North American Eternal Weekend 2017 Metagame Breakdown

@smmenen said in North American Eternal Weekend 2017 Metagame Breakdown:

@arcranedenial said in North American Eternal Weekend 2017 Metagame Breakdown:

Are we really surprised that the inbred blue decks with maindeck 4x misstep, multiple pyroblast and a smattering of other dead cards with no sideboard recourse are losing to shops? I mean let’s call a spade a spade.

If this point had any validity, then neither chalice, lodestone golem nor thorn would've been restricted. The exact same argument was raised & rejected in each case.

My impression is that there are still a lot of non-shops decks that start off with 4 mm 2 pyroblast with more in the board and that seems fine, but very few look like the deck below, which I think doesn't make any sense if shops is the best deck in vintage right now. I think you can't reject the validity of Kurt Crane's argument, because we have never been able to examine if it is true.

If you think his argument isn't valid, please point me to the data that suggests that shops has overcome a dedicated deckbuilding shift like the one Kurt describes. (Interestingly, I don't think you have to cut MM and Pyroblast to be able to include all the good anti-shops cards, again see below).

People continue to not respect shops to the same extent that they respect Blue decks and dredge, despite shops being the single most represented archetype at EW. I understand that, in aggregate blue decks are a larger slice of the pie, however, we don't generally talk about all of them as one archetype, or think about sideboarding for them in aggregate so I think the point still stands.

Decklist: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DM8rMP2VwAAfH47.jpg

I'm fairly new to Vintage, so take what I say with a truck load of salt. But I find it fascinating as a Dredge player to see the difference in how people respond to Dredge doing well, compared to when Shops does well.

When Dredge does well, it's like this 'break the glass, hit the big red button' kind of moment. It cannot be allowed to happen. People bring in everything short of Withered Wretch to deal with us.

When Shops does well, you see people throw up their hands in frustration, and resign themselves to their fate. You don't see a vast increase in Hurkyl's Recall, or Stony Silence, or Fragmentize.

I understand the argument that Sphere, or Thorn can put a hamper on these plans. But you don't see people stop playing Reanimator simply because Deathrite Shaman exists, or people stop playing Storm because Flusterstorm is a thing. They find ways around it, or they power through it. The argument that Sphere effects are a reason to not even try feels similar to the popular 'Dies to Doom Blade' argument.

This past weekend the meta was incredibly hostile towards Dredge, largely because it was touted as the bogeyman of the tournament. People responded to that threat accordingly. I would like to give these same people a chance to respond to this threat of Shops before I start seriously considering a restriction on Workshop.

last edited by Oestrus

@oestrus said in North American Eternal Weekend 2017 Metagame Breakdown:

When Dredge does well, it's like this 'break the glass, hit the big red button' kind of moment. It cannot be allowed to happen. People bring in everything short of Withered Wretch to deal with us.

When Shops does well, you see people throw up their hands in frustration, and resign themselves to their fate. You don't see a vast increase in Hurkyl's Recall, or Stony Silence, or Fragmentize.

This is an interesting way to look at it that seems obvious, but isn't. You vocalized this very well, Erin.

@oestrus said in North American Eternal Weekend 2017 Metagame Breakdown:

When Dredge does well, it's like this 'break the glass, hit the big red button' kind of moment. It cannot be allowed to happen. People bring in everything short of Withered Wretch to deal with us.

First of all I want to say excellent post, well thought out and presents excellent points.

To the point quoted above, there was someone on stream this weekend discussing how they were siding in 12-13 cards against dredge (apologies, I do not recall the name). I think that’s the exact sort of raise the alarm response you’re discussing. I have personally had someone play multiple City in a Bottle against me Game 2 (which I could be wrong but seems super deep in the anti-dredge options especially in multiples at this point) in addition to cages and priest. People are willing to go super deep against the deck and stop at nothing to try and beat it.

