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Vintage 101: Riddle Me This!

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 diving into a sweet decklist from the past few weeks that utilizes Riddlesmith, Ovalchase Daredevil, and a whole slew of other fun cards! In addition to that we've got two Challenge events to discuss from this past weekend as well as a Spice Corner!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Riddler Strikes Back!

One of the fun things about Vintage currently is just how much space exists in the format for doing fun things. As of late, my attention in the format has been mostly keyed in on decks playing the new Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty card Containment Construct, and the deck that I'm talking about today definitely has that as a big piece of the deck, but it also keys in heavily on a strategy popularized by our good friend Justin Gennari, and that is the synergy between the cards Riddlesmith and Ovalchase Daredevil.

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The synergy of these cards is pretty apparent. You cast an artifact, you draw a card and then discard Ovalchase Daredevil. Once the artifact hits the board, Ovalchase gets returned to your hand. With a good critical mass of artifacts, you can easily cycle through several cards of card draw, making each draw a true draw instead of a loot effect. This also works incredibly well with Bazaar of Baghdad, by allowing you to pitch these Ovalchases for free to the graveyard off a Bazaar activation, which then returns them all to hand once you play another artifact. This particular variant of this strategy has been commonly referred to as "The Riddler" due to the power level of the Riddlesmith/Daredevil combo. This allows the deck to cycle through cards quickly and assemble a game plan by having better card advantage and card selection than the opponent has.

This deck has only improved over time, given that it has also received cards like Master of Death which act as a blue based Squee, Goblin Nabob. This reinforces the power level of having a land like Bazaar in an otherwise blue based countermagic + cantrip deck, by turning Bazaar's disadvantage into positive card draw.

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This is the current version of the deck I've played with this recently, graciously provided on Twitter by our good friend Justin Gennari. Seriously, go give that guy a follow.

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One of the great things about this deck is that it not only well utilized Containment Construct's powerful effect, but it also really well synergized with the rest of the stuff this deck was doing with the Riddlesmith synergy and the power level of Master of Death. This made the effect of using cards like Hollow One really strong because of being able to pitch multiple Ovalchase to the graveyard and then get them back with a Hollow One entering the battlefield. This kind of clever synergy-based game play really made this deck a ton of fun to play.

I also took some extra steps here and recorded a league with this deck, which ended up being a fairly quick and fun league overall (even if the League wasn't a 100% positive win rate).

I definitely have had a lot of fun with this deck, and not only is this deck a blast to play but it's also reasonably cheap on Magic Online at just around 422 tickets. So if you're looking for something unique and interesting to try out, give this deck a whirl. It's certainly incredibly interesting and loads of fun to play.

Vintage Challenge 2/26

Our first Challenge of the weekend was the Saturday event, which had 45 players in it overall 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.

As has been the case for a hot minute, the Blue Tinker decks had a solid population in this event but didn't have a super solid win rate all around. Despite one of them winning the event, the win rate was definitely dragged down a lot by those outside of the top tables. Blue Tempo decks had a positive win rate, and Breach had a really solid performance given that it put two out of three copies of the deck into the top tables.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Esper Tinker 1st JUJUBEAN__2004
Paradoxical Outcome 2nd DrPringles
Breach 3rd Clone9
KCI 4th IamActuallyLvl1
Doomsday 5th MaxMagicer
Dredge 6th WingedHussar
Esper Tinker 7th Diem4x
Breach 8th sixmp

As noted, we had some Tinker variants here both with traditional Tinker and PO variants as well some Breach. At the end of the event though it was Esper Tinker that took it all down.

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Definitely an interesting build here, more leaning on the power of Mentor + Saga to close a game out. Usually a lot of these decks show a good amount of Hullbreacher in the main but I think it works well without it too. Not surprised to see Blightsteel Colossus in the main, but reasonably surprised to continue to see Sphinx of the Steel Wind since most of the matchups that card is good in are decks that are probably also running Boseiju, Who Endures. Very interesting list overall though!

In Second Place we've got PO.

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Fairly solid PO list here, utilizing both Mentor and Saga, as well as the restricted copy of Karn, the Great Creator to great effect. Not much else to say here, just a very straightforward and powerful list.

Also in this Top 8 we had Breach.

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Laelia and Ragavan seem like really sweet cards for Breach, giving the deck both a way of accelerating its normal game plan but also a solid beat down side plan that can grow out of hand really quickly. The fact that this is just more cards that don't die to Pyroblast is really important here.

Further into the Top 8 we have our good friend Justin Gennari on KCI.

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Patchwork Automaton seems like a super sweet card for this deck, giving you the ability to go into a KCI loop with just it in play and make it incredibly large to swing in with. Seems like a super fun thing to do! I also enjoy any decklist that slots in Spine of Ish Sah!

Vintage Challenge 2/27

Our second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event which had 49 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.

Again, quite a bit of Tinker variants, but again the win rate is dragged down a bit. Doomsday had a really solid win rate here, putting half of its pilots to the top tables. Golos Stax variants also did very well given that one of the two pilots on the deck made it into the Top 4.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Grixis Tinker 1st LeoFa
Doomsday 2nd Revenantkioku
Golos Stax 3rd Tsubasa_Cat
Esper Tinker 4th Yamaro
Doomsday 5th billster47
Doomsday 6th discoverN
8Cast 7th Slasher21
Grixis Tinker 8th Darthkid

Quite a bit of Doomsday action in this Top 8, but at the end of the event it was Grixis Tinker shell that took it all down.

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Ragavan was honestly one of the most perfect printings for these shells because it gave them such a solid little threat to squeak in damage and card advantage with that also doesn't feel that overpowered due to the higher variance of cards it might steal. The Grixis lists gaining access to Pyroblast is really big, but so is also having Dack Fayden.

In Second Place we've got our good friend revenantkioku on Doomsday.

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DD is a deck that has remained pretty stable in its main deck construction in the Vintage format for some time now. While Legacy has gone through a lot of evolution, Vintage Doomsday has had the benefit of being mostly the same. The big changes seem to often happen at the sideboard level of the deck, for example with cards like Dress Down in the sideboard that helps combat things like Saga tokens and the like.

Also in this Top 8 we had Golos Stax.

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Golos Stax variants have been mostly on the downswing for a while, so it's quite interesting to see this deck doing well, but the pilot is a well-known Shops variant player so I'm not super surprised to see them do well with it. I really dig the Welding Jar in the sideboard.

Further down the Top 8 we had another good friend of ours in Slasher21 on 8Cast.

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Having a black splash in the deck here to have top deck tutor effects like Vampiric Tutor and also having Demonic Tutor is quite strong, but really it's having an effect like Yawgmoth's Will that really pushes the splash.

Around the Web

  • Justin Gennari's content machinations cannot be stopped! Here's what he's got for us this week:
  • Our friend revenantkioku has a video on the Doomsday mirror. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

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

Brian Kelly continues to exist on a whole other level and I'm here for it.

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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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