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Vintage 101: The Holiday Buzz

Howdy folks! It's time for the final Vintage 101 of 2019! It has been a wild year, and we're not only going to be looking back on the timeline of 2019, but I also have a bunch of questions to answer in my Holiday Mailbag AMA!

Also, of course, we will be talking about last weekend's Magic Online Vintage Challenge as well as Eternal Weekend 2019 Europe!

The Holiday AMA!

At the beginning of the month, I posted on Twitter asking for your questions for this year's Holiday AMA. It's my hope to make this a tradition of Vintage 101 and I got some really great questions about Vintage and the overall climate of the format. So, without waiting too much longer let's dive into your questions!

This is an intriguing question but I have to say I believe the answer to be twofold. One is the implementation of the London Mulligan into the format, as that changed a lot about how Vintage players approach deckbuilding and mulligan decisions in general. The London Mulligan has definitely allowed for strategies that utilize Bazaar of Baghdad to flourish and until the Karn restrictions, it often allowed the Combo Workshops decks to mulligan easily to a winning hand. The other big change to the format has been Modern Horizons. I don't think it's any surprise that MH had such a huge impact on the format overall, thanks to cards like Force of Vigor, Collector Ouphe, and Force of Negation. MH is likely the most defining set of the year for the format, as it was for so many others.

I do believe that it is highly unlikely that we will ever see Mishra's Workshop or Bazaar of Baghdad become restricted in Vintage. As has been evidenced by the presence of MH and the cards from MH that hate on Workshop strategies, there has been a real uptick in other decks that are finally figuring out how to prey on the Shops variants where Shops has become "good, but not insane" and I think that is a fine place for the decks that utilize the card to be. I also believe that the restrictions of Mental Misstep and Narset, Parter of Veils really helped decks in this fight since they can afford more cards to handling Shops. Similarly, the restrictions of Misstep and Golgari Grave-Troll have allowed Dredge to exist, but to also have much more variance than before and I think that has given it a similar role in the format.

If it ever were to happen, I do believe the format would be far more blue-heavy than it is today, and I feel that wouldn't open up much space really. Blue decks would just flood into the space left by those archetypes, and I feel it is important to have alternative strategies available for players.

This is a good question, and quite honestly I don't think it's in Wizards' minds to make Vintage more approachable. I think that mindset is something we need to have as a community to continue to promote the format through various avenues (whether it's through Magic Online or through unsanctioned proxy-allowed events). We're never likely to see the RL go away, so Wizards has no real incentive to invest resources into getting people to play the format. However, that doesn't mean that they don't care about the format and aren't listening to its players which has been evident through the restrictions that have taken place this year.

So my answer is be the ambassador yourself and promote the format yourself as a community. Be the change, as it were.

This is a great question! Vintage can often be daunting for many and learning the ins and outs of it can be difficult at first. My major recommendation would be something like Oath of Druids as the relative game plan of the deck is simple to understand and execute (i.e. get Oath into play and give your opponent a creature to trigger Oath into giant monster). Outside of that, Ravager Shops can also be pretty easy to pick up as the deck's strengths can often carry an unskilled pilot, and it is a good deck to learn sequencing of mana from as well as Ravager math (which is one of the harder things of playing the deck).

I do believe that it's likely we've seen two cards that Wizards has already talked about unrestricting and those two cards are Necropotence and Windfall. I think Necro would make for an interesting control deck and would not be all that insanely busted. So I'll call now that I believe it will be Necro first.

As far as the MTGO playoffs are concerned, yes it is a poor thing that there are ways to earn QPs playing Vintage, but no big Vintage events to spend them on for 2020. I would note that there is continual feedback given from the community to Wizards about this, so if you'd like to see them maybe work a large Vintage event onto the platform for people to shoot for, definitely provide that feedback not only to Wizards and the Magic Online team, but also show the support by participating in events when possible like the Challenge events. This will show that people want to play the format after all.

