Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor

So in all honesty, what is it that changed since the 2015 Vintage Championships? I personally consider 2014/2015 to be one of the finest metagames of recent memory.

There was such a depth of choice.

Want to play Oath- you could play normal Oath, Show Oath or Salvagers
Want to play Shops- choose from Stax, Martello, Terra Nova, or even Tiny Robots
Want to play U/R or U/W- You could play Delver, Monastery Mentor, Blood Moon, or Standstill
Want to play control- Thieves, Tinker, Control, etc
Want to play combo- Belcher, Doomsday, TPS, Dark Petition, or Dredge.
And even rogue decks like BUG, WW, Humans were very relevant.
Any one of those decks could top 16 Worlds or win a local tournament (except maybe Belcher 😉

So what happened? How did the meta change so abruptly?

My thoughts:
I think Chalice getting restricted, might have done more harm than good. People moan about x4 Chalice shops, but some players were already starting to cut Chalices right before it got restricted. Chalice penalized the "turbo lifestyle," but also penalized shops with some dead draws, or variance cards.

The power of Monastery Mentor was too new.

The printing of Hangarback took shops players into the dormant area of Ravagers, perfecting the deck. Many players weren't even playing 8 spheres in 2015. Now instead of having some situationally dead cards (Chalice, Tangle Wire), they could be all in on the ground assault.

Lastly (late edit): I also think that during this metagame, there was a foil to each deck. The Rock-Paper-Scissor was in full effect. If you were a shop player, you were not excited about sitting down across from Oath. I think right now, Mentor and Shops are so powerful, they really don't have an enemy deck. Hence the fatigue with the format. If there is any positives to the current Meta, I would venture that "matchup luck" is at an all time low.

last edited by joshuabrooks

@joshuabrooks I think it just took people too long to realize that Mentor is just that good. It took a few iterations to figure out which version was the best. Once that was figured out the net-deckers joined in and now we have the best Blue deck - Mentor.

@joshuabrooks I agree with this. Unrestricted Chalice puts serious pressure on the Turbo Cantrip Crap. I would unrestrict Chalice and Gush (and perhaps some other stuff that barely sees play like Bargain/Windfall) and see where that lands us.

@Smmenen

I 100% agree with your last post.

last edited by gkraigher

I want to start by stating I am mostly a Legacy player. The options to play Power are limited in Australia, but I do get to play now and then. I don't consider myself an authority in any way on the topic of Vintage. I do have thoughts though.

I play Stax. Well Shops, but I lean towards as much of Terra Nova as possible when I play. I love the deck style. It's because of this my views may be tainted. That said, I think MM has to go. When I first started getting into Vintage I played Grixis. I played with Will, Vault/Key and Blightsteel. I learnt quickly what I needed against other decks and I meet pain against Shops.

The issue was in part that I had to play 4 Mental Misstep, regardless of whether I wanted to. I was also playing a pair of REB, all these cards felt like a requirement to play Grixis and a millstone against Shops.

When I bought my Shops I first meet the complainants about how powerful it was. But I was playing one Blue card and one 1cmc card main. I was playing only five 1cmc cards total. This meant that the need to play Mental Misstep as a way of defending against Mental Misstep became a problem when you versed Sphere.

But this issue was already well known, the need to play it as an answer to itself. It's the reason the card was removed from all other formats. It's not any different in Vintage and the cost for running it is far more punishing. You are almost required to play it if your casting Cantrips, Swords or other 1cmc cards. You can't avoid it. Because if you sit across from someone playing 4 MM and you have none, your in for a rough time.

I don't have strong feelings any which way about other cards, I will play whatever Prison option is available. But I do feel it's unfair on both myself and my opponents to always have at lest 4 cards up on them for no reason other than they must play it for self preservation elsewhere. Its unfair on me because it's not my fault they run MM and REB main, find them of limited value and then lash out against my deck. It's unfair on them because they really are forced into that position regardless of desire thanks to the forces MM pushes upon Blue players in any format it has been legal in.

(Disclaimer, I can't speak for Standard, I haven't played Standard since Onslaught.)

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

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.

It looks like many, if not all, discussions about possible evolution of the metagame as result of hypothetical restrictions are based on one very strong assumptions - the metagame (market) is efficient. This assumption means that players have access to all cards, have plenty of time to spend on MtG, and can immediately adjust to changes. However, players do not have access to all cards, especially in paper, have some attachments to decks they play and are hesitant/slow to change them. Additionally, many players play occasionally and just want to have some fun without carving out too much time from their busy lives.

So any prognostication about metagame changes should take into account all Magic-unrelated factors. Otherwise, such discussions will remain only theoretical discussion quite disconnected from the reality.

@Chronatog said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

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.

