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Vintage 101: European Vacation!


European Vintage Championships

The North American Eternal Weekend is almost here! By the time you read this it will be nearly time to kick off Eternal Weekend, which hosts the North American Legacy and Vintage Championships. Previously this event was the one and only Vintage Championship, but this year the powers that be have decided to have multiple continents host their own Vintage and Legacy Champs.

This year, the European Vintage Championship and the North American one are only a week apart. This means that everyone is paying very close attention to what went on in the Euro champs. As it is a large, sanctioned event, the European Vintage Championship is sure to have an effect on our Eternal Weekend in Columbus, Ohio.

This week I'm going to go over the Top Eight of the Euro Vintage Championships and talk a bit about some of the new tech. There are a few cards that have recently popped up that I think will be very impactful. Hopefully this last minute update helps any of you that are battling this weekend!

2016 European Vintage Championships - Paris, France

1st Jeskai Mentor Joan Anton Mateo
2nd Car Shops Maarten Knaepen
3rd White Eldrazi Jose Antonio Badia Garcia
4th Phyrexian MUD Antonio Mussara
5th Car Shops Ladislav Loucka
6th Dark Petition Storm Rob Mesotten
7th Powered Tribal Eldrazi Henrik Storm
8th Oath of Druids Yves Dahinden

 

That's quite an interesting Top Eight! There are basically five "Shops" type decks that made it to the elimination rounds. White Eldrazi and the Tribal Eldrazi deck are both based on mana-taxing effects like Sphere of Resistance or Thorn of Amethyst, but they don't play Mishra's Workshops. There were three decks that did play Workshops, and all the Spheres and Thorns associated with that. While not all of those decks are the exact same archetype, I feel that they share enough similarities to group them together. I guess the bottom line is that Thorn of Amethyst had a good showing for the day. 

Seeing an Oath deck make the Top Eight makes sense, as Oath is good in a field full of Workshop-type decks. The Storm deck is a little unexpected because Spheres are its mortal enemy. Only one Gush deck made Top Eight, but it ended up winning the entire event. I guess that even when Shops dominates a field Gush can sometimes still get there. 

Without further ado, let's take a look at these decks! 

Fleetwheel Mack

Nick Dijohn's Car Shops deck has been running people over left and right lately. Named for the addition of Fleetwheel Cruiser, Car Shops is an evolution of the Ravager/TKS MUD decks that have cemented themselves as the defacto best Workshop deck in Vintage. 

The core of the deck contains nearly the same mana base as the old TKS MUD decks. Eldrazi Temple has been swapped out for Mishra's Factory, and to compensate for that change Thought-Knot Seer is no longer a four-of. Considering that Thought-Knot can be very tough to cast at times, three seems like a much better number for the Eldrazi creature. 

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The main reason to cut Eldrazi Temple for Mishra's Factory is that an animated Factory can Crew your Fleetwheel Cruiser. Even without a Cruiser out, it's nice to have access to the utility that a creatureland provides. When none of those other factors are relevant you can still just make colorless mana to cast your Thought-Knot Seer, so Mishra's Factory is never completely useless. 

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Fleetwheel and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship are fantastic in a MUD deck. Many people compared Fleetwheel to Slash Panther and wrote it off, but having extra power and toughness along with trample makes it a formidable foe. I had the pleasure of playtesting against 2009 Vintage Champion Hiromichi Ito the other day, and he stomped a mud hole through me with Fleetwheel Cruiser. The card just hits so hard and fast, and it's simple to meet the crew requirement. 

Skysovereign is a lot like a Triskelion, but it has some advantages. Flying is very important, as all of the token creatures that Gush decks make can clog up the ground. The three damage trigger is equivalent to what a Trike can do on its own, and you can get a trigger each attack step as long as you meet the Crew requirement. Triskelion does have more damage potential when combined with Arcbound Ravager so there's still a reason to play both cards. 

Totally Fair

I've been noticing a lot of MUD decks have been playing one copy of Inventors' Fair in their decks. The first time I saw the legendary land from Kaladesh I wasn't all that impressed, but it appears to have found a home in Vintage. 

