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Vintage 101: The RUG That Tied the Room Together


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 a deck that did reasonably well at US Eternal Weekend (by putting two decks in the Top 8) and has caught on as well on Magic Online. Originally developed by Matt Murray, aka ChubbyRain, the deck is a RUG midrange style deck featuring a bevy of Planeswalkers.

In addition, we'll be talking about last weekend's Magic Online challenge, the always popular Spice Corner, and of course we'll be talking a little bit about the Banned and Restricted announcement this coming Monday.

So, let's strap in and get ready for a little Wrenn and Six!

RUG Planeswalkers

As noted before, this archetype was developed by our good friend Matt Murray, who took the deck all the way into a Magic Online Vintage Challenge, and then furthermore placed two copies in the Top 8 of NA Vintage Champs at Eternal Weekend in the hands of Jeremy Pinter and Ryan Eberhart. This deck is essentially a midrange pile, utilizing the strength of these powerful planeswalkers to lock the game up and then present a clock either with Oko, Thief of Crowns / Tarmogoyf, or to simply abuse the interaction between one of the more powerful (and Common rarity) cards to come out of Throne of Eldraine.

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Mystic Sanctuary is actively one of the more busted cards in this deck, being able to rebuy cards like Time Walk and Ancestral Recall, but more importantly one of the best cards to buy back is Gush on the sheer fact that Mystic Sanctuary is an Island. This interaction is very powerful and all the card advantage and extra turns here by flashing back Time Walk a bunch can lead to a "build your own Time Vault" combo through the use of Wrenn and Six's emblem and Time Walk. After this is established, winning is as simple as resolving Oko or Goyf and going to town.

As we like to do on this column, let's break this deck down into the various types of cards it has.

Fast Mana

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While the above list doesn't have a Black Lotus in it, the card does float into the lists that are available for this archetype. Outside of this slot, only the on-color Moxen are played as fast artifact mana. This is mainly because there is no need for the other two off-color Moxen in a deck like this, where mana is necessary to be on color and off-color mana is a liability more than acceleration.

Card Draw / Card Selection

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The majority of these spells are restricted (outside of Preordain) and represent the most common setups for blue Xerox / Midrange pile type decks in the format. These are the bread and butter of blue in Vintage.

Interaction

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Of course, we wouldn't be blue Xerox without some form of interaction. Between direct removal / damage in Lightning Bolt to flexible countermagic / removal like Pyroblast, this deck has tools to deal with various situations.

Creature Threats

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Tarmogoyf is generally the major creature threat in this deck, as it represents a powerful clock for 2 mana, but is also flexible and easy to play.

Planeswalkers

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The biggest base of threats this deck has is its cavalcade of Planeswalkers, each one filling a different role. Wrenn and Six offers the ability to Strip Mine lock while also allowing reshuffles every turn which allows for Mystic Sanctuary shenanigans galore, while Dack Fayden and Narset, Parter of Veils both offer card selection (and also work together to force the opponent to discard cards). Oko, Thief of Crowns offers the ability to shut off hate permanents such as Pithing Needle or Grafdigger's Cage (which is important to the W6 ultimate plan) and can present a clock of its own in the form of turning Moxen and Food Tokens into creatures. And in a stunning return to Vintage after some time off with Vraska, Jace, the Mind Sculptor returns to act as card selection, win condition, and removal all in one.

Miscellaneous Utility

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These cards are obvious as to why they're here, Time Walk for its sheer utility and synergy with Wrenn and Six and Mystic Sanctuary. Mystic Sanctuary as noted can interact with a multitude of things, and that is the reason why there is often two copies of it in the main deck.

Ruggy Sideboarding

Now that we've looked at the main deck, let's take a look at this deck's sideboard options.

Graveyard Hate / Dredge Interaction

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Dredge is still a deck to be considering, especially on Magic Online, so we still need cards to help answer that. Crop Rotation out of the sideboard helps enable cards like Bojuka Bog and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale which are effective against Dredge's gameplan.

Artifact/Enchantment Destruction / Additional Interaction

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It might seem weird seeing a basic land in the sideboard, but this is fairly common practice for matchups that hinge heavily on the usage of Wasteland such as Shops and the Fastbond decks in the format. Bringing in an additional basic that can be used to cast a card like Shattering Spree can be powerful. In addition, cards like Nature's Claim deal with artifacts and enchantments like Oath of Druids and Fastbond cleanly, while nuclear options such as Pulverize are good against Ravager Aggro and the Golos Stax builds. Occasionally the slot of Null Rod is also often Collector Ouphe but with the Planeswalker package, both are pretty interchangeable.

In short, the RUG Planeswalker deck is a powerful list that definitely requires a lot of slot attention here or there to tune to personal playstyle but also to keep up with the ongoing changing metagame. However, this deck is pretty fun and offers a unique play experience in the format.

Vintage Challenge 11/9

We had yet another Vintage Challenge on Magic Online last weekend! From what I heard, 54 Vintage players showed up to do battle, but only one would prevail. Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Simic Urza 1st IamActuallyLvl1 (Justin Gennari)
RUG PO Storm 2nd Condescend
DPS 3rd TeferiBokaer
Golos Stax 4th JDPhoenix
Esper PO Storm 5th Oneau
Esper PO Storm 6th Kacknub
Grixis Thieves 7th Korgano
RUG Planeswalkers 8th Ianmarsh

This event was interesting, mostly because despite putting up a single person in the Top 8 of Eternal Weekend, this Challenge was relatively devoid of the card Dreadhorde Arcanist in the Top 32 and in the event proper. As usual, our friend Matt Murray had some data posted on this event here. At the end of the day however, it was our good friend Justin Gennari who took the Top spot on a Simic Urza build!