It looks like many, if not all, discussions about possible evolution of the metagame as result of hypothetical restrictions are based on one very strong assumptions - the metagame (market) is efficient. This assumption means that players have access to all cards, have plenty of time to spend on MtG, and can immediately adjust to changes. However, players do not have access to all cards, especially in paper, have some attachments to decks they play and are hesitant/slow to change them. Additionally, many players play occasionally and just want to have some fun without carving out too much time from their busy lives.

So any prognostication about metagame changes should take into account all Magic-unrelated factors. Otherwise, such discussions will remain only theoretical discussion quite disconnected from the reality.

Except now, with MTGO, Players do have cheap access to all cards, and can react immediately to the changes. Hell, anyone trying to test hypothetical restrictions can EASILY do so on MTGO.

The irritating thing that I had brought up last mega-thread that's rearing its ugly head right now is a difference in definitions.

"Gush decks" were the problem, always and forever, the baddy in the room that needed to be taken down, a HUGE chunk of the metagame, according to many people. The error with analyzing the meta that way, as defined by a single card within a set of decks, is the notion that once that card goes away, the "problem" goes away, and that clearly did not happen. Many people saw "the Mentor deck" as the problem, and only now that we don't have this classification of "Gush Decks" to point the finger at, we're resurrecting the older, more accurate designation the problem decks should have had all along, which is Turbo Xerox.

I just find this very irritating, I never understood why "Gush decks" were lumped together, any analysis from that lack of distinction other than "x percentages of decks would like to draw cards at some point during the match so I need to prepare for that" are tending to be inaccurate. Dominance, prevalence, longevity, percent in top8s and top16s, etc. In April, nobody was referring to the Pyromancer decks when they were discussing restriction, nobody was referring to GushBond, they were referring to Gush Mentor. Gush was a part of TX strategy and might have been a defining card within a good portion of those decks, but the problem with the "Gush Mentor" deck was that Mentor was generating win conditions while the deck was doing it's thing. It was enough of a degree better than the next best, -1CMC card that it replaced almost completely. Now it lives on in the most effortless transformation in a 1-of-Gush world.

I don't think Gush was ever the problem, going out on a limb here, I can see why people would be irritated by it (especially if they had the "Gush decks" are all X and they are all problematic viewpoint), but because the DCI hit Gush/Probe and not Mentor/Misstep, we are now discussing bans in Vintage. For those who are saying a 1-of Mentor deck will still make top 8s... Yes, it will. There is no doubt in my mind, even if that deck just replaces the other three with Pyromancer. Mentor restrict will still have a greater effect on the deck's performance than Gush restrict has had, and I would much rather play in a format where the Mentor/Pyro/Tutor deck is making top 8s, instead of now where I've stopped playing Vintage because it's uninteresting.

Rich's comments come 4 months too late. If this was the recommendation given then (which it was by the majority of players) and taken by the DCI, we would have had a healthier format over the past few months and have been able to assess whether or not "pushing other blue decks out of the format" is a reason to restrict Gush, without Mentor dominance. I don't really mourn Gush so much as I just wish the DCI had listened to more people and had made the more correct choice, I'd still be playing Vintage.

last edited by Dumpsterac1d

@joshuabrooks said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

So in all honesty, what is it that changed since the 2015 Vintage Championships? I personally consider 2014/2015 to be one of the finest metagames of recent memory.

There was such a depth of choice.

Want to play Oath- you could play normal Oath, Show Oath or Salvagers
Want to play Shops- choose from Stax, Martello, Terra Nova, or even Tiny Robots
Want to play U/R or U/W- You could play Delver, Monastery Mentor, Blood Moon, or Standstill
Want to play control- Thieves, Tinker, Control, etc
Want to play combo- Belcher, Doomsday, TPS, Dark Petition, or Dredge.
And even rogue decks like BUG, WW, Humans were very relevant.
Any one of those decks could top 16 Worlds or win a local tournament (except maybe Belcher 😉

So what happened? How did the meta change so abruptly?

My thoughts:
I think Chalice getting restricted, might have done more harm than good. People moan about x4 Chalice shops, but some players were already starting to cut Chalices right before it got restricted. Chalice penalized the "turbo lifestyle," but also penalized shops with some dead draws, or variance cards.

I agree that Chalice was a force for diversity in the format. People did moan about x4 Chalice shops and it is likely that they were right to do so but there are two cards being moaned about in x4 Chalice shops. One enforced diversity and the other is oppressively format distorting. So long as Shops are unrestricted Chalice isn't safe which means that other decks can't play it against the Turbo Zerox strategies which means that those strategies push others out of the format more easily and reduce strategic diversity even further; all because of Mishra's Workshop. Would Chalice need to be restricted if Mishra's Workshop were? I tend to believe it wouldn't. Even if a singleton Mishra's Workshop was powering out multiple Chalices it would have a very hard time dominating the format without the consistent tempo boost and virtual card advantage provided by Mishra's Workshop. Having Chalice around gives players the choice of opting out of playing Mental Misstep in Favor of just hammering all one drops if they chose to build their deck accordingly. This not only provides strategic diversity in the immediate with the advent of an entirely different strategic direction but it also opens the format to different strategies which don't thrive in an environment where one drops and mental missteps hold supremacy.

