Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor



  • Unrestricting Gush would be a disaster. Turbo Xerox decks will be very strong even with one Gush, one Mentor, and one Misstep.


  • TMD Supporter

    On the last season of VSL this past Spring, in a conversation with Randy, you expressed strong opposition to the restriction of Mentor. You explicitly said that that should not happen. 4 months ago you vehemently opposed the restriction of mentor but now support it. What's changed?

    Do you still maintain your position that mentor should not of been restricted in April?

    If Mentor were restricted & Gush unrestricted, I don't think we would have the same problem we have now.

    In that same conversation you said that the restriction of Gush was propping up Workshops, and thereby implied that restricting gush would reduce the dominance or prevalence of workshops as well. The opposite has happened. This suggest something fundamentally flawed about your analysis at the time.

    Your analysis now proceeds from the premise that turbo Xerox strategies are dominant in the format, but the card that enables them the most, preordain, should remain unrestricted? If turbo Xerox strategies are dominant, the logical thing to do is to restrict the cantrips that enable them, which is why brainstorm and ponder are restricted.

    Preordain is arguably better than Ponder, a card that is already restricted. A better solution, I would argue, is to make turbo-xerox strategies fair by restricting preordain & unrestricting gush. With gush they can continue to exist but with preordain restricted they would lose their best cantrip, creating an irreconcilable tension. Gush is maximized with a low mana base, but with all of the best cantrips restricted, you would have to play sub-optimal cantrips and/or additional mana, thereby weakening Gush.



  • @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Preordain is arguably better than Ponder, a card that is already restricted. A better solution, I would argue, is to make turbo-xerox strategies fair by restricting preordain & unrestricting gush. With gush they can continue to exist but with preordain restricted they would lose their best cantrip, creating an irreconcilable tension. Gush is maximized with a low mana base, but with all of the best cantrips restricted, you would have to play sub-optimal cantrips and/or additional mana, thereby weakening Gush.

    I would also argue that Gush really isn't weakened relative to the field. It still has incredible synergy with Dack Fayden, JVP, the delve spells, JTMS, Mentor, Pyromancer, Managorger Hydra, Nahiri, etc... You still end up with virtually all Blue decks adopting the same Gush Engine, just with other ways of extracting value from the card rather than a tiny manabase.



  • Good clean well laid out summary that doesn't meander. Also every post on the internet could benefit from your formatting mastery.

    Agree on a restricted Misstep opening deck design space that isn't instantly contracted by said decks having to include their own Derpsteps. I'm loathe to restrict creatures but the celerity of Mentor is certainly unmatched.



  • @The-Atog-Lord said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Unrestricting Gush would be a disaster. Turbo Xerox decks will be very strong even with one Gush, one Mentor, and one Misstep.

    and when they have that one Misstep the Salt will flow :)


  • TMD Supporter

    @ChubbyRain said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Preordain is arguably better than Ponder, a card that is already restricted. A better solution, I would argue, is to make turbo-xerox strategies fair by restricting preordain & unrestricting gush. With gush they can continue to exist but with preordain restricted they would lose their best cantrip, creating an irreconcilable tension. Gush is maximized with a low mana base, but with all of the best cantrips restricted, you would have to play sub-optimal cantrips and/or additional mana, thereby weakening Gush.

    I would also argue that Gush really isn't weakened relative to the field.

    When you play more land and/or include weaker cantrips like Sleight of Hand/Serum Visions, Gush is inherently weaker in terms of generating virtual card advantage and mana advantage. That's indisputable.



  • I know it's vintage and all, but am I the only one who thinks certain cards need to be removed completely from the format? I mean banned not just restricted. A restricted Mentor or Misstep is such a high variance thing to play against. Building a targeted strategy becomes nearly impossible when the opponent is a pile of 1 offs(don't give me some BS about Vintage is a 1 of format). At this point I think it would be interesting to see some cards banned outright. Lodestone Golem for example creates a high amount of non games and cant be properly prepared for in deck building. What about banning cards such as Lodestone Golem, Monastery Mentor and Mental Misstep. If they simply restrict Mentor and Misstep I see no reason for the xerox style deck to not slot 2x next best creatures and continue on as they have every time in formats past.



  • @Smmenen

    Weaker cantrips make a weaker deck. But maybe less than you would think. The old grow a tog deck was by far the best deck in the format when it came out, and that played 4 opt and 2+ slight of hand.

    As long as a cantrip is good enouph to let you semi reliably choose land or spell the structure of xerox works.



  • I might be the only person who thinks the "Restricting Mistep will make decks better against workshops" is a foolish argument.

