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posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@lienielsen I'd say it's not good to treat "must answer a creature" as a hard rule, but it is true that most good planeswalkers have the ability to do that.

A more nuanced way of thinking might be ... if the metagame has a reasonable amount of creatures, a planeswalker without the ability to defend itself isn't likely to last very long. That means if the rest of your deck is very good at stopping things from attacking, you have a lot more room to play with. As a counterexample, one of the most successful planeswalkers in Vintage history was Tezzeret, the Seeker, which was used with Time Vault to take infinite turns. Tezzeret can't defend itself, but A) in many cases you didn't NEED it to survive more than a turn, and B) it was successful in a time when there were fewer creatures in the metagame.

I wouldn't say self-defense is a hard-and-fast rule, but I think what your friend was getting at makes sense in this case. If your opponent has a 2/2 in play, this card when un-kicked is probably going to draw 1 card before dying, and with kicker it'll probably draw 3. Considering it ONLY draws cards, it's fair to compare it to other draw spells, and in most situations you can do better for 1UU or 3UU mana. If your opponent doesn't have any creatures then you might draw 4 or 5 cards off of this, but a Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Dack Fayden would get you much much further in that situation.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

This is one of those questions where the answer is going to end up being dependent on your deck and on the metagame. Because those things shift around over time, it might be helpful to try and think in terms of heuristics, e.g. not "which is better" but "what might make one better." I'm not up to date on the metagame enough to give a great answer, but here are maybe some factors you can think about:

Does your deck have any cards that are hosed by Rest in Peace but not by Grafdigger's Cage? (perhaps delve spells).

Are there other matchups you care about where those cards are relevant? A lot of people choose to run Grafdigger's Cage because it doubles as a disruptive spell against Tinker, Oath of Druids, Bolas Citadel. You might be able to fit more Cages in your list than Rest In Peaces if you're already dedicating space to beat those other decks. This might be a good reason to run a mix of Cage/RiP as well.

Seems like you're already accounting for the popular counter-answer cards in the current metagame (Force of Vigor) but keep in mind that kind of stuff changes all the time. Tabernacle of the Pendrell Vale was very good against graveyard strategies last year, but it looks like those decks have adapted by running more Strip Mine effects. Against Dredge decks with Force of Vigor I tend to share your instinct for running cards that generate some value even when they get removed, but I'm not sure how the latest crop of Hogaak lists changes the equation.

Like white dragon I'm also a big fan of Containment Priest, but I think you aren't wrong to be concerned about your ability to play 2 drops in a deck with only two moxes.

Tormod's Crypt and Ravenous Trap are cards that works really well alongside other hate cards. Crypt just buys time ... you won't win if you just draw Crypts in a slow deck ... but because they're free and create value through Force of Vigor, they can shore up the weaknesses of other hate cards (or make you more likely to win with a card like Tinker).

Some decks naturally lend themselves to run cards that are relevant in a match, but might not be something specialized. I've found cards that interact with the board to be reasonable (e.g. stuff like Tarmogoyf and Swords to Plowshares) as long as they're part of a larger strategy. I've had success with Scavenging Ooze+Deathrite Shaman+Tormod's Crypt, which are all cards that aren't particularly powerful enough on their own. When you're already running some number of those cards, that changes the value of other options. I don't like Surgical Extraction but I admit that it gets better in a deck with 4 Snapcaster Mage. Other cards to pay attention to are Wasteland, anti Hollow One cards like Dack Fayden, and creatures that sacrifice themselves to kill Bridge from Below. I suspect that your deck doesn't have any of these? Which might mean you have to dedicate more space than another list would.

The details of your deck are important here. My assumption from the name blue white BTB is that you're going to be too slow to rely on just Crypts/Traps/Leylines ... and I'm guessing you don't have enough creatures to make Containment Priest affect your clock, but you do have enough counters to try and fight off Force of Vigors. My instinct here is that you need a way to interact consistently on turn one. I would say if you're only able to dedicate 4ish slots to the matchup then Cage is the only thing that's going to get you there. If you're willing to dedicate more space (and I suspect you should), then you can run a mix of (Crypt or Trap or Cage for turn one interaction) with (Rest in Peace or Containment Priest to seal the deal).

It looks like the dredgey decks are pretty popular right now. As an "advanced excercise" you might want to look at a metagame and identify if there are any of those "relevant-but-not-dedicated" cards that happen to be good against several of the top decks. Skimming mtgGoldfish right now I see Golos stax, HogaakVine, and Outcome, and I notice that Dack is relevant against Golos/Hollow One/Mox Opal; Wasteland is relevant against Dark Depths/Bazaar/Academy; Null Rod/Collector Ouphe is relevant against Mirage Mirror/Mox Opal. If you were to play a RUG deck with those cards you'd already be down a path that pushes your sideboard in a strong direction. None of those cards replace your sideboard, but they act as force-multipliers to make your sideboard cards more effective, and inform which cards you should use. This won't help you tune a deck you already have built, but I find myself building decks sideboard-first quite a bit, and those lists have been pretty effective for me.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@botvinik said in MTGO 2020:

P.S. Mabye get aversion of dredge with less than 4 grave trolls for the front page.

