Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor

@p3temangus said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Chronatog I do not know if this data is available from wizards, but perhaps the Meta reports assembled by @diophan and @ChubbyRain have player names called out and you could try and aggregate it in that way using their data as your source.

The simple fact is that MTGO is the only place where Wizards can view results of sanctioned vintage events on a Daily and Weekly Basis. I do not think that this impact can be minimized in any way shape or form, whether you believe it to be "representative" or not. To me, the impact of non-sanctioned vintage on B&R policy has always been hazy. Wizards can't "support" Proxy vintage, so do they ignore results of non-sanctioned proxy events? The days of having to wait months to run your new deck out in a tournament are long gone. I can play 8 rounds of sanctioned FNM style Vintage over 2 days with whatever pile of crap I feel like running out. If I had the time and will power I could play 12 rounds (assuming 3 out of 5 evening daily's fire a week) in addition to 5+ rounds on any given Saturday afternoon. I do not know your history in the format, but do you know how many Months it used to take me to play that many rounds of Vintage? Months, or even a year, and that was with me making the effort to travel to Waterbury's, SCG P9's and the like, and even then all of those events were non-sanctioned 5 or 10 Proxy.

Updating my post with with something just posted in the Vintage FB Group by a Tom Ribet (not sure if hes on the drain or not to give props to!)

10 Vintage Challenges since the restriction of Gush and Probe (80 decks). Here are the results:
25% of the Top8s are made by 6 players
50% of the Top8s are made by 16 players
75% of the Top8s are made by 33 players
53 individuals made Top8
Average attendance is 50*
2403 members are following this FB page. So the people who made the last 80 top8s represent 2.2% of the Meta!
I'm one of these members who reads & thinks Vintage everyday but unfortunately I can never participate to the online challenges (due to absolute shitest timezone). I know that many others who post here regularly don't play MTGO or can't participate to the challenges either.

  • I'm missing total number of players for challenges 24/06 & 22/07 (I suspect 24/06 was much less than 50 due to NYSE tourney)*

im curious as to how the 2400 ppl following the FB are active type1 players on MTGO, and thus an accurate represenation of the meta, while getting dailies to fire is an everyday slog

@nedleeds A fair point. Isn't that (possibly) all the more reason to just get away from Wizard's list in Paper though? That it simply does not serve nor reflect what is good for the Paper Game?

@H. said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@nedleeds A fair point. Isn't that (possibly) all the more reason to just get away from Wizard's list in Paper though? That it simply does not serve nor reflect what is good for the Paper Game?

Early on there was some discussion about two lists. I think @CHA1N5 and @Smmenen both discussed it at length on their pod when power was released on MTGO. Some of that centered around the differences in being able to repeat loops, some of it was the differences in card availability. I think a schism like that might break Vintages back though. If there were a clearly dominant paper deck like Dragon that was unplayable because of the constraints of MTGO there might be a stronger argument or more uproar.

@p3temangus said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Chronatog I do not know if this data is available from wizards, but perhaps the Meta reports assembled by @diophan and @ChubbyRain have player names called out and you could try and aggregate it in that way using their data as your source.

The simple fact is that MTGO is the only place where Wizards can view results of sanctioned vintage events on a Daily and Weekly Basis. I do not think that this impact can be minimized in any way shape or form, whether you believe it to be "representative" or not. To me, the impact of non-sanctioned vintage on B&R policy has always been hazy. Wizards can't "support" Proxy vintage, so do they ignore results of non-sanctioned proxy events? The days of having to wait months to run your new deck out in a tournament are long gone. I can play 8 rounds of sanctioned FNM style Vintage over 2 days with whatever pile of crap I feel like running out. If I had the time and will power I could play 12 rounds (assuming 3 out of 5 evening daily's fire a week) in addition to 5+ rounds on any given Saturday afternoon. I do not know your history in the format, but do you know how many Months it used to take me to play that many rounds of Vintage? Months, or even a year, and that was with me making the effort to travel to Waterbury's, SCG P9's and the like, and even then all of those events were non-sanctioned 5 or 10 Proxy.

Updating my post with with something just posted in the Vintage FB Group by a Tom Ribet (not sure if hes on the drain or not to give props to!)

