I'm gonna propose a wildly interesting idea here and ask folks to make their own B/R list from the ground up. I want to lay a couple ground rules.
No slamming someone's list out of the blue. I want to here well-defended positions from both the proposer and the responder.
If you have a B/R list I want to see you defend the cards that SHOULD be on it.
This is a ground up approach so we start from the assumption that nothing should be restricted and add cards to it with defense for each card. Don't take for granted that a card should or should not be on the list.
Have fun with this! This should be an interesting thought experiment.
Ok, without further adieu, here's my crack at it:
1. Ancestral Recall - This card was printed during a period of time when drawing 3 cards was not as devastating as it now is and when the idea of "Card Advantage" was less understood/abused in the tournament environment. Magic was a table-top card game that had few moving parts and Ancestral was part of a natural cycle of five cards that all did something in the amount of 3. These cards were: Healing Salve (gain 3 life or prevent 3 damage), Ancestral Recall (target player draws 3 cards), Dark Ritual (3 black mana added to pool), Lightning Bolt (3 damage to any target), Giant Growth (+3/+3 to any creature). Now it is clear to the magic community that Ancestral is light years past the power level of the other 4 cards but Ritual and Bolt have seen Vintage play so they are clearly not bad cards. Once the power level of the cards in magic increased it became clear that 4x Recall decks would be absurd and lead to an almost entirely blue-mirror format that relied heavily on the die roll. This is an unacceptable meta-game to create for any format and so Ancestral Recall is restricted. It is likely to stay in the hall of restriction for all time.
2. Balance - Folks have argued for this card’s unrestriction, but I would point to the fact that this card as a 4-of would all but seal the fate for creatures in the format. That is my primary reason for advocating it’s continued restriction, but I have another very good secondary reason. This card is unrestricted Mind Twist for 1W if placed in the correct deck. Mind Twist already earned itself restriction many years ago and that sort of effect is clearly hated by Vintage players. This card as a 4-of would put Mind Twist to shame. Do we really want a format where whoever got to drop his/her moxen first also has access to a discard 3 for 1W? I think that would be a pretty un-fun format and I would get bored with it pretty darn fast.
3. Black Lotus - If it is unclear to folks why this card should ALWAYS stay restricted I’m not sure you should be playing magic. Being able to jump start your game to turn 3 or 4 on a consistent basis would turn the Vintage format into a derp turn 1 format where you are always 50% to win and 50% to lose based on whether you know how to flip a coin better than your opponent.
4. Brainstorm - It pains me to say I want to keep this card restricted because I don’t think it is really THAT unfair and it certainly creates interesting lines of play when combined with shuffle effects. What I don’t like about Brainstorm is that it has the side effect of really homogenizing blue decks and makes it too easy to “just always have the force.” When combined with another blue draw engine of any potency Brainstorm basically reads “always have infinite forces no matter the point in the game you are at.” People think it’s un-fun to never get to cast a spell due to sphere lock? How about a game where you know you are running into a force of will wall and have literally no chance to dig out of it. Both seem equally miserable to me and that is why brainstorm should stay restricted.
5. Demonic Tutor - This is simply the best tutor ever printed and the fact that you can chain it with dark rituals means that it can get out of hand on turn 1 too fast. The fact that DT can always find you Black Lotus and net you a mana makes it an exceptionally powerful swiss army knife. Dark Petition is rearing its ugly head as a pseudo Demonic Tutor, but that card at least requires some set-up and conditionality to work as DT does without any of that effort. DT is just an insane mistake on the part of R & D and definitely deserves its spot on the restricted list.
6. Dig Through Time - With all the filter that exists in Vintage today, Dig through time just can’t remain unrestricted. Often it reads “Demonic Tutor myself twice for UU.” Sure it isn’t ACTUALLY Demonic Tutor, but it also is blue (always a plus in Vintage) and, in a carefully built list, finds you interchangeably powerful cards most of the time. I find this card extremely scary because of its utility in finding silver bullets and combinations of 2 cards that answer most game states against most decks. I would actually put this card above Treasure Cruise in power level and I’ll explain why when I get to Cruise.
