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Vintage 101: Looking Back at 2023


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 taking a joy ride back through 2023 and how it related to Vintage! In addition to that we've got two Challenges from over the weekend to take a look at. Daybreak has fixed their issues and we get to keep all of the decklist data going forward, so it's an exciting time to be doing data analysis!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

A Look Back at Vintage in 2023

2023 was sure one heck of a year for Vintage. Let's take a look back at the big hitters from the year and what it meant to the format.

The Unseating of Griselbrand and the Rise of Oath

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I very distinctly remember this being a super huge point of contention at the beginning of the year. How good was Atraxa? Wasn't Griselbrand just better? It turns out having a mega-Dig Through Time on a 7/7 keyword soup card that also pitched to multiple Force effects was good, even better than Griselbrand was in the deck once you were able to understand you could also lean on cards like Show and Tell and Flash to get Atraxa into play. Atraxa utterly redefined how people built Oath decks in general, and in doing so took Oath from being a small time player in the format to a very big threat that people suddenly had to remember existed.

Furthermore, Oath went on to have quite a year in tournament results from Top 8'ing multiple large events and winning some of those, it's existence as a combo/control variant was distinctly felt.

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth

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Probably the biggest thing of the year, honestly. I don't know if anyone expected that a Universes Beyond set would have such a distinct effect on every format it touched, but The Lord of the Rings did make its presence felt. Regardless of how one feels about Universes Beyond products in general, cards like The One Ring and most especially Lorien Revealed transformed the very fabric of Vintage forever.

I think more than any other event this year for the format, this one stands out due to the long-reaching effects this set had on the format and not just with those two cards, but overall.

The Re-Introduction of a Storm Archetype to Vintage

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Wilds of Eldraine had several interesting cards, but the biggest one for Vintage was the printing of Beseech the Mirror. This resulted in the re-introduction of an archetype in Vintage utilizing the Storm keyword to win the game via something like Tendrils of Agony and Dark Ritual, something that hasn't been around the format since Dark Petition Storm completely and utterly died off.

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I think what helped this deck do well was the fact that Bargain was so easy to utilize in Vintage, with cards like Urza's Saga and whatnot being so plentiful in the format. It was nice to see a Dark Ritual deck in the format that wasn't Doomsday (as cool as Doomsday is, variety is nice).

The Announcement of Eternal Weekends

This was a big deal this year I felt. Having the announcements of Eternal Weekend months in advance of the actual events very much helped the overall attendance of these events, and I certainly hope this is something Wizards saw this year and continue to do in the following years. The North America event in Pittsburg nearly had close to over 400 players and I think a big part of that was giving players heads up more in advance.

Not only that, this year's first-place prizes for the Eternal Weekends being all variants of Black Lotus was solid for a painting prize. A cool thing to see.

Wrapping Up and Looking Ahead

2023 had a lot going on for Vintage this year, and 2024 is already shaping up to possibly be even more interesting. Sets like Modern Horizons 3 are coming, so 2024 could very well prove to be meaningful to the format. As for myself, I had a lot of fun writing about this format this year, and I am looking forward to continuing that trend in 2024!

Vintage Challenge 12/23

The first Challenge of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 64 players in it thanks to the efforts of the Vintage Streamer's Discord and Daybreak's new changes.

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

Combo Shops was quite popular and despite having a strong end finish its overall win rate was dragged down pretty hard. Initiative also fared poorly as did Dredge and Prison Shops. Oath, Lurrus Saga, and CounterVine all performed strongly.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UW Lurrus Saga 1st WingedHussar
Combo Shops 2nd Breckoroni
Esper Lurrus Saga 3rd notmi
CounterVine 4th HermonHero
Aggro Shops 5th tajoordan
Oath of Druids 6th burrarun
Breach 7th haveaboavida
UB Lurrus Saga 8th musasabi

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The UW variant of this deck is quite interesting, and I like the inclusion of a main deck Spreading Seas here. It very cleanly deals with several lands in the format and kills Urza's Saga which is pretty fun and you can even rebuy it with Lurrus at that point.

In Second Place we had Combo Shops.

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As mentioned before, the overall win rate of this deck was dragged down pretty hard but this pilot had a very strong finish overall. This deck does some very powerful things and with some tight play one can do very well with it for sure.

Further down the Top 8 we had Aggro Shops.

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Solid looking list here. Very focused on the aggressive game plan and doing a great job of building on a game plan that is also playing four copies of Null Rod in the main deck. Patchwork Automaton did a lot for this deck.

Also in this Top 8 we had Oath.

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Nicely constructed list here. Very close to what I've seen a lot of people having played for events like Eternal Weekend. This deck was definitely one of the breakout decks of 2023.

Vintage Challenge 12/24

The second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 55 players in it thanks to the efforts of the Vintage Streamer's Discord and Daybreak's new changes.

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

Lurrus Saga was the most popular deck of the event and it did very well. A lot of the upper spread of decks did not do well here, but Doomsday, BUG, and other blue Tempo variants did well.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UB Lurrus Saga 1st mogged
Doomsday 2nd Diem4x
UB Lurrus Saga 3rd musasabi
Beseech Storm 4th HouseOfManaMTG
Dredge 5th kobayui
BUG 6th yoshiwata
Merfolk 7th SingPanMan
Doomsday 8th Tsubasa_Cat

Pretty nice looking Top 8. At the end of the event, it was a split finals with the officially recorded winner being UB Lurrus Saga.

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Ledger Shredder is a sweet additional growing threat that can be used to drop cards you can just rebuy with Lurrus to the yard while also growing the Shredder. Solid and interesting deckbuilding.

The official Second Place was Doomsday.

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Very clean and straightforward list. There doesn't need to be many frills to a Doomsday list these days for sure.

Further down the Top 8 we had BUG.

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Nicely constructed list. It's always wild to me to see Tarmogoyf again in 2023, but the card has its uses and can still beat down players.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Merfolk.

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Tishana's Tidebinder is certainly a card that has lent itself well to this kind of deck, especially since we're now just getting so many different hatebear-like effects on Merfolk. It's pretty cool actually to see.

Around the Web

  • Justin Gennari has a few videos for us!
  • Charlotte Legacy League has an Oath vs Shops video. Check it out here.
  • Montolio has a video on HollowVine in a Challenge. Check it out here.
  • Speaking of HollowVine, Lucksack Games also has a video on the deck. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

We now get several league postings every week from Daybreak, so I'm scouring all of them for this section.

I LOVE a good Lutri deck and this one looks 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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