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Vintage 101: Papa's Got a Brand New Bag

Howdy folks and welcome, one and all, to the rebirth of Vintage 101! I'm your brand new host, Joe Dyer, and we've got a lot of catching up to do. My love affair with the Vintage format has been an on and off thing for several years now (mostly thanks to the awesome that is Vintage Super League), but it's only in the past year and a half or so that I've been able to seriously approach the format and learn its ins and outs. Vintage is a wonderful format full of high interaction and crazy games, and I've found that I really enjoy not only the high level of play, but the community behind the format as well.

It's been a hot minute since our last Vintage 101, which conveniently talked about the announcement of the Power Nine Series held by Star City Games (SCG) at SCG Con in July. I was fortunate enough to attend this event myself, in my first ever outing playing Vintage in paper. It was an experience that I will never forget, one that was made possible thanks to many great friends of mine. In fact, I even wrote a Tournament Report for the event that I posted over on The Mana Drain.

Well, SCG Con has come and gone, and the Power Nine Series gave us a great look at how the Vintage format is evolving in paper Magic, given that every Decklist that made Day 2 of this event was published by SCG. Couple this with the results we get week in and week out from the Magic Online (MTGO) Vintage Leagues and Vintage Challenges as well as the lists from Team Vintage Super League, we have a pretty solid look at how the Vintage Metagame looks before we head off to the North American Vintage Championships held at U.S. Eternal Weekend.

Star City Games Power Nine Series

First things first, let's take a look at the results from the Star City Games Power Nine Series. This event boasted roughly 124 players, with 46 making the cut to Day 2, including myself! Let's take a look at the breakdown of the Day 2 Metagame.

SCG Power Nine Series - Day 2 Metagame

As we can see by the data presented, Ravager Shops is still excessively popular and powerful in today's evolving Metagame. At the end of the event it was a Shops on Shops brawl between North American Vintage Championships Champion Andy Markiton versus Eric Marich. Both players played lists that were relatively similar in nature. Let's take a look at both lists and the key differences between both.

Andy and Eric's lists are very close in Main deck construction, with the only key differences being in the creatures that they are runing. Andy opted to play Chief of the Foundry and a full four Arcbound Ravager, while Eric went for a more interesting inclusion in the form of Traxos, Scourge of Kroog.

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Traxos is a very powerful card, given the amount of artifacts that Ravager Shops typically plays it is not uncommon for this card to untap and swing in for seven damage with trample. In a pinch, it can be sacrificed to Arcbound Ravager or have counters placed on it from Ravager in order to push through even more damage.

Sideboard-wise, both players loaded up on graveyard hate that is common for this kind of deck to keep ahead of Dredge and graveyard based decks. One other new inclusion that many Vintage players have picked up on is Sorcerous Spyglass. Spyglass is capable of shutting off anything, land or non-land, and it's a very powerful card versus many different matchups. Also seeing play is a Reserved List format staple, Null Rod.

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It may seem odd that a deck predominantly comprised of artifacts may be playing copies of Null Rod, thus effectively shutting off their own mana rocks and things like Arcbound Ravager. The big reason behind this is the next deck that we're going to talk about: Paradoxical Outcome. Being able to shut off a Paradoxical player's Moxen and Mana Crypt / Sol Ring is very important to ensuring that they cannot combo off.

In Third place of the Power Nine, we have Stephen Quinn on Paradoxical Outcome.

Outcome is one of the newer kids on the block, and the deck's power level cannot be overstated. Much of the time this deck wins on the basis of Time Vault / Voltaic Key before finding a kill condition in either Tendrils of Agony, Monastery Mentor, or Blightsteel Colossus. The deck does this using Paradoxical Outcome, an instant speed card drawing engine like no else that has ever existed in the Vintage format. Make no bones about it. This deck is powerful. So powerful and so easy to pick up and play that since SCG Con, the deck now boasts a 16.56% Metagame share just based on Magic Online results alone.

Beyond the big three (Shops / Paradoxical / Jeskai), there were plenty of other crazy and fun decks that littered the Day 2 Metagame. One of the decks that caught my eye was the 16th place Decklist by Josh Meckes.

This list amazed me on every level. Angrath, the Flame-Chained in Vintage?! Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast?! I am in love. Kudos to you, Josh, for such a wonderful list.

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My own event started off fairly great, with a 5-3 record on Day 1 to allow me to make Day 2 where I promptly nosedived into a 6-7 finish to place 40th. What did I play you might be asking? Well, it's my all-time love in the format: Dredge.

I have been playing variants of this Dredge version on Magic Online for a while now, so it was a no-brainer that this was what I was going to play at SCG Con. I really enjoy the explosive nature of Sunny Dredge, since Fatestitcher is such an amazing and powerful card. In fact, I did manage to actually perform a Turn 1 kill during the event at least once off the back of a mulligan to six that contained Fatestitcher, Lion's Eye Diamond, Stinkweed Imp, and Bazaar of Baghdad in it. Suffice to say, I had an incredible time at this event, even getting to meet some of the greatest Vintage players such as Stephen Menendian, Jason Jaco, Kevin Cron, and of course the Champion, Andy Markiton.

