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Vintage 101: Has The Ring Taken Over?


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're taking a look at Vintage from a high level and the impact that Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth has had on the format, primarily in relation to the power of The One Ring. In addition to that we've got two Challenges to discuss.

I know I said we'd get back to our Tales of a Bygone Era series, but that will continue next week!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Ring to Rule All

We're a few weeks now into the release of Lord of the Rings on MTGO, and we are seeing the effect that set has had on Vintage, primarily with The One Ring. This one card has had a great impact across multiple formats, and Vintage is no real exception here. It has certainly found its way into many many decklists, but primarily set in decks running Tinker and Bolas's Citadel.

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The Ring seems to have definitely wormed its way throughout the Vintage format, especially in these Tinker variants that have a lot of tools available to them that allow them to leverage the draw power of the card. In addition to the normal Tinker variants, it has become a fairly central part of the Combo Shops variant of Jewel Shops, due to the fact that it can be bounced with cards like Paradoxical Outcome.

It's also very worth noting that the Protection aspect of the Ring is also not to be understated, since it can functionally Time Walk various aggressive decks in the format.

However, that being said, the decks playing this card do have some predators, and those predators do feed into the cyclical nature of the format, which makes it so that the decks playing the Ring haven't fully overtaken the format. Decks like Initiative that can lock the opponent out of being able to actually cast the card, and decks like Dredge, CounterVine, etc. that either aggressively push on the other opponent's life total or can counter the Ring as it comes down.

In addition, decks like Doomsday still exist that can quickly take over a game on Turn 1-2 and not even care about the Protection aspect of the Ring still exist and do well in the format.

While the Ring has cemented itself as a part of a number of these decks for sure, I don't think it is unbeatable, and the cyclical nature of Vintage continues onward, looking ever ahead to the next thing.

Vintage Challenge 7/29

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 58 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Initiative was the most popular deck in the event, followed very closely by Blue Ring Tinker variants. Both did quite well, as did Doomsday. CounterVine did the worst, as did Oath and Initiative Tinker. Combo Shops also did rather poorly.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Dredge 1st Lord_Beerus
BUG Midrange 2nd ecobaronen
Initiative 3rd J0se
Jeskai Lurrus 4th unluckymonkey
Esper Tinker 5th Eonwe7
Initiative 6th cigarettesaftershrek
Doomsday 7th Crazydiamond513
Lurrus Samwise 8th Tom_Basketball

Kind of an interesting Top 8. At the end of the event it was a split finals with the officially recorded winner being Dredge.

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Very stock list here. Dredge hasn't had a lot of changes to it, and it's a deck that really has a lot of power behind it and can really pressure the rest of the format still.

The officially recorded Second Place list was on BUG Midrange.

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Definitely how this list would look right now in the current metagame, with Bowmasters having some presence in the deck. Goyf continues to be a rather strong creature in Vintage.

Also in this Top 8 we have Jeskai Lurrus.

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I love seeing Forth Eorlingas! here. It's such a cool card and definitely very powerful. Also, Lorien Revealed continues to prove how good it is.

Further down the Top 8 we have Esper Tinker.

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Speaking of Lorien Revealed, it seems quite strong here. It really allows these decks to cut down on lands quite a bit because it always represents both a land and a spell. Very strong for sure.

Vintage Challenge 7/30

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 45 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Initiative was again the most popular deck and it had quite a solid win rate overall. There were plenty of 50% across the board, and Combo Shops did marginally better overall here.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Initiative 1st Wiztech93
Doomsday 2nd Vertyx3
Combo Shops 3rd Bryzem1
Initiative 4th yoshiwata
Doomsday 5th Crazydiamond513
4C Lurrus 6th _Batutinha_
Grixis Tinker 7th onebigpin_
Oath of Druids 8th necrodice

Definitely an interesting Top 8. Lot of Doomsday/Initiative, but also some Oath and Combo Shops. At the end of the event, it was another split finals with the technical winner being Initiative.

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Phyrexian Censor is really super cool as more copies of Archon of Emeria. This list is really very strong at the moment and does some very powerful things still.

The officially recorded Second Place finalist was on Doomsday.

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Solid list here. Doomsday is one of those decks that doesn't need to change too much to be relevant still in ever-changing metagames because it can merely execute its game plan usually.

Also in this Top 8 we had Combo Shops.

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Very powerful shell for The One Ring here as we talked about earlier. This deck had an interesting up and down weekend so it will be curious to see where it goes from here.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Grixis Tinker.

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Bowmasters seems very strong as the fair game plan is also a hate piece. Solidly powerful and forces you to have to interact with either it or Hullbreacher so the deck has multiple ways of punishing drawing cards.

Around the Web

  • Justin Gennari has some great videos for us this week.
  • Andy Markiton (Montolio) has a video on The Rock in Vintage. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 lists here.

Esper Lurrus is pretty sweet.

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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 my Link Tree! In addition, you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!



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