No, because Force of Will does not force a specific strategic orientation. It's used in combo decks, aggro-control decks, control decks, combo-control decks, and control -combo decks.
Lodestone Golem killed "pure prison" Workshop decks for the most part. I think it would be great if Stax returned in a big way.
You could say that Force of Will has killed pure combo.
One can say lots of things that are ridiculous, but one probably shouldn't.
Maybe you should take your own advice.
Let's not resort to personal attacks, please. That was completely unwarranted.
I occasionally play Dredge online (it's my only deck online and I don't have the money to get other decks). I really like playing Dredge and I think people underestimate how fun it is to play it, since it has such a bad reputation for being an unfun deck. People who haven't played much Dredge can't have an appreciation for the strange games that very regularly come up when playing Dredge.
So where does it sit in the metagame right now? Unfortunately, I don't think it's incredibly well off right now. It's certainly not that bad, but it's probably under 50% to win a random sample game, in general. Ironically, I don't believe it's because of Dredge hate. It is my belief that Dredge can fight through tremendous amounts of hate with either game plan it chooses to (transformational or anti-hate, both being viable). It's sure rough when someone is playing nine hate pieces, but most people don't, and a lot of people are even cutting Dredge hate right now.
Dredge suffers a lot from recent printings. Specifically, Paradoxical Outcome, Hangerback Walker, and Walking Ballista. Let's get Paradoxical Outcome out of the way first because it's easy and intuitive to understand why it's so bad for Dredge: it's very fast. Slower controlling decks can play Paradoxical Outcome, but it's so good at going through their deck that it allows them to find multiple hate pieces, if that's what they need to do, or Tinker, which Dredge can rarely beat. Faster combo decks that play Paradoxical Outcome just crush Dredge because they're so much faster and, unlike against Ritual Storm, things like Leyline and Mental Misstep don't really help against PO. It's definitely notable that Pitch Dredge versions that play Mindbreak Trap and Force of Will are much stronger against Paradoxical Outcome for obvious reasons.
Now for the Workshop pieces. Well, I want to first start off by saying that from a historical perspective, Dredge has had a rather strong matchup against Mishra's Workshop in the past. Workshop decks used to be so slow and focused on players being unable to cast spells that sometimes they'd just lose to Ichorid and a Bridge or two and Dredge doesn't have to cast spells to win. Even hate pieces backed up by Spheres sometimes wasn't enough because the Workshop players just didn't have a whole lot of pressure. Also, Dredge anti-hate just so happened to be able to destroy any of Workshop's clocks, so Dredge was in a commanding position in the matchup.
Workshop plays on a different axis now. The printing of Hangerback Walker quickly led to Ravager Shops being the default Workshop build and other Workshop variations became practically extinct due to the success of Ravager Shops. Arcbound Ravager is BAD news for Dredge because it's so effective at shutting down Bridges (Hangerback Walker can also shut down Bridges, though it isn't nearly so effective at it by itself). Sometimes Workshops can win without playing any hate pieces and even without stripping Bazaar just by shutting down Bridges and folding the Dredge game plan into dust. In addition, it can finish a game out of nowhere, which isn't the sort of pressure Dredge wants to see when it needs to take some time to find answers.
The printing of Walking Ballista has made things even worse for Dredge by solidifying the position of Ravager Shops as the best deck in the format, and also as a Triskellion that can by casted for 2 mana (Triskellion being another creature that can destroy Bridges on its whim). Walking Ballista is now yet another creature in Workshop decks that can kill itself at will to shut off Bridges, and it's also led to even more pressure because its combination with Arcbound Ravager can lead to quick kills that Dredge can't recover from without Bridges.
In a few short years, Workshops have transformed from having a fundamentally weak game plan against Dredge into a deck that just so happens to incidentally destroy Dredge's pieces. Workshops is pretty much universally (at least it seems that way) considered the best deck in the format and it's definitely one of the most popular, and other popular decks right now include Paradoxical Outcome decks of all flavors. It's just not Dredge's time right now. For what it's worth, I think Dredge has solid matchups against most other decks.
I think we could all do ourselves a service by dispelling the belief that Workshops can continue to be a thing if Mishra's Workshop were restricted. It would completely disappear. If you want that, then consider your opinion biased. Mishra's Workshop is not getting restricted.
