Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017



  • @jhport12 said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    I'm curious to hear some nuanced theories about what would actually happen if Workshop was Restricted.

    People would cry about losing to Ancient Tomb and it would be the next to go. The cries of losing to prison are always the loudest.

    In the low variance world of 4 round events Shops can look daunting, but losing out on the most powerful draw, cantrip cards ever printed over 8+ rounds is what balances the card out to some degree.

    White Eldrazi threads the needle combining the prison of shops with "real" lands and diversifying the threat base such that narrow solutions (Hurkyl's, Energy Flux, Kataki, Shattering Spree, Pulverize) are no longer a panacea. There's an argument to be made that White Eldrazi is a superior prison deck than any popular deck with 4 Shops. Restricting Shop only helps reinforce its dominance of the archetype. Does this solve whatever play experience problem you hope to change by restricting Shop?

    One factor for Thalia's emergence was the printing of TKS. It paired a credible tough to kill threat with Thalia. I played quite a bit of Thalia during the Cruise era, and the card that vexed me more than anything was Lightning Bolt. There weren't many credible Cavern-friendly threats to pair with her that had more than 2 toughness.


  • TMD Supporter

    @Brass-Man said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    At a high level, my opinion isn't focused on any one archetype, or new players vs old players, but rather the business maxim, "if everyone is your customer, nobody is your customer"

    A small group of passionate players writes articles, hosts podcasts, runs tournaments, and inexplicably buys websites. If designing the format in a way that gets a few people motivated happens to alienate others, those others have a huge variety of other formats, games, and hobbies to enjoy instead. I'm not saying the format should be crafted in a way that I'm passionate about it ... just that it's important someone is more passionate about it than they are about their best alternative.

    If out of 100 people, 25 of them are deeply passionate about vintage and 25 of them hate it, you end up with a 25 person vintage format.

    If out of 100 people 100 of them think "vintage is alright", you end up with 100 Hearthstone players.

    Alternatively, if the DCI makes a decision to please a particular player segment, they will have annihilated any pretense of neutrality and impartiality, which is essential to their legitimacy. They would be attacked as partisan, and correctly so.

    Even if they please some player segment, they will alienate a larger crowd, and perhaps more importantly, a potential larger crowd. Why would new players find attractive to a format that is managed in such a way as to please a small segment? You would forever brand the format as inherently biased.



  • I don't understand, doesn't literally every announcement WotC makes favor one segment over another?

    I think the difference here is that I'm not convinced optimizing for "a larger crowd" actually gives us a happier, healthier vintage community.

    I do recognize that this isn't a solved problem, businesses have been struggling with this for centuries and I doubt I'm going to change anyone's opinion tonight.



  • I'm not really sure that the "cries of losing to prison are always the loudest." I don't think the evidence backs that up. I hear more complaints about Gush/Mentor, generally speaking. Also Paradoxical Outcome has triggered more than a few people to go on rants, although I don't know if it is more or fewer than Shops. I presume in the days of 4 Lodestone, 4 Chalice it was very common (I wasn't playing Vintage back then, however, so I don't know).

    "Restricting Shop only helps reinforce its dominance of the archetype" - I'm not sure what you mean by this.

    You comments on White Eldrazi are a little more focused on my question. If the argument is that Shops would decline and White Eldrazi might take its place as the premiere prison deck, that would be an interesting assertion.

    Another point could be that if Shops is slowed down, Gush would get too powerful and require a re-banning. I'm not asserting that, but it's a possible consequence.



  • @Brass-Man

    I tend to agree with the argument that every decision WOTC makes results in some people feeling like they've won something and others feeling like they've lost something. Absent clear direct evidence of pandering to one segment over another, I don't think it's very fruitful to make that a bar to reaching any decisions at all.

    That said, what key metrics can we use to determine the health of Vintage? Is it how many people show up to a big regional tournament? Is it how often the MTGO Vintage Daily fires?


