Posts made by Smmenen
posted in Off-Topic read more

I have never played Pioneer and likely never will, so I can't say whether it's fun or not. But I had a rule of thumb long ago that I only play formats with Dark Ritual in them. Those formats are just more fun to me.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

@grandpabelcher said in [Article] Information Cascades in Magic:

@tittliewinks22 said in [Article] Information Cascades in Magic:

If the game is so bad why play it?

There have been a number of people through the years where I've wondered why they play Vintage instead of another format, or even Magic instead of another game. I think some people actually enjoy complaining.

This might be the funniest thing I've ever heard you say.

I think people are chasing some feeling or experience they had at some point. Vintage offers some pretty potent experiences. The problem is that everyone has a different conception of what that experience is or should be.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@vaughnbros said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:


I’m not solely a dredge pilot. I play every deck in the format.

I don't think I've ever seen a your name in top 8 that wasn't on a Bazaar deck.

You will play that maindeck card in your opening 60 in 100% of matches.

You will play that exclusive Dredge hate card in your game 2/3 in ~5% of matches.

The main deck card choice is in your deck ~10-20 times as frequently played as that hate card.

This isn’t that hard, but you seem to want to make it so.

Your math here is super misleading, and it reveals two key flaws in your reasoning.

To begin, Frequency of Use (that is, number of times a card is played per tournament) is not the same thing as Significance or Importance. DPS players will cast Dark Rituals many more times than they will cast Yawgmoth's Will or Necropotence or Tendrils of Agony (or nearly equivalent finisher), but those cards are just as strategically significant.

Moreover, if a player plays with 4 "Random Card X" in their sideboard, but a 1 "Random Card Y" in the maindeck, like a Brian Kelly Peek or Sorcerous Spyglass, for example, although the 1 "Random Card Y" may technically be played more (meaning, actually cast) during the course of a tournament, but the 4-of "Random Card X" may actually be far more important in determining whether the pilot makes Top 8.

Thus, again, frequency of use (rather than appearances) is not the same thing as importance or significance, where importance and significance is how and where a card helps a player win matches or games.

But aside from how you are conflating 'frequency' of use in a tournament with strategic importance in a tournament (they are not even close to the same thing), there is an even more fundamental problem, and it's your main blind spot here: there is no such thing as a "sideboard card."

Again, is Pyroblast a sideboard card? Force of Vigor? Stony Silence?

What makes a card more likely to be played in a sideboard v. a maindeck has nothing to do with a card's inherent qualities, and everything to do with the structure or composition of the metagame, and how that card interacts with that structure.

Simply put, cards that are excellent against certain strategies, but weak against most of a metagame are more likely to be used in a sideboard. Whereas cards that are great against a wide range of strategies, but weak against a smaller portion of a given metagame are more likely to be played maindeck.

So, for example, in a metagame that is 70% blue decks, Pyroblast is more likely to be a maindeck card, and if the metagame is only 10% graveyard based, then Tormod's Crypt is more likely to be a sideboard card.

But if the compositional structure of a metagame shifts, so that graveyard strategies are 70% of the metagame, and blue decks are 10%, then then positions of Pyroblasts vis-a-vis Tormod's Crypts between maindeck and sideboards shifts accordingly.

Some decks, like transform boards and Dredge, use most of their SB in every matchup so that is certainly different. But these are atypical from Blue/Shops/others that devote large portions of their SB for 1 or 2 MUs.

The other part of my argument. Leyline vs Crypt vs Cage is again marginal differences. Just like this card vs Pyroblast vs Kambal vs Flusterstorm are only marginally different in power level. Just like me choosing to eat chicken wings vs a fried chicken sandwich. I’m likely to get very similar utility from it.

I could not disagree more with this principle that strategic answers are basically fungible or just different at the margins. The differences between options at a tactical level are actually massive gulfs in any particular event, even if the oscillations between the value or utility of options changes so frequently that in the very long run the differences appear marginal. Optimization per tournament matters. It can be the difference between making Top 8 or not, and winning a tournament or not.

