Karn, the Great Creator is restricted.
Mystic Forge is restricted.
Mental Misstep is restricted.
Golgari Grave-Troll is restricted.
Fastbond is unrestricted.
War of the Spark, Modern Horizons, and Core Set 2020 have been among the most impactful sets for Vintage in years. We've been watching and listening to the evolution of Vintage over the last several months as the metagame has begun to settle. Now that the London mulligan is official and we've had some time to review data and tournament results, we'd like to take action to resolve some problematic play patterns.
Though our data shows that Vintage is in a good state of balance from an objective standpoint, with nearly all the Top 10 decks having a 47–53% overall win rate, we've heard community concerns about an increase in turn-one/two effective wins and less interactive gameplay. We agree and would like to move the format back to a place the community is happy with, even taking multiple steps over time if needed.
Recently, Karn, the Great Creator and Mystic Forge have turbo-charged Shops decks by giving them more early-game lockout potential (through Karn's static ability), a tutorable win condition (through Karn's -2 loyalty ability fetching Time Vault and Voltaic Key or Manifold Key), and card advantage in prolonged games (especially through Mystic Forge). Relating to Karn's static ability, Vintage is the one format in Magic where players can enjoy playing with super powerful artifact mana like the Moxen, Sol Ring, and Black Lotus. We'd like to reduce the number of games that immediately come down to an early Karn preventing the opponent from casting spells.
Therefore, in order to make Shops decks more interactive in the early game and more attackable in a prolonged game, we are restricting Karn, the Great Creator and Mystic Forge. We considered the further step of restricting Sphere of Resistance, but prefer to take this smaller step first and reevaluate based on data and community feedback.
Dredge decks based around Bazaar of Baghdad have become more powerful with the London mulligan and some recent card additions, such as Force of Vigor as a means of fighting opposing graveyard hate. In order to slow these decks down and provide more time for interaction, we are restricting Golgari Grave-Troll.
Mental Misstep has been a controversial card among the Vintage community for years. While it does provide more opportunity for interaction, it is also at its strongest against the most interactive decks. Moreover, a large part of the reason for including Mental Misstep is to fight an opponent's Mental Missteps. This creates a situation where many decks are "taxed" deck slots they must devote to fighting each other at the expense of weakening themselves against Shops. In addition, Dredge decks often use Mental Misstep to protect their graveyard engine or disrupt opponents. We believe that restricting Mental Misstep will open up more deck-building diversity, strengthen interactive decks' matchups against Shops, and weaken Dredge.
Since our philosophy is that Vintage should be about playing with access to all of Magic, we periodically re-examine the restricted list for cards that can create new decks and play patterns, even if they come with some risk. Recently, many players have suggested Fastbond as a card they would enjoy building with four copies of. Since most Vintage decks rely heavily on artifact mana and play fewer lands, chances are that a deck built around Fastbond would look quite different from anything in the current metagame. Other cards we've discussed unrestricting in the future are Windfall and Necropotence.
We're very interested in what the Vintage community thinks of these changes and whether further steps are needed. There will be one more opportunity to change the B&R list before Eternal Weekend North America, and we are willing to do so, so please continue to make yourselves heard in the same ways you have been.
Next B&R Announcement: October 7, 2019