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Vintage 101: All Access Time!


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're talking about Magic Online All Access for the next two weeks and some of the sweet Vintage decks you can be trying out during that time! In addition to that, we've got a small discussion on Win Traders in the Vintage leagues, as well two Challenges to talk about. We've also got a Spice Corner (Moon Knight can't punch that one in the face just yet)!

Without further ado let's dive right in!

Vintage Decks You Can Play in All Access

It's that time again when All Access Tokens are back on Magic Online! For the next two weeks from March 23rd - April 6th the Mythic Event Tokens are available in the MTGO store for $25, where once purchased you can gain access to nearly every card on Magic Online until April 6th! While these weeks are set aside so players can join in Super Qualifier events, there's no Vintage Qualifier event this go around. That being said, these weeks are still some of the best ways to try out the Vintage format for a bit for a really low cost. With that in mind, we're going to talk about a few decks that one can try to get a feel for Vintage as a format!

Tinker

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Currently one of the most popular archetypes in the current format, Tinker is a great place to start learning the fundamentals of the Vintage format because you get to learn all about the interactive nature of blue matchups as well as those same decks versus the non-blue strategies like Shops and Dredge. These decks do the most Vintage-d of things in the format because they are a quintessential list of what Vintage decks can do on power level (everything from Ancestral Recall to Tinker).

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This makes these decks not only super popular but they're also very strong. It also helps to learn how to play these decks in order to formulate appropriate counterplay against them. There are two major distinct variants of Tinker that are currently popular and that is Esper Tinker (utilizing cards like Mentor and Lavinia) and Grixis Tinker (which utilizes cards like Ragavan and blast effects). There's also a variant of the Tinker shells known as 8Cast which has cards like Thoughtcast and Thought Monitor in a more sped up version of the deck to overwhelm the opponent quickly with card draw.

The big draw here is the usage of Tinker with Bolas's Citadel to win the game, typically by burying the opponent in card advantage but also to enable getting the Time Vault + Manifold Key combo online. Urza's Saga is a big portion of this since it can fetch one half of the combo here.

Shops

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Shops, and to a greater extent Aggro Shops, is another deck that has a lot of popularity because of the powerful things it does and because of just how aggressively this deck can end games. Much of this deck is based on deploying threats and permission effects and then trying to get the opponent dead before they can claw out of the position they're put in with the prison pieces.

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The biggest part of playing Shops is sequencing and understanding how to mulligan to hands that do powerful things. The major rule of thumb here is that if your hand isn't doing anything completely and utterly broken in the first two turns you probably shouldn't keep it (unless you're like... mulling to 4 and don't have a choice). You have to be willing to make sacrifice plays with pieces to catch countermagic, and sequencing is important so as to not catch yourself being unable to properly utilize your mana.

Dredge

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Dredge is wholly unique in terms of Magic and Vintage, because the deck doesn't play a ton of traditional Magic cards. Instead, this deck is solely based on the aspects of having Bazaar of Baghdad and using Bazaar to set up engines with trigger management skills and aggressive threats. One of the key rules of Dredge is to always mulligan to a Bazaar no matter what, and thanks to the London Mulligan that job has become significantly easier than in the past. Serum Powder also exists as another way of finding a Bazaar, and you should always approach using Powder when you are aware of what you are losing and being okay with that. Be aggressive with Powder and it will reward you well!

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The rest of Dredge is understanding trigger management, as there are tons of triggers such as Ichorid, Bridge from Below, Creeping Chill, and Prized Amalgam to name a few. Make no mistake though, that despite being one of the boogeymen of the format this deck is still a solid place to learn Vintage from as it provides a wholly unique perspective.

Hogaak

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Hogaak is another Bazaar deck, but it's also a deck that doesn't wholly need Bazaar in order to make its game plan work. Hogaak functions like an aggressive midrange style deck, with toolbox effects like DRS and Ouphe, but also a lot of aggressive elements that close games out quickly. This is a great deck if you're looking for something super proactive that doesn't automatically rely on Bazaar (and thus doesn't need to as aggressively mulligan for it) and can press in games very quickly.

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This is another deck where sequencing is key, as you need to be able to get threats onboard efficiently to win the game. Hogaak itself has some pretty specific casting requirements, but the nature of the deck makes it pretty easy to fulfill those requirements.

BUG Midrange

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BUG is like the Jund of Vintage, in that it's a powerful deck with flexible removal and strong midrange gameplay that can easily build itself to answer most other strategies in the format. BUG is one of the best decks to learn if you are used to playing very fairly (considering you're registering Tarmogoyf in Vintage) and want to be able to police your opponent's gameplay. This deck has a ton of solid cards in it though as mainstays such as Oko, Thief of Crowns and Leovold, Emissary of Trest are commonplace.

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Even though this is a blue deck, there is still a level of mulligan skills to worry about when playing it, as Vintage doesn't quite have the same consistency aspects of Legacy in 4x Brainstorm or Ponder to fix things, so be willing to mulligan one mana source hands unless those hands have the capacity for turning in something incredibly busted. Still, this deck is fun and if you enjoy the fairer aspect of the format this is a good deck to consider trying out.

