I used to play blue. Back when Deadly Insect was a thing.
I'm with you, man. There's a post here complaining about this very same topic, but I tend to look on the bright side. So many new shiny toys
Oh shoot, I totally missed that. This was not intended to be a counter-argument to that post. Maybe not being an active Vintage player has me more excited than others. I don't know what it feels like to play in the current meta, but the card design from the outside has been awesome and amazingly creative in my opinion.
I know Magic tends to be a magnet for sarcasm and negativity, but I have to confess that in the last few years, the Magic designers have blown me away with their ability to make new and compelling cards every single set.
In years past, there might be a handful of cards that would get my attention, and maybe only 1-2 that were Vintage playable, but it seems recently they have really hit the ball out of the park.
I mostly only play casual, vintage cube, and pre-releases these days, but I still follow Magic closely and still look at each new set for cool playables to put into my infinitely sized cube (32 player cube, sure!!). I used to grab maybe 3-4 cards every set. Now I am finding my cube being overrun with "modern bordered cards." I've been averaging 20-35 cards on my "watch list" the last few sets.
If you are a Johnny, it's the best of years. If you are a Spike, every set you've got something new to work with, and if you are a Timmy....well, have creatures ever been this cool???!! Just look at the Single Card Discussion group these days. It used to be 1-2 breakouts and then a ton of people really trying to stretch play-ability. Now I can barely keep up with all the threads, and many of them are quite viable!
Now if we could just get something done about those borders and artwork.........either way, what a great time to be a Magic player!
So which of these areas do you think needs to be explored further and more frequently (examples are for illustration, not create a card):
1.) Super Niche, but metagame influenced (Destroy exactly 3 artifacts for 1 life)
1.) Super niche counterantics, but highly rewarding ("Destroy 2CC permanent, draw 2 cards)
2.) Super broad, but deck diluting (Disenchant, FoW)
3.) Super broad, but punishing (Counter any spell for free, but pay 4 life)
4.) Replace themselves if not useful at the time (Fire/Ice)
5.) Punish specific strategies harshly (Destroy target artifact, put x tokens in play for cc, or counter all copies of storm spell, put x/x in play for storm count).
I know these are horribly unbalanced examples, but as I mentioned for illustrative purposes.
I made a post a year or two ago that attempted to discuss whether certain cards should become sacred cows or not (at the time saying, "should the printing of a new card like Hangarback, be able to precipitate the restriction of an iconic card like Workshop"). Like all posts during that period, it quickly devolved into an "I hate Workshop, I love Workshop" post and lost sight of the original intent.
One of my favorite things about Vintage is the ability to form long term relationships with certain cards.
I think this is why you, personally, can justify banning a card like Dig Through Time, but not Demonic Tutor or Force of Will. Our memories of Dig Through Time are short. Our memories of Demonic are infinite (just like Workshop vs. Foundry Inspector). I don't think too many people would bemoan the loss of a "newer" card in favor of preserving an old one.
I think this is why looking at B&R strictly through empirical data is difficult (as you seem to agree), as the presence of Sacred Cows dilutes much of that value. If we were being honest, half the B&R is probably being propped up by our affinity to certain cards.
This is why I agree with you that it is a "feel" thing. My only issue is arbitrating "feel." It is about as subjective as you can get. For instance I love Phyrexian Revoker, as it's one of the only tools Shops has anymore to deal with a blowout card. I would gladly trade the Arcbound decks of now for the Lodestone/Stax decks of yesterday. You on the other hand have hated the card for years.
I know in the past you have supported Sacred Cows. How do you recommend we do that and by what criteria? For many years, Bazaar was synonymous with Dredge. Nowadays, you could hit 2-3 varied archetypes.
How do you reconcile empirical data with "feel" data and what would be the best way to do that aside from committee? Right now, it just comes down to decibels (frequency and volume). Do you preserve cards or decks? And how?
Great article Brian. Thanks for taking the time to construct it.
I’m curious as to your thoughts on whether (apparent?) malaise with the format is a B&R problem or possibly also a MTGO problem (in other words: can Vintage as a format handle the scrutiny and frequency that 24/7 online gameplay bring?)
People often fondly reflect back on pre-Khans as a golden age, but I often wonder if that’s also a concurrent effect of Vintage transitioning from a weekly/monthly paper format to a hourly digital format as MTGO had a popularity spike.
Just a thought.
Great work! Well articulated. Hard to disagree with.