10 Vintage Challenges since the restriction of Gush and Probe (80 decks). Here are the results:
25% of the Top8s are made by 6 players
50% of the Top8s are made by 16 players
75% of the Top8s are made by 33 players
53 individuals made Top8
Average attendance is 50*
2403 members are following this FB page. So the people who made the last 80 top8s represent 2.2% of the Meta!
I'm one of these members who reads & thinks Vintage everyday but unfortunately I can never participate to the online challenges (due to absolute shitest timezone). I know that many others who post here regularly don't play MTGO or can't participate to the challenges either.

  • I'm missing total number of players for challenges 24/06 & 22/07 (I suspect 24/06 was much less than 50 due to NYSE tourney)*

I hope I'm not the only one that's concerned about how disproportionately ~16 players in an imperfect environment incapable of supporting all strategies colors the perceptions of those responsible for maintaining the entirety of the format.

@cutlex said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

I hope I'm not the only one that's concerned about how disproportionately ~16 players in an imperfect environment incapable of supporting all strategies colors the perceptions of those responsible for maintaining the entirety of the format.

It was the nightmare when they revealed power was coming to MTGO. It's like the results from 2 large stores and their player base counting 100x more than all other stores. But what else are they going to go on? As a community we suck at reporting results. Proxies further muddy the issue as the bulk of paper events allow proxies but the highest profile paper event doesn't.

@famdoola Obviously it is a flawed comparison, but some sort of measuring stick is needed. That aside, it does not change the fact that a very very small number of people are driving MTGO results (and format "innovation"), a point that @ChubbyRain has made several times on this site.

My concern with this (as stated in my previous post) is that MTGO is the only place wizards can see Sanctioned Vintage Results, and are well within their rights to ignore non-sanctioned results. So representative or not (clearly not) I am not sure it matters, and that is certainly a problem.

It is s proven fact that people dislike change. Despite this change is often very healthy. I firmly believe that change is needed in the vintage card pool and fully welcome it. While there will not ever be community agreement on what change is necessary, leaving things as is would be a disappointment. I know people get disillusioned with change and sometimes even quit. Leaving a failing meta also can cause people to quit. I’m sad that they are not having a good time in this great game but I also firmly believe that this would be their loss in the end. The sky is not now nor has it ever been falling.

I shared my view on restriction is the other thread but I’ll reiterate my believe; in Vintage, restrictions are not the same as bans and should not be viewed the same way. The fact that people can still play with the cards in singleton is part of the appeal. I like the character. It’s great to draw the Ancestral Recall. The restriction makes it more meaningful in my mind. It also fosters deck diversity. If 4 Demonic Tutors were allowed, you would see very few vampirics, merchant scrolls, etc... I’m all for more restrictions to liven up the meta.

It is somewhat sad that some restrictions kill specific deck types though usually when this happens, it is due to that deck being out of balance. It also usually means that the deck has had its day in the sun. (A pretty good tell is if the deck contains the name of the restricted card) When this happens and there isn’t the “go to deck”, we often get great innovation. I’ve recently read Stephen’s History of Vintage First Ten Years. We have gone through some amazing periods of Magic with all kinds of fascinating decks we’ve played over the years. Some of these were born of new printing, some of restrictions, and some of crazy innovation. The fact that there is evolution and change is healthy. While I loved playing in each of these eras, I enjoyed the next one as well. I’m ready to move on to the decks of tomorrow.

What would the Workshop decks look like if they could not reliably count on locking their opponent out of mana? What would the Turbo Xerox decks referenced in this post look like if they had to put a threat into play that required meaningful interaction in order to forge a victory? What would match-ups look like if we didn’t have so much access to sideboard cards that swing the win percentage so violently? What would the game look like if we reduce the B&R list so much that there are 10 broken decks to choose from? While I wouldn’t be in favor of massive unrestrictions, it would change the face of a meta that is badly in need of a face lift. As it stands right now, I’m finding these discussions more interesting than the games I’m playing. While I do love to talk Magic, I want to get back to a world where discussing the game is secondary to playing it.

@albarkhane said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@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 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.