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Gaining one life during each of your upkeeps isn't a big deal, but I'm sure that it is more beneficial than I first thought. Since MUD decks play Ancient Tomb and Mana Crypt they tend to deal a lot of damage to themselves. Every two turns you gain an extra activation of Ancient Tomb, and the investment cost is very low. 

The activated ability of Inventors' Fair is a very nice mana dump for longer games. MUD decks rarely have any real draw engines and once they're hellbent they can get into trouble. Being able to tutor up the perfect card for your situation is a nice bonus, and the ability is almost impossible to counter. 

Car Shops at Vintage Champs

I expect that Fleetwheel Cruiser will be a hot card at Vintage Champs. Ravager shops has a proven pedigree, and Car Shops is just the newest configuration of that deck. I wouldn't be surprised if a decent number of people choose not to adopt Fleetwheel Cruiser or Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, but both of those cards are ones to watch. Cruiser gives a Workshop deck some added speed, which allows the pilot to close out a game before their opponent overcomes all their lock pieces. 

 

Make sure you buckle up, because Fleetwheel Mack is coming in fast!

 

Tribal Eldrazi with Power!

When Eldrazi Stompy took over Legacy, there were a lot of people trying to brew with these new creatures in Vintage. I remember working on various lists of Eldrazi decks that looked like Workshop decks but with Eldrazi creatures. I tried running Eldrazi with a lot of the same lock pieces as a Shops deck, along with Workshops to power them out. There was always a lot of tension between the Mishra's Workshops and too many non-artifact cards. Eventually MUD with Thought-Knot Seer, White Eldrazi, and Powerless Tribal Eldrazi would all make their debut. This next deck has many of the same features as a MUD deck, but it eschews Workshops to eliminate the mana issues. 

This list is somewhere between a MUD deck, and Jason Jaco's Tribal Eldrazi. Instead of Null Rod, this deck is running artifact mana, Thorn of Amethyst, and Sphere of Resistance. Null Rod is still a very useful card, but Henrik Storm chose to relegate it to the sideboard. 

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Henrik's deck contains only seventeen creatures, which is far less than Tribal Eldrazi. There just isn't room for more creatures if you want to run seven lock pieces and a full load of mana acceleration. Seventeen creatures is about the same as a MUD deck would have, so it's not without precedent.  There's also Mishra's Factory to attack with when needed, and the Phyrexian Revokers can double as mana-denial. 

I imagine that this deck plays out much like a Mishra's Workshop deck does, except that this list can churn out Thought-Knot Seer without having to think twice about it. Without Workshops it is slightly more difficult to cast your Spheres and Thorns, but that's not all that much of a hindrance. The list basically just replaces Mishra's Workshop with more "Sol Lands" so the difference is minimal. 

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The Null Rod in the sideboard is interesting. I think that there will be a lot of people trying to make Paradoxical Outcome good at the Vintage Championships, and it's important to be able to shut those decks down when necessary. To make Null Rod work in post-sideboarded games you'd have to side out a chunk of the artifact mana. 

I feel like that this version of Eldrazi probably has a much better matchup against fast combo than Tribal Eldrazi does due to the Null Rod and Thorn of Amethysts. Null Rod is very good in the unpowered lists, but those decks don't have the added redundancy of inhibitory artifacts that this list does.

Eldrazi at Vintage Champs

I really like the look of this deck, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it pick up steam. Powering out uncounterable Thought-Knot Seers and Reality Smashers on turn one or two is backbreaking, and the deck dodges all the best hate for this type of deck. It's like you're playing a Shops deck, but you don't just fold to a Pulverize or Hurkyl's Recall. You could also look at it like you're playing a White Eldrazi deck with a more stable mana base.

I doubt that we'll see much of this exact list at Vintage Champs because it is very new. I think that most people playing Tribal Eldrazi will opt for powerless builds with main-deck Null Rods. Whatever the future holds for this archetype, I'm just glad that Henrik Storm chose to not typecast himself as a Storm player!

 

Golden Gun Oath

Once upon a time Oath of Druids decks played Dragon Breath so that they could Oath into a hasty Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and attack for lethal. Dragon Breath has fallen out of favor in recent years, but Yves Dahinden is on a mission to bring it back! 