Okay, fair point.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@80percentbuffoon said in MTGO 2020:

Unfortunately this forum caters primarily to paper players so the above paper bias in the responses is expected.

Obviously obviously I have to respond to this, though I hope I don't sound bratty or defensive.

TMD does not explicitly cater to paper players in the sense that I have taken zero active steps to provide anything specifically for paper players. I genuinely have no idea what part of the site could be considered paper-centric, maybe the Tournament Announcement forum that nobody's posted in for months?

I think you'll find that paper players don't really use TMD either. There aren't many living paper communities out there any more, and there tends to be a pretty big overlap between people who don't like playing online and people who don't like internet forums, for obvious reasons. If I try to pin down what I see as "the paper community", I think of places like the New York metagame that until recently ran regular large events. Players who play at an astounding level and just have no interest in an online forum. I don't think Joe Brennan even has a TMD account. I think the majority of active TMD posters (myself included) are _ex_paper players. People who used to go to tournaments regularly and for whatever reason no longer can, who drop by now and then to brainstorm some new spoiled card just to exercise their Vintage muscles. Then we recede back into our neighborhoods where there just aren't any paper Vintage tournaments to go to anymore.

I've tried catering to paper players. I've also tried catering to MTGO players. I ask people what it would take for them to use TMD more. I ask people that a lot. I'm guessing a lot of people I know are sick of me asking them. I almost never get an answer beyond "ban ____, I don't like them" and "I don't go there because no one goes there".

The fact is, people don't want to talk about Vintage on a forum. I keep it running out of a sense of obligation, and because I can afford to, but it's just not something people are passionate about enough to contribute to.

If could think of a way to cater to paper players, I'd do it in a heartbeat. If I could think of a way to cater to MTGO players, I'd do that instead.

I know this all sounds kind of defensive, and maybe it is, somewhat ... I do feel bad when people dislike the site ... but more than that, I don't think you would have said that if you didn't feel like you were somehow being excluded ... and I don't want people to feel like they're being pushed out of the site when I've been so desperately trying to make people feel like they can participate (a fact that some people have told me is the biggest problem with TMD).

I wish I could lay out some action plan I have for fixing any issues you have with the site, but I think I'm all tapped out.

posted in Vintage Community read more

I think people might be talking over each other a bit here. Here's my take on what's going on in this thread, and I hope I can be helpful to @marcb and anyone else wandering in looking for info

There's no doubt that Magic Online is a flawed program, but it gets the job done, and it's by far the most active spot for Vintage games online, especially if you're not already part of any smaller group of players. You won't find league games as readily as you can find standard matches on Arena, but as someone who played vintage for a decade when paper was your only option, it's night-and-day how accessible and easy it is to find a Vintage game on MTGO.

If you want to play against the best players, with prizes on the line, and you want to do this remotely (surely a bigger concern these days), MTGO is going to give you that opportunity like no other platform can.

I'll follow up on @AeonSovarius 's desire to play a few games before buying a collection though - the MTGO UI is a bit awkward, it takes some getting used to, and some people will never get used to it. The first league you play in, you will lose games because of a misclick, or because your turn-stops aren't set correctly, or because you don't know how to put something on the stack without passing priority, or because you played Mindbreak Trap and counter your own spells because you didn't know that the UI for playing Mindbreak Trap is fundamentally broken.

Beyond that, it's a different experience than paper in general. Everyone will be affected by this on different levels, but playing on MTGO is emotionally a different experience than playing in paper. Your opponents are meaner to you, the losses and wins hit you differently. Personally I find myself conceding Magic Online games MUCH more often than I concede games in paper. Situations that in person I might feel tension or excitement can feel like a slog on MTGO. I find myself asking the question "Do I really care if I win this game?" a lot more online. Some people don't feel any difference at all, and some people just cannot enjoy MTGO. There's really no way to know if this applies to you without playing yourself.

@80PercentBuffoon is absolutely right that a subset of MTGO players have formed an active and passionate community on the discord server he linked to. If you want to find people to chat with about Vintage and you don't have a group you're already doing that with, the Vintage Streaming Community discord is an awesome place to check out.

All that said, cockatrice and webcam matches are other great ways to enjoy vintage as a hobby from home. Of course the price is right (it's free). I own a set of power, but I prefer to play with (easily distinguishable) proxies, even over webcam.

If you're comparing Vintage Magic Online to other online games, the pricing model is pretty awful in terms of value-per-dollar, but if you compare it to other ways of playing magic, you're basically going to be able to play any number of Vintage decks forever, for the price of a single mid-tier paper Standard deck that won't be legal in three months. Obviously it's completely a personal decision whether the value is worth it for anyone. I own a Vintage MTGO collection and a Vintage cardboard collection but I don't have a ton of other financial priorities and I'm lucky enough that my career path happens to be a lucrative one.

