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Vintage 101: Bond. FastBond.


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we are tackling some of the shells in the format playing the recently unrestricted Fastbond, in addition to talking about The Mana Drain Open at Waterbury and an event local to me! Also, as always we'll be tackling last weekend's Magic Online Challenge as well!

It is worth noting that Wizards did announce that there would be another Banned and Restricted list update scheduled for October 21st, however they did mention that this update would not include any changes for Vintage, due to the proximity of US Eternal Weekend, so the current Metagame for Vintage is what will be taking place at Eternal Weekend!

Fastbonding

It's no secret that Fastbond has finally found a foothold in the Vintage format, finding its way into shells that can take hard advantage of the power it offers. Personally, I'm really happy with this as I still believe Fastbond was a really great unrestriction, since it helps inject archetypes that are basically brand new into the format. Such new archetypes would not have been able to flourish in a 4x Mental Misstep format, but with Misstep gone these decks have options to be able to perform well.

Out of the shells that have cropped up and have been tried however, the biggest and best-performing one is the deck Ziasbond. Named such after our good friend Zias who created the initial conceptions of the deck (and posted the first 5-0 with the list), Ziasbond is a Prison/Lands hybrid deck, seeking to utilize the power of Fastbond with Crucible of Worlds and Bazaar of Baghdad to draw into various lock pieces as well as establish the combo of Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage. What makes Ziasbond fun and unique is the angles it attacks from, being able to develop a powerful combo kill to dump the entire deck on Turn 1. This deck has done so well that it has pretty much Top 8'ed every Vintage Challenge since people really started picking up and playing it and it has performed consistently well. This is a deck that I would not be surprised to Top 8 Vintage Champs at Eternal Weekend. The deck is that strong.

Let's take a look at a recent list.

As we like to do on this series, let's deconstruct this into it's key components.

Fast Mana

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The fast mana in this deck is concentrated on two pieces of Power (Lotus + Emerald), Mox Diamond which is very good at setting up cards like Riftstone Portal, and of course Mishra's Workshop as ways to power out cards like Crucible of Worlds or Trinisphere.

The Engine

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Ziasbond is an engine driven deck, and the most obvious engine card is Fastbond. It enables the best possible turns, but when combined with Crucible of Worlds + Bazaar of Baghdad it becomes a very powerful engine. One way to continue this engine is to find an effect like Strip Mine or Wasteland. With this, you can use the land destruction effect on your own Bazaar of Baghdad and then replay them from the graveyard untapped to keep going. Life from the Loam eventually can become a powerful card advantage engine to help cycle through the deck if there isn't a Fastbond in play. Glacial Chasm is another engine card in that it can often win the game on its own, but also combos with Fastbond to prevent the damage from Fastbond while going off, while Enlightened Tutor can be found to acquire either Crucible or Fastbond when needed.

The Combo

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The primary way this deck wins games is by establishing the combo of Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage to put a 20/20 Marit Lage token into play. As it stands, a lot of decks have trouble dealing with this combo. While Jeskai Arcanist can use Swords to Plowshares on the token, gaining 20 life does not give Jeskai a good way to grind the rest of the game to a close usually, and gives the Ziasbond player a lot of time to establish another combo, making it a very resilient combo to deal with. In a pinch, Crop Rotation can be used to find either half of the combo.
 

Protection / Lock Pieces

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As part of this deck is devoted to stopping the opponent from also being able to execute its game plan, this means that there are several lock pieces to do just that. As a deck that does not need to truly leverage artifact mana outside of a single spell or two, Null Rod is a reasonably powerful option main deck in addition to typical Shops lock pieces like Sphere of Resistance and Trinisphere. These cards are deployed early to keep the opponent from being able to cast spells or be able to leverage their own artifact mana. Outside of artifact lock pieces, lands like Sejiri Steppe and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale act as additional ways of dealing with the opponent's counterplay, as Steppe can be used with Crop Rotation to protect a Marit Lage token from a removal spell at a timely manner, and Tabernacle can deal with decks such as Dredge.

