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Vintage 101: The Karn Effect


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host Joe Dyer and this week we're digging into some more data on the Vintage Meta game and where things are at since the release of War of the Spark

Furthermore, we're continuing our preparations for Star City Games' SCG Con event in Roanoke, VA in just a few weeks here! Testing is going well enough and I'm stoked to continue to do more.

The Vintage Metagame Update - May 2019

So let's take a look at where we are at in the current Vintage Metagame, only counting events since the release of War of the Spark, the first event of which was 5/4/2019. Due to some issues with how Wizards posted data during this month we only have Challenges and a single League to go off of. I made a handy-dandy pie chart however!

Here's what we can glean from this information.

The Top Decks of the Format Remain Relatively the Same, Except...

Shops, PO, and UR Xerox builds are still relatively at the top of the format, with the exception of the rise of Dredge to become a fearsome opponent in the Metagame. Dredge's popularity has risen quite a bit since the last time we looked at the Metagame, and it's easy to see that the deck has a lot of power behind it with the deckbuilding of utilizing Mental Misstep and Force of Will to operate on the Pitch Dredge plan. Dredge is at a whopping 17% only since 5/4. Whether this is cause for concern is unknown as Dredge has waxed and waned like this in the past. That being said, it is one of the decks that has had some of the fewest restrictions in the format. Personally I don't believe we are there yet on this, but possibly could be in the future.

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However, the rest of the top of the metagame is basically mostly the same, with Shops/PO/UR Xerox each balancing each other out. However, this balance is based on the major inclusion of Narset, Parter of Veils, which posted a whopping 62 copies since its release on Magic Online in official events. It's safe to say that Narset has become an officially recognizable part of the Vintage format and this is not just pure hype. This card is amazingly good.

The Rise of Karn and Eldrazi

Eldrazi is certainly on the rise, sitting on the back of Karn, the Great Creator and the power of cards like Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher. This deck continues to rise in popularity and Karn's inclusion has only made it better. Of course, nearly every one of these decks that includes Karn also includes the combo of Mycosynth Lattice in the sideboard, since locking your opponent out of casting their spells is incredibly powerful. While Karn only came in at 48 copies overall since its release, this card also continues to solidify itself as part of various shells within the Vintage format, from Eldrazi to other shells.

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Other Decks are Still Fairly Viable

Decks like Survival, Oath of Druids, and even Dark Petition Storm are still very viable ways to attack the format, as Survival tends to put up a few results nearly every challenge and league (usually at minimum 1-2 lists, but usually also doing well) and Inferno Oath put several copies up in the last few Vintage Challenges. There seems to be a relatively decent wide array of shells to build within to play right now, and that is pretty great in my opinion. One thing that has been great to see has been the resurgence of DPS thanks to the printing of Bolas's Citadel (which is an excessively powerful card in many many ways).

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Innovation is one thing I've talked about a fair amount in this series, and I definitely think it will take a while to solidify what is good in the Metagame after War of the Spark, but also when Modern Horizons comes out.

Modern Horizons

Speaking of Modern Horizons, while I'm planning on doing a full set review at some point on cards that look extra spicy, I do want to take a moment to talk about at least 1-2 of them here, and conveniently enough they're in the same cycle. If you've been anywhere this week you've seen both of these likely.

Force of Negation [MH1] Force of Vigor [MH1]

While both of these cards are very interesting for Modern (and the fact that this is a cycle is pretty exciting too), these specific ones are not too shabby for Vintage either. Force of Negation seems pretty powerful in a deck like Dredge that is often countering graveyard hate to have the possibility of an additional four copies essentially of Force of Will. There is reasonable logic here to actually drop Mental Misstep from the deck in order to run a set of these instead. In addition, Force of Vigor is pretty intriguing given that it can give certain decks ways to blow up artifacts or enchantments without paying mana (Dredge being obviously one of these decks, but not the only beneficiary). It is worth noting however, that this does not shut out the Karn + Lattice combo for free (since you have to exile a green card to cast it and Lattice makes everything colorless).

I am pretty stoked for Modern Horizons not just as a Vintage player but as a Legacy/Modern player as well, but I am hopeful for other more powerful and interesting cards that might just turn out to be Vintage playable. We'll do a more in-depth analysis of this set over the next two weeks, where I'll also be joined by our good friend Matt Murray (aka ChubbyRain) who will be helping us out with their take on these new cards as well.

SCG Con Prep

I am continuing to prepare for SCG Con in a few weeks here by playing mostly on Magic Online with Karn Stax. Mostly this involves league play, which I've been attempting to record/stream via Twitch to post later on YouTube. My first one of these videos, posted here, was of a 3-2 league that I played on 5/17. Also, excuse my audio issues in the video, I had forgotten that I was playing music during this league and OBS was recording it too, so I had to play with post production noise gate filters to get rid of it. Future recordings won't have this issue.

