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Vintage 101: Tales of a Bygone Era, Part 4

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're doing yet another dive into a historical look at Vintage, focusing primarily on 2012 - 2014. In addition to that we've got a look at the 4Seasons Vintage event in Bologna, Italy and two Challenges worth of events to talk about.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Tales of a Bygone Era, Part 4: 2012 - 2014

When we last left this series we had just started our foray into the dark plane of Innistrad. Now, before we get started with 2012, I would like to make a few notes of some things from the previous year. It was pointed out to me that Delver of Secrets did have some play as a strong deck for a while in Vintage upon the printing of Young Pyromancer in 2013, so that is worth keeping in mind. It's also worth noting one of the format's long running in-jokes in the fact that at some points throughout these years Slash Panther was a playable Vintage card, due in part because it could come down quickly and kill Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

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Definitely wild. Now, let's dive into 2012, shall we?

2012 - The Year of GRISELBRAND

The beginning of 2012 continued the train that was Innistrad block with the release of Dark Ascension in February. There were a great number of cards from this set that would actually go on to have a bit of a long term effect on Vintage as a format, primarily one of those cards being an artifact that would be a long term sideboard staple in Grafdigger's Cage.

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Not only did this card work against graveyard decks, but it also worked against Oath of Druids, which was quite relevant. In addition to that we saw cards such as Gravecrawler (playable in Hogaak decks) and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben (a key card now in Initiative decks in the current format). Long term this proved to be a great set for Vintage.

A few months later, Avacyn Restored was unleashed upon Magic, bringing with it several cards that would have longer term impacts for the format, albeit with very little short term effects it seems. The first of those was Oath all star... Griselbrand.

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The crown of Griselbrand as one of the primary go-to targets for Oath of Druids has been so incredibly long that it was literally 11 years later (this year in fact) when Atraxa, Grand Unifier was printed that we really saw Griselbrand put to rest as an Oath target. The card still floats in and out here or there, but the card was such a powerful card over its years that it took that long to finally get something better.

In addition to Griseldad, this set also was the first time we saw Cavern of Souls.

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It might have taken a hot minute for this one to cook, but this card won 2022 Vintage Champs last year in Rajah James' Mono-White Initiative deck, so it's safe to say that the long term impact of this card has been felt for sure. It sees home in a large variety of different decks but very notably in Mono White.

Also within the same month as Avacyn Restored we saw the printing of Planechase 2012, which was the first Planechase product to include new cards in the decks. Not much came from this set, however, it was the first introduction of the card Baleful Strix.

Moving forward a few more months we saw the release of Magic 2013, which included some pretty sweet cards in that not only did we get cards like Omniscience, but also another Merfolk lord in Master of the Pearl Trident.

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2012's Vintage Championship event again took place at GenCon in August of that year. There was a lot going on at this event with lots of Shops and Dredge decks abound, but it was Marc Lanigra's Grixis Control list that saw the light of the winning day.

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Definitely very indicative of the era it came from. Dark Confidant continued to be an incredibly powerful card of this era for sure.

This year saw a single unrestriction change to the BnR list, with Burning Wish becoming unrestricted in September.

The final Standard product of the year was the much celebrated Return to Ravnica, and it would introduce a card whose long term effects on Vintage would be felt even today. I'm talking of course about Deathrite Shaman.

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One of the more powerful one mana value creatures of all time, DRS continues to see play today in various shells, most notably shells containing other cards banned in Legacy such as Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Wrenn and Six.

2013 - A Bit of a Lackluster Year

The very first Standard set of 2013 continued the return to one of Magic's most popular planes with Gatecrash. While at the time, this set seemed rather lackluster for Vintage, it did contain two cards that would form a core backbone of a deck in today's format in the form of Balustrade Spy and Undercity Informer.

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Both of these cards came to eventually be known as the core of the "Oops! All Spells!" strategy that would find life due in part to strong cards like Thassa's Oracle and the MDFC lands from Zendikar Rising. This set also had the card Enter the Infinite which for a while was a fun and interesting thing to do with Omniscience.

