@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.