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"One key to the continued health of Magic is diversity. It is vitally important to ensure that there are multiple competitive decks for the tournament player to choose from."

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posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@khahan Ahh. Yeah, bad answers are better than no answers at all but they don’t keep a card from seeing play. If you read the restriction announcement on Dig, they basically cite the lack of diversity in Blue draw engines and I think Narset has the same potential because of the high floor and ceiling.

@Protoaddict That logic didn’t work with Delve spells (graveyard removal). It didn’t work with Chalice, Thorn, Golem (Ingot Chewer, Spree, Moxen, etc...). It didn’t work with Mentor (Sudden Shock, Sulfur Elemental, Moat). And for some who wants Workshop restricted so badly, it’s particularly egregious as you should realize every deck can technically answer Shops with any number of cards (Wasteland, Ghost Quarter, Damping Sphere).

Have you played with the card? I have to ask because you suggested not using its best ability in one post and thought multiples were bad in another, positions that should be quickly dispelled by a couple matches.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@khahan What @vaughnbros said.

That was a key issue with Mentor in that even if you dealt with the card, you still ended up behind most of the time. Or you warped your deck and played Sudden Shock, Illness in the Ranks, and Sulfur Elemental to compensate. And that eventually stopped happening as people just started playing more Mentors. In the meantime, Shops was consistently at a 60% match win rate.

In all cases, you end up with a format warping card.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

Bolt (and any other card that deals with Narset once it hits play on a 1 for 1 basis) is a really bad answer as your opponent has already fired off an Impulse. It's basic card advantage - you are down a card and your opponent is even with likely a restricted card replacing Narset.

Also, really? You just use the second impulse on the first Narset and then cast the second Narset and Impulse again. If you have a third, you can do it next turn. I've started building decks with four copies. Without a plus ability, there's very little diminishing returns in running multiple copies. It's not like you would be able to just use the first copy indefinitely, like Jace, Dack, or Teferi. Narset isn't a traditional planeswalker. It's a draw spell over two turns.

Yes, Shops is an issue to format diversity but that is outside the scope of this thread IMO. In Narset though, I see a lot of similarities to both Dig though Time and Mentor. I was also somewhat flabbergasted that my experiences were different than others and mentioning restriction in any capacity is certainly going to get people to comment. 😉

So while I feel that it's much too early to take policy action, especially with the potential for London on the horizon, meh, I used the r-word.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@dr-j She's very good against Dredge in post-board games as a way to shut down Bazaar of Baghdad after you've stopped their main dredge plan. Like Leovold, she was never a part of the "Dredge Hate", but once you Crypt their yard or land a Cage or Yixlid Jailer (or Leyline) and the Dredge player has to dig for answers, Narset shuts the door on their best means of doing so. The fact that Narset digs for additional hate or protection makes her even better than Leovold.

@Dr-J She's still good as a sorcery speed impulse for 1UU, gain 2+life and maybe stay on the table to combo with dack or a draw 7. Just not insane. But I mean, this is literally like arguing with myself from before the set was released and I played with/against the card and tried the countermeasures your recommended. The problem is that the scenario of landing a 2/1 doesn't make Narset that bad and a lot of the time they can answer your creature. Because they are Blue and run Force of Will or Swords/Bolt/whatever or won the die roll and this format has Moxen and Narset costs 3 for some reason so it can come down on turn 1/2 pretty frequently.

I also feel obligated to point out that all of these decks that you are likely to describe cannot be metagamed to have game against Shops. Like Eldrazi metagamed to have game against Shops, it just doesn't exist within the constraints of the format. Like a twitter poster literally said "I was running 12 SB cards against Shops and the matchup was still heavily unfavored"

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more


Open up the format? The only deck really well positioned in a Narset heavy Blue format is Shops and it was well rewarded in the last Challenge with a pretty dominant performance (won the event, 3 out of top 4). Eldrazi suffers in a Shops metagame and more rogue decks actually don't have the speed and disruption to exploit Narset blue decks well. She's still really good, even if all she's doing is functioning as a Dig through Time, so you basically have to force Blue into a losing position immediately and Eldrazi/Shops are good at doing that.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

Honestly, my continued experience with the card have led me to feel that she might be the first planeswalker restricted. It seems like not having a plus ability caused Wizards to push the abilities on the card, producing a really impactful and swingy permanent. Narset feels closer to a Dig through Time or Treasure Cruise than a planeswalker, with the metagame impact of weakening Blue decks relative to the field.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Again, there is little point in speculating on a plan when we don't know the particulars of your deck.