    Workshop needs restricting. They have a penchant for printing artifacts iwth a 'fair' mana cost, while only thinking of Standard and Limited. The Workshop deck, with 1 workshop, is still a threat. How many times has someone lost to a workshop deck when they didn't even draw workshop? I know I have.



  • I'm not sold that Workshop needs restriction. While workshop is the enabler of many powerful effects, the main role is allowing the Shops player to be less affected by the tax effect. In the games where the Shops deck does not draw any spheres, Mishra's Workshop is rarely a problem card. The fact is, outside of a turn 1 Trinisphere, there is nothing that a Mishra's Workshop can cast that is more broken than what a basic island can cast. Eliminating Workshop would only marginally reduce the number of turn 1 sphere effects. Having 2 mana on turn 1 is almost automatic for the deck, even without Workshops. The spheres wouldn't go away from a banning of Mishra's Workshop. If anything needs done, it would be reducing the number of taxing effects. If Thorn is hit, then Eldrazi and Hate Bears also get hit. I would restrict Sphere first.


  • TMD Supporter

    @walking.dude said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen

    Weaker cantrips make a weaker deck. But maybe less than you would think. The old grow a tog deck was by far the best deck in the format when it came out, and that played 4 opt and 2+ slight of hand.

    As long as a cantrip is good enouph to let you semi reliably choose land or spell the structure of xerox works.

    I don't deny that. But "works" is not the same thing as being as good as it is now. And I dont really have a strong opinion about whether Preordain should or should not be restricted.

    I was simply highlighting the incongruity of a post that frames the issue in terms of Turbo-Xerox (TX), asserts that TX is dominant in the format, and then opposes the restriction of Preordain.

    If TX is dominant, you attack the cantrips, which is why Ponder and Brainstorm are restricted, not win conditions. Because if it's TX that is dominant, and not the win condition, then restricting Mentor should have no bearing on the dominance of TX, according to the logic Rich set out. The analysis as presented and conclusions of the OP are logically inconsistent.



  • @The-Atog-Lord

    Dr Shay, thank you for laying your thinking out in a clear and concise manner. While I don't agree with you, I do appreciate you taking the time to express your thinking here.



  • @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @ChubbyRain said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Preordain is arguably better than Ponder, a card that is already restricted. A better solution, I would argue, is to make turbo-xerox strategies fair by restricting preordain & unrestricting gush. With gush they can continue to exist but with preordain restricted they would lose their best cantrip, creating an irreconcilable tension. Gush is maximized with a low mana base, but with all of the best cantrips restricted, you would have to play sub-optimal cantrips and/or additional mana, thereby weakening Gush.

    I would also argue that Gush really isn't weakened relative to the field.

    When you play more land and/or include weaker cantrips like Sleight of Hand/Serum Visions, Gush is inherently weaker in terms of generating virtual card advantage and mana advantage. That's indisputable.

    You are adding qualifiers. If Gush decks develop to generate more raw card advantage and card selection via permanents like Sylvan Library, JVP, JTMS, and Dack Fayden, they may not be weaker in the context of the metagame as they still are generating a long-term advantage, just via a different means.


  • TMD Supporter

    This post articulates perfectly the defense of Mishra that I have been struggling to express over the last two weeks. Thanks for your insight, Rich.


  • TMD Supporter

    @ChubbyRain said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @ChubbyRain said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Preordain is arguably better than Ponder, a card that is already restricted. A better solution, I would argue, is to make turbo-xerox strategies fair by restricting preordain & unrestricting gush. With gush they can continue to exist but with preordain restricted they would lose their best cantrip, creating an irreconcilable tension. Gush is maximized with a low mana base, but with all of the best cantrips restricted, you would have to play sub-optimal cantrips and/or additional mana, thereby weakening Gush.

    I would also argue that Gush really isn't weakened relative to the field.

    When you play more land and/or include weaker cantrips like Sleight of Hand/Serum Visions, Gush is inherently weaker in terms of generating virtual card advantage and mana advantage. That's indisputable.

    You are adding qualifiers. If Gush decks develop to generate more raw card advantage and card selection via permanents like Sylvan Library, JVP, JTMS, and Dack Fayden, they may not be weaker in the context of the metagame as they still are generating a long-term advantage, just via a different means.

    If that you have a tool that can do 4 things, and you take away two of those things, it's not as good or useful a tool, even if can do those two things well.



  • I think sphere of resistance also deserves a hard look at restriction. Don't kill the archetype by restricting Workshop.

