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Vintage 101: Swept Under the RUG


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're here to take a look at a RUG based Xerox build in the format, utilizing the newest Planeswalker to land from Modern Horizons, the infamous Wrenn and Six!

We're also going to be continuing some discussion on the Vintage format in regards to the Banned and Restricted List Announcement scheduled to take place next week on 8/26 and also look at the results from last week's challenges.

Without further ado, let's get right to it!

The Rug Really Tied the Room Together

The decklist we're going to be distilling down this week is a powerful combination of spells tied together by the magic of Wrenn and Six, a two mana Planeswalker that has proven itself to be very powerful in not only Modern but also in Legacy. How does our newest dryad / tree hybrid fair in Vintage? As it turns out, exceedingly well.

Let's do what we always do and distill this list into its key components.

Mana

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This deck is actually eschewing Black Lotus here in regards to mana, but I can see mostly why. For a deck wanting to cast W6 and Dack early, in addition to all of its interaction, Lotus only cracks for a single color and that doesn't help the deck cast those kinds of spells early without being inefficient. Mox Jet is an odd inclusion, but it serves as a better tie-together mana rock to help cast Dack or is good for casting Tinker with.

Interaction

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This deck packs interaction in spades, from having relevant ways to handle creature threats through Bolt and Punishing Fire to countermagic like Misstep and both Forces. In addition, Ancient Grudge helps the deck keep up with Workshops decks, and everything in this pile of interaction is fantastic to retrace off of Wrenn and Six emblem.

Card Draw / Selection

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The Restricted Bunch. They could make a TV sitcom about this crew, but I suspect Ancestral Recall would upstage everyone and eventually get their own spinoff show. These are just exceptionally powerful cards that either directly draws cards or provides powerful card selection. Note that Treasure Cruise is missing, and I feel that is correct since the deck can generally only support exiling so much from its graveyard for Delve to support only one of these spells and Dig is just so much more exceptional long game that it makes the cut over second Ancestral. All of these cards are insane to retrace with, most especially Ancestral. Fiery Islet receives special mention here since it can cycle itself and then be recurred with W6.

Utility

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These cards all kind of fall into a miscellaneous category of solid utility. Time Walk is obviously insane and is equally insane when used with the W6 emblem which lets you simply take infinite turns. Tinker allows for a quick kill with Blightsteel, and Spyglass is just generically powerful against a lot of things. Grove helps interact with the fact that this deck is playing Punishing Fire and of course any W6 deck is not complete without Strip Mine and Wasteland for obvious reasons.

Planeswalkers

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Part of the real meat and potatoes of this deck, both of these cards interact very well with the powerful cards inside the deck but they also interact well with each other. Dack can pitch extra lands that are unneeded in hand for better cards, while W6 can recur them. It's a very powerful engine once it gets rolling and W6's emblem is very easy to achieve and abuse once it is available.

Creature Threats

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The creature threats in this deck are fairly efficient and do some powerful things. Collector Ouphe is exceptionally strong and consistently has shown up more and more across the format to put down Shops decks, while cards like Tarmogoyf continue to be completely powerful as good creature clocks that are also efficiently costed. And of course, Blightsteel Colossus is there to pair with Tinker and kill people in one shot.

The Rug Sideboard

Now that we've examined the main deck, let's take a look at the sideboard options this deck plays.

Graveyard Hate

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Two of the more common options these days, since they're options that don't interfere with the game plan like Cage and don't generally fall prey to Force of Vigor or Mental Misstep. Ravenous Trap especially has gone way up in playability because of this and it's no surprise to see them here.

Workshops Hate

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As if two Ouphe wasn't enough main deck, the sideboard packs the rest of the playset in order to maximize seeing them in Shops matches. In addition, Nature's Claim is also decent against any number of Shops and miscellaneous bad artifacts.

Misc Utility

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These cards double as well as Dredge hate since Tabernacle can eat most of Dredge's creatures as they play no mana producing lands (outside of the occasional Petrified Field) and Pithing Needle provides another source of hate vs things like Bazaar in addition to Sorcerous Spyglass in the main.

Opposing Xerox Cards

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Being able to match wits with opposing cards like Narset, Parter of Veils and Leovold, Emissary of Trest is important, and additional Pyroblast in the sideboard can give ways to deal with these matchups. Thrun is a good beater and even better defender against things like BUG where they can't remove it with Assassin's Trophy and it can easily block cards like Tarmgoyf with regeneration.

One Week Until Banned/Restricted - Vintage

We are now a short time away (even shorter once this article gets published) to the 8/26 Banned and Restricted List announcement to be made by Wizards. While most people are expecting changes to be made in Modern to deal with Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, this time period has stirred much discussion about the health of Vintage as a format and what will happen with this announcement, which is quite ostensibly the last announcement that could be potentially made before Vintage Champs at Eternal Weekend in October. So of course, a lot of theories and suggestions have come forth on what should be done with the format.

