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Vintage 101: The Doomsday Device


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 an archetype in the format that hinges on the use of a really fun Magic card. I'm talking, of course, about Doomsday!

Just a reminder that next week's article is my end of year Q&A/AMA that I'm currently taking questions for over on Twitter!

In addition to talking about Doomsday this week we'll be discussing the Vintage Challenge from over the weekend and also talking about Wizards Banned and Restricted list a little bit in regards to this past week's recent announcement of doing away with scheduled BnR changes.

Without further ado, let's jump right into things!

Prep the Device! Pull the Lever! Not that Lever!

Without a doubt, Doomsday is a pretty cool card that does some very unique things. Let's take a look at the card to begin with.

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One of the biggest things of building around and playing a deck with Doomsday revolves around the concept of piles, i.e. a set of 5 cards that you can get that will inevitably win you the game either that turn or put you in a position to win in the next turn. Typically however, you are looking to want to win that turn. One of the most common ways of achieving this goal often had to do with resolving Tendrils of Agony for lethal by using cards like Ill-Gotten Gains and Lion's Eye Diamond to generate Storm count and mana. In addition another common setup is Shelldock Isle + Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and an untap effect like Cloud of Faeries. However, the Innistrad block would give the deck an ultimately intriguing method of winning the game, by drawing all of the cards in your library and decking out.

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Laboratory Maniac presented an interesting way of winning the game that could be done by cards like Street Wraith or Gush that could be fired off at instant speed, thus protecting the combo from things like removal. In addition, cards like Pact of Negation and Force of Will offered additional ways of protecting the combo from disruption. This has become one of the more popular ways of winning a game with Doomsday based decks and that still persists to this day. That being said, building piles on the fly is one of the most difficult things that you can do in Magic, and it is one of the things that separates those that can memorize piles of cards from those that are true Doomsday masters.

In Vintage, Doomsday based archetypes are spell combo-based decks that seek to set up a win condition and win off Doomsday but also can operate a little as a Storm/Xerox control deck. Before we take a look at a list however, we had the fortuitous opportunity to sit down with Desolutionist (aka Shawn Anthony) to talk about the deck as they've had some great success with it as of late.

Shawn, first off, thanks for joining us. Tell us a bit about yourself!

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. I moved to Hawaii in 2013. I moved to California in 2018.  I recently returned back to school.  I’m now a full-time computer science major. I’ve been playing Vintage competitively since 2005. I mostly enjoy playing rogue decks. I play in paper tournaments at Knight Ware in LA.

You’ve been posting some results with Vintage Doomsday after the restriction of Narset. What led you to this deck and how well do you think it’s positioned now?

I actually started to play with Doomsday this past summer during the Karn, the Great Creator meta. My logic then was that I wanted a deck that had Force of Wills for Karn but also could win fast and thus have game against Dredge. The fact that Karn wasn’t playing any Sphere effects made it seem like the perfect deck choice for my style of play. I realized though that the existence of Narset, Parter of Veils was too much of a threat to be playing a deck that was completely dependent on cantrips such as Preordain. I put it on the shelf for another time. Once Narset was restricted it seemed like a good time to try it again. I think it’s positioned well but not great. With Doomsday you really want to play against Dredge, Shops, Eldrazi, DPS, and other decks with low levels of interaction. It struggles more against decks like BUG and Xerox where they seem to always just have the perfect topdecks to outdraw you.

Can you guide us through some play patterns and of course, some pile-making tips for playing this deck? What are some of the more common paths to victory?

Doomsday is essentially a Xerox control deck. It plays very little mana sources, a lot of draw/cantrips and a lot of counterspells. You want to control the game first, clearing the way for the combo victory, which doesn’t require a lot of setup. The idea is to have two Underground Sea in play and you don’t really want more than that, although it’s not terrible to have three. Then you are just looking for a Dark Ritual, Doomsday, and a cantrip. In some scenarios, you don’t even necessarily need a cantrip. You can tap three Seas to cast Doomsday and pass the turn to just win on your next turn.


The standard pile looks like this:

[top of deck]
Ancestral Recall
Black Lotus
Laboratory Maniac
Gush
Yawgmoth’s Will

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You cycle Street Wraith to get Ancestral. Black Lotus, Lab Maniac.  Mill yourself with Gush. And there’s a Yawgmoth’s Will on the bottom just in case. Of course there’s a lot of different possibilities and combinations depending on the situation. The best way to explore them all is just by playing the deck. I also recommend Stephen Menendian’s Gush book for an in depth analysis of all the thought processes involved in creating the perfect Doomsday pile.

Are there any unique situations you’ve found yourself in with this deck where you had to do things a little bit differently?

Yes sometimes with just two Dark Ritual and a Demonic Tutor there’s enough to string together a lethal Tendrils without needing to go the Doomsday route. There are also interesting piles that can be made involving Time Walk or Lion’s Eye Diamond. If your opponent has a Lavinia, Azorius Renegade in play, you can create a Doomsday pile with Ancestral, Time Walk, Lab Man, and a pair of Street Wraiths and essentially ignore her effect completely. Or if your Black Lotus has been exiled due to an earlier value Yawgmoth’s Will or some Tormod’s Crypt effect, you can utilize Lion’s Eye Diamond in your pile by stacking it with a cantrip. Lethal Tendrils lines are also possible in a Doomsday pile depending on the situation.

