebears with continuous effects as the mechanism to balance the format is kind of dumb.

    Instead of "You get to Dredge but I have this tool to fight it" and "You get to combo but I have this tool to fight it" it's just "You don't get to do anything at all until you deal with my hatebear / 1cmc artifact / Leyline / whatever"



  • I've never heard anyone say we need more matchups like Dredge in Vintage...



  • More answers to problems is good, but we do not need decks that are unbeatable without proper hate or cards that are blatantly oppressive (like Trinisphere and Chalice).



  • There are other card games that have trump cards for other cards, that is not magic. Many of those games have also failed. It's not good policy to play deck a or deck b designed to beat deck a.

    Diversity is good, it creates a metagame.

    Rock Paper Scissors is stupid



  • I am very glad that you are not on the R&D team, they are already going way to hard in that direction.

    Lets just make Vintage like every other format! Playing a 2 drop creature on turn 2, winning by attacking, interacting by blocking. Wouldn't it just be so unfair if somebody could counter your cool creature? lets make them all uncounterable, we wouldn't want someone to interact with you outside of combat. Somebody drawing more cards than 1 a turn seems kind of unfair, lets stop that with something...i know how about an ability on a 2/2 so we can attack and block with it?! Uh this guy is trying to produce more mana on turn 1 or is trying to not play basic lands, that seems kind of unfair, i am not doing that so he shouldn't be able to do so as well! Lets get something that hoses non basic lands or any kind of mana acceleration, better lets put that on a creature! This other player wants to play multiple spells in a single turn, i don't understand that, isn't it supposed to be 1 (creature) spell a turn? Lets enforce that by...mmh let me think...putting some hate on a creature! That player is trying to win by some kind of spell or combination, that seems complicated and unfair to me, he should try to win like everybody else by attacking with creatures! The proper way!

    Don't draw cards!
    Don't win by casting non creature spells!
    Don't put 2 things on the stack at once!
    Don't counter my creatures, in fact lets just get the stack out of here!
    Don't cast more than 1 spell each turn.
    Play 1 land a turn
    Play 1 creature a turn
    Attack
    Block
    That's magic!

    Alright i am sorry for the rambling, you probably get how i fell about that design approach.



  • @Evoclipse don't draw cards? Don't put multiple spells on the stack? That might lead to some Bazaar results



  • @desolutionist said:

    The problem with that approach is that they've been following that approach for a while and I don't think many people like the direction it's taking us. People want to play Vintage; they want their deck to do powerful things. People don't want to play with a bunch of hate bears. There used to be only 1 hate bear deck but now the hate bear concept is just spread across all the major archetypes and that's not okay.

    This is an interesting perspective that I didn't realize was so prevalent.

    To me personally, I find it quite beautiful that a deck that would get beaten in Standard can have game in Vintage, and how the deck balances the metagame by keeping broken strategies in check. I distinctly recall watching VSL Season 5 and hearing the commentators squeal with glee as Paul Rietzl brought hatebear decks like white-weenies and spirits, and I shared their delight. But I can see how others might feel differently.

    My card suggestions were just starting points for discussion, and I don't think it's necessary that new hate takes the form of bears. For instance, I would love to see ideas like them in the form of Legendary Lands that tap for G, a la Karakas.

    With that said, it is easy to see, from a card design evolution standpoint, why hate has come to take on the form of bears. There is a fundamental dichotomy when it comes to hate: (1) hate cards that simultaneously help your own deck's path to victory, and (2) hate cards that don't. A card like Karakas is an excellent example of a non-bear type (1) card - it provides targeted hate against a few cards, but simultaneously taps for W. Cards like Null Rod and Grafdigger's Cage are type (2) - no deck uses those cards for anything but defense.

    The first iteration of dredge hate cards like Leyline of the Void and Ravenous Trap were pretty much all type (2) hate cards that only targeted Dredge. So while these newly designed cards helped keep dredge in check, we had the distasteful situation of every deck needing to dedicate half their sideboard to type (2) hate cards. I'd argue this decreased metagame diversity, because any viable deck essentially only had half of a sideboard to position itself well against the other pillars of the format.

    The way I see it, two ideas emerged on how to solve this problem. The first was to introduce type (2) hate cards that had more utility against other decks (e.g., Grafdigger's Cage). The second was to introduce type (1) hate cards.