Utility / Land Destruction

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The rest of the list is primarily rooted in utility lands and land destruction. The uses of Bojuka Bog and Buried Ruin are obvious enough in dealing with opposing graveyards and recurring lock pieces or Crucible respectively. Riftstone Portal is an ultimately insanely powerful card in its own right, as it allows a lot of the lands in the list that cannot tap for mana (or tap for specific mana like Workshop) to be able to be used for casting things such as Fastbond or activating Thespian's Stage to copy Dark Depths. Some of the best plays open on casting Mox Diamond and pitching Riftstone Portal to the Diamond.

Sideboarding with Zias

Being a relatively new archetype has meant that the sideboard of Ziasbond has evolved as the deck has, the original incarnations of it playing a transformational sideboard into Oath of Druids combo to throw the opponent off balance. These days the sideboard has switched to fighting certain archetypes like Xerox on the basis of cards like Sanctum Prelate and Elvish Reclaimer, while fighting other Fastbond shells, PO/DPS and Shops on the basis of Collector Ouphe and Force of Vigor.

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TMD Open 20

The Mana Drain Open is an event that is held every year in and around Waterbury and Oakville, CT. It is a pretty solid tournament event that allows up to 15 proxies in a deck (with very strict rules on how proxies should look) and also usually contains several awesome additional side events that make the event fun for everyone involved. Held by Ray Robillard, this is an event for Vintage players to make it to at least once. We're going to dig into the results of this event and what data we can glean from it.

There were 77 players for this event, let's take a look at the breakdown of archetypes. The decklists for this event can be found here.

Deck Archetype Number of Decks % of Field
Ravager Shops 15 19%
Jeskai Dreadhorde 12 16%
BUG Midrange 8 10%
PO Storm  8 10%
DPS 5 6%
Oath 5 6%
Dredge 4 5%
Jeskai Mentor 4 5%
Ziasbond 3 4%
Other 12 16%

Shops and Dreadhorde both represented well as the top decks of the event, with plenty of one-off decks here or there in the "Other" section. At the end of the event, the Top 8 was as follows.

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Ravager Shops 1st Will Magrann
DPS 2nd Hank Zhong
PO Storm 3rd Dan Nelson
Jeskai Dreadhorde 4th Dan Miller
Ziasbond 5th R Desrosiers
BUG Midrange 6th Dave Kaplan
PO Storm 7th James Rynkiewicz
RUG Control 8th Zac Clark

The winner of the event was none other than Will Magrann on Ravager Shops. I met Will at SCG Con this year and he seemed like a pretty great player and a really nice guy, so congrats to Will on such an achievement!

Again we see Stonecoil Serpent making for some interesting play in these Shops decks. I expect to see more of this card in the future of this deck.

Also showing up in the Top 8 of this event was none other than Ziasbond piloted by R Desrosiers in 5th Place.

I really like the Walking Ballista in this list. Pretty cool stuff.

Of course, we can't talk about this event without mentioning our good friend Justin Gennari, who showed up as the reigning previous year's Champ on a PO Storm build playing around with Oko, Thief of Crowns.

Another interesting take I saw was Ryan Glackin's Dredge list, playing new Throne of Eldraine card Once Upon a Time.

All in all this appeared to be a pretty fun event, as I stated before Ray tends to make this event really fun by also including a lot of fun side stuff to do including brain games, puzzles, and the like.

Team Serious Invitational: Diaper Party

This past weekend I was invited to take part with my friends in Team Serious in one of their Team Serious Invitational events, this one named "Diaper Party" after the fact that it was celebrating the impending birth of Nat Moes and his wife's son next month. Nat is the head of Team Serious and also the host of Serious Vintage, which is well worth a listen if you have the time. This event was a full proxy Vintage event, with entry being in diapers to help Nat and his wife out. As such, I ended up bringing my most recent Risen RUG list that I had been playing on Magic Online.

We had 16 people participate in this event, and played Swiss +1 Round (so 5 Rounds) and prizes based on final standings. I ended up 5th in this event at a 3-2 finish, with my only losses to two great friends David Lance (playing Survival) and Rajah James (playing Ziasbond), while managing to beat Jeskai Arcanist, Belcher (played by none other than Grandpa Belcher himself Nat Moes), and White Eldrazi. I felt pretty happy with the list, and there are still improvements to be made to this archetype. In the end, this event was all about the Gathering portion of Magic than anything, and it was great to come together and meet some new people and also celebrate something truly awesome. Prizes at these events are generally always pretty hilarious, usually in forms of scribbled on cards or great jokes. For placing 5th I received some scribbles (along with the participation Goblin Charbelcher scribbles) and some Fallen Empires packs!

