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posted in Vintage Tournaments read more

bump. Reminder that this event is tomorrow.


posted in Vintage News read more

@grandpabelcher Thank you!

One point I intended to make in the episode, but forgot, is that opinion on the Vintage Restricted List is a spectrum that runs from Nat Moes at one end to Brian Kelly on the other. I think that's a useful heuristic for viewing these positions as endpoints along a continuum.

posted in Vintage News read more

Kevin Cron and Steve Menendian discuss the results of the North American Vintage Championship 2019, as well as the November 1st Banned and Restricted List update.

0:00:57: Announcements
0:02:40: Vintage Champs Summary
0:08:30: Vintage Champs Metagame Breakdown
0:26:20: Top 8 Decks
0:56:00: Our tournament experiences
1:30:39: Narset Restriction: Analysis and Impact
Total runtime: 1:58:45
Show Notes
– November 1, 2019 Banned and Restricted List Announcement
– North America Vintage Champs 2019 Coverage and Results
– Vintage 101: US Eternal Weekend NA Vintage Championships 2019

Contact us at @ManyInsanePlays on Twitter or e-mail us at


posted in Off-Topic read more

I have never played Pioneer and likely never will, so I can't say whether it's fun or not. But I had a rule of thumb long ago that I only play formats with Dark Ritual in them. Those formats are just more fun to me.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

@grandpabelcher said in [Article] Information Cascades in Magic:

@tittliewinks22 said in [Article] Information Cascades in Magic:

If the game is so bad why play it?

There have been a number of people through the years where I've wondered why they play Vintage instead of another format, or even Magic instead of another game. I think some people actually enjoy complaining.

This might be the funniest thing I've ever heard you say.

I think people are chasing some feeling or experience they had at some point. Vintage offers some pretty potent experiences. The problem is that everyone has a different conception of what that experience is or should be.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@vaughnbros said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:


I’m not solely a dredge pilot. I play every deck in the format.

I don't think I've ever seen a your name in top 8 that wasn't on a Bazaar deck.

You will play that maindeck card in your opening 60 in 100% of matches.

You will play that exclusive Dredge hate card in your game 2/3 in ~5% of matches.

The main deck card choice is in your deck ~10-20 times as frequently played as that hate card.

This isn’t that hard, but you seem to want to make it so.

Your math here is super misleading, and it reveals two key flaws in your reasoning.

To begin, Frequency of Use (that is, number of times a card is played per tournament) is not the same thing as Significance or Importance. DPS players will cast Dark Rituals many more times than they will cast Yawgmoth's Will or Necropotence or Tendrils of Agony (or nearly equivalent finisher), but those cards are just as strategically significant.

Moreover, if a player plays with 4 "Random Card X" in their sideboard, but a 1 "Random Card Y" in the maindeck, like a Brian Kelly Peek or Sorcerous Spyglass, for example, although the 1 "Random Card Y" may technically be played more (meaning, actually cast) during the course of a tournament, but the 4-of "Random Card X" may actually be far more important in determining whether the pilot makes Top 8.

Thus, again, frequency of use (rather than appearances) is not the same thing as importance or significance, where importance and significance is how and where a card helps a player win matches or games.

But aside from how you are conflating 'frequency' of use in a tournament with strategic importance in a tournament (they are not even close to the same thing), there is an even more fundamental problem, and it's your main blind spot here: there is no such thing as a "sideboard card."

Again, is Pyroblast a sideboard card? Force of Vigor? Stony Silence?

What makes a card more likely to be played in a sideboard v. a maindeck has nothing to do with a card's inherent qualities, and everything to do with the structure or composition of the metagame, and how that card interacts with that structure.

Simply put, cards that are excellent against certain strategies, but weak against most of a metagame are more likely to be used in a sideboard. Whereas cards that are great against a wide range of strategies, but weak against a smaller portion of a given metagame are more likely to be played maindeck.

So, for example, in a metagame that is 70% blue decks, Pyroblast is more likely to be a maindeck card, and if the metagame is only 10% graveyard based, then Tormod's Crypt is more likely to be a sideboard card.

