Vintage Challenge - 6/17/2017

@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


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


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.
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

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

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

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%

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?
  • 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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