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Vintage 101: Once Upon a Golos

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're diving into the current state of Workshops builds since the release of Modern Horizons 2 and just how much the Shops landscape has changed since then. In addition to that we've got two Challenge events to talk about from this past weekend!

Without further ado, let's dive right in.

Golos, the Not Banned in Vintage

It has been more than a few months since the release of Modern Horizons 2 and the effects of that set is still being felt in Vintage, especially in the construction of the Workshops decks. Prior to the release of this set, it seemed that we had three distinct variants of the Mishra's Workshop decks. One of those was the traditional Golos Stax builds, the second the Golos Combo Shops variants, and finally the Ravager Shops aggro builds. Now that we're a few months in... well, that is no longer the case.

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The printing of the card Urza's Saga has essentially become a homogenizing point for the various Workshops decks, completely putting out Ravager Shops and the Combo Shops decks out of the metagame entirely. Players have gravitated to the Golos Stax variant, replacing whatever metagame share was taken up by the other two variants. We can see this effect of what things have looked like via the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord. This particular set of data comes from looking at everything from June onwards (when MH2 was released).

We can see from this that more and more players have moved to the primary Golos Stax builds of the deck as we will see below in a list.

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From this data it is interesting to see what kind of effect Urza's Saga has had on this deck overall. Until Golos came about, the primary method of playing Workshops decks was in the aggressive builds with Arcbound Ravager. Golos gave the deck a more prison-like strategy combined with a ramp effect that was exceptionally strong and evolved into its own unique variant. The Combo Shops variant also came about as a Golos variant, but utilized a more combo-centric kill with cards like Helm of Obedience and Dark Depths.

The big linchpin here is the presence of Urza's Saga. While it seemed at first that the Combo Shops variants might have been the best way to abuse this card with things like Thespian's Stage, it seems now that none of that was ever needed and the correct decision was to simply jam in four copies of the Enchantment Land into every Golos build and go from there. We've talked about the presence of this card in the format before, but this kind of homogenizing effect is extremely interesting to see.

The problem with all of this is that we don't really know if either of the Aggro or Combo variants are still potentially viable in the current format because nobody is really trying them. We've been in situations like this before last year when it seemed like Ravager Shops was out the door and then suddenly it flared up to win an Eternal Weekend Online event, bringing it back to the forefront of people's thoughts. However, the Aggro Shops variants do have a tough time playing cards like Saga while potentially also being hard to play with against Saga decks to where it might not be worth trying. That being said, I still think there is a place for these other variations, but due to how much of the Magic Online metagame is reactionary it might not be worth investigating.

All this points to the problematic issue being with Saga, but the major issue here is that Saga isn't really very restriction worthy. It's certainly powerful, and it definitely is having a slight warping effect on the overall format, but it doesn't scream that it is so incredibly broken that it has to be restricted, especially not with plenty of other powerful things to do in the format. However, this sort of homogenizing effect certainly isn't very healthy either given the variations of the deck we had before.

Thankfully Vintage seems to be in a place where the push-pull cycle of decks doing well and being reacted to is actually very good for these Shops decks as there is a numerous amount of counterplay to them. Namely cards such as Force of Vigor, as well as cards like Alpine Moon to answer Urza's Saga. While the homogenization is not something I like to see, I think the current crop of Shops decks is in a relatively decent place and is popular enough to answer week to week.

Vintage Challenge 9/25

We had two Challenge events this past weekend, the first of which was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 52 players in it, thanks to data collected by the Vintage Streamers Discord.

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

A lot of the metagame makeup has been something of the same in these events in regards to BUG and Shops decks, but what's nice is that it seems that things are push and pull still from week to week, and while last week had a lot of prominence of Shops doing well, this week it was much more diverse than that and the format pulled the right levers to adjust for it.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Breach Tinker 1st gnorilgrande
4C Midrange 2nd sixmp
UR Aggro 3rd NathanLipetz
BUG Midrange 4th tomo0109
Jeskai Control 5th albertosSD
Paradoxical Outcome 6th IamActuallyLvl1
Golos Stax 7th _Shatun_
Blue Tinker 8th Parrotlet

This s a pretty solid Top 8 honestly. The only major pillar of the format not represented here is Bazaar decks, but there's a healthy bit of Combo, Control, and Prison here. It really does seem like anyone's week in these events. This time it was none other than Andrea Mengucci who took down this event on Breach Tinker.

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Ragavan as a low-end threat here that plays to the deck's strengths as a Combo/Control deck is pretty interesting. The lines are definitely getting blurred on a lot of these Tinker based piles though.

Speaking of the Monkey, our Second Place finalist was on 4C Midrange.

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Definitely a straightforward aggressive midrange pile right here. Ragavan and DRS work great together, and the Planeswalker suite is exceptionally strong.

Down the Top 8 we have an interesting BUG Midrange list.

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New card Malevolent Hermit here is super interesting. You're upfront taxing a spell and then if you Disturb it into play you're getting an effect that makes all your business spells uncounterable. Also, Dark Confidant being back in this list and absolutely zero Endurance in the 75 is pretty interesting as well.

Also down the Top 8 we have our good friend Justin Gennari on PO.

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The big selling point here is the presence of Dress Down, which is a solid card that is really picking up across the board. It does a lot of powerful things but the biggest is that it nukes Constructs from Urza's Saga and negates stuff like Ragavan triggers or even shuts off Dragon's Rage Channeler to a 1/1. You can even play it on an end step and pick it up with PO on your turn to get another card out of it. Pretty solid way to attack that aspect of the metagame.

Vintage Challenge 9/26

Our second event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event, which thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamers Discord we know had 42 players overall.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Shops is seemingly having a heyday with the Sunday event as a lot of players are playing it in this particular event. However, this week it was a lot of midrange piles from Jeskai to RUG and BUG that were also mildly popular. Out of the three, BUG did the best in sheer win rates, as did Doomsday and 4C.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Breach Tinker 1st Condescend
4C Midrange 2nd Aylett
Golos Stax 3rd fistfullofmetal
BUG Midrange 4th Vertyx_
Doomsday 5th TheJigIsAlwaysUp
Golos Stax 6th Tsubasa_Cat
Golos Stax 7th billster47
Golos Stax 8th Wesal

Over half the Top 8 is Golos decks, filled in by two midrange decks and two combo decks. Despite all the Golos, it was another Breach Tinker pile that won the event.

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The big difference here from the Saturday list is no Ragavan, and instead some Hullbreacher action.

The Second Place list from this event was also 4C Midrange.

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Again we've got the Ragavan aspect, but we've also got a Brazen Borrower in the main deck. Also, two copies of Dress Down in the sideboard is pretty sweet.

Outside of the Top 8 we've got a pretty sweet RUG deck that transforms into Oath.

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Pretty much what it says on the tin. Ragavan and Uro, but sideboard into a full-on Oath of Druids package with Griselbrand and Sphinx of the Steel Wind. Pretty sweet stuff.

Further down the event, we've got a placing by TPS.

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It isn't often we see this deck much anymore. This list is including a backup plan on Urza's Saga and the Time Vault combo outside of the main Tendrils based combo, and furthermore we can't even call this Dark Petition Storm because there is no Dark Petitions in the list either.

Around the Web

  • A Month of Vintage
  • Justin Gennari has some Saga-less PO for us. Check that out here.
  • Engwar01 continues a Tour of Vintage with Hogaak. Check it out here.
  • Another hit from Justin Gennari for us on Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Vintage Humans. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

Hex Parasite and Urza's Saga by our good friend Montolio.

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Always mention Goblins 5-0s!

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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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