NYSE #4 - Complete Metagame Report

@JACO said:

@ChubbyRain said:

Have other Gush pilots found the [DPS vs. Mentor Gush] matchup difficult? I'm curious...

From the results we've read online, and the testing I've done with DPS vs. UWR Mentor Gush it has been about a 50/50 matchup, depending on deck configuration. The more Defense Grids you play main deck the better the match gets for DPS, as it invalidates a lot of the soft counters that Mentor and Gush decks rely on. Things like Xantid Swarm, Thoughtseize (takes opposing hatebears, TKS, and never misses usually make it worth the life), City of Solitude, and even Mind Twist (doesn't get Misstepped, and is better against more decks) are also very good tools for DPS and Gush Storm decks at the moment.

Yeah, in testing I've had the matchup fluctuate from 40-80% depending on deck construction. Counterbalance is one of the more hateful options against Combo, but even less extreme measures like Cabal Therapy and Snapcaster Mage can shift the matchup dramatically in Gush's favor. It's funny, the more anti-Gush cards Storm plays like Xantid Swarm, City of Solitude, and Defense Grid, the less consistent it is at actually winning the game, which creates a sort of limit on how bad the matchup can be for Gush.

I split my two matches against White Eldrazi (punting one of them) - Adding Mystical Tutor and Balance to complement the Walkers and Swords is pretty strong. Mindbreak Trap also can do work against their most broken openers. Alternatively, JVP is quite good if you can get him active, Baleful Strix is quite strong against them. Gush can definitely be built to beat Eldrazi and the Gush decks that did well made the necessary adjustments. That doesn't mean that Eldrazi is not a powerful deck - it certainly is.

Jaco's version is likely much weaker against Mentor. The reason White Eldrazi has a strong Mentor matchup is the combination of Spheres and the big threats. Without the Spheres, Mentor can just go nuts and the deck is more susceptible to Supreme Verdict, which commonly sees play out of Mentor SBs.

To give you some tiny data, I went 2-0 (4-1 in games) against UWR Mentor Gush (both having a small Bomberman package) at NYSE4 with Unpowered Eldrazi, and thought the match was generally in my favor against Gush decks of all varieties heading in to this tournament after having tested the past few months (which is why I simply couldn't justify playing 4C Mentor at NYSE4, which was my other deck sleeved up and ready to register). Null Rod and 8 Wasteland effects function similarly to 8+ Sphere effects. Balance can be very good against Eldrazi, but often comes priced in with losing most of your hand when casting it against an Eldrazi player who usually has 1-2 cards in hand. I believe I had my board reset by Balance, Engineered Explosives, and Toxic Deluge at NYSE4, and it didn't even seem to matter in any of the games. Eldrazi Mimic plus one other resolved follow up threat is usually enough to finish off your opponent in those situations because of the damage already incurred before a sweeper is cast. I remember beating Oath in a fun G3 after he resolved Deluge to wipe the board, then I cast an uncounterable Mimic and passed, and then I cast another large (non-Reality Smasher) creature the next turn, triggering Mimic, and the game was over.

Honestly, we didn't have you as playing against "Gush Mentor" once during the event. AJ Grasso's Gush Bomberman list was classified as "Other Gush" as we felt it was more of a Bomberman deck with only two Mentors and the Trinket Mage/Salvagers package. It didn't run Missteps, Preordains, Gitaxian Probes or even Ponder which are commonly associated with Mentor Gush. John Leone was playing Bomberman with zero Gushes and 1 Mentor. These aren't the type of decks that I expect to give you trouble - to the contrary, your null rods should be devastating.

The specific strategies I discussed were more oriented at White Eldrazi. You will note that I never mentioned Toxic Deluge as I think that card is terrible - you can't afford to pay 4+ life to wipe the board against a deck capable of deploying uncounterable 5/5 haste tramplers. Balance was discussed specifically in the context of Sylvan Mentor. It by itself is not enough - you need something like a Sylvan Library or Planeswalker (or Mentor + Gush) to follow it up. A strategy I've found that works well is to aggressively Gush before Balancing to maximize the Armageddon effect of Balance - Eldrazi does not function as well as Shops on 0-1 lands.

The main path to victory for Mentor from every playtest game I had was if the Mentor decks get a very fast start against any form of Eldrazi (ie. resolving a Mentor before Eldrazi or Workshop deck does anything relevant), but barring that they are usually on the back foot most of the game against the versions with 4 Cavern of Souls, as there is effectively zero working countermagic at that point, and even having 4 Swords to Plowshares is not usually enough to save you. Dark Confidant, JVP, and Young Pyromancer are all OK, but none really seemed to swing games like a turn 1-2 Mentor racing. The fact that dedicated Eldrazi decks are basically half creatures, and keep pumping out larger creatures makes it very winnable for both Tribal Eldrazi and White Eldrazi. Endbringer or Eldrazi Displacer can clean up the battlefield very quickly against Mentor if the board is clogged. This also ignores the ability for any deck to play Dismember, which matters more than you'd think.

If you have an MTGO account, I would love to test the matchup against you. But that was my point...without the Spheres, Monastery Mentor can trump your 4/4 and 5/5 Eldrazi by itself. I'm not counting on Swords killing all of your creatures, just the problematic ones like Displacer and Endbringer while negating the vanilla beaters with tokens galore. I've beaten quadruple Reality Smasher draws with a single Monastery Mentor on MTGO. Again, I'm happy if this thought is incorrect, but that has been my experience so far.

Mentor certainly can (and will) adapt to the results of the last month, but I think the other decks will keep adapting as well. I know I will (both with Eldrazi, and all of my other decks). I have read consternation about Gush (and Workshop) decks occupying a certain varying percentage of the metagame, but I can honestly say this is the most open Vintage has been to me since like 2002-2004, if people will take the time and put forward the effort to innovate, and I'm way more excited to play Vintage now than anytime in the past few years.

