Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor

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.

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

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.

I had missed your point, thank you for explaining it with more details. Your reasoning is interesting and could be true if IMHO it did not miss one fundamental point : what is the point to build a deck running about 40 artifacts only to get a synergy with a restricted card ? Let me elaborate. I agree that mishra's workshop is the strongest unrestricted card and actually it is so strong (as four of) that playing only artifacts in a deck is worth it. It is similar to bazaar in dredge (and some shop decks used to play serum powder ...) even if a bit less critical but any shop player knows that (almost) any opening hand without shop is just bad. The third mana makes all the difference compared to sol lands and the first skill any shop player need to learn is when to mulligan ... As four of, there 39.9% to have one in opening hand (and 60.1% at turn 5) while as one of there is 11.7% (and 20% at turn 5). Playing a artifact-only deck when shop is restricted is just not worth it and would be a deck building error. And since no colored shop did any result for many years my guess is that shop archetype would just dissolve and soon workshop would be some kind of alternate academy played in the few decks that play enough artifact to make it interesting (tezzeret or so). You can unrestrid any possible artifact and it will change nothing. People who would want to play similar strategy would play Eldrazi instead for example. We could talk on how people would react to that but i will restrict my writing only to deck building consideration.

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.

Actually my question was not really one and i 100% agree with you here, that's why i compared sphere effects to counterspells.

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.

Actually you missread what i meant but after reading it again i see i forgot to explain my starting point and what i was aiming at. I will try to make it more clear now.

Firstly, i am not talking/advocating about restricting cards, i am again talking only about deck building and metagame. I am talking about balance and what could be the goal, i am not talking about the mean to achieve it (restriction or whatever) because i am not expert enough and i have honestly no idea about what is the good solution.

Secondly, i never said that 'sphere effects will evaporate if people stop doing "broken" things'. I said there was a link/balance between the level of overall brokeness in the format and the number of sphere effects shop decks are running (the keyword is : 'number'). Of course, shop decks will always run some sphere effects as long it is their best strategy (ie. until a brown counterspell is published). But they adjust the number of sphere effects according to the metagame in the same way blue decks are adjusting their counterspells.

Thirdly, i agree that a golem turn 1 is about as broken as a blightsteel turn 1. An early Golem + tangle is a killing combo that end the game even if the oponent will die only a few turns later. I was not saying that some effects are more broken or whatever just that vintage is a world where broken does happen and players use whatever tools they have to take it in account (ie. not die before they can play their plan).
You were namely talking about sphere and i would agree with you if we were talking about STAX decks not MUD decks. STAX are real prison decks (similar as heavy control blue deck such as standstill) where as MUD is not trying to get a full lock but only to earn some time. We both know that STAX is (nearly) dead in the current meta and (nearly) all current shop decks are MUD. So yes, in some games MUD will just pile sphere effects and you won't play a spell (and that is broken) but in other games MUD won't draw a single sphere and will try to win as he can. I don't need to remind you that MUD has no drawing/tutoring/filtering effects. I remember playing many games where about all my spells were countered, shall i complain about it ? No, for me it is just Vintage.

Actually you said in a post that with so many sphere effect being played, people had to play only low curve decks and that reduce the number of playable spells. I agree with you on that and that's why i was trying to dig on that problem. My reasoning is that there is some kind of vicious circle here : when it is easy to die early because of combo or chaining spells, shop is playing more sphere which in return makes blue deck lower their curve and so make Xerox deck better, so shop play even more sphere and lower its own curve too. In the end you get two dominant decks that have no common third predator.

So, to sum it all, i think that the problem comes from the fact that the "overall level of brokeness" is at a critical level and more especially the speed of the format. That is an overall problem so in my mind it is useless to restrict one card or another from one deck (which ever) but we need a more global solution that would affect them all. I may be wrong (and actually hope to be) but i am just brainstorming some ideas here.

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@albarkhane said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Secondly, i never said that 'sphere effects will evaporate if people stop doing "broken" things'. I said there was a link/balance between the level of overall brokeness in the format and the number of sphere effects shop decks are running (the keyword is : 'number'). Of course, shop decks will always run some sphere effects as long it is their best strategy (ie. until a brown counterspell is published). But they adjust the number of sphere effects according to the metagame in the same way blue decks are adjusting their counterspells.

It may be true that we got to where we are now because of a link between people 'doing broken things' and the number of sphere effects or sphere decks being played. But I think now that the cat is out of the bag, there is no going back. Reducing the number of broken things or changing which broken things are being done will have no affect. Because as @Aaron-Patten said in his post - sphere effects are the main disruption of Workshop decks and because of Workshop they are asymetrical. Now that players recognize this, its a strategy in its own right rather than a counter-strategy to broken things.

