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Vintage 101: Interesting Times Ahead

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're touching on a topic unrelated to the metagame and a look ahead to what the future might bring in regards to some product announcements received this week in regards to Universes Beyond. In addition to that, we've got two Challenge events to talk about with a look forward to this coming weekend's Showcase Challenge event, as well as our ever-present Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

A Universe Beyond Magic

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard the news from last week's Hasbro Investor Day in regards to a new product line that Wizards of the Coast is going to be pursuing. The product line is known as Universes Beyond, and it is a crossing over of Magic's game system into different Intellectual Properties (IPs). These cards will have different frames, a different holostamp, but the same card back.

The first of these offerings is the Secret Lair: The Walking Dead set that was grandfathered into the Universes Beyond branding, but the first sets to release with that branding is going to be two properties. One is a full set based on The Lord of the Rings and another is a set of Commander decks based in the Warhammer 40K universe.

There has been a lot of chatter on this, and I felt is appropriate to put in my opinions on all of this and what this means for eternal formats such as Vintage. The biggest thing to note about these products is that they are currently going to be treated just like other supplemental product in Magic in that they will not be Standard legal, but will instead be legal in eternal formats like Commander, Legacy, and Vintage.

So what does this mean for us and formats like Vintage?

Frodo's just as surprised

Well, for starters, it does mean that there is a possibility of one of these cards coming out that is powerful enough to break into the Vintage format in some capacity. One of the bigger criticisms of Secret Lair: The Walking Dead was primarily based on the distribution method as a Secret Lair product and the limited time frame of things in that regard, not so much the actual IP involved. While there is some mention of some SL product still associated with Universes Beyond, for the most part it seems that Wizards has taken this feedback to heart and is creating product that will have a measure of availability (as available as any other supplemental products) by either developing a whole set, or in the case of 40K Commander decks, which often are either released directly to Magic Online or as cards in Treasure Chests.

Of course, there has been a lot of back and forth as to whether this is a thing Wizards should be doing, and whether or not this is bad or good for the game. There's a lot of negative responses to this, and I definitely can see both sides of the coin on this one. From my own perspective, I've never had much issue with Wizards seeking out new opportunities to market to newer players of the game and to people that may not immediately consider the game, and I am honestly surprised we hadn't seen this sort of push sooner. Even as someone who is a very big Vorthos, I'm not really too upset with seeing other IPs being crossed into because that doesn't have any real long term effect to me in regards to how I enjoy the game. A lot of other people are going to really enjoy these sets and I can definitely see where it is good. Now there is a bit of a slippery slope here in that Wizards could go off the deep end with this and start crossing over many many different ways, but I expect it will be more measured at first (with LotR being a true fantasy genre defining property) and a little experimental (40K fits this mold quite nicely while still being a dark fantasy property) to gauge how people will respond to it. There is always the chance it goes wrong, but I would like to see if it can go right first.

I expect that the response from those who already are negative towards this will not change too much, and that's valid. There are plenty of valid reasons to be upset with this product, but there are also plenty of reasons to see why it might be good or might be needed. I am in the camp of keeping an open mind on this product line and am willing to see where it goes before really making a firm determination, especially for Vintage purposes. I actually do honestly doubt that there would be something out of these sets that would be insane in Vintage, but you never know what will happen.

And remember, at the end of the day there's always the possibility of Secret Lair: Arrested Development. (Kidding!)

Vintage Challenge 2/27

Our first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Saturday event, which had 67 players thanks to the efforts of the data collectors on the Vintage Streamer's Discord server. Let's dive right into the metagame breakdown!

A lot of BUG decks in this event, like a lot compared to the other decks that are popular. This is pretty wild to see, but not surprising. People really like the play style of the deck and how well it approaches most matchups. It's very powerful for sure.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Midrange 1st Montolio
Lurrus Breach 2nd twinlesstwin
Lurrus Breach 3rd Dead_style
Ravager Shops 4th sinister85
Ravager Shops 5th medvedev
Lurrus Breach 6th ziofrancone
Jeskai Control 7th BlueSkiesJ
BUG Midrange 8th jankyb

Lot of Breach, BUG, and Shops in this Top 8 with only really four decks represented out of eight (with Jeskai Control being the odd one out). At the end of the day however, it was the Vintage Champ himself Andy Markiton who took it all down on BUG Midrange.

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Andy's list is strong and really clean. I like the singleton basic land here as a hedge in the mirror matches if they have Assassin's Trophy, but it's worth noting that Andy isn't even playing Trophy, but is on Abrupt Decay. I think this makes a lot of sense honestly in being able to combat Underworld Breach and Lurrus by having removal that is uncounterable for both. Very interesting.

