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Vintage 101: A Fresh Perspective


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we've got a treat! It's right after Halloween and we're going to be talking to a much younger and newer Vintage player who contacted me and wanted to share his experiences with getting into the format and his advice on getting into Vintage! In addition we'll be talking about last weekend's Vintage Challenge and of course our Spice Corner.

A reminder that today is the day for the North American Vintage Championships at Eternal Weekend! You can find coverage on Card Titan's Twitch Channel! Be sure to go check out today's coverage! Our good friend Mike Noble will be on coverage, so I'm looking forward to seeing his Halloween costume!

A Fresh Perspective - An Interview with a Young Vintage Player

Our friend Edward, who goes by the handle "Rat3dE" on various Internet places such as The Mana Drain and Discord, is a fan of the column and reached out to me to ask if there would be any interest in hearing about his experiences with Vintage as a much younger player. How young? Well, Edward is only 15 years old, and has ingrained himself in one of Magic's most powerful and oldest formats. Since jumping into the format feet first, he has been given a number of grand opportunities to play it even in paper, and I am really happy to have gotten a chance to have sat down with him and talked about his experiences. Vintage is a daunting format for many, with many misconceptions of being written off immediately by the price of some of its more important cards, but also because people can sometimes not grasp the power level of the format as well. The level of interaction available in the format can be intimidating to some, but not to our friend Edward. Let's see what he has to say about Vintage.

First off, introduce yourself to everyone!

Hello all, my name is Edward. I am a 15-year-old high school junior who loves to play Vintage. I live near Berkeley, CA, where there is a LGS by the name of Eudemonia. Eudemonia hosts monthly paper Vintage events with 15 proxies. Some amazingly talented and very nice players attend these events, including multiple EW [Eternal Weekend] Top 8ers, such as Cyrus-CG, Eric Vergo, Matt Sperling, Ibrahim Aldridge, Eliot Burke, and Stephen Menendian. This is obviously super sweet because I get to fanboy over, and play against these mind-blowing players.

What got you into Magic? Furthermore, how did you find out about Vintage and get into it?

Well, I started playing Magic back in 2012, at a summer camp and quickly got very engrossed. I was an extremely casual player and did not know about competitive play, or about the many different Magic formats. As time went on, I started doing some research and heard about an awesome card, Black Lotus. Obviously I wanted to play this card, and was very upset to see it was out of my $10 price range. I didn’t give up though and learned about this cool format called Vintage where you could play it. Over a year ago I started really getting into Magic and figured there had to be a way I could play Vintage. I watched so many games, for what felt like forever. Over time, I was able to put together Vintage Dredge with 15 proxies, as per my LGS policy, so that I could play in a paper tournament. It was awesome, my first time shuffling up the deck against my round 1 opponent, I was literally shaking, I was so nervous. It all turned out fine and I had a blast. This first event I played against Stephen Mendendian in round 2, and also unknowingly met Matt Sperling (I didn’t know who he was at the time - oopsie). He gave my little brother and I an old binder of his that he didn’t need anymore. This first experience was exceptional and cemented my love for Vintage and its community.

What about the format appeals to you? What do you really like about Vintage?

I think that while the format is super cool, interesting and diverse, what I really like about Vintage is the play experience and the people. The play experience is unlike any other in Magic in my opinion because it is insanely complex, and deep format that has some really cool cards and combos that sometimes just nut on people (which I think is a feature and not a bug). And, with the exception of when Narset is involved, it is a very back and forth format. I think more importantly, the people I have met in person and online through Vintage never ceases to amaze me. The format has a remarkable, connected community of people that are welcoming and truly awe-inspiring. In my experience, the generosity and kindness of the Vintage community is unparalleled.

What are some of the various deck archetypes that you’ve tried out so far in the format?

Well, up until a month or two ago I had only played Dredge, but with my recent acquisition of MTGO, Deunan, the Vintage league trophy leader for the past few seasons, and a beast of a player and deck builder, offered to not only gift me a set of P9 on MTGO, but also loan me any cards I needed so that I could play whatever I wanted in Vintage. Since then, I have been on a bit of a wild ride and have tried Jeskai Arcanist, Esper PO, an Esper BPK pile, a different Esper BPK pile, and more recently a Grixis Walkers pile. Overall, I think my favorites have been Dredge and BPK piles, although the latter is extremely difficult to pilot.

As a newer player to the format, the power level of Vintage can be very daunting. Do you have any advice for those that are teetering on getting into the format?

