SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?"

@Smmenen said

In summary, I fear we are going to get locked into a pernicious cycle where pressure mounts every 3-9 months to restrict something new.

I totally agree that this will likely be one of the unfortunate long term side effects of VSL and MTGO.

VSL is incentivized to "keep things fresh," whether via player restlessness or ratings. And daily MTGO will also want a fresh meta game on a regular basis. Will come down to a battle between everyday Vintage players and every month Vintage players. Not sure either can survive without the other.

last edited by joshuabrooks

@Smmenen said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

Here's a timeline of restrictions in VIntage by year:

2009: 1 restriction
2010: 0 restrictions
2011: 0 restrictions
2012: 0 restrictions
2013: 0 restrictions
2014: 0 restrictions
2015: 3 restriction
2016: 1 restriction
2017: ??

I think it's dishonest to start the year after 2008 which had 6 restrictions and claim you're showing a trend

@ajfirecracker so much for your principle of charity of construing a post in its most reasonable and "thoughtful" light. The point is that there were zero restrictions for a 5 year period, and there has been a spike after that period bc of an intervening event. Yes, 5 years is a "trend," especially for a game less than 25 years old. There were more than 18 restrictions in 1999. That has no bearing on the five year trend I noted, either.

last edited by Smmenen

Broadly speaking, there are three possibilities regarding Mentor is Gush is restricted:

  1. Mentor's prevalance in the Top 8 part of the metagame will decline.

  2. Mentor's prevalance in the Top 8 part of the metagame will remain the same

  3. Mentor's prevalnce in the Top 8 part of the metagame will increase.

If you've been paying attention, I've been arguing throughout this entire thread that if Gush is restricted, either (2) or (3) will happen.

I understand this is what you've been arguing. You've reiterated it about 100x now. It doesn't mean I, or others believe your argument.

The point is that there were zero restrictions for a 5 year period, and there has been a spike after that period bc of an intervening event.

And there have been 4 restrictions in the last year and a half. The format still hasn't balanced since that first restriction of Chalice. Stopping at this point would be leaving the job half done.

last edited by vaughnbros

@Smmenen said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

@ajfirecracker so much for your principle of charity of construing a post in its most reasonable and "thoughtful" light. The point is that there were zero restrictions for a 5 year period, and there has been a spike after that period bc of an intervening event. Yes, 5 years is a "trend," especially for a game less than 25 years old. There were more than 18 restrictions in 1999. That has no bearing on the five year trend I noted, either.

If I've misinterpreted your argument I apologize. Please let me know what you meant and how I misunderstood.

I am of the opinion that the VSL is nothing but a positive element of Vintage. Any format needs as many tournaments as possible to take place. In the past Vintage was suffering because not enough attention was given to it because of the lack of public events. As a result, it is possible that the WOTC and the DCI did not focus on sculpting the format the way it would others. I remember when players complained Vintage did not get the attention it needed because it did not have nearly the following as other formats. Now that it has the attention I am surprised people are now saying the attention is a negative thing.

To answer what sticks out about restrictions in Smennen's post, I think that a few things stick out. Zero restrictions for years, and then three. I think the restrictions following the stretch of no restrictions basically addressed new concerns as well as past concerns. Four Lodestone Golems and four Chalice of the Voids is an unbelievable advantage. Walking Ballista and Arcbound Ravager give the deck an extremely powerful aggro strategy, and I think it is one of the best decks still. The delve spell restrictions were necessary for sure, and likely do not require justification in this post.

The VSL has spurred interest in the format. I know that I look forward to watching it. I think that every ounce of scrutiny that WOTC and the DCI brings to any format is a positive for it. Because restrictions are made now I feel confident that WOTC is actively trying to sculpt the format to attract more players. I am not sure what causes action from them and on what time frame, but issues are addressed on a timely basis now in my opinion.

I have speculated in last few months about what needs restricted. One of my cards was Thorn of Amethyst. Interestingly enough the European Vintage champs was won by an Eldrazi deck, and the top 8 also contained other decks with this card. However, I am not in favor of restricting the card by itself, or possibly at all at this point. I think Thorn decks are easily addressed by numerous tools. Mentor decks on the other hand run rampant. The deck is beatable, but popularity is another factor that adds to the difficulty of controlling it. I think that Mentor is the most restictable card followed by Gitaxian Probe. In addition, I agree with Brassman about about Mental Misstep providing predictability to the format. Without it, I agree that greater variety woud be present in the meta, but I don't think there would be any strategic reason to it. One drops are efficient and powerful in Vintage, and I think keeping them in check is a good thing. If Mental Misstep were restricted I think Dark Ritual decks would quickly rise to the top.

Gush is another card that seems to have about as many supporters as people who want to see it restricted. I think that restricting it empowers Mana Drain decks which I would view as a positive thing. I think the best reason for keeping it unrestricted would be the Fastbond combo. However, I think this is a thing of the past considering Walking Ballista. In my opinion Oath is not doing well as a result of Gush decks. Restricting it would potentially restore the decks role in the format. Oath should be better than it is right now considering the amount of Shops, Eldrazi, and Fish decks. In fact, Leovold further restricts Fastbond/Gush's viability. Also, there were complaints about Oath's power level in the past, and I think Leovold is about as perfect as a card could be made to check its power level. On a final note, I don't think constantly restating calls for restriction have much effect, at all. I am confident WOTC and the DCI are handling this format the way they should.