Jaco, I knocked LSV out of the VMA Championship event with a Magus of the Future combo deck. That deck ran Helm of Awakening and Fact or Fiction. I put forth a lot of effort into building a Nongush Blue deck that can compete consistently with other Gush decks and the field at large. So please don't make condescending remarks like "if only people would take the time and put forward the effort to innovate"... You don't know what people have or haven't done. It's a lazy argument and it really doesn't help with the discussion.

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We all know Monastery Mentor and Gush are synergistic and the best of breed/most efficient at what they individually do, but there are Thirst, Gifts, Landstill, and other combo decks out there that can be competitive in this metagame, and you just have to put the work in to tuning them.

Gifts? I haven't finished going through the NYSE decklists but I'm not even sure there was a single copy of Gifts Ungiven present. Other blue decks are competitive? They were 16% of the metagame. And 0% of the top 8, 0% of the top 16, and 0% of the X-2+ decks. With Dave Kaplan actually beating Nick Cummings in the last round, there wasn't a single deck in the x-2 bracket (down to 22nd place) without Thought-Knot Seer, Workshops, Gush, or Bazaar of Baghdad. So forgive me if I don't see this metagame as wide open...

last edited by ChubbyRain

@ChubbyRain said:

Jaco, I knocked LSV out of the VMA Championship event with a Magus of the Future combo deck. That deck ran Helm of Awakening and Fact or Fiction. I put forth a lot of effort into building a Nongush Blue deck that can compete consistently with other Gush decks and the field at large. So please don't make condescending remarks like "if only people would take the time and put forward the effort to innovate"... You don't know what people have or haven't done. It's a lazy argument and it really doesn't help with the discussion.

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We all know Monastery Mentor and Gush are synergistic and the best of breed/most efficient at what they individually do, but there are Thirst, Gifts, Landstill, and other combo decks out there that can be competitive in this metagame, and you just have to put the work in to tuning them.

Gifts? I haven't finished going through the NYSE decklists but I'm not even sure there was a single copy of Gifts Ungiven present. Other blue decks are competitive? They were 16% of the metagame. And 0% of the top 8, 0% of the top 16, and 0% of the X-2+ decks. With Dave Kaplan actually beating Nick Cummings in the last round, there wasn't a single deck in the x-2 bracket (down to 22nd place) without Thought-Knot Seer, Workshops, Gush, or Bazaar of Baghdad. So forgive me if I don't see this metagame as wide open...

Matt, to be clear, I am not making a condescending remark towards you at all. You playing with all of these different cards, and walking through your deck and lines of play on stream, are why you are my favorite streamer, period (although I can't say I have time to watch much Magic the past few months). This is a comment for the greater player populace. I cannot tell you how many people I have played against in testing and tournaments who exclusively test just a couple of decks they found in a Top 8 on MTGO or TMD, and think the metagame is only those few decks. They literally do not even pick up the cards to test anything else. That is certainly their prerogative, but the thing which I think is intellectually lazy is a lot of people not testing other strategies because they're simply happy with Mentor Gush, Workshops, or whatever they limit themselves to. I think it is quite clear that Monastery Mentor is objectively the most powerful creature ever printed, but that doesn't mean that's all I'm going to play with.

I know that you've put in the work to come to the conclusions you have, just like Rich, Steve, Brian Kelly, Brian Schlossberg, Montolio, and a handful of others have, and I value the differing opinions and data analysis you all have put in. I think you and I are probably in agreement on the premise that UWx Mentor Gush is objectively the most powerful deck right now, but I believe there are other competitive decks out there (yes, Gifts included, which no one is touching at the moment), and Eldrazi variants over the past month have proven that there is room to innovate. I have had my tuned unpowered Eldrazi shell together (as well as an unpowered white one) for months - since it was running rampant in Modern, and I had been saving it for NYSE4. To give you another small example, Danny's Friedman's Thirst-fueled Grixis deck went 5-0 at NYSE4 against non-Eldrazi decks (but 0-3 against Eldrazi) and is definitely a sweet non-Gush blue deck. I'm not ruling out that there will be a further concentration of power and coalescing around Gush or Workshop or Mentor, and that another restriction may be needed down the road. I would just like to see Vintage be given far more breathing room, time, and latitude than other formats to adapt, because while it is now on MTGO, there are still much longer periods of time that go between large paper events that people test and save technology for (myself included) as compared to other constructed formats like Standard, Modern, and Legacy.

@JACO I agree, I also dislike players leaping to conclusions based on limited experience. I engaged Randy on Twitter trying to improve his Shops matchup with UW Landstill which was running Energy Flux - I argued that Flux wasn't good Shops hate as if you can cast it, you are probably winning anyway with Crucible, Mentor, or a Planeswalker, and that Engineered Explosives is much better for the games in which they are threatening to Sphere you out entirely. While you can make credible arguments for and against Lodestone golem's restriction, it's a bad argument if you are trying to use your loss with an "anti-Shops" UW deck with SB Energy Fluxes as a key component.

By the same token, it's a problem if one side of the issue is being dismissed out of hand. Asking people to "look inwards" or suggest that they are "complaining for the sake of complaining" is not really conducive to a discussion. It wasn't you who had made those remarks but they did precede your comment and led me to read it in the wrong light. I apologize for that.

