Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever

@gako I like the idea of unrestricting Necro, as even setting aside Lurrus it's not clear to me why its power level is all that much higher than Bargain or Citadel.

@evouga Well let's look at the possible cases. Either a) the hatebear companions suck compared to the actual do stuff companions, b) the hatebear companions end up far more powerful than the do stuff companions or c) the hatebears end up perfectly balanced with the do stuff companions.

In case a) and b) clearly the problem is not solved. Case c) seems to be what you're focusing on but I'm afraid wizards' record of printing cards to deal with problem cards is very poor. They either push way too hard or not hard enough, so I think case c) is incredibly unlikely. Combine that with the fact that vintage would just be lurrus dominated until wizards got around to printing more companions, I think the idea is kind of fun to theory craft about, but practically speaking a total nightmare for vintage.

@ten-ten I don’t think this is necessarily so. Imagine hatebears that strongly counter Lurrus are printed, but come with deck building restrictions like no blue cards, or no artifacts, or no spells with odd CMC, or color with maximum devotion is red. You could have a wide palette of available hatebears, perhaps one against every major archetype of the format in your sideboard, but doing so might require thinking outside the box of existing archetypes. This could lead to format diversity.

last edited by dshin

Hatebear companions would be more effective if they were the original companions. As it is, it will almost always be better to play the busted companion and just focus on destroying the Hatebear if your opponent actually decides to run it.

An unrestricted Necro is much more powerful than an unrestricted Bargain by virtue of being a consistent turn 1 play. The comparison to Citadel is wrong - the actual comparison is to Tinker. I hope Tinker isn't being considered for unrestriction. Those who want an unrestricted Necro haven't played Vintage recently. Or want to burn the entire format to the ground. The current version of Doomsday runs Necro and has replaced DPS as the go to ritual strategy. An unrestriced Necro would slot into most, if not all of the doomsday slots, and would create pretty abysmal gameplay in which a turn 1 Necro is supported by Daze, Force of Will, and other counterspells and discard. The deck draws back up to 7 cards, uses countermagic to untap, and either wins the game or does it again the next turn with multiple Tendrils to recoup the life. The london mulligan would provide further consistency.

Most of the cards restricted are due to interactivity reasons and unless you have a compelling reason why Flash et al. won't lead to lopsided games in which one players is a passive observer, I don't think these suggestions are really helping anything.

There are probably only 2 cards on the restricted list that are

  • "Potentially" safe to unrestrict
  • do anything to make you not want to use Lurrus

Monastery Mentor and Narset. Even if unrestricted, I'm not sure that a deck with 4 mentors and 4 Narsets will be the format we want to live in.

There are other unrestrictions that I think could happen, but I think it is mostly a separate discussion.

@chubbyrain1 I don't know that I agree with Tinker being an apt comparison. There are similar elements, if you're using Tinker to power out Blightsteel Colossus: you present a threat and give the opponent essentially a single turn to answer it. But that's not the common use of Tinker these days; instead it fetches Time Vault or Memory Jar and wins the game on the spot.

I can't speak for the power of 4x Necropotence in a Doomsday shell. If you think it would be absurd, I have no reasons to doubt it. I do remember playing against storm combo during the heyday of Dark Petition, and resolving Necropotence was by far the least-threatening thing my opponent would do after generating BBB. At a bare minimum you get one extra turn (and often 2+ turns) to fight back and I won a nontrivial minority of those games.

@protoaddict What about Chalice of the Void? Or would all decks run Lurrus + Chalice and hope to be on the play?

@evouga said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

@protoaddict What about Chalice of the Void? Or would all decks run Lurrus + Chalice and hope to be on the play?

Unrestricted COTV has very little effect on if Lurrus is played or not, so much as it just affects what shells he would go in. There is no tension between running Lurris or COTV because you don't have to pick one, Lurrus does not prevent you from running any number of them. More COTV may prevent the PO shell from rising to the top (or strengthen it, who knows) but some other deck that could just run Lurris and not rely on recurring 0 drops would take its place.

With Mentor and Narset, you actually need to make a choice as to which you want, because you literally cannot have them and the cat as Lurrus' deck building restriction kicks in.

I've heard people say Lurrus.dec could just play removal to kill opposing hatebear companions. So why can't we just run removal to kill Lurrus in the first place? I know running bolts and plows is not as fun as running PO and necropotence, but does that mean it shouldn't be an option? People are talking about grave hate to nerf Lurrus....just kill the f'n cat! It's not like creature removal, especially bolt, are dead cards. Bolt knocks off PWs and is at the least 3 to the face. Why is everyone so averse to running removal instead of searching for niche fixes to stopping the Lurrus ability - just axe the source!