7. Fastbond - As long as Gush remains unrestricted I don’t think it is safe to call for an unrestriction of this card. Fastbond leads to crazy wins with Gush and not having to tutor for the card would potentially make a degenerate and consistent Gush deck that might take over the format. I don’t even what to imagine what 4 F-Bond Gush Sylvan Mentor might look like (ewwwww). That said, if Gush were restricted, it’s possible that 4 F-Bond could be a thing and not break the format. I’d have to wait and see if the Gush restriction ever happens though. For now, no way jose.
8. Imperial Seal - Despite being sorcery speed, I think this card needs to stay restricted due Time Vault/Key combo being a thing. Being able to assemble that combo with devastating consistency by around turn 3 would give a lot of decks that need time to develop a really hard time. I think unrestricted Imperial Seal would lead to too many deterministic wins that would reduce variance in the format and nullify a lot of playskill.
9. Library of Alexandria - Unrestricted Ancestral Recall is unacceptable right? Well this card can put Recall to shame in the long game. You can also stack the triggers and get 2 draws out of 2 Libraries. Heeeeelllll no. I’d like to see a format not based on having 15 cards in my hand at all times thank you very much.
10. Lion’s Eye Diamond - Some of the interactions that got this card restricted are no longer in existence, but I do think the ability to Petition and hold priority while sacrificing LED is probably too powerful and consistent to be fair (especially when this can lead to a lot Mind’s Desires for 5+). It is a high risk play vs. FoW decks, but often TPS can mitigate that uncertainty by running gitaxian probe and discard spells. This would also potential put Belcher over the top and make it too strong in the format. Lotus with conditions is still too good in my opinion.
11. Lodestone Golem - I think this guy should stay on the list for now because either Golem or Chalice probably needed to go to keep the shop menace under control and I’m more for getting rid of Golem than Chalice. I think Chalice did great things for allowing the existence and competitive edge to decks like hatebears, merfolk, the answer, christmas beatings, and many others. Chalice diversified the format and it gave shops a tool to fight the combo decks that was very potent. Golem + Chalice was such a strong opener and I acknowledge player frustration over that seemingly uninteractive and deterministic line of play. I think Chalice without Golem would diversify design and make for two fantastic shop decks that would seek to do totally different things. Those decks would be Stax Prison, and Shop Aggro. Both could support 4 Chalice but would have a very different end game. Lodestone homogenized shops in a way that few other artifacts ever have and so, for the same reason as Brainstorm, I think its restriction was warranted. If there was ever a card printed that really hated on 4x Lodestone shops but NOT other shop builds then perhaps Golem could come off the list, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.
12. Mana Crypt - 2 Free mana would lead to way too many turn 1 kills using cards like Tinker, Belcher, Time Vault, and many many others. The fact that turn 1 can be simply a set-up for a turn 2 kill is also no bueno for the format. This guy stays restricted for that reason.
13. Mana Vault - See Mana Crypt
14. Merchant Scroll - This card funnels way too easily to Gush and Ancestral Recall. The fact that you can just start chaining Gushes is what makes this card too good in my opinion. I also want to leave this card restricted because I’d like to take Flash OFF the list and this card works way too well with Flash.
15. Mind’s Desire - Desiring into Desire is just the epitome of the dumb derps. Such lines of play completely circumvent Force of Will and basically win through any uncontested game-state. This card gets out of hand too fast and is too hard to interact with to be unrestricted. It is also blue so ya know.
16., 17. Mox Sapphire, Mox Jet - These two moxen are clearly too powerful for Vintage because they power out the two most broken colors in Vintage and allow for skipped land drops that hang around for the rest of the game. At times they can even be strong than Black Lotus due to their reusability.
18., 19., 20. Mox Emerald, Mox Ruby, Mox Pearl - It’s less clear that these should be restricted, but they cause too many crazy turn 1s from combo decks when allowed to exist in multiples. The five we are allowed in total already borders on broken and allows for a pretty consistent turn 1 mox but at least it isn’t deterministic and at least you can get the wrong color for the situation. +1 colorless mana on turn 1 is pretty busted, but +2 consistently would go too far in my view. For this reason, all moxen are to stay restricted.
