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Vintage 101: The Art of the Ravager

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for the first edition of Vintage 101 in 2022! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be talking about the recent uptick of Aggro-based Workshops variants in the format with an eye on what has been pushing these lists back into the limelight. Furthermore, we've also got some Challenge data to talk about from this past weekend as well as a Spice Corner!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Ravager Gonna Ravager

The last time we actively focused on Workshops as a deck was in the middle of the dominance of Urza's Saga and how Golos Stax had effectively thrown off the balance of having several Shops variants exist within the format. Thankfully that has continued to not be the case as seemingly out of nowhere Aggro Shops has risen back to the forefront of Shops variants next to the Golos decks and has in some cases surpassed that variant as the predominant variant of Shops again.

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One of the biggest and primary reasons we've seen Aggro Shops do what it does best is mainly because of the power of the card Nettlecyst. Nettlecyst is basically a Cranial Plating effect that comes with a free creature stapled to it. In a format like Vintage where there are a lot of artifacts to go around this makes a single Nettlecyst a real threat. The other side of this is the continued integration of Urza's Saga as one of the more powerful printings of the modern era for Vintage. 

Let's take a look at a list.

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Much of the primary core game plan of Aggro Shops has not changed in a long time. The deck is functionally a Delver / Tempo shell in the Vintage format as it is defined often by playing out permission pieces followed by threats that are protected by the permission in order to slow the opponent down enough to seal away a win. The threats for this are just far better now though than the days of cards like Mishra's Factory, as Urza's Saga gives these decks such a supercharged shot in the arm with the Construct token ability.

Nettlecyst also interacts favorably with creatures that often don't seem like they would see play in Vintage at all. Take for example this little guy:

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At first glance most would wonder what a Throne of Eldraine common is doing in this deck, but the importance here is that it synergizes well with Nettlecyst by creating an unblockable large threat that can push through a lot of damage or in some cases lethal damage. Furthermore we still even see at least one copy of cards like Fleetwheel Cruiser (a fair mainstay of the deck off and on) because of how much utility it has in games versus decks like Doomsday where it is hard for the Doomsday player to pass the turn after making a pile because they may just get crushed by a hasty Cruiser booted up with Nettlecyst.

Furthermore, it helps that Aggro Shops is a fairly straightforward deck to get into for players newer to the Vintage format, while also being a reasonable price on Magic Online to build into. Much of the difficulty of this deck lies in mulligan decisions and evaluating your opening hand and plays, and that is something that can learned well by playing the deck on a continual basis. These decks do have their on and off periods like most decks of this nature can often do, but this is a mainstay pillar of the Vintage format and thus will generally always be at least a viable deck to play.

Vintage Challenge 1/1

We had two Challenge events this past weekend, the first of which was the mid afternoon Saturday event, which had 73 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.

Aggro Shops (the subject of our article, look at that) took top spot of popularity in this event with a solid overall win rate, while Doomsday and Tinker shells followed up. Doomsday didn't quite have a great win rate in this particular event, but as we've often pointed out, it's not a deck you can keep down for long. This is definitely a solid and healthy metagame and looks like a lot of fun. There's a lot of different things you can be doing in this current format and nothing seems incredibly overpowering.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Hollow Vine 1st Dark_Rit_DD
Paradoxical Outcome 2nd Fnoop
Aggro Shops 3rd Slasher21
Hollow Vine 4th Montolio
Paradoxical Outcome 5th Cioffo86
PO Oath 6th IamActuallyLvl1
Paradoxical Outcome 7th Diem4x
RUG Midrange 8th Oderus Urungus

Lot of similarity in this Top 8 with a fair amount of PO decks and Bazaar. There's some Shops representation and some control/midrange going on too. At the end of the event however it was Hollow Vine that took it all down.

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There's a lot of strong things going on in this deck. Being able to access a lot of the free spells in the format with the draw engine of Bazaar and 8 copies of Squee effects is incredibly powerful all around.

The Second Place finalist was on PO.

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I kept looking for something sweet because usually Fnoop plays some wild PO lists, but this is fairly typical of the current archetype at the moment. I do very much like Urza though and think it works pretty well in the PO shell. Definitely a strong list though.

In the same vein slightly of PO we also have Justin Gennari down at Sixth Place on PO Oath.

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Hullbreaker Horror seems like a sweet Oath target, especially with all the PO aspects this deck has as well. You can really see the cool synergy those cards can have together by being able to bounce and replay Moxen with it.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have RUG Midrange.

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You can definitely tell how much this pilot was gunning for the Shops decks in this list with two main deck Energy Flux. Seems pretty reasonable if you expect Shops to be over popular. Seeing lists back up to three copies of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is wild too.

Vintage Challenge 1/2

Our second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event which had 43 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.

Both Aggro Shops and Blue Tinker variants were at the top of popularity here with positive win rates. Doomsday had only one plahyer on it so it didn't quite make the charts. Definitely still a well spread out event in terms of metagame.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
"BUG" Midrange 1st TeamLeaderNA
4C Midrange 2nd NooxTom
Paradoxical Outcome 3rd Promidnightz
Aggro Shops 4th MissTrigger
Humans 5th ferrarix
Paradoxical Outcome 6th Diem4x
Aggro Shops 7th medvedev
Aggro Shops 8th Slasher21

Good amount of Shops and PO in the Top 8 here, but we've also got some Midrange decks and even Humans! At the end of the event though it was a sweet "BUG" Midrange deck that won the event. I say "BUG" because well... you'll see.

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This is predominantly more of a Mono Green Stompy list splashing into blue and black for specific cards (Leovold, Oko, restricted Power). Allosaurus Shepherd breaking into a Vintage deck like this is pretty sweet though. Looks like a really fun deck overall.

The Second Place finalist was on 4C Midrange.

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Another DRS deck, this one is leaning more on DRS, Ragavan, Confidant and the Planeswalkers that support the cards. Seems like a really strong strategy and DRS + Ragavan definitely seems pretty scary on the mana ramp side of things.

Down to Fifth Place we've got Humans!

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Two main deck Leyline of the Void is pretty interesting, definitely wanting to hinge on being able to dome Bazaar graveyard decks on occasion. Augur of Autumn is a sweet inclusion to this deck. Makes me really want to come up with some sort of Augur/Fastbond pile.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we've got a PO list without Sagas.

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Dress Down is such a sweet card that definitely deserves to see far more play. It provides some really interesting gameplay options and is really well positioned against Urza's Saga.

Around the Web

  • We got a Mengucci video with Vintage Oath of Druids! Check it out here.
  • Bryant Cook's final deck showcase video on Dress Down PO is also live. Check that out here.
  • Justin Gennari is continuing the content train with PO Oath. Check it out here.
  • Revenantkioku posted some Doomsday videos on the Challenges this weekend. Check them out below:

The Spice Corner

We got a spicy one this week to kick off the year with UBA STAXX.

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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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