I didn't hear anyone calling for the restriction of Mental Misstep when Chalice of the Void was not restricted. In a vacuum the card never deserved to be restricted, much the same way that, in a vacuum, Lodestone Golem never deserved to be restricted. Neither of them would be oppressive or format warping if it weren't for the fact that they are powered out by the best unrestricted card in the game. A card which happens to be better than most of the restricted list today not only in performance metrics but also in every theoretical metric as well. People on this site are writing about restricting Thorn of Amythist or Sphere of Resistance for crying out loud. These are two of the only remaining cards which are played to some effect against TX strategies. These cards are played in so called "fair" decks seeking an edge against the TX engine which the same people claim is egregious and yet they are calling for their restriction because of their performance in Mishra's Workshop based decks as if Mishra's Workshop based decks are the only "legitimate" strategy against TX. Nonsense! Yet that is a prescribed solution to the issues of the format rather than hit one of the cards that is overtly distorting the format into a two deck meta. This is not only because Shops is pushing out any deck wishing to cast spells costing more than one mana but because the deck is so pervasive that the cards which are good against spells costing only one mana are to be restricted one by one to try to curb this ridiculous mana denial strategy. The fallacy remains, as ever, in believing that restricting the opposition to Mishra's Workshop will somehow make Mishra's Workshop worse instead of better. Shops strategies are not good against ONLY TX strategies, they're good against ALL strategies. Mishra's Workshop simply incentives playing all of the same mana denial tools in one deck by offering its tempo and virtual card advantage in exchange for playing only artifacts which almost all of these spells happen to be anyway. We lost Chalice and we lost Lodestone but the deck is still the king of tempo and the king of the format. Instead of creating a prison on turn 1 or two we now just end the game a turn or two sooner. It's all the same and it all stands on the shoulders of Mishra's Workshop.

People used to play cards that cost more than one mana even when they didn't have to but the best deck in the format for the last decade or more makes it a requirement instead of an option and now people think Mental misstep is a problem... 🤔... 🤦

The power of Monastery Mentor was too new.

Probably true. I think that Chalice, and of course Lodestone, had an immense impact; maybe even more than people's naiveté in this case. It's difficult to measure. Either way the card is better than Tinker and has contributed to the restriction of other cards which didn't warrant restriction. If it doesn't get restricted, nearly every card that synergizes with it will eventually get restricted and it will still be better than Tinker in that case. There's no way any format adjustment could ever even come close to affecting its metagame performance without just straight up restricting it. The card synergies with all non-creature spells... Are we going to see all non-creature spells restricted? I hope not. Most of the restricted list is non-creature spells already, shall we just throw another several dozen spells on that list? How many non-creature spells will have to be restricted without seeing any net effect on Mentor before someone concedes that Mentor is the card they have a problem with? We shall see.

The printing of Hangarback took shops players into the dormant area of Ravagers, perfecting the deck. Many players weren't even playing 8 spheres in 2015. Now instead of having some situationally dead cards (Chalice, Tangle Wire), they could be all in on the ground assault.

Exactly.

@Dice_Box said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

I want to start by stating I am mostly a Legacy player. The options to play Power are limited in Australia, but I do get to play now and then. I don't consider myself an authority in any way on the topic of Vintage. I do have thoughts though.

This would seem to heavily favors shops in that meta since Moxen are the only effective way to fight the mana denial of that deck.

I play Stax. Well Shops, but I lean towards as much of Terra Nova as possible when I play. I love the deck style. It's because of this my views may be tainted. That said, I think MM has to go. When I first started getting into Vintage I played Grixis. I played with Will, Vault/Key and Blightsteel. I learnt quickly what I needed against other decks and I meet pain against Shops.

The issue was in part that I had to play 4 Mental Misstep, regardless of whether I wanted to. I was also playing a pair of REB, all these cards felt like a requirement to play Grixis and a millstone against Shops.

You had to play 4 Mental Misstep to resolve your one drops and to stop opposing one drops because the entire metagame was conflated around one drops. In legacy there are very limited resources for playing two drops on turn one so most decks require a considerable bevy of 1cmc spells to be interactive early enough to stay relevant. In Vintage there are moxen and the curve can start at 2 instead of one if one so chooses. It is still a good idea to play one drops but over the last decade Workshop decks have received better and better tools not just for mana denial but also for closing out games before our opponent gets to the mana requirement for their critical turn. Because of this the need to play cheaper and cheaper spells and bring the curve down as low as possible has been heavily incentivized which is why you don't see this as much today.

When I bought my Shops I first meet the complainants about how powerful it was. But I was playing one Blue card and one 1cmc card main. I was playing only five 1cmc cards total. This meant that the need to play Mental Misstep as a way of defending against Mental Misstep became a problem when you versed Sphere.

