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Vintage 101: College Days


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 taking a look at Strixhaven: School of Mages and what if anything from this set looks like it might break into Vintage! In addition to that we have two Challenge events to discuss plus the results of the Super Qualifier from the past weekend as well.

Let's dive right in!

The Strixxiest of Strixhavens

It's time yet again for another edition in perennial spoiler season! This time around we've got Strixhaven: School of Mages! This set is definitely interesting and has a lot to talk about, but not so much really for Vintage play, which is sort of nice. We've been in a bit of a holding pattern when it comes to sets really impacting Vintage in the past few sets (Zendikar, Kaldheim, etc.) so it's nice to see that trend continuing (at least until Modern Horizons 2). Still, we do have a few things to talk about. Let's start by taking a look at the mechanics that really matter for Vintage.

Magecraft

Magecraft is a new mechanic that triggers whenever you cast or copy an instant or sorcery. This is incredibly relevant mainly in Vintage due to the presence of cards like Flusterstorm. However, there is also a fairly simplistic infinite combo that goes with every Magecraft card (whether it's good or not) and that is via the card Chain of Smog. With Chain of Smog you can repeatedly target yourself and continue copying the card to get as many Magecraft triggers as you desire. The obvious downside of this particular combo is that it is fairly fragile (given that the opponent can wait until you have no hand to either counter the spell or destroy the permanent doing the triggers), but being able to put it out with fast mana makes it really interesting in Vintage, moreso than any other format.

As such we're going to look through the specific Magecraft cards that really might matter in Vintage.

Clever Luminancer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

There is something to be said about how Mentor-like kill conditions work in Vintage, and we've got quite a few of different ones now besides Mentor in cards like Managorger Hydra and Sprite Dragon (cards that go big but not wide, etc.). This card is more comparable to those except for the fact that it doesn't get any evasion whatsoever and it doesn't trigger off of artifacts like the other two do. I suspect that this is probably the least playable of these kinds of cards, and will likely not see any play at all because of it, even if this can kill with Chain of Smog (but only the turn after which means it has to survive a turn to do so).

Sedgemoor Witch

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The biggest thing here with this card is that it's comparable to a card like Young Pyromancer in that it makes tokens simply for playing the game, and it also costs exact Lotus mana, so that is a plus as well. The nice thing about this is that the creatures themselves aren't even utterly useless since you gain life with them if they die. Where this card really can shine is in matchups where Flusterstorm is important. Being able to extract a sheer amount of value from Flusterstorm by merely casting it and copying it with the Storm trigger is pretty absurd. This tells me that this a card that is good without the Chain of Smog combo too since you can just gain value out of playing your normal game.

Witherbloom Apprentice

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is another card that really takes advantage of the playability of the Chain of Smog combo (by basically being an infinite kill with it) and also plays very well with the typical game plan surrounding typical BUG style decks. Playing this with Flusterstorm as noted before can be pretty brutal as you can cause a pretty big life swing with it in counter wars. I like this card a lot because its incidental value even when not planning to combo off with it seems pretty good.

The Rest

So we've looked at a few Magecraft cards, let's take a look at some other cards that people have been talking about.

Elite Spellbinder

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card is actually relatively interesting when you consider it in the context of a deck playing both Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Archon of Emeria. Being able to tax the opponent's best spell in hand seems pretty powerful, and there's no repercussions to this creature dying or being blinked because the spell can only ever return by casting it. I could definitely see this seeing play and especially because it is a Human.

Strict Proctor

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I'm not as huge of a fan of this card in Vintage because there really isn't a ton of enters the battlefield triggers that you actually would want to tax like this. The biggest one I would guess would be Bloodghast but that's incredibly narrow. This is a pass for me.

Solve the Equation

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card is certainly interesting enough. Comparable to a card like Merchant Scroll but can get any colored instant/sorcery to hand. While Demonic Tutor does already exist, it is restricted and players often run multiple restricted tutors to assemble the package they want. Is Solve the Equation good enough to run as just a one-of there? Possibly.