Danny Friedman's deck is interesting but is also representative of the issue I have had with non-Gush Blue decks - you are sacrificing way too many percentage points in order to have game against Gush/Mentor that you end up with deck incapable of performing well against a diverse field in a large event. Each Notion Thief, Thoughtseize, and Pyroblast you add to your maindeck and each Virulent Plague and Toxic Deluge you add to your SB costs you mightily against White Eldrazi and Shops. Can Gush be beaten? Of course, just as Lodestone Shops could be beaten. It's just that the tradeoffs are too severe given the decks percentage of the metagame. You may consider that emblematic of a balanced metagame, but it makes if very difficult to chose something outside of the established paradigm. I might as well play a Gush deck with adjustments for the Eldrazi and Shops matchup and not concede to a resolved Thought-Knot Seer - I will end up having a higher expected overall win percentage that way. And because of that, you get a top 22 consisting entirely of Thought-Knot Seers, Gushes, and Bazaar of Baghdads (with Vinnie Forino on Shops Arrabiata the lone exception).

@ChubbyRain said:

Gush had a sub - 50% MWP. Speculating on this, a part was due to Eldrazi and Shops being highly favored against the deck. A second part was the archetype being by far the most known element of the field - this led to both the deck being targeted (i.e. with defense grids, Sudden Shocks, etc.) and the deck being adopted by those without much in the way of experience with the deck. Despite the 46% MWP, the top 8 was half Gush, as was six of the top 16 (37.5%) - both outperformed the 32.5% of the metagame that was Gush. Tom Metelsky @i_b_TRUE has played Gush decks online almost exclusively for some time. Hank Zhong used to be an Oath player but made the switch to Gush Mentor a couple of months back and put up some strong finishes. Vito has played Gush forever it seems. Brian Kelly's aptitude with Gush needs no explanation. AJ Grasso has a Champs finals with Gush Delver to his credit. This suggests that while the average player struggled in a hostile field, those most experienced with the archetype did very well. At least, that is my rationalization for the apparent contradiction.

I think a more plausible explanation is that the best players in the room were disproportionately on Gush (Rich Shay, Kelly, etc.) It's reasonable to think that they would have done just as well, and perhaps better, with a better performing archetype, like Workshop Eldrazi.

For example, Rich Shay is one of the most experienced Gush pilots on the planet, and I think he finished 5-3 with Sylvan Mentor. I think Ari Lax, possibly the best magic player in the room, had a similar finish (6-2) with Gush as well. I suspect both would have done better, or at least as well, had they played the best performing deck, Workshop Eldrazi.

I'd like to see the entire metagame breakdown (by finish) to try to assess this question better.

@Smmenen said:

It's notable that Combo actually had a 56% win percentage against Gush, which is another weakness (as I mentioned in my podcast) for Gush decks. According to the table at the top, Gush decks have losing win percentages against 4 different archetypes.

Also, once again, Oath performs much better in paper (not simply on paper) than it does on MTGO.

Going by record, Combo went 19 -16 against Gush and one of those matches was Dave Kaplan scooping to Nick Cummings (so actually 18-17). I don't think you can definitively say that this is a weakness of the archetype - in other events, Gush has posted positive results against Storm

That's why I said "According to the table at the top," and not "According to the table at the top, which tells us a definitive result..."

Any particular tournament result is only a snapshot, and never the definitive statement.

That said, both this result and the May MTGO P9 result show Combo having a virtually identical match win percentage against Gush decks. So, if we pair the most recent and largest tournaments together, it does look like a soft spot, at least, according to recent results.

I'm not sure how the perception that "Combo beats Gush" got started but that hasn't been true in my experience with the deck

Just to be clear, calling a matchup soft or weak is not the same thing as saying "X beats Y." Beats is too strong of a statement.

This highlights one of the weaknesses of aggregating all Gush decks. Different Gush decks have better and worse DPS matchups.

At one extreme, Doomsday has a fantastic DPS matchup, so if you disaggregate Doomsday and other Gush decks, that should reduce Gush decks overall win%. At the other extreme, Sylvan Mentor decks, which have fewer countermagic than you just cited (your deck had only 3 Missteps), and more mana, are softer to combo, because they have more mana and less countermagic.

Also, I think it's important to note that Combo decks themselves vary, both in design and skill of the pilot, probably more than any other archetype. It's my assessment that combo decks with 3-4 Defense Grids and/or City of Solitude are much better positioned to combat Gush decks. Gush decks tend to have fewer mana sources, making Defense Grid more powerful, and both cards elide Fluster/Trap/Misstep/Pyroblast, a fact that Brian Kelly and others have pointed out on numerous occasions.

I think Storm, anchored by Gird/City, is an excellent choice for attacking metagames filled with Brian Kelly type decks and/or Aggro-Control Gush decks.

It seems like the paper metagame has fewer Gush decks compared to Online, which is one of Oath's worse matchups. I'm not surprised it did better than it's done in the MTGO P9 tournaments, given this.

I was trying to point out the fact that Oath decks are hugely disadvantaged on MTGO, because you can't use the Bomberman loop, and therefore the best Oath deck is not viable. We should expect Oath to do much better on paper for that reason alone.

As for your premise that Gush is a smaller part of the paper metagame, I'm not sure that's actually true. The tournament had 32% Gush decks in the field, which isn't really that far from the 38% that showed up in the last MTGO P9 event. Moreover, the MTGO Dailies for June had 30% reported Gush decks so far. Granted, that's a small sample size, but I wouldn't be surprised if Gush decks are actually under 30% of MTGO daily results by the end of June, would you? I think it's gonna be closer to 25% than 30%, based upon the fact that if you take out 6/2 results, Gush is only 24.32% of MTGO daily results so far...

Finally, while I realize that the MTGO data you've compiled has Oath showing a soft performance against Gush decks, we shouldn't forget that Oath won the last two Vintage Championships and the Asian Vintage Championship in fields with enormous amounts of Gush decks. So, even though there is some data showing that Oath is a dog to Gush, there are salient data points - like the last two Vintage Championships - that suggest that Oath can perform very well in a Sea of Gush.

There are good reasons for that. Sylvan Library and Top actually help Oath decks recoup virtual card advantage, and compete with the Gush engine. Didn't Rich Shay crush a bunch of Gush decks with Odd Oath a few months ago as well? Oath has certainly proven that it can compete with Gush decks, despite the aggregate P9 data.

