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Vintage 101: Mythbusters - Vintage Edition!


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 discussing some of the common myths of the format of Vintage and how they stand up to the reality of where Vintage is in 2019. This will also give us a chance to go over where the current Vintage Metagame is at right now and what predictions we can make for the format as we approach the 8/26 banlist update.

We're also going to cover the Vintage Challenge from over the weekend, and of course, share our daily dose of spice as well as an update on what I've been playing as of late!

The Mythological Beast That is Vintage

Let's be realistic right up front. Vintage is a daunting format for those who aren't familiar enough with its power level. It's a format of a lot of high level interaction and high variance, where a lot of broken Magic appears. As such, a lot of common myths have appeared over time on the format, and people often tend to focus on the myth more than the reality. The biggest myth and reality of all is the very first thing people tend to focus on when you mention Vintage - the cost.

Myth: Vintage is Expensive

Reality: True....ish.

I say true to an extent here since there is some truth to this myth and there's some falsehoods as well. One of the most common things Magic players love to focus on is the overall "cost" to get into a format, except that focus is too often pointed at the cost of a deck given in say... a decklist off MTGGoldfish.

One might look at this list above and go "Wow, this deck costs $32,000 in paper!" I see these comments often enough to know that it is one of the more commonly leveled ones at the format of Vintage. The cost is everything after all, in this day and age of having to be up on MTG Finance or get lost in the crowd of spikes and price changes.

However, there are some falsehoods about this price. Yes, if you wanted to buy every card on this list, it would cost you a pretty penny in paper. But one of the things you have to ask yourself in that regards is whether you ever plan on playing fully sanctioned Vintage or not. For the record, sanctioned Vintage events don't happen supremely often, and often happen in specific regional areas. Large sanctioned events like US Eternal Weekend or the SCG P9 Series are the biggest sanctioned tournaments with the occasional Eternal Weekend Trial to earn byes for Eternal Weekend also appear at a smaller level of play, but for the most part the majority of local events that occur in various regions are actually unsanctioned and allow the use of playtest cards as a casual event.

The level at how many cards can be used varies from event, but more often than not you can be looking at decks that can be played that cost less than a Modern deck. These events can be a good way to figure out what kind of deck you might like to play, so that you can make a more informed decision about the gameplay of the format. In addition, they offer a way to get out and socialize with other Vintage players.

Another good way to do this however, and its a way that I recommend, is through the use of Magic Online. MTGO has become one of the most important places for formats like Vintage / Legacy, and not only is it very easy to figure out what you would like to play (such as through using a rental service like Cardhoarder) but the cost of actually buying in is much, much cheaper than playing in paper. The same deck above that costs $32,000 costs roughly $400 or so on MTGO. This also allows you the ability to network and play against other like-minded Vintage enthusiasts, as many play on MTGO. The most often concern I hear about this is that it's Magic Online, but I actually have found I get more gameplay in on MTGO with my rental service than I did on paper, and have had much more able to try different things and find my niche in the format.

Networking with other Vintage players can also occasionally be a good way to learn more about the format and also can often help mitigate the costs of the format. I know some great Vintage players who are willing to ensure that people can play the format, even going as far as lending cards to people for sanctioned events. MTGO is a good way to get involved with this community, but another is to ask around your area if there are other people who play the format and become friends with them! Learn from others and let them teach you the basics of the format. These people can be good resources for learning, but also for giving tips on the financial side of things if you do find yourself in the market of purchasing Vintage related cards. More often you can find yourself playing casually with groups in a more casual setting, such as how Old School is played, and this can be a good way to not only socialize but also play the format.

Finally, yes... these older cards are expensive but often the prices listed on most websites are based on NM prices, and quite often you can find deals on these cards in lesser graded conditions. As long as the card is sleeve playable and can't be determined as marked, then you might be able to acquire some discounted prices on them if you find yourself in the position to be able to purchase these cards.

So yes... while Vintage can be expensive, there are ways to approach the format that make it a lot less expensive and also give the ability to focus on the important part of the format - the gameplay.

Myth: Vintage Games Always End on Turn 1

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Reality: False...ish.

