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Vintage 101: A Challenger Approaches!


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be talking a bit more about the UW Initiative Tinker deck that has been showing up recently. In addition to that we'll be discussing the results of a Banned and Restricted Announcement from this past week in which nothing actually changed in Vintage, but Vintage was mentioned in it. We've also got Challenge data from this past weekend.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Tinkering With the Initiative

Vintage has had some interesting developments as of late, but one of the more interesting evolutions is the advent of another Tinker variant that has been popping up and doing very well. That variant is the Initiative Tinker deck.

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This deck has a lot of interesting deckbuilding technology in it. It is pretty well known that the overall shell of Urza's Saga and Tinker + Bolas's Citadel is a very powerful one, centered on a lot of restricted cards that make the shell a powerful one to build out of and that shell can be adapted to just about any other win condition (such as Monastery Mentor, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, and Underworld Breach). This variant takes that game plan and applies it to the same cards we see in the Initiative decks (White Plume Adventurer and Seasoned Dungeoneer).

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The Initiative is a powerful mechanic and applying it to this kind of shell is very interesting. The Mono White decks play a lot of creatures, so if the Initiative is stolen away they can often take it back through the use of either attacking with evasive threats like Archon of Emeria or playing additional Initiative creatures. In this deck, there aren't many creatures outside of the Eight Initiative creatures, so if a piece of removal hits one and the Initiative is stolen it might be hard to pull it back.

However, that downside is less pronounced when the deck has a bunch of other ways it can win the game or retake the Initiative or simply just aggro the opponent out. Between the fact that it has a lot of countermagic in the deck, it also has Tinker and Urza's Saga, providing the deck with a lot of angles of attack. Furthermore, this deck also plays a number of pieces of removal on its own to deal with opposing threats.

This is definitely a deck to keep an eye on in the current Vintage climate, and it's already proving its worth in several Challenge events since it started popping up and won the Showcase Challenge two weekends ago. It's a powerful evolution of a deck, and it's going to be interesting to see where else it goes.

Banned and Restricted Announcement 3/6

This past weekend was a surprise Banned and Restricted Announcement that primarily impacted the Legacy format. While there were some bans there, there were no changes made to Vintage. However, there was some discussion on the Vintage format that was pretty interesting. You can find the full announcement here.

Let's see what Wizards has to say about Vintage.

It's good to see that there isn't a huge kneejerk reaction to changes in Vintage, and I agree with the standpoint here that the Initiative deck is an additive strategy in Vintage and not an outlier. Vintage often absorbs new cards and mechanics much better than most formats do, and I think this is a key example of that. The format does evolve slowly over time and it revolves around the major pillars more naturally through metagame forces.

Suffice to say I'm pretty happy with where Vintage is at right now, and it seems Wizards agrees with this assessement. I would like to maybe see some unrestrictions at some point, but for now, I'm satisfied with how things are.

Vintage Challenge 3/4

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 50 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

The Initiative Tinker deck had a strong showing here with both popularity and win rate. Control Bazaar decks also showed up a lot, as did Jeskai and Mono White. Jeskai did quite poorly here. Prison Shops and Combo Shops had the best showing among the field.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Combo Shops 1st yPrincipe
Prison Shops 2nd bernardocssa
Initiative Tinker 3rd Diem4x
Control Bazaar 4th 8675309
Initiative Tinker 5th Miharu_Fuyumiya
BUG Midrange 6th nicolo
Mono White 7th nahuel10
Esper Saga Tinker 8th Sommertroll

Definitely an interesting Top 8 here. At the end of the event though it was a split finals between Combo Shops and Prison Shops. Let's look at the Combo Shops deck first.

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This is definitely a very powerful deck. Three copies of main deck The Mightstone and Weakstone is pretty sweet too. I love seeing that card has made it into this format in a solid capacity. It's a powerful card and very fun.

The other finalist was Prison Shops.

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This is much more of a Prison-Golos style deck. In the sideboard here though we have a copy of Argentum Masticore from Phyrexia: All Will Be One. Pretty cool to see.

Further down the Top 8 we've got BUG Midrange.

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Hexdrinker is a cool inclusion here as a scalable powerful threat. I like the split of threats and answers here. It's definitely very strong.

Vintage Challenge 3/5

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 45 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Initiative Tinker was at the top of the metagame in popularity and its win rate was solid enough. Esper Saga Tinker variants though performed the best overall, with Mono White and Jeskai also doing well.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Esper Saga Tinker 1st Sommertroll
Esper Saga Tinker 2nd Kenzaburo
Initiative Tinker 3rd Slasher21
Mono White 4th Enrichetta
Control Bazaar 5th Mogged
Jeskai Lurrus 6th Fangzie
Grixis Saga Tinker 7th Yamaro
Initiative Tinker 8th Condescend

Lot of Tinker in this Top 8 for sure, and at the end of the event we had a Tinker v Tinker finals with a very interesting variant winning the overall event.

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Mercurial Spelldancer here looks very strong. Being able to copy bigger spells like Demonic Tutor and even Merchant Scroll is really good, let alone copying something ridiculous like Tinker.

The Second Place finalist was more of a traditional Esper variant.

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Lot more of a traditional build here, but with some sweet inclusions like Balance and a Portal to Phyrexia over in the sideboard.

Also in this Top 8 we had a Grixis Tinker variant with some Sheoldred, the Apocalypse action.

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Having both Sheoldred and the Wheels in the deck plus the Underworld Breach kill is pretty cool. Hullbreacher also gets massively better running both Timetwister and Wheel of Fortune.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 lists here.

Absorbentthree asks the question "NOT GRUUL? THEN DIE!"

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for your continued support of the column and join me next week as we continue our journey into Vintage!

As always you can reach me at my Link Tree! In addition, you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!



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