Best posts made by Aaron Patten
posted in Vintage Community read more

@albarkhane said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Aaron-Patten said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

I agree that Chalice was a force for diversity in the format. People did moan about x4 Chalice shops and it is likely that they were right to do so but there are two cards being moaned about in x4 Chalice shops. One enforced diversity and the other is oppressively format distorting. So long as Shops are unrestricted Chalice isn't safe which means that other decks can't play it against the Turbo Zerox strategies which means that those strategies push others out of the format more easily and reduce strategic diversity even further; all because of Mishra's Workshop. Would Chalice need to be restricted if Mishra's Workshop were? I tend to believe it wouldn't. Even if a singleton Mishra's Workshop was powering out multiple Chalices it would have a very hard time dominating the format without the consistent tempo boost and virtual card advantage provided by Mishra's Workshop. Having Chalice around gives players the choice of opting out of playing Mental Misstep in Favor of just hammering all one drops if they chose to build their deck accordingly. This not only provides strategic diversity in the immediate with the advent of an entirely different strategic direction but it also opens the format to different strategies which don't thrive in an environment where one drops and mental missteps hold supremacy.

I may have missed something but i fail to see the link between chalice and worshop in your reasoning. I mean : unrestricted chalice was played most of the time at 1, some times à 0, and rarely at 2 (basically against oath). If the goal is to prevent a chalice turn 1, then you must also restrict/ban also the sol lands and ban every mana artifact (moxen, sol ring, ...). Restricting workshop won't change much about that problem.

The goal is not to prevent a Chalice on turn one. If you read my post more thoroughly you'd see that the goal is quite the opposite. Chalice on turn one is not problematic unless it is accompanied by a sufficient number of the rest of the lock pieces which are all powered out by Mishra's Workshop and to a lesser degree Ancient Tomb as you pointed out. Ancient tomb is far less effective than Mishra's Workshop for multiple reasons. It obviously makes less mana and costs life but it also prevents the user from achieving the same total amaount of mana that Mishra's Workshop does which means they'd need to invest one more card into their mana base. The means one less threat and/or one less lock piece. The archetype will still exist it just won't be 50%+ of top8s.

As for the taxing effects, IMHO the real question is : why shop are playing them (or so many of them) ?

Shops plays sphere effects as its primary tool for disruption because so few other effective preventative measures exist in the form of artifacts. Sphere effects are the best at what they do in an artifact based strategy which is also very effective against everything else in the game, i.e. casting spells. The best defense Mishra has is to prevent all of its opposition's spells from being cast because there is an artifact destruction spell in almost every card type and/or colour. The only way the archetype does well in it's current iteration is if no opposing strategy is able to resolve a spell.

When you don't have access to any form of counterspell and you know that you are living in a format where broken stuff can happen and kill you on the spot (vault/key, tinker, storm, ...) what are your options ? I mean that there is some kind of balance : the more degenerate the format is, the more sphere effect shop will play, and the reverse is true ... that's my whole point : if the meta manage to shift toward less broken effect, shops decks will adapt and play less sphere and that will open the meta even more. One could say that mentor is not an 'instant kill' but actually when you are playing shop and try to fight the chaining spells that leads to the mentor end-game, it is not so different as fighting a storm deck.

That may be your whole point but it is also a big part of my point and we do not disagree except where you say that sphere effects will evaporate if people stop doing "broken" things. That scenario has already played out in the form of the most recent set of restrictions and they have had the exact opposite effect to what you've predicted. This is the same fallacy that has been repeated throughout this thread. Restricting the opposition to one strategy does not reduce the effectiveness of that strategy; quite the opposite. People who share your mentality are overlooking the fact that sphere effects are broken things. Preventing your opponent from ever having any chance at casting any spells is just as "broken" as any other strategy. You seem to be missing they key point that if you can't cast spells you lose just the same as if you got hit with Blightsteel Colossus before being able to cast a spell. In both scenarios you never got a chance to play your spells. The illusion of a continued game is created by that extended period of time between being deterministically locked out and actually technically losing the game. The problem is not intrinsic to sphere effects however since they would be largely symmetrical if it weren't for Mishra's Workshop. The Shop is what makes them "broken" because it allows the shops player to play through them thus making them asymmetrical instead of symmetrical.

