I don't think anyone wants a coin flip format. That sounds awful.

But it's a straw man to suggest that a faster format is tantamount to a coin flip format. This is a pretty slow format, and there are lots of fast answers.

There is a tremendous gulf between a faster format and an actual coin flip format.

There is ample room for more speed combo decks without degenerating into coin flips. And, the presence of cards like Misstep and Mindbreak Trap, which didn't exist a decade ago, not to mention Cage and Stony Silence, make that even harder.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen

Calling it a coin flip format was simply hyperbole. The coin flip is certainly not as important as it was prior to the restriction of Lodestone + Chalice, and less important than it was in the days of flash, dragon, ect.

I want to play with 4 copies of channel.

I want to play with 4 copies of demonic consultation.

I will not say whether or not these are good ideas, but they would make vintage more enjoyable for me, as I try very hard to make things less enjoyable for my opponent.

@vaughnbros said in Cards to unrestrict:

@Smmenen

Calling it a coin flip format was simply hyperbole. The coin flip is certainly not as important as it was prior to the restriction of Lodestone + Chalice, and less important than it was in the days of flash, dragon, ect.

Could you break this down/elaborate a little bit more?

I'd like to know exactly which versions of the format (provide months/years if you can) in which you felt the coin flip was unacceptably relevant?

You stated the metagame prior to the restriction of Golem & Chalice, but do you stretch that back to the printing of Chalice or the printing of Golem or some period after both? There is an 7 year gap between those printings.

And, you referenced Dragon combo, but which dates in particular? Dragon was most popular in the period in which Psychatog was the best deck in the format, and won it's largest tournament in a Top 8 of 7 Mana Drain decks in 2005. Dragon was not ever known as a "speed" combo deck, so that's a puzzling reference.

And you mentioned Flash. The errata on Flash occurred in May, 2007, and Flash was restricted in June, 2008. Do you consider that entire period unacceptably coin-flippy? Or just some months/periods? Bear in mind that Flash was almost never more than 10% of the metagame or Top 8s (and usually somewhere between 4-8%), so it's hard to describe a format as "coin" flippy when very few matches involved flash.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen

Have I ever said unacceptably coin flippy? Why are you putting words into my mouth?

What I was saying is: Less reliant on coin flips = A better format.

@vaughnbros said in Cards to unrestrict:

@Smmenen

Have I ever said unacceptably coin flippy? Why are you putting words into my mouth?

Well, you said "In terms of speed, yeah, we've moved away from the time of coin flip magic. That is a great development for our format."

So, I'd like to know, with more specificity, what that "time" was. With months/years, if possible. You named some strategies and cards, but were pretty vague about that "time." I don't recall the period you are talking about as a "time of coin flip magic," and I've been an active vintage player through all of those periods, so I'd like to know what you experienced or are referring to.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen

Lodestones printing until Chalice's restriction was a time period I just gave you that was more coin flippy than it is now. I never once said it was "unacceptably coin flippy" although certainly some people thought that leading to the restriction of Chalice.

The times in which these types of turn 1 strategies were more prevalent certainly indicate a time when the coin flip was more important.

last edited by vaughnbros

@vaughnbros said in Cards to unrestrict:

@Smmenen

Lodestones printing until Chalice's restriction was a time period I just gave you that was more coin flippy than it is now.

Thank you. But what you actually said was "The coin flip is certainly not as important as it was prior to the restriction of Lodestone + Chalice"

That's was ambiguous phrasing, because one reading of that sentence is that the "coin flip was not as important prior to the restrictions of BOTH Lodestone and Chalice," as opposed to the clarification you just provided. So, one reading puts the end of that period with the restriction of Golem, and the other with the restriction of Chalice. That's a difference of half a year. You just resolved the ambiguity.

While that's helpful clarification, you still didn't fully answer my question about you meant when you said "the time of coin flip Magic."

Is that era, in your view, simply the period in which Chalice and Golem were played together or was there some other period you had in mind? You mentioned Flash, Dragon, "etc." but didn't specify periods. So, I'm trying to understand if those references are superfluous to this "time" or part of how you experienced the format.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen

You haven't answered my initial question about how unrestricting combo decks helps with strategical diversity.

