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Vintage 101: Doing the April Shuffle


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're taking yet another look at Vintage's metagame, especially since the unrestriction of Ponder last month! In addition to that we've got a whole bunch of Challenges to look at with the new events added throughout the week by Daybreak Games.

Without further ado, let's dive right in.

Vintage in April - A Month since Ponder Unrestriction

It's time yet again for another look at Vintage, and this time we are shortening our window a bit to hone in on when Ponder was unrestricted in Vintage last month on March 11. All of this data comes from the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord (the community ran by Justin Gennari). I made a copy of their current dashboard and shortened the time to the past month, which you can find here.

Based on the past month's data set, we have just a little under 1,000 entries to go off of. This is pretty amazing. Much of this comes from the fact that Daybreak Games has added more events to MTGO for Vintage Challenge events.

Let's take a peek at the graphical data and then discuss where the Top 5 decks of the format sit.

As we can see, so much of Vintage is blue right now. Over 55% of the format is some form of a Blue Control deck, the most popular of which is Lurrus Saga.

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Lurrus Saga continues to showcase that it is one of the best decks in Vintage at the moment. Its win rate over the past month is exceptionally solid, especially its non-Mirror win rate. The biggest part of this deck is the multiple angles of attack it has, while having a one-two of Saga and Lorien Revealed allowing its manabase to be constructed in such a way to take advantage of both Saga and Wasteland while still having access to blue mana by cycling Lorien Revealed. This remains the deck to keep in consideration when playing an event. Furthermore, this deck is mostly not affected by the Ponder unrestriction still. While I've seen some builds toying with a few copies of the card, it tends to be used either not at all or not at a full four copies in these decks.

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The next most popular deck in the format is none other than Jewel Shops still. This deck, a conglomeration of what used to be Paradoxical Outcome and Mishra's Workshop decks, leverages a ton of mana and card draw to win the game. It's a powerful deck and one of the most "Vintage-y" decks of the format still. The non-mirror win rate of this deck is also quite good at 53.4%.  This is a deck that can catch you by surprise, but at the same time, there's lots of ways to metagame against it if you really want to go deep on it.

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Initiative comes in third place here in terms of metagame representation, but its overall non-mirror win rate is actually lower than 50% at a 48.8%. What keeps this deck floating about is the fact that it doesn't care about cards like Orcish Bowmasters and new cards like Dauntless Dismantler have been really good for the strategy. It's popular mainly because of its perceived power level overall, as being a deck that won Eternal Weekend and also being a strategy that isn't blue and isn't also a Workshops or Bazaar deck. People still really like Initiative because the Initiative mechanic itself is interesting, but the deck has definitely suffered a bit in the past month.

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Dredge also cracks into the Top 5 most popular decks, but its win rate is even more atrocious than Initative's is (42.1% non-mirror). Dredge has its fans in the format for sure, as many players absolutely love the style of gameplay. It's also pretty noticeable that this deck was doing much better in the past few months, but then has dipped back down, which is often what happens when Dredge remains too popular for too long. The deck is very easy to metagame against overall if you really want to do so, and the Lurrus decks especially can play pieces that interact with it that they can then replay with Lurrus, making it rough. This is definitely to be expected that Dredge's win rates have gone down simply because players are back to respecting it. Once that stops happening is when Dredge is usually able to do some strong things.

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Rounding out the Top 5 decks of the format is none other than Doomsday. This is certainly a deck that benefits well from the Ponder unrestriction as being able to run four copies of the card can be pretty instrumental in helping the deck find its signature card. The win rate for this deck is quite good too at a 52.4% non-mirror win rate. This deck can have some complicated lines and a bit of a learning curve, which makes it a little less popular for newer players in the format to immediately pick up unlike some of the other decks in the Top 5 here. The players who are really good at this deck though boast strong results primarily because they know the deck inside and out.

For right now, Vintage has something of a status quo. There's two sort of "Top" decks floating around, one of which is a fair deck and the other an unfair deck, with a bunch of different decks floating around below those two. Keeping both Lurrus Saga and Jewel in mind for an event can generally lead to some amount of succcess because those decks are popular enough that you will see them a lot. Respecting graveyards is important as many decks are utilizing them now, and really I think more or less the format seems a tiny bit stagnant. While gameplay seems okay enough, the normal cyclical nature of the format hasn't really presented itself even since the unrestriction of Ponder. A month however may just not be enough time and we may be seeing the cycle act even more slowly than it normally does.

We did just get a new Standard set release, but I doubt much of that set will impact Vintage in such a large way to upset the balance of these top decks. I am also more than content to wait than to make changes because shaking things up for the sake of shaking things up is not as great as addressing an actual issue, and for right now the format seems reasonable enough. There is a fair deck at the top and usually those sorts of metagames tend to be pretty good, and we are also going to be heading into further uncharted territory with Modern Horizons III. For now, I'm curious to see what happens in another month.