The Second Place finalist was on Lurrus Breach.

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This user won one of the Challenges last weekend on this deck, so it's no surprise to see them run back another almost win. Lurrus seems to have slotted well into the Breach decks and provides the decks a great angle of attack without really feeling like they are unattackable, which is really nice to see.

Also in the Top 8 we have Ravager Shops!

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Crystalline Giant is a card that's gained a measure of popularity in these lists and I think the card is really interesting personally. It occasionally doesn't do what you want it to because it's random, but usually, any counters it gets are going to be pretty good.

Outside of the Top 8 we have a DPS list down at 5-1 record, which is super cool.

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This is a fun list, just straight on DPS storm like it used to be, but with some notable changes like Wishclaw Talisman. I'm in love with the Bontu's Last Reckoning in the sideboard, that part is really neat.

Also in the Top 32 we have Birgi Combo.

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This deck is so much fun and so incredibly interesting to play. Deep Analysis out of the sideboard is really interesting and so is the main deck copy of Memory Jar. This list does a lot of fun things and Birgi is really powerful in it.

Vintage Challenge 2/28

Our second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday Challenge event. It appears there was no data again for this one, so we only have the Top 32 to go off of. I'd mention that if you are playing in one of these events, please maybe reach out to Justin Gennari via Twitter and see if you can help with data collection! It really does help quite a bit.

Lurrus Breach had the best showing of popularity at least in the Top 32, but I feel like it would have been crunched out by BUG yet again if we had all of the data. Really though between both days these metagames look really good and interesting, and it doesn't seem that Lurrus has exploded the format (yet).

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Midrange 1st _INF_
PO Storm 2nd Cioffo86
Ravager Shops 3rd medvedev
Bant Midrange 4th Nerdkneereape
Hogaak 5th MadMaxErnst
White Eldrazi 6th notmi
Lurrus Breach 7th jaredallsop619
4C Midrange 8th evergo

A lot more diversity in this Top 8 for sure from the Saturday event, with a lot more represented strategies, including even an oldie but goodie in White Eldrazi. At the end of the event however, it was BUG yet again to prevail.

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This is relatively similar to Andy's list without the Brazen Borrower, and of course being on Abrupt Decay over Trophy. Seems very smart indeed. It's also worth noting that this player chose to also play Narset, while Andy did not.

The Second Place finalist was PO Storm!

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Straight old school Esper PO is the name of this game. No Lavinia's or anything like that, but both Narset and Teferi seem pretty good. I especially like the Sphinx of the Steel Wind in the sideboard as an alternative Tinker target, as well as the presence of Kambal, Consul of Allocation.

Also in the Top 8 as mentioned we had White Eldrazi.

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This is mainly mono white, as the only "blue" spells this deck is splashing are generally free (Misstep, Traps). Archive Trap is intriguing and I expect it's pretty good against things like Doomsday or Bazaar decks. Really fun and intriguing list overall.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have good friend Eric Vergo on a variation of Bant Midrange by splashing black for Deathrite Shaman and Leovold.

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This is basically just like the Bant Archon deck and has a definitely similar gameplan, however it gains a little extra in the form of Leovold and DRS, while also being able to splash black cards out of the sideboard like Yixlid Jailer. Really interesting list!

Outside of the Top 8, we had a showing by Grixis Death's Shadow!

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I like the idea of using Arcanist here, as well having access to both Dack Fayden and Pyroblast in case you need Arcanist to pull some extra work (or to bolt yourself to push through lethal with Shadow). Seems like a really fun list overall.

Vintage Octagon 2/25

Team Lotus Box held another Octagon event this past week. These events are headed by community stalwart Anuraag Das and meant to promote powerful competition.  They are essentially eight player single elimination tournaments with a high prize. Really fun stuff. Here's the list of the players who participated in this event. You can find all the details of this event here.

Deck Name Player Name
4C Midrange cftsoc
4C Midrange Jordan Lidsky
Esper Lurrus Justin Gennari
Golos Stax Ryan Haddad
4C Midrange Steve Mills
Golos Stax Kyle Shane
Lurrus Breach sandydogmtg
Grixis Tinker Lucas Horwitz

According to the Team Lotus Box Twitter, the winner of the event was Jordan Lidsky on 4C Midrange, vs cftsoc in the finals also on 4C Midrange.

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Both of these lists are really super unique and interesting. The Gitrog Monster?! Titania, Protector of Argoth?!?! Ephemerate! Some really sweet stuff here. You gotta love to see it.

Be sure to check out all the lists and also follow along with Team Lotus Box on Twitter for more Octagon news.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

Always post Lutri.

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A real unique take on a Lurrus main deck with hatebear elements + Opposition Agent.

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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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