I feel the time periods in which we had a much more size-able amount of combo in the early to mid 2000's also seemed much more coin flip oriented to me than the format is currently. PO is the only deck were I feel there is a substantial difference between my win/loss % if I win/lose a coin flip in the match. Shops has been fairly neutered in that regard.

Do you feel that decks like Flash, Dragon, and numerous storm variants of that time period were slower than the current iterations of PO? Do you feel we should have faster decks than PO now? How would such a deck help the format exactly?

I want to fully understand your position before I provide my counterpoint or answer. I've found it counterproductive to debate with you and simultaneously try to understand your position. That's led to a tremendous waste of time in the past, such as the posts debating what would happen if Gush were restricted, where we were also debating over ranges/data sources, etc. Once I got clarification on your position, I was able to launch my counterpoints more effectively without stumbling over semantics or data discrepancies (btw, I've been proven right in that debate).

The "early to mid-2000s" is a very large period, that had very different metagames. The 2000 metagame was defined by Necropotence, until it's restriction. Necro-Trix was a brutal deck, but not particularly fast. The 2001 metagame was all about Fact or Fiction fueled Morphling decks. There was almost no viable combo in that metagame, despite some fools playing Neo-Academy. The 2002 metagame, similarly, had very little combo. So it's pretty confusing and extremely imprecise of you to say "early to mid-2000s."

The period between October, 2000 and May, 2003 (when Scourge was released, and Storm cards like Tendrils were pritned), had very, very little combo in the top performing decks, with the exception of Dragon, but even then, Dragon wasn't printed until Judgement, in May 2002. So that's still nearly a two year period in that block of time where combo was dormant.

After the restriction of Mind's Desire, it wasn't until at least a few months before Long & Rector Trix actually became a thing, and even then Long was promptly restricted in December, restricting both LED and Burning Wish, driving storm combo pretty much out of the US for years, (altough TPS was pretty popular in Europe through the Trinisphere year) until the legalization of Portal. I remember arguing with you on this point before.

And finally, Flash didn't even exist in the period you just gave. Flash, again, was errated in May 2007, and restricted in 2008. So, it's simply unclear what "time" you are talking about.

The year 2001 was probably the least coin flippy year I can ever remember in this format. It was essentially just BBS mirrors and Keeper, with garbage (like Sligh, Stompy, and Suicide Black) behind them. Even 2005 was dominated primarily by Control Slaver, Gifts, and other Mana Drain decks, once Trinisphere was restricted earlier (February) in that year. None of those years were particularly coin flippy, with perhaps the brief exception of the last three months of 2003, before the restriction of LED/B. Wish.

So, there is some pretty remarkable lack of precision in your claims that requires clarification before I can attempt to contest them.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen

Yet you still find a way to completely ignore my point, and focus on arguing semantics which I have actual no interest in. Good day to you.

@vaughnbros said in Cards to unrestrict:

@Smmenen

Yet you still find a way to completely ignore my point, and focus on arguing semantics which I have actual no interest in. Good day to you.

There is a difference between requesting clarification and arguing semantics.

I specifically said I'm not ignoring your point -- and will respond -- but before I address it I want to understand your position. Because what you're saying right now doesn't make much sense.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen

I've made my position clear that I do not think that a format that is more coin flip dependent is good. I do not see how me not defining eras as precisely as you is anything more than semantics.

@vaughnbros said in Cards to unrestrict:

@Smmenen

I've made my position clear that I do not think that a format that is more coin flip dependent is good. I do not see how me not defining eras as precisely as you is anything more than semantics.

Because the concept of "coin-flippiness in magic" is inherently imprecise (you already said it's hyperbole), either as a descriptor or metaphor. Rather than engage you in a semantic debate over what you mean by that term, it's faster and easier to simply ask you to point to particular periods you believe embody that dynamic. Especially since you refered to it as a "time." Aside from the period where chalice & golem were simultaneously unrestricted, you've been unable to identify a particular period that might plausibly be described as such. That suggests a deeper flaw in your thinking.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen

I thought that the coin flip having an impact on the outcome of games was a pretty well established concept. Here I am having to explain it to someone who considers themselves an expert on magic theory though.