    But designing a fair type (1) hate card is very difficult. You risk making the most-broken deck even better. A Grafdigger's Cage with a Sphere effect for example would be much too good. The ideal way to do it is to couple the hate effect with a threat that doesn't coincide with the most-broken deck's aims, and using the beatdown-with-grizzly-bears threat for that purpose is a very safe way to do that.



  • That's an important consideration as well. I think the solution is cards that progressively disrupt the opponent rather than all at once. More Cursecatcher (Thalia if you must but ideally a little more nuanced) and Deathrite Shaman, less Ethersworn Canonist and Containment Priest



  • From a personal standpoint, I'm getting sick of cards being printed that do nothing but specifically hate on "vintage strategies". It's such binary gameplay and extremely boring. Call me a "blue mage" or whatever, but honestly I have the most fun when I play big blue or something like that, slinging the most broken spells ever printed against someone else doing the same, blue or otherwise. Some of my favourite games in Vintage were when I played against Prison Shops, or when I played Storm Combo versus a Big Blue deck, or indeed, big blue creature-less mirrors.

    I do not have fun trying to answer a random human whose name I cannot remember whose text basically says "you cannot do X", where X refers to something specifically you do in Vintage.



  • @gkraigher said:

    There are other card games that have trump cards for other cards, that is not magic.

    Oh really? So, Circle of Protections, etc. are a novel element in Magic?

    The very first Magic set was designed with a plethora of trumps for various strategies. Virtually every conceivable strategy was 'answered' in some way shape or form in the early game. Land destruction? Play Consecrate Land. Hand destruction? Here, play cards like Psychic Purge. Reanimation or recursion? Tormod's Crypt. And so on.

    That's why Wizards typically designs an answer to almost any strategy in each set. That's why cards like City in a Bottle were created. They created fail-safes to ensure strategic balance.

    Far from some external and nefarious force, the very essence of magic is strategy and trump/answer.

    rather embarrassing fact that a card like Ponder is restricted in Vintage.

    Ponder isn't just restricted because it's a spell count enabler. It's almost a 1 mana impulse. It's absurdly powerful. Imagine how good that is in 2-card combo decks like Oath, which just need to find Oath and Orchard.

    From my perspective, what matters for design is cards that increase the number of playable cards in the card pool. (Which I argued here: http://www.eternalcentral.com/so-many-insane-plays-designing-for-eternal/ ) I think Wizards has excelled recently in doing that. It's possible that right now we have a larger playable card pool than at any point in recent memory.



  • I would rather lose to broken things than 2/2s that say i dont get to play magic.
    losing to (dredge,storm,oath,vault/key, jace, belcher, lodestone, some madman playing an emrakul) are all acceptable as what your doing is on the proper side of the broken/fair scale.

    losing to (2/2s, flooding, mullagin to 3, dek reg error, and trinisphere) are not acceptable because they did the thing wizards decided was not acceptable. "let me play a game of magic" if back to basics, bloodmoon, and lodestone golem arent acceptable magic cards and chalice of the void isnt an acceptable magic card why is it that putting any of those effects on a 2 power creature is suddenly an ok thing to do? why is restricting their affects to only non creature cards an acceptable thing to do?

    you can't claim you want to allow people to play magic and then print cards that prevent people from playing magic.

    im not sure where i was going with any of this i knid of just wanted to say i mind losing to broken decks less than grizzly bears



  • Taking the VSL finals as a case study:

    If the solution to Oath of Druids is to play a deck with thirty 2/2 creatures for 2 maybe that's a sign that something is not quite right



  • @ajfirecracker said:

    Taking the VSL finals as a case study:

    If the solution to Oath of Druids is to play a deck with thirty 2/2 creatures for 2 maybe that's a sign that something is not quite right

    This is incredibly misleading, if not downright disingenuous.

    Case studies are only valuable if generalizable or representative. In this case, the unique structure of the VSL produced a match that would never exist in tournament Vintage. It's completely anomalous. You can't design a deck for one opponent or strategy in most tournaments, and expect win.

    In any case, the idea of playing hate cards is fundamental to magic. That's why sideboards exist. They wanted players to be able to include hate to narrow strategies without diluting main decks.

    I would rather lose to broken things than 2/2s that say i dont get to play magic.

    Assuming by "play magic" you mean, play cards in your deck, please explain why. Why is losing to Storm on turn 1 preferable to losing to a hatebear that prevents you from playing Force of Will or a Sphere that has the same effect? That seems like a silly distinction.

