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Vintage 101: Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap


Howdy folks! It's time for YAEOV101 (Yet Another Edition of Vintage 101)! I'm your ghostest with the mostest, Joe Dyer! While this weekend is centered directly on the North American Vintage Championships at US Eternal Weekend (which you can find coverage for here), we're going to be looking at how to get into Vintage using Magic Online and look at the overall health of the format online. This was something brought up by a reader, and I really wanted to put something out about it. Without further ado, let's jump right in!

The Price of Power

One of the driving forces behind the Vintage format is obviously going to be whether you are playing a deck that plays the Power Nine or not. At this writing, Power is the cheapest it has ever been on Magic Online, with the Vintage Masters Black Lotus being just 18 tix.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Power is so incredibly cheap that many of the decks that play Power have become remarkably cheaper in the past few months. Some attribute this downturn to the current health of the format (which we will discuss later in this article), but one of the biggest reasons behind this is that Vintage Masters flashback drafts happened last year in conjunction with the frequency on Power Nine being boosted within treasure chests. As a result, Power has dropped considerably in price and can now be picked up for roughly 50-60 tix.

So, the very first thing to decide is whether or not you want to play a deck with Power, and if that's the case, pick up the whole set for very cheap. Even if you end up deciding not to play a deck with Power in it (i.e. Dredge), picking up Power now is not a bad investment as it may go up in the future.

Playing Without Power - The Dark Art of Dredge

The most common deck in the Vintage format (and the cheapest deck on Magic Online) is going to be Dredge. Dredge wins the game via the signature mechanic, using a plethora of free creatures such as Bloodghast, Ichorid, and Prized Amalgam in conjunction with spells like Cabal Therapy, Dread Return, and Bridge from Below to swarm their opponent with an army until they are dead. Oftentimes this deck will run cards like Ashen Rider and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite to target with Dread Return. Some versions go deep on combo killing their opponent, sacrificing a longer game for a burst of speed that can kill opponents as early as Turn 1. Regardless of the flavor of Dredge, the deck is often times the most common entry into the format online, thanks to its price tag.

Depending on what variation you are running, Dredge can be as cheap as 108 tix or as expensive as 200-300 tix. Any variation of this deck that plays Main deck Force of Will or sideboard Leyline of the Void is inevitably going to be more expensive than a list without it.

Sometimes, this version will eschew cards like Force of Will and Mental Misstep, and instead will play cards like Unmask. Often times this version plays Leyline of the Void maindeck, due to how the card interacts with Bridge from Below (allowing you to be more free in combat as well as favored in Game 1 of the mirror).

And while this deck doesn't typically play Power Nine cards in it, there is a variation of this deck that does, often referred to as Fatestitcher Dredge, since it seeks to abuse the interaction of Fatestitcher being able to untap Bazaar of Baghdad in order to accelerate a kill. The Power in this version is what allows the deck to combo Turn 1 to kill an opponent.

The Next Step - Playing with Power

Outside of Dredge, because of the general price of Power there is no reason to play a deck on Magic Online without the Power Nine. There are now several decks within the 200-300 tix range that play nearly full sets of Power, two of which are Survival and Ravager Shops.

Survival can be relatively cheap depending on the makeup of the creatures you play, and whether or not you are playing Deathrite Shaman versus Noble Hierarch. The price of Hierarch on Magic Online influences this decision, since DRS is obviously far cheaper than Hierarch is.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

We discussed a lot about Survival last week, so please make sure you take a look at that article to get some good ideas on how to build this particular kind of list.

Ravager Shops has also gotten considerably cheaper, and still is considered one of the best decks in the Vintage format, and can now be built as of this writing for roughly 200-300 tix. One of the biggest upfront costs of this deck is going to be the playset of Wasteland the deck runs in addition to cards such as Arcbound Ravager and Walking Ballista.

Moving into the 300-400 tix range of decks, we see decks such as Jeskai Mentor, Inferno Oath, and BUG Midrange.

BUG Midrange is a good deck for anyone who likes the grindy style of BUG-based control/midrange decks that exist in other formats. The deck leverages the strength of cards like Deathrite Shaman and Leovold, Emissary of Trest while having access to powerful cards such as Abrupt Decay and even Main deck Energy Flux. This deck can sometimes creep up into the 400-500 tix range, but generally costs within the 300-400 range.

Often times the expense of this deck comes at the price of its sideboard and whether it is running Leyline of the Void or not, as well as what kind of diversification the deck has in regards to Fetch lands. The biggest cost of this deck (and any blue based deck) is going to be the playset of Force of Will (which go into every blue deck in the format basically, so buying these once means you have them for everything).

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Inferno Oath as well, places a large amount of its up front cost on the Forces as well as cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Beyond that most of the deck is fairly inexpensive with really only Fetch lands being the most expensive pieces after Forces/Jace.

The last deck in this range is Jeskai Mentor. Mentor is a Xerox Tempo type strategy that seeks to delay and counter its opponent's own strategy before playing out a finisher (usually Monastery Mentor) to kill its opponent. Outside of the Forces and Jaces, Snapcaster Mage and Scalding Tarn tend to be the big pickups of this type of deck, as well as the full four Volcanic Island the deck often plays.

