@SeanOhh said in SMIP Podcast #63: "Where Do We Go From Here?":
@Smmenen what's your timeframe for restricting a card then? I'm just not following, because you recently posted a deck on Twitter which you won with at Eudo, which led me to their Twitter account, where their last tweet was from two years ago where you also won with Mentor. Look, I'm not for restricting things constantly. But I think your arguments for not restricting Gush are very weak, and honestly I'm wondering how much it has to do with your book. Nobody else is fighting this hard for Gush. At least two years of the same deck being top dog is enough, no? Despite several cards being printed that should be able to fight the mentor decks, it just doesn't work, because the draw engine is so lean and efficient that it just finds the answers (and the answers for your answers). And once something finds a way to win, Mentor just adjusts the sideboard and keeps on winning. I'm not trying to attack you, though I'm sure it seems like it... I would just like to play Magic again.
I can tell you are asking in good faith, and am not offended. I appreciate your candor.
Vintage is an amazing format, and one of the many wonderful aspects about the format is that is a subject for lifetime enjoyment; there is enough depth and subtlety to the format that it is worthy of a lifetime of study for mastery.
But one of the drawbacks to that kind of engagement with the format is that it's all too easy for segments of the Vintage community to engage in group think and live in echo-chambers. I've seen that happen many times over the years. Team Paragon; the Keeper players, and so many others.
In other words, Vintage, perhaps more than any other format, is susceptible to parochialism and clique-based group think. To prove this, let me ask you a simple question: what percentage of your closest acquaintances or circle of friends in Vintage think that the DCI should do something about the B&R list? I would guess, quite a high number. Perhaps even 80-90%.
Yet, there have been two surveys conducted here and on twitter in the last few months, and in both surveys roughly 60% of players felt that there shouldn't be any change.
How do you explain that discrepancy? Even assuming that the either survey is flawed in some way, both had at least a hundred voters (one had substantially more). Which means that there are alot of Vintage players out there (like this one) who believe that, one way or the other, and regardless of who they are or where they come from.
It's psychologically natural to assume that most people think the way we do, yet the reality is that this is not so. There is a very large part of the player base, larger than the pro-restriction voices would care to admit, don't think that Gush should be restricted.
The truth is that the Vintage player base is really deeply divided on these issues. Some people think nothing should happen. Some think Gush should be restricted. Some think Probe or Misstep should be restricted. Some think other things entirely.
So, I say all of that to say that I'm not a lonely voice out there that thinks Gush shouldn't be restricted; I'm just slightly more visible than others is all.
Now, let me turn to your other questions.
Re: Mentor as the top deck for too long:
It's true that Gush Mentor has been very good for a while now. But, it's not really fair to say that it's been "top dog" for two years. Gush Mentor hasn't won a single Vintage Championship (not the European nor the North American - hell it didn't even win the Asian Championship, despite my best effort!) in those years.
It's certainly been a top tier deck, but how is that different than when Keeper or Control Slaver was a top deck year after year? That's the nature of Vintage.
I think players who are used to other formats sometimes get frustrated with the fact that Vintage changes much more slowly than other formats. This is a non-rotating format. I don't have a problem with a one deck being a top tier deck for several years in a row.
That's part of the format, in fact. The fact that players can master the various schools of Magic, and continue to play them and enjoy them over long periods of time is one of the most fundamental attractions of the format! If we simply restricted decks because they are a top tier deck for two or three years in a row, eventually we'd restrict everything.
Re: I'm biased because I wrote a book on Gush
Of course I prefer to have Gush unrestricted, if possible, in the Vintage format! But it's not because I wrote a book on Gush. You've got it backwards. I wrote a book on Gush because I enjoy Gush.
The Gush book was a passion project. I wrote a book on Gush because I love Gush, and wanted to share my passion with other players. If no more Gush books sell, I will be completely content with the response and reception to the book (and the original version from 2010, and 2nd edition from 2011). I think people who read or have the book genuinely enjoy it. That's really all I wanted because I love Gush and Vintage. As I wrote in my book, Gush is a "supple instrument for a precise player." It's a completely unique card, and I think Vintage would be much less interesting without it.
That doesn't mean that I think Gush should be permitted as a 4-of if it's truly oppressive or dominates the format. But I don't think Gush does. Gush decks aren't so much of Top 8s or oppressive that you can't play other decks. This is a format with many viable decks that are winning tournaments large and small, most of which are not Gush decks.
Re: arguments for not restricting Gush
The best argument for not restricting Gush is that, frankly, I think the metagame is diverse and fair, and that the Gush Mentor deck isn't really a metagame problem, if you dig into the data.
But if that isn't persuasive, here's another: Assuming you really want do something about the deck, I'd argue that the better restriction is Mentor.
Think about this: For 4-5 years, no one really complained about Gush as a candidate for restriction. It really wasn't until Mentor's printing that people started really complaining about Gush. So, if Gush really was the problem, then why wait 5 years to start calling for it's restriction?
So, my position is simple: if you can restrict Mentor, and Gush is not a problem, then that is preferable, in my opinion, to restricting Gush, when Mentor will likely continue to be just as much of a problem. I predict that if Gush is restricted, Mentor will eventually need to be. But if Mentor is restricted, I think it's much less likely that Gush will eventually need to be. There is a fundamental asymmetry there.
There may be a more fundamental issue. Some people are complaining about Gush not because they think it's oppressive to the format, but because they think it's oppressive to blue decks. While I don't think that's true, I think that's frankly a deeply problematic and illegitimate perspective.
The Restricted List doesn't exist to ensure that some strategies are playable. There used to be a cohort of players that lobbied the DCI to restrict cards to keep Keeper as the best deck. Some of the voices arguing for Gush's restriction are reminiscent of that. I've heard some people (perhaps even you) say that if Gush is restricted, maybe Mana Drain will be more playable.
I hope you can see how troubling that is. That's really no different than Keeper players lobbying for restrictions of cards that threatened their favorite deck.
In any case, I think it's not just illegitimate as an objective, and wrong as a factual matter; it's also misguided.
Restricting Gush won't bring back those decks. This idea, floating out there in some quarters, that restricting Gush will lead to a blolike ssoming of other blue decks, is really a wild-eyed fantasy in my view. Restricting Gush will just lead to a restricted list Delve deck that has much of the shell of the 8th place deck from Eternal Weekend Europe, anchored with 3-4 Mentors being the most popular blue deck in the format. Paradox, Oath, Landstill, etc. will likely fluctuate a little bit, but not really change much. What then? Restrict Mentor and Paradox? Where does it end?
The pro-restriction crowd is undergirded by mythology about what the effect of restricting Gush would do, and mythology about it's past and present status in the format. Gush isn't really a problem; Mentor might be, but the Delve cards definitely are. And there is nothing we can do about that last item.