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Vintage 101: The Carnival Ride Never Ends


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 taking a look at Unfinity and what this set means for Vintage. There's a lot to unpack with this for sure. In addition we've got some Challenge data to talk about.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Sticker Shock!

A new un-set, named Unfinity, is upon us as spoilers have wound down for it this past week. The big reason we have to cover this for this column is due to the fact that this set is split between cards that would normally be silver-bordered (now Acorn) and cards that are fully Eternal legal, making them legal in Vintage, Legacy, etc. This set is highly polarizing because of this and definitely lends itself to a conversation about the legality of products for formats like Commander and how they impact other formats. Thankfully Vintage seems to absorb card designs like this better than most other formats, so I doubt much of this actually really breaks the format.

There's also quite a bit to unpack with some of the new mechanics for this set, so I'll be devoting specific sections to those mechanics. With that said, let's look at the few cards that could maybe see Vintage play.

Celebr-8000

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Just because I know someone will play this in a deck and call it Clown Shops (our second card here will further this joke for sure), this card is ultimately very reminiscent of something like Crystalline Giant but its effects only last until end of turn. Golos is probably the better five mana value artifact in Vintage, but guaranteed this will show up for a good joke.

Clown Car

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Scalable threats in Vintage are usually pretty reasonable enough. This one has the awkward downside of having to roll dice to get to its effect, so if you are making this very large that's a lot of dice. This does work very well with Arcbound Ravager though as the tokens it makes are Artifacts. In addition, the goofiness that could be had with Auriok Salvagers in a Bomberman combo list are absolutely absurd.

Attractions

Attractions are a unique mechanic in Unfinity that works much like how Contraptions worked in Unstable. In Constructed play, you have to build a minimum 10-card Attraction deck that is separate from the main deck, and that deck must have 10 uniquely named Attractions in it. These cards are indeed Eternal legal, and the way they work is that when an effect instructs you to Open an Attraction, you put the top card of the Attraction deck into play. It's just an Artifact on the battlefield at this point.

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At the beginning of your precombat main phase, you roll to see if you Visit an Attraction. If you roll one of the lit up numbers on the card, you Visit and perform the triggered ability found there. Each Attraction has a number of variants that have different lights lit up, so you can build your Attraction deck to maximize that. In general though, 1 on these is never lit, and 6 is always lit. If you have multiples in play and hit 6 you will Visit all of them.

Thankfully for Vintage there doesn't seem to actually be any good ways to make Attractions playable. Many of the enablers are very weak cards and aren't very good on their own. Couple that with the random nature of the mechanic and it's more than likely this one doesn't see play.

Stickers

Stickers are one of the most controversial and polarizing mechanics in this entire set. Attractions are amusing enough, but Stickers? Stickers get people into heated arguments it seems. Stickers are sort of a fancy way of doing something like "Perpetual" from Alchemy as a fancy ability counter that persists through public zones.

There are 48 sticker sheets in all, and each sticker sheet has the following characteristics:

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  • Three name stickers

  • Three art stickers

  • Two ability stickers (that always cost Tickets)

  • Two Power/Toughness stickers (that always cost Tickets)

Tickets are a resource granted by other cards, sort of like Energy was from Kaladesh. In order to place a sticker when instructed to, you must pay the cost in Tickets for the sticker. Name stickers and art stickers are always free.

The sticker mechanic is polarizing because of the lack of information on how the mechanic actually works, in my opinion. The stickers can only be placed on non-land permanents you own (never your opponent's cards so the fears of having an opponent put a sticker on a dual land are absolutely unfounded). Stickers only persist in public zones (Graveyard, Battlefield, Exile) but come off when the card moves to a Hidden zone (Hand, Library). The stickers themselves are sort of like a post-it note type sticker glue and are designed to go on and come off. However, Wizards has acknowledged several times that you don't actually have to use the stickers and can use slips of paper for these things instead.

The biggest aspect of this mechanic is how it works in Constructed gameplay. Much like Attractions, Sticker sheets in Constructed gameplay must have at least 10 individually different sheets. However, unlike Attractions, at the beginning of a game you randomly select three from the 10 (Wizards has also confirmed that if you're not using the actual sticker sheets, a tool would be made available to select a random three online). This randomness makes it very difficult to actually build around Stickers as a mechanic, not to mention the fact that many of the cards that actually enable Stickers themselves are fairly costly and ability stickers and P/T stickers cost tickets.

