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Vintage 101: 20-20-20-4 Hours Ago

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! The series with more puns than you can shake a stick at! I'm your resident pun-master Joe Dyer and this week we're diving deep yet again into spoiler season (were we ever really out of it?!) with our look at Core Set 2020 and how it relates to Vintage. Not every set has a lot for this format, but as we've noted on multiple occasions, this year has been crazy with the impact that current product has had on the format overall. Therefore, it is starting to make a lot of sense to continue to keep an eye on newer sets to make sure there is nothing that we miss.

This past weekend also played host to the second quarter Vintage Playoff event on Magic Online! This is an exciting event, as the Top 8 of the event qualifies for the end of year Vintage Championships!

Without further ado, let's get right to what we're here to talk about. New cards!

2020 - An MTG Odyssey

Mystic Forge

Mystic Forge [M20]

This is the big elephant in the room, the card that's on everyone's minds when it comes to thinking about Vintage in regards to this set. As spoiled by my good friends over on Serious Vintage (seriously check out their podcast, they've got food and cat discussion galore!) with the help of The Mana Drain's very own Andy "Brass Man" Probasco, this card is excessively interesting for various reasons. This card is a lot like Bolas's Citadel except it is restricted to solely colorless nonlands and artifacts, but it comes with a built-in way to clear various cards off the top of the library at the cost of tapping it. There's always interesting ways to build around Future Sight-like effects, and this one allowing cards like Karn to be cast off the top is very interesting in addition to having a way of getting rid of stuff you don't need. One of the lists provided in the link above talks about using cards like Memnite and the like to cast off the top because they cost nothing and keeps the overall curve of the deck down. I think this card is pretty cool and even with its existence, I don't actually see it being that incredibly busted. One of the most interesting things about the format right now has been a partial rebalancing of things in regards to Workshops based decks. Force of Vigor and Collector Ouphe have kept the format pretty in line by themselves for the most part, so I expect Mystic Forge to settle in as another option within the format's colorless decks that might even create yet another colorless archetype.

Regardless this is obviously a card to keep an eye on.

Manifold Key

Manifold Key [M20]

Look out Voltaic Key, you've just been ousted. Well... not super really. Manifold Key is pretty strong, that's for sure, but there is still a pretty good reason to continue to run a split of this card and Voltaic Key thanks to the number of effects like Pithing Needle and Sorcerous Spyglass that exist in the format. That being said, Manifold Key is really great, and it's second ability is not to be underestimated. It enables things like Construct tokens from Karn, Scion of Urza to swing through for damage, and it also allows a Blightsteel Colossus to swing like a champ for the kill in the face of ground blockers.

Embodiment of Agonies

Embodiment of Agonies [M20]

This thing is a true embodiment of agony, since keeping track of distinct unique mana costs is pretty insane. However, for 3 mana for a possible flying behemoth that could be bigger than a 10/10 is interesting, but I'm also unsure where it fits. One of the decks I saw suggested for this was a deck like Oath of Druids or Survival since there is a wider variety of mana costs in those decks. I don't necessarily see this making a big splash, but it is an interesting card even if the templating is pretty agonizing to read.

Vilis, Broker of Blood

Vilis, Broker of Blood [M20]

Griselbrand, this guy isn't, but his effect is still fairly intriguing. At one mana per activation you are drawing 2 cards, which works really well with Forbidden Orchard spirit tokens. Being an 8/8 flier is no slouch, but the only way I ever see this replacing Griselbrand is if he were actually ever banned in Vintage, and that is obviously unlikely to happen. However, there is one amusing thing to note about this card is that its ability is any loss of life, so as someone pointed out to me you can cast a miniature Tendrils of Agony targeting yourself, lose and gain life and then draw a bunch of cards. Whether this interaction is worth a 5BBB creature (which would likely have to be cheated into play) is too early to really tell, but it is amusing.

Elvish Reclaimer

Elvish Reclaimer [M20]

A semi-Knight of the Reliquary / Crop Rotation effect stapled to a possible 3/4 is fairly interesting to say the least. I don't know how this would fit into the format especially costing 1 CMC, but there are obvious utility lands worth fetching up like The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale or Bojuka Bog that can be playable in a Lands/Turbo Depths type shell. One of the obvious downsides of Crop Rotation is that getting one Mental Misstep'ed is the worst feeling in the world, so who knows. There might be some territory worth reclaiming after all.


Blightbeetle [M20]

I actually don't think this card is playable all that much, but it does prevent the effects of cards like Arcbound Ravager, Hangarback Walker, Walking Ballista entering the battlefield with counters (since the beetle's effect will prevent them from entering with counters), which is kind of cool I suppose. Outside of this though, it's super narrow unfortunately and the Shops player only really needs to play cards like Precursor Golem or Wurmcoil Engine to get around it.


