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Vintage 101: The Eternal Struggle

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're diving into the results of the Vintage Showcase Challenge from over the weekend. In addition to that, we've got one other Challenge from the weekend and a Mythic Society event. Other than that there isn't a ton going on in the Vintage format right now, but I do want to talk a bit about the overall metagame this week as well. Oh and of course, we've got a Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in.

Vintage Showcase Challenge 7/17

This past weekend was the first Vintage Showcase event since the release of Modern Horizons 2, so it was bound to be pretty interesting in how this metagame would shake out. For those unaware, the Showcase Challenge is a premier play level event that costs Qualification Points (QPs) to enter. QPs are earned via doing well in Leagues, Prelim events, and regular Challenges. The Showcase Challenge event costs 40 QPs to enter and is a feeder event into the Showcase Qualifier Championship level event at the end of the season. All players who make Top 8 of the event make it to that Qualifier which then feeds into a Championship level event on Magic Arena.

Thanks to the efforts of the Vintage Streamers Discord we know this event had 151 players in it! You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here.

Neck and neck in this event was the overpowering sheer presence of both BUG Midrange and Golos Stax variant decks. Doomsday trailed behind in Third place at eight deck less than the Golos decks. All in all however, this definitely seemed like a fairly interesting event. Plenty of boosts from the UB Tinker variants here (both with or without Sedgemoor Witch) and a decent spread of fair and unfair decks across the top.

Let's take a look at the Top 8 of this event!

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Midrange 1st Kihara_Works
Doomsday 2nd roter_Erzengel
Grixis Tinker 3rd thepowernine
Doomsday 4th SingPanMan
Oath of Druids 5th Miharu_Fuyumiya
BUG Midrange 6th Beenew
Dredge 7th Elfkid
Blue Shops 8th juan89888

This Top 8 has a lot of interesting stuff in it, but also has 4/8 slots taken up by both BUG and Doomsday. Other than that, some neat stuff going on with Oath, Tinker, and even a sweet Shops list. At the end of the day however, it was Kihara_Works that took down the event on BUG Midrange.

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We are slowly starting to really see how Endurance is becoming part of the established BUG Midrange shell over time here, and it's not hard to see why. The card is definitely strong, and has a lot of gameplay versus many different decks. To this point we're even seeing it main deck in 3/1 splits with the sideboard. We're also seeing the 2/2 split of Force of Vigor as well. I think that as long as both these green pitch spells are in the format, we'll definitely continue to see them see play.

The Second Place finalist of the event was on Doomsday.

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This shell continues to perform at a very high level, having an exceptionally strong game against most of the format. As we'll discuss in our Metagame update, we have to wonder if there is merit in doing anything about the Doomsday shell itself, as it is exceptionally strong.

Moving down to Third Place, we've got Grixis Tinker.

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This deck is really sweet. Utilizing Urza with Hullbreacher and the wheel effects while having the Tinker -> Citadel line is really strong. Plus, this looks like a ton of fun to play. Incredibly neat list.

Down at Fifth, we've got Miharu_Fuyumiya on their chosen deck, Oath of Druids, with some new spice.

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Archon of Cruelty is certainly interesting. I have to expect that a lot of this construction is due in part to having a creature that is not Griselbrand and therefore not Legendary, meaning it can't be hit by Karakas, of which there is certainly an uptick in dealing with cards like Ragavan and the like. Archon is a really powerful trigger that's also repeatable, so I can see why it is showing up here.

On down to Seventh, we've got Dredge.

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Very streamlined list with Grief as one of the new effects to getting at an opponent's disruption. Grief serves double duty in also being able to be pitched to Ichorid food or to Sickening Shoal post board. Dredge continues to fight the metagame's forces in the face of cards like Endurance and it is managing that quite well.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we've got Blue Shops.

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This deck is really spicy, I'm not going to lie. Jegantha aside, this deck has a lot of little things to it that make it interesting to try. Definitely a really fun and powerful looking deck.

Congrats to all of the Top 8 competitors in this event! All of them get to move on and be qualified for the Showcase Qualifier. Now let's take a look at some of the other published lists for this event.

Outside of the Top 8 down in 16th we had a showing by White Weenie.

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This deck is really something. I'm really pretty amazed at how much tools these kinds of decks have received in the past few years when most of these decks didn't really exist when I had originally started playing this format. Solitude seems pretty strong for Vintage, and Sanctifier en-Vec also has a lot of power to it. The bigger issue here is seeing four Archive Trap in the sideboard, namely for Doomsday.

All the way down at the bottom of the Top 32, we've got a sweet RUG list.

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Ragavan slotting into this type of deck is really good, especially at how well it enables certain Planeswalkers to be able to resolve them. This is another deck that is maindecking Endurance and splitting between it and the sideboard. It's also pretty cool to see Jace, the Mind Sculptor show up, because it hasn't really been around too much of Vintage in a long time.

A Look At The Vintage Metagame

It has been a while since we poked at the Vintage metagame and what things are kind of looking like right now, especially after the release of Modern Horizons 2. MH2 definitely gave the format a lot of new options and tools and things to do, but it definitely didn't rock the format to its core like it has some other formats (and even that is pretty debatable). Let's take a look real quick and see where things sit.

BUG Midrange is definitely at the top as the most popular deck in the format. It's not hard to understand why. It has a really solid matchup versus most of the format and has a lot of flex spots to deal with certain strategies. It's also one of the easiest / most like other formats type deck, so it's easy for players new to the format to pick up as well.

