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Vintage 101: The Depths of Despair

Howdy folks! It's Joe Dyer and we're here yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! This week we're going to be taking a look at the play strategy and deck construction of a newer deck that's been making the rounds of the Vintage Challenges on Magic Online. It's a deck that seeks to delay its opponent and quickly deploy a 20/20 flying indestructible creature. We are of course talking about Turbo Depths!

In addition to looking at this deck, we'll also be discussing the challenge results from this past weekend and the beginning of the playoffs of Vintage Super League!

So, without further ado, let's jump right into the thick of things!

Deep Into the Depths

Turbo Depths, as its name implies, is a deck that generally hinges on developing a combo kill utilizing the card Dark Depths. There are a few ways that this combo can be achieved.

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  1. Copy Dark Depths using Thespian's Stage. This action turns the Stage into a copy of Dark Depths, at which point the game prompts you choose which of the two Legendary lands to keep. Choose to keep the newly copied "Stage/Depths" and the trigger for creating Marit Lage will go on the stack. The trigger will resolve, and you will sacrifice the "Stage/Depths" in order to get your 20/20.
  2. Target Dark Depths with the ability from Vampire Hexmage. This can be done as early as Turn 1 potentially with a Black Lotus and Depths as the land for the turn. In addition, controlling Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth can make Dark Depths tap for the required mana to cast Vampire Hexmage.

Since this is relatively close to how the Legacy version of the deck functions, let's take a look at the list and talk about the key differences in Vintage.

Let's deconstruct this list into its key components, as we are want to do, shall we?


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Since this deck is primarily Golgari colors, the primary forms of additional mana acceleration are the on color Moxen and mana generation/win condition one mana Planeswalker Deathrite Shaman. This acceleration means a world of difference in being able to create a 20/20 as quickly as possible.

Combo Pieces

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These are the primary cards necessary for the kill. In addition to the typical stuff like Crop Rotation and how the Legacy version functions, the Vintage version also gets access to restricted all-star Fastbond. Resolving Fastbond might as well be lights out since it practically ensures that the deck is able to assemble a combo quickly.

Disruption / Discard

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Because this game plan hinges on a lot of cards that generally tend to lose to Mental Misstep (having your Crop Rotation misstepped feels awful) having a mound of discard in the form of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek is very important to the game plan. Of course, we're also running our own Missteps, in addition to powerful cards like Null Rod and the "Most Obscurely Confusing Card Ever That Needs a Gatherer Ruling to Actually Explain the Card" in Chains of Mephistopheles. In addition, Strip Mine and Wasteland effectively deal with troubling lands while fueling Deathrite Shaman.

Card Selection / Advantage

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In order to supplement its game plan and find the pieces it needs, the Vintage version of this deck gets access to insanely powerful restricted cards like Imperial Seal, Demonic Tutor, and Vampric Tutor. In addition to the overall low cost of the pieces in the deck, Dark Confidant is an excessively overpowered card advantage engine that also gets to attack. And finally, Life from the Loam allows you to muscle through Wasteland / Strip Mine effects.

The Sideboard of Despair

Now let's take a look at how the sideboard of this deck is constructed.

Graveyard Hate

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Having access to Crop Rotation is a huge boon to this deck since it can run an additional copy of Bojuka Bog in the sideboard to beat the graveyard decks of the format. Tormod's Crypt is also a powerful additional option to force the graveyard opponent to slow down and play around it, which often works in your favor.

Permanent Based Hate

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Most of these cards center around destroying different types of permanents, from Oxidize being able to clean up larger artifacts to Abrupt Decay being able to flexibly deal with most nonland permanents that matter. In addition Infernal Reckoning is a house of a card versus Shops and versus any deck trying to play Tinker into Blightsteel Colossus.

Additional Disruption

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This deck also contains some additional disruption with some discard and blue deck hate, as well as a singleton copy of Karakas which helps deal with cards like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade or Leovold, Emissary of Trest. In addition, if you ever find yourself in the mirror, fetching up Karakas with Crop Rotation is key.

All in all, this deck is really sweet and I look forward to seeing it evolve to a solid Tier 2 option in the format. It has its ups and downs but it is a ton of fun to play.

Banned and Restricted List 3/11

So, as most of you fine folks are aware, the Banned and Restricted list for March 11 brought with it what was to be expected. No changes. Of course, this stirred up some more discussion on Twitter over what should be restricted in Vintage again, with suggestions again on very wide sweeping changes to the format. It's very interesting to consider these kinds of changes and what it would do to the format but I think that right now, Wizards of the Coast is not very interested in making them. It seems that currently, Wizards is content to try to allow the format a chance to self-correct and breathe a little.