If you are guaranteed to have X copies of a particular effect the existence of the card is only responsible for the additional marginal value it is providing you. This card might win you a few more games against Storm than a Flusterstorm would, when they Duress you before going off. But could also lose them too, when they just bounce it and go off.

Yes, but the card that actually wins you more games in a particular tournament is the optimal card. And tournament results, in the aggregate, are the means by which we observe this, combined with experienced judgment and insight of players in assessing this.

This is dramatically different from the impact of say Bazaar of Baghdad or Mishra’s Workshop that make an entire class of decks possible. Comparing the frequency of Bazaar top 8s to the frequency of Bazaar-hate cards top 8ing is missing the entire context of the results.

No, actually - they are interrelated. That's what makes your original comment that frequency of appearances in a sideboard top 8 is irrelevant so erroneous.

Large scale use of a particular tactic in sideboard of Top 8 decks is indicative of some underlying fact or set of facts, which we then use our judgment to discern.

If there are alot of Workshop or Dredge hate in a sideboard, then that may tell us both about the prevalence and/or power of the Workshop and Dredge strategies. We then use our experience and judgment to know the difference, and whether it is one, both or something else.

In the case of Grafdigger's Cage, part of the reason the card saw so much play wasn't just that was optimal in any particular matchup, but that it was broadly useful and hyper-efficient in a range of matchups. Thus, for example, it could be used against Oath and Dredge. If we see alot of Grafdigger's Cages, then it's a signal to see what role it's playing in the metagame, to try to understand why it's there, and then we can glean new insights about the structure of the format and the dynamics in tournament play.

On top of this all, top 8s frequency or prevalence in general as a measure of success, as Mikey just pointed out, can be highly inaccurate even for MD cards.

That's why we look over time and in the aggregate rather than a single case.

Top 8 appearances of a particular card tells us how good a card is because, in the aggregate, cards help players win games, matches, and thereby tournaments.

If a card is really bad or just suboptimal, over time, it will be weeded out, even if a single player sticks with it. Tournaments are basically simulations of a format, over and over again, and aggregate results give us insight into optimization. It's just a hive mind attacking a problem over and over again.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@vaughnbros said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:


Sideboard cards do not impact top 8 results as much as you are implying that they do. That is what you are missing. I’ve enumerated the reasons. If you want to ignore them and continue to use bad data then who am I to stop you? You clearly have your mind made up.

You must not be playing the same format as me then. Deck lists are integrated systems, especially in Vintage Magic. They matter almost as much as the cards in the main deck, and sometimes more. For example, a sideboard card is often more important than the 60th, 59th, 58, 57th, etc. Maindeck card. After all side boards are used in a majority games.

Your reasons are bad because they assume that hate cards are roughly equivalent. It’s pretty surprising coming from a dredge player. I’ve also explained how sideboards signal what is strategically significant in a format, e.g. Leyline v Flash combo.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@vaughnbros said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:

Stephen, there is an important concept when interpreting numbers: Correlation is not causation. What this phrase requires is that you add the context and assumptions to all numbers when attempting to infer things from them.

Top 8 numbers on sideboard cards are highly irrelevant because they are very often not the reason the deck is performing well. This is a classic correlated by not caused reasoning.

That principle - a generally acknowledged statistical and scientific principle - has no relevance here.

If you are saying that Top 8 appearances is just correlation, and doesn't reveal anything about a format, I disagree.

If there are literally dozens of top 8 appearances for a particular card, it suggests quite a bit.

First and foremost, if a card is appearing in sideboards, but not maindecks, then that is an important signal in and of itself. It means that the card is quite important at certain matchups, but the structure of the metagame is such that that card isn't good enough against most matchups.

Thus, take 2008: If Leylines are in 90% of sideboards, but 0% of maindecks, then that signals that a the card is tremendously important (and the reason it was important was primarily Flash, and secondarily Dredge), but it's not of broad enough utility to employ maindeck.

Top 8 appearances of particular cards are a signal about the structure of the overall metagame. Evaluators and format analysts must then use judgment to assess what that information means. But to say that it is 'irrelevant,' as I said, is dumb.

Especially when we look at Dredge hate, where nearly every deck has 4-10 hate pieces. You are guaranteed to find something like 32+ Dredge hate cards in every random top 8.