The goal is not to prevent a Chalice on turn one. If you read my post more thoroughly you'd see that the goal is quite the opposite. Chalice on turn one is not problematic unless it is accompanied by a sufficient number of the rest of the lock pieces which are all powered out by Mishra's Workshop and to a lesser degree Ancient Tomb as you pointed out. Ancient tomb is far less effective than Mishra's Workshop for multiple reasons. It obviously makes less mana and costs life but it also prevents the user from achieving the same total amaount of mana that Mishra's Workshop does which means they'd need to invest one more card into their mana base. The means one less threat and/or one less lock piece. The archetype will still exist it just won't be 50%+ of top8s.

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

Shops plays sphere effects as its primary tool for disruption because so few other effective preventative measures exist in the form of artifacts. Sphere effects are the best at what they do in an artifact based strategy which is also very effective against everything else in the game, i.e. casting spells. The best defense Mishra has is to prevent all of its opposition's spells from being cast because there is an artifact destruction spell in almost every card type and/or colour. The only way the archetype does well in it's current iteration is if no opposing strategy is able to resolve a spell.

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.

That may be your whole point but it is also a big part of my point and we do not disagree except where you say that sphere effects will evaporate if people stop doing "broken" things. That scenario has already played out in the form of the most recent set of restrictions and they have had the exact opposite effect to what you've predicted. This is the same fallacy that has been repeated throughout this thread. Restricting the opposition to one strategy does not reduce the effectiveness of that strategy; quite the opposite. People who share your mentality are overlooking the fact that sphere effects are broken things. Preventing your opponent from ever having any chance at casting any spells is just as "broken" as any other strategy. You seem to be missing they key point that if you can't cast spells you lose just the same as if you got hit with Blightsteel Colossus before being able to cast a spell. In both scenarios you never got a chance to play your spells. The illusion of a continued game is created by that extended period of time between being deterministically locked out and actually technically losing the game. The problem is not intrinsic to sphere effects however since they would be largely symmetrical if it weren't for Mishra's Workshop. The Shop is what makes them "broken" because it allows the shops player to play through them thus making them asymmetrical instead of symmetrical.

@Dice_Box said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

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

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.

This is not true at all. Both Modern and Legacy have a "Race to the bottom" mentality when it comes to mana costs and the closest to Shops you see there is DnT. It has nothing to do with Sphere and everything to do with Tempo. It's a rule in competition decks, you don't pay more than you have to. A 3 mana Goyf is not suddenly going to be more loved than its two mana counterpart in Modern while a 1 mana one would.

It is still true; you've actually just made my point. There is always a race to the bottom but in every healthy format, not just Modern and Legacy, there are strategies that go over the top to win in this same race. Once again, you're claiming I've said things which I have not even implied. No one is claiming that anyone should ever pay 2 mana for the same effect when it is available at 1 mana. That is an insane argument that no one has ever made and is nowhere to be found in any of my posts including this one. Yet, in all formats there are cards at more than one mana which should see play in other strategies but instead don't because they are pushed out by mana denial strategies thus reducing strategic diversity. The cheapest spell is not always the most advantageous in terms of tempo. The effect each card has also matters, not just the casting cost. Obviously no one is going to chose to pay more for the same effect, no one would ever try to argue that because it's completely ridiculous. A rudimentary example of this would be the very baser relationship between an old school aggro deck and an old school control deck. the aggro deck plays cheap creatures early to try to close out the game before the control deck can stabilize. The aggro deck may play a creature turn one, another turn two and another turn three before the control player casts wrath for 4 in the case of the aggro player going second. In the interim there may be more creatures cast and more point removal used but for now let's test the most basic case. If wrath is cast on turn 4 by the control player that player has payed more mana for his or her spell but has gained tempo advantage because they have only invested 4 mana into the game state whereas the tempo player has invested 6. The control player is also up in card advantage which can be translated to tempo advantage later and vice versa. In the mean time the control player has had mana available to develop their board or hand in different ways with those early turns thus capitalizing on the tempo advantage the whole time. The race to the bottom is a healthy part of any metagame but where a metagame becomes unhealthy is when the "midrange" strategies become obsolete choking out strategic diversity among varying mana curves in deck design. Currently in Vintage, the closest thing we have to "midrange" is people attempting to cast non-creature spells through thorns at two mana (or maybe the occasional creature at 3+). Paradoxical storm doesn't obey this but that's because it's all moxen. The point is that is extremely low for any format, even Vintage. You could say that it's especially low for vintage because historically Vintage has had a greater diversity of casting costs among it's playable card pool thanks to moxen. The reason for this congestion of mana costs to such a low bar is not just the "race to the bottom" as you put it (which we expect from a healthy metagame) but also the Mishra's Workshop mana denial archetype. Workshop strategies aren't just good against turbo zerox the way symmetrical sphere effects are; they're good against all strategies because Mishra's Workshop makes those spheres asymmetrical.

