Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever

How long do we give Lurrus before it gets the ban-hammer?

I'm not sure it can be.

Restriction won't work obviously enough. There is some discussion going on if that in some lists if it wouldn't be better as a 4 of without the deck building restrictions, so a restriction might control it in that case, but if you are banning it for power reasons it opens up the a much more fundamental question.

When is a card literally so broken you cannot even have 1 copy in the format. Is Lurrus more broken than Lotus? Lotus is still in the format. More so than Workshops or Lodestone golem or balance or monastery mentor or Karn lattice? If you are banning cards purely because of power level how so you justify doing it unevently?

How about the other companions? If Gyruda was a problem I'm fairly certain you would be able to restrict it and solve the problem, but I'm not sure about Zidra who also enables some really quick hard to interact with win states.

I hate to say this but I think WOTC backed itself into a corner with this mechanic and the fix is going to have to be powercreeping pregame effects to combat it, but either way I think we are looking at the dawn of a new standard in the format. what if they made a companion lighting bolt or counterspell. Some of thoes options are more compelling than the cat but also more "fair".

Companion probably won't actually be fair until there are enough options available that any deck could run one, but that is assuming they even make more.

@protoaddict Actually, they can fix it by just clarifying "outside of the game." For things like the wishes, it's already been erratad to read "sideboard" for tourney play. You could always just errata these to "command zone" or make a "companion zone" and just ban that zone in tourney play (like the command zone already is). That forces you to run them maindeck, where a restriction has a real impact.

That is not a ban though, that is a fundamental rules change just to nerf a card(s) that is working as it was intended to work in design and testing.

That also has the effect of actually affecting other cards in the format, including the wishes, Spawnsire of Ulamog in infinite mana lists, Karn, etc.

I mean, Trinisphere is a garbled layering rules nightmare that likely could break the game as a 4 of, but imagine if they just banned it or changed the rules around how it calculates expended mana just to accommodate it? I never even agreed with how it interacts with Phyrexian mana and I see it being in conflict with how delve works, but once again what if they just removed the card from the format on a whole instead of restricting it.

In my opinion the only example that is even close to this type of ban is Shahrazad which has the distinction of being the only card on the ban list that is banned for logistical reasons and not Ante or manual dexterity. I guess the conspiracy cards as well though those were banned preemptively as they never were intended for constructed play.

The promise of vintage is that you get to use virtually every card the game has rules to accommodate for, even if it is just 1 copy. I think that banning the cat would be fundamentally in violation of the spirit and principal of the format as would be a rules change to effectively errata it into something that does not resemble what the designers intended.

They have said (a while ago) that they are not going to solve power level with eratta, and have started reversing these errata'ed cards. That's how we got time vault back. I don't think they will errata this card.

@thewhitedragon69 the command zone exists in tournament play in all formats- it's where emblems go.

Time for The Skull to come off restriction and wreck this meta. 😉

@blindtherapy Wow, didn't realize that. I'd then think you just clarify "outside of the game" as "from the companion zone" and make a new zone that's only legal in Modern, standard, pioneer, etc.

@Protoaddict A change like that wouldn't require errata to the wishes and such. They already say "from outside the game," but errata currently clarifies it is from the sideboard in tourney play. You can't get a card from exile or your trade binder. You wouldn't have to blanket errata all "outside of the game" to mean "Companion Zone," you'd just treat each "outside of the game" on a case by case, since you're essentially errating every single one of those instances in tournament play anyway. They could never print it to say "from your sideboard" because of EDH/Commander anyway. It all has to just be erratad, and anything with the ability "Companion" could get its own zone, just like commanders did.

@thewhitedragon69 I think the better comparison for errata is actually emblems- the first emblems were just things that were true for the rest of the game, not an object in a zone

Adding or changing game rules to effectivley change a card is still basically power level errata or, if severe enough basically an effective ban.