But if the compositional structure of a metagame shifts, so that graveyard strategies are 70% of the metagame, and blue decks are 10%, then then positions of Pyroblasts vis-a-vis Tormod's Crypts between maindeck and sideboards shifts accordingly.

Some decks, like transform boards and Dredge, use most of their SB in every matchup so that is certainly different. But these are atypical from Blue/Shops/others that devote large portions of their SB for 1 or 2 MUs.

The other part of my argument. Leyline vs Crypt vs Cage is again marginal differences. Just like this card vs Pyroblast vs Kambal vs Flusterstorm are only marginally different in power level. Just like me choosing to eat chicken wings vs a fried chicken sandwich. I’m likely to get very similar utility from it.

I could not disagree more with this principle that strategic answers are basically fungible or just different at the margins. The differences between options at a tactical level are actually massive gulfs in any particular event, even if the oscillations between the value or utility of options changes so frequently that in the very long run the differences appear marginal. Optimization per tournament matters. It can be the difference between making Top 8 or not, and winning a tournament or not.

If you are guaranteed to have X copies of a particular effect the existence of the card is only responsible for the additional marginal value it is providing you. This card might win you a few more games against Storm than a Flusterstorm would, when they Duress you before going off. But could also lose them too, when they just bounce it and go off.

Yes, but the card that actually wins you more games in a particular tournament is the optimal card. And tournament results, in the aggregate, are the means by which we observe this, combined with experienced judgment and insight of players in assessing this.

This is dramatically different from the impact of say Bazaar of Baghdad or Mishra’s Workshop that make an entire class of decks possible. Comparing the frequency of Bazaar top 8s to the frequency of Bazaar-hate cards top 8ing is missing the entire context of the results.

No, actually - they are interrelated. That's what makes your original comment that frequency of appearances in a sideboard top 8 is irrelevant so erroneous.

Large scale use of a particular tactic in sideboard of Top 8 decks is indicative of some underlying fact or set of facts, which we then use our judgment to discern.

If there are alot of Workshop or Dredge hate in a sideboard, then that may tell us both about the prevalence and/or power of the Workshop and Dredge strategies. We then use our experience and judgment to know the difference, and whether it is one, both or something else.

In the case of Grafdigger's Cage, part of the reason the card saw so much play wasn't just that was optimal in any particular matchup, but that it was broadly useful and hyper-efficient in a range of matchups. Thus, for example, it could be used against Oath and Dredge. If we see alot of Grafdigger's Cages, then it's a signal to see what role it's playing in the metagame, to try to understand why it's there, and then we can glean new insights about the structure of the format and the dynamics in tournament play.

On top of this all, top 8s frequency or prevalence in general as a measure of success, as Mikey just pointed out, can be highly inaccurate even for MD cards.

That's why we look over time and in the aggregate rather than a single case.

Top 8 appearances of a particular card tells us how good a card is because, in the aggregate, cards help players win games, matches, and thereby tournaments.

If a card is really bad or just suboptimal, over time, it will be weeded out, even if a single player sticks with it. Tournaments are basically simulations of a format, over and over again, and aggregate results give us insight into optimization. It's just a hive mind attacking a problem over and over again.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@vaughnbros said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:


Sideboard cards do not impact top 8 results as much as you are implying that they do. That is what you are missing. I’ve enumerated the reasons. If you want to ignore them and continue to use bad data then who am I to stop you? You clearly have your mind made up.

You must not be playing the same format as me then. Deck lists are integrated systems, especially in Vintage Magic. They matter almost as much as the cards in the main deck, and sometimes more. For example, a sideboard card is often more important than the 60th, 59th, 58, 57th, etc. Maindeck card. After all side boards are used in a majority games.

Your reasons are bad because they assume that hate cards are roughly equivalent. It’s pretty surprising coming from a dredge player. I’ve also explained how sideboards signal what is strategically significant in a format, e.g. Leyline v Flash combo.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@vaughnbros said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:

Stephen, there is an important concept when interpreting numbers: Correlation is not causation. What this phrase requires is that you add the context and assumptions to all numbers when attempting to infer things from them.

Top 8 numbers on sideboard cards are highly irrelevant because they are very often not the reason the deck is performing well. This is a classic correlated by not caused reasoning.