@vaughnbros said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

Broadly speaking, there are three possibilities regarding Mentor is Gush is restricted:

  1. Mentor's prevalance in the Top 8 part of the metagame will decline.

  2. Mentor's prevalance in the Top 8 part of the metagame will remain the same

  3. Mentor's prevalnce in the Top 8 part of the metagame will increase.

If you've been paying attention, I've been arguing throughout this entire thread that if Gush is restricted, either (2) or (3) will happen.

I understand this is what you've been arguing. You've reiterated it about 100x now. It doesn't mean I, or others believe your argument.

Then explain the flaws in my reasoning rather than conclusorily assert it's wrong. You've had plenty of opportunity to do so, but havent. Even most of the pro-Gush restiction advocates in this thread believe I'm right on this particular point.

@Smmenen I don't really get your argument either. My guess is that your saying that after a Gush restriction, with less of a target on its back, Mentor decks will fare as well or better results-wise. The main cards that "prey" on Gush decks are spheres and a few anti-draw cards. I don't foresee people discarding many of their card choices because of the card Gush exiting en masse. But I suspect I've badly misconstrued your argument somehow, so feel free to explain again. I'm too lazy to scroll upthread to look for something more on point, but if it exists, feel free to copy/past instead of reexplaining.

@Smmenen What is your reasoning exactly now? I've never seen anything other than rampant speculation. Last time when I challenged you on it, you just pointed to the fact that you said the % of Mentor could stay the same and the discussion was derailed into something else. Honestly, if you think Mentor should be restricted instead I'd be down for that as well.

From what I can find in this thread your entire argument seems to now be that the only not broken blue deck is Gush. However, decks like landstill and planeswalker control have been sitting on the fringe for a while now. They just don't put the results consistently since they are so suppressed by the power of Mentor Gush.

You mention Outcome, Storm, and other degenerate combo decks that Gush needs to "put in place". However, these decks largely exist BECAUSE of Gush. As they are exploiting pretty much the only weakness of Gush that you need 2 islands in play to use it. Outcome, storm, ect. certainly are not in the meta to beat Thorn of Amethyst.

MTGtop8 has 23% of the format currently on some variety of Mentor Gush. The reality is that a restriction of either should shake the format up pretty well. I'm not sure how you can come to any definitive conclusion of where those decks will fall.

Even if all these players stayed on some version of Mentor. What exactly is drawing more players to play Mentor? What currently played decks are being made worse in this scenario? Oath? Thorns? I'm genuinely unsure of where you think the extra Mentor decks are coming from.

@BazaarOfBaghdad said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

@Smmenen I don't really get your argument either. My guess is that your saying that after a Gush restriction, with less of a target on its back, Mentor decks will fare as well or better results-wise. The main cards that "prey" on Gush decks are spheres and a few anti-draw cards. I don't foresee people discarding many of their card choices because of the card Gush exiting en masse. But I suspect I've badly misconstrued your argument somehow, so feel free to explain again. I'm too lazy to scroll upthread to look for something more on point, but if it exists, feel free to copy/past instead of reexplaining.

@vaughnbros said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

@Smmenen What is your reasoning exactly now?

Very well.

It's the same point I've been making over and over again for nearly a year now:

Monastery Mentor is the best win condition in the format. It's easy to resolve, protect, fast, and difficult to remove, answer or address.

The reason Mentor currently is so deeply associated with Gush decks is because Gush shells currently constitute the strongest set of synergistic blue cards to surround Mentor with.

If Gush is restricted, Mentor will simply migrate to the next best set of blue cards to surround itself with. As I said, "like a hermit crab moving to another home."

That's the general argument. Now I will delve more into the specifics, and then provide some specific numeric estimates.

Mo' Mana, Mo' Mentor, Mo' Monks

Gush decks have a long history with "growing" creatures, whether vertical or horizontal, and that's one reason Mentor fit right into Gush decks.
But because Mentor, unlike Dryad, Pyromancer or most other growth creature that have seen heavy play, triggers on artifact spells, there is a huge incentive to play not only full Moxen (all 5 Alpha Moxen), but also Sol Ring and Mana Crypt. You'll notice that very few Mentor decks currently run all of these. Essentially, only Remora Mentor, Esper Mentor, and Paradoxical Mentor.

Yet, full Moxen and Mana Crypt are insane with Mentor, not simply because they trigger Mentor, but because they lead to earlier Mentors AND can be used to play Tops, which are absolutely bonkers with Mentor, because top is a guaranteed source of Mentor and Monk triggers every turn. A pair of Tops is even more insane, because you can essentially trade them off and generate prowess and monks for every mana in play.

The problem with Gush decks is that Gush decks incentivize fewer mana sources, including less than all 5 Moxen, and rarely play Sol Ring and Mana Crypt. As a result, they also rarely play Tops.

So, there is a fundamental tension between two general axioms: 1) Mentor is faster and more aggressive with more artifact acceleration, and can do more things like Top shenanigans and actually play more spells more quickly (recall Gush is a turn 3 play, at earliest), but 2) Gush provides a superior blue shell because of the free card advantage, mana advantage, tempo and virtual card advantage.

With Gush in the format, the tension is resolved decidedly in favor of Gush. Roughly about 70-95% of all Mentor decks (decks defined as having 3 or 4 Monastery Mentors maindeck) in the Vintage Metagame are Gush decks, depending on the month or metagame.