Hypothetically, what if timewalk was just a fundamental problem card, with players being able to recycle it infintley ala mystic sanctuary or something like that, and WOTC created a game rule that stated no player can take more than 2 turns in a row or that extra turns could not be taken earlier than turn 5. Would the community be ok with that, would it be healthy for the game?

@protoaddict If it came to be that it was easy to take infinite turns on turn 1 or 2...like Vault key x100 consistently, then yes, it would be healthy for the format to make a fundamental change like that. I'd also have to think the community would embrace it, or else you are just playing a game where every deck is a mirror match and all end on turn 1 or 2 to whomever assembles the combo first. Distilling every deck to one strategy/combo like infinite time walk.dec and all matches becoming mirror matches is WAY worse than sucking up one fundamental change that fixes a specific problem.

Fundamental changes happen, and Vintage still does fine. Remember when you used to be able to stack damage and deal 2 with mogg fanatic? Major rules change to combat, but we all adapted and it was fine. London mulligan vs Paris? Major rule change, and it all worked out. Fundamental game changes are part of the game, and they are meant to make the game better. Nothing wrong with that.

I don't think any ban of the companions need to be made, but I think there are elegant ways to do it without expanding the ban list or WotC reversing their errata stance. A clarification on "outside of the game" for companions to create a new zone is a perfectly fine change.

last edited by Thewhitedragon69

@thewhitedragon69 said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

If it came to be that it was easy to take infinite turns on turn 1 or 2...like Vault key x100 consistently, then yes, it would be healthy for the format to make a fundamental change like that. I'd also have to think the community would embrace it, or else you are just playing a game where every deck is a mirror match and all end on turn 1 or 2 to whomever assembles the combo first.

Do we think the format is anywhere near this critera with companions? Format diversity has ceriantly been challenged before and at any given time there really are not that many viable archeypes outside the pillars.

@thewhitedragon69 said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

Fundamental changes happen, and Vintage still does fine. Remember when you used to be able to stack damage and deal 2 with mogg fanatic? Major rules change to combat, but we all adapted and it was fine. London mulligan vs Paris? Major rule change, and it all worked out. Fundamental game changes are part of the game, and they are meant to make the game better. Nothing wrong with that.

I dont think you remember how hated some of these changes were. Even the current mulligan rule is opposed by many players. It is even arguable that the format is better or worse for it. Fundamental core rules changes are not central to the game, they are a side effect to the fact that designers are imperfect.

That being said, none of these changes in the past were done to specifically nerf a card or mechanic. Wotc never said "burn is too fast and consistent in legacy, let's raise starting life to 25".

last edited by Protoaddict

@protoaddict said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

If it came to be that it was easy to take infinite turns on turn 1 or 2...like Vault key x100 consistently, then yes, it would be healthy for the format to make a fundamental change like that. I'd also have to think the community would embrace it, or else you are just playing a game where every deck is a mirror match and all end on turn 1 or 2 to whomever assembles the combo first.

Do we think the format is anywhere near this critera with companions? Format diversity has ceriantly been challenged before and at any given time there really are not that many viable archeypes outside the pillars.

First, the pillars themselves barely hold now. They used to be workshops, ritual, mana drain. Now they are more like Bazaar, Workshop, FoW. And we have cavern of souls which is becoming almost a 4th pillar, and oath of druids which is a long-standing format staple. That MWS/Ritual/Drain pillar model is already obsolete. Mana drain is almost never played anymore, and ritual only appears in a deck or two, and rarely often.

Also, I wasn't saying companions are like 100x vault key. I was saying, in your example of if Time Walk was a problem and easily recastable to that level of consistency (like if the card had retrace and always started in your hand), then, yes, WotC would likely prefer making rules to nerf one card as opposed to letting the entire game fall to pieces and devolve into all Time Walk.dec mirror matches.