The next set was truly lackluster indeed in Dragon's Maze. Not much really came out of this set overall for Vintage.

The only BnR change of the year was another unrestriction in May of 2013 with Regrowth coming off the list.

Magic 2014 came next in July, and the only major card of note here in this set was Young Pyromancer, a go-wide threat that incentivized playing the game as it stood. Young Pyromancer went very well with cards like Delver of Secrets, and I will admit even I used this card as a draw engine with Risen Reef during the year of Narset.

Eternal Weekend and Vintage Championships experienced a huge shift this year, with the event shifting into the fall and being held in Philadelphia by Card Titan. This was truly the beginning of the realm of Eternal Weekend as it would come to be known, continuing the traditions of having large paintings for the prizes, and just a general celebration of Eternal Magic.

This event would be incredibly interesting as it would be won by Joel Lim on none other than MERFOLK. Y'all remember Master of the Pearl Trident?!

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This deck did some incredibly powerful things. Main deck Null Rod and Cavern of Souls to keep the Merfolk coming, combined with lots of countermagic made for an incredibly potent and powerful strategy, and a well deserved win by Joel.

The final Standard product of the year was Theros, and again, this set was incredibly lackluster for Vintage gameplay. Not much really came out of this set leading into 2014.

I will note though, while Theros was the final Standard product, it wasn't the final Vintage legal set of the year. That honor goes to Commander 2013, which was infamous for one card...

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Yup. This card exists now.


2014 also kicked off with a very lackluster bit of product with Born of the Gods. This set was very widely panned overall, and it definitely didn't add much to Vintage. The same can be said of the third and final installment in Theros in Journey into Nyx, as even Eidolon of the Great Revel was not good enough to really crack into mainstream Vintage gameplay.

A month later after this though, a Vintage legal product would come about that would introduce the GREATEST THIEF IN THE MULTIVERSE! I'm talking of course about Conspiracy and Dack Fayden.

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Dack was an absolutely incredibly strong card in Vintage decks overall, his artifact stealing ability quite powerful. So much so that many creatures have seen play in these decks specifically because they have some effect that prevents them from being stolen by Dack (see things like Argentum Masticore and Stonecoil Serpent).

The Conspiracy set also added the first subset of cards to the Vintage banned list in a long time, as cards with the card type Conspiracy were preemptively banned due to the fact that they were strictly designed for Limited gameplay and drafting.

Out of Conspiracy would come another interesting product. Up until this time Vintage gameplay on Magic Online was largely nonexistent. There was a format called Classic but it was missing a large number of the cards that made Vintage what it was. That would change with the release of Vintage Masters. An online only set, VMA was the first booster draft product on MTGO to include actual copies of cards like the Power 9 as their own special rarity. VMA is largely responsible for adding so many of the card pool that Vintage was missing on MTGO, allowing the format to finally see play there.

The Core set of the year was Magic 2015 and it too didn't really have a lot to it for Vintage gameplay.

Again Vintage Championships was in the late part of the year, namely in August. This was an interesting event as it did show us the rise of cards like Delver of Secrets and Workshops decks, but it was Mark Tocco who won the 321 player event on Oath of Druids.

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Griselbrand proving that he is the King of Oath right here. Not only that, this list gives a little hint to some of the things we're seeing today. Show and Tell! That's right, we're seeing Oath decks with this card today even with Atraxa. Pretty cool stuff.

Now we come to the close of 2014 and after such a lackluster two years the final set of the year would not be that bad, right? RIGHT?!

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Oh. Right. Khans of Tarkir would come straight into the door with two of the format's most absurdly powerful spells of all time in the form of Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise. We'll be analyzing the effect of these cards in the next set of these article, but both of these cards are definitely now restricted and for good reason.

Join us next time as we continue to dive into the next set of years from 2015 - 2017, otherwise known as THE REIGN OF MENTOR.