Some people think that Gush decks can adapt to beat Eldrazi, but I am more skeptical. I think the Eldrazi menace is much more resilient and disruptive than it appears (what I saw Paul Mastriano do to Craig Berry was insane - with Spirit in play, and using blink and TKS to exile his draws in his draw step for a close to hard lock, despite an opposing Moat). And attacking the white version may be much less effectual against the Shop or Jaco's version.

I split my two matches against White Eldrazi (punting one of them) - Adding Mystical Tutor and Balance to complement the Walkers and Swords is pretty strong. Mindbreak Trap also can do work against their most broken openers. Alternatively, JVP is quite good if you can get him active, Baleful Strix is quite strong against them. Gush can definitely be built to beat Eldrazi and the Gush decks that did well made the necessary adjustments. That doesn't mean that Eldrazi is not a powerful deck - it certainly is.

Jaco's version is likely much weaker against Mentor. The reason White Eldrazi has a strong Mentor matchup is the combination of Spheres and the big threats. Without the Spheres, Mentor can just go nuts and the deck is more susceptible to Supreme Verdict, which commonly sees play out of Mentor SBs.

Not trying to start anything - just my two cents based on the testing I've done with Gush Mentor and looking at the decklists.

Sure - I mean, metagames are dynamic. It's reasonable to expect to see people find answers to the threats they face, but we should also anticipate a counter-response, etc.

When I say that I am skeptical that Gush decks can "adapt to beat Eldrazi," I meant that I think the Eldrazi decks are resilient and disruptive enough to hang in there in the long run, and aren't likely to reach a point where the Gush decks "solve" them definitively and then they go away.

In other words, I was contesting the notion -- that some were intimating -- that Gush decks will find the answer, and then Eldrazi will fade away - a minor blip on the path to eventual Gush dominance. I think Eldrazi is here to stay.

Can Gush be beaten? Of course, just as Lodestone Shops could be beaten. It's just that the tradeoffs are too severe given the decks percentage of the metagame.

It's that really empirically supportable? As I said at the beginning, your table has Gush decks with unfavorable win % against 4 different archetypes. If the tradeoffs to beating Gush were so severe, then why is it that so many archetypes seem to able to do it?

Lodestone Golem, on the other hand, was not only restricted because it was difficult to beat, but because it created miserable game play and non-interactive games. Gush is slow, and creates highly interactive games.

You may consider that emblematic of a balanced metagame, but it makes if very difficult to chose something outside of the established paradigm.

If there are four archetypes with winning %ages against Gush decks, at a minimum, that means we have a 5 archetype metagame. Gush decks are good against other blue control decks, but soft to Storm, Shops, Eldrazi and Dredge. It should be noted that Humans also won the BOM in a top 4 of 3 Gush decks, so we might add that too...

That seems like a pretty balanced format to me, and I think the format is more open than you are giving it credit. I don't know if it's "real" or not but Rich Shay just 4-0ed a daily with Control Slaver. I see people brewing up some pretty radical stuff recently. I think the format is in a period of upheaval rather than the consolidation toward long term Gush dominance. We'll know more a few months from now, but the arguments that I made a few months back that we needed to wait and see how this metagame plays out look more accurate than the alternative.

last edited by Smmenen

Your win% data seein op seems miscalculated. Shops 79 wins of 101 match is almost 80%, when you say it's 69%
Gush decks win% is notably above 50% with ~150 wins out of ~250 matches

@Kasparadi I think you forgot to subtract out the wins occurring in mirror matches. For example, the 3rd table shows that gush had 152 wins (by summing the row) and 167 losses (by summing the column), and that 52 of those occurred in mirror matches. That gives us 167+152-2*52=215 non-mirror matches, where gush won 152-52=100 of those. That gives us the 46.5% win% against the field (non-mirrors).

Perhaps it wasn't the best of us to put "Total Wins" in the first table. If something still looks sketchy though please let us know. We definitely want to make sure there are no errors.

To the more general discussion: when people complain about this metagame and say that it is not balanced or healthy, I think to a large extent this is code for "the decks that I like to play are not good right now". This metagame is incredibly creature focused (jitte is a good card in vintage!). Eldrazi and shops might be frustrating to play against for the same reason, but to treat them like the same deck from a diversity perspective seems akin to lumping all the FOW decks together. Traditional blue decks have been bad for a long time, and if that's what you really want to play, you are definitely going to be unsatisfied with the state of vintage.

last edited by diophan

Not sure which category my Academy deck fell into, but just wanted to say hi and say that I posted a report here for everyone: http://www.themanadrain.com/topic/364/of-wheels-and-welds-a-weekend-of-vintage

@Smmenen

I would like to avoid derailing this thread with too many lengthy replies. It does make it hard for others to follow. If you'd like to discuss these points in more depth, please PM me.

