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Vintage 101: Another August, Another Update

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 at the current state of the Vintage format as well as discussing some high level things about the format from a MTGO perspective and a paper perspective. In addition to that we've got two Challenges from over the weekend and of course, a Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The August August August Update

Another month has passed by and it's time to get a feel for where the Vintage format is at the moment on Magic Online, courtesy of the data collected by Justin Gennari's team on the Vintage Streamer's Discord. You can find their current combined sheet for all of their data over here. As of this article, their data set comprises of a little over 9,000 entries (obligatory IT'S OVER 9,000!) and a littler over 51,000 matches of Vintage. That's quite a bit to go on! Thanks to Justin and the folks of that Discord for putting in all this work. It is very much appreciated.

Now, let's take a look at the data charts.

Tinker Saga decks are definitely among the most popular decks in the current Vintage format and it has a very reasonable performance rate as well. There's been a lot of chatter in regards to Tinker as of late in that Tinker decks create a lot of samey feeling games and that the play patterns of the deck are not very healthy or interesting to play. Problematically there's not much outside of restricting a card like Urza's Saga that could impact this deck, and I feel like restricting Saga is still currently unnecessary. That being said, many decks in the format are being stretched to be able to answer this card via effects like Wasteland (which is one of the most played lands in the format right now at over 50% of the decks) so it's possible that restricting Saga would help ease a lot of that tension.

Still, I'm not sure if it's really Saga that's pushing these decks or if it just makes such a solid back up plan that it's easy to piece together these massive blue decks fueled by Tinker and Bolas's Citadel around it. There's a lot of possibilities here, but it definitely is a hard problem to address outside of making changes to the format via the B&R.

The other deck here that I've heard quite a bit of chatter around is Doomsday and how powerful it is in regards to the rest of the format. I'm not totally on board with a Doomsday based restriction at the moment, because I feel as though the deck is attackable, but maybe there is an issue there that could present itself in the future.

Also, Bazaar decks and Workshops decks seem to be mostly settled into a new normal for the format and aren't thoroughly presenting any real issues. Hogaak is fairly strong enough, but there's a lot of ways to hate out the deck, and the same holds true with Workshops decks.

I think the biggest long term issue that may be preventing us from really seeing the whole of the format is the high level overview of Vintage as a Premier Play format on MTGO. What Vintage looks like now is mostly unchanged from a month to two months ago, so there's a lot of stagnation in the format overall and I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that the format has not been available as a Premier Play format since the first Season of play earlier this year. While we are just ending Season 2 here, Season 3 is not going to have Vintage either. It seems as though when Vintage is a Showcase format like this, more innovation gets pushed in the format because players are more willing to spend the time with it and come up with clever ways to attack the metagame rather than play the same things. Couple this with the fact that paper Vintage events are so very far and few between since COVID that it is easy to see why Vintage is in this state. Couple all of these things with the increase in issues like Win Traders and it's easy to see why players may just gravitate to a deck they know works well, creating a feedback loop of sorts.

I suspect one of the best things to do at this time isn't to restrict anything or make changes. With Dominaria United and Brother's War on the horizon, we may yet get cards that could affect Vintage in positive ways, and the format still has a lot of fun things to be doing. I just feel that we are sitting in a possible stagnation tied to the fact that there isn't a path to play Vintage at a higher level on MTGO, and we are certainly seeing the results of this.

Vintage Challenge 8/13

The first Challenge of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 56 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.

Aggro Shops was the most popular deck here but did not have the performance numbers it can usually put up. Breach did quite well as did PO, and also Mono White Aggro decks had a solid performance by putting both of its pilots into the Top 8.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Breach 1st desolutionist
Oops! All Spells 2nd kasa
Paradoxical Outcome 3rd JOANANTON
Oath of Druids 4th HeyNongMan
Jeskai Lurrus 5th NooxTom
Mono White Aggro 6th OxyWithMoxy
Mono White Aggro 7th Grymn
Breach 8th hansomePPZ

Pretty interesting Top 8 here, with a smattering of various strategies but looking like mostly combo. As noted, both Mono White players made it into the Top 8 here, one of which played Lurrus as a Companion and the other did not. At the end of the event though it was Breach that took it all down.

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This of course sort of rides the line of Tinker/Breach so it can be fair to call it either or at this point. So many of these decks have blended together that eventually you might as well call them Big Blue or something of that nature. Still, this deck does play more than a single copy of Underworld Breach so that does mean Breach kill is definitely one of its big game plans.

The Second Place finalist was on Oops.

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All the angles of attack this deck has is pretty solid. It has a lot of ways it can win the game, and that kind of flexibility is really strong.

Also in this Top 8 we had Oath.

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Miharu's influence as one of the best Oath players in the format is definitely showing when you see lists like this from other folks. After being virtually nowhere for a long while, both Oath and Niv-Mizzet, Parun showing back up is pretty interesting. The addition of Boseiju, Who Endures seems very strong for this deck as well.

As noted, we had two Mono White players in the Top 8, so let's look at the highest placing one.

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I like this variant of the deck with getting to play copies of Lurrus main instead of playing it as a Companion. Definitely makes turns that let you cast Lotus->Lurrus->Lotus Archon of Emeria a very possible reality and that is pretty silly.

Vintage Challenge 8/14

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event which had 55 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.

Hogaak was the most represented deck but had the worst performance of decks above the cutoff here. Tinker Saga decks did exceptionally well given that over half of the decks made it into the Top 8. BUG also had solid numbers as did Breach.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Lurrus 1st NooxTom
Esper Tinker 2nd scalo94
Esper Tinker 3rd bless_von
Esper Tinker 4th abr_
Esper Tinker 5th Capriccioso
Simic Midrange 6th ecobaronen
Oath of Druids 7th Phill_Hellmuth
Hogaak 8th musasabi

Holy wow that's a lot of Tinker. Half of the Top 8 is just Esper Tinker here, and it's firmly sitting in the top half of the event. Pretty wild. At the end of the event though it was not Tinker, but a Jeskai Lurrus build that won the event.

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This deck is taking advantage of Lurrus' ability by utilizing Mishra's Bauble as a repeatable draw spell with Lurrus in play. Keeping up on card quantity and quality is important and this helps the deck achieve that goal. Definitely an interesting list!

The Second Place finalist was Esper Tinker.

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This was one of the best performing decks in the event for sure. While Tinker does often perform well enough, it isn't usually this insane. Still, there are a lot of powerful things in this list that attack the overall metagame and Urza's Saga ties that up nicely.

Further down this Top 8 we had a Simic Midrange pile.

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DRS ties together this deck nicely enough and it's easy to see what the priorities are with main deck copies of cards like Energy Flux here.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Hogaak.

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It has been interesting to see the progression of these red splash Hogaak decks over time. Some are playing additional red cards like Alpine Moon, while some like this list go full into stuff like Collector Ouphe to combat the artifact decks.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

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

As mentioned above, our good friend Justin Gennari hit a 5-0 with a sweet RUG Urza list! Check out the list below.

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This list is also fairly spicy. Esper Spellseeker!

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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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