@walking.dude "Red Dredge" is essentially what people used to play in Vintage a long time ago (it wasn't Red spells at the time because the primary discard outlets were Blue). People used to play Careful Study, Breakthrough, Cephalid Coliseum, and Putrid Imp. By the time Bloodghast was printed, some Dredge lists (a minority) still used those cards instead of Serum Powder. Evolution of Dredge over time led to Serum Powder being the dominant version of Dredge. I have doubts that going back to something similar to that old technology would bare much fruit.
@Smmenen I'm not terribly convinced that Flash would have a good matchup against Workshops if it were unrestricted. Phyrexian Revoker and Walking Ballista are both creatures that were not printed before Flash was restricted and both of them can stop the Reveillark kill. I have a hard time imagining that Disciple of the Vault is good enough to avoid this weakness (too much deck space), but maybe? Is there perhaps other viable Flash kills enabled by newer printings that haven't been explored?
@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.
@rikter You can probably cut a Golgari Thug or two if you're running the full package. As for the DR target, I would be uncomfortable without a way to lock up the game. FKZ is the most standard choice and that's what I run. I've seen people use Iona, which I've never tried, but I'd like to, to see how it plays, so that's probably fine too. Going without either one seems risky, though. Other DR targets are luxury secondary targets for niche situations. They're fine to have if you've got the room, but it's okay to run without them.
I ran with FKZ as my only Dread Return target for quite a long time and it works out fine. Dread Return on Golgari Grave-Troll is decent enough if you can't manage to find FKZ or you exiled him with Serum Powder. I'd say at least 90% of the time, the game is locked up by the time you cast Dread Return anyway because of Cabal Therapy. Right now I run Elesh Norn alongside FKZ as a luxury DR target primarily because it's good against Shops if my Bridges get destroyed.
@rikter When Ritual Storm was popular, I found that maindeck Misstep and Leyline was quite effective against them. It slows them down enough that you can realistically race them, and it's not actually necessary to even finish them off as long as their hand is ripped to pieces by Cabal Therapy. Relying on racing purely with "going fast" could leave you open to Ravenous Traps. However, Misstep and Leyline are both quite weak against Paradoxical Outcome. "Going fast" with Fatestitchers and Sun Titans/Griselbrand and whathaveyou would definitely be the best against Paradoxical Outcome specifically, but it would likely leave you worse off in other matchups. I personally think that maindeck Unmask and Leyline are where you want to be right now, if you're going with Traditional Dredge.
@Smmenen Unrestricting Flash is an interesting idea. A lot of people seem to be terrified of unrestricting Flash, but I agree with your point about adding a new angle to the format being more important at the moment. However, I genuinely wonder if Flash would even be that good right now, and I say that as a person who believed Flash was the best deck in Vintage when it was restricted. Flash played 4 copies of Brainstorm and 4 copies of Merchant Scroll, which were incredibly crucial to increasing the consistency of the deck, and obviously that cannot be done anymore. Further, there are a more hate cards compared to back then, and Plow is everywhere, which also didn't used to be the case. It would probably be a pretty safe unrestriction, to be honest.
@Wintage I disagree with the assumption that "without Mentor, Pyromancer decks would just take over and nothing would change". I believe the lack of ways to answer Mentor efficiently is a huge part of what makes Mentor decks so dominant. Pyromancer is a great card, but it has answers to it that totally destroy it like Slice and Dice or Walking Ballista. Even Pyroclasm is a fine answer to Pyromancer. Or a simple Plow on a Pyromancer might leave behind a token or two, but Pyro tokens are vastly less likely to win the game by themselves than monk tokens. A threat that has plenty of ways to answer it is a fine thing to have in Magic. Mentor doesn't have plenty of ways to answer it. That's the problem.
@Brass-Man I acknowledge that everything you said about Tinker going from a format defining card to a moderately fringe card is completely true. It is a great irony that one of the most dominating cards in Vintage history isn't even considered good anymore, but it's also easy to see why it fell out of favor.
The thing is, Tinker has always had tons of answers to it, even when it was totally dominating. It 2-for-1'd itself when it got countered and Blightsteel Colossus (or Darksteel Colossus) is vulnerable to a number of cards. There are other historical Tinker targets to offset some of these weaknesses, but Inkwell Leviathan is just too slow in today's world.