However, with Gush restricted, there is no reason not to go all in on the big mana plan anymore. That means that Mentors will becoming down 1) more quickly, and 2) monk production will likely be faster as well.

In other words, not only do I not believe that restricting Gush will weaken Mentor, but it actually has the potential to free Mentor to rise above it's current station. I'll go over some numbers to show how this can be true.

Estimate of Mentor in a post-Gush Metagame

You point out that Mentor is currently 23% of all Vintage decks on MTGdecks. In the Bazaar of Moxen, Mentor was 20% of the metagame. Let's just assume that Mentor is consistently around that range. It might fall to 19% one month (as it did in MTGO data recently) or be a little higher (it was 22% of all reported MTGO decks in February).

Taking this as a baseline introduces one preliminary complication that has to be dealt with proactively: not all Mentor decks are Gush decks. Recall that I define Mentor decks as any deck with 3-4 maindeck Mentors. For example, to take an extreme one, 7 out of the 24 Mentor decks reported in the MTGO daily results from Feburary were Paradoxical, not Gush, Mentor.

So, with that preliminary information out of the way, we can begin to make an estimate into three broad categories:

  1. Mentor decks that are completely unaffected by the restriction of Gush (anywhere between 5-30% of current Mentor decks)

  2. Mentor decks that would exist in a post-restriction environment with just 1 Gush, like the 8th place Mentor deck (by Steven Martens) from the Bazaar of Moxen.

  3. Mentor decks that would be constructed essentially from scratch in the post-Gush metagame (or, revive earlier forms of Mentor, such as Bulletproof Mentor or other decks that were conceived in Mentor's very early days).

So, if Mentor is currently 20-23% of the Vintage Metagame, with the vast majority of that being Gush Mentor, but not all of it, here's what I think roughly the ranges are:

  1. Current non-Gush Mentor decks.
    It's unlikely that the 2-5% of the Mentor decks in the overall Vintage metagame that don't play Gush would likely diminish by very much, and would likely continue forward in the post-Gush metagame without much change. In fact, it's much more likely that these decks will grow as a % of the metagame, in combination with the (3) category of Mentor deck. The ceiling on these decks is probably around 10% in the short term because Paradoxical Mentor is checked with Null Rod effects.

  2. 1 Gush Mentor decks.
    The restriction of Gush will undoubtedly produce a reduction in the number of Gush Mentor decks in the metagame, but it won't take them to zero. 1 Gush, 1 Treasure Cruise, and 1 Dig Mentor decks will persist. The only question is how large their numbers will be. Seeing as Gush Mentor is roughly between 16%-21% of any Vintage metagame, the question is: what % of players currently playing those 4 Gush decks will transition or otherwise switch to a 1 Gush deck that essentially uses the same shell?

I estimate a high number here, for a number of reasons. First, I think the two restricted Delve cards with cards like JVP and Dack, are still one of the best things you can do with Mentor. So I'd guess that somewhere between 40-60% of Gush Mentor players will continue to play 1 Gush/2 Delve Mentor.

That equates to roughly 8-14% of the Vintage metagame will be 2 Delve/1 Gush Mentor, meaning the deck pretty similar to Gush Mentor today, but simply replacing the 2-3 Gushes with cards like Mystical, more Probe, etc.

It's possible this number is large, however, but I can't imagine a floor less than 6-7% of overall Top 8s unless category 3 is really that much better.

  1. New Big Blue Mentor
    This is the big growth area.

Here's something folks need to remember: roughly 45-50% of the Vintage metagame is always some form of blue control deck. Granted, this include Oath, Landstill, and Gush decks currently. But let's not forget that Tezzeret decks actually reached 45% of Top 8s, something Gush decks haven't done ever in the last 9 months.

I estimate that if Gush is restricted, there will be explosion of growth in this category, with many different strains of Mentor emerging, but then eventually consolidating in a few months, just as Mentor did back in January-March, 2015. The specific numbers I estimate are this range: 6%-18% of the metagame. I would be shocked if the big blue Mentor decks were less than 6% of the overall Vintage metagame, and surprised if they rose to more than 18%, as I expect that the singleton Gush/2 Delve Mentor decks will continue to hog up Vintage real estate.

So there you have it.

When broken down into it's component parts, my claim is pretty simple:

If Mentor decks maintain increase their % of the Vintage metagame if Gush is restricted, it will be because the diminution of singleton Gush decks with delve cards is smaller than expected and/or because that diminution is offset by an equal or greater number of non-Gush blue Mentor decks. The estimates or projectsion to support this conclusion are reasonable and drawn from data and an understanding of the current metagame.

To be completely honest, 20-23% of the Vintage metagame is really not that much. It's not at all difficult to imagine Mentor being 35, or even 40-45% of total Top 8s, like Thirst TIme Vault decks in 2009. Restricting Gush is the thing, quite paradoxically, that could cause this to happen.

Now to reply to the specific bits I haven't addressed:

Last time when I challenged you on it, you just pointed to the fact that you said the % of Mentor could stay the same and the discussion was derailed into something else.

Link to the specific post where this happened, because I don't believe this to be true.

Honestly, if you think Mentor should be restricted instead I'd be down for that as well.

Well that's great, except that if restricting Mentor curbs Gush decks, then restricting both cards is unnecessary. That's why I say: start with Mentor.