In general, Tomb is assumed to be a good card against Shops but in actuality has tested poorly. The life loss often accelerates the clock more than the additional colorless mana helps prevent dying. Multiples in particular are quite awkward.

Balance is horrible against Shops, yet again people think it would be good for some reason. Shops breaks the resource game by running a land that taps for 3 mana and dumps its hand on turn 2. A balance leaves both players hellbent, the Shops player with access to 3+ mana in play and the first draw, and the caster with 1-2 lands and maybe the ability to cast the spells they draw if lucky. Just play a more reliable removal spell...

Null Rod is bad against Shops if you can't trump their creatures with larger creatures. It's tempo are losing your own mana artifacts and still leaving them with their own creatures in play with no way to stop the attacks. It's a different story if you can throw a tarmogoyf in front of something. Even a DRS can do work.

Serenity is slow. Giving Ravager Shops an additional turn does not normally work well. Dredge can use it because their deck forces Shops to dilute its game plan and board in Dredge hate. Your deck deals with the optimized disruptive/beatdown variant that is the Shops maindeck.

There is a reason White Eldrazi has a sub-20% match win rate against Shops. They are trying to do many of the things that it looks like you are attempting with your Enlightented Turor deck or whatever. It just isn't a coherent game plan and basically comes down to throwing hate and hoping Shops has a bad hand.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Lands are necessary but not sufficient to beat Shops. It's pretty punishing of minor stumbles and the london mulligan hurt Shops as it enabled decks to more consistently hit land drops with Moxen thrown in.

That said, you really shouldn't be completely locked out consistently by Shops right now even with the Vancover mulligan (might be different with Karn but I haven't found a version of Shops with Karn I like). @Khahan's example above gives a window to cast a 1 mana removal spell on turn 2 either on Revoker or Sphere. Leverage that into another removal spell on Sphere into a stabilizing card like Tarmogoyf or Grudge and you can begin to turn the table even through the mana denial. Or Wasteland them and hope they are stuck under their Spheres if the have a Sphere heavy draw. 🙂

I tried to find old replays of games I won on the Draw against Shops with either Junk, Jund, Depths, or whatever but my replays seem garbled. Thanks MODO 🙄

posted in Vintage Strategy read more


Going by the last sentence, I was hoping it was more "is it possible to have a favorable game 3 win percentage on the draw against Shops with a non-Blue deck?" And it certainly is. Shattering Spree in particular is an amazing card in decks that can support it, especially when paired with Snapcaster or JVP. In comparison, By Force is largely a trap for most decks. The extra mana is enormous. You can build a deck around Energy Flux as a primary plan. You can build a deck around Null Rod as a primary plan. It's a huge part of becoming a successful brewer to realize that you need to execute a plan with your cards and not simply throw "anti-deck X" cards into a SB and call it a day. That's why I say that a discussion without a list is going to be limited because a good plan incorporates both SB and main deck elements.

But yeah, sometimes posts represent catharsis where people vent about the non-interactive elements of Vintage. I feel we've all been there. 🤷
Principle of charity is recognizing that and being helpful. I have to fight my natural tendency to be a smartass, but I am trying.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I mean, there's only so much that can be said without a deck list but the main formula is:

  1. Get out from under Spheres with Moxen, DRS, etc.
  2. Buy time with one mana 1 for 1 removal like Bolt, Claim, Fragmentize, etc. on key threats or spheres, or use creatures like Goyf to block.
  3. Stabilize with 2+ mana, 2+ for 1 removal like Flux, Shattering Spree, Ancient Grudge, Dack Fayden, Null Rod, etc

You lose to god draws like the one you describe but in general my non-blue decks like Jund have had better Shops match ups than other Blue decks with Force of Will because of Tempo considerations and the fact that Force is negative card advantage.