Honestly, just jump right in! Try and chat people up whether it is online or on paper and you will be surprised by the people you meet and how helpful and awesome they are. Regarding the power level, like most eternal or non-rotating formats, it has its decks that win quickly when undisrupted. But, that is not the norm and the construction of decks means the games often go well past turn 1, despite whatever rumors you may have heard. Additionally, the format is very skill intensive and can be extremely grindy or drawn out. I recently played a game as Dredge against Jeskai Dreadhorde where it went past turn 10 and I felt like we both had a shot at winning)

Are there any specific resources you yourself used to learn the format?

Yes, there are so many. I consumed a ton of content from a variety of sources. I watch a lot of streamers, such as ChubbyRain, Rich Shay, and Justin Gennari. I also just read all of your articles every week and keep up on The Mana Drain as well as reading older posts on TMD or old articles by the likes of Menendian. One of the best ways to learn is by just asking people after or during your match to let you know when they think you have made a mistake and what you could have done differently. I am by no means a good player, but I have improved quite a bit in the last year, and even in the last month. 

The price of Vintage in paper is often a sticking point for a good number of folks. Obviously there’s a lot of myths surrounding that. What are your experiences with paper Vintage so far?

It looks expensive, people tell you it is expensive, but the real truth it is not expensive if you know what you are doing. I bought most of my Vintage deck when I was 14 for a little over $200. While the true cost of Vintage decks are often painfully expensive, the paper prices on cards are often concentrated on a few very expensive and rare reserved list cards like the P9. Additionally, most paper events include some number of proxies (usually 5+) which can decrease the price of most deck from say $30,000 to only around $3,000 in the case of Jeskai Dreadhorde with only 5 proxies. Another amazing thing is that while Vintage can seem dauntingly expensive, most people who do own P9 and other expensive cards recognize the format’s price and are more than happy to let you borrow cards in paper if you are ever short on cards, want to try something new, or if there is just a sanctioned-event coming up. At my LGS I have had 5+ people offer to let me borrow cards, and have even borrowed a playset of gradable Bazaar of Baghdads from a stranger. While it may seem insane or surreal to have someone trust you with that much money the truth of the matter is they just love the game as much as you and want you to be able to play.

Is there anyone in the Vintage community that you would like to give a shout out to that’s helped you out?

Honestly so many people have helped me out. The Vintage community is amazing so I can just shout it out as a whole. Starting out I would like to shout out Deunan for being so nice and loaning and giving me cards on MTGO. Everyone at my LGS like, Mark, Robert, Alex, Matt, Eric, Cyrus, Eliot, Conrado, Thomas, Sam, Menendian and everyone else that I have either not met or forgot to mention since they are all awesome. I would also like to shout out my LGS, Eudemonia Games in Berkeley, CA for hosting Vintage events despite them not always having the best turnout. And probably most importantly all the content creators out there such as Chubby, Menendian & Cron, Erin Campbell, Matt Sperling, the VSL, Rich Shay, Idrafthebeatz, Justin, Brady Iba, Cyrus, Eric Vergo, Brian Coval, Shir Kahn, you, and so many more I am probably forgetting.

Thanks for joining us! Drop any social media details below where people can find you, and never forget that you are awesome!

Twitter: Rat3dE
MTGO: Rat3dE

One thing that really speaks to me about our friend Edward's experiences is the level of awesome that is continually presented by the greater Vintage community. Folks like the ones named above are inspiring people like Edward to jump into this amazing format feet first. Everyone on this list should be proud of themselves for being such positive and inspiring forces in the community. It also shows that the community at large is awe-inspiring in its generosity. So not just from Edward, but from me as well, thank you to you all who are helping to shape the future of this format. You're all super awesome.

Vintage Challenge 10/26

We had yet another Vintage Challenge on Magic Online this past weekend! There were 61 players for this event, with some additional data and information coming from our good friend Matthew Murray (aka ChubbyRain). Coincidentally, Matt also happens to be the winner of this week's Challenge! Congrats to Matt on such a stellar run! Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
RUG Walkers 1st ChubbyRain (Matthew Murray)
Dredge 2nd Ryanburninator
PO Storm 3rd ThePowerNine (Justin Franks)
Oko Oath 4th Yamakiller
Dredge 5th CoffeeAnnan
DPS 6th Evergo (Eric Vergo)
PO Storm 7th DiscoverN
Dredge 8th Palk52

There was definitely a lot of Dredge in the Top 8 of this event, with a smattering of Oath, PO, and DPS even! In fact, this is the first Top 8 in a while where there were ZERO copies of Dreadhorde Arcanist in the Top 32 published decklists. This to me says a lot about how Jeskai is doing sofar in the metagame overall as more decks continue to be able to adapt to the deck. This was a very interesting event overall, so let's take a look at the winning list by Matt Murray. It's a RUG Planeswalker build featuring Wrenn and Six and of course... Oko, Thief of Crowns (who is now competing with Dack Fayden for the Greatest Thief in the Multiverse title. Sadly I think Oko ends up winning by sheer fact of being alive).

