RFC: Improving The Mana Drain
Or, Better Living through Stricter Posting Standards
Why I’m posting this
Or, Something is rotten in The Mana Drain
In the past months, I have noticed a marked decrease in the overall post quality on this forum. This decrease has taken the form of low effort posts, poorly reasoned arguments, and, personal attacks.
These personal attacks are by far the most alarming. I worry that we have lost sight of why we are here. The person who introduced me to gaming, Will Pagani, founder of Asgard Games and developer at Privateer Press frequently remarks,
Remember: The object of the game is to win. But the point of the game is to have fun.
I believe that all of us play Vintage primarily to have fun. While winning certainly is fun, it is not our primary goal. Vintage has a dramatically higher cost of entry and dramatically lower prize pool. This means that, even if one wanted to, one could never “live the dream” or “go infinite” by playing Vintage. I believe that Vintage is special in this respect as the need to win is therefore diminished.
How I’ve come up with these proposed rules
I’ve looked over the rules from The Source and the TMD archive. I’ve added in some observations of the application of unwritten rules (ie, mod actions that occur when a post doesn’t explicitly violate any written rule). And I’ve added a bit of my own opinion both about the problems I observe here on TMD and what my ideal Magic forum might look like.
Or, I came to The Mana Drain to post deliberately.
...the main goal of TMD is to be that "medical journal" of Vintage where ideas and decks are thought-out and criticized at the highest level.
- Dante, on the old TMD
A. Posting decks
- No post shall consist of only a decklist.
- An exception shall be made for posts made in response to a request for a decklist that has been previously discussed. IE, In a thread about a particular deck or card, a user may post a decklist without further comment if that user has previously discussed the deck without posting the list and the list has been requested by another user.
- A deck’s thread may be locked and directed to a new thread if a suitably high quality primer has been written for that deck.
- Rules regarding primers TBD
- Card choices shall be addressed.
- Any non-obvious card choice shall have reasons listed for choosing that card, including other cards considered for that slot.
- Obvious card choices may be grouped together. But a decklist shall not be expressed solely through obvious choices. EG, Moxen and mana-producing lands may be listed as "Mana producers." But Oath of Druids, Forbidden Orchard, Griselbrand, Yawgmoth's Will, and Memory's Journey may not be listed as one large "Oath Combo" grouping.
- Any post containing a decklist for a deck not already present in the metagame must answer the following:
- Why play this deck over alternatives?
- How does this deck match up against other decks present in the metagame?
- An exception to this rule is made when the context of the decklist is an illustration of an idea.
- EG: A spoiler post may include a potential decklist for that card.
- EG: A discussion of a potential changes to the banned and restricted list may include a decklist to illustrate how a deck may change post-restriction.
B. Single Card Discussion (SCD)
- An SCD thread shall begin with an English-language image of the card and the card's full oracle text.
- If multiple printings of a card exist, the image used shall be of a printing whose text most closely matches the current oracle text of the card.
- The resolution of the image shall meet or exceed the resolution of the scan/picture available on Gatherer.
- At the time of this writing, that resolution is 233 x 310 pixels.
- Users are encouraged to use the scans from MagicCards.info, which have a resolution of 312 x 445, a 92% increase.
- For recently spoiled cards, a best effort shall be made. The original poster shall be expected to update their post when a suitably high-quality image becomes available.
- SCD opening posts shall answer at minimum the following:
- What deck or archetype is this card being considered for?
- If this card creates a new deck or archetype, a decklist shall be included.
- What card(s) does this card replace and why is this card better than the card(s) it is replacing?
- What changes to the metagame have made this card an option?
- In the case of spoilers, this may be omitted as the change may be assumed to be, "This card was printed."
C. Respect Each Other
Or, Don't be a dick.
- Debate means you are trying to win; dialectic means you are using disagreement to discover what is true.
- Users shall be honest.
- This includes intellectual honesty.
- Users shall not flame other users.
- Flame baiting shall be considered the same as flaming.
- Users shall not reply to baiting or flaming with more flaming.
- Users shall report flaming.