@Dice_Box said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

@Aaron-Patten said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

They are forced into that position because all strategies must reduce their curve to be competitive against mana denial strategies such as those used in Mishra's Workshop based decks.

This is not true at all. Both Modern and Legacy have a "Race to the bottom" mentality when it comes to mana costs and the closest to Shops you see there is DnT. It has nothing to do with Sphere and everything to do with Tempo. It's a rule in competition decks, you don't pay more than you have to. A 3 mana Goyf is not suddenly going to be more loved than its two mana counterpart in Modern while a 1 mana one would.

It is still true; you've actually just made my point. There is always a race to the bottom but in every healthy format, not just Modern and Legacy, there are strategies that go over the top to win in this same race. Once again, you're claiming I've said things which I have not even implied. No one is claiming that anyone should ever pay 2 mana for the same effect when it is available at 1 mana. That is an insane argument that no one has ever made and is nowhere to be found in any of my posts including this one. Yet, in all formats there are cards at more than one mana which should see play in other strategies but instead don't because they are pushed out by mana denial strategies thus reducing strategic diversity. The cheapest spell is not always the most advantageous in terms of tempo. The effect each card has also matters, not just the casting cost. Obviously no one is going to chose to pay more for the same effect, no one would ever try to argue that because it's completely ridiculous. A rudimentary example of this would be the very baser relationship between an old school aggro deck and an old school control deck. the aggro deck plays cheap creatures early to try to close out the game before the control deck can stabilize. The aggro deck may play a creature turn one, another turn two and another turn three before the control player casts wrath for 4 in the case of the aggro player going second. In the interim there may be more creatures cast and more point removal used but for now let's test the most basic case. If wrath is cast on turn 4 by the control player that player has payed more mana for his or her spell but has gained tempo advantage because they have only invested 4 mana into the game state whereas the tempo player has invested 6. The control player is also up in card advantage which can be translated to tempo advantage later and vice versa. In the mean time the control player has had mana available to develop their board or hand in different ways with those early turns thus capitalizing on the tempo advantage the whole time. The race to the bottom is a healthy part of any metagame but where a metagame becomes unhealthy is when the "midrange" strategies become obsolete choking out strategic diversity among varying mana curves in deck design. Currently in Vintage, the closest thing we have to "midrange" is people attempting to cast non-creature spells through thorns at two mana (or maybe the occasional creature at 3+). Paradoxical storm doesn't obey this but that's because it's all moxen. The point is that is extremely low for any format, even Vintage. You could say that it's especially low for vintage because historically Vintage has had a greater diversity of casting costs among it's playable card pool thanks to moxen. The reason for this congestion of mana costs to such a low bar is not just the "race to the bottom" as you put it (which we expect from a healthy metagame) but also the Mishra's Workshop mana denial archetype. Workshop strategies aren't just good against turbo zerox the way symmetrical sphere effects are; they're good against all strategies because Mishra's Workshop makes those spheres asymmetrical.

If Shops vanished MM would not suddenly become a godsend to Vintage but more of a curse.

A better example of my point would be with Cantrips. You don't play Omen in place of Preordain. Sure, you have gained built in MM protection but the Tempo loss is too great to make that a benefit overall. If you play a Mentor mirror, the 1 extra mana is far far more harmful than the risk of a Counterspell.

I didn't say any of what you're implying I said. Specifically if shops were fundamentally less able to execute their mana denial game plan to such great efficacy and Chalice of the Void were unrestricted, it would create a greater diversity of mana costs and thus a greater diversity of strategies which would include those strategies that do not benefit from or get harmed by Mental Misstep. The format should not be designed based on Mentor Mirrors. Sphere effects would still be around and still be good against both TX and Mental Misstep, they just wouldn't be as good against the entire field as a whole. In other words they wouldn't be pushing "midrange" completely out of contention where it currently resides.

@nedleeds said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Rituals have a natural predator and have for decades, prison.

If the only way to stop one thing is to stop all things then how is that addressing the issue. Cutting a finger is not fixed by chopping off an arm.

Mental Misstep costing no mana, no opportunity cost short of trading a card slows the format down if you are counting it's complete obsoleting of mana dorks. DRS, Hierarch were key cards in keeping Thorn decks in check for years. Even 4 x Chalice, 4 x LG shops was a dog to BUG Fish decks with Shamans.

