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Vintage 101: Commanding the Dreadhorde

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're digging deep yet again into another deck that has been popping up in the Vintage format as of late, owing to its popularity from SCG Con over a month ago. The deck shell itself isn't quite new, as it is at its base a Jeskai Xerox shell, but the newest inclusion into this strategy is not just Narset, Parter of Veils, but a little 1/3 with trample that has been all over Legacy (among other formats):

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That's right, it's Dreadhorde Arcanist! We're going to take command of the Dreadhorde this week! Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Commanding a Presence with the Dreadhorde

Initially popularized via the placing by Justin Franks (aka thepowernine) at SCG Con, Dreadhorde Arcanist has made its way into many Jeskai Xerox shells since then, to the point where the deck has now become known as Dreadhorde Control because of how powerful this card really is. Arcanist gives the deck a lot of power in being able to flash back 1 CMC spells that are the most premium cards in the format, anything from Ancestral Recall to even the lowly and powerful Lightning Bolt to put pressure on the opponent or to remove a threat. Arcanist gives the deck a new way to utilize its resources for incremental advantage, playing off the power of flashing back powerful spells.

As we always like to do here, let's deconstruct this list into its core components and talk about each one, shall we?


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Outside of the dual lands in the deck, the only artifact mana that this deck plays is Lotus and the Moxen. This deck does play all of the Moxen available, because of being able to trigger cards like Monastery Mentor with them.

The Blue Suite

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The most common of spells to see play in a blue-based deck in Vintage, the majority of these cards are restricted cards, but a large majority of them also cost 1 CMC so they fit right in range with utilizing Dreadhorde Arcanist as a value engine in this deck. One that is missing from this particular decklist is Treasure Cruise, but I believe that is more than likely because Arcanist can cut into the cards that you reasonably want to Delve, and Dig just happens to be a little more impactful in a game.


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Two more 1 CMC spells for Arcanist to utilize are commonly used as removal spells or in the case of Pyroblast can be used to trigger Monaster Mentor or a Dack Fayden ultimate, making it a very flexible and powerful spell in this deck's repertoire.


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As is the case with nearly every blue deck in the format these days, Narset shows up in force alongside the greatest thief in the multiverse  - Dack Fayden. Dack still continues to prove to be a powerful force in the format as his filtering capability backed up by his ability to steal important artifacts is very powerful.


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Outside of the titular creature, this deck also plays a few additional creature threats, one of which is the restricted Monastery Mentor which can run away with games on its own. Young Pyromancer also interacts well with this game plan, giving additional creatures when using Arcanist to flash back spells. Finally, Containment Priest in the main deck is a nod to the current power level of Dredge and Survival strategies in the format.

Sideboard Dreadhorde

Now let's take a look at the sideboard of this deck and deconstruct it into categories.

Graveyard/Dredge Hate

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As is expected, some amount of graveyard/dredge hate is necessary to combat decks like Dredge, Survival, and even Oath of Druids (in the case of Priest + Cage). Cage is on the low end of this hate available due to the fact that it also tends to shut down the interaction of Arcanist. Ravenous Trap is seeing far more play than typical options like Tormod's Crypt or Leyline of the Void due to the presence of Force of Vigor in the format.

Artifact Destruction

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While occasionally you will see cards like By Force in this slot, Shattering Spree is a very flexible way of getting rid of artifacts. It can even get rid of artifacts through a Chalice of the Void on 1 counter due to how Replicate functions, which makes it very powerful. It also works nicely against cards like Precursor Golem.


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Additional interaction is also used in the sideboard of this deck, where premium removal like Swords to Plowshares exists to be able to combat strategies where exiling creatures is most important (Eldrazi, Survival), In addition, copies of Pyroblast and its cousin Red Elemental Blast are good interaction for the mirror matches in addition to another copy of Lightning Bolt.

Vintage Challenge 7/13

We had yet another Vintage Challenge over the weekend, so let's take a moment to cover the results of that, shall we?