    Also, Rich since it's been proven that you have say with the DCI through high profile mediums like VSL and well written, thought out, articulate articles, please heavily consider taking the following stance on Zodiac Dragon.

    Change the Oracle text to what it says word for word on the card.
    Restrict it in Vintage and ban it in Legacy.
    Judge promo or reprint immediately.

    The fact that this card doesn't do what it says on the card is an outright tragedy.

    1. Portal 3 was meant as a stand alone set.
    2. There are 8 different cards in Portal 3 that have text about discarding cards.

    http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Search/Default.aspx?action=advanced&set=+["Portal Three Kingdoms"]&text=+[Discard]

    1. In the release notes, Riding the Dilu horse was errated (to not end at end of turn) while Zodiac Dragon was left alone. (This is actually the greatest argument that the card doesn't do what the designers intended it to do)

    https://www.wizards.com/magic/generic/cardlists/p3k_en_spoiler.txt

    source is this page https://www.wizards.com/magic/p3k/p3k_edition.asp

    1. Serra Avatar from Urza's Saga has the closest text ability of shuffling it back into your library. "From anywhere" was errated to that card. That errata has since been removed because it is verbose.

    2. Abundance (also Urza's Saga) has an replacement "may" ability and hasn't been errated.

    Zodiac Dragon should have a replacement ability, not this nonsensical triggered one it currently has.

    Allowing the card in Vintage would help dredge out, and create survival of the fittest archetypes. Or you can just play wild mongrel. All of these seem fair compared to Time Vault Voltaic Key.

    Please champion Zodiac Dragon in Vintage.



  • @The-Atog-Lord

    I'm responding to the original post directly because I think point two raises a very important idea that is lost in the subsequent comments.

    Strategies that go "over the top" rely on one mana spells to bridge the gap. Land acceleration decks need fast bond or crop rotation. Creature + null rod decks need birds and elves instead of moxen. Urzas tron decks (or probably cloud post) need expedition map.

    In another post I mentioned how combo decks need one mana discard spells to set up for going for the next turn.

    Misstep really chokes off a lot of angles for innovation. And is, in my opinion, the number one candidate for restriction. Not that I'd mind mentor.



  • @Arcranedenial said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    I know it's vintage and all, but am I the only one who thinks certain cards need to be removed completely from the format? I mean banned not just restricted. A restricted Mentor or Misstep is such a high variance thing to play against.

    Banning cards in Vintage has come up from time to time as a topic of interest without either a firm resolution embracing it or rejecting it. The format has a history of banning cards purely for power level (Channel, Mind Twist, and certain interpretations of Time Vault) and the idea was flirted with in discussions of Tinker, Yawgmoth's Will, and again Time Vault after its disastrous re-re-re-re-re-wording in 2008. Banning Dig through Time and Treasure Cruise has been raised recently as one possible amelioration to the 1x-Gush Mentor deck's nuisance factor. I have no objection to bans in the abstract if they make the format more enjoyable. The banned list already has an absurdly high # of cards on it for many different reasons and power level bans are not without precedent.

    Kudos to Rich for a very substantive high-caliber post. I'm agnostic on whether Preordain is restriction worthy. I do think it's generally better than Ponder as Stephen suggested and there strong arguments for either case.

    For all of the problems Mental Misstep creates, I'm hesitant to unleash the ones it abates. E/V/M Tutor, triple Voltaic Key.dec is disgusting and I would prefer Wizards printed something to adequately address the Thoughtseize/Duress conundrum before taking the blue Phyrexian lid off the trash heap.



  • Awesome post, Rich! I don't often post here but had to speak up in agreement.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    I was simply highlighting the incongruity of a post that frames the issue in terms of Turbo-Xerox (TX), asserts that TX is dominant in the format, and then opposes the restriction of Preordain.

    If TX is dominant, you attack the cantrips, which is why Ponder and Brainstorm are restricted, not win conditions. Because if it's TX that is dominant, and not the win condition, then restricting Mentor should have no bearing on the dominance of TX, according to the logic Rich set out. The analysis as presented and conclusions of the OP are logically inconsistent.

    Steven, you're using your lawyer powers for evil here - you strawmanned Rich's argument. He doesn't argue that it's bad that TX is dominant. If he were to have argued that, then I agree the correct approach is to kill the cantrips.

    However, Rich actually advocated for diversity. I can't imagine anyone arguing against diversity as a hallmark of a good metagame. His proposed policy for achieving that was to weaken TX decks without killing them - a fine line to walk. The point of banning Mentor is that it (1) allows for greater diversity of TX shells, and (2) reduces the overall power level for them (because Mentor is so ahead of the curve). This allows the rest of the metagame dilate to target different sets of decks.

