SMIP # 65: Amokhet Vintage Set Review & B&R Fallout

Kevin Cron and Steve Menendian discuss the restriction of Gush and Gitaxian Probe, The Mana Drain Open results, and their review of Amonkhet for Vintage.

Podcast (somanyinsaneplays): Download (Duration: 2:11:37 ā€” 89.4MB)

0:01:00: Announcements: Eternal Weekend North America 2017
0:06:21: Banned & Restricted List Updates
1:02:00: The Mana Drain Open #18 Results
1:11:30: Aether Revolt Report Card
1:16:15: Amonkhet Mechanics
1:18:45: Shadow of the Grave
1:20:15: Gideon of the Trials
1:25:20: As Foretold
1:31:40: By Force
1:37:45: Glorious End
1:43:00: Harsh Mentor
1:50:30: Soul-Scar Mage
1:55:00: Manglehorn
1:58:30: Failure // Comply
Total Runtime: 2:11:37

ā€“ Amonkhet Visual Spoiler
ā€“ Eternal Weekend North America 2017
ā€“ April 24 2017 Banned & Restricted List Update

Contact us at @ManyInsanePlays on Twitter or e-mail us at

Just firing it up, and Steve's "Hi Everyone" is the best Eyeore impersonation I've ever heard.


Deeper in, I really like reframing of the issue at 24:51.

last edited by Winterstar

@Smmenen you and Kevin spent a lot of time this episode discussing Young Pyromancer as a dead archetype - didn't Walking Ballista already cripple it? Or is this the final nail in the coffin?

Thanks for posting, I enjoyed it! While I don't really agree with all your opinions in this case, I really appreciate how you laid everything out in great detail. I guess we'll see where this decision takes us.

I thought I'd bring up one aspect which Kevin brought up towards the end, which was being disappointed at the precedent this restriction set. If I understand correctly, the contention was that it is troubling that community outcry (or VSL outcry, if you will) is the catalyst for change and you felt that this restriction set a bad precedent.

The part where you say that this precedent is bad, I agree with you. However, I would argue that this restriction did not set the precedent at all. This precedent was set some time ago when Chalice was restricted due to community (or VSL, if that's what you believe) feedback. The restriction of Gush and Probe simply followed the precedent already set some restriction cycles ago. Note that I am not touching on whether it was a right decision or not, but rather that it was also driven by community feedback as well.

last edited by Hrishi

@SylvanLibrarian Pyromancer hasn't been great in a while but it was fine; I went X-2 in the last P9 with it. I imagine their point in mentioning pyromancer was that the restriction announcement mentioned mentor a bunch of times, but they killed pyromancer not mentor with their restrictions.

As a point of contention about the data not supporting a restriction: I probably disagree. What percentage of decks that do well in a tournament are something other than gush or anti-gush? I agree that looking at the number of top8 finishes of gush, or whatever metric you want, does not make the case for gush getting restricted. However it reminds me of the last time I played type 2, which was during darksteel. Affinity wasn't winning everything but the entire format revolved around its presence. The DCI understood back then that a deck doesn't need to necessarily win 40% of tournaments to have an unhealthy effect on the metagame and it's not unreasonable to assume that that was their reasoning here.

I'm honestly not sure how I feel about the gush restriction. I wish they would have restricted mentor a few months ago and seen what happened. Gush is certainly a more skill intensive card than mentor. Although the sample size is obviously small I played paradoxical mentor in the daily yesterday and definitely felt like my decisions had less impact upon me winning the game than with gush mentor.

EDIT: Here is Aaron Forsythe's explanation of the affinity standard bannings, with a bonus explanation of the trinisphere restriction:

The entire article is worth a reread, whether you agree with this B&R logic or not. Of particular note is the line "If the DCI attempted to solve every issue as if it were a complicated math problem, we very well might have done nothing again."

last edited by diophan

Forgive any typos. I'm doing this on my phone.

I'm basically a newborn in vintage. I've been around since sometime late November of 2015. Something like that, so I've only been around during the Gush era. Take that as you will, positively, negatively, or neutral. Obviously, we all have a right to share our opinion.

My concern with the banning, is not the banning itself. I think there was/are legitimate concerns about Gush and Probe (not to mention other cards). It could very well be the right move for a better format. However, I don't want to get into my exact feelings on whether I agree or disagree with the restrictions of the cards, but of bannings/restrictions itself.

The concern I have about is this restriction seems to be more about outcry of people than actual data. During the prior b/r announcement they explicitly said they wanted more data and feedback... and explicitity mentioned the European vintage championship. Unless I'm mistaken (please correct me if I'm wrong), there was no domination by Gush in that tournament. I'm not sure where they are getting that data.

Granted, I do understand that this is a multi layered on how you can view the meta and Gush's affect on it. I won't disagree with that. For example, you can make an argument for Shops dominance because of the the way blue decks are constructed. You're right, low land counts and free spells are awful against shops.

However, how can you possibly quantify exactly how much Shops dominance is because of Gush and how much is because Shops is just damn good (which it is)? Honestly please tell me if you can.

Shops will always be a strong deck against blue. Its purpose in itself is to take advantage of the things blue players crave - cheap spells. That's the nature of Shops. Outside of WOTC nuetering the deck completely, that's not going away.

I feel the same people (not all) who complained about the VSL having an affect on the meta are the same people cheering this on. That doesn't make sense to me. How can you rip into WOTC for listening to the VSL, but cheer WOTC on for this? If the VSL honestly influenced the DCI on multiple occasions for multiple restrictions, I argue that is not a good thing. Regardless if the restrictions are the right call. The VSL is entertainment, it's not supposed to be a snapshot of a true vintage meta game.