My record for this league was:

Round 1 vs Dredge (our friend WingedHussar who is killing it with this deck) 2-1 WIN

Round 2 vs UW Xerox 0-2 LOSS

Round 3 vs PO Storm 2-0 WIN

Round 4 vs Karn Shops 0-2 LOSS

Round 5 vs Jeskai Xerox (WWolf, another familiar face!) 2-1 WIN

Some of my takeaways from this league were cards such as Lavinia, Azorius Renegade and needing a plan versus that card in addition to cards like Leovold, Emissary of Trest. One way I've sought to attack this going forward is the inclusion of Karakas in the list to bounce pesky Legendaries. This also helps deal with cards like Kataki, War's Wage which can be problematic as well.

Regardless, I felt fairly happy with this league considering that I made a few major punts. Primarily one of the bigger ones was Inventors' Fair during the match against PO (in Game 1) where I should have gotten a card like Phyrexian Metamorph or Thorn of Amethyst over Lodestone Golem in order to protect my Trinisphere. Largely this ended up not mattering in the grand scheme of the game, but it certainly wasn't the correct play at all. Inventors' Fair is a reasonably difficult card to play, but I'm glad I have it available because it has proved to be an excellent card in this sort of deck.

Going forward I'll be testing on this variation:

I'm planning on recording some more of this deck before SCG Con and likely some more after SCG Con as well, so if you'd like to keep up with it, check out my Twitter for when I post streaming nights on Twitch.

Vintage Challenge 5/18

As evidenced by last weekend's Challenge, Karn and Narset were in full force, with a Karn deck taking the top spot at the end of the event, and three of the same list (affectionately known as "Brass City Vault") in the Top 8. Let's take a look at the results.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Brass City Vault 1st Wordy333
Ravager Shops 2nd GGoggles
Eldrazi 3rd Logarythme
Pitch Dredge 4th PProteus
Brass City Vault 5th Team5C
UR Xerox 6th Ecobaronen (Andreas Petersen)
Brass City Vault 7th R0310
UR Xerox 8th Gernardi

The so-called "Brass City Vault" deck was all over this Top 8, and in a future article we'll be dissecting this variant like we have done in the past. But for now, let's take a look at the winning list.

Blast Zone here is pretty powerful in a deck that can really dump mana into if it needs to and likely activate it the same turn. Witchbane Orb is also a pretty sweet inclusion for handling effects like Hurkyl's Recall and Tendrils of Agony.

Further down the Top 32, we find our good friend Justin Gennari (IAmActuallyLvl1) with an interesting take on Paradoxical Outcome including none other than Karn, the Great Creator.

Mono Blue PO is an interesting concept, and the funny part is there isn't even a Mycosynth Lattice in this list! The win condition is legitimately Voltaic Key + Time Vault then get a Blightsteel Colossus for the win.

Another list that caught my eye was a Dredge list, but instead of playing the typical Serum Powder you see in Dredge lists, instead owing to the Mulligan Gods to find an in-hand Bazaar of Baghdad to play four Creeping Chill!

All in all this seemed like an interesting event, but there was a ton of Karn hanging around, and absolutely zero copies of a deck like Survival in the Top 32. However, there were several copies of Dark Petition Storm with Bolas's Citadel so that was pretty cool to see hanging around.

The Spice Corner

My spice list this week comes from a thread on The Mana Drain about a 5C Staxx list updated for 2019. Check the thread out and this sweet list.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! We're steadily getting close to SCG Con in just two weeks! Should be an exciting time and exciting event and I'm really looking forward to going and getting to see as many awesome people as possible. If you're going to be at this event, please feel free to look me up and come say hi! I love meeting people at events and getting a chance to talk to them. I'll be around at the Old School event too at the 202 House the Thursday before SCG Con, so if you're going to that event as well, be sure to hit me up and say hey! I'm looking forward to that part especially since I don't play a lot of the 93/94 Old School format, so it will be my first time getting to play around with it, and I'm pretty thrilled to be doing so.

As always, please feel free to hit me up on Twitter, Twitch, and check out my YouTube channel and Patreon. And of course, if you want to chat Vintage, simply hit me up on Discord on the MTGGoldfish Discord server. I'm usually slumming around the Vintage channel on there, and love chatting with folks about the format.

Next week we'll be discussing Part One of Modern Horizons in a little more in depth and what cards from that set will have an impact on Vintage.

Until next time, see you kids on the flip side!


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