Expect the commentary for these events to get more brief due to their regularity. More in-depth analysis is now possible as we are able to aggregate the results from multiple events, so we'll probably do a monthly "State of MTGO Vintage" with those results. This past event both Ryan and I were able to play, Ryan coming in second with Jeskai Mentor, and me finishing in 9th after an unfortunate misclick on Stream was followed up by mana screw. Despite that, I walked away with 50 extra play points and 10 treasure chests (which would sell for ~24 tix). This is a considerable improvement over the old Power 9s in which I would have gotten my entry fee back, but no more. The EV for these events is excellent and if anyone has online Power, I highly encourage you to participate. Full details are here.

Top 8

Link to the top 32 decklists:

  1. Pedroj - Foundry Shops (Tangleless)
  2. Diophan - Jeskai Mentor
  3. Maegwiny - Foundry Shops
  4. Anssi A - Jeskai Mentor
  5. Isomorphic - Academy Combo
  6. Mlovbo - Ravager Shops
  7. Mr. Random - Foundry Shops (More Vehicles - No Ravagers)
  8. Hermoine_Granger - Jeskai Delver


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Two Considerations

I wanted to discuss two trends that I've been noticing in the metagame. No, not whether the DCI was correct or incorrect - in my opinion, it's far too early to tell. No, not based on this event, Shops is the best deck - a 49 player event is too small of a sample size to draw such conclusions. These trends have to do with personal observations of the metagame.

  1. Several Shops players have started to cut Tangle Wire from their builds. This started with Jazza, who top 8'd the past 2 events (winning one outright), while finishing in the top 16 in this event. Pedroj adopted this strategy and won the tournament. I'm not saying that this is the correct direction for Vintage Shops players to take, but it certainly has merit and should be noticed by the Paper community.

  2. Similarly, I've noticed that I have been less than happy with Jace, the Mind Sculptor in Mentor. I've found him to be poor against Delver, Shops, and Eldrazi where he is both difficult to cast and easily pressured. I've found him to be mediocre against Paradoxical Outcome (on both sides of the matchup). He is a sorcery speed 4 drop that only Brainstorms the turn he is cast, and savvy opponents will generally him resolve then aim to end the game on the next turn while their opponent is tapped out. I haven't been alone in this - if you look at Ryan's deck, you'll notice that he does not run Jace, running an extra Mentor and Snapcaster Mage. My approach was different, running Gifts for value where it enabled some pretty decent lines with JVP and Snapcaster Mage. It also allowed me to sit back on Mana Drain and operate more at instant speed, which improved my matchup against the two Outcomes opponents I played. Who's approach is right? Again, I don't know. This is meant as food for thought.


Major thanks to Twitch user ValanLuca who helped put in round data while I was streaming. This allowed me to suffer through Choice Chamber in between rounds, hopefully providing more entertainment for my viewers than entering numbers into a spreadsheet. Thanks and congratulations to @diophan. And lastly, a very happy birthday to Dragonlord @brianpk80. Questions? Comments? Have at it.

As always, and something I dont get to say offen enough... THANK YOU for running this data.

I agree with the Jace TMS. I have gone further to say Jace VP also feels clunky. I have played JTMS, but I play Snapcaster x2, and I almost feel I want to get rid of Jace TMS completely. The problem is there are times, though few and far between, where you resolve it after you and your opponent exhaust resources fighting back and forth, and it does nutty things.

My conclusion so far is to run Dack Fayden as multiples, even though it is 1. Bad against modern shops and 2. Not card advantage, because I run a lot of situationally dead cards like Swords or Balance and the filtering is valuable and the card is online earlier than Jace. I have yet to figure out what I want instead of Jace: Fact or Fiction, Gifts Ungiven, and even as far as Pulse of the Grid. Ancestral vision has been a thought as well but at 4 turn delay its just not good past turn 1.

Im torn, and Im looking forward to solving this puzzle.

glad to see the probe and gush restriction working as intended.