There are some articles designed for beginners like yourself on this topic: http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/level-one/play-or-draw-2015-03-16
https://www.channelfireball.com/articles/play-or-draw/

What you also seem to not understand is that the history of the coin flip in Vintage and the specific time or times when it was impact has very little to do with my overall point.

People just want library unrestricted so they can cash in hard on the copies they are sitting on or to create speculation to drive sales. It's all malarky.

My suggestions are as follows: Unrestrict brainstorm, restrict preordain, restrict mental misstep, unrestrict chalice. Unrestrict fastbond/bargain because I don't think it matters. flash/rector is not a thing anymore and if wotc is smart, they will keep it that way.

Miracles would become vintage playable. Miracles is the "feel at home" control deck that vintage needs. Blue players wouldn't feel that duress/thoughtseize are oppressive with misstep gone as they can sometimes brainstorm whatever cards they want to hide away from the thoughtseize/duress.

TPS/DPS would make a comeback with misstep restricted.

Shops would be combat other decks a bit better and there would also be more diversity is shops deck building. It will also be able to do the shop jobs is supposed to do, keep combo in check.

last edited by Guest

@vaughnbros said in Cards to unrestrict:

@Smmenen

I thought that the coin flip having an impact on the outcome of games was a pretty well established concept.

No, it's a commonly used term, but that doesn't mean it's meaning is well-defined or it's conceptualization is well established. People use all kinds of idiotic aphorisms, metaphors, or allusions on a daily basis in common parlance or vernacular, that, upon close inspection, either have no meaning at all or are proven flawed in concept.

Here I am having to explain it to someone who considers themselves an expert on magic theory though.

There are some articles designed for beginners like yourself on this topic: http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/level-one/play-or-draw-2015-03-16
https://www.channelfireball.com/articles/play-or-draw/

Both of those articles are about the difference between being on the play or draw. Since you cite both of those pieces in support of your conception of what you mean by "coin flippiness," it's clear that you use that term to refer to who gets to play first, and, more specifically, whether a player gets a turn or not as determining who wins.

Already, it's clear how incoherent your understanding of this idea is. To put a fine point on it, if coin flippiness is literally defined, as you suggest, by whether a player gets a turn or not based upon winning the coin flip, then a game cannot be said to be "coin flippy" if a player gets a turn.

Yet, you specifically identified Worldgorger Dragon (and Dredge) as decks that exhibit or express your idea. Yet, as you should know, Dredge doesn't win on the first turn, and it is virtually impossible for Worldgorger Dragon (WGD) combo to win on the first turn. That's because the WGD pilot needs both a draw and discard outlet in play, such as Bazaar (or Compulsion), AND a (generally blue and black) mana source, in order to generate infinite mana. That's because each loop of the Dragon combo requires a mana in play to tap and float through each iteration. In general, Moxen will not suffice, as you need a black mana to cast an Animate effect, and usually a blue mana for Ambassador Laquatus or Cunning Wish at the end of the loop. Generally, the only way for WGD combo to win on "Turn 1" is to play a first turn Time Walk (or the opponent kills themselves). That means an opponent will almost always have an opportunity to play mana to cast Coffin Purge or Tormod's Crypt, etc.

If I've misread your meaning of the term, based upon the sources you provided, then it simply underscores the need, as I've said before now, for you to clarify your meaning of the term, rather than simply link to external articles to do it for you, with all of the ambiguity and indeterminacy that comes with it. You could have saved a step by simply doing that first.

What you also seem to not understand is that the history of the coin flip in Vintage and the specific time or times when it was impact has very little to do with my overall point.

What you seem not to understand is the structure of logic: the concept of coin flippiness is a premise that undergirds your conclusion (your overall point), and the strength or frailty of your conceptualization of that premise ultimately determines the validity and soundness of that conclusion.

But enough trying to understand your thinking. It's fairly clear, based upon your posts so far, that your thinking is muddled and perhaps just under-cooked as it relates to the issues in this thread. The fact that you gesture wildly to broad eras as "time of coin flip magic" without precision, specifying the boundaries of those eras clearly, while displaying ignorance of those eras and the strategies in them already underscores the lack of clarity in your thinking.

