• RE: Gifts and Intuition Piles.

    I've put some work into Gifts a handful of times over the past few years. I never found a list that worked for me, but I'll throw out some of my thoughts on the card, which might be useful to you

    value gifts

    • a "Value Gifts" like you mentioned, is when you get multiple good cards which improve your position rather than going for a kill. It can be useful when you're too short on mana to win this turn, but is also a useful way of fighting through disruption. Traditional combo Gifts may lose to a single well placed counterspell or graveyard hate spell, and the "Value Gifts" serves as a hedge against that.

    • In particular you want a set of cards to get with Gifts if you suspect your opponent has specialized disruption. That is, most players will Force of Will, the initial Gifts Ungiven, but they can't Misstep it and they can't always Flusterstorm it, so a good Value Gifts is going to be able to punch through a hand that has Missteps and Flusterstorms, as some lethal Gifts piles completely fold to them (or to, say, a Ravenous Trap)

    • Cards that do something from the graveyard can really make a "Value Gifts" get out of hand - my old favorite is Deep Analysis, but cards with Flashback, Dredge, Retrace, Aftermath, and Jump-Start all work, if you can put 3 or 4 in a pile, you can generate some serious advantage.

    lethal gifts

    • The cheapest deterministic Gifts kill with no additional requirements is Time Vault/Voltaic Key/Argivian Find/Reconstruction which clocks in at 6 mana post-Gifts. I don't know if I'm into this because of how much worse it is to naturally draw Find/Reconstruction than the cards that other kills use.

    • Traditional Gifts decks used Tinker->Colossus and Tendrils of Agony to kill with primarily ... but traditional Gifts decks used Darksteel Colossus rather than Blightsteel Colossus, and had to set up turns where they could cast Time Walk twice. A Tinker kill requires significantly less Xwork today ... a Tinker, Time Walk, Recoup, Black Lotus pile will kill for 8 mana, but the cost drops dramatically if you naturally draw any one of those cards (or a Yawmoth's Will, etc.)

    • If you're casting Gifts at the end of your opponent's turn, which is fairly common, you can take advantage of your draw step and get topdeck tutors, which makes things cheaper. Vampiric Tutor+Mystical Tutor+Demonic Tutor+X is an old standby. X could be Voltaic Key in a deck that runs 2 Keys, or just a Black Lotus or Time Walk to set up a gigantic Yawgmoth's Will

    • Any Snapcaster-like cards in hand bring the requirements way down. With a Yawgmoth's Will in hand you can just get 3 fast mana cards and a Demonic Tutor and go wild.

    • Jace, Vryn's Prodigy was particularly interesting to me, with its mana-free recursion. With a JVP in play, you gifts for Dark Ritual+Cabal Ritual+Demonic Tutor+Dark Petition and kill for only 1 mana post-gifts, with no specific requirements about what cards you've drawn already besides having threshold for Cabal Rit, which isn't super hard to have after you've resolved Gifts and activated JVP. (it's a complicated kill, but it works)


    • People who didn't play Gifts years ago pretty universally look at old lists and replace the Recoup with something cheaper, like Noxious Revival. I think largely people are missing the benefit of the recursion spell itself having flashback. To find a specific card with Revival, your gifts needs to include that target card, and Revival, and a second recursion spell like Snapcaster Mage, leaving you one slot to play with. Because Recoup works from the yard, you only need to get the target card and Recoup, which frees up a second slot that could be used for anything. When you're setting up a Yawgmoth's Will turn, that extra card can be huge. Recoup costs 2 more mana than Snapcaster Mage, and 4 more than Noxious Revival, but if it lets you put a Black Lotus in the pile, you're getting 6 extra mana on your Will turn. All of that said, I still think it's reasonable for a Gifts deck built today to just run 4 Snapcasters maindeck and plan on drawing one naturally rather than putting them in a Gifts pile, and skip the Recoup entirely ... but I'm not personally a fan of Noxious Revival.

    • I've played Intuition for 3 Ancient Grudge before, it's as good as you're hoping.

    • I've also played Intuition for Life from the Loam+Strip Mine+Raven's Crime ... it's ... not good.

    • Ultimately I've found Gifts decks to just be too weak against modern tempo blue decks. Flusterstorm, in particular, is a real problem. I haven't seriously explored the archetype since the Thorn of Amethyst restriction though, which could possibly free up some space for addressing blue decks.

    posted in Vintage Strategy
  • RE: Gifts and Intuition Piles.

