Well, I have read sirlin's homepage a long time ago and found it very illuminating. It perfectly explains what bothers me about a particular kind of players, and by extension, games that are dominated by that kind of players.
So, I'll start with the following confession: If a player who is 'playing to win' (using Sirlin's definition) is unhappy with the current state of CoC, that makes _me_ _very_ happy! Bugger off, I'll say, go ruin the play experience for players of other games, like MtG, etc.
And to address your main point:
[q]“It’s Too Good!”
Only in the most extreme, rare cases should something be banned because it is “too good.” This will be the most common type of ban requested by players, and almost all of their requests will be foolish. Banning a tactic simply because it is “the best” isn’t even warranted. That only reduces the game to all the “second best” tactics, which isn’t necessarily any better of a game than the original game. In fact, it’s often worse![/q]
First, this quote specifically talks about banning. How many cards in CoC are banned? Two: Endless Interrogation and Glimpse of the Void. The former has already been mentioned, the latter I'll address below.
Restricted cards, however can still be played and it's a rare deck that doesn't use any of them.
Sirlin doesn't address another, very valid reason for banning a card because to his point of view, it's a non-issue: Cards should be banned if they result in the game not being fun anymore (for players who don't just 'play to win'). Now, what are examples of cards/decks that aren't fun to play against?
The Logan/Necronomicon combo was one example. In Liege I was the first player unlucky enough to face it and the game was over after 10 minutes because there wasn't anything I could do anymore. It would have been over in 5 minutes if I hadn't asked my opponent to demonstrate his 'finite' loop again. He was draining all of my domains before I could play anything each turn.
And that's what I call 'unfun' and a degenerated type of deck.
As it happened, I said 'good game' and my opponent offered to play his secondary deck against me - and that was actually quite fun, even though I lost it was well, because I could actually _play_.
At the same tournament one player played a deck using 'Glimpse of the Void'. He would recur it every turn and try to deck his opponent. His only Achilles heel was 'Snow Graves' (which is why he also included lots of support destruction). The reason he didn't win the tournament was that
a) in the half-final he had to play against his regular play partner (who would later win the tournament, as well), who knew the deck and had the tech against it, and
his opponent had the luck on his side (drawing all three Snow Graves early in the game, and winning before the Void player could destroy the third one).
Playing against this deck could also result in an extremely 'unfun' experience since there would never be any story phase, leaving 'normal' decks without any chance to win.
Today we have the Yithian train, which I'd argue is also extremely 'unfun' to play against. You get to watch your opponent trigger effect after effect from his discard, drain away your hard-earned success tokens and mill you along the way.
Going back to Sirlin's statement: In CoC, so far, the restricted list _has_ resulted in a better game. It's not worse. It has opened the game up to a wide variety of 'second best' tactics that can now win you the game if you're more skilled than your opponent. In fact I'd argue we'd never have seen the 'Research & Destroy' deck, if CoC didn't have the restricted list! It was only developed, because other OP options had become unavailable.
One last thing, I'd like to point out:
There's recently been the hot topic of introducing some kind of card pool rotation to CoC (and more importantly AGoT). I'm convinced that without CoC's restricted list, we'd have seen some kind of rotation _years ago_! The restricted list is a less heavy-handed tool to keep the game healthy without having to ban whole cycles of expansions. And making changes to that restricted list from time to time is an excellent way to keep the game fresh, because you get to investigate alternative options, rather than re-using your deck year after year and only replacing one or two cards, as a better alternative for them is released.
I mean, it kind of sucks, that my Liege deck from 2010(?) is no longer tournament-legal since it now includes four or five restricted cards, but, hey, isn't that better than meeting every year to play the same deck against the same decks you faced the years before?