November 18, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement

The really interesting question, which is bound to arise as Wizards keeps printing variants of existing effects: once an archetype is oppressive and all of its key components are already singletons, what now?

@evouga That has always been the issue of the restricted list. I remember talking about this when Treasure Cruise came out, because even with the restricted list suddenly every deck kinda had 2 recalls in their deck once that mistake was made. If they make a other similar mistake suddenly we have 3 in the format.

Personally I think restricting the mana bases is a good start. It does change the texture of the format but does protect it for potentially a longer time.

Narset failed to live for two reasons:

  1. It's a 3 mana dig through time with a fantastic static ability. Dig through time costs 8 and was restricted. I think that's what they mean by too much efficient card draw. Narset herself is hyperefficient card draw even without her static.
  2. She's blue. If Narset were any other color, she'd be a great tool vs blue decks and card draw for decks that rarely have any. By being blue, she just becomes a 1-sided CA wall the same way Karn was a 1-sided null rod, and Karn already got axed. Stopping CA was a great move, but adding it to the color that plays that CA was a major fail. If Narset were 1WW, She'd be an awesome and fair card. Other Narset incarnations were white...they just shifted her in the wrong direction for N,PoVs.

@protoaddict said in November 18, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

@evouga That has always been the issue of the restricted list. I remember talking about this when Treasure Cruise came out, because even with the restricted list suddenly every deck kinda had 2 recalls in their deck once that mistake was made. If they make a other similar mistake suddenly we have 3 in the format.

Personally I think restricting the mana bases is a good start. It does change the texture of the format but does protect it for potentially a longer time.

I mean, a lot of the Vintage mana base is already restricted, right? Sure, restricting Workshop, Ancient Tomb, Bazaar, and the various utility lands would hit the format hard, but I don't know that Xerox or other blue-based decks would be much phased, given that we already have access to 10 distinct fetchlands (five of which can get Islands), the original five duals and the Ravnica duals (many decks only run 1-2 copies of the original duals anyway), and in a pinch, new printings like Prismatic Vista.

@evouga I have to believe that any restrictions in the world of fetches and duals would be at the least a deck building hurdle for base blue decks. Yes they would have shocks if they needed, but they would be forced top spend life as well as use a wider variety of fetches that may not always be the one they need to fetch with.

People just said Narset was often a 2-3 of card and it needed to be restricted, same logic for lands.

@thewhitedragon69 said in November 18, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

  1. She's blue. If Narset were any other color, she'd be a great tool vs blue decks and card draw for decks that rarely have any. By being blue, she just becomes a 1-sided CA wall the same way Karn was a 1-sided null rod, and Karn already got axed. Stopping CA was a great move, but adding it to the color that plays that CA was a major fail. If Narset were 1WW, She'd be an awesome and fair card. Other Narset incarnations were white...they just shifted her in the wrong direction for N,PoVs.

If she were 1WW instead she'd just end up as another piece to white Eldrazi decks or something, so, eventually would need restricting anyway.

Do people think that perhaps Pyroblast will have less representation now?

@stormanimagus Yes. Sorry to say, now xerox can and will run 4 Plows and 4 Paths mainboard.

last edited by Yugi Mutou

I disagree, Xerox won't play that much removal and especially not that much white creature removal. And imo Pyroblast will stay where it is. It is still the most efficient answer to PO, Oko, FoW and the whole restricted blue package.

@ten-ten If she were playable in white-heavy decks only, there's no way she gets restricted. More than likely though, blue just starts playing 4 tundras and Jeskai/Esper control becomes the big blue with Narset while other blue decks fade away. Blue will find a way thanks to dual lands.

If she was symmetrical she also doesn't get restricted. The issues with these insane 2019 walkers are the effects being so one-sided. Karn, probably had to go regardless. This restriction will return the Pyroblast mirror to being more light sabery and less bludgeony but it just adds another turnip to the blue stew. The 2 x narsets will get replaced with a Dack that was sidelined, or a Saheeli to churn tokens, or more Oko in the builds with Forests.

These restrictions aren't a sustainable solution in anyway. What I don't understand is that given how Vintage (and Legacy) are worth no money at all to WotC why they don't admit the obvious and just let the eternal formats use different constructed rules. They already basically do this with Vintage in that it's the only format with a restricted list. Vintage and perhaps Legacy should just use the original Legends deck construction rules for Planeswalkers and then when the inevitable next dozen planeswalkers need restricting it's already baked in. This rule got changed in 1995 I think with Ice Age (so you could play 4 x General Jarkeld).