From what I can find in this thread your entire argument seems to now be that the only not broken blue deck is Gush.

Then you haven't been reading carefully. I've made a number of other arguments. For example, there are numerous posts in this thread asserting that restricting Gush would do little to curb the 1 Gush, 2 Delve deck, which may still just be the best blue shell, even if Gush is restricted.

However, decks like landstill and planeswalker control have been sitting on the fringe for a while now. They just don't put the results consistently since they are so suppressed by the power of Mentor Gush.

That's probably true, but restricting Gush won't bring them back. And, in any case, it's not legitimate to restrict Gush just to make "mana drain" decks more viable. That's an illegitimate motive for restriction.

You mention Outcome, Storm, and other degenerate combo decks that Gush needs to "put in place".

Quote me, because I never said.

I'm not sure how you can come to any definitive conclusion of where those decks will fall.

Of course not. I can't tell you definitively what the weather will be tomorrow or the stock market average at close of business on Monday. But you can make reasonably informed estimates on both, looking at economic data or climate patterns and history, respectively.

Even if all these players stayed on some version of Mentor. What exactly is drawing more players to play Mentor?

I already explained this. Gush does have a suppressing effect on other blue decks. In fact, that's one of the reasons that having Gush around is a good thing - blue decks tend to be a larger part of the overall Vintage metagame when Gush is restricted. My argument is that any loss of Mentor decks in the Vintage metagame resulting from the restriction of Gush will be equaled or surpassed by the number of new Mentor decks that arrive in more traditional blue shells. Reasoning is presented more systematically above.

If you don't agree with any of those estimates, then indicate exactly what your estimates would be, not just that you disagree.

@JimTosetti said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

I am of the opinion that the VSL is nothing but a positive element of Vintage. Any format needs as many tournaments as possible to take place. In the past Vintage was suffering because not enough attention was given to it because of the lack of public events. As a result, it is possible that the WOTC and the DCI did not focus on sculpting the format the way it would others. I remember when players complained Vintage did not get the attention it needed because it did not have nearly the following as other formats. Now that it has the attention I am surprised people are now saying the attention is a negative thing.

I think what people are saying is not that they want the DCI to neglect the format, but that a few high profile people complaining shouldn't drive DCI policy, and that the VSL may be a larger bullhorn or platform for this effect than would otherwise be the case, possibly resulting in harmful restrictions that would not have occurred otherwise.

I have speculated in last few months about what needs restricted. One of my cards was Thorn of Amethyst. Interestingly enough the European Vintage champs was won by an Eldrazi deck, and the top 8 also contained other decks with this card. However, I am not in favor of restricting the card by itself, or possibly at all at this point. I think Thorn decks are easily addressed by numerous tools. Mentor decks on the other hand run rampant. The deck is beatable, but popularity is another factor that adds to the difficulty of controlling it. I think that Mentor is the most restictable card followed by Gitaxian Probe. In addition, I agree with Brassman about about Mental Misstep providing predictability to the format. Without it, I agree that greater variety woud be present in the meta, but I don't think there would be any strategic reason to it. One drops are efficient and powerful in Vintage, and I think keeping them in check is a good thing. If Mental Misstep were restricted I think Dark Ritual decks would quickly rise to the top.

Gush is another card that seems to have about as many supporters as people who want to see it restricted. I think that restricting it empowers Mana Drain decks which I would view as a positive thing. I think the best reason for keeping it unrestricted would be the Fastbond combo. However, I think this is a thing of the past considering Walking Ballista. In my opinion Oath is not doing well as a result of Gush decks.

I agree with alot of what you say, but I don't think Oath's presence in the metagame is really affected all that much by Gush decks, but rather the printing of specialized hate cards like Cage and most importantly Priest.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

That's probably true, but restricting Gush won't bring them back. And, in any case, it's not legitimate to restrict Gush just to make "mana drain" decks more viable. That's an illegitimate motive for restriction.

No it's not. It might not be convincing to everyone, and you might not like it, but Wizards routinely indicates that a restriction is supposed to restore some particular class of deck.

Some recent B&R decisions that name particular alternatives they are trying to promote:

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/january-9-2017-banned-and-restricted-announcement-2017-01-09
Smuggler's Copter was banned in Standard to create more room for Planeswalkers and sorcery-speed removal and other vehicles.

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/january-18-2016-banned-and-restricted-announcement-2016-01-18
Cloud of Faeries was banned in Pauper to promote non-blue strategies.

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/september-28-2015-banned-and-restricted-announcement-2015-09-28
Chalice of the Void was explicitly restricted to allow players to successfully play more Moxen

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/banned-and-restricted-announcement-2015-01-19
Birthing Pod was banned in Modern to allow more alternative creature-based decks

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/top-decks/february-3-2014-dci-banned-restricted-list-announcement-2014-02-03
Deathrite Shaman was banned in Modern to allow more decks based on synergy rather than individually powerful cards

Whether it would be a terrible decision or a great one, I have no trouble at all imagining a B&R announcement that restricted Gush explicitly in order to promote bigger-mana blue decks. Such an announcement would be well in line with DCI decision-making over the past few years.

So the whole argument is predicated on restricting Gush, without also restricting Mentor? My bad, I'm only willing to argue where Mentor restriction is a given, or if not, argue just the Mentor question first.

