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posted in Vintage News read more

My annual, mid-year take on what should change in every format I care about. Five suggested changes for Vintage:

Let me know your thoughts!



posted in Vintage Community read more

@protoaddict said in The best format in Vintage history ...:

@smmenen said in The best format in Vintage history ...:

@protoaddict Which periods, precisely?

Did not realize there were rules to this. 87 -92 is my sweet spot.

Well, @Brass-Man did lay them out in the OP 🙂

posted in Vintage Community read more

@ace-hunter said in The best format in Vintage history ...:


Should Standstill be added as a "Notable Printing"?


posted in Vintage Community read more

@protoaddict Which periods, precisely?

posted in Vintage Community read more

The timeline has been updated FYI

A number of errors have been corrected and a lot of additional links have been added. I think that’s about it for now thank you so much for your interest in this!

I also updated some labels and a bunch of other tweaks.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@maximumcdawg said in New Companion Errata:

@smmenen Waaaait a minute here, Steven.

You've been all over people (like me!) who mis-use the term "Power Level Errata" in the past. Now you're mis-using it? Shame on you, brah.

Power-level errata, as the School of Menedian taught me, means issuing errata to change card text for the express purpose of reducing its power level. Now, usually it's misapplied by people who apply it to a change that is justified by original intent or original function but has the practical effect of reducing power level.

It seems like you're doing the same thing, but abusing a different part of the definition. Wizards is not issuing errata for card text like they did in the Power Level Errata era. Instead, they're changing rules. This is something that happens all the time. Hell, remember the Mulligan rule changes? Remember that cluster? Damage on the stack? Lotus-freaking-Vale? Rules changes are not the same thing as card errata and you know this.

I think the calm version of what I'm trying to say is that it's alarming to me to see someone who has always been so calm and clinical about the application of errata policy essentially break out the pitchforks over this one.

I didn’t actually say anything. All I did was post to snarky photo to be funny.

In any case, I actually do think this qualifies as power level errata. The express purpose of this change is to power down the companion mechanic.

It’s true it’s just a rules change. But it’s not a rule change with an incidental byproduct. The effect is the purpose.

It’s true that makes it different from most cases of power level errata, but not all.

To get technical about it, power level errata is a change to functionality that differs from the original ruled and intended functionality for the express and primary purpose of lowering a cards power. But that can occur by changing a cards text or by changing the rules. In almost all instances in which rules have been changed it’s because there has been a systemwide change. In this case it’s a targeted change in the mechanic with very few cards printed so far.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@griselbrother said in The best format in Vintage history ...:

@evouga said in The best format in Vintage history ...:

@griselbrother Yep. And during a large part of that window, Git Probe and Gush were unrestricted too.

I had completely forgotten that it was unrestricted for so long. It should have been restricted within a month and then perhaps we could still have Gush among us. Mentor is such a disaster of a card, though I did actually enjoy Menendian's and Cron's Outcome Mentor deck that they brought to the Worlds one year.

That was the most insane deck I've ever played to go just 5-4 or whatever my final record was.

alt text

posted in Vintage Community read more

@desolutionist said in The best format in Vintage history ...:

Ok, so instead of polishing up my final essays for the last week of school, I’m writing about Vintage. I’m a horrible person. Here are my three favorite Vintage metagames: (Where I had the most success)

That's awesome Shawn. Thanks for sharing. I hope you got a nice little break from school with this trip down memory lane.

66 – The Mean Deck Metagame

I think there are actually some errors with the timeline with regards to 66-67. Flash breaks out BEFORE Gifts Ungiven is restricted.

You are correct, but the timeline notes section (and explanatory notes a the bottom) explains this.

The notes section explains that Flash errata occurred on May 15th. (Flash is issued errata with the Oracle update for Future Sight (5/15/2007). )

Gifts was Restricted effective July 1st. So the "Flash Breaks Out" metagame from May 20-June 19th, is the metagame in which Flash was powered-up AND Gifts was unrestricted.

Sorry if the timeline is confusing on this. But when a restriction occurs, it is indicated in the notes section of the period preceding it, because it usually concludes and book-ends that period.

I hope that helps.



posted in Vintage Community read more


You've lost sight of the forest for the trees.

The issue here is the swiftness with which a card was banned in Vintage, based, I believe, on an over-solicitousness to the most-frequent MTGO players.

