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Vintage 101: The Long and Winding Road


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your hostest with the mostest, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going on an adventure! That's right, an honest to goodness adventure as we prep for a relatively large event - SCG Con hosted by Star City Games in Roanoke, VA! This event is basically a month away, so we're going to journey week to week talking about prepping for such a large event and also talking about deck selection.

For me, going to large events is always an incredibly fun time, and SCG Con is no exception. I attended last year's event and really enjoyed myself playing Vintage and getting to meet multiple people from within the Vintage community, so I'm really excited to be attending this year's event.

A Good Starting Place - Deck Selection

If you're like me and you play most of your Vintage on Magic Online, the world of Paper Vintage is pretty exciting, but also downright terrifying at the same time. Because of the costs of Paper Vintage, more often than not many players will typically borrow pieces they need from someone. More often than not, this also will help influence what deck one is going to play at the event. Not everyone has access to every dual and piece of Power needed to play a blue based deck, but even moreso other pieces can be out of reach as well, from Workshops to Bazaars. Knowing what you have access to is the best starting place to knowing what you're going to play.

For me, the deck that I have relative access to play based on a great friend of mine who is willing to lend the pieces for is Dredge.

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So... where do we start with Dredge? Well, right now (outside of the London Mulligan experiment that took place over the course of the last month), Dredge lists have slowly become more and more pushed towards the variant Pitch Dredge, which utilizes cards such as Force of Will and Mental Misstep as well as Mindbreak Trap to be able to combat faster opponents in Game 1, eschewing any mana producing land in the main for four Bazaar of Baghdad (thus effectively making MD Pitch Dredge manaless in a sense). One of the things to remember about the event in SCG Con is that with just a month to go it is unlikely for this event to be held using the London Mulligan, so we have to plan for a Metagame based on the Vancouver Mulligan, but also a brave new world involving cards from War of the Spark.

Let's take a look at a few lists. While some of these lists do come from the London Mulligan era of Magic Online, they're not crazy on being skewed with the mulligan rule in mind, so they can be a good starting point for understanding what we want out of this list.

As you can see, Dredge lists like this can be an odd duck in regards to how they're constructed mainly in regards to the sideboard, but they can also greatly differ in Main deck construction as well. But what are we really trying to achieve with the right setup? What decks are we aiming at attacking?

Paradoxical Outcome

The biggest deck we have to consider being able to attack is Paradoxical Outcome. PO is a very powerful deck, and it's with PO's consideration in mind that we do need to consider the singleton Chalice of the Void somewhere in the 75. Chalice is a very powerful card in general but against PO it can be back-breaking if you keep a good hand vs them and are able to deploy a Turn 1 Chalice with zero counters. More often than not, the chances of PO finding an answer to a resolved Chalice before they just die to Dredge doing its thing is pretty slim.

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The upside of this card in the 75 is that it also shuts off the more common graveyard hate option of Tormod's Crypt that PO runs, leaving you Mental Misstep to deal with cards like Grafdigger's Cage.

Workshops

Shops is going to be the other big deck to consider, since both it and PO are generally at the top of the Metagame. Shops matchup can go either way, but thankfully if you have ways to answer their graveyard hate with countermagic, they can be muscled through depending on the variance of your dredges. One new card to ultimately consider in Workshops based shells however is Karn, the Great Creator. Game 1 this card can be utterly back-breaking if they are able to use it to either snag a Tormod's Crypt from their graveyard, or worse an Ensnaring Bridge to ensure that you are never getting to attack until they can establish the Mycosynth Lattice lock piece.

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Karn is problematic but not unbeatable, if you can swing through even just one turn to get him low enough where he can be gotten rid of you might be okay, but more often than not the card is going to be an issue and something on our radar.

Furthemore, while not completely a Shops based deck, another deck in this same vein that runs Karn is Colorless Eldrazi and that earns a measure of respect because of being able to windmill slam Reality Smasher to also win games.

Xerox Decks

Xerox is another one of the big three decks that we need to be considering, namely the UR Xerox decks that splash green. This gives them a bit of an extra removal spell versus Hollow One in Ancient Grudge main deck, but also gives them Dack Fayden to deal with that kind of stuff. However the biggest and newest threat that we have to consider is the addition of cards like Narset, Parter of Veils.

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Now while Narset's ability does functionally nothing if you're dredging every draw in your turn (because if you never actually draw a card during a turn you can dredge as much as you like, since dredging is replacing the draw event) but say they pair Narset with a Leyline of the Void and force you into a situation where you have to draw an answer to beat the Leyline. Narset is going to prevent your Bazaars from activating and gaining card advantage off of them. The biggest comparison of this card is Leovold, Emissary of Trest, but I think in the long run Narset is actually better, simply because she is monocolored. Being able to rip a Narset into play off a Turn 1 Black Lotus is a strong play, and this kind of play can set the tone for an entire game where as the Dredge player, you are simply on the losing side if you can't use Bazaar to its full extent. Narset is a card we need to keep an eye on and a must-counter card for these matchups since she can be simply back-breaking.

