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Vintage 101: Leveraging Information

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week I am going to be a little introspective on the overall state of Vintage (and my current relationship to the format) and also the state of this column series. No this series is not going away, just making sure that is known right off the bat. In addition to that we've got two Challenges to cover plus a Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Informational Overload

There's certainly been a weirdness to Vintage for me as of late. On one hand, the format continues to look very fun and very interesting to play. On the other hand, a severe lack of time and lack of proper practice/preparation has made it hard for me to want to enjoy the format (but this is true for a lot of Magic right now).

I started playing this format at a time right after the restriction of Monastery Mentor, and even though I largely started with Bazaar decks and Workshop decks, I definitely found a love for the blue decks of the format over time. I've toyed with a good number of the format's archetypes (very nearly all of them at some point), and it is a format that I have long-term thought to be one of the more thought-provoking formats, providing deep and fascinating gameplay. At the end of the day, I am looking to figure out the best way for me to actively enjoy Vintage as a format, as there isn't any one real factor that has put me away from it as of late. Truth be told, I have often felt that I'm not exactly a great player, and sometimes that is part of what keeps me from being able to dive back in is that anxiety and fear of not doing even reasonably well. Impostor syndrome hits pretty hard sometimes as well.

However, the times I do get to actually sit down and play paper (proxy) Vintage have often been some of the most fun I've ever had playing Magic at events. I would actively want more of that because I feel less like I have to compete and am allowed to feel more fun from the format itself. That in of itself is a part of it.

Another part of it is that Vintage overall has changed so much over the most recent years and continually keeping up in gameplay heuristics is certainly a challenge. It's an interesting conundrum. I absolutely love Vintage as a format, and I want to be able to do more with it.

Vintage itself is in a reasonable position right now, but I know that there are overarching concerns about how the format has been sped up over the past few years. More efficient printings have come about and have changed the format in many ways and I think so much of that started with War of the Spark. Most notably I think Bolas's Citadel has been somewhat of a net negative effect on the format overall, and the only way to ever potentially address that card would be to ban it because restrictions don't stop it). While there's some merit in worrying about the health of the format, the format definitely seems like it is absorbing new things well. Initiative was an excellent example of that, I feel.

In regards to this column series, as I noted, there are no plans to end the column, regardless of my current conundrum with Vintage and how I approach it. In fact, I think there are great avenues for doing more things with the column, but when developments in the format are slow and nothing is really going on, it's hard to come up with new ideas and things to keep it going. To that end, I think it would be great if more and more thought and feedback was given on to what you - the reader - would like to see me cover more in this column. Is there something that we should revisit? Is there deck strategy that you would like to see? Please feel free to let me know. I know that at times it can feel like the column is just "recap the events", and I definitely would like to be doing more things, but would love to know what kind of things the readers would like to see.

This was very much a brain dump of information for me. Originally I had planned to simply write about leveraging ban lists as I've done in the past, but I think this was good to sit down and work through in my head. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to read this column if you are a regular reader or a first-timer, I really appreciate you!

Vintage Challenge 4/22

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 61 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 very popular here, and it's win rate was quite reasonable. Other decks that did well here were Dredge, Jeskai, and Breach decks. Grixis Tinker did quite poorly as did 4C DRS Planeswalker decks.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Dredge 1st Lord_Beerus
Breach 2nd Parrotlet
Initiative 3rd WhiTe_TsaR
Jeskai Lurrus 4th jankyb
CounterVine 5th Firetruck
Breach 6th desolutionist
Oath of Druids 7th SoulKing54
Initiative 8th yPrincipe

Interesting Top 8 with some spread of decks here. Combo, Bazaar, Oath, and Initiative all well represented here. At the end of the event though it was Dredge that took it all down.

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Dredge is one of those decks that shows up when you least expect it to and can easily power through an event if people are unprepared for it. It continues to jockey for position over the other Bazaar aggro/control variants that exist in the current format, but it's a classic even if it has evolved a lot over time.

In Second Place we've got Breach.

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Fairly straightforward list here for sure, but if it isn't broke don't fix it! This deck has a lot of strength behind it, having many different angles to win the game with.

Also in this Top 8 we had Initiative.

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It looks like the deckbuilding for this deck has absolutely solidified into a very powerful stock list and it definitely isn't changing up any time soon. The arms race of this deck certainly has been interesting to watch, but now that it's settled into the format a lot of that has really slowed down.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have Oath of Druids.

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I really dig this variant. It looks like so much fun and it's always goofy to see both Show and Tell and Oath of Druids in the same deck. It says a lot about the power level of Atraxa, that's for sure.

Vintage Challenge 4/23

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 53 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.

No single clear most popular deck here, but the spread of decks at the top is interesting. Prison Shops had a great run in this event, as did 4C DRS decks and Initiative. Oath did quite poorly here, as did Esper Tinker variants.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Bant Lurrus 1st CodeProvider
RUG DRS 2nd bless_von
Combo Shops 3rd JOSE
4C DRS 4th yoshiwata
Initiative 5th keyzoo
Doomsday 6th Tsubasa_Cat
Prison Shops 7th Mogged
Prison Shops 8th Musasabi

Lot of Workshops in this Top 8, in addition to a good amount of DRS. At the end of the event though, it was Bant DRS Lurrus that won.

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It's refreshing to see Mercurial Spelldancer still floating around. The card seemed very good in the format for sure. It's easy to trigger with the number of non-creature spells in the format, and it's almost always going to get in for damage (outside of stuff like Dress Down). Fractured Sanity here in the sideboard as a Doomsday hedge is kind of fun (given that they can't easily counter the cycle ability).

In Second Place we've got RUG DRS.

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New card alert! We've got new merfolk Deeproot Wayfinder here. I wonder how good the card was in this deck, and it's clear by the manabase that the six land destruction effects on lands is what this card is meant to abuse. In addition to that you've got all the nutty banned Legacy Planeswalkers to work with.

Also in this Top 8 we've got Combo Shops.

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This deck continues to look better and better each week. It seems incredibly powerful, and it is poised to receive other cards coming up soon in the future (such as The One Ring) that could greatly impact it as well. Definitely a deck to keep an eye on.

Further into this Top 8 we've got 4C DRS.

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What distinguishes this from the RUG deck is some small black splashes like Demonic Tutor but for the most part the deck's are quite the same. This deck is getting to play more banned cards in other formats like Ragavan though. I also really love the Fury in the sideboard.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

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

This one actually popped up in the Vintage Discord and likely will show up in next week's 5-0 lists, but it was too cool not to share. Turbo Lands by SchulzCubed!

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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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