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Vintage 101: Powering Down?

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 talking about the possibility of Unpowered decks in Vintage and of course some news on how US Eternal Weekend is handling that this year. In addition to that we've got two Challenges to discuss.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Playing Without Power

One of the hallmark interesting things about US Eternal Weekend has long been the concept of allowing for prizes to be given out to players who do well with Unpowered Vintage decks (specifically decks without cards like Power, Workshops, Bazaars, and Library of Alexandria).

This year at least as of this article's writing is a little different in that Card Titan is currently on the fence of doing this. In fact, initially the statement was that they weren't doing it, and then after a bunch of players offered to put up cold hard cash for a Unpowered Prize pool, Card Titan announced that they would be deliberating on it. As that is still up in the air, we'll share more on that when they do announce what they are doing here. In addition, they did announce that a lot of the prize pool for the main event is boosted a ton, so that is good.

Still, if the Unpowered Challenge were a thing again this year... what decks could possibly rise to the top? That's what we're going to look at here in addition to our consensus on whether the deck is good or not. Worth noting any of the lists below would likely need further tuning, but they're good starting points.

Let's start with a look at the big elephant in the room everyone brings up these days in this discussion.


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I am of the severe opinion that this is not actually a deck you want to play Unpowered in a Vintage event right now. The raw power of this deck comes from the Turn 1 plays it makes that enable it to get into the game quickly and efficiently. The deck really relies on a ton of the fast mana to play to the board as quickly as possible and losing the Power pieces really hurts it. This deck had a reasonable result unpowered last year primarily due in part to its "newness" and how off guard it caught people. If it's truly budgety you wouldn't want the Tabernacles here either.

Consensus: Overrated a bit, and not actually worth trying


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Goblins on the other hand is a VERY interesting deck that can play a good fair game and a game where it combo's you out with Conspicuous Snoop. This deck seems really fine to try Unpowered, as you can sub in additional mana sources like Lotus Petal and Mana Crypt. This deck also has some surprise factor to it and people don't expect to just get Muxus'ed.

Consensus: Seems great and lots of fun.

Turbo Depths

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Putting a 20/20 into play is very often going to kill a ton of Vintage decks. Having that on demand alongside strong disruptive cards like Force of Vigor and Orcish Bowmasters seems incredibly good. The deck can also grind a bit with Elvish Reclaimer and Deathrite Shaman, so those are solid angles to consider.

Consensus: 20/20s are good.

Red Prison

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Putting Blood Moon into play and then following up with Initiative creatures like Caves of Chaos Adventurer seems mighty fine. A lot of Vintage is hurting to Blood Moon effects these days and if you can stick that or a Trinisphere on Turn 1 and follow up with pressure, you are cooking with gas. Like most of these kinds of decks though, they can lose to themselves more often than not.

Consensus: Reasonable but requires a lot of mulliganing.

Fastbond Lands

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This is definitely riding the cusp because it has a Tabernacle in it, but Fastbond in general is a great place to think shell-wise for Unpowered decks because Fastbond is also quite powerful. Being able to muscle through with all the Lands seems great, and then using Crucible of Worlds alongside Horizon Canopy and Life from the Loam seems sweet.

Consensus: This deck is pretty cool. Needs tuning, but it's fun.

Wrapping Up

I do hope that Card Titan does do the Unpowered prizes for the Vintage Champs event. It's always fun to see what people come up with and what is possibly good. Do you have a deck you think could do well unpowered? Let me know! 

Vintage Challenge 10/21

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Saturday event. This event had 65 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.

Lurrus Saga and Oath were quite popular with the former having a strong win rate over Oath's sub-50% win rate. Initiative, Doomsday, and Aggro Shops did very well, while BUG and CounterVine performed poorly.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Doomsday 1st XShockWaveX
Aggro 8Cast 2nd IamActuallyLvl1
Lurrus Saga 3rd wiky
Bant Beans 4th lordoflifegain
Jeskai Lurrus 5th Kenzaburo
Lurrus Vault Key 6th J0SE
Aggro Shops 7th kauffj
BUG Lurrus 8th Sprouts

Interesting Top 8 here. At the end of the event it was Doomsday that won!

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Looks like a very stock and strong list. Don't mess with the formula honestly. Doomsday does that quite well.

In Second Place we had a neat spin on 8Cast by our good friend Justin Gennari.

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This looks much more like how Legacy 8Cast does with cards like Patchwork Automaton and Kappa Cannoneer. Sarevok's Tome as an Initiative enabler is sweet too.

Further down this Top 8 we had some BEANS.

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Up the Beanstalk is the talk of the town in multiple formats at the moment, and Vintage is a format where you're regularly casting stuff like Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise so it seems QUITE good here. This list looks super fun.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Aggro Shops.

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Very cut and dry, but that doesn't mean boring, it just means good deckbuilding. This deck has a game plan and it executes that game plan well.

Vintage Challenge 10/22

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 52 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.

Lurrus Saga again was very popular and it's win rate was great. Oath suffered here. The Lurrus Vault Key deck did insanely well, as did Combo Shops. Dredge, Jeskai, and Initiative did poorly overall.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Combo Shops 1st NathanLipetz
Lurrus Saga 2nd Rooney56
Lurrus Vault Key 3rd J0SE
Lurrus Saga 4th lavaridge
Lurrus Vault Key 5th Gerschi
Breach 6th Fantaman95
Lurrus Saga 7th bernardocssa
Lurrus Vault Key 8th shir kahn

Holy Lurrus Batman! 6/8 of the Top 8 here is Lurrus decks of some sort, but the big winner here is the Lurrus Vault Key deck in a lot of ways. Still, the event was actually won by Combo Shops.

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The One Ring continues to be a pretty strong card in these kinds of decks, and having Metamorph alongside it to get rid of one seems quite good.

In Second Place we had Lurrus Saga.

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This deck as we discussed last week has continued to shape Vintage around its very existence. It's wild to see but this is a new era for this format for sure.

As noted we had the Lurrus Vault Key do very well here, so let's look at the highest placing one.

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Man this deck looks so good every time I've seen it. Goblin Engineer is such a sweet card overall.

Further down the Top 8 we had Breach.

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Reasonable list here. No backup threat creatures like Laelia or Ragavan to speak of and no Hullbreacher. This deck's game plan is straightforward and it already has solid backup plans in Saga.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

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

Absorbenthree decks continue to be wild.

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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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