  • TMD Supporter

    I think right now Vintage magic is torn between two forces:

    Paper magic- which tends to be a more casual, slower metagame. A lot of players flocked to Vintage in the early years because they didn't want to keep up with an ever-changing meta, and wanted their expensive cards to stay relevant. Not saying there aren't paper elite, but you'll probably find a lot more players playing "for fun" or as a hobby. Due to infrequent tournaments, the meta changed slowly.

    MTGO- People play on a daily/weekly basis and quickly tire of stagnation. MTGO is much more resilient to restrictions (price changes in cards), because the investment is smaller. I think MTGO is more cutthroat and competitive, and the incredible frequency of tournaments quickly reveals problems in the meta, that might have taken months for paper tournaments to spotlight.

    The convergence of these two is definitely causing (going to cause) issues, and I'm not sure sacrificing the vintage "commoners" in favor of the vocal elite is a smart solution. It's a tough balancing act that the DCI walks, as Vintage means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There is a strong emotional aspect to why people play Vintage that I don't think other formats have to deal with.


  • TMD Supporter

    @Brass-Man said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    I don't understand, doesn't literally every announcement WotC makes favor one segment over another?

    I think the difference here is that I'm not convinced optimizing for "a larger crowd" actually gives us a happier, healthier vintage community.

    Neutrality and impartiality doesn't preclude making decisions that have the effect of favoring one player segment over another.

    Every B&R list decision necessarily affects/harms the most impacted group more. That's not problematic. That's an inevitable byproduct of good management.

    Whats problematic is when the DCI makes decisions to placate a vocal player segment over another rather than because of objective or neutral criteria.

    That kind of decisionmaking delegitimates the format and marginalizes it in the minds of potential format players.



  • Great article as usual.

    You mentioned MTGO moving fast due to so many results being posted. I'd like to add another reason. Card acquisition on MTGO is faster than real life, cheaper, and lower downside.

    If I want to test out playing a new card in a tournament, I can usually get it for a small fraction of its paper value. I can acquire it in seconds and if I don't like it, I can sell it back at a tiny loss in another few seconds. In paper, I would likely pay more for the card, spend three or more days waiting for it, then get around half of the original value if I decided to sell it back.

    @Thewhitedragon69 said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    Why, oh why, are people so afraid of restricting Workshop and letting chalice and golem off the list?

    These days, you're doing well if you've paid $600 for a Workshop. That's about the same price as a Mox Pearl, which is no longer just-the-fifth-mox as it used to be. WotC claims to be blind to the secondary market but many of their actions indicate otherwise. Steve once said something along the lines of, "getting rid of the reserved list back then would've been a good idea but by now, it's too late." I think the same thing is true of both a Workshop and a Bazaar restriction. We will see many more things restricted out of these decks without their linchpin cards being restricted.

    Incidentally, what would the value of a restricted Workshop be? I imagine it would certainly be low enough for it to start being played in EDH/Commander again.


  • TMD Supporter

    Has banning shops pieces done this @Smmenen :

    @Smmenen said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    That kind of decisionmaking delegitimates the format and marginalizes it in the minds of potential format players.

    Because of some non-neutral criteria of what "fun" is. The justification for many restrictions from chalice to 3-sphere has appealed to some sense of what playing vintage decks is supposed to feel like, or what is or isn't fun, neither of which are subjective. I am not saying those were bad decisions, but I just want to know why you think that delegitimizes the format?



  • @Smmenen said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    Whats problematic is when the DCI makes decisions to placate a vocal player segment over another rather than because of objective or neutral criteria.

    That kind of decisionmaking delegitimates the format and marginalizes it in the minds of potential format players.

    I 100% agree with that. Whatever the actual process is for making format policy decisions, it can't look like "the loudest player wins", or it just encourages people to get louder or stop playing.

    I think an unhappy portion of the player base already believes they're doing this, and already feels disenfranchised for this exact reason.


