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Vintage 101: From Modern to Vintage


Banned But Not Forgotten

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One of my favorite things about Vintage is the Restricted List. I've loved the Restricted List since I was a kid, and many of you may not know that all formats used restricted lists at one time. Only later did "Type Two" (Standard) eventually adopt the policy of a banned list. I fully understand the reason why the DCI would rather have most formats either allow the use of four of a card or none of a card. Having a card restricted to one copy per deck can drastically increase variance, and while some folks (like me) find that exciting, others find it annoying. Still, I love the restricted list because it lets me still have access to a card, even if it's 75% less likely to be in my opening hand. 

In the last several months Magic players have seen quite a few cards added to banned or restricted lists in their formats. Modern had Splinter Twin taken away, as well as Summer Bloom. Once Twin was gone, everyone felt safe, so it was the perfect time for the Eldrazi to make everything worse! Recently the DCI hit Eye of Ugin to make Modern safe again. Vintage players lost three copies of Lodestone Golem recently, and before that there was the restriction of Chalice of the Void and Dig Through Time

When things are banned in Modern, that's it. Those decks can't really be played anymore, at least in their optimal configuration. There is a potential source of salvation for those exiled Modern staples though. Vintage is the perfect home for your unwanted copies of Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time. Your Birthing Pods, Splinter Twins, and even your Eye of Ugins are welcomed in Vintage. Of course, not all of those cards will be able to find a home in the eldest of eternal formats, but some surely will. 

Enterprising MUD enthusiasts have been trying to craft Vintage Eldrazi decks since day one, and up until now the success has been limited. The recent restriction of Lodestone Golem has forced people to look for alternative four-drops that can also act as disruption. 

Eldrazi #InVintage

This deck, played by Lexor19, swept through a recent Daily Event, and after trying it I have to say that it is impressive. The deck is basically an Aggro-MUD list much like the Ravager Shops and Tiny Robots decks, but the top end has some serious muscle. 

Thought-Knot Seer is the truth. This card has been amazing when I've played it. It isn't disruptive in the same way as Lodestone Golem, but it instead adds a kind of disruption that MUD decks have never had access to. MUD never has been able to use counterspells, and having a Thoughtseize effect is pretty darn close. So far my favorite play with Thought-Knot was when I used it to hit my opponent's Vandalblast the turn before they could have cast it through my Thorn of Amethyst. Being able to snipe a card out of your opponent's hand is amazing in pretty much any game of Magic, but in this deck you're getting access to an ability that you're not even supposed to have. 

Reality Smasher has also put in some serious work in my play-test matches. The real draw is that it's a lot of damage, and the fact that it has haste plays well with the tempo plan that Aggro MUD utilizes. When you're counting on Tangle Wire and Sphere of Resistance to act as Time Walks, it's important to be able to capitalize quickly and get some damage in. Haste means that Reality Smasher really makes the most of the tempo gained from your lock pieces. Also, I have to mention that copying a Reality Smasher with Pyrexian Metamorph feels fantastic, especially since you can cast Metamorph with Workshop Mana. 

Slash Panther also makes an appearance in the deck, and this is a bit of a contested card. I'm kind of in love with the "Pink Panther" right now, and it has performed better than I expected. The cat is realistically a four-drop in this deck (using Phyrexian mana), and like the Smasher it has haste. The Panther ends up being a great follow-up play after landing a Lodestone or Trinisphere, and it's easily castable with a Workshop plus most any other source. 

Another innovation that makes this list possible is Eldrazi Temple. Without the Temple, casting the Eldrazi in this list would be next to impossible. Temple is very important to take into consideration when building, tuning, or playing Eldrazi in a MUD-type shell. Mishra's Workshop is so powerful that it is hard to justify not using it, but it is also completely useless for casting the eight Eldrazi in this list. Finding the proper mana and spell configuration is difficult, and as much as I love this deck I'm not even sure if this particular set-up is optimal. 

I have taken to sideboarding one of the Reality Smashers out when I'm bringing other cards in simply because it is dangerous to draw too many Eldrazi in hands containing one or more Mishra's Workshop. At first glance your hand might contain an abundance of mana; perhaps you have a Lotus and a Workshop. That's a ton of mana, but if you're holding Eldrazi in your grip instead of artifact creatures, that hand could be a real problem. Still, I'm convinced the power level of the Eldrazi is high enough that they have a home in Vintage. The numbers may need to be shifted around over time, but I think that we might just see a lot of these decks start to pop up.

