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Vintage 101: Everybody Gets an Elk!


Howdy folks! This is Joe again, and it's time for yet another edition of Vintage 101, the series that shows that Vintage is fun and awesome! This week we're going to be looking at a winning decklist from this past weekend's Vintage Format Playoff on Magic Online in addition to talking about that playoff event in more detail. As always, we'll have the Spice Corner and also what I've been playing in the format as of late.

Before we jump in just a reminder that next weekend is US Eternal Weekend and the North American Vintage Championship event! This event will be streamed on Card Titan's Twitch channel, and is sure to be an awesome time!

Now let's dive into the world... of Oko.

The Oath of Oko

Oko, Thief of Crowns was one of the cards that wasn't on our initial list of set review for Throne of Eldraine, and it is one of the cards that I definitely didn't consider for the format until I actually played with the card. Oko is a weird card to evaluate for a lot of people because on the surface it seems like the card doesn't do anything crazy especially in a format like Vintage which is full of a lot more powerful cards, but Oko is secretly one of the most interesting and playable cards out of the set for Vintage. Case in point, due to one particular archetype.

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Oath of Druids gains a massively interesting piece of control in the form of Oko. Oath requires creatures in play in order to trigger, which is often remedied by using Forbidden Orchard to give the opponent a creature to trigger Oath, but if the opponent has a way to get rid of the creature at instant speed or there isn't an Orchard in play, the opponent can blank Oath by simply not playing creatures out. Oko changes this dynamic slightly by being able to convert things like Moxen and other artifact mana into 3/3 Elks to set up an Oath turn. However, this isn't just how Oko interacts with the deck. Most of the common ways of attacking Oath involve cards such as Grafdigger's Cage and Containment Priest, both of which can be blanked by being turned into an Elk. This makes for some very creative ways of dealing with hate permanents, and by virtue of the fact that Oko has an insane amount of starting loyalty, giving the opponent a 3/3 is often not a huge deal.

Also taken into account here is the presence of the London Mulligan which allows the Oath deck to bottom payoff Oath targets in the event that they end up in the opening hand.

So as we like to do here, let's take a look at a list, namely the winner of this past weekend's Vintage Format Playoff event on Magic Online!

First of all, major congratulations to Miharu on their finish this past weekend making first place of such a competitive event.

Let's break this deck down into it's core elements, shall we?

Fast Mana

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Oath is one of the decks that often runs the full gamut of the Artifact mana Power cards, and that is no surprise to see here. Most of the major starts from Oath involve a Moxen and a Forbidden Orchard to power out a Turn 1 Oath of Druids and any color Moxen works well for that task.

The Engine

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The major engine of this deck is the interaction of Oath of Druids and the opponent having creatures, either naturally or via a card like Forbidden Orchard. Because of this, the deck often runs only two major Oath targets in the deck. Currently those targets are Griselbrand and Niv-Mizzet, Parun, since both of these cards tend to interact very well with each other (paying seven life to draw from Griselbrand giving seven damage triggers from Niv is pretty powerful) but are also really strong on their own merits. Niv is absolutely back-breaking since it can demolish board states and kill all on its own (by just casting cantrip after cantrip with it in play). While both of these targets are subject to Karakas, they are still both a lot better than most other targets the deck could be running right now.

Countermagic / Interaction

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Oath is a combo deck, but because its combo pieces take so little real space, it is afforded the functionality of Xerox type builds in being able to run similar pieces of countermagic and interaction. Pyroblast has become largely a necessity in a Narset world, whereas Veil of Summer is a powerful card that can often allow the deck to force through its combo to make it uncounterable. Main deck Ancient Grudge + Abrade also help deal with problem permanents that can crop up main deck sometimes.

Cantrips + Utility

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As noted, since this deck has a lot of space to its combo, it can run cards like cantrips and the necessary blue restricted cards in order to muscle through the deck to assemble the combo. Furthermore, Gaea's Blessing is an amusingly interesting card that can be milled by Oath of Druids and be able to shuffle the graveyard back into the library, resetting cards and ensuring you aren't decked by Oath.

Planeswalkers

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As is customary in blue decks these days, this deck is running multiple copies of Narset, Parter of Veils in addition to the copies of Oko, Thief of Crowns. As noted previously, Oko does a lot for this deck and I would not be surprised to see it become a staple card of the archetype going forward. The fail case of this card is amusing in that it can simply make a small army of 3/3s which isn't actually all that bad in long grindy matchups.

Oko's Sideboard

Let's take a look at the pieces of this deck's sideboard and break it down here:

Graveyard Hate

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Dredge is still around, so graveyard hate must still exist. The primary type of hate that Oath has available is cards like Ravenous Trap and Tormod's Crypt. This deck cannot run Grafdigger's Cage due to the fact that it shuts off Oath.

Interaction

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Interaction is typically necessary in the sideboard to handle things like Grafdigger's Cage mainly. An additional Pyroblast is also super helpful to deal with Narsets and possibilities of opposing walkers like Dack Fayden or even opposing Oko's, while having the flexibility of dealing with other blue spells at a very efficient rate.