- Users shall not make ad hominem attacks. Criticize plays, analysis, or logic but not each other.
- Users shall not state anything as a fact unless they truly believe it to be so.
- This includes opinions. A fact is something that is demonstrably true.
- Users shall not be criticized stating that they are unsure of whether something is a fact.
- Users are encouraged to reference the Comprehensive Rules, the Magic Tournament Rules, the Infraction Procedure Guide, and the Magic Rules Chat before making statements regarding rules or policies.
- The most current version of those documents may be found at http://wpn.wizards.com/en/resources/rules-documents .
- A hyperlinked version of the Comprehensive Rules may be found at Yawgatog.com.
- Users shall not encourage violence of any kind against any person or group.
- Users shall refrain from obscene, graphic, or otherwise offensive topics or words. This includes but is not limited to the following. Whether something violates this rule is not up for debate or discussion with moderators and/or admins. Only the I know it when I see it test is required for a moderator or admin to determine that something violates this rule.
- Profane or vulgar language
- Anything related to any individual or group's sexual orientation or gender identity
D. General Posting Quality
- Users shall make a best-effort attempt to use proper English grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
- Users shall use paragraph breaks to to separate thoughts and avoid run-on sentences.
- Users are also encouraged to review the Markdown syntax and Markdown Cheatsheet to further enhance the organization and readability of their posts.
- Users shall not derail threads with off topic posts.
- Shorthand card names reduce readability and increase confusion, especially for newer players. Shorthand card names shall be used sparingly. Shorthand card names shall not be used if the card being referred to is not immediately obvious.
- An exception shall be made in cases where only one card that could match that abbreviation is relevant to the current discussion.
- Example: A decklist contains Jace, the Mind Sculptor and no other Jace planeswalker cards. "Jace" shall be assumed to be referring Jace, the Mind Sculptor as it is the only Jace being discussed.
- Examples of acceptable shorthand: Ruby, Sea, Workshop, Snapcaster, Chalice, "5 Moxen" for Mox Ruby, Underground Sea, Mishra's Workshop, Snapcaster Mage, Chalice of the Void, and all five Alpha/Beta/Unlimited Moxen
- Examples of unacceptable shorthand: Jace, Lili, Jace 2.0, Seal, Lighting Bolt Machine
E. Reserved thread content
Users shall not discuss the following outside of threads specifically intended for their dicussion:
- Reprints, including The Official Reprint Policy aka "The Reserved List"
- This includes discussion regarding satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a reprint or lack of reprint of a non-reserved card.
- The Banned and Restricted List, except as it relates to:
- Recent changes and how they affect the topic at hand
- Preparing for possible future changes EG, If an update is scheduled shortly before a tournament, players may wish to discuss and practice with possible post-restriction decks.
- Proxies, playtest cards, counterfeits, and related matters
- Prices or availability of cards, except as it affects the likelihood of a card or deck being played.
- Problems or complaints about Magic: The Gathering Online, except as it affects the likelihood of a card or deck being played.
- Any other document or action taken by Wizards of the Coast or another group unless directly relevant to the conversation at hand. This includes, but is not limited to:
- The Vintage Super League
- Policies of Tournament Organizers
Two Card Monte is a Mishra's Workshop-based combo deck that looks to win the game through the use of a number of two card combos. At the very least, the combos of Helm of Obedience + Leyline of the Void and Painter's Servant + Grindstone are used, though some players choose to add further win conditions. 2CM players frequently choose the deck because they want to play something that is quite powerful and capable of winning quickly while also wanting to play something outside of the usual results-defined metagame.
This is the deck I played at the Lone Star Lhurgoyf Vintage Invitational:
Two Card Monte
Card Selection (8)
Leyline of the Void + Helm of Obedience
Helm of Obedience mills the targeted player one card at a time, "until a creature card or X cards are put into that graveyard this way, whichever comes first." (Emphasis mine) Leyline of the Void creates a replacement effect that prevents cards from ever going to your opponent's graveyard. Therefore, with Leyline of the Void in play, any Helm of Obedience activation for X>0 targeting an opponent will result in their entire library being exiled.
