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Vintage 101: The SCG Con Experience


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host with the most, Joe Dyer, and we're strapping in for a ride on the rollercoaster that is SCG Con! Held in Roanoke, VA, this event was a massive celebration of everything Magic: The Gathering related, centered around the Star City Games Season One Invitational. However, SCG Con was so much more than a tournament and a bunch of side events. There was truly something for everyone at this event, from events for Old School, Vintage, Legacy, Modern, and even being the Prerelease weekend for Modern Horizons, as well as plenty of artists, cosplayers, and vendors and a huge area devoted solely to playing Commander.

For me, this event was incredibly fun and a generally amazing time. Before we get started into this, I want to take a moment and thank some of the people who helped make this weekend special and of course the people who helped make it happen. Primarily the three I need to thank are Rajah James, Nick Ireland, and Zach Denger for helping me be able to within a month cobble together Karn Stax for Vintage as well as the Old School deck I ended up playing (big thanks to Rajah for this part), but also huge thanks to Nam Tran, David Lance, Jerry Yang, Jason Jaco, and Paul Eveslage for the company and friendship throughout the weekend and simply being along for the ride. You are all excellent people and excellent friends and I appreciate all of you for this weekend.

Furthermore, I managed to also meet some great folks this weekend, including meeting Justin Franks (thepowernine on Magic Online), our good buddy Cyrus Corman-Gill, and Vintage Champs winner Brian Coval. You guys were fantastic this weekend and I was especially rooting for Cyrus, Brian, and Will Magrann in the Team Eternal Showdown (they made Top 4!). I also got to briefly meet Brian David-Marshall and Magic SR Designer Gavin Verhey (got to cube with Gavin! Was so much fun!).

All in all, this was an excellent weekend and I want to go over it with you guys and talk about the events that went on.

Thursday - An Introduction to Old School

So, let me preface this by saying that before this past weekend I had never played a single game of Old School (93/94 rules Eternal Central), but I was encouraged to sign up by my good friend Rajah as he thought that I might have fun with the format and enjoy it. For those that are unaware, Old School is a format that only allows cards printed from 1993-1994 in Magic's earliest of histories, with the stipulation in the EC rules that cards like Collector's Edition/International Edition as well as cards that share the same boarder and artwork as the oldest printing of that card. For example: City of Brass from Chronicles is legal in the format since it shares the same artwork and border as the earliest printing of the card in Arabian Nights. You can find full rulings on this format here at Eternal Central's website.

The deck I played for this event, in true Old School fashion (a picture followed by the actual decklist):

The object of playing this deck is to develop a board presence of cards such as Icy Manipulator, Relic Barrier, Howling Mine, and Winter Orb. Because of how Howling Mine and Winter Orb are worded, these cards can be turned "off" for the benefit of the control player in order to control the symmetrical effect they provide. For example, tapping down Howling Mine prevents your opponent from drawing extra cards, and tapping Winter Orb on your opponent's end step will allow you to untap all of your lands for that turn, while still functioning on your opponent's turn. Beyond that, the deck plays a pile of removal and countermagic to keep the opponent's board under control until it can play the title card to win the game - Titania's Song.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Commander players I have found are more than likely to be familiar with this card than most, but it is a unique effect. Titania's Song animates all noncreature artifacts and also makes them lose all of their abilities. This shuts off cards like Black Vise and Ivory Tower which are both pretty popular cards in the format, while also simultaneously killing every zero drop Moxen in play. Oncee an army of artifacts is assembled, Titania's Song acts as the hammer that drives the nail all the way in, allowing you to smash in with several artifact creatures.

Suffice to say, I really enjoyed my time with the format. The event was held at the 202 Social House in downtown Roanoke where a total of 46 powerful wizards came to do battle, and it was a very fun and friendly atmosphere. The Old School community is very open and friendly, and that in my mind is what made it so much to play. I am unsure whether I would actually build for the format long term mostly because the nostalgia factor doesn't get me that much like how Middle School does, but the experience was overly positive and I would play the format again if given the chance. The event was very well ran by Jason Jaco of Eternal Central, and it was a fun time.

