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Vintage 101: Send in the Robots!


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 a sweet variant of Blue Tinker based decks. In addition to that we've got two Challenges to discuss, and of course... a Spice Corner.

Before we get started I want to point out that the Mythic Society has opted to close up on the events they have been running, citing that the need for FNM-like events on Magic Online has dropped a lot since players started moving back towards playing in paper events. Of course, the natural casualty here is the weekly Vintage casual event. You can check out the post on the situation here.

Another piece of news worth noting is that as of right now, there will be no Vintage premier play level events for the next season on Magic Online (Season Three). Currently those events are being filled by Pauper for this season, which means no Showcase Challenges or Showcase Qualifier for Season Three. You can find that information right over here under Showcase Challenges.

Without further ado, let's dive right into this week's topic!

Shiny Robots

It isn't super often that we get to talk about genuinely newer decks in this column, but thanks to Modern Horizons 2 and Strixhaven this year we've definitely had a go of seeing some new shells come out in force. Most recently the one that has been popping up is this deck, which is a Blue Tinker shell that is also sort of an Affinity style deck. Commonly this deck has been referred to as "8-Cast" due to the fact that it plays both Thoughtcast AND Thought Monitor.

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Let's take a look at a sample list.

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There's a lot going on here in this deck, as it attempts to leverage the critical mass of artifacts it plays by casting multiple draw effects combined with cards like Urza, Lord High Artificer and Urza's Saga to close out the game. As we often like to do here, let's break this deck down into some core components and talk about those.

Fast Artifact Mana

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Fast artifact mana is the big reason to play any kind of deck like this. Not only are these cards mana accelerants but they're counting for Affinity purposes for both Thought Monitor and Thoughtcast as well as artifacts for Construct-related purposes.

Draw Effects / Card Selection

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One thing this deck has in spades is a lot of card draw that gets going really quickly. Between your normal card draw like Ancestral Recall, there are eight copies of Thoughtcast effects, which can snowball out of control the more you can keep casting in a turn. In addition we have some Baubles here that act as both card draw, mana rocks (for Urza), and Affinity enablers. Emry is a pseudo draw effect here, putting cards into the graveyard to recur such as the Baubles or other fast artifact mana.

Disruption

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Being a predominantly blue heavy deck it is obvious to see cards like Force of Will here being able to back up the game plan. The card disadvantage of Force goes well with all the card draw, and the other disruption of both Narset and Hullbreacher allows you to put a lot of pressure on opposing blue decks.

Win Conditions

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The biggest win conditions of the deck are the aspects of having both Urza and Urza's Saga by creating a bunch of Constructs that can end a game rather quickly. Tinker and Bolas's Citadel also act as a solid win condition as well and is one of the big reasons to play the deck. Tinker also nabs either of the Key/Vault combo which is another win condition the deck has, which then leads to a separate win condition of the Construct beatdown plan.

Urza's Saga is one of the most flexible pieces of this deck though by providing both a win condition and tutor capability and combined with Thought Monitor is to me one of the reasons this deck exists and does well.

Urza's Saga Tutor Targets

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Besides the fact that Urza's Saga can fetch MOST artifacts in this deck (artifact mana, etc.), there are some spicy tutor targets as well that are fun to utilize, such as Pithing Needle, which is great since your opponent can't respond to what you named once you've searched for it and put it into play. Soul-Guide Lantern is also a solid target, being able to etb and exile something or exile an entire graveyard. Sensei's Divining Top also serves a great purpose here as well if you need it to enable some shenanigans.

Robot Wars

This deck is certainly a lot of fun looking and has a solid place in the current metagame thanks to the results it has continually put up in the past few weeks. Time will well if this is just another minor fluctuation, but all of these cards are individually strong enough to see play so I would not be surprised to see this deck continue to do well into the future.

ManaTraders Vintage

A new month of ManaTraders means that August's series is Vintage! The qualifier league for this month started on 8/2 and closes on 8/24, with the Swiss rounds to be held on 8/28. You can find out all the information about this over at this tweet.

In preparation, our eternally awesome friend Justin Gennari put together another great video on the current state of Vintage, which you can find right over here.

