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Vintage 101: I Am Legend


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 diving right into Commander Legends spoiler season. This set is bringing a bunch of cards, and plenty of interesting things for Vintage. In addition we have two Challenges to talk about from this past weekend.

Bit of news as well, this weekend is the second Season Two Showcase Challenge event, so if you have enough QPs to play in this (40 QPs) then be sure to keep that on your calendar! This event will be on Saturday and will replace the normal Challenge on that day.

Also, we received a bit of an update on the situation from Vintage Eternal Weekend on Magic Online. Some of the players on Twitter shared that they'd received indication that a player in the Mishra's Workshop event had been disqualified from the event. This player was indeed Andreas Petersen, who had been involved in a situation involving bribery to make it into the Top 8 of the event. You can catch up with this information here, but this does mean that the official winner of the event was indeed David Lance (@StaticGripped), so congratulations to David on being a Vintage Eternal Weekend Champion!

Without further ado, let's dive right into this week's article!

The Legends Are Coming to Take Me Away, Ah Ha!

We're still deep into the spoiler season for Commander Legends and already there is quite a bit from this set to talk about in regards to Vintage. New card evaluation is always pretty tricky, so we're going to do our best to look deeply at the ins and outs of these cards as best as we can.

The Court Cycle

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The Court cycle is exceptionally unique as it features a mechanic that is not often played all that much in Vintage in the Monarch (mostly because a lot of the more common Monarch effects have been on creatures like Palace Jailer that aren't quite there for Vintage). The Court cycle being enchantments is certainly interesting, and Vintage is a format where casting one of these effects is more than likely not going to have a Monarch stolen from you in certain matchups. The only two of these I would likely be considering however would be the white and blue Courts respectively, due to the white Court generating a bunch of power on board as a clock, and the blue Court being castable off Black Lotus. Unfortunately the red one was not spoiled yet by the time I had to turn in this article, so if it's worth talking about I'll make note of that next week.

It's hard to say how good these will be, but I wouldn't be surprised to see people try them out. Enchantments are a little less difficult in Vintage to play against due to the overall presence of cards like Leyline of the Void and Oath of Druids in the format, especially since Assassin's Trophy is also a relatively popular card as well.

Dargo, the Shipwrecker

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The possibility of a 1 mana 7/5 with trample is certainly amusing, but I don't think this truly comes close to the mark in Vintage. Still, it's an interesting card for sure, but not quite fully there given that Swords to Plowshares and Karakas are still incredibly powerful, but Hogaak is also like, a really solid deck so this could open up some space for other similar fast decks that want to ramp this kind of thing out.

Hullbreacher

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First off the bat of this card is that it costs Lotus mana to cast and it has Flash, and is essentially a Notion Thief that generates mana instead of cards. There's a lot of comparison to Narset, Parter of Veils and I do think they're not totally comparable in this format, as Narset's double Impulse effect is really important to the decks that played it at the height of its unrestricted power (Narset being able to Impulse into another Narset for example). There is also the fact that this is a creature and a little easier to deal with removal-wise in Vintage than Planeswalkers typically are, and a lot of Vintage right now is centered around the card Pyroblast being very powerful. Still, this is probably a lot better than Notion Thief and could definitely see play in an array of strategies for sure. The fact that this is a single blue mana pip also means that it is very easy to splash, which means that it's possible for both Jeskai and RUG Xerox based decks to have a Leovold effect, as well as Esper PO.

That being said, I'm sure this card is probably incredibly miserable to play against, and is yet another card with an asymmetrical effect that nobody really wanted to have around.

Krark, the Thumbless

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Krark is actually really supremely interesting, mainly because it does some cool things with copying powerful spells, and it's downside of losing the flip isn't terrible because the spell goes to your hand and not anywhere else. This is great in a spells-matter type deck, especially any that would not be playing things like pitch coutnermagic (as this is obviously TERRIBLE with forces and Daze). Another cool interaction that this card presents is the fact that it works really well with the card Dreadhorde Arcanist due to how Arcanist's rider on exiling the spell is worded. Because it's worded such that the spell only gets exiled if it would go to the graveyard, if you lose the flip on an Arcanist cast the spell goes back to your hand instead and if you have the mana to cast it, you can then do so. Even if you win the flip with an Arcanist trigger, that's insane value getting to copy that spell as well.

Opposition Agent

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In what seems to be a cycle with Hullbreacher, Opposition Agent is yet another asymmetrical hatebear effect that seems to be another somewhat miserable effect that also costs Lotus mana to cast, and also still has Flash. I suspect this is less likely to see play in Vintage than it seems however, but it is very good as a way to hate on decks like Doomsday, where it is essentially lights out for that deck outside of them having a Cavern of Souls + Thassa's Oracle in hand already. Maybe that is good enough for this format, I'm not really sure. It does have a lot of blanks, but being splashable in black is really what matters for it in the matchups it's great it.

