@smmenen In chess, some openings are named after individuals (Alekhine’s Defense, the Ruy Lopez), some are named after multiple individuals (Caro Kann), some are named by strategic concepts (Queen’s Gambit, Four Knights game), some are named by geography (French Defense, the Sicilian).
Best posts made by dshin
RE: Schools of Magic Taxonomy Question for Vintage
RE: Thoughts on restrictions
I really like the line of thought that has emerged about certain types of hate making for better gameplay than others. I whole-heartedly agree. Above all else, Magic games should be demonstrations of gameplay skill (not just deckbuilding skill). And continuous-effect cards lack decision points and so don't provide as many opportunities to demonstrate gameplay skill, on both sides of the table.
I think one step that WotC can take to improve gameplay is to avoid publishing continuous-effect cards. Like @ajfirecracker wrote, "More Cursecatcher...and Deathrite Shaman, less Ethersworn Canonist and Containment Priest".
With that said, I still stand by my original thesis that the best way to shape the metagame is by publishing new hate. Ideally that hate does not take the form of a continuous effect, and it need not take the form of a bear.
So for example, if we were to unrestrict Chalice of the Void + Lodestone Golem and sought to reduce Workshop metagame dominance, perhaps we could publish something like...
Anti-Workshop-Forest: Legendary Land. Tap: add G to your mana pool. Tap, sacrifice, pay 1 mana per artifact you control: add 1 to your mana pool for each artifact target opponent controls.
Requires gameplay skill, hates without saying "you lose", non-bear form to appease the hatebear-haters. I think I rather like this card idea.
Of course, like I said earlier, the risk with such hate is that you might make the best deck better. If Mentor turns out to be the best deck and is able to derive value from this card, then it makes the metagame worse. Which is why putting the hate on a bear is the safest decision from the card designer's point of view.
RE: Magic is Undecidable
I read the paper and so can provide a layman’s summary.
The authors considered game states where there are no more decisions left to be made by either player, and no more randomness. There is only a sequence of forced actions and triggered effects left to be resolved.
The authors say: assume for sake of contradiction that there is an algorithm that can take such a game state as input and output who will win the game. They prove that if such an algorithm exists, then the algorithm can be used to solve the halting problem. But the halting problem is provably undecidable (no algorithm can solve it). This implies that the assumption of the existence of an algorithm that can determine the winner from a game state is false.
The sketch of the proof is that they cleverly construct a game state that can represent the internal state of a Turing machine, with the mechanics of the remaining triggered effects mapping to the execution of the Turing machine’s instructions. A Turing machine is basically a representation of any algorithm (or computer program). Here is a snippet of their construction:
Each Rotlung Reanimator needs to trigger from a different state being read – that is, a different creature type dying – and needs to encode a different result. Fortunately, Magic includes cards that can be used to edit the text of other cards. The card Artificial Evolution is uniquely powerful for our purposes, as it reads “Change the text of target spell or permanent by replacing all instances of one creature type with another. The new creature type can’t be Wall. (This effect lasts indefinitely.)” So we create a large number of copies of Rotlung Reanimator and edit each one. A similar card Glamerdye can be used to modify the colour words within card text.
Thus, we edit a Rotlung Reanimator by casting two copies of Artificial Evolution replacing ‘Cleric’ with ‘Aetherborn’ and ‘Zombie’ with ‘Sliver’ and one copy of Glamerdye to replace ‘black’ with ‘white’, so that this Rotlung Reanimator now reads “Whenever Rotlung Reanimator or another Aetherborn dies, create a 2/2 white Sliver creature token”4. This Rotlung Reanimator now encodes the first rule of the q1 program of the (2, 18) UTM: “When reading symbol 1 in state A, write symbol 18 and move left.” The Aetherborn creature token represents symbol 1, the Sliver creature token represents symbol 18, and the fact that the token is white leads to processing that will cause the head to move left.
You can sections III and IV of the paper for full details.
