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Vintage 101: Around the Globe


Vintage Around the Globe

Many of the deck lists that I feature in my articles come from Magic Online. This trend is mostly due to the simple fact that there are a lot of Magic the Gathering Online results for me to work with. While these Magic Online decks are often very good, I have noticed a fair amount of homogenization among online deck lists. I strive each week to show all of you that Vintage has a wide variety of decks that one could choose to play, but the Magic Online results make that statment seem inaccurate at times. Since the response to last week's article and the featured decks was largely positive, I decided that for this week I would concentrate on looking at paper Vintage results from around the world. Magic is a worldwide phenomenon, and I think it will be fun to showcase Vintage tech from around the globe. 

Last week I brought you three decks from Bazzar of Moxen: Annecy. The Top Wight had another interesting deck that I didn't end up featuring because it was reported incorrectly (it was missing a few cards). I stumbled across a complete version of the same deck, so I figured I'd share it with the world. 

To Affinity, and Beyond

This is obviously a Mishra's Workshop deck, but it is far different from anything I've ever seen. The list has more in common with Modern Robots, or the Affinity decks of years past. The closest Vintage deck I could compare this deck to would be Tiny Robots (also known as Workshop Affinity). 

Tiny Robots has always been a MUD-like deck, colorless but also highly aggressive. Erayo Affinity adds color to the deck through a pair of rainbow lands, one of which is very familiar to those who play Modern Affinity.

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There are a few other Modern Staples in this deck. Arcbound Ravager is the most obvious port, but this deck also contains Signal Pest and one copy of Cranial Plating. Cranial Plating is often thought of as the best (or most powerful) card in Affinity. There's only room for one Plating in this deck though, because in Vintage players have access to a slightly more broken and degenerate piece of equipment. 

Very few players know the true degenerate nature of Skullclamp because it didn't exist as a Standard-legal card for very long. The 'Clamp was part of the Standard Affinity deck that is often regarded as a low point in Magic history, due to the overwhelming and overpowering nature of the deck. Skullclamp was never supposed to even exist; changes were made to the card's file shortly before the release of Darksteel. Skullclamp slipped out into the Magic wilderness undercosted and overpowered, and it has long since been banned in every format aside from Vintage. 

With Skullclamp each of your creatures can become a draw spell. If you kill one of your own creatures with it, the Clamp has paid for itself. Each subsequent activation piles on more and more card advantage. If you want to get really nutty, throw in a Hangarback Walker and Arcbound Ravager to draw even more cards. 

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One of the most interesting cards in the deck is Erayo, Soratami Ascendant. With all the fast mana and card-drawing it isn't hard to flip Erayo, and at that point your opponent is at a severe disadvantage. 

Once flipped, Erayo becomes a Legendary enchantment that counters the first spell your opponent plays each turn. Fighting through an Erayo costs a player a lot of wasted cards. This ability gives the Erayo Affinity deck a much-needed control element. While this deck can deal a significant amount of damage very quickly, in Vintage many opponents can take over a game just as fast with a combo finish or a horde of Monk tokens. No creature-based deck can survive without some amount of disruption. 

Besides Erayo, this list can also impede upon their opponents' gameplan with Ethersworn CanonistThorn of Amethyst, and even Mental Misstep. Thorn of Amethyst is a tried-and-true card in aggressive Workshop decks. Nearly every deck in Vintage has to slow down once a Thorn is in play.

Mental Misstep is usually relegated to decks that aren't using Workshops because Sphere effects like Thorn of Amethyst make it far less efficient. With only four Thorns as mana-taxing cards, playing Mental Misstep is perfectly reasonable.

Ethersworn Canonist fits right in to this deck. The Cannonist is an artifact creature so it has positive interactions with Mishra's Workshop and Glimmervoid. Cannonist is a 2/2 body that stops players from playing more than one non-artifact spell each turn. The deck is mostly artifacts anyway, so it is free to play most of its spells — all the while opponents are stuck playing one card a turn. 

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Another thing that I love about this list is that it gets to play a couple of my favorite Blue cards of all time. Mishra's Workshop decks usually have sacrificed the power of restricted Blue cards for the power and consistency of Workshops and Sol Lands. Erayo Affinity is able to make use of Time Walk and Ancestral Recall, two of the best cards ever printed. Ancestral Recall is amazing any time you can resolve one, but Time Walk is even better in this deck. At its heart, Erayo Affinity is an aggro deck, and Time Walk has the potential to end games prematurely by shaving a turn off your damage clock. 

Erayo's Sideboard

Several of the sideboard cards in this deck are what you'd expect to see in a MUD deck. There's Grafdigger's Cage to fight Oath and Dredge, and Witchbane Orb to hose Storm and Oath decks. Since this deck has eight five-color lands it is able to play Containment Priest and Yixlid Jailer, as well as Nature's Claim and Dread of Night

I'm the most excited about Containment Priest. This card is fantastic against several decks, and against Oath it is especially brutal. In a pinch Containment Priest can be Flashed in to block something, or it can simply surprise-attack a planeswalker. 