Those cards were key at keeping thorn decks down because thorn decks have become so pervasive that the only thing you can do is hope to resolve a 1 mana creature that adds mana so maybe one day you can resolve a business spell. If it weren't for the prison strategy being the dominant archetype this wouldn't be the case.

The argument that you can jump the curve with moxes is fine but again less mana is always better than more. I've played decks that dodge Misstep as best as possible but you are still just handicapping yourself by playing higher cost spells. That deck building paradigm catches up to you when you don't draw your moxes.

Yes, less mana is always better but people don't get laughed out of other formats for including two drops in their deck. Only in Vintage is there a prison deck which is so well armed that you can't rely on resolving anything other than one, or zero, drops. This is the only format where you design your mana curve to pay 2 mana on average for every 1 mana spell. Now people play moxen just to get to two mana so that they can cast an actual spell. They're no longer optional in opening hands. This furthers deck constraints by requiring every deck to max out on moxen et al.

@Smmenen said in Turbo Xerox and Monastery Mentor:

Maybe Vintage, after 25 years, has hit a wall. Maybe there is no way out. Maybe this is the endgame of a format that has 25 years of accumulated printings without bannings. If the Dack-Delve draw engine is really what's powering the Mentor deck, then restricting Mentor isn't going to solve that problem, and, as you've said before in the arguments over Gush, we will just substitute cards like Pyromancer instead. Frankly, I've already begun testing what to replace 3 Mentors with in my deck for EW (a far more interesting endeavor than playing the current format).
This might be hyperbole, but it's not entirely implausible to think that you could restrict Mentor, Preordain, Misstep, JVP, and perhaps a few more cards, and the "blue stew" with the Dack-Delve/Gush draw engine would still probably be a tier 1 deck; perhaps even the best blue deck, still. Similarly, I don't see what you can restrict from Workshops at this point that would make it not at least 25%+ of the field. I don't think restricting Sphere or Thorn alone would make much difference.
Given that the path that we are on leads to either 1) restrictions that won't solve the problem, 2) many, many more restrictions to solve the problem, or, perhaps, 3) a scenario where restrictions don't actually matter - where the restriction policy device has actually lost it's power because a critical mass of restricted cards can support a deck, then perhaps it is better to try something else instead or rethink this flawed approach.

I think Vintage may have reached the state you describe many years ago and recovered; possibly more than once. I could be wrong but at several times there have been cards that have been unrestricted which then lead to the development of new strategies which, at those times, lead to greater strategic diversity in the years immediately following those unrestrictions. Mishra's Workshop is the first such case that I can think of (1997). Doomsday (2004) is the next candidate in chronological order followed by Gush (2007). Fact or Fiction (2011) didn't make a tremendous splash but Burning Wish (2012) and even regrowth (2013) had some minor impact at the time. Now we have the occasional Gifts Ungiven and Thirst for Knowledge (2015) being played as well. I could be wrong about this and maybe their effects were not always encouraging to strategic diversity. You would be better able to answer that question than I.

At times when Storm was dominating the format it was a consolidation of restricted cards. Even further back than that when Academy was performing well it was again a consolidation of restricted cards. But here we are today and neither are outperforming any modern strategy. Some of this is almost certainly due to power creep which bodes well for the future of unrestricting cards since those cards appear to have new balances in the more recent metagames based on their current performance. Maybe we're just seeing the emergence of another pillar, or pair of pillars, which are going to be similarly based on restricted cards as opposed to the Gush pillar for example which, for a long time, was not.

I'll try to explain the way I think of any given format when deciding what deck to play. I think it may be relevant to the discussion of restriction, unrestriction, and the health of the format. If we graph the frequency of appearances in tops 8s, top 4s, finals, and/or first-place finnishes for each "pillar" using a classification based on the presence of a key card such as Workshop, Mentor, Paradoxical, etc. using the z axis to represent frequency and the x and y axis to represent two other distinguishing characteristics of those cards we would get a 3D surface where the peaks would represent different archetypes. Imagine each point in the x and y plane represents a different card placed according to two distinct strategic metrics such as mana-value vs, card advantage, quintessential turn vs card type, etc. One could use any number of other metrics to distinguish any given strategy from other strategies. The goal is to chose those metrics such that cards which don't often appear in the same deck will be placed farther away from each other in the X Y plane. When each pillar is in balance the format remains in equilibrium. A balanced metagame might look something like this:
alt text
Each peak representing one pillar of the format but each peak being at exactly the same height (frequency). With location in the X and Y plane implying differences in baser strategy such that the decks can't share a extensive array of the same cards. It could be said that the greater ideal would be to have an absolutely flat form but I don't believe that to be possible since each card would have to achieve the exact same frequency of appearances.