What do you think are good matchups for this deck and what matchups are considered bad?

The best matchups for this deck are Dredge, Shops, DPS, Survival, and other decks that have low levels of interaction.

The bad matchups would be a deck like BUG or Planeswalker control that can control you from several aspects while also putting pressure on your life total. Without four Gush, Doomsday doesn’t have a lot of ways to win an attrition battle.

Do you have any final thoughts on the state of Vintage, the overall metagame, and where things are going into 2020?

I really like the format where it's at after the Narset restrictions. Sometimes it feels as though PO is too powerful, but I’m always reminded that there are a lot of cards like Collector Ouphe that can keep it in check. I can only hope that they don’t print anything too insane again this year.

Thanks for joining us! Please drop some social media links down below and let people know where to find you, and of course never forget that you are awesome!

I stream on twitch sometimes https://www.twitch.tv/shawnthehero

Now let's take a look at Shawn's list!

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Now, let's deconstruct this list into its base components!

Artifact Mana

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As is common out of these decks, we see the relevant restricted artifact mana. The major difference here is that this deck does not run the full set of Moxen and only runs the on-color ones. It is vital for this deck to have access to its specific colors, and having off-color Moxen doesn't help this deck win the game.

Draw Engines

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As part Xerox deck, this deck packs a lot of ways to draw cards, a number of which are even instant speed in order to interact with Laboratory Maniac to win the game. Necropotence, while not actually drawing cards, is an engine all on its own that gets card into hand.

Countermagic

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Since this deck is more of a Xerox control deck than a combo deck primarily, it does offer a lot of variations on countermagic in order to interact with the opponent as well as to protect the win conditions.

Tutor Effects

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As this deck needs ways of finding cards like Doomsday, Laboratory Maniac, and the like, it also runs a few restricted tutor effects to be able to find those cards when need be.

Permanent Interaction / Discard

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Being able to interact with the opponent on a permanent + spell basis is very important, as there are many permanents such as Lavinia, Azorius Renegade that can make life hard to deal with. Chain of Vapor is a strong way of dealing with these cards, in addition to occasionally being a way to generate additional storm count by bouncing Moxen to hand for recasting.

Ramp / Miscellaneous Utility

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 ​​​​​Dark Ritual is one of the most important cards in this deck since it alone can often pull off a win by being able to cast Doomsday. In addition Time Walk provides leverage in case multiple turns are needed to win.

Win Conditions

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These are all cards that can simply win the game, the primary of which is obviously going to be Doomsday itself. However, occasionally being able to build Storm count for a lethal Tendrils is an option as well, and Yawgmoth's Will is a win condition in its own right.

Vintage Challenge 12/14

We had yet another Vintage Challenge this past weekend, so let's take a look at how it all shook out!

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
PO Storm 1st IDraftTheBeatz (Ben Lukas)
BUG Midrange 2nd White Tsar
PO Storm 3rd ThePowerNine (Justin Franks)
BUG Midrange 4th Aylett
Dredge 5th Lord_Beerus
Jeskai Arcanist 6th Zyuryo
BUG Midrange 7th Exavie
Ravager Shops 8th _Ilnano_

This Top 8 is very interesting. A smattering of PO, but also a lot of BUG Midrange. It feels like the meta is attempting to overcorrect for the power level of PO, and the best deck suited to beating that is a deck that can play Leovold, restricted Narset, and also Collector Ouphe, which BUG can do. Whether this is a sign of what we saw during the Karn era is unknown, where the Metagame overcorrected to the point it was all BUG all the time to combat Karn. I don't think we're there just yet, and it's refreshing to also see things like Dredge, Jeskai Arcanist, and even Ravager Shops (a deck which actually just seems okay right now in a world with Ouphe and Force of Vigor) in this Top 8. As always our friend Matt Murray was able to provide some further data on the event over here.

In first place of this event we had IDraftTheBeatz (aka Ben Lukas) on PO!

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It's worth noting that Ben also went 6-0 in the Swiss portion of the event and then went on to win the event for a 9-0 record overall. Insane finish Ben! Congrats! This list is pretty much what we've come to expect from PO these days, splashing red in the sideboard for Pyroblast and Lightning Bolt.

In second place of the event was White Tsar on BUG Midrange!

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It's awesome seeing cards like Brazen Borrower having really worked its way into these lists. The card is really versatile and powerful, and I enjoy seeing it around. Congrats to White Tsar on their finish!

Also down in the Top 8 was a showing by Ravager Shops by _Ilnano_.

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This list is pretty common to how Shops is getting built these days. Traxos, Scourge of Kroog is a huge threat that comes down early, and Stonecoil Serpent is excessively powerful versus a lot of things. The nice thing about these lists is that they are a lot more versatile against decks playing Collector Ouphe since the creatures are more aggressive and don't really care about Ouphe as they can just swing over them. The tech of the sideboard Leyline of Sanctity is powerful against PO Storm decks given that they often are running Hurkyl's Recall which can be a blowout versus Shops.