2019 had a ton of things in it, but there are a few cards that I believe were good for the format, primarily Force of Vigor and Collector Ouphe being the top two. I think it really helped and made sense to have a Null Rod bear and it was a really great design. I also believe Dreadhorde Arcanist was a positive for the format, proving to be powerful but not so absolutely format warping that it would be problematic, but also very fightable as has been seen by the shifting metagame over the past year. More controversially, I think Oko, Thief of Crowns was also good for Vintage, as it allowed a deck like Oath to return to the format with ways of dealing with hate permanents. Mainly I believe this is because Oko seems to be pretty on par with Vintage power level given everything else that goes on in the format.

I also think Brazen Borrower was a solid inclusion into the format as it has proven to be a good card that has some power behind it.

I think for me, the biggest appeal is getting to do broken things, which I think appeals to a lot of players honestly. The same players who regularly consume and play things like Holiday Vintage Cube are likely to enjoy Vintage as a format because it can offer a similar experience. For those who don't really know the format too well, this is hard because there are often a lot of misconceptions and myths about the format and it's important to help dispel those myths. 

I think my favorite archetype of the year had to have been everything that came out of Fastbond. It spawned a ton of interesting and new archetypes (from Bazaar/Workshop hybrids to the infamous Eric's Crab Shack dec) and has relatively proven to be one of the safest unrestrictions ever, and that is pretty doggone cool. My favorite deck this year actually had to be the RUG Elementals deck that I played around with for a while this year and thus cemented Risen Reef as one of my favorite cards of 2019.

As far as what I'm looking for next year, I will be hopeful if we don't get anything on the level of Narset/Karn for next year, but I will be happy with playable and powerful cards that have a chance to make a splash in the format, and also more Elementals support please Wizards.


I want to thank everyone for sending in their questions! It was a great time answering them, and I'm looking forward to doing this next year!

The Year That Was - 2019

2019 was a tumultous year of card design for eternal formats, and Vintage was no exception. I'm going to be going through each of this year's sets and talking about the various cards that we've seen that have impacted the Vintage format.

Ravnica Allegiance

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Ravnica Allegiance didn't have many playable Vintage cards in it, but it did have one of the better hatebear effects to see lasting play in the format overall in the form of Lavinia, Azorius Renegade. At the time, many were worried about Lavinia and the asymmetrical effect that she had on games. Also, cards like Cindervines and Kaya, Orzhov Usurper saw mild play during this time as well.

War of the Spark

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War of the Spark would bring about a huge change and shift in how Planeswalkers approached the game, with having static abilities attached to them. The most infamous mistakes of this set were the now restricted Karn, the Great Creator and Narset, Parter of Veils, while both Teferi, Time Raveler and Ashiok, Dream Render have made a splash in the format. This set also saw the release of Dreadhorde Arcanist which went on to define Jeskai Xerox decks as well as Bolas's Citadel which ended up seeing players cutting Yawgmoth's Bargain from their Storm based decks in favor of the Tinker-able artifact.

Modern Horizons

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Modern Horizons proved to be the most impactful set of 2019 on Vintage, bringing several widely played staples and various new cards to the format, most notable the two Forces and Collector Ouphe. There's not much more to be said here other than that MH changed the landscape of the format and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

Core Set 2020

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The biggest thing that was brought by Core Set 2020 was the release of Mystic Forge. This card single-handedly pushed Karn decks over the top, which caused the metagame to wildly swing towards BUG Midrange trying to deal with the Karn Menace. Other notable cards from this set include Veil of Summer which took a bit longer for people to hit upon in Vintage, but it has proved its worth, and also Golos, Tireless Pilgrim which helped revitalize Stax based archetypes.

Throne of Eldraine

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Throne of Eldraine brought a lot of new toys and some higher powered ones, in the form of Oko and Stonecoil Serpent. However, it was also cards like Mystic Sanctuary and Brazen Borrower that worked their way into the format as well.

Eternal Weekend Europe 2019 - Vintage

75 powerful wizards gathered in Paris this past weekend to throw down for Magic Bazaar's European Eternal Weekend 2019! Let's see how the Top 8 shook out, shall we?

