I have been searching for the reason why so many feel that the Vintage meta-game is bad and I think I found my answer - contempt.

This is a loaded term and I am not going to get into all of the facets of what it means but I have found that while playing I feel contempt for certain deck arch-types especially if I lose to them. I get this feeling like the pilot of the deck did not need to do any work or put any thought into their deck because the deck is unfair and those games feel invalid or dumb.

I know when I play against Shops they can have busted hands that can be so good that no number of counterspells or removal will get you there. I also know that sometimes a Paradoxical Outcome can land and just end the game when you feel that you played perfectly against it. I know that a Xerox style deck playing with incremental gains feels sneaky and I just feel cheated sometimes if I lose to it. Dredge matches feel like a coin flip, where if I can just find that hate card and pull ahead then, it does not matter how well they play because my deck is better.

All of these feelings focus on our current meta-game. Many of these decks have been around for a very long time and they have become memes to some extent. These decks are good and they are broken and they define our meta-game and most of us hate these decks.

This contempt is causing a backlash and it is emotional. The very existence of the survival deck is a fight against this contempt. Oath has waxed and waned due to contempt for that style of deck. We look for hate cards to even out the meta-game but there are enough hate cards and there is enough knowledge of the format to know that all of these decks are beatable and they are all broken otherwise, they would not exist.

I wish other decks were better in the meta-game like Storm, Eldrazi, and Fish but even if they were better we would still feel the contempt against the best decks because they are just so dominate and they actually represent not just our meta-game but our history.

last edited by moorebrother1

@moorebrother1 You use terms as "most of us" rather vaguely without any tangibIe evidence. I know it seems that many long time players are not satisfied at the moment. I do wonder, however, if there has ever been a metagame in vintage that people playing at that particular time were happy with (having fond memories now is not the same thing). The format is the most boken of all and I think these discussions are just part of that brokenness.

Honestly, I really don't feel that much contempt for any particular deck because again, Vintage is presupposed by an interest in and in some cases a masochistic tolerance for playing in an environment where these strategies can blossom.

It's nice when a deck like Survival takes advantage of existing metagame conditions and a synergy of new printings to create a viable strategy. It seems like it's not contempt for a metagame, but ingenuity that preys on existing decks that don't have solved answers for the threats in a new deck.

"A deck/strategy that I like has difficulty winning against a certain battery of other decks/strategies" seems to be a fairly par for the course complaint in every format.

@moorebrother1 I think there is a simpler explanation that people haven’t come to yet- it’s the dichotomy between old players and new players. For old players Vintage is their last refuge of how things used to be (before 93/94 came around anyways). Prison strategies, counterspells, combo decks. Things you couldn’t do in other formats, the ones that had “devolved” into creature battles and planeswalker team-ups. Now even vintage is under that attack. Shops is closer to modern Robots than the old prison decks. Survival is basically an aggro deck as well. Even the counterspells decks win with planeswalker team-ups these days. It feels more and more like modern, now with power to these old players. (Plus they’ve been playing forever and the format doesn’t change that much aside from restrictions, so of course they feel bored).

New players, who largely get in via MtGO, probably feel the opposite. Here is a format that doesn’t often incentivize the skills that make them good at other formats. Combat math is almost irrelevant to most decks. Using mana efficiently isn’t as important as maximizing power/flexibility (depending on your deck choice). Landing a planeswalker on an empty board is no guarantee of victory. In fact, depending on your situation, you may be better off holding it in your hand to represent something else!

I just don’t think our favorite format is capable of being anything other than niche because it doesn’t reach very many players where they are. I don’t think it has to do with the meta game, though that is probably what name people put on their dissatisfaction, so much as it does with the inherent nature of this format.

A lot of us in this format work technology, and one of the constant themes in that field is that it will change and change quickly. I feel like Vintage dodged rapid changes and instead changed slowly until Khans was printed. Then, there was a huge shift into what we have now.

I get the old player feeling, I often try to build decks I liked from the past and they do not work. I also love new cards, I am not one of those people that cannot see new tech and integrate it.

The old versus new player does explain some of the contempt I see from my friends about the format but why aren't more new players funneling into the format. Am I just not seeing it? It just feels like the format is shrinking.

@moorebrother1 because it doesn’t feel like the MtG they know. The skills they honed playing Standard/Modern/Limited don’t apply to Vintage. In some ways they actually hold you back. That, and the format is completely inaccessible in paper for a new/younger player.

I think a lot of it has to do with the high cost. For a lot of the older players they own the cards in paper, and I think they tend to judge the meta from paper because they do not have time to play MTGO as the new players, and they have always thought of the meta in paper so they continue to think of it that way. I know that if I had the time and money to play either MTGO or paper I would, and would brew like crazy. I always have at least three deck ideas that I think can work but I have no way to test/play any of them because I do not own the cards and being a broke high-school student I cannot afford MTGO, nor would I have much time to play. I recently spent roughly $200 on a paper dredge deck so that I could play at the monthly vintage tournament at Eudo because it is the cheapest option, and the only one I can afford. I know that this means I will probably not be able to change decks for a awhile but it is worth it to me to be able play. Vintage has enamored me since I found out about it but it is supremely frustrating for me to only be able to watch when I feel like I could contribute, if only a little bit. Sorry for ranting.

