B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020

@maximumcdawg said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

That said, none of these Companions really is doing anything like that, really.

Yet.

Personally I always wanted cards that were limited to less than 4 per deck. I think the increase in variance in that respect leads to interesting games and there is some inherent balance to it when limited.

A Lightning bolt that could not be countered for R may be too good, but if it was limit one per deck maybe what that does is give players pause for though about how far away they actually are from being burned out. It also lets you have a control valve for cards that interact negatively with additional copies of themselves, ala Minds desire.

I would far rather have the format have a few viable linear decks with a low bar to entry than one that is perpetually a rich kids club. I've long contended that it is a shame that Burn is just shy of being viable in vintage, because that deck is the viability police in every other format and gives people a rather cheap way to join the fun. In vintage arguably that deck would need a mox ruby for marginal value, lotus is probably not even necessary, and boom, your playing vintage. Won't happen unless a new printing ala companion enables it or WOTC restricts fetches and duals so players have to pay actual costs for mana, but still.

@Protoaddict mox ruby is free to proxy and costs $2 online. Similar for the rest of the power. Vintage in its current form is accessible for all but 1 or 2 tournaments a year.

@illig719 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

@Protoaddict mox ruby is free to proxy and costs $2 online. Similar for the rest of the power. Vintage in its current form is accessible for all but 1 or 2 tournaments a year.

Sanctioned, we mean. For kitchen table I completely agree that a sharpie, blank card, or even a nice printed playtest card is totally fine.

That said, the last time I could play weekly sanctioned Vintage was 2012, so....

I'm not talking about kitchen table. I mean weekly/monthly tournaments that are still held which allow 15 proxies. There may be others but the only truly sanctioned events I'm aware of in the US where u cannot proxy are EW and SCG con. Also online most vintage decks are cheaper than modern.
Unless your goal is to play in those two tournaments the format is accessible. Driving interest to it is a different issue and one that I don't see being fixed by any different number/style of companion printings.

This entire discussion pertains to the B&R list, which is for sanctioned formats. If you want to play proxy or have your own banned lists that is your prerogative, but I do not see how you can decouple this discussion from sanctioned play.

It is my opinion that the lifeblood of this format is actually in-person sanctioned events, because they are impressive to watch and play in. The thing that got me into vintage magic was really seeing a few event VODs and reading reports from them in the early 2010s and realizing I had the means to work my way into the format. Once in to the format I gave up on standard and realized that for someone like me the time and money it takes to play standard is simply not something my lifestyle would accommodate, but Vintage, Modern, and legacy were something I could hang my hat on.

My point about Burn though was honestly that it does not even need ruby. The deck has enough speed and velocity off basic lands already and no draw to speak of, and cards like Fireblast prefer mountains anyway. If it was viable in the format because people had actual pressure on life totals (from being forced to use shocks or something) then it would be a budget deck without actually being a budget deck. Blood moon builds were close to this as well but still want and use lotus to real effect, plus Force of Vigor pushed them out of the meta for now.

@protoaddict said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

I fail to see how this is true. All the cards in your deck are arguably there for synergistic reasons, companions are no different. To say that a companion stifles you because it places restrictions on you is completely contrary to all the magic design principals that Maro has constantly talked about, where restrictions and limitations breed creativity.
Saying the companions stifle creativity is like saying Lord of Atlantis stifles creativity because he is only used in a prescribed list and is totally linear.

I say this because companions and their +1 to starting hand size essentially invalidate any non-companion strategy. Card advantage is the name of the game and always has been. If they had to shuffle a card back to insert the companion into their hand I wouldn't care at all, and would then be excited for such design space.

@pilsburydohboy42 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

I say this because companions and their +1 to starting hand size essentially invalidate any non-companion strategy. Card advantage is the name of the game and always has been. If they had to shuffle a card back to insert the companion into their hand I wouldn't care at all, and would then be excited for such design space.

I know that @Smmenen would agree with your sentiments on card advantage, but that's not really always 100% true. Would you play a card that let you start with a hand of 10 cards but you were unable to play any card with a casting cost less than seven? I think everyone in this thread all agrees that the Companion mechanic in theory is fine, it's just that the deck-building restrictions need to be very severe to counterbalance the cards.