@ajfirecracker said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

@Smmenen said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

That's probably true, but restricting Gush won't bring them back. And, in any case, it's not legitimate to restrict Gush just to make "mana drain" decks more viable. That's an illegitimate motive for restriction.

No it's not. It might not be convincing to everyone, and you might not like it, but Wizards routinely indicates that a restriction is supposed to restore some particular class of deck.

You are the King of the tangent. In any case, the Banned and Restricted List does not exist to ensure that a certain card, deck or strategy exists in Vintage. That's what I meant by that.

In other words, there is no "right" for any specific card, deck or strategy to see play. Wizards has never restricted a card in Vintage upon this premise.

Your examples are inapposite, primarily because the imperatives of Vintage and other formats are differently. You are rehashing a previous discussion point, so I direct you to post 40 in this thread, the entirety of which addressed this issue, point by point (e.g. Restrictions in Vintage are NOT equivalent to bannings in other formats, and Bannings in other formats, or their rationales, are not directly comparable to restrictions in Vintage.):

http://themanadrain.com/topic/1062/smip-podcast-63-where-do-we-go-from-here/40

Some recent B&R decisions that name particular alternatives they are trying to promote:

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/january-9-2017-banned-and-restricted-announcement-2017-01-09
Smuggler's Copter was banned in Standard to create more room for Planeswalkers and sorcery-speed removal and other vehicles.

Totally inapplicable to Vintage. Those are card types. Can you imagine a Restriction to make sure a card type (enchantment, artifact, planeswalker, etc.) saw play? There would be outrageous in Vintage.

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/january-18-2016-banned-and-restricted-announcement-2016-01-18
Cloud of Faeries was banned in Pauper to promote non-blue strategies.

A non-starter in Vintage. If blue decks were 100% of Top 8s, which they have been in the past, that would not really be a problem in Vintage if they were all very different, like BUG, UR, UW, 4c, etc.

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/september-28-2015-banned-and-restricted-announcement-2015-09-28
Chalice of the Void was explicitly restricted to allow players to successfully play more Moxen

That's a misreading of that explanation (the emphasis, and first sentence, was that Workshops were too good and swingy with Chalice unrestricted), and also inapplicable here. They want to encourage people to play moxen in Vintage, but Chalice wasn't restricted because they felt that Moxen weren't playable with Chalice around.

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/banned-and-restricted-announcement-2015-01-19
Birthing Pod was banned in Modern to allow more alternative creature-based decks

Again, Wizards has never restricted cards in Vintage so that creatures can see more play, specifically.

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/top-decks/february-3-2014-dci-banned-restricted-list-announcement-2014-02-03
Deathrite Shaman was banned in Modern to allow more decks based on synergy rather than individually powerful cards

Whether it would be a terrible decision or a great one, I have no trouble at all imagining a B&R announcement that restricted Gush explicitly in order to promote bigger-mana blue decks. Such an announcement would be well in line with DCI decision-making over the past few years.

Your examples simply underscore the fundamental differences between the formats that I carefully elaborated on in post 40, and why bannings in other formats are simply not precedent for understanding imperatives in Vintage.

After all, they've explicitly said they want to make sure no deck is faster than turn 4 in Modern. Yet, restricting cards for that in Vintage would ban almost eveything, and be impossible.

In any case, the specific point I was making is it's not legitimate to restrict cards to try to get Mana Drain to see more play. That brings us back to the Keeper era, where Keeper pilots asked the DCI to restrict cards that were good against Keeper (look at this chart for reference). It's wrong, it was a dark era in Vintage, and it's not viewed as legitimate today for reasons I've stated over and over again in this thread.

@BazaarOfBaghdad said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

So the whole argument is predicated on restricting Gush, without also restricting Mentor? My bad, I'm only willing to argue where Mentor restriction is a given, or if not, argue just the Mentor question first.

Well, the question of whether to restrict Mentor or Gush first depends upon the estimated effects of either. I already argued my predicted or estimated effects of restricting Mentor on Gush here: http://themanadrain.com/topic/1062/smip-podcast-63-where-do-we-go-from-here/17

last edited by Smmenen

Sorry, but I'm not familiar with the quote feature, so I will just do it manually.

Smennen quoted my statement, "I have speculated in last few months about what needs restricted. One of my cards was Thorn of Amethyst. Interestingly enough the European Vintage champs was won by an Eldrazi deck, and the top 8 also contained other decks with this card. However, I am not in favor of restricting the card by itself, or possibly at all at this point. I think Thorn decks are easily addressed by numerous tools. Mentor decks on the other hand run rampant. The deck is beatable, but popularity is another factor that adds to the difficulty of controlling it. I think that Mentor is the most restictable card followed by Gitaxian Probe. In addition, I agree with Brassman about about Mental Misstep providing predictability to the format. Without it, I agree that greater variety woud be present in the meta, but I don't think there would be any strategic reason to it. One drops are efficient and powerful in Vintage, and I think keeping them in check is a good thing. If Mental Misstep were restricted I think Dark Ritual decks would quickly rise to the top."

He also quoted this statement, "Gush is another card that seems to have about as many supporters as people who want to see it restricted. I think that restricting it empowers Mana Drain decks which I would view as a positive thing. I think the best reason for keeping it unrestricted would be the Fastbond combo. However, I think this is a thing of the past considering Walking Ballista. In my opinion Oath is not doing well as a result of Gush decks."