So, I'll turn now, in earnest, to your questions:

@vaughnbros said in Cards to unrestrict:

@Smmenen

You haven't answered my initial question about how unrestricting combo decks helps with strategical diversity.

First of all, you don't "unrestrict combo decks," you unrestrict cards, not decks. But I take your point.

I already answered this question in my first post. The format right now is strategically narrow, throttled at the top by Mentor and Thorn decks, followed by PO decks, a bit of Dredge, and a bit of Oath.

The vast majority of the PO decks that appear in Vintage Top 8s or daily results are Mentor, Drain Tendrils, Mana Drain decks, etc. Aside from Reid Duke, almost no one in the format right now is playing PO as a straight combo deck, ala Dark Ritual Storm, with Necro, etc.

I believe that unrestricting combo cards, like Windfall, Bargain and Flash, have the potential to increase the strategic diversity of the format by increasing the viability of strategies that are currently unviable or extremely marginal. DPS was really hurt by the restriction of Probe. I would like to see the return of Dark Ritual-type decks to the format - that is, decks that use Wheel of Fortune, Necropotence, etc. and win with Tendrils. The format, currently, has, as I said, almost no viable deck that does this, or some that are extremely fringe/marginal.

Unrestricting Windfall or Bargain could increase the strategic diversity in the format by making those decks better. Similarly, unrestricting Flash would bring a whole new archetype into the format, and therefore increase the format's strategic diversity.

Do you feel that decks like Flash, Dragon, and numerous storm variants of that time period were slower than the current iterations of PO?

Dragon and Flash didn't really exist in the same time period, so the premise to your question if flawed.

Flash was a very fast deck, especially after the printing of Future Sight, which happened just after GP Flash and not long after the Flash errata. Summoner's Pact provided a reliable way to find Protean Hulk for free.

Yet, in the full year that Flash was legal with all of that nonsense, it never really did well. If you go back and look at the 2007 Vintage Championship results, a tournament I won, all of the best performing Flash decks were relegated below the Top 8, like Chapin, who made Top 16. Flash got a bit better in 2008, but still never really performed better than the Gush decks, in general; not even close. It won a few big tournaments, but it's performance, given the speed and ease of the combo, was always disappointing. The reason was that it was so easy to hate out with Extirpate and/or Leyline of the Void. And, by Spring 2008, people were playing maindeck Red Blasts (as they do now!), making it even worse.

With Leyline in play, Flash is a 3 card combo, and hardly a turn 1 win.

So, it's not really a matter of whether Flash was faster or slower than PO or anything else. It's pre-board and post-board games were radically different. It could goldfish faster than anything, but that doesn't mean it was really that fast. It wasn't.

As for Dragon, as I've pointed out many times, Dragon had essentially 0% Turn 1 kills. Although it could win on Turn 2, it was mostly a Turn 3/4 deck at best, and often slower. The reason the deck was so good was because it's draw engine was essentially uncounterable (squee/Bazaar), so it could generate more card advantage than the blue decks, and it could also win at instant speed, with Necromancy. But you needed lots of turns to dig up multiple Squees or simply make use of them with Bazaar to overwhelm your opponent with card advantage.

And, as for Storm, the Storm decks of the 2000s were all radically different speeds. The fastest was Long, with 4 LEDs. That deck was absurd, and Long v. Stax (which I have articles on SCG about), is probably the closest thing I've ever experienced to an actual "coin flip" in the format. But that only existed for about 3-5 months before it was restricted out of existence.

The Perfect Storm deck that won the 2008 Vintage Champs or the Pitch Long deck that got 2nd place in 2006 was much slower. That was more like a Turn 2.5 deck, at best. Still faster than PO decks today, but not as fast as Burning Long.

Do you feel we should have faster decks than PO now?

