Vintage Challenge - 6/17/2017

@Hrishi said in Vintage Challenge - 6/17/2017:

I honestly wonder if there's a point to posting this data here week after week when the only thing people seem to do is break off into cursing the DCI and then each other...

Complaining about people complaining is a smart way to get people to stop complaining.

(I feel like Smmenen in my ability to sidetrack the thread)

No, what sidetracked the thread were personal, vituperative attacks, that were completely unprompted and uncalled for and which cause threads to derail. For example, was it necessary to make a personal dig in response to my complaints about the top 8, as Matt did in post 10 of this thread? Or to resort to name calling (completely unprecipitated btw) ?

Making personal attacks is completely inappropriate. My complaints were about the format, but Matt engaged in direct, personal attacks. He unloaded a load of anger (that had clearly been building up for some time), going on a rant about "Vintage hacks," and other nonsense that had nothing to do with my posts or this thread.

My complaints about the format, and posting of both aggregate line graphs and data tables, were directly germane to the topic of this thread: the format metagame represented by this event. This metagame report, and the previous 5, reveal a metagame that is just as polarized as the format was before the restrictions of Gush and Probe, raising grave questions about the efficacy and necessity of those restrictions. There is a reason that the vast majority of people polled in Shawn's poll are unhappy with those restrictions.

I don't know who believes this, but some folks seem to be implying that complaining about the format is tantamount to critiquing the data compilers. That's ridiculous. No one is shooting the messenger for the message. So, let's stop suggesting or implying that expressing outrage at the DCI or discontent over the state of the format is equivalent to complaining about the people doing the good work of compiling this data. Not the same thing.

In case you missed it, I've been compiling the results of all major events into a single table, and will update this table (and the line charts I created) every week. That way people can visually see the direction of these strategies over time.

alt text

Critiquing the format and the restrictions based upon these tournament results is completely fair game. Personal attacks on individuals shouldn't be. And anyone who condones or applauds that kind of behavior - no matter the target - should be ashamed.

last edited by Smmenen

I apologize for the personal attacks - you are right that that rant has been building for some time. I am tired that the focus of these reports remains evaluating the banned and restricted changes or remarking on whether or not this event shows a unhealthy metagame. Did anyone congratulate Jazza or any of the other contestants outside of the initial post? @Serracollector , @desolutionist , and @MSolymossy looked like they were at the beginnings of a productive discussion on PO's poor performance and comparison to FoF and Gifts in similar shells, but that obviously never materialized.

Yes, the format's health is an important issue and I believe everyone should be entitled to their opinion. However, a single weekly event should do little to affect one's view of the metagame. I even tried to start those monthly reports to provide a medium for a more holistic metagame review - that's part of the frustration. We could go through this every week. "Shops won again; clearly is overpowered." "Mana Drain and PO won, the format is fine and everything is glorious". "Oh, Shops won again, time to restrict Shops." Magic is a game of variance and there will be swings...there will be anomalies. That's the nature of our hobby.

So, let me phrase my objection in what I hope is a non-confrontational form. The previous iteration of The Mana Drain had a policy that limited banned and restricted discussions to a specific forum. I imagine they ran into similar issues like we've encountered here. Even if @Brass-Man does not want to take a similar step (and I'm not saying he should), I think that we should try and limit such discussions to threads specifically concerning them. While we call these "metagame reports" they are really snapshots of a specific metagame and not necessarily indicative of the overall trend.

@wappla This is a straw man at best, projection at the worst...
There are legitimate reasons to want a Gush restriction and/or a Mentor restriction based on diversity, your slippery slope notwithstanding. You dismissing that as a goal of the format does not matter much when Wizards has repeatedly cited it as the basis for multiple restrictions and the B&R website literally mentions it in the first sentence.

@ChubbyRain Show me where the case against Gush has been articulated, because I haven't seen it.

Quoting myself

Efficient spells are what make less efficient spells less efficient. Should we keep restricting cards until you can play Cancel and Doom Blade? Force of Will and Swords to Plowshares cast a shadow over the entire meta.
You should explain why you apply this bizarre efficiency test to some cards and not others.
You should explain why turn three Gush is "too good" for a format where turn one Oath of Druids, Monastery Mentor, Paradoxical Outcome, and Trinisphere are all plausible plays.
[Drain and Gush] are different cards but good for the same reason [mana generation added to an otherwise desirable effect]. Why do you valorize one and demonize the other?