If Shops vanished MM would not suddenly become a godsend to Vintage but more of a curse.

Edit:
A better example of my point would be with Cantrips. You don't play Omen in place of Preordain. Sure, you have gained built in MM protection but the Tempo loss is too great to make that a benefit overall. If you play a Mentor mirror, the 1 extra mana is far far more harmful than the risk of a Counterspell.

I didn't say any of what you're implying I said. Specifically if shops were fundamentally less able to execute their mana denial game plan to such great efficacy and Chalice of the Void were unrestricted, it would create a greater diversity of mana costs and thus a greater diversity of strategies which would include those strategies that do not benefit from or get harmed by Mental Misstep. The format should not be designed based on Mentor Mirrors. Sphere effects would still be around and still be good against both TX and Mental Misstep, they just wouldn't be as good against the entire field as a whole. In other words they wouldn't be pushing "midrange" completely out of contention where it currently resides.

@nedleeds said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Rituals have a natural predator and have for decades, prison.

If the only way to stop one thing is to stop all things then how is that addressing the issue. Cutting a finger is not fixed by chopping off an arm.

Mental Misstep costing no mana, no opportunity cost short of trading a card slows the format down if you are counting it's complete obsoleting of mana dorks. DRS, Hierarch were key cards in keeping Thorn decks in check for years. Even 4 x Chalice, 4 x LG shops was a dog to BUG Fish decks with Shamans.

Those cards were key at keeping thorn decks down because thorn decks have become so pervasive that the only thing you can do is hope to resolve a 1 mana creature that adds mana so maybe one day you can resolve a business spell. If it weren't for the prison strategy being the dominant archetype this wouldn't be the case.

The argument that you can jump the curve with moxes is fine but again less mana is always better than more. I've played decks that dodge Misstep as best as possible but you are still just handicapping yourself by playing higher cost spells. That deck building paradigm catches up to you when you don't draw your moxes.

Yes, less mana is always better but people don't get laughed out of other formats for including two drops in their deck. Only in Vintage is there a prison deck which is so well armed that you can't rely on resolving anything other than one, or zero, drops. This is the only format where you design your mana curve to pay 2 mana on average for every 1 mana spell. Now people play moxen just to get to two mana so that they can cast an actual spell. They're no longer optional in opening hands. This furthers deck constraints by requiring every deck to max out on moxen et al.

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Maybe Vintage, after 25 years, has hit a wall. Maybe there is no way out. Maybe this is the endgame of a format that has 25 years of accumulated printings without bannings. If the Dack-Delve draw engine is really what's powering the Mentor deck, then restricting Mentor isn't going to solve that problem, and, as you've said before in the arguments over Gush, we will just substitute cards like Pyromancer instead. Frankly, I've already begun testing what to replace 3 Mentors with in my deck for EW (a far more interesting endeavor than playing the current format).
This might be hyperbole, but it's not entirely implausible to think that you could restrict Mentor, Preordain, Misstep, JVP, and perhaps a few more cards, and the "blue stew" with the Dack-Delve/Gush draw engine would still probably be a tier 1 deck; perhaps even the best blue deck, still. Similarly, I don't see what you can restrict from Workshops at this point that would make it not at least 25%+ of the field. I don't think restricting Sphere or Thorn alone would make much difference.
Given that the path that we are on leads to either 1) restrictions that won't solve the problem, 2) many, many more restrictions to solve the problem, or, perhaps, 3) a scenario where restrictions don't actually matter - where the restriction policy device has actually lost it's power because a critical mass of restricted cards can support a deck, then perhaps it is better to try something else instead or rethink this flawed approach.