On top of that, we have the top 8 cut point bias. You needed approximately 3 wins to reach a top 8 at NE events for a long time.

Our Top 8 methodology excludes tournaments of 32 or fewer players, so the cut-off point is usually 4 wins. And, in any case, the vast, vast majority of data points in our data set are Vintage Challenges, which are mostly 7 rounds now.

To bring this back to this card, this card could get some top 8s. That won’t suddenly make this card better or more impactful. We can read it and realize it does not hurt near 50% of the metagame. People can put it in their Flusterstorm/MB trap/Pyroblast slots, but let’s not pretend that these other cards you are playing it over aren’t also very powerful.

It's not about "power" in the abstract. It's about how a card interfaces strategies in the metagame. The existence of a card - maindeck or sideboard - over time signals a structure. Lots of Pyroblasts signals strategically significant blue spells.

Similarly, lots of Stony Silences or Hurkyl's Recalls in winning decklists signal something about the metagame. You can extrapolate that further.

It doesn't matter whether a card appears in a maindeck or sideboard - when you see patterns in deck construction, those are signals about what's happening the metagame, not "irrellevant" information or noise. It's a signal about the structure and leverage points in the complex system that is the Vintage metagame.

I think this card will see more play than Damping Sphere because:

  1. it is great against big blue decks, and basically a silver bullet against PO

  2. it is frustrating for cantrip-based Xerox decks

  3. It slots easily into Survival and WhiteEldrazi, two upper tier strategies and can be used easily by lots of marginal strategies, like Landstill, emergent combo decks, etc.

  4. it's hyper-efficient, and a reliable first turn play

  5. it can just steal wins in a Mox format, the same way that Chalice used to. Even against matchups where it's supposedly "bad," it can steal wins, like when Shops keeps Mox, Mox, Sol Ring, Factory.

Damping Sphere only had 10 top 8 appearances. I think this will have more, but also be a Vintage playable for a long time.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@mike-noble said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:

I wish Deafening Silence existed during the Noble Fish days.

I wish this card existed 15 years ago.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more


I disagree with that. I think it will be better off the bat, and more enduring than Damping Sphere. Damping Sphere only had 10 top 8 appearances, and tapered off significantly since.

I think Defeaning Silence will be better than that.

The main reasons are:

  1. It only costs 1 mana, and is basically a silver bullet first turn play against PO, and not bad against Xerox either. It significantly slows Xerox strategies.

More broadly, I think this is good against big blue decks that players like you gravitate towards.

  1. It easily fits into Survival and White Eldrazi, as well as the various Fastbond decks emergent. Both Survival and White Eldrazi, in the three weeks since the restriction, have consistently Top 8ed Vintage Challenges.

Those two facts put together mean that this will see more play, in my estimation, than Damping Sphere. I don't know if it will be significantly or modestly more, but I am confident it will be more.

Damping Sphere was pricier, easier to remove, and much more difficult to break symmetry on. This is easy to break symmetry on. That also makes it more promising than Sphere.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@vaughnbros said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:

Number of top 8 performances for a sideboard card has to be one of the worst stats I’ve ever seen. I mean, I don’t even know where to start on how irrelevant that number is.

Leyline of the Void in 2008 was the second most played card in the entirety of Vintage, and second only to Force of Will. And almost all of it's play was in sideboards.

To say that's irrellevant as a statistic is just dumb. It's hugely significant in terms of what it says about the composition and structureof the metagame and the value of the tactic in that metagame.

Moreover, it's not always clear what's a "sideboard" card and what's not. Is Force of Vigor a sideboard card? Is Collector's Ouphe? Pyroblast?

Force of Vigor is almost evenly split between maindeck and sideboards. What matters is whether a card is good or not. That is, whether it sees play or not.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@chubbyrain said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:

Of course not. I only paid attention to the numbers when they were 0 and it was a card I thought should see play. The actual non-zero numbers have no actual meaning to the typical listener, but I didn't criticize them because it was your show and I was grateful for the content. I assumed it was some game you and Kevin played for entertainment purposes. If you want to take it seriously, I recommend dividing the number of "appearances (number of copies or simply being in a deck?)" by the number of events.