Quoting Rich Shay, or anyone else

Crickets chirping

Quoting myself, two weeks ago

It also seems to encourage playing lots of free artifact mana, Time Vault and Voltaic Key, Paradoxical Outcome, a bunch of tutors, and Tinker and Blightsteel Colossus. How do those things create a better format than Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor?
I also don't understand how you have come to attach a personality trait like "greed" to the Gush mana base. Why is the Gush mana base "greedy?" People play the amount of mana they believe their deck needs to win games of Magic. That's as true in Gush decks as it is in Standstill or Thirst decks. There's nothing greedy about it.
Can you explain how a Gush metagame leads to a "race-to-the-bottom" and a Thirst-Paradoxical metagame doesn't?
Additionally, if paying mana for draw spells is what you celebrate about Thirst and distinguishes it from the evil Gush, shouldn't you be upset that the Thirst decks now lean so heavily on Paradoxical Outcome?
Edit: In yesterdays event, Paradoxical/Thirst decks played fewer lands than Gush decks did before restriction. Could you clarify your definition of "greed?"

Quoting Rich Shay, or anyone else

crickets, once more

As far as I have seen, the only substantive thinking on Gush's restriction has been presented to make a case for the card, while the anti-Gush side has said very little besides Gush decks being too good-- which we know is false-- and Gush being too good-- which is irrelevant the same way Force of Will (poor Cancel!) and Volcanic Island (makes other UR duals unplayable!) being too good is irrelevant.

I wrote a very long article in defense of Gush an entire year ago and my argumentation has been consistent ever since.

Your counterpoint about diversity would be relevant if the same proponents for Gush's restriction, namely Mr Shay, haven't been celebrating the results of the tournaments since, which thanks to Ryan and your consistent efforts we know haven't been any more diverse. The diversity argument fails (@Smmenen has been putting your data to better use than anyone else) yet the anti-Gush crowd celebrates the current format. It's dishonest for them to cite diversity as a reason for Gush's restriction. Consistently substantive points have been made each week on the basis of your tournament data, they just have been against the restriction rather than for it. Of course, data-backed arguments before the announcement were also against restriction. Evidence has always been on one side of this thing.

The reason these threads go long every week is partly because a lot of people chime in to say nothing constructive, but also because the only material counterargument those in favor of Gush have been facing is "Wait and see, metagame evolution takes time." When that is the strongest argument the anti-Gush side can muster, it should be obvious why each week's data merits discussion.

Rich Shay says over and over again that Gush is bad. He never explains why. He says it doesn't cost mana but refuses explain why that is bad. In the absence of a clear explanation for why Gush is bad, in the absence of increased diversity, in the presence of weekly reminders of both of these absences, there isn't an argument against Gush other than "Well I once enjoyed Control Slaver."

Now, it's no one's obligation to make a real argument. Maybe I don't deserve responses to my questions, but it then becomes bizarre for you to criticize me for projection. We can sit here and accept the DCI's bullshit, chalk up Gush's and Gitaxian Probe pruning as loudly expressed personal preference, and continue on our way with no expectation that restrictions have rhyme or reason. As @diophan said the day of, "complain and ye shall receive." That is what Vintage is. As I wrote a few posts up, the reason this is contentious is because many of us believe it should be otherwise.

It's dishonest for people to both claim Gush deserved restriction and that Vintage isn't an arbitrarily governed format without resolving that contradiction. You can believe Gush and Gitaxian Probe deserved restriction or you can believe the restricted list should have a higher standard than arbitrary taste, but nothing I've seen or read suggests you can believe both without being a hypocrite.

last edited by wappla

These percentages are not entirely accurate. @ChubbyRain - You threw a match that you had won in order to push your buddy into the top 8(Jazza), even though he had lost the match. This alters the perception of percentages that were calculated. It also made it so another user who could have possibly made top 8 on breakers from honest statistics, get knocked out of contention based on breakers alone because of the thrown match. Who knows how often this happens, i certainly hope it was just this one instance. The integrity of competition is important and throwing matches compromises the integrity of fair competition. If you guys ever want mtg to have any chances at all of becoming somewhat of a spectator sport, Integrity needs to stay intact. This type of behavior is a big no no in competitive esports and sports.

last edited by Guest

@Smmenen Steve, I have nothing against you. I'm not even disagreeing with you. I do agree you have every right to be upset with the current b/r, as that is your prerogative. I actually agree with you on the account on the b/r did not match what Wizard's stated purpose was. In that regard, Wizards failed. Also, if someone thinks you're not allowed to have or voice your opinion even when negative, that's ludicrous. Your opinion matters just as much as anybodies.