But this issue was already well known, the need to play it as an answer to itself. It's the reason the card was removed from all other formats. It's not any different in Vintage and the cost for running it is far more punishing. You are almost required to play it if your casting Cantrips, Swords or other 1cmc cards. You can't avoid it. Because if you sit across from someone playing 4 MM and you have none, your in for a rough time.

It's not any different in Vintage unless you're playing a strategy that doesn't rely entirely on two drops which has been completely pushed out of the metagame over the last decade by mana denial strategies and compounded by the restriction of Chalice of the Void. Almost all of these mana denial strategies hinge on Mishra's Workshop to generate the immediate tempo advantage to lock out opposing mana sources but also the virtual card advantage to grant the staying power that prevents the opposition from breaking out of prison before the game ends by robot beats.

I don't have strong feelings any which way about other cards, I will play whatever Prison option is available. But I do feel it's unfair on both myself and my opponents to always have at lest 4 cards up on them for no reason other than they must play it for self preservation elsewhere. Its unfair on me because it's not my fault they run MM and REB main, find them of limited value and then lash out against my deck. It's unfair on them because they really are forced into that position regardless of desire thanks to the forces MM pushes upon Blue players in any format it has been legal in.

(Disclaimer, I can't speak for Standard, I haven't played Standard since Onslaught.)

They are forced into that position because all strategies must reduce their curve to be competitive against mana denial strategies such as those used in Mishra's Workshop based decks.

For a long time Force of Will has been hailed as the glue that keeps Vintage and Legacy playable because it allows for some interaction against strategies that aim to win the game or lock their opponent out on turn one or two. Mental Misstep serves the same purpose in Vintage but is splash-able. I posit that the reason it is so pervasive that people are calling for it's restriction is that the majority of cards which are still viable in the modern Vintage meta are 1cmc. That didn't used to be the case when Misstep was first introduced to the format. People used to be able to afford to spend as much as two mana on spells. To say that it is oppressive to strategies which aim to win through comboing off with one drops before any non-Force of Will-deck has a chance to interact is to say that the only decks which deserve a place in the format are ones which play enough blue to support Force of Will or those strategies which can main deck 4 Mindbreak Trap and try to be ok with getting blown out by combos that don't need to resolve more than two spells in a turn such as Time Vault, Tinker, Painter-Grindstone, Leyline-Helm, etc.

To everyone: Please know that I respect all of you and hold each of your opinions in high regard.

last edited by Aaron Patten

@Aaron-Patten said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

I agree that Chalice was a force for diversity in the format. People did moan about x4 Chalice shops and it is likely that they were right to do so but there are two cards being moaned about in x4 Chalice shops. One enforced diversity and the other is oppressively a format distorting. So long as Shops are unrestricted Chalice isn't safe which means that other decks can't play it against the Turbo Zerox strategies which means that those strategies push others out of the format more easily and reduce strategic diversity even further; all because of Mishra's Workshop. Would Chalice need to be restricted if Mishra's Workshop were? I tend to believe it wouldn't. Even if a singleton Mishra's Workshop was powering out multiple Chalices it would have a very hard time dominating the format without the consistent tempo boost and virtual card advantage provided by Mishra's Workshop. Having Chalice around gives players the choice of opting out of playing Mental Misstep in Favor of just hammering all one drops if they chose to build their deck accordingly. This not only provides strategic diversity in the immediate with the advent of an entirely different strategic direction but it also opens the format to different strategies which don't thrive in an environment where one drops and mental missteps hold supremacy.

I may have missed something but i fail to see the link between chalice and worshop in your reasoning. I mean : unrestricted chalice was played most of the time at 1, some times à 0, and rarely at 2 (basically against oath). If the goal is to prevent a chalice turn 1, then you must also restrict/ban also the sol lands and ban every mana artifact (moxen, sol ring, ...). Restricting workshop won't change much about that problem.

As for the taxing effects, IMHO the real question is : why shop are playing them (or so many of them) ?

When you don't have access to any form of counterspell and you know that you are living in a format where broken stuff can happen and kill you on the spot (vault/key, tinker, storm, ...) what are your options ? I mean that there is some kind of balance : the more degenerate the format is, the more sphere effect shop will play, and the reverse is true ... that's my whole point : if the meta manage to shift toward less broken effect, shops decks will adapt and play less sphere and that will open the meta even more. One could say that mentor is not an 'instant kill' but actually when you are playing shop and try to fight the chaining spells that leads to the mentor end-game, it is not so different as fighting a storm deck.

