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Vintage 101: The Last Hurrah

Howdy folks! It's time for the final 2020 edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and we're closing out this year with a bang and a look ahead at what's in store for 2021 for us from a Vintage perspective! We're going to look at the big articles of the year from my perspective as well as look at the two Challenge events from this past weekend. Oh and of course, our final Spice Corner of 2020.

Let's dig right in, shall we?

The Year in Review

2020 was certainly an interesting year for Vintage as an already somewhat niche format that saw most of its play online in the form of Magic Online, and the global COVID-19 pandemic killed the two general major paper events in the form of SCG Con's Power 9 series and US Eternal Weekend (albeit Eternal Weekend would take place, just online instead).

From my own perspective, 2020 provided an interesting amount of topics to talk about, but the number one of the year had obviously to be the topic of Companions.

The Companion Articles

From an article standpoint, no other topic in 2020 was as polarizing as the presence of the Companion mechanic, and also what to do about it. Even now as we exist in a format with a completely changed Companion mechanic (a mechanic that was changed entirely after things were banned) this topic still sets the stage of what the most talked about Vintage things were. The immediate impact that Lurrus of the Dream-Den had on the Vintage format was exceptionally strong, and in the end it took banning the card because it was incapable of actually being restricted. For me personally, it was very interesting to stretch my experience into taking much more straightforward approaches to the Vintage Banned and Restricted list. Both articles above were exceptionally popular, and I absolutely really enjoyed writing the Otter one because of all the Otter puns.

Eventually Lurrus would get banned in Vintage, and that of course drove even further discussion on the topic, especially on the nature of concepts such as slippery slopes and whether or not Wizards would start just banning cards in the format now that they had, and well... it's thankful to note that we're now here several months later at the end of the year and that hasn't happened.

Vintage Competition and Community

This year also saw yet another two seasons worth of Magic Online Premier Play for the Vintage format, as the format replaced Pauper in Seasons Two and Three as a Premier Play format to feed into the Arena Championships/Pro Tour Level events. The community really rallied around these events, pushing the nature of competition within the Vintage community. We saw plenty of players invested in the format because of this and also saw plenty of well known players get back into the format as well, from players such as Kanister to Reid Duke.

Furthermore we saw a great amount of players come together both new and veteran for the first ever online version of Eternal Weekend. Part of the great success here was the presence of the All Access accounts that allowed players to dive into the event and learn the format by having access to all of the cards on Magic Online.

Also this year we had our first ever edition of the Vintage Round Table, something that I would love to do again at some point in this next coming year.

All in all 2020 was a solid year for a format that could have simply ceased to exist entirely thanks to the love of the format by the community.

The Look Ahead to 2021

2021 promises to showcase some interesting new sets, from the upcoming and imminent Kaldheim to the release of the D&D Set and Innistrad sets in the fall. I do however expect the biggest treatment for Vintage to come from the Modern Horizons 2 set in the fall. The original Modern Horizons in 2019 gave us powerful printings like Collector Ouphe, Force of Vigor, and Force of Negation, so it would not surprise me to see cards on this power level or possibly higher for the second one. While this could be good or bad yet remains to be seen.

For now however, Vintage is in a solid place, and one of my goals for 2021 is to get more into video content and also streaming content, and Vintage definitely plays a role in that regards. I'll be looking forward to doing more and more with the format this next year, and if we're lucky maybe we'll get back to a place where we can have paper Eternal Weekend once more.

Vintage Challenge 12/26

We had two Challenges like always this past weekend, the first of which was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. Data was not collected for this event, so we only have the Top 32 metagame to go off of. Let's take a look.

I believe it is quite accurate to call Underworld Breach decks one of the most popular combo decks currently in Vintage, even unseating PO at this point. Breach is exceptionally strong and provides an additional angle of attack via its Xerox game plan as well as the combo. What helps Breach out over PO is the fact that the Breach combo itself is exceptionally compact when compared to the fact that you need a critical mass of artifact mana plus PO to resolve to win with it. Breach only needs a few cards (Breach, Lotus, Brain Freeze) and it can easily win a game off the back of that. Secondly we saw the Hullbreacher Xerox deck show up once more and not only that, do pretty well, converted 1/4 of its pilots into the Top 8.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Breach 1st Condescend
Hullbreacher Xerox 2nd nathansteuer
Hogaak Bazaar 3rd MadMaxErnst
Dredge 4th cftsoc3
White Eldrazi 5th Clockwork Dean
Doomsday 6th Nammersquats
Golos Combo Shops 7th yamakiller
BUG Midrange 8th Zar0s

There was a nice spread of decks in this Top 8, from combo to typical Xerox to Bazaar and Shops based decks, and they were all pretty distinct. At the end of the event however it was indeed the Breach deck that won the whole thing.

