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Vintage 101: Ascending the Throne


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 hunker down on our set review of Throne of Eldraine! This set is pretty cool from a flavor perspective and has some pretty interesting cards in it, but are any of them going to make the cut for Vintage? I will do my best to ascertain that today. In addition, we'll also be discussing the Vintage Challenge from this past weekend. and I have a really great Spice Corner today!

So, without wasting much time let's get to the meat of things with Throne of Eldraine!

The Adventure of a Lifetime

One of the new and important things to mention about Throne of Eldraine is the introduction of the "Adventure" mechanic. Adventures are Creature cards that have a Instant/Sorcery template on them. The way that these work is that if you can cast an instant/sorcery legally (typically from hand, but there some cute corner cases to this such as Yawgmoth's Will or Kess, Dissident Mage) you may cast the Adventure side for its mana cost. As part of resolving the Adventure you exile the spell. After an Adventure has been exiled in this way, you may later cast the creature itself for its mana cost. Note that you can only cast the creature from exile if the creature has gone on the Adventure first. Outside of casting the Adventure, the card is considered a creature card only and can't be interacted with by cards that search for instants/sorceries or things like Snapcaster Mage (so you can't give an Adventure creature flashback, etc).

What does this mean for Vintage? Well, some of these cards are intriguing enough to look at because of one particular card that exists in Vintage.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

That's right. Survival of the Fittest. Because these cards count as creatures in all zones except for when it's on the stack as an instant/sorcery, Survival can actually tutor for these things. There are a few of these to talk about, and mostly we'll be talking in the context of Survival decks since those will be capable most of all of being able to utilize this mechanic.

Bonecrusher Giant

Bonecrusher Giant [PELD]

While I never expect that you're going to cast the creature side of this, the Adventure side of it is actually pretty cool. A Shock effect may seem a little underwhelming, but couple it with a "Damage can't be prevented this turn" option and suddenly it becomes a little intriguing. The fact that this is an instant too is very powerful, especially when you're considering cards like True-Name Nemesis actually seeing more play in the format.

Brazen Borrower

Brazen Borrower [PELD]

A bounce spell that later comes with a 3/1 flier is pretty interesting, but it's the fact that this is a bounce spell that can be tutored for that is pretty cool. I may be brazen in saying this, but I do think this will be one of the more playable and intriguing Adventure creatures, since two mana for a bounce spell is not that bad at all. The upside here of casting the creature is the fact that it does have Flash, which can be great if you're sneaking in a surprise bit of damage by flashing it on an opponent's end step.

Fae of Wishes

Fae of Wishes [PELD]

My only wish for this card is that it was more like Cunning Wish in both cost and ability. Fetching any noncreature card from your sideboard for four mana at Sorcery speed is par for the course for this kind of effect it seems nowadays though. I don't know that this card is actually playable and I suspect it's not since it's too constrictive. You're also likely never casting + activating it's secondary ability on the creature side so using it as an expensive Wish when there are other Wishes available that are better is pretty bad.

Hypnotic Sprite

Hypnotic Sprite [PELD]

This has an interesting rider in that a lot of the spells you want to counter in this format generally tend to cost three or less, but at three mana it could be rather restrictive. Still, it is a fetchable counterspell, and that alone merits the possible idea that it could see play. I doubt that you are ever casting the creature side of this, as a 2/1 flier is unexciting.

Murderous Rider

Murderous Rider [PELD]

This card is actually intriguing. While this is basically a better Hero's Downfall attached to a 2/3 lifelink creature, it pretty much does everything it says on the tin. What I like about this is that it is a potential for a tutorable kill spell for a Planeswalker, but also comes with a body that can also potentially convoke a Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. This could be very good, and even the added ability of getting put on the bottom of the owner's library is really good with Survival decks being able to tutor for it again.

The Quest for Food

Now let's take a look at the rest of the Eldraine cards!