RE: Anti-Dredge Strategy - from a Dredge Expert
A more rigorous take on this debate:
Suppose you are allowed to run as many Leylines as you want. Let p[n] be the probability of winning a tournament with optimal deck construction given the constraint that you must run exactly n Leyline’s.
For any integer n, let S(n) be the following assertion:
max(p, p[n]) > max(p, p, ..., p[n-1])
The “0 or 4” crowd is then asserting that S(4) is true and can be deduced from first principles. Let’s assume they are right.
Now if Leyline is playable, then S(75) is clearly false.
This implies that if you consider the statements S(4), S(5), S(6), ..., S(75), then there is some magic k for which S(k) can be proven to be true from first principles, while S(k+1) cannot.
What is this magic k, and what is so special about it, that allows you to make a from-first-principles argument for S(k) but not for S(k+1)?
If no such k can be identified, then the “0 or 4” crowd must be wrong. It may indeed be the case that 0 or 4 is better than 1, 2, or 3, but that fact cannot be deduced from first principles.
RE: Thoughts on restrictions
The problem with that approach is that they've been following that approach for a while and I don't think many people like the direction it's taking us. People want to play Vintage; they want their deck to do powerful things. People don't want to play with a bunch of hate bears. There used to be only 1 hate bear deck but now the hate bear concept is just spread across all the major archetypes and that's not okay.
This is an interesting perspective that I didn't realize was so prevalent.
To me personally, I find it quite beautiful that a deck that would get beaten in Standard can have game in Vintage, and how the deck balances the metagame by keeping broken strategies in check. I distinctly recall watching VSL Season 5 and hearing the commentators squeal with glee as Paul Rietzl brought hatebear decks like white-weenies and spirits, and I shared their delight. But I can see how others might feel differently.
My card suggestions were just starting points for discussion, and I don't think it's necessary that new hate takes the form of bears. For instance, I would love to see ideas like them in the form of Legendary Lands that tap for G, a la Karakas.
With that said, it is easy to see, from a card design evolution standpoint, why hate has come to take on the form of bears. There is a fundamental dichotomy when it comes to hate: (1) hate cards that simultaneously help your own deck's path to victory, and (2) hate cards that don't. A card like Karakas is an excellent example of a non-bear type (1) card - it provides targeted hate against a few cards, but simultaneously taps for W. Cards like Null Rod and Grafdigger's Cage are type (2) - no deck uses those cards for anything but defense.
The first iteration of dredge hate cards like Leyline of the Void and Ravenous Trap were pretty much all type (2) hate cards that only targeted Dredge. So while these newly designed cards helped keep dredge in check, we had the distasteful situation of every deck needing to dedicate half their sideboard to type (2) hate cards. I'd argue this decreased metagame diversity, because any viable deck essentially only had half of a sideboard to position itself well against the other pillars of the format.
The way I see it, two ideas emerged on how to solve this problem. The first was to introduce type (2) hate cards that had more utility against other decks (e.g., Grafdigger's Cage). The second was to introduce type (1) hate cards.
But designing a fair type (1) hate card is very difficult. You risk making the most-broken deck even better. A Grafdigger's Cage with a Sphere effect for example would be much too good. The ideal way to do it is to couple the hate effect with a threat that doesn't coincide with the most-broken deck's aims, and using the beatdown-with-grizzly-bears threat for that purpose is a very safe way to do that.
RE: Magic is Undecidable
@maximumcdawg “predict” is even a stronger word than necessary. The paper shows that even when there are no more decisions left to be made by either player, only forced actions and triggered effects left to resolve, it is impossible to write an algorithm that determines the winner.
Generalizing the restricted list
WoTC essentially maintains 4 different lists: the max-0 list (banned), the max-1 list (restricted), the max-infinity list (basic lands), and the max-4 list (other). What if they added max-2 and max-3 lists? This gives them more tools to achieve their goals.
I would then propose bumping Mishra’s Workshop from max-4 to max-3. Compared to a full-on restriction, it wouldn’t cause as much economic damage to current owners, and would represent a more gradual approach to curbing Workshops strategies.
RE: Thoughts on restrictions
Very well written, thank you. Your point about effect-multiplicity is very convincing.
