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Vintage 101: The Blade Reforged

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 diving into a relatively new addition to the Vintage format in the form of Laelia, the Blade Reforged and the impact that card has had thus far on the overall format. In addition to that we'll be talking about Commander cards in relation to how those cards get released to Magic Online and we also have two Challenges to talk about.

Let's get right to it, shall we?

Forging the Blade

Often when cards newer to the Vintage format come around it takes a bit to really grok how a card that could be playable can fit into Vintage. Unless the power level of the card is so incredibly high that it is obvious, sometimes newer cards take a minute to really figure out. As of late, we are seeing quite a few of the results of that with a card that is newer to the format in Laelia, the Blade Reforged.

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Originally released in Commander 2021 but finally added to MTGO in the past few months, this card took a minute but then soon found a home in Vintage. Some of the things that this card enables is very strong, as it functions well with many of the lower cost cards in the Vintage format while also being a beater that can quickly grow out of Lightning Bolt range and can't be hit with Pyroblast. Laelia synergizes with the blue shells in the format primarily off the back of being able to exile cheap cards like Moxen or Ancestral Recall which enables casting them during that turn much easier and pushes through that card as functionally a draw effect. A card that grows while drawing a card at the bare minimum every turn including the turn it comes down is nothing to sneeze at. The fact that this card also costs Lotus mana is also important because this can easily drop on Turn 1 and start attacking the opponent.

Laelia has sofar proven herself to be a strong contender for another variant of aggressive go-tall threats that the format has often utilized in the past at three mana value, for example cards like Managorger Hydra. What sets Laelia apart from cards like Hydra is the fact that she is capable of being played in decks that don't want access to green as a color, and the Haste aspect of the card is very important given that it can come down in a late game and hit an opponent for potentially lethal.

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Building around Laelia is interesting in general, but the card is strong enough it seems to warrant not even needing to really build around it to be good. It has shown up in decks like the UR  Tempo deck above, but also has shown up as a sticky threat for Underworld Breach decks (given that it gets a counter for every time you Escape cards with Breach) to win with where a majority of the time it meant splashing for white for Monastery Mentor to achieve a similar goal. Laelia also represents a solid card that can just make the opponent think they're on a typical Tempo strategy without the combo aspect to where even just a value Breach can push through the final bit of damage to the opponent.

The downsides of the card are that it does not play well with your countermagic suite, so exiling a Force of Will or Force of Negation can be awkward since you only get the single turn to cast it. The other downside is that it is Legendary and can be bounced before it exiles a card in the beginning of combat step. Legendary is also an interesting upside because forcing the opponent to remove it means your additional copies that might be stuck in hand become live and having haste allows it to swing in and potentially connect with another copy.

I think it's great when we see cards like this because it seems like it fits in and allows other color combinations outside of Jeskai colors to be good such as Grixis and straight UR variants. Expect to see more of Laelia in the future I'm sure, because the card is very good and can only get better the more versatile and cheap spells that get potentially introduced into the format.

Commander Cards and MTGO

Something that has been on my mind for a while now has been in relation to cards like Laelia, the Blade Reforged above. Commander 2021 was originally released alongside Strixhaven this past April, but many of the cards from that set were not immediately added to Magic Online (and even still there are some cards like Cursed Mirror that are still not present on the client). Only a few of the cards were added initially, and even Laelia sat out of the fun until they added her in for Vintage Cube.

It's a little frustrating to see that cards that are promoted specifically for Commander but also noted to be Eternal format legal not actually be "legal" in the sense of them not existing on the one place where a lot of Eternal Magic is played. A great recent example of this is Maddening Hex from the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander product.

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This seems like a genuinely interesting card that could be fun to try in Vintage/Legacy, but it just isn't currently available on Magic Online. I realize that there are programming tasks to be done to bring these cards into the client, and that is a need for programmers to be doing that work, but I do feel like it would make more sense longer term to bring more of these cards into Magic Online, because as we've seen with Laelia, the card was not legal yet to try but when it finally got put onto the client, people started trying it and found out it was a really strong card. It makes me wonder what other cards are possibly waiting in the wings from Commander product like this and that's why I definitely would want all of the new cards from each Commander release added.

Vintage Challenge 12/4

There were again two Challenge events this past weekend, the first of which was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 45 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 datasheet here.

This event had a decent spread of decks across the metagame in general, with a fair number of aggro-type decks. Aggro Shops had an exceedingly solid performance overall in the event, with the highest win rate of decks in the event. Aggro Shops also made up over half of the Shops variants with four pilots and two of those four pilots performed exceedingly well. Mono-White also had a really strong showing with the second-highest win rate across the event.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Aggro Shops 1st TeferiBokaer
Mono White 2nd grymn
Breach 3rd Michelino
Dredge 4th Vertyx_
UR Tempo/Breach 5th Billsive
Dredge 6th zajad
Breach 7th Condescend
Aggro Shops 8th medvedev

Definitely a strong Top 8, with some Shops/Dredge representation but also some Breach, Mono White, and Tempo variants. At the end of the event it was Aggro Shops that took it all down!

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This is a very lean and clean list, loading up on all the proper copies of all the important cards, but most especially new cards Urza's Saga and Nettlecyst providing a strong aspect to the deck. Definitely has been interesting seeing the evolution of the Shops variants since the release of MH2.

The Second Place finalist was on Mono White.

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Lurrus continuing to be a boon to these non-blue hatebear-esque strategies is honestly pretty cool and a super good place for this card to thrive in the format. It is great to see that not only is Lurrus still a fairly playable card but that it promotes deckbuilding outside of the norm of Restricted Blue Cards + Win Condition.

Further down the Top 8 we had a UR Tempo-esque Breach list.

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Utilizing both Saga and Breach with Laelia and Ragavan seems pretty good. Definitely a lot of power in this deck for sure.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a sweet showing by a Mono-White Painter/Stoneforge list.

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Really interesting deck for sure. Painter combo, but also having stuff like SFM + Kaldra Compleat is really intriguing. Looks like a lot of fun!

Vintage Challenge 12/5

The second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event, which had 42 players in it thanks to the Vintage Streamer's Discord data collection.

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

Again, a solid spread of decks here with no single deck really being heads and shoulders above the rest in terms of representation. The metagame seems great and things keep ebbing and flowing between the two-weekend events. Blue Tinker variants had a stronger showing in this event than the Saturday event, and Doomsday had a solid performance as well.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Blue Tinker 1st ecobaronen
4C Aggro 2nd NooxTom
Doomsday 3rd revenantkioku
Blue Tinker 4th trinity
Dredge 5th ApeOnUnicycle
Doomsday 6th musasabi
Rainbow Shops 7th Hampuse1
Blue Tinker 8th snoopy-magic

Quite a bit of Tinker in this Top 8, sprinkled with some Doomsday and Dredge. At the end of the event, it was indeed a Blue Tinker shell that won the event.

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Ragavan in these decks is certainly something, but the card has continually proven itself to be pretty strong in Vintage so I'm not super surprised. Definitely a lot of strong cards in this list.

The Second Place finalist was on 4C Aggro.

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Dark Confidant seeing some action is pretty cool. Even more interesting is only two copies of Deathrite Shaman, when usually you want to play four of those. Very interesting list and looks strong regardless.

Down at the bottom of the Top 8 we have Jegantha Shops.

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This list is pretty awesome. Balance! Seems like a super cool list.

Outside of the Top 8 and down the Top 32 we have the answer to the question "What if we put a Monkey and an Elemental into Mono White?"

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The answer is you get this pile above. Pretty wild.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

This deck is a Zias deck and it is cracked.

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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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