Doomsday sits right behind followed by Breach and Dredge and then Shops variants. Doomsday has quite a history here as it was the deck with probably the least amount of actual inclusions from Modern Horizons 2. In fact, for the most part, the deck construction has stayed the same for quite a while now since the deck solidified under the printing of Thassa's Oracle.

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Let's also take a look at the approximate win rates of these decks. Keep the above data in mind here, as these win rates can vary with sample size.

As far as performance goes, Doomsday is probably the best performing deck in the format right now, and that often tracks with a lot of the conversation I see leveled at the deck as well. This does lead to the question and concern as to whether anything (maybe even the signature card itself) from the Doomsday shell would actually need to be restricted. Several months worth of data is definitely showing the deck is strong, but it also is strong while not breaking over any of the established numbers we tend to see from Wizards in regards to Win Rates. In fact, it's pretty just fine despite having the best win rate, because it is about a 53% approximate win rate. This seems just okay. However, the play patterns of playing versus Doomsday are generally regarded as not being positive ones, owing a lot to the nature of the deck to be able to pull off their combo turn one, and the fact that the deck has a ton of disruption.

Arguably with this information at hand, I think Vintage looks fairly okay right now. There's certainly a positive spread of a ton of decks and while BUG is super popular it doesn't seem to also be breaking the bank either. Every week presents a different set of decks doing well and there's a solid push and pull in the format that allows for a positive rock/paper/scissors style metagame. I like this and I think there's a lot of ways to approach the format right now. The downside of this is that the format is getting increasingly hostile to brews, and we've also seen that due to the presence of BUG and cards like Force of Vigor that decks with cards like Fastbond are essentially non-existent in the overall scheme of things. I still think however that things are pretty positive, and Adventures in the Forgotten Realms having virtually zero impact on the format is sort of nice for a change of pace.

At some point in the future I'd like to do another Vintage Round Table like we did last year and like we continue to do with the Legacy side of things to get the opinions of various high profile Vintage players on how they feel about the format overall. Be on the lookout soon for something of that nature!

Mythic Society 7/14

Just a reminder that the Mythic Society events occur every Wednesday at 7 PM. You can find out more about these events via the Mythic Society Twitter. These are fun FNM style events and really casual.

At the top of the heap this event was our good friend Slasher21 (Ryan Haddad) with Golos Stax.

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Definitely what we've come to see out of this archetype being one of the ones that really well utilizes Urza's Saga, and Ryan is certainly no stranger to the deck.

We had another Shops build in this event, one that digs into the Bazaar archetype as well.

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This deck operates on the axis of both Shops and Bazaar/Hollow One variants. Definitely an intriguing list for sure.

Finally we have a sweet Helm of Awakening / Mystic Forge pile.

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This looks like so much fun, using Helm to reduce spells of the top with Mystic Forge and also having Thought Monitor and Thoughtcast to draw cards. Also it has Goblin Engineer to bin a Forge or Citadel to kick things off. Really slick stuff!

Vintage Challenge 7/18

We had one other Challenge event this past weekend, which was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 42 players in it.

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

A lot of BUG at the top end of popularity, but the deck didn't do super well in regards to converting to the top end of the event. There's definitely a weird spread in this event though with four Oath players and a lot of interesting other decks.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Blue Tinker 1st GGoggles
PO Storm 2nd Fnoop
PO Storm 3rd Lavaridge
Oath of Druids 4th Rooney56
Oath of Druids 5th Punchilleno
Lutri PO 6th shir kahn
Dredge 7th Wizard_2002
BUG Midrange 8th burrarun

Certainly an intriguing Top 8 for such a small event, with two of the Oath players punching into the Top 8 and 2/3 of the PO players doing so as well. At the end of this event it was a Blue Urza/Tinker variant by GGoggles that won the day.

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This deck is definitely sweet. Thought Monitor is a really cool and powerful card here in a deck focused on a critical mass of artifact mana, alongside the fact of having also four Thoughtcast in the deck as well. Drawing so many cards is very very good for sure.

The Second Place finalist was PO Storm.

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Fnoop's lists always have a real solid aspect to them and generally are quite strong. I am digging some of the options here out of the sideboard like Dress Down, which can answer quite a few creatures in the current format.

Further down the Top 8 we've got a more Tinker based version of Oath.

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This has the typical Oath plan, but it also has the Tinker aspect as well for Bolas's Citadel to win via that method too. Really interesting list, especially with no red in it for blast effects and the like.

Also in the Top 8 we've got our good friend Nico Bohny (shir kahn) on a sweet Lutri list.

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I like this list a lot. We haven't seen a lot of Lutri as of late, so it's cool to see it show up especially in the hands of a really powerful player like Nico.

Down the Top 32, I found a sweet list playing the sweetest card in Territorial Kavu.

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I can't even on how sweet this list is. There's even a Kaleidoscorch in it! Wild stuff indeed.

Finally we've got some Merfolk action going on.

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Some new cards here in Svyelun and also Tide Shaper. Definitely a really interesting looking list.

Around the Web

  • There's a great article on BUG Midrange over on Hareruya. Check it out here.
  • Justin Gennari went dungeon'ing with Aluren Combo. Check that out here.
  • Bryant Cook took a spin on UW PO Storm. Check it out here.
  • Our good friend Andy Markiton posted a league with the UR Aggro deck. Check that out here.

The Spice Corner

Okay, this deck is certainly something.

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This particular list is going really hard on making Void Mirror a thing.

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One of my personal favorites: Birgi, God of Wishes Three.

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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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