Last Online
Recent Posts
posted in Vintage Strategy read more

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[0], p[n]) > max(p[1], p[2], ..., 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.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

The benefit of interactivity on the format cannot be found by merely analyzing the mechanics of the sequence, “player A casts spell”, “player B counters”.

The benefits come from what lies beneath the surface of that. Before playing that spell, player A must ask herself, “Does player B have a counterspell or not?” A’s optimal line might differ based on the answer. She must compute the probability of winning with line 1 if B has a counterspell vs if he does not, and similarly for line 2, and then combine the computations into a decision. This requires skill. Hence counterspells increase the skill level of the format. And that is a good thing.

The more dependent my optimal line is on information that is hidden from me - information which can be probabilistically deduced from data and logic - the higher the quality of gameplay.

posted in TheManaDrain Metadiscussion read more

@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).

posted in Off-Topic read more

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.

posted in Off-Topic read more

We already have an “anything goes” card design thread. I’d like to start a similar thread that is a bit more focused. I’d like for this thread to be for cards that, if published, would likely result in an improved vintage metagame and improved vintage gameplay.

Improving the vintage metagame means that the card should either reduce the effectiveness of current dominant strategies, or increase the effectiveness of current second-tier strategies. A good litmus test here is to see which cards are a hot discussion for potential restriction. But the effect should not be too violent (e.g., a card that says “I win if you have Mishra’s Workshop in play”).

Improving vintage gameplay means that the card improves the interactivity and skill-level of the game as a whole. The publishing of the card should increase the likelihood that the more skilled player wins. This can be achieved either by designing a card which requires skill to play with/against, or by designing a card which neuters the effect of existing skill-reducing cards. To illustrate, highly skilled players are better able to reason about hidden information, so cards like Gitaxian Probe which reduce hidden information reduce the skill advantage, making it a poor design choice. A card that somehow makes Gitaxian Probe less playable would be a good entry for this thread by virtue of neutering a skill-reducing card.

To put further constraints on design, the card should not introduce power creep. Ideally, the card is not playable in Standard. This makes it more likely that Wizards might adopt some of the popular proposals without worrying about the effect of the card on more important formats.

posted in Off-Topic read more

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.

posted in Vintage News read more

@ribby It is potentially relevant. Someone might say, “interactivity cannot be defined; thus it is not a valid consideration for restriction decisions”. Demonstrating a definition, however academic, legitimizes the concept as a criterion for restriction decisions. The fact that the definition is purely mathematical shows the criterion can be completely objective rather than a form of mob justice.

posted in Vintage News read more

@evouga said in [Free Article] Menendian's Suggested Banned and Restricted Lists (2018):

@dshin I'm not sure hidden information is the right litmus test for interactivity. I would consider a complex board state with many deep lines available to both players "interactive" even in the absence of any hidden information.

I agree that it’s not quite the right litmus test. What’s nice about the test, however, is that it can easily be formalized mathematically. We can assume the players follow Nash Equilibrium strategies (game theoretic optimal), both in the true game state and the hypothetical game state involving extra information - these have associated winning probabilities that in principle can be computed mathematically.

An alternative test that might address your objection is this: an interactive decision point is one where cheating by reading your opponent’s mind will improve your probability of winning. If the players are game theoretic optimal agents, then the two tests are identical. But if you are a human, they differ precisely due to humans’ propensity to mis-process perfect information.

posted in Vintage News read more

@smmenen said in [Free Article] Menendian's Suggested Banned and Restricted Lists (2018):

@maximumcdawg said in [Free Article] Menendian's Suggested Banned and Restricted Lists (2018):

The article is good, and I also like your banned and restricted list better than WotC's. That said, a few points:

(1) Interactivity

You mention that this is hard to define, but you don't actually give us your definition.

Intentionally. In my view, "interactivity" is a folk taxonomy, like "race," which can't actually be scientifically defined in Magic, or it quickly begins to break down. I wrote several articles about this many years ago for starcitygames. I won't recapitulate them now, but you can find them easily using google.

So, what I'm really capturing when I say "interactivity" as a factor, is the situations, decks and circumstances that most people regard as non-interactive, to such a degree that it merits DCI intervention. I don't have a definition from that - it emanates from the crowd. And I don't think it can be parsed in a scientifically defensible way.

One way to scientifically define interactivity is this: an interactive decision point is one where cheating by looking at your opponent’s hand will improve your probability of winning.

A game with zero interactive decision points is basically a game of solitaire - all your decisions are independent of your opponent’s plans.

Increasing the expected number of interactive decision points, and increasing the associated expected winning probability improvements, would satisfy those wanting more interactivity.

posted in Vintage News read more

@smmenen said in [Article] 100 Matches with the Best Deck in Magic:

Actually, Max's article is a devastating argument against the case for restricting Misstep. Restricting Misstep will just replace those slots with other cards that are bad against Shops, so restricting Misstep will have no net effect on Shops.

Restricting Misstep won't make Shops weaker in the metagame.

If Missteps get replaced by Pyroblasts, that indeed will have little effect on the blue-vs-blue match, and also on the blue-vs-shops match. However, there can be effects on other matchups that can theoretically have cascading effects.

Misstep differs from Pyroblast in that it has utility against non-blue decks, some of which might match up favorably against shops. For example, Vintage Lands. Restricting Misstep could make a deck like Vintage Lands more playable, which could force shops to devote more sideboard slots to that matchup, which could weaken shops as a whole.

As it stands, shops decks are effectively able to pack hate against Vintage Lands without using up a single slot in their 75. Instead, they are packing the required hate in the 75 of their blue opponents.