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Vintage 101: No Friends Required

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 shift focus away from Companions in our primary topic slightly to take a look at the decks that aren't playing Companions and how those decks tend to stack up amidst this new metagame. In addition, we have two Challenges to talk about and Companion Watch, as well as our Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right into the thick of it!

Fish are Friends, Not Food

While Companions are all the rage (and maybe not for long based on this week's Companion Watch section) there are still plenty of decks to consider that don't utilize the mechanic if it's something that you don't want to look at to play with.


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HollowVine is a deck that was starting to dip back down as Lurrus took hold of the format, but I believe the deck has a lot of versatility and power that has led people to pick it back up again. However, the deck is exceptionally hard to play correctly and to be able to identify lines with. Still, the deck packs so much countermagic that it can deal with quite a bit, and Force of Negation is big with being able to exile spells like Lotus. This is one deck to consider and keep an eye on too as it survives a BnR change very well to Companions.

Oath of Druids

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Oath is another archetype that can't easily play any of the Companions, but it has a high power level and simply needs to resolve Oath and be able to give people a creature. The deck's adaptability comes from the things it Oath's into and that is highly customizable to the metagame overall. In addition, Oath has incredible staying power through a change to the format, and can be generally tuned well. In addition, there are numerous resources on this deck especially from Miharu_Fuyumiya who continually plays and tweaks the deck to the metagame. If you enjoy a deck that has a lot of game as a control shell but also has some customizability, Oath is a great deck that doesn't use Companions that is certainly fun.

Blue Xerox

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Generic blue Xerox type lists are also worthwhile to consider especially if they're integrating new technology such as Sprite Dragon in the mix. These lists have a great chance of surviving any changes as well, and can be an incredibly interesting play experience if you're looking for something that gets to play cards like Dack Fayden.

No Friends, No Problem

These are just a few of the decks that likely can exist within the confines of a Companion-led world, but it's likely there could be others if innovation in that space is sought.

Community Vintage Update

I have a great community update to share! Community user Malfie reached out to me on Twitter last week and shared with me some information on groups that allow players to meet up with other players to play Paper Magic via webcam. One of these groups, the Facebook group MTGPO is headed by Roland Chang and you can find the link to that here. In addition, there is a Vintage Paper Discord which you can find here. Many of these groups are community oriented and allow playtest cards, so this is a great way for players looking to try out Vintage but are unable to play on Magic Online for whatever reason.

In addition, the fine folks of Team Serious hosted a Team Serious Invitational known as The Virtual Realm this past weekend. I was unable to participate, but they played Vintage and streamed it. You can find the VODs for this over here.

Vintage Challenge 5/9

We had two Challenges this past weekend, so let's dive right into the first one with a look at the Top 32, shall we?

While Lurrus PO was over-represented a tad in this event, it actually didn't perform that well this week as more people came relatively prepared for it. In fact, the deck only boasted roughly a 43% win rate (thanks to data collected by Vintage community members such as ChubbyRain and the Vintage Streamers Discord) and only converted a single deck to the Top 8. This event also had only a single Shops deck (the Rainbow Shops build) in the Top 32, which is pretty wild.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus Breach 1st ZioFrancone
Lurrus Lavinia 2nd TheYostWithTheMost
Lurrus Breach 3rd Mac121711
Lurrus Sprite Dragon 4th Michelino
Lutri Xerox 5th KauffJ
Hollow Vine 6th Montolio
Lurrus Lavinia 7th Karatedom
Lurrus PO 8th Condescend

This event had one lone deck that didn't have a Companion, and that was of course Hollow Vine piloted by Montolio, which says to me a lot more about Montolio's skill with the deck more than anything. The deck definitely should seem like it's able to perform well in the right hands, and might take some time to understand the deck's lines in order to maximize effective plays with it.

However at the end of the day it was Lurrus Breach that took down this event.

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This deck is pretty stock to what most people are doing with the lists. The main deck Seal of Fire is a sweet grindy option with Lurrus to continually rebuy damage every turn.

In Second Place we have Austin Yost on Lurrus Lavinia.

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This deck feels pretty strong and comes packed with a lot of disruptive elements and card advantage. Lavinia in general feels super powerful right now, thus why people are playing so much more removal pieces at the moment.

Third Place was another Breach list, so let's slide down to Fourth Place where we have a Sprite Dragon influenced Xerox build.

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This list is just capitalizing on Sprite Dragon and being able to rebuy elements of the deck's card advantage with Baubles and Lotus and Lurrus.

