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Vintage 101: Team Paradoxical is Storming Off Again!


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 all things Paradoxical Outcome. In addition, we'll as always be covering the Vintage Challenge from last weekend and of course, our Spice Corner.

Things are rather slow on the paper front obviously beause of everything going on, but on Magic Online there has been quite a bit of Vintage going on. Prelim events are firing more thanks to more players being on the platform. This means more Vintage lists and data to look at, which is awesome! If you're considering trying out the format, this is a great time to get into it.

Also, I got the chance to join Seth and Crim this week on the MTGGoldfish Podcast! I talk a bit about Legacy and Vintage with the guys. You can check that out over here.

Without further ado, let's get right into today's topic!

The PO Storm

One of the most "Vintage-y" of Vintage decks that's ever existed, PO Storm provides an experience that many players seek to try when they first try out Vintage. The ability to do broken things has always been one of the more popular things to do in the format, especially for players that don't get to play very much. Doing "Vintage" things is what PO tends to do.

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PO functions primarily by leveraging the power of fast artifact mana, one of the core tenets of the Vintage format. Paradoxical Outcome itself allows the deck to do some very powerful things with this artifact mana. The deck plays a ton of restricted cards that allow for some exceptionally powerful plays. This deck has evolved over time, continually adapting to the metagame via different color bases and win conditions, from Tendrils of Agony to even Managorger Hydra. This flexibility has allowed the deck to continue to exist within the metagame, as newer printings have impacted the deck's ability to completely dominate the metagame. Modern Horizons especially gave decks great ways to interact with PO in the form of cards like Collector Ouphe as well as Force of Negation. Overall, the format has adjusted to understand better how to play against and beat PO.

The current incarnations of the deck utilize Monastery Mentor as the primary way of winning the game, but really it is Bolas's Citadel that allows the deck to do some incredibly broken things.

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PO opening hands can be exceptionally subtle to gauge. Because of this I had the chance to sit down with one of the ambassadors of the archetype, Justin Gennari (IamActuallyLvl1), to talk about the sample hands and what kind of things to look for in evaluating plays with the deck. I'd like to thank Justin for providing his thoughts on these hands, as it really helped me piece together this portion of the writeup.

Justin's primary thoughts on evaluating an opening hand for PO hinges on three factors:

  • How well does this hand execute my unfair gameplan?
  • How well does this hand interact with other decks' gameplan?
  • Do I need to use the power of the London Mulligan to potential increase the power of my hand?

These are some important things to keep in mind when talking about PO opening hands.

ON THE PLAY - KEEP, ON THE DRAW - POTENTIAL KEEP

This hand actually has quite a bit going for it, namely two pieces of fast mana one of which is on color (Mox Sapphire). While it doesn't have a high powered threat, on the play this does allow you to get around things like Sphere effects or Lavinia by being able to play out your fast mana off the bat. Teferi and Time Walk represent pseudo cantrips for this kind of hand. Justin's comments on this hand mentioned that on the play it is best to play a fetch land and both Moxen and then pass the turn. This allows you to be immune to a Wasteland effect while allowing you to get a feel for what the opponent is doing before deciding whether to go on Teferi + Time Walk in the followup turn.

On the draw this hand is highly dependent on the opponent's sequencing and what they represent to you. If the opponent represents something like a Pyroblast effect, then playing out Teferi might not be worth going for.

ON THE PLAY/DRAW - KEEP

This is the quintessential PO hand to keep on the play. You are representing a Turn 1 Paradoxical Outcome provided no disruption and a solid backup plan in being able to use Sensei's Divining Top. Justin's comments on this hand mentioned that if you may expect something like Mindbreak Trap or Force of Negation you can play out some mana and then cast PO in the opponent's upkeep to hunt for opposing disruption.