I think you and I have different understandings of where PO decks are now. I view PO decks that are currently doing well in this format as fairly slow decks. The Reid Duke style PO deck is certainly more geared towards Turn 1-3, but the PO decks that are best performing at the moment are significantly slower, despite the possibility of Turn 1 wins, they aren't designed to do that. If they were, they'd be playing more Mox Opals, etc. Instead, they trade off speed for resilience.

So, I think you are suffering from the incorrect premise that PO decks are actually pretty fast, when they really aren't.

So, yes, I do feel we should have decks faster than the average PO deck right now. Not because that should be a goal, but because achieving that would be the byproduct of a larger goal: making DPS/TPS or even Belcher style decks viable again.

How would such a deck help the format exactly?

Increase the strategic diversity of the format.

Let me present two simple principles that probably everyone would agree with:

  1. In general, having more viable deck choices in Vintage is a good thing.

  2. In general, being able to play games of Magic where both players get to play spells and make meaningful in-game decisions is a good thing.

The problem arises when these two ideas come into tension. In general, I give greater priority to strategic diversity than in-game decision making. And, in a format that is really strategically narrow right now, like Vintage, this preference has even greater weight.

In summary, I would gladly accept the trade-off of having more strategic options in this mundane and predictable format at the expense of having a slight increase in games won before a player can make a meaningful in-game decision.

Since the frequency of Turn 1 kills is so absurdly tiny in this format of late (I think someone pointed out that there was like one Turn 1 kill on the VSL for every 50 games), the format can afford to give up a little in-game interactivity in the interests of improved and broader strategic options.

And here's my last point:

I think it's quite revealing that the period you identified with the most specificity as exhibiting the dynamic of "coin flippiness" was the Golem/Chalice era. It would not be unreasonable to add the Trinisphere era (the one year Trinisphere was legal) as well.

Accepting for the moment the concept of "coin flippiness" (which I think is still ill-defined thus far, at least from you), the most coin flippy periods in Vintage history, in my opinion, are those dominated or defined by Workshop decks.

Far more than combo decks, Workshop decks really make the coin flip, and going first, most important. The presence of cards like Mindbreak Trap, Mental Misstep, etc. and the reduction in the importance of Mana Drain as a counterspell (and therefore getting UU up first) because of the printings of cards like Spell Pierce, Flusterstorm, etc, renders the importance of going first against Combo less significant than ever.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen

I think the bottom half of this post has some really important ideas, and I want to reply in more depth later. But I want to place a marker on a few points

Your position in a nutshell is:
-Right now there are 2 main decks and 2 significantly worse decks and we get to fringe decks fairly quickly.

-At other times in history there have been more decks, and more differing angles decks attacked from, different win comditions, and lower metagame shares of the most popular decks.

-Those time periods tended to have some faster combo or reanimate decks, and decks with different engines.

-You would be willing to accept a slight acceleration in how quickly the fastest actualy viable deck could kill or close out a game to get more diversity

-You are interested in if the above can be achieved by unrestriction of a card currently on the list.


In view of that, the restricted list has lots of pieces that support different kinds of decks that are no longer prevalent.

It may make sense to structure the discussion by what kinds of decks a person wants to promote and then let that lead to cards rather than starting with a discussion of cards and seeing what would happen.

I'll make one other point, which is that unrestriction may or may not be the smallest or least impactful change that could be made to promote a deck. How much of a precautionary principle you want to follow would guide what makes sense there.

@walking.dude said in Cards to unrestrict:

It may make sense to structure the discussion by what kinds of decks a person wants to promote and then let that lead to cards rather than starting with a discussion of cards and seeing what would happen.

I think part of the challenge with developing that kind of abstracted discussion is that the format is so throttled right now by Mentor and Shops, that large swaths of the restricted list just don't matter. Either those swaths would be immediately assimilated into either Shops or Mentor, or they would disappear into the ether.

One of the reasons I didn't want to inject my specific cards ideas yet, but was compelled to do so in order to make my point, was because I wanted to hear what other people thought first. I've already formed my views on what cards are most unrestrictable or the best candidates for unrestriction, but your OP was prompted by the podcast.