4Seasons Spring Vintage Main Event 6/3/2022

Two weekends back was the 4Seasons Spring weekend in Bologna, Italy. These events tend to be very well attended for Eternal events. The Vintage event at this event series had 43 players in it overall. Out of the major metagame players there was a lot of Combo and Tinker decks (10 and 12 respectively) with a healthy number of Shops, Blue Control, and Initiative. Much thanks to Raffaele for providing all this information! You can find out much more about these events over at their Twitter.

The Top 8 lists can be found below. I will note that the Top 4 wasn't played out and sounded like it was split instead. You can find the decklists for this Top 8 here.

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Jeskai Lurrus 1st Raffaele Ramagli
Combo Shops 2nd Davinci Mtg
Jeskai Lurrus 3rd-4th Martin Benda
Combo Shops 3rd-4th Jonas Regenscheit
Esper Tinker 5th-8th Paolo Gaudini
Esper Tinker 5th-8th Riccardo Speranza
Grixis Tinker 5th-8th Jorgen Sorli
Paradoxical Outcome 5th-8th Justin Gennari

Vintage Challenge 6/10

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Saturday event. This event had 53 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamers Discord.

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

Lot of Oath decks here, and they did quite well overall. Initiative did less than fair, while Doomsday did the best. Grixis Tinker did quite poorly here as well.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Doomsday 1st discoverN
AggroVine 2nd GusGlas
Combo Shops 3rd Cherryxman
Doomsday 4th CrazyDiamond513
Doomsday 5th ecobaronen
GW Aggro 6th Wesal
Oath of Druids 7th Miharu_Fuyumiya
Oath of Druids 8th etoustar

Good amount of Doomsday here, so much so that it won the event in the hands of discoverN, the Doomsday master!

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Quite a powerful list here for sure. This is a great place to start if you're looking to pick up a Doomsday list.

In Second Place we have Aggro Vine.

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I really like the Cradle Vine variants of this archetype. They seem very lean and powerful. The Vengeful Pharaoh in the sideboard here is pretty doggone cool.

Further down the Top 8 we've got GW Aggro.

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Wesal does very well with this list for sure, it's something that they've clearly spent a lot of time working on.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have Miharu on Oath.

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Saga + Crop Rotation is kind of a neat game plan for this deck for sure.  Seems quite strong indeed.

Vintage Challenge 6/11

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 44 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamers Discord.

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

Initiative was quite popular here and it had a solid win rate, as did CounterVine. Oath had a less than fair win rate, despite having a strong top finish. Doomsday did poorly here as well.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Oath of Druids 1st noprops
CounterVine 2nd IamActuallyLvl1
Initiative 3rd Shade_Scorpion
Jeskai Breach 4th Threpio
Initiative 5th Oceansoul92
Initiative 6th J0se
Initiative Tinker 7th starslights
CounterVine 8th Elfkid

LOT of Initiative creatures in this Top 8. At the end of the event though in a very strong finish was Oath.

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These versions with Show and Tell as well look incredibly powerful. It's definitely a deck I'm looking forward to trying out at some point.

In Second Place we've got our good friend Justin Gennari on CounterVine.

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I actually just really love seeing a deck that plays Snapback of all things. Really speaks to the power level of free spells for sure.

As noted we had some Initiative show up, so let's look at the highest placing list.

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This deck continues to be a very fun and interesting option in Vintage as a format. It has its weekends but it doesn't seem to be completely overpowering the format at large.

Also in this Top 8 we had Jeskai Breach.

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Very solidly clean list here for sure. Grixis might have some tutors but Jeskai has some really powerful removal to make sure its game plan works out for it.

Around the Web

  • Justin Gennari has some great content for us this past week.
  • Andy Markiton has a great BUG Lurrus video. Check it out here.
  • Revenantkioku has a video on Doomsday vs Dredge. Check it out here.
  • Noprops has a video on their Challenge winning Oath list. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

You can find this past weeks 5-0 lists here.


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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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