Casual vintage player here. Don't post on TMD, never owned any power, never played on modo, never played in champs/nyse/waterbury/any big vintage event, started playing in '01 so zero interest in OS. Just casually play at local monthly events for the only format I can play my beloved Fastbond.
100% agree with everything in the OP (including bannings) and it's refreshing that some of the iconic humans of vintage have thoughts that align with mine, coming from the little guy. The only reason I still play vintage despite heavy disdain for the format is that I play my own brew and get to play FB: a clearly more egregious card than PO . If I didn't have that passion, I'd have left a long time ago due to - like you mentioned - player agency being at an all time low.
One other thing that I think you slightly imply but don't state explicitly is that, at least imo, vintage would be a better format overall if the power of the format came from effect uniqueness rather than just rather than just sheer cost:reward reductions. For example, cards such as Gush, Standstill, Tezzeret, Doomsday, etc promote agency and decision making that is not present anywhere else in magic while still making you feel as though you're doing something incredibly powerful. As opposed to something like "To get a 4/4, I have to pay 4 mana in standard, 2 in modern, 1 in legacy and 0 in vintage" (replace with things like 'To draw 3 cards I have to pay" or "To cast a 3 mana colorless spell I need X lands"). Maybe I'm just nostalgic, but I had a lot more fun solving Gush+Bond+Lotus Cobra mana/storm puzzles than simply casting one card, PO, for -4 mana.
You might have an interest in my RUG "Hate Cards" deck I've been playing for the past ~6 months or so. Has been doing decently well at local paper events. Current list:
Goal of the deck is to have a wide range of avenues to attack your opponent from, depending on the matchup. Sometimes I win via Loam+Wasteland locking people out, sometimes I win from card advantage/selection from early Dack or either Library, sometimes it’s from playing a Tarmogoyf on turn 1 and protecting it for 5 turns delver-style, sometimes it’s just slamming Null Rod on turn 1. Makes sideboarding against the deck very hard (do I board in crypts to fight the loams? Dismembers to fight the tarmogoyfs? Spyglasses for the planeswalkers?).
FAQ I've been asked about card inclusions:
Taiga – I personally would never cut the Taiga. Very often you’ll have hands such as: Loam/Wasteland/Fetch/Pyroblast/Misstep/Force/Dack, and you’ll want to have a red source for a t1 pyroblast and a green source for a t2 loam. Also good to have an extra mountain for SB Pulverize.
Fastbond – Pet card, but has its uses in providing a "combo kill" with Loam or just acceleration against shops.
Tarmogoyf – In the ‘ways to win the game’ department (consisting of Tarmo, Pyromancer, Snapcaster, and Hydra), I like Tarmogoyf the best as he’s immune to lightning bolt/ballista, and comes down already big and ready to wall shops’ artifacts/hollow one/gurmag. If people switch off of lightning bolts and more towards StPs, perhaps Pyromancer might be worth considering. However, this deck is nowhere near Xerox-y enough to make a real token army, and not playing ‘go-wide’ opens up better sideboard options against shops/fish/dredge.
Chandra – This deck takes a while to win (often ‘wins’ by locking someone out, either hard or soft), so having a PW that directly wins the game by herself and is immune to bolt/pyro is very useful.
Treasure Cruise – It might seem like hearsay for a triple Dack Fayden and dredge deck to not play both delve spells but this deck gains a lot of merit from keeping its GY intact. Tarmogoyf gets better with a full-er GY, Loam asks to not be delved as well as discourages lands from being delved, Snapcaster also benefits from keeping sorceries and instants. All this combined make it actually hard to find 6 or 7 cards in the GY you want to get rid of. Thus I stuck with just Dig as its better at finding the right disruptive piece for my opponent’s deck.
Punishing Fire – Way too slow and the manabase cannot support both Groves and Wastelands.
Nature’s Claim – While most GY hate is garbage to average against this deck, Rest in Peace is a back breaker. Need at least 1 answer to it in the 75.
vs PO: Rod/Chalice/Pillar, combined with 2x MD Ancient Grudge and 3 Pyroblasts. If you can counter/dodge the mentor, you should be fine in this MU.
vs Shops: G1 Deny their mana via wasteland and rod along with either walling up behind goyf or dack or killing their stuff with bolts and grudges. G2-3 Shop can't pay for Tabernacle so if you get this out plus 1 other piece of disruption (rod/goyf/chalice0) you've usually won. If they try to sphere lock you, you're fine with this deck since it has 23 mana sources, and pulverize + loam can help get under or over the spheres.
vs UR/URg/URw: Their manabase is surprisingly garbage for a 2 color deck, usually only playing 1 island. Wasteland them out while Tarmogoyf walls snapcaster/pyromancer (they can't kill it since all they have is bolt/pyroblast). Post board they still can't kill tarmogoyf and now additionally get wrecked by tabernacle.
vs UWr: Hardest MU since they play plow and usually 2+ basics. Matchup comes down to "protect the tarmogoyf/pyrostatic pillar" as they will out CA you eventually.
vs Oath: If they haven't resolved an Oath by turn 3 you win. Their mana base is terrible and their deck is filled with expensive cards. Board out all your creatures, keep in all the mana denial (even rods), play "protect the cage" and win with spirits. I have never lost to this deck
vs Dredge: G1 is impossible, G2-3 would be awful if they just sideboarded 4 claims but they also now cut more GY stuff for Hollow Ones and Gurmags, which Tarmogoyf, Tabernacle and Dack can easily deal with.
vs Survival: Point forces at survival and wastelands at bazaars and goyf checks the rest. Post board they heavily struggle with rod/tabernacle/wasteland