Smennen replied, "I agree with alot of what you say, but I don't think Oath's presence in the metagame is really affected all that much by Gush decks, but rather the printing of specialized hate cards like Cage and most importantly Priest."

I should have supported that statement. I think that Gush enables players to draw into the answers for oath while maintaining the mana to cast them. That said, this would be a great advantage because not having the mana to answer the Oath of Druids that turn allows the Oath player to bring in the creature.

@Smmenen

This is a quote from an earlier thread:

I said: "I predict that if Gush is restricted it's more likely that Mentor decks become a larger part of Vintage metagame than the probability that it becomes a smaller part."

In other words, I think the probability that Mentor increases as a portion of the Vintage metagame is greater than the probability that restricting Gush will shrink it. I realize that's counterintuitive, but that's what I think.

You make it pretty clear here that you think this will be the case, and that you are predicting. Your stance and language on this seems to have have gotten much stronger. What has changed in the last couple of weeks to make you think this is a forgone conclusion now?

And yes, you've brought up multiple times how you think more combo oriented broken Mentor lists will start to take over (and Gush is the thing "saving" us):

Gush is a pretty slow card and a big disincentive to playing fulll Moxen, let alone Mana Crypt, etc. Mentor decks want to play Mentors faster with more artifact mana for faster Mentors and monk production. If Gush is restricted, we're gonna see more big mana blue Mentor decks with Top like the 8th place deck from EW Europe (with Delve spells) or like Brian Pallas's deck from the 2015 Vintage Champs top 8. But much better and more tuned. Without Gush in the metagame, I think there is a real danger Mentor will become worse, not better.

That is one of many quotes on the subject.

Even if all these players stayed on some version of Mentor. What exactly is drawing more players to play Mentor?
My argument is that any loss of Mentor decks in the Vintage metagame resulting from the restriction of Gush will be equaled or surpassed by the number of new Mentor decks that arrive in more traditional blue shells. Reasoning is presented more systematically above.

Please answer my question. What decks are decreasing in %? Are you implying that Shops will decrease in %? Dredge? Eldrazi?

Could you provide an actual argument as to why restrictions intended to revive or support some strategic class are "illegitimate"? What do you mean by illegitimate? I think if the DCI makes that decision it's a legitimate decision (I.e. those really are the rules), and I think you would agree, but would say the decision is bad or mistaken despite being legitimate. I think the use of 'legitimacy' as a concept is inappropriate here.

I get that you don't want the DCI to resurrect Keeper (or Control Slaver or Grixis Control or whatever) but what is actually wrong with the attempt? Almost all UNrestriction announcements seem to be worded as attempts to do exactly the thing you are saying is bad (that is, B&R decisions to strengthen particular strategies)

@Smmenen

Also its Gush Mentor that is specifically 23%. Paradoxical Mentor is a separate category under Storm for MtgTop8. MtgGoldfish also estimates Gush Mentor specifically at 24%. That archetype itself has a large portion of the metagame, on par with Martello before the Chalice restriction.

If Mentor decks maintain increase their % of the Vintage metagame if Gush is restricted, it will be because the diminution of singleton Gush decks with delve cards is smaller than expected and/or because that diminution is offset by an equal or greater number of non-Gush blue Mentor decks. The estimates or projectsion to support this conclusion are reasonable and drawn from data and an understanding of the current metagame.

No where in here your formulation do you prove the greater portion. You only bring up how these current Gush Mentor decks will transition into different types of Mentor decks.

Its also way more than 45-50% blue right now. We are more like at 60% based on what's in Mtgtop8.

Its also way more than 45-50% blue right now. We are more like at 60% based on what's in Mtgtop8.

Vintage has and will always have a high percentage of blue. There are 43 cards on the restricted list, and blue has the most powerful & highest quantity out of all the other colors.

Artifacts: 16
Black: 7
Blue: 13
Green: 2
Land: 3
Red: 1
White: 1

http://mtgtop8.com/topcards?f=VI&meta=71
Now look at the Top 20 cards played in the format.
8 artifact mana
3 lands (strip, waste, delta)
6 restricted blue (ancestral, brainstorm, dig, ponder, time walk, treasure cruise)
3 unrestricted blue (force, misstep, preordain)

Not on shops, white eldrazi, or dredge? Say your prayers, eat your vitamins, and fill your deck with busted blue cards. Tired of blue shell decks? Maybe Modern or Standard would be more to your liking.

That's life, son

FWIW, I play ravager shops, white eldrazi, BUG oath, UWR mentor, and UBR storm. I'm a nobody but I've been having fun in Vintage/type 1 ever since I picked up my first handful of Alliances boosters back in middle school. I've always been from the school of letting the format develop naturally through the future printing of cards.

last edited by Guest

@seksaybish said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

I've always been from the school of letting the format develop naturally through the future printing of cards.

Yeah, me too. The DCI kinda killed that off when they restricted card after card in quick succession in recent history.

@vaughnbros said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

@Smmenen

This is a quote from an earlier thread:

I said: "I predict that if Gush is restricted it's more likely that Mentor decks become a larger part of Vintage metagame than the probability that it becomes a smaller part."

In other words, I think the probability that Mentor increases as a portion of the Vintage metagame is greater than the probability that restricting Gush will shrink it. I realize that's counterintuitive, but that's what I think.