Outside of the Top 8 down in the Top 32 we have our good friend Justin Gennari on a bUG Urza (little b for the emphasis that it's only for Demonic Tutor and Yawgmoth's Will) build!

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This list is pretty sweet and being able to cast Time Vault from the graveyard with Emry, Lurker of the Loch is pretty awesome.

As we like to do here, let's do our third to last look at the 2019 era cards in this event (as we have two more Challenges in 2019!).

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Vigor 48
Force of Negation 28
Collector Ouphe 21
Oko, Thief of Crowns 20
Narset, Parter of Veils 17
Stonecoil Serpent 12
Veil of Summer 9
Brazen Borrower 7
Dreadhorde Arcanist 7
Wrenn and Six 7
Bolas's Citadel 6
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 4
Mystic Forge 4
Mystic Sanctuary 4
Silent Clearing 4
Teferi, Time Raveler 4
Emry, Lurker of the Loch 3
Karn, the Great Creator 3
Urza, Lord High Artificer 3
Deafening Silence 1
God-Pharaoh's Statue 1
Manifold Key 1
Tamiyo, Collector of Tales 1

As the trend of 2019 era cards continues to show, Force of Vigor is likely the card that has shaped and transformed Vintage overall throughout this year since its printing in Modern Horizons, a set which also brought us Force of Negation and Collector Ouphe, both of which are also seeing a fair amount of play, but it's clear that Force of Vigor is the real deal. It will be interesting to see how next year shakes out with 2020 era printings.

Vintage Preliminary 12/13

We had our first posted results of a Vintage Preliminary event on Magic Online. This event is essentially like a PPTQ in that it gives you Qualifier Points for bigger events. The lone 5-0 of this event was ReneRandrup on RUG Planeswalkers!

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This list is great, and it's cool to see Dreadhorde Arcanist in a RUG shell. Congrats to ReneRandrup on taking down this event!

The rest of the Top 10 of this event looked like thus. You can see the full results of this event here.

Deck Name Record MTGO Username
RUG Planeswalkers 5-0 ReneRandrup
BUG Midrange 4-1 AlbertoSD
Oath of Druids 4-1 Miharu_Fuyumiya
PO Storm 4-1 Lampalot (Michael Bonde)
RUG Planeswalkers 4-1 Eheh_Dude
BUG Midrange 3-2 Ecobaronen (Andreas Petersen)
BUG Midrange 3-2 TheRock988
Dragon Oath 3-2 Keiesu
Dredge 3-2 JakeHelms
RUG Planeswalkers 3-2 DiscoverN

Banned and Restricted Philosophy and What it Means for Vintage

We had an interesting announcement this past week about the future of Banned/Restricted list announcements. This announcement can be read over here.

The biggest takeaway from this announcement is that Wizards of the Coast is doing away with scheduled BnR announcement dates. What this means is that Wizards can essentially make announcements on an ad-hoc basis and as needed. As far as how this type of announcement might effect Vintage, the answer is thankfully not very much. Vintage as a format doesn't have a huge amount of large competitive events and thus being able to make ad-hoc changes like this can be good for this format instead of sitting on things like Karn/Narset, etc.

The obvious worry here is that this means that we will certainly see more cards like these offenders in 2020. I don't doubt this to be the case. Wizards has been intentionally powering up the Standard format via printings, and 2019 was the first glimpse of that. I do expect this trend to further continue down the line.

That being said, I'm not sure how this new way of handling BnR will be good for Magic overall. I can see a real upside to being able to deal with problematic cards/strategies as needed and not having to deal with waiting to ban/restrict them, but on the other hand I see a real downside in making it harder on players to keep up with this information. At the very least with scheduled updates, things can be planned around accordingly. On an ad-hoc basis, there's an element of chaos. Whether this will be good for the long term of the game is unknown.

I will note also that this past week also saw the banning of Oko, Thief of Crowns and Nexus of Fate in Pioneer, stoking the discussion about Oko across all formats yet again. My thoughts on this card are that it seems currently appropriately fair for Vintage, and I doubt the card will ever see a restriction. I have my thoughts on this card in Modern/Legacy, but I currently believe the card is just fine for Vintage, given all the other broken stuff that is going on in the format.

The Spice Corner

Once Upon a Time... things got really really hatebear-like! Flow_true gives us a list of Hatebears and all things Thalia!

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In addition, Shawn Anthony (Desolutionist) also gave us a sweet, sweet decklist he said he won a local paper Vintage event with! It's a take on DPS/TPS with Dark ConfidantGreatness, at any cost!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week! Look forward to next week's article where we look back on 2019 and the Vintage format, and of course answer some of your questions! It's "The Holiday Buzz"!

As always you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! I am also always around the MTGGoldfish Discord if you'd like to chat! I'm also working on Episode Four of "The Bazaar of Moxology" so that is going to be super fun as well!

Until next time keep casting Moxen!



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