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Vintage 101: Happy Hour (of Devastation)!


Bazaar of Baghdad by Christopher Moeller

Happy Hour of Devastation

Last week I took a look at a few cards from Hour of Devastation that I thought could possibly have some impact on the eldest of eternal formats. Since that time even more cards have been released, and I think that a few of them are actually quite exciting. In particular there's a new artifact creature that combos with Bazaar of Baghdad to create some serious value. Here's Hollow One, your zero mana 4/4! 

The reason that Hollow One could see play is that Vintage allows unrestricted use of the best and most-efficient discard outlet ever printed: Bazaar of Baghdad. If you activate a Bazaar and wind up with Hollow One in your hand it now costs zero mana. More specifically Hollow One would cost less than zero mana if played after a Bazaar activation. Normally a casting cost of negative one would be functionally equivalent to a casting cost of zero, but this is Vintage and people play with Sphere of Resistance. Even through one Sphere this card would be free in combination with a Bazaar and that is definitely impressive.

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Bazaar of Baghdad sees the most play in Vintage Dredge, but it does have applications in other decks. People used to run Bazaar in certain types of Mishra's Workshop decks as well as in Worldgorger Dragon combo. Still, Dredge is the deck where I think this has the most potential. Hollow One is a way to get value from a Bazaar while dodging almost every anti-Dredge hate card!

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All of the cards pictured above won't stop a Dredge deck from playing a free Hollow One. In fact, the only hate cards that would stop you from playing your free 4/4 beatstick would be stuff that stops your Bazaar of Baghdad itself. That means stuff like Wasteland, Pithing Needle, or City in a Bottle would be the only kind of cards that could stop the Hollow One from being a free play.

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With the exception of City in a Bottle the other cards listed aren't really considered "strong hate". Dedicated hate cards like Ravenous Trap and other graveyard nukes do much more to stop a Dredge player. Because of this fact the Hollow One might be a decent way to hedge against hate cards. 

The main problem with Hollow One is that it only gives any value when you draw it. If you dredge this card into your graveyard it loses all value. This doesn't necessarily mean that it's unplayable though. Narcomeba is played in Dredge even though it has (almost) no value if it isn't being dredged into the graveyard.

Will Hollow One See Play?

I think that Hollow One is worth testing. In post-sideboard games traditional Dredge decks sometimes have to grind out wins by casting their Dredge creatures. If your Dredge deck contains four zero-mana 4/4's that goes a long way towards making the beat-down plan viable. It's also important to remember that Bridge from Below still works with Grafdigger's Cage or Containment Priest in play. If a Dredge deck can cast a creature or two they can start getting value from their Bridges regardless of the Cages or Priests in play. I'm not absolutely sure that this card will end up being played in Dredge (or anything else). but I wouldn't be surprised if it does. 

Scavenger Grounds

With or without any new cards Dredge is always one of the most powerful decks in Vintage. Sure, Dredge won't always do well, but that's only because the hate cards are so powerful. It's very uncommon to beat Dredge without hate cards because Dredge can consistently win the game by turn three at the latest. Unfortunately most graveyard nukes (the most effective type of anti Dredge cards available) are usually too narrow for main-deck inclusion. This next card might prove to be an exception to that rule.

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This card isn't the cheapest graveyard nuke. It also isn't the fastest (Leyline of the Void) or the most thorough (Rest in Peace) card of it's type either. The selling point here is that the opportunity cost of including this card in your deck is almost nothing. Many Vintage decks play one or two utility lands like Strip Mine or Library of Alexandria. Library and Strip both make only colorless mana but the abilities they have make them worth using. Scavenger Grounds could easily slot into a deck in a similar way as it also makes mana when necessary. Whether or not people choose to employ this new land depends on a few different factors, but I imagine some people will definitely adopt this land. 

What Kind of Decks Want Scavenging Grounds?

Technically any deck can play this card and most decks will need some sort of anti-Dredge tech, but I imagine that Scavenger Grounds is best in a colorless deck like Workshops or Tribal Eldrazi. Decks that run colored mana sources can often play more powerful dedicated hate cards if they need to. 

Workshops and Tribal Eldrazi have no problems with running an extra colorless mana source and both decks are very susceptible to some Dredge builds. 

