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posted in Vintage Community read more

@revengeanceful said in The best format in Vintage history ...:

he was kind enough to sign my Memnarch after smashing me in the round 2 of that event that didn't count.

Oh my god, the phantom round two! What an insane event that was. I ran TPS and ended up in a t4 or t2 split. I won the advertised Black Lotus which it turned out was damaged heavily enough to be unplayable in a sleeve. I had a good time as well, but that will surely go down in history as one of the worst-run Vintage tournaments of all time. Perhaps second only to the Baldswinsville catastrophe. Someday I'll have to write that stuff down.

posted in Vintage Community read more

here's four from me:

52 "Control Slaver Emerges" - Tog vs Slaver

My very first Vintage tournaments were just before and just after Onslaught, in a local metagame that was insulated enough to not be overwhelmed by top-tier netdecks, until Eric Dupuis showed up to our store during the last days of GAT and showed us how deep the Vintage rabbit hole could go. I attended the first Vintage Champs which was won by Psychatog/"Hulk Smash", and I don't feel like I really ever got to know a deck before that one. Hulk Smash was pure distilled blue deck, with 2-3 Psychatog and the rest entirely mana, counters, draw spells.

Psychatog-based lists were popular for a while but mostly dropped off the map as blue players migrated to Control Slaver, mostly on the strength of tournament wins and articles written by Rich Shay. I'm a big fan of Control Slaver, but I still felt most powerful behind the wheel of a Tog deck. People at large were afraid of a Mindslaver'd Psychatog discarding your hand, but that was a fundemental misunderstanding of the matchup. You died when you got Mindslaver'd no matter what, so you were better off building a deck that could contain your opponent and stop them from ever doing it, and nothing contained another player like Tog. As Goblin Welder ate more of the metagame, my Tog deck got better and better as people cut their draw spells for Lava Darts and Tormod's Crypts. Tog taught me how to play a control deck, taught me how to form my own metagame opinions, and won me my first power tournaments. I played a lot of different decks during that era, but Tog was my favorite ... until Champions of Kamigawa ushered us into an era we'll talk about later ...

71 "End of the 2nd Gush Era" - Flash vs Gushbond

What a rush. Gifts Ungiven was restricted in the same announcement as Gush's unrestriction, but the Gifts deck never would have survived. Gushbond decks came out of the gate stronger than they were the first time, and players hopped from Quirion Dryads to Tarmogoyfs to Oath of Druids to Painter's Servants as the metagame approached a fever pitch. The games got shorter and shorter, but instead of eliminating decisions like Trinisphere did, the Gush-Flash dynamic was a singularity, compressing more and more complex decisions into the same turn. It was a pressure cooker that forced rapid and dramatic evolution. People began to use their 75 cards as an entirely new sort of resource. Rich Shay boarded in 8 Leylines against Flash decks; I ran Encroach, but only in postboad games on the play, to punish the streamlined strategies that were effective against me on the draw; And Manaless Dredge, of course, broke every rule of magic we had learned up to that point.

Era #71 is the culmination of this format, right before the biggest restriction upset I've lived through as a player. I picked this as my favorite because it marks the tragically short life of MS Paint, the Gush/Painter deck I played to win the very last SCG Power 9 Series event ever held. I have never built another Vintage deck where I felt so far ahead of the curve, and so overqualified to handle a field. In the top 8 of that tournament I beat a Dredge player in two games by Pyroblasting their Bazaars, I beat a control mirror after I mulliganed to three, and in the finals my opponent had turn one Orchard-Oath-Force-backup on the play, so I killed them through their counter before they got a second turn.

But a better example of the times might be an event from #68, the 2007 TMD Open/Waterbury finals between Rich Shay on Gush and Justin Timoney on Flash, when people were just starting to get an idea of how different things were going to be. The finals match took all of fifteen minutes, and for some people that was a dealbreaker, but I watched the match in person and I was completely spellbound. Justin and Rich sat down and shuffled up. Justin is a chatty, playful trash-talker most of the time, and on this day very possibly had some chemical help. He's smart player who can always find the complex lines, but sometimes plays so fast and loose that he misses them. Rich is talkative but very disciplined. He's friendly and polite but a stickler when it comes to precisely applying layers and stacking triggers. They're both fun to watch play and I'm looking forward to settling in to see their dynamic. Both players know each other well and exchange pleasantries. Both players keep conservative hands, Rich opens with land-Brainstorm-go and Justin does the same. Everyone's waiting to see how the match is going to play out, each player surrounded by excited teammates. Justin's second turn takes about 3 seconds "draw, land, pass". Rich cracks his fetch on end of the end of Justin's turn and ...

That's it. The game's over. Justin plays Flash in response, both players have a flurry of countermagic but Rich is one Mana Drain short of winning the fight, one Mana Drain he can't cast with a fetch trigger on the stack. While we were waiting for the game to start, several critical plays had already been made and the outcome was locked in place. This was not a miscalculation for Rich. Rich was among the best Vintage players in the world. This was a quarter-second lapse in judgement that Rich made and Justin didn't. The game was different now, we were playing for keeps.

54 "The End of Type 1" - Slaver vs Gifts

The first time I played Gifts Ungiven in a tournament, my opponent said "Oh cute! That's the bad Fact or Fiction people talked about on TMD, right?"
They read the card and quickly picked which two I got to keep. I reached for the pile and they said "oh wait no, if I give you those you can combo". I smiled as they picked another two and then took it back, and it slowly dawned on them that they had already lost. This exact interaction happened every match that day. The second time I played Gifts Ungiven in a tournament, they knew better. The early days of Gifts were thrilling to me. There were a thousand ways to build the deck: Charbelchers, Slavers, Welders, Damping Matrices, Tinkers, Tendrils, Merchant Scrolls. In a few months other players started catching up and creating their own variants. Smmenen and I wrote point-counterpoint articles about the critical differences between Brass Man Gifts and Meandeck Gifts. I played the same archetype for years but it never felt like the same list twice.

65 "Manaless Dredge Arrives" - The Gifts Mirror

If Psychatog was my first love, and Gush was a passionate unhealthy college fling, Gifts Ungiven is "The One"

My favorite era to play Vintage was really this huge stretch of time, starting with the printing of Gifts Ungiven, rising in a slow boil until Gifts was restricted (#67). This was a two and half year stretch where I played so many decks that I loved that it feels impossible to pick a favorite. If I had to narrow it down, it's #65, the age of the Gifts Mirror, the peak of Vintage for me.

The Gifts mirror is a delicate dance where both players are trying to hide who's leading. It requires all the discipline of Keeper player, saving their counters for the spell that matters ... all the working memory of Storm player, tracking lines 5 tutors in advance. The decision density of a deck with Brainstorm, Merchant Scroll, and Gifts Ungiven is just massive. I can vividly remember testing mirrors in Ben Kowal's living room, discovering how you could win the match by strategically starting counter wars and losing them, at just the right time. Your opponent having no idea that their Force of Will on your Ancestral Recall just cost them the game.

It's impossible for me to separate the actual games of Vintage with this time in my life, when I met so much of the Vintage community, when I took 14 hour road trips to play Vintage every weekend. For better or worse, the SCG Power Nine series was my college experience, and I spent my brain's peak math-solving years figuring out Gifts piles.

It was Keeper (and the inimitable Control Player's Bible) that got me to enter my first Vintage tournament, and it was Tog that made me feel like I was a part of the Vintage Community, but Gifts made me feel like Vintage was a part of me.

edit: if you want to add the fun headers to your post, try starting your lines with some hashtags like: # Section Title/## Subsection Title/ etc, one to four hashtags are all displayed differently

posted in Vintage Community read more

I'm really loving the walk through memory lane I'm getting reading through @Smmenen 's just-posted Timeline of Vintage. I'm always blown away by how generous Stephen is with his time when it comes to making things for the Vintage community.

I want to share the good vibes this gives me with a good vibes thread. Skim through the Timeline of Vintage and pick out 1 to 5 of your favorite times to play vintage and post them in this thread. Stephen already posted his list here: https://www.eternalcentral.com/schools-of-magic-the-history-of-vintage-the-best-and-worst-vintage-formats-of-all-time/ . I want to know about the times you were having the most fun being part of the Vintage community.

  • List the number and title from the Timeline, and if you want, provide a new label that resonates for you.

  • Write a few sentences or a paragraph on why you loved that format. This is subjective and that's fine. Why did you love vintage then? If your fondest memories of Vintage are fond because you bought your first piece of power or met a group in a new city, that's just as good.

  • Good vibes only. I just want to know your favorites. Don't tell other people why they're wrong for liking a format they liked. If you want a "least favorite" thread, you can start it.

posted in Vintage Community read more

I'm getting a lot of views on this post, I do want to say that I'm not trying to actively trash people who love their collections. I view collecting Vintage has an adjacent/related activity to playing Vintage. I'm a player first, but I'm also a collector - I love the history I have with my Power and some of my old cards carry with them a sense-memory of where I was in my life when learned to play Psychatog, or Recoup, or Painter's Servant. A collection doesn't have to be expensive to be meaningful, but making a sacrifice to own something rare can be a positive/meaningful part of the experience for a collector. I just don't believe these two hobbies need to be coupled together in any circumstance where they bring each other down.

(and sorry for derailing the thread, honestly I should know better ❤ 😄 )

posted in Vintage Community read more

@tittliewinks22 said in Is it possible to have vintage be community run and maintained?:

While proxy events are fine in conceptz its a novelty that wears off.

This kills me every time, but I hear it happen so often that I know it's a real problem.

For me it's always been really clear that proxy Vintage is the exciting format I love, and sanctioned Vintage is a cute unsustainable novelty where rich kids get to play Lions vs Christians. As one of the Rich Kids who bought power in 2002, sanctioned Vintage always feels so fake to me, winning a sanctioned event never feels like it counted, I have no idea how many of my opponents were better than me but couldn't afford to win.

Even ignoring the power imbalance, the real-card obsession always felt so weird to me. Now more than ever. Like if you saw two billionaires playing tennis with solid gold rackets, you'd want to watch them for a minute, but it would be pretty obvious those people don't care much about tennis.

To me a proxy will always symbolize love of the game, an emphasis on the abstract strategy, an inviting and welcoming community, a personal sense of aesthetics, the inclination to try new deck ideas and strategies. It's everything about the Vintage hobby that I love, without the parts I hate.

But sometime long ago, playtest cards lost some PR war. New players basically always see proxy Vintage as a stepping-stone to sanctioned Vintage, which they'll never play, rather than seeing sanctioned Vintage as a marketing campaign to get people curious about the superior proxy Vintage. I don't expect to reverse public opinion on the issue, but I feel compelled to post something like this whenever the subject is brought up, in case I can sway a person or two to see what I see.

posted in Vintage Community read more

You (the general you) already have the power to define a set of rules and invite people to play. This is a grand tradition in magic that predates the concept of an official banlist. There are lots of success stories to model this after, Old School / Middle School, etc.

Remember that Commander was not an official format that WotC handed over to a Council, Commander is a player-designed format that a Council handed over to WotC.

The challenge you face isn't convincing WotC, it's convincing players that format you've defined is something they'd want to spend their time and money on. I think you'd need something more concrete to get a player interested.

This post lays out .... "Define a Mission Statement. Transparent B&R Choices. Easily navigable website. Responding to player feedback" as steps in building a format. I think these are great steps. I think if you were designing a format, following those steps would be admirable. I don't think I have enough information to be excited about playing a game, as these criteria could define Vintage or Standard or Uno. I don't think you can pick the Council without a rough mission statement in advance, because opinions on that sort of thing vary widely within the community.

I think, to achieve what you want, you're going to have to draft up a more clear view of what you have in mind, and then present it to the community as an option. Find people who want to play, host tournaments if you have to. If you can't find people who are excited enough by your idea to play a few test games, it's going to be a lot harder to convince the broader community.

All of this is predicated on my belief that player-run format variants are fun and worthwhile, and offer similar value to an official WotC shift on policy. Personally I don't think WotC's position is super important when it comes to how I enjoy Vintage, but if it's really critical for you, I think you'll still be able to make a better case for the strength of your idea if you can prove that there are people who enjoy it more than stock Vintage.

If you're completely dead set against the idea of just playing the cards you enjoy playing in an unsanctioned event, I think you (@Protoaddict ) are probably right that WotC is convinceable. I believe they're more open to this sort of thing than the general vintage community/magic community seems to think. That said, you'll never convince WotC of anything by posting on TMD. If you want to change their mind you need to make your case where they'll actually be around to hear it - a magicfest, twitter, their email, etc.

posted in Decks read more

If anybody is interested in producing video content that serves a similar role to a deck primer - a deck tech, video-primer, or vlog that you could point a newer player at ... I'm very open to using TMD as a platform to promote or host that sort of content as well. It doesn't have to be a traditional thread if that's not the best way to showcase the information, we can take "www.themanadrain.com/workshops" and turn that into the best possible landing page for however you'd like to teach a new player about shops, whatever that looks like.

posted in Decks read more

Excellent question. If I had an answer to this I'd be a happier man.

I made a few absolute-intro posts a few years back, you can see them here: http://themanadrain.com/tags/archetype . But these are mostly out of date, and from your post I get the impression that you're a little past intros and are looking for something with a bit more of a strategic point-of-view.

I think about this a lot. This is meta-commentary and doesn't really solve your problem, but people just aren't interested in writing primers anymore. I'm sure there are a lot of reasons, but my best guess is something like:

  • there's always been only a small % of the community interested in content generation to begin with. There's a handful of people (like Stephen Menendian, Rich Shay, and myself) who just love (or otherwise can't stop) making vintage content, with an aim of promoting the format for its own sake (or maybe habit at this point). Most people who create content are up-and-comers, people who have gotten into the hobby within the past few months or years, and create things because they want to make a name for themselves or just can't help sharing their passion. (Nothing about this is unique to Vintage itself)

  • there's been a cultural shift away from using forums in general, so TMD owns a smaller part of the global vintage mindshare than it once did. Newer players are less likely to do their discussions on a forum and therefore are less likely to think of a long-form post or article as a medium to make content.