Of course, some suggestions are reasonably extreme, suggesting a course of action that basically restricts upwards of 8 cards at once. This to me feels a little too excessive, and slightly unnecessary. However, further reflection on the format does leave me with a few cards that should be hit with restrictions, but I am unsure if they will actually happen here on 8/26. Our good friend Stephen Menendian put together some of his own thoughts on the BNR, which you can read over at Eternal Central.

Personally, these are the cards that I'm mainly concerned with at the moment, and if I had to pick three cards from this BNR to start with, it would be these three.

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  • Karn, the Great Creator - This is pretty obvious. Karn is excessively powerful in not just his anti-symmetrical Null Rod effect but more so in the ability to tutor up win conditions like Time Vault and the like. This cuts around the fact that these cards are restricted and to me that feels like one of the more egregious pieces of Karn's abilities is that it gives a way to maneuver around the format being defined by restricted cards by making it more accessible. That is a primary concern for me with this card, but also because the power level of it has made it so that the only way to counteract it is to counterplay an opposing strategy because not many other strategies are functioning against Karn (that strategy being BUG Midrange essentially). Bringing the format down to those two base strategies is not healthy, and restricting Karn would make it so there would be no real need to play BUG outside of just being an enjoyable strategy for some folks.
  • Mystic Forge - As much as I have enjoyed killing people on Turn 1-2 with this card, it is exceptionally powerful and easy to break in half even with Karn restricted, and it should be restricted as well. It is very easy to abuse this card and even gaining incremental advantage with it is very good. This is certainly a "fun" card to play and whatnot, but it is definitely too powerful.
  • Mental Misstep - This is a card that I've long advocated for honestly. I am not a fan of Phyrexian Mana at all, and Misstep is a pretty top offender of the mechanic in Vintage. There are long diatribes about what this card does to the format, but I think the time is right to restrict it finally. Restricting Misstep would allow a number of other cards to be playable such as more Spell Pierce, more things like Duress being better. However, the biggest and best thing about this is that it does depower Dredge by forcing a free answer to cards like Grafdigger's Cage to a 1-of, ensuring those kinds of cards resolve.

Honorable Mentions:

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  • Narset, Parter of Veils - I don't believe that Narset should actually be restricted this go-around. Part of my big reasoning behind that is that with the restriction of Misstep, cards like Narset lose a little quality to not being able to freely answer things like Duress, Spell Pierce, or even Lightning Bolt. Narset's power level is indeed strong, but I feel like the card should be given a fair shake with there being additional ways of interacting with it with only 1 Misstep in a deck.
  • Channel - Yes this is indeed odd, but I think there is still some room for unrestricting certain cards, and to me Channel seems like a decent unrestriction. We have seen already how the unrestriction of Yawgmoth's Bargain didn't really make decks that played the card that much more busted, and quite frankly a lot of the decks that played Bargain continued to only play 1-2 copies anyways. Channel has some interesting interaction with the card Lich's Mirror which is a cool and interesting non-determinative combo deck, but also doesn't quite do that much that unrestricting it would break the format. If there was going to be an unrestriction at all this go around, I would be okay with this one.

Of course, there is the possibility that Wizards decides to make no changes to Vintage this coming announcement. My only comment on this possibility is that Wizards might be too ultra focused on what is going on with the Modern format and Hogaak to make changes to Vintage at this time, so I wouldn't be surprised either at the possibility of no changes. However, with this announcement likely being the last one before it is effectively too late for Eternal Weekend to give players time to adjust means this might be the last chance they have to see what these changes would look like on a larger scale.

Vintage Challenge 8/17

We had yet another Challenge this past weekend so let's get right into the thick of it!

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Midrange 1st Desolutionist
BUG Midrange 2nd Scabs
BUG Midrange 3rd Parkss
BUG Midrange / Czech Pile 4th Svaca
BUG Midrange 5th Phizzle
PO Storm 6th Shir Kahn (Nicholas Bohny)
Dredge 7th PTarts2Win
PO Storm 8th IAmActuallyLvl1 (Justin Gennari)

BUG, BUG, BUG, BUG! So much BUG Midrange dominated this event and the Top 8 over everything else. With a stunning 55 copies the most played creature in the Top 32 was Deathrite Shaman showing that BUG was pretty much everywhere. A lot of these lists look rather similar, so we won't devolve too deeply into all of them, but we will look at the first place list by MTGO User Desolutionist.

Desolutionist's list is definitely sweet, so congrats on the win!

Outside of the BUG lists in the Top 8 there were also two PO lists and one Dredge. One of the PO lists, placing in 6th was Shir Kahn (our good friend Nicholas Bohny), who has been typically on BUG himself the past few weeks.

This list opted to not play cards like Timetwister and the like, but did play a few copies of Teferi, Time Raveler which is really sweet. This seems like a fun list, and a solid run for Shir. Congrats!

Outside of the Top 8 were some sweet lists like White Eldrazi that hasn't been seen in a while, piloted by user tsoatt.

In addition in 18th, KeeperX brought a hard and heavy Monored Prison build with Sin Prodder!

Outside of all the BUG Midrange in this event, the amount of Karn decks was staggeringly low, with our good friend Josh McCurley (infant_no_1) making 15th on Karn Forge.