Will Scavenger Grounds See Play?

I definitely think Scavenger Grounds will end up being played in Vintage, but the amount of play it gets will vary greatly. Personally, if I was walking into a tournament knowing that there were several Dredge players there I'd think about main-decking a copy or two of Scavenger Grounds in my MUD deck. If I knew that the chance of facing Dredge was low then I'd be very unlikely to make space for a copy. Outside of MUD and Tribal Eldrazi I don't imagine that Scavenger Grounds will be played very often. 


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Now you can make a really sweet Desert-based theme deck!

Then the Locust' Came...

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When I saw this next card it reminded me of Consecrated Sphinx in a way. People have used Consecrated Sphinx and other mid-sized flying creatures as finishers in blue decks ever since the days of Morphling, and I could see The Locust God filling that role as well. 

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At six mana this isn't something you can cast early on most of the time. If you're designing a control deck that wants the game to go long than The Locust God could be a good fit. The token-generating ability is quite powerful and it works with a fair amount of the same cards that trigger Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor

When you resolve spells that draw a substantial amount of cards things start to get really nutty. Treasure Cruise and Ancestral Recall both add three power to your side of the battlefield, and Wheel of Fortune or Timetwister can give you seven hasty tokens! There's also an interesting interaction with the pseudo-Glimpse of Nature "Beck". 

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Glimpse of Nature triggers when you cast a creature, so it doesn't do much with The Locust God. The first half of Beck//Call triggers whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, so it goes infinite with The Locust God. This is a really neat combo, but unfortunately it is much too slow to be viable in Vintage. Also the "Beck" half of the combo is completely useless on its own aside from pitching it to Force of Will

Will The Locust God See Play?

Unfortunately I feel that this is a case of a card that is good but simply not good enough for Vintage. While it might be better than Consecrated Sphinx in some ways it isn't as if people are clamoring to play Sphinx these days either. I think that Monastery Mentor sets such a high bar for "finisher" creatures that it's tough for anything else to compete. For half the mana of The Locust God you can cast a Mentor and start making tokens.  The only advantage that the Locust God has over Mentor is that it can fly over a Moat, but it's not as if Moat ever stopped anyone from playing their Mentor deck.

 

Weirdest Deck of the Week Award

While perusing deck lists looking for unusual entries I stumbled upon this interesting brew. A 3-1 finish isn't necessarily evidence of a top deck; with the powerful cards that Vintage has many different ideas can cash a four-round event. Still the play skill of the average Daily Event participant on Magic Online is quite high, so maybe this deck builder is on to something here. Let's take a look.

Mishra's Workshop Paradoxical Outcome combo is what I'm going to call this. At least until someone suggests a better name that is. I would have gone with "Combo MUD" but the deck lacks any prison elements. 

It looks like this deck has several paths to victory, including Time Vault , a huge Walking Ballista. and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Outcome is an insane draw engine, but it often has problems with the taxing effects of Workshop prison. This deck has it's own Workshops to enable it to cast spells through a Sphere of Resistance, as well as Helm of Awakening

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Helm is the anti-sphere as is does the exact opposite of Sphere of Resistance. The main job of Helm of Awakening is that it acts as a combo piece .Making spells cheaper enables longer chains of Paradoxical Outcomes and/or other draw spells. Against Prison decks Helm of Awakening does a decent job of counteracting the effects of mana-taxing cards, so it seems like it might be a solid plan.

Congratulations to Saturn for brewing an interesting combo deck. I wish you success in all your future Vintage endeavors! 

 

The New York Stax Exchange

This year's NYSE event happened a few days ago (June 24th), and by all accounts it was a fantastic event. I was unable to attend the tournament but I'll cover some of the decks when the information becomes available to me. I know that the event was won by Ryan Glackin (on Workshops) and second place went to Stephen Menendian (on Mentor). I'd like to congratulate Mr Glackin and Mr Menendian on their performances, as well as tournament organizer Nick Detwiler and all the folks who made the event so special. In the meantime you can watch replays of the event on the Twitch channel associated with the event. 

That's all the time I have for this week, I'll see you in seven days. You can find me on TMD, Magic Online, and Twitter @Islandswamp

 


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