However, my concern I'm seeing is negativity (to the level of detriment) and people start yelling at each other. I'm not saying you or anyone in particular. I would love to go to these posts and see people discuss the actual decks. Maybe between this and the Facebook group, I've seen so much "WOTC sux" posts that have little to no merit, that I've gotten beyond frustrated and annoyed.

@ChubbyRain is right, I failed myself at congratulating the person that won the tournament (not that he directed it specifically at me or anything). I would love for people who win these tournaments to discuss their deck choices and why they went with them. Get insight into why they picked certain cards, etc. That's what I come to the Mana Drain for, really insightful card discussion. I want to learn the format and get to the next level of vintage.

However, excuse me for going off topic a bit here, when you see so much negativity and people knocking people down for their decks / opinions in negative manner (that is not constructive), it stifles the format and honestly makes me stay away from the mana drain. We should be encouraging people and trying to help people get better at the format. I want good competition and I want to be good competition. That of course does not mean someone shouldn't say, I don't think that is good idea because of reason X,Y, and/or Z. Or I'm unhappy with the format because of A,B, and/or C. It's all in how someone communicates to each other.

@ChubbyRain said in Vintage Challenge - 6/17/2017:

Yes, the format's health is an important issue and I believe everyone should be entitled to their opinion. However, a single weekly event should do little to affect one's view of the metagame. I even tried to start those monthly reports to provide a medium for a more holistic metagame review - that's part of the frustration. We could go through this every week. "Shops won again; clearly is overpowered." "Mana Drain and PO won, the format is fine and everything is glorious". "Oh, Shops won again, time to restrict Shops." Magic is a game of variance and there will be swings...there will be anomalies. That's the nature of our hobby.

First of all, I appreciate the apology.

But this description of how some people are reacting - a micro-focus on a single Top 8 - is not at all how I've couched my objections to DCI policy or the state of the format.

Take a look back at the 6/10 Challenge thread. My first post in that entire thread wasn't until post 59. I'm not saying that there weren't people doing what you say here, but it wasn't me. You might say Josh did. But I didn't do you what you are talking about, and it seems like I'm getting the blame for that kind of assertion/claim. My claims have been far more carefully developed and framed, I believe.

In fact, to that point, my third post in that thread (post 68) aggregated all of the challenge results into a single table, specifically as a response to the objection you raised, which is that people were making too much of a single 50 player tournament.

I agree it would be ridiculous to draw broad based conclusions about the state of the metagame based upon a single tournament.

But, when you now have 1) six of those tournaments, 2) all of similar size, and 3) and key results, in the main, are very similar, or follow a clearly observable pattern, the confidence in the data grows stronger. That's why I created the table. Comments by some people were masking what I feel is a clear pattern now, with enough data to give us some confidence in it.

So, let me phrase my objection in what I hope is a non-confrontational form. The previous iteration of The Mana Drain had a policy that limited banned and restricted discussions to a specific forum. I imagine they ran into similar issues like we've encountered here. Even if @Brass-Man does not want to take a similar step (and I'm not saying he should), I think that we should try and limit such discussions to threads specifically concerning them. While we call these "metagame reports" they are really snapshots of a specific metagame and not necessarily indicative of the overall trend.

I used to write quarterly metagame reports for Starcitygames on Vintage, so I appreciate both the work that goes into them and their value. But individual tournament results that fit a broader pattern as well as metagame reports are fair game for critiquing B&R policy.

Vintage has just undergone a massive B&R list change, and one that was deeply divisive and contentious. These results are a critical data point in the overall assessment of the effects of those restrictions, especially upon their necessity and efficacy.

If those restrictions were based upon erroneous premises (as I believe) or otherwise do not have the intended effect (as I believe we are seeing), it is absolutely essential that we critique them, and more.

Silencing discussion on that point would, in essence, serve as a shield to protect those decisions from critique, in at least some degree (although we might disagree about how much).

