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Vintage 101: The Power of Lurrus

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 a bit about Lurrus and also about how it and Lorien Revealed have had a real impact on Vintage. In addition to that we've got two Challenges to discuss.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Cat + Spells = Winning!

It's 2023. What if I went back in time 10 years and told someone heavily invested in playing Magic at that time that a Common of all things would change the Vintage format on its head? I would probably get laughed at like I'm a little crazy.

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And yet, here we are! That's right, the hype train of Lorien Revealed in the Vintage format was a very slow burning one as players began experimenting with the card to try to understand how significantly powerful this card really is. And yes, this card is changing Vintage as we know it. And it all has to do with the fact that another card that changed Vintage's course of action gets a whole lot better because of it.

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Urza's Saga decks traditionally playing blue in a Big Blue Tinker type deck often ran into the cold hard truth that sometimes they would be starved for colored mana. Playing your Saga out and then banking on having lands to go with it to cast your colored spells was actually pretty rough. Especially if your opponent had anything like Wasteland, they could simply leave you stranded and unable to actually do anything.

Lorien Revealed essentially fixes that entire issue for Saga as a card. By being a land that cycles for a dual, a pitch to force, and a draw three spell all at once, this card's power level is what enables it to work well with decks that want to play Saga. Now going on the line of Saga into cycle Lorien Revealed for an Underground Sea or even a basic Island feels very very very strong given that bottleneck these decks had before.

This shift in deckbuilding theory has led to an understanding of also being able to fully lean on a card like Lurrus of the Dream-Den in a blue Saga shell, which before Lorien would have been quite disastrous. It would have been very possible you'd have never been able to cast your Lurrus on colorless lands, so being able to leverage the land cycling abilities of Lorien seems quite good at enabling Lurrus.

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At its core, the primary cards in this shell are the Saga + Lorien package, Lurrus, and as many of these decks have identified Orcish Bowmasters. Bowmasters serves as both a threat and a deterrent to the opponent from drawing cards, which in turn can give time to the Lurrus player to assemble countermagic and responses to plays. In addition, this shell is extremely flexible in its deckbuilding theories. You can stick to a straight Dimir colors and put an emphasis on cards like Dark Confidant or you can splash white and gain access to removal like Swords to Plowshares and lock pieces like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade.

That's not even close to where it ends though, and I suspect we'll see more shells look at how this plan functions in the future here and adopt pieces of it. It is a powerful shell overall and its existence truly has changed Vintage and the perception of how Saga Blue decks work in the current format. It will be interesting to see how this looks over time but for now... the Cat is here to stay and here to play.

Vintage Challenge 10/14

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Saturday event. This event had 55 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 data sheet here.

Beseech Storm was the most played deck of the event, but it's win rate was fairly poor. Initiative also had a fairly poor win rate, as did Oath. Lurrus Saga did the best out of all the decks here, followed closely by Doomsday and CounterVine.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus Saga 1st Grosduk
Initiative 2nd yPrincipe
Doomsday 3rd XShockWaveX
Oath of Druids 4th SebastienStueckl
Lurrus Saga 5th HJ_Kaiser
Lurrus Vault Key 6th J0SE
Beseech Storm 7th Sanchez5272
Oath of Druids 8th helvetti

Fairly varied Top 8 for the most part. Lot of Lurrus here. At the end of the event it was Lurrus Saga that won.

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We talked about the variants of this deck above and how powerful they are because they're so flexible. Having both a solid answer card like Bowmasters + the eventuality of backup plans in Urza's Saga is just quite powerful.

In Second Place we had Initiative.

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Fairly stock looking list overall here. With decks like Oath running around, md Loran of the Third Path makes a lot of sense.

Speaking of Oath we had two in the Top 8 so let's look at the higher placing one.

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Lorien Revealed is some fairly newish tech to the deck it feels like, but it seems really strong here. I still somewhat maintain that having Portal to Phyrexia in decks playing Tinker sideboards is a good thing, but I also think Veil of Summer seems like a strong addition as well.

Further down the Top 8 we had the Lurrus Vault Key deck.

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This deck does its thing and does its thing well, and I've noticed in the sideboard here it isn't afraid to abandon the Lurrus Companion plan for big Tinker targets if it needs to. That's some solid deckbuilding choice there.

Vintage Challenge 10/15

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 52 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 data sheet here.

Lurrus Saga was the most represented deck of the event, and it did quite well overall. Oath of Druids didn't do so hot, despite being very popular. Dredge had a surprise showing here despite having not been too in depth in the current metagame as CounterVine was overly represented over it. Doomsday did poorly and Beseech Storm also did poorly.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus Saga 1st Minest110
BUG Midrange 2nd yoshiwata
Dredge 3rd TeamLeaderNA
Jeskai Lurrus 4th Lordoflifegain
Initiative 5th LasVegasChaos
Lurrus Merfolk 6th Slasher21
Dredge 7th Elfkid
Dredge 8th vwxyza648204

Interesting Top 8 here. Dredge certainly brought out the big guns this week. However it was again Lurrus Saga that won.

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Pretty close to stock of what we've seen out of this deck, and certainly quite close to the Saturday winner's list. I do think there's room for minor flex spots though and ways to build to the metagame with this shell so I wouldn't be surprised to see more variants pop up of this shell.

In Second Place we had BUG Midrange.

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Soul Rend is a card I've just seen a ton of in sideboards lately. It seems like a strong way for these fair decks to contend with Initiative, and it replaces itself.

As noted we had a lot of Dredge in this Top 8. Let's look at the highest placing list.

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Straightforward, clean, and powerful. It's ultimately hilarious and awesome that Dredge changes no cards and shows up in force at a Challenge event. Really proves the cycle of people not prepping for it for sure.

Further down the Top 8 we had a Lurrus Merfolk list!

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I think this is a solid proof that the Lurrus + Lorien package is just really good as we've indicated in the above main section of the article. You can build virtually anything around this shell and it seems quite strong.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

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


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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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