I think Vintage may have reached the state you describe many years ago and recovered; possibly more than once. I could be wrong but at several times there have been cards that have been unrestricted which then lead to the development of new strategies which, at those times, lead to greater strategic diversity in the years immediately following those unrestrictions. Mishra's Workshop is the first such case that I can think of (1997). Doomsday (2004) is the next candidate in chronological order followed by Gush (2007). Fact or Fiction (2011) didn't make a tremendous splash but Burning Wish (2012) and even regrowth (2013) had some minor impact at the time. Now we have the occasional Gifts Ungiven and Thirst for Knowledge (2015) being played as well. I could be wrong about this and maybe their effects were not always encouraging to strategic diversity. You would be better able to answer that question than I.

At times when Storm was dominating the format it was a consolidation of restricted cards. Even further back than that when Academy was performing well it was again a consolidation of restricted cards. But here we are today and neither are outperforming any modern strategy. Some of this is almost certainly due to power creep which bodes well for the future of unrestricting cards since those cards appear to have new balances in the more recent metagames based on their current performance. Maybe we're just seeing the emergence of another pillar, or pair of pillars, which are going to be similarly based on restricted cards as opposed to the Gush pillar for example which, for a long time, was not.

I'll try to explain the way I think of any given format when deciding what deck to play. I think it may be relevant to the discussion of restriction, unrestriction, and the health of the format. If we graph the frequency of appearances in tops 8s, top 4s, finals, and/or first-place finnishes for each "pillar" using a classification based on the presence of a key card such as Workshop, Mentor, Paradoxical, etc. using the z axis to represent frequency and the x and y axis to represent two other distinguishing characteristics of those cards we would get a 3D surface where the peaks would represent different archetypes. Imagine each point in the x and y plane represents a different card placed according to two distinct strategic metrics such as mana-value vs, card advantage, quintessential turn vs card type, etc. One could use any number of other metrics to distinguish any given strategy from other strategies. The goal is to chose those metrics such that cards which don't often appear in the same deck will be placed farther away from each other in the X Y plane. When each pillar is in balance the format remains in equilibrium. A balanced metagame might look something like this:
alt text
Each peak representing one pillar of the format but each peak being at exactly the same height (frequency). With location in the X and Y plane implying differences in baser strategy such that the decks can't share a extensive array of the same cards. It could be said that the greater ideal would be to have an absolutely flat form but I don't believe that to be possible since each card would have to achieve the exact same frequency of appearances.

Those metagames where only one deck was dominant such as academy, storm, or Tezz-Thirst might look something more like this:
alt text
There are still other strategies making appearances (the lower peaks) but they are overshadowed by the central dominant strategy.

Today's metagame might look something more like this:
alt text
With two archetypes in contention but one performing slightly better than the other (currently Shops). In theory unrestriction could add a third pillar to the format by adding another peak while restricting a card could reduce the height of one of the peaks to bring it closer to alignment with the lower peaks.

Given this view of the metagame I think there are two metrics to consider when unrestricting or restricting any given card:

  • In the case of unrestriction it will be important that the card being unrestricted does not increase the height of any of the peaks which are considdered to be problematic to as much of a degree that it increases the other peaks in the graph. That is to say, we don't want to add a card to the pool of unrestricted cards that will make the current top deck better unless it makes a worse deck better to a greater degree. Another way of looking at it is to say that we want that card which we unrestrict to contribute the least to the highest peak(s) and the most to the lowest peaks so the strategic distance from any of those peaks is something that should be maximized. In other words we should chose our unrestriction candidate to maximize the distance between it and other peaks by minimizing the synergy with the current high peaks. The other metric to considder is whether the unrestricted card(s) are going to create a new peak which is sufficiently high. Will the card being unrestricted have an impact on the problematic strategies? Will it be good enough? If the answer is no then the card in question either doesn't need to be restricted any more or the current high peaks need to come down a notch or two.

  • In the case of restriction the selected card should be whatever card has the highest frequency of appearance out of all the unrestricted cards that are closest to that peak. In other words we should choose the best performing card that will diminish that strategy while affecting the fewest other strategies to the minimal degree. Apparently, based on some recent results, the restriction of Gush and Gitaxian Probe diminished non-Mentor decks more so than it diminished Mentor decks and so it appears to be an example of a bad choice for restriction.