21. Mystical Tutor - The toolbox for this card is no less powerful now than it was years ago when it found its way on to the restricted list. While Mental Misstep is a very good counter to this card, it doesn’t stop the Mystical Tutor player from running his/her own Missteps as well. This card finds, Yawgmoth’s Will, Draw 7’s, Time Walk, and DT. I think that is quite the toolbox of brokenness and I’d rather not blue mages have access to 4 of these puppies. Instant speed vaults this card waayyyy up over Personal Tutor and so PT can remain unrestricted.
22. Necropotence - Some have argued for the unrestriction of this card. All I’d say is, look at history folks! this card is cast-able turn 1 off a measly Dark Ritual. After that you can quickly take over most games with card advantage and things become pretty deterministic with tight play and deck design. No way do we allow this card as a 4-of in Ritual Storm.
23. Sol Ring - Though this has less raw power than Mana Crypt and can be misstepped, I do think it would make the Belcher deck way too consistent and give a bit advantage to big blue decks as well. Unrestricted Sol Ring would likely get Thirst and Gifts restricted again.
24. Strip Mine - This card USED to be unrestricted. I don’t think it can be now because Crucible of Worlds is a card and folks actually like getting to play a game of magic. Strip lock just answers too many things and leaves players with outs that are too narrow and hard to justify for inclusion.
25. Time Vault - If this card were a 4-of the amount of mindless turn 1 wins would be endless and it would basically come down to “do you have the force?” kinds of interactions. Moxen, Mishra’s Workshop and Tolarian Academy make it a very bad call to ever consider unrestricting this card.
26. Time Walk - This card may be one of the most powerful cards ever printed. The ability to take an extra turn for 1U is just insane. Imagine how busted this card makes combat math with Mentor. Now imagine this card with Jace, Dack, Bob, Tinker—> Bot, Oath etc., etc., etc. This card’s upward limit is astronomical and you can just never give your opponent a turn from turn 1 of the game with this card as a 4-of. It could essentially be like a Time Vault combo deck but without out all the of that pesky need for a 2-card combo.
27. Timetwister - At first glance it might seem that this could be a 4-of and not hurt the format. Think again! This is no Windfall. It has the ability to make turn 1 decks brutally consistent and require a mere pact of negation to win through 1 force. No Thanks!
28. Tinker - Though this card’s popularity has gone down in recent time I don’t think unrestricting it would be a good idea because it’s easy to imagine a control deck that just runs 4 of these babies and counters every spell an opponent could cast while powering out a blightsteel and winning on the following turn.
29. Tolarian Academy - No no no no no no NO NO NO NO NO. That is all.
30. Treasure Cruise - This card is borderline OK but it does create engine decks that start to feel a lot like 4-brainstorm decks used to where they “always had the force.” I don’t like blue decks always having the force. I like there to be some work involved in keeping a full grip. This card is just too easy to cast.
31. Trinisphere - This card is so deterministic in Shops builds that just about the only two cards that interact with it in time are Force and Wasteland. That is too narrow an answer suite to allow a card to stay unrestricted. If more anti-Trinisphere tech was printed that could be played in different decks I’d be more than happy to consider unrestricting this guy, but, as it stands. . . nope.
32. Vampiric Tutor - The same reasons I said Imperial Seal can’t be unrestricted, but this is even worse because it is instant speed and so you can not telegraph it and surprise kill your opponent much more easily when they tap out.
33. Wheel of Fortune - The fact that you are assured 7 cards from this card make it way to strong in storm builds. I can’t justify taking it off the list despite it being red because I think it would lead to too many turn 1 kills and turn 2 kills with 1-2 duress backup.
34. Yawgmoth’s Will - While I would love to see a format with 4 Wills, I do think that that is just asking for trouble and would potentially break storm decks wide open. I’d also be frightened of recursive Key-Vault lists having access to more than 1 Will. It would make blowing up either half of the combo rather meaningless. Keeping this card restricted is not as obvious as it might seem though since it isn’t THAT good to Will more than once in a game. It is still quite good though and I don’t think we can play with that kind of fire.
So that’s my restricted list. What do you think? Note that I kept a LOT of cards off the list that are currently on it. Thoughts on those? Maybe I’ll make another post to defend why I took certain cards off next. Anyway, happy posting!