Before the advent of War of the Spark and Core Set 2020, I might have been inclined to leave off the "ish" on this, but the fact of the matter is that these sets, in addition to the London Mulligan rule, have enforced the concept of playing to the most broken starts ever with aims to effectively end the game as early as possible, sometimes on Turn 1 - Turn 2. That being said, while this is a growing climate that proves this myth somewhat true, this is not indicative of the format overall and is a piece of the format's history where this is a side effect of the power creep by these current sets from this year. Cards like Karn, the Great Creator and Mystic Forge are exceptionally powerful, and Karn can effectively end a game on Turn 1-2, whereas the Forge combo of Forge + Foundry Inspector + Sensei's Divining Top can flat end a game Turn 1 by finding the Vault/Key combo. Paradoxical Outcome is running Draw 7 effects like Timetwister and Wheel of Fortune to try to get to a Turn 1 kill. Dredge is about the only deck not trying to really end the game Turn 1, but instead have a ton of disruptive elements to try to effectively end it Turn 2 if possible.

So yes, while there are plenty of games that can be had that are actually longer than even most Modern games, there are still games in the format that take place rather quickly. This has become one of the talking points of the debate on what to do with the format going forward.

That being said, however, there is still plenty of fun games to have in the format, and especially control mirrors or control vs combo mirrors can be defined by high levels of interaction that do often take place in the first two turns of the game, due to the sheer efficiency of this interaction (more often than not free interaction).

Myth: Vintage is Not Diverse Because of Restricted Cards

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Reality: False

This is one I can definitively say is false. In fact, despite all the current power creep issues within the format, the format has actually a very wide diversity of decks that are playable. There are two different variants of control / midrange type decks around (BUG and Jeskai), several Workshops Variants based on what you want out of them, several Bazaar strategies such as Dredge and Survival, and even decks like DPS and Oath.

There are even ways to brew in Vintage, as long as the context of the format is kept in mind.

Myth: Vintage is Difficult to Learn

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Reality: FALSE!

This is something I also hear fairly often is that Vintage is too difficult to learn / understand. At first glance, the format can be daunting for those new to it, and while the format does have a slightly higher learning curve to it than say Legacy does, it's not impossible to learn it. Nearly every format in Magic has some learning associated with it, and Vintage is no different. One great way to learn is to learn from other players who play the format as noted above about networking. Another great way to learn is to watch stuff like the Vintage streamers I covered in last week's article. These are all great ways to learn how the format works and common play patterns.

Vintage and the BnR Update

We're coming up on yet another Banned and Restricted list update here on August 26th, and of course this brings to mind what will happen in the Vintage format. It's been two years since any changes were made to Vintage as a format, with the restriction of Monastery Mentor / Thorn of Amethyst and the unrestriction of Yawgmoth's Bargain. Since that time there have been a lot of changes to the format. Cards like Foundry Inspector and Paradoxical Outcome were introduced to the format, but of course the greatest creep in power occurred with the releases of War of the Spark, Modern Horizons, and Core Set 2020. Perhaps the most egregious of cards that have been introduced to the format is that of Karn, the Great Creator.

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The power level of a card like Karn and its effect on the format of Vintage is not something to be overlooked. Quite frankly, this card is too excessively strong and I do predict that eventually it will be restricted in Vintage. Whether this will happen this coming BnR list update is another question, but I believe that it will be touched upon. Karn provides a powerful effect not just in the ability to lock an opponent out of mana but also creates an effect where having restricted cards don't actually matter since they can be fetched from the sideboard like Time Vault. Karn provides a way to shortcut this and by being mana denial and win condition all in one card is why I feel this card should end up being restricted. However, I do not think that the card Mystic Forge will be restricted just yet. I believe that there will have to be a period of time where Wizards will want to see if Karn can exist as a one-of in the format with Forge as a four-of. I feel longer-term that Forge is pretty excessively powerful and can be abused without Karn pretty well. I myself have been playing a variant that doesn't play Karn at all and is still pretty powerful when Forge hits the table.

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The other elephant in the graveyard however, is what happens with a deck like Dredge. Modern Horizons reinvigorated the archetype overall, giving it zero mana interaction in the form of Force of Vigor, Force of Negation, and on occasion threats like Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. This interaction combined with the other pieces of interaction the deck already had access to have made Dredge a formidable deck in the format. I don't believe there is a true right or wrong way to handle Dredge. Restricting a Dredger like Golgari Grave-Troll certainly would diminish the deck's most broken dredge chains, but it would only really slow the deck down a smidge. Of course, there is the response of restricting a card like Bazaar, but I don't believe that will ever happen. One of the cards I've seen come up in discussion is Mental Misstep, which as someone who vehemently hates Phyrexian Mana as a mechanic, I would be okay with in general, I'm not sure what that would do to the deck. There is merit in noting that a lot of the commonly played hate such as Grafdigger's Cage and Deathrite Shaman all cost one CMC, at which point only one Misstep would not be able to defend against multiple pieces of hate like this. Dredge does continue to remain pretty strong in the face of a Karn restriction however, backed up by multiple pieces of interaction, so removing a piece of that interaction could theoretically put the deck back in check. Another card that's been tossed around is restricting stuff like Bridge from Below or Hollow One, and while I can see a case for Hollow One, I'm not sure that it will happen just yet.