I want to reply to the posts that Greg has made. I have long felt that the new breed of token generating creatures have contributed to the near extinction of creature based decks and even other Blue decks. Greg's posts have given me a sharper clarity on the matter. I think there's a core issue with Monastery Mentor that makes its restriction necessary (eventually; not necessarily in this upcoming B/R update). Monastery Mentor has too little counter-play as a finisher. This might be a strange thing to say of a creature, as we've trained ourselves to believe that creatures are the easiest to handle permanents, but Monastery Mentor is entirely different.
Consider the counter-play options against Mentor:
- Countered by: Force of Will, Mana Drain. Noting that Mana Drain isn't very common anymore, most decks have only FoW to counter Mentor.
- Swords to Plowshares and (potentially) Lightning Bolt can take out Mentor, but not before at least one token is made. This is important because the Monk tokens are strong enough such that they're a fully legitimate threat in their own right. If you just Plow the Mentor, you're still under a significant clock to either finish the game quickly, or find another answer for the tokens. The point is that StP and LB (if it even kills the Mentor) do NOT answer Monastery Mentor on a 1-for-1 basis. Young Pyromancer shares this trait, but its tokens are so much weaker that significantly more time is granted to the opponent, making him a more acceptable card.
- Sudden Shock can guarantee the Mentor's death, and can stop additional token production prior to his death, but even Sudden Shock cannot stop the first token from being made as the Mentor player has priority once Mentor resolves.
- Sweepers can 1-for-1 a Mentor, but not all of them are very reliable at all. Pyroclasm can technically do it at mana advantage, but it's risky. Supreme Verdict can do it while being uncounterable, but it's at a mana disadvantage and also costs double White. The best sweeper for this job is probably Toxic Deluge, which is mana neutral against the Mentor, but also happens to be easily countered by things that don't counter Mentor (i.e. Flusterstorm). Balance might be the only card that can actually answer the Mentor 1-for-1 and also be mana efficient, but it requires several things of you (have no creatures, don't get screwed by the other clauses of Balance).
- Engineered Plague, Illness in the Ranks, and other similar cards can turn off the token production, but none of those cards do that while simultaneously taking Mentor off of the field. In other words, they aren't 1-for-1s, even if they 'nerf' Mentor significantly.
Looking at things this way, we can see that there aren't that many answers to Mentor out there in the wide card pool available to us. Think about the cards that you add to your Blue deck to battle Mentor decks. Flusterstorm, REB, Mental Misstep. None of those cards actually answer Mentor. You can't really answer Mentor directly; you just have to hope for card advantage and beat your opponent in counter wars. Let's compare Mentor to some of the other finishers that populate Big Blue decks.
- Countered by: Force of Will, Mana Drain, Flusterstorm, Spell Pierce, REB/Pyro
- Tinker is inherently card disadvantage when countered.
- Flusterstorm is a mostly uncounterable way to answer Tinker for only one mana.
- Most common Tinker targets are answered by a wide variety of cards on a 1-for-1 basis. I won't go through every Tinker target, but Blightsteel Colossus is the most common and it's easily answered by Chain of Vapor, Swords to Plowshares, Hurkyl's Recall, Steel Sabotage, and other.
- Grafdigger's Cage shuts down most Tinker targets.
Tinker is a card that has dominated Vintage for many, many years, but we can see that it has plenty of counter-play. I'm not trying to say that Tinker is bad, but we can see that Monastery Mentor can be kind of thrown onto the battlefield without much care, whereas Tinker takes a lot more maneuvering to make sure it isn't a disaster.
- Countered by: Force of Will, Mana Drain, Flusterstorm, Spell Pierce
- Flusterstorm counters it, uncounterable, etc.
- Almost all forms of graveyard hate shut down Yawgmoth's Will.
- Two card combo
- Countered by: Force of Will, Mana Drain, Spell Pierce
- Voltaic Key countered by Mental Misstep. This is particularly relevant because of how omnipresent Misstep is.
- Time Vault countered by Spell Snare
- Artifact destruction can destroy either half of the combo, which is in some ways a 2-for-1 because neither half is very good without the other half. Ancient Grudge is an actual 2-for-1.