Dragon Breath is a tough card to want to make space for in an Oath deck. It's great when you put it into your graveyard as you're milling yourself into an Emrakul, but it's mostly terrible when you draw it. Oath has an issue with drawing unwanted cards, frankly because it plays so many of them. The good news is that you sort of use a Dragon's Breath like an extra Time Walk.

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More than any deck I've ever played, Oath decks want to take extra turns. Getting one attack in with Griselbrand before your opponent can react puts you ahead on the damage race, and it puts more cards in your hands too. If you manage to slap a Dragon's Breath on an Emrakul, that's pretty much G.G. 

I'm still not completely sold on Dragon's Breath due to the unpredictability of having it in your deck, but there is a lot about this list that I do like. I like that there's a lot of removal in the list. Yves has cut the Time Vault and Key combo, as well as Yawgmoth's Will which leaves room for more copies of Abrupt Decay and Toxic Deluge. With all of the Eldrazi Displacers and Containment Priests in the format these days, you can never have enough Abrupt Decays! 

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There are only two Oath creatures, Emrakul and Griselbrand. This makes Show and Tell slightly harder to use, but it also leaves more room for extra draw spells. It's easy to fall behind a Gush deck, so it's important to have as many sources of card advantage as you can get. The list plays two Jace, the Mind Sculptors, as well as a Treasure Cruise and a Dig Through Time

 

Oath at Vintage Champs

Oath is a deck that gets a lot of flak from people when they discuss the format. Overall I do admit that Oath is unfavored against Gush, but it's also so easy to just out-broken your opponent with a good hand. Oath of Druids is nearly on-par with the power level of a card like Tinker, but it's unrestricted. You might just beat your Gush opponent because you drew one more Oath than they had a Force of Will for. 

I don't think that Oath is the best deck in the format, but it does have a very good matchup against Workshops, it's great against non-white Eldrazi, and it's even pretty good against White Eldrazi if you build it correctly. I think that the deck that really gives Oath the most trouble would be fast combo like Storm. If someone manages to make an Oath deck that's good against either Gush or Storm, I think you'll see it in the Top Eight of the 2016 Vintage Championships. 

The Mentors!

Last but not least, we have the first place deck Gush Mentor. 

Everyone's familiar with Gush decks at this point, unless you've been hiding in a cave or something. Monastery Mentor is the win condition you play with if you want to play white in your deck, and Gush is the backbone draw-engine that allows you to walk all over people. It's hard to lose with a full grip of cards. 

When you're not drawing extra cards with Gush, you can draw extra cards with Library of Alexandria. There's a Cavern of Souls for those times where you don't want to waste your Force of Will on resolving a Mentor. Much of the deck is pretty stock; it's full of cantrips, card-drawing, and counterspells. 

There are a lot of cards in the main deck for the blue mirror. Pyroblast is great against other blue decks, as is Mental Misstep and Flusterstorm Most of these anti-blue cards are horrid versus Workshop decks, so I'm glad to see that the pilot of this deck respected Shops enough to include the complimentary basic Mountain in the sideboard! 

Gush at Vintage Champs

Even though all of the decks in Vintage are gunning for Gush, I feel like this might be its year. Most of the best Vintage players I know are very high on Gush, so I expect a lot of the card at the top tables. 

I'm not sure what kind of win-conditions or shell Gush will be best in, but it's probably not going to be in a Storm deck. Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor are just too good to make room for cards like Fastbond. Mentor has been very hot in the last few weeks, so I'm guessing that it will be the Gush deck of choice. Grixis Pyromancer was crushing events all summer long, so maybe it will be successful at Champs. 

 

Wrap-Up

Before I go I'd like to congratulate Lee Terence Brook for his ninth place finish at the European Vintage Championships. I just found out that Lee played my Pitch Dredge list from a few weeks ago, and I'm glad to hear that it performed well! Most of the credit should go to Kingneckbeard, but I did make quite a few additions myself. I'd love to hear that someone else played my deck to a good finish at the North American Eternal Weekend, so I'll be keeping my eyes on tournament results! 

That's all the time I have for this week, I'll see you in seven days. Good luck at Vintage Champs, and may you never die to your own Mana Crypt! 

You can chat with me about #VintageMTG on Twitter @josephfiorinijr - Islandswamp on Magic Online and TMD


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