Those metagames where only one deck was dominant such as academy, storm, or Tezz-Thirst might look something more like this:
alt text
There are still other strategies making appearances (the lower peaks) but they are overshadowed by the central dominant strategy.

Today's metagame might look something more like this:
alt text
With two archetypes in contention but one performing slightly better than the other (currently Shops). In theory unrestriction could add a third pillar to the format by adding another peak while restricting a card could reduce the height of one of the peaks to bring it closer to alignment with the lower peaks.

Given this view of the metagame I think there are two metrics to consider when unrestricting or restricting any given card:

  • In the case of unrestriction it will be important that the card being unrestricted does not increase the height of any of the peaks which are considdered to be problematic to as much of a degree that it increases the other peaks in the graph. That is to say, we don't want to add a card to the pool of unrestricted cards that will make the current top deck better unless it makes a worse deck better to a greater degree. Another way of looking at it is to say that we want that card which we unrestrict to contribute the least to the highest peak(s) and the most to the lowest peaks so the strategic distance from any of those peaks is something that should be maximized. In other words we should chose our unrestriction candidate to maximize the distance between it and other peaks by minimizing the synergy with the current high peaks. The other metric to considder is whether the unrestricted card(s) are going to create a new peak which is sufficiently high. Will the card being unrestricted have an impact on the problematic strategies? Will it be good enough? If the answer is no then the card in question either doesn't need to be restricted any more or the current high peaks need to come down a notch or two.

  • In the case of restriction the selected card should be whatever card has the highest frequency of appearance out of all the unrestricted cards that are closest to that peak. In other words we should choose the best performing card that will diminish that strategy while affecting the fewest other strategies to the minimal degree. Apparently, based on some recent results, the restriction of Gush and Gitaxian Probe diminished non-Mentor decks more so than it diminished Mentor decks and so it appears to be an example of a bad choice for restriction.

In essence I think the problem of a top performing deck of almost all restricted cards has been solved in the past by creating new peaks which are able to compete at the same level as the towering pillar of all restricted cards such that there is some semblance of diversity in the format. I believe the unrestrictions of Gush (2007 and 2010) were both examples of such a case. There are seldom more than a handful of top performing archetypes in all formats and even in cases where that has existed it has been a transient state. It has always been this way and I think it is an inevitability of the game but I don't believe it precludes the possibility of constructing a format where there are multiple contenders by using restrictions as in Vintage.

So, in general, whether restricting or unrestricting cards I think that minimizing the size of the list is paramount. The fewer cards there are on the restricted list the greater the opportunity there is to create new strategies which give those restricted pillars a run for their money.

The historical pattern seems to be that Wizards of the Coast will restrict cards from the best deck until that deck has lost some traction in the metagame. In this case there are two top decks so it seems likely that they will both receive restrictions before the format settles back down to having more than two decks. Mentor's restriction seems inevitable at this point but I suspect that Mishra's Workshop will eventually be restricted as well.

There seems to have been a long standing point of tension between the two archetypes prison and TX. Prison can pray on TX and similar multi spell per turn strategies quite effectively but at the cost of pushing other decks out of the format that would otherwise create diversity by addressing those same issues another way. I think this comes from years of bias in favor of having Workshop around as a check against storm style strategies aiming to cast lots of cheap spells each turn. It is good to have such a check and almost everyone seems to favor its existence including my self; however, in my unpopular opinion this has had the opposite to the desired effect simply because the tools to shut down TX etc. are also effective enough to shut down anything aiming to pray on artifact strategies. Essentially, in order for the Workshop pillar to stand up it has to proactively disrup any opposition so thoroughly as to prevent getting blown out by artifact removal. The problem is that, using Workshop as a base, this disruption becomes too effective against other strategies which would otherwise be able to go "over the top" of TX. So as the two pillars have had tertiary components removed it has only served to narrow people's choices. Wizards of the Coast didn't go after Mishra's Workshop, they instead went after it's tools (Chalice and Golem) and in doing so allowed Mentor to achieve even greater performance. But when Mentor achieved greater performance they again didn't take away the problematic card in Mentor but instead removed the tools that multiple other decks were using thus dropping the peaks of other non TX decks, such as DPS and Doomsday even more so than that of mentor; again narrowing the metagame to those two decks. Add to that the fact that mentor is the only card advantage strategy that can consistently afford to cast cheap enough spells that it can play through the prison that shops presents to play the control roll and you have two towers casting their combined shadow on the entire former Vintage metagame. The two strategies paint strokes that are far too broad in terms of what decks they obsolesce as a result of their existence.
What do you do when every spell your opponent casts creates a threat and nets them a card to disrupt you? Play Shops.
What do you do when the only spells you can afford to cast are one and zero mana because of Shops? Play Mentor.