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This looks to be how this deck has evolved to a stock list at this point, where I haven't seen really any other major changes in this deck's existing lists. It seems that the Grixis/White lists are here to stay.

The Second Place finalist was the Hullbreacher Xerox deck.

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I like having Urza in these lists a lot, because it gives you something really strong to do with the extra mana gained from using Hullbreacher into a wheel effect, because then all the Treasures simply become Mox Sapphires for Urza's purposes.

Also in the Top 8 is a neat take on the Hogaak Bazaar deck, mainly in its sideboard.

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Splashing for removal and countermagic is certainly interesting, as well as running some blue in the main deck for Ancestral and Mental Misstep. Plow as an option is very good though, so I can see this variant working pretty well.

Further down the Top 8 we had a showing by White Eldrazi.

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Main deck Leyline of the Void is a statement. It says "I hate your graveyard and everything that would go into it!" It's also pretty cool to see Archon of Emeria here as well, as that card has seemed pretty good.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a showing by Miharu on Oath.

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Court of Cunning and Court of Bounty is SUPERB. I am in love with this list. There are no words.

Vintage Challenge 12/27

The Second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday Challenge, which we know had 62 players thanks to the efforts of the Vintage Streamer's Discord. Let's take a look at the overall metagame breakdown.

Overall as we continue to note, this metagame actually just looks pretty good. There's a lot of different decks and while it seems like some things have floated back down into fringe territory and some things back up, I think this looks like a pretty solid metagame.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Xerox 1st shir kahn
Doomsday 2nd DieM4x
Dredge 3rd kasa
Golos Stax 4th Boin
Dredge 5th kanister
BUG Managorger 6th killersuv
Hullbreacher Xerox 7th Phill_Hellmuth
Golos Combo Shops 8th otakkun

This also seems like a pretty well rounded Top 8, with a few of each thing to go around. At the end of it all however, it was our good friend Nico Bohny who won it all on Jeskai.

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Nico is certainly a powerful wizard and this is a very solidly built Jeskai list. There's not much to say because this list pretty much speaks for itself.

The Second Place list here is Doomsday.

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Notable here is the presence of Opposition Agent out of the sideboard, which some Doomsday pilots have been playing for a little while now. As the card seems pretty incredible in the mirror it does make a lot of sense, but it's also just pretty good against mostly everything else that searches as well (notably Tinker).

Further down the Top 8 we had a showing by a neat BUG Midrange variant.

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I love how there's a Bolas's Citadel here so that you can just keep chain casting things to trigger Managorger Hydra. Absolutely superb.

Just outside of the Top 8 we had a showing of a Blue Golos Shops build.

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This deck is super neat, and having four Emry, Lurker of the Loch is pretty sweet as well. Casting Ancestral in your Shops deck is certainly super amusing though.

Furhter down the Top 32, Surv hits us with yet another Goblin Welder deck.

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I'm really honestly impressed with the deckbuilding here. Just seems like a lot of fun to play this deck overall.

Also further down is a showing by Humans.

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Yep. There's a Rick there. Not to be unexpected for sure in this kind of deck. Also we see just how good Luminarch Aspirant seems to be given that it also showed up in the list by Surv as well. Super interesting stuff all around.

Around the Web

  • There amusingly isn't much going on this week around the web, but that's also because the holiday season does cause some slowdowns! If there's links you'd like to see here, please let me know about them!

The Spice Corner

Bant Spell Queller deck is pretty sweet for our final Spice Corner of the year.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this year folks! Thanks for your continued support of the column and join me next year as we continue our journey into Vintage!

As always you can reach me at TwitterTwitchYouTube, and Patreon! In addition you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next year!

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