I started expressing my concerns on this topic nearly three years ago, including with this article here.

In that article, I wrote, with growing unease, about how the change in the format is being experienced, and how it underlies widening cleavages between segments of the player base regarding B&R policy. The article is brief (for me) and worth revisting in its entirety.

But one particular passage reads:

With the advent of Vintage on Magic Online, there is now a platform for playing and enjoying Vintage beyond the confines of local and even regional or national tournaments. Instead, players can battle in daily tournaments for pride and profit, not to mention experience. Here, players make day-to-day adjustments [...], observing micro-trends in a very well defined metagame. From this perspective, the Vintage format looks pretty different than the year to year or even quarterly vantage point. The third perspective is a relatively new one for Vintage, and it is a way that Magic Online has changed Vintage.

I continued:

This is a fundamental difference between paper Magic and Magic Online. If you examine the metagame breakdowns of larger paper tournaments and the larger Magic Online Vintage tournaments, paper tournaments are more diverse, with more players playing marginal strategies, and even doing well. In contrast, Magic Online events are more homogeneous, with fewer fringe decks.

This is one of the sources of anxiety. The production of daily decklists changes the perception of the format, especially from the quarterly or even annual perspectives. Even two weeks of similar daily results can now result in complaints about the format being monotonous, despite the fact that this would be perfectly normal from a paper Vintage perspective, where events unspool at a slower clip. But, critically, this perception is generated among both Magic Online players and paper Vintage players from simply reading tournament reports.

This points towards another distinction consequence from the arrival of Vintage on Magic Online: the needs of different player groups. [...]Players playing three or four times a week have a very different experience than those playing once a month, or less. And their perception of the format and the metagame is accordingly different as well.

I then went onto examine how these differences shape demands and preferences for B&R policy, in ways that were creating significant unhappiness in the Vintage Community. That has hardly abated since.

Matt has always, at least in my mind, stood in for a vanguard of players who first, and primarily, encountered or were drawn into Vintage through the portal of MTGO. But more than that, he's also been a highly visible and frequent streamer, an even smaller group. And, even more than that, he's been probably the most vocal proponent of calling for restrictions based upon MTGO results on a time frame that is faster than virtually anyone else.

That last point means that Matt's statements provide a very useful frame of reference for thinking about these different groups, and that is why I excerpted his tweets, in addition to the fact that I was responding directly to him.

That is not to say that any of the groups in the paragraph immediately preceding this one are of a single-mind on any topic. Justin Gennari, who I would probably put in the first two groupings in that same paragraph, had publicly expressed reservations over a ban, although I don't think he quite came out and explicitly said "this should not occur."

Nor is that to say that no other motives or intents could be present in juxtaposing his tweets. It is, of course, always possible to do one thing for multiple reasons, as is called "mixed motives" in law. But you do not credit this motive at all.

In fact, you accuse (or in fact outright state) that my primary motive in this thread for presenting his tweets wasn't to illustrate how quickly views evolve among MTGO players. Rather, the primary motive you ascribe to me, of presenting his tweets to, among the various phrases you've used,: 1) "misrepresent," 2) "embarrass," 3) "provoke," 4) "make Matt seem 'volatile,'"5) make Matt seem like he was 'contradicting himself'," 6) "appear inconsistent," 7) "ma[k]e him appear fickle and inconsistent," 😎 " volatile and ridiculous," 9) "unflattering."

It's notable that none of Matt's posts in response to my original post in this thread accused me of any of those motives. Even at his most angrily vitriolic, the most he did was accuse me of "cherry-picking," "omission," "being disingenuous," and "shady lawyering." Only later on, in post 196, did he accuse me of "misrepresenting" his views.

Now, let's consider the 9 motives I just listed you've ascribed to me. I would ask reader perusing this thread to re-read the original post in question, which is here:

After reading that post, which set of motives sounds more plausible?

  1. The 9 motive list presented above, as my true purpose in constructing that post?


  1. My averred purpose: which is to illustrate a player who fits the demographic group that I was writing about, and that the swift B&R policy appeared to be overly responsive toward?

Why go to all the trouble to express my concerns about the speed of the change if my intent was the long list you have accused me of? That would all be superfluous window dressing for the real purpose of a cleverly disguised attack ad on Matt.

