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Vintage 101: Player Spotlight Series - The Ledger Shredder


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're doing yet another Vintage Player Spotlight Series! I love these articles because it's so much fun to get a glimpse into various players' stories and why they do what they do. In addition to that we've got two Challenges to talk about from this past weekend, as well as a Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Player Spotlight Series - Pascal (SenpaiBlank)

This Player Spotlight Series we are joined by Pascal (aka SenpaiBlank on MTGO) to talk about their journey in Magic and Vintage! As we like to do with these, I'm passing the torch over to them to tell their story.

Pascal (SenpaiBlank)

Hello, everyone. My name is Pascal. Though, I’m better known as SenpaiBlank on MTGO.  I’m honored to have the opportunity to talk about myself, how I got into Magic and what drew me to Vintage.

My Magical Journey

I was introduced to Magic by my cousin about fifteen years ago. I played a bit but never got really anywhere because I lived in the middle of nowhere. Once I moved to a bigger city, I started playing more regularly. I knew all the regulars and met some friends who were on the grind. I started playing entry level events with Jeskai Control featuring Secure the Wastes as the primary win condition.

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Unfortunately, as time went on more and more of the familiar faces quit or moved away. Instead of quitting, I decided to focus on Magic Online, a program with which I didn't know all that much at first. I did well in Leagues, even leading the trophy count for a while in Modern with Mardu Pyromancer. But, I stayed away from the bigger events.

After grinding modern leagues for some time, I decided to give Vintage a try. One of the things that originally drew me to Vintage was my favorite card, Dack Fayden. Vintage and I didn’t click immediately and I took another break until the End of 2020... Since then I have Top 8’d a bunch of Challenges, managed to actually win one, and even qualified for a Vintage Showcase on two separate occasions.

The Road Less Traveled

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Vintage represents the final bastion for incredible and iconic cards like Bazaar of Baghdad and Mishra's Workshop, as well as way too busted blue spells such as Ancestral Recall, Time Walk and Tinker. Between them, you can spit 14 power worth of lizards and Hollow Ones into play on turn one.  Prevent the other player from casting spells. Or bury the opponent through efficient trades and a flood of aggressively priced card advantage. Or just cast Doomsday, you know?

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So, if you could play a deck stocked with game-ending power, why would you want to go blow for blow and hope to have the right answer at the exact right time? That’s the problem with control in Vintage and, while I know I should stay away, these kinds of decks just fit my playstyle and play to my strengths. I know the odds are stacked against me when I play Control, but the games are more fun. Between fast mana and cheap counterspells like Flusterstorm and Force of Will, you can adopt a defensive stance and steer the game in the direction you want.

I decided to work on Jeskai Control when I returned to Vintage. The deck was durdly, but it had Dack Fayden and all the cheap interaction you could ever want. Curiously, while I picked up the deck because of Dack Fayden I came to really enjoy playing with another card, Ethereal Forager.

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Sadly, Jeskai has fallen out of favor. It lacks power and isn’t exceptional in any element of the game.  Needing something new to keep up with the times, I set to work on a deck now known as Birdblade. Birdblade aims to play powerful spells like Stoneforge Mystic and Ledger Shredder ahead of schedule by including all five Moxen in a two color deck. From there it’s about protecting your threats and preventing the opponent from eventually overcoming you.

Another reason why Birdblade does exceptionally well is that, unlike Jeskai, Birdblade can accommodate Wastelands. The printing of Urza's Saga provided Tinker decks an uncounterable alternate win condition. And, while Birdblade lacks the explosivity of Breach or Hogaak, Kaldra Compleat represents a clock that can give combo decks fits or keeps aggressive decks at bay with aplomb. I have been working on a Primer for Birdblade for some time. You can find it here.

And, if you want to learn even more about Birdblade, I regularly stream both Vintage Challenges and upload recordings of my gameplay on my YouTube. Thanks for reading.

If you would like to hear more from me you can find in the Vintage Streaming  Discord or at the Following Places:

Vintage Challenge 7/23

The first Challenge of the weekend was the mid afternoon Saturday 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 data sheet here.