It's whether a card appears in a deck that makes Top 8. Not the number of copies per top 8.

We used to track number of events, but the number of events that fit the criteria, in the long run, averages out to be pretty even for any slice of time, and any changes are basically static changes for comparison purposes: advent of Challenges, etc.

And it still tells you nothing about what a card is doing, because if I remember correctly, you are basically talking about a fringe playable card in Brian Kelly's Oath deck. A literal one of in the SB. The lowest possible impact imaginable. It passed the "Brian Kelly will play this card" test.

I disagree. There is a big difference between a card that has 80 top 8 appearances, a card that has 30 top 8 appearances and a card that has 12 and a card that has 1. A card that has 80 top 8 appearances is a broadly used format staple, a card that has 30 top 8 appearances is basically a narrowly used Vintage staple, or nearly so. A card that has 12 appearances is a role player. And a card that has just a few appearances is a fringe card. It's not science, but it is helpful.

Believe it or not, this wasn't about you being right but I have been comparing this card to Damping Sphere since it was first printed and people were complaining about it for some time. There is a pervasive belief that hate cards such as this are anti-Vintage and going to have a profound or event warping effect on the format. It overestimates the effect on those cards - Damping Sphere is a key example:

This card, in theory, should stop all the whining about our favorite repeatable lotus land and its call for restriction. . . But it won’t. Mark my words. facepalm.

I love this card so much. This is the most potent hate card we've seen since Grafdiggers' Cage! I don't know that it stops Shops in Vintage exactly, since mana rocks can pretty much cover the spread after turn 2, but it seems absolutely brutal, BRUTAL in Legacy.

I suspect this is going to rock the sideboards forever now.

If this card sees any decent amount of play, it will certainly undermine the case for restricting Mental Misstep 😛

It can't be Misstepped, and makes Misstep wars much more difficult to sustain.

It's clear that this card has lots of Vintage potential, given that it directly affects the three most prevalent strategic approaches in the format, Shops, PO, and Xerox decks, which are spell dense.

But, I'm also not particularly thrilled with cards designed in this manner. Like Grafdigger's Cage, I feel that cards of this type or class may inadvertently have too much influence on the format, and tend to bend the format away from powerful strategies and tactics that make Vintage appealing and fun. Making Vintage "fair" does not necessarily make it better.

Damping Sphere may well live up to it's name, and be a big party pooper.

Replaying to this above

Well said, pretty much sums up my fears about this card. I have the same opinion regarding Grafdigger's Cage. It was ultimately too successful in influencing Vintage and changed it irrevocably.

I don't want to attach names, because it's not about putting players on blast. My point is that I've seen this before and I don't think it's very different. The card is better than Damping Sphere was but has narrow applications and it best used in the SB where you have more control over the matchups and situations in which it can be good. And unlike Collector Ouphe, this card exerts absolutely no pressure on the opponent. I checked MTGGoldfish and both Null Rod and Stony Silence have not cracked the top 50 spells. Ouphe is hanging out at #11 with the Dredge creatures. The pressure is a huge component especially as a top deck and late in the game.

And if anyone was curious, the Damping Sphere thread also had Storm talking about his Knight of the Reliquary Humans deck. ☺

Some things change, others stay the same.

Was this a TMD post?

There are lots of problems with Damping Sphere. The main one is finding a good home for it. Defeaning Silence has obvious, high level applications (WEldrazi, Survival, etc.)

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@chubbyrain said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:

Ok, now do Damping Sphere. I think people are always prone to overestimate the effect of hate like this...

I think the exact opposite. People tend to underestimate answers or disruptive effects like this, Force of Vigor, Leyline of the Void, Ouphe, etc.

But OK:

Damping Sphere

Stephen: 17
Kevin: 10
Actual: 10

I was in striking distance. Kevin got it on the nose. Our assessment was basically correct.

I'm not going to reveal my exact prediction for Defeaning Silence, since the podcast will be live soon, but suffice to say it is a double digit.

I will say that my prediction is greatly influence by the fact that I was extremely bullish on Force of Vigor and Collector's Ouphe and still dramatically underestimated both.

