Hello fellow Vintage enthusiasts,
after a small break of nearly 2 years (been busy meeting the love of my life :)) I'm back to the game now and as I like to do, I'm sucking up all the data that I can. Apparently the last months have been really wild, with a lot of broken cards entering the format and getting restricted again, as well with some former staples like Misstep saying "Goodbye". The format seems to be in a constant flux right now and I'm really eager looking forward to play it.
The problem though, is the mass-disappearance of Vintage players in Europe. Of course I can and will do play big events on MTGO, but that is not the point. There seems to be an Exodus and I want to find out whether it's something regional or rather a know phenomenon.
My main starting point with events was the Cardmarket Series. It's kind of a tournament series with different stops in Europe. Up until 2017, they held comparably big Vintage tournaments, set them on a break for 2018 and returned in 2019 (apparently the turnout was not as big as expected, but the loud voices in the community made them bring them back).
In 2017, the events had 47, 34, 30, 33 and 28 players respectively. In 2019, we got 14, 43, 17, 18 and this weekend a meager 12 (!), with just one more chance left for a bigger tournament. Ignoring the outlier in Ghent with 43 players, these numbers are weak and I don't understand how the format lost 2/3 of its player base in just 2 years.
I'm not sure whether it's that people sold their cards due to economical reasons, but Oldschool cards made a huge leap in 2017 or 2018 iIrc, so that is a possibility. Maybe it is that people were used to Vintage as a rather stable format and the changes that happen were disliked. Could also just be that the rewards have been massively cut and most people just played in all the tournaments, which they don't do anymore.
Honestly, I'm just puzzled what exactly happened in the last years. If people are demoralized I'd like to know.
I hope we can get a healthy discussion going on here. I'm interested in what the reasons for the decline could be and if it is just Europe, or if it is happening in other places as well. I'm definitely going to attend Cardmarket Series in Prague (it's a rather short ride for me and a beautiful and cheap city, so a trip there is definitely worth it, not just for Vintage) and I hope a lot of people here are going to do as well!
There is also the European Eternal Championship Weekend in Paris happening the weekend before Christmas, which I plan to attend but I'm not sure I can afford it right now. I wonder whether having the event in Paris just before Christmas is a good idea anyway, but that is open to discussion as well. And whether or not you are planning to attend.
Thanks for all the responses, let's see how many European players are active here (I guess the majority here is rather NA-centric, but maybe some of you are going to attend the European Vintage Champs as well?). Let's try to keep Vintage alive as well as possible. If the numbers at the Cardmarket Series keep being that low, I don't think that they are going to keep Vintage in the future, which would diminish the number of events even further.
I very much enjoyed this report! I wish we had more of these. Let's be honest, talk about strategy can be enlightening, but it's usually dry to read. This piece on the other hand was a lot of fun and gave me a better insight of what kind of person you are and how Vintage is played in the New World.
I'm surprised the t8 consisted of only 2 archetypes. Are Workshop decks really that much more consistent than any blue decks? With the deck being down to 8 lock pieces there should be enough hands with none or just one, but apparently the all in affinity approach is also enough to win consistently?
Also, what happened to Paradoxical and the Baral deck? Or decks with 4 hurkyls in general?
Regarding Serendib Djinn: I tried to delve into its past to find out why they made the change from destroy to sacrifice. Apparently the wording in Arabian Nights was just so random that they tried to homogenize them. Dandan says just destroy, while Junun Efreet states destroy without regeneration. To make it worse, cards like City in a Bottle and Bottle of Suleiman state the term discarded. So creatures are destroyed, everything else is discarded? But wait, Flying Carpet is not discarded but destroyed. And Diamond Valley explicitely states that a creature is sacrificed, despite that not being official language before Revised (thanks for the article, Aaron!)
All I could find was that the "Official Encyclopedia Volume 1" from 1996 already states that the Djinn sacrifices land, because apparently they can't be buried. I would be nice to get the original wording back on this one, but since the card works the way it does for more than 20 years now, I doubt this will ever happen. I'm giving up on this one and I agree that whichever Oldschool community wants to play it either has to use house rules or just play it as intended since 1996 (or 1994 even, when Revised came out - I wasn't able to find a date when the change actually happened).
I don't understand what some people expect - the rise of completely new archetypes? People abandoning Shops or the "Dack-Delve-Engine"? The restrictions happened last week and all we have is a few League 5-0s and a rather small premier, aka no relevant sample size. Also, I think that if you interpret the results things look really healthy: old archetypes can still be played with success but they dropped in overall win percentage. Delver, an archetype that was pushed to tier 3 territory suddenly was able to rack up 9-0 again.
Let's wait before becoming too vocal about nonsense restrictions - they weren't meant to invalidate archetypes but to end the previous power struggle.