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As I've mentioned before with this series, I think right now things are in a strangely safe and balanced place within the format, and for the most part we've had some interesting innovation in the format to try to challenge things a little. Decks like the Turbo Depths deck are a great example of that. Right now I don't think is the time to be making changes to the format. Especially with Vintage Super League continuing. I am curious as to how US Eternal Weekend looks this year. If the diversity continues, can the games really be that bad? I'm not sure, but I will be keeping my eyes on the format throughout the year.

Vintage Challenge 3/9

The Vintage Challenge this past weekend was very intriguing, mostly because there was a distinct lack of the Dredge archetype in the entire Top 32 (only 1 Dredge list at 4-2). In fact, it was even more interesting that there was only two Paradoxical Outcome Storm decks in the entire Top 32. Let's take a look at the Top 8 breakdown.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UR Xerox 1st Rooney56
Jeskai Mentor 2nd Ravidel85
Ravager Shops 3rd Aylett
UR Xerox 4th Broers
Oath of Druids 5th TKC55
UR Xerox 6th DiscoverN
Ravager Shops 7th Ecobaronen
Ravager Shops 8th GodofSlaughter

Whew. That is a lot of Xerox and Shops decks. 4 Xerox builds and 3 Shops made up the large brunt of the Top 8, with one lone Oath of Druids based deck taking 5th place overall. Since this is so interesting, let's take a look at that Oath list, shall we?

This list is pretty intriguing during a time when Inferno Titan is one of the better Oath targets, in addition to cards like Niv-Mizzet, Parun. This list eschews that for the only Oath target being just Griselbrand. This allows the rest of the deck to be drawn into assembling the combination of Time Vault + Voltaic Key so that you can kill your opponent. Very interesting to see this kind of list return and do well in something like a Challenge.

In addition to the normal fare, it's great to see the Thiim-inspired Colorless Eldrazi running around as well.


That's right folks! It's time yet again for another edition of VSL! We are in the quarterfinals and things are about to get serious! Let's take a look at who's up this week, competitor-wise!

  • Cyrus Corman-Gill (THAT STORMY BOI!)
  • Andy Probasco (THAT BRASSY BOI!)
  • Andy Markiton (THAT CANADIAN BOI!)
  • Andreas Petersen (THAT PERPETUALLY TIRED BOI!)

This is a stacked list of competitors. Let's see what they brought out to play!

These are some sweet lists, and pretty indicative of what we most expected some of these competitors to bring to the table this week. I'm honestly most excited to see the Jund list because I've had so much fun with it.

Round 1 of the playoffs is Cyrus Corman-Gill vs Andy Markiton! Andy is out of the gate on the play in Game 1 with a Turn 1 Lodestone Golem and a followup Turn 2 with Phyrexian Metamorph and a Sphere of Resistance to put the damage on to end the game. Game 2 is a delicate dance as Andy is able to explode out of the gate with several Phyrexian Revoker followed by a Wasteland and Strip Mine to put the game away.

Round 2 is Andreas Petersen vs Andy Probasco! Game 1 is back and forth but Andreas is able to topdeck an Ancestral Recall to pull ahead of the game. A resolved Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Dack Fayden into Leovold, Emissary of Trest seals the game. Game 2 is wildly back and forth with Andy able to push out a Tarmogoyf but Andreas' Dark Confidant is able to outdraw Andy and keep the beats down.

Round 3 is the top end of the playoffs with Andreas Petersen vs Andy Markiton! Andy is right out of the gate Game 1 with a Turn 1 Sphere of Resistance and is able to make three Spheres over the course of the game to take Game 1. Game 2 shows Andy sticking some power with Andreas being able to get an Energy Flux to handle Andy's artifact toys. Things go more back and forth while each player tries to topdeck something powerful. Eventually Andreas sticks a Jace, the Mind Sculptor to ride to the finish. Game 3 shows Andreas sticking a Turn 1 Energy Flux while Andy utilizes Ravager to make his Foundry Inspector powerful. However, Andreas is able to cast Demonic Tutor to get Strip Mine to cut off Andy from his permanents. A resolved Jace, the Mind Sculptor with triple Deathrite Shaman seals the deal. Andreas moves into the top spot of the bracket.

