There has been much written around here on the recent restrictions of Lodestone Golem and Chalice of the Void, and about potentially restricting Monastery Mentor and Gush. I'd like to stop and compare to what I believe was a similar situation in the past.
Ravnica introduced dredge in 2005, and Future Sight introduced Bridge from Below and Narcomoeba in 2007. Thus the dredge archetype as we know it today was born. Dredge might not have ever dominated the format, but it did warp it significantly. The reality emerged that the deck would win 90+% of its Game 1's, and that every other deck would need to use half of its sideboard to deal with it. There were some who called for the deck to be dealt with by the B/R list, with Bazaar of Baghdad and Bridge from Below being the two main candidates.
Rather than resorting to the B/R list, however, WotC printed more answers. The introduction of Dredge was shortly followed by specialized answers like Leyline of the Void, Ravenous Trap, and Yixlid Jailer. Later came more versatile answers like Grafdigger's Cage (also attacks Oath/Tinker) and Rest in Peace (also attacks Yawgmoth's Will/delve) - both cards have seen maindeck play in vintage.
Going back to the original purpose of this post: I would broadly categorize Vintage as featuring 3 different power mechanisms: dredge, spell-count-advantage (i.e., I cast more spells than I should in normal Magic - the key to Storm, Mentor, Pyromancer), and mana-advantage (i.e., my lands produce 2+ mana, all spells costs more). There are others - something like Oath is perhaps a distinct power mechanism - but I'll focus on these 3.
For all this talk about the need to restrict Gush, we should pause and think about the rather embarrassing fact that a card like Ponder is restricted in Vintage. Restricting Ponder to curtail spell-count-advantage is akin to restricting Stinkweed Imp to curtail dredge. It's dodging the fundamental issue. Same goes for restricting Lodestone to curtail mana-advantage.
I believe it is possible to curtail spell-count-advantage and mana-advantage in the same way we curtailed dredge: by printing more hate cards, both specialized and versatile. Here are some of my own ideas:
- White Hate Bear: creature, 2/2, costs W1. Artifact spells are no longer considered artifact spells.
- Green Hate Bear: creature, 2/2, costs G1. All lands produce 1 less colorless mana when tapped for mana.
- Black Hate Bear: creature, 2/2, costs B1. If a player would draw a card except the first one he or she draws in his or her draw step each turn, that player discards a card instead.
- Force of Mephistopheles: instant, costs BB3. You may exile a black card in your hand and sacrifice 1 life instead of paying casting cost. Until end of turn, if a player would draw a card except the first one he or she draws in his or her draw step, that player discards a card instead.
If these 3 cards were printed, I think Gush/Mentor would be weakened, and Ponder/Chalice/Lodestone could be unrestricted.