I am far from being an expert but from my little experience, when there are 2 dominating decks in a format the usual solution is a third deck that can predate on both of them. Maybe that question has already been debated and more expert people had concluded that such a deck can't exist but IMHO both shop and TX decks (in its mentor incarnation) shares some common weakness such as being creature based for the kill and the need to have access reliably to their mana. I don't know if it can lead somewhere but here are my thoughts about it.

last edited by albarkhane

@albarkhane said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

I am far from being an expert but from my little experience, when there are 2 dominating decks in a format the usual solution is a third deck that can predate on both of them.

This deck ought to be Oath of Druids, but I think the reason people call for Mentor's head is that a Mentor in play is often better than an active Oath. Mentor+3 Tokens+a grip probably beats Griselbrand handily.

Similarly, the big mana "i'm going to resolve Moat/other large spell" decks don't work because you don't actually out control and out-resource the TX deck. If they have an out at all, even if it's total jank like "Ultimate small jace, deck you"--they can stop everything you do and assemble it because they outdraw you so heavily. This isn't legacy, where the delver deck can be beaten with individual large spells, because you get to build resources while they try to cantrip to an answer--this is Vintage, where they'll build to 7 in hand versus your none in hand.

The closest to a good answer are the Outcomes decks (and, to an extent, the Gifts deck), because they are a big mana TX deck. They cash in some consistency in draw for "my cantrips draw 2-ifninity", but at heart, they are chaining draw spells until they find an answer/something that kills you, and have a passable shops matchup because they're playing a lot of mana.

The other angle to approach is Fish, but you lose so badly to Mentor->make 3 guys (not some insane sequence) and/or Walking Ballista that it's hard to justify the deck. You also have the problem of putting your TX opponent far down, and then them chaining spells into a balance and a full grip--things go wrong too easily.

Individual pilots have had success on other decks--but it's often something I chalk up to the pilot rather than the deck. Until anyone other than Josh Potucek picks up his Landstill deck and wins with it consistently, I'm going to say it's Josh being very good and the deck being at least playable, and not the deck being very good. Same story with @ChubbyRain .dec.

So yeah, people have tried, and so far, everyone has failed.

@cutlex said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Shops are just much more powerful, flexible and adaptable than they have ever been.

This is objectively false. Modern Shop decks are no where near the power level of the 4x LSG, 4x Chalice decks. I can respect an argument that the archetype could be too strong right now but let's not get carried away with hyperbole: we are no longer in the era of "oops I'm dead before I can play spells".

Guilty, as charged. I confess to hyperbole to drive home a point: that Workshops performance today is not best understood as a function of their role as a top predator for TX strategies.

I am probably guilty of not acknowledging this enough in recent debates, but it is true that the in the two previous Gush eras (late 2002-June, 2003 & July, 2007-June, 2008), the rise of Gush strategies prompted and was coincided by a metagame spike of Workshop decks. In fact, Workshops first full flowering in Vintage directly followed the rise of GroAtog in early 2003. My metagame reports from 2007-2008 document this. So, the theory that Rich outlines has a historical basis.

The problem is that it just isn't true today.

First, the historical period in this just recently passed "third Gush" era doesn't fit that pattern. When Gush was unrestricted in late 2010, Workshop were already surging. Gush was a tiny part of the metagame when Worldwake was released a few months later, and Lodestone Shops quickly became a top tier deck, while Gush remained relatively small % of the metagame, on average, for several years. Take, for example, the 2012 Vintage Championship. 50% of the Top 8 was Workshops. Gush was a comparatively tiny part of that metagame. Shops performance during the Worldwake through 2012 Vintage Championship period and even a bit beyond cannot be explained by "Gush" or "TX propping it up."

And neither can it be explained today. Gush was restricted this past April, but Workshops increase by nearly 2.5 times in the Vintage challenges since compared with the preceding Vintage challenges of equal number. That fact cannot be squared with a theory that TX is propping up Workshops. If that were true, then Shops should have subsided, at least a bit. Not increase by 238%.

The point I was trying to make is that Workshops are much stronger today against non-TX decks than they were in the earlier eras where TX decks were more accurately propping them up. Specifically, the 2011-17 era of Workshops is very different than earlier eras.

As I said above:

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

The idea that restricting Mentor is going to reduce the % of Shops is ridiculous, IMO. Mentor is one of the best cards you can play against Shops. Unlike Gush or Probe, which were maybe of questionable direct value against Shops, Mentor is extraordinarily effective against Workshop decks. It's horizontal growth potential outpaces cards like Tangle Wire or Smokestack, and it's vertical growth potential can even race cards like Ravager, with similar growth potential.

No matter what kind of indirect effects you can present or articulate to support the notion that restricting Mentor will weaken Shops (a tortured chain of logic, IMO), there are countervailing factors and other unaccounted for variables which disrupt and undermine that chain of logic. The most obvious being that Mentor is insanely good against Shops itself.

As I said yesterday, "Restricting cards in blue decks & expecting Workshops to get worse is the Vintage Magic version of trickle down economics. It doesn't work."