    This entire discussion is absurd.

    For years, people complained about how unfun Time Vault, Tinker, Yawg Will, etc. were, and how they were ruining Vintage with non-interactivity. Now the exact opposite is happening, and people are literally complaining that they don't want to lose to 2/2 bears in attack steps. I guess the main lesson is that people will complain about anything.



  • @Smmenen or maybe some people complained about Time Vault and some other people complained about Ethersworn Canonist

    I think "I would prefer Vintage to be a format that plays out along different axes and tests different skills than other formats" is a perfectly valid preference to have, and one that Wizards has encouraged. The Chalice of the Void ban, for instance, was predicated on the unique appeal of Moxen.

    Edited to add: The idea that the only options are hate bears and broken combos is a false dichotomy and frankly one that you seem to have labored to disabuse others of



  • @ajfirecracker said:

    @Smmenen or maybe some people complained about Time Vault and some other people complained about Ethersworn Canonist

    Maybe. But maybe some of those complaining now about Cannonist would have complained about Time Vault, et al had they played in that era.

    I think "I would prefer Vintage to be a format that plays out along different axes and tests different skills than other formats" is a perfectly valid preference to have, and one that Wizards has encouraged.

    Certainly. I see nothing in this discussion that would suggest that hatebears diminishes this standard or aspiration. In fact, just the opposite. The unique interaction of, say Gaddock Teeg and Gush is specific to Vintage.

    I would like to see hatebears and Aggro strategies become a larger part of the Vintage metagame.

    The Chalice of the Void ban, for instance, was predicated on the unique appeal of Moxen.

    Eh. The effect of Chalice on Moxen, by the published decision, was a consideration in their decision, but the main predicate was Shops' performance in the metagame. The restriction of Chalice was clearly an attempt to regulate Shop's metagame dominance, not primarily a reaction to the "unique appeal of Moxen."

    Edited to add: The idea that the only options are hate bears and broken combos is a false dichotomy and frankly one that you seem to have labored to disabuse others of

    I never presented the idea that those are the "only options."



  • @Smmenen

    http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/september-28-2015-banned-and-restricted-announcement-2015-09-28

    "A major problem is that a turn-one Chalice of the Void for 0 deprives the opponent an opportunity to put Moxen on the battlefield. While players can adapt by not playing Moxen, the point of the format is to provide a place to play those cards."

    You can argue that this reasoning is incorrect or anything like that, but if you take their reasoning at face value, it was indeed predicated on the unique appeal of Moxen. Moxen are even mentioned specifically in the message.



  • @Hrishi said:

    @Smmenen

    http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/september-28-2015-banned-and-restricted-announcement-2015-09-28

    "A major problem is that a turn-one Chalice of the Void for 0 deprives the opponent an opportunity to put Moxen on the battlefield. While players can adapt by not playing Moxen, the point of the format is to provide a place to play those cards."

    You can argue that this reasoning is incorrect or anything like that, but if you take their reasoning at face value, it was indeed predicated on the unique appeal of Moxen. Moxen are even mentioned specifically in the message.

    You conveniently omitted the first sentence of the paragraph you quoted:

    "Workshop decks have become more and more popular. "

    The context for raising that concern (the capacity to play Moxen) was the performance/popularity of Workshop decks.

    The "problem" in the first sentence you quoted is specifically the Workshop matchup. The first sentence is the topical sentence and sets the context. By copying the relevant text, but omitting it, you are misrepresenting the reasoning presented. If Workshops weren't dominant so popular, then Chalice would not have been restricted. Chalice's use in, say Hatebears decks, was not the predicate for restriction. It's use by Workshops was.

    If you re-read my previous post on this more carefully, you'll see my phrasing was carefully constructed to acknowledge this:

    The effect of Chalice on Moxen, by the published decision, was a consideration in their decision, but the main predicate was Shops' performance in the metagame. The restriction of Chalice was clearly an attempt to regulate Shop's metagame dominance, not primarily a reaction to the "unique appeal of Moxen."

    The reference to the "published decision" was the sentences you quote. But, as I said, the "main predicate," was Shops' performance in the metagame. Notice I use the word "primarily" and "main" to acknowledge that people playing their moxen was a factor, but the idea that Chalice was restricted solely so people could play their Moxen (suggested by the phrasing "the predicate") as a general matter, and not specific to the workshop matchup, is not true.


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