On the draw, this is a hand that Justin mentioned that you still want to snap keep, but you have to accept that you may lose a percentage of games by doing so. The opponent might have a Turn 1 threat like Collector Ouphe which puts you in a poor position, or something similar to a reasonable Workshops opener like Sphere of Resistance, Trinisphere, or especially Chalice of the Void. Justin did mention however if you do get Sphere'd with this kind of hand, do not concede on the spot. Any amount of lands off the top will allow you to cast your artifact mana, and then be able to set up for an end step Hurkyl's Recall.

ON THE PLAY/DRAW - MULLIGAN

This hand is a bit of a trap. The best card in the entire hand here is Tinker, however on the play you're potentially casting Tinker with no countermagic backup and having used the land drop for turn (which means if you get stranded with a land on top of the library with Citadel you are possibly dead). Place this alongside one piece of artifact mana that doesn't leverage the PO in hand and two uncastable cards in Demonic Tutor and Night's Whisper. Furthermore, this hand exposes you to Wasteland too easily by virtue of both lands not being a fetchland.

On the draw, as Justin mentioned in his comments about it, there are plenty of cards that one could draw that would move this hand towards playable, but there are also just as many dead draws. With the London Mulligan it is pretty easy to ship this back and plan for something else instead.

ON THE PLAY/DRAW - KEEP

On the play and the draw this hand allows for some power plays by being able to use Gitaxian Probe to figure out what is going on upstairs. This can be followed up with using Mox Sapphire to cast Preordain to locate either a fetch land, a Force of Will, or more Moxen that would allow you to choose how to interact while knowing how the opponent may plan to interact with you. Justin's comments on this hand were that while the Yawgmoth's Will does feel a bit awkward here, having it in the back pocket as a late game haymaker against a blue deck can be exceptionally powerful.

Of course, needing to leverage artifact mana and resolving powerful spells is fairly important to this deck. Cutting the deck off from this can put PO on the back foot for a little bit, but the deck does have plenty of ways of answering opposing game plans. Primarily being a Force of Will deck alone allows the deck the ability to develop a game plan and protect its combo. PO is very powerful against decks that contain Mishra's Workshop, due to the presence of cards like Hurkyl's Recall and Repeal. This allows the deck to handle lock pieces, and then simply untap and win the game. Decks with Collector Ouphe can put a lot of pressure on PO, mainly because of the fact that it can ignore Hurkyl's Recall and also attack. Putting pressure on the life total makes it harder for PO to utilize cards like Citadel effectively. Forcing PO to play a fairer game can make it hard for PO to win the game. Another card that is very strong against PO is Narset, Parter of Veils, since it can make it difficult for PO to cantrip into an answer while completely shutting off Paradoxical Outcome the card outright.

This is a powerful deck, and has a great number of resources to learn to play it. One such resource is the YouTube channel belonging to our friend Justin Gennari. Justin has been a long time pilot of PO and has helped shape and develop the deck over time, and he has a great amount of content displaying the strengths and weaknesses of the deck well. I highly recommend it if you are seeking to learn and watch the common play patterns of this deck. In addition, players such as ThePowerNine (Justin Franks) are great players to look at for learning the deck as well.

Community Vintage Update

There's not a ton going on in the paper community right now with the situation we're all facing. However, there are still plenty of things going on with players organizing to play via web cam and also on Magic Online, so seek out these opportunities where they may be.

Vintage Challenge 3/28

We had yet another Vintage Challenge over the weekend, so let's take a look at how it all shook out.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Xerox 1st Shir Kahn
Oath of Druids 2nd Lenka
4C Walkers 3rd Jmd037
Oath of Druids 4th Keiesu
Golos Stax 5th KelMasterP
Jeskai Xerox 6th P4UM
PO Storm 7th ThePowerNine
Oracle Combo 8th Michelino

This was yet another interesting event in terms of composition of the Top 8. We've been seeing these events swing back and forth plenty of times over the past few months, and I think it's pretty intriguing. The top end of the metagame continues to be very much in flux.

At the end of the event however, it was our good friend Shir Kahn (Nico Bohny) who took down the event on Jeskai Xerox!