And really, I think Shops, probably more than anything, is the greatest constraint on the possibilities in the format. A Belcher deck has almost no chance to win a tournament in Vintage in a format where there are common decks with 10+ Sphere effects. It's exceptionally difficult for Dark Ritual decks, for the same reason, although it's not quite as extreme of a case. So, as long as the format is structured that way, and I doubt the restriction of Workshop itself would change that (since White Eldrazi also has 10 Spheres), you can probably unrestrict lots of Speed combo school cards and make little actual difference in terms of metagame outcomes. Not that I would, but it couldn't hurt to start at the margins, and see what happens, if there is a compelling need, as I believe there is, to use the B&R list to try to enhance the diversity of the format. The alternative is more restrictions, which I think is a worse path to take.

I'll make one other point, which is that unrestriction may or may not be the smallest or least impactful change that could be made to promote a deck. How much of a precautionary principle you want to follow would guide what makes sense there.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean here, but if the restriction was truly warranted in the first place (and that's always a dubious premise), then unrestriction is probably the best policy tool the DCI has to try to boost or enhance a marginalized archetype. That's because restriction cuts to the heart of the format, and unrestriction reintroduces a card that was once format defining, by definition.

@Smmenen

"Coin flippiness" is not a measure of a prolonged time period in Vintage as defined by your "eras" as you've clearly noted a lot of the problem decks have fairly quickly been restricted. Its short periods of time in which a singular problem deck arises that is simultaneously powerful and finishes the game in the first 2/3 turns of the game. I initially highlight decks because of this, and latter highlighted the entire time period of 2000's as that is the time period in which many of these cards found their way onto the restricted list for this very reason. Yes this is a very broad time period, in which I highlighted decks that were of "different eras" as you call it, but a lot of this transition was caused by changes in the restricted list (and some new printings / erratas).

The Chalice+Lodestone Workshop deck was the only coin flip deck that saw a long period of dominance due to Wizards inaction during the time period. I feel this was much more of a result of Wizards not really caring about the format at that time, more so than Workshops being less of a problem than the combo decks. Shops of course also gave players the illusion that they had a chance to get out of their mana lock. Countless arguments by people talking about playing Spirit Guides + Ancient Tombs to break their mana lock...

You bring up Misstep, Mindbreak trap, and the other ways to interact turn 0 with a storm deck, but arguing for these cards is really not that different from players that expected people to play Spirit Guides + Ancient Tombs to beat Shops. The number of cards that interact meaningfully on turn 0 are very few and far between. This creates a tremendous burden on the deck builder to constantly be cognizant of those archetypes.

In our current metagame, PO is on the slower end when you compare to these historic decks. However, it is still very capable of a turn 2 kill and seems geared to go off around turn 3/4. That puts it on the same speed as a game 1 dredge deck. These are the types of combo decks that are good for the format. They keep opponents "honest" so to speak, but don't necessarily force your opponent to play a short list of cards if their deck is fast or controlling enough.

You boil it down to two competing ideas:

  1. In general, having more viable deck choices in Vintage is a good thing.

  2. In general, being able to play games of Magic where both players get to play spells and make meaningful in-game decisions is a good thing.

One involves a greater number of choices in the deck building process, while the other concerns itself with a greater number of choices during the actual game. However, unrestricting these cards that incentivize turn 1 kills are bad for both points. I think we are in agreement that it affects (2) in the sense that the game is over quicker and therefore there are less decisions. It also affects (1) in the ways I just highlighted above. Forcing a player into playing Force of Will, Mental Misstep, and Mindbreak Trap to interact is not a good for deck building. In the same way that forcing a player to play Ingot Chewer, Ancient Tombs, and Spirit Guides to interact with the dominant Workshop decks was not good.

On a separate note, I pointed you to the articles on general magic because they highlight that this is a problem throughout magic. Not just in Vintage. The problem is just exacerbated by a format where turn 1 is more crucial than in other formats. The article on the Mothership discusses the disadvantages of being on the draw for turn 4/5. A point in time which the difference that they boil down to 10 vs 12 mana. In Vintage though we are talking about a difference that is more like one player actually playing cards, while the other player is just sitting there. More than any other format, we should be wary of cards that are pushing us towards these games where one player literally does not get to play a single card from their hand.

last edited by vaughnbros
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