@brass-man said in Why I don't think Mishra's Workshop should be restricted.:
"on TMD, on Facebook, amongst my friends, the most common chorus is that vintage is terrible and vintage is dying."
When I started playing Magic at the end of the 90s "Vintage" or whatever is was called back then was already out of reach for most players. When I came back to the game 10 years ago, not much changed. Except for that the format had the reputation of turn 1 kills among non Vintage players. Nowadays? If I ask people about Vintage the stock responses still are "costs as much as a car" and "people dying on turn 1".
Most people don't know anything about the format. I'm sure there is a name for the psychological phenomenon where people just dismiss and badmouth something because they will never be able to afford it.
I'd also love hear clarification about the legal binding of the reserved list. Even though there might not be any law behind it, I still doubt that we are going to see any changes. There is just no point behind it - Magic is already a game divided into too many sub games and strengthening Vintage or Legacy wouldn't do help much to keep sales strong over a long period. They could abandon the reserved list in hope for some short term gains, but I think it would affect the market and the player base negatively in the long run. Also, it would destroy trust. If you think that by abandoning the reserved list only very specific cards would decline, I think you are misguided.
I guess even for Wotc that can of worms is too hard to calculate so they would it rather stay closed.
Some of the opinions and mentalities about restricting suggestions are just sad. A lot of you want to restrict too many cards at once and I think that is a spiral that we don't want to go downwards. I also still don't get all the hate towards Walking Ballista - it is a flexible, yet kinda clunky card, no more. Yes, it drives out a couple of x/1 creatures out of the format, but that is just natural evolution in Magic. Remember when Goyf got printed and everyone was going nuts over him? I remember that in Legacy you had Goyf in Goblins and in Merfolk even at some time and I'm sure it made more than just a splash in Vintage. Nowadays Goyf ist just bad.
I get the arguments that Workshop is objectively too strong. But Ballista? Definitely not by Vintage standards.
To be fair, after having played the deck for a bit I can't understand all the stress surrounding the archetype. A lot of opening hands fall apart if your opponent just disrupts one correct card and often an early resolved Mentor or Tinker is is an unbeatable struggle. Worst thing is that despite the deck name I only have access to Workshop itself in like 60% of the games, so there are already a good number of games without the namesake card. Actually, this may be biased, but I would argue that my blue opponents have more Recalls then I have Workshops.
Right now I'm not sure if anything really needs restriction. Taking Workshop or even a Sphere might make the deck so inconsistent that it will mostly turn into Robot Beats which is probably not good enough against the degeneracy of other decks.
As far as the metagame goes, Workshop is just the most played archetype and while the meta went into the right direction with decks packing up to 4 Null Rod 2 weeks ago, it already went the exact opposite way this week, rewarding people who play Shops variants that are super soft to Null Rod. It just doesn't make sense to me.
Someone suggested "restricting Ballista" - no way this is ever going to happen. It's nowhere over the top compared to a lot of other things, just a flexible card. I'd say the creatures are all safe...
Thanks at all for the insightful responses. Keep them coming!
Thanks for the sample hands. What is shocking to me is how bad most of them are in the mirror. I guess if you expect a lot of Shops playing more lands might be a good idea. What is the next best contender, City of Traitors? Maybe it is the time again to run Ghost Quarter again? Lately I've been unimpressed with randomly wasting off an opponent's land against blue decks, as they just run so much mana acceleration (is it just me or is everyone on the Paradoxical plan?) and maybe even more land as well, as a lot of my opponents tend to flood rather than to screw (but if you draw 8 cards in a turn... I guess that's normal), but GQ might really help against those pesky basic lands. City helps better in the acceleration department, but bears certain risks. GQ is also great in mirrors.
What does anyone think about boarding against the Eldrazi versions? Null Rod keeps wrecking me, but I'm not sure if I should board out Ravager/ Ballista or how many of them. I feel like I could board 15 cards or something, so many cards just seem bad. The card that positively surprised me the most has been ol' Sphere of Resistance as it often helps delaying their key threats for a critical turn or 2, so I definitely keep them in.
I was doing some research on Zodiac Dragon, because at first I thought that the rules change would make it useless anyway, but for the Serra Avatar reprint they did actually change the wording to refer to "anywhere" - considering that both Serra Avatar and Zodiac Dragon came to existence at the same point in time I now agree that this is bogus powerlevel errata. It's an obscure and expensive card, give it some joy. If it breaks anything, it can always be banned or restricted... as very few people actually own a copy, no one would care.
I'm still quite new to Vintage/ Type 1 (playing Magic for nearly 20 years now, but mostly Extended, Standard, Legacy, Modern and Draft - now Vintage as well, but I took a couple of breaks in between) and while being drawn to the format because of Ancestral and Time Walk at first, the absurd percentages of Shops as of late wanted me to get more familiar with the archetype as well so I practiced it a bit in the last few weeks.