You make it pretty clear here that you think this will be the case, and that you are predicting. Your stance and language on this seems to have have gotten much stronger. What has changed in the last couple of weeks to make you think this is a forgone conclusion now?

By making it clear in post 102 that I was talking about estimates with confidence intervals (recall the extended discussion of temperature/climate and DOW Jones averages), I thought it was clear I was talking about probability, not "forgone conclusions." I've been consistently talking in terms of probability, forecasts, and estimates.

Post 112 was my most systematic attempt to estimate or forecast those forecast bands for various strains of Mentor. You specifically asked me my reasoning. I presented general principles, background metagame data, and then, building on those, presented my specific range estimates. After presenting forecasts, I requested that you tell me what your estimates are for those subgroupings if you disagree with my conclusion.

Going back to post 102, I set out three possibilities, and said that I believed (2) or (3) were more likely than (1). That doesn't mean it's a "forgone conclusion." Probability doesn't work that way. As for my statement that "If you've been paying attention, I've been arguing throughout this entire thread that if Gush is restricted, either (2) or (3) will happen." That doesn't mean I'm saying that (2) or (3) will happen. Rather, I'm saying that I'm developing an argument that, together, they are more probable. I would have thought would have been clear from a full reading of the post.

And yes, you've brought up multiple times how you think more combo oriented broken Mentor lists will start to take over (and Gush is the thing "saving" us):

What??

Now you've really lost me. That's not at all what I've been saying in any of these threads. For example, read this post in another thread or re-read post 112 in this one. My main point isn't that Gush is saving us from combo oriented Mentor decks. Rather, my point is that Mentor will appear in the best blue shell, whatever that is.

Since Gush is unrestricted, it's the best shell for Mentor. If Gush is restricted, however Mentor will simply migrate to the next best blue shell. I'm not talking about Combo decks. I outlined what these decks look like in post 112. I'm talking about blue "control" decks with 3-4 Mentors, like the 8th place deck from BOM, for example. I've said this many times, so I'm not sure how you're missing this point. I described these decks at length in the Poll thread, where I talked about what these decks look like if Gush is restricted.

Gush is a pretty slow card and a big disincentive to playing fulll Moxen, let alone Mana Crypt, etc. Mentor decks want to play Mentors faster with more artifact mana for faster Mentors and monk production. If Gush is restricted, we're gonna see more big mana blue Mentor decks with Top like the 8th place deck from EW Europe (with Delve spells) or like Brian Pallas's deck from the 2015 Vintage Champs top 8. But much better and more tuned. Without Gush in the metagame, I think there is a real danger Mentor will become worse, not better.

That is one of many quotes on the subject.

Even if all these players stayed on some version of Mentor. What exactly is drawing more players to play Mentor?

I've already said this before, so it simply follows from what I've said:

  1. Mentor is the best win condition in the format
    And
  2. Mentor will find the best set of blue cards around it, and automatically be the best deck in the format.

My consistent claim in this thread is that that I believe scenario (2) or (3) is more likely than scenario (1) described in post 102. In other words, I'm not saying that it will increase. I'm saying that that chances that it stays the same OR increases is greater than decreases.

So, under scenario (2), I'm saying that any decrease in Gush Mentor will simply be offset by other blue decks with Mentor.

My argument is that any loss of Mentor decks in the Vintage metagame resulting from the restriction of Gush will be equaled or surpassed by the number of new Mentor decks that arrive in more traditional blue shells. Reasoning is presented more systematically above.

Please answer my question. What decks are decreasing in %? Are you implying that Shops will decrease in %? Dredge? Eldrazi?

Well, under scenario (2), no other deck has to decrease. Remember, my claim is that (2) and (3) are more likely than (1). Under scenario 2, Gush Mentor is simply replaced by 1 Gush Mentor and/or other blue decks with Mentor.

But, taking your question seriously, let's use the BOM metagame.

It was:
20% Mentor
15% Workshop (Stax and Aggro MUD)
10% Misc. Control (Bomberman, Gifts, Planeswalker etc.)
8% Eldrazi
8% Oath
7% BUG Control
5% Storm
And so on.

If Gush is restricted, I agree with the critics that Workshops and Eldrazi will decrease slightly because Thorn based strategies become less potent. But, I think most of the gains in Mentor Control decks will come from Misc blue decks and from the space by 4 Gush Mentor decks. Again, look at the 8th place deck from BOM for an example.

Recall, as well, that not all Gush decks are Mentor. If Gush is restricted, a non-trivial number of decks will just dissappear. Some non-trivial % of those players will likely pick up Mentor.

@ajfirecracker said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":

Could you provide an actual argument as to why restrictions intended to revive or support some strategic class are "illegitimate"? What do you mean by illegitimate?

These points were developed and elaborated upon in many other disparate posts. I can't possibly cover them all them here. Take a look at posts 78 and 83 in this thread, for example, to cover some of that ground in more detail. But I will try to briefly summarize a few key points, but request that you review those other posts for a more detailed explication.

In essence, the DCI is the primary policy making body for Vintage, and the legitimacy of the format and the DCI depends upon impartiality and fairness as such, and by maintaining objectivity and neutrality.

The best case of this is when the DCI restricts a card that is the centerpiece of a dominant deck, like Thirst for Knowledge in Time Vault decks in 2009.