As far as my performance was concerned, over seven rounds I went 3-4 in a format I knew nothing about going in, so I feel fairly happy with that. One of the guys I played against, James Easteppe, had a seriously cool deck that he shared with me in picture form that was a very similar style of artifact control engine as mine, but in a 24-land shell, calling it Turboland Control.

All in all, this event was super amounts of fun, and you can read further on it (with pictures of all the decklist submissions) in Jaco's wrapup article on the Eternal Central website.

Friday - Vintage Power 9 Series - My Tournament

Given my preparation for this event, I knew going into this that the format was in a sense, going to be a little interesting since the London Mulligan had been officially announced and Modern Horizons was coming out in a week. I knew several people coming in on Workshops manabase decks, and I knew that it was likely I would see mirror matches throughout the day. Suffice to say, my event did not go as well as I had hoped, squeaking into the event with a 2-5 record overall across seven rounds. I did indeed play all seven rounds of the event, even though I was 2-4 going into Round 7, completely dead for prizing because frankly getting to play paper Vintage happens so infrequently that I wanted to get my money's worth of being there. I entered this event alongside my brethren in Team Serious Nam Tran, David Lance, and Jerry Yang, and unfortunately we were unable to bring home a victory for the team, but we still had a good time.

In the end, I had settled on Karn Stax for this event. For reference, here's a sweet screen shot of the deck and the decklist.

Despite my record, I did have a lot of fun at this event. I'm going to touch on my rounds as a miniature tournament report in order to give an idea of where things went and how they went.

Round 1 vs Gus on Survival (2-0 WIN)

Gus is familiar with the column, having met each other at Old School on Thursday, and he is a great guy (seriously thanks for the games, Gus!). We shuffle up and make small talk and go to Game One. He makes a Turn 1 Noble Hierarch on the play, and on the draw I cast Black Lotus, a Mox, and then Karn, Scion of Urza into Ancient Tomb and Sphere of Resistance. This game is over fairly quickly as Karn proceeds to make some pretty big constructs and take away the game. We sideboard and talk about it a little bit, and get to Game 2. Game 2 proves to be relatively interesting enough as I'm forced to take some damage from a quick Hollow One on Gus' side of things. In fact, Gus gets me down to 8 life before I'm able to stabilize and locate an Ensnaring Bridge and a Karn, the Great Creator to seal up the game with a Mycosynth Lattice lock.

Round 2 vs Michael on Brass City Vault (0-2 LOSS)

This match is technically a mirror match, as we're both Karn decks and we're both at the mercy of our draws. Game 1 I am not able to get much on board on the draw and my opponent sticks a Karn and is able to Lattice me. It's over pretty quickly and we go to sideboarding. After sideboarding, I mulligan poorly and my opponent makes a quick Karn, Scion of Urza and I die to tokens before I can find an answer for them. This is essentially how these matches tend to go, so I'm not too surprised.

Round 3 vs Eric on Colorless Eldrazi (1-2 LOSS)

Eric is a great guy as well, and coincidentally works for the same company as I do for my 8 to 5 job, just in a different state. Small worlds, after all! I am on the play in Game 1, and I'm able to beat a Reality Smasher with an Ensnaring Bridge, but he is able to find a Karn for the Lattice lock on me. We sideboard and I shuffle up in Game 2 and my draws are absolutely perfect, being able to stick a Karn early and get the Lattice lock on board fast to end the game. Game 3 I'm on the draw, and double Thought-Knot Seer puts enough pressure down with a Reality Smasher to put me to lights out territory even though I'm able to get a Turn 1 Lodestone Golem in play to beat in for a little damage.