In Fifth Place we have Lutri Xerox.

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This particular version is leaning on the power of the planeswalkers in it. I'm actually relatively surprised at the complete lack of Mystic Sanctuary in this deck. Being able to even just rebuy one spell with that card seems great with Gush and they're even playing Daze. Seems almost criminal to not include Sanctuary for the sheer value play of Wrenn and Six and the card.

In Sixth Place we have Hollow Vine.

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I really like the inclusion of Chalice of the Void here as a way to try to fight off Lotus and other strategies by generally casting it for 0. The Gaea's Cradle in the sideboard too makes a lot of sense for the amount of Tabernacle floating around this deck.

Seventh Place had another Lurrus Lavinia list, so let's slide to the bottom of the Top 8 with Lurrus PO.

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This is a more Esper slanted version, utilizing cards like Swords to Plowshares out of the sideboard, which feels a little more powerful right now than Pyroblast does, since it is able to nicely clean up cards like Lavinia and Lurrus itself.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards and the Companions in this Top 32.

Card Name Number of Copies
Sprite Dragon 35
Force of Negation 32
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 31
Soul-Guide Lantern 26
Lurrus of the Dream Den 24
Force of Vigor 20
Underworld Breach 17
Lutri, the Spellchaser 1

It is pretty wild to consider that the top played card from the past two years is Sprite Dragon of all things. Let's just hope all those Sprite Dragons are actually just Dorat printings.

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Now let's take a look at the Companions.

Lurrus was pretty overwhelming over the non Companion decks in this event, eating up 75% of the space just by itself.

Vintage Challenge 5/10

Our Second Challenge of the weekend is the early morning Sunday Challenge (literally taking place at 3 AM EST) so it tends to attract more of the EU and Asia crowd to play, and also tends to have a smaller player count. Let's take a look at the Top 32.

The Lurrus Breach deck took up a big portion of the Top 32 this time, and put a lot of copies in the Top 8 of the event as well.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus PO 1st OwnForLife
Lurrus Breach 2nd Aigis
Lurrus PO 3rd Dafne17
Lurrus Hatebears 4th BGV1989
Lurrus Breach 5th AnziD
Lurrus Breach/PO 6th Bryant_Cook
Lurrus Breach 7th Shir Kahn
Lurrus Lavinia 8th Ravidel85

That's a lot of Breach decks, El Capitano. However it was PO that took down the event in the end piloted by OwnForLife.

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In Second Place we have Lurrus Breach piloted by our good friend Aigis.

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Since the rest of this Top 8 is mostly similar decks, let's take a look at the two standouts in Lurrus Hatebears in Fourth Place and the Lurrus Breach/PO hybrid (piloted by our good friend Bryant Cook) in Sixth Place.

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Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event and the Companions.

Card Name Number of Copies
Sprite Dragon 36
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 32
Soul-Guide Lantern 31
Underworld Breach 27
Lurrus of the Dream Den 25
Force of Negation 18
Force of Vigor 18
Collector Ouphe 13
Thassa's Oracle 3
Fire Prophecy 1
Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger 1
Lutri, the Spellchaser 1

Again, Sprite Dragon takes the proverbial cake, and some incredibly dipped numbers on Force of Negation here. In addition, Dreadhorde Arcanist has dropped out a ton in the current metagame as well.

Now let's take a look at the Companions.

Again Lurrus was a huge portion of this event in various ways, while Lutri again showed up in a single deck.

Companion Watch

Now let's take a look at our Companion Watch for this week. I changed up the graph a bit this week to help track things a bit better.

It is intriguing to have witnessed the impact this mechanic has had on the format overall. It feels really incredibly surreal to witness it. Companion has definitely proven itself to be a polarizing mechanic, and I definitely want to thank the community that responded to my articles in the past few weeks with their thoughts on the subject. There are a lot of passionate Vintage players out there, so it will be interesting to see how this mechanic is to be addressed.

In fact, Wizards posted on Twitter that this upcoming Monday there would be a BnR announcement and that it would involve Vintage. You can find that Tweet here. It is certainly going to be interesting to see what comes of this announcement.

The Spice Corner

Leonin Arbiter?! Yeah this is a thing.

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Our good friend Justin Gennari piloted a pretty sweet Natural Order list this week in one of the Challenge events.

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Also, The Dragon Lord Brian Kelly is back to Vintage and all I have to say is: Never change Brian.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join me next week as we continue our journey into the Vintage format!

As always you can reach me on 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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