In essence I think the problem of a top performing deck of almost all restricted cards has been solved in the past by creating new peaks which are able to compete at the same level as the towering pillar of all restricted cards such that there is some semblance of diversity in the format. I believe the unrestrictions of Gush (2007 and 2010) were both examples of such a case. There are seldom more than a handful of top performing archetypes in all formats and even in cases where that has existed it has been a transient state. It has always been this way and I think it is an inevitability of the game but I don't believe it precludes the possibility of constructing a format where there are multiple contenders by using restrictions as in Vintage.

So, in general, whether restricting or unrestricting cards I think that minimizing the size of the list is paramount. The fewer cards there are on the restricted list the greater the opportunity there is to create new strategies which give those restricted pillars a run for their money.

The historical pattern seems to be that Wizards of the Coast will restrict cards from the best deck until that deck has lost some traction in the metagame. In this case there are two top decks so it seems likely that they will both receive restrictions before the format settles back down to having more than two decks. Mentor's restriction seems inevitable at this point but I suspect that Mishra's Workshop will eventually be restricted as well.

There seems to have been a long standing point of tension between the two archetypes prison and TX. Prison can pray on TX and similar multi spell per turn strategies quite effectively but at the cost of pushing other decks out of the format that would otherwise create diversity by addressing those same issues another way. I think this comes from years of bias in favor of having Workshop around as a check against storm style strategies aiming to cast lots of cheap spells each turn. It is good to have such a check and almost everyone seems to favor its existence including my self; however, in my unpopular opinion this has had the opposite to the desired effect simply because the tools to shut down TX etc. are also effective enough to shut down anything aiming to pray on artifact strategies. Essentially, in order for the Workshop pillar to stand up it has to proactively disrup any opposition so thoroughly as to prevent getting blown out by artifact removal. The problem is that, using Workshop as a base, this disruption becomes too effective against other strategies which would otherwise be able to go "over the top" of TX. So as the two pillars have had tertiary components removed it has only served to narrow people's choices. Wizards of the Coast didn't go after Mishra's Workshop, they instead went after it's tools (Chalice and Golem) and in doing so allowed Mentor to achieve even greater performance. But when Mentor achieved greater performance they again didn't take away the problematic card in Mentor but instead removed the tools that multiple other decks were using thus dropping the peaks of other non TX decks, such as DPS and Doomsday even more so than that of mentor; again narrowing the metagame to those two decks. Add to that the fact that mentor is the only card advantage strategy that can consistently afford to cast cheap enough spells that it can play through the prison that shops presents to play the control roll and you have two towers casting their combined shadow on the entire former Vintage metagame. The two strategies paint strokes that are far too broad in terms of what decks they obsolesce as a result of their existence.
What do you do when every spell your opponent casts creates a threat and nets them a card to disrupt you? Play Shops.
What do you do when the only spells you can afford to cast are one and zero mana because of Shops? Play Mentor.

I am not advocating for a restriction or unrestriction; only sharing my opinion.
I respect each and every one of you and value your opinions.

last edited by Aaron Patten

@Aaron-Patten

I am not advocating for a restriction or unrestriction; only sharing my opinion.
I respect each and every one of you and value your opinions.

I'm not so sure most of your post is opinion rather it seems to be keen observation. Very well said

Can we try to disagree without mean-spirited snarky personal attacks?

I'm at a place where I'm actually trying to understand why restricting Gush and Probe didn't changes things. And that isn't just a matter of berating other people, it's a matter of trying to understand how all the pieces on the board interconnect.

One argument is that Gush and Probe weren't less essential to Mentor than they were to other decks that really needed them in order to be competitive. Another argument is that Mentor is the real problem because it is the nearly perfect condensed threat in a format with 0-cost mana rocks and 1-mana cantrips. Another argument is that MTGO doesn't properly reflect the community as a whole and that it also facilitates a herd mentality about what deck to play.

All of these could be a factor, or even none of them could. It's actually a genuine intellectual, psychological, statistically, mathematical challenge.

At this stage, the thing I am most annoyed about is the angry oversimplifications and personal insults. I've started making an effort to make sure I am not contributing to that atmosphere.

But back to some of the substance of the matter:

If reduced variance is king, then one thing I will point out is that there are different ways of reducing variance and 4-5 decks in particular make me think of these ways.

  1. Reduce variance by having fewer unique cards. If Shops has a ton of 4-ofs, and even some 5-ofs (Moxen), variance is reduced dramatically even though some people may not recognize it as such. Eldrazi decks function in a similar way.