    @zias It works, you can do it with Narcomoeba, too, which is hilarious, but you're talking 6 damage for 3 mana, it's not exactly orders of magnitude better than existing options

    posted in Vintage Strategy
  • RE: Collectors and International Edition Cards for Sanctioned Play

    As a quick reference, there are currently 2 CE Underground Seas on TCGPlayer, both at roughly $450. As discussed above, making these legal probably won't do any good except for the people who already own them - not that that's a problem, but I just wouldn't expect it to save Vintage.

    posted in Vintage Community
  • RE: Survival Salad

    I played two (count them!) matches with a similar list to @wfain RUGb from a few posts up and it felt pretty good. I happened to play back to back against the same Lands player, first with a Bant list and then this one and the Deathrites really helped. My second match was vs. Esper Outcome and he stumbled a bit, Null Rod did some work and I got there.

    So apparently Spellseeker will be online a week from today: https://twitter.com/DrStreetmention/status/1042684448179773440

    I was thinking of a straight BUG version to maximize Deathrite and Leovold as a plan C. Null Rod is an acceptable substitute for Stony Silence but losing out on Thalia along with Ancient Grudge, Chewer and Pyroblast from other versions feels like it might be bad but I'm looking forward to trying it out. Maybe with a few Missteps or something as additional maindeck disruption.

    posted in Vintage Strategy
  • RE: Myth of the Golden Age: In Defense of Vintage Today

    @nedleeds said in Myth of the Golden Age: In Defense of Vintage Today:


    Misstep hadn't begun its corrosive incestuous climb because Delve, Dack, Pyro/Mentor hadn't made Free into +1 mana and a Token.

    What an awesome top 8 in to this date one of the largest paper events ever. Icing on top was beta power for prizes.

    That that was seven years ago I think illustrates my point: which is that Vintage has been pretty suboptimal for a while, but that we are currently inhabiting one of the better versions of the format.

    posted in Vintage Community
  • RE: Myth of the Golden Age: In Defense of Vintage Today

    @tittliewinks22 said in Myth of the Golden Age: In Defense of Vintage Today:

    2007/2008 was my favorite era. SCV and 5c stax were my jam. Also goblin welder was much more enjoyable in a world without mm.

    SCV was 2009, not 2007 or 2008. The first half of 2007 was dominated by gifts and pitch long. The second half was dominated by Gush, and then MUD decks. The first of half of 2008 was Gush decks, Flash, and Shops. 5c Stax wasn't played much at all in 2007 or 2008.

    posted in Vintage Community
  • RE: Myth of the Golden Age: In Defense of Vintage Today

    My questions was an open invitation - I wasn't prescribing dates and times players could suggest as a 'better Vintage format.'

    So, if you have specific dates you'd identify as being that better format, please feel free to offer them. I was simply going back to Khans to illustrate that the format has been pretty lousy since Khans.

    IMO, some of the all time best Vintage formats (as measured by diversity of the metagame and quality of game play) include (in no particular order):

    • June, 2008-Sept, 2008 (the re-restriction of Gush until the printing of Tezzeret and the errata on Time Vault)
    • Pretty much the entirety of 2006
    • January, 2002 (restriction of Fact or Fiction) until October, 2002 (when Onslaught was released)

    I don't think anything format with Lodestone Golem unrestricted can qualify as a 'high quality' format.

    As for your other question: is Vintage fun? Yes, as I said, I played in several Vintage leagues recently, and pretty much every game, not just match, has been high quality and intense. Almost exhaustingly so, actually.

    posted in Vintage Community
  • Myth of the Golden Age: In Defense of Vintage Today

    I hear a surprising number of of players, of late, complaining that they are unhappy with Vintage of late, that the metagame is stagnant, that PO decks are too fast, or any other number of complaints.

    I look at the format, and I see a really healthy, diverse metagame. I discussed this in my article here and our [recent podcast](link url).

    If you think that Vintage is so bad right now, can you please tell me when exactly you felt that Vintage was so much better than it was now?

    I'm genuinely curious. Be specific. Give me dates.

    Breaking up Vintage into 8 different periods since Khans of Tarkir was released in October, 2014, demarcated by major new printings and by restrictions, I'd love for someone to tell me which period they felt was actually better. Let's look back:

    1. Was it from October, 2014 to January, 2015? If so, that's hard to imagine. Treasure Cruise dominated the format and was promptly restricted.

    Anyone saying that they loved this format has to answer the question: why did Treasure Cruise need to be restricted, then?

    1. Was it January, 2015 until Sept 28, 2015? I remember this period well. We had a big NYSE and season 2 and 3 of the VSL. If this period was so great, then why were TWO cards restricted at the end of it, including Chalice of the Void and Dig Through Time? All I heard were incessant complaining that led to the restriction of both. If anything, Dig Through Time was even better than Treasure Cruise.