Another concern I have is a general concern about the Magic community that I've seen a lot of lately. There seems to be an overriding focus (and I'm not speaking just of vintage), the solution to any deck or archetype becoming number 1 is to ban/restrict a card. Banning/restrictions should only happen, in my opinion, as an absolute last resort.

Let's look at Modern as an example. They ban Eye of Ugin (a very legitimate format warping move). After a while, things start moving very fast. To curb some of the speed, people cried for a Become Immense/Probe/etc banning. Wizards then banned Gitaxian Probe. Now Death Shadow archetype is number 1 and people call for that banning.

Is that the solution magic players go to now? Instead of finding ways to attack the best deck, we call for a ban/restriction immediately? There will always be 1-2 (most of the time) best decks in the format. If you ban/restrict a key card, something else will move in to take its place.

The same thing is happening in Legacy. They ban sensei's divining top and people are now calling for a ban of Deathrite Shaman. Before any magic has been played, tested, and letting the dust settle, another ban outcry is happening. That to me, is a concern.

Mentor will keep on mentoring and will most likely still be the best blue deck. Shops will still be excellent. I don't know exactly what Mentor will look like, but it will be a mainstay. However, people are already talking about the next restrictions in vintage. Can't we take a step back for a moment, play some games, before getting into that discussion? Or are we going down a path of constant restrictions in vintage? Will we see Mentor, Mental Misstep, Thorn, Preordain, Workshop, Bazaar, Ancient Tomb, etc. get restricted in the future? I sure as hell hope not. The format needs powerful, unrestricted cards to be fun (for me). Obviously that statement is very subjective.

In a lot of ways, this is the biggest concern to me is how people are treating bans/restrictions. Almost as if it's a tool to combat decks they don't enjoy. Which, sadly, starts to mask the true needs of ban/restrictions. B/r's, as I said, should only be used as a last resort. Now, with all the outcry, this picture is becoming muddier and muddier.

I've already started playing Failure to Comply in Dredge. I don't think its a game changer, but its nice to have extra Therapies that pitch to Force.

@mdkubiak I agree wholeheartedly. Let's let the players play for a while, let the dust settle and see what shakes out. Vintage should be by its very nature the slowest-moving format; restrictions every six months or a year are far too frequent to let the metagame correct for surface-level issues.

@Smmenen Maindeck, 2 copies right now

@mdkubiak said in SMIP # 65: Amokhet Vintage Set Review & B&R Fallout:

In a lot of ways, this is the biggest concern to me is how people are treating bans/restrictions. Almost as if it's a tool to combat decks they don't enjoy. Which, sadly, starts to mask the true needs of ban/restrictions. B/r's, as I said, should only be used as a last resort. Now, with all the outcry, this picture is becoming muddier and muddier.

I just thought this was worth repeating.

There's some very careless wording by Steve in this podcast.

"The people who didn't want to see Gush Mentor are going to be disappointed"

"The people who wanted to play some other blue draw engine are going to be disappointed"

You know Gush is restricted now right?

I think the biggest problem with your analysis and predictions is that you only consider systems-level effects when they point towards the conclusion you want to reach. You explicitly say that Paradoxical Mentor was designed to "Mentor harder" than Mentor-wielding opponents, but fail to consider why that means PO becomes less attractive when your opponents are not on Monastery Mentor.

last edited by ajfirecracker

@ajfirecracker I think Stephen's belief is that Gush-Mentor STYLE decks (e.g. Mentors, Counters, Cantrips, Removal, Restricted cards) are still going to be very powerful and popular in the upcoming meta.

Specifically when he says "The people who wanted to play some other blue draw engine are going to be disappointed", I assume he means that people who wanted Standstill or Thirst for Knowledge-centric strategies to get better might be disappointed if it turns out those cards are no better against 1-Gush Mentor than they were against 3-Gush Mentor.

I actually predict the same thing myself, but I'm hoping I'm wrong, and I'm testing other decks to validate that.

last edited by Brass Man

@Brass-Man Is Paradoxical Outcome not a blue draw engine?

Another piece of bad logic: When multiple cards are restricted, some of them are later unrestricted.

This is also true of single-card restrictions. It does not prove that there's anything especially bad about restricting multiple cards.

I think a much better way to look at this would be: How long does a card typically stay restricted? Is there a strong correlation between length of restriction and number of cards restricted at once?

last edited by ajfirecracker

@ajfirecracker said in SMIP # 65: Amokhet Vintage Set Review & B&R Fallout:

@Brass-Man Is Paradoxical Outcome not a blue draw engine?

Paradoxical Outcome is definitely a blue draw engine.

I personally think there is no good Outcome deck in the field right now, and that Outcome is absolutely not the best way to build Mentor. I have no idea if Stephen shares those particular opinions.

@Brass-Man I mention PO because the podcast specifically calls it out as the best Mentor engine

@ajfirecracker Fair enough! That's an area where me and Stephen disagree šŸ˜„

@ajfirecracker said in SMIP # 65: Amokhet Vintage Set Review & B&R Fallout:

@Brass-Man I mention PO because the podcast specifically calls it out as the best Mentor engine

No we dont. Quote?

last edited by Smmenen

@ajfirecracker it's not a great way to set up an experiment tbh (restricting variables is always best practice), but in your favor, new sets get dumped in every couple months that change the card pool anyways.

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