Even based on the printed cards, it's hyperbolic to say that "companions and their +1 to starting hand size... invalidate[s] any non-companion strategy." No one in Vintage is running Obosh or the Macrosage. It's not the mechanic itself, it's the cost. And, come to think of it, that's basically true of almost all of WotC's biggest mistakes 😄

@protoaddict said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

This entire discussion pertains to the B&R list, which is for sanctioned formats. If you want to play proxy or have your own banned lists that is your prerogative, but I do not see how you can decouple this discussion from sanctioned play.

Literally every paper tournament I have played in that has allowed proxies/playtest cards has followed the current B&R list. I think it is a bit silly to limit the discussion solely to sanctioned events, of which there are roughly 1-2 per year as someone noted earlier. It may be your opinion that sanctioned is the lifeblood of the format, but that is an opinion, not a fact. I tend to hold the exact opposite opinion, for instance. I think paper Vintage would die completely if not for proxy events.

Girls, you're both pretty.

The question is, is Lurrus going to the prom next week or not?

@maximumcdawg said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

@pilsburydohboy42 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

I say this because companions and their +1 to starting hand size essentially invalidate any non-companion strategy. Card advantage is the name of the game and always has been. If they had to shuffle a card back to insert the companion into their hand I wouldn't care at all, and would then be excited for such design space.

I know that @Smmenen would agree with your sentiments on card advantage, but that's not really always 100% true. Would you play a card that let you start with a hand of 10 cards but you were unable to play any card with a casting cost less than seven? I think everyone in this thread all agrees that the Companion mechanic in theory is fine, it's just that the deck-building restrictions need to be very severe to counterbalance the cards.

I don't think that's true.

EITHER the deck building restrictions have to be severe OR the Companion needs to be less powerful.

Compare Temporal Fissure to Mind's Desire, or Hunting Pack and Tendrils of Agony. Not every storm card is broken. You can make them less powerful.

Companion is like Dredge, Storm, or Delve. It's a risky mechanic, and the key is making cards that less powerful. It's a tricky balance, but it is feasible.

@pilsburydohboy42 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

I say this because companions and their +1 to starting hand size essentially invalidate any non-companion strategy. Card advantage is the name of the game and always has been. If they had to shuffle a card back to insert the companion into their hand I wouldn't care at all, and would then be excited for such design space.

Prison shops decks have a long standing history of not caring about card advantage at all and work on the principal of virtual card advantage and tempo. Your +4 cards from ancestral and Lurrus don't mean crap if you cannot play them because of my 2 spheres or the fact that you are dead before you can cast them. Lurrus does not do much to change that dynamic. You starting with 2-3 cards over me in game one does not matter at all if they don't stop me from locking you out of playing any of them, they don't help you at all if they don't stop dredge from winning on turn 2 against you. Lurrus really only helps you win the grindy games or in a few cases with Lotus ups your storm count.

Actually, here is a metric I would be interested in: In how many games of Lurrus vs non Lurrus decks did he actually get cast?

I ask this because in games where you include a card in your deck, win or lose there is a cost to including that card in your deck and it has an effect on the outcome, even if that effect was it was stranded in your hand. It could have been another card, maybe you should have run pyroblast over spell pierce, that type of thing. It is hard to decouple wins and losses in those matches from the cards inclusion in your 60 because the card had effect on the games probability, and even had an effect on what you could tutor for.

If you win or lose a game with Lurrus is your companion, how much do you accredit that to him if you never cast him? I would hardly consider it a Lurrus problem if the breach deck that just happened to include him also won 50% of their matches without ever casting him. PO had it in the sideboard as a grindy back up plan but never actually had that come up and just comboed out most games.

Simply put I'm not sure you can even analyse the card using standard metrics. How do you judge running 7 piece of grave hate in your sideboard and then not getting matched against dredge all tourney? Was it incorrect to do so even though that deck was represented in high numbers?

