I'm new. At least to the current Vintage scene. I picked up Magic as an undergraduate circa 1996, shortly after Alliances released. I came back as a grad student circa summer 2004 on MTGO, just ahead of Champions, playing a little Legacy and proxy-Vintage in paper. Took another break, had a couple kids, and returned this year to find 'functional' vintage online. Hurray!
I picked up Shops (played White Stax in Legacy) and have had fun in the TP room (and the occasional 2-man queue). The restriction of Golem has me down, but I think there are lots of answers, so I'm not worried that Shops is dead, but I still don't understand the decision. The official notice that "Shops-based decks continue to be significantly overrepresented, reducing the competitive metagame." doesn't seem justified. I've gone through Steven's data and the data from the P9 Events, and I just don't see it, especially using more rigorous data analysis methods.
I'm asking for help. Is the decision really as simple as 'it's justified'? I think the data from the MTGO dailies has to be earmarked as the 'smoking gun' as the P9 Challenge metagame analysis (@diophan and @ChubbyRain) doesn't really suggest 'over-representation'. Yes, the T8/T16 data shows Shops is well-represented, but it is not 'over-represented' overall. The same is true of the paper data, Shops isn't the most-played deck. There are, of course, other potential factors at play, but the bottom line is that the data does not support a restriction.
To that end, I've built the data from all the daily events in 2016 (I'll post my spreadsheet soon). I found a couple interesting things which I feel may have been ignored, but I'd like to hear from folks who have much more experience in looking at the data.
I started by aggregating the data, as Steven suggests, and found**:
Shops - 27.74%
Gush - 23.87%
Blue - 19.03%
Combo - 18.06%
Oath - 9.68%
Hatebears - 1.29%
Red/Burn - 0.32%
*I separated Oath out by itself as the archetype has won 2 P9 Challenges as well as the recent Asian Vintage Championship and the last Vintage Championship. Shops is certainly strong.
The same trends continue in looking at 'Wins (4-0s)' and Match Wins (aggregate). The trend breaks down when you sort based on unique pilots. Instead, we see:
Shops - 21.53%
Gush - 18.06%
Blue - 25.00%
Combo - 22.22%
Oath - 9.72%
Hatebears - 2.78%
Red/Burn - 0.69%
I find this to be a significant result of the data analysis. Shops is a winning deck, but the archetype is 3rd among unique pilots. It's interesting to point out, too, Gush similarly drops with the deck's results being somewhat similar in 'results' being 5-6% higher than the amount of play (unique pilots).
I should say that I understand that the DCI/Wizards makes their decisions nearly a month ahead of a B/R announcement, so they did not have the benefit of this more full data set, so I question why a decision 'had' to be made. In fact, if we look at the month-to-month variation (Jan-Feb-Mar), we see something else interesting...
Shops - 27.74% +/- 7.30%
Gush - 23.87% +/- 5.62%
Blue - 19.03% +/- 3.99%
Combo - 18.06% +/- 3.00%
Oath - 9.68% +/- 3.09%
Hatebears - 1.29% +/- 0.58%
Red/Burn - 0.32% +/- 0.49%
Shops representation among the archetypes is the most 'variable'. This ultimately leads to a question - why? If we look at the variation in actual player numbers we find:
Shops - +/-2.65 players
Gush - +/-3.51 players
Blue - +/-3.21 players
Combo - +/-3.06 players
Oath - +/-2.65 players
Hatebears - +/-0.58 players
Red/Burn - +/-0.58 players
It sees the lowest amount of variability in the player base month-to-month, i.e. it shows up with the same number of players month-to-month. But wait, how can it be 'over-represented' if the same number of pilots are bringing it month-to-month? February is the month where the data appears to be in line with the 'over-represented' comment. Here is that data:
Archetype - %Decks - %Players - #UniquePlayers (ChangeFromJan) (Change to March)
Shops - 37.50% - 32.69% - 17 (+1)
Gush - 15.28% - 15.38% - 8 (-3)
Blue - 15.28% - 19.23% - 10 (-5)
Combo - 20.83% - 17.31% - 9 (-4)
Oath - 9.72% - 13.46% - 7 (-1)
Hatebears - 1.39% - 1.92% - 1 (-1)
Red/Burn - nul% - nul% - nul (nul)
17 unique Shops pilots in 15 events in February (45 different total players). Compare that to January when 16 unique Shops pilots competed in 19 events (58 different players). But in 'raw' numbers, 1 less Shops deck made the 3-1, 4-0 list in February compared to January. So the question that I really want to ask is, did the non-Shops pilots play as much? From the daily data, it doesn't look like it. If we look at the P9 Challenge metagame data, it looks like they showed up for that event - just not the dailies.
Steven, in his recent Podcast, suggests that the restriction of Golem was 'justified' based on the data. I'm not sure I agree with 'justified' unless either (a) you add in something more subjective (non-interactive argument) or (b) ignore other data (P9 metagame data, paper data, # of unique players, etc.). I struggle with the subjective because I'm not as familiar with the format as many here. I feel like turn 1 orchard/mox/oath is similarly non-interactive. It's, obviously, not played as much, but it appears to be fairly dominant when played. This seems like a poor measuring stick, especially to use to determine restrictions. As far as point (b) goes, I'm a data hog, so I don't like to ignore data, I prefer to explain it or ask it different questions. When data points to 2 different conclusions, isn't gathering more data the right approach?
This seems especially true when we look at how the Vintage metagame developed into March and has begun to develop into April.
Archetype - Feb-Mar-April (pre-restriction)
Shops 37.50% - 23.23% - 21.05%
I, for one, am interested to see how the second half of April develops once the restriction becomes the rule online. Several early Shops decks have already shifted to 1 Golem, but even more have not...
I'd also like some feedback on my analysis. What am I missing? I know I don't know the format well enough to draw perfect conclusions and would love to hear other input rather than the same restriction rhetoric.
** I've grouped decks rather broadly, not for effect, but likely more due to ignorance. 'Shops' is any deck which played 4x Shops. 'Oath' is any deck with 4x Oath. 'Combo' is dredge and storm. 'Gush' is Delver/Mentor/Doomsday. And 'Blue' is anything with 4x FoW but 0-1x Gush, mostly Blue Moon, BUG, Tinker/Colossus, Key/Vault, Standstill, etc.