Conspiracy Theorist

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

My first big thought about this card is that it does do some work with Bazaar of Baghdad, and I especially enjoy the fact that you can discard Hollow One to a Bazaar activation, exile it with the Theorist trigger and then still cast it for free (because the cost reduction still applies). Is this actually playable though? Not really sure. It's an interesting card and might be fun to build around in general, but it's probably not high on the power level of Vintage.

Expressive Iteration

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

While this is two mana, it's a pretty weird card to really evaluate. While it doesn't have the "cast" clause where you can play lands off of it if you need to, I expect the best usage of it would be to just push through the deck and set up a free spell or a powerful spell. But more than likely this is another card that is close, but no cigar.

Fracture

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This seems actually pretty powerful given that it gives Esper decks a way of dealing with both artifacts and planeswalkers in one card. Flexible cards like this are really strong, and this is one I definitely expect to see float around somewhere due to that extreme versatility.

Rip Apart

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is a pretty solid Abrade variant, but to consider this over Abrade means you have to consider what Enchantments are worth destroying in the format as well, especially in Jeskai colors where something like this would largely see play. Sorcery speed is a big speed bump for these kinds of decks for sure. If an Enchantment started seeing play that needed destroying however, I could see it maybe seeing play.

Vintage Challenge 4/3

We had two Challenge events this past weekend, the first of which was the Saturday event. Thanks to the efforts of the Vintage Streamer's Discord we know this event had 74 players in it.

You can find all of the Top 32 lists for this event here.

Let's dive right into the metagame breakdown!

A very large amount of BUG Midrange was all over this particular event, with Jeskai Control a little more than half behind it. I've noted many times how popular BUG is to a lot of players, so I'm really just never surprised at it seeing play like it does. Quite also a big uptick in PO Storm decks as well, and PO itself had a pretty solid weekend in the hands of some very good players.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus Breach 1st Dead_style
BUG Midrange 2nd wambocombo2020
PO Storm 3rd IamActuallyLvl1
Jeskai Control 4th hodortimebaby
Jeskai Control 5th HeyyQT
Oracle Combo 6th UnbanLurrus
Horror One 7th WingedHussar
PO Storm 8th Fnoop

Despite having some numbers, BUG did pretty good enough to get one pilot into the finals of the event, but Jeskai Control also had some solid placings here as well. Also shout out to our good friend Justin Gennari for placing Third in this event, kicking off his weekend right as we will see later in the article.

At the end of the event however, it was the Lurrus Breach variant that took it down.

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There really wasn't a ton of Lurrus Breach decks in this event, so it's interesting to see one this deep into the event, but the deck does have some powerful plays to it. I expect a lot of that is on the back of both Dreadhorde Arcanist and Sprite Dragon however, and the general power level of the Breach combo.

The Second Place finalist was BUG Midrange.

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Both Uro and Managorger Hydra are a sweet inclusion into a deck like this, making for a very powerful set of threats that can be difficult for an opponent to easily deal with.

Down the Top 8 we have our good friend Matt Murray showing us that Demonic Consultation is still very good with Oracle Combo.

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This deck has two ways of emptying the library to Oracle with, both Demonic Consultation (by naming a card not in the deck) and via Paradigm Shift. This is definitely a very neat deck for sure. A lot of these kinds of decks had mostly just integrated into Doomsday so it is pretty cool to see a standalone control variant.

Also in the Top 8 we have Horror One!

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This deck is pretty neat. Lot of interesting stuff going on and the sheer fact that you can turn Bazaar into a card positive advantage card is really powerful.

Vintage Challenge 4/4 Metagame

We also had a Sunday morning early Challenge event, which had 48 players in it. This is also the same day of the Super Qualifier, so no idea if attendance was impacted due to that or not.

You can find all of the Top 32 lists for this event here.

Let's dive right into the metagame breakdown!

As I always note, the Sunday Challenge event always seems to have an interesting flip flop of lists and pilots. This particular weekend it was really slanted in the direction of Mishra's Workshop, which had a really positive event here.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Ravager Shops 1st Mogged
Breach 2nd LeoFa
Ravager Shops 3rd WhiTe TsaR
Hullbreacher Control 4th Phill_Hellmuth
Golos Combo Shops 5th Slasher21
PO Storm 6th Aylett
Standstill 7th brianpk80
BUG Midrange 8th _INF_

As noted, plenty of Shops decks here with some combo and some control/midrange variants. However, it was the Ravagers that took down the event, with Mogged piloting Ravager Shops.