The only reason mentor was restricted was because he's grow wide AND large (and his tokens grow large) so you couldn't solve the problem by offing mentor. Wide alone (pyromancer) or large alone (hydra) are clearly not problematic enough to be restrictable. Lurrus is at worst a 2-for-1 recurring a bauble/remora if you respond to the casting from the grave with a bolt/plow. At best, it's a 3-mana do nothing that you 1-for-1 immediately. If you can't answer the cat because you run a miser's plow (or not even that much), then that seems to be user-error more than a cat problem.

last edited by Thewhitedragon69

I mean, yes people are doing this. The problem is that even in the worst case where you play Lotus, Lurrus, then Lotus again (note the opponent does not get priority to stop you from replaying Lotus) and then the cat gets offed, you’re still up +1 card “for free.”

last edited by evouga

@thewhitedragon69 Are you really trying the "dies to Doom Blade" argument in 2020 on a creature that starts outside the game and lets you recast something immediately from your graveyard?

Edit: The Cat has 9 lives.

Edit 2: That's not how math works. You need to add 1 to each of those. Bolt on a Lurrus from the Companion zone is a 2-for-1. Bolt on a Lurrus with a Bauble is a 3-for-1. Every. Game. A good player won't cast it for less than a 3-for-1. Ideally, the won't cast it if they can't protect it.

last edited by chubbyrain1

There is another consideration worth bringing up.

In the past, players have complained that vintage had become a format where there are no meaningful decisions to be made after the sideboarding and mulligan phases of the game.

From what I've seen, it appears that Lurrus leads to increased interactivity, and leads to the better player winning more often.

For instance, in this video, Andrea Mengucci says that he achieved an overall record of 33-3 with a Lurrus deck, facing a lot of other Lurrus, and that the games are very "grindy", with many games finishing due to a player running out of time due to the sheer weight of so many difficult decision points. Lsv tweets here that he went 8-1 in a challenge with the same deck, mostly facing Lurrus.

One could reasonably hold the opinion that the pro of increased interactivity/gameplay-skill outweighs the con of decreased deck diversity. Perhaps future companion printings can increase diversity and we can get the best of both worlds.


An "attack on your character" would be saying that your shitposting is responsible for the death of this website. Critiquing your no-data/poor-data analysis and saying it falls short of @chubbyrain1's good-data analysis is just stating the facts. Claiming an ad hominem attack doesn't make you right.


People said this for Caw-Blade, yet tournament attendance plummeted and Wizard banned the most expensive Standard card ever.

B&R is a matter of balancing multiple considerations, chief among those diversity, according to WotC own website.

@chubbyrain1 said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:


People said this for Caw-Blade, yet tournament attendance plummeted and Wizard banned the most expensive Standard card ever.

B&R is a matter of balancing multiple considerations, chief among those diversity, according to WotC own website.

If that were WOTCs actual practice that they followed I would start questioning why a lot of cards are and are not on the restricted list right now.

But on the topic of attendance, over what time period and using what adjustments do we think WOTC is using to control for the Pandemic? I would actually wager that tourney attendance for Vintage is actually less impacted than most other formats simply because it has a higher percentage of diehards than other formats have.

I think FOW prevents the domination of other cards more than dominating the format itself. Funny meme though.

Perhaps aside from the comedy value, I'm not sure that there's much point behind that meme image. Force of Will is a support card that fits into almost any blue deck; Lurrus is a centerpiece that pigeonholes you into using a tiny subset of the Vintage-playable permanent pool. (You could argue that Force of Will forces you to play blue cards; but with the exception of e.g. Dredge, most decks play Force of Will because they're running other busted blue stuff, and not vice-versa). Moreover Force of Will is a "brake" card (stops your opponent from doing busted stuff, at the cost of card advantage) while Lurrus is an "engine" (accelerates your own strategy).

If you want to make a meme I think replacing Force of Will with something like Bazaar of Baghdad would be far more on-point.

@tittliewinks22 said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

I think FOW prevents the domination of other cards more than dominating the format itself. Funny meme though.

Force has been the preeminent card that has determined the shape of the entire format with the exception of the moxen and lotus. Even now when there are viable alternatives (Force of Negation for instance) Force is still a 4 of in pretty much any blue list. It certainly sees more play than some other cards on the restricted list like timetwister.

last edited by Protoaddict

Force of Will is played in ~75% of decks for 20+ years. That means 75% of decks are blue heavy restricting the card pool significantly. Its ability to stop almost every threat for 0 mana holds back a large number of combo decks. It’s card disadvantage drawback is what makes every good value card able to break the format.

Ignore the obvious problem cards in the format, and you will keep having to create a witch hunt every few months.

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