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This list speaks heavily to the fact that decks like Dredge, HollowVine, and the like are fairly underrepresented lately in these events. There are THREE The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale in the sideboard of this deck. It's crazy to consider and it makes one wonder how warping these decks could potentially be. We saw a lot of such over-correction during the Karn era last year where many players played BUG Midrange in order to combat Karn decks. It is interesting to consider.

Still, massive congratulations to Nico for winning this challenge!

In Second Place, we have Oath of Druids!

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This list is pretty solid and stock in regards to main deck construction. Niv-Mizzet and Griselbrand have both become primary Oath targets these days and have been for some time. This is still a pretty powerful archetype, and again we see at least one Tabernacle in the sideboard.

In Third Place we have a 4C Walkers list akin to the Tomas Mar style of lists.

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This list also seems pretty powerful as well, because of the general power level of cards like Wrenn and Six and Oko, Thief of Crowns. W6 plus Mystic Sanctuary is a very potent combination overall.

In Fourth Place, we have yet another Oath list, this one with a singleton Underworld Breach.

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This list also has two Tabernacles in the sideboard plus Soul-Guide Lantern, which is a really cool card to see pop up in the format from time to time since its printing.

In Fifth Place, we have KelMasterP, who has also been tearing it up in Legacy, on Golos Stax.

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I relatively enjoy these Stax lists as they seem really cool and really powerful. I especially love the triple Witchbane Orb in the sideboard of this. Very cool list.

In Sixth Place, we have yet another Jeskai Xerox deck, again with a copy of Underworld Breach!

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This list doesn't have any Tabernacles in the sideboard, but it does get the power punch of Breach as a Yawgmoth's Will card that allows the deck to do some truly broken things. Breach seems pretty good even just as a one-of in these decks for sure.

In Seventh Place, we have our good friend Justin Franks (ThePowerNine) on PO. We actually used Justin's list as our example list for this article, and it's very powerful. Justin is also a really solid PO pilot who has had plenty of results with the deck.

Rounding out the Top 8, we have a primary Esper based Thassa's Oracle combo deck.

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These Oracle combo lists are really super cool, and I've said before that they seem to be one of the best places for Thassa's Oracle.

Now let's take a look at the 2019 and 2020 cards seeing play in the Top 32 of this event.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Negation 30
Collector Ouphe 21
Narset, Parter of Veils 21
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 16
Force of Vigor 15
Oko, Thief of Crowns 15
Stonecoil Serpent 14
Mystic Sanctuary 12
Dreadhorde Arcanist 11
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 10
Veil of Summer 10
Wrenn and Six 9
Teferi, Time Raveler 7
God-Pharaoh's Statue 4
Once Upon a Time 4
Karn, the Great Creator 3
Mystic Forge 3
Sphinx of Foresight 2
Bolas's Citadel 1
Deafening Silence 1
Manifold Key 1

2019 Cards

Card Name Number of Copies
Soul-Guide Lantern 6
Thassa's Oracle 4
Underworld Breach 2
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 1

2020 Cards

I'm beginning to track the 2019 cards again because I feel they're still very relevant to the discussion of how these cards have impacted Vintage since last year, especially the cards from Modern Horizons and Throne of Eldraine, two of the most impactful sets of the year in regards to playable cards. Force of Negation and Force of Vigor especially have proven to be powerful long-standing additions to the format, along with Collector Ouphe. There was also a lot of Golos, Tireless Pilgrim in this event, as Golos Stax has proven to be very popular Workshops variants.

Furthermore, I think we don't really have anything here that is dominating the format. Even Underworld Breach has proven itself to just be fine in the format. This is a good thing, and I would rather test the waters further down the line with unrestricting cards than restricting anything.

The Spice Corner

MTGO User wappla hit us up with a bit of RUG Delver!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks again for continuing to support this content! Join us next week for our continued journey into the world of Vintage!

As always you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition, I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord Server.

Until next time, keep casting Moxen!


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