Round 4 is the bottom end with Cyrus Corman-Gill vs Andy Probasco! Game 1 sees Cyrus making a Turn 1 Timetwister on the draw that gives him a Turn 1 Paradoxical Outcome, but Andy is quick to Pyroblast it and follow it up with a Null Rod to apply disruption. Andy puts on the pressure with a Dark Confidant to put Cyrus to 3 life before Cyrus bounces the Null Rod with Repeal. Cyrus survives a Mana Crypt flip the following turn to go into Yawgmoth's Will to win with Tendrils of Agony. Game 2 shows Andy resolving an early Tarmogoyf to beat down with in addition to resolving a Cindervines. Cyrus resolves a Timetwister to try to find some action which rolls Andy into a second Cindervines that seals Game 2. Game 3 shows Cyrus playing the Repeal trick to generate enough Storm count to Mind's Desire for 6 spells. Cyrus' exiles from Desire are insane with Dig Through Time and several cantrips and floats a Force of Will on top with Sensei's Divining Top to blow out a Null Rod play. Paradoxical Outcome comes to play and Cyrus takes down the match.

Round 5 is Andy Markiton vs Cyrus Corman-Gill. Game 1 shows Cyrus making an early Monastery Mentor plus tokens to make a powerful amount of attackers with zero lands. Game 2 shows Andy attempting to resolve a Sphere of Resistance which runs into a Force of Will. Cyrus makes his land drops and a Monastery Mentor into Demonic Tutor which gets Repeal. He goes to 4 life from a swing from Andy and wins his coin flip to draw into Ancestral Recall. Andy takes his turn and runs into Hurkyl's Recall while Cyrus has a monster load of Mentor tokens to take the game.

Round 6 is the semfinals deciding match between Cyrus Corman-Gill and Andreas Petersen! Game 1 has Cyrus on a Turn 1 Demonic Tutor to get Monastery Mentor. Andreas has his own Demonic Tutor which gets Force of Willed. Cyrus tries for the Mentor and it gets countered. Andreas tries for Leovold, Emissary of Trest while Cyrus Brainstorm's to hit a Force of Will. Cyrus opts to pitch Mind's Desire to Force of Will to get the Leo off the stack. The players go back and forth while Andreas sticks a Deathrite Shaman followed by a second Deathrite Shaman. Andreas also resolves a Dack Fayden while Cyrus draws endless artifact mana. Andreas steals a Mox Jet with Dack Fayden and then follows up with a second Dack to steal the Mox Ruby in play. Cyrus goes for the Paradoxical Outcome and Andreas hard casts Force of Will to seal Game 1. Game 2 shows Cyrus getting Ancestral Recall off Merchant Scroll while Andreas goes into Turn 1 Lavinia, Azorius Renegade into Deathrite Shaman and Dark Confidant. Cyrus follows up with Demonic Tutor for Karakas to handle the Lavinia. Andreas resolves another Dark Confidant and both players go hellbent to fight over a Monastery Mentor. Andreas takes 7 off the Confidant Triggers and trades one for a Monk token. Andreas goes for Jace, the Mind Sculptor while Cyrus goes digging but Jace manages to resolve. Cyrus untaps and casts Dig Through Time, finds a Paradoxical Outcome, and wins. Game 3 has Andreas making a Turn 2 Lavinia, Azorius Renegade and Cyrus tries to make a Monastery Mentor which gets Force of Will'ed. Andreas sticks a Leovold, Emissary of Trest in addition to the Lavinia to present a fair clock of 5 damage per turn to take the match!

Andreas Petersen moves ON to the semifinals joining Rich Shay, Randy Buehler, and Rachel Agnes!!!!

The Spice Corner

Our spice this week comes from the veritable Brian Kelly with a Jeskai Standtill list playing Spell Queller!

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! It's been an interesting couple of months this year so far, and we're only just getting started! Next week we're going to be taking a look at the colorless Eldrazi deck that's also been making the rounds in Challenges and Leagues! Let's dish up a favorite helping of Mom's Spaghetti!

As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter and Discord! I'm steadily working on getting this video for my YouTube Series done, since my voice is feeling a bit better to do some recording, however, I do have a lot of testing to do for an upcoming SCG Team Constructed Open in Cincinnati at the end of March! I'm in the Legacy seat for this one, so if you're in the area and want to say hi, just look me up on Twitter and I'll let you know where I'm at! I'll also have on hand some custom tokens I developed myself to give away as promotional pieces, so stop by and say hello!

Until next time folks, may all your Magic be GLORIOUS VINTAGE!

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