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Vintage 101: The Mother of Machines Cometh

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be diving into what March of the Machine means for Vintage! In addition to that we've got some Challenge events to discuss as well as the Showcase Qualifier for the end of the season of Premier Play.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Marching to the Tune of Phyrexia

Another new spoiler season is upon us as Phyrexia invades the multiverse in March of the Machine. With this set comes a lot of cards spread across every plane and also a new card type in a long while.

Let's take a look at the mechanics of March of the Machine.

Battle for the Multiverse

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Of course the biggest thing to mention about March of the Machine is the introduction of the Battle card type. Battles are a new permanent type (and they're all double faced cards), and all of the Battles in this set have a sub type of Siege. These cards are interesting in that the sub type actually defines the rules of how these cards interact with combat (which means future Battles could have different sub types that adjust the rules of how they act in combat). Every Battle enters the battlefield with a number of defense counters on it, which tells you how much damage it takes to defeat a battle. They are only cast during your main phase if the stack is empty just like regular non-Instant spells.

Here's where things are interesting. When a Battle with sub type Siege enters, you choose an opponent to be its protector. Every other player in that game can attack the Battle to reduce its defense counters. It's worth noting too that Battles can be damaged by direct damage spells as well (for example you can certainly cast Lightning Bolt on a Battle. The Battle's protector can block creatures attacking it.

Once the last defense counter is removed from a Siege Battle, the Battle is defeated and a triggered ability triggers to exile it and allow the Battle's controller to cast its back face from exile without paying its mana cost. Usually the back half is also a permanent, but in some cases it could be a spell.

The biggest thing to note about these cards is the fact that there are a number of cards that exist in Vintage that can directly interact with the removal of counters from permanents, namely Hex Parasite and Vampire Hexmage to name a few. Whether this may slip in some Battles into the format remains to be seen. Most of these look pretty safe (and quite frankly low powered for Vintage), but some like Invasion of Ikoria can be cast pretty cheaply (you can even cast it for X=0) and immediately flip into an 8/8 with reach. I would definitely be interested in seeing what happens with this card type out of this set for sure. Knowing also that the Lord of the Rings set is also coming could mean that we will see this type again pretty immediately in that set.

Other Mechanics

There's a few other mechanics to talk about, but they are doubtful to have a huge impact. The first of which is Backup, which applies abilities to creatures based on the creature entering with Backup and also a +1/+1 counter to boot. Another mechanic is Incubate, which creates artifact tokens called Incubators which can be transformed into a Phyrexian artifact creature later on for two mana.

Now let's take a look at the various cards that could see play in Vintage.

Ancient Imperiosaur

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This one wasn't quite on my radar at first, but then I remembered that the Cradle Vine decks exist, and those decks not only make a lot of mana but they make a lot of creatures that makes convoking this pretty attractive. Having a nearly free trample ward 2 that is at bare minimum a 6/6 or higher seems very good. I will be curious to see where this goes.

Baral and Kari Zev

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This is sort of yet another 1UR legendary that looks like it might be good, but more than likely probably isn't. The effect is sweet but I definitely think Vintage has bypassed these kinds of cards in the long run.

Faerie Mastermind

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World Champ Yuta Takahashi plays a lot of Vintage, so when this was revealed at Magic Con Philadelphia he said that he hoped it would see play there. The effect is definitely strong, and having it on a Flash body is pretty good too. It will be interesting to see if this sees play.

Phyrexian Censor

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Another three mana value Archon of Emeria style effect, while not having evasion this does force your opponent's creatures into play tapped if they're not Phyrexians. I could see this seeing play as additional copies of the Archon effect in the Mono White deck.

Surge of Salvation

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I am not sure if this is any better than Veil of Summer and quite frankly it's a little silly that this doesn't actually just do what Veil does in some cases (like drawing a card) but it's okay for what it is. Gaining overall Hexproof is reasonable enough but I doubt this sees much play at all.

Monastery Mentor

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I might be onto something, but this could probably see so much play in Vintage it gets restricted. Too soon?