My point isn't to question why Tinker dominated in the first place: the context of the pre-Jace, pre-Dack era was such that there weren't a whole lot of good answers to a Colossus on the battlefield, given that Plow wasn't so common back then, and a gamestate could be maneuvered such that countering the Tinker wouldn't be so easy. I'm just trying to point out that Tinker for Blightsteel Colossus has tons of weaknesses, and that remained true even when it was good.
Can the same thing be said about Monastery Mentor? It's pretty much universally acknowledged that the best way to fight Mentor in Blue vs. Blue isn't by efficiently answering the Mentor because no efficient answers to Mentor really exist once he's on the battlefield. People put cards like Sudden Shock, Sulfur Elemental, and Supreme Verdict in their sideboards explicitly to deal with Mentor, but none of those cards are efficient answers. Instead, the best way to beat opposing Mentors is by winning the Blue battle.
So, to make my post have a point, I'm having a hard time seeing how a recent printing can really 'punish' an opposing Monastery Mentor in the same way that Tinker was punished. Blightsteel Colossus has tons of weaknesses and Monastery Mentor simply doesn't. This is a genuine question, by the way: do you have any possible ideas about new printings that might weaken the position of Mentor?
Even though Monastery Mentor is the last card on Earth that I would call a "fair Magic card", it does a very good job of pretending to be in terms of game design. After all, it's a 2/2 creature for 3 mana. Blatantly unfair cards can be hosed very easily by cards like Rest in Peace because of their non-standard angle of attack, but Wizards isn't going to print something that says players can't use 3 mana creatures.
Switching gears, how about a controversial line of thought: Is there a point where it might become appropriate to start banning cards in Vintage instead of restricting them? Bear in mind that I'm not convinced of this myself, at the moment, this is more of a food for thought sort of comment, but I think it's a line of questioning worth exploring.
Now, I certainly don't mean "hey let's just start banning every card on the restricted list". There's no merit to doing that, obviously. My line of thought is actually spawned from an increasing critical mass of effects that do essentially the same thing in certain decks, especially Blue decks.
We have now reached a point where, thanks to the printing and subsequent restriction of Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time, followed by the restriction of Gush, there's not even a need for an unrestricted draw engine anymore. Mentor decks can get by with Ancestral, Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, Gush, Gitaxian Probe, Dig, Cruise, possibly Mystical, plus maybe a JVP or two, Dack or two, and wouldn't you know, there's a draw engine. Every single one of those cards can be restricted and the deck is essentially still the same. Maybe restriction isn't capable of controlling the format by itself anymore because of this critical mass. I genuinely do not know the answer to this myself, but it's worth thinking about, so give your thoughts.
@jhport12 I don't think it's realistic to expect new printings to hose the two best decks in Vintage. Even discounting the fact that R&D very rarely makes cards explicitly for Vintage, suppose they were to try to print some new cards to help. What can they do? They're still limited in design space because the cards would be usable in other formats. R&D are a lot more careful with design than they used to be. Can they really make cards good enough to hate out Shops and Mentor?
Substantial artifact hate exists, but it's not good enough to hate out Shops right now. Something would need to be able to skirt Sphere effects to be genuinely successful at weakening Shops, so perhaps a cycling artifact hoser, as you suggested, but I'm highly skeptical that they're going to decide to print something like that. It would have to be 2 or 3 mana cycle, destroy target artifact when cycled. That's way too good to be printed, right?
How about hating out Mentor (i.e. the Blue engine)? What can be printed to help weaken Mentor that wouldn't be as good in other formats? What deck(s) would wield this tool to combat Mentor? I'm having a hard time thinking of anything that would realistically fit this bill, that also has a realistic chance of being printed. Unrestricting Chalice seems like the best bet here.
@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.
@Serracollector The inherent conflict between tutoring for cards in your deck and spilling your deck into your library makes me unable to really figure out how this would really work in Dredge. This suggests the cards you would tutor for would have to be useful in the graveyard, but then if they were, then why wouldn't you use Sun Titan or Griselbrand instead to dredge for more of your deck? Not to mention that exiling combo pieces with Serum Powder would be quite a nombo and extra combo pieces in your deck would inevitably come at the cost of disruption. I just can't see this card being useful in Dredge. If there were ever any advantage to this guy over the other options, it would be winning with a combo that doesn't care about Moat, but Ashen Rider has to be better for that.
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.