Round 4 vs John on Pitch Dredge (1-2 LOSS)

John is also a pretty nice guy! I loved meeting all my opponents this weekend as that part was the most fun of all my games. I'm on the play and it's quickly established that he's on Dredge. At least this is a deck I know. However, while I'm able to establish an Ensnaring Bridge lock on him Game 1, I find absolutely no way of getting rid of my Mana Crypt and I miss a ton of flip triggers to die to my own Mana Crypt. There is a downside of playing the card after all! Game 2 I open on a Leyline of the Void pregame and he mulligans to about four cards and isn't able to get on board enough to lose to the lock. Game 3 on the draw, I am slowly beat down by a Hollow One before I can find an answer for dealing with it. Unfortunately I also have to take a bunch of Ancient Tomb damage to do it as well, and at 2 life my opponent hard casts a Narcomoeba to kill me in two turns. I can't even be mad about this, honestly. It was pretty cool. My only out to this was essentially needing to find a blue source to be able to cast Phyrexian Metamorph from my hand to make a copy of Narcomoeba as a blocker. Black Lotus was the next card I would have drawn after death.

Round 5 vs Jerry on Colorless Eldrazi (2-0 WIN)

Jerry is actually another member of Team Serious who came into town to hang out, and wanted to play some Vintage so we built him a deck (literally on the drive down, it was great). We joke about and make small talk and shuffle up. Game 1 turns out fairly interesting but I am able to pull ahead at some point to take the game. It's Game 2 however, where things get really interesting. So interesting in fact that we both are gaining small percentage points here or there throughout the game with each passing turn. Finally, Jerry is able to hit his Karn, but then I am able to hit my Karn. Here's where things get a little nuts. Having a Smokestack on board, I cast a Mycosynth Lattice into the board with both Karns in play, shutting off every permanent in play. Because I have an Ensnaring Bridge I can't attack. This leads to the most amusing board state I've ever played on. Jerry was of course, kind enough to snap a picture.

I of course, in my infintite wisdom miss the fact that I would be able to pressure Jerry's life total with my Lodestone Golem by just sacrificing Ensnaring Bridge to attack with it, but with a Crucible of Worlds on the other side of the table, I am forced to ratchet up Smokestack to 2 counters to try and debilitate his board. Finally I just sac the Bridge and without thinking kill his Karn (and Jerry was of course... at 4 life). I realize this next turn as I had tunnel vision'ed into wanting to cast spells again (just sort of happened that way), and hadn't considered his life total. Finally, I'm able to just swing and take care of business once I realize I have the game in the bag. Gus, my opponent from Round 1, laughingly tells me I could have had it earlier, and of course he was right about that. I just got focused on other things!

Round 6 vs Sahaj on Ravager Shops (1-2 LOSS)

I decided at the beginning no matter how many rounds I lost, I would just be down to keep playing. I sit down and make small talk with Sahaj, and we get to battling (as powerful wizards do). Game 1 is a back and forth game but I'm not able to keep up with his creatures as I'm a bit slower in regards to handling these kinds of things. I lose and we go to Game 2. Game 2 feels a lot better as I'm able to establish some lock pieces and then a Karn to make the Lattice combo a reality. Sahaj concedes and we go to Game 3, where I mulligan badly and have no answers for his army of robots. I made a super huge punt in this game, where I ran a Moxen out into a Ratchet Bomb I was casting to deal with Moxen and Precursor Golem tokens made on Sahaj's Turn 1. This ends up mattering a lot. Note to self, don't blow up your own zero drop artifacts unless you have no choice.

Round 7 vs Unknown on PO Storm (0-2 LOSS)

So I don't actually remember my opponent's name from this round (sorry Mystery Opponent!) because I was super tired and forgot to write down his name. Regardless, it becomes quickly apparent that my opponent is on PO in Game 1, and a quick Monastery Mentor on his end seals things up nice and tidy. We shuffle up to Game 2 and while I'm able to make some lock pieces here or there, he does locate a Hurkyl's Recall and Tinkers into a Blightsteel Colossus. I make an Ensnaring Bridge, but I mess up the casting order of Lodestone Golem + Sphere of Resistance to completely and utterly die to being Hurkyl's out of the game. This match went blazingly quick.

At the end of the event, I am not super unhappy. I did get to play seven rounds of Vintage, and I did meet some great opponents along the way. It's one of the big defining things about Vintage for me is meeting great opponents. One thing I did this year was continue an idea I had last year of having Vintage people sign my Steel Overseer playmat, to make it unique and one of a kind. This year was no exception to his, except I had every one of my opponents sign the mat, in addition to getting signatures from our good friends Cyrus Corman-Gill and Brian Coval in addition to Justin Franks. This alone made my year for me.