The biggest potential use of Stickers that could actually be seen in Vintage is with this card:

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Our good friend John Ryan Hamilton pointed out some aspects of this card in that there are a good number of Sticker Sheets with high enough vowel counts on them that even a random three out of ten can make this card playable. Specifically the major ones listed are:

  • Playable Delusionary Hydra
  • Unsanctioned Ancient Juggler
  • Unassuming Gelatinous Serpent
  • Eldrazi Guacamole Serpent
  • Misunderstood Trapeze Elf
  • Narrow-Minded Baloney Fireworks
  • Phyrexian Midway Bamboozle
  • Ancestral Hot Dog Minotaur
  • Unglued Pea-Braind Dinosaur
  • Trained Blessed Mind

This gives you at least one 6-vowel, two 5-vowels, six 4-vowels, and a three vowel to use with this card, meaning that a very high percentage of the time even with the randomness of picking Stickers that this could potentially be a playable card in a Goblins-esque deck that can power out Muxus or something similar.

Beyond this, most of the other Sticker enablers are not seemingly very good, but they are a mechanic that could be watched if something could interact with it in the future.

At the End of the Day

At the end of the day, this spoiler season could have actually gone a lot worse. The format could have just been broken open by a bunch of new cards, but Vintage also tends to absorb things like that better than most formats do.

We still don't fully know what this set will look like on MTGO, and how that will look. Granted, we also don't know this yet about the Warhammer 40,000 cards either and considering both sets come out on October 7th, that is something that we should hope to know soon.

Vintage Challenge 9/24

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Saturday event which had 57 players in it thanks to the efforts of the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

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

BUG was quite popular here which is a flip from past events. Hogaak was also popular as well. Breach performed the best overall but the spread of decks here is pretty solid for this size event.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Esper Tinker 1st Condescend
Lurrus Standstill 2nd duke12
Breach 3rd thedeck84
BUG Midrange 4th Thiim
Oath of Druids 5th parkss
BUG Midrange 6th simmsey
UR Murktide 7th mogged
Breach 8th LuisMJ

Definitely some interesting spread of decks here. At the end of the event it was Esper Tinker that took it all down.

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Pretty solid stock list of what Esper Tinker decks look like today. Definitely a very strong list overall as well.

The Second Place finalist was on Lurrus Standstill.

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The very amusing sideboard tech here is Ipnu Rivulet which can mill your Doomsday opponent out so they may draw from an empty library. Using it in response to their Ancestral Recall is pretty gross.

Further into the Top 8 is the highest placing BUG Midrange list.

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Not a huge changeup from past BUG lists, so it's cool to see the deck still pushing its never ending army of Goyfs and Collector Ouphe on the format. Four Ouphes MD seems like a lot, but it really isn't.

Near the bottom of the Top 8 we had UR Murktide.

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The game plan of this deck is pretty solidly clear. Keep paving through with Ragavan and set up Murktides. Very strong stuff for sure.

Vintage Challenge 9/25

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 49 players 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.

Pretty even spread of decks all over the event here. Lurrus DRS variants did very well, as did new Jeskai decks and Dredge.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Dredge 1st dgreen16
Lurrus Standstill 2nd jaredallsop619
Oops! All Spells 3rd medvedev
UR Murktide 4th mogged
Prison Shops 5th Musasabi
Breach 6th handsomePPz
Combo Shops 7th Cherryxman
Jeskai Lurrus 8th NooxTom

Very interesting spread of decks here, with representation across Bazaar, Shops, Combo, and Control. At the end of the event, the winner was Dredge!

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Bridges coming back into the mix here is very interesting, as well as seeing cards like Cabal Therapy again. Maybe these versions aren't as dead as many believed? Seems pretty good.

The Second Place finalist was also on the Lurrus Standstill deck.

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This deck is really honestly wild. It's pretty cool to see it around and that it does very well in these events for sure.

Further into the Top 8 we had a showing by Prison Shops.

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Two copies of Karn's Sylex here in this list. I wonder how good it was for this deck. Definitely very curious.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have some Combo Shops.

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Coveted Jewel is such a cool card, not going to lie. Also, The Antiquities War?! Very cool.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

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

Mono Red Stompy is GROOVY.

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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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