Now that Gush is restricted, these metagame reports of the Vintage Challenges and the larger monthly or quarterly ones, are our main avenue by which to understand the impact. Restricting conversation about the effects of the restriction of Gush within metagame breakdowns does not even seem possible, as that's one of the main things that these metagame breakdowns do. They show us the effects of the restrictions on the metagame.

The flip side is that these metagame reports, individually and in the aggregate, point towards possible B&R issues. Suppose some deck becomes 50% of the the metagame (without supposing what such a deck might be). It would be unreasonable to ask people NOT to raise the issue, in these threads, if a B&R response might be warranted.

@mdkubiak said in Vintage Challenge - 6/17/2017:

However, my concern I'm seeing is negativity (to the level of detriment) and people start yelling at each other. I'm not saying you or anyone in particular. I would love to go to these posts and see people discuss the actual decks. Maybe between this and the Facebook group, I've seen so much "WOTC sux" posts that have little to no merit, that I've gotten beyond frustrated and annoyed.

I disagree with you. I don't think negativity is a bad thing, especially here. That's how people register their anger with the format and DCI B&R list policy.

Shawn's poll shows that there is alot of unhappiness with the decision. Not taking into account the various "yes, but" or "no, but" answers, 81 people voted that they were NOT happy with the restrictions compared to just 37 who were happy, so far.

Even as a sample of a much larger population, that illustrates a huge amount of discontent in the Vintage community.

That discontentment is the only way that things can improve. When the DCI last overreached, a ton of people quit Vintage, and that let the DCI know that they overeached. Tournament attendance in some quarters cratered, and the result of that was we had 5 years of much better B&R management.

These concerns about "negativity" do little more than stifle legitimate grievances that people have. I say: bring on the negativity and open the floodgates, if people are unhappy with DCI policy.

Where I do agree with you is that people should not engage in personal attacks. That's inherently inflammatory and antithetical to discussion not to mention illogical anyway.

last edited by Smmenen

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(cutting off the stuff above as it's tl;dr by now)

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The data from the last several of these have shown us a plethora of facts since the Restriction of Gush and Gitaxian Probe. While not focusing on the restriction itself we can use it as the preamble to our discussion. For those who don't track dates, this restriction happened on April 24th, 2017, and was effective immediately.

Looking at ONLY THE VINTAGE CHALLENGE REPORTS since this date, we can come to the following conclusion. Keep in mind also that the Vintage Challenges were not weekly at the time.

The first thing we can do to further aggregate our data is to remove from results any decks that have less than 5 people playing them, as it only takes 1 person doing well to have a really good win percentage. For example, Gifts this last week will have a good percentage, since I'm almost certain @desolutionist is the only person who played it. While his performance was good, that doesn't help us in breaking down metagame data as a whole.

The top 3 Performing decks against the field in each are as follows when using that limiting factor.
5/22
Eldrazi - 57.7% (Exactly 5 players)
Paradoxical 56.0% (Exactly 5 players)
Mentor - 53.5% (10 players)
Shops was at 44.4% out of 11 players

5/29
Shops - 69.8% (11 Players)
Mentor -49.2% (12 Players)
These were the only two decks with 5 or more players representing the archetype

6/3
Paradoxical - 55.1% (12 Players)
Shops - 54.9% (13 Players)
Mentor - 49.2% (12 Players)

6/10
Mentor - 64.6% (10 Players)
Paradoxical - 56.1% (8 Players)
Shops - 51.0% - 12 Players
Oath is the only other deck represented by 5 or more players, and was at 43.3%

6/17
Shops - 69.2% (9 players)
Mentor - 62.2% (7 Players)
Paradoxial - 37.0% (10 Players)
No other decks fielded 5 or more pilots

So It seems to me that, based on a quick skim of the data, @Smmenen is absolutely correct. This format hasn't really been opened up. But the real question is:

  • Is this because nobody wants to put down Mentor, as there isn't real innovation in this format currently?
    OR
  • Mentor itself is still the best Win Condition?