The All-Knowing Oath

A deck combining Omniscience and Oath of Druids became popular for a short time after being introduced by the Vintage Super League. The OmniOath deck has since fallen out of favor, but in recent months players have been trying to resurrect it. 

This version of OmniOath was played to a Top Eight finish at the Asian Vintage Championships, and it includes some unique card choices. 

First of all, it's important to note that this deck is playing three copies of Omniscience instead of one, which had been standard. This change tells me the deck is much more focused on the Omniscience plan than similar decks in contemporary Vintage. The big payoff for Omniscience is combining it with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to get an extra turn trigger. 

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Besides the Omni-plan, there's also the old standby of Forbidden Orchard and Oath of Druids. Oathing or Showing into either Emrakul or Griselbrand is Plan A. Getting out an Omnicience is a little harder as it requires Show and Tell, but there are enough card-drawing and tutoring spells to dig through the deck if need be. 

The Golden Gun

This OmniOath list employs a piece of tech that was once commonplace, but has since fallen out of favor. Dragon Breath used to be played in GG Oath (Golden Gun) as a way of killing an opponent as soon as Oath has been triggered. Dragon Breath can attach itself to a large creature if it is in the graveyard when that creature enters the battlefield. If the Dragon Breath gets milled as a part of an Oath activation, then the creature that comes into play will be able to attack immediately. This scenario is deadly if Emrakul ends up gaining haste. The Annihilator trigger tends to utterly wreck your opponent's side of the table. I imagine a fair amount of games end on turn two with a lucky Oath activation. In some ways, having a copy of Dragon Breath functions like a second Time Walk. As any Oath player can tell you, being able to get at least one attack in with your Oath target before passing the turn tends to put games out of reach for your opponents. 

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A hasty Griselbrand is deadly...

To help find the proper cards Hori Hiroyuki included a single Intuition and a Sylvan Library. Instead of Jace, the Mindsculptor, this deck plays Dack Fayden. Dack is great at digging for a specific card and discarding Emrakul to recycle your graveyard when needed. Dack might also be better than Jace in this list due to the relative scarcity of shuffle effects. Each activation of Dack brings you two cards closer, and combined with Sylvan Library it is possible to see five cards in one turn. 

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Intuition was once a staple in Vintage, usually combined with Accumulated Knowledge. Today Intuition sees very little play, but it still has some applications. It acts as a direct tutor for cards that appear as three or four-ofs in your deck. As an instant it can be used as a bait spell. Personally I would prefer to run a few copies of Gifts Ungiven instead, because Gifts and Omniscience can win the game by themselves. The trick is to cast Gifts Ungiven and find any four cards that contain both Emrakul and a second Gifts. Since you have Omniscience out, your opponent will not be able to give you Emrakul, and they'll have to give you two of the other three cards. As long as the other three cards contain card drawing spells, tutors, or another Gifts, you can make this series of plays repeatedly. The kicker is that every time Emrakul hits your graveyard, you get all those cards shuffled back into your deck, which allows the chain to continue. Intuition could do something similar by searching up an Emrakul and two other cards, but in my experience Gifts was much more powerful. 

Sylvan Library is a deceptively strong card in Vintage. It can be used to rapidly refill your hand, and more importantly it can keep you from drawing your Oath targets. Every time you see a Griselbrand on top of your deck, you can use Sylvan to make sure you don't draw it. Anyone who has played an Oath deck knows the pain of drawing an eight-drop at the wrong time, and any card that can prevent that from happening is quite useful. 

Many Oath decks have employed cards like Gaea's Blessing or Memory's Journey to make sure they don't lose to an empty library. Keeping with the more combo-centric nature of this deck, the author of this list chose to run Timetwister. With Dig Through Time restricted, OmniOath decks have had to look for other ways of ensuring victory once Omniscience is in play. Timetwister draws a lot of cards for three mana and helps act an an insurance policy against library depletion. Twister is really being used to its full potential here. 

The mana base in this list is similar to the one used in the original VSL versions. There's even a copy of Boseiju, Who Shelters All in the list. No card does more to ensure the resolution of an important spell than Boseiju, and powering out a Show and Tell with one is a fantastic feeling. The only thing that holds Boseiju back is that it comes into play tapped. Playing a land tapped in Vintage can be scary, but it is slightly safer now that there are fewer Wastelands in the format. Still, many decks play a miser's Strip Mine, so even Boseiju is not a guarantee that Show and Tell will resolve. 

Ingot Chewers in the Sideboard

Looking at the sideboard for this deck, it's quite clear that this deck evolved from LSV's list. LSV is one of the few players I've seen that likes to run Ingot Chewer in the sideboard. I understand the rationale behind it. If you're facing Workshops you can Oath up your artifact hate. On the surface that seems great, but personally if I'm in a winning position (i.e. activating an Oath!) I like to flop out a Big Daddy Griselbrand and just take over a game. I have been on the Workshop side of this interaction and beaten my Oath-welding opponent simply because they hit Ingot Chewer with their Oath instead of Griselbrand. Perhaps this plan works well for some people, but I'm much more inclined to want to play Nature's Claim and Abrupt Decay these days. 