Briefly,

  • The problem with the "good players" argument is that it discounts those players' skills at deck selection. Rich didn't pick a deck at random and neither did Brian - they chose to play Gush for a reason. If you are going to suggest that these are the best players in the room (and I agree with you on that), then you also should assume they are skilled when it comes to deck selection.
  • Ari Lax played White Eldrazi, not Gush, though he did finish at 6-2.
  • Every deck list will be published in some form, though I'm still working out the best way to do so (with Ryan and Jaco).
  • Alright, a "weakness" is different from X beating Y. Still, there was a perception that with Chalice and then Lodestone Golem getting restricted, combo would have a field day and part of that perception was that it had a favorable matchup against Gush. That has not really developed in any metagame.
  • We are in the process of going through the subarchetypes, but you lose sample size looking at them. It does seem that Doomsday went 2-0 against DPS but 10-13 overall. It's a challenge to do these classifications, but we are trying to get as much data out there as possible.
  • It's hard to figure out the effect of MTGO's limitations on our metagame data. However, of the decklists we have, there was only 1 Salvagers Oath list. The metagames surrounding Champs and the Asian Vintage championship are dramatically different that what we have now. Both Chalice and Lodestone were legal at Champs and Workshops was 1/3 of the top tables. Brian Kelly's Salvager's Oath list destroys Workshops - but it does not do well against Mentor. The Asian vintage championship seemed like it was actually a very small event and again, Lodestone was legal as a four of at the time. Rich's Odd Oath deck was built to beat Storm and Shops - it doesn't consistently beat Mentor.
  • I didn't mean to say that Eldrazi was a temporary thing - I was specifically addressing your claim that "Gush decks can't adopt to beat Eldrazi". I think there are definitely some adaptations that Gush decks can make to combat Eldrazi and listed them. I concluded by noting that Eldrazi was still incredibly powerful - I don't think the deck is a flash in the pan and am actually excited that it exists. It's a validation of the Lodestone restriction in that a new archetype sprung up while the old archetype (Shops) remains a fixture of the metagame (and won the entire event).

It's that really empirically supportable? As I said at the beginning, your table has Gush decks with unfavorable win % against 4 different archetypes. If the tradeoffs to beating Gush were so severe, then why is it that so many archetypes seem to able to do it?

  • My comment here was specifically about other Blue Control decks (i.e. Danny Friedman's deck). Jaco mentioned that Danny went 5-0 against Blue but 0-3 against Eldrazi...That has been my issue with Gush, that it has led to a consolidation of "viable" Blue archetypes and archetypes overall. If we are going by the X-2+ finishers as those who could have won the event if one or two matches ended differently, it's literally Eldrazi, Shops, Dredge, and Gush. No Thirst decks, no Gifts decks, no Landstill decks, no Blue Moon decks. That I think is the argument for the restriction of Gush, that you have a more diverse Blue slice of the metagame without it than with it.

@Bayclown said:

Not sure which category my Academy deck fell into, but just wanted to say hi and say that I posted a report here for everyone: http://www.themanadrain.com/topic/364/of-wheels-and-welds-a-weekend-of-vintage

Blue Control - Vault Key

Added a link to first post. Thank you for the report 🙂

@ChubbyRain said:

@Smmenen

  • The problem with the "good players" argument is that it discounts those players' skills at deck selection. Rich didn't pick a deck at random and neither did Brian - they chose to play Gush for a reason. If you are going to suggest that these are the best players in the room (and I agree with you on that), then you also should assume they are skilled when it comes to deck selection.

What you say is true, but my point was that I think these players would have done either better or just as well had they played the better performing deck. You played Gush, but your teammates who played Shop Eldrazi got 1st and 9th. Why didn't you? Empirically, Workshop Eldrazi was the better deck choice, right?

Possibly one reason is that you don't have as much confidence in yourself as a Shop pilot as Montolio or Brian - which suggests the limits of your "skill in deck selection" argument.

there was a perception that with Chalice and then Lodestone Golem getting restricted, combo would have a field day and part of that perception was that it had a favorable matchup against Gush. That has not really developed in any metagame.

I think the reason for that is that Thalia/Thorn metagame is just as bad for combo as the Shops metagame - if not worse. A second reason is that combo is just hard to play. Even if combo is the absolute best deck in a Vintage metagame, it's very difficult it for it to every truly dominate, because there aren't enough players who can master it. As Rich says, it "makes his head hurt."

  • It's hard to figure out the effect of MTGO's limitations on our metagame data. However, of the decklists we have, there was only 1 Salvagers Oath list.

The premise that Oath is much better on paper because Salvagers combo, and therefore the 2015 Championship deck, is not viable on MTGO shouldn't be controversial, should it? That's why Brian Kelly said for a long time that he refused to play MTGO.

That's the most obvious reason to think that Oath would perform better on paper than online.

And I'm not talking about just this event, of course.

The metagames surrounding Champs and the Asian Vintage championship are dramatically different that what we have now.

Sure, but they were also similar with respect to your point: the presence of Gush. Your point is that Oath is weak to Gush. But Gush was an even larger part of the 2014 Vintage Champs metagame when Tocco won, and I probably more than 30% of the 2015 Top 32 decklists, IIRC. Brian Kelly won through a sea of Gush decks.

The fact that something is different in one respect doesn't negate the similarities in the more relevant respect. Yes, they were different metagames, but the point was that Oath could compete in a field of heavy Gush.

Brian Kelly's Salvager's Oath list destroys Workshops - but it does not do well against Mentor.

It probably doesn't do that badly either. There were Gush and Mentor decks in the top 8, and a ton in that tournament. I don't know exactly what Brian faced, but I doubt he felt it was a match he couldn't win, or he wouldn't have played that deck.

We do know that he beat diophan in the quarter finals 2-0, piloting a Gush deck, after Ryan lost to Oath in the 2014 Top 8 as well. So Oath can certainly beat Gush decks, as it did in both Top 8s.

The Asian vintage championship seemed like it was actually a very small event and again, Lodestone was legal as a four of at the time.

The AVC was a small event, but every player there had to win a tournament (at least one player there won a 150+ player Hararuya event) or be a HOFer to qualify, and the field was something like 7-8 Gush decks in an invite only 22 player event where Oath won - or something like that.

Rich's Odd Oath deck was built to beat Storm and Shops - it doesn't consistently beat Mentor.

Sure, but there are almost no matchups that "consistently "(like 80% of the time) beat another match in Vintage.

If Odd Oath wasn't competitive with Mentor, I'm sure he wouldn't have done as well as he did. I'm not saying it crushed Oath, but it wasn't as bad of a matchup as I think you are suggesting.

