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Vintage 101: Of Gates and Dragons

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 the Gate filled wonder that is Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate and if any cards from this set mean anything for Vintage! In addition to that we've got two Challenges from this past weekend to discuss and of course, a Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Adventure in the Gate

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate is on the horizon, and with it comes a slew of new cards, new mechanics, and general newness as a supplemental product legal in all Eternal formats.

Much of this set really emphasizes and utilizes the multiplayer themes of Commander as a format, so much of this set's new mechanics are not playable in formats like Vintage. For example, the Background enchantments that work within the Commander structure do not work at all in Vintage, so there is a bunch of cards that immediately are not playable in the format at all. Any Legendary with Choose a Background on it basically can treat that line as flavor text because it does nothing in a non-Commander format.

One of the other new mechanics in this set is the Initative, a Monarch-like ability for venturing into a specific dungeon called the Undercity. None of the Initiative cards in this set really look good for Vintage, as pretty much none of the Venture cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms made it into this format either. Further mechanics for this set also include things like Goad and Myriad, both of which are strictly multiplayer mechanics.

It is also worth noting that the whole Commander Legends set is not going to be fully present on Magic Online. Due to some issues with a resource crunch in the transition to Daybreak Games, the full set is not going to be available and instead select cards will be released in treasure chests starting on June 15th. So it is wholly possible some of the cards we discuss here might not even make it into the Magic Online client. This particular review will also include any cards from the Commander precons as those are all spoiled at this point.

With that being said, there are a few cards here or there that do seem rather interesting, but not many. Let's take a look!

Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

There hasn't been a super meta Worldgorger Dragon list in Vintage for a long time now, but this card is a super-strong take on the Dragon formula by having a floor of being able to combo with just Animate Dead at its floor. Every time Abdel Adrian exiles Animate Dead he makes 1/1 Soldier, which doesn't have to get removed by Abdel's triggered ability. This means that at its base, Abdel can make infinite 1/1s with just a single Animate Dead. What's nice about this card as well is that if you want to stop the loop, you can simply choose zero permanents to exile with the ability and the loop stops on its own (unlike Worldgorger which can force a draw). It also helps that if this card is exiled or destroyed in some fashion in response to the trigger, nothing will get exiled which is also unlike Worldgorger.

What makes this card strong is the support structure that can be built around it. It can be protected by cards like Teferi, Time Raveler, so the combo loop can be executed without the opponent being able to fully interact with it because of Teferi's static effect. It can also be centered around a shell that plays white removal spells like Swords to Plowshares and Prismatic Ending and can be built with countermagic in mind like Force of Will. I think this will be a fun build-around card to work with as it can really do some absurdly interesting things.

Grell Philosopher

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Much like we saw with the card Scheming Fence in Streets of New Capenna this is another card that could conceivably copy the ability of an opponent's Time Vault. This card needs haste in order to utilize it the turn it comes down, but it's a one card Time Vault every turn if you can manage it properly. This is exceptionally powerful on a 1/4 body. This thing lacks Flash, which is what would really put it over the top, but being a three mana value card there are ways around that, such as even dipping possibly into Aether Vial as an option of putting this into play at the right time. I don't know if this will see play, but it seems cool.

Sailors' Bane

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

While I think this is much more playable in Legacy, there is enough interesting space between Ledger Shredder and Murktide Regent in the format that there could be a possible mono-blue-esque Murktide deck that has a couple copies of this as a beater as well. Large beaters tend to be fine in Vintage in general, and having one with Ward 4 that dodges Pyroblast on the ground seems fine. This will be a wait and see, and I'm sure Justin Gennari will play it for sure.

Green Slime

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card is super cool. It can be flashed in to counter things like Time Vault activations, thus killing the Vault, or it can even be used to counter Urza's Saga triggers or activations and get rid of the Saga in the same breath. While I'm not sure what amount of space there is for green cards like this in the current format, it has enough relevant targets to be interesting that I think it would be sweet to see.

Mighty Servant of Leuk-o

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Having Trample and Ward is really strong, and being castable off Mishra's Workshop is even better. While this is no Nettlecyst, I could see this as a one-of as there are plenty of ways to crew this with exactly two creatures to get a 6/6 that draws two cards when it connects. This seems like it could be good, and we will have to see, but I really like this.

Prized Statue

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

While I believe this is going to be a scary and stellar card in Pauper, someone reminded me that Krark-Clan Ironworks exists and we've seen KCI decks have a measure of success here or there in the format. Adding a sacrifice fodder that creates more mana and filters colorless into colored mana seems very strong and I think we'll see this show up in those decks for sure.

Rug of Smothering

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card seems really good in a lot of situations. It punishes hard the Bolas's Citadel game plans of the Tinker variants by putting an additional life payment on top of what they're paying for casting off the top for Citadel anyway, making even the zero cost artifacts costly. The fact that this can be cast with Mishra's Workshop mana is really strong and I think we can definitely see this show up in sideboards. It hates well on blue combo variants and even other Shops decks if they want to see to deploy their hand to the board in mirror matches. While this is symmetrical, after the initial flood of cards, Shops doesn't usually cast that many spells so losing one life a turn is fine.