  • TMD Supporter

    @garbageaggro said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    Has banning shops pieces done this @Smmenen :

    @Smmenen said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    That kind of decisionmaking delegitimates the format and marginalizes it in the minds of potential format players.

    Because of some non-neutral criteria of what "fun" is. The justification for many restrictions from chalice to 3-sphere has appealed to some sense of what playing vintage decks is supposed to feel like, or what is or isn't fun, neither of which are subjective. I am not saying those were bad decisions, but I just want to know why you think that delegitimizes the format?

    Trinisphere and Golem were dominant, not simply unfun.

    If they werent heavily played, they wouldnt have been restricted.



  • I feel like there should really be more answer cards printed in Commander/Conspiracy/Planechase/etc. Instead of leaning on more restrictions. I'd actually like to see things come OFF the restricted list and just have better cards for answering the "problem" cards/decks. Strange that there isn't at least one person pushing for this at Wizards...


  • TMD Supporter

    @smennen I mean Golem saw less play than gush has at multiple times in the metagame reports. I am not saying they shouldn't have been banned, but if we are really arguing for subjective measures there are other cards that have seen equivalent play. See Mental Misstep.



  • I like when people evaluate cards on the B&R in a vacuum but adamantly argue against said methodology when considering meta viablity. Makes about as much sense as Mishra's Workshop being unrestricted in this format.

    Pikula nailed it last night, hands down.

    Ban the Survival not the Vengevines.


  • TMD Supporter

    I'm certainly no shops expert or a deck building expert, but let's just for sake say Workshop was restricted.

    Here's a deck list I found online quickly (not restricted) on mtgtop8.com:

    17 LANDS
    4 Ancient Tomb
    3 Mishra's Factory
    4 Mishra's Workshop
    1 Strip Mine
    1 Tolarian Academy
    4 Wasteland

    21 CREATURES
    4 Arcbound Ravager
    4 Foundry Inspector
    3 Hangarback Walker
    1 Lodestone Golem
    4 Phyrexian Revoker
    1 Triskelion
    4 Walking Ballista

    22 OTHER SPELLS
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Chalice of the Void
    1 Mana Crypt
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Sol Ring
    4 Sphere of Resistance
    4 Tangle Wire
    4 Thorn of Amethyst
    1 Trinisphere

    SIDEBOARD
    2 Crucible of Worlds
    1 Dismember
    4 Grafdigger's Cage
    2 Karakas
    4 Leyline of the Void
    2 Wurmcoil Engine

    If we restrict Workshop, here is a sample version of a deck list (again not an expert, so I'm not saying this is even remotely optimal with a Workshop restriction at all).

    17 LANDS
    4 Ancient Tomb
    4 Eldrazi Temple
    2 City of Traitors
    1 Mishra's Workshop
    1 Strip Mine
    1 Tolarian Academy
    4 Wasteland

    21 CREATURES
    4 Arcbound Ravager
    4 Thought-Knot Seer
    4 Hangarback Walker
    1 Lodestone Golem
    4 Phyrexian Revoker
    4 Walking Ballista

    22 OTHER SPELLS
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Chalice of the Void
    2 Crucible of Worlds
    1 Mana Crypt
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Sol Ring
    4 Sphere of Resistance
    2 Tangle Wire
    4 Thorn of Amethyst
    1 Trinisphere

    SIDEBOARD
    3 Dismember
    4 Grafdigger's Cage
    2 Karakas
    4 Leyline of the Void
    2 Wurmcoil Engine

    The three spots removed from Mishra's Workshop makes for some interesting deck choices. I wanted to try to use more sol land type cards, so I replaced Mishra's Factories with Eldrazi Temple and put in 2 City of Traitors. I'm not a fan of City of Traitors, as it can be a very weak draw (or powerful, obviously). It's drawback of sacrificing it can be very bad. I don't really like Thought-Knot in this list either, but it's still a powerful card. I came up with this list honestly without too much thought.