I am not advocating for a restriction or unrestriction; only sharing my opinion.
I respect each and every one of you and value your opinions.

posted in Vintage Community read more

I feel like there isn't anything inherently broken left to restrict in Shops except Shops. I suspect those who play the archetype would put it down and considering that Shops has an ever increasing share of the meta it could be damaging to restrict. The same logic could have been applied to any number of blue cards restricted in years gone past but there has always been an antagonism surrounding blue due to Ancestral Recall and Time Walk so it is easier for people to look past the potential folly of the ancient anti-blue sentiment.

I miss the days when the restricted list was not about shaping the format to be what some set of people thought it should look like but instead about restricting the clear problem cards and letting the meta be whatever the result. For clarity I would consider a problem card to be one where the strategy it enables is one that forces players to either play it or play something that bests it such that decks that want to best it are better off including it. If the meta is dominated by one deck then a player should be able to build several decks that have a positive match win % against it through careful consideration of card choices so long as they put their personal bias for their pet decks aside. If the restricted list is based on someone's opinion about what the format should be it just turns into an infinite and kind of pointless argument continually draining everyone's mana.

There was a time when the only cards on the restricted list were fast mana and draw 7s (which can also generate more mana than they cost) with a few exceptions for extreme card advantage or combo. Nowadays it seems a sort of mash up of what people individually think should be restricted rather than being based on a set of rules. There were no reactive cards restricted which made a lot of sense to me. If reactive cards with significant share of the meta were restricted (ie force, misstep) a majority would be playing Belcher/Storm. There’d be very little chance for anything else to exist competitively with the exception of Shops. I don't think of spheres or other prison components as being reactive since they ideally proactively produce a hard lock which is as good as a win in the decks that play them. Golem forces players to play artifacts or lose so it's pretty unforgiving and arguably not very healthy for the meta but the only card allowing a 4 drop creature to run amok in Vintage is Workshop. Workshop isn't just tempo advantage, it's also card advantage. You are casting Ancestral Recall every time you play a workshop. It's also similar to drawing you a card every time you tap it except that the card you draw is always a Black Lotus and you’ll never run out of them. It's much more important than people seem to think.

I don't want to see the Workshop archetype go but I sense that very few people truly understand it; even those who play it. It's extremely delicate in that a bad draw is pretty well unwinnable. I think that could change if more people experiment with it. Besides what deck is that not true of? As it stands shops is one deck with a few variants but every one of them aims to prevent people from casting spells (at all). That’s always priority number one. More recent Shops builds seem to address the meta game shift against them by simply ending the game on turn 4. If it were locking both sides of the table into a long grindy battle for resources I don’t think it would be a problem because then at least there would be strategies that could be built to play against it. As it stands the Shops threat casts a huge shadow over non-blue decks, excepting dredge, which need to resolve non-free spells in order to win. That’s not necessarily possible vs 13 spheres plus X copy effects.

Several years ago Shops wouldn’t and couldn’t be a problem; however, as the artifact card pool increases Workshop decks get better at a greater rate than decks that are not purely artifacts since the one drawback of Mishra’s Workshop is reduced at the same rate in contrast to its far greater advantage over playing colours. The drawback of Shops has always been that you can only play artifact spells with it. Today that drawback is nearly completely irrelevant. There are so many good artifacts that the deck has reached a critical mass where the only cards that can be restricted to try to control it are not actually restriction worthy cards. At this point people are talking about restricting non-restriction worthy cards to try to control the dominance of the best non-restricted card, and arguably the best card all-around, in the entire game. I don’t see why anyone would think that it could be effective to do so.

