I have some comments about the Vintage portion of the podcast. First off, I want to say that it's great that people who don't know anything about Vintage are willing to turn their attention to the format. That is one definite boon that the VSL gives us. With that out of the way, I'll talk about some things that I feel weren't discussed enough on the Lodestone restriction.
I find it unfortunate that the hosts of the podcast pushed so hard to denounce the Lodestone controversy as the grumblings of players that always occurs. While players always do grumble about stuff, there are a few key points that make this controversy a bit different. Many people don't even mind that Lodestone Golem was restricted in terms of the impact on game play that they expect it to have, although that is certainly no small part of the issue. In my view, the bigger issue is how the restriction came to be, or at least the community's perception of that.
The hosts of the podcast seemed to have an underlying assumption that the DCI is more capable of making judgment calls on the format than players are, but one of the core issues is that the Vintage community genuinely questions whether the DCI really does have that capability. I'm not surprised the hosts feel this way because they come from a background where Wizards has a lot of support for the formats that they play. Wizards doesn't support Vintage in the same way.
The community perceives that the restriction of Lodestone Golem mostly happened because of the VSL. Certain players from the VSL complained constantly about the power of Workshops, and in short order, we've had Chalice AND Lodestone Golem restricted. One of the hosts pointed out that the DCI hasn't done much to the restricted list in the last 5 years, but he neglected to realize that a huge flurry of action has been ongoing since the start of the VSL. Some prominent members of the community have pointed out that Wizards has more incentive to cater to the VSL than the community because the VSL offers a unique opportunity to make money off of Vintage, something they normally cannot do. Wizards has special interest in making sure the prominent VSL members don't complain too much about game balance and unfun games because it make them look bad. We all know that Wizards is a company and the job of a company is to make money. The concerns of the Vintage community won't make money, but the VSL will.
Now, let's briefly talk about data. I feel the data in this podcast was a bit misrepresented. Wizards mentioned in the restriction announcement that Shops was an "overwhelming" portion of the metagame, and it was assumed in the podcast by all that it was the #1 deck of the metagame. That isn't even true. In paper data, Shops is only at about 20% of the metagame, behind Mentor. Gush consistently outperforms Shops, and only online tells a different story. One of the hosts was quick to dismiss paper data because he perceived that it represented a smaller portion of the metagame. Online technically has more events than paper, but this is hugely misleading. The vast majority of events online are very small, and the same players play in a comparatively huge number of events. A single person online can represent 3% of the metagame by himself if he performs well. This is not possible at all in paper. The number of players who play in paper greatly eclipses the number of players who play online, so throwing out paper data is unacceptable.
All in all, I hope Wizards doesn't keep acting hastily to adjust our format, but nobody can deny that there is some very real substance to the idea that the Vintage community might be powerless to influence what is coming.