Vintage Challenge 7/31

We had two Challenge events for this past weekend, the first of which is the mid afternoon event. This event had 53 players in it, thanks to data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here.

As has been the case for a while now, there is quite a big presence of BUG Midrange in the current format. The deck is reasonable and fair, and often occupies a policing role in the format. There's plenty of reasons this deck continues to remain popular, but while popular it isn't a dominating deck either in terms of performance, which is still pretty nice.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Hollow Vine 1st WingedHussar
Ravager Shops 2nd SrNogales97
Hogaak 3rd sejer
Blue Tinker 4th BlueSkiesJ
Hollow Vine 5th billsive
BUG Midrange 6th Falkoneye
4C Aggro 7th Ilulu
Dredge 8th Sarlanga

Definitely an interesting Top 8, with a lot of decent variety in decks. At the end of this event, it was our good friend WingedHussar that took it all down on Hollow Vine.

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The amount of sheer power and disruption in this shell is pretty insane and it has only continually gotten better over time with the additions from Modern Horizons 2. This deck has a wide array of tools available to it, and they all cost nothing but cards for the most part.

In Second Place we've got a sweet Nettlecyst variant of Ravager Shops.

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This is really solid. Gingerbrute as a threat that can be fetched with Urza's Saga and then booted up with Nettlecyst is pretty groovy.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we've got a deck that keeps showing up in some capacity in the 4C Aggro variant with Ragavan and Territorial Kavu.

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This deck is certainly wildly interesting and reminds me a lot of Brian Kelly style deckbuilding where it seems like every card has been meticulously planned out. Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast is certainly way cool.

Outside of the Top 8 we've got a placing by Breach with Dragon's Rage Channeler.

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Having both Breach and Urza's Saga alongside stuff like DRC and Sedgemoor Witch is really strong. This looks like a definitely powerful deck for sure.

Vintage Challenge 8/1

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event, which had 48 players overall, again thanks to data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here.

A LOT of BUG Midrange in this event, with a slightly smaller field. Between both this deck and the 4C DRS decks, there was a TON of Deathrite Shaman in this event.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
4C Midrange 1st Dazai
PO Storm 2nd yashimoro
Golos Stax 3rd Tsubasa_Cat
Hollow Vine 4th noprops
Doomsday 5th ecobaronen
BUG Midrange 6th discoverN
Doomsday 7th SingPanMan
Merfolk 8th BaconLettuceTomato

This is another interesting Top 8, as there is a bit of everything in regards to the major pillars of the Vintage format. At the end of the day however it was the "4C DRS" / RUG Midrange variant by Dazai that won out.

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Okay this is really sort of a RUG deck, but it has the sources and ability to leverage the other abilities of Deathrite Shaman well, which sticks it into this sort of gray area. One solid inclusion in the sideboard here is new card Unholy Heat, which can deal with a lot of cards in this current format.

The Second Place list is PO Storm!

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This is the Hullbreacher / Platinum Angel variant that has been running around a bit. The Angel makes for an interesting Tinker target in games where you know your opponent can't easily beat it, and having both Hullbreacher and Day's Undoing + Timetwister is really strong.

Also in the Top 8 we've got the popular deck, BUG Midrange, piloted by perennial Doomsday expert discoverN.

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Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is a card I haven't seen in a while in a Vintage list. It definitely used to be a solid inclusion in many of the blue piles, but it has fallen off the map a bit. Looks pretty solid in this shell though!

At the bottom of the Top 8 we've got Merfolk!

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Pretty awesome to see a deck like this doing well in these kinds of events. Gives me hope for every kind of cool deck like this in the current format.

Outside of the Top 8 we've got our good friend Justin Gennari on Lutri PO.

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Always cool to see Lutri pop up every now and then. I think this Companion more than anything is the most interesting one in Vintage, as I really enjoy the restriction of it.

Around the Web

  • Justin Gennari has a few more videos for us this go around, one of which is from the last Mythic Society Vintage event.

The Spice Corner

Zias gives us a loving helping of Putrid Imp and Lotleth Troll in this wonderfully insane deck.

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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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