For comparison:

Collector Ouphe
Stephen: 15
Kevin: 12
Actual: 34

Care to make a top 8 prediction for Defeaning Silence?

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@vaughnbros said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:

Certainly a nice card to have the option to play, but I feel it’s closer to Grafdigger’s cage than a card that will suddenly warp the format.

Grafdigger's Cage is one of the most impactful printings in the entire history of the format. Cage still holds the record for the most Top 8 appearances in the first three months after it's printing ever (at 101), since I've been keeping track since around 2009. The number of cards that have directly and singly shaped the trajectory of the format since 1994 more than Cage may well be zero, or at least single-digits.

Here's what I wrote about Cage in my History of Vintage chapter for 2012:

Dark Ascension introduced a printing so format-altering that it was difficult to fully appreciate. In my set review, I declaimed that “Grafdigger’s Cage is the new sheriff in town, and the degree of its presence in the metagame moving forward will dictate what is possible and what is not.” I then spent more than 2000 words unpacking the strategic implications of a card that was seemingly so simple. Its two simple sentences mask its broad coverage and extensive reach. Most pointedly, I noted the effect that Cage had on Oath of Druids, Dredge, Yawgmoth’s Will, and Tinker, effectively neutering all of the above as long as it was in play. In their joint review for StarCityGames, Mark Hornung and Brian DeMars predicted that “Grafdigger's Cage ultimately will lead us into a metagame shift but one that is more ‘fair.’ ”

Grafdigger’s Cage was metagame defining, but it was not the only significant card for Vintage play. As I wrote in my review, “it is not simply the Cage that punishes the dominant anti-creature strategies of the format. There is a genuine arc towards beats and Fish type strategies in this set. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is one of the best White creatures ever printed. She is Thorn of Amethyst on legs, and heavily disrupts non-creature strategies, especially storm-based strategies, which are brutally punished by such effects.”

Thalia and Grafdigger’s Cage were major new printings for the Vintage format, and not necessarily welcome ones for players who enjoyed the more rollicking play patterns unique to the Vintage experience. These were printings that diminished the razzle-dazzle of an explosive format. Dark Ascension reinforced the trend towards creature strategies, in a forceful way. By the time of the next set review, Grafdigger’s Cage had exactly 101 Top 8 appearances in Vintage Top 8s, making it the most immediately played card I have ever counted.

The word "warp" is obviously the key word in your post, and it can mean different things to different people. But what I mean by "impact" is specifically Top 8 appearances.

It's hard to compare cards like Force of Vigor, Cage, Defeaning Silence, and Leyline of the Void with cards like Lodestone Gole, Jace, Narset, or Karn, as the former are tactical answers while the latter are strategic threats.

But by 'impact,' meaning Top 8 appearances, we can compare them more directly.

Grafdigger's Cage: 101 Top 8 appearances in first three months
Force of Vigor: 60
Narset: 44
Karn: 35
Lavinia: 26

Force of Vigor is by far the most played card from new sets this year in the first three months after it's printing. By that measure, I think Force of Vigor is far more impactful. And I would even say "warping," but that term is more vague and ambiguous, and really depends on what the user means precisely.

If Defeaning Silence is even close to Grafdigger's Cage in terms of influence (and I don't think it will be), it will be astonishingly significant.

I think it's more likely that this card is at the Lavinia/Collector's Ouphe level, maybe a little less.

But I'm also the person who predicted back in May/June that Force of Vigor would be the 'card of the year.'

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

I think it's important people think about how devastating this card can be. Not just as a tempo play, but as a simple lock piece.

There have been high profile complaints about effects that advantage players first turn, on the play, like Chalice of the Void.

This card has the potential to be like that. Imagine your opening hand is something like: Mox, Mox, Land, Instant, Sorcery, 2cc Creature.

If your opponent has a first turn Defeaning Silence, your entire game is stymied.

This is even worse if you are a PO player, and your opening hand is something like: Mox, Mox, Mox, Land, PO. Just think about how impactful that is. It's totally absurd.

This card is bonkers, and I think it will probably be the most impactful card in the set in the long run. This card could have been absurd in 2005 2009 or 2015.