If we are going by the X-2+ finishers as those who could have won the event if one or two matches ended differently, it's literally Eldrazi, Shops, Dredge, and Gush. No Thirst decks, no Gifts decks, no Landstill decks, no Blue Moon decks. That I think is the argument for the restriction of Gush, that you have a more diverse Blue slice of the metagame without it than with it.

Both of our positions on this specific point have been exhaustively presented on this point, and I don't think we need to spin our wheels going in circles on them. I understand your perspective - that you feel that Gush crowds out other blue decks. I agree with that, to some extent. Gush decks are strong against some blue decks, but where I disagree is that I think that blue decks can actually compete.

The big blue decks that succeeded at the last Vintage Championship had tools to overcome Gush's inherent advantages. They used Sylvan Library & Top to compete on virtual card advantage, and Supreme Verdict, etc. to win back tempo. There are other things they can do, like Blue Moon, to attack Gush more directly.

I believe that other blue decks do remain viable and competitive. Oath, Landstill, blue Moon, Storm, etc all appearing in tournament data in nontrivial numbers, and even doing quite well. It's true they showed up less here, but they certainly showed up in the MTGO P9 and daily events.

Your response to my rejoinder that is that you don't feel the data shows that enough - that, for example, the MTGO data has Oath ~40% against Gush, or whatever.

And my response to that point is that Oath performs better on paper, and that these other decks continue to do well in spite of the aggregate results - like the Blue Moon in the Top 8 of the MTGO Open, or Landstill in the VSL, or Oath in the Vintage Championships/AVC.

I think, more broadly, though, the metagame is undergoing some pretty dynamic changes, and it would be irresponsible to restrict an archetype that has losing records to 4 other archetypes. That's the definition of a non-dominant deck.

The case for the restriction of Gush has pretty much collapsed at this point, and looks less necessary every week, as it's % of the P9 and daily metagame declines, and as new strategies have emerged to combat it. Two months ago, it was 60% of MTGO dailies, then in May it was 40%, and in June it's probably going to be under 30%, and probably closer to 25%. The trend lines are clear, and with Gush failing to win the last three major Vintage events (Bazaar of Moxen, MTGOP9, and the NYSE).

I asked a ton of players at the NYSE what they thought, and every single player I asked said that the rise of Eldrazi, etc. convinced them that Gush was not a dominant deck, and no longer needed restriction, if they ever believed that in the first place. Rich told me that he thought the MTGO P9 event may have been a fluke, but that the NYSE proved to him that Eldrazi and Shops could compete with Gush. Your data bears this out, and Gush's weakness to Storm and Dredge as well.

And here lies another thread, victim of Steve's ego...

@Smmenen said:

@ChubbyRain said:

@Smmenen

  • The problem with the "good players" argument is that it discounts those players' skills at deck selection. Rich didn't pick a deck at random and neither did Brian - they chose to play Gush for a reason. If you are going to suggest that these are the best players in the room (and I agree with you on that), then you also should assume they are skilled when it comes to deck selection.

What you say is true, but my point was that I think these players would have done either better or just as well had they played the better performing deck. You played Gush, but your teammates who played Shop Eldrazi got 1st and 9th. Why didn't you? Empirically, Workshop Eldrazi was the better deck choice, right?

Possibly one reason is that you don't have as much confidence in yourself as a Shop pilot as Montolio or Brian - which suggests the limits of your "skill in deck selection" argument.

I piloted Sylvan Mentor to 6-2 record, was tied for the highest game win percentage in the field at 73.68% and left with a Mana Drain for my efforts. I really think my deck selection was fine for the event, thank you very much. If you actually cared about my reasoning for not playing the Ravager list, I was uncertain what percentage of the field would be Oath and Null Rods, which the deck has some difficulty against, but I really suspect you are trying to "win the argument" and don't really care what my reply was.

there was a perception that with Chalice and then Lodestone Golem getting restricted, combo would have a field day and part of that perception was that it had a favorable matchup against Gush. That has not really developed in any metagame.

I think the reason for that is that Thalia/Thorn metagame is just as bad for combo as the Shops metagame - if not worse. A second reason is that combo is just hard to play. Even if combo is the absolute best deck in a Vintage metagame, it's very difficult it for it to every truly dominate, because there aren't enough players who can master it. As Rich says, it "makes his head hurt."

I was referring to the period of time in which Gush was 60% of the metagame and Shops/Eldrazi/Hatebears virtually nonexistent...

As for the deck being difficult to play, how difficult is it to rules lawyer your opponent out of multiple Scab-clan Berserker triggers? Your opponent that round left feeling you were a tremendous douchebag and I had to explain, "that's just Steve being Steve - he's not here to 'win fans', but 'to dominate Vintage tournaments'." Fortunately, you had enough common sense not pull a Mastriano and lie to the judge about what happened and Sam got the win she deserved. Unfortunately, you could have shared a 6 month suspension with him in addition to the NYSE Team trophy his cheating helped you win (and that you alluded to when we were leaving the NYSE..."Nice trophy! I have two of them"...I had almost forgot at that moment what a self-serving narcissist you were. Thank you for reminding me!). Seriously, you are the part of the Vintage community I want nothing to do with..

last edited by ChubbyRain

@ChubbyRain @Smmenen we all appreciate you quoting each other to death in threads wherever Gush is mentioned, but you're both better than any insults. Please be the gentlemen we all know you to be, and save the mano e mano for our streaming Greco Roman wrestling match, live from Vintage Champs! 😉

@ChubbyRain said:

And here lies another thread, victim of Steve's ego...

No matter how much I may disagree with people, I don't believe I've ever stooped to the kinds of personal attacks you've lobbed my way in the last few weeks.

You can disagree with people without having to resort to insults, name calling, and ad hominem attacks.

I actually think that the data/arguments/ideas presented in my last post is a worthwhile dialogue, not a display of ego or chest-pounding. I'm sorry you don't see it that way.