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@wappla said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

In Vintage, "Turbo Xerox" decks existed for years in harmony with every thing else. Mental Misstep, Preordain, Gush– none of these cards were problematic in 2012 or 2013. The OP has either forgotten or suppressed memories of advocating people play Restoration Angel or Young Pyromancer entirely without Preordain or Gush. I don't mention these to critique his deck choices, but to show how ridiculous his current crusade is. The "Turbo Xerox" bogeyman is pure invention.

You do realize that cards have no inherent power? Their power is contextual. While it may be difficult to appreciate with cards like Black Lotus and Ancestral Recall, which are powerful in almost every context, it's readily apparent when you look at cards in other formats. Is Dark Depths broken without Hexmage and Stage? Is Brainstorm broken without Fetchlands? Mentor and Paradoxical Outcomes are hardly the dominant forces in Modern and Standard that they are in Vintage.

The obvious extrapolation from this is that subsequent printings can have dramatic effects on the relative power level of cards. Saying that Gush was not a problem before the Delve spells is arguably true (I would agree with it) but irrelevant - the Delve spells aren't going anywhere in a format that has never banned a card due to power level. Arguing that Gush should be unrestricted in this post-Delve format because of it's power in a pre-Delve environment is frankly an incredibly flawed position that ignores the reality of the format. Please stop making it. You too, @Smmenen.

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@ChubbyRain

What do you think would be the average % (or average range, if you prefer) of top 8s or the whole metagame that Gush would occupy if it were unrestricted, but Mentor was restricted? Same question, but with Mentor & Preordain restricted too?

I asked you this a few months ago but never got an answer.

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@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@ChubbyRain

What do you think would be the average % (or average range, if you prefer) of top 8s or the whole metagame that Gush would occupy if it were unrestricted, but Mentor was restricted? Same question, but with Mentor & Preordain restricted too?

I asked you this a few months ago but never got an answer.

Same % (in the 30-40% range where it's been the past 2+ years).

For what it's worth, I think people would enjoy the metagame more compared to the current metagame (based on how much people detest playing against Mentor). However, you would continue to see the vast majority of Blue decks flocking towards the Gush-Delve engine. Brian Kelly's original Sylvan Mentor list ran 2 Mentors and 1 Preordain (and 2 Probes) when he split the finals of Eternal Extravaganza 3, and it would be a very reasonable starting point for a post-Mentor/Preordain Gush list.

On a lighter note, if Mentor is restricted, it will be a huge relief for players on MTGO. Those triggers clutter up the screen like mosquitoes. I want to swat them away even though they indicate the game is going well.

I noticed an assumption stated above that Chalice on turn 1, presumably Chalice @ 0, was not so much of a problem. But IIRC, that was exactly why it was restricted.

I think the series of restrictions was the inevitable result of high level attention suddenly being paid to a format that had been allowed to go so far off the deep end due to neglect. As soon as Wizards moved forward with plans to monetize Vintage (VSL/MTGO, Eternal Masters, Vintage Masters), they began reining in its excesses. Unfortunately, due to the neglect, those excesses were numerous and subsumed into a temporarily skewed vision of what is "normal" or "acceptable" in a competitive but aspirationally vibrant format like Vintage. The tragic 2008 "re-interpretation" (to put it charitably) of Time Vault was the biggest affront that began the era of treating Vintage like an abandoned train wreck beyond repair. It took years for the format to become fun again. During that time disaster upon disaster accumulated; "horrible" and "beyond the pale" became the norm and now the antiseptic process is more painful that it would have been had there been timely intervention (including proper printings to address taxing).

The reason a handful of restrictions has not led to utopia is not because those restrictions were incorrect but because the amount of offensive cards exceeding historical norms of Vintage was allowed to reach saturation levels. It will take more than a little nip and tuck to get that face ready for prime time. I'm glad they're attempting to clean the format again but the attention comes much later than it should have. It's also discouraging to think of how much could have been avoided by effective printings, particularly when they began releasing sets that would never be Standard and Modern legal (thus throwing out the only justifiable excuse for not doing so).

Just about every card in the Jeskai Mentor deck was/is inappropriate as a 4x: Gush, Probe, Cruise, Dig, Mentor, Misstep, Preordain, and then even JVP + Dack Fayden are comparable to JTMS whose legality was a subject of off and on debate for years. If more of the deck needs to be discarded and whole thing is relegated to the history books, so be it. It might be the most universally despised deck the format has known.

Shops has the issue of containing several 4x cards that are interdependently problematic because of 4x Mishra's Workshops. It has the "Academy" problem, where a host of cards end up needing to be restrained due to the problems created by one. However, the case here differs as it would be tangibly cruel to so many community members to restrict the Workshop. It's preferable to restrict other cards that allow the Workshop to stay in the format.

On a final note, I don't believe there's a serious chance the DCI is going to roll the dice on unrestricted Gush for the fourth time at any point in near future. Stare decisis. đŸ˜„

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