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Vintage 101: Enter the Undercity

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 diving into some new additions to Magic Online this past week with some Initiative cards from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate finally arriving there. In addition to that we've got some updates on paper Eternal Weekend events in both Asia and the US as well as Challenge data from last weekend.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Dungeon Diving!

This past weekend we had the release of The Brother's War on MTGO, but with that came a new update to Treasure Chests bringing cards from Commander sets that are not on MTGO just yet. As part of that, some more cards from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate have finally come to MTGO in the form of White Plume Adventurer and Seasoned Dungeoneer.

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Both of these cards are utilizing a mechanic introduced in Baldur's Gate known as the Initiative. The Initiative functions sort of like the Monarch mechanic from Conspiracy: Take the Crown where it is gained by one of these creatures when they enter the battlefield and can be taken away from a player via combat damage. The Initiative however, is more than just drawing a card, instead it ventures into a special dungeon called the Undercity. This venture effect occurs whenever you take the initiative (i.e. whenever one of these creatures enters the battlefield) and at the beginning of your upkeep.

The Undercity itself has a number of options, and for those unfamiliar with the Dungeon mechanic the way it works is that every time you venture into the dungeon you progress down from the top room to the bottom room of the dungeon. If there is a choice between rooms to go into, you choose one or the other, and you can only move forward and never backward. For example, in the Undercity if you choose to move from Secret Entrance to Forge, you can't go back up and go into Lost Well and you won't be able to go into Stash from Forge because it's on the other side of the dungeon.

For the Undercity's purposes the most important side of the dungeon is the entire left side, as it represents the most aggressive nature of these kinds of decks that could abuse this. Right off the bat after getting a basic land, you are giving a creature two +1/+1 counters (more often than not this is White Plume Adventurer becoming a 5/5 right off the bat) and then you are hitting your opponent for five life in the Trap room.

The other side of the dungeon is useful if your opponent has removal available for the Initiative creature, as it can reap back some card advantage and create a new threat (4/1 black Skeleton with menace).

What makes this mechanic very powerful is the fact that it reaps value and benefits even if the creature gets removed much like Monarch does, but unlike Monarch playing additional cards with Initiative will just continue to progress through the dungeon.

Since these cards became available we got very lucky to see how they function in Vintage thanks to our good friend Montolio (Andy Markiton). He posted a 5-0 with a very solid looking list combining elements of Stompy + White Archon decks into one.

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This mechanic is quite strong and I expect some more development out of it and people to try it out as the cards become more available on Magic Online. It has a lot of strong early gameplay and the Initiative itself was not well designed for 1v1 play, making it kind of bonkers.

Andy also recorded a league with this deck, so it's well worth a look below to see how strong this mechanic is.

Asia Eternal Weekend 2022

Asia Eternal Weekend is this weekend in Aichi, Japan! The full event schedule for this event has been posted on BIG MAGIC's website here.

The Vintage Championship event this weekend is on Saturday November 26 and has a capacity of 226 players. The winner of this event will receive the special Bazaar of Baghdad trophy and the Top 8 will all receive a promo Gush card.

US Eternal Weekend 2022

US Eternal Weekend in Philadelphia, PA is set to go on December 8th-11th. This event is hosted by Card Titan and the full event schedule has been posted over here.

It is worth noting that this event does require a badge entry to get into the hall (of which there are several options for doing so on the website) in addition to the entry fee for the tournament itself.

The Vintage Championship event itself is on Friday December 9th and the entry fee for this event is $60. The main swiss rounds of the event are played on Friday with the Top 8 being played on Sunday December 11th. The playmat for this event is Yawgmoth's Will.

The winner of the event will receive a special Time Walk trophy, while the Top 8 competitors will also receive the Gush promo card.

It's also worth noting that there is a Vintage High Roller event (entry fee $200) on Saturday December 10th with a prize of a Mox Pearl.

Vintage Challenge 11/19

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Saturday event. This event had 53 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Breach was very popular here, as was Hogaak based decks. Both did quite well, as did Prison Shops. The spread of decks here is wonderful to see though. Quite a lot going on and it all looks pretty good right now.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Sheoldred Wheels 1st Ozymandias17
Jeskai Lurrus 2nd unluckymonkey
Cradlevine 3rd Avaloon
Sheoldred Wheels 4th bless_von
Prison Shops 5th _Shatun_
Cradlevine 6th EddDeedoo
Dredge 7th Wizard_2002
Grixis Tinker 8th Renerandrup

Very interesting Top 8 here. At the end of the event, it was our good friend Matt Vook who took down the event on a UB Tinker with Sheoldred and Wheel effects at the helm.

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Usually we see this deck in Grixis because of the addition of Wheel of Fortune, but we've got Day's Undoing here as yet another playable wheel with Sheoldred in play. We've also got some Hullbreacher action to shut off draws if need be for treasures. Solid looking list.

In Second Place we've got Jeskai Lurrus.

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New card Third Path Iconoclast here showing up. These lists do have a lot of noncreature spells to abuse the card, but UR in Vintage is definitely a rough mana cost with all the mana denial floating about in the format.

Also in this Top 8 we've got Cradlevine.

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The big selling point of this variant is the abuse of Gaea's Cradle with Hexdrinker to make a powerful untargetable unblockable threat. It's pretty surprising how quickly this occurs with Cradle and all the free creatures in this deck.

Vintage Challenge 11/20

The second Challenge event of the week was the early morning Sunday 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 Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Breach, Jeskai, and Hogaak all were at the top of the format here, but Hogaak did very medium while Breach did quite well. Oops decks did very well and everything else was rather middle of the road outside of the Grixis Saga variants.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Tinker Breach 1st Yamaro
Jeskai Lurrus 2nd unluckymonkey
Oath of Druids 3rd desolutionist
Doomsday 4th Enrichetta
4C Tempo 5th Kenzaburo
Jeskai Control 6th ZYURYO
Esper Tinker 7th Snoopy-Magic
Lurrus Breach 8th Oosunq

Definitely a very Jeskai heavy Top 8 with several decks in that color combo in the Top 8. At the end of the event it was a Tinker Breach build that won.

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This build leans more into a four color based build with access to white mainly for Monastery Mentor as a win condition alongside the typical Grixis cards that make up this strategy.

Also in Second Place is the same Second Place pilot from Saturday's event on Jeskai Lurrus.

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This list has a lot of straightforward power to it, and it's interesting to see how good Expressive Iteration is in this format with UR being a fairly difficult mana cost to actually cast sometimes.

Also in this Top 8 we had Oath of Druids.

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Defnitely a very Miharu aesthetic to this list, with the Okos and Wrenns here. Off color Moxen in the sideboard is super interesting as a choice for sure.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 lists here.

Straight Gruul Beats is pretty daggone cool.

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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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