In general, these days blocks tend to be focused on such different themes that they aren’t really very compatible with each other. Using Onslaught for an example, there were no Cycling cards and very few Goblins in Odyssey and Mirrodin, the two sets that were legal when Onslaught was and thus nearly every card in those decks came from either Onslaught block or from the basic set. In Type One however, blocks never rotate out. This gives deckbuilders the ability to plumb older sets for cards which can work along with a block mechanic. Some blocks have been more successful than others because of this effect.
As everyone knows, Type 1 is defined as the format in which every card is playable, no matter how old or overpowered. This creates huge hurdles for new cards to overcome, since a card may already exist which is just better than you, but the huge number of possible interactions also open up many unique situations in which a very specific, situational card may find a place if it’s the best (or in some cases, only) way to deal with it.
There has been a long-running myth, which finally went away with the release of Mirrodin block, that R&D doesn’t design cards for Type 1 and that there are only one or two cards per set which will see any play. Then, there are cards like Mind’s Desire where R&D never even considered Type 1 during design but which end up being among the most powerful, environment-defining cards in the format. Designing for Vintage is a really tricky issue to work with, but that will be the focus for this series and the first place to start is perhaps the most misunderstood concept in Vintage: Proper Mana.
While I call these set reviews “The Obligatory…”, I didn’t do one for Betrayers. Betrayers really didn’t seem very interesting and it was really hard trying to justify an entire article when the only card that I thought that would see play was Ninja of Deep Hours. In the end, I think that Umezawa’s Jitte is really the only other card from that set that is seeing play, unlike Champions where more and more cards are seeing play as time goes on. Saviors, on the other hand, looks packed with cards that appear to be both powerful, interesting, or both.
JP chimes in with his thoughts on Interactivity, the changing applications of Force of Will and Mana Drain, plus some words of advice for those of you attending all these giant, rocking Vintage tournaments coming up.
This past weekend Randy played in his first tournament since 1999… and won. Even better was that it was an unsanctioned 12-Proxy Vintage event with a Black Lotus as the grand prize. We sent our crack reporter JP Meyer off to a secret resort on the island of Maui (also known as “R&D’s Winter Home”) to ask Randy about his tournament experience, what deck he played, how R&D looks at Vintage and his thoughts on the format as a whole.
In the first half, I went over the restricted list and covered the mechanics which appeared in the restricted cards. To recap, they were undercosted cards (Ancestral Recall), overpowered cards which cannot properly be costed (Balance), mana producers (Black Lotus), cards which are overpowered in multiples (Black Vise), tutors (Demonic Tutor), and combo engines (Dream Halls). In this half, I’ll go over some of the other cards that are unrestricted in Vintage that might fit into one or more of these categories along with some of the commonly requested restrictions.
There’s a lot of contention regarding what should and shouldn’t be on the Vintage restricted list. Wizards took five cards off the restricted list in Vintage during 2004: Fork, Braingeyser, Stroke of Genius, Doomsday, and Earthcraft. To pretty much everyone, these cards were considered undegenerate and could be unrestricted with a reasonable amount of safety. While there are occasional tweaks when a new B&R list comes out, usually nothing is changed. Still, every quarter there is usually a firestorm of debate regarding changes to the list. Since it’s going to be March soon, it seemed like a good time stoke the fires of Vintage debate once more with an article…
Cunning Wish. Mana Drain. Force of Will. The Fetchlands. Now, I’m not going to tell you that these cards are bad – they’re not – but I am going to say that you may be relying on these cards too much – or worse, not supporting them properly.
For me, the most exciting of the recent unrestrictions was Doomsday. Doomsday was long regarded as a weak card that was placed on the restricted list to neuter a combo deck that really wasn’t even that good in the first place. Thus Wizards, in their infinite wizdom, finally unrestricted the card. Even today, most people think it is harmless. I’m here to not only tell you “it’s not that simple,” but to demonstrate a few Doomsday decks that definitely don’t suck.
It’s been looking more and more to me that Type One is playing out more like a series of PTQs than Pro Tours. In this system, a set of top decks are known and the metagame tends to evolve weekly based on the results from each week’s PTQs. Here, the important skill is not the ability to build new decks, but to figure out which decks beat which and most importantly, which decks will be the big decks next week. Therefore, it seemed like a good idea to take a closer look at the top decks you will see at this weekend’s Power 9 tournament and figure out which decks might be good metagame choices.
While the topics addressed here might apply to them, when I say”underpowered” decks, I don’t necessarily mean”budget” decks or”unpowered” decks. I’m simply referring to decks that don’t try to do anything unfair or may not have the capability to do things that are totally broken. What I am referring to are decks that, across formats, don’t have spectacular plays, but are instead consistent decks that generally grind out wins. These decks can dominate formats under the right conditions, and I want to take a bit to explore exactly how they manage to win.
It’s not quite Intuition, and it’s not quite Fact or Fiction. You can’t use it as a tutor for unrestricted cards like with Intuition, and your opponent chooses what you get, unlike FoF. There are still some no-win sets with this. Think Yawgmoth’s Will, Recoup, Black Lotus, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. There might also be some crazy combo kill with this as well. I’m not going to give up on it just yet.