My Verdict

Is Thought-Knot Seer the salvation of the MUD archetype? It's hard to know for sure, but I sincerely think that Thought-Knot in particular is going to be a big part of MUD strategies from here on out. The card is just insanely powerful, and at four mana it's priced to move. 

There are still plenty of good Shops players innovating with MUD decks that don't contain any Eldrazi, so I don't think that the prototypical Shops deck is going to die out. People have been having success with cards like Kuldotha Forgemaster, Arcbound Ravager, and even Etched Champion. Each of those decks have a slightly more stable mana base due to not having colorless creatures, and I feel there is space enough for Shops to develop in both directions. 

Eldrazi without Workshops

Here we have S4mmich's take on Vintage Eldrazi. This list should look very familiar to any Modern or Legacy players. Legacy Eldrazi is basically Modern Eldrazi with more Sol Lands, and Vintage Eldrazi heaps on some more broken fast mana in the form of restricted artifacts. 

The decision to play Eldrazi without Mishra's Workshop yields a deck that can support a larger number of colorless creatures and greater mana stability. The downside is that the plethora of Sol Lands aren't nearly as good at casting Spheres and Null Rods. Instead Vintage Eldrazi Stompy runs a minimal amount of lock pieces with a much larger creature package. 

The mana curve we see here is much lower than in the MUD deck. There are play sets of Eldrazi Mimics, Phyrexian Revokers, and Endless Ones. A MUD list usually has that many (or more) two-drops, but they're mostly lock pieces. This Eldrazi Stompy deck starts the damage race early. 

Considering that the majority of the cards in this deck are ported directly from other formats, it should be an easy deck to pick up if you've played it before in Modern or Legacy. In fact, if you're still holding on to your Modern Eldrazi cards this deck could be a great way to break into Vintage (or Legacy for that matter). I think that there's a lot of potential in this type of deck, and I suspect we'll see more of the Eldrazi Stompy decks in Vintage. 

 

Long-Lost Twin

When Splinter Twin was banned from Modern I'm sure that most Magic players thought they'd never again know the joy of dying because they tapped out before their opponent's fourth turn. A banning from Modern is not necessarily a death sentence, and Splinter Twin has made a mark in the Eternal formats before. The 2015 Legacy Championships had a Twin deck in the Top Eight, largely due to the power of Brainstorm, Ponder, and Dig Through Time (which had not yet been banned). Splinter Twin has also periodically been a fringe player in Vintage, believe it or not. Let's take a look at a Vintage Twin list.

The real credit for this deck belongs to Jeremy Beaver, who played this list to multiple top eight finishes in Vintage events. The only changes I made to his list involved substituting one Dig Through Time for a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. As much as I'd love to play this list with more than one Dig Through Time the DCI has decided that I can't. Tiny Jace seems like a good fit for this type of list anyway, so I figured I would slot one in. 

The plan with this deck is the same as it was in Modern. This is a list that can play a control game or a tempo game, but it can also combo out very quickly. The Modern Twin decks had to make use of Serum Visions, but this deck has the power of Ponder, Preordain, and Brainstorm. Gush is also a fantastic addition to this list; card advantage never goes out of style. 

Splinter Twin is certainly not the best deck in Vintage by a long shot, but it is stronger than you might think at first glance. My best judgment says that Twin will remain a fringe deck, but I would love to see someone prove me wrong and spike an event with it! 

Blazing Saddles

Lets take a look at another fringe deck! This one is based off of one of the first cards to be banned from Modern.

Here we have an infect deck that uses Blazing Shoal to win extremely fast. The trick is to land a creature with infect and sculpt a hand that contains Blazing Shoal and a card with a converted mana cost of ten. Using the Shoal on your infect creature creates lethal poison damage in one hit. 

The combo pieces are found with a variety of tutors, and there are a few counterspells and Apostles Blessings for protection. With the fast mana that's available to Vintage players this deck can set up a kill as soon as they can make an attack with an Infect creature. 

I'll admit that this Infect deck is a bit of a stretch. It doesn't look like the best deck in the room (and it probably isn't). However, this deck did make it all way to the top tables of a large Vintage tournament, so it might be able to catch some folks of guard.

 

Wrap-Up

The Vintage Super League has been postponed a week due to community outcry regarding the recent Platinum Pro Changes. The qualification tournament was delayed to Tuesday, May 3rd. Make sure to tune in then to root for your favorite players! 

That's all the time I have for this week. Thanks for joining me. If you have any burning questions or Burning Wishes please let me know in the comments. You can follow me on Twitter @josephfiorinijr - Islandswamp on MTGO

 


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