Fry [M20]

Flavor aside (which was a little burnt, crispy and not all that great), this card is fairly interesting in that it does kill a lot of things, but I don't know that it is that good. Cards like Narset, Dack, Jace, etc. are already gaining advantage over the game the moment they come down, and even killing them in response to their first activation with this is an opportunity where the planeswalker is already doing work for the opponent. While this does also kill a Monastery Mentor most of the time, I don't know that it's really worth playing still. Feels too narrow, much like the beetle above. (Fried beetle.... mmmmm....)

Drawn from Dreams

Drawn from Dreams [M20]

I had a dream this card was Dig Through Time and then realized this is probably what Dig would have looked like if it had been printed in a set without the dreaded keyword Delve in it. In that vein, the card is interesting but 4 mana at sorcery speed makes it largely unplayable. Sadly, this is is a dream that will never be drawn.

Kykar, Wind's Fury

Kykar, Wind's Fury [M20]

The art on this card is pretty sweet, and I think this is a neat card. Being able to sacrifice Spirits for mana, even red mana, is intriguing enough, and as another Pyromancer-like effect that generates fliers I could see people toying with a little bit. Definitely fringe, but pretty interesting.

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim [M20]

Despite how tirelessly I looked over this card, I'm not really seeing how this can be great unfortunately. It sits in the 5 CMC slot where it takes a Workshop + other mana sources to cast and even though it can find another Workshop (and maybe even a utility land) in the Shops list it is essentially a 5 mana Rampant Growth-like effect with a 3/5 attached. You're never really going to be activating the second ability of Golos and if you are able to... well you're probably winning the game with that much mana. My gut instinct tells me that this is not going to see much play at all.

Leyline of the Void

Leyline of the Void [M20]

Okay this isn't a new card, but somewhere I can hear Erin Campbell rolling around in her graveyard...

Vintage Playoffs - Q2!

This weekend held the second quarter of the Vintage Playoffs events to determine another 8 players who will be participating in the Vintage Championships at the end of the year. This was an exciting event, so let's take a look at the Top 8, shall we?

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Midrange 1st Shir Kahn
Dredge 2nd Smennen (Stephen Menendian)
PO Storm 3rd JoanAnton
Survival 4th Briba20 (Brady Iba)
Dredge 5th Eruxus
Ravager Shops 6th Menta_Li_Ill
Dreadhorde Control 7th Geekyjackson
Dredge 8th SwiftWarkite2

One of the big obvious things to note about this Top 8 was the overbearing presence of Bazaar of Baghdad strategies. Three Dredge decks plus one Survival list equaled a lot of Bazaars at the top of this event. Whether this is truly concerning or not is unknown, as it does show these strategies when combined with obvious cards like Force of Vigor.

Still, at the end of the event it wasn't a Bazaar deck that took the top prize. It was Shir Kahn on BUG Midrange!

As I've been also playing a BUG Midrange build this past week (if you've been following my Twitter at all), I like this list a lot. It's very interesting and has some powerful sideboard tech. I am especially intrigued by the Threads of Disloyalty in the sideboard. Either way, congrats to Shir Kahn on the finish!

I was lucky enough to touch base with Shir Kahn and ask them some questions about the format and about the playoff.

An Interview with Vintage Playoff Champion Shir Kahn

First things first, introduce yourself and let us know who you are and where we can find you on the interwebs!

I’m Nico Bohny, shir kahn on Magic Online. I used to be playing Magic on the Pro Tour ( for several years, but since I have kids, my Magic lifestyle has changed quite a bit. Nowadays, I mostly play on Magic Online, occasionally write for ChannelFireball and I started streaming recently, mostly Vintage Challenges on saturday, which I like quite a bit, even though I don’t have a ton of viewers yet. Feel free to say hi at some point. Also feel free to ask questions about my decks and preferences on stream, I really enjoy helping you out.
You can find me on facebook (Nico Bohny), on ChannelFireball or on Twitch

What drew you to Vintage as a format and how did you get started playing it?

To be honest, I first was attracted by the good value of Vintage tournaments on Magic Online when they introduced the format challenges, but didn’t really care about the format in any way. The cards were cheap to buy into the format, and the tournaments were small enough to grant a good EV. What kept me playing Vintage was the depth the format had to offer. I initially thought Vintage would be a dumb turn1 kill and therefor luck based format, but actually it ended up as my favorite constructed format. Gotta admit I mostly still just play Limited though.  

You had some great success this past weekend with BUG Midrange. What drew you to playing this deck for this event and some of the deckbuilding choices behind it?

I’ve been playing BUG for quite a while now, even wrote an article about it on CFB back in February. I switched to Oath in beetween, but when Karn was printed, Dredge became more popular again and Force of Vigor was printed, going back to BUG seemed the perfect metagame call for me.

How you do you feel BUG is positioned currently within the format?

