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Vintage 101: The Murktide 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 talking about Blue Tempo strategies in Vinage and how Murktide Regent is really making a splash in the format. In addition to that we've got two Challenge events to discuss, as well as some Spice Corner!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Mammoth Murktides

Blue decks in Vintage have for the longest time been decks that are more primarily focused on abusing their restricted cards in some fashion, either by abusing Ancestral Recall or even just as innocuous as having Tinker with Tinker targets to fetch like Citadel. However, the printing of three cards in this past year have really pushed a Blue Tempo-like shell to exist in the format, and it has proven to be pretty good.

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If you guessed it was these three cards, then congrats you're the winner! These three cards have such an engine quality to them that interact favorably with each other in so many ways, but really it's Expressive Iteration that has really provided so much value across so many older formats, and we're starting to see a bit of that in Vintage as well, where exiling a Moxen or Lotus is just as good as exiling a Land drop that you might need to make. Of course, what this gives us is decks like this where we are seeing strategies more akin to Legacy's UR Delver variants.

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Just like in so many other formats the card is legal in, Murktide Regent is a pretty immense clock that closes out games very quickly once it's on the board. It's a threat that rewards you for simply playing the game of Magic that the deck was already likely going to play anyways, and then getting to windmill slam a 2 mana 8/8 that flies. This has really given these decks a lot of oomph factor, but also combined with the fact that Ragavan is such a solid low to the ground threat in a format where you are more than likely to hit something you could cast more often than not. That isn't to say it doesn't happen, but having plenty of really efficient cards and free mana in the format makes a Ragavan trigger sometimes incredibly brutal (such as hitting your opponent's Lotus or Ancestral).

I do believe though that despite these powerful threats it is truly Iteration at the core that is driving the power level of these decks. While we haven't seen much of the card in other shells outside of maybe a 1-2 of in Jeskai variants or Grixis variants, this deck is playing a full four copies of it and really leaning on the card selection strength the card has to push through their deck while at the same time creating exile fodder for Murktide. In this particular case, we even see some cards like Thought Scour which at first glance seems weird, but then you remember about how strong Murktide is because of Delve.

This is definitely a strong deck in the current Vintage format and something to keep an eye on for sure.

Vintage Challenge 3/26

Our first Challenge for last weekend was the Saturday event, which had 61 players overall 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.

BUG was highly popular here, but it had a poor win rate in the overall scope of the event. Blue Tinker decks were immensely powerful in this event, with an incredible 70% win rate with just seven pilots on them, four of which made it into the Top 8 of this event. PO is also up there and so is Dredge in this event. There's been a lot of ruminations about whether Tinker shells are bad for the format due to their high popularity, but I don't think we're quite there yet and it still seems like these decks have their hot and cold weeks like any other deck in this format seems to currently.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Paradoxical Outcome 1st Diem4x
Grixis Tinker 2nd Promidnightz
Grixis Tinker 3rd Butakov
Grixis Tinker 4th ReneRandrup
BUG 5th Dr. Jon Osterman
Esper Tinker 6th SenpaiBlank
Dredge 7th Lord_Beerus
Dredge 8th Wizard_2002

Definitely a very Tinker heavy Top 8 with the four Tinker variants plus PO which is also a distinct Tinker variant. At the end of the event, I understand that the finalists split, so let's take a look at the two lists in order starting with Paradoxical Outcome.

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Definitely a solid list here, indicative of what we've seen in the past here with how PO has operated with the Saga based builds.

The other finalist was on Grixis Tinker.

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Grixis certainly offers a lot of strengths to the Tinker shell, predominantly cards like Blast effects and Ragavan/Dack Fayden. This is a powerful shell to look at for getting into these kinds of decks for sure.

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

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Hullbreacher is just a really good card in Vintage in general right now, so having at least one copy in the 75 of these kinds of decks is a nice solid answer to a lot of various strategies.

Near the bottom of the Top 8 we had some Dredge action going on.

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Very clean and clear list here. The game plan is very focused and it has the right amount of hate cards it needs to muscle through graveyard hate.

Vintage Challenge 3/27

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event which 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.

Tinker was popular but seemed a lot more reasonable in win rates here. Bazaar decks like Dredge and Hogaak were also reasonably popular here and there was quite a nice spread of decks among the rest really.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Grixis Tinker 1st Butakov
BPK Lurrus 2nd brianpk80
Hogaak 3rd Jazza
KCI 4th billster47
Esper Tinker 5th JUJUBEAN__2004
Hogaak 6th heibing
Dredge 7th Kasa
Esper Tinker 8th SenpaiBlank

Definitely an interesting Top 8 here with some cool decks in the mix. At the end of the event however, it was Grixis Tinker that took it all down.

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Again, this shell seems to be very strong and also very popular, but there are many reasons we still see the Esper variants too (mainly including cards like Lavinia and Mentor as the big draws there). There's definitely a firm set of differences in a variety of these shells that has their own strengths and weaknesses.

The Second Place finalist was the one and only Brian Kelly on what can only be described as "That's So Brian"!

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Lurrus at the head of a Doomsday deck is so intriguing because you lose access to Street Wraith, but this list is so wild and interesting. Using Valki, God of Lies as a way of having a higher mana value permanent without tripping Lurrus up is so interesting. Brian has some of the most insane and thought-provoking deckbuilding decisions though and it's always great to see when he's playing in events.

Also in this Top 8 we had Hogaak.

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This is a very clean list and very focused on knowing what it needs to attack right now, primarily with main deck Collector Ouphe. No Boseiju here, but it floats in and out of this deck it seems.

Further in on this Top 8 we had a showing by KCI.

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This deck utilizes a win based on the Krark-Clan Ironworks combo that made a lot of rounds in Modern, except in this case it gets to do it with Moxen and Lotus. Very cool deck for sure!

Around the Web

  • Justin Gennari's content machine is full steam ahead! Check out what he's got this week for us:
  • Reid Duke has a great article on a Deep Dive into Vintage! Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

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

Turtle PO!

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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 Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!

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