Painter's Servant + Grindstone
Synergies and strengths with these combos
Leyline of the Void
Leyline of the Void is the most obvious strength of these combos. With reasons ranging from Delve to Flashback to Crucible of Worlds, there are few, if any, mainstream Vintage decks that do not suffer at least a little bit from losing their graveyard.
Additionally, Leyline of the Void offsets most of the negative effects of activating Grindstone without a Painter's Servant in play.
When Painter's Servant names Blue, Pyroblast becomes a one mana counter-or-destroy-anything spell. Note that in some situations, it may be wise to name a color other than Blue with Painter's Servant to keep from allowing your opponent to pitch otherwise-nonblue cards to their [[Force of Will]
Helm of Obedience and Grindstone
Activating Grindstone or Helm of Obedience without the other halves of their combos in play can be used to disrupt your opponent, especially when they're using [Brainstorm] effects or top-deck tutors. However, the opponent may come to expect this and Brainstorm or tutor accordingly (or even put back cards that are better in the Graveyard). Additionally, you may be fueling a Delve, Flashback, Deathrite Shaman, Yawgmoth's Will, Crucible or Worlds, or numerous other graveyard synergies for your opponent.
Activating Helm of Obedience is especially dangerous against creature-heavy decks. Trading one of your win conditions for a creature is rarely going to be a beneficial trade. Note that against combo or combo-like decks that attempt to win with creatures (eg, Bomberman), it may be worth it to remove an opponent's primary win condition. Against combo or combo-like decks that attempt to win with a big creature (eg, Oath), it's certainly worth trading half of your combo kill for a couple-of-turns clock - and it feels so good!
These two combos are less common in 2CM decks. I've added them because they are additional kills, they each contain a card that is otherwise good in the deck, and because it helps to further illustrate the possibilities of the deck.
These combos are part of the reason that the primary combos are 4+3 and 4+3 rather than a full 4+4 and 4+4.
Tinker + Bot
Using Tinker to find a large Artifact Creature is one of the classic ways to win in Vintage. I chose to play Tinker because it is otherwise good in the deck, as three of the four primary win conditions in the deck are artifacts. It can also find some sideboard protection such as Ensnaring Bridge. Since I've already chosen to play Tinker, I added a bot as another way to win quickly in the deck.
Sphinx of the Steel Wind is my personal favorite Tinker bot. Which bot is best is likely a discussion best left to its own post.
Time Vault + Voltaic Key
Time Vault + Voltaic Key is another classic Vintage win. I'll admit that it's a bit forced in this deck. However, the combo is easily cast, found, and activated in the deck. The Voltaic key acts as a role player ramping with Sol Ring, Mana Vault, and Mana Crypt, stops Mana Vault from pinging you, and can give your Tinker bot vigilance.
Other card choices
Goblin Welder's uses in this deck apply to both sides of the board. You can weld away an opponent's hate-piece, exchange mismatched combo pieces, or turn low-value tapped moxen into win conditions. To be honest, this primer could easily be over half Welder interactions!
There are two common use cases for using Welder on your opponent's side. Defensively, Welder can get rid of a big threat such as a Lodestone Golem or Blightsteel Colossus. Offensively, Welder can turn an opponent's defensive artifacts, such as Chalice of the Void or Null Rod into something less problematic to your plan.
Welder can also be used on your side of the board. The most common example of this is returning a countered or destroyed combo piece. This is a rare instance where, even against a perfect opponent, casting spells into a Chalice may be the right call!
One last point for Welder: The Painter+Grindstone trick. Given a Grindstone, the mana to activate it, and a Painter's Servant in the Graveyard, you can activate the combo. To do so, activate Grindstone maintaining priority then weld out Grindstone for Painter's Servant. When Grindstone's ability resolves, all cards will share a color and you will mill your opponent's entire library.