While I suppose one could reasonable assume I am capable of being that insidious, and I won't pretend that my motives are always pure, in this case, I think it's pretty clear that such an accusation (one could say aspersion) is patently silly and obviously baseless, based upon the content, structure and organization of the post (31 in this thread), and my long history of raising these related concerns.

To be clear, one could more reasonably argue that my averred purpose was the primary purpose, but I had a secondary, or subsidiary motive among the list of 9 above. But you have foreclosed that possibility in your own posts. To be clear, in your responses (posts 192, 198, 200, and 202), you explicitly state that my motive was not what I claimed, but that I was whitewashing my true intent.

To wit:

-"this is a clever retroactive whitewashing of intent, but a PR spin nonetheless."
-"I'm not questioning your intent; I'm asserting it."

  • "There was no reason to reference Matt to make the banal self-evident point"
  • " I don't doubt your intent is because I can state with a high degree of confidence that it was not as above board as this implausible deniability parade suggests."

So, this isn't an instance where you are crediting my averred intend, or admitting the possibility of mixed motives. You are directly disputing the former and rejecting the latter!

I will state it again: It was not my intent to embarrass, provoke, unflatter, etc. Matt. Rather, my primary purpose in presenting his tweets was to present an example of how quickly his views evolved in raising concerns about a swift banning in this case, which I felt was overly responsive to MTGO players, and not balanced in a way that considered a broader swath of opinion.

You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion and any conclusion you wish to draw about my intent in presenting the two tweets I juxtaposed, but I assure you, and anyone else reading, that the motives you ascribed were not motivating factors in my decision to include that image in my post. Rather, I already explained several times why I included them:

  1. He is known for playing frequently on MTGO (and thus comprising part of that group)
  2. He posted clear public tweets that stood on their own that illustrated the speed with which one of MTGO players could evolve their opinions on this topic.
    I couldn't find anyone else who fit those criteria, at all, let alone so nicely. There is a notable reticence among some players to speak out publicly about B&R preferences. Matt was one of the few who did, and whose views appeared to evolve most during that short period. After all, the original tweet had not-terrible things to say about Lurrus.

@brianpk80 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

@smmenen said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

You and Matt claim that I misrepresented his position by posting the first tweet doesn't even make sense on its face. The second tweet in the same image dispels any illusions that I was attempting to demonstrate a contradiction with anything in this thread.

It was your truncation of his thread that gave an inaccurate portrayal of his position, hence the misrepresentation. Juxtaposing those two statements together made him appear fickle and inconsistent.

First of all, I didn't actually truncate any statement. I included a tweet in it's entirety. There was no 1/x or (cont'd) to signal a continuation of the same thought. The thought was complete in it's entirety, well-written, and nuanced. Yes, there were other tweets responding to it, which Matt shared here:

But there is nothing in those subsequent tweets that fundamentally changes the meaning in the original tweet. The original tweet's premise is that Companions are very powerful, but do not violate counterplay or end games too quickly, and it's conclusion is that they should be given time. The tweets Matt posted below it essentially elaborate on that view. He says they will "likely"(which is not the same thing as a certainty) prove warping or problematic, but re-affirms his point that they should be given time.

So, even if I had included all of the tweets in the list (which would have made the image too big and unreadable), it wouldn't have fundamentally changed the meaning for which I included it: that Matt was saying that they should be "given time" in one tweet, and then concluded a few days later (in a tweet that I didn't include) that he was sick of them, and then a few days after that, that they should be banned within a month or two.

I disagree that juxtaposing them made Matt seem "fickle" or "inconsistent." Rather, it showed that he had an evolution of views based upon his engagement with the cards themselves.

And, if it made him "seem" fickle or inconsistent, a) that was not my intent, and b) appearing fickle is not the same thing as 'misrepresenting' one's views. His conclusion changed, even if he proactively allowed for the possibility of changing one's mind. Such an allowance is entirely unnecessary. Every person is entitled to change one's mind on any matter.

That's because the second tweet in the same image was consistent with his position in this thread.

There was nothing wrong with the second tweet.

So, here you are claiming not that I misrepresented his position, but that I was trying to "make him look bad"? How exactly? By suggesting a contradiction? I thought I already answered that charge before: the juxtaposition of the two tweets demonstrate not a contradiction, but a 10 day change of opinion, based upon intervening experiences.

Again, the overall effect made him look volatile and ridiculous. It was reminiscent of an attack ad.