Wow I'm really glad I scrapped my dredge hate because I was worried about Eldrazi

Also, @ChubbyRain several prominent Shops players (paper) were already not playing Wires and putting up results within the last year. See "Blitzkrieg Shops". It's actually cleverly designed. Though apparently, it's cycled out of MTGoldfish's database. I assure you, that this is not new technology.

last edited by Guest

@desolutionist Are you sure? The list that the New York crew labeled as Blitzkrieg Shops from Waterbury had wires:

It also doesn't help that a lot of the 25-30+ paper events do not get the decklists posted

@Fisken We can only consider and analyse the events we know about. I would love to have more information, but it requires effort on the part of the TO or someone in attendance.

@wappla said in Vintage Challenge - 5/29/17:

glad to see the probe and gush restriction working as intended.

Agreed entirely.

If you compare these results with any of the recent months this year pre-restriction, it's pretty much the exact same metagame - or at least, within the same parameters - half Shops, two Mentor, and a Delver with another random blue deck in the Top 8.

A little over a month in, the DCI's forecasts about what would happen appear to be completely wrong. The predictions about what would happen if Gush were restricted by the DCI and others are now exposed as a fraud on the Vintage community.

What's most sad about the entire situation is that I have little doubt, as I've said many times before, these foolish restrictions will now lead to more, not less, tinkering. Since these restrictions have done almost nothing useful for the format, we can be assured to hear continuous complaining about more cards that need to be restricted in a foreseeably endless stream.

Mentor, Preordain, Paradoxical Outcome, Thorn - I can only guess at what cards people are going to call to restrict now.

It will never end.

Rather than solve whatever problems were in the format, the DCI has opened Pandora's box to endless complaining and whining by inviting it. And all this without actually dealing with the Mentor deck or even the bipolar Shop/Mentor dynamic in the format that people complained about and that the DCI mentioned in it's explanation.


last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen I think it is a bit early to make a judgment. We are predominantly seeing an online metagame. This metagame is heavily influenced by "what was good last month" and card availability (before anyone goggles at that statement too much, remember that most paper events at this point allow the use of proxies). There is also the additional point that decks like bomberman look like they'd like this sort of metagame but are completely unplayable in the medium.

The hope is that the DCI let's us play around with the format before deciding that "something else needs to be done."

But we are already seeing shifts in deck construction that are interesting and I don't think we've hit a "everything is stable" point yet.

If wizards wanted to do some good tinkering (2U, sac an artifact, put another one into play from your Library... is there a bad kind of tinkering? Are you kidding?) they could do some real work and program in cards to MTGO such that vintage staples like Bomberman combo would be playable... how hard is it to say, demonstrate a loop to the opponent and have them sign off on it once? This seems well within the realm of feasibility if they really wanted to do it. If diversity of the metagame is their real aim, I can't see how this isn't high on the priority list... and if they can't pony up the resources and effort for at least that much, it's hard for me to respect the rest of their decisions vis-a-vis vintage and a diverse meta.

@Topical_Island I'd just settle for flusterstorm and mindbreak trap working well at this point.

@Winterstar agreed, I can't even recall all the times I've managed to mess up Flusterstrom in MTGO. It really needs to indicate better which copy targets what.

After looking at the decklists from the Top Dech games 1k and the May LCV results, I don't think we are in a two deck meta.

Dredge took down both events. The Top Deck Top 8 was Dredge, Jeskai Mentor with some interesting elements (Joe Brennan lists are fun), Car Shops, Delver, Stax, an Esper Tezzie deck, that really cool Paradox Engine Deck, and Jeskai Bomberman.

Things aren't settled yet. And that top 8 is bananas.

last edited by Brass Man

@Winterstar said in Vintage Challenge - 5/29/17:

After looking at the decklists from the Top Dech games 1k and the May LCV results, I don't think we are in a two deck meta.

Dredge took down both events. The Top Deck Top 8 was Dredge, Jeskai Mentor with some interesting elements (Joe Brennan lists are fun), Car Shops, Delver, Stax, an Esper Tezzie deck, that really cool Paradox Engine Deck, and Jeskai Bomberman.

Things aren't settled yet. And that top 8 is bananas.

The pre-restriction metagame wasn't a "two deck" meta either. Remember, Dredge won one of the recent MTGO P9 challenges, Landstill won the Vintage Championship, and White Eldrazi won the European Vintage Championship. PO decks were well represented in all metagames.

The complaint about the Vintage metagame wasn't that other decks weren't viable, it was either that 1) The Mentor deck was too prevalent/good, and/or 2) the metagame was too polarized between Thorn and Mentor.