Dredge Mirror

One important thing to note about paper events is that the presence of a deck like Dredge is usually typically higher than you would see this deck on Magic Online. The major reason for this is because Dredge is one of the cheapest decks to assemble in the format in paper (and yes, cheap even though Bazaar of Baghdad is super expensive, it's still cheaper than buying Power). Because of this, Dredge is often overepresented as it gives people a way into the format that doesn't require Power Nine or dual lands. So, in that regards, we do have to be prepared for the mirror match. Dredge mirrors are often weird and wacky, especially now that most of the time, the decks are now running Leyline of the Void main deck. Game 1 this can be... well, yeah. You know how it can be, especially if both decks are on Pitch and neither can actually cast spells or recur creatures from the graveyard. Games like this often come down to how many Hollow One the Dredge player can hit.

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Post board at least things can be a little more interesting thanks to being able to interact via mana and spells like Nature's Claim and Chain of Vapor. Still, we have to consider that the mirror is a match we will play against at least once during this event.

Survival

Survival is another deck that we have to reasonably be prepared for. The deck is pretty popular, and as an opposing Hollow One deck that also can reasonably play cards like Containment Priest and Lavinia, Azorius Renegade, this can be a difficult matchup. The toolbox nature of their deck makes fighting through a resolved Survival pretty hard, but in the same breath sometimes they can be choked on mana to use it. I actually don't mind the usage of Chalice here (if you're on the play) simply because it can sometimes choke their ability to play Moxen to have to activate Survival with. Leyline of the Void is also pretty powerful at shutting off Vengevine but doesn't do much versus Basking Rootwalla. This matchup is also dependent on which version of Survival they're on, given that there are a few different variants including one that plays Deathrite Shaman.

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Other Tier 2-3 Strategies including Oath, Thieves, etc

Beyond the big basic five decks that we can reasonably expect to see there's always going to be a few decks that are going to show up in paper that don't show up in a huge capacity on Magic Online, and that's decks based around cards like Oath of Druids, Notion Thief, and the like. Oath decks especially are always going to be excessively popular among paper players and so I would not be surprised to run into an Oath deck here or there throughout the day. Given that Oath is powerful and pretty proactive at scraping out free wins, we should expect it. On the flip side, decks like Grixis Thieves and the like have grown in popularity again because of the addition of Narset, and they can easily stop you in your tracks with their wheel effects (especially a resolved Timetwister can really mess up a Dredge player's day).

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In short outside of the major five archetypes we want to keep in mind, be ready for mostly anything outside of these. Vintage can occasionally be the wild west, and I've seen some beautifully wonderful decklists in this format win matches just based on unfamiliarity.

Deck Selected - Now What?

Well, we've gone through the process of selecting my deck, and now it's time to start looking at playing some games and learning the ins and outs of the deck while refining and tuning our list. This is something that we're going to be covering a little more in depth next week, since I will be playing games on my chosen deck (Pitch Dredge) and recording them to talk about the process as well as some of the mechanical aspects of playing a deck like Dredge (especially in paper).

One of the ways that we can keep track of how we're doing with a deck is to use either a tool like MORT (Magic Online Replay Tool) or to use a spreadsheet that tracks our games and win percentages. This is also useful for keeping notes about various matchups and what you sideboard in / out. For the interests of this being a true adventure, I'll be making my own spreadsheet available to look at (which will be posted with next week's article) so that you can get an idea of what this looks like.

Regardless, this will be a fun adventure in prepping for SCG Con, and if you're going to SCG Con at all, please feel free to look me up and stop by and say hi! I always love meeting people at events and chatting about Magic!

Vintage Challenge - 5/4

Well... we did have a Challenge last weekend, but unfortunately for us the decklists from over the weekend have yet to be published at the time of this writing. This is a little unnerving considering that this seems to be not just Vintage related but seemingly all of the Challenges were not posted when I submitted this article to my editors. This is rather unfortunate, since it's hard to keep good data of what is doing what in the Metagame without this knowledge.

That being said, I can tell you who won the challenge and with what deck. It's our good friend Ryan Eberhart (aka diophan) on none other than KarnDrazi!

Eldrazi is proving itself to be pretty strong when paired with Karn, the Great Creator. It's a powerful card overall.

Spice Corner

If you guessed that our spice list would be from our good friend Matt Murray (aka ChubbyRain), you'd be right! Survival of the Welder?

This list is sweet, and it also comes with a screenshot from Matt on Magic Online. For those that are unaware, Matt is really big into foils on Magic Online, so it's always a real treat to look at his lists.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Like I mentioned before, keep tuned in next week as we continue our journey through prepping for SCG Con, as we also continue to analyze the weekly Metagame results from Magic Online. This is an exciting time and I cannot wait for next month to play some Vintage!

As always, hit me up on Twitter and Twitch if you want to talk Magic and especially Vintage. I'm really trying to hash out a good solid schedule of streaming, and had a pretty successful 3-2 league with Karn Stax last week, but we need to get more into a consistent setup. Of course, if you would like to support my content and my streaming you can always check out my Patreon. (Seriously, I would love anyone who subs to me on Twitch and Patreon). As always, you guys are great and I love reading your comments and interacting with you guys.

Until next time!


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