  2. Reduce variance by cantrips that dig into/filter your deck. This one is more obvious and represents the Turbo Xerox ethos: Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, Dack, Ancestral, Cruise, Dig, etc. This can be Mentor, but is also Oath. This category is massively overpopulated with card choices because of Wizards' design mistakes.

  3. Reduce variance using a unique card or engine that creates massive card advantage, but faces strong hate. This is Dredge and Paradoxical Outcome. Bazaar creates massive card advantage in a consistent manner with the help of the Dredge mechanic and Serum Power. PO creates massive card advantage through zero cost artifacts aided by a little bit of digging (Thirst for Knowledge, Brainstorm, Ancestral). One is hurt by graveyard hate, the other by Null Rod effects and tax effects.

I will continue to argue that we shouldn't be looking to restrict any more cards (except maybe Mentor). What we need instead is new cards that counteract the two dominant strategies. Shops is easy to fix--just create a spell that kills artifacts in spite of tax effects. I've said cycling in the past, but someone pointed out to me today that Channel is a keyword ability that exists and would accomplish the same thing without drawing a card.

Cantrips are also combatible: unrestrict Chalice. 1) Creature decks have Cavern of souls, and 2) Chalice helps prevent the format from being all about 1-mana spells. That may not be enough, but it would be worth unrestricting and then assessing.

As of today (and my opinion could change tomorrow), I think that Mentor is a genuine problem. And if Lodestone can be restricted, Mentor sure as hell can. Every time Wizards restricts a blue spell, it hurts most blue-heavy decks (Storm variants, Oath variants, Doomsday, etc.). Mentor remains the best "condensed" threat for the cantrip-driven decks.

While I recognize the raw power of Gush, in a format with Paradoxical Outcome and many tax effects, I don't know how truly overpowered it is. I actually like the Probe restriction more because free information that doesn't costs mana or a card, just life, hurts the play experience.

That's how I feel today, anyway. Some of it will probably change tomorrow.

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

It is still true; you've actually just made my point.

No, I didnt. You have moved on to talking about different cards, in different situations overlooking the point in its totality. MM will always have a negative impact on formats where the ideal is a race to the lowest possible mana cost. A wrath costs 4, swell, but if it costed 1, that 4 mana one would be cast aside. Goyf costs 2, print a 1 mana one and it will be cast aside too. You do not ever pay more mana than one must for a card, something that has nothing to do with Shops and Spheres and just a realisation of the increasing card pool. As the card pool grows and cards like Fatal Push see print, MM's prominace grows with them. Today, more than ever, I would not build a Blue deck without MM.

(Please note: I do understand that talking about a wrath at 1 CMC is hyperbolic. Its an example I never do expect to see, but it proves the point.)

The comment I was taking issue with was "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." This is bull. People are not forced to play 1 mana versions of a once 2 mana card because of Sphere, they are doing it because it's the most effective way to make a deck. Sure, the changes help against mana denial, but that is a lovely secondary effect of the choice being made for structural and efficiency reasons. I am not going to play a 2 mana card over a one mana card, even if there are no Spheres in the format.

As for a card like Chalice, Ingot Chewer was often used against me when I was playing it, yet another 1 mana effect to deal with me. Another race to the lowest possible option. So even if Chalice was still everywhere, 1 mana is still the cost of choice to deal with it, regardless of what it is set on.

"The format should not be designed based on Mentor Mirrors."
I agree, pity someone else did not and restricted the wrong two cards.

@Dumpsterac1d thank you very much.

gush was one of my favourite cards to play. I didn't stop playing vintage because of the gush restriction though. I stopped playing because mentor made playing gush so boring, removed skill and just plopped out huge tokens all the time while playing magic.
Even the turbo-xerox-engine in itself is fine. With chalice as a 4-of, it would be even less of a problem.

@peterflugzeug said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Dumpsterac1d thank you very much.

gush was one of my favourite cards to play. I didn't stop playing vintage because of the gush restriction though. I stopped playing because mentor made playing gush so boring, removed skill and just plopped out huge tokens all the time while playing magic.
Even the turbo-xerox-engine in itself is fine. With chalice as a 4-of, it would be even less of a problem.

