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Vintage 101: A Look Back at 2021


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 looking back at 2021 and how it shaped the Vintage format. We had a lot of great stuff this year, and Vintage has been incredibly fun over the past year! We've also got some Challenges to talk about as well as a Vintage PTQ event! Oh and of course, a Spice Corner (Spider-Man can't ruin that one for us!)

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

2021 Through the Eyes of Vintage

2021 was a pretty eventful year for a lot of us, and for the Vintage format it was no exception. A lot of stuff happened this year in the format, but a good amount of it was all pretty good really. Let's cover some of the big hitters from this year.

1. The Release of Modern Horizons 2

Modern Horizons 2 was only just released in June of 2021, but it had a pretty immediate affect on every format it touched, and Vintage was no exception. We've seen the impact of plenty of cards from this set from the Pitch Elemental cycle, Urza's Saga, and even Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer. Thankfully, it seems as though most of Modern Horizons 2 has actually been extremely positive overall for Vintage, and even Urza's Saga, a card that plenty of people called as being restriction-worthy, has proven itself to be adaptable and fun to play with a lot of strong counterplay to it. If anything, my favorite aspect of this set for Vintage was the printing of Thought Monitor, giving rise to the 8-Cast archetype in the format. There's still a lot to explore with this set too I feel and it's definitely showing that the power level of MH2 was able to mesh well with the Vintage format.

2. The Unbanning of Lurrus

One of the Vintage format's definitely strangest things to occur last year was the banning of Lurrus of the Dream-Den due to how the Companion Mechanic functioned with the format. Because restricting Lurrus was functionally impossible, it was banned. However, at the beginning of this year, Lurrus was unbanned due to the change in the Companion Mechanic to see just how strong the card would be in the format under the new rule.

It has turned out that Lurrus has settled into just being another strong and fun card in the format, and has actually bridged a gap for decks such a Mono White Aggro and W/B Aggro variants to utilize the card. The fact alone that this card has made many non-blue variant decks good in a predominantly blue format is really cool to see, and Lurrus no longer feels forced. There's a definite cost to playing it (that cost in blue decks is not getting to play Bolas's Citadel) and it's awesome to see how much fun this card is. This unbanning definitely achieved the goal Wizards set for it, by allowing as many cards as possible to be played in Vintage.

3. Eternal Weekend 2021 Online

Last year we had Eternal Weekend on Magic Online due to the nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and no large MTG events. This year it was decided the same would occur, and thus over Thanksgiving weekend we had Eternal Weekend Online yet again. These events proved to be a solid success thanks to the existence of the All Access Token, and frankly Vintage looked super fun the entire weekend. While it is a hope that we can potentially return to having US Eternal Weekend in paper Magic again next year, having a separate weekend for a MTGO variant would still be great to see, and I think we could still see this happen alongside the paper events.

4. Paper Magic

For Vintage especially, a return to paper Magic events amidst the COVID-19 pandemic has been pretty small scale. Even before the pandemic there weren't a ton of fully sanctioned Vintage events. We've had the pleasure of being able to report on several events in Italy with the 4Seasons Tournament Series and the Blue Dojo folks, and even a few events in Oklahoma. Personally for me, the biggest thing was getting to see all my friends in Team Serious over at The Land this year. Getting to play unsanctioned proxy Vintage with my friends was super fun and really hammered home the Gathering aspect of this game that we've all missed this past year.

5. The Vintage 101 Column Itself

This year saw a pretty steady amount of viewership for the Vintage 101 column, enough that I feel pretty happy with how things are going on the column. One of my most viewed articles of this year was the "We're All a Little Mad" article about HollowVine Bazaar Aggro. I've greatly enjoyed continuing to work on this column, and I've really felt a lot of the love from the community as well this year. Shoutouts go out heavily to the Vintage Streamer's Discord for just generally being awesome, but also to my friends in Team Serious. It is really nice to have this community of people, and it has made writing this column even more rewarding even when it seems like not much is going on in the format.

6. The ART

I would be remiss if I did not mention the artwork for my thumbnails this year. I talk about Adriano Kitani's work quite a bit on Twitter, but Adriano really outdid himself for both my Legacy and Vintage artwork this year, and just when I think that he has done it again, he does it again and it's even better. My absolute favorite of the year however has been the artwork for "Monkey Business" because Adriano took this idea and elevated every bit of it by depicting Ragavan in a literal business suit.

Go out and follow Adriano on Twitter for sure. It's definitely worth it.

Vintage PTQ 12/10

This past weekend we had a Vintage PTQ event where the winner of the event qualified for an Arena Championship PT level event. Pretty cool stuff overall. This event drew in 107 players thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 16 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Quite a bit of Blue Tinker shells in the format, but also quite a bit of Dredge, Breach, and even Aggro Shops. Honestly, the format looks great and a lot of the decks are competing at similar levels and it feels like any deck in the format could take on a tournament and win and that is a solid place to be.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Oath of Druids 1st IamactuallyLvl1
Dredge 2nd WingedHussar
Grixis Tinker Saga 3rd Beenew
Aggro Shops 4th Jessy_Samek
Grixis Tinker Saga 5th MZBlazer
Grixis Tinker Saga 6th Falkoneye
Mono White 7th Hodortimebaby
Dredge 8th Lord_Beerus

Quite a few Tinker shells here, sprinkled in with some Dredge and Shops and a dash of Mono White. However, at the end of the event it was our good friend Justin Gennari who crushed his enemies on BUG Oath.