- Null Rod, Revoker, Pithing Needle all shut it down
There's obviously other kill conditions out there. I'm not intending to exhaustively cover everything. I'm just trying to illustrate that even the unholy trifecta of Tinker-Yawgmoth's Will-Time Vault has its built in weaknesses. All of these cards take careful maneuvering or high risk in order to resolve and reward you with a game win once they do. Monastery Mentor might not be as 'fast,' but it's hardly risky to throw it out there and see what happens.
As I said earlier, I don't believe that Monastery Mentor necessarily has to be restricted in the upcoming B/R update, though I would not mourn if it were. For this B/R update, I would prefer either restricting Monastery Mentor and nothing else or 'no action.' I personally don't like the idea of restricting a bunch of cards at once (i.e. the idea of "Gush and Lodestone Golem need to go, but let's also hedge against combo taking over by restricting Dark Petition too" sounds like a bad idea to me).
@Aaron-Patten Decks that resolve big mana spells are much better against Shops than Gush decks because they play a much higher mana count. A Sphere has the same effect on Tinker as it does on Preordain. Everyone knows that Shops is much less equipped to defeat Sol Ring and Mana Vault than it is to defeat Gush. "Shops is expected to defeat players casting spells?" Nonsense. Shops doesn't have the G1 win percentage of Dredge, not even remotely close, especially when it's on the draw. Does Shops have a higher average G1 win percentage than an average Blue deck? Probably. So? It still doesn't approach the level of dominance that you're attempting to paint it as.
None of what you say is backed up by any real data. You're falling victim to the anti-Shops propaganda that the pros are throwing around. A logical and unbiased way to stand in defense of Shops? How about checking out the results in the last quarter.
Edit: I'm sorry if my words seem aggressive, I really don't mean it that way. I'm just trying to illustrate that there's no reason to suggest that shops is overpowered right now, and it's only the propaganda that makes it seem so.
I dislike assertions that Workshops was "pretty clearly the best strategy," because all data points to otherwise (Gush, on the other hand, appears to be the best strategy). However, I cannot support people claiming that the world is coming to an end and that combo is the only viable strategy. I would be surprised if combo even competes with Gush. I expect that Gush will prove to be dominant over the next couple months and will likely be restricted next. This is speculation, of course. It's important to realize that we're ALL speculating. We as Vintage players have always felt like it's best to watch and see what happens. Lodestone is gone, as much as it displeases me. Let's see where this goes.
I have some comments about the Vintage portion of the podcast. First off, I want to say that it's great that people who don't know anything about Vintage are willing to turn their attention to the format. That is one definite boon that the VSL gives us. With that out of the way, I'll talk about some things that I feel weren't discussed enough on the Lodestone restriction.
I find it unfortunate that the hosts of the podcast pushed so hard to denounce the Lodestone controversy as the grumblings of players that always occurs. While players always do grumble about stuff, there are a few key points that make this controversy a bit different. Many people don't even mind that Lodestone Golem was restricted in terms of the impact on game play that they expect it to have, although that is certainly no small part of the issue. In my view, the bigger issue is how the restriction came to be, or at least the community's perception of that.
The hosts of the podcast seemed to have an underlying assumption that the DCI is more capable of making judgment calls on the format than players are, but one of the core issues is that the Vintage community genuinely questions whether the DCI really does have that capability. I'm not surprised the hosts feel this way because they come from a background where Wizards has a lot of support for the formats that they play. Wizards doesn't support Vintage in the same way.
The community perceives that the restriction of Lodestone Golem mostly happened because of the VSL. Certain players from the VSL complained constantly about the power of Workshops, and in short order, we've had Chalice AND Lodestone Golem restricted. One of the hosts pointed out that the DCI hasn't done much to the restricted list in the last 5 years, but he neglected to realize that a huge flurry of action has been ongoing since the start of the VSL. Some prominent members of the community have pointed out that Wizards has more incentive to cater to the VSL than the community because the VSL offers a unique opportunity to make money off of Vintage, something they normally cannot do. Wizards has special interest in making sure the prominent VSL members don't complain too much about game balance and unfun games because it make them look bad. We all know that Wizards is a company and the job of a company is to make money. The concerns of the Vintage community won't make money, but the VSL will.