I agree with this. I tend to think of Turbo-Xerox more as 1-mana cantrip (perhaps wrongly). And if you print a new answer card or two, you can mitigate the meta problems a little.

BUG can compete because of Leovold, White can compete because of that Spirit Labyrinth (?) card. But there still needs to be a couple more (viable) cards (that aren't in blue or white) that can hit the cantrip+draw engine.

@peterflugzeug said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Dumpsterac1d thank you very much.

while playing magic.

This is the key part of the quote. Hate for the engine being coupled with Mentor is virtually irrelevant unless you are also planning to combo your opponent out in due order. Why? Because Mentor decks can be totally neutralized by cards like Spirit of the Labyrinth, Kambal, Spheres, you name it, and STILL win because all they need to often do is throw down a couple moxen and play a preordain misstepping their own preordain to win on the spot. I have had Mentor decks completely locked off their engine multiple times with Humans and still lost to that kind of garbage. You want to know why BUG is mostly irrelevant in the Meta? This. Do you want to know why any "sort of fair" deck is invalidated in the meta? This.
This, this, this, this, this. Ugh, Mentor is the most braindead win con ever printed that rewards players whose "deck" has been cleanly beaten. Free (or 1 mana) Seeker of the Ways (let's be honest, that's basically what you're getting every time to do any derpy f-ing thing) is just ludicrous no matter how you slice it. Mentor really needs to freaking go.

-Storm

@wappla said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

By comparison, our own Mentor lost what Shay repeatedly called a broken draw spell and didn't budge in metagame share. If Gush was so broken, why is it so little missed by Mentor?

Mentor was already very powerful before Gush was unrestricted again.

and then recommends restricting a three mana creature and a narrow counterspell whose best job is stopping cantrips, all the while leaving the best unrestricted cantrip alone

Because it doesn't only stop cantrips, it stops mana dorks and the good lands spells and hand disruption. Cantrips are only this great in a deck where you can play 4x Mentor.

@Dice_Box said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Sure, the changes help against mana denial, but that is a lovely secondary effect of the choice being made for structural and efficiency reasons. I am not going to play a 2 mana card over a one mana card, even if there are no Spheres in the format.

This is true for most. Disenchant is still totally playable, even though Fragmentize and Wear//Tear exist.

As for a card like Chalice, Ingot Chewer was often used against me when I was playing it, yet another 1 mana effect to deal with me. Another race to the lowest possible option. So even if Chalice was still everywhere, 1 mana is still the cost of choice to deal with it, regardless of what it is set on.

Ingot Chewer is explicitly chosen vs Spheres and Chalice. If were only selected because it's 1 mana, then stuff like Shattering Spree and Meltdown would be more playable. There is already Smelt, which is even an instant, but is is affected by twice as many sphere effects from the Shops deck.

Land destruction used to be a dominant deck in the format circa 1994. I understand it's not the most fun thing to play against, but neither is it a first-turn kill strategy or impossible to defeat. Also, you can say that about virtually any dominant deck, and I do believe the point of this entire post is that stagnation itself in the format is a severe detriment to everyone's enjoyment level. If we're looking for a viable 3rd deck to shake things up more generally I actually do see some merit in unrestricting Strip Mine. Admittedly I haven't actively played competitive "Type 1" since 1995 so my feedback might be a little stranger than most people's here. That stated, and even with the newer printings allowing for infinite land recursion, I still don't see how this would necessarily be more powerful than TX Mentor or Shops. It might just necessitate the inclusion of newer L/D hate strategies in maindecks, so at least we have some variation there.

@Sovarius Mentor was printed five years after Gush was unrestricted.

  • Why was this ever originally posted in Strategy? There's no useful strategic info in the OP. That was among many errors in judgment.

  • It was smart to call for Mentor's restriction months ago, before Gush was restricted and any of this happened. It is boring and ordinary to call for it now. Like most sports pundits who pretend to be smart when they dissect a team that just finished a season. In actuality they know nothing.

  • Gush should be unrestricted ASAP so that we can get real small ball interactive tempo strategies back into Vintage. If this happens to kill off Gifts and other such styles of decks, that's a bonus. These are masturbatory strategies that pretend to interact superficially, but are basically built to be stupidly linear and kill in uninteresting ways.

last edited by ribby
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