Vintage Challenge 4/1

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. This event had 50 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

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

Dredge was the most popular in this event, followed by the Initiative decks. Dredge dud reasonably well, while Aggro Shops did the best. Combo Shops performed very poorly as did Jeskai.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Aggro Shops 1st Oderus Urungus
Breach 2nd desolutionist
Mono White 3rd SuperCow12653
Esper Tinker 4th 416FrowningTable
Aggro Vine 5th Xwhale
UB Tinker 6th duke12
Doomsday 7th sixmp
Lutri Tinker 8th medvedev

Lot of Tinker-based decks here. At the end of the event, it was Aggro Shops that won it all.

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Very sleek and powerful list here. No real frills outside of the normal cool Shops pieces like Fleetwheel Cruiser. Sometimes, mean and clean wins the day!

In Second Place we've got Breach.

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Grixis with the very minor splash into white specifically for Monastery Mentor as a win condition is pretty sweet. I still also love Laelia as a win condition/threat in this deck.

Further down the Top 8 we had Cradle Vine.

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I definitely think this deck is super fun. It has a lot of really powerful things it can do for sure.

Down at the bottom of the Top 8 we had a sweet Lutri Tinker build.

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Lutri seems super fun as a Challenge to see how much of a singleton deck you can get, and honestly, it's pretty good. Super fun list for sure!

Vintage Challenge 4/2

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 40 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

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

Pretty even spread across the board for many of these decks, with not one really taking up more space than another. Prison Shops and Jeskai performed poorly, while Grixis Tinker, Combo Shops, and Dredge all did very well in addition to Initiative Tinker.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Initiative Tinker 1st TunnelGaan
Combo Shops 2nd 2345678
Lurrus Vault Key 3rd shir kahn
Grixis Tinker 4th Yamaro
Doomsday 5th Enrichetta
Aggro Vine 6th noprops
Grixis Tinker 7th thedeck84
Esper Tinker 8th Mogged

Lot of Tinker in this Top 8 for sure. At the end of the event it was a split finals between Initiative Tinker and Combo Shops. Let's look at the Tinker list first.

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No copies of Seasoned Dungeoneer is pretty interesting, but it looks like they found room for some of the Esper tools like Vampiric Tutor and Demonic Tutor. I always love seeing Portal to Phyrexia in sideboards. The card is a lot more powerful than initially anticipated.

As noted, the other Finalist was on Combo Shops.

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Jewel Shops is definitely a solid deck right now, and a great deck to learn that does some very Vintage-level things if you're looking to get into the format.

Also in this Top 8 we had a sweet Lurrus Vault Key deck.

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Always super cool to see a deck with more than two copies of Sensei's Divining Top for sure. Goblin Engineer is also incredibly sweet and powerful.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have another Aggro Vine list.

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There now being a split between the Cradle decks and Hogaak is super interesting as an evolution of Bazaar as an aggressive archetype. This is certainly a super clean list. Note the four copies of Boseiju, Who Endures between the main and side.

Vintage Showcase Qualifier 4/1

This weekend was also the Showcase Qualifier event for the end of Season One of Premier Play on Magic Online. This event is an invitation-only event, with qualifications given to players who Top 8 Showcase Challenges and also win Last Chance Qualifiers. This event had 26 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 13 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Pretty solid spread across all archetypes here. Jeskai and the "Other Tinker" category performed rather poorly. Oath did quite well, as did Esper Tinker and Aggro Vine.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Mono White 1st moonmadness-_-
Aggro Vine 2nd FunkiMunki
Combo Shops 3rd Cherryxman
Aggro Vine 4th Nammersquats
Esper Tinker 5th StopShpewing
Dredge 6th T1_Tinker
Doomsday 7th Tsubasa_Cat
Oath of Druids 8th CodeProvider

Quite a bit of Bazaar here for sure. At the end of the event though it was Mono White Initiative that took it all down and won the MOCS invite.

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I am definitely enjoying that this is a deck still in Vintage and that it seems for the most part, strong but pretty solidly integrated into the fabric of the format. The format has absorbed it quite well I feel.

In Second Place we had Aggro Vine.

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I very much continue to see this version of the deck over the Hogaak deck still so very much, and it makes sense since the mana is a little more flexible and so are the creatures.

At the very bottom of the Top 8 we had Atraxa Oath and Tell.

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This deck is incredibly sweet, not going to lie. Atraxa is definitely a very powerful card and it does so many very strong things.

Around the Web

  • We've got at least one video from Justin Gennari this past week!

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 lists here.

Stoneblade Initiative!

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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 my Link Tree! In addition you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!

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