Win Trading Situation Still Ongoing

Just to update folks out there on the fact that we are still running into Win Trader situations in the Vintage queues on Magic Online. For the most part, these win traders are still continuing their tactics of having someone interject themselves into the queue to catch actual players and use up all their time so that the win traders can easily queue into each other and do their thing. It's typically whenever you are running into someone playing a version of Dredge that uses rainbow lands that account is likely a win trader or part of the issue (usually having a default avatar as well for Magic Online) and should be reported if they exhibit this kind of behavior. In fact, GoatBots recently identified six accounts that purchased the exact same decklist from them in a short period of time and that two of these accounts sold almost 200 treasure chests in two weeks time.

The bigger issue here is that this really needs to be addressed at a better level than just reporting these accounts and hoping they get banned (they just come back under different account names), otherwise we might find ourselves in a situation where older formats will suffer on Magic Online in general because of this, as this behavior will actively drive players away from playing on the platform. See this tweet from our good friend Justin Gennari on the issue as well.

This is a real issue and it is severe, and we need to see some real action taken on it by Wizards and Magic Online. I am hoping that with the transition to Daybreak Games that we can enact some sort of real change to combat this issue, as eventually, it will bleed into other formats.

Vintage Challenge 5/28

Our first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 56 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 data sheet here.

Blue Tempo had a big popularity increase in this event, over the next big three of Shops, Hogaak, and Breach. Hogaak did exceedingly well in this event, putting three of its six pilots into the Top 8 of the event. Breach also did very well as did the Mono White Aggro decks.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Bird Blade 1st WhiTe TsaR
Hogaak 2nd Karatedom
Hogaak 3rd fingers1991
Combo Shops 4th brian_kibler_is_God
Hogaak 5th Xwhale
Breach 6th Clone9
Breach 7th ecobaronen
Aggro Shops 8th adm29

Quite a bit of Hogaak here as indicated prior, as well as some Shops and Breach. At the end of the event though it was BIRD BLADE to take it all down.

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This deck is so cool and seems very powerful. It's crazy to consider how possibly good a card like Kaldra Compleat can be in this format, but having that backed up by the extreme amount of solid card advantage netted by Ledger Shredder certainly helps a lot. Very powerful deck for sure.

The Second Place finalist was on Hogaak.

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This is the more "Jund" based Hogaak list, since it is splashing into red for some sideboard cards and the upside of getting to play eight Rootwallas with Blazing Rootwalla. Having access to blast effects post-board seems reasonably strong overall.

Further into the Top 8 we have Combo Shops.

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We've seen this deck pop up again mildly here or there with some results in some of these events. The combo aspect of these decks is very strong and can close out games rather quickly when it needs to do so for sure.

On the opposite end of the spectrum we had Aggro Shops at the bottom of the event.

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Crucible of Worlds seems like a crazy good inclusion with Urza's Saga in the mix, not to mention the power of rebuying Wasteland or Strip Mine. What is really gross here is Patchwork Automaton though. That card can really put the work in and it is very aggressive and fast.

Vintage Challenge 5/29

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 48 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.

Hogaak and Blue Tempo variants had the lion's share this event at seven decks each, but Hogaak didn't quite do as well in this event despite putting one of the decks into the Top 8. Doomsday and Breach did exceedingly well, as did PO variants.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Breach 1st ecobaronen
Doomsday 2nd discoverN
Paradoxical Outcome 3rd Dafne17
Grixis Tinker 4th Butakov
Hogaak 5th noprops
Bird Blade 6th OxyWithMoxy
Mono White Aggro 7th LuckyOnline
Golos Stax 8th bernardocssa

Much more spread out Top 8 here than Saturday's was, but still with a good amount of variety and even another showing of Bird Blade. At the end of the event, it was Breach that took it all down.

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Laelia is a really strong threat for these decks, especially for how good it works with Underworld Breach in making a possible hasty threat that can just swing and end the game on its own. Seems incredibly strong for sure.

The Second Place finalist was perennial Doomsday master, discoverN on Doomsday.

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Still seeing Tainted Indulgence in the main deck here, so it must be performing well! Looks like a solid card that draws well, while it typically is looting if it is drawing two cards that seems very powerful.

Also in this Top 8 we had a showing by PO.

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Very solidly built Esper PO list with Sagas here. Very straightforward and to the point, but it gets the job done at the end of the day.

Near the bottom of the Top 8 we had Mono White Aggro.

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The fact that this deck not only exists, but is also enabled well by the existence of Lurrus is pretty great. Lurrus being this sort of fair white aggro card is pretty fun in general and makes for some interesting gameplay.

Around the Web

  • Justin Gennari's video round up for the week is here!
  • Our good friend Andy Markiton posted two solid 5-0 leagues on Jund Hogaak.
  • Solid Japanese article on Vintage over here. Definitely worth the translation.

The Spice Corner

You can find all of the 5-0 lists for this past week here.

It's the return of the Crab Shack!

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Jegantha Painter is also super 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 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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