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Vintage 101: Days Gone By


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for the final Vintage 101 of 2018! It has been a crazy year for me, one that I really didn't think I expected ending this way, knee deep in Vintage content. I am eternally grateful to the MTGGoldfish crew for bringing me on, in addition to the Vintage community for welcoming me with open arms. I'm looking forward to what 2019 will bring us for Vintage, with the hopes of getting to meet many more within the community and also attend more events!

In fact, I'm going to be at the StarCityGames Legacy Classic in Columbus, OH upcoming on January 6th! If you're attending, hit me up on Twitter and let me know!

For this, our last article of 2018 we'll be diving deep into yet another archetype the Vintage format has to offer, with the aim of providing information about the format to help prime you for playing on Magic Online. In addition, I'll also be answering some reader questions in a mailbag type deal, and ending with a final thank you as we look ahead to 2019!

Our deck this week is Paradoxical Storm, and while we already did an article on this deck, we're going to do exactly what we've been doing the past few weeks and look at where the deck is now and deconstruct it into key categories.

The Paradox of Paradoxical - A Deconstruction

Since we last left Paradoxical, it had won the US Vintage Championships at Eternal Weekend in the competent hands of Brian Coval. Since that time, most of the PO decks have congruently arrived at the same types of builds, utilizing the kill condition of Tendrils of Agony or Monastery Mentor over the use of cards like Tinker and the Time Vault + Voltaic Key combo. That's not to say that the latter builds don't still exist (in fact several players still play them), but a large number of lists have shifted over to the same kind of list that Coval won on Eternal Weekend with.

Let's take a look at one of these lists, coming at us from Magic Online user, thepowernine.

As always, let's deconstruct this list into its key elements.

Mana

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Due to the power level of the card Paradoxical Outcome, the mana in this deck is actually the biggest, most important pieces of it. Cards like Sol Ring and Mana Crypt provide tremendous advantage, while Mox Opal provides additional color filtering for whatever the deck might be required to do at any given time. Mana rocks are the bread and butter of the deck.

Win Conditions

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

The artifact mana in this deck lends itself well to this deck's win conditions. Drawing many, many cards with PO and then killing your opponent with a card like Tendrils of Agony or Monastery Mentor is what this deck wants to do. Yawgmoth's Will lends itself to a kill condition on its own, and Mind's Desire is extremely powerful.

The Blue Suite

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

The common support spells this deck plays are in the color blue, and the vast majority of which is cards. Snapcaster Mage is a noteworthy inclusion of being able to flashback cards like Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, and Paradoxical Outcome if need be. Notably this deck excludes Mental Misstep as it does not need the countermagic insulation as much as other decks due to the redundancy in powerful effects.

Utility

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The final category for this deck are cards that provide utility, either through tutoring capability such as Demonic Tutor and Merchant Scroll or through bounce effects such as Repeal and Hurkyl's Recall (which acts as insulation vs Ravager Shops as well as a way to bounce your own artifacts for Storm count purposes). Night's Whisper might seem a bit odd, but it is an effective draw two for two mana, and Sensei's Divining Top can combo with Paradoxical Outcome to draw deeper into your deck. As always, Library of Alexandria is an excessively powerful draw engine that costs nothing.

Storming Off with Paradoxical Outcome

PO Storm can often be a somewhat straightforward deck to learn in Vintage, as its game plan for most games is fairly similar in what it wants to do, but the deck can often arrive at a solid conclusion to the game without even having to resolve a single Paradoxical Outcome. What you are looking for in most hands is a good mixture of artifact mana and spells plus lands, and as always opening the game with restricted cards like Ancestral Recall is going to be very powerful.

One important trick to remember is that Sensei's Divining Top can be tapped to draw a card, and then Paradoxical Outcome (since it is an instant) can be cast in response (including the Top as one of the targets) so that you can draw one card deeper than you would have before. On Magic Online this requires some knowledge of the client to activate an ability while maintaining priority so that you can cast Outcome in response.

It's also very important to point out the obvious that Paradoxical Outcome is indeed an instant, and while it might seem strange to do so, being able to cast one on an end step to gain a draw advantage the following turn and hopefully draw a second (or third or fourth) Outcome can be very powerful.

In addition, cards like Repeal and Hurkyl's Recalll are often how you will beat problem permanents, such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Leovold, Emissary of Trest, or the entirety of Ravager Shops' permanents usually (outside of lands, that is). Repeal has a strong upside of drawing a card, and can often count as a pseudo-cantrip to give you a card deeper into your library. while Hurkyl's Recall can also be used to bounce your own stuff if need be. It has a strong upside against decks that play Hollow One as well, given that you can bounce those too.

No matter what, artifact mana is the scariest thing that opponent's can see. Cards like Sol Ring and Mana Vault can often be prime Mental Misstep targets from your opponent, due to the sheer incremental advantage they represent when resolving Outcome. And of course, Null Rod and Stony Silence can be potential blowouts for Outcome since they can't activate their artifact mana.

Sideboard Choices

Since we have some key pieces to look at here, let's break down our sideboard choices into different categories.

Graveyard Hate

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

As always, Graveyard hate is generally a prime part of sideboards in Vintage, thanks to decks like Dredge. Generally the go-to for decks like Paradoxical Outcome is cards like Tormod​'s Crypt and Grafdigger's Cage due to the fact that they are cheap-mana cost wise and colorless, which lends to them being additional fuel for a resolved Outcome if need be. Some lists (like our sample one) eschew Cage for just Crypt.

