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Vintage 101: Remastering Vintage!


Vintage Remastered!

A long time ago, way back in 2014, Wizards of the Coast dropped a bombshell announcement regarding the Vintage format. For the first time ever, the announcement read, the most famous and powerful cards in Magic history would be reprinted: the Power Nine. Unfortunately for all of the paper-only Magic players out there, the Reserve List exists, and that made printing a physical copy of Black Lotus and its ilk quite impossible. The Power Nine would be "reprinted" in the digital space only, and they were to be contained in a new "Masters set" called (appropriately enough) Vintage Masters

Vintage Masters created a lot of buzz. This new reprint set would allow scores of individuals to experience competitive, officially sanctioned Vintage for the first time ever. Until this point, many players could only dream of playing Vintage due to the high cost of cards or the lack of a local playtest-card-friendly tournament scene. Capping off this great news was the fact that this set had been expertly crafted to give players an engaging and entertaining draft experience as well. 

In order to make the digital Power Nine "feel special" (this was literally the reason given by Wizards), a new rarity was created especially for these cards. Beyond the level of mythic rare was a new rarity with the banal name "special rare." This choice wasn't universally loved, but it did promise to make the Power Nine extremely valuable and hard to open. Additionally, the Power Nine and most of the rest of Vintage Masters would be given new artwork and released with modern card frames. 

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The new Vintage Masters versions of the Power Nine and other Reserved List staples had some amazing artwork. Unfortunately, one of the many draws to Vintage is nostalgia. Many people (myself included) prefer to use the original artwork and card frames whenever possible. There's nothing wrong with the new artwork, of course, but it simply does not have the emotional attachment for me that a Chris Rush Black Lotus does. Fortunately for all of the original art lovers out there, Wizards of the Coast made a recent announcement regarding a Vintage Masters flashback draft with a special bonus! Finally, the real Power Nine is coming to Magic Online!  

Just imagine how awesome it will be to play Vintage online with an Alpha Lotus in your deck! I know that I and many other Vintage players had previously edited our image files to replace the new art in Vintage Masters with the original pictures, but that solution left a lot to be desired. Changing the image files didn't give the Power Nine the old frames, it only appeared on your screen (opponents could not see this), and it changed your opponent's cards as well. This round of Vintage Masters flashback drafts is going to put real (digital versions of) Alpha cards into the Magic Online card pool!

I'm not big into drafting, but I am still excited for this. There are a lot of people who loved Vintage Masters drafts, and I'm sure that enough people will play to put a decent amount of Alpha Power into circulation. If you're one of the folks who will be entering a Vintage Masters draft league, good luck, and I hope you crack some sweet original artwork!

Vintage at a Glance

For the first time in a long time, the top-played deck in Vintage is not Workshops or Delver / Mentor / etc. As of right now, the top deck on the list is...Oath of Druids!

That's No Moon...

Categorizing Vintage decks can be tough. There are many staple cards that are used by practically every deck. Because of this, many decks end up sharing over 50% of the same cards while being completely different in practice. At one point, someone did well online with a red / blue / X Blood Moon deck, and a whole host of superficially similar lists have been placed in the same category. Anyway, the next-most-popular deck (by appearance percentage) is being called "Blue Moon." Going through the list, it looks like these decks are mostly Young Pyromancer decks, with some Monastery Mentors thrown in as well as other creatures. 

Typically, I'm seeing one copy of Gush in these lists as well as the ever-present cantrip-heavy design. In my opinion, this category of decks represents the offspring of the now-defunct Gush archetype. Instead of relying on bombs, haymakers, broken combos, or other buzz words, these decks rely on tight play and incremental card advantage to win games. Let's take a look at an interesting build played by ThePowerNine.

 

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Mishra has been dethroned! Workshop decks have tenaciously gripped the top spot on the Vintage metagame page for what seems like an eternity. After restricting Thorn of Amethyst, it looks as if Workshops has been tamed to the point of merely being a very good deck instead of being overly oppressive. I do find myself wondering if this is just a temporary fluke or if it's the beginning of a downward trend for mono-brown aggro / prison. I know one thing for sure: I definitely hope that this ends the constant call for restricting every card in Vintage that isn't blue. 

Here's Ravager101's build of Ravager Shops. The archetype seems more homogenized than it's ever been, which is possibly due to the recent restrictions. Most of these decks are identical, with the exception of a few small changes. 

Standstill Is Still Standing

The fourth-most-played deck online right now is Standstill, oddly enough. Here's an Emrakul version played by The Mana Drain's own Iamfishman.

 

Taking Workshops Seriously

This is just my opinion, of course, but looking at the top four decks tells me that more people are putting a lot of thought into how they will deal with Mishra's Workshop decks. The top played deck is Oath of Druids, which is absolutely one of the best ways to combat mono-brown. The second-place category is loosely grouped and not really all the same archetype, in my opinion. Still, while looking through the second category, I noticed that most of those lists were playing quite a few main-deck cards that are great in the Workshop matchup. The fourth-place category, Landstill, is another deck people play when they're hoping to beat Shops. 

So, the top four categories are three anti-Shops decks, and Shops in third place (down from first place). I'm not a Workshop hater, but I'm glad to see that people are hedging against the deck and apparently succeeding. I firmly believe that the health of the format hinges on having a variety of viable archetypes, and it certainly looks as if that is the case. For all of the doom and gloom people once predicted, things are finally starting to pan out. 

That's all the time I have for this week. I'll see you soon with more Vintage action! Follow me on TMD, Magic Online, and Twitter @Islandswamp 

 


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