Ethersworn Canonist is a strong role player in the deck. It rarely affects you while hurting all non-Workshops strategies. It keeps Mentors to a reasonable size, prevents Storm from comboing off, and ensures you have the last word when countering a non-Artifact spell on your opponent's turn. If worst comes to worst, a 2/2 can serve as a 10/10 clock.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth makes your Black tutors easier to cast. More importantly, you play several lands that have restrictions on them. Mishra's Workshop can now cast non-artifacts or activate them. Ancient Tomb and Mana Confluence no longer hurt, if you don't mind them only making (B)
- The contents of the Graveyard and Exile zones are both public information. If an opponent chooses to go through the combo rather than conceding, make note of the cards that are flipped and use that information to your advantage in sideboarding and future games.
- If your opponent has Null Rod in their deck, it may be wise to not play your Leyline of the Void so that you can use Goblin Welder as an additional way to get rid of Null Rod.
Matchups and Sideboarding
To be added. I'm the kind of guy who likes to sideboard by feel (and beer)
We considered the further step of restricting Sphere of Resistance, but prefer to take this smaller step first and reevaluate based on data and community feedback.
Anything to avoid restricting Workshop lol
I am pleased to annouced the first ever Lone Star Lhurgoyf Invitational!
As you may know, for the past few months, the winner of our Vintage tourmanets gets to take home our prize mat. The prize mat is now quite full and we must determine its final owner.
Eight of the most frequent attendees to our Vintage tournaments have been invited for a full round-robin tournament for final bragging rights.
thecrav, why the fuck do I care?
Because every round will be streamed with commentary! Tune in Saturday, July 29th at 12:30 PM Eastern to watch 8 Lhurgoyfs play vintage, bullshit, and get drunker as the tournament goes on.
Check back here next week for all eight decklists and the first few rounds of pairings.
EE7 decklists have been posted. Top 16 as links for convenience:
- Ryan Glackin - Sun Titan Dredge
- Michael Scheffenacker - Ravager Shops
- Timothy Candee - Dredge
- Nicholas Dijohn - Ravager Shops
- Joe Brennan - BUG
- Hank Zhong - Sylvan Mentor
- Nathaniel Riggs - Foundry Shops
- Daniel Barkon - Ravager Shops
- Brenden Mccarley - UR Delver
- Mike Canzanella - BUG
- Jostin Rodriguez - Ravager Shops
- John Grudzina - BUG
- David Long - Pitch Dredge
- Wilson Hunder - Paradoxical Storm
- Jose Ortiz - Ravager Shops
- Keith Seals - Dredge
By deck type:
This is likely the biggest event before Eternal Weekend. If anyone has further metagame breakdown, that'd be great for EW prep!
You read that title right. You're about to read about playing 5 C Staxx in 2019.
5C Staxx has a long and distinguished history. I'm too lazy to find it but I'm pretty sure it top 8'd at least one Vintage Champs.
5C Stax 2005
Card Selection (7)
In 2008, my best friend opened a game store. That first Friday, I played my first sanctioned Magic event. This lead to me building my first competitive Magic deck, Bant Aggro in Shards of Alara Standard. As soon as I experienced my first rotation, I knew that rotating formats were not for me. I built my second competitive deck ever, and my first Vintage deck, 5C Staxx. We have had long and torrid love affair ever since.
Since a Vintage scene formed in Houston a few years ago, I've toyed with a more modern version of the deck. Here's my most recent build.
5C Staxx 2018
Card Selection (8)
The last time I played this deck, I posted a picture of the deck. A friend who had very recently said that they needed to take a break from Magic asked for a deck tech because of how fun the deck looked. But I'm very lazy.
So last night, I got two friends to podcast with me. One of them plays a lot of Workshops and the other plays a lot of EDH and wacky brews. I surprised them with our subject and asked them to discuss the deck with me as well as brewing a more up to date version. The conversation went a lot of directions and I had to look up a lot of cards. Listen if you'd like more info but here's the sketch we ended up with:
5C Staxx 2019
Lone Star Lhurgoyfs
Card Selection (10)
I'm too lazy to write in full English sentences so here's a non-exhaustive list of cards that are in this deck and cool things they can do and/or reasons that they've been chosen.