The Evolving Vintage Metagame

Now that we've taken a look at the paper Metagame a bit and caught up on SCG Con, let's take a look at where Vintage has gone since then in regards to Magic Online. Suffice to say, a majority of the Metagame has not moved that much, but one thing is certain in that Storm decks based on Dark Ritual have largely fallen off in favor of decks utilizing Paradoxical Outcome. Sitting at the top of the heap as always is Ravager Shops (23.18%), Jeskai Mentor (17.88%), and Paradoxical Outcome (16.56%). Trailing behind them is Inferno Oath, Dredge, and new kid on the block: Survival.

Survival is a deck that showed up in the limelight that was Team Vintage Super League, piloted by Athena Froehlich for the Hornet Queens. The deck utilizes Survival of the Fittest and Bazaar of Baghdad as a toolbox style aggro deck, being able to combo with cards like Hollow One and Vengevine. The deck can boast some very fast starts with its key piece in Survival and quickly establish a board presence that is hard for most Vintage decks to interact with or combat. One of the better inclusions in the deck is the card Wonder, being able to give its entire team flying to soar over decks like Ravager Shops and decks that play Monastery Mentor. In a pinch, this deck can also search up plenty of different toolbox options such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Kambal, Consul of Allocation, and Kataki, War's Wage.

This deck is incredibly fun and can be very powerful versus the rest of the Vintage Metagame.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Inferno Oath continues to be a relatively big part of the Vintage Metagame. As long as cheating in cards like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Inferno Titan is available, there will always be an Oath of Druids based deck, regardless of the hate available to combat this strategy. Oath lists change from time to time quite often as Oath pilots try to come up with the best configuration of creatures to win the game with.

Let's take a look at a 5-0 list. One thing to remember when playing around with Oath is that there are a million variations of the deck in regards to what creatures it aims to cheat out or what it's general game plan is. It's important to note what this is when deciding on a list to play.

Beyond just these decks, the rest of the Vintage Metagame on Magic Online is generally blue Xerox-style decks such as Vintage Four Color Control and Grixis Thieves with the occasional spice list showing up. It certainly is a fun time to be playing this format, and I'm looking forward to what the future will bring with the North American Vintage Championships at U.S. Eternal Weekend.

Speaking of Eternal Weekend, it's sad but unfortunately true that yours truly will be unable to attend. I have some travel plans that involve me arriving back home from Madison, WI a mere week before Eternal Weekend, meaning I will just not have the time off to be able to go. I'm hopeful that next year Star City Games will continue to host the Power Nine Series at SCG Con, which I will do my best to try to get to.

Looking Towards the Future

The future of the Vintage format is actually in a pretty good place right now. The format seems to have settled back into a comfortable area, and while there are archetypes that I think need to be looked at (Paradoxical Outcome being one of them) the format is still fun, despite whether or not the consensus is that it's unhealthy. As a friend put it to me at SCG Con: "I enjoy this format even when it's unhealthy because it's just so much fun." I think this statement still holds true. Vintage is a lot of fun and more people should check out how easy it is to get into this format on Magic Online. In fact, just take a look at the current prices of the Power Nine.

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Couple this with the average price of most Vintage decks on Magic Online, and you end up with a cheap investment into a format that can provide a lot of entertainment and fun.

The Spice Corner

Coming hot off the heels of winning the Magic Online Vintage Challenge on September 22nd, 2018, we have... Legacy Fish!

What I'm Playing

Right now I'm mainly still on the Dredge hype train, regardless of the hate available. I'm working on building Ravager Shops on Magic Online so that I can get some play in with that, as well as trying to piece together Survival (because that deck looks like too much fun). For a while though, I'll still be messing around with a new addition to the Dredge family: Molderhulk.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we've got this week, my friends. We'll be doing this little shindig every week from here on in, and now that we're a little up to speed on our history throughout this year, we'll be taking a look at some of the cards from Guilds of Ravnica that just might end up seeing play in Vintage.

Our props this week go out to the guys of the Lone Star Lhurgoyfs! They're a great group of guys from the great state of Texas and they love Vintage! In fact, one of their members lent me Bazaar of Baghdad's at SCG Con so that I was able to play. Check them out and all that they do!

I want to take a moment and thank you folks for reading. Vintage is truly an amazing format and full of insanity and fun that it never gets boring. I hope that you enjoyed this little trip in getting caught up with the format and we'll see you kids next week on the flip side. Until then, check me out on Twitter and on Twitch! I am aiming to get into a regular streaming rotation that usually involves me playing Vintage in some capacity. Next week however, I'll be playing Vintage-Lite (A.K.A. Pauper) with Tortured Existence, so check me out!

Until next time!

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