November 18, 2019 Banned and Restricted Announcement

@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.

@protoaddict The problem with those examples are bad card design.

Narset: hate against blue...but one-sided and give it to blue???
Karn: Hate against activated artifacts...one-sided and a combo in itself?
Misstep: This card was not a problem so much as it was annoying and it countered itself, so it caused all decks to run 4-of. If it were a phyrexian mana spell snare or nix, it would have still been annoying, but wouldn't have required decks to run 4-of to counter the opponent's missteps.
Thorn: I don't think this was the card needing restricting - sphere of resistence is more of an offender. Fish decks would love to have this back, but they got Thalia at least.
Trinisphere: This was not hate. This was a card playable in a deck that can turn-1 it off a single land drop and could shut out the opponent from the game for 3 turns. It wasn't hate vs decks with no top end as it stopped EVERYTHING for 3 turns and then any land destruction made a hard lock - it was just a terribly designed card for a format with strip/waste/workshop. Vintage wasn't in mind at all for this card.

Good hate is things like Thalia, collector ouphe, RiP, Stony silence, deafening silence, etc. Efficient and symmetrical, but punishes broken and is easy to handle for "fair" decks. Moves the format towards "fair." Making "hate" like the examples you gave are akin to saying ancestral recall is hate against decks with no card draw because you out CA them. Broken cards (trinisphere) or poorly designed/color-assigned cards (narset) and asymmetrical affects are far too easy to abuse and become a strategy in themselves as opposed to the needed function of stopping opposing broken.

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

Good hate is things like Thalia, collector ouphe, RiP, Stony silence, deafening silence, etc. Efficient and symmetrical, but punishes broken and is easy to handle for "fair" decks. Moves the format towards "fair." Making "hate" like the examples you gave are akin to saying ancestral recall is hate against decks with no card draw because you out CA them. Broken cards (trinisphere) or poorly designed/color-assigned cards (narset) and asymmetrical affects are far too easy to abuse and become a strategy in themselves as opposed to the needed function of stopping opposing broken.

There is a razor thin line in my mind between what you qualify as a hate card and what is just a playable card with other applications. I only used the term hate because it was used earlier but in the context i think could could also consider them counter-strategical cards. Thalia and thorn are counter strategies to storm strategies for instance.

Just because a card is a hate card though it does not mean it cannot have utility outside of being one, which is actually the issue with most of these. Thalia is absolutely a card that can be in the main deck of some decks and function as a hate card in others out of the board. In that regard Narset and Karn are both things, and ultimately got restricted for mistakes made.

Karn is a great example. Karn lattice is a 1 card combo by most standards. It was much worse when you could have 4 karns, but even with just 1 the genie is out of the bottle. Virtually any deck in the format that sees itself getting to 5 mana can play the combo, and where as it did not exist at all in the past it will now exist in the format forever.

Now take that example and make it more extreme, karn costs 1 and latice costs 1. Even with restriction, you now have something in the format that means one in every so many games is going to be determined by if a player drew a 1 cards "I WIN" combo before you opponent could do anything. How do you fix that with the restricted list? Is printing hate even viable?

@protoaddict

I think you can still balance it with new hate. Things like "B, Enchantment: This spell cannot be countered. When ~ enters play, name a planeswalker type. Planeswalkers of that type cannot use activated abilities."

THAT is hate. It stops an opposing strategy. It's only goal is to stop an opposing strategy. It does nothing great other than stopping the opposing strategy. And it stops a very specific strategy in a way that it can't be abused. Trinisphere may have been intended to be hate, but it never really was because it was more easily abused as an offensive strategy (lock my opponent out on turn 1) than fighting "storm." Hate should be something that fights a specific strategy very well but is not a huge threat in itself. Ouphe and thalia are "threats" about as much as grizzly bears is a threat. They are effective hate, though, and their hate effect is not a threat that can be abused.

I do think that, given the vast, growing card pool, even proper hate could become problematic. I'm tinkering with an erayo deck right now that uses deafening silence. Being so cheap, I can drop land, mox, mox, erayou, deafening and be a hard lock (outside of abrupt decay) on turn 1. However, that's a 2-card combo that needs 2 moxen on turn 1...so there's that.

Overall, I think effective, narrow hate will be a good way to answer problem cards/strategies. WotC just has to be cautious and make hate that's actually just hate and not a bomb in disguise.

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

I can drop land, mox, mox, erayou, deafening and be a hard lock (outside of abrupt decay) on turn 1. However, that's a 2-card combo that needs 2 moxen on turn 1...so there's that.

That is a 5 card combo, really.

The hate card you proposed literally only works though if you go first and name karn as a counter to the hypothetical I laid out. In that situation force of will still works. It does not address the fact that the combo still exists in the format now and forever and some games will just be turn 0 win.

erayo/silence also isn't a hard lock in that you can cast multiple spells as long as all but 1 are creatures.

Yes, point being that well-designed hate can mitigate a lot of the broken and push the format towards fair decks. We don't necessarily have to get into a format where everything is singleton broken.

I disagree, but even if I took that as the truth what you then wind up with is a format that is basically being crafted by WOTC that is just silver bullets against mistakes.

Eventually you get to a point where either the power dynamics of the format have to shift in such a way that you can remove some cards from the restricted list to keep it from being oppressively large, or you have to layer on another balance solution, similar to the points system in Canadian highlander. The thing is that as long as the format has sacred cows that will not be banned like workshops and bazaar then the splash damage from that means cards like Gravetroll and lodestone will always be on the list, so it is likely to just continue to grow.

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