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This list is super duper sweet, and I want to call attention to the aspect of this deck that is poking at one of the current format's strategies in Urza's Saga. Justin is actively exploiting the fact that Saga is showing up in a lot of places by playing a number of cards that interact well with it, including stuff like Dress Down but even more effectively in Pernicious Deed. Deed blowing up Saga itself because it is an Enchantment is pretty solid tech against the card. Thankfully, Justin is always streaming and recording his events, so we have the video of this event so you can see for yourself the power that this list has. Check that out here.

The other Finalist of this event is another good friend of ours in WingedHussar on Dredge.

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This is lean and clean Dredge at its finest and a pretty solid starting place for playing and learning the deck right now. One of the more interesting aspects of the deck now is the card Noxious Revival since it lets you do things like buyback Dredgers in response to hate, or buy back dead Narcomoeba. It's got a lot of interesting potential and can do a lot of unique things for sure.

We also had a Top 8 showing by Aggro Shops!

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Definitely a solid and clean Aggro Shops list here. MH2 did a bit in revitalizing this archetype again thanks to cards like Nettlecyst being very strong. It's great to see that an aggro variant of Shops still exists.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had a Mono White showing!

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Very powerful list here. Lurrus makes it easy to rebuy creatures that have died or have been countered and the setup of using Leonin Arbiter and Ghost Quarter/Path to Exile seems very good.

Vintage Challenge 12/11

We did have two Challenges this past weekend as well, the first of which was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 62 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.

A lot of Blue Tinker variants in the event, but their overall win rate was lower than 50%. Oath had a solid showing here as well as people followed in the footsteps of the PTQ, and BUG Midrange did quite well with only four pilots but putting three of them into the Top 8.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Midrange 1st Bryzem1
Breach 2nd bennybo
Doomsday 3rd ecobaronen
Oath of Druids 4th billsive
BUG Midrange 5th simmsey
Grixis Saga Tinker 6th Thalai
Oath of Druids 7th Zebhillard
BUG Midrange 8th Snapcaster-Bolt

Varying numbers of things here, but BUG did exceptionally well as noted before because it ended up winning the entire event.

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BUG is a strong deck in general and has a lot of flexibility in its deck construction. Definitely continuing to see a trend where these decks have four Endurance and four Force of Vigor in the overall 75 because of just how good those cards are.

The Second Place finalist was on Breach.

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Ragavan really makes for a great Breach level threat because it can put the opponent on the defensive and potentially take away answers the opponent might have for the Breach combo. Definitely very strong.

We also had another showing by the BUG Oath deck in Fourth Place.

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Definitely a super-powerful list. It's worth noting that this deck just doesn't play stuff like Griselbrand because there is so much Karakas floating around the format with Ragavan and the like. Archon of Cruelty and Serra's Emissary make up for a lot in this deck while dodging that card.

Further down the Top 8 we have World Champ Javier Dominguez on the Grixis Saga Tinker deck.

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This deck has a ton of little elements to it, and also compactly slots in a Breach kill too, blurring the lines between Breach and Tinker just a tad.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a UR Tempo variant show up.

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Magus of the Moon seems like a solid card right now if you want to attack Urza's Saga. So does Back to Basics honestly. Seems like a fun list.

Vintage Challenge 12/12

The last Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. Unfortunately, there wasn't a collection of data for this event, so we don't know offhand how many players were in it nor do we have any fancy graphs for it. We do have at least the Top 32 for the event.

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

Let's take a look right at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Grixis Saga Tinker 1st Vertyx_
Doomsday 2nd discoverN
Aggro Shops 3rd Eaglov
Oath of Druids 4th Condescend
Jeskai Control 5th ZYURYO
Humans 6th swayjisse
Aggro Shops 7th Albimtg
Dredge 8th HouseOfManaMTG

Definitely an interesting Top 8 makeup. At the end of the event it was Vertyx_ on the Grixis Saga Tinker deck that won the whole thing.

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This deck definitely seems pretty strong between Ragavan and the Saga game plan, but also the general Tinker game plan. Very cool deck indeed!

In Second Place we have general Doomsday specialist discoverN.

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Murktide Regent in the sideboard is pretty sweet. I can definitely dig such a transformational sideboard plan of putting a big dragon into play and beating face.

This Top 8 also had a showing by Humans.

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This is a pretty cool list. Fair amount of newer cards here too with both Outland Liberator and Cathar Commando. Definitely a super cool list.

Around the Web

Not much going on lately it seems, so check out this sweet video on KCI by our good friend Justin Gennari.

The Spice Corner

Perennial Happy Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar to you too!

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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 Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!



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