Despite that, I do expect that people will play around with this also mainly because it's another Human hatebear effect and I'm sure it will not be fun to have this resolved against you with fetchlands or Tinker in hand.

Sphinx of the Second Sun

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One of the best things about Oath of Druids is when you get to win more just a little bit and Oath trigger twice. Well, this card sort of does that. Hit this off your Oath trigger, give them another creature with your Forbidden Orchard to offset, and then you'll get a brand new untap, upkeep, and draw step to get another Oath trigger. Seems incredibly silly to me and I do expect that someone will figure out a way to make this work. It is worth noting though, that you do only get a new beginning phase, you don't get another set of main phases after that. It will immediately go to the ending phases after this new beginning phase.

Still, this card is super amusing, and I think it's pretty cool.

Wheel of Misfortune

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This card definitely is a reader and takes a bit to process what it does. Both players choose a number and then reveal. In 1v1 formats, there's always going to be a greatest number and a smallest number, so either one player is going to take damage and wheel, and the other player is going to do nothing. The cases I see for this card are things like red ritual Belcher where you are almost always going to just name your life total minus 1-2 off of this in order to wheel and draw seven more cards. This is definitely an amusing card however, and should be fun to see played.

Jeweled Lotus

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This is just the best Black Lotus proxy, right? Preorder price says... otherwise.

Vintage Challenge 10/31

Our first Challenge of the weekend just so happened to also be the last Challenge of October, on Halloween no less! Going forward with these events, we're going to be doing something pretty similar to my Legacy articles in how we show decklists. I'm always going to be displaying the Top 2 finalist lists regardless, but then for the rest of the Top 8 I will be picking what lists I'd like to feature so that we can have a little more in depth discussion on those. This will cut down the amount of decklist chunkage and also let us investigate lists outside of the Top 8 a little more. I will also no longer be doing the counting of 2019-2020 cards in these events. This data collection simply became incredibly tedious and no one really ever provided much feedback on whether they liked it or not, so it's time to make a change.

This event had around 63 players, so let's dive right into what the Top 32 metagame looks like.

One big glaring thing about was that there was a lot of Dredge floating around this Challenge, and while it only managed to put one pilot into this particular Top 8, it's certainly interesting to see it be Dredge the Bazaar weapon of choice for this event over the other Bazaar shells in Hogaak or Hollow Vine, which seemed to not even crack the Top 32 of this event at all. Doomsday was another very well represented deck, and so was variations of Xerox shells from Jeskai to RUG.

Let's take a look at the Top 8, shall we?

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
RUG Xerox 1st Federusher
Jeskai Xerox 2nd DieM4x
Doomsday 3rd Ecobaronen
Doomsday 4th MaxMagicer
4C Tinker 5th Bedell
RUG Xerox 6th ZachAttack23
Dredge 7th Kanister
BUG Midrange 8th Fingers1991

This is actually pretty halfway decent as a Top 8, with more than few fair decks, some combo and some graveyard / Bazaar strategy. Doesn't really seem too hateful really. At the end of the event though, it was the RUG Xerox deck that took it all down.

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RUG as a deck is one that has continually seen a lot of evolution since its breakout event last year at Eternal Weekend 2019. Since then the deck has been (outside of the Lurrus metagame) one of the stronger Xerox variations. The big reason to be on a deck like this is mainly on the back of the strength of the Planeswalkers involved, and thus many of the creature threats this deck plays are pretty simple like Tarmogoyf. Occasionally you will see builds like this with Dreadhorde Arcanist, but the powerhouse that is Wrenn and Six is really the biggest driving force of this deck. Being able to rebuy Mystic Sanctuary with Gush and then eventually build your own Time Vault combo with W6 emblem is very powerful.

I also really like how this deck has a Crop Rotation sideboard plan, as opposed to just jamming three The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale and calling it a day.

Now let's take a look at the other finalist list in Jeskai Xerox.

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Say what you will about how the Jeskai shells look like right now, they are incredibly powerful and also incredibly consistent decks. They have some of the best removal in the format between Swords to Plowshares and Pyroblast but also some of the more powerful hatebear effects in Lavinia, Azorius Renegade. These decks reign off the back of utilizing cards like Arcanist and Mystic Sanctuary to cast and recast Ancestral Recall multiple times a game, and that is always going to be extremely powerful.

Further down the Top 8, one list that really stuck out at me was the Fifth Place list by Bedell, in a wild form of 4C Breach/Tinker type deck.