Deafening Silence

Deafening Silence [ELD]

This is a card that everyone is talking about basically from the moment it was spoiled. My evaluation of this card is actually honestly... not that high. I have done a lot of poking around at the conversation of this card and a lot of people are claiming that this is main deck playable and that it will utterly change the format again, and I actually just don't see it. What I see mostly... is another Damping Sphere. There was a reasonable amount of hubbub over Damping Sphere in this format as well, but in the long run of things the card essentially did nothing in Vintage because it was basically what Deafening Silence is - a speed bump without a clock. I've seen a few people touting turns of "dump your hand full of Moxen, play this card, and now my opponent can't play the game," but that kind of turn does nothing to accelerate your clock in a game and gives your opponent all the time in the world to find an answer (and believe me, a lot of the decks that this would be good against play main deck answers to this kind of thing like Repeal or Chain of Vapor). The fact that this is one mana compared to two is pretty much nothing in Vintage, with the presence of Sol Lands + artifact mana as opposed to a single white source to play this.

In all reality, I do expect maybe there's some room for this card to see play in sideboards, but only in decks that are playing lots of creatures, either in a hatebears style deck or in the Ziasbond style Fastbond shells. I had considered White Eldrazi on this list, but a lot of that deck's white mana sources are in cards like Cavern of Souls for uncounterability, and thus it becomes really hard to cast this card Turn 1 like you would want to. In the end though, I kind of see this card relegated to the same status as Damping Sphere... over-hyped.

Emry, Lurker of the Loch

Emry, Lurker of the Loch [PELD]

This card is actually really intriguing because it is super easy to make this card cost one blue mana to cast, but also if there's any way that you can untap this card with a Black Lotus in the graveyard (Paradox Engine anyone?), you can essentially go infinite with it. It's another way of developing a Bomberman-like type deck except that this is solely in blue (which makes it infinitely easier to not only defend but also develop your mana towards) and the ability is completely mana positive to develop the mana necessary making it essentially faster to resolve than Auriok Salvagers is. The fact that this is Legendary is a slight downside, but that means it can be protected by its own Karakas effects, which is fine. I do expect to see some build-around on this card. It seems pretty fun.

Hushbringer

Hushbringer [PELD]

Besides having what seems to me is some of the most visually insane art I've ever seen in a Magic product, this card has some interesting possibilities in decks like White Eldrazi or Hatebear style decks, as it doesn't only shut off ETB effects, but it also shuts off dying triggers like Modular (Arcbound Ravager) and Bridge from Below. Whether this is enough to actually make this card see play, I am unsure, but it does have some potential.

Mystic Sanctuary

Mystic Sanctuary [ELD]

This is another card that a lot of people are talking about and I do believe it is pretty interesting. The rider clause of needing to have three or more other Islands to get it to ETB untapped and thus trigger its ability can sometimes be pretty difficult to achieve in a mana efficient format with Wasteland+Strip Mine effects plus artifact mana, so I'm not sure how often this will be triggered like that, but the upside of this card is that it has an Island subtype, which means it can be fetched. This is the real strength of this card, in that if you can get it to ETB untapped and fetch for it, you can get back some powerful intsants/sorceries such as Time Walk or Gush. That in of itself seems pretty strong. Time will tell on this whether the ability to ETB untapped in this format can happen more often than not though.

That being said, blue/green based Fastbond shells are where this card could see play to keep recurring Time Walk or Gush every turn.

Mystical Dispute

Mystical Dispute [ELD]

Against blue decks this card ends up being basically a strictly better Mana Leak + Spell Pierce type effect, and the ability to cast a counterspell for one blue mana in some of the Xerox mirrors is not to be underrated. This is yet another card that is good vs blue decks in blue decks, but is generally going to be a complete brick elsewhere. That being said, it is a little better than Spell Pierce in that regards because more often than not Spell Pierce is generally a brick in the non blue matchups as well, since Workshops can get around it by casting creatures, which generally prompts responses like Force of Will anyways. With the format being so predominantly focused on blue Xerox at the moment, this card has a lot of opportunity to see play.

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time [PELD]

My first thought when I saw this card was "Once Upon a Time... I wished for a second Bazaar of Baghdad". This card seems right at home in decks that are either creature heavy like Survival with Bazaar or in decks like Dredge. While you're never going to use this in a hand where you have no Bazaars in hand, this can be very good at finding a better Dredger (such as a singleton Grave-Troll) or a second Bazaar, which can help in matchups that often play Wasteland + Strip Mine. The obvious upside of this card is that it's also green and it pitches to Force of Vigor, upping the green count needed to make that card great. It can also find Hollow One if necessary in both Dredge and Survival and also find Vengevine out of Survival. This has some real potential to be played in these decks, and I wouldn't be surprised to see people mess around with it some.