I don’t want Shops to leave the Vintage card pool but I can’t think of a way to give non-blue decks a chance to be playable again without addressing the issue.

posted in Official Tournament Results read more

@bobbyvictory @13NoVa I don't know what you guys did to blow up this thread but I'm going to re-iterate the thing I think is the most relevant from that convo for posterity which is that @13NoVa pointed out that Welder's decline was not due to Mental Misstep. Similarly many of the other decks you mentioned fell out of favor long before Mental Misstep was ever printed.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@hierarchnoble This is so great. There is no storm near the sphere.

posted in Vintage News read more

@desolutionist said in SMIP: My Suggested B&R List (2019):

Like why is Mystical Tutor-Tinker-Bolas totally fine, but Workshop, Mox, Mystic Forge is some scary thing that people can't handle. Blue can have all these avenues to do whatever they want and as soon as Shops as something reliably decent, it's a huge problem for the internet.

Because Mystical Tutor and Tinker are restricted and Mishra's Workshop is not.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@themonadnomad I follow the Old School M:tG rules and they did not use an errata for it. It's still a good card without the errata. In fact I had finally gotten comfortable with it as a power level errata of sorts. I guess it's time to bust out the Relic Barriers and Icy Manipulators.

posted in Official Tournament Results read more

Just as an additional examaple I've compiled a more complete breakdown for the top 8 of NYSE results in descending order:
Shops: (2 * 157)/(17 * 😎 = 2.309
Dredge: (1 * 157)(11 * 😎 = 1.784
Gush: (4 * 157)(51 * 😎 = 1.539
Eldrazi: (1 * 157)(17 * 😎 = 1.154
So from this we know that there are 2.31 times more Shops decks per capita in the top 8 then showed up to the event, 1.54 times more Gush decks per capita in top 8, 1.78 times more Dredge decks per capita, and 1.15 times more Eldrazi decks per capita.

@brianpk80 Though Steve's goal is not quite as you described, I completely agree with all of those points. The only reason I agree with 3.5 is that I don't want to see a mass exodus from Vintage like what happened in 2008. I would personally prefer that the secondary market not be a factor in their considerations if it were safe to do so. It seems like having that constraint could go against creating the best Vintage format possible. Your point about Polluted Delta is one I think a lot of people miss in general. It's easy to notice the occasional turn 1 Tinker for Blightsteel Colossus because the result is dramatic but I suspect that basing restriction purely on performance as gauged by popularity would result in a Vintage format that is very different from what we have today. It's hard to create an objective argument against restricting cards like Polluted Delta or Underground Sea if you base your performance metric on how frequently they show up. I wonder how each of them would score using the formula.. The difference between Polluted Delta and Gush for example is that the prevalence of Polluted Delta gets ignored as acceptable while the prevalence of Gush does not. This seems like an oversight caused by some psychological aspect of the audience. If I had a complete set of deck lists in some kind of easily manipulable spreadsheet for some large events I might be able to see how each individual card in each event's metagame scores according to the formula. This sounds like a daunting task though, especially if I have to do all of that data entry. For the namesake cards of each deck it's easy to calculate their score from the metagame breakdown because the namesake card is used in the deck name but for other staples such as duals and fetchlands it's not obvious without decklists. Another interesting point about evaluating based on frequency of appearance or metagame presence is that it's plausible that large numbers of people could just be wrong about what they should bring and that there are so many of them that the likelihood of their success is increased. Metagame presence is definitely an important measure but I don't think it carries any real weight on it' s own without a performance metric to show that those decks are also performing at a certain level rather than just being in great abundance. It's just a measure of what people were betting on rather than being a measure of what performed well in an event.

posted in Rules QnA read more

@dr-j Yes

The amount of mana is changed but all riders on it remain the same.

This is also the case with other cards which have a similar effect such as Contamination.

Incidentally, Untaidake, the Cloud keeper can only be used to cast legendary spells even while there is a damping
sphere in play.

Alternatively, if you control an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth or a Chromatic Lantern then both Mishra's Workshop and Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper may be used to cast non-artifact and non-legendary spells. This is because cards like Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth et al. grant the land an additional ability which does not have the same inherent rider associated with it.

