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Vintage 101: The Vintage Round Table

Howdy folks! It's time again for Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week is certainly going to be interesting. We've got a veritable number of Vintage personalities weighing in on the format this time around. If you're not familiar with my Legacy Round Table article series for This Week in Legacy, this is a similar concept but for Vintage. This comes just a few days before Eternal Weekend Vintage events, which we'll be talking about next week. As always we have do have two Challenges to discuss, and of course our Spice Corner.

Just a reminder that Eternal Weekend tokens for Vintage are on sale now in the MTGO store, and with that comes an All Access account to play in the events that lasts until next Wednesday. If you haven't already purchased one, make sure you do so! Furthermore, if you're teetering on the fence about it, this is a great way to learn and play Vintage for only $25 to have access to nearly every card on Magic Online.

The Legacy events last weekend were super packed, even with a reduction in the minimum amount of players they still came close to capping and in the case of the last event completely capped at 672 players. I would not be really surprised if the Vintage events ended up in close to the same boat with the All Access accounts, so be sure to be ready to play in the event you sign up for!

Now then, let's get to this week's topics!

The Vintage Round Table

With Eternal Weekend on the horizon here, it felt like a great time to sit down and talk about the format of Vintage and where things sit within the format. Those of you familiar with my Legacy Round Table series will have some sort of idea what to expect here. I put out a call for people to join in and talk about the format, and so I've assembled a who's who of Vintage personalities. Let's meet them now here.

  • Justin Gennari - Competitive Vintage player / Content producer / Season Two Vintage Champion (@Gennair)
  • Jacob Mayer - Magic Online Vintage grinder / 15 year old prodigy (@Jacobisboss1)
  • Raffaele Ramagli - Competitive Vintage player / Italian Vintage
  • Max Pohlman - Competitive Vintage player / Fastbond afficionado
  • Kazuki Morishita - Competitive Vintage player (@abr012)
  • Mike Noble - Long time Vintage personality / Eternal Weekend Commentator / All Around Good Noble (@LovestruckBeast)
  • Matthew Murray - MTGO Streamer / Data Analyst / Master of New Cards (@Chubby_rain1)

This is definitely quite a few well known names in the Vintage community, and I greatly appreciate them taking the time out of their day to assist with these topics. Without further ado, let's dive right into the topics at hand! Strap in folks, these people are verbose!

Topic # 1 - How do you feel about Vintage as a format right now? Are there any concerns about the overall format and metagame?

Justin: The current Vintage format is both balanced and diverse. The Vintage Streaming Discord has collected data from 13,375 matches during premier level Vintage events since Lurrus of the Dream-Den's banning in May and no one deck has an overwhelming win rate. In terms of balance and diversity, there is nothing to complain about. The one area Vintage could be argued to not be doing well in is ‘healthy gameplay’. I know some players have expