Someone on Reddit helpfully noticed that they've already kicked around this idea: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/latest-developments/mulligans-2015-08-07
What we didn't like: This mulligan was way too strong in Constructed, and encouraged big changes in deck building. Perhaps the most notable thing was in Modern and Eternal formats, where sideboard hate got a lot stronger since you could shuffle extra copies back into your decks. Similarly, combo decks got a huge advantage since they could mulligan away possibly useless cards. In one of our biggest rules violations for changing the mulligan rule, it clearly changed the parameters for deck building, and would have a profound impact on how older formats played out.
I'm trying to find the MTG Arena angle that's almost certainly behind this, but I'm coming up blank so far.
It's because of the e-sports push. They took some criticism at whatever PT it was last year after LSV anticlimactically exited the top eight when he had to mull to four. Non-games like that are bad for the streaming numbers, which is what they're focusing on now.
I think that when you look up a deck on MTG Goldfish and see "Online: $250- Paper: $25,000," that's going to inevitably lead to the online metagame being substantially larger and therefore moving faster, becoming more optimized, etc. than the paper metagame. That doesn't necessarily mean that Vintage is fundamentally a digital format now--local metagames are just different from the overall metagame. Online discussions focus on the online metagame because it's something that is the same for everybody, but that doesn't mean you can't play something outside of that and do well and have fun at your local paper tournament.
My point here is that when we measure the format from MTGO we get Thorn restricted over Sphere. I would argue that Chalice may need to come off the list to help unpowered decks but that goes down the B&R rabbit hole.
Leaving aside the specific question of whether Thorn or Sphere is the more appropriate target for restriction, is this not the right result? Many more people are able to play Vintage online than in paper, both because of the expense and because of paper Vintage events are just not very common. Most of the paper events that do exist allow at least ten proxies. The vast majority of people playing Vintage are playing with decks that are appropriately powered. Shouldn't B&R policy address that reality?
That seems about right to me. There are a couple of other points in Lavinia's favor though, I think:
She will semi-frequently capitalize on an opponent who is in a dicey mana situation, a little bit like how you would play Vindicate because it's a versatile answer to powerful threats, but it would also sometimes come down as a Stone Rain on an opponent who missed a land drop and just lock them out of the game. Even on the draw, if your opponent keeps like a land and 1-2 moxes and doesn't find any more lands for a couple turns, Lavinia can frustrate their ability to play spells other than the ones she rules out completely.
At least for me, being two mana instead of three really changes what I want to get out of her. With Leovold's cost and stats, I kind of expect him to be a credible threat in addition to a disruptive card, so I'm always kinda bummed when he gets out-creatured and can't attack safely. At two mana Lavinia feels more like a Confidant or Meddling Mage to me, where the effect is worth the cost and getting some hits in is a bonus that you get sometimes. Maybe that's just me though.
Don't get me wrong, I still like Leo very much. I think they're both good enough to maindeck, but if they were competing for the same slots in a deck I'd probably go with Lavinia. She seems to do something in almost every matchup even if it's not a total slam dunk.
Week three decklists are up: https://www.hipstersofthecoast.com/2019/01/vintage-super-league-season-9-week-3-decklists/
All four of this week's decks are more fringe. That should be fun.
I own a ton of cards and cards that I do not own I will proxy in paper to brew. On MTGO, while the cost is low it is still a cost.
There are ways to mitigate this part, at least. If you take a look at mtgowikiprice.com, you can usually find different bots to patronize in a way that lets you not lose much when you cash out of cards that don't work out. For example, I recently tried brewing with Bitterblossom, with not-amazing results, and I'm probably going to cash those back out... if you look here you can see that you can buy MM2 Bitterblossoms for $4.58 and sell them for $4.50. So I was able to take a chance on a not-cheap card, and it will only have cost me a quarter or so. It's a little bit fiddly to manage your cards this way compared to just buying what you want from Cardhoarder or whatever, but it does make it a lot less scary to try cards that may or may not work out.