"why so many feel that the Vintage meta-game is bad". It's easy to get that feeling when reading vintage related posts on the internet. But it's just that the internet is for whining. Everywhere, all the time, whine whine.
One of the reasons I love the so many insane plays podcast is that they are so full of enthusiasm, like all the time. Enthusiasm is rare on the internet and it's very easy to be shot down when trying to be enthusiastic about something.
If you don't like current vintage, take a break and come back some months later, play legacy or old-school. Try playing the decks you feel contempt for. Do something. Hell, even talk about in one thread someone else started. Don't create a new thread with the same whine. It's poisonous.
Enthusiasm > whine.

Well guess I wrote a whole post and ending up with whining about whining.

I was going to do a long post, but JosefK's seems pretty spot on to me.

Sometimes I see myself being salty (internally, because I think it's extreme unpolite to complain to your enemies due to variance), and when I start getting salty I just go back to other formats I'm more excited about at the moment, because saltiness is like quicksand. The more salty you get, the worse you play, and the saltier you get. And when I switch formats (usually only deck doesn't make the cut) it's kind of a brand new start. And that works pretty well for me. Sometimes I go through several formats until I settle for some time somewhere. And I think sometimes people forget that saltiness is bad for everyone, and that when you get like that, you have to do something about it. Because it's just plain stupidity to not avoid saltiness.

@josefk I am trying not to "whine" or "complain". Anyone who has read my posts knows that I complain about Challenge results and how they are used but that is for another time. I want to flush out and discuss the sentiment that I am seeing first hand in my local Vintage community.

I am very excited about Vintage and anyone who knows me, will know that I carry about 4 to 8 Vintage decks. I am always brewing and I love both old and new cards.

I am also "old" by Magic standards and a lot of people play Magic to get together with friends and have fun socially. If we lose the social part, do we still have a community?

I won't be posting anymore of these community questions for awhile but I am seeing something happen. The internet is also good at helping people understand what is happening around them and this site has really helped me understand what is happening to the Vintage community around me.

last edited by moorebrother1

I don't blame WotC for having difficulty in promoting deck diversity. There are so many cards available in the game, and there will be many more cards that will be printed that will have unforeseen and busted synergies with preexisting cards that lead to a select few decks dominating the games. A possible solution for players that want to play certain decks without being destroyed by 'meme' decks every match would be to limit the card pool to specific cards. Most formats do this already, as you know, but Vintage doesn't work this way since most cards will be restricted at worst. If you want to nurture that 'old Vintage' feel, you and enough people will have to make a B&R list, and a time frame to delimit sets that are legal or not legal, that you all feel are appropriate.

Chances are many of the old cards in Vintage decks will eventually become replaced with newer cards. New archetypes will supersede old ones.

@nower1990 I do not think the issue is that new cards replace old cards. Most of the new cards are crap in Vintage. The issue is that mistakes that Wizards make in some card printings live forever in Vintage. Mental Misstep, Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time are banned in all other formats. Mishra's Workshop and Bazaar of Baghdad are banned in Legacy. Looking at all of the one of's that linger make it so that the mix of cards is high variance but super broken.

The Tolarian Academy broke standard way worse that the delve spells did and almost killed Standard. That card is ridiculous and should not just be restricted, it should be banned.

We do not ban cards in Vintage, they just linger and the effect of that is corrosive. If the delve spells were banned the Blue Stew would be much harder to pull off.

I am not trying to argue that we start banning cards, but we never discuss the impact of cards aside from just restriction. This is not a B&R thread but the contempt that I am talking about is felt by the long life that these mistakes have in Vintage.

last edited by moorebrother1

@moorebrother1 We are essentially saying the same thing on the impact of new cards on Vintage. But why should we ban cards other than the ones that go against what are largely accepted as the most basic aspects of the game, such as those that use the ante mechanic? Using redundancy among different singleton cards is one of the appeals of the format in my opinion. With so many powerful cards available, the interactions between cards make possible, and necessitate (if you want the optimal version of the deck), subtle deck-tuning that you don't usually find in other formats. Having a single copy or two of a card in a Vintage deck can affect how the deck pilots much more than in Modern, for example.

I don't want vintage to become a one-of format like EDH. I think the availability of efficient unrestricted cards would prevent gravitation toward such a meta, anyway. Having impactful singleton cards in the nooks and crannies of the deck alongside the most efficient unrestricted cards printed in the game's lifespan allows the player to explore both the obvious lines and the more intricate plays that nevertheless are usually reliable.