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Karn Forge 1st JDPhoenix
PO Storm 2nd IAmActuallyLvl1 (Justin Gennari)
Dredge 3rd Eruxus
RUG Control 4th DancingJesus191
Ravager Shops 5th Um_What
Dreadhorde Control 6th White Tsar
Karn Forge 7th Alicoco
BUG Midrange 8th Badbrain

The highlight of this event was the presence of Mystic Forge, a card I myself have been relatively enjoying playing. User JDPhoenix took down the entire event on a Karn Shops based deck using the card. Let's take a look at the list!

While this list is not entirely built to take advantage of Mystic Forge, it does act as a card advantage engine, usually capable of "drawing" a few cards here or there. While it can somewhat combo with Sensei's Divining Top, it can't go infinite with it. Regardless, this list is very powerful and congrats to JDPhoenix on the list!

Also appearing in the Top 8 in 2nd place is our good friend Justin Gennari on PO Storm! This version of the deck opted to play more of a Jeskai approach using cards like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade and draw 7 effects like Timetwister and Wheel of Fortune. Congrats Justin on your finish!

Appearing in 5th is a more traditional Ravager Shops list, except with the addition of... Golos, Tireless Pilgrim?!

And finally in 4th we have DancingJesus191 with his RUG Control list utilizing Wrenn and Six, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and TWO The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale!

This list is insane and I love everything about it. Definitely looks powerful. If only W6 wasn't a million Magic Online dollars!

As is customary on this column, let's run some more numbers for this week on what new set cards from this year (War of the SparkModern Horizons, and Core Set 2020) are appearing in this week's challenge and how many copies!

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Vigor 40
Karn, the Great Creator 35
Narset, Parter of Veils 32
Mystic Forge 28
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 1
Collector Ouphe 11
Dreadhorde Arcanist 14
Manifold Key 19
God-Pharaoh's Statue 1
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 9
Force of Negation 5
Bolas's Citadel 2
Wrenn and Six 4
Elvish Reclaimer 4
Ashiok, Dream Render 3
Force of Despair 2
Shenanigans 1
Veil of Summer 1
Bazaar Trademage 3
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer 1
Teferi, Time Raveler 2
Echo of Eons 4

So the amount of Force of Vigor flying around appears to be dipping a little, way down from 60 copies from last weekend's challenge. Karn and Narset appear to be mainly on the rise, with Mystic Forge being a huge contender as well. These cards continue to define the strategies to beat in the format, but one thing is for sure is that things are not still fully stable. The Metagame is changing and shifting week to week just like most other formats as people continue to try to identify the best way to approach the format. I still do not believe we have seen a settled and stable Metagame yet, and that alone makes Vintage intriguing to me right now.

The Spice Corner

My good friend Zias has long term been tuning and piloting variations of Prison Dredge for some time, and he's posting some killer results with the deck, so it's only fitting that I share his work!

Wrapping Up

That's all the time have this week folks! Things are only just heating up in the format these days, and next week we're going to talk a little bit about the controversy and debate within the Vintage community about the health of the format, in addition to covering the Mystic Forgebots decklist I posted last week. Prior to my article publishing, I managed to snag a 4-1 with the deck in a league and I felt really happy with it! It should be a fun time talking about this deck.

In other news, this coming weekend is the N.Y.S.E. Open VI in Plainview, NY! I will not be able to attend sadly, but I will be taking the time to cover the Top 8 of the event and to get an idea of where things are at in the paper Vintage Metagame are at. This is by all accounts a pretty sweet tournament, and the coverage for the event will be up on Twitch!

As always, you can hit me up on Twitter, Twitch, and Patreon to help support what I do with this format and this game! Please take a moment to consider dropping some support on me, as every little bit helps! Now that things are starting to settle down a bit, I will likely be able to get together a streaming night and will likely be playing Mystic Forgebots on stream.

Until next time, keep cracking Moxen!

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