As you stated I think a big part of this was the lead up to EW. 1) Dredge was being consistently labeled as the monster in the closet and people were incorrectly hitting the panic button, 2) People, in my opinion, seem to often have an incorrect perception that the percentage of dredge decks is going to go through the roof at EW because it is less expensive to build. To some extent it was as if all the attention was placed on dredge while shops just said, “Oh yea pay attention to those guys, we will just be over here”.

I believe another thing that scares people is they always believe dredge is just going to come out of nowhere and win, it’s the one turn blowout effect that they feel has to be stopped at all costs. Shops does not always have the same effect. But as seen this weekend, that deck can basically beat you in one turn by shutting you down or as Rich Shay showed us can literally just 20 people out of nowhere when they feel like everything will be just fine.

Workshops should not be restricted. It should be built around and prepared for. Find a way to approach it and it will be ok. It is a card that is a vintage staple and in my eyes provides a great challenge for the format.

last edited by Guest

@Oestrus Are you really that surprised that people perceive Dredge in that way? Dredge gets the hate that it does because it's not considered "typical" Magic. It's such a powerful mechanic that Game 1 is often an instant scoop — a turn 1 Bazaar is usually enough to send people to their sideboards. So, yeah, if someone travels cross-country to play Magic, imagine how they feel scooping within 60 seconds.

Then, games 2 and 3 rely on whether or not the opposing player can mulligan into their sideboard cards, which also tend to be game ending for the Dredge player. In any case, it's rarely the "battle of wits" that players envision when they think about Vintage. It's more about chance — will I draw my sideboard, will my Dredge opponent mulligan to 1? In any case, Dredge has plenty of answers in the format, which is why it hovers close to a 50% winrate.

Shops, on the other hand, still feels like a back and forth game with many different decision points; however, people are frustrated because Shops has, arguably, the best set of cards of any archetype. Mana acceleration has largely been restricted, except for Workshop. I'm not saying it should be restricted, but that's why basic Island slingers are begging for a shakeup.

Anyway, people enjoy complaining...WoTC could restrict Shops and we'll still get these kind of threads after EW 2018.

last edited by qq

@qq I believe I was quite clear about the fact that my surprise stems from the difference between how the two archetypes are perceived, rather than just how Dredge is perceived.

Yes and I explained why there's a perception difference between the two. Shops simply has the best set of cards among the different archetypes trying to play standard Magic.

There aren't answers to mana acceleration in the same way that there are answers to graveyard mechanics.

last edited by qq

@qq said in North American Eternal Weekend 2017 Metagame Breakdown:

Shops simply has the best set of cards among the different archetypes trying to play standard Magic.

Have ... have you seen the restricted list? The best cards on there are blue and they're in all blue decks. Shops having the best unrestricted card is an arguable point. Perhaps even Shops having the best unrestricted cards, multiple, could be argued. There's no reason for hyperbole, though.

I think @Oestrus has an amazing point and I would hate to see it dismissed for silly reasons. Dredge and Shops have both been the traditional Vintage fun police, they both have traditionally been "run enough/draw enough sideboard cards and you win" matchups, and both have been proven to have staying power. Why is there such a disparity in attitude between them?

I wonder how much of the "blowout effect" @POXEVERYTURN mentions factors into this. Do blue players not understand the shops matchup? Are they overestimating their preparedness for it due to winning long, grindy, unfavored matches against mediocre opponents? Or is the deck really the purported steamroller everyone is posting about? I am not sure, but it seemed like most of my blue opponents at champs were woefully unprepared. It went as far as one opponent showing me his sideboarding plan and telling me point blank "I netdecked this list and have no idea how it's supposed to beat you with all of these dead cards".

@cutlex That's fair, and let me preface by saying I don't think anything needs to be banned right now either. I did say in my post that I don't think anything should be restricted. I was just replying to the perception factor between Dredge and other archetypes. I am also aware of the restricted list, but shops has it's fair share of restricted cards too (Lodestone, Chalice, Thorn, Trinisphere, Academy).