@smmenen

I don't think its comparable to the Dredge, or Storm mechanic simply because you have to design a deck specifically to play with those specific mechanics. You can't simply put a Dredge card, or a Storm card in any random deck and expect it to perform.

It is comparable to the Delve mechanic. You are limited 1 companion. In a similar fashion, there is a limit to the number of Delve cards you can play (I forget exactly how many there were in the TC days, but I recall that it was rare for someone to play more than 4 or so).

If we expand on the example of Delve, if you only have 1 or 2 good options in the deck building process then you are basically forced to play those 1 or 2 good options. Look back at the TC and DTT days when basically a deck had to chose 1 or the other (usually TC). Companions are in a similar state right now. You have 1 or 2 good options (most people are choosing Lurrus). Printing more good Delve cards could have been a solution to "fix" TC and DTT that is assuming that Wizards wanted everyone to play a delve card. Similarly, printing more companions could be a "fix" for Lurrus assuming that Wizards wants everyone to play a companion card.

@pilsburydohboy42

You have to evaluate the mechanic and card holistically. This is something that @chubbyrain1 has brought up numerous times in discussions surrounding the "playability" of various planeswalkers (among other cards), and he is right on that. Simply saying that all companions are +1 card misses the drawbacks of playing them, of which include:

  1. You lose your 15th sideboard card.
  2. You telegraph your deck choice to a degree.
  3. The 8th card is a specific card.
  4. You limit yourself to whatever deck building constraints that the companion requires. In the case of Lurrus, people are giving up on playing powerful restricted list cards, like Narset, Lodestone, among other powerful non-restricted list cards.

This is all to say that the mechanic is fine if Wizards wants everyone (or at least most everyone) to play companions. I'm not sure if that was their intent on the printings, but it seems to be the consequence. A "pushed" mechanic is not always bad, I think we had lots of great game play come from the last "pushed" mechanic in Planeswalkers.

In the long run, the game will benefit if they stay the course with companions. Adding an 8th guaranteed specific card to your hand is good. It emulates concepts that work very well in Hearthstone, Magic's biggest competitor. "Quest" cards and "Hero Powers" in that game are guarantees to your opening, which provide game play with a much needed variance reduction. The difference being that "Hero Powers" are fairly weak, and the deck building constraints on "Quest" cards can be very extreme. Too much variance is bad for gameplay as the game becomes more like Poker than Chess, although some variance is good as it forces players to have to make probabilistic decisions instead of deterministic ones.

last edited by vaughnbros

@vaughnbros said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

@smmenen

I don't think its comparable to the Dredge, or Storm mechanic simply because you have to design a deck specifically to play with that specific mechanic. You can't simply put a Dredge card, or a Storm card in any random deck and expect it to perform.

Flusterstorm and Darkblast would like to have a word with you.

I used Dredge, Storm and Delve as examples because they are the three most powerful mechanics in the last X number of years, and each have led to restrictions.

I don't think Companion is a fatally flawed concept.

What we need are more Tasigurs and less Treasure Cruises. Zirda is a probably closer in this analogy to Tasigur.

@smmenen

Sure, then again Storm is nearly a 20 year old mechanic, and Dredge/Delve are nearly 15 years old. Another mechanic in the running for most powerful is the Planeswalker mechanic. They are about 10 years old.

It takes time for the kinks in a new mechanic to be figured out, and occasionally there is a mistake among them printed.

last edited by vaughnbros

@smmenen said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

I have thoroughly enjoyed playing in the Lurrus metagame. I recognize that others haven't, and the numbers certainly warrant a discussion on possible banning, but I think this is premature to pull the trigger.

I think this printing will further magnify the schism between MTGO vs. paper and elite players vs. casual.

Lurrus games can be very deep and nuanced and engaging battles of attrition for elite players. They can also be mind-numbingly repetitive for casuals.

We're right back in the same conundrum that Mentor caused. Each individual game can be deep and awesome, but from an aerial view the format looks horrible. People quit during Mentor. They didn't come back. I know that's not a good reason to make decisions from, but it's definitely relevant.

last edited by joshuabrooks

I'm just saying if you +1 starting hand size to half the decks in the format that the other half start looking like poor options to play. Yes, obviously the +1 card can't be trash (people playing 3/2 vigilance dude in a 0 creature deck), but if it's playable the advantage is huge and huge consistently.