    It's fair to question if TX will still be dominant and if so to what extent with the restriction of mentor, but I'd guess that it would open the format up considerably more than banning Preordain would.


  • TMD Supporter

    @phazonmutant said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    Awesome post, Rich! I don't often post here but had to speak up in agreement.

    @Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

    I was simply highlighting the incongruity of a post that frames the issue in terms of Turbo-Xerox (TX), asserts that TX is dominant in the format, and then opposes the restriction of Preordain.

    If TX is dominant, you attack the cantrips, which is why Ponder and Brainstorm are restricted, not win conditions. Because if it's TX that is dominant, and not the win condition, then restricting Mentor should have no bearing on the dominance of TX, according to the logic Rich set out. The analysis as presented and conclusions of the OP are logically inconsistent.

    Steven, you're using your lawyer powers for evil here - you strawmanned Rich's argument. He doesn't argue that it's bad that TX is dominant. If he were to have argued that, then I agree the correct approach is to kill the cantrips.

    However, Rich actually advocated for diversity. I can't imagine anyone arguing against diversity as a hallmark of a good metagame. His proposed policy for achieving that was to weaken TX decks without killing them - a fine line to walk. The point of banning Mentor is that it (1) allows for greater diversity of TX shells, and (2) reduces the overall power level for them (because Mentor is so ahead of the curve). This allows the rest of the metagame dilate to target different sets of decks.

    It's fair to question if TX will still be dominant and if so to what extent with the restriction of mentor, but I'd guess that it would open the format up considerably more than banning Preordain would.

    My point about restricting Preordain was slightly disingenuous, as I'm not really advocating, at this point in time, for the restriction of Preordain. I developed that argument to highlight the limits of over-emphasizing TX as an explanation for the ills of this metagame.

    I think everyone agrees that the format is in bad shape. The disagreement is over 1) what to do about it, and 2) how we got here (the theory as to why the metagame looks the way it does).

    Rich's solutions are not unreasonable. There is broad support for restricting Mentor already. I would have restricted Mentor, not Gush, in April. And there is certainly plenty of support for restricting Misstep (although I disagree with that).

    The problem is with his theory of the case.

    His theory, at bottom, is that TX strategies are propping up Workshops. The solution, therefore, is to weaken TX strategies, by restricting the two cards just mentioned, upon the belief that Workshops will decline.

    But we just tried that, and it didn't work. We restricted Gush, which most people recognized as one of the core cards in the TX shell, as well as Probe, which was widely used by TX decks. Not only did it not work, but it actually led to a 2.5 times increase in Workshop decks in Vintage Challenges (if you compare July, 2016-March, 2017 with the 10 Challenges since April 24th).

    As I said before: Rich already suggested, on the VSL broadcast, that restricting Gush would lead to a reduction of Shops upon the exact same theory. But this didn't happen. And, in that same broadcast, he explicitly opposed the restriction of Mentor. So something is wrong with the theory. Science is based upon falsifiability. Not only did it fail to predict what would happen, but it fails (without supplementary reasoning) to furnish an explanation for why Mentor deserves restriction now, but didn't in April.

    And this is the problem. To understand why this is a problem, a little more context: There was a running debate in Vintage running for year prior to the Gush restriction about whether Gush or Mentor should be restricted, if either or both. The terms of that debate were simple: which restriction would have a greater effect on the other?

    The pro-restriction of Gush crowd believed that restricting Gush would render Mentor less of a problem, and this is the position that Rich apparently took in the VSL interview, and why he opposed Mentor's restriction, but called for Gush to go. Critically, people, like Chubby Rain, who propounded this view repeatedly also argued that the win condition was not the issue. Chubby Rain repeatedly said that if Gush were allowed to continue to exist unrestricted, but Mentor were restricted, then the Gush decks would just run other win conditions, with roughly the same effect.

    On the other hand, the opponents of the restriction of Gush, like myself, argued that, at root, Mentor was the issue, not Gush, and argued that restricting Gush would have little to no effect on Mentor's prevalence. In other words, I argued that the restriction of Gush would have little effect on reducing Mentor, but restricting Mentor would have a greater effect in reducing Gush. In fact, there were detailed numerical forecasts developed by myself and VaughBros, where we actually predicted ranges of either Gush or Mentor resulting from the restriction of the other.