The worst case scenario is when the DCI either caters or appears to be catering to a vocal minority. In that case, it's the equivalent of crony capitalism: the policymaking captured by a powerful lobby.

Thus, when the DCI restricts to neuter a predator strategy in the interests of proponents of thale prey strategy, it has a corrosive effect on the format.

People remember how Keeper players lobbied for restrictions that weakened keeper. That's why I keep directing people to this table: http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/misc/5980_You_CAN_Play_Type_I_108_The_State_Of_The_Metagame_Address_The_Charts.html

Just look at the hypocrisy there. Look at how Team Paragon members voted, and look how I voted (I am a man of principle!). Look how Weissman voted.

After years of struggle, we finally moved away from that mode of decisionmaking and the format gained legitimacy and respect. This format does not exist to serve Mana Drain pilots. It exists as an independent format, and any B&R list policy that even has the whiff of serving Mana Drain pilots (or any other player segment) is damaging. In other words, it's not even a question of whether the DCI is actually restricting to serve those pilots. The mere perception causes damage.

Just look how unfair and aggrieved Workshop players felt after the restrictions of Chalice and Golem. Part of their grievance was that it looked as if the DCI was responding to vocal players and VSL voices.

As I said in post 83:

when a discrete segment of players who appear to be associated espouse the same view, and then publicly advocate that position, it raises certain concerns about when and how the DCI responds as the policy maker. It raises the appearance - if not the actual fact - of impropriety - that the policy maker is responding to a vocal and influential lobby rather than reflecting the general will. This was the criticism that was also leveled at certain Pro players on the VSL preceding the restriction of Golem; and not entirely unjustifiably.

Restricting Gush in pursuit of the objective of allowing Mana Drain decks or any particular mode of style of blue decks to ascend back into the center of the Vintage metagame is a fundamentally improper objective because 1) it undermines the legitimacy of the DCI as a neutral policy maker and 2) the B&R list does not exist to ensure that any particular card, deck or strategy sees play.

Now, between those two extremes: restricting based upon objective metagame data and historical baselines of dominance or restrictions based upon VSL or discrete segments of player lobbying, there are other grounds for restriction.

The DCI is on safe ground when it restricted cards like Trinisphere, Chalice and Flash, not because of metagame dominance, but because those cards created extremely swingy results based upon whoever was on the play, and create extremely unfun and non-interactive games. I have no problem with that.

But if the DCI appears to be captured by a vocal lobby or discrete player segment, that's just toxic to the format. It's especially so when serving that segment means harming another. That's why the Workshop players were so upset. And just watch how many people will be pissed off if the DCI restricts Gush for similar reasons.

That's why I distinguished earlier between two different objectives near the end of post 30 in this thread

I've heard two separate descriptions of a problem. One is that the Gush Mentor deck is too good. Another is that Gush decks oppress other blue decks. Those are different goals with different means-end implications. [...] I do not recognize the second objective sometimes articulated as either legitimate or as the 'problem' to be corrected.

If the DCI is restricting to neuter a dominant deck, and concludes that Gush Mentor is too strong, then that's a legitimate reason to do something. That is, the objective is legitimate, and the only question is whether the data supports their determination.

But if the DCI is restricting because they believe Gush is dominating a subset of decks, then that is an illegitimate objective (because it necessarily favors one player segment over another. Moreover, for the reasons I explained in posts 33 and 36 of this thread, implementing such an objective is inherently impossible. The problems aren't just conceptual, they are practical, as detailed there.

I think if the DCI makes that decision it's a legitimate decision (I.e. those really are the rules), and I think you would agree, but would say the decision is bad or mistaken despite being legitimate. I think the use of 'legitimacy' as a concept is inappropriate here.

No, it's actually perfectly appropriate. If a judge makes a decision because they personally like a plaintiff over the defendant, that undermines the legitimacy of the court. Similarly, if the DCI appears to be catering to one player segment (Mana Drain players) over another (Gush players), it undermines the legitimacy of the DCI as a neutral and fair policymaker.

I get that you don't want the DCI to resurrect Keeper (or Control Slaver or Grixis Control or whatever) but what is actually wrong with the attempt?

Restricting Gush to get there is wrong and an illegitimate means to achieving that objective. It's artificially sculpting the metagame by suppressing one force, unfairly, to raise another. The B&R list doesn't exist for that purpose in Vintage.

The B&R list does not exist so that certain cards, decks or strategies will see play. It doesn't exist so that Mana Drains can exist in this format, or else we are back in the dark days of Type I, where Paragon players lobbied for restrictions and Brian Weissman threatened boycotts over B&R list policy.

The purpose of Vintage is to allow players to play with as many cards as can be maintained without having an oppressive metagame force, generally defined as a dominant deck.

Restricting cards so that one strategy won't be oppressed by another is the most illegitimate use of that power.

Almost all UNrestriction announcements seem to be worded as attempts to do exactly the thing you are saying is bad (that is, B&R decisions to strengthen particular strategies)

Unrestricting cards lets players have more tools in Vintage. It serves the purpose of Vintage (of allowing players to play with all of their cards) without unfairly harming any other player segment. If a deck can't handle natural competition in the market or metagame, that's it's own fault.

But a restriction is a totally different matter. Every restriction takes away someone's favorite toys or cards that they have spent time to study, learn and master. It's inherently harmful, and should only be used as a last resort, not to give someone else a leg up.

last edited by Smmenen
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