@Smmenen said:

@ChubbyRain said:

@Smmenen

  • The problem with the "good players" argument is that it discounts those players' skills at deck selection. Rich didn't pick a deck at random and neither did Brian - they chose to play Gush for a reason. If you are going to suggest that these are the best players in the room (and I agree with you on that), then you also should assume they are skilled when it comes to deck selection.

What you say is true, but my point was that I think these players would have done either better or just as well had they played the better performing deck. You played Gush, but your teammates who played Shop Eldrazi got 1st and 9th. Why didn't you? Empirically, Workshop Eldrazi was the better deck choice, right?

Possibly one reason is that you don't have as much confidence in yourself as a Shop pilot as Montolio or Brian - which suggests the limits of your "skill in deck selection" argument.

I piloted Sylvan Mentor to 6-2 record, was tied for the highest game win percentage in the field at 73.68% and left with a Mana Drain for my efforts. I really think my deck selection was fine for the event, thank you very much. If you actually cared about my reasoning for not playing the Ravager list, I was uncertain what percentage of the field would be Oath and Null Rods, which the deck has some difficulty against, but I really suspect you are trying to "win the argument" and don't really care what my reply was.

No, I actually was interested. But that wasn't the point.

In the weeds of this kind of discussion, it's easy to lose the forest for the trees. You pointed out a paradox in the OP: that Gush had a sub 50% match win %, but seemed to do well for a number of players. You tried to explain the paradox by suggesting that "experience with Gush" was the difference.

While I think that may have been a factor, I suggested that "vintage skill" or format skill may have actually been the more likely explanation, and that these players probably would have done the same or possibly better with a better performing deck, like Eldrazi Shops.

Your response was that selecting Gush was indicative of Vintage skill - but that wasn't responsive to my point, and hence my response.

As for the deck being difficult to play, how difficult is it to rules lawyer your opponent out of multiple Scab-clan Berserker triggers?

While it's sad that you've pivoted a point bout DPS to ad homimen attacks, what you say here isn't even accurate.

My opponent in one of the early rounds missed a beneficial trigger with Scab Clan. And a turn later, they asked about the damage, and I said that I thought that Scab Clan, in paper magic, is a beneficial (quasi-optional) trigger, like Dark Confidant or Chalice of the Void. I called the judge, and they confirmed this.

That was the only trigger they missed, so it was singular "trigger" they missed, not multiple or plural.

And, while it's easy to "smear" someone for taking advantage of an opponent missing a beneficial trigger, I've watched many players, including Rich Shay, intentionally play cards into Chalice of the Void, seeing if their opponent catches it. I don't like that rule that makes beneficial triggers optional - but that's the game we live with, and that's not "rules lawyering"; it would be playing for your opponent.

My opponent was confused at another juncture, where I put a storm spell and storm trigger on the stack, and I was waiting for them to put the SCB trigger on the stack, but they didn't do it.

Since my opponent seemed confused, I was the one who told them to call a judge (which a nearby player echoed), but I wasn't about to sit there and tell them exactly what to do. All they had to say was "scab clan trigger" or represent the trigger explicitly, and I would have scooped. Instead, they didn't say anything or indicate anything like that.

I'm truly sorry my opponent felt like I was trying to "rules lawyer" them, but nothing could be further from the truth.

It's too bad that you viewed that situation through the lens of me "being a douchebag" or a "rules lawyer." If you had actually witnessed what happened and watched objectively, I think it would have been apparently that nothing could be further from the truth. It's no different than making someone attack you for the final point rather than just scooping before a lethal attack.

The irony is that while accusing me of derailing a thread - everything we were talking about until your last post was directly relevant to the topic. Your insulting digressions are derailing the thread, not "my ego."

Seriously, you are the part of the Vintage community I want nothing to do with..

And the amazing thing about life in the free world is that you can choose who you want to associate with. You can ignore me or avoid me all you like.

But you have a habit of getting into conversations with me, replying to each reply, and then get upset with me for continuing a dialogue... If you want to ignore me, then ignore me...

For the record, I have nothing against you personally, beyond your personal attacks, and have been impressed by many things you've brought to Vintage, including being the first to recognize and fully exploit the power of JVP, and other novel deckbuilding ideas (like the match we played at the 2014 Vintage Champs - which was awesome). And I have also been explicitly complimentary and appreciative of the data analysis you've done in the last few months. When I congratulated you on your trophy, I meant it.

I just feel bad that everyone else is made more uncomfortable with your vitriol and this unfortunate digression...

last edited by Smmenen

@JACO said:

@ChubbyRain @Smmenen we all appreciate you quoting each other to death in threads wherever Gush is mentioned, but you're both better than any insults. Please be the gentlemen we all know you to be, and save the mano e mano for our streaming Greco Roman wrestling match, live from Vintage Champs! 😉

I'll get to work on the jello pit.

@jaco for the record I'd pay money to watch @Smmenen and @ChubbyRain go three for three in a ring.

I have to agree with Steve about the situation because not being there I currently only have his account; if his opponent wasn't triggering the Scab-Clan, I'm just going to play my game.

So now that the lover's spat is over...

The online meta and paper metas are still 30-40% Gush (depending on your source and time frame), and every major tournament since the Lodestone restriction has been around 40% Gush. The meta itself, understandably, has begun to warp itself even more so around this card as its play Gush or a deck specifically designed to beat it. Does this remind anyone of anything in Vintage recently?

It should because these are the exact reasons for Lodestones restriction. Unless we are going to start applying double standards, Gush needs to be restricted ASAP.

@vaughnbros said:

The online meta and paper metas are still 30-40% Gush (depending on your source and time frame), and every major tournament since the Lodestone restriction has been around 40% Gush.

"Depending on your time frame" is a pretty big caveat.