There's plenty of hyperbole in the "big red button" analogy made for Dredge, and I apologize if my last post sounded too exaggerated — that was not my intention. In my original explanation I said, "people are frustrated because Shops has, arguably, the best set of cards of any archetype," which I do stand by. I digress. Again, I was replying to the question at hand: why there's a perception difference between the two archetypes.

No one is dismissing the points @Oestrus raised. I believe that Dredge is perceived differently, that it receives more negative player-attention than Shops does because of an emotional factor players bring to the table.

Excellent points from everyone.

  1. I thought the tourney would be full of dredge and shops. Even though I was defeated by Kelly on oath last year I decided to specifically build a PO deck to beat dredge and shops.
  2. After extensive testing, I did indeed main board hurkly's recall, chain of vapor, and a ton of shops hate. I went 3-0 vs shops and 1-0 vs dredge but I lost to misstep decks because I took mine out for a better shops game.
  3. I used to argue with folks about nerfing misstep to hurt shops but as I play more I am seeing the logic.
  4. I decided to stop packing so much dredge hate in the future. Instead I'm going to go all in and just race them which should open more sideboard slots for oath and shops.

I think most folks play so little vintage that the good players have an enormous advantage. Understanding the key cards in matchups can propel most any deck deep into the tourney.
I will say that I played a lot of capable players this year. The meta felt fine and I think that there are viable options for decks other than dredge, oath, PO, and shops that can win but you do need to be prepared to play all of these decks.

I think the problem with restrict misstep so people will be able to play better cards against shops, is that people won't replace misstep with abrade/fragmentize/swords etc, they will probably replace them with spell pierce, or more pyroblasts, and still lose the same way to shops and dredge.

That all aside, isn't this the kind of meta people talk about liking. Everything has things it beats and things that beat it. If there was one thing that couldn't be beaten that would be a problem, but that isn't where we are.

@qq said in North American Eternal Weekend 2017 Metagame Breakdown:

I believe that Dredge is perceived differently, that it receives more negative player-attention than Shops does because of an emotional factor players bring to the table.

Only in some ways, though. No one is seriously advocating restricting any cards from that deck. Lose to Dredge? Run more sideboard cards. Lose to Shops? It isn't my fault. Is the difference simply an inferiority complex? It seems like a feed-back loop: run a deck that's awful against Shops, get a Shop card restricted, run a deck that's even worse against Shops.

I wonder how much of this has to do with the tempo shift in the archetype. Dredge is a known quantity in that if you let them do their thing then you are going to get overrun by graveyard cards, in a similar form of how the deck has worked for the last ten years. Shops used to lock you out of the game; now it just Time Walks you into oblivion.

@garbageaggro said in North American Eternal Weekend 2017 Metagame Breakdown:

I think the problem with restrict misstep so people will be able to play better cards against shops, is that people won't replace misstep with abrade/fragmentize/swords etc, they will probably replace them with spell pierce, or more pyroblasts, and still lose the same way to shops and dredge.

That all aside, isn't this the kind of meta people talk about liking. Everything has things it beats and things that beat it. If there was one thing that couldn't be beaten that would be a problem, but that isn't where we are.

Discussions like these often tend to be muddled, but the clearest arguments in favor of restricting Mental Misstep should stand on their own merits, and have little to do with forcing blue players to change their decks in the face of recent Workshop performances (these changes should come anyway as part of metagaming and adapting your deck). Misstep is arguably a problem because of the lack of diversity it creates in the metagame as a whole, and all of the other things it pushes out of the metagame. This is essentially the argument that applied to the Legacy banning of Misstep, and there's a reason it only resides in Vintage currently. Whether or not that it will continue to exist as a 4-of or a 1-of is an open question, and there will be real consequences either way.

We will be publishing ALL decklists from NA Vintage Champs later today as a downloadable PDF file on EC, and I can tell you from reviewing them line by line for two days that almost all of the non-Workshop Aggro decks are just flat out mis-built for this metagame. A lot of people are misjudging how to combat the current iterations of Workshops, and others are thinking that because they dedicate a card or two like Abrade main deck that's going to get it done (spoiler: it's fucking not). There's going to be a lot of hot takes over the next couple of weeks in regards to banning artifacts and/or Mishra's Workshop, and I suspect nearly all of them are wrong. I'll have more to say on this later, if I have time to get a Champs review article up. Need to finish publishing the Old School report and all Legacy Champs decklists, and then have time to reflect more on Vintage.