Just say in these hallowed ancient wizard battles each player can only have 1 of each walker in their deck. I'd actually just make it by name, e.g. Jace / Chandra / OKO because I hate planeswalkers but I can see an argument for 1 of just Jace, the Mindsculptor. Not sure how the flip walkers would work, I'd just restrict those also, fuck it.

@nedleeds said in November 18, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

Just say in these hallowed ancient wizard battles each player can only have 1 of each walker in their deck. I'd actually just make it by name, e.g. Jace / Chandra / OKO because I hate planeswalkers but I can see an argument for 1 of just Jace, the Mindsculptor. Not sure how the flip walkers would work, I'd just restrict those also, fuck it.

I mean, that does not prevent the fact that the format is trending towards a singularity. Inevitably there will be a point where restricting a new, overpowered card is not enough. Maybe it is the next 1 mana draw 3 mistake, or the next alternate casting cost free card, but it will happen, and it will become apparent that because of that mistake there is a definitive best deck, or at least best core.

Then what? Do we go to a singleton format in total and see if that weakens dominant strategies so that every deck becomes a reactive sorta "fair deck", do we start doing actual bans, or maybe we raise the minimum deck size to 75 to increase variance?

Personally, I think the Canadian highlander point system is starting to look better and better for the format, but I am probably on my own with that.

@protoaddict When the format filters down to a best core, they print hate for that strategy. See collector ouphe. If Narset were in the right color and symmetrical, she would have served that role (being blue was a huge error). Eventually, the hate will become potent and symmetrical enough (see deafening silence) that "fair" decks become the best strategy.

@thewhitedragon69 said in November 18, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

@protoaddict When the format filters down to a best core, they print hate for that strategy. See collector ouphe. If Narset were in the right color and symmetrical, she would have served that role (being blue was a huge error). Eventually, the hate will become potent and symmetrical enough (see deafening silence) that "fair" decks become the best strategy.

A lot of these now restricted cards were themselves considered hate cards against prominent overreaching strategies.

Narset was Hate against decks with too much draw
Karn was Hate against shops and paradoxical
Misstep was hate against one turn kill strategies that relied heavily on 1 mana spells
Thorn was hate against creatureless or light decks
Trinisphere was hate against decks that had no top end

So when the hate cards that were designed to target the other already restricted dominant cards become restrictable do you print hate for the hate that now the original lists could run? Once again, slowly traveling towards a singularity here.

The last few posts here have gotten me thinking. At least to an outsider, it does sort of look like the format is circling around itself, eating its own tail maybe. But I think more precisely this is a back-and-forth between two or more separate factions.

I think, for the most part, there are players who want certain strategies hated out, and those are not the same players who want those hate cards restricted. (And for any given player, they probably lie in a different camp regarding each card/strategy etc). You have a rotating group of vocally angry players as the metagame moves month to month. Sometimes it's a near-consensus, and sometimes it's just a vocal minority, but at the scale of players we're talking about, to anyone outside the community (read: WotC) it just looks like Vintage players are always unhappy.

If Narset was bad specifically because it stops people from playing fun cards like Preordain, then you could restrict it. But if cards like Preordain are fun and you want to let people play more of them, you could also just unrestrict Brainstorm instead.

But of course, Brainstorm isn't a fun card. Neither is it an unfun card. Brainstorm is a card that some players enjoy and some players don't. There's no cohesive view of which sorts of cards and decks and play patterns are considered vintage-appropriate (in the way that Modern has a more clear vision), and therefore all B&R decisions end up being reactive, which can often make things self-contradictory.

Please don't read too much into this as an opinion on Narset specifically ... the same could be said about Chalice of the Void and Lotus Petal, Mental Misstep and Ancestral Recall, Gush and Thorn of Amethyst.

The completely reactive approach we have isn't necessarily the worst possible approach, it may even be the best approach available, given what WotC has to work with, but certainly isn't without its flaws.

last edited by Brass Man

"Sometimes it's a near-consensus, and sometimes it's just a vocal minority, but at the scale of players we're talking about, to anyone outside the community (read: WotC) it just looks like Vintage players are always unhappy."

I've been reflecting a lot on what a commentator stated during the Eternal Weekend Coverage. To paraphrase, Vintage has moved from a format driven by spells in hand to a format driven by board state. (I think it might have been Mike Noble who made this point)

I think that encapsulates the unhappiness perception. Vintage frequently doesn't feel like the vintage we're used to playing.