Congrats to Nat and Elizabeth! You guys are awesome and I know you'll make awesome parents. Thanks for having me for this event!

Vintage Challenge 10/12

We had yet another Vintage Challenge this past weekend, so let's dive right into the Top 8!

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Survival 1st Tangrams
Dreadhorde Control 2nd HJ_Kaiser
Ravager Shops 3rd HeavierMelero
Dreadhorde Control 4th Condescend
Dreadhorde Control 5th Keeps15
White Eldrazi 6th Orim67
Eric's Crab Shack 7th SamuraiFunn
Oko Oath 8th Miharu_Fuyumiya

This is a wild-looking Top 8, with a clear note that Jeskai Dreadhorde continues to show that it is the best Xerox deck in the format, but also this is the first Top 8 in a while where Ziasbond has not made it to the Top 8. In fact, this event had zero copies of the deck in the Top 32 entirely! Surprising!

At the end of the event, it was Tangrams on the lone Survival list in the Top 32 who managed to scrape out the win!

This list is pretty indicative of where Survival has gone lately, dropping the variants that play Force of Will for more aggressive means and utilizing maindeck Collector Ouphe as hedges vs Shops, PO, and the like. Very powerful list here. Survival is one of the more interesting decks in the format because it almost always can adjust for a specific metagame. Congrats to Tangrams on your event!

In 2nd place we have our resident best Xerox deck, Jeskai Dreadhorde, piloted by HJ_Kaiser. This is a very stock looking list, but still looks pretty fun!

Further down the Top 8, SamuraiFunn was not at all interested in being relegated to the Spice Corner, no not at all! Instead, he had to bring Eric's Crab Shack to the masses! Congrats to Samurai for making 7th place on a seriously cool deck.

Also in the Top 8, in 8th place is the second coming of Oath of Druids! This deck received a very interesting card to supplement its game plan from Throne of Eldraine. That card? Oko, Thief of Crowns.

Oko does some pretty amazing things for this deck, but the best thing it does is that it enables Oath all by itself on a board where there is no Forbidden Orchard in play, but also deals with various hate permanents such as Containment Priest and Grafdigger's Cage by turning them into an Elk. At bare minimum, the fail case for this is creating a bunch of 3/3s that swing in and take care of business.

All in all this event seemed pretty interesting even though there was a fair amount of Jeskai still running the house. Let's do the number crunches again and see what new cards are showing up.

Card Name Number of Copies
Narset, Parter of Veils 38
Stonecoil Serpent 22
Dreadhorde Arcanist 21
Force of Vigor 14
Force of  Negation 13
Scrapyard Recombiner 11
Bolas's Citadel 6
Mystic Forge 5
Collector Ouphe 4
Teferi, Time Raveler 4
Deafening Silence 3
Magmatic Sinkhole 3
Mystic Sanctuary 3
Brazen Borrower 2
Oko, Thief of Crowns 2
Gingerbrute 1
Questing Beast 1
Shenanigans 1

Again, this appears to be just a Narset world at the moment and we're living in it, but Stonecoil Serpent certainly jumped the shark this week as more and more Shops players begin to adopt the little guy. The card is pretty powerful as we are seeing, and I expect to see more of it in the future.

Also, big shout out to our friend infant_no_1 for running a singleton copy of Gingerbrute in his Shops list.

The Spice Corner

Memnites and Signal Pests and Skullclamps OH MY!

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have for this week folks! We are now officially three weekends away from US Eternal Weekend! This is going to be an exciting event and I'm greatly looking forward to it. Next week we're going to be discussing one of the decks we covered today from the Challenge and how one new Throne of Eldraine card we did not talk about in our set review is impacting that archetype. That's right, it's Oko Oath!

As always you can catch me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! I have another episode of "The Bazaar of Moxology" being cooked up, just need to sit down and do some recording for it! Should be super exciting! Of course, you can also always hit me up on Discord on the MTGGoldfish server! I am always around to chat Magic or whatever you want to talk about!

Until next time, keep cracking Lotus Petal's!


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