Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever

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.

@protoaddict Sure. Force of Will is "the glue that holds the format together." Nobody is accusing Lurrus of too effectively keeping the opponent's broken T1 plays in check.

Restrict Force of Will (and Force of Negation, now) and you have a format of combo decks competing against each other for who can most consistently get the T1 or even T0 win. Sounds like fun----for one or two matches.

@vaughnbros Setting aside the fact that the top decks currently in the format are combo decks---which combo decks are being "held back"? Combo decks combat Force of Will either with hand disruption (Thoughtseize), on-board countermeasures (Defense Grid), or their own countermagic (Pact of Negation et al.). Countermagic is a necessary speedbump keeping combo decks in check, not some bogeyman preventing combo from thriving in the format. (I do agree that Mental Misstep used to inhibit use of Dark Ritual too severely.)

last edited by evouga

@chubbyrain1 I agree, but that's a problem with the companion mechanic, not just Lurrus. As far as Lurrus itself, creature removal handles it well. It seems a lot of people are running DPS/PO style decks without a single removal spell and saying "I can't handle Lurrus, ban it!"

The card is hella strong, I get it. The mechanic itself may be ban-worthy because starting with 8 cards vs 7 cards before mulligans with nary a deck restriction is just unfair off the bat. But I think that's an issue with the mechanic, not the cat itself. The cat can be handled, and it's a 3-for-1. So is standstill, but that's not ban worthy. I'm all for fixing the mechanic to be more fair. Maybe it should have read something like "If this is your companion, start the game by putting one card from your opening hand on the bottom of your deck." That's MORE fair than it is now, though maybe still tilted due to the consistency of always being in your opener.

My point mainly is, if you're going to hit the mechanic on the grounds that it's a +1 to your starting hand, I'm all for that. If the argument is that the cat's effect is too strong, I can't get on board with that as a reason to ban. Fixing the mechanic is fine, banning the single card, I'm against.

last edited by Thewhitedragon69

The idea that these Force of Wills stops "broken" T1 plays is completely false as many of those decks play Force of Will themselves. Force of Negation has a built in fail safe from being able to be played in those scenarios as it is only free on your opponent's turn.

The idea that a "support" card can not be broken is also completely false. Mishra's Workshop, Bazaar of Baghdad, Ancestral Recall, Black Lotus, and many other broken cards can all be classified as "support" cards since they don't actually win the game on their own. Most decks consist of a collection of "support" cards with a handful of "win conditions". Continuing down the path of restricting every decent win condition in favor of these other clearly degenerate "support" cards has left Vintage in a state of constant turmoil. The rotating eternal format.

@vaughnbros said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

Mishra's Workshop, Bazaar of Baghdad, Ancestral Recall, Black Lotus

No, nobody would seriously classify these cards as "brake" cards. They all (massively!!!) accelerate your own strategy, while doing nothing to stop your opponent, other than by allowing you to win more quickly.

Other Vintage-playable brake cards include:

  • hand disruption like Thoughtseize
  • removal like Force of Vigor and Swords to Plowshares
  • cards the limit graveyard abuse, including Grafdigger's Cage and Soul-guide Lantern
last edited by evouga

@evouga Narset is primarily a "brake" card, and it got restricted. The limited-impulse-over-two turns was not nearly close to the reason the card got restricted. It was for being a mono-colored, one-sided leovold.

Force of Will "massively accelerates" the strategy of card draw as you can freely tap out every turn without the threat of your opponent landing an easy kill on you. Creating endless classifications, like "support", "brake", ect., to justify clearly degenerate cards just obfuscates reality and puts ones mind at ease. 20+ years of data says that Force of Will is broken. Another 10+ years of data says that Workshop and potentially Bazaar are broken. We let these cards live, and by letting them live we have to live with the consequence of that.

Its not dissimilar to how many government and economic systems ignore the problem of succession, and being born into degrees of wealth and power, while blaming countless other issues to protect the idea that you should be able to pass on your wealth and power.

@vaughnbros I'm not sure if you're arguing seriously, or trolling me.

It might be fun to try an event like the "super league" where Force of Will and Force of Negation are restricted. It would be interesting to see what decks come out on top, and whether the average win turn is 0 or 1.