The following cards were moved to the side so that Karn can act as an addition four copies of those cards.
- Crucible of Worlds
- Ratchet Bomb (Could also be Engineered Explosives)
These cards were put directly into the side
- Mycosynth Lattice - Combo, duh
- Chalice of the Void - With the spread of mana costs in this deck, Chalice isn't great. Grabbing it with Karn makes it much less of a liability to draw.
Oh, also Null Rod main is okay.
This is a not-at-all thorough list of sweet things you can do with Welder.
- If your Shops opponent has an X/X in the yard, it says T:Destroy target artifact an opponent controls
- Force an opponent to sac to Smokestack, then weld it out so it doesn't affect you. If you weld in another, you can add a counter to it, effectively making Smokestack one sided.
- Exchange Sundering Titan back and forth to blow up lands repeatedly.
- Turn a mox into a Lotus
- Recur Triskelion to shoot things (this is why Trike is in the deck instead of Walking Ballista)
Quick Bullet Points
- Sundering Titan - We're trying to be hateful. Sundering Titan is hateful as can be and is also a quick wincon. This is the Tinker bot to play. I will fight you.
- Dack Fayden - Filters cards, the downside of discarding is significantly reduced by Welder and Crucible
- Balance - Read this card.
- Chromatic Lantern - Makes everything easier to cast
There's a lot more to be said but I think the decklist speaks for itself. Feel free to ask questions or tell me my ideas are terrible.
I know this deck isn't going to be the best but I also know that you'll have a hell of a lot of fun.
This is pretty big. We are no longer constrained to having to set aside 4+ hours at a specific time to play in a Vintage tourny.
In my experience it was set aside four hours, get drunk during the half hour between finishing match one and starting match two, drop after match two because I'm drunk and bored.
Looks like no one's posted this yet...
Kevin Cron and Steve Menendian predict the Vintage Championship metagame and appraise the decks to beat.
0:08:30: Old School at Eternal Weekend, by Eternal Central, and other events.
0:14:45: Predicting the Champs metagame
0:33:00: Jeskai (Mentor, Delver, Xerox)
0:43:00: Taxing: Workshops and Eldrazi
1:09:00: Paradoxical Outcome
Total Runtime: 1:38:08
Karn, the Great Creator is restricted.
Mystic Forge is restricted.
Mental Misstep is restricted.
Golgari Grave-Troll is restricted.
Fastbond is unrestricted.
War of the Spark, Modern Horizons, and Core Set 2020 have been among the most impactful sets for Vintage in years. We've been watching and listening to the evolution of Vintage over the last several months as the metagame has begun to settle. Now that the London mulligan is official and we've had some time to review data and tournament results, we'd like to take action to resolve some problematic play patterns.
Though our data shows that Vintage is in a good state of balance from an objective standpoint, with nearly all the Top 10 decks having a 47–53% overall win rate, we've heard community concerns about an increase in turn-one/two effective wins and less interactive gameplay. We agree and would like to move the format back to a place the community is happy with, even taking multiple steps over time if needed.
Recently, Karn, the Great Creator and Mystic Forge have turbo-charged Shops decks by giving them more early-game lockout potential (through Karn's static ability), a tutorable win condition (through Karn's -2 loyalty ability fetching Time Vault and Voltaic Key or Manifold Key), and card advantage in prolonged games (especially through Mystic Forge). Relating to Karn's static ability, Vintage is the one format in Magic where players can enjoy playing with super powerful artifact mana like the Moxen, Sol Ring, and Black Lotus. We'd like to reduce the number of games that immediately come down to an early Karn preventing the opponent from casting spells.
Therefore, in order to make Shops decks more interactive in the early game and more attackable in a prolonged game, we are restricting Karn, the Great Creator and Mystic Forge. We considered the further step of restricting Sphere of Resistance, but prefer to take this smaller step first and reevaluate based on data and community feedback.
Dredge decks based around Bazaar of Baghdad have become more powerful with the London mulligan and some recent card additions, such as Force of Vigor as a means of fighting opposing graveyard hate. In order to slow these decks down and provide more time for interaction, we are restricting Golgari Grave-Troll.