I totally disagree. Both the first and second tweet appear to be well-written, nuanced, and thoughtfully considered. Juxtaposing them doesn't make him seem volatile or ridiculous. Rather, his posts here do, where he angrily lashed out.

Like most pseudo-controversies on The Mana Drain, the analysis does not actually call for legal skills.

No, it doesn't call for it, but it does help from time to time. Law provide clarity and well-worn guidance. Law has established workable definitions and elements that can be applied to adduce evidence or draw conclusions that might support one claim over another.

Matt claims I misrepresented his views. In law, a "misrepresentation" is a "false statement of a material fact."

No, there is no universal and ubiquitous definition of misrepresentation in "law." There may be one in some edition of Restatement of Torts. Some jurisdictions may decline to use it. It's used in Contract Law in ways that are not identical to Torts. It shows up in multiple additional areas of law, random subsections of statutes, international law, and of course then must be defined in any number of languages which opens the quest for precision up to any further number of adulterating factors.

Well put. I should have clarified that one legal definition was...

But my point remains: law provides workable definitions tested over generations that can provide clarity, guidance and structure to debates such as this. Does not mean we should always apply them, but they can be of use.

Additionally, a misrepresentation is not simply a lie or a false statement of fact as one would find in defamation. A true statement of material fact can be presented in a manner that misrepresents its truth in context. For instance, "Bette said 'I ate my children' " is technically true because Bette did use those words when stating "I deny that I ate my children." But the former statement conveys something close to contradictory to what the full statement actually conveys. Hence, her statement was misrepresented.

I agree. But, I further deny that there was any contextual information that changed Matt's conclusion or the meaning here. I have already explained why. I further deny that the juxtaposition was intended or had the effect of making him seem volatile, ridiculous, etc. for reasons I also just offered.

Applied here, it is more likely that participants in this thread used the term misrepresentation as it is understood colloquially rather than legally, even setting aside the lack of a universal term definition. That means there was no shying from engaging with your technical analysis; I simply found it inapposite as I believe I've communicated previously.

No, but you did shy away from it: not the legal analysis, but the argument based upon the structure, content, and organization of the post (31). For example, you completely ignored my point about the text that immediately precedes and immediately follows the use of the image as shedding light on my motives for its inclusion.

If he or you wish to accuse me of something else, I would certain consider that accusation on its merits, but let's be as clear as possible about what it is we are accusing me of. Because if my "crime" is something else, then don't label me as misrepresenting his views. Call it for what it is.

You are not being accused of any crime or being sued.

That is why I used the word "crime" in scare quotes here. I meant: if you are accusing me of malicious intent, other than misrepresentation, then be clear about it, and drop the claim that I 'intended to misrepresent" Matt's views.

My point was far more important than Matt's comparatively trivial tweets. I was arguing that DCI policy should be more balanced, and that a swift banning was too fast. Matt's tweet was buried in the middle of this much larger point. You seem to think that the main purpose of my post was to jab Matt. Quite the contrary. The purpose was to argue against a swift banning, and Matt's tweets nicely illustrated some of the premises to my argument.

I don't believe you're unable to understand how positioning two contradictory statements by one person next to each other is unflattering. Surely you remember a certain someone who "voted for" the war "before I voted against it" and how damaging that clip was. Saddest November of all time.

Oh, I absolutely do remember, but I disagree that that was the saddest November. You are referring to the November of 2004, but the saddest November was that of 2016.

In any case, I agree that such juxtaposition can have that effect. But I deny that it either does here or was intended to do so. The reason is simple: the tweets are not sound bites. They are complete, balanced, nuanced, and well-written thoughts. They weren't brief or truncated excerpts. They illustrate an evolution of opinion, not a contradiction.

Full transparency:

The reason I even had an image of Matt's two tweets was because I took a phone screen shot of both, and text messaged them to Kevin without any note or commentary.

His reply: "MTGO moves quickly when you're a streamer."

Exactly. That was on May 12th, the day before I wrote post 31.

Kevin understood exactly my intended meaning AND the effect. He didn't interpret the juxtaposition as an attempt to embarrass, provoke, or make Matt look inconsistent or volatile. He understood immediately the purpose and effect even without the benefit of my prefatory language or larger post to make that point.

If Kevin got it without those benefits, it's likely most readers, reading it without also seeing your and Matt's subsequent accusations and imputation of my motives, probably would have drawn similar inferences.

Maybe next time, avoid jumping to conclusions?