Another interesting corner case is when a player has a Mana Flare or Wild Growth type of effect. Since the land that is tapped for mana is not the source of the additional mana it will not be affected by Damping Sphere; however, in the case of a card like Mana Reflection, which directly modifies the amount of mana a land produces, damping sphere will cause all of those lands to produce ◇ insteaad of any other type and amount.

Something worth noting is that if there are two replacement effects modifying the same mana ability it is up to the controller of that mana ability to decide what order the replacement affects are applied. In some cases this allows the controller of the mana ability to chose which replacement affect applies last and thus control the resultant outcome of the two replacement effects; however, there are also many occasions where that choice is not relevant to the outcome and the result will be the same no matter what order they are applied in. For example, if a player controls a Mishra's Workshop and there is a Damping Sphere and a Contamination on the battlefield then the controller of the Mishra's Workshop can chose the order in which to apply each replacement effect. If they chose to order Damping Sphere's effect first followed by Contamination's then Mishra's Workshop will be modified to add ◇ instead of 3 and then Contamination's effect will apply causing it to add 💀 instead of ◇. If they chose to order Contamination's effect first followed by Damping Sphere's then Mishra's Workshop will be modified to add 💀 instead of 3 after which Damping Sphere's effect will no longer apply since it isn't adding more than one mana anymore.

posted in Vintage News read more

@joshuabrooks said:

I just think it will forever be a process shrouded in mystery (DCI decisions). It's certainly not solely dependent on empirical data, or blue would have lost its stranglehold on the format decades ago. If they keep cards like Drain, Bazaar, Workshop around, it's not based on a balanced ecosystem either. And when they make comments about "unfun" or lack of interaction, that too is not something that can be determined by data (at least not data privy to us). So while I think all this data mining can be interesting, unless the DCI ever published thresholds and boundaries for restriction, it doesn't seem to really point to anything other than "their gut feel."

LSG restriction caused by bad burrito.

posted in Official Tournament Results read more

This makes me curious to see what would happen if Chalice of the Void were unrestricted.

posted in Vintage Community read more

Restricting Gush, the namesake of an archetype, bears a striking resemblance to restricting Mishra's Workshop. Shops isn't putting up the numbers in this event but it has and didn't get restricted. To me that seems to indicate that Wizards of the Coast takes special consideration surrounding cards that people appear emotionally attached to. With the June 2008 restriction announcement it seemed like there was a mass exodus of players from the Vintage community. At the time I thought that flash would be restricted but the rest were a surprise and the aftermath seemed like it was going to be the death of the format. I'll play Vintage no matter what. If Wizards of the Coast wants to try to stabilize the format without causing a mass exodus it might be a good idea to test the waters by un-restricting Chalice of the Void first.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@evouga This has been happening constantly for almost a decade. If you watch the prices of key cards as closely as I do you'll notice it happen to pretty much every vintage staple on the reserved list. It goes in cycles but the result is always the same. The price spikes. You'd think that people would profit by this but the truth is they end up stuck with big ticket items that they can't move. Vintage is not as expansive a player base as other formats and the cards are already so expensive that spiking the price just puts them completely out of reach of potential buyers. These are people who work for a living. They probably make above average but even then very few people alive can afford to spend what the speculators are asking for their artificially inflated cardboard and the items just stop moving. There will be a few panic sales as people try to buy the items out of greed or maybe even necessity of playing them in an event but after a short time there will be a large number of speculators trying to sell them for prices no one is willing to pay and they just sit there for years and years. Maybe 5 to 10 years down the road people will start to buy them one by one but I've yet to see any speculators profit meaningfully (in a reasonable time frame) from Vintage buyouts. The cards are already so expensive that the players who plan to use them can barely afford them. Most of us are adults with adult pay but also adult expenses. No one is going to chose to buy a piece of cardboard instead of making a car payment, feeding their child, or paying their mortgage. People can still save up but it takes a year or more for most to save enough for one piece of cardboard so you can imagine that the market is as slow as molasses. That combined with the fact that there are dozens of us means most speculators who chose to try to make gains from buying out Vintage staples just end up shooting themselves in the foot when they could have made a much more profitable investment with shorter turnaround time using the same capitol. You can't bleed a stone.

posted in Official Tournament Results read more

This is the formula I use to compare performance within a specific event:

(number of appearances in top X) / (number of appearances in the field)


(number of X) / (number of players)

It could be usable to compare performance across multiple events as well.

