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Vintage 101: Breaching the Hull

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 be talking all about the newest thing to hit the Vintage format this year, and that's Hullbreacher Xerox! We're going to discuss the different variants of this deck that we've seen and also discussing on whether or not Hullbreacher itself should be restricted. In addition, we've got two Challenges to talk about, and of course the Spice Corner.

Just a reminder that I am looking for questions for my upcoming EOY Mailbag article! Please send me questions via this form!

Without further ado, let's dive right into this week's article.

Hullbreacher Xerox

We're now two full weeks into the release of Commander Legends on Magic Online, so we're now starting to get an understanding of a new Xerox variant that is showing up utilizing the new card Hullbreacher. The power of this card is incredibly high, high enough that it created a brand new deck based around abusing it.

There have even been multiple color variants of the deck from Jeskai to RUG to even 4C variants. Let's take a look at a sample list of the RUG variety.

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The construction of these decks is primarily based on a typical Xerox shell, with all the normal blue Restricted cards that one would expect to see in a blue Xerox shell. The major impact of the card Hullbreacher is the addition of both Timetwister and Wheel of Fortune as cards that can function to abuse the effect of Hullbreacher. Most of these shells are also Tinker shells, for either cards such as Blightsteel Colossus or Sphinx of the Steel Wind.

Many of these lists also are playing a card that they can use to abuse the wheel effects in the deck, either a card that grows tall like Managorger Hydra or everyone's favorite Monk Monastery Mentor.

Dack Fayden is also a staple of these decks, as its plus ability can be used offensively on the opponent with a Hullbreacher in play to make the opponent discard two cards and gain two mana in the process.

What makes this deck function is that many of these cards are all impactful and powerful on their own. Tinker, Dack, and all the restricted blue suite is all exceptionally strong, and this makes the addition of Hullbreacher so much better.

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Since the release of the card, these decks have been seemingly all over the place as people manage to acquire the cards on Magic Online (another feat, given the low supply of them) and are playtesting the deck. This has also brought about the discussion about whether or not Hullbreacher will eventually get restricted in Vintage or not, given that it is a very similar card to both Notion Thief (which is not restricted) and Narset, Parter of Veils (which is restricted). The biggest thing currently going against this card is the fact that its mana cost is extremely flexible at three mana and also in blue.

I suspect we're still a little too early in the call to restrict Hullbreacher right now, with only being two weeks into the metagame with its existence. However, I can certainly see some of the same arguments that were levied against Narset during its unrestricted era. Hullbreacher has an angle that it's a creature and thus prone to more types of removal (namely Swords to Plowshares) than Narset is, but being able to play multiples of this card does allow the decks to be ultra redundant by having more than one copy of it in play. Sweeper effects are far and few between in Vintage as decks tend to focus more on impactful spot removal, so while you may be able to remove one Hullbreacher, an opponent may have more than one in play already or another waiting in the wings to be flashed in at the most opportune time.

Hullbreacher is certainly the new hotness, but I do expect that long term (and I mean probably about as long as Narset lasted which was about six months) that the card will eventually get restricted however. The card is very powerful and fits well with existing Xerox cards that make it extremely abusable. While I'm certainly willing to be proven wrong, this card is very strong and has a lot of the hallmark features of a card that would be restricted. Quite frankly, having these kinds of cards continually printed with asymmetrical effects much like Narset has been is a little exhausting when the hoops to jump through to make them work are so very, very low.

This is a deck to keep an eye on however, so for the time being keep it in mind when you're out there in the wilds of Vintage.

Vintage Challenge 11/28

We had two Challenge events this weekend, the first of which was the afternoon Saturday Challenge event. Thanks to the data from the Vintage Streamers Discord we know there was about 66 players in this event, so we have a full picture of the Metagame here. Let's take a look.

There was quite a spread of decks here in this metagame, with a decent amount of Workshops decks between both Ravager Shops and Golos as the top end. Dredge has continued to cement itself as the best Bazaar shell in the format once again, as it seems that decks like Hollow Vine have essentially fallen off the face of the map from week to week. In turn we have plenty of the new hotness in Hullbreacher Xerox owing to the popularity of testing something new. This metagame looks pretty good though, as things don't look incredibly unbalanced here. There's a lot of diversity and interesting decks, and the gameplay seems to be pretty good.

Now let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Breach 1st TheDeck84
Hogaak Bazaar 2nd Slatorade
Hullbreacher Xerox 3rd ThePowerNine
Dredge 4th Sharkcaster_Mage
Breach 5th Ennuixd
Hogaak Bazaar 6th Laessoe
Dredge 7th Falkoneye
Hogaak Bazaar 8th MadMaxErnst

Bazaar decks converted exceptionally well into the Top 8 here, making up over half of the Top 8 between Dredge and the Hogaak deck. However, it was Breach at the end of the event that managed to push through and take it all down.