Mental Misstep has been a controversial card among the Vintage community for years. While it does provide more opportunity for interaction, it is also at its strongest against the most interactive decks. Moreover, a large part of the reason for including Mental Misstep is to fight an opponent's Mental Missteps. This creates a situation where many decks are "taxed" deck slots they must devote to fighting each other at the expense of weakening themselves against Shops. In addition, Dredge decks often use Mental Misstep to protect their graveyard engine or disrupt opponents. We believe that restricting Mental Misstep will open up more deck-building diversity, strengthen interactive decks' matchups against Shops, and weaken Dredge.
Since our philosophy is that Vintage should be about playing with access to all of Magic, we periodically re-examine the restricted list for cards that can create new decks and play patterns, even if they come with some risk. Recently, many players have suggested Fastbond as a card they would enjoy building with four copies of. Since most Vintage decks rely heavily on artifact mana and play fewer lands, chances are that a deck built around Fastbond would look quite different from anything in the current metagame. Other cards we've discussed unrestricting in the future are Windfall and Necropotence.
We're very interested in what the Vintage community thinks of these changes and whether further steps are needed. There will be one more opportunity to change the B&R list before Eternal Weekend North America, and we are willing to do so, so please continue to make yourselves heard in the same ways you have been.
Next B&R Announcement: October 7, 2019
I think it would be a good idea to have a dedicated deck discussion sub-forum. Especially around spoiler time, the strategy section is likely to be overwhelmed with single card discussion, potentially pushing current deck discussion off of the main page. Additionally, it will be much more difficult for new players to find a starting point for their deck lists when decks and other strategy are all lumped into one place.
I rather like the way it's handled at The Source:
- Deck discussion
- Format Discussion (includes articles and single card discussion)
- Community Discussion
- Tournament announcements and results
- Rules questions.
For easy finding:
Friday: 1 and 5 PM
Saturday: 1 and 5 PM
Sunday: 11 AM and 4 PM
I'm normally concerned about possible overlap with Legacy - which I assume is the format that Vintage players are most likely to play that isn't Vintage. Many TOs have their one daily Legacy and one daily Vintage event overlap by some amount of time. Not a problem at Louisville - there's a Legacy event firing at the top of every hour!
I also like that they're spaced four hours apart. As four round events, that means us Vintage players should be able to play eight rounds/hours of Vintage in a row each day!
With SXSW starting up to the West and Star City Games hosting a tournament to the North, our attendance was down for this tournament. We continued to grow the community with two newcomers. As is tradition, both managed to win at least one match. In fact, one finished in second place!
Placing / Name / Deck
- Ben K- Ballista Shops
- Ashby G - Merolk
- Elijah H - Paradoxical Mentor
- Patrick B - Ballista Shops
- Chad M - Ballista Shops
- Tim E - Turbo Depths
- Joe K - Paradoxical Mentor
- Adam D - Paradoxical Storm
- Sam C - Two Card Monte
Next all-proxy Vintage tournament is in two weeks, Sunday 26 March at 1:00 PM. Location is TBD but will likely be Brash again. They've offered a free crowler to the winner next time around and possibly more!
Brash logo and power
Unofficial team mascot, Darlin
Darlin laments my inability to order enough pizza
Door prize winner Tim E ponders his new acquisition
Second place Ashby G shows off his new cards
Champion Ben K shows off some new cardboard and a crowler of Smoglifter to go with it
So, what do you want out of vintage? What makes your ideal Vintage?
I want tournaments like the Old School tournament at Eternal Weekend.
I want tournaments that look like this
I want my friends to question my judgement as I tell them I'm headed to Team Tusk.
I want to sit around a camp fire and listen to Ben Perry tell stories until we're too drunk to sit or the sun comes up, whichever comes second.
I've done the math. If you win every major Vintage tournament, you might cover your travel expenses. Vintage is not about winning. Vintage is about having fun. Vintage is about the community. I suspect this is why Vintage online has not been more popular - I can't do the above things alone in my office.