    My initial inclination is that a lot of the higher end spells have to go (Wurmcoil Engine) and some reduced (Tangle Wire, Foundry Inspector). I'm not even sure Tangle Wire is a correct choice to even keep in the deck. I'm not liking the deck list as it would appear to be way more volatile, slower, potential dead draws because of Thought-Knot. Of course there would still be games it does really well, as it is a list of powerful cards.

    This was drawn up really quickly, could be just fine. I'm just looking at my first inclinations of what the deck would look like. The deck may need to be even more warped, as getting lock pieces in may be too expensive. I don't like 4 drops with this list (I was half tempted to cut Lodestone altogether) and I'm wary of 3 drops. I feel it's possible that blue decks would get under it pretty quickly.

    Though, I do understand the argument that coloreless spells seem to be the easiest to break, especially with a land like Workshop.



  • @Brass-Man said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    @Smmenen said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    Whats problematic is when the DCI makes decisions to placate a vocal player segment over another rather than because of objective or neutral criteria.

    That kind of decisionmaking delegitimates the format and marginalizes it in the minds of potential format players.

    I 100% agree with that. Whatever the actual process is for making format policy decisions, it can't look like "the loudest player wins", or it just encourages people to get louder or stop playing.

    I think an unhappy portion of the player base already believes they're doing this, and already feels disenfranchised for this exact reason.

    This is my single problem with VSL. It is my perception that the complaints of the ten(ish) person VSL, and especially Randy, are heard significantly more loudly than anything else; perhaps more than all other voices combined.



  • @thecravenone Yeah, even if wizards isn't doing this at all, the perception that they're doing it is a real problem for some players



  • @thecravenone

    My single issue with this community is the notion that Joe Schmoe is somehow more fit to dictate what is healthy and unhealthy than top competitors spanning multiple generations.

    Say what you will about Randy but I'll take his absurdity over 99% of the garbage written here.

    The notion that WotC even listens to dialog when forming decisions speaks a lot to our own entitlement and sense of self importance.


  • TMD Supporter

    @Brass-Man said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    @Smmenen said in Notes on the State of Vintage, Jan 2017:

    Whats problematic is when the DCI makes decisions to placate a vocal player segment over another rather than because of objective or neutral criteria.

    That kind of decisionmaking delegitimates the format and marginalizes it in the minds of potential format players.

    I think an unhappy portion of the player base already believes they're doing this, and already feels disenfranchised for this exact reason.

    Who?

    The only people or segment of the player base in the last year and a half that who may reasonably feel aggreived are Workshop players, who have suffered through two separate restrictions.

    Who else has a basis for complaint to such an extent they feel the DCI policy marginalizes them?



  • @Smmenen I REALLY don't want to get into this argument in this thread, but I know people who believe Gush is overdue a restriction feel that DCI policy marginalises them, by continuing to restrict one workshop card after another instead of hitting, what people believe, to be the core problem. Workshop cards are, in some people's opinion, being hit because the cries for their restriction from the VSL is louder than anything else.

    From a personal standpoint, I think @Brass-Man has it right here. I don't necessarily feel that DCI policy marginalises me or anything of the sort, but I am personally having less fun in Vintage than I ever have before. This naturally results in me spending less time reading and participating in Vintage-related matters. It's obviously not ideal for me, and I wish it would change. The result is that I've simply spent my time getting into other formats, and indeed, other games. Anecdotally, I've found many people with similar experiences. While this is no basis for policy, it does make me wonder if this is the right direction or not. I believe it is not.

    I'm sure some of the more aggressive posters on this forum consider this a good thing, and will probably say something to the tune of "good riddance". Well, aggressive and hostile posts are what result in people spending less time on this forum altogether. I deal with plenty of it at work and life, I don't really want to deal with more aggression on a forum related to a hobby. Simply browse this thread or any thread of significant size and I guarantee you'll find plenty of examples. Congratulations.


 

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