I personally don't believe there will be a restriction against Dredge this go around, but I could be wrong.

Regardless, the only other outcome I expect to see is "No changes", which will mean that US Eternal Weekend could end up being pretty wild from all the Karn decks, but I suspect and hope that at the very least Karn will be restricted and we can go from there.

Vintage Challenge 8/3

We had yet another Vintage Challenge this past weekend, as we do every weekend. So let's do the thing and take a look at what did well!

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Midrange 1st Lampalot (Michael Bonde)
Dredge 2nd Eruxus
Aetherflux Forge 3rd Saturn
BUG Midrange 4th Shir Kahn
Karn Forge 5th Scabs
Karn Forge 6th Pathy
Survival 7th Mathonical
GR Hate 8th Terrordactyl

This is a slightly better looking Top 8 than last weekend, with only one Dredge pilot in the Top 8, and with showings by BUG Midrange. At the end of it all, it was indeed BUG Midrange piloted by Mage Market Pro Michael Bonde who took down the event. Congrats to Michael on his finish!

Michael's list is very powerful indeed, opting to play a full four copies of Tarmogoyf and TWO The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale in the sideboard. Insanity!

Also showing up at the top of this event is a very special list played by a good friend of ours named Saturn. Saturn actually DM'ed me this list on Twitter, and it's pretty wild. Aetherflux Forge, ho!

Yes, that is indeed FOUR Jhoira's Familiar in the sideboard. Great run, Saturn!

Finally, still inside the Top 8, one of the lists that caught my eye was Terrordactyl's, playing a prison variant designed to hate on lands, hate on artifacts, you name it. It's just Green/Red Hate!

Some pretty amazing lists in this event that's for sure. This event also appeared to be a relatively diverse Top 32.

Now, as we like to do in these events, we'll be covering how many copies of new cards appear in the Top 32. Here's the breakdown.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Vigor 46
Narset, Parter of Veils 36
Karn, the Great Creatore 33
Collector Ouphe 24
Mystic Forge 28
Manifold Key 18
Elvish Reclaimer 1
Veil of Summer 6
Waterlogged Grove 1
Ugin, the Ineffable 2
Blast Zone 5
Teferi, Time Raveler 2
Bolas's Citadel 3
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 2
Wrenn and Six 3
Force of Negation 3
Dreadhorde Arcanist 10
Shenanigans 1

This is pretty typical now to see this much Force of Vigor, but it is intriguing enough to see a good amount of Collector Ouphe as well. Regardless, lots of newer cards are showing up in Vintage lists, and that part is pretty interesting to report on.

The Spice Corner

I faced Kevin Nelson in the practice room this week playing this deck, and had to see the list. I legitimately could not beat Spellshock out of this.

What I'm Playing This Week

I'm continuing to tune Mystic Forgebots, with this iteration adding some cards like Karn, Scion of Urza out of the sideboard. I am a big fan of this version, and will be doing a bigger article on this next week just so I can talk about the iterations I've gone through on this.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! We're going to be keeping a closer eye on the overall Metagame over the next few weeks until the BnR list update at the end of the month, and then from there we'll be looking at US Eternal Weekend's North American Vintage Championships set to to take place at the end of October. We're also fastly coming up on my first full year here writing for MTGGoldfish! It has been a whirlwind of a year and I'm thoroughly excited to be here and producing Vintage content for you guys to consume. As always if you like what I'm doing, you can reach me via Twitter, Twitch, and Patreon! I'm also always around the MTGGoldfish Discord server if you would like to chat!

Also, if there's a topic you would like me to cover in regards to Vintage, please feel free and reach out. I love taking suggestions on things to talk about, whether its a deck you like to see more of or a topic such as Vintage gameplay tips, etc.

Until next time folks!


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