Not totally vintage relevant, but it also really bothers me that Gyruda is one of like 3 cards that works through Leyline of the Void for no apparent reason.

@joshuabrooks said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

I think this printing will further magnify the schism between MTGO and paper and elite players and casual.

Lurrus games can be very deep and nuanced and engaging battles of attrition for elite players. They can also be mind-numbingly repetitive for casuals.

We're right back in the same conundrum that Mentor caused. Each individual game can be deep and awesome, but from an aerial view the format looks horrible. People quit then. They didn't come back. I know that's not a good reason to make decisions from, but it's definitely relevant.

This is a good point. I imagine Lurrus vs. Lurrus to be a really cool matchup and incredibly skill intensive, maybe some of the best Magic you could ever possibly play, but sooo damn polarizing that I'm forced to say "fuck that". I'd like to hurl the companion mechanic in a sack, and hurl that sack in a river, and hurl that river into space.

How much is an extra card worth in MTG?

The concept is messy because Wizards knows the cost is high and that's why they keep trying to mitigate the effect with the mulligan rules, but going off the data collected from 17lands.com Resources on MTGA, it's about 12% after the London mulligan. It was previously 16% with the Vancouver mulligan. For context, the best players tend to be in the 60% for win rates, the best decks tend to be in the mid 50% range. So without mitigating the card disadvantage, you are basically turning an average player on an average deck into one of the best players on one of the best decks.

Now please don't waste people's time pointing out irrelevant details like the difference between limited and Vintage. That's not the point. The point is an extra card has a huge effect on a deck's win percentage and the Companions were trying to mitigate that advantage solely by their deck building restrictions. Or they could have made the cards week, like a basically vanilla 5/5 or 4/5 (and those still see competitive play). Lurrus's deckbulding restriction is not very significant in the context of Vintage and the card is pushed relative to other three drops if you've ever tried to play it maindeck in any format. Lurrus compounds the advantages of the extra card by being a strong card in it's own right. The 11% advantage that we calculated from our data set is likely an accurate representation of the cards power despite the fact that the format is completely warping around itself with up to 75% of decks running it.

I don't know how to spell it out any clearer.

@vaughnbros said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

In the long run, the game will benefit if they stay the course with companions. Adding an 8th guaranteed specific card to your hand is good. It emulates concepts that work very well in Hearthstone, Magic's biggest competitor. "Quest" cards and "Hero Powers" in that game are guarantees to your opening, which provide game play with a much needed variance reduction. The difference being that "Hero Powers" are fairly weak, and the deck building constraints on "Quest" cards can be very extreme. Too much variance is bad for gameplay as the game becomes more like Poker than Chess, although some variance is good as it forces players to have to make probabilistic decisions instead of deterministic ones.

Quests eat a card slot from your hand, and hero powers the entire class is based around. They're interesting points of comparison, but they shouldn't be used as proof that companions are within an appropriate power level (or even that the mechanic can be made to fit within an appropriate power level)

@chubbyrain1

I don't think you have to make it clearer because I don't think anyone is disagreeing that Lurrus is absolutely broken right now, but my argument is that is because he has so little competition in the companion slot.

What you seem to be suggesting is that Wizards had to be aware of the implications of the mechanic in terms of improved win %'s solely on getting a free card. Therefore, they had to be aware that its existence would eventually lead to every deck needing to play a companion.

@ajfirecracker

If every deck has a companion in the future, then its essentially like we have card classes in MTG as well.

Consider that their announcement did not mention any action towards Modern, or Standard. I believe that means that they are unlikely to make a move against the Companion mechanic.

What they could do in the meantime, given that there is so little competition for Lurrus, is to remove some power 3+ drops from the restricted list to try and create a power disparity such that the deck building constraints are too great to play the card. There are quite a few cards from Shops that were just recently restricted that could stem the bleeding a bit, and at least create a 2-deck format. Potentially throw in some combo cards, like Necropotence and Flash, and we may be able to get back to a 3-deck format.

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