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Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Vintage 101: Tales of a Bygone Era, Part 7

Vintage 101: Tales of a Bygone Era, Part 7


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're finishing up our series on historical Vintage! We're in the home stretch now with it, bringing us up to date through 2022. I don't see a need to fully cover 2023 as it's still ongoing!

In addition to that we've got some Challenges to discuss and also will lightly touch on the notes in the Banned and Restricted announcement from this week.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Tales of a Bygone Era - Part 7: 2021 - 2022

Our last entry here focused primarily on the years up to 2020, and 2020 itself was an utterly tumultuous year due to the fact that we saw the first power level banning in the format in a long time in Lurrus of the Dream-Den. FIRE design definitely seemed to rule the world here going into 2021.

2021 - The Year a Cat Was Freed

The first Standard set of 2021 was Kaldheim, and the set actually just didn't have really anything for Vintage, despite the fact that players definitely messed around with Birgi, God of Storytelling in decks. Beyond that, not much actually came out of this set.

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However, that same month as Kaldheim's release, we received a very interesting Banned and Restricted announcement. Lurrus of the Dream-Den was freed! In a very surprising twist, Wizards opted to follow Vintage's mission statement of being a format where all cards could be playable and not banned for power level reasoning and allowed Lurrus off due to the change in the Companion mechanic. In the long run since then, Lurrus has become a stable part of the format and not the format warping nightmare it once was. It was a great change for sure.

Fast forward a few months and we came to Strixhaven. This set was interesting because it introduced one really innocuous card that it took people a while to figure out and that is Expressive Iteration.

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It took a while for Iteration to catch on in Vintage, while other formats like Pioneer and Explorer banned it and eventually Legacy did as well, Iteration didn't really hit right off the bat. Now it is not uncommon to see copies of it in decks, especially decks like Jeskai Control.

Not much really happened in the format for a bit this year until June of 2021, when Modern Horizons II dropped.

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These three cards don't even begin to cover the level of playability introduced into the Vintage format by Modern Horizons II. Nearly the entire evoke Elemental cycle has seen play in the format since then, in addition to cards like Archon of Cruelty and Serra's Emissary, not to mention things like Dress Down, Thought Monitor, Dauthi Voidwalker, and much much much more. If there was a set that had such a structural change to Vintage as a format, it was most certainly Modern Horizons II than any other set, even going back to the original Modern Horizons. With a confirmation that we're getting Modern Horizons III on the well... horizon, I can only wonder what structural shift that set will bring to the format.

The next few months of Standard level sets were actually fairly tame though for Vintage. Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and both Innistrad sets all proved to not have much at all for Vintage, but I will give a nod to Outland Liberator from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt being a card that has still seen a modicum of play in Vintage since its printing. Outside of that though, it was pretty lowkey throughout the year.

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Eternal Weekend this year was again held over Magic Online due to the continuing COVID-19 Pandemic and in person events being suspended. This meant there were multiple Eternal Weekend Online events, which you can read about in my article covering that event here.

2022: The Year of Mono White

2022's first Standard legal product of the year just so happened to be a really intriguing one in the form of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. Cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Touch the Spirit Realm, and Patchwork Automaton all made real splashes in the format over a long term, with Patchwork being just an exceptionally good Shops card.

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It's also worth noting that 2022 is a year without any Banned and Restricted updates in Vintage, and while it seemed like Urza's Saga was very powerful it has yet to prove itself worthy of restriction.

The second Standard legal set of the year came in the form of Streets of New Capenna, and it brought the cards Ledger Shredder and Unlicensed Hearse to the forefront of the format for a short time.

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Wildly enough these cards just ended up not being great enough to see further play into today, and have in fact been quickly eclipsed by other more powerful cards. Kind of wild how fast things moved in 2022 into this year for sure.

2022 also had a supplemental product release that year, in the form of Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate. This one is a bit of a weird duck, primarily because this set took so long to get most of its best cards onto Magic Online due to the transition from Wizards to Daybreak Games handling the MTGO client. I will note that this transition, while a bit rocky, has been a good thing overall for Vintage especially. CLB received very little attention because of this, but we'll discuss what happened out of this set when we talk about Eternal Weekend.

The next Standard product of the year was Dominaria United, and while not much of this set looked interesting, one card proved it had some gusto in the format in the form of Sheoldred, the Apocalypse.

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Sheoldred played quite well with Doomsday as a way to have a sideboard juke card that also punished drawing cards out of the opponent, and it definitely worked well at that. While we don't see it nearly as much now, it still shows up in decks occasionally.

In between this there were two supplemental product releases in the form of the Warhammer 40K Commander decks and Unfinity set release. At this time, none of these cards are on Magic Online, but cards like Poxwalkers were quickly identified as possibly being good in paper.

Conversely, The Brother's War also didn't have a ton of cards, but I will also note another Legendary card that came out of this set that sees play, and that's Loran of the Third Path.

