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Vintage 101: Monkey Business


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 looking at the impact being made by none other than Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Dragon's Rage Channeler in Vintage! These cards have seen a lot of discussion in other formats and it's certainly very interesting that they are seeing some play here. In addition to that we've got two Challenge events to discuss, a Mythic Society event with a SWEET Thrasta decklist, and of course a Spice Corner!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, Channeler?

Vintage is not typically a place where one would really consider something like a 2/1 that generates a Treasure token to be ultimately a powerful card, but things have changed quite a bit in the format in that regards over time, and the power creep of both cards like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Dragon's Rage Channeler is too hard to really ignore now.

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Both of these cards are absolutely defining a subset of archetypes in Vintage right now, and it's pretty easy to see why. They generate a ton of value on their own and provide a lot of advantage while snowballing against the opponent. Let's take a look at a list.

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This type of deck is leaning on a really aggressive slant, utilizing the effects of cards like Ragavan in conjunction with Channeler and Dreadhorde Arcanist to generate overwhelming amounts of advantage both in mana advantage and card advantage. This allows this kind of deck to maintain a controlling gameplay with free countermagic to keep the pressure on and then eventually turn the corner with a huge threat like Murktide Regent.

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The role Ragavan plays in all of this is the same role the card is playing in other formats. A lot of decks in Vintage aren't playing many creatures outside of the fair midrange piles, and Ragavan can generally swing in and generate a Treasure token and then be able to utilize that mana efficiently. Having a solid amount of removal helps clear any blockers away as well as fueling both Delve and Delirium. Stealing a card off the top of an opponent's library is a swing upside in Vintage as the chances of hitting a card like a Moxen or the like are higher than most, meaning you're most likely going to be able to cast most cards you would hit with it immediately. Furthermore if you have the mana up front, being able to Dash in Ragavan and slam in for damage is a solid upside as well.

On the other half of things, Dragon's Rage Channeler is another card that gets out of hand rather quickly especially when the opponent is focused on trying to deal with Ragavan or a card like Lavinia/Arcanist. Having multiple snowball type threats is very powerful and it makes this kind of deck extremely strong. The primary upside of being in white for this kind of deck is having access to some of white's sideboard cards (Fragmentize) but also having access to things like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade.

All of this boils down to the fact that Modern Horizons 2 definitely seems to be having a much greater impact on the Vintage format than just the obvious cards we've seen such as Urza's Saga. Both Ragavan and Channeler are redefining a subtype of blue / red based aggro shells and it's overall very fascinating to see. I've heard some even say that Channeler is quite possibly one of the second best one drop creatures in Vintage at this point outside of Deathrite Shaman. I don't doubt that Ragavan is trailing close behind, and the critical mass of these kinds of cards is going to definitely influence these kinds of shells for a long time indeed.

Mythic Society 6/23

As a reminder, every Wednesday night at 7PM EST is the Mythic Society weekly events on Magic Online. You can find out all about these events on Mythic Society's Twitter. These are great FNM style events and are very casual.

In the upper echelons of this past week we've got a super sweet Mono Red Blood Moon deck featuring everyone's favorite Monkey Pirate!

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Super wild deck. I love the fact that we're just implementing Mono Red Prison in Vintage with a lot of the same technology, but also that Ragavan just adds a huge aggro element to the deck as well. Super cool list for sure.

Also in the top end, we've got Bryan Kelly being well... Bryan Kelly.

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Plenty of spice here with new cards like Urza's Saga, but also cards like Fractured Sanity in the sideboard (I assume for Doomsday related purposes). Behold the Multiverse is also just pretty thrilling as well.

Patrick Humfleet has some sick Jund beats for us this go around, complete with a Kitty Kat Nightmare friend.

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So much to love about this deck, from four copies of Abundant Harvest to the Wrenn and Six and just everything about this is really super fun. Digging everything about this.

The next deck is pairing the Monkey Pirate with Sedgemoor Witch!

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The Witch works really well with all the extra mana generated by Ragavan, which in turn works great for Sprite Dragon. Super solid list all around here.

And then of course... there's Justin.

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Okay I jest because I actually really dig the core idea of this deck. Cast Glimpse of Nature, cast a bunch of zero drop stuff, cast Thrasta, power out Craterhoof Behemoth, profit! Seriously, super fun-looking deck and we've even got a video for it in the Around the Web section.

Vintage Challenge 6/26

We had two Challenges over the past weekend, the first of which was the Saturday afternoon event. Thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord, we know this event had 54 players in it.

You can find all the Top 32 decklists for this event here.