Vintage Power 9 Series Top 16 and Metagame

The Top 16 of the Vintage Power 9 Series was very interesting, providing some very interesting looks into the format from the paper side of things. Let's dive right into the Top 16, shall we?

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Jeskai Xerox 1st Dan Miller
Dreadhorde Control 2nd Justin Franks (thepowernine)
Blue/White Xerox 3rd Dustin Sollazzo
Survival 4th Edward Bonar
Grixis Control 5th Tyler Klein
Griselbrand Oath 6th Daniel Buckingham
Brass City Vault 7th Jeffery Krasnozon
Ravager Shops 8th Joel Lim
Colorless Eldrazi 9th Richard Spoonholz
Oath of Druids 10th Kyle Dorgan
Pitch Dredge 11th Patrick Cline
PO Storm 12th Clair Bigelow
Survival 13th Kurt Spiess
Oath of Druids 14th Max Schroeder
Jeskai Xerox 15th Michah Greenbaum
Brass City Vault 16th Brian Coval

The Top 16 of this event was very interesting to note, despite the event being somewhat overwhelmingly colorless in nature (a lot of Mishra's Workshops floating around, myself included), but it was interesting to see decks like Xerox doing well amidst the sea of Narset, Parter of Veils and Karn, the Great Creator. Furthermore, it was neat to see decks like Survival and Oath in the mix as well.

The winner of this event was none other than Dan Miller, on a Jeskai Xerox deck with Lavinia, Azorius Renegade and four copies of Swords to Plowshares across the 75.

Congrats to Dan on such a powerful wizardly finish!

In second place, a deck we have to absolutely talk further about at some point in the future is Justin Frank's so-called Dreadhorde Control, running FOUR copies of the card Dreadhorde Arcanist from War of the Spark. I got to watch many of Justin's matches during the course of the event and was thoroughly impressed with the power level of this card. Congrats to Justin (who goes by "thepowernine" on Magic Online) on his finish!

Just outside of the Top 8 is another good friend of mine, Richard Spoonholz. I know Richard mainly through the Leaving a Legacy group on Facebook, so this was my first time meeting him in person. He pulled through a pretty good tournament finish placing 9th on Colorless Eldrazi.

Finally at the the top end of the Top 16 we have the 2018 Vintage Champs winner Brian Coval on an adjusted take on the Brass City Vault equation by working in Thought-Knot Seer into the list. Both Brian and Cyrus Corman-Gill were on this same 75, and in Cyrus' own words on the subject the deck felt broken and very powerful.

Saturday/Sunday - The SCG "Con" Experience

Given my performance in competitive Magic the past day, and the fact that I had played 14 rounds of Magic in the past two days, I took the next two days (Saturday and Sunday morning before we left for home) to experience a little bit of the other side of SCG Con, the "Con" side of it. I had borrowed LED Dredge from my good friend Scott Campbell (@MTGPackFoils on Twitter) with the intent of playing in the Legacy Play for Power event, but I was not feeling it.

Instead I attended a Modern Horizons prerelease sealed event Saturday morning (where I ended up 0-2 drop due to an extremely heinous pool where I pulled some decent rares plus one mythic in Morophon but no synergy between any of my colors) and opted to hang out with a close friend who came up from North Carolina to sell some cards and hang out. After that, I met up with my friend Paul and watched a little of the Cosplay panel before going off with him to cube draft. Easily this cube draft was a big highlight of my weekend as I got to cube with none other than Gavin Verhey, who was a really great guy to meet and a really solid drafter. Although Gavin did have to bounce after his first match, it was a lot of fun. After the day was over, we went out to dinner with the Old School crew once more, and then went back to the hotel where we drafted my pauper cube and had a great time.