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4C Breach is a bit of a misnomer here as this deck is more like a Grixis variant that is splashing white specifically for Monastery Mentor and Wear // Tear out of the sideboard. This plan is outside of the typical Sprite Dragon plan we normally see in the Grixis based lists, and is pretty decent since Mentor can easily overwhelm the game very quickly, making this a really powerful thing to be doing.

The Second Place list here was none other than the Hogaak Bazaar deck.

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Hogaak's deck construction has solidified greatly as the deck evolved, and there isn't much going on innovation-wise with the deck, but it is exceptionally powerful and linear and very clean in deck construction.

There was a lot of Bazaar in the Top 8 here, so let's look at one of the Dredge lists.

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Creeping Chill has become a Dredge norm these days, giving the deck an insane amount of reach in addition to its creatures. Having a source of damage that is hard to counter is very strong, and has definitely been a big part of reinforcing Dredge's position as one of the best Bazaar decks in the format.

There was a second Breach deck in this Top 8 and it's worth talking about because we get a showing of a brand new card from Commander Legends that isn't Hullbreacher.

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Court of Cunning is an incredibly interesting card in Breach, as it can mill both players and help set up a Breach kill or act as a sheer clock when milling the opponent. Keeping the Monarch in Vintage is pretty trivial really, given that there aren't many creatures really putting in chip damage outside of decks like BUG/4C and Shops (since most Bazaar turns are just trying to kill the opponent so having the Monarch is less important). It's certainly very interesting to see this card show up here, and gauging the results from the rest of the weekend there were plenty of other lists running the Court as well.

Outside of the Top 8, there was a sweet Oath of Druids + Underworld Breach variant.

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Oath'ing into Sun Titan with a Breach in the graveyard feels like it would be a super cool play. Being able to combo that the same turn is even better. This deck having that plus Sphinx of the Steel Wind which is an incredibly powerful threat in current Vintage is even stronger. This list is superb.

Vintage Challenge 11/29

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event, which had 62 players thanks to the data from the Vintage Streamers Discord. Let's take a look at the metagame breakdown.

The metagame shifts from the Saturday to the Sunday events are always very interesting as primarily most of them are because of the regional nature of the two events. The Sunday event taking place very early in the morning for the USA means that this event is mostly players from Europe and Asia, and those players are often attuned to very different styles of play and lists than the Saturday event which takes place at a great time for US players. Still, there's a sweet amount of diversity here too, and the format still looks great.

Now let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Midrange 1st DiscoverN
Ravager Shops 2nd WhiTe TsaR
Breach 3rd Aylett
Jeskai Xerox 4th GutoCmtt
4C Xerox 5th Yoshiwata
Ravager Shops 6th Medvedev
Oath of Druids 7th Bennybo
Dredge 8th Furyure

Not so high on the Bazaar decks in this Top 8, there was more of a diverse nature of Xerox/Combo/Shops here. Ravager Shops here. At the end of the event, it was BUG Midrange that took down the event.

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The most interesting thing here is the lack of a card like Oko, Thief of Crowns which typically sees play in these kinds of decks, but I don't think it is necessarily needed here. I love the Mystic Sanctuary here, giving this deck a way to recur powerful cards like Ancestral Recall or Gush. This is a super neat take on the BUG Midrange archetype, and DiscoverN is a solid pilot as well.

The Second Place list in this event was none other than Ravager Shops.

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This is a super clean aggressive list. Cards like Chief of the Foundry are really great at pushing through the damage to close a game quickly, and Fleetwheel Cruiser continues to just be exceptional in these lists. Beep beep!

Also in the Top 8 we have an Oath of Druids list that is a typical Miharu Oath variant.

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Including Wrenn and Six in this is pretty sweet here, giving the deck another angle of attack alongside Oko, Thief of Crowns. These cards give the Oath decks a really solid backup plan and W6's utility with Strip Mine and Wasteland is exceptionally powerful.

Outside of the Top 8 we have a really interesting "Blue Jund" variant.

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The blue splash here is primarily for cards like Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, and Leovold, Emissary of Trest, but this is certainly a fun looking list, showing just how strong cards like Tarmogoyf and friends are right now in Vintage. I especially enjoy the Chains of Mephistopheles here, which is a card you don't see very often anymore.

The Spice Corner

Invisible Stalker, Glenn, the Voice of Calm, and Rick, Steadfast Leader in Vintage. Let's go!

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What I'm Playing This Week

I've been thinking a lot about Elementals again, mostly because I miss playing Risen Reef, so I updated the list a little.

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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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