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Vintage 101: Into the Unknown

Howdy folks! It's time for the very first Vintage 101 of 2020! This week we'll be talking about our hopes for Vintage in 2020, in addition to covering the final Vintage Challenge of 2019. We'll also be talking to the winner of that Challenge, and getting their thoughts on the format and what we hope to expect out of 2020.

Into the Unknown - Vintage in 2020

As we enter 2020, we can reflect a bit more on the year that was 2019 and try to glean some understanding of what things will be like for us in the future. 2019 era Magic saw a lot of powerful printings and a lot of shakeup to the Vintage format. Archetypes arose and fell as changes were made to the format via restrictions, which hadn't happened in the format since 2017 with the restrictions of Monastery Mentor and Thorn of Amethyst. 2019 saw five cards become restricted over the course of the year; most of these cards were printed in 2019.

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2019 however also saw a single unrestriction in the Vintage format, that of the card Fastbond, which quickly proved to be a really smart unrestriction. It promoted interesting budget decks, introduced new archetypes to the format entirely, and provided an interesting way of approaching building decks.

So... what can we expect to see in 2020? Well, we've got more than a few sets coming out this year, beginning of course with Theros Beyond Death (of which we'll get to our set review of in a few weeks here) and then moving on to Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths followed by Core Set 2021 and Zendikar Rising. This is only just the tip of the iceberg this year in regards to product releases, but these are the main Standard release sets. One thing I heavily expect out of 2020 is the presence of eternal format playable cards. As has been noted in an article by Bryan Hawley of Wizards Play Design, there has been an intentional push through Wizards R&D and Play Design to power up new release sets to a much higher power level than has been seen in the past sets of Standard. Throne of Eldraine was a good hard look at what Wizards considers the new normal for Standard released sets, and so with that in mind it makes sense that we will inevitably see more and more eternal format playable cards. As R&D/Play Design does not test for formats such as Vintage, the possibility of cards to slip through is great.

The question however, does become whether or not we will see cards on the level of Narset, Karn, or Mystic Forge or whether the cards will be more on the level of things like Stonecoil Serpent, Mystic Sanctuary, Lavinia, Azorius Renegade, and the like.

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These are cards that have felt powerful but ultimately just fine in Vintage, so it would be helpful to see more cards of this nature appear in the format and less cards that are like Karn/Narset, etc. If Throne is the new normal however (outside of outliers like Oko) then I would definitely expect to see cards like this in this year's sets.

One other thing I expect to see in 2020 is further changes to the Vintage Restricted List. Whether this means we'll see unrestrictions again or whether cards will be restricted, I am not sure, but I do believe that more changes will be made, for better or for worse.

Regardless of what comes next, 2020 is sure to be an exciting year of Magic!

Vintage Challenge 12/28

We had our final Vintage Challenge of 2019 this past weekend! Let's see how it shook out, shall we?

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Dredge 1st Lord_Beerus
4C Walkers 2nd Svaca
4C Walkers 3rd Exavie
DPS 4th Ramp
Ravager Shops 5th Montolio (Andy Markiton)
PO Storm 6th Necrodice
4C Walkers 7th Gernardi
4C Walkers 8th Psiven

This is an interesting Top 8, given that we only see one PO Storm deck in it, which to me shows that the overall metagame is changing and adapting as weeks go by on Magic Online. However, the most interesting thing is the presence of the 4C Walkers Control deck that was popularized by Tomas Mar of Czech Pile fame. This deck put four copies in the Top 8 of this Challenge, and it seems like it's the real deal.

However, at the end of the day it was the powerful wizard Lord_Beerus who took things down on none other than Dredge!

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We had the opportunity to sit down with Lord_Beerus to talk about their thoughts on the format and where they sit with Dredge these days.

First of all, thanks for joining us! Introduce yourself to everyone!

I’m Jed (Lord_Beerus), a college student from Wisconsin, and I grind MTGO for fun. I enjoy playing all formats, but Vintage/Legacy/Pauper are my favorites. I also enjoy drafting when I get burned out on constructed. When I’m not playing Magic, I enjoy spending time with friends, family, my girlfriend, playing poker, watching sports, movies, TV, and going for walks.

How did you get into Magic? Furthermore how did you get into Vintage? What drove you to the format?

I’ve been playing Magic since around 2001; my friends and I learned how to play it when we were kids and I’ve been playing it ever since. I got into Vintage by playing more on Magic Online and realizing that I could play some really cool formats online for a fraction of the cost. I initially bought Jeskai Mentor and an older version of Pitch Dredge and played both to very little success. What interested me about Vintage was how badly I was doing when I first started playing it, and seeing other regulars who had results week after week. I wanted to play the format more and improve. It quickly became one of my favorite formats, and I’ve shifted away from things like Standard and Modern to play more and more Vintage. Part of what I enjoy about Magic is the competitive nature of it, and the ability to practice and improve at it.