Justin did advise me that he considered this deck's true name to be "An Absolute Pile" and he's likely not wrong, but this deck is still very sweet. Based on the interactions between Oko and Urza, Lord High Artificer (Oko literally makes Mox Sapphires for Urza to use) and also Emry, Lurker of the Loch, this deck seems pretty interesting and powerful. Congrats on the finish, Justin! If you guys would like to see Justin's whole event plus a hilarious interaction where an opponent attempted to Hurkyl's Recall a board of triple 3/3 Elks, check it out here.

Also showing up in the Top 8 of this event was Golos Stax, piloted by JDPhoenix in 4th place!

I have to admit, I really love these Golos Stax builds. They seem like a very interesting way to approach Shops in a day and age where Force of Vigor is more prevalent in the format.

Outside of the Top 8 was a lot more variants of PO, some Dredge here or there, and a lot of Oath of Druids featuring Oko, Thief of Crowns. What was really interesting is how little actual Ravager Shops appeared in this event. Shops has been on a bit of a downswing in some time, and it's a little insane to see so little of it in an event like this.

Let's take a look at the current 2019 era cards in this event. I like looking at this data because it presents an interesting picture of just how much this year's printings have impacted Vintage.

Card Name Number of Copies
Narset, Parter of Veils 53
Force of Vigor 34
Oko, Thief of Crowns 25
Force of Negation 20
Veil of Summer 18
Assassin's Trophy 12
Collector Ouphe 12
Creeping Chill 8
Bolas's Citadel 7
Stonecoil Serpent 7
Wrenn and Six 7
Niv-Mizzet, Parun 6
Mystic Sanctuary 5
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 4
Teferi, Time Raveler 4
Urza, Lord High Artificer 4
Arcum's Astrolabe 3
Brazen Borrower 3
Emry, Lurker of the Loch 3
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 3
Mystic Forge 2
Scrapyard Recombiner 2
God-Pharaoh's Statue 1
Hexdrinker 1
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 1
Karn, the Great Creator 1

As has been the case for some time now, Narset is at the top of the veritable heap of 2019 era cards in this event. As we saw last week with Eternal Weekend, Narset appears to be virtually everywhere in greater numbers than any other 2019 era card ever, outside of the brief period of time where Force of Vigor claimed that title during the Karn/Forge era. This inevitably leads us to our next topic of discussion.

November 18th - Banned and Restricted Announcement

We have another scheduled Banned and Restricted list announcement next week, and while for the most part we expect this to be purely a Standard-related announcement (likely banning Oko, Thief of Crowns), the topic of whether or not there is anything to do for a format such as Vintage always comes up. I have been doing some ruminating on this topic myself and would like to share my thoughts on the format.

Overall, right now Vintage does seem to be in a fun place. There are interesting decks and interesting things going on within the format, and I generally agree that the restrictions made prior to Eternal Weekend were absolutely correct. However, the one chief offender to this fun that we're having with the format is of course... Narset, Parter of Veils.

One of the things about Narset that makes the card so egregious as we've talked numerous times about is the fact that it is an asymmetrical effect that generally results in either a non-game (a game where the opponent simply cannot climb over the advantage that Narset gains) or into a subgame where both players attempt to resolve and protect a Narset, which often devolves into a different form of a non-game where both players can't do much of anything until one of them draws an answer for the opposing Narset, all while hoping the opponent has not drawn an answer for their answer. This does not provide interesting counter play to blue mirrors, and splash damages against interesting decks like Survival (by being able to shut down Bazaar of Baghdad).

Furthermore, Narset's minus ability is a sorcery speed Impulse that not only finds the player a card they need, but also clears dead draws off the top, all while being attached to a Leovold, Emissary of Trest effect at the same time. The key difference here is the fact that you cannot easily cast Leovold, Emissary of Trest using Black Lotus, but you can very easily Lotus -> Narset on Turn 1 and suddenly be way ahead of the game in all regards.

Personally, I would not mind if Narset were to get restricted in the near future, hopefully during next week's announcement. I had hopes that perhaps the opening up of Mental Misstep's restriction might make cards like Thoughtseize help cut down on cards like Narset, but it seems that nearly isn't the case at all with the format's development. As such, I feel like it might be time to pull the trigger on Narset.

That being said, I also would like to see a possible unrestriction or even multiple unrestrictions. The last BnR announcement that restricted Karn and gang alluded to the possibility of unrestricting further cards such as Necropotence or Windfall. I have a feeling that Necropotence would be a sweet card to have in return from restricting Narset. Windfall is a card I'm less hot on but with Narset being restricted it could potentially provide another interesting Draw 7 effect to the format. Necro I see as a possible Necro-Control deck that would be fun to play around with as well. I would also be curious to see what Channel would do still, but that's my personal bias in wanting to see Channel + Lich's Mirror as an actual deck.

The Spice Corner

MTGO User hash1 gave us a little interesting stuff in BUG Fastbond!

Another fun spice corner thing to share is someone from Eternal Weekend registered an unpowered version of Elementals! It was too good to not share!

What I've Been Playing This Week

I've been switching gears lately and playing Stax again! This deck is fun!

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! It's been an interesting week in the format still, and I can hope for more weeks to come! Next week we'll be covering what does or doesn't happen with the Banned and Restricted list announcement, and also going over the new Golos Stax builds in the format! It should be very interesting to talk about!

As of always, you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! I'm going to be working on developing next month's episode of "The Bazaar of Moxology" which will be covering our Elk Lord Oko and some games on Oath and some games on Stax!

Until next time, remember to keep casting Moxen Elk! Or don't! That's like, your opinion, man!


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