@jaco I am really looking forward to your write-up.

@jaco said in North American Eternal Weekend 2017 Metagame Breakdown:

I can tell you from reviewing them line by line for two days that almost all of the non-Workshop Aggro decks are just flat out mis-built for this metagame. A lot of people are misjudging how to combat the current iterations of Workshops, and others are thinking that because they dedicate a card or two like Abrade main deck that's going to get it done (spoiler: it's fucking not).

I think maybe one of the best pieces of information in the expertly compiled graphs above, and perhaps the most telling, is the Win% graph that reveals the highest percentage wins vs shops are Oath (the little engine that could!) and Big Blue, despite their overall representation at the event. The fact that Oath so drastically smashed big blue in those few matchups, and that Big Blue was the "next best hope" against Workshop, yielded perhaps a less surprising top 8 than posts here could allude?

I'm strictly a layman, but, it seems that this data might suggest that as Workshop vs Big Blue is the original vintage grudge match, it isn't surprising that decks that rely on techier, fairer and more nimble lines don't fare as well. This data might suggest that the decks that bring the most broken, bonkers answers, with a more robust mana base are the ones that do the best against shops, which itself originally (I mean, say what you want about modern Shops, but raise your bricked, uselss hand if you ever played against 4x Trinisphere) is a broken, bonkers answer to longstanding problems with Blue. I could be Totally offbase though, so feel free to school me on this. The decklists will be very cool to see.

I think it's noteworthy that there were 76 matches where shops played against Xerox, a recently-nerfed strategy that Shops players have been tuning to beat for a year, getting faster and more aggressive, Shops won 44 of those matches. Not terribly surprising maybe? Did Xerox players simply have a lot more confidence that they had the gas? Others implied here that perhaps they didn't take workshop seriously.

By contrast there were 9 Shops vs Big Blue matches, so maybe the results aren't as statistically relevant (math folk, help!), but if shops were expected to dominate, maindeck Dack Fayden, tinker, Will and Key/Vault all seem to be relevant answers. Yet Thieves and its pals tend to be seen as more marginal strategies.

I will say to @Oestrus 's point that I feel like people handle workshop and dredge differently for psychological reasons mentioned here and in other threads long past. Running into Dredge may suck, but then there is SOME fun in playing the cat and mouse game. Did I pack enough hate? Will there be a transformational sideboard? What is their win condition? Can I stop it? Do I Turn 1 Twister if they mull to 3? Etc. It's like there is a morbid satisfaction in defeating a Dredge player, as if you are righting a wrong in the universe where someone is trying to break the game with loopholes, and you, player of post-board Leyline have set things aright.

For a blue player, a turn one Bazzaar is an eyerolling Well-here-we-go!

A resolved turn one thorn/sphere/chalice/golem can feel backbreaking. "Workshop isn't trying to break the game. It IS the game. You'll never play a spell again, peasant! By the end of this match, 5 Color Stax will seem like a dream of heaven!"

Rather than declaring that the majority of vintage players are dredge-hating, shops-not-respecting, derpstep-loving, hyphen-overusing, netdecking troglodytes, let's do some analysis.

I'm going to make the bold assumption that I intelligently craft a deck with the intent of maximizing my overall winrate. To simplify the discussion let's say there are 3 archetypes: Blue (B), Dredge (D), and Shops (S). My expected winrate is then (ignoring subtleties) the dot product of the % of each archetype at the tournament times my winrate against that archetype. That is, OverallWinrate = Meta_B*Win_B+Meta_D*Win_D+Meta_S*Win_S.

I'm going to construct a deck the way I suspect most people who have time to test do: choose a decklist from an archetype and fiddle with it to try and maximize my winrate. I'm going to be a blue player for this.