At this point, the specific restrictions being discussed and proposed seem like throwing darts blindfolded, aiming in the right general direction, but hoping - fingers crossed - to produce good results. It's a kind of: "Whelp! Gush/Probe didn't work, let's try Mentor/Misstep now!" And if that doesn't work, what then? I'd like to have a much better sense of the next steps, if this doesn't work (as I predict), and a much clearer and more precise picture of what we expect to happen, before pulling any triggers.

@p3temangus said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Chronatog said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

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.

It looks like many, if not all, discussions about possible evolution of the metagame as result of hypothetical restrictions are based on one very strong assumptions - the metagame (market) is efficient. This assumption means that players have access to all cards, have plenty of time to spend on MtG, and can immediately adjust to changes. However, players do not have access to all cards, especially in paper, have some attachments to decks they play and are hesitant/slow to change them. Additionally, many players play occasionally and just want to have some fun without carving out too much time from their busy lives.

So any prognostication about metagame changes should take into account all Magic-unrelated factors. Otherwise, such discussions will remain only theoretical discussion quite disconnected from the reality.

Except now, with MTGO, Players do have cheap access to all cards, and can react immediately to the changes. Hell, anyone trying to test hypothetical restrictions can EASILY do so on MTGO.

Exactly.

The "herd mentality" explanation for the concentration of Shops and Mentor in the metagame is quite weak for a host of reasons.

The "strong" version of that argument, which suggests that players deck choices are fairly sticky, and not very responsive to changes in performance and metagame dynamics, is ultimately self defeating by it's own terms. If that were true, then B&R list policy is not an especially useful metagame lever for promoting diversity, since the relationship between B&R policy and metagame chance is attenuated by deck "stickiness."

More generously, if that theory really had merit, we would see much less deck turnover and metagame change over time. Yet, as the MTGO Challenge metagame breakdowns show, there are wildly dramatic fluctuations and representation from event to event. In February of this year for example, PO spiked to nearly 20% of the metagame, from under 10% the month before, and fell back under 10% in March. And Mentor in the first few months of the year saw equally dramatic swings.

But most importantly, the herd mentality theory overlooks how little it takes to completely change a metagame. A single player in a single tournament is theoretically capable of winning a tournament. If someone has brilliantly found a metagame niche, it could literally transform the metagame overnight, as imitators mimic the first mover's performance. Even if a single performance is insufficient, a repeat performance is usually enough to get entrants to move into that market niche. Vintage history is filled to the brim of examples of this, like Eric Becker's Intuition Tendrils or Vroman's Uba Stax.

This happens in the real-world all of the time as well. Think about how google displaced bad search engines or how Netscape was once a dominant web browser, despite having use built-in advantages from existing user bases. If there is a metagame niche to be exploited, and profit or wins to be achieved by doing so, it will happen. The fact that it hasn't happened suggests that no such niches exist. Markets don't have to be "perfectly" efficient for this to happen; just somewhat so. After all, we mostly just count the top 8 players out a much larger pool.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen

I think you are not fully giving credit to the size of the type one community compared to other formats.

There have probably been more hours put into testing standard in the past 24 hours than have gone into vintage in the past 5 months. The vintage community is really small, maybe 10,000 players tops, probably much fewer and it tends to be older players with jobs and other commitments. Standard or modern are played by millions of people and many of them are kids or college students who can easily test 4 plus hours a day. Some of them are literally professional gamers who can test 12 hours a day leading up to big events.

To compound the huge gap in hours spent, vintage is also a much harder problem; so many more cards, so many more possible decks. The fact that we as a community haven't found a deck building solution to the current meta is only very weak evidence that it doesn't exist.

Note that I don't think that means people should do nothing and wait for a new deck to be found. At some point looking at a puzzle you have to acknowledge that if you haven't solved it yet you're probably not going to. But I also wouldn't be totally shocked if someone built something that beat current builds of mentor and shops forcing those decks to change somewhat.

last edited by walking.dude

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

@Smmenen

I think you are not fully giving credit to the size of the type one community compared to other formats.

I love the fact that you call the format Type 1 🙂

Aside from that, I acknowledge the undeniable fact that more minds working on a problem means more possibilities to surface solutions.

But by the same token, people are dramatically overestimating how many people it takes to break a metagame paradigm. A single person winning a tournament with a novel strategy, especially twice in a row, is really all that is needed for people to follow along, and join the band wagon.

It's the whole monkeys on typewriters/shakespeare thing. There are enough people working on the format, in dailies, in challenges, on kitchen tables, in small shops and large halls, that people are continuously experimenting. We don't hear about those failures, because the only thing we see is what's winning, generally. After all, this metagame has been like this for a while now.

While having more people focused on the problem increases the odds that a solution will emerge, if there was a solution, I feel pretty confident that someone would have found it by now. Maybe that's an article of faith, but I don't think so. After all, this was the argument advanced by the pro-restriction-of-gush crowd.