Vintage Challenge 4/11

The first of the new Challenges added by Daybreak was actually a Thursday Challenge event. This event had 50 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Both Dredge and Lurrus Saga were super popular, with both having solid win rates. Lurrus DRS decks did very well, while every other deck across the board was relatively in line.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus DRS 1st sebastianpozzo
Lurrus Saga 2nd Sanitoeter
Lurrus Saga 3rd gatekappa
Dredge 4th msskinbolic
Jewel Shops 5th MarcusMPV
Doomsday 6th Tsubasa_Cat
Jewel Shops 7th AFX
BUG 8th _Shatun_

Lot of Lurrus and Jewel here in this Top 8. At the end of the event it was a split finals with the recorded winner being Lurrus DRS.

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Four copies of Tarmogoyf seems pretty sweet here. Also always fun seeing cards like Dead Weight as an effect you can replay with Lurrus.

The recorded Second Place was Lurrus Saga.

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Definitely a very different take on normal Lurrus Saga decks. We get things like Ragavan, Lavinia, and even Wrenn and Six! Really sick looking list here for sure.

Also in this Top 8 we had Dredge.

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Rather clean looking list here, more leaning on the non-Poxwalkers style builds with Silversmote Ghoul.

Vintage Challenge 4/12

The second new Challenge of the week was the Friday event. This event had 48 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Jewel Shops was the most popular deck of the event and it had a reasonable win rate. Lurrus Saga did very well as the best win rate of the event in the top five decks. Lurrus DRS, Dredge, and Other Shops decks did rather poorly.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus Saga 1st Mogged
Lurrus Saga 2nd MackSmith
Doomsday 3rd Tsubasa_Cat
Lurrus Saga 4th boytriton
Jewel Shops 5th AFX
Jewel Shops 6th MarcusMPV
BUG 7th billster47
Turbo Vault Key 8th Aaa258

Again a lot of Lurrus and Jewel. It was another split finals here with a pair of Lurrus Saga decks.

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The First Place list has some minor changes, such as cards like main deck Dress Down and Spreading Seas, which the Second Place list doesn't have. Both incredibly solid lists overall though here.

Also in this Top 8 we had Doomsday.

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Rather clean looking list here. This deck certainly has benefitted from the power of the Ponder unrestriction for sure.

Vintage Challenge 4/13

The first Challenge of the weekend was the mid afternoon Saturday event. This event had 55 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Lurrus Saga was the most popular deck, but it's overall win rate was rather poor. Jewel Shops did insanely well as did Turbo Vault Key. CounterVine and Doomsday did poorly here.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jewel Shops 1st MarcusMPV
Jewel Shops 2nd ecobaronen
Turbo Vault Key 3rd Sprouts
Turbo Vault Key 4th shir kahn
Jewel Shops 5th snakerman
Beseech Storm 6th bennybo
Initiative 7th MayhemDJ
Dredge 8th GengsKhan

Reasonable Top 8, in which we saw another split finals from a pair of Jewel Shops.

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Pretty much the exact same list here down to the card. I guess if it's not broke don't fix it!

Further down this Top 8 we had Initiative.

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Boromir, Warden of the Tower is a really sweet card. Almost like a Lavinia in a sense, since it can shut off things like Force of Will and stuff cast off Bolas's Citadel. Really sweet card indeed.

Vintage Challenge 4/14

The final Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 38 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Lurrus Saga and Jewel Shops was super popular, with Lurrus Saga having a solid win rate overall. Turbo Vault Key also did very well. BUG, Oath, and Lurrus DRS all did less than ideal.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus Saga 1st Mogged
Turbo Vault Key 2nd Diem4x
Sphere Shops 3rd Sommertroll
Lurrus Saga 4th ElfKid
Lurrus Saga 5th musasabi
Jewel Shops 6th AJV20
Turbo Vault Key 7th Navas
Doomsday 8th discoverN

Again a fair amount of Lurrus here, with nearly 5/8 of the Top 8 being a Lurrus deck. At the end of the event it was Lurrus Saga that won.

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I'm still of the mind that at the very least it's super cool that Spreading Seas is a card that sees play in these decks.

In Second Place we had Turbo Vault Key.

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This deck is something I think people are sleeping on just a bit, but are finally waking up to. Oswald Fiddlebender is a sweet card for sure.

Also in this Top 8 we had Sphere Shops.

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Very straightforward and heavily aggressive. The inclusion of Patchwork Automaton really made this deck quite impressive in terms of the level of aggressive quality it has.

Around the Web

  • Justin Gennari always has some cool stuff for us.
  • Dr_Yanitor has a Doomsday video. Check it out here.
  • Turn One Win has a video on playing Vintage on MTGO. Check it out here.
  • Revenantkioku has a video on Doomsday in a Challenge. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

Now that Leagues are throughout the week, let's find some spice!

Pretty sure Absorbentthree is just Brian Kelly's clone.

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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 my Link Tree! In addition you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!



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