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Vintage 101: The Shadow Knows


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 looking at the current variations of Death's Shadow in Vintage and how those decks are doing right now. In addition, we at least have some data on the Challenges from this past weekend, but we don't have any decklists because of a bug in the publication of those lists from last weekend.

So, without further ado, let's dive right into this week's topic.

A Shadow of Darkness

We've got yet another deck to talk about this week, one that has been creeping up here and there and that is of course Death's Shadow. A playable and powerful strategy in Legacy, Shadow has taken a while to take root as a Vintage strategy, but thanks to some diehard pilots we have something to talk about on it.

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Make no mistake, TrueHero is one of the champions of Death's Shadow archetypes in multiple formats, so their lists set a bit of a standard for how these decks should look. Those familiar with the overall strategy of Shadow decks know that the biggest aspect of the deck is utilizing cards like Street Wraith, Thoughtseize, and fetching shock lands to lower your own life total so that when you are casting a Death's Shadow it is generally immense enough to end the game in a few swings. This is very much likened to a Delver of Secrets type strategy where you are mainly attempting to disrupt your opponent long enough to win the game by creature combat.

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In Legacy, this sort of deck has access to a lot more consistency tools such as 4x Brainstorm, but Vintage's restricted blue suite offers a lot of power to the Shadow game plan between the restricted Power as well as cards like Vampiric Tutor and Gitaxian Probe. These cards not only represent ways of hitting your own life total, but are highly impactful restricted cards as well to cast.

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One of the things that really makes this deck tick is the fact that in general, while creature combat has risen in the Vintage format, finisher creatures that grow like Shadow are exceptionally powerful even if they don't have something like trample. This deck also has the ability to expand itself as well into other color combinations, such as Grixis utilizing the cards Dreadhorde Arcanist and Dack Fayden.

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Or Esper variations, getting to use cards like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade and Teferi, Time Raveler.

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There are many different ways to take this, you can even take the list by TrueHero and add more BUG related cards to it thanks to the presence of Deathrite Shaman and play a list with cards like Abrupt Decay or Oko, Thief of Crowns. You could technically add Temur Battle Rage to the Grixis list as a "Gotcha" moment. There can even be potential for a 4C variant with Lurrus that plays cards like Wrenn and Six alongside Deathrite Shaman and Shadow as a finisher. It's an exceptionally versatile card to build around and has some interesting deckbuilding decisions that can be made for it.

Furthermore, if you already play some of these types of decks (like 4C/BUG, etc.) on Magic Online, trying out Shadow is exceptionally low impact since Shadows on their own are fairly cheap and so are the shock lands to go with them. This makes for a fun and attractive spice option to play if you're looking for something new to do within the same parameters as a normal Control variant.

Vintage Challenge 3/13

As I noted before, we had some Challenges this past weekend, but we have no officially published decklists for either of them (as nothing since the 10th has been published on the Wizards website for this). Thankfully, the efforts of the Vintage Streamer's Discord pull through yet again with their data collection and we know that the Saturday Challenge event had 63 players in it, and we also know the metagame breakdown and at least what was in the Top 8.

Let's take a look at the breakdown.

BUG and Breach continue to be among some of the most popular decks to be playing in the Saturday events by a lot. I talked a bit about Breach last week and how Lurrus has impacted the deck once more, and it's easy to see why BUG would creep back up in the face of that kind of deck. With the ability to play some of the best removal in the game for those kinds of decks (mainly Abrupt Decay) while still having an ultra-positive Shops and Dredge matchup, it isn't hard to understand the appeal of such a deck. The question becomes when does it become too much of an overcorrection, much like how the Karn metagame shook out in the end with BUG being the most supremely popular deck because it had the best Karn matchup and the best Dredge matchup and didn't give much up in other matchups too. I don't think the format is there yet and things still look pretty good here in that regard. There's still a healthy amount of diversity in the format and a lot of fun things to be doing with it for sure.

Let's take a look at what made the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
PO Storm 1st Clone9
Oath of Druids 2nd Miharu_Fuyumiya
Jeskai Control 3rd _Pady_
Lurrus Breach 4th duke12
Lurrus Breach 5th ziofrancone
BUG Midrange 6th Montolio
Jeskai Control 7th IdraftTheBeatz
Hogaak 8th MadMaxErnst

Some well known names here between Miharu who has basically set the gold standard for Oath decks these days to our good friend Andy Markiton. All in all this looks like a pretty decent Top 8, with plenty of represented pillars of the format. PO did indeed win the event, which is neat to see, and Oath in second is pretty cool too. Congrats to everyone who made the Top 8 here, I wish we had some decklists to show off!

Vintage Challenge 3/14

The second Challenge event of the weekend also had data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord, so we know that it had 44 players in it. We still don't have decklists for this event (which is a big sad) but we do have a metagame breakdown, so let's dive right in!

Again BUG is popular right alongside other combo decks like Breach and Doomsday. Golos Shops decks also saw a bit of a boost in this event as well. There's a lot of other interesting decks here however and again, the format overall looks pretty good and diverse.

Let's look at what we know of the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Ravager Shops 1st Mogged
Golos Stax 2nd BERNASTORRES
Doomsday 3rd discoverN
Blue Moon 4th Aylett
Jeskai Control 5th SenpaiBlank
Dredge 6th ger5559
Golos Stax 7th Tsubasa_Cat
Lurrus Breach 8th musasabi

Some interesting decks here, albeit fairly Workshops heavy (with a finals between Aggro Ravager and Golos). There was also a good amount of combo and some control, and also Blue Moon which sounds super cool. This looked like a fun Top 8, and I'm really sad we didn't have decklists for this. Congrats to all the competitors who made the Top 8 regardless!

Around the Web

  • It's the return of the RIDDLER!
  • Just a reminder that The Mythic Society is running Vintage events every Wednesday on Magic Online! Be sure to check out their Twitter for more info.

The Spice Corner

This Lutri list has some really wild cards in it. Cabal Therapy? Pernicious Deed?! Tezzeret the Seeker!!!

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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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