Sunday morning didn't hold much for us, as we were pretty much ready to leave. One thing I managed to do before we left however was get a ton of cards signed by some of the various artists onsite for the purposes of my pauper cube. I have a 540 card pauper cube that I am relatively close to fully foiling out (69 cards out of 540 unfoiled) and I generally enjoy getting the foils signed if possible. It was great to see so many artists onsite this year, and I really enjoyed talking to Dan Scott, Zack Stella, and of course Jeff Laubenstein (who I had a fantastic discussion with about the Middle School format). You can see the fruits of my labor on Sunday here.

Vintage Challenge 6/8/2019

While some powerful wizards battled at SCG Con, some other powerful wizards took the fight online on the Magic Online Vintage Challenge from this past weekend, being the first challenge where Modern Horizons is legal (since sets are made legal prior to the prerelease weekend typically). It may still be too early to tell how impactful some of the cards from Modern Horizons may be, but the early winners of this event was Force of Vigor and Force of Negation. We'll do a count to show how many showed up this week, but first let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Midrange 1st ValorJ
Pitch Dredge 2nd Call1Me1Dragon
Ravager Shops 3rd GGoggles
Dreadhorde Control 4th _Shatun_
Pitch Dredge 5th Mathonical
Jeskai Xerox 6th Winryder
Pitch Dredge 7th Smmenen (Stephen Menendian)
BUG Midrange 8th Shir Kahn

One of the obvious early observations of this event is that Pitch Dredge was very popular, having now gained access to both Force effects, but we saw three wildly different lists in regards to how these cards should be applied to the deck. I think it is going to take a while to hash out the list in entirety (especially with London Mulligan around the corner), but for now let's look at Stephen Menendian's list.

Stephen's list is an interesting contrast from Mathonical's list, who opted to utilize cards like Elvish Spirit Guide instead of playing cards like Shambling Shell to enable Force of Vigor. Stephen also opted for the card Terastodon in the list, which is really super interesting.

Outside of the Top 8 however, more and more Karn decks took center stage (to the point that there were 32 copies of Karn in the Top 32), with several Brass City Vault lists in addition to normal Ravager Shops. However, it was ValorJ on BUG Midrange that took the top spot, playing two Force of Vigor main deck along with both Narset, Parter of Veils and Leovold, Emissary of Trest.

Let's do our work on how many copies of Modern Horizons cards showed up across this event.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Vigor 23
Force of Negation 15
Collector Ouphe 4
Urza, Lord High Artificer 6
Bazaar Trademage 2
Plague Engineer

1

The data here is super interesting, since it shows Force of Vigor being the clear winner of the Modern Horizons cards thus far, but Force of Negation is not far behind, but only mostly showing up in Dredge decks. Not seeing more Collector Ouphe actually somewhat makes sense since it is possible that card only wants to work for Survival decks where it can be tutored for, and of course a rare showing of both Bazaar Trademage and Plague Engineer. One interesting thing to note is zero copies of Shenanigans, and I think that it is possible that the sorcery speed of this card might not be good after all no matter how repeatable it is. Time will tell as we go forward with other events however, and as more copies of Modern Horizons cards make it into the Magic Online environment.

The Spice Corner

Playing the exact same list in the Challenge, Kanister and IAmActuallyLvl1 (Justin Gennari) both showed off the power of Urza, Lord High Artificer in a Paradox Engine shell. Super cool stuff!

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have for this week and whew this was a lot to get through, but I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I had a lot of fun at this event, and I really enjoyed being there and meeting everyone who said hi to me. Surprisingly a good number of people asked "are you the same XXX who writes for MTGGoldfish?" and I was not expecting that much love from those I got a chance to talk to about it. Everyone I met was genuinely awesome and wonderful, and I really appreciated Star City Games in managing this event so well. SCG Con felt more like the "Convention" experience, and I really believe that Wizards of the Coast should look at what SCG has done with these events and talk to them about what has worked and what hasn't, because clearly SCG has this well in hand.

As always, keep up with me on the Twitter, Twitch, and Patreon! I don't know yet when I'll be back to streaming after playing so much Magic this past weekend, but I will certainly be back at some point.

Until next time, all the peace and love from me, ciao!


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