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This card would prove to be good longer term, and that's primarily because of what happened at Eternal Weekend this year.

Before Eternal Weekend kicked off and right at the same time The Brother's War released on MTGO, we saw another influx of CLB cards added to MTGO, and primarily among those cards was White Plume Adventurer and Seasoned Dungeoneer.

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Turns out, these two cards would take Eternal Weekend by storm this year. Initiative as it happened ended up being a very powerful mechanic and the creatures sat on a Mono White Prison aggro shell that could delay the opponent's game plan while deploying these game-winning threats.

It just so happened that EW would finally returned to in person in Philadelphia hosted by Card Titan once more. You can read the coverage of this event here, but this event was notable as it was won by my good friend Rajah James on... you guessed it, the breakout deck of the year Mono White Initiative.

This event brought a real shift to Vintage overall, as there was now a realistic Prison aggro shell deck in the format that wasn't a Mishra's Workshop deck, and it played cards like Thalia and friends. A lot of folks definitely worried about this deck being as powerful as it was in Legacy (and thus requiring changes), but as we managed to see the format has really adjusted to this deck and learned to play with it.

Wrapping Up

And there we have it, our final home stretch of historical Vintage content! At some point it might be fun to dive even deeper into some of the older eras, but for now I'm putting the pen down on this one. I hope you enjoyed this entire series. It was fun to see where we came from and where we are going, and also to think about things in fun hindsight.

August 7 Banned and Restricted Announcement

We did have a Banned and Restricted announcement this past Monday, but no changes to Vintage. You can find the announcement here. Vintage was however, mentioned, and it was especially discussed in centralization to cards like The One Ring and Urza's Saga, and that for the most part it seems like players are happy with the format, and that the metagame presence of these decks appears to be fine especially in comparison to other archetypes.

I will note, that one interesting thing did happen this week, and that's that Mind's Desire was unbanned in Legacy, and I do have to wonder if this can be a litmus test to determining if Desire would be a safe unrestriction in Vintage at some point as well. I have a feeling it really would be just fine as Legacy sofar seems to be handling it well within the first week, but it's definitely curious.

As far as the the format itself is concerned, I do definitely agree with Wizards in this regards that the format is fun and has some interesting things you can be doing right now, and it's very cyclical.

Vintage Challenge 8/5

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Saturday event. Due to the issues with no data, we don't know how many players were in this event.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here. Due to MTGO difficulties there was no data for this event.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Dimir Ring Tinker 1st thepowernine
Dimir Ring Tinker 2nd Tw33ty
Breach 3rd thedeck84
BUG Midrange 4th Sprouts
Initiative 5th ecobaronen
CounterVine 6th HermonHero
Initiative 7th bless_von
Azorius Lurrus 8th tom_basketball

Lot of crazy stuff here for sure. At the end of the event it was a battle between two very similar Tinker variants.

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The One Ring and Lorien Revealed really putting in the work here. It's insane how good these cards really are and I'm not really surprised. We talked a lot about the Ring last week and I think it's definitely very good in this format for sure.

As noted, the Second Place list was very similar.

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The big difference here is no Sphinx of the Steel Wind but Portal to Phyrexia is such a sick card in these Tinker variants, especially versus the Mono White decks.

Also in this Top 8 we had BUG Midrange.

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It's nice to see just good old fashioned Tarmogoyf putting in honest work in the format, not going to lie. It's not what I generally sign up for in Vintage, but it's nice to see it still doing well.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Azorius Lurrus.

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Lurrus being able to loop Samwise the Stouthearted is kind of sweet, and then you get back your Wasteland and loop that over and over. Very cool.

Vintage Challenge 8/6

The second event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 40 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.

Initiative was the most played deck here, but not the best deck of the event. Initiative Tinker did very well here as did Oath and Combo Shops, with Blue Ring Tinker doing by far the worst out of the decks above the cutoff.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lutri PO 1st medvedev
Initiative 2nd J0se
Initiative Tinker 3rd TunnelGaan
Initiative 4th bernardocssa
Lurrus Vault Key 5th shir kahn
Esper Lurrus 6th _Batutinha_
Initiative 7th yPrincipe
Combo Shops 8th slaxx

Lot of Initiative in this event for sure. At the end of the event it was a split finals, with the official winner being Lutri PO?

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Oh yeah this deck is pretty wild and cool. So many ways for it to win and do well. Very sick.

The technical Second Place was Initiative.

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This deck continues to be a very powerful part of the format. I still think it's good but not insanely overpowering as it has its bad matchups like every other deck. The format cycles in and out quite a bit and it has its moments.

Also in the Top 8 we had Lurrus Vault Key.

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This deck always looks so insanely goofy. I love it. It definitely seems very powerful.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Combo Shops.

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Phyrexian Metamorph and The One Ring are absolutely besties, for sure. This deck just seems so very strong and having the Ring makes it much better I feel.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

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

Bant Samwise is so sick.

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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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