I firmly believe that, baring the DCI's reasoning for Gitaxian Probe and Gush, that they grabbed their Louisville Slugger and their helmet and were stepping up to the plate when they were actually playing Basketball. However, I also feel we're in a spot where the real Innovation has been choked out by the utter effectiveness in Mentor, and thus nobody is trying to do anything new. I have played a lot of Paradoxical, for example, and more often than not I think to myself 'Why am I not playing Gifts or Fact or Fiction?'. You'd feel that way too if you're sitting on 1 Mox, 3 lands, and 2 or 3 Paradox while your opponent utterly shits on you. I think @desolutionist felt the same way, which is why he is leveraging the skill he had from back in 2006 and is playing Gifts to successful finishes (If there's an NYSE Bingo card and he isn't on it, you'd be a fool).

I firmly stand that restricting Gush and Gitaxian Probe was correct - and this has nothing to do with Data. It has everything to do with my personal belief that this game should not just be an Easy-Button. Most of the time being able to play your spells in a way to bluff can be crucial - I used to do this all the time back in the day where I would Merchant Scroll for Ancestral and then just sit on it, making my opponent think my hand is stacked, while I used 4+ draw steps to turn my junk hand into Gasoline. You couldn't do that with Gitaxian Probe, because it was always a Lose-Lose situation. Either you wasted a Misstep (or worse) on their Gitaxian Probe, or they knew your entire hand. I'm not convinced that Joey Touchbutt should be able to able to have perfect knowledge at almost all times. This was further expanded upon by Gush in that they could out of nowhere chain enough spells together to see upward of 10 cards of their deck in a single turn between Gushes, preordains, Dack, and restricted spells.

It was an entirely uninteresting format with Gush and Gitaxian Probe.
It's an entirely uninteresting format with Monastery Mentor.

The problem is that if Mentor goes, the data has shown us that people will just play Paradox. And even though Paradox performed horribly in the face of the Taxing decks this last weekend, I have no doubt that the Blue Mages would come up with some very good technology given time to beat the Workshop Menace.

Bottom line, no matter what happens, the blue mages will just go to the next 'Flavor of the day'. If we somehow make Mentor and Paradox not a thing, everyone will go back to Time Vault strategies.

And since I didn't insult anyone.. You're all fucking clowns.

@Smmenen I am not saying that you shouldn't critique Wizards decisions - of course you should. I am also not saying you shouldn't use our data - that's the entire reason we do we what do. My point is that I would prefer you take what you did with our data and start a new thread not directly tied to a single event. It's not about silencing you but instead a desire that the focus be kept on the contestants, results, and data analysis of this single event within the thread dedicated to that event. And it's not just you, though you were the person I snapped at (sorry again). This is a general request on @diophan's and I's behalf. We intend to keep doing this, but it's going to end up exhausting and toxic if this happens every week.

@MSolymossy said in Vintage Challenge - 6/17/2017:

And since I didn't insult anyone.. You're all fucking clowns.

Mike I'm disgusted by how nice you were in the prior post, you nice man you.

@mdkubiak I ruined my own schtick by being nice 😕

@MSolymossy said in Vintage Challenge - 6/17/2017:

@mdkubiak I ruined my own schtick by being nice 😕

Damn right you did. Now we all know you're a cuddly bear.

Thanks for the archetype breakdown guys. I was away at GP Vegas trying to win without playing Thorn or Misstep in my deck and didn't throw in some basic stats on the top 32 lists. I think you are all wrong and the format is those two miserable cards. I don't hate any of you so I have nothing to add on the vitriol front, I think @MSolymossy screamed at each other once at Gencon but forgot 10 minutes later -- that's the best I can do. Here's my amazing spreadsheet math to prove my point.

alt text

We are now at 89% of the (4x32) deck building spots being consumed by either Thorn or Derpstep. Deck building 'space' is at its ebb. I'm convinced Missteps restriction would help subdue Thorns efficacy, but that's a blend of opinion and evidence. If the Misstep decks just shove Pyroblast in then things aren't getting better. Even more stifling is if you add Pyroblast to the fucking heap of Derpsteps you arrive at an even higher number 97%. Nice format.

I'm not interested in the Force of Will comps either that card is fine, both in its deck building constraints and card advantage draw back.

Congrats to GLICK for being the only participant to soldier through without either of the aforementioned ubiquitous turds in his deck.

Edit: missed a deck

last edited by nedleeds

@nedleeds We definitely did, and I don't forget these things, but I know I have a temper and I let things go easy 🙂

I'm sure we've had several good interactions since then.

@wappla Probably should unrestrict Ancestral Recall as well because it's only on the list because it's too efficient.

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