I have been listening to the Leaving a Legacy and several of the guests say that the paper meta and MTGO meta are very different. I have been looking at the Vintage tournament results and the number of paper events is very small and most have 20 or less in attendance. Is MTGO the Vintage meta-game?
This question is very interesting because to play in a non-proxy event you must own a very expensive deck and that limits your options. But, players like me with a huge collection can often play whatever they want. Does this change how the paper game is played versus the MTGO game at non-proxy events?
On the other hand, if there is a proxy event then players can play whatever they want. Do they pick the “best” deck or the most fun deck. I often see players who are not regulars in Vintage play either the most “busted” deck (fast, and fun) or what they think is the best deck (Shops, Xerox, PO, etc…).
I have a very difficult relationship with MTGO and I took a break from MTGO recently. There is a big part of me that only wants to play on MTGO in very small increments. There is another part of me that just loves the game and I want to play whenever I can. The split in the meta game is making it hard for me to decide what medium to play and how to play it for actual enjoyment.
I bought into MTGO but I hate buying new cards for it. I love buying paper cards, and I just bought more cards. This paradox is hard for me, because I want to play several decks with a mix of having fun and being competitive.
The other issue that is bothering me, is that I unable to play in the Vintage challenges. With scheduling and kids, I just cannot give up a Saturday to play. This bothers for 2 reasons. First off, if I could I would much rather play with friends or find a paper event somewhere even it was Modern or Legacy. I just do not enjoy playing on MTGO very much. Secondly, MTGO and the challenges is how the format is being evaluated. This is a problem because it is missing so many players like me. Players that are very committed to the game and own paper cards to actually play in paper events.
The interesting thing about all of this to me is that Legacy appears to be evolving in a way that maximizes the card pool. Players are playing less dual lands and more cards that not on the reserved list. While Vintage players often see the format as the restricted list, it is one of the biggest draws to play Vintage.
I think having a healthy paper meta is very important. Has Vintage lost it’s paper meta-game? The digital meta thrives on the assumption that everyone has all of the cards so the innovations are centered on restricted and/or expensive cards. Paper players in non-proxy formats innovate to either hunt the broken cards or play the broken cards. This split pushes innovation further in my opinion because it adds more playable decks into the Vintage meta.
Examples are the Humans decks and Eldrazi decks. These decks are played online but they all run power. At Eternal Weekend, you will see unpowered Eldrazi and unpowered Humans or Hatebear decks. These decks are not bad just not great. My point here is that when we measure the format from MTGO we get Thorn restricted over Sphere. I would argue that Chalice may need to come off the list to help unpowered decks but that goes down the B&R rabbit hole.
If Vintage is a MTGO or digital format then I guess this is all fine. Eventually, Black Lotus and moxes will cost so much that no one will shuffle them anymore. But, if Vintage is going to be a format beyond a computer screen then the innovations that will need to happen to keep it going need to happen in paper and we need a larger paper community.