Because the deck splashes for Red and Ingot Chewers, it also gets to play a few other Red spells. Rending Volley is an interesting and cheap way to take out a Containment Priest. Volley is actually a card that I've considered using, but I never got around to testing Volcanic Island in my mana base. It is also much more narrow than Abrupt Decay, and Decay is just too good not to play. 

Slaughter Games is the kind of card that can wreck decks that rely on one key card to win. Taking out Tendrils, opposing Griselbrands, or even Monastery Mentors never hurts. Just be wary, cards like Slaughter Games don't actually affect the board, so they're technically card-disadvantage, and it's still possible to lose after casting it. 

The other oddball Red spell is Through the Breach. I guess if four Show and Tells and four Oaths isn't enough, you can just chuck an Emrakul at someone and win that way. Breach is a spell that works well with Boseiju, so it just might help against decks that can consistently destroy your Oath of Druids

Omniscience in Vintage

I think that the OmniOath approach has merit, although it might not be the best Oath deck in the format. I've been playing a modified version of the list that Magic the Gathering Online user Montolio was playing, and I've had some success with it. It is nice to have a way to cheat in your monsters that works through a Containment Priest, and having four Show and Tells means that you have a lot of bombs to throw at your opponents. 

I have also experimented with an OmniOath deck that was closer to the list from the Asian Vintage Championships, and my experiences weren't as positive as I would like. Being all-in on the Omni plan can sometimes make for clunky draws. Many times I won my games because of the Oath of Druids part of the deck; the Omniscience plan wasn't doing much of the heavy lifting. I eventually changed my lists to only run one copy of Omniscience. I found that one copy gave me far better draws and left more room for counterspells. 

Even though I don't think that this list is the best approach to the Oath strategy, I would love to be proven wrong. I'm intrigued by the deck, and I'd love to see someone spike a Daily Event with it. 

Super Smash Brothers!

Our first deck was European, and our second deck made its mark in Japan. For our third and final list we head back to America. The northeastern United States is known for cold winters and talented Vintage players. There are more Vintage events in this area of the United States than in most other places, and some of the best players in the format hail from this region.

Nicholas Dijohn is keeping the Eldrazi dream alive, smashing realities and picking people's brains with Thought-Knot Seer.

Eldrazi MUD decks have been developing steadily in the last month, mostly out of necessity. When I first wrote about this type of deck, one of the popular builds was running Slash Panthers and no copies of Phyrexian Revoker. This updated build has brought back Revokers (in place of Panther) and shaved one copy of Reality Smasher, lowering the mana curve. 

Since all MUD decks have been forced to rely on a full play-set of Sphere of Resistance, lowering the mana curve has become very important. The added Spheres increase the chances of locking oneself out of the game, turning your bombs into wasted draws. When you're playing MUD, each and every draw step is critical and peeling even one brick can cost you a game. 

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All Three of these cards are powerful, but they can also cause tension when drawn in excessive numbers.

The pilot of this deck, Nick Dijohn, tuned this deck expecting to face a high number of "Blue" decks. If you look at older Workshop lists, you'll notice that many of them used cards like Ghost Quarter and Crucible of Worlds. Ghost Quarter and Crucible are insane in MUD-mirrors, but usually lackluster against the rest of the field. Crucible has utility against far more decks than Ghost Quarter, but it is still a little slow so it gets relegated to the sideboard. 

To help draw cards and beef up creatures, this list plays Sword of Fire and Ice. The Sword is cheaper than Staff of Nin or Coercive Portal, and it plays well with the aggressive strategy the deck employs. If space wasn't an issue I could see running two Sword of Fire and Ices or a Jitte. Between Ancient Tomb and Phyrexian Metamorph, MUD tends to deal itself a lot of damage. The lifegain that a Jitte can provide can prove quite beneficial. 

Caverns and Wastelands

Some of the newer lists have been playing twenty or more lands to make room for specialized lands like Cavern of Souls and Eldrazi Temple. Caverns and Temples are key to these deck's success, but playing too much mana opens the doors to mana flooding. As I mentioned earlier, each draw step for these decks is critical, and topdecking too much mana is a common way to lose. The concession that this deck made was to shave a Wasteland and to play zero copies of Mishra's Factory. Wasteland is still a key card in a lot of matchups, so the fourth copy was moved to the sideboard. 

The majority of this updated Eldrazi MUD build is the same as it has been, but I think this is a good direction for the archetype to take. The more I played with Slash Panther the less I liked it, and when I tested Revokers in their place I was much more confident the deck was solid. After all, Phyrexian Revoker acts as another lock piece in Vintage. Taking out a Mox with a Revoker has a similar effect to destroying a dual land with Wasteland

If you like playing Workshops, or you're thinking about trying out the deck, this list would be a good place to start. I think these Eldrazi lists are likely the future of MUD in Vintage. 

Wrap-Up

That's all for this week folks! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave some feedback. Before I go, I'd like to give a special thanks to all of the great people that make up the Vintage community. In recent weeks several folks have gone out of their way to help me assemble a paper Vintage deck, and I can't say thanks enough. The generosity of these people has been incredible, and it's people like all of you that make me love this format. 

You can follow me on Twitter @josephfiorinijr - Islandswamp on MTGO


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