Neither one of those things seemed to have changed.

last edited by Smmenen

Since we're such a small community, we are swayed by restrictions differently than other formats. While a metagame like Standard will shift with bannings, Vintage was at a stalemate of innovation because very few players believed innovating to be "worth it". The restriction rekindled the deckbuilding spirit, and while the cream that should rise to the top will be very similar to the pre-Gush metagame, what few players we have are now given "permission" to create new decks and revitalize old ones. We get lethargic, as a worldwide metagame, due to our small numbers and expensive decks, unable to risk the financial aspect of innovating. If the Vintage metagame were to be the size of the Standard metagame, we wouldn't have seen the same metagame before or after the restriction of Gush.

I'm thrilled that Gush is re-re-restricted. Vintage is way more fun, interesting, and enjoyable than it was under the oppressive shadow of Gush. The DCI made a fantastic decision. We are all better off for it. Thank you, indeed, DCI, for ignoring a loud minority to do what is best for the format as a whole.

Except the best polling evidence shows that a majority of players wanted Mentor, not Gush, restricted. Brian Kelly's poll had the following results:

187 votes
114 people (61%) wanted Mentor restricted
67 (only 36%) wanted Gush restricted.

You've got it backwards. A loud minority wanted Gush restricted, and got their way.

As for the more subjective elements of your view of the metagame, I'm having trouble seeing any basis whatsoever for how Vintage is more "interesting" now, or, frankly, different in any observable way. Based upon the MTGO premier event results thus far, and there have been three events, there does not appear to be any measurable metagame difference that can be reasonably attributed to the restriction rather than normal month to month variation. Compare, for example, the metagame breakdown in the OP here, and the week before, to the March P9 results, the last P9 challenge before the restrictions:

March P9 / May 20 Ch. / May 27 Ch.

Mentor 25% / 26.9% / 24.5%
Shops 24.2% / 21.2% / 22.4%

The rest of the decks (Dredge, Combo, Oath, Big Blue, etc.) are basically +/- 5 percentage points where they were in March.

These restrictions appear to have made no observable difference on their targets (based on the MTGO premier events), thus far. I'm certainly open to being wrong, but none of the predictions made by the DCI in it's explanation of the restrictions in April are coming true, suggesting that their logic was flawed.

last edited by Smmenen

My dream scenario is to see Steve threaten to quit vintage (an possibly a hunger strike), forcing the DCI, who prioritize "feedback" foremost, to unrestrict Gush. Then, I want to Rich threaten to quit vintage (and vow to never use the word "deterministic" until the issue goes in his favor), forcing a Gush re-re-re-reeeeeeeeestriction (ideally announced by Tony the Tiger, in a cross-promotional masterstroke, with Kellogg's Cereals).

And so on. We could set an unbeatable record for most times a card is removed from the list... and ultimately we might all come to realize what an unproductive and profoundly lame abandonment of responsibility it is to fall back on "feedback".

last edited by Topical_Island

It might be helpful to consider that the actual mechanisms and processes behind the scenes that result in B&R changes are unknown to us and the explanations given more likely constitute public relations than transparent windows into the actual routine and objectives. The official explanations for the restrictions of Gush, Gitaxian Probe, and Chalice of the Void were saturated with problems and quite fallible. That doesn't necessarily mean the reasoning behind them was equally porous. While dissecting the official explanations has intellectual value, it's not a full substitute for attacking the actual reasons behind a decision, because they are unknown. The conclusion we can reach is that the official explanations are specious, which is not surprising given their role as PR.

On the bright side, I don't think eventual restrictions of Monastery Mentor, Paradoxical Outcome, or Thorn/Phyrexian Revoker are possibilities to be met with fear or scorn. A lot of the allowances of past 8 years in Vintage have been beyond the pale by historical standards. I enjoy seeing a gradual comprehensive restoration of sanity. 🙂

Me: I am having fun.
Steve: Impossible! Here are some numbers.

The false dichotomy between restricting mentor and gush is perhaps confusing. Brian's poll has a tiny majority of those wanting any chamge wanting Gush hit. Personally I don't feel strongly about Mentor being hit or not. I cannot show you numbers for what I consider fun. It sure is nice having mana drain and time vault back, to me at least.

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