I think you and I, and others in this thread, agree about the vital function of hate cards, but feel that WotC might have erred with a certain type of hate cards: the ones which reduce the level of decision-making and skill needed to win.
The old-school blue mage running up against Cursecatcher, similar to the dredge player running up against Tormod's Crypt, represented an exciting in-game puzzle. When should the hater pop his hate card? How much does the hatee hold back to sidestep the hate? There was bluffing and bluff-catching. When people say Magic is part poker, this sort of interaction is partly what they are talking about.
The anti-dredge player plopping down Rest in Peace - there is no poker going on there. The important decisions were already made before the game even started - the decision to have a white manabase and the decision to formulate a gameplan that is not dependent on your own graveyard. Now, deckbuilding and metagaming are important and fun in their own right, but gameplay is what it should ultimately it should all be about.
Designing cards that demand gameplay skill is very challenging. But if WotC is able to go in that direction with future generations of hate, I think it will improve the vintage landscape. Even better if they can somehow mitigate the effectiveness of continuous-effect cards already in the card-pool, but that represents an even bigger card design challenge.
RE: Magic is Undecidable
@cuikui I'm repeating myself a bit, but the result of the paper is not concerned with the number of possible moves or number of possible game states. You are right to note that these numbers are large, but the authors don't care about these numbers at all. They are not considering algorithms that try to compute these numbers.
Rather, they only consider game states where neither player has any more decisions to make. In MTGO terms, both players are essentially in "F6" mode. The question is, if we restrict ourselves to only those types of game states, is it possible to write an algorithm that determines who will win the game after the remaining forced actions and triggered effects are processed? The paper proves that the answer to this question is no.
To be very precise on what this means, consider the problem of adding two numbers, x and y. Here are 3 candidate algorithms (written in python) to solve this problem:
- algorithm1 will always return something. The problem is, that something is not always correct - it will output 4 as the sum of 1 and 2, which is incorrect.
- algorithm2 is better in some sense - it never returns an incorrect output. However, it has another problem - it sometimes runs forever, never returning anything. For instance, if you ask for the sum of 0 and 1, it recursively calls itself, which calls itself, etc., going into an infinite loop.
- algorithm3 gets the best of both worlds - it always returns something, and it never returns an incorrect value
The authors proved that if you consider the universe of all possible algorithms that accept a game state of Magic as input (even if we restrict ourselves to those "F6-mode" states where there are no more decisions left to be made by either player), and outputs a winner as output, then every single algorithm in that universe will be like algorithm1 or algorithm2 in my example. In other words, any such algorithm will either return an incorrect output on some inputs, or go into an infinite loop on some inputs. If someone tells you, "hey, I wrote a computer program that correctly outputs the winner given an F6-mode game state as input, without infinite-looping", that'd be like someone saying, "hey, I discovered an integer that is neither even nor odd!" It's simply a mathematical impossibility, a claim that can be rejected on its face, without even looking at the code.
RE: Card Design Thread For Improving Vintage Metagame and Gameplay
I will start with a proposal for a green anti-aggro-Workshops planeswalker. The key ability for vintage relevance is the bolded one; I didn’t put much thought into any other aspect of the card.
Nissa, Wolf Whisperer
Planeswalker - Nissa
+1: Create a 2/1 green Wolf creature token.
+1: Put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control.
-2: Move all +1/+1 counters in play onto target creature.
-6: All creatures you control gain first strike and trample until end of turn.
Latest posts made by dshin
Play/draw win rates
Are there any empirical stats on how often the player on the play wins Game 1 in Vintage?
I'm aware of a couple empirical analyses for Standard:
- 400 MTGO Standard games from 2013, win-rate of 56.3% [link]
- ~3.1M Arena Standard/Limited/Brawl games from 2020, win rate of 56.5% among the Standard games [link]
I'm wondering if anyone has undertaken this sort of effort for Vintage.