Playing with voice chat over a video call gets me much closer to the feeling of actually being at a tournament than I had expected. There's no reason you couldn't set up a match over MTGO and use a voice call too, and you'd probably get about the same experience. Personally I prefer the usability of cockatrice over MTGO, though MTGO looks nicer. When you're talking with your opponent over voice chat via Cockatrice, you can shortcut all the things you shortcut in paper, you can move through phases without incessantly clicking pass-priority, you can't really misclick because you can just roll back mistakes. Compared to Cockatrice, MTGO can feel glacial. To be fair, neither is very usable and neither looks very good. I also suspect Cockatrice against an unknown opponent with no voice chat is the worst of both worlds, but I haven't done that.

Obviously there are massive limitations here that aren't true of MTGO. In theory you can find someone in a server looking for a Vintage game on Cockatrice but I don't think it happens that often. Basically you're going to have to find someone who wants to play with you some other way, and then arrange to meet online. Practically speaking, if you're not already part of a community that does this, it's not very likely to happen. There might be a public Discord server where people try to find opponents, but I don't know about it. I would love for people to use TMD to coordinate games, but no one does.

You're never going to see a "large, official" tournament run this way. WotC can't officially promote Cockatrice (though I suspect they don't really have a problem with it), and it's more or less impossible to stop people from cheating in a webcam match. Basically you need to treat a webcam match the same way you treat playtesting at a card shop - you play with people you don't think are going to cheat, and you don't cheat because if you do, what's the point? This is very maintainable when it comes to one-off matches or small tournaments among friends, but it's going to fall apart if there are big prizes on the line. Basically if you want to play in serious, large, official tournaments online, it's MTGO only. For me that isn't a deterrent, because the best matches of Vintage I've ever played weren't in serious, large, official tournaments. For me Vintage has always been a format about small, player run events with no WotC support. But I totally understand the draw of a Vintage Challenge.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Thanks for the clarification, that definitely makes the card more useful in that matchup than I thought. Of course, as a 4-drop it's pretty unlikely to come down before the board is already crowded. That's not a dealbreaker, I think it just means you can't have this be part of your anti-Workshop strategy without a plan for how to answer their threats from the first few turns. Swords to Plowshares is an obvious choice in the same color as Humility, Hurkyl's Recall on their end step the turn before you hit 4 mana seems pretty nice, too.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I honestly don't know if they've changed the layering rules in the past few years, but I think Humility'd creatures retain their bonus from +1/+1 counters. That means a Humility will actually make every creature in a Workshop deck except Foundry Inspector bigger. With Shop-Aggro representing such a big portion of the aggro decks in the format, it really dampens how flexible the card would be in Vintage specifically.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@chubbyrain1 it's not all upside. I mean, you have to pay a life. 😉

posted in Vintage Community read more

@protoaddict Oh I agree that vintage fetch/dual manabases are a lot closer to legacy manabases than they are to something like standard. It's one of the many similarities between the two formats, they're more alike than they are different. There is a "uniquely Vintage" manabase however (well ... several. Workshop decks and Bazaar decks are uniquely vintage for obvious reasons). This is less true in today, but the presence of Moxes and other artifact mana has a tangible impact on how manabases are built and therefore which cards can see play. A Vintage deck and a Legacy deck might have a similar number of total mana sources, but the presence of artifact mana means that the Vintage deck has fewer actual lands. I'm fascinated by manabases in general and I think there are subtleties that people outside the format don't catch, for instance, the presence of off-color artifact mana means that generic mana is easier to come by in Vintage. That changes the value of cards with colorless mana costs - in Vintage it's much easier to play a spell that costs 1U than a spell that costs UU, in many legacy decks they're identical. Back when it was common to run 7 artifact mana and 4 Mana Drains, I built my mana curves entirely differently, treating "C", "1C", and "CC" as three distinct mana costs. The difference is less stark now as lots of decks opt to run fewer colorless sources.

Where that intersects with duals/fetches is that the dual/fetch manabase requires a critical mass of lands to be effective - if you only had 3 lands in your deck you wouldn't make them 1 Underground Sea, 2 Polluted Delta. (Okay Meandeck Tendrils did this but you get my point). Committing to colorless or one-color artifact mana puts pressure on your nonartifact mana to be able to support more colors. If your deck has spells that cost 1U, 1R, and 1W, you want to have access to three colors by your second turn, if one of your two mana sources is a mox then your other source needs to be able to tap for 3 colors (Of course there are tradeoffs and in practice you end up shifting the cards in your deck to make your mana better, in addition to shifting the mana to cast your cards better)

Kind of a ramble but I think "Mox Ruby" is actually a card that disincentivizes fetchlands already, and I guess I'd have to conclude that fetchlands are better in Legacy (and I assume Modern?) than they are in Vintage. Of course they're still very good in Vintage, but I do believe there are cards you could print (or ban/restrict) to make them worse.

I think you could make a pretty good argument to say that Fetches+Duals are the third or fourth best manabase in Vintage, behind Workshops and Dredge (and possibly Bazaar/Mana'd decks like HollowVine). While fetchlands were still played in 2015 (the pre-restriction era of chalice/lodestone workshop dominance), it was probably a mistake to play them back then! So one really straightforward way to make fetches bad is to print good artifacts 😀