Gush was 60% of the MTGO dailies in April, 40% in May, and looks to be under 30% in June.

That's a huge downward trend. alt text

One of the main criticisms of restricting Golem was that it was premature, and that trend data showed that it was being addressed. It makes no sense to restrict cards that decline every month.

The case for restriction pretty much collapsed with this data set: restricting a card that fuels a deck that has 4 bad matchups is pretty much the textbook case for an unnecessary restriction.

You can't claim to be a "dominant deck" when you lose to Eldrazi, Workshops, Dredge, and Storm. You can't be a dominant deck when you have a sub 50% win percentage.

Also, you can't claim to be a dominant deck when you haven't won the last three most important tournaments.

The meta itself, understandably, has begun to warp itself even more so around this card as its play Gush or a deck specifically designed to beat it. Does this remind anyone of anything in Vintage recently?

It should because these are the exact reasons for Lodestones restriction.

Uhh... no it wasn't.

You are confusing and conflating metagame presence with tournament performance.

A deck can be 50% of a metagame, and 0% of a Top 8. Hell a deck could be 80% of the metagame, but 0% of the Top 8. No one would think a deck like that should be restricted. We care about performance, not presence.

How did Gush do at the NYSE?

By match win percentage alone it was the 5th best performing archetype.

The best performing archetypes were this order:

  1. Shops, with a 68.3% win percentage
  2. Eldrazi, with a 59% win percentage (11% of the field)
  3. Dredge, with a 51.3% win percentage (7% of the field)
  4. Oath, with a 50.7% win percentage (7% of the field)
  5. Gush, with a 46.5% win percentage (32.5% of the field)

Yeah, we should definitely restrict 5th best performing achetypes. (eye roll)

The case for restricted Gush began to collapse with the last MTGO p9 event, when Gush was the most played archetype, but only had one deck in the Top 8, and got crushed by Eldrazi and Dredge, the NYSE just completed the circle:

http://themanadrain.com/topic/329/mtgo-may-2016-power-9-challenge

Gush was literally 38.5% of the field. Yet, here was how well decks did by presence and performance:

  1. Dredge was 3% of the metagame, but had a 70% win percentage
  2. Eldrazi was 14% of the metagame, but had a 64% win percentage
  3. Shops were 3% of the metagame, but had a 62% win percentage
  4. Gush was 38.5% of the metagame (less if you take out Doomsday, etc.), but only had a 51.6% win percentage.

Dominant decks don't get crushed by other matchups, let alone multiple matchups. Gush's win % against Shops - despite multiple restrictions - was 29% in the NYSE, and 28% against Eldrazi in the MTGO P9 event.

In contrast, Lodestone Golem was actually a borderline dominant deck. Unfortunately, despite two restrictions in 6 months, Shops appear still to be the best deck.

The only empirical argument for restricting Gush is that there are too many Gush decks in the metagame, but they are getting crushed by Shops, Eldrazi, Dredge, and are soft to Storm and Humans. And the trend lines are all downward. No wonder. Who wants to play a deck that has a 29% win percentage against Shops and Eldrazi? Even if those numbers can be improved, it's clear that the metagame is undergoing massive upheaval, and restricting a card in the midst of massive change would be premature, to say the least.

last edited by Smmenen

@vaughnbros

Says you with a bunch buzz words.

@Smmenen What am I reading? A downward trend? After a start of 60% of the meta!?!?!?? You realize how absurd that number was and it clearly was not sustainable, and extrapolation is really really poor science.

Then we go into some fallacies like a deck can be 50% of a metagame and be 0% of a top 8. When has this ever happened? Percentage of the metagame is a serious issue and in general has been the determining factor for most bans/restrictions throughout history.

Let me give an example of something a little more substantive, and extreme example of the fallacy you are trying to put forward as fact:
Cancer: 22.5% of deaths, Kills ONLY 50% of those afflicted.
Alzheimer's: 3.26% of deaths. Kills 100% of those afflicted.
Suicide: 1.58% of deaths. Kills 100% of those afflicted.
Cancer is not a problem! We should ignore cancer and focus on other causes of death!

last edited by vaughnbros

@vaughnbros said:

Then we go into some fallacies like a deck can be 50% of a metagame and be 0% of a top 8. When has this ever happened?

It's not a "fallacy" (you are misusing that term).

It's called a "counterfactual" to illustrate the point that metagame presence isn't what motivates B&R list policy - but performance.

Percentage of the metagame is a serious issue and in general has been the determining factor for most bans/restrictions throughout history.

That's absolutely not true. You are literally just making things up.

For most Vintage tournaments in history, we never had complete metagame breakdowns.

How could metagame presence be used to determine most bans restrictions in history when that data wasn't available???? That's a serious question.

TOs didn't report the metagame breakdowns. Not even for most Vintage Championships. Jaco was kind enough to type up the top 100 or so decklists from the last one, but we don't even have a complete metagame breakdown for almost any other one (Ben Bleiweiss typed up the breakdown for the first one, in 2003).

We only have metagame breakdowns for the MTGO events because Matt and Ryan went in and collected it (and I did so for the first one last year)

Go read the old Vintage metagame breakdowns. E.g: http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/vintage/8912_The_December_and_January_Vintage_Metagame_Report.html

All we had was Top 8 appearances for 99% of tournaments. That's what sites like morphling.de collected.

It is Top 8 appearances, not metagame presence, that has been used "throughout history" to justify restrictions.

Through most of Vintage history, we've used a short hand for % of Top 8s as "% of the metagame," but we were actually talking about the Top performing deck metagame, not the actual complete metagame in the tournament hall.

Since Matt and Ryan have collected the total metagame results, and done something we've never had before, calculating matchup win %.

It would be absurd to restrict a deck that is the 5th best performing archetype, and has 4-5 statistically weak or bad matchups.

last edited by Smmenen
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