Deck Name Placing Player Name
PO Storm 1st Alejandro Younger
PO Storm 2nd Brian Coval
PO Storm 3rd Joan Anton Mateo
4C Midrange 4th Tomas Mar
Ravager Shops 5th-8th Alex Samaniego
PO Storm 5th-8th Rodrigo Togores
PO Storm 5th-8th Benjamin Bowenge
PO Storm 5th-8th Gael Maitre Bailly

Holy moly that is a lot of PO in the Top 8. I'm not sure if this is a product of the metagame over in Europe or just legitimately PO is that good, but it is wild to see such a swing to the other side from the US Eternal Weekend being more fair midrange blue decks than combo (thanks in primary to Narset).

At the end of the event it was a PO Standoff between Alejandro Younger and our good friend Brian Coval in his third paper Vintage Top 8 in a row!

Let's take a look at the two finalists decklists.

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Both of these lists are pretty similar, with Brian leaning more on cards like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade in the main and Flusterstorm in the sideboard instead of relying on the red splash for Pyroblast. Regardless, these are some powerful lists and worth keeping in mind.

Outside of all the PO we had an awesome showing by Tomas Mar (of Czech Pile fame) piloting a sweet 4C Midrange deck.

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This deck is super cool, leaning on the power of cards like Deathrite Shaman and Wrenn and Six to help fix mana while being able to deploy threats like Arcanist, Oko, and also being able to Demonic Tutor for important cards. Really strong list and looks like a lot of fun!

Vintage Challenge 12/21

We had our second to last Vintage Challenge of the year of 2019 this past weekend! Let's see that Top 8!

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Dredge 1st Sti
Dredge 2nd Lord_Beerus
BUG Midrange 3rd Exavie
BUG Midrange 4th DancingJesus191
PO Storm 5th The Atog Lord (Rich Shay)
Dredge 6th Tabadonk
PO Storm 7th ThePowerNine (Justin Franks)
RUG Planeswalkers 8th DiscoverN

This Top 8 was pretty interesting, and boasted a decent amount of Dredge in it, so much so that the finals match was a Dredge-off between Sti and Lord_Beerus! At the end of the event however it was Sti who managed to take down the event!

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There's not much to say about Dredge lists these days as most of them have solidified onto the shell above as it remains consistent and powerful.

Outside of the Dredge lists, we had a few showings by BUG Midrange in the Top 4.

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Again, Brazen Borrower has proven to be a pretty cool card in the BUG Midrange decks, providing some interesting decision making for these decks.

Further down the Top 32, our good friend HanChoBai returns with an even spicier Turbo Vengevine list that is sure to delight.

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This list is nuts. Salvage Titan! Just a really wild and cool list to see.

All in all this seemed like a pretty interesting Challenge. So... for the final of 2019, let's get our count of 2019 cards in this event!

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Vigor 46
Force of Negation 27
Collector Ouphe 22
Narset, Parter of Veils 19
Oko, Thief of Crowns 18
Veil of Summer 17
Stonecoil Serpent 15
Dreadhorde Arcanist 9
Mystic Sanctuary 8
Wrenn and Six 8
Bolas's Citadel 7
Brazen Borrower 6
Teferi, Time Raveler 6
Arcum's Astrolabe 4
Emry, Lurker of the Loch 4
Mystic Forge 4
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 3
Ashiok, Dream Render 1
God-Pharaoh's Statue 1
Karn, the Great Creator 1
Legion's End 1

The Spice Corner

Our good friend Justin Gennari came to us with a sick Painter's Servant brew. Check it out!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have for 2019 folks! Next week we'll be looking ahead into the unknown that is 2020 and looking towards the January 11th Vintage Championship event and also waiting with bated breath for Theros Beyond Death! It's going to be an exciting time, so let's make the most of the rest of 2019, and I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season!

As always you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon!

Until next year, keep on casting Lotuses!

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