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Vintage 101: Beyond the Horizon, Part 1

Howdy folks! It's time for yet another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host Joe Dyer and this week we're headed into the unknown, journeying beyond the horizon that is Modern Horizons! While this set may be primarily for introducing cards into the Modern format, it also contains a ton of goodies for other eternal formats as well, since primarily most of the set is new cards. This means opportunity for cards to make it into Vintage of course! This makes for an exciting time in Vintage as new cards that could potentially impact the format are always fun to talk about.

Because of how this spoiler season falls, I'm splitting my review of this set into two pieces, and also because I have the fantastic opportunity to have another person to help out with the card evaluation this time! That's right, our good friend Matt Murray (aka ChubbyRain) is going to be helping out with our review of this set, and I'm really excited to get his input on this set.

Furthermore, next week I will be in Roanoke, VA for SCG Con! My article will be done before then and it will be the second part of my set review, with the week after that being a detailing of my experience at SCG Con. I'll also be live tweeting about my time at the event, which you can follow over on my Twitter. If you're going to be at SCG Con, please feel free to stop and say hello to me! I always enjoy meeting new people.

On the Horizon of Modern Vintage

As we noted before, Modern Horizons is well... on the horizon. This set will introduce cards that were previously not legal in Modern into Modern as well as new cards. I've went through and picked about six cards that I want to explicitly cover this week, with the rest of the set review next week. 

Wrenn and Six

Wrenn and Six [MH1]

Wow. Our second ever two-mana planeswalker and boy is it a doozy. This card is sweet. It does so much for two mana, including land recursion, direct damage, and has an ultimate ability that is excessively powerful with cards like Time Walk (Time Walk with Retrace? HOLY COW) and even something as innocuous as Lightning Bolt. Conversely, Wrenn's minus ability can deal with a plethora of X/1 creatures that see common play in Vintage such as Young Pyromancer and Phyrexian Revoker. The fact that the damage from Wrenn can go anywhere also means it can deal with cards such as Narset, Parter of Veils to keep their advantage from using the card to a single activation, and it can help keep other planeswalkers down as well. In addition this card pairs very well with Dack Fayden, as Dack makes the downside of putting a land in the graveyard an upside for being able to tick up Wrenn and Six.

Our guest evaluation guy Matt Murray felt similarly as I did in his evaluation of this card, noting that Time Walk + the emblem is essentially Voltaic Key + Time Vault. In addition he noted the obvious synergies between cards like Wasteland + Strip Mine using Wrenn as a pseudo-Crucible of Worlds type effect on a permanent type that is a little more difficult to interact with than an artifact.

Matt even supplied a sample concept list for this card, showcasing how it might be used in Vintage.

All in all, I think this card is great, and from my own perspective I love the Vorthos aspect of this card as Wrenn being a dryad and Six being the Tree hosting her body (and being the Sixth Tree having done so). Very flavorful and fun.

Collector Ouphe

Collector Ouphe [MH1]

Spoiled by my good friends Nat and Geoff Moes of Serious Vintage Podcast, this card is pretty goshdarn amazing. A Null Rod effect with legs is pretty good as is being just a 2/2 creature, but this has the upside of being able to be fetched by cards like Survival of the Fittest and Green Sun's Zenith. This makes the card even more powerful in decks like Survival since they don't 100% need to run a card like Stony Silence to be able to get a Null Rod effect on board when they need it, and that makes this pretty powerful. As a creature, this can also trigger Vengevine in the Survival lists as well as be able to push combat damage through when needed or block as needed without having to worry about tricks such as Walking Ballista or Arcbound Ravager to come around.

Force of Vigor

Force of Vigor [MH1]

I personally really like this card, and apparently so did Matt enough to even put together a lot of math tables on it to determine how many green cards is enough to be able to support casting this card. The low end of this kind of math shows that decks that already play a number of green cards (such as BUG Midrange and Survival) make out pretty nicely in terms of being able to support running this card (to the point where decks like Survival are already typically running somewhere around 19 green cards total which makes it pretty easy to support this). This card has a good amount of potential to see play however, especially in conjunction with Collector Ouphe, and this gives the green based decks mentioned before a powerful tool to handle Shops strategies post board.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that if your opponent does have Karn, the Great Creator and Mycosynth Lattice in play, then you can't cast this card for its alternate cost because Lattice makes everything in your hand colorless. So if you are wanting to use this to blow away Karn + Lattice at the same time, you'll need to float 2GG to hard cast it.

Plague Engineer

Plague Engineer [MH1]

This card has some interesting applications as an asymmetrical effect. As Matt said in his evaluation, the nature of this effect opens it up nicely in Xerox based decks that play cards like Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor to have a relevant effect against the mirror match and not impact their own tokens or creatures. Furthermore, this has nice synergy against decks like Vintage Humans and Eldrazi, and having Deathtouch allows it to trade up with cards like Thought-Knot Seer while also being able to kill a card like Phyrexian Revoker or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. This could definitely see home in the sideboards of Grixis Xerox and Esper Xerox based decks and has some utility for the mirror and other creature-based decks (which are starting to become a little more common in the format these days).

