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Vintage 101: More of That Strange Oil... It's Probably Nothing


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 diving into Phyrexia: All Will Be One and what any of the cards in it mean for Vintage play. In addition to that, we've got two Challenges to look at from over the weekend and of course, a Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Darned Oil

Spoiler season is upon us yet again and this time it's right in the thick of the war against Phyrexia in Phyrexia: All Will Be One. This set features a number of new and returning mechanics as well as some callbacks to older sets like New Phyrexia (one of the most contested sets of all time due to Phyrexian mana).

Some of the returning mechanics are of course poison counters and proliferate, as the return of Phyrexian mana being only used primarily on permanents for activated abilities as well as a single cost on Compleated Planeswalkers. New mechanics include a toned-down version of infect called toxic which only gives poison counters equal to the number on toxic, and a Living Weapon-esque mechanic called "For Mirrodin!" which rethemes Living Weapon as a Mirran Resistance mechanic instead (except the token they get is much bigger than a 0/0 Germ).

There's a good number of cards to discuss for Vintage, but a good majority of the set looks very toned down for us thankfully.

Atraxa, Grand Unifier

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The biggest aspect of this card is the fact that it sees 10 cards right off the bat and is going to put into your hand roughly 3-4 on average, especially in Vintage where there is a definite spread of card types. I don't know that this sees much play because the current major Oath target is Serra's Emissary for reasons of being able to handle a good majority of the format right now. The big upside here is that it doesn't actually draw the cards, so it gets around effects like Hullbreacher, Narset, and even Sheoldred.

If we ever get a true Natural Order shell in the format, this could also definitely see play in it, and at the end of the day it can pitch to several Force effects plus stuff like Endurance and Grief as a floor.

Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Elesh Norn is back and in a big way. I don't believe this is insanely playable in Vintage, but it is worth noting how much this does for decks like the Mono White Initiative deck where it can double up Initiative triggers from creatures like White Plume Adventurer and Seasoned Dungeoneer. It might also be relevant in the mirror match for that deck as a way to turn off the opponent's deck from having ETB triggers as well. I don't see it being super good, but it has slight potential.

Ichormoon Gauntlet

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

While the first part of this card is likely not going to be the interesting part of it since giving Planeswalkers a proliferate action/extra turn loyalty thing is not absolutely insane in Vintage (although giving Narset a way to increase her loyalty is kind of silly over several turns), the second part of this card is even more interesting. There are lots of cards cast in Vintage that are noncreature spells for sure, and being able to add counters to various things in play is definitely interesting. I don't know what shell exists for this, but there's definitely some sort of Hardened Scales shenanigans to be had.

Kaya, Intangible Slayer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Arena Rector and Flash were definitely once upon a time a very reasonable and fringe but fun strategy. This as an Arena Rector target is kind of sweet. Zero loyalty to draw two cards is pretty wild and hexproof is pretty solid.

Don't know if this sees any play in that shell because that shell is incredibly fringe, but it might!

Mercurial Spelldancer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

With the fact that Dreadhorde Arcanist exists already, I don't see this one seeing much play, but the effect is wild and the fact is that like most of these other cards casting noncreature spells happens a lot in Vintage with stuff like Moxen and such. This could really be a strong card to where you could set up some powerful plays with it and I think that alone could make it worth looking at.

Minor Misstep

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

There are a lot of people freaking out about this card across several formats and in Vintage I am reasonably certain in saying that this card is actually just rather medium, if not outright bad. Yes, this is *sort* of like Mental Misstep but OG Misstep had the caveat that it was free to cast functionally and was often used to counter opposing Missteps. The fact that this costs mana instead of being able to be cast for 2 life is a huge deal, no matter how good the fact is that it counters zero mana value spells as well.

While there's certainly a plethora of zero mana value spells to counter in the format, I don't see this seeing play over stuff like Flusterstorm as many of the raw payoffs in the current format are cards like Tinker and Doomsday. Yes you can snag a Dark Ritual off of one of these, but so can the restricted copy of OG Misstep for free and still leave you with mana up to cast a Flusterstorm. The context of costing mana here is ultimately the biggest downside of this card.

I do believe people will try to play this though and it will likely fall off very quickly. Blue deck slots are very tight these days so it might even be hard to fit these into the decks.

The Filigree Sylex

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Ratchet Bomb isn't exactly playable right now, but this is a weird Ratchet Bomb with a sort of upside in that it can do something else late game if you need it to. I don't see this seeing much play though, so it's probably not at all that good.

The Mycosynth Gardens

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card is kind of wild since it can become copies of things like Lion's Eye Diamond for zero mana, and LED doesn't require a tap activation to activate so it could be used immediately in the same turn. There's definitely a bunch of different things this copies, but also worth noting that once it becomes a copy it stops being the Mycosynth Gardens and loses the ability to copy.

Definitely a weird card but very cool.

Venerated Rotpriest

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I don't know if this is playable or not, but the effect here is kind of cool with cards like Ground Rift and such. Maybe not in Vintage but it's super cool.

Vindictive Firestoker

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is one that possibly has a good chance to see some minor play. Casting noncreature spells again is not so hard in Vintage, so reducing the cost of this to activate its ability to draw is a certain possibility. Is this effect good enough is the real question, but it might be.

Vintage Challenge 1/21

The first Vintage Challenge of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 62 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.

Mono White was quite popular all around and it did have a good win rate. Doomsday also did very well, so did Esper Tinker variants. Wide spread of things all the way down to the cutoff here though.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Esper Tinker 1st Condescend
Mono White 2nd darius89
Aggro Shops 3rd s063
Mono White 4th Nammersquats
Doomsday 5th sixmp
Tinker Breach 6th Jessy_Samek
Hollow Vine 7th NathanLipetz
Mono White 8th Dreddybajs

Fair number of various archetypes here in this Top 8. At the end of the event, it was Esper Tinker that won the event.

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The coolest thing here is the sideboard copy of Portal to Phyrexia, which seems bonkers versus the Mono White decks. Sac three creatures and then reanimate the Initiative creatures? Solid.

The Second Place finalist was on Mono White.

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Lot of hatebear effects here from Peacekeeper to Spirit of the Labyrinth and even a main deck copy of Aven Mindcensor. This is solid.

Also in this Top 8 we had a Blue Shops build.

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Phyrexian Metamorph as noted is quite good right now it seems, and there's a lot of solid action in this list for sure. The Mightstone and Weakstone seems so good for these decks.

Vintage Challenge 1/22

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 59 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.

Mono White was again very popular, but it did not do so hot in this event. Shops decks did very well, as did Doomsday and a wide variety of other decks. Good variety down the line here for sure.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Esper Tinker 1st bless_von
Doomsday 2nd Musasabi
Aggro Shops 3rd Tsubasa_Cat
Combo Shops 4th Turn1GlistnerElf
Doomsday 5th Vertyx_
Oops! All Spells 6th mmfood
Tinker Breach 7th Yamaro
Hogaak 8th otakkun

Good amount of variety here with some Shops, some Combo, Bazaar, and Tinker. In the end, it was Esper Tinker that won the event.

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We can see here some more hedges against Mono White in the form of Virtue's Ruin in the sideboard. The main deck list here is quite solid for sure.

The Second Place finalist was on Doomsday.

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I still love seeing Gaea's Blessing as a hedge against Archive Trap. Super interesting stuff.

Also in this Top 8 we had a showing by the Coveted Jewel Shops deck.

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There's a lot to this deck and it's definitely very powerful. It has a lot of strong play to it and again Phyrexian Metamorph has never been better in the current format.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

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

Smelting Vat Combo is spicy!

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MERFOLK.

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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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