I feel that some of the biggest factors driving people away from vintage are WotC's departure from its old design philosophy. Recent cards tend to have banal art, titles and flavor texts compared to many of the older cards. Too many of the recent cards refer to some planeswalker. Too many titles are Jace's this, Liliana's that. Too many flavor texts are just: 'I'm planeswalker x, and I feel this way!' (e.g. Act on Impulse) Too many artworks are bad computer generated art depicting a planeswalker with smoke and sparks coming out of their orifices. How many Jace cards should there be? How many cards should refer to how 'badass' Liliana is? How many more planeswalkers are going to be bad parodies of comic book superheroes and villains? Corny pop culture stereotypes are replacing the cryptic intrigue and mystique of older cards. One of the aspects that I like about Magic's premise is imagining that my cards are my spells, and that I'm the one casting them. Ganging up on my opponent with imitation superhero buddies isn't appealing.
More importantly, many of the recent cards have boring mechanics that reduce player interaction. Look at Cavern of Souls: there are very few strategies that can interact with what is being 'summoned'. It's a dead end in terms of player interaction. If you use it to summon Thalia, Gaddock Teeg, Ethersworn Canonist, etc. turn 1, continue to pump out your taxing creatures and artifacts turn 2 and 3, you've locked your opponent out of the game.
Planeswalkers are another example: planeswalker abilities cannot be easily interacted with in a nuanced way when they are in play. You either attack them with your creatures, cast the select few removal/counter-trigger spells that apply to planeswalkers, or shut them down completely with Pithing Needle and the like. So many of the awesome old artifacts, counterspells, and removals need to be sidelined if you want to beat them consistently.
It's completely understandable that many people don't want to pit their cherished Magic cards against what are effectively Pokemon and Yugioh cards (not to disparage them). Playing 93/94 is not the most inclusive way to do this, but it's one way to get rid of bad design decisions that have been tacking onto Magic over the years. I personally would love to see a format that limits itself to all pre-modern sets.
There's quite a bit of overlap in card pool between Old School and Vintage, when it comes to the more expensive cards. Price is one of the main prohibiting factors for entering either format, so if a player already has these select expensive cards that are largely responsible for making entry to either format so costly, they can usually play both Vintage and Old School without really having to choose one over the other. Other cards that are exclusive to either format would be easily affordable compared to the price of the moxen, for example. A match is on average 20-30 minutes (from personal experience), and people usually have enough time to play multiple Vintage and Old School matches in their free time.
There are players that have a clear cut budget, and need to choose between having a good Old School deck and a good Vintage deck, but I doubt that this is an issue with most players.
Of course, there must be players that dislike having to play against newer cards, like planeswalkers, uncounterable/hexproof shenanigans, etc. that play old school exclusively, but I think most of these players would have left Vintage anyway, with or without Old School.
Decks that run a lot of counterspells already compromise a great deal to run those counterspells. To cast FoW without hardcasting it, you have to exile another blue card. To cast Mana Drain, you have to leave up two blue mana, with which you could cast ponder, brainstorm, whatever. Most counterspells are costed in such a way that, if the caster is not very discriminating in what to counter, they run out of resources very quickly. Aggro and combo players have many ways to outmaneuver, and many occasions to out-luck these control players even without uncounterable cards.
With the introduction of uncounterable spells, lands even (not even 'legendary'), players can cast stuff with one less thing to consider about what the opponent might have in their hand. With things like Cavern of Souls, you don't really have to consider counterspells, so there's one less axis around which strategies can be made. If you're playing against blue, you'll win more often, but by having these cards in play, the game has been simplified. Turn 2 Extirpating Life from the Loam against a Lands player entails no suspense or strategy. Turn 1 drop Cavern of Souls, dump a bunch of moxen, play Glowrider/Thalia, Reality Smasher, etc., you might as well be playing solitaire if the opponent is playing combo or control.
As a game involving chance, Magic needs to consistently sustain the feeling of 'if I had drawn this, I could've beaten that,' to make you want to shuffle your deck and play another match. With all these extreme cards without possible outs, that feeling does not take place. Instead of playing rock, paper, scissors, playing with these uncounterable spells feels like I can only play rock, and the opponent can only play scissors for the entirety of the game.
I'm still not very used to using this card optimally, but I think this card will see some play in Vintage. More than in Legacy or Modern. It's really awesome in control-combo type decks where you need that little extra draw to get your combo started, or that one card to counter a spell before you go off the next turn. Casting Gush, Misdirection, and Fow (Daze even, in tight situations) for their alternate costs, Mindbreak trap, and so on, with just two blue mana in mid-late game makes your deck much more threatening than Snapcaster. If you leave two or three blue mana up, the opponent has to think, 'are they going to cast Mana Drain? Mission Briefing? FoW and then Mana Drain? Misdirection then Mission Briefing?' etc. etc.. This is in addition to all the things that Snapcaster would normally be able to flashback, provided you have enough mana (which is usually not a big problem).