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This deck is crazy interesting, as it can obviously leverage the power of the Planeswalkers it runs like Dack, W6, and Oko, but it also turn that around into a quick kill with Tinker for Blightsteel Colossus, and then also turn around into a Breach kill as well. The Breach kill is so incredibly compact (literally two-three Breach and one-two Brain Freeze covers you) that it's easy to fit into any typical Xerox shell capable of running it.

This is a super unique deck and I love the different angles that it presents to be able to win the game. Makes it really easy to keep the opponents on their toes.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a few lists that caught my attention, the first of which was a Golos Stax build in Ninth Place.

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A Metalworker stax build?!?! Honestly super cool, and also three pairs of Lightning Greaves to enable casting the little Metalworker dude and being able to activate it in the same turn. Also, Kuldotha Forgemaster and Sundering Titan AND Blightsteel Colossus! Not to mention The Immortal Sun and Spine of Ish Sah. This is straight up just a toolbox stax build, which is super cool to see do well. Kudos to fatto10 on making such a cool list.

Further down the Top 32 we also had a showing by a Lutri deck.

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It's not often that we see Lutri too much anymore, but if I had to play around with it, this is a great build to start working from, since it can work like both DPS and PO, but also can be a Time Vault combo deck as well. Hilariously this pilot chose to utilize their sideboard space for additional playable spells and didn't just slam in three additional Force of Will into it, which I think is fine. If the deck works in the main deck configuration it's going to be fine in the sideboard configuration with additional impactful spells.

Vintage Challenge 11/1

Our second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. We don't know how many players were in this event, as there was no data collection from the Discord on this. Still, this was a severely intriguing event, just by the Top 32 breakdown.

There was again a lot of Dredge in this event, and as we'll see by the Top 8, a LOT of Dredge. There was also a good amount of Jeskai and PO here as well, but Bazaar decks had quite a showing this weekend between this event and the event the day before.

Now let's look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Dredge 1st Elfkid
Dredge 2nd PRGJJar
Dredge 3rd UnicornParadise
PO Storm 4th BennyBo
Dredge 5th Toondoslav
Hogaak Bazaar 6th Mogged
Jeskai Xerox 7th Lavaridge
Breach Oath 8th Taniguchi

Holy moly that is quite a bit of Dredge in this Top 8, right down to THREE of the Top 4 being Dredge decks. Since the finals was a knock-down dredge-out battle, let's look at both lists together.

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These lists are pretty close to similar, with the Second Place list devoting a bit more space to Wasteland + Strip Mine than the First Place list was doing. Honestly, a lot of the Dredge mirror is decided very much by variance and who has what in the matchup hate-wise with Leyline of the Void and who can get rid of it. Winning Game One is also fairly important. These two lists are so incredibly similar that there really isn't much of an edge case to them in the mirror other than the First Place list having two more Leylines.

Definitely is wild to see so much Dredge though here, between these two lists and the other two lists in the Top 8, making up for the total five players to make it int othe Top 32.

Down at the bottom of the Top 8 was another incredibly interesting list, an Oath of Druids variant with Underworld Breach.

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Rune-Scarred Demon is some energy for Oath if I ever saw it, but I get it. Turning your Oath trigger into a Demonic Tutor to get the other piece missing from your Breach kill can be pretty powerful. I also just like how this can just win with Oath into Griselbrand like normal as well. This is a cool deck though, and looks like a lot of fun to pilot.

Outside of the Top 8 were a few interesting gems to look at. One of which was a Mono White Humans list by Surv.

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Beyond the obvious hilarity of a singleton Rick, Steadfast Leader, it's also really wild to see cards like Luminarch Aspirant and also a lot of main deck hate for plenty of decks between Containment Priest to things like Hushbringer and Spirit of the Labyrinth.

The final list to catch my eye was basically a Vintage version of Turbo Depths with Elvish Reclaimer.

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This list is pretty cool, I'm surprised a bit by only one copy of Fastbond though as that enables quite a bit of shenanigans on Turn One, but I get also that drawing multiples of the card is not a pleasant experience in this kind of deck. Otherwise the game plan of this deck is pretty straightforward on making a 20/20 as fast as possible and closing out the game, and there definitely isn't anything wrong with that.

The Spice Corner

This week we've got Legacy stalwart Stryfo on what amounts to Vintage Stryfo Pile.

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We've also got what appears to just be Death and Taxes, Vintage style.

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What I'm Playing This Week

I'm actually playing a bit of Vintage this week and possibly going to be recording a video with this hilarious pile of a deck, courtesy of my good friend WingedHussar. You can find his stream at http://twitch.tv/wingedhussarmtg.

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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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