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Vintage 101: Faster Than Fastbond

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 talking about LANDS! Well, actually we're going to be talking about Fastbond mainly, but talking about Fastbond means we get to talk about Lands, so that's cool. In addition to that, we do have some events to talk about, and yes unfortunately we are still in a position of not having decklists officially because of the ongoing issues with the Wizards website. We'll make do as best as we can.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Bonding over Bonds and Fastbonds

This year will mark two years since Wizards of the Coast unrestricted the card Fastbond in what has definitively proven itself to be one of the safest unrestrictions of all time. However, while Fastbond's inclusion into the format created some wholly uniquely interesting decks, the presence of the card in the overall Magic Online metagame has been well... nonexistent for the most part (and I'm not just talking about the lack of Magic Online decklists right now). There are a fair number of things one can do with this card, and I thought it would be great to look at them, and not only discuss these lists but also the why of how Fastbond went from excited deckbuilding to... not.

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The latter is something I'd like to talk about first before we get to the lists. Upon its unrestriction there was a lot of hype for Fastbond as a card, including seeing the deck Ziasbond spring into existence and do fairly well. In fact, over the past year the card has received even more toys to play with, from cards such as Valakut Exploration to Dryad of the Ilysian Grove. But what happened to the excitement? Well, I think a lot of that has to do with pilot fatigue in the format, as well as the general trend of players sticking to what they know in the metagame. Many of the pilots who really pushed these archetypes either stopped playing for various life-related reasons or found other decks to test and play that didn't use the card. There is also the issue of the fact that players newer to the format tend to stick to the format's commonly known decks and don't often step outside of their comfort zone. It takes a different approach to step into a deck that utilizes the card in a much more Land-oriented shell, and sometimes players (even those players that have been playing the format for a while) don't often want to step into that for various reasons.

Another uphill battle here is the presence of cards like Strip Mine and Wasteland, which currently sit in the Top 3 most played lands of the format, along with Misty Rainforest at number two. Misty is a nod to the fact that one of the better color combinations to play in the format is BUG, which often has a lot of answers to problem permanents such as Fastbond (either via Abrupt Decay or more notably Force of Vigor. In fact, BUG is one of the more problematic matchups for Fastbond related decks, so this is another reason that players are not apt to jump right into this deckbuilding space. However, there are ways of mitigating that weakness and also being able to play powerfully with Fastbond, as we will look at here.

One of the first lists that popped up was a G/W Lands variant that Justin Gennari built based on a Max Pohlman build. Justin's approach utilizes Lurrus as the Companion alongside cards such as Thalia, Ouphe, and Deafening Silence to tax the opponent while setting up the game plan, which is generally managed via the Dark Depths combo.

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Lurrus of the Dream-Den offers a very powerful angle here, letting you rebuy cards like Lotus, but also potentially rebuying countered Fastbond or Thalia from the yard. This deck doesn't quite go as infinite as the Ziasbond engine does (which utilizes Crucible of Worlds to do so) but it can put the opponent on the back foot quickly with the taxing effects and slip into play a 20/20 to end the game.

Another potential way of approaching this card/strategy is via the time-honored "Eric's Crab Shack" variant decks. This deck utilizes Hedron Crab to continually mill the opponent, backed up by being able to continually replay Oboro, Palace in the Clouds and bouncing it.

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This particular variant also gets to have Valakut Exploration to push through the deck as well, but also potentially can represent a lot of damage to the opponent by putting enough cards under the end step trigger to end the game.

Speaking of Valakut Exploration, another hot take on the Fastbond engine is to use it with Amulet of Vigor and the Ravnica bounce lands, much like Modern Amulet does.

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This list also contains Valakut Exploration because of how powerful the overall effect is with Fastbond and a bounce land. You can effectively set up near infinite mana (based on your life total) with bouncelands, an Amulet, and a Fastbond and that is an incredibly appealing strategy for sure. This strategy can also be adapted to more current Amulet lists where instead of setting up a Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion you're using cards like Dryad of the Ilysian Grove with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle to end the game instead.

There are plenty of other interesting ways to approach the card, either in traditional Lands-based piles or as a combo piece, and all of them make for interesting gameplay. So if you're looking for something potentially new to play around with and are willing to step outside your comfort zone a bit, give Fastbond based decks a shot!

Vintage Challenge 3/20

As noted, we did have some Challenges over the weekend, but no decklists for them. Thankfully the Vintage Streamer's Discord has got our back with the full data sets for both, so we can get a good picture of the metagame at least. The first Challenge of the weekend had 53 players, which is a bit low, but there was also a Legacy Super Qualifier event that day and there is a fair amount of overlap between Legacy/Vintage players on MTGO.

Let's take a look at the metagame breakdown.

BUG had a highly popular weekend like it always does, but it didn't convert that well with only an approximate 45% win rate. The deck is still an exceptionally popular and proactively powerful deck, but it does have some counterplay as we're seeing in the format. Doomsday also was fairly popular here as well as Lurrus Breach and Ravager Shops.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Control 1st Jacobisboss
RUG Midrange 2nd SambucoDeCulo
Ravager Shops 3rd John1111
Oath of Druids 4th Miharu_Fuyumiya
Hogaak 5th MadMaxErnst
Doomsday 6th MaxMagicer
Oath of Druids 7th knightcomplex
Jeskai Control 8th BlueSkiesJ

Pretty solidly represented Top 8 here, and for once, one without Underworld Breach focused decks. The event was won by none other than teenage prodigy Jacob Mayer (Jacobisboss) on Jeskai Control. We were thankfully able to get his list in this event because he posted it on Twitter for us!

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This is a pretty solidly constructed Jeskai list, nothing too crazy or rocking the boat at all with it. Jeskai is a great natural predator to BUG because of its proclivity to cast Ancestral Recall a ton, which nets Jeskai a lot of card advantage in those matches.

For everyone else in this Top 8, congrats! I wish we had your lists to show them off, but alas until the decklists are fixed, it will forever remain March 10th.

Vintage Challenge 3/21

The other Challenge of the weekend was the Sunday morning event, which had 42 players in it, thanks to data again collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord. Let's take a look at the metagame breakdown!

Dredge and Golos sat at the top of this smaller metagame, with Doomsday right behind it. If anything the interesting notion was that 4C was more popular in this event than BUG, but that has generally been the case in the Sunday events, as many of the European players really enjoy the 4C gameplay and style of decks.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Doomsday 1st SingPanMan
Dredge 2nd Aylett
Ravager Shops 3rd Mogged
Jeskai Control 4th SenpaiBlank
Golos Stax 5th LORiWWA
Dredge 6th PRGJJAR
Hatebears 7th Tunaktunak
4C Midrange 8th Radagast22

Again, a pretty solid Top 8 with a little bit of everything. At the end it was super Doomsday pilot SingPanMan who won the event. Congrats to them and everyone else who placed in the Top 8!

Around the Web

  • Jacob Mayer (Jacobisboss) wrote a really solid guide to Doomsday in Vintage. You can find that over here as well as on the DDFT Wiki.
  • Justin Gennari with a video on Hermit Druid Combo. Check it out here.
  • Bryant Cook posted a video on Lurrus PO Storm. Check that out here.

The Spice Corner

Okay I got a kick out of this. It's essentially a Four Horseman deck (Mesmeric Orb + Basalt Monolith) except it just puts Thassa's Oracle into play instead.

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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 Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition, you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!

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