Two blue mana are not a big deal for blue decks (which are the decks that would be running this card main deck) mid-late game; if you draw it early you can pitch it to FoW or Misdirection, or put it back into the library with Brainstorm. Obviously for Pardoxical Outcome, Delver and such, Mission Briefing does not replace Snapcaster, but for many other decks, Mission Briefing seems to introduce many more interesting and effective aspects of play than Snapcaster.
I don't know how much play this card will see in Legacy and Modern. I don't think there are nearly as many uses with this card in either format compared to Vintage, given that draw spells are cheap, and counterspells are more varied and versatile in Vintage. That's what I hope, at least, so I can pick this card up for cheaper than it is right now.
I've been thinking about using Blood Moon in a red-splash Paradoxical Outcome deck as a two-of sideboard card. Paradoxical Outcome is relatively weak to White Eldrazi, and Blood Moon gives White Eldrazi significant difficulty. Back to Basics is an on-color option that can be good, but it's usually too slow as it requires persistent removal (like the Abyss, which also is often too slow) along with it to work.
Red splash could also help streamline the deck as done in 'the Epic Storm' through Burning Wish, where win conditions are mostly put in the sideboard to reduce dead draws. Empty the Warrens, Shattering Spree/By Force, and some sorcery-speed removal cards in the sideboard could be good. Empty the Warrens could win the game on its own if cast T1, while also putting valuable defense against taxing aggro decks until early-mid game. Mainboard singleton Pyroblast (rather than REB for occasional storm count) could also help win counter wars.
I'm not sure if this has already been done, but I think splashing red to include Blood Moon and the other red cards could help PO become more resilient against White Eldrazi and other hate decks while not sacrificing effectiveness against blue decks.
Great work! I especially like the timeshifted ones. Jace is amazing; he looks like a powerful wizard, in a way Tolkien might have imagined. Would you mind going into detail about how these cards were designed, and printed? Provided it would not be against the policies here.
What is the reasoning behind leaving PO unrestricted while Gush remains restricted? Gush only generates a good deal of mana with Fastbond. Without Fastbond, Gush is a draw 2 that can return two lands to your hand, and maybe generate 1 mana in addition to mana from tapping those lands. PO draws a lot of cards and makes a lot of mana. Sure, it needs artifacts in order to work at all, but usually none of the artifacts are dead draws on their own, and most combo decks want them regardless of whether they use PO or not.
I'm not advocating that PO be restricted, but it seems to me that the more interesting blue cards are restricted, at least in part, for the sake of PO staying unrestricted. I wish Gush were unrestricted for good. Restrict the problem cards like Monastery Mentor, not the related cards they happen to use, like Gush.
I'd personally like to see Brainstorm unrestricted. We have Mental Missteps, Mindbreak Traps, Pyroblasts, and many other popular 0-1 drop counterspells that would keep them in check, not to mention sphere effects in creature and artifact forms that can easily be cast T1.
I don't think Brainstorm would be an automatic 4-of in all blue decks; usually, there is a ceiling for how good Brainstorm can be in each turn. Unlike Ancestral, if you don't have a means to shuffle, Brainstorm is a very temporary solution to whatever bad hand you might have. Having multiples of Brainstorm often doesn't generate too much advantage for the same reasons. It's telling that Portent, a synergistic card also released in Ice Age, has you draw during the next turn, instead of the same turn it was cast, acting as a kind of check to Brainstorm. I doubt the interactions between Brainstorm and Portent were unintended by the creators. With Ponder restricted, I doubt Brainstorm would be at a power level worthy of restriction in Vintage.
Brainstorm is also one of the more nuanced cards in the game that would add strategic depth to the format as a whole without increasing the power level of certain decks too much. For example, having a way to consistently hide cards from your hand would lead to more decisions informed by more considerations for both players than not having a way to do so, while not giving an overly 'unfair' advantage (which I would loosely define as literal card advantage for little resource cost) to the player with Brainstorm.
I also personally would like to see more grindy control decks that do more than cast Preordains and a couple of tutors for library manipulation. Decks with draw engines are fun, but there are too few oppressive or sneaky blue decks that are more in the style of 'draw, go.' Almost every deck right now is just so busy to find its combo piece or lock piece. I believe unrestricting Brainstorm is one of the ways to help improve blue deck diversity.
Surgical is pretty good if you run a lot of them. When I was trying it out in my sideboard, I felt that I needed to draw it early on in the game, and consistently throughout the game in order to really control the game. It sucks when you draw Surgical after all of their Vengevines, Narcomoebas (if against Dredge), etc. are already in play. But you effectively take away one of their game plans (the one you dislike the most) if you have it in your opening hand or draw it turn 1 or 2.
The decks you're going to use Surgical against usually don't have as many Mental Missteps in hand as a blue deck would, even if they run 4. I tried including 4 Surgicals + 2 Extirpates in my sideboard (taking all other graveyard hate out) one day for shits and giggles, but they could completely destroy their graveyard, library and hand. Also, Surgicals aren't that bad against topdeck aggro decks like WEldrazi, as long as you have some removal.