That principle - a generally acknowledged statistical and scientific principle - has no relevance here.

If you are saying that Top 8 appearances is just correlation, and doesn't reveal anything about a format, I disagree.

If there are literally dozens of top 8 appearances for a particular card, it suggests quite a bit.

First and foremost, if a card is appearing in sideboards, but not maindecks, then that is an important signal in and of itself. It means that the card is quite important at certain matchups, but the structure of the metagame is such that that card isn't good enough against most matchups.

Thus, take 2008: If Leylines are in 90% of sideboards, but 0% of maindecks, then that signals that a the card is tremendously important (and the reason it was important was primarily Flash, and secondarily Dredge), but it's not of broad enough utility to employ maindeck.

Top 8 appearances of particular cards are a signal about the structure of the overall metagame. Evaluators and format analysts must then use judgment to assess what that information means. But to say that it is 'irrelevant,' as I said, is dumb.

Especially when we look at Dredge hate, where nearly every deck has 4-10 hate pieces. You are guaranteed to find something like 32+ Dredge hate cards in every random top 8.

On top of that, we have the top 8 cut point bias. You needed approximately 3 wins to reach a top 8 at NE events for a long time.

Our Top 8 methodology excludes tournaments of 32 or fewer players, so the cut-off point is usually 4 wins. And, in any case, the vast, vast majority of data points in our data set are Vintage Challenges, which are mostly 7 rounds now.

To bring this back to this card, this card could get some top 8s. That won’t suddenly make this card better or more impactful. We can read it and realize it does not hurt near 50% of the metagame. People can put it in their Flusterstorm/MB trap/Pyroblast slots, but let’s not pretend that these other cards you are playing it over aren’t also very powerful.

It's not about "power" in the abstract. It's about how a card interfaces strategies in the metagame. The existence of a card - maindeck or sideboard - over time signals a structure. Lots of Pyroblasts signals strategically significant blue spells.

Similarly, lots of Stony Silences or Hurkyl's Recalls in winning decklists signal something about the metagame. You can extrapolate that further.

It doesn't matter whether a card appears in a maindeck or sideboard - when you see patterns in deck construction, those are signals about what's happening the metagame, not "irrellevant" information or noise. It's a signal about the structure and leverage points in the complex system that is the Vintage metagame.

I think this card will see more play than Damping Sphere because:

  1. it is great against big blue decks, and basically a silver bullet against PO

  2. it is frustrating for cantrip-based Xerox decks

  3. It slots easily into Survival and WhiteEldrazi, two upper tier strategies and can be used easily by lots of marginal strategies, like Landstill, emergent combo decks, etc.

  4. it's hyper-efficient, and a reliable first turn play

  5. it can just steal wins in a Mox format, the same way that Chalice used to. Even against matchups where it's supposedly "bad," it can steal wins, like when Shops keeps Mox, Mox, Sol Ring, Factory.

Damping Sphere only had 10 top 8 appearances. I think this will have more, but also be a Vintage playable for a long time.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@mike-noble said in [ELD] Deafening Silence:

I wish Deafening Silence existed during the Noble Fish days.

I wish this card existed 15 years ago.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more


I disagree with that. I think it will be better off the bat, and more enduring than Damping Sphere. Damping Sphere only had 10 top 8 appearances, and tapered off significantly since.

I think Defeaning Silence will be better than that.

The main reasons are:

  1. It only costs 1 mana, and is basically a silver bullet first turn play against PO, and not bad against Xerox either. It significantly slows Xerox strategies.

More broadly, I think this is good against big blue decks that players like you gravitate towards.

  1. It easily fits into Survival and White Eldrazi, as well as the various Fastbond decks emergent. Both Survival and White Eldrazi, in the three weeks since the restriction, have consistently Top 8ed Vintage Challenges.

Those two facts put together mean that this will see more play, in my estimation, than Damping Sphere. I don't know if it will be significantly or modestly more, but I am confident it will be more.

Damping Sphere was pricier, easier to remove, and much more difficult to break symmetry on. This is easy to break symmetry on. That also makes it more promising than Sphere.