    Now that the evidence is in. As we can see, restricting Gush had zero % reduction on Mentor. And since Rich is calling for the restriction of Mentor, that suggests the possibility that it was Mentor, rather than Gush, that should have been restricted in April. To minimize the number of restrictions, it's advisable to begin with the most targeted restriction to the problem. Depending on whether you thought Mentor or Gush needed restricted reveals how you understand the problem.

    It is of course possible to argue, as Chubby Rain has consistently, that both Mentor and Gush should be restricted, because they do different things to the metagame. But this was not Rich's position, as he articulated it on the VSL or wrote elsewhere. And even if you believe that Gush and Mentor do have different effects on the metagame, there remains at least a decent possibility of over-inclusion or over-restriction because they are often played together. (And yes, the DCI has said that the goal is to keep the Vintage B&R list as short as possible). This possibilty - of over-restriction - was implied by the numerical ranges that were debated by Vaughbros and myself. I was right about the effect of the restriction of Gush on Mentor, and it's not unlikely I would have been right about the effect of a restriction of Mentor on Gush. I predicted a meaningful decline in Gush decks if Mentor was restricted. Specifically, I predicted 33-50%, while VaughBros predicted 22%, of Gush players would have switched to non-Gush decks.

    Rich's position, now advocating for the restriction of Mentor, suggests the logical possibility that Gush's restriction was unnecessary, in that the restriction of Mentor in April may have reduced the % of Gush to an acceptable range, and opened up the metagame somewhat. But his opposition to the restriction of Mentor in April and insistence on Gush instead, suggests an inconsistency that is not explained by his theory: If he believes that restricting Mentor will tamp down TX decks, why did he not believe this in April?

    And if, upon reflection, Rich's current position, backward casting, suggests Mentor was a legitimate target for restriction in April, then again, it suggests the possibility that Gush's restriction was unnecessary. That's because it's virtually untenable to believe, based upon what we know now, that Mentor's restriction would have had less of an impact on Gush than the restriction of Gush did on Mentor.

    This is the most important critique of Rich's position(s). The opposition to Mentor's restriction in April cannot be squared with support for it today without conceding the possibilty that either one of the positions were wrong or that one of the restrictions may be unnecessary.

    With the benefit of hindsight, it's patently obvious that the restriction of Mentor in April instead of Gush would not have produced a worse metagame than the converse has.

    The blind spot appears to be that Rich is overly focused on TX theory (which occupies a large part of my Gush book - and has since it's first edition in 2010, so I don't underestimate the power of TX principles), while I place the blame for metagame problems much more squarely and directly on Mentor itself.

    Reiterating here the position I took in early April, and adopted last year: Mentor is simply the best win condition in the format, with or without TX shells. As I said on April 8th:

    Monastery Mentor is the best win condition in the format. It's easy to resolve, protect, fast, and difficult to remove, answer or address.

    That's true with or without TX shells. Suppose for the moment that none of the decks in this format were built on TX principles. Mentor would still, I believe, be predominant. Not because it's the best win condition in Turbo Xerox decks, because, in this thought experiment, there are none. But because it's just the best win condition in Vintage, period. It's incredibly productive and hard to remove, and wins very quickly. PO Mentor, which no one could say is built on TX precepts, illustrates this (like the version that Top 8ed the NYSE).

    And I also believe that Workshops would also be dominant, as they are now. Again, not because of TX decks (because there are none in this hypothetical), but because Shops are simply so fast, efficient, synergistic, and disruptive to the entire format, and there are now more tools at their disposal than ever before thanks to printings in the last 5-7 years, cards like Revoker, Hangarback Walker, Ballista, etc. I believe that non-TX decks are weaker against Shops than non-TX decks were before the last unrestriction of Gush in 2010, and it this fact which, in part, generates the illusion that TX decks are propping up Shops. Shops are just much more powerful, flexible and adaptable than they have ever been.

    Restricting cards in blue decks isn't going to weaken Workshops. That may have been true ages ago, but is fallacy today.

    You want a litmus test, in case Rich's proposed restrictions occur? I'll offer one: if the restrictions he recommends happen, I predict Workshop will not decline below their average baseline from the last 12 months. Then, we can see, again, who turns out to be right.

    TL;DR: Rich places far too much explanatory power for Mentor and Workshops dominance on TX theory, and that's why I believe his recommendations will fail to achieve his hoped-for outcomes, just as they did in April. IMO, Workshops and Mentor are dominant for much simpler and more fundamental reasons: Mentor and Workshop are too damn good, and it has much less to do with TX than he believes.


Log in to reply
 

WAF/WHF

Looks like your connection to The Mana Drain was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.