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Vintage 101: At a Standstill

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week I'm going to be diving into a recent resurgence of Standstill lists in Vintage! In addition to that we've got two Challenges to discuss from over the weekend as well as a Spice Corner!

Next week will be my Streets of New Capenna set review, so be on the lookout for that!

Without further ado, let's dive right in.


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Standstill has on and off been one of Vintage's most long standing and interesting archetypes. For the most part, the idea of playing Standstill comes from being able to quickly resolve the titular card and then sit on it while the opponent struggles to consider whether or not they want to cast anything into the trigger or not. The deck shores up itself on not casting cards by playing land destruction and lands that create creatures (the most recent of which is Urza's Saga) or utilizing effects that don't actually cast spells (another example here is the Eternalize ability for cards like Timeless Dragon or the cycling ability off Shark Typhoon). Regardless of what win condition is used, Standstill's game plan is reminiscent of a control prison hybrid where the game can be played on multiple axes to allow for a win.

These decks tend to often float in and out of the format though, especially since so many other decks in the format are playing cards like Urza's Saga, but as of late the following list has been popping up all over the place, thanks to the genius aspect of one Brian Kelly, who first popped up in events with this kind of list.

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What helps this kind of list out is that it's not just focused on sticking a Standstill and trying to win through it. It has plenty of other cards that act as reasonable plans of their own that allow for the Standstill plan to function. Creature suites that can be deployed that are both hatebear and win condition exist in the form of Collector Ouphe and Deathrite Shaman. Elvish Reclaimer acts as a tutor for things like Saga, and Boseiju is a powerful way of interacting with a Standstill in play.

Furthermore, one of the more interesting cards in these lists is Malevolent Hermit. This card's upside is very high even on the front half, where it acts as a Mana Leak for noncreature spells but also acts as a 2-for-1 even if the opponent destroys it, as the back half coming in from the graveyard forces responses and removal to be held up or you will simply dominate every stack exchange in a game from that point forward. It's a very powerful card and I'm surprised we aren't seeing it more.

Lurrus offers an intriguing function for this though as it allows one to replay the front half of the Hermit as well from the graveyard, meaning that you can hold up the pseudo Mana Leak turn after turn to interact with the opponent and that in of itself seems incredibly interesting and synergistic with Lurrus' abilities.

Sideboard-wise this deck can actually drop the Standstills if it needs to do so, getting to bring in effects like Crop Rotation to have play with cards like Bojuka Bog, Karakas, and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, which makes for a sort of unique lands-esque controlling build.

All in all it's very interesting to see a Standstill deck still hanging around the current format and while we can't really predict how long this current iteration will last for, for now it seems to be doing quite well for people.

Vintage Challenge 4/9

The first Challenge of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 54 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.

Tinker had a commanding presence in this event and a really powerful win rate to boot with a near 30% metagame representation and a near 60% win rate. Other DRS variants had a strong win rate as well in this event despite only having five pilots on the decks as the next highest subarchetype.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Standstill 1st Sprouts
Esper Tinker 2nd Tw33ty
Esper Tinker 3rd SenpaiBlank
Esper Tinker 4th Condescend
Mono White Aggro 5th Call1Me1Dragon
Esper Tinker 6th Falkoneye
5C Lurrus 7th Dazai
Grixis Tinker 8th ReneRandrup

Definitely an overloaded Top 8 with Tinker variants, with 5/8 of the Top 8 being made up by these decks. At the end of the event it was a split finals between the two finalists, so let's look at them each in the order that MTGO ranked them starting with Sprouts on Standstill.

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This is pretty much the same list as our focal point in the article is on, and it's definitely very strong. As noted earlier, Malevolent Hermit is a really powerful card for sure.

The Second Place finalist was on Esper Tinker.

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Esper grants this deck a lot of tools like Lavinia, Mentor, and premium removal like Swords to Plowshares and Prismatic Ending, all of which seem very good right now in the current format.

Further down the Top 8 here we had a showing by Mono White Aggro.

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Lion Sash is a sweet card to add to this deck. I wonder if there's enough neat space in the format for a Saga-based Stoneforge Mystic deck featuring cards like Lion Sash and Shadowspear as well as Umezawa's Jitte. Seems like it would be interesting to try at least.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had a 5C Lurrus build.

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This list is definitely leaning hard on DRS and Ragavan to do a lot of heavy lifting, but it's only really splashing white for Lavinia and Lurrus as well as Swords to Plowshares in the sideboard. It's definitely greedy, but greedy works in this format with these creatures.

Vintage Challenge 4/10

The second event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event.  This event had 50 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.

Tinker again had a strong presence, but didn't quite had an above-average win rate at a 49.1% win rate. Paradoxical Outcome-based decks however had a very strong win rate, putting two of its four pilots into the finals of the event. Dredge also performed very well here.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Paradoxical Outcome 1st Dafne17
Paradoxical Outcome 2nd Gerschi
Dredge 3rd Wizard_2002
Aggro Shops 4th scalo94
Grixis Tinker 5th Kihara_Works
Hollow Vine 6th hopeof130
Esper Tinker 7th ecobaronen
Doomsday 8th ScreenwriterNY

Definitely, an interesting Top 8 with a good number of different archetypes represented here. At the end of the event it was a PO face-off, so let's start by looking at the winning list.

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This is a pretty solid UW PO list here with all the hallmarks of what is showing up in these Saga PO lists. Teferi, Lavinia, Mentor. These are all strong cards in the current format. I'm also really digging the sideboard copy of Balance.

Let's look at the Second Place finalist, also on PO.

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Tameshi, Reality Architect is SUPER SWEET. I love this card so much because it does so many cool things. I have not seen too many people trying out this card in the current format and that makes me sort of sad because it seems so cool.

Also in this Top 8 we had a showing by Dredge.

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Silversmote Ghoul seems to be the new tech floating around, as it triggers off of Creeping Chill. Also it's worth noting that this particular build is running neither Bridge from Below or Cabal Therapy and is instead loading up on more free disruption and countermagic. While it's sad to see the deck go away from those hallmarks, Dredge is a constantly evolving thing and I can't imagine a time where those cards wouldn't be relevant again.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Hollow Vine.

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This deck takes the concepts of free interaction and puts the gas pedal on it up to 11. Between all the free creatures and the 8 Squee effects to enable the deck's draw engine this is certainly powerful.

Around the Web

  • Justin Gennari has some sick Silversmote Ghoul Dredge action for us from the Challenge. Check it out here.
  • Revenantkioku is playing some Classic Vintage Doomsday. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

You can find the past weeks 5-0 lists here.

Maindeck Dauthi Voidwalker in a Grixis Tempo shell is super sweet.

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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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