I can't take seriously any suggestion for a Vintage-like format where combo decks are allowed to go completely unchecked. Whatever complaints you may have about the current metagame, I struggle to understand why an environment where even Dredge is too slow to compete would be better.

Narset was not a brake card. It was a broken aspect of PO decks and enabled a secondary combo of Narset + Timetwister/Wheel.

Did people ever stop and consider why PO got worse in the format once Narset was restricted? I highly recommend challenging preconceptions about the format and relying on data to form your opinions of the format. It will make you a better player.

last edited by chubbyrain1

Restricting Force of Will will kill the format! Socialism will kill the economy! Fear is a powerful tool to control the minds of the masses.

There are about 1000 great, highly efficient cards that stop broken strategies that are not Force of Will. I have won countless numbers of Vintage games by Force of Willing my opponents answer to my broken strategy.

last edited by vaughnbros


Don't just stop at challenging the preconceptions of the format, challenge the preconceptions of everything when you form your opinions. It will make you a better person.

@chubbyrain1 It was for sure abusable, but it wasn't because of its interaction with draw-7s that it was axed. It was because every blue cantrip deck ran 4 to stop every other blue deck from cantripping. You had 75% of the meta being blue (as usual) with "whomever lands narset and sticks it wins."

@evouga said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

It might be fun to try an event like the "super league" where Force of Will and Force of Negation are restricted. It would be interesting to see what decks come out on top, and whether the average win turn is 0 or 1.

Is someone calling for the restriction of FoN? The point made earlier was that FOW played all 4 quadrants well. It was both protection from broken plays as well as insurance for and the ability to push though your broken plays. Negation is not because it is not free on both turns. I would argue that FOW was a necessary evil in the past but the printing of FoN and to a lesser extent Misstep has made it's necessity much less obvious.

I think the idea of a super league is a good one to be honest, I think if WOTC actually paid attention to it, it could go a long way to help inform what the format could/should look like with some drastic steps. That being said I think if you restrict FOW you very seriously do need to look at restrictions for Bazaar and Workshops.

@protoaddict Is this the same guy that is against rule changes that don't let you use every card?

@thewhitedragon69 said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

@protoaddict Is this the same guy that is against rule changes that don't let you use every card?

I never said I wasn't for restrictions, as a matter of fact I would like to see many, many more of them. Banning remove a piece from the game, restrictions make you think and force players to make deck building and in-game decisions on a level we have not seen in some time. I would honestly not be opposed to vintage being a singleton format.

But there are truly a few sacred cows in this format that people just seem to accept as the norm that I would love to see challenged.

I would love to see what a format with a restricted force of will looked like
I would love to see a format with restricted Bazaar and Workshops
I would love to see a format with restricted Fetches and Dual lands

That last one is particularly close to my heart. I think the access to basically perfect mana for any build has spoiled the player base, and being forced to diversify and actually pay a cost to cast some cards would slow down the format and all these dreaded combo decks enough to the point where only having 1 force and 4 FoN would be perfectly fine.

@protoaddict Why not just play EDH then? A singleton format already exists. Why play vintage and want the same changes?

Because you can't play Power in EDH, duh.


Restricting Fetches and Duals would certainly make the topic at hand, Lurrus, worse as he costs 2 non-blue.

To focus on Lurrus again, mirror match formats are often high skill level. I suppose part of the reason I am trying to figure out how to "fix" vintage is because leaving it as the lurrus format is a pretty radical change. The other major concern for me is if Lurrus congegates on a single deck. This seems likely to me based on past experience with constructed metas. If multiple Lurrus shells exist then I'm less sure the card needs to be addressed. Adding a cheap legend to the list of cards you need for vintage isn't the end of the world.

@thewhitedragon69 said in Vintage 101: Cat Scratch Fever:

@protoaddict Why not just play EDH then? A singleton format already exists. Why play vintage and want the same changes?

Edh isn't a singleton format.

It is a singleton multiplayer format, with 100 card decks, and no sideboard, and the commander rule, and color identity restrictions, and missing a large chunk of the cards that make vintage what it is, played as a best of 1 format. It is not even close to vintage.

It's like telling a pro football player who wants some reform in the rules in order to prevent concussions from killing players and destroying the sport to go play ultimate frisbee in the park instead.

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