  • it wouldn't be fair to say that streaming is easier or harder than writing, but as someone who's done a bit of both, there there are aspects of stream production that are very content-creator-friendly, the barrier to entry is ... I'll say different but in many ways lower, and the rewards of streaming vs writing are more visceral and immediate. If I want to produce an hour of streamed vintage content, it'll take me about an hour and ten minutes, and I can have a beer and hang out with friends while I'm doing it, while getting immediate feedback from people who have showed up to watch me, specifically. If I want to write a 5 paragraph primer for a deck, it might take me 6 hours to write, possibly weeks to prep for (testing?) and I'm likely to get a few one-word "neat!" responses, and three or four people telling me how poorly I understand the deck. I strongly believe that long-form written content is a real service to the Vintage community, and I've have people reach out to me about 15-year-old articles, but the immediate experience of being a streamer is much more pleasant than the immediate experience of being a writer.

  • these forces create a negative feedback loop. When there aren't primers on TMD, new players don't learn vintage through primers. When new players don't learn vintage through primers, primers lose their value as a tool to reach new players, and as a way to get status in the community.

I own this website so it's important to me to improve the experience visitors have, and it was always very much my vision that TMD would be a useful place for newer players to learn about and ease themselves into the hobby, and I know it's been falling short of that goal for a while now.

But I also want the community to be healthy and happy, whether they're on TMD or not. So I'll suggest in the short-term some TMD alternatives that could give you some information about the format:

  • Most vintage content these days is on Twitch. richshay, chubbyrain1, and iamactuallylvl1 are all smart cookies who stream vintage a lot. If you get lucky you might catch an occasional vintage stream from lsv, cyruscg, reiderrabbit, OriginalOestrus ... there's tons out there I'm sure there's a thread or something 😄

  • Some people just prefer talking about vintage in real time. There's a discord server some of the vintage streamers run which is fairly active, could be worth checking out https://discord.gg/2eVcsjK . There's a private discord server for TMD Patrons but it's pretty empty and probably not worth paying for (I'm an awesome salesman, right?)

  • www.eternalcentral.com has some long-form articles and it's the home of the novel-length works of Stephen Menendian. The stuff you'll find there tends to have more of an evergreen focus, and might not be a great source for learning about the latest deck-of-the-week, but it's about as well-researched and high quality as you can get for written vintage content

  • While you can certainly post questions on TMD, a lot of the vintage community is pretty active on Twitter, and we're probably all pretty open to responding to a tweet on any vintage-related content, There's way too many people to mention (maybe worth a thread), but I'm @tmdBrassMan and anyone I've mentioned in this post so far is active on Twitter as well.

  • As mentioned elsewhere in the thread, Joe Dyer's Vintage 101 on MtgGoldfish is the most active/regular vintage article series right now.

  • Some Vintage podcasts I like are So Many Insane Plays and Serious Vintage (light on strategy, big on community). There are definitely other vintage podcasts out there.

  • I wouldn't really recommend any of the other forums: the reddit vintage page, the vintage section of mtgsalvation/mtggoldfish, etc. I think I'm being objective, the other forums just don't have much going for them. But they exist if you want to check them out.

As far as TMD goes? You might get a good response if you start a thread with a more focused question. Post a list you like, ask how someone would approach one particular matchup, maybe leverage Twitter to get the question in front of more people, linking back to the thread so you can get more than a 100-character response. I think when you give a specific prompt you're more likely to get answers from players who are experts with one particular deck, but aren't the sort of people who self-motivate to write content.

If anyone has made it this far, and you in any way identify as the sort of person who MIGHT want to write a Vintage article sometime, I don't know if there's anything that I/TMD can do to make that process easier or more appealing to you. I probably have more control than you think over how written content is presented and shared on the site, which means YOU probably have more control than you think, because I'm pretty open.

The world marches on and I don't think it's some big tragedy that people don't use forums like they used to ... but using TheManaDrain to help people get into Vintage is still something that's important to me, whatever that looks like.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

Here are a list of cards I have seen people play a game of Vintage with, which can be cast off of a Cavern of Souls naming Fox or Elemental, and have an activated ability.

Eight-and-a-half-Tails
Nivmagus Elemental
Windreaver

Okay I didn't say I saw anyone win a game of Vintage with them.