There's a point to where holding on to the "purity" of the game actually reduces the playability of the game. This happens in all games where factors change. In a game like chess, where the rules have been static since the beginning and no new pieces were introduced since, there's no need for change. In magic, with an ever-growing card pool, changes to the rules are inevitable. It's more like football, where television became a factor and players went from 30-year-old 195lb cigar-smoking bruisers to 260 lb physical freaks that can run a 40 in 4.3 seconds. The rules HAD to change.

Yes, fans hate some of the rule changes...but they still watch, and football has overtaken baseball as the American pasttime now. Similarly, players had an outcry over the rules changes to damage stacking and mulligans, but overall, the rules were good and allowed for different cards to exist. How broken would ballista be (in formats that care about ballista) if you could stack damage? How many times did people gripe about losing games strictly due to mana screw? London mulligan has fixed that tremendously. There's the side-effect of adding consistency to bazaar decks, but honestly, the reason those decks are so good have less to do with London mull and more to do with them getting Hollow One recently and 8 devastating pitch spells in Modern Horizons.

There will always be purists who want the game to be static, but they are the minority. MOST people that like new cards and new mechanics coming into the format realize rule changes will be necessary on occasion. The wishes got erratad, the "exile zone" became a new thing, emblems/PWs, damage stacking, mulligans. Hell, even deck size was once 40 cards! Rule changes are a necessary part of the game. The only ones who rail against any changes in the rules are those who want to freeze it in time. If that's the case, play OS. Or, stop printing new cards with new mechanics and any interactions with old cards. Those are your only two options.

last edited by Thewhitedragon69

I don't believe that changing the rules or the cards is a great option, unless the rules changes are good enough on theor own and their effect on companions is incidental.

Another option to deal with the power level, if restriction doesn't work, is unrestriction of competitive options that do not work together with the companions, such as necropotence for Lurrus and Gush for the singleton companion (as examples, I don't want to start a b&r discussion here).

@joep said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

Another option to deal with the power level, if restriction doesn't work, is unrestriction of competitive options that do not work together with the companions, such as necropotence for Lurrus and Gush for the singleton companion (as examples, I don't want to start a b&r discussion here).

Power-creeping cards is honestly probably the best way to do this, but I think it would have to exist in this start the game with X space. I'm not sure specifically the ones you listed are correct to lure people away from the existing 10 beasts, but now that this design space is open you need to fill it with other things for the sake of variety. It would take a lot of convincing to tell me that you would not want a free card every game, so probably it's better that there are more free cards competing in that space to determine which one you want than to try to have a situations with haves and have nots.

Heres the thing, I do not believe that companion is broken as a mechanic, and as a result I do not believe there is justification for a rules change to it, because there are companions that exist right now that are a perfectly fine and restrictive enough not to matter. If the mechanic was truly broken then arguably you would find a way to include one no matter what. Looking at all formats in general, Lutri, Umori, Obosh, Jegantha, and Kaheera are either too restrictive or too low impact to matter on any sort of concerning level. That means that some of the cards are unbalanced, not the mechanic. Therefore I find it hard to justify a rules change.

Lurris, or really any of the companions, are not so good that it is going to convince dredge to run mana even if it could use them, and likewise it is not going to warp itself to do so. In other formats, something like Burn is not going to ruin how efficient it is just for +1 spell that isn't a burn card. Tribal decks like Merfolk or Goblin or elves are not going to screw up there decks so they can run an off tribe 5 mana 4/4 that has a useless ability. Even at that the utility you get in some lists that can run some of these without altering themselves at all is minimal in a lot of cases. Some versions of Legacy reanimator could conceivably run Jeganth, but why would they want to? Probably rather just have the sideboard slot.

If anything, I think one of the design mistakes with the companions is that Lurris cannot be run with copies of himself, but every other companion can be with the exception of Lutri who can only be run with 1 other copy. If we were running 3/1 then a restriction is much more prominent a penalty on the card, or maybe they should have been designed so that none of them could be played with themselves?