Observation #1: Meta_B is way bigger than the other two. This means that even if adding a 4th misstep causes Win_B to go up just a little bit and I incur a slight hit to Win_S (how this affects Win_D is less clear), I've still likely increased OverallWinrate.

Observation #2: Changing Win_D significantly can increase OverallWinrate, even if Meta_D is relatively small. There are cards I can add to my sideboard that are very good against dredge (RIP, Crypt, etc.). Let's say I am deciding on the last sideboard slot. Shops was 17% of the meta and dredge was 10%. I can either add a card that is solid but not gamebreaking against shops, or I can add the 2nd RIP to increase my dredge winrate significantly. I don't run lots of dredge hate because I hate dredge, I run it because it has a significant return for the investment. If I expect some incredibly low dredge %, like the low single digit percent it was on MTGO for months, this analysis changes and I skimp on some dredge hate.

So why has shops been the dominant deck for years? It's because Meta_S is consistently "smaller than it should be" and I don't have the same sort of haymakers I can put in the sideboard as I do against dredge. The closest thing to RIP against shops is Oath of Druids, and that's not a card I add as a 2 of in the sideboard of my Xerox deck.

I shouldn't be messing with missteps at all; I should be jamming workshops. I didn't decide to run 4 missteps because I don't respect shops; I ran them because I wanted to play blue and maximize my winrate given that affinity.

last edited by diophan

@oestrus Here is your grain of salt - people really do not change their SBs dramatically when dredge is winning. On average, they play 1 to 2 additional pieces of hate, with many people just net decking previous lists with no changes. Your success in the Challenge and Glackin's success at EE7 was largely due to variance combined with a new transformational SB which players ultimately adjusted too. The truth is Dredge is much more of a glass cannon than Workshops - the hate is infinitely more effective and that leads to skewed game states and inaccurate perceptions of the metagame.

Edit: Not trying to discount player skill, but that is a constant. You were the same player when you won the challenge as when you went 2-4 the following week.

Edit2: And dredges win rate at champs was actually higher than it was last year (48.7% to 47.1%)

last edited by Guest

Our NA Vintage Champs 2017 coverage post is up here:
http://www.eternalcentral.com/vintagechamps2017/

Incorporates Matt & Ryan's metagame breakdown above, as well as including ALL decklists in a single downloadable PDF (alphabetical by last name, with bookmarks by last name letter) and we'll be updating that page with more infographics, links to reports, and the YouTube playlist embed as it all becomes available. As WotC has chosen to continually ignore official coverage of Vintage and Legacy Champs, we'll try to make the page above the central repository for archival purposes of NA Vintage Champs 2017 (fully matching Legacy coverage coming soon, as soon as the decklists arrive in the mail). Stay tuned for further updates.

@diophan I came across something that might also be relevant to what you're saying here in relation to the paper meta while I was doing some arithmetic on the number of copies of cards that have been printed. I found that if every player who owned a play set of Mishra's Workshop played their play set of Mishra's Workshop it would still only be 32% of the metagame at most simply because the number of Mishra's Workshops that have been printed should prevent it from exceeding that share of the round one meta.

last edited by Aaron Patten

@aaron-patten said in North American Eternal Weekend 2017 Metagame Breakdown:

@diophan I came across something that might also be relevant to what you're saying here in relation to the paper meta while I was doing some arithmetic on the number of copies of cards that have been printed. I found that if every player who owned a play set of Mishra's Workshop played their play set of Mishra's Workshop it would still only be 32% of the metagame at most simply because the number of Mishra's Workshops that have been printed should prevent it from exceeding that share of the round one meta.

Can you elaborate on this a little further? The most conservative estimate I've seen on the number of Workshops is ~6700 (no clue how accurate this is). Obviously a ton of those are sitting in binders, lost forever, or isolated from playsets. I'm curious how you got to your 32%. Not challenging you, but it's an interesting premise, so love to see more detail on your thoughts.

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