@brass-man said in November 18, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

But of course, Brainstorm isn't a fun card. Neither is it an unfun card.

I'm not sure it is ok for you to be the arbiter of what is universally fun or unfun in any circumstance, as it is by definition a subjective judgement, including it being a neutral one.

I personally think brainstorm is inherently unfun. It's too powerful, it takes too long to resolve while you sit there and twiddle your thumbs and wait for your opponent, it interacts favorably with every other card you would want to use with it, and frankly I think it mechanically is maybe the one legal card in the game that enables players to cheat more than any other card.

But all of that is an aside to the fact that if the card is indeed too powerful, strong enough to catch a restriction and stay on that list, and Narset was hate for that, well we have now also restricted Narset. And in the future when some other broken draw card comes out that WOTC makes by mistake, we will have to restrict that too, because we don't have as many Narset in the format.

I mean, I am all but convinced that not only does every new set in the past few years bring at least one new card to the format that potentially warps the whole thing, A few of these sets have had multiple. I don't think that Mystic Sanctuary is a fun or balanced card, and I fully expect it to get broken in very short order. And then you restrict that, which maybe does not even have the effect you need it to because it is fetchable. Maybe we need to restrict fetches, but would that even matter since there is so much redundancy in them? Would that be fun?

Anyway, my point is that judging anything from the perspective of fun is not a good metric.

last edited by Protoaddict

@protoaddict said in November 18, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

I'm not sure it is ok for you to be the arbiter of what is universally fun or unfun in any circumstance, as it is by definition a subjective judgement, including it being a neutral one.

I think we're in agreement here. That was entirely my point. Brainstorm is a card that makes the game more fun for me, and less fun for you. Therefore we can't just blanket state that it's fun or unfun, because that's subjective. I wasn't trying to make the claim that the card is fun-neutral. I certainly don't believe that I can arbitrate which cards are universally fun, my position is that nobody can do that, that different people like different games and it's impossible for any card to be universally fun or unfun.

Maybe my post needed more context. Even though the WotC explanation for the Narset restriction was "fast mana and draw spells", there have been several high profile comments in high visibility places about Narset being fun police. What comes first to mind is LSV's tweet that Narset stops him from doing the things he enjoys in Vintage. Make no mistake, of the people involved in the B&R decision process, more of them follow LSV on Twitter than have accounts on TMD. The idea that Narset stops people from having fun doing "Vintagey" things is one of the reasons why it was restricted. It is very probably not the only reason, but it's the one I was reacting to.

Anyway, my point is that judging anything from the perspective of fun is not a good metric.

That's trouble, because I think you make some good points there, and I strongly believe that making policy decisions based on fun has some real problems. Some cases seem clear cut, but others get vague very quickly, and I think it ultimately always comes down to picking specific groups of players to exclude, whether the deciding body is conscious of it or not.

But on the other hand, it's also sort of the only thing that matters. Because more easily measurable metrics like card diversity, strategic diversity, metagame penetration, win rate, game length, decisions per game, deck cost, etc ... these are all just proxies for the only question that matters: Do I want to spend my afternoon playing Vintage, or have a cup of coffee?

We know that basing policy decisions on fun doesn't work, but at the same time, we know that the only way to make policy decisions is to base them on fun, if only indirectly. C'est Absurde!

If the goal is to just restrict cards when things become stagnant, I think it would be really cool if they just introduced a rotating/seasonal banlist. Then it would be less science and more exposure to new play experiences with older cards.

You could have your baseline P9 cards as always legal and always restricted. And then have a rotating ban list concerning the modern cards.

last edited by desolutionist

@trius said in November 18, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement:

I think that encapsulates the unhappiness perception. Vintage frequently doesn't feel like the vintage we're used to playing.

I agree entirely, but don't forget that "the vintage we're used to playing" is pretty ambiguous. I got into the format around 17 years ago, and back then there were plenty of players who were upset that their 5-color Keeper control decks couldn't keep pace with the bleeding-edge new style of play brought about by Fetchlands and Quirion Dryad. The game is constantly changing year over year, and almost by definition you're going to love the version of the Vintage that people played when you first became passionate about it (because if you didn't love it, you never would have gotten hooked). So almost by definition, as it changes you're going to run into patches where you enjoy it less than you used to. People tend to interpret this as a steady decline from some golden age, but it seems more like a sampling problem to me.

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