Quite a bit of Golos, PO, and UB Tinker at the top of the metagame popularity-wise, but with plenty of diversity all the way down to the bottom of the metagame. Vintage definitely seems to be in a reasonable place right now with plenty of interesting decks.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Golos Stax 1st Falkoneye
Ravager Shops 2nd non_basic_land
Jeskai Aggro 3rd jordanlidsky
Oath of Druids 4th Miharu_Fuyumiya
Doomsday 5th discoverN
Dredge 6th kasa
White Weenie 7th Darthkid
Dredge 8th SuperCow12653

Pretty solid Top 8 here with plenty of different strategies. At the end of the event it was Shops v Shops with the one and only Golos coming out on top.

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Pretty solid list overall. Urza's Saga has definitely settled into the Golos decks well as a powerful card, especially when combined with Crucible of Worlds.

The other half of the Finals match was Ravager Shops!

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Urza's Saga in Ravager Shops is certainly very interesting to say the least. I hadn't quite expected it to make an appearance in these types of variants due to how aggressively slanted they are but it makes good sense. I think it definitely works.

Down to Third Place, we have a super cool Jeskai Aggro pile.

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People are slowly starting to figure out Dragon's Rage Channeler and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer in the format and I'm definitely pretty sure that it is incredibly easy in Vintage to enable DRC and delirium. This looks like a really solid list for sure.

Further down the Top 8 we've got Dredge.

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Grief continues to make appearances in these lists, providing these decks some powerful fuel for discard spells that also trigger Bridge from Below. Definitely going to see more of this in the future.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we've got White Weenie!

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This deck is pretty sweet and has a lot of strong plays to it. Archon of Emeria is just the tip of the icing on this deck alongside Sanctifier en-Vec. Really digging the copies of Solitude here as well.

Just outside of the Top 8 we've got some Monkey business in RUG Midrange.

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Ragavan enabling some pretty dumb follow-up plays is pretty silly. This deck has a lot of solid spice in it such as the main deck copies of Unholy Heat which can generally eat mostly any creature or Planeswalker in the format typically.

Down the Top 32 we've got some Standstill action going on.

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Urza's Saga seems to be a really strong win condition for Standstill decks, especially since it can tutor into play things like Manifold Key (which only gets way better when you consider that it can make Constructs unblockable) for the Time Vault/Key combo.

Vintage Challenge 6/27

The second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event interestingly enough had 64 players in it, which is actually more players than the Saturday afternoon event. Interesting indeed.

You can find all the Top 32 decklists for this event here.

Doomsday continuing to do the thing here, and the Sunday event in general definitely seems to attract more of the diehard Doomsday players. Also plenty of Golos, PO, and UB Tinker decks at the top as well. Lot of cool decks all the way down the line in this event for sure.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UB Tinker 1st s063
Doomsday 2nd discoverN
Doomsday 3rd MaxMagicer
Hogaak 4th Bullwinkkle6705
BUG Midrange 5th _INF_
Oath of Druids 6th JMahncke
Jeskai Aggro 7th Slasher21
UB Tinker 8th WhiTe TsaR

Decent representation in this event, with some fair decks and combo as well as Bazaar and even an Oath pile. At the end of the event, it was UB Tinker that took it all down.

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I think it is pretty reasonable to say that this particular deck seems to be one of the best shells for Sedgemoor Witch and has generally proven to be an incredibly powerful deck in the current format. Even Modern Horizons 2 wasn't really enough to shake this deck from its position.

The Second Place finalist was the master of Doomsday, discoverN.

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The decklist hasn't really changed, but discoverN continues to slam through events like nobody's business with multiple Top 8's. They are absolutely a true master of their craft.

Down the Top 8 we've got some Oath of Druids action!

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This version is getting to abuse Sun Titan with Underworld Breach for a backup kill outside of the typical Griselbrand shenanigans. Definitely a neat way to approach this deck.

Outside of the Top 8 we've got our good friend Justin Gennari with... STONEBLADE?!

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Justin posted a video of this deck in action so be sure to check it out below. Definitely digging seeing new equipment Kaldra Compleat here. Very powerful stuff indeed.

Down the Top 32, I just want to point out that this PO deck has a Platinum Angel in it.

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No losing for this player with Platinum Angel! Also, Dauthi Voidwalker in the sideboard is super interesting. I'm guessing for more grindy games where it reaps value just being a 3/2 unblockable.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we've got RUG Aggro.

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I saw RUG pretty loosely. This is primarily a UR Aggro strategy with Wrenn and Six and some green sideboard cards. That doesn't detract from the fact that this strategy is still really powerful though.

Around the Web

  • Japanese player noprops has a great video on the UR Aggro deck featuring Ragavan. Check it out here.
  • Our good friend Justin Gennari posted some sweet videos in this last week.
  • Our good friend Phil Gallagher posted a video on the White Weenie Hatebears deck featuring Sanctifier en-Vec. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

Jegantha Stax!

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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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