    2. Was it Sept 28, 2015 until April 4, 2016? I remember good things about this format. It wasn't that bad. But if it was truly so much better than now, then why did it culminate in the restriction of Lodestone Golem? If that metagame was really so great, then surely LSG didn't have to be restricted.

    3. OK OK - All of those periods resulted in a restriction. But what about the period of April 4, 2016, until Kaladesh was printed at the end of September, 2016? Maybe April 4-Sept 30, was a better period?

    If that was really so great, then why was that the period in which players complained the most about Gush? There were more angry posts about Gush than almost any other time. Also, the metagame breakdown had Gush at 35% of Top 8s - which was almost as high as Treasure Cruise was before it got whacked.

    1. Well, what about the period from Kaladesh until April, 2017? That metagame was probably better than the summer before it, as PO was released, but players were not all happy about Walking Ballista in that period. And, in any case, it ended with the restriction of Gush AND Gitaxian Probe on April 24th. So, it's really hard to make the case that that metagame was any better.

    2. Ok, but didn't things settle after the restriction of Gush? Wasn't April 24-August 28, 2017 any better?
      Not by a long shot. That summer, Shops and Mentor decks put on such a performance, that at the end of August, the DCI restricted BOTH Mentor and Thorn. That was one of the statistically worst metagames we've ever had. Shops were 40% of Top 8s in the Vintage Challenges.

    3. Did things improve after that? Not unless you think that a vintage championship top 8 that was 5 Shop decks and 3 Oath decks was an improvement.

    In contrast, from January to June 30, this year, the Vintage Challenge results had this Top 8 metagame:
    23% Shops
    17% TX (Mentor and Delver)
    17% PO
    13% Dredge
    10% Oath
    8% BUG(r)

    That's the most statistically balanced metagame Vintage has had, at least, since the Summer of 2014.

    For people going so far as to even "boycott" the format right now, I just have to wonder how this format is any worse than any other instantiation of vintage we've experienced since 2014.

    In fact, instead of apologize for the format. It's miles better than it's been in many years. Is it perfect? No. The SCG P9 tournament still had too many Shops in the Top 8 for my taste. But the format is by any known statistical measure, much more diverse than its been in years. Hell, we just had Survival win the most recent major Vintage tournament.

    Vintage is still the deepest, and most strategically intricate format in Magic, and this is frankly one of the better Vintage formats we've had. Is it perfect? Of course not. Very few Vintage metagames have been. But it's far better than most.

    PO is not nearly as dominant as its critics suggest. It's won only one of the four 100+ player paper Vintage tournaments held this year so far. And it's only been the best performing deck on MTGO for one month this year, as measured by Top 8 appearances (February). It's usually the 3rd or 2nd best performing deck.

    I won two leagues over the labor day weekend, and even went on a 14 match win streak (which Hiromichi Ito unkindly snapped), playing neither Shops nor PO. The Leagues are well populated with 110 ish players last I checked, and the challenges are still regularly getting 50-65 players, which is where they've been for a year now.

    There have been lots of wretched Vintage metagames in the last 5 years. This isn't one of them.

    Vintage is actually pretty great right now, and I'm psyched for Eternal Weekend.

    posted in Vintage Community
  • RE: Collectors and International Edition Cards for Sanctioned Play

    @p3temangus said in Collectors and International Edition Cards for Sanctioned Play:

    @joshuabrooks My main point is because it won't hurt anything, and the proxy precedent has already been set, then why not?

    I think it opens up a can of worms for them with World Championship decks then too.

    posted in Vintage Community
  • RE: Semi-restrictions (two-of limit to cards)

    Personally I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with the idea, but I'm not holding my breath that it'll happen. I'm not worried about the argument that it would make things more difficult for vintage players - there's already an absurd amount of information a vintage player needs to have memorized to play the game ... 25 years of one-off keyword abilities, rules changes, errata. How many cards in the average vintage deck have oracle text that matches their printed text, 30%? Deck construction rules are barely a drop in the bucket, especially considering a player can verify before the tournament starts (there's are plenty of tools that check legality for you), and never have to memorize or think of it ever again. I don't have any reason to think that a semi-restriction system would make the format worse (and for that matter, even though I know boerma was joking, a 3-of rule wouldn't bother me at all, either)

    That said, there's an unspoken assumption here that Wizards is having difficulty achieving their desired outcomes through blunt restrictions, and that this would be a tool they could use to more precisely create the outcome they want. I think it's a mistake to assume that Wizards has very strong opinions on what the format should look like, or that they even think there's any consensus metagame target or problem that needs to be addressed.

    I think that the amount of work this would take to put together, and more importantly, how it would look to people who DON'T play vintage, both dwarf any desire they have to make the format different than it is now.

    (but as an amateur game designer, I'm all about it)

    posted in Vintage Community