In terms of possible homes, there are lots of possibilities:

Landstill, Fastbond land combo, Humans, and the most obvious is White Eldrazi. But I think the best, most automatic application is Survival. If I were testing for Champs with Survival, I would play test at least 3 between the maindeck and sideboard ASAP.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

This card would have been absolutely brutal against the Karn deck. A turn 1 on the play against Karn/Forge combo would have prevented serious shenanigans.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

We spent an hour on this card in our podcast recording last night.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

God this card is awesome.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@chubbyrain said in August 26, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

I was tongue-in-cheek referencing Aaron Forsythe's tweet...

The actual point of my tweets from context have been that Wizards has been using qualitative measures for B&R policy likely forever. And for game design. And for other things. Arguing that there shouldn't be a subjective element in B&R or that this new approach is different is wrong. You would have a much better case to the DCI if you argued in favor of your own preferences than why they should take actions against their best interests as a for-profit game company.

There is a difference between acknowledging that there is a subjective element to B&R management (which I have always done), and between saying that it's all subjective. I agree with the former, but disagree with the latter.

I have always acknowledged that there is a subjective element to B&R management. (I derive my framework from explicit statements by the DCI, and adopt that criteria, including subjective criteria.)

But what people have gotten tripped up over lately is thinking that presence of subjectivity renders all B&R management entirely subjective. They think it's all just infinite subjective regress. I'm not saying you are doing this, but I have read some recent statements online to this effect.

In doing that, people are confusing objectivism, in philosophical terms (or the idea of objective truth), with objective standards (contextual, pragmatic objectivity in Bernsteinian terms).

Even for matters that are seemingly entirely subjective, such as food criticism, there are widely used standards: cleaniness, quality of the ingredients, originality of the recipes, politeness of the staff, etc.

Similarly, for Magic, there are widely used objective standards that help define what makes a format a "good" or "healthy" format: breadth and range of competitive options, competitive balance, degree of counterplay, frequency of Turn 1 or 2 wins, etc.

Sure, there is subjectivity in the weighting and applying of these criteria to the facts, but that doesn't render any attempt to appraise one format as better or worse - or to making judgments about a format - as 'merely' subjective. Rather, the resort to standards creates space for pragmatic, contextual objectivity, which includes professional expertise and judgment.

What I find frustrating are comments that people make like "Well, that's just my subjective opinion," and "it's all just subjective anyway." Fine, but given that there are well worn standards, people can both hold their own opinions, and subjectively weight which criteria they feel are important, while still articulating, framing, and describing the bases for their opinion in terms that are familiar and relating to standards that are objective.

To extend the food critic analogy, it would be great if people could say: I don't like the food, but the recipes are original, the food staff polite, etc. Instead, people don't even bother to defend their opinions on grounds that we all agree on - and instead just say: "It's just my opinion." That's just intellectually lazy.

This is very common in law. For example, the standard for negligence in tort law is the 'reasonably prudent person standard.' It's an objective standard, but requires subjectivity in applying the facts. That makes subjectivity part of the formula, but doesn't render it all 'merely' subjective.

posted in Vintage Tournaments read more

Reminder that this is Saturday.

I may not be able to play now because of a conflict, but this is exactly what makes Vintage so great on Magic Online: the ability to play in large tournaments with high level competition.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@chubbyrain said in August 26, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement:


I would love to hear a justification for Workshops and Bazaar remaining legal that doesn’t involve “feelings” because every objective measure seems rather clear...

Every objective measure? That can't possibly be true.

For starters, Bazaar has never put up the consistent Top 8 metrics or even win % metrics that would justify it's restriction. So, not only am I skeptical that "every" objective metric would support these restrictions, I'm having trouble thinking of a single such metric.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@protoaddict said in Shambling Suit:

The game is always changing and prior results matter or else we would be unable to measure anything every time a new set is released. We have heuristics for this.

What's true in general is not necessarily true in all things.

Karn Forge Shops dominated the Shop pillar for the last few months. That's completely gone now, replaced by Shop Aggro. So no, we don't have recent 'data' on this particular point.