I'm wondering why you want Vintage to start banning cards when there are other formats that have been made, and can be made, that only use cards from older sets.

I love Vintage - and I have massive contempt for the format. My contempt doesn't come from the brokenness of decks. I wasn't even feeling contempt when turn 1 Workshop-> Trinisphere (a.k.a. have FoW or you lose) was common. Granted, I was the one casting trini off workshops, but I digress 😉 .
I feel contempt for 2 reasons. One - I hate blue. I find the overwhelming number of cheap/free counterspells to be discouraging to play against. It's like playing against a shops lock, but it doesn't matter if you are on the play or draw because they have their lock for free on turn 0. I am also bitter that blue has had the most broken spells since the beginning and it continued through Urza's block. Not until afterward did they start balancing the color wheel. Just consider the 1 mana for +3 cycle. Ritual, bolt, healing salve, giant growth, ANCESTRAL FUCKIN RECALL. Counterspells are also the ONLY answer to every spell, permanent or stack. Every color has permanent removal, but only blue can reactively stop spells. Blue also has bounce to remove ANY permanent without restriction. It's just an absurdly unbalanced color.
My second reason for contempt is more for the player base. The people are cool as far as being people. They are shitty for clutching on to the blue vs shops vs dredge triangle that's been vintage since ravnica. Humans is a nice innovation and I love the new survival list. I actually run Dark Depths myself because it is universally deemed fragile and slow - and I love to prove that wrong. I like when people innovate and I like a wealth of different, viable decks (thus why I love Modern now). I can't stand when people take a deck off the internet, swap 4 cards, then add their name to it like they invented the list. Further, most people won't even try to come up with anything new because they figure someone else already made the best deck, so they'll just netdeck it and win without needing to be innovative at all. Most people copy an exact 75, and it is sickening to me. I hate it even more when people take a netdeck, change 2 cards and rename it as if it's their own invention. That's like me taking a stock 60 merfolk deck, swapping 2 silvergils for 2 merfolk tricksters and calling it Miller Merfolk...or taking Huckleberry Finn, rewriting page 67 and saying I wrote the great-American novel with my name on the cover. Magic plagerism, I consider it. Awful (if my contempt didn't come across enough).

I actually think this is all completely off.
The idea that the format is stale (IMHO) is coming from a place of optimism and want for improvement. Not contempt. Vintage would be horrible if it was the same 4 decks getting passed around. People wan't to innovate!
There has to be a reason to do that.

last edited by John Cox

@john-cox I think it's both. I have great optimism (especially as new cards are printed) that new decks and archetypes can become great in Vintage - not just viable. But there is also contempt - in the reluctance of many to try an innovate as opposed to thinking "if it wasn't made/played in the VSL, it CAN'T be viable."

@rat3de hit me up at some point, and I can bring you in something else...

@rat3de If you bought a paper dredge deck for $200, you have to tell me where you are buying your cards. I'd take that deal in a heartbeat.

Contempt is pretty strong. More indifference from me right now. I share some of the same views made above.

I do feel like vintage has been muddled with the other formats. Many vintage decks are essentially just modern/legacy decks with power. It was not that long ago when vintage decks did not look like decks from any other format.

I don't like a lot of the cards printed recently, especially G.probe, Dig, and Mental Misstep.

Misstep greatly limits my ability to brew which is part of what fuels my fun in an environment.

I don't hate blue, but I do dislike that WOTC gave up on the balancing aspect of blue which was supposed to be poor creatures. Instead, blue has the highest percentage of best creatures among the elite creatures (Delver, Snapcaster, True-name, V.Clique all make my top ten list for best creatures).

Mostly though I am just not that interested in the competitive decks at the moment. I would love for something to shake up the environment in a different way. While PO is fairly new, all it really did was replace storm in the meta so it feels similar. Hollow One just made Dredge competitive again but it's essentially the same deck. I want something that shakes the format up a bit but is not so broken that it's just a short term meta that will be fixed via B&R. I'm not sure what that would take. I think the most obvious way to do this is drastic changes to the current B&R either with a lot of removals or additions, or with some rules changes (like banning instead of restricting) These are very controversial and would bring a bunch of discord. Eventually the meta will shift. It always does and when it does, I'll play more vintage.

@Thewhitedragon69 My LGS allows up to 15 proxies for vintage so all the expensive stuff like Bazaar of Baghdad and Force of Will are proxies. I posted the list in the strategy section and I could update it to show proxies if you would like.

@rbartlet I really appreciate the offer, but I would like to just try the deck right now and play vintage as it will be my first time, and I will be making many rookie mistakes since I get really nervous while playing with adults. If you are going to the tournament this weekend it would be a pleasure to meet you, and I may very well take up the offer at another point in time if I feel the need. I think it is very kind and generous of you to do this and I would just like to say thank you.

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