RE: [AFR] Tasha's Hideous Laughter
@serracollector Your post reminds me a famous logic problem:
I will reveal cards from the top of a 52-card deck of playing cards one at a time. At some point before I reveal the last card, you must tell me to stop. Then, we will reveal the next card on top. If it is black, you win. If it is red, you lose. What strategy gives you the best chance of winning?
A common attempt is to do something like, "once you've revealed more red cards than black, cards, stop". Unfortunately, such a strategy doesn't work - any strategy you come up with always succeed with probability 50%.
There is a very elegant proof of this fact: it is obvious that once you stop, revealing the bottom card will give you the same odds of winning as revealing the top card, so we can change the rules of the game to do that. Once we do that, it is obvious that all your strategizing on when to stop revealing from the top will be irrelevant. If we play this game repeatedly, 50% of those games will have a black card on the bottom, and so your strategy will win 50% of those games, regardless of your strategy.
It is easy to see that this proof can be applied to show that your mana denial strategy is misguided. Your chances of drawing a mana source from the bottom of your deck is unaffected by the milling of cards from the top of your deck.
RE: [MH2] Subtlety
I'm not so bullish on this card.
FoW/FoN, like this card, are 2-for-1's and thus represent card disadvantage. The card disadvantage can be worth it, though, if the countered spell is valuable enough. If the spell is not valuable, then the 2-for-1 is a bad deal.
With Subtlety, the spell's owner has the option to put the spell on top of their library. This means they can, under normal circumstances, recast the spell the next turn. And there's the conundrum...if the spell was not highly valuable, then the 2-for-1 was a bad deal. And if it was highly valuable, then you likely don't want them casting the spell again.
If the countered spell represents the best card in the opponent's deck, then Subtlety essentially functions as a Force of Will that has the additional text of, "Your opponent gets a free Vampiric Tutor". Why would you prefer a FoW that is required to either (1) target a bad spell or (2) grant your opponent a free Vampiric Tutor, over one that doesn't?
Another perspective is that this card is to Remand what FoW is to Counterspell. After all, Remand allows you to draw a card, while this card causes the opponent to skip their next draw step (assuming they exercise the top-of-library option), and drawing a card is roughly an equivalent effect to forcing a draw-step-skip. So a good question to find a home for this card is: what decks prefer Remand to Counterspell? Generally, the answer is aggressive tempo decks. In Vintage, blue decks tend to not support that profile. My feeling is that this card will not find a home outside of such decks.
If I'm wrong, I suspect it will be because the utility of the 3/3 flyer option, along with auxiliary benefits from the Evoke effect (like the interaction with Bridge from Below), outweigh the downsides I am describing.
RE: [MH2] Void Mirror
@protoaddict The card represents a potential crisis for Shops, for sure. But I don't think it is hopeless.
The first thing going for you is that many decks will not want to play the card, at least in the main deck, due to its symmetric effect. Any deck playing Force of Will/Vigor is making a significant tradeoff by adding this card.
If your opponent is playing the card, in some % of games, you should manage to get out a Mox before the opponent lands Void Mirror. And in some % of the remainder, you can get out Tolarian Academy, either with an already-played artifact or with Mishra's Factory. So you will only find yourself in a locked out position in some % of games.
With all that said, I think that Shops will need to evolve to have more options than that. One possibility is to add some more utility lands that add colored mana, such as Bojuka Bog, or any of the Odyssey set lands (Barbarian Ring, Cephalid Coliseum, etc.). Another possibility is to splash at least 1 basic land. This also hedges against Assassin's Trophy and Ghost Quarter. These options can be brought in from the sideboard.
RE: [MH2] Void Mirror
It should be noted that Shops as-is has some gameplay against this card. If you managed to get down at least one Mox before Void Mirror hits the battlefield, you can play all your nonzero mana cost spells. If you managed to get down at least one artifact before it hits the battlefield, Tolarian Academy represents an out. And if you didn’t manage to get down at least one artifact, Tolarian Academy + Mishra’s Factory represents an out.
Not enough outs, but maybe with more tech like this, Shops doesn’t need drastic changes to deal with this card. As @joshuabrooks pointed out, if your opponent plays this, they aren’t going off, so you might have some time to find an answer.