Permanent Hate

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

In order to deal with problematic things such as Null Rod, Leovold, and the like, PO sideboards will often include some function to remove those permanents from play, either through the use of cards like Fragmentize, Karakas, or additional copies of Hurkyl's Recall.

Opposing Blue Deck Hate / Utility

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Since Xerox style decks as well as the mirror can sometimes be problematic post-board (since they too will bring in tools to cut you off of resolving your spells), PO has options such as additional Flusterstorms as well as cards like Defense Grid and Kambal, Consul of Allocation. Mystic Remora is a powerful little draw engine that forces your opponent to slow down or otherwise allow you to draw a whole mess of cards. This effect can ultimately be very powerful to keep around for a few turns since it will often draw you more than a few cards before having to get sacrificed, or it can also be additional fodder for a resolved Outcome.

Planeswalkers and... Additional Land?

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

It is not uncommon to see cards like Karn, Scion of Urza in sideboards of this deck, mostly because the card has a sheer amount of utility, often profiting well off all the artifact mana the deck plays, which allows the deck to play through a Null Rod effect by not having to actually care about it. In addition, some lists have taken to playing two Basic Island in the sideboard, likely for matchups where Wasteland and Strip Mine are factors but also as a way to insulate against Sphere effects and the like that might prevent it from having enough lands to cast spells.

Paradoxical Storm - Resources Around the Web

Moving Ever Forward - The 2018 Mailbag!

I pushed this little bit around on The Mana Drain, Reddit, Twitter, even on here for getting questions, and while I didn't get as many as I would have liked, I did get some interesting ones. So, without further ado, let's get right into the thick of things with our first question, and it's a doozy.

Joe Lowdon Asks: "Do you think we'll ever see Workshop restricted?"

Oh yes, the old Mishra's Workshop restriction question. Everyone has their own opinions on this card it seems. There's an underlying tension that despite the fact that Workshops has eaten several restrictions of key cards over the years, that the deck continues to thrive and prosper in Vintage, replacing those cards with other ones and shifting more into an aggro role over a prison one. Some will argue that Wizards continues to miss the mark and that Mishra's Workshop is the appropriate card to restrict. While I can agree that the deck is certainly powerful, the shift this year with Paradoxical Outcome being a deck that can get to Shops shows that it isn't unbeatable. That being said, I think we will never actually see Workshop get restricted, not because the card isn't powerful (because it obviously is), but because of the backlash that would occur if it actually ever happened. Workshop is supposed to be considered a Pillar of the format, and carries with it the same kind of insulation that Brainstorm does in Legacy. Let's also add to the fact that Workshops continues to increase in paper price, a restriction would mean many established Vintage players would simply stop playing the game entirely. So no, I don't think we'll ever see it get restricted, but I do expect there could be a potential restriction from a piece within the deck at some point.

Piro Asks: "What do you consider the strangest thing about Vintage?"

The strangest thing about Vintage? The fact that at one point, Arlinn Kord was playable. The fact that Slash Panther was a reasonable answer to Jace at one point in time. There are so many strange and unique cards that don't see that much play in other Eternal formats but do in Vintage that it makes it severely interesting to me.

Zach Asks: "I'm going to buying into Vintage on MTGO, what is the best deck to start with if you mainly play Big Mana and Midrange decks in Modern?"

This is an intriguing question given that there not that many equivalents to these archetypes in Vintage. I would say likely that the best deck that somewhat closely fits a "big mana" strategy is Ravager Shops because of Mishra's Workshop and all the Sol lands. As far as Midrange is concerned, the Sultai decks that play Deathrite Shaman and Leovold, Emissary of Trest are probably the closest thing to a midrange type strategy.

Dawn Asks: "I've been playing Magic for about three or four years now. I have a lot of relatively new cards (ranging from Shadows over Innistrad onward). Are there any Vintage decks that utilize a lot of newer cards?"

While sometimes newer cards can find their way into Vintage (and certainly have in the past few years), there aren't many decks that rely on completely new cards, but a few decks like Ravager Shops (Walking Ballista, Foundry Inspector) and Survival (Hollow One primarily) do use a decent amount of newer cards. The primary issue you have to overcome is the restricted cards as those are generally always important to powered strategies in the format.

Mr. Owl Asks "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?"

I looked for the answer to this and I can only assume that the answer is Three, which just so happens to be the number correlating to the amount of mana that Black Lotus and Mishra's Workshop produce.

The Spice Corner

Because skulls are powerful (and because Cyrus CG will love me for it), have a little DPS (Dark Petition Storm) with a side of Bontu's Last Reckoning.

Wrapping Up - The Look Ahead to 2019

With that, that's all the time we have for the final article of 2018. We have a lot to look forward to in 2019. More looks at different decks (including a look at Eldrazi based strategy), more tournament coverage (including the possibility of me being able to make it up to Michigan for an event in February for my Birthday!), and more Vintage than ever before. Furthermore, we have VINTAGE SUPER LEAGUE to look forward to coming on January 8th! It's going be super exciting covering VSL for you folks, especially since a certain other MTGGoldfish guy (hint hint SaffronOlive hint hint) is going to be partaking in VSL Season 9 as well. Get hyped for VSL, and be sure to check out their Patreon. Every little bit of support helps to keep the show running.

In addition, we can't forget that 2019 has Eternal Weekends for us to cover and also the possibility of another crack at StarCityGames doing the P9 Series again. With so much opportunity, it's going to be a lot of fun to be playing and enjoying this wonderful format.

And with that, I leave you to the graces of 2019. Let's ring in the New Year by tapping some Moxen, cracking a Lotus, and drawing three with an Ancestral. Until next time folks, keep all your Magic Vintage!


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