In case this isn't clear; it's a ratio of ratios. I'll try to explain it another way:
A: number of appearances in top X
B: number of appearances in the field
X: number of top placing decks (arbitrarily decided whether you want the top 8, top 4, top 2, top 1, etc)
N: number of players




It's chosen such that if the entire field is one deck and so is the top 8 the ratio is 1. If the entire field is all the same deck except 8 of them and those 8 make top 8 while the others do not then those 8 decks get a high ranking while the others get 0. It measures the penetration of the top x bracket for the chosen deck vs. it's presence in the field. This has been my chosen metric for performance ever since more metagame data has become available than just top X appearances.

posted in Vintage Community read more

Every non-magic player I've shown magic cards to says that the new cards are ugly by comparison to the old ones. I've been running this experiment since the card frame was first changed.

posted in Oath read more

Dragon's Breath is so tempting with Sun Titan/KeyVault but yet another dead card weighs heavily against the case for including KeyVault.
The Dragon's Breath on its own might be more defensible since you can still get back two lock pieces on that initial turn.
Trinisphere and Statis are high on my list of Titan targets especially if you're already considering The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale.

posted in Tournament Reports read more

@chaosofslayer said:

Technically you can name whatever you want, including a mox or black lotus. It just doesn't do anything.

No—it does nothing... 😜

@elusive said:

maybe a grim?
I have no idea.

In any case you've done nothing wrong. It's as much his fault for not reading the card as it would be anyone else's. I hope I didn't seem to imply otherwise. Just meant to give a heads up for next time in case you're facing someone who would take advantage of the wasted Pithing Needle.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

This card seems like it was specifically designed with Vintage in mind. It's horrid against sphere effects but very likely sweeps up Monastery Mentor and Monk tokens with possitive tempo advantage. Dealing with Mentor and the Monks with tempo advantage is exactly what several people on this forum were complaining was impossible around the time this card would have been in design/development. Where it falls down in that role is that it is a 4 mana spell that does nothing but lose the game for it's caster when it gets countered; therefore, it has to be played in a deck that has strong game against counter magic. This makes me think it belongs in a deck with duress effects such as Cabal Therapy.

posted in Vintage News read more

@Stormanimagus I agree. I think that it's difficult to justify the continued restriction of Ponder in lieu of Preordain being unrestricted and I think that's especially true now that Mental Misstep has been printed. It may even be true of Brainstorm but I don't care to argue that position at this time.
If people are frustrated by the dominance of Mentor then Monastery Mentor is the only card that can be restricted that would address the issue. There is too much redundancy in the form of other available draw spells for anything else to be effective. There are so many card filtering cantrips that have been printed that their restriction is no longer an effective way to address the problem strategies that rely on them. I'm not even confident that they are problematic in and of themselves without the additional card advantage created by Monastery Mentor and to a lesser degree Pyromancer. It seems that creating a 1/1 with prowess is almost as good as just drawing an additional card. It is arguably better than drawing a card in a number of situations. If Monastery Mentor drew a card instead of creating a token I think it's restriction would have already taken place (or rather that it would never pass development and be printed to begin with) but perhaps what it does in Vintage is too close to that alternate reality. In Standard, the format for which it was developed, there were no ways for it to be used to generate the amount of card advantage that it does in Vintage.
Alternately, if cantrip based strategies were still the major issue after a mentor restriction then it could be argued that all card filtering cantrips that cost one mana (or less) should be restricted since they would have to be considered unilaterally problematic. This would mean restricting Preordain at the very least but likely quite a few other analogues.

posted in Vintage News read more

I agree that Gush Mentor appears to have pushed certain strategies out of the format; however, I believe the decline of most creature decks is related to the fact that attacking into a swarm of free monk tokens is a flawed strategy. I feel the need to point out that many of these decks used to play four Chalice of the Void as a trump against one mana cantrips. Certainly it would seem that having Chalice present in the metagame would affect Gush Mentor as well as all Gush decks since they rely heavily on cards like preordain to maintain consistency with so few mana sources. I would even venture to say that there were far fewer people calling for Gush's restriction on this website before the restriction of Chalice of the Void. The recent posts about Gitaxian Probe, Mental Misstep, Preordain, and Gush could potentially all be addressed simultaneously with the unrestriction of Chalice of the Void; previously the long time natural predator of cantrip strategies.