Urza, Lord High Artificer

Urza, Lord High Artificer [MH1]

This card is wild, and I must say I really enjoy the fact that they finally made Urza into a card, and not just Urza but Urza before he became a Planeswalker. This card has some wild applications with cards like Paradox Engine and artifact mana, but also cards like Unwinding Clock. With Sensei's Divining Top you can easily reorder the top of your library and cycle through your deck. Not to mention, the token that gets made is basically the Karn, Scion of Urza token, so this goes really well with that card. I'm a fan, not just because it's Urza, but because I think it's spicy and I really hope we see someone play around with this once the set releases. *cough* *cough* Matt Murray *cough* *cough*

Matt did mention the Paradox Engine combination and shipped this list where Urza could see play as a replacement for Temporal Aperture.

Scrapyard Recombiner

Scrapyard Recombiner [MH1]

I find this card fairly intriguing. It's worth noting that there are a lot of creatures that have the card type Construct in Vintage, from cards like Chief of the Foundry and Foundry Inspector to Hangarback Walker and Walking Ballista. While it can't fetch cards like Arcbound Ravager or Phyrexian Revoker (which are sadly not Constructs), the fact that this can sac innocuous artifacts or even itself to tutor up a win condition in a deck that often can't shuffle its library too much like Shops is pretty interesting. I don't know what spot this takes, but it also comes down off a Workshop, which can be pretty strong in of itself. As an on and off Shops player, I will certainly be playing around with this card.

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician [MH1]

Okay, I know I said only six cards, but they made a card of YAWGMOTH and I can't not mention it. Nowhere near Vintage playable, but man does Yawgmoth look good

Author's Note: Matt refrained to comment on this one.

Vintage Challenge 5/25

We had yet another Vintage Challenge this past weekend and it certainly was an interesting one. Let's delve into the Top 8 of this event, shall we?

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Colorless Eldrazi 1st Logarhythme
Oath of Druids 2nd AdmiralSandman
Ravager Shops 3rd GGoggles
Grixis Xerox 4th TheDeck84
Colorless Eldrazi 5th Funnyman31399
Ravager Shops 6th Montolio (Andy Markiton)
Colorless Eldrazi 7th Kofurea
Pitch Dredge 8th AnarchyTheorist (Kevin Nelson)

Whew that is a lot of colorless in the Top 8 of this event. With lots of Karns to go around (and we'll do the math on it for sure), it seems like the card is simply everywhere, and even then it's not certain which Karn shell is truly the best shell at the moment since we've had multiple shells with the card see play. Whether this is cause for concern or not is a different story.

That being said, there were some great lists in this event all around. One such list, by MTGO User AnarchTheorist (Kevin Nelson), is a Pitch Dredge list playing four copies of the card Creeping Chill!

I like the setup of this list a lot and it is something I am intrigued to test out myself when I get back from SCG Con. Kevin also made Top 8 with this list, so that's super exciting. Congrats on the finish, Kevin!

Another fun list that showed up in the Top 32 is yet another Karn list, from MTGO User Saturn playing not just Voltaic Key, but Voltai Servant as well.

On the blue side of things, MTGO User TheDeck84 came at us with a Grixis splash based Xerox list with ye olde favorite Mana Drain in the list.

Overall this was an interesting event, but I am a little worried at the lack of balance in the Top 8. If the format is really devolving into play Karn or play Narset, then we are clearly in trouble and possibly headed for some form of change via a restriction. Furthermore, we also have to worry about how the London Mulligan will impact things as well if it is indeed implemented. There's a lot of uncertainty right now in Vintage due to these contributing factors, unfortunately, but I am hopeful that the format will balance out.

SCG Con Testing

Testing on my end for SCG Con continues (and my spreadsheet is updated) as I uploaded yet another league to YouTube. This league went a little poorer than last time, as I went 2-3 in my matches with the changes from last week. I had some issues due to misclicks within Magic Online as well as a few genuine punts in addition to one mulligan situation where I mulligan'ed to 3 in a game. All in all, I am not upset with how it went.

League Details -

  • R1 vs UR Xerox (0-2)
  • R2 vs Karn Shops (1-2)
  • R3 vs Memnarch Xerox (2-0)
  • R4 vs BUG Survival (1-2)
  • R5 vs Jeskai Xerox (2-0)

This is the current list as it stands:

The only matchup I genuinely lost hard on was Round 1 vs UR Xerox, and part of that match was being able to make a Turn 1 Karn and not ticking up and instead ticking down. While I could not have anticipated the Lightning Bolt on Karn, it was a situation where there was no incentive to downtick Karn. I'm still learning with the deck, but I am still having a ton of fun with it. I am looking forward to playing it next week at SCG Con, and I will have at least one more league in before next week.

The Spice Corner

I'm doubling the spice and the fun this week! Our first entry is a tick in the box for "WELL YOU'VE JUST MYCOSYNTH LATTICE'D, WHAT'S NEXT?!" contest. How about Hellkite Tyrant?

Our second entry in the Mycosynth Lattice 500 is "Well what if we just Memnarch them?"

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! I hope you enjoyed this look at Modern Horizons as well as the Vintage data. Look for the second half of the Modern Horizons looks next week, and look out for me at SCG Con if you're going to be around there! It should be an exciting time, and I'm thrilled to be attending.

As always, you can hit me up on Twitter, Twitch, and Patreon to support me and what I do, or if you just want to chat Vintage, I'm down for that as well! You can also find me on the MTGGoldfish Discord server.

Until next time, keep on journeying to the far horizon!

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