Now, let's briefly talk about data. I feel the data in this podcast was a bit misrepresented. Wizards mentioned in the restriction announcement that Shops was an "overwhelming" portion of the metagame, and it was assumed in the podcast by all that it was the #1 deck of the metagame. That isn't even true. In paper data, Shops is only at about 20% of the metagame, behind Mentor. Gush consistently outperforms Shops, and only online tells a different story. One of the hosts was quick to dismiss paper data because he perceived that it represented a smaller portion of the metagame. Online technically has more events than paper, but this is hugely misleading. The vast majority of events online are very small, and the same players play in a comparatively huge number of events. A single person online can represent 3% of the metagame by himself if he performs well. This is not possible at all in paper. The number of players who play in paper greatly eclipses the number of players who play online, so throwing out paper data is unacceptable.
All in all, I hope Wizards doesn't keep acting hastily to adjust our format, but nobody can deny that there is some very real substance to the idea that the Vintage community might be powerless to influence what is coming.
I was watching a little bit of thxe replay of Rich Shay's twitch stream this evening, and I was actually astonished that some people felt that by posting data here and asserting that a quote in your article was a false statement that I was "attacking your credibility."
I just want to chime in here and confirm that this is absolutely true. Many people on Rich's stream were attacking Steve, calling him a liar, biased, etc. I don't mean to criticize Danny, or anyone, but I was horrified by the things said on Twitch chat during Rich's stream. Some poor guy named Oddbare got banned from chat for saying that Danny's claim isn't supported by Steve's data. This controversy is silly. Let's keep things civil.
@xXHazardXx For the purpose of a deck that's using Lodestone Golem and Trinisphere, it's hard to call Thalia and Glowrider/Pegasus a replacement sphere effect, seeing as those aren't artifacts. Defense Grid isn't even on the same planet as those other cards. As for the rest of the cards you mentioned, they're already in the deck, so they don't serve as redundant replacements for Lodestone Golem.
Your matchup analysis of Dredge is wrong. You seem to assume that Oath naturally trumps Dredge, but it's the reverse. Turn one Oath gives you some chance to steal game one, so there's that, but Dredge is easily capable of overpowering Griselbrand. Dredge can race Griselbrand without even casting any spells by just using Ichorid and Bridges, and Oath has no way to clear Bridges. In addition, Dredge can Flashback Therapy to kill the tokens you give them, buying them more time. I'll grant you that Oathing into Elesh Norn is a winning position, but Dredge can beat a resolved Oath in several ways. The 1 turn window you grant them by passing turn before you Oath can likely be enough for them to win the game with Dread Return. Also, Dredge naturally packs their sideboards with a huge myriad of enchantment removal that just so happens to take out Oath. Your 3 sideboard cards aren't close to enough to sway the post-board percentage back into your favor. You might occasionally draw that opening hand of Orchard, Mox, Mox, Oath, Nihil Spellbomb, but that isn't going to happen very often.
Am I criticizing your deck? No. Pick your battles. You can't have a deck that beats everything. Sacrificing your Dredge matchup might be the correct thing to do, but don't fool yourself into believing you're above 50% against Dredge.
I want to add one last thing to the data discussion. I realized it has already been argued to death, but I want to add my own experience as a bystander. When Lodestone Golem's restriction was announced, I was initially outraged. I bought into what many people were claiming: the DCI based their decision off of big name pros and didn't actually look at data or listen to the Vintage community. Many people got this perception, I believe.
What caused me to rethink my position was @CHA1N5 post in the Announcement thread that informed me that Shops was up to about 38% of the metagame on MTGO in February, and he also said that the DCI made their decision in early March. The March data suggests that the metagame was adjusting to Shops and their dominance was falling, but the DCI did not have the benefit of that data to make their decision because it was already made. Assuming they did make their decision in early March, you can see how they might be led to believe that Shops was way out of line and getting worse (i.e. more dominant in Feb than Jan). This gives some much needed perspective into the atmosphere in which they made their decision.