You’ve been pretty well known on Magic Online for playing Dredge. What drives you to play this archetype? How do you feel about the archetype currently in the metagame?

More than anything it’s experience with the deck, I think I probably have more matches with Dredge than any other deck I’ve played. I play the deck because I’ve been able to be successful with it and because I have fun playing it. Trying to figure out what your opponents have and play around cards is something you have to practice and improve upon, and I feel that sideboarding and mulliganing decisions are very important with the deck as well. Dredge also has ways of stopping turn one or turn two combos, and I like that I’m not just dead to decks like PO and Storm. Recent printings such as Force of Vigor and Force of Negation also increased the amount of disruption available, and give you more answers to problem permanents such as Leyline of the Void and Grafdigger’s Cage. I think Dredge is a solid choice at the moment (probably along with PO and blue midrange decks), but like many decks it has it’s difficult matchups, and it can mulligan pretty poorly in sideboard games where every card is crucial. I think there are many good choices in the metagame currently, and it’s all about picking a deck you enjoy, and that you’re comfortable with - for me, that happens to be Dredge. 

What are your thoughts on Vintage right now, especially since the restrictions that occurred during 2019?

Vintage seems like it’s in a pretty good place, and I think the last wave of restrictions were needed to bring the power level down on some of the decks we were seeing after the release of War of the Spark. Karn the Great Creator and Mystic Forge were too good as a 4 ofs, as was Narset, and I’m glad to see them restricted. Likewise I think that Dredge would have been too powerful if Grave-Troll hadn’t been restricted. Restricting Grave-Troll also meant that Force of Vigor was nerfed as well, by lowering the number of green cards that are played in the deck. Mental Misstep being restricted now I also have no problem with, although that restriction might have been seen as more controversial by some in the community, I think that it has worked out (and was also a nerf to Dredge by lowering the blue count and reducing the amount of quality one for one disruption.)

What are your hopes for Vintage in 2020?

I want the format to continue to grow and have new people coming into it on MTGO. There are tons of cool people in the community, and more are always welcome. I’ll be interested to see if more cards they print will make a splash in vintage, there were a ton of really good printings for different vintage decks in 2019, that changed the format in interesting ways.

Thanks for joining us! Never forget that you are awesome! If you’d like to let people know where to find you, drop them social media deets down below!

I just built a new computer and I’m in the process of setting stuff up to stream Magic for fun on Twitch, my Twitch username is Lord_Beerus187. Feel free to friend/follow me, I’m looking forward to sharing some games in the near future. You can also find me on Discord as Lord_Beerus #0957, on Twitter @Grimmer187, and on MTGO as Lord_Beerus.

In Second Place of this event was Svaca on the sweet 4C Walkers build. Let's take a look!

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Primarily this deck is a RUG Planeswalker control deck, but the black splash allows the deck to play cards like Demonic Tutor and splash in certain sideboard cards like Assassin's Trophy and Fatal Push. In addition, this particular list having access to both Deathrite Shaman and Dreadhorde Arcanist seems really strong and very powerful.

Further down the Top 8 we have our good friend Montolio (Andy Markiton) in 5th place with Ravager Shops!

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Andy brought some spice with a Main Deck restricted copy of Karn, the Great Creator here, which can be great against PO Storm decks while trying to slam home a win off the aggressive creatures. Andy certainly knows his Workshops, so it's great to see him do well.

Outside of the Top 8 in the Top 32, user WallOfRoots brought a sweet Bant deck that was recently streamed by our good friend Andy "Brass Man" Probasco on his Twitch channel. It's a killer Bant shell with Ephemerate!

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It seemed like a pretty interesting Challenge event, and it will be curious to continue following the format going into 2020.

The Spice Corner

AntiRush hit us with a sweet 5-0 with not only Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, but also Bolas's Citadel and... Wrenn and Six?!?!?!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Join us next time as we overanalyze the various 4C Walker Control decks that are now showing up thanks to Tomas Mar, and determine the differences between the various lists that have shown up! In addition we'll be looking forward to our Thero Beyond Death set review in a few weeks, so it should be a fun time!

As always you can catch me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord server as well! I'm slowly working on a January episode of "The Bazaar of Moxology", just with the holidays it will be a little late.

Until next time, keep casting Moxen!

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