Part of the big engine of this list is the use of Mystic Sanctuary in relation to getting back cards like Time Walk and then using those extra turns granted to build up Wrenn and Six to start retracing Time Walk. Couple this with an inevitable beatdown plan from Oko or game ending Jace, the Mind Sculptor and you can easily see why this deck did as well as it did. This seems like a pretty powerful set of interactions and it isn't just Oko that is doing this either, but Oko's power level is pretty prevalent.

Speaking of Oko, however, our new Elk Overlord also appeared yet again in an Oath of Druids shell, this time in 4th place by Yamakiller.

Oko continues to show how strong he is in this deck, proving that the power level of the card is certainly right there for Vintage. Having a way to answer problem permanents but also having a fail case of "make a bunch of 3/3s" is a lot stronger than it might sound, so it's still very unsurprising to see this card cementing itself as part of the archetype.

Also showing up in the Top 8 in 6th place is our good friend Eric Vergo on Dark Petition Storm!

For those that are unaware, Eric took a large hiatus from Magic this year to go on the Trail, but now he is back and kicking all sorts of butt at events and is headed this weekend for Eternal Weekend with our other good friend Cyrus Corman-Gill. Congrats on the finish this past weekend Eric, and I hope you crush it at Eternal Weekend!

In 7th place, we have DiscoverN showing us that you can play Arcum's Astrolabe just about anywhere... including in Paradoxical Outcome.

It's also supremely interesting to see a PO list without a Bolas's Citadel in the mix, so kudos to to DiscoverN for a little innovation and stepping outside the box!

Also showing up in the Top 32, we have our friend desolutionist on a very cool Golos, Tireless Pilgrim Stax build!

This deck seems pretty much right up my alley. I am amused that there's no Karn, the Great Creator here, but even as a one-of it's not as nearly as impactful. Still, a very cool decklist and a solid result. Congrats, desolutionist!

Now let's take a look at the new cards showing up in these lists, like we always like to do here.

Card Name Number of Copies
Narset, Parter of Veils 43
Force of Vigor 30
Force of Negation 21
Stonecoil Serpent 19
Oko, Thief of Crowns 16
Veil of Summer 10
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 7
Scrapyard Recombiner 7
Mystic Forge 6
Bolas's Citadel 5
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 5
Arcum's Astrolabe 4
Collector Ouphe 4
Teferi, Time Raveler 4
Wrenn and Six 4
Karn, the Great Creator 3
Mystic Sanctuary 3
God-Pharaoh's Statue 2
Manifold Key 2
Questing Beast 1

As noted before, there were absolutely zero copies of Dreadhorde Arcanist in the Top 32 of this event and by extension zero Jeskai Xerox based decks in the Top 32. According to the spreadsheet data taken by our friend Matt Murray, there were only seven Jeskai decks in the entire event, none of which made the Top 32 (so they either did poorly or dropped). This says a lot to me about the state of the Jeskai decks right now in that people have figured out how best to attack the strategy and Jeskai will need to adapt further in order to climb back into the spotlight. One thing to note is that despite this, the presence of Narset continues on as there were multiple Oath, big blue, and blue combo decks that all play the card, while Force of Vigor continues to claim share from the NINE dredge players in the event overall. There were eight Oath players in the event, and seven of them made Top 8 of this event (the 8th list coming in close in 40th place on an unpowered version of the deck).

This also marks another Top 8 without the presence of Ziasbond and only one Fastbond deck at all in the Top 32 published (namely Eric's Crab Shack). It's interesting to see the waning and waxing of these Fastbond decks. I still feel like these piles are very powerful and I expect we'll see some on camera at Eternal Weekend.

Overall however, I am enjoying where Vintage is at right now. There is a lot of interesting decks and interesting space to brew in along with some competitive balance. That being said, Narset is a card people are not thrilled with, and as long as that continues I can see some issues with the "fun" aspect of the format.

The Spice Corner

Svaca comes to us this week with Dark Confidant, Wrenn and Six, and even Dack Fayden!

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Next week will be a lot of fun as we wrap up every little thing having to do with Eternal Weekend! We might even be able to score an interview or two with some folks! We'll just have to see how it pans out, but I feel like it's going to be a lot of fun!

As always you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! I am working on piecing together my next episode of "The Bazaar of Moxology" on my YouTube channel, so be on the lookout for that! As always I'm also around the MTGGoldfish Discord server in case you want to chat about Vintage, or anything else Magic related!

Until next time, keep casting Moxen!


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