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Vintage 101: Everybody's Working for the (Eternal) Weekend

Black Lotus - Steve Belledin

The Weekend Eternal

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of Vintage 101! This coming weekend (October 19th - 22nd) features the biggest event in the Vintage community, The Vintage Championship! This event is special for a variety of reasons. First of all, it is the biggest sanctioned Vintage event in North America (and possibly the world).

Because the Vintage Championship is an officially DCI sanctioned event it means that this tournament must be played entirely with official Magic: the Gathering cards. No play-test cards are allowed, no Collector's Edition, and certainly no re-backed cards or anything like that. The vast majority of paper Vintage events that I write about include play-test cards, so this might come as a surprise to folks that are unfamiliar with the format. The fact that the event is sanctioned is a hardship for some players, so to alleviate those concerns this event has a special prize package for people who finish highly without any "Power" in their deck (Power Nine, Bazaar of Baghdad, and so on). Last year there was even one player who made Top Eight with a deck that fell into the "budget" category, so it is possible to do better than you'd think without a Black Lotus in your deck. 

If you'd like to find out more detailed and specific information regarding things like prizes, you can view all that information on event host Card Titan's website.

Let's take a look at some highlights from last year's Vintage Championships.

Second-Place and First- Place; Stax VS Landstill

Last year Joseph Bogaard's Standstill deck managed to beat the odds and take down Jacob Kory's Stax deck to become the 2016 Vintage Champion. This was considered quite an upsetting upset by the community, as Kory's Stax deck seemed poised to take down the entire event. Still, with the miraculous power of key cards like Crucible of Worlds, Bogaard was able to come out on top. 

An honorable mention for this event has to go to Derek Gallacher. Derek managed to land in the Top Eight, surpassing scores of decks with far more expensive cards. 

In the months since the last Vintage Champs we've seen a dramatic drop-off in Powerless Eldrazi builds, but don't let that fool you. I fully expect that Powerless Tribal "JacoDrazi" will again become the top-played "budget deck" for the 2017 Championships.


Decks to Beat

It's tough to say exactly how things will pan out in the Vintage Championships, but I feel like I can safely highlight a few of the current "decks to beat." The first category on my list would have to be Workshops as a whole (even though this represents a variety of archetypes). 

The first deck is the current incarnation of Ravager Shops, a deck that's been consistently good throughout its various iterations since the 2015 Vintage Championships. Ravager Shops is the most aggressive of all the Workshop builds, and it is by far the most popular as well. Even after losing another three lock pieces the deck still has enough gas in the tank to propel pilots into a Top Eight performance, so be prepared.

Next we have a "Null Rod Aggro Workshop deck. This type of list successfully comprises two of the "Pillars of Vintage" so it's obviously quite powerful! All joking aside, this type of list seems like a great choice these days. The inclusion of Null Rod gives the deck a silver bullet for mirror matches while simultaneously hosing the more degenerate combo decks in the format. The list isn't quite as explosively aggressive as an Arcbound Ravager/Walking Ballista build would be, but it still packs enough punch to win games quickly. 

This last sub-archetype of Shops is probably the least popular. This is a true prison-style Shops list and I think this type of deck was harmed the most by the Thorn of Amethyst restriction. There haven't been a lot of notable finishes for Prison Shops lately, so I don't expect that there will be a lot of it popping up at Eternal Weekend. Perhaps someone will attempt to bring the Combo/Prison MUD deck to the Vintage Championships since it represents something new and surprising. 

Workshops as a whole will probably be very prominent at Eternal Weekend, so be prepared! Each type of Workshop deck has a few unique weaknesses and strengths, but with proper sideboard planning you can find cards that work well against all the different versions. 



This category of deck represents the evolution of "Gush" decks since the restrictions of both Gush and Monastery Mentor


Vintage has access to a ton of card drawing, card filtering, and tutoring spells. Because the quality of card selection is so high it's often possible to recreate the performance of a deck that was hit with a major restriction. The decks that I featured above are evolutions of the Delver/Pyromancer/Mentor that have taken turns dominating the format since the printing of Khans of Tarkir block.

I expect to see a lot of these decks because they are already popular and they're decent against the field. The colors of red, white, and blue include many important Vintage spells. Blue is ostensibly the most powerful color in Vintage, so that's a given. Red has the best anti-blue cards in Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast as well as Young Pyromancer and excellent anti-artifact cards for the Workshop matchup. White has Monastery Mentor, Swords to Plowshares, and excellent sideboard cards like Rest in Peace and Containment Priest

Big Blue Combo

This category includes (but is not limited to) Paradoxical Outcome decks, Grixis Thieves, and other Tinker/Yawgmoth's Will type decks. Each one of these decks are different, but luckily they can all be somewhat dealt with by including certain anti-combo cards. Things like Mindbreak TrapFlusterstorm, and Null Rod are decent answers to many of these archetypes. 


Dredge is a consistent part of the Vintage metagame, and it tends to be much more prevalent in sanctioned events due to the fact that it's much cheaper than a deck with Power Nine. Dredge has had a few fantastic finishes recently as well, and that could persuade more folks to choose it for the Vintage Championships. 


Oath Decks

Oath of Druids is usually my pick for events like this because it's a powerful archetype that can sometimes combo out fairly quickly, as well as defeat a prison deck. Despite this fact Oath can also be a very inconsistent strategy and as such it does not enjoy the widespread popularity that many other archetypes do. Still, there are some amazing brewers out there who can turn a wacky Oath of Druids build into a Championship-winning list.



If your pet deck didn't make it into my list of decks to beat, please don't be offended. I'm certainly not always right, and my list is more about what I think will be popular than what decks are positioned well. Landstill wasn't that popular of a deck last year, but it won the tournament. Magic is a game with a large dose of randomness and as such it is impossible to predict things with absolute certainty. 

I'd like to wish all of you who are attending good luck. The event will be streamed with commentary by some Vintage luminaries. You can find out any additional info you might need over at Card Titan's website. That's all the time I have for this week, keep on slinging Vintage cards y'all! 

You can chat with me on Twitter, TMD, and Magic Online @Islandswamp


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