The Royal Scions

The Royal Scions [PELD]

While this is no Dack Fayden, it is an interesting card in that it does combo very well with Dreadhorde Arcanist. At three CMC and coming in at basically six loyalty always, this can be a difficult card to deal with if your interaction is only Lightning Bolt. The downside of this card is that it dies to both Hydroblast and Pyroblast, but the upsides of it as a three CMC walker are not that bad at all. Giving Arcanist +2/+0 and first strike in addition to it already having trample allows Arcanist to be able to target other spells like Time Walk and that in of itself can be very interesting, and the loot effect is not so bad either. Again, it's not Dack, but it's still pretty interesting.

Stonecoil Serpent

Stonecoil Serpent [PELD]

This card has some interesting text on it, and it slightly competes with Endless One in some capacity, since they're roughly similar. The upside of this card is that it doesn't die to cards like Abrupt Decay, Assassin's Trophy, and it can't be stolen by Dack Fayden. The downside? That it can still be hit by Force of Vigor and Ancient Grudge + Shattering Spree, whereas Endless One cannot be. However, the big interest portion of this card is that it does have Reach and Trample, and is a scalable threat. I could see this in the Shops mirrors mainly as a nice Scalable trample threat that can push through board stalls more than anything else. It's just too bad that it's not a Construct.

Vantress Gargoyle

Vantress Gargoyle [PELD]

This card has a lot of text on it, but one of the interesting things is that it is more likely going to be able to attack/block more often than not thanks to the interaction that is prevalent in Vintage filling up graveyards relatively quickly sometimes. The downside of this is that it can sometimes lose the ability to attack if your opponent resolves a Delve spell, but if not, having a two mana 5/4 flier can be pretty strong. Its ability to place cards in the graveyard is very minimal and a little slow, but it is a cool card design. I don't know that this will show up explicitly at all, but it's cool to keep in mind.

Wishclaw Talisman

Wishclaw Talisman [PELD]

This card has the words "ChubbyRain" written all over it, and indeed when it was spoiled he was pretty excited about it. Virtually a Demonic Tutor on an artifact, there are a lot of interesting ways you can mitigate the fact that your opponent gets this card after it's used, such as cards like Chain of Vapor or Dack Fayden (stealing it after using it), or if you really want to spoil your opponent's good time Karn, the Great Creator can make it so they can't even take advantage of having it in the first place. There is of course also a lot of interesting ways to use this if you can untap it repeatedly with effects like Voltaic Key or Manifold Key since you could also use up all the Wish counters before your opponent gains control of it as well, and get three cards out of it in the process. Suffice to say... it's a neat card and I highly expect Chubby to brew with it.

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After [PELD]

Don't they just look so happy? This is a happy card. Such happiness, much text.

Vintage Challenge 9/21

As always, we had yet another Vintage Challenge this past weekend, and it was a fun and interesting one! Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Dreadhorde 1st ReneRandrup
Jeskai Dreadhorde 2nd White Tsar
Ravager Shops 3rd Scaldy
Ziasbond 4th Kanister (Piotr Glogowski)
Ravager Shops 5th Cuikui
Survival 6th Tangrams
Jeskai Dreadhorde 7th Sti
Doomsday 8th IanMarsh

This was certainly an interesting Top 8, with the most prevalent deck being Jeskai Dreadhorde, which is now essentially the most dominant Xerox strategy in the format again. It is definitely a very strong deck, and in the right hands, it can absolutely demolish most matchups.

The winner of this event was none other than ReneRandrup on the deck, facing down a mirror in the finals.

Rene's list is pretty stock to what most of the Dreadhorde lists look like these days, and it's a formula that seems to be working! Congrats to Rene on their finish! If you ever want to come talk Xerox, you let me know!

Also in the Top 8 of this event was another showing of the infamous Ziasbond deck, developed by Zias originally and adapted by severals others. This time, it was piloted by none other than Kanister (aka Piotr Glogowski) of the Magic Pro League on the deck!

This list looks pretty close to the list from the Vintage Format Playoffs event, down to the Oath of Druids sideboard tech, and even including a singleton Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in the sideboard. Insane! Congrats on the finish Piotr! Tell us sometime how much you liked the deck!

Also showing up in the Top 8 in 6th is a Survival list that is a conglomeration of both Bant and BUG variations, including running a split of Noble Hierarch and Deathrite Shaman by MTGO user Tangrams.