In addition, the new Mana Drain wasn't even up until the end of March. Someone asked Rich Shay on his stream whether he thought the DCI might have made a different decision if the B&R thread on TMD was made before their decision was made, and he opined that they would likely consider the thoughts of the Vintage community. I believe wholeheartedly that his opinion is correct. They will listen to us if we voice our opinions before their decision is made.
This broadened perspective makes me conclude that it is unjustified to accuse the DCI of making a baseless decision, and it's unjustified to claim that the data doesn't support their decision. It's also unjustified to believe that they'll listen to Sam Black's tweets and other pros more than the opinions of the Vintage community.
@diophan I challenge your view that Pyromancer Gush is too strong. If it is, then we can restrict Pyromancer or Gush somewhere down the line, but we haven't seen such a thing, yet, so there's no reason to believe it until we see it. Pyromancer Gush was a thing before the Delve spells and Mentor were printed, but that strategy wasn't incredibly dominant.
I have pointed out several problematic traits that Mentor has from a card design point of view and Young Pyromancer ALSO shares some of those traits (that it's a threat that generates card advantage and 1-for-1 removal might not necessarily answer it effectively), but there are a number of reasons why Pyromancer isn't so heavily offensive as Monastery Mentor. For one, the tokens it generates are much more mediocre, which allow the opponent time to draw themselves out of the hole they're in, or just assemble a game plan of their own that goes over the head of the elemental tokens. Also, unlike Monastery Mentor, there are a number of cards that can actually answer Young Pyromancer efficiently, such as Slice and Dice.
This is not to say that Young Pyromancer is weak. I have no delusions that Young Pyromancer would likely be a tier 1 strategy if Mentor were restricted, but is this a bad thing? I can't say that it is. If Pyromancer still continues to dominate the format, then I would urge for restricting Pyromancer or Gush as well, but I think we'd do ourselves a service to allow time to see what happens AFTER the restriction of Mentor, rather than base restrictions off of speculation for what might happen in the event that Mentor disappears.
I know that your camp firmly believes that Gush is the real problem and that's the card that needs to be restricted. I disagree. I think that Gush can play nicely in Vintage if it has the right support around it, without being so absurd that it pushes every other Blue deck out of the format. Bob-Jace continued to be the most powerful Blue deck in Vintage for a number of years while Gush was legal until the printing of Young Pyromancer. I really think the token creatures are the big offenders, not Gush.
@ChubbyRain @Hrishi I hardly think that Gush having a few good performances before the printing of Pyromancer justifies your view that Gush is too good. It wasn't the best Blue deck at the time. If you're trying to express that Gush is too powerful without token generating creatures, then the burden of evidence lies very, very heavily with your camp to prove it. I think that Gush can be a fine unrestricted card, or maybe not, but being prudent and slow with our restrictions is going to work out better in the long run than using a hammer every time.
The card has been restricted...TWICE. I don't think there is a very, very heavy anything to prove there. This is a classic case of focusing on the win condition rather than the enabler, though in the end both cards are problems - Gush hurts the diversity of Blue decks by being the superior draw engine and Mentor hurts the diversity of creatures in the metagame.
When Gush was last unrestricted, it failed to dominate until further printings. This illustrates, very clearly, that Gush CAN play well if the cards around it aren't too powerful. It's the archtype that has, by a huge margin, benefited the most from recent printings, and its power level has gone through the roof as a result.
@Brass-Man I don't want to risk further derailing the thread towards a discussion on instants vs. sorceries in Vintage, but I just have to comment because that's something that I've found to be a noteworthy truth in Vintage, as well.
Historically, leaving mana up for counterspells and using unspent mana on instant speed draw spells is how control decks operated, but control has had a major paradigm shift in most formats towards being more proactive (instead of reactive). There's a lot of reasons for why this has happened, which I won't get into for this thread (spoiler: it has a lot to do with modern day design philosophy of Magic), but in Vintage, this takes the form of "tempo style decks" that use proactive draw spells like Gush and proactive threats like Mentor, backed up by free or near-free counterspells (Force, Misstep, Pyroblast, Flusterstorm). Older, Weissman style decks have been quite fringe for a long time now, and so Instant speed card draw really isn't as important as it used to be.