The most vigorous proponents of the restriction of Gush implicitly conceded this point, as one of the most oft repeated arguments of people like Chubby Rain were Gush and Shops were the Scylla and Charbydis of the format. According to him, you couldn't design a deck that had a good matchup against both decks, and therefore they throttled the metagame. If it were possible to navigate around them, then Gush wouldn't have needed restriction.

So, that version of the "herd mentality" defense for the current metagame concedes too much: it undermines the grounds for the restriction of Gush in the first place.

last edited by Smmenen

@gkraigher i understand you said that making zodiac dragon back to its original text would help dredge, how exactly would it help dredge, and also why would it need restricted in vintage and banned in legacy, is there some interaction im not aware of?

@letseeker

It would allow them to discard 2 cards instead of 3 each turn with bazaar. So they wouldn't lose card advantage if they didn't want to. It would help them make more land drops, and cast spells with mana costs. Also, since it's a may ability, the card could be a dread return target if you wanted it to be.

Whenever you dredge it to the yard, it's +1 card advantage at a minimum.

Wild mongrel (or noose constrictor or lotleth troll) + Zodiac Dragon is probably too good for legacy. Especially in a world where you can have force of will, misdirection, pact of negation backup. Worldly tutor and sylvan tutor also exist. There are no two card combos in Legacy that aren't instenly mana costed. That's the way Legacy should stay.

Think about 4 Zodiac Dragons in Legacy dredge. It would be insane card advantage.

last edited by gkraigher

Rich, an excellent post, as always. Very well constructed, and considered.

Before addressing things, I'd like to just point out that I believe there was a fundamental change in philosophy back in January 2015, when we saw the restriction of Treasure Cruise. Treasure Cruise was exceptionally powerful as a four-of, but this was the first major domino to fall in this chain that continues on today. First Treasure Cruise, then Dig Through Time, then Chalice of the Void, then Lodestone Golem, then Gush and Probe were restricted, and I don't think any of us think we're done.

From the June 2009 restriction of Thirst for Knowledge through the January 2015 restriction of Treasure Cruise, we had a format that was defined by new printings and unrestrictions, not restrictions. It is my personal opinion that the metagame probably reached its apex around 2012, when Martello Shops, Grixis Control, Oath of Druids, Dredge, Delver, and several other decks were all serious players capable of adjusting for, and winning, any given event. I know that this was probably around the last time that I had a lot of fun playing the format.

Was Treasure Cruise too good? It was clearly very powerful, but this is a format of powerful cards. I was not one of the voices campaigning for restriction, because I was concerned for two reasons:

  1. The axe that cut down Treasure Cruise could certainly come back to hit my pillar.

  2. While the stated desire was clear, it was impossible to know the actual effect of the restriction.

I am a peacenik in general, and this bleeds into other areas of my life. What I define as fun is not necessarily something that others may enjoy, and I both respect that and understand that they should not be coerced to live in a world where they must conform to my standards of fun. I thoroughly hated Blightsteel Colossus, I didn't enjoy being Vault/Key'd, I loathed how little I could do against Dredge (while operating within Mishra's confines), and I had a deep-seated loathing specifically for Oath of Druids.

I had difficult problems thrown at me, and I adjusted. I worked with Forino a lot, and we worked together in building decks that addressed those problems as best we could. Having something new thrown at you, reacting, and throwing something back at them was much of the fun in playing the game.

The philosophy change, in believing that restrictions are the path towards a healthier metagame, has robbed me of much of this enjoyment. I did not celebrate when Cruise, or Dig, got hit because I knew that my time would come. As we reflect on the metagame now, I believe that we're coming back to that point again. Will Mentor be restricted? Will Misstep? Will Thorn? Will Workshop? Who knows?

The point is, before we start thinking about what's going to happen next, shouldn't we be asking ourselves if we're even using the right tools to get us to the balance that we claim to be looking for? Is the metagame better now for having had all the restrictions we've had in the last two and a half years? To reiterate, I don't think any of us think we're done here. I think we all think that more restrictions are coming.

There are many things that factor into attendance at an event. I have more than 15 years worth of experience as a tournament organizer for this format to know that.

I swear I'm not puffing my chest here, but the N.Y.S.E. Open is a lot of work, and a lot of risk. There were several salient issues with N.Y.S.E. Open IV, most notably the interminable heat at the venue. I know that I lost some number of players for the event this year because of that issue last year. The number of players who travel long distances to the event is considerable. I know that many of the attendees leave very early in the morning, play all day, have dinner with friends afterward, and then have a long drive home ahead of them. Sometimes it's a bridge too far for those who would otherwise have been interested. The entry fee for the event is considerable, even if the prize support, giveaways, staffing, and venue all warranted it (and, sadly, should have warranted more) this year.