This list is neat and has a lot of really cool disruptive elements. Solid finish, Tangrams!

Further down the Top 32 is a few interesting lists, our first a DPS list playing Monastery Mentor + Dark Confidant and... Karn, the Great Creator as a singleton?! Desolutionist has the deets for us on this one.

This is a pretty cool list, not gonna lie. I may have to check out this list at some point.

Also in the Top 32 is a list based on a variant of "Freebird" (a term coined by Justin Gennari in regards to Arclight Phoenix decks) that also utilizes Dreadhorde Arcanist in it as well.

Pretty cool deck, I have to admit, and a solid finish record as well!

Now, let's take a look as we are want to do about new cards from this year in this Challenge. It's cool to keep track of these things as it really shows how many of these new cards are really seeing play in this format. As always our good friend Matt Murray keeps us up to date with the hard data as well!

Card Name Number of Copies
Narset, Parter of Veils 38
Dreadhorde Arcanist 25
Force of Vigor 21
Force of Negation 12
Veil of Summer 11
Teferi, Time Raveler 8
Bolas's Citadel 6
Collector Ouphe 4
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 3
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 2
Mire in Misery 2
Wrenn and Six 2
Ashiok, Dream Render 1
Blast Zone 1
Fiery Islet 1
Nurturing Peatland 1
Plague Engineer 1
Scrapyard Recombiner 1

It's interesting to see how this world is evolving with Narset being one of the better blue Xerox tools to have, and cards like Veil of Summer (a personal favorite of mine!) that have shot up as well in regards to new cards. Force of Vigor continues to be pretty powerful in this format, but not as nearly played as it was during the few months of Karn + Forge decks.

In addition, let's take a look at our recently unrestricted/restricted cards and see where they fall as well.

Card Name Number of Copies
Mental Misstep 21
Fastbond 16
Mystic Forge 5
Golgari Grave-Troll 4
Karn, the Great Creator 3

This is keeping up with pretty par for the course for most of these cards, however the big one this week was the surge in Fastbond decks after last weekend's format playoff. I suspect we'll see more of these Ziasbond shells as time goes on as it is a powerful shell of a deck.

The Spice Corner

The Spice Corner this week is extra special to me, because it is a list of my own, and not only that it's a list I managed a 5-0 Trophy with on Magic Online! We're now affectionately calling this deck "Risen RUG".

This list was a ton of fun to play, and I am going to be going back through and re-recording my games to be a part of my video series on my YouTube coming up this month, called "Bazaar of Moxology." In the meantime, here's a small breakdown of my matches.

Round 1 vs BUG Midrange (2-0): I seemed to be pretty much on top of the tempo race in both of these matchups. Young Pyromancer is really strong against Tarmogoyf since it makes blockers forever.

Round 2 vs Jeskai Dreadhorde (2-1): These games were some of the more interactive and interesting games I've had in a while. I maintained a lot of pressure in Game 1 of this matchup and Game 3 was a lot of back and forth counterplay.

Round 3 vs 4C Fastbond (2-1): I saw a Titania, Protector of Argoth in this match. It was... interesting.

Round 4 vs 4C Fastbond (2-1): I saw in hand at one point a Tatyova, Benthic Druid. These Fastbond piles can play just about anything which is cool.

Round 5 vs Jeskai Dreadhorde (2-1): My opponent was a really strong player and played some solid games.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! We're inching closer to Eternal Weekend, and so that means next week we'll be talking about some initial prep for this event, including a look at what you can play at the event that does not include Power! It's well known that Eternal Weekend has always held a Budget Prize option for decks that don't use P9, Bazaar, Workshop, or Library of Alexandria in their decks, so we'll be discussing those decks next week, as most of them are pretty close to Legacy decks. So if you're playing in the event for Legacy... you might want to read this and have a shot at playing Vintage as well! Also this month we'll be sitting down to talk with a relatively younger and newer player to Vintage and getting his take on how he got into the format and why he enjoys it so much!

As always, you can find me on Twitter, Twitch, Patreon, and YouTube. My video series "Bazaar of Moxology" will be posted to my YouTube soon, with the first episode focusing on my 5-0 League with Risen RUG (aka Vintage Elementals). Also, if you'd like to chat Vintage you can reach me as well on the MTGGoldfish Discord server!

Until next time, keep climbing the throne!


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