I'm curious to see what happens. I suspect that if they have more cards like this already planned for the future you will never see a ban and you just need to accept that Lurris is basically part of the power 10 now until some oof the other ones come out. You may see him banned in other formats where a ban matters but once again I fundamentally believe this card is functioning as they planned and they won't make their first power level ban in vintage over it.

@protoaddict said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

Looking at all formats in general, Lutri, Umori, Obosh, Jegantha, and Kaheera are either too restrictive or too low impact to matter on any sort of concerning level.

Lutri seems vintage playable.

In other formats, something like Burn is not going to ruin how efficient it is just for +1 spell that isn't a burn card. Tribal decks like Merfolk or Goblin or elves are not going to screw up there decks so they can run an off tribe 5 mana 4/4 that has a useless ability.

burn does play lurrus in modern; the stock burn list has 4 baubles and 1-2 seal of fire. jegantha seems to be played in humans, as it's a free card and flood insurance. merfolk/goblins/elves can't fit jegantha, but slivers might. or you could play some of those decks with lurrus. jegantha is also free to play in legacy belcher.

If anything, I think one of the design mistakes with the companions is that Lurris cannot be run with copies of himself, but every other companion can be with the exception of Lutri who can only be run with 1 other copy. If we were running 3/1 then a restriction is much more prominent a penalty on the card, or maybe they should have been designed so that none of them could be played with themselves?

this seems technically true but nonsensical in context. yes, if Lurrus was an ever better card than it is now it would be possible to restrict it so that it would only be as good as it is now.

@blindtherapy said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

Lutri seems vintage playable.

I've yet to see a deck that tries this in serious fashion and shows that it's worth it. Losing 3 force of wills and x Force of negations has proven backbreaking in most of the match ups I have seen. In it's best case scenario Lutri seems to be a wash, the extra value you get from him just serves to make up from all you lost.

Lutri in the maindeck however, as a better dualcaster, seems fine and playable, but all these examples were meant to illustrate the cards as companions not just regular dorks.

@blindtherapy said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

burn does play lurrus in modern; the stock burn list has 4 baubles and 1-2 seal of fire. jegantha seems to be played in humans, as it's a free card and flood insurance. merfolk/goblins/elves can't fit jegantha, but slivers might. or you could play some of those decks with lurrus. jegantha is also free to play in legacy belcher.

Back to my original point then. Have any of these lists proven to be a problem because they now have companion? I would be over the moon if after a huge storm chain my opponent managed to cast an elk and didn't just win on the spot. This goes further to prove my point that the mechanic is not itself broken, just a few of the cards specifically may be. The issue is not the cards at all but the nature of the restricted list in the first place.

@blindtherapy said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

this seems technically true but nonsensical in context. yes, if Lurrus was an ever better card than it is now it would be possible to restrict it so that it would only be as good as it is now.

This was more of a statement on it being an inconsistent cycle which gets under my skin, but to also show the circumstances where restriction would help.

I think fundamentally what I am trying to say with all of this is that the restricted list has always been a flawed and unsustainable way to control the format and I have been saying for some time eventually they will have to change something more core to the way vintage works to maintain it once the restricted list fails. Now I thought the issues would eventually have been from redundancy of similar effects, where there are so many ancestral variants or Moxen or whatever that you can in effect use the number you want to use and just have to use a number of singletons, but companion was an unforeseen test of the restricted list that the list failed to accommodate for.

I agree with those saying that Vintage is a format about playing all the cards, and that neither power-level errata, nor power-level "rules adjustments," would be a satisfactory solution to Lurrus.

Lurrus has warped the metagame for sure (I've been playing more MTGO recently and Lurrus is rampant there) but I'm far from convinced that Vintage is in a crisis. Even if decks are incapable of competing with Lurrus (by running more maindeck creature and graveyard hate, e.g.) there are other levers that can be tried, for example restricting (absurd as it may look to the outside) the Baubles.

last edited by evouga
  • 107
    Posts
  • 5609
    Views