First, thanks @Brass Man for all the work he is doing to keep a place alive where people can talk about the real way to play Magic, and for maintaining a lot of different sub forums and topics.
A little bit of critique from my side: as a new player, this primer could be compared to an iceberg: the surface explains quite nicely to people not familiar with the format what the deck is about, but it lacks any in depth discussion for people who are new to the deck and look for edges to get better.
Anyway, back to the topic. As I explained, I'm mainly a blue mage throughout various formats, so playing Shops now feels both weird and interesting. It feels like the average opening hand has so much more variance than in a blue deck. Lands, counterspells, cantrips? Keep. Often you can exchange the counterspell for a removal and it works as well; the same could be true for 2 counterspell, 2 cantrip, 2 removal etc, the slots are kind of interchangeable, blue decks often don't even need a threat in their opening hand but can just evade long enough until they find one. Shops on the other hand is a deck where I often feel like you need to have Exodia in your opening hand to stand a chance. Like, all the pieces must fit together or you easily fall behind or fail to do anything at all. What makes it even worse is that a good hand against a blue deck is often terrible in the mirror. And mana always seems to be a problem - either too much or too few.
I'm sure I come off as a total scrub, but since mulligans are an important skill to the deck I think I may be lacking there. Are there any general advice? Like... is a hand with a mox and 1 mana land, but not that much to do with them - let's say a Sphere and a Ravager, + some stuff costing 3 or more - a keep? A hand with just spheres and mana but no threat? A hand with 3 Shops, 2 Foundry Inspector 2 Revoker? A hand that does nothing on turn 1 but can be explosive once it gets down an Inspector?
There are many more options, so so many. I mull a lot of hands and don't seem to get rewarded - like often when I mull a mediocre hand my next one is really bad, so I'm kind of afraid of refusing the mediocrity.
Phyrexian Revoker has to be the most skill intense card of the deck because I hate it the most. I hate hands where it is my only threat (same for Ravager, do I just mull these hands? They are so slow) and I hate being on the play with them. Naming cards in the dark always feels bad, as cards that you want to name are usually 1 or 2 offs, so it mainly turns off a mox, which is ok but not impressive. I mean just beating for 2 gives blue opponents too many windows. In the mirror it is an interesting and complex card, as it can often mean the difference between winning or losing, or it just sucks as a 2 mana 2/1 against a barrage of 3/3 golems.
I'd also like to hear some sideboard plans from other players. How often do you board out Trinisphere on the draw? Is there any reason to bring in Cage against Big Blue decks (so far I think no)? How do you board against the different blue archetypes? Is there any reason to leave in Sphere in the mirror?
Also, I don't share the sentiment that creatures in Shops are large Ravager/ Ballista/ Revoker and also Inspector are all kind of small, even though the first 2 can grow they will rarely attack for more than 1 or 2 on their first occasion. In general, after watching some videos on Youtube before Lodestone and Chalice were restricted, the deck looks more fair and way slower these days than it used to be.
@vaughnbros Thanks for the link. It was quite informative and I understand most of the arguments given, even though it makes me very sad to see that my assumption about Relic Bind is true
@Smmenen I really like your articles and luckily there are plenty off them. Do you have some kind of library where all your articles are stored?
Something different that I stumbled upon is the weird inconsistency in wording of destroy/ discard/ sacrifice/ place in graveyard in the early sets. Even the card Sacrifice itself stats in ABU "destroy". The only card in Arabian Nights to use the instance of sacrifice is Diamond Valley, but then it got plenty of use in Antiquities again.
Does this mean abeyance is a strictly better time walk? Likely not, but I do think some cards should be fixed for functionality. Ali From Cairo, Library, Bazaar are obviously legendary from a flavor perspective but did the designers have the legendary idea in mind prior to legends? You say it's impossible to ask, but I don't think it is. The problem is likely more of their views on the functionality changing. When relic bind was printed, the untap symbol did not exist. same with voltaic key......
In 1996 I showed up at a tournament feeding final fortune turns into the unrestricted but heavily erratted time vault.
I have always had a hard time with howling mine and winter orb getting shut off when tapped but not other continuous artifacts like black vice.
Some cards are harder to judge than others as they were printed within a different ruleset. I would have to do research on Abeyance, but iirc it was only able to timewalk people for a few months. I guess cards like this and Lotus Vale need to have some kind of errata because they can't be reprinted.
I don't buy the argument with Arabian Nights cards - judging by flavor, Valakut the Molten Pinnacle should be legendary and it was printed "recently" - there is just no objective here.
You don't think it is impossible to reach out to people who designed cards in 93 or something and then never had to with anything? Good luck.