I sincerely believe that a major factor in us having lost 27 players, going from 157 to 130 (all while having eight players make the trip from Spain - which effectively means we lost 35 players from last year before we start accounting for other first timers who make up for those who decided not to play this year) players from one year to the next is the state of the format. I'd rather not speak of my own personal disenchantment with the state of things. It should be noted that the state of the format has very real effects on tournament organizers, vendors, judges, staff, et al in addition to showing distorted top eights. This is how you drive players away from the format, and how you hurt the format in deeper ways.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that "my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins". My definition of joy in this format is not yours, as yours is not mine. But weren't we supposed to live and let live? Are we in a better place now than we were just a few years ago? When does this end?

If we're operating under the paradigm that we fully know what restrictions are going to do to the format (which is foolish, because none of us can say with authority that we do; we can watch, and wait, and see), then yes, Monastery Mentor and Mental Misstep should be restricted. But what happens then? If Workshops continue doing what they're doing, they will be hit again. Then what? Thorn? Sphere? Shop itself? And what does the format look like when a combo deck like Paradoxical Outcome has seen its most serious enemies nerf'd? Will we have hit the point where we took a balanced metagame, and turned it into the coin flip format that we should never want to see?

I'd much rather see us start peeling back some of the restrictions, and seeing what could be done to get us back to where we were. Maybe Gush never should have come off the restricted list. In a world where Chalice of the Void and Lodestone Golem are restricted, using the paradigm that restrictions can be used with foreknowledge as to what will happen, I see no reason why Gush should be unrestricted.

Some iteration of this fight has been going on for a long, long, long time. I know the world I live in, I think I have a pretty good handle on the landscape ahead. I don't like what I see. I believe that a misguided, albeit well-meaning, few are taking us down a path we would have done best to never trod.

With work being what it is for me, and everything else in my life up in the air right now, I have no idea when I'll play again, or if I've played my final match. Vroman was a hero from afar for me, and I remember how he just kind of disappeared. I top eight'd the last event I played in, back in April, and, like every event I've played in of recent memory, I remember wanting to go home nearly the entire time. This was an uncommon rejoinder from me back in 2012.

I sold my Moxen a few weeks ago, I sold my Lotus last weekend, I'm selling my Shops soon. I'll keep the core of my collection, so that I can power up again and play when I want to, but when is that going to be? I feel like others have been pushed away from the format because of the decisions that have been made regarding the B&R list. While work constraints certainly preclude me from playing as often as I could, I've had the option to buy into MODO and play more often, and I haven't felt like it. I would like to think that I'm going to come back to playing at some point in the next few years, perhaps in some limited fashion, and that I'll feel the draw to compete at a high level, and not just show up at events and occasionally embarrass myself with bad plays. If I'm going to come back and play like I did at Champs last year, or Waterbury this year, there's really no reason to come back and play at all.

To try and get back on point, and wrap this up, I'd just ask that people really think deeply about when Vintage really was balanced in the last few years. Maybe we could start taking steps back towards a metagame where players could play with more of their cards, and we weren't looking to just hit everything that ran well for a while, but looked to develop new strategies to combat new problems. Everything in life isn't a nail, and we have more tools at our disposal than a hammer. Terra Nova was built as a rebuke to a comment that no new innovations were possible in Shops until new cards were printed, or new restrictions/unrestrictions took place. Maybe before we take away someone's right to play their cards we can go to the drawing board and work towards addressing the problems at hand in new, unseen ways. This current philosophy is exhausting, and awful for the long-term health of the format.

last edited by Prospero

@gkraigher then why not play squee? i know its not quite as good as dragon with bazaar but from my experience vintage dredge usually only has one bazaar any way, i know its not a dread return target but it would do almost the same thing as dragon.

@Prospero ive only been playing vintage for around 3, maybe 4, years (all on cockatrice as i dont have the money to play it irl) and in my short time in vintage, i would have to say my favorite time was right after the chalice restriction, before that, to me it felt like either shops or some type of tezzeret deck, this could have been my lack of experience at that point in time so please correct me if im wrong, i played vintage for about six months and went to legacy, to often i would get chaliced for 0 and not be able to do anything for the rest of the game and i stopped because of that, but then chalice got restricted and thats what has brought me back in, and in my opinion that was when vintage was extremly healthy, shops was still a good deck, but it wasnt as taxing as it had been with the chalice restriction, and at the time i was playing a young pyromancer deck and actually beating shops where as before i could never win a game aginst the deck, this could be for many reasons, gaining experience, learning the format beter, so on and so forth, but for me, that was my favorite time in vintage. im not sure if you were looking for responses such as this, and if you werent i do apoligize, as it is i dont like the way vintage is heading, im my opinion it started with the lodestone restriction, when it got restricted i feel like thats when vintage started to go down this path, i could be wrong about this though, im not a seasoned player like much of the other people on this site, this is only my experience so again, please correct me if im wrong.

@Arcranedenial

Vintage is, by its very nature, a high variance format. That's a feature, not a bug.

  • 200
    Posts
  • 122493
    Views