Tinker was very popular, but didn't quite have the win rate locked in. Hogaak and Shops both absolutely dominated this event, as we will see in the Top 8 below.

Let's take a look.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lutri Shops 1st billsive
Hogaak 2nd moon11
Aggro Shops 3rd Mogged
Aggro Shops 4th darius89
Oops! All Spells 5th medvedev
Hogaak 6th Oscar_Franco
Doomsday 7th discoverN
Golos Shops 8th _Shatun_

Shops definitely had a real presence in this Top 8 for sure, making up half of the Top 8 overall. At the end of the event, it was a slightly different take on the deck that won. Lutri Shops?

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It's worth noting that main deck there are zero things that Lutri can actually copy (since Lutri can only copy spells you control), so the card seemingly is just present as a Companion for not much reason other than to seemingly prove a point about the strength of cards like Mishra's Workshop and restrictions of cards around Workshops itself. While Shops does have access to a good number of options and has had access to a fair number of powerful cards over the years, Wizards has been fairly firm on the stance of Workshop as a pillar of the format, so it's unlikely this sort of statement says much longer term. I think the threats in this deck are fun (because many of them are cards we don't typically see in more recent lists, having been fairly power crept out by recent printings) and it is amusing to note that the pilot stated they cast Lutri three times in the course of the tournament.

The Second Place finalist was on Hogaak.

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Pretty straightforward list here, and four Force of Vigor main can definitely be a headache for all the Shops running around this event, as can the four Collector Ouphe in the sideboard.

Further into the Top 8 we've got Oops! All Spells.

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This deck does quite a few multiple things that all kill the opponent rather quickly, enabled by the strength of MDFC cards. Definitely a super sweet deck.

Near the bottom of the Top 8 we've got Doomsday master discoverN.

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discoverN's lists change mainly in tiny flex spot areas as they try different things here or there. For a bit they did well with a Tainted Indulgence in the list, but it seems that's fallen out as well.

Vintage Challenge 7/24

The second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 47 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.

There was a reasonable spread of decks here, with Golos/Prison Shops variants doing very well in addition to Doomsday and Aggro variants. Aggro Shops had a nice representation, but people came prepared and it's win rate was exceptionally low.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Golos Shops 1st bernardocssa
Jeskai Lurrus 2nd NooxTom
BW Aggro 3rd mosh110
Oath of Druids 4th brianpk80
Doomsday 5th discoverN
Dredge 6th Wizard_2002
Doomsday 7th Tsubasa_Cat
Mono White Aggro 8th LuckyOnline

Definitely an interesting Top 8. Good number of variation in strategies overall, and at the end of the event it was Golos Shops that won.

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This is a much more prison oriented list like we used to see more when Golos was much more popular. It can definitely have a lot of power behind it though still, despite newer aggro printings having pushed Aggro Shops to the forefront.

The Second Place finalist was on a more Lurrus based Jeskai Control list.

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Ragavan is a big deal in this list, providing a great deal of power to this kind of strategy. Lurrus allows quite a bit here with replaying Ragavan and Jace (which we haven't seen too much of JVP in recent times) so that's super cool.

Also in this Top 8 we have WB Aggro!

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This is a solid list. Main deck Lurrus copies are pretty sweet to allow the deck to still be able to cast Archon of Emeria because of how poweful that card is. Also, Mirran Crusader in the sideboard as a way to hedge against Vengevine and Hogaak is pretty sweet.

Further into the Top 8 we've got the one and only Brian Kelly on Oath.

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THE DRAGONLORD HAS RETURNED. That is all.

Around the Web

  • Phil Gallagher is belching people into nonexistence with Vintage Oops/Belcher combos! Check it out here.
  • Justin Gennari is continuing his A-Z Challenges and got plenty of videos for us!
  • Revenantkioku is getting destroyed by discoverN. Check it out here.
  • Our good friend Matthew Vook is playing some PO. Check it out here.
  • Some Esper Tinker action! Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 decklists over here.

This Oath list literally can't even!

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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 my Link Tree! In addition you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!



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