Vintage Playoff 10/19

We had our extra Playoff Event this weekend on Magic Online. For those unaware of how these events work, the Playoff events are qualifier type events that require Format Points to enter and play in. The Top 8 of these events are queued for the Format Championship at the end of the year. These events are always pretty stacked with powerful wizards. This time, those people in 9th-12th actually ended up getting queued for the Championship due to the fact that 4/8 of the Top 8 were already queued for it. Congrats to everyone who participated and queued for the Championship!

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Oko Oath 1st Miharu_Fuyumiya
BUG Midrange 2nd IDraftTheBeatz
Ravager Shops 3rd Blinkmoth-Nexus
Ravager Shops 4th The Atog Lord (Rich Shay)
Ravager Shops 5th AMiracle
Eric's Crab Shack 6th Swiftwarkite2
Dredge 7th Smmenen (Stephen Menendian)
Dredge 8th Eruxus

This was an interesting Top 8 to grok, because there were absolutely zero copies of Jeskai Dreadhorde in the Top 8 at all. As we already noted earlier, the winner was Miharu_Fuyumiya on Oko Oath! Congrats!

In Second Place, IDraftTheBeatz brings to the table BUG Midrange!

This list is pretty groovy, and I love seeing the Brazen Borrower in the deck. Also really neat seeing Liliana, the Last Hope in the deck as well. Strong effort, congrats on your finish!

Third through Fifth Place was all Ravager Shops, so let's take a look at the Third place list by Blinkmoth-Nexus.

Stonecoil Serpent has quickly cemented itself in this deck as a 4-of, and I'm not surprised how long it took for this to be picked up on. Scalable Shops threats are always really strong, and Stonecoil having both reach and trample is pretty powerful. Congrats to Blinkmoth-Nexus, Atog Lord, and AMiracle on your finishes with Shops!

In 6th place, SamuraiFunn's "Eric's Crab Shack" deck rears its head yet again in another Top 8, this time piloted by Swiftwarkite2.

This version of the deck eschews cards like Crop Rotation, choosing to only play Fastbond as the four sole green cards in the deck. And yet, it still seems pretty ultra powerful. Congrats on the finish Swiftwarkite2!

The last two lists in the Top 8 were both Dredge lists, so let's take a look at Stephen Menendian's list in 7th!

The really neat tech here is the presence of Wasteland and Strip Mine, likely as a hedge against decks playing The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale and also Glacial Chasm. Seems like a pretty solid way of dealing with these cards. Congrats on the finish, Stephen and Eruxus!

Outside of the Top 8 was a sick RUG Xerox list by our good friend ChubbyRain.

Now let's take a look at the current year cards in this event. This is a little smaller statistic given that Wizards only posts the Top 16 lists of the Playoff, so take that data for what it is.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Vigor 21
Narset, Parter of Veils 18
Stonecoil Serpent 16
Collector Ouphe 15
Scrapyard Recombiner 7
Dreadhorde Arcanist 6
Force of Negation 6
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 5
Mystic Forge 4
Mystic Sanctuary 4
Oko, Thief of Crowns 4
Veil of Summer 3
Bazaar Trademage 2
Wrenn and Six 2
Brazen Borrower 1
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 1
Magmatic Sinkhole 1
Plague Engineer 1
Questing Beast 1

It continues to remain fairly interesting how many new cards from this year's sets have impacted Vintage overall. The set that I believe will end up having the longest-lasting effect is definitely Modern Horizons, as it provided the format with cards like Force of Vigor and Collector Ouphe primarily in addition to other things like Hogaak and Force of Negation. Eldraine however, has had a large impact on Workshops with Stonecoil Serpent leading to a solid uptick of players on that deck.

The Spice Corner

The Hamburglar gives us a little Delver spice this week with a very focused U/R Delver list.

What I'm Playing This Week

I'm back to tuning Elementals for a while. I played a league on Oko Oath last week and went 3-2 with that deck and enjoyed it very much, but Risen Reef is my boy!

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Next week will be Eternal Weekend so we won't be able to wrap up on that until the following week, but I do have something special planned in the form of an interview with a much younger Vintage player who has not been playing the format all that long and wanted to share his perspective for those of you who might be interested in getting into the format. We'll also be following up on the final Magic Online Vintage Challenge before Eternal Weekend and see what information we can glean from that.

As always you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! I am slowly piecing together Episode Two of "The Bazaar of Moxology" for my YouTube channel, which will include an interview with our good friend Zias of Ziasbond! We'll be talking about his inspiration for the deck and more!

Of course, I am always around the MTGGoldfish Discord server as well, so feel free to reach out and say hello!

Outside of Vintage, I'm now trying to figure out what Pauper deck to build now that Astrolabe is gone (I was a unapologetic Jeskai Skred player) and also maybe considering giving Pioneer a whirl. After all Scapeshift is a card I enjoy casting!

Until next time folks, keep casting Moxen!


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