BUG seems like a decent choice right now, as it has a favorable matchup against both mono brown decks (Eldrazi, Ravager Shops, Karn Shops) as well as Dredge. Survival and PO Storm are also a fine but not great matchups, but you tend to get into trouble against Xerox decks. Since Dredge almost pushed Xerox out of the metagame, BUG is very good right.

What are your thoughts on Vintage right now as a format? Do you think the format is currently healthy?

Yes, I really do. Lots of people complained about Narset and Karn being printed, but to be honest, that didn’t kill diversity in any way. Before those new cards, we mainly had Xerox, PO Storm and Ravager Shops - now we have way more.

What do you think London Mulligan will bring once it is put into place?

At first the changes will probably put Dredge and Storm to the top. After the dust has settled, we will have decks that are well prepared against these. You can never expect to have good maindeck applications against all of these, but with a decent sideboard, you should be able to compete with the unfair decks. At some point, we will probably have our old metagame back. In the end, the London Mulligan is not great for Vintage, but the format will still be great to play.

Do you have any final thoughts for anyone new getting into the format or anyone who might be considering getting into Vintage?

I would start with a goldfish deck (no advertisement intended), meaning a deck that doesn’t interact with your opponent a ton. The blue control decks seem very hard to play, so I wouldn’t start grabbing them. Karn Shops or Dredge seem like fine beginner's decks, even though they’re not easy to pilot at all. The best thing to get for these decks to get started seems to be a good sideboard guide, since sideboarding seems like one of the most challenging aspects for me.

Thanks for joining us and congrats again on the stellar finish! You are indeed awesome!

The Top 8 and More!

Also showing up in the Top 8 was a good friend by the name of Brady Iba on Survival!

I am a big fan of the BUG variants of this deck, so it was great to see one do well. It was also great to see Collector Ouphe because I'm a big fan of the power of that card. Congrats to Brady on his finish in this event, with such a wonderfully powerful deck.

The highest Dredge placing came from another good friend, Stephen Menendian of the So Many Insane Plays Podcast, and it's pretty interesting given that he has three copies of the Modern Menacing Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis.

Opting to play Leyline in the main over Hollow One seemed like a pretty smart metagaming decision based on the rest of the Top 8 of this event. With a lot of Bazaar decks on the docket, having a main deck mirror breaking card like Leyline makes a ton of sense to me. Congrats Stephen on finishing 2nd in this event!

And of course, also in the Top 4 of this event, proving to everyone and their mother that PO IS NOT DEAD, is JoanAnton with a main deck Ashiok, Dream Render.

Congrats to JoanAnton for such a sweet finish!

I also want to take a moment and do some more math on various new cards to show how many of what is showing up. It's always interesting to me to track these metrics. Again, we're only looking at cards from War of the Spark and Modern Horizons. Granted, we only have 16 decks (since Wizards only publishes the Top 16 for these events for some reason), but it's still something to look at.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Vigor 33
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 15
Force of Negation 11
Karn, the Great Creator 3
Narset, Parter of Veils 13
Collector Ouphe 6
Ashiok, Dream Render 1
Dreadhorde Arcanist 4
Bolas's Citadel 1

It's still very clear that Force of Vigor is just a very powerful card in the format, but right up there in the Dredge decks is Hogaak, which is mainly bumping the green count for playing FoV while being a powerful option that can trample over people. What was more interesting was that there was only THREE copies of Karn, the Great Creator in the Top 16, a stark difference from even just a month ago when Karn was everywhere. Narset still continues to remain powerful of course, but there is of course, a lot of Bazaar strategy going on in this event, to the point that there were 32 copies of Bazaar of Baghdad across the Top 16. Half of the Top 16 was Bazaar based decks. I do have a feeling however that this too will pass as the format continues to settle out once the London Mulligan goes live. Regardless, it will be interesting to see and I will be there watching every moment of it!

The Spice Corner

Our spice corner this week is two lists from the playoff. The first of which is a spicy UR Delver of Secrets deck (Yep you heard me... DELVER) with a sideboard set of Pulverize.

Our second list is The Atog Lord himself Rich Shay taking a page out of the book of Andy "Brass Man" Probasco with his Survival list known simply as "Death Survives".

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have for this week folks! I'm excited to keep poking at Vintage and the format, and looking forward to seeing truly how the London Mulligan will be affecting the format. Despite my concern that the rule might not be good for the format, I am still curious to see what will happen and how the format will adjust longer term to it. In a sense, there's no sense complaining about it, because it's definitely being implemented, so it will be interesting to see how things adapt.

That's just one of the things we'll be doing next week, the other will be discussing the new face of Dredge and how the deck has evolved since the release of Modern Horizons. As always you can hit me up on Twitter, Twitch, and Patreon if you'd like to support what I do!

Until next time, keep casting them Hogaaks!

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