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Cars continue to go beep beep as Fleetwheel Cruiser continues to be a prominent card in this deck. Also back a little bit is Traxos, Scourge of Kroog as an absurdly aggressive and powerful card.

The Second Place finalist was on regular Breach (no Lurrus).

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This is more of the 4C/RUG variants, which is using Managorger Hydra as a win condition as opposed to Monastery Mentor. I like this version a lot for sure. Seems pretty interesting to play.

Also in the Top 8 we had Hullbreacher Control.

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This is by definition a Tinker deck with Hullbreacher as a bit of a powerful card that shuts off the opponent's draws. Essentially if you want to think about it this is Grixis Thieves in a more 2021 fashion, with the Hullbreachers instead of Notion Thief.

Further down the Top 8 we have perennial lord of all that is Spice, Brian Kelly, on a wildly out there Standstill variant. There aren't even flying Sharks!

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The real spice here is Starnheim Unleashed. That seems super cool in general here. And in case you did a double take here... yes there is a Sacred Cat in this list.

Down at the bottom of the Top 32, we have Merfolk!

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Sometimes I forget that Hullbreacher is a Merfolk. And then I remember.

Vintage Super Qualifier 4/4

We also had a Super Qualifier event this past weekend, which is much like a PTQ style event. The top prizes at the end were a pair of Arena Championship (PT level events) qualifications. This event had 189 players in it! Solid turnout overall.

You can find all of the Top 32 lists for this event here.

Let's dive right into the metagame breakdown!

BUG Midrange was absolutely dominant as the most played archetype of this event, and it wasn't even close. The next most popular archetype was Jeskai Control, and is again, not a terribly huge surprise here. However, the Top 8 was actually really positive as we will see here.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Doomsday 1st discoverN
PO Storm 2nd IamActuallyLvl1
BUG Midrange 3rd Sprouts
Golos Stax 4th rage_hs
Dredge 5th Ryan100495
Doomsday 6th lampalot
Dredge 7th NekoReality
Jeskai Control 8th Ark4n

This Top 8 is SOLID. Plenty of representation of archetypes, and some really powerful contenders here. At the end of the event, snagging one of the Qualifications was one of the undisputed masters of Doomsday on Magic Online in discoverN.

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DD lists in Vintage continually have become so refined and powerful, thanks to the mere presence of the card Thassa's Oracle. discoverN is an incredibly talented player, and it is no surprise to see them do well here.

In the Second Place finalist slot, snagging the other qualification AND making it the second time that he has qualified for a PT level event via Vintage is our good friend Justin Gennari on what else? PO Storm.

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I like this list a ton. It's very clean and isn't playing too cute. Justin is one of the pioneers of PO, so it is always nice to see his persistence, his love of the archetype, and his general attitude do well. Congrats to both him and discoverN on their qualifications!

Also in the Top 8 we have Golos Stax!

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There's a lot less Grafdigger's Cage rolling around in these lists than is normal mainly because of the issues with the card on Magic Online (as in, it's still bugged), but this list is really powerful and has some great stuff going on in it.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have Jeskai Control!

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This is a fairly cut and dry Jeskai list, with multiple Arcanist/Lavinia, and of course our standard Planeswalker fare. There's a lot to be said about this particular archetype. It's popular and one of the really standardized lists for control in the format.

Outside of the Top 8, we have typical Death's Shadow affiliate TrueHero on a sweet 4C Midrange pile.

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Omnath, Locus of Creation is a really powerful card overall, so it is super sweet to see it here especially in conjunction with Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. This list is really super sweet and looks like a ton of fun.

Around the Web

  • Our good friend Justin Gennari posted a TON of PO content from this past weekend, so be sure to check that out here.
  • Bryant Cook also posted a video on PO with their 9th place finish in the Super Qualifier. Check that out here.

The Spice Corner

THING. IN. THE. ICE.

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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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