Moving up into the 400+ range we generally see decks such as Paradoxical Outcome and Landstill. As we've noted before in this column, Paradoxical is a storm based hybrid combo deck that runs several different win conditions as well as its primary draw engine in Paradoxical Outcome. Outside of Force of Will, the biggest cost of this deck is generally the three Mox Opal the deck plays (roughly 116 tix for just three).

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Landstill is a control deck that plays traditional control elements such as Snapcaster Mage and Mana Drain, but it also has access to the card Standstill, which often puts players into a position where neither player wants to cast a spell to break the Standstill. The deck often has access to cards like Mishra's Factory to push through damage in these board stalls. One of the biggest up front costs of this deck is not only the fact that it plays Force of Will. but that it also plays Wasteland.

This deck is great if you prefer a traditional control style type game, where stack interaction matters.

These Lists Are Great and All, But How Do I Actually Get into Magic Online?

One of the questions you probably found yourself asking during all of this is "How do I actually do this?" Well, that part is relatively easy. First off, you will obviously need to have a Magic Online account and be able to log in, etc. Second of all you will need to purchase your cards. One of the best ways to do that is actually through MTGGoldfish's own Deck lists or Deck Tools. You can click one single link and purchase cards either through a service like Cardhoarder or MTGO Traders. What generally happens in these scenarios is that you provide the service with your username on Magic Online and after the purchase is complete you will receive a trade request from that service's bot. Accept the trade request and the bot will deposit the cards into your account.

It's really rather simple to do; that being said you can also directly visit sCardhoarder or MTGO Traders and purchase whatever you need for the deck and do the exact same thing.

Once your deck is purchased and your decklist imported into Magic Online, you are ready to play! It's recommended you play around in the practice rooms to get a feel for the deck and how it plays before playing in an actual League. Vintage only has Competitive Leagues, unlike some formats like Modern that have both Friendly and Competitive.

In addition, if you feel comfortable enough to play with the deck in a larger-ish event, the weekend boasts a Vintage Challenge that is typically 6 rounds + cut to Top 8.

The Current Health of Vintage

One of the common threads I've seen via Twitter these past few weeks is the current health of the Vintage format, especially with most of the format's presence being rooted on Magic Online. While Vintage Leagues are often smaller than other formats in terms of active players, currently Leagues are at a bit of a low point with roughly 60-ish active players. What does this tell us about the current health of the format? Well, it does tell me that there are some people who are not pleased with it. As I have mentioned before, to me, Vintage is fun no matter the health of the format, but when the format was like it was before Monastery Mentor got restricted, there is going to be some issues with people wanting to actively play the format.

I know this must seem largely at odds with an article about getting into the format on Magic Online, but bear with me for a moment. Right now absolutely is the best time financially to get into this format via Magic Online as prices of cards for it are very low. That being said, what enjoyment level you receive out of the format will depend on how you wish to approach it.

That being said, many have complained about the format, even Randy Buehler going as far as to say that it would take restrictions to get him back interested in it.

I think that there are some things that need to be adjusted myself. The lack of a decent Dark Ritual based Storm deck currently in the format that can compete is kind of awful and decks like Outcome and Shops continue to dominate and warp the format around their very presence (leading to decks playing Main deck Stony Silence or Null Rod to combat them). The Meta game continues to feel very stagnant this past year, and I'm not really sure what the answer is. More restrictions might be necessary to get a handle on cards like Paradoxical Outcome, but Shops is a real stumper outside of actually restricting Mishra's Workshop (which I am convinced will never happen due to the fact that the format is basically designed to be a format where four Workshop is okay, just like how Brainstorm is okay in Legacy) since the deck often will just replace restricted cards with other cards. Granted, they could restrict Arcbound Ravager or Foundry Inspector (which is ultimately hilarious if they had to do this), but who knows what that would actually do to the deck. Would it kill it? I don't think so.

As well, restricting Paradoxical Outcome itself would lead to the deck being unable to chain busted turns where it draws its entire deck, and that might be fine to me, I think. I am not a huge fan of the archetype myself and I feel the card is more powerful than many give it credit for.

One user on The Mana Drain offered a very interesting take on this, talking about contempt for the current Meta game. It's well worth the short read.

Regardless of the current health of the format, I do know that Wizards does pay attention to it, so if there is a real issue then something will end up being addressed, but it's unlikely to get addressed until Eternal Weekend is said and done.

The Spice Corner

This week we've got a list by the King of Spice... Brian Kelley! With Paradoxical Outcome and... Managorger Hydra?!!?!

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Hope you guys enjoy the weekend of coverage for US Eternal Weekend, whether you're watching it for Vintage or also Legacy, it should be a fun and exciting weekend! Next week we'll be taking a look at the results from Eternal Weekend to get a good picture of where we are at currently with the Paper Vintage Meta game.

As always, you can hit me up on Twitter or Twitch and check out all the other fun stuff I'm up to! Until next time, keep rocking them Vintage leagues and keep playing Magic!


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