As we always like to do, let's take a look at the breakdown of new cards in this event's Top 32. In addition, we're also going to do a small analysis on certain cards and how they're showing up as well in a separate table.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Vigor 61
Narset, Parter of Veils 46
Collector Ouphe 26
Karn, the Great Creator 20
Mystic Forge 12
Manifold Key 10
Teferi, Time Raveler 10
Force of Negation 7
Bolas's Citadel 6
Veil of Summer 5
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 4
Ugin, the Ineffable 1

 

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Will 100
Mental Misstep 82
Deathrite Shaman 55

Tormod​​​​​​'s Crypt

54
Leyline of the Void 48
Snapcaster Mage 25

The tale the cards tell this week is that the metagame is doing what I somewhat expected out of Karn vs BUG. BUG is extremely powerful versus Karn, which is pushing it down and out. If less BUG showed up, those slots would likely be filled with Karn decks. Regardless, Force of Vigor continues to be the clinch card in this regards at 61 copies. In addition, in the bottom table, to see how much disruption is being played to try to combat these other strategies is absurd. These snapshots of the format are not a lot of data, but they do provide some insight.

Eternal Weekend Asia 2019

This past weekend also marked Eternal Weekend Asia 2019, held by BIG MAGIC in Yokohama. This event looked pretty interesting and of course, we get to see some of the classic Japanese ingenuity in the decklists provided. The Top 8 of this event did boast a good number of BUG Midrange, so let's take a look. This list is in no particular order, given that we only know the Swiss Standings Top 8, not the final standings.

Deck Name Player Name
BUG Midrange Naoto Kusagawa
BUG Midrange Hiroki Kato
Paradoxical Storm Kohei Takatori
DPS Takatoshi Kitano
BUG Midrange Sotaro Shinbo
Dredge Kazeta Tanikawa
Eldrazi Cheson Yip
Karn Forge Jumonji

This is certainly an interesting Top 8, which is a little different than the Magic Online Metagame which we've already talked about at great length. At the end of the event, it was down to Kitano vs Tanikawa in a DPS vs Dredge grudge match. You can read (translated) a detailed account of their match here. Tanikawa took the championship in a 2-1 finals match on Dredge. Let's take a look at his list.

Tanikawa's list is pretty stock, playing Force of Vigor and Dread Return, with an added addition of Strip Mine to help clear out troublesome Tabernacles, which have shown up quite a bit in BUG Midrange lists. One super interesting card in this sideboard is Bane of Progress in what I can assume is a Dread Return target that can mass wipe a bunch of artifacts/enchantments and also leave behind a big beater. Congrats to Tanikawa on his finish! It looked like a pretty interesting finals match.

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Kitano on the other hand, played Dark Petition Storm, in what I believe to be one of the spiciest ways to approach the deck in some time. His solution? Playing FOUR Karn, the Great Creator in addition to having an option to pair up Channel and Lich's Mirror.

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For those unfamiliar with the combo, Channel allows you to spend life to add <C> mana to your mana pool. Having Lich's Mirror in play makes it so that you can pay your entire life total, at which point you shuffle everything back into your library, go back to 20 life, and draw a fresh new hand. However, the Channel effect persists until end of turn, so you can continue to spend life on <C> mana. Being able to float so much mana is pretty powerful to turning it from a "draw fresh seven" effect into "win the game this turn" type of effect. Having Karn means that it can be fetched from the sideboard, making it more accessible to the deck overall. In addition, this deck stuffs a copy of Bolas's Citadel in the sideboard too in order to go off with that card if it can just cast it.

The top of the Swiss rounds was held by BUG Midrange, in the hands of Naoto Kusagawa. Let's take a look at their list as well.

This deck is more akin to Czech Pile, but it is still pretty solid. Wrenn and Six again makes an appearance here, as does Dack Fayden and Narset, Parter of Veils. One fun thing about this list is the maindeck Ashiok, Dream Render. Spicy!

Outside of the Top 8 and into the Top 16 (which you can find here) presented some interesting lists including a Survival list in 9th and a Turbo Depths list by Sho Ogasawara.

Also further down at the bottom of the Top 16 is none other than Oath of Druids featuring Niv-Mizzet, Parun by Fumiya Kondo!

You can find event coverage for this event (in Japanese) over on the Big Magic Youtube channel. All in all it looks like this was an interesting event!

The Spice Corner

Our good buddy Saturn graced with us a great little list on Twitter that I just had to include it.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Next week we'll be covering the fallout (if any) of what happens with the BNR announcement and talking about any changes or lack of changes made. Regardless of what happens, I'll be on top of things!

As always, you can reach me via Twitter, Twitch, and Patreon! I appreciate any and all support that can be given to me and I'm super thrilled to be coming up on a year of having written for MTGGoldfish! We're going to have to do something special, I just don't know what yet! If you have any ideas, please hit me up through any of the aforementioned channels or through the MTGGoldfish Discord channel!

As always, good luck and have fun!


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