Vintage League Win Trading

There's a rather bit of nasty unpleasantness going around on Vintage at the moment unfortunately with win traders hitting the leagues yet again. For those that are unaware, win trading occurs when either a set of very real people or people using bots attempt to hit the league queues so that they match into each other and essentially trade wins. Do this enough and you have one account that makes money and another account that loses money, but the money output is good enough that they can keep going and net money each time they do it. Unfortunately, this occurs on occasion with formats that have a lower number of players than other formats, as this has happened in Standard at times (because of low players due to Arena) and also Pauper in the past.

The new wrench being thrown into this mix is that there is a new tactic being employed by the win traders to have other players queue into real players and then proceed to take as much time as possible to play the game within the clock's time limits of ending the game based on inaction. This includes things such as taking 2-3 minutes to play a land, etc. The intent here is to keep the queue clear of real players (as the decks the win traders often used are not quite Vintage decks) so that the win traders can queue into each other.

Our good friend Justin Gennari ran into this one live on stream and posted a great video explaining all of this. Our intent is to bring more awareness to the issue so that Wizards can step in and correct these things. So if you run into one of these players and you suspect that's what they're doing, please report them!

Vintage Challenge 3/19

We did have two Challenges this past weekend, the first of which was the Saturday event. This event had 57 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.

Blue Tinker shells remain the most popular thing to be doing in the format right now as the traditional midrange/control-based shells seem to be performing quite well. 8Cast seemingly has disappeared, and both Doomsday and Dredge had solid win rates as did Breach.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UR Tempo 1st Thalai
Oath of Druids 2nd PsiVen
Grixis Tinker 3rd Etriol
Doomsday 4th Vertyx_
Esper Tinker 5th billsive
Esper Tinker 6th JUJUBEAN__2004
Breach 7th Clone9
Esper Tinker 8th Murkyblack11

Quite a bit of Tinker in the Top 8, but there are some other solid decks for sure. At the end of the event it was none other than Javier Dominguez, World Champion, on UR Tempo taking it all down.

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Very straightforward and powerful list. Really impressive to see just how well cards like Expressive Iteration and company have managed to integrate into the Vintage format overall without feeling incredibly overpowered and just strong additions to the format. Certainly great to see.

In Second Place we had Oath of Druids.

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Pernicious Deed RETURNS! This card absolutely wrecks Urza's Saga because Saga is an Enchantment, so it's cool to see. In addition, this deck is playing Crime // Punishment as the Punishment side is a Sorcery speed Deed effect. We also get to see Hullbreaker Horror as an Oath target which is WILD. This list is great.

Down the Top 8 we had some Grixis Tinker action.

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Ragavan really makes a great home in these decks. It's a solid threat that can't be hit with Pyroblast which allows the deck to sidestep some of that weakness of Tinker and just is an all around powerful card.

Near the bottom of the Top 8 we have Breach.

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Speaking of being unable to be hit by Pyroblast, Breach does that in spades because of Breach itself, plus Laelia and Ragavan. There's something to be said about trying to sidestep some of the most commonly played main deck cards in the format for sure.

Vintage Challenge 3/20

Our other Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 46 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 data sheet here.

Blue Tinker yet again had the popularity vote with a rather reasonable win rate, as did Blue Tempo. Hogaak did quite well and so did BUG Midrange, considering two of its three pilots ended up in the Top 8.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Midrange 1st T1_Tinker
Dredge 2nd noprops
UR Pyromancer 3rd notmi
BUG Midrange 4th MrApple65
Hogaak 5th musasabi
UR Tempo 6th Condescend
Esper Tinker 7th _INF_
Paradoxical Outcome 8th wong4210

Bit more of a variety Top 8 than Saturday, with some sweet decks showing up for sure. At the end of the event it was BUG Midrange as the winner!

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BUG is a very flexible deck and can restructure itself based on what it thinks it might run into. The best part of this deck is figuring out that deck building level aspect and going in with the right structure.

In Second Place we have Dredge.

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Silversmote Ghoul is a sweet inclusion especially when you consider the implications of Creeping Chill enabling it. Really solid list here all around.

Also in the Top 8 we had some UR Tempo/Pyromancer action.

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This list is pretty sweet. Having the aspects of both Laelia/Ragavan but also the go-wide functionality of Young Pyromancer is really cool. I'm digging it for sure.

Further down the Top 8 we have Hogaak.

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I like the split of Boseijus here. It seems like it works nicely at addressing that sometimes you open up on Boseiju in your hand as your only land or something silly like that when you didn't want it there. I feel like a copy of Life from the Loam could be added though in order to abuse it if necessary.

Around the Web

  • revenantkioku has another video on Jund Doomsday! Check it out here.
  • Reid Duke posted an article on Vintage Power Level Rankings. Check it out here.
  • Our good friend Justin Gennari posted a video on Coveted Jewel Shops. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

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

Brian Kelly continues to cook up a lot of value.

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Grief and Tendrils and Tinker!

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Turtle PO is on brand for our good friend Justin Gennari.

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Sick Stoneblade list!

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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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