@jhport12 I'll give a couple examples of some once dominant decks that have fallen off due to easily identifiable (in my opinion) recent printings.
Bob-Jace have a very notable series of printings that led to the decline of the once dominant deck. As I know it, it's generally agreed that the printing of Delver of Secrets and then Young Pyromancer pushed Bob almost completely out of the format and massively reduced the once supreme power of Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
I'd make a strong case that "the rise of creatures" in general has greatly reduced the power of Planeswalkers for a very straightforward reason. Jace isn't a very good Jayemdae Tome when the opponent has a board position that ensures his death next turn. Bob was pushed out because the tempo-oriented Delver decks could put on some quick damage with Delver and had finishing power with Lightning Bolt; it was too much damage for Bob to be a reliable draw engine without seriously risking your own death.
I'd also say Tinker has some notable printings that have led to its decline from a once dominant deck. Grafdigger's Cage was the first printing that directly hated on Tinker that saw wide play because of its useful Graveyard hate, and Containment Priest now also falls into that category.
More so than the hate, though, I'd say that Tinker suffered a lot from the printing of Flusterstorm as an effectively uncounterable counterspell that stuffs Tinker. Control decks used to hinge their whole game plan on maneuvering the game such that they could cast a Tinker and win the counter battle over it, thus securing the game. Flusterstorm aimed at a Tinker essentially ensures that Tinker doesn't resolve and so it became a much, much less reliable finisher. Then, of course, there's the much more obvious printing in Dack Fayden that heavily punishes Blightsteel Colossus. The printing of Monastery Mentor hit Tinker with from two different directions at once:
Mentor led to the "rise of White", which of course brought Plow back into the format as a main deck card, both because Mentor decks are White and can run Plow themselves, but also because Plow hits Mentor. I.e. more Plow = Blightsteel Colossus is unhappy.
Mentor basically just slotted right into the spot formerly occupied by Tinker as the de facto finisher of Control decks. Why run Tinker when it has so many weaknesses, when you could just run Mentor instead, without any of those weaknesses, and win about as quickly?
Well that was a longer post than intended. Fun though. There's plenty of examples of cards that used to be highly dominating, but have fallen off lately. In no particular order, Mental Misstep, Flusterstorm, the Delve spells, Dack Fayden, Young Pyromancer, and Mentor are probably the biggest 'offenders' for reasons why formerly dominant cards are no longer played nearly as much.
I've been seeing a lot of calls for restricting Gush lately. I think these people are bringing up some fantastic points and I can only agree that Gush really is pushing other Blue decks out of the format right now. I wonder if Gush itself is really the problem, though. Doomsday plays Gush and it's a relatively fringe deck. Gush Tendrils is a thing, but again, it's a fringe deck. The only real relevant Gush decks right now are Delver-shell decks, i.e. Mentor and Pyromancer. Gush had existed in the format for quite some time and it wasn't dominant until 2014. It was a thing, but it did not push out other Blue decks; in fact, Bob-Jace was the dominant draw engine for years after the restriction of Thirst, despite Gush. I've made an earlier post on this thread discussing why I thought Monastery Mentor was worthy of restriction, and I think Young Pyromancer might be as well. What do you guys think about restricting Mentor AND Pyromancer instead of Gush? I think that might allow the best of both worlds, as Gush aggro-control could still exist as it had before the printing of Pyromancer, but I doubt it would continue to push other Blue decks out. I also think doing this would have a lot less splash hate consequences, compared to restricting Gush (i.e. Doomsday can still use its draw engine of choice, etc.). I am, of course, just one person, but I can't really think about how this would be any worse than restricting Gush. Thoughts?
This B&R announcement confirms exactly what many feared: the DCI does not use real data to support their decisions. They merely listen to the grumblings of the loudest complainers to guide their hand. The assertion that the format was unbalanced in the first place is incredibly questionable when you consider that the majority of experts posting here wanted no changes. I fear what is to come if the DCI insists on policing a format they don't know anything about.
@MaximumCDawg I see what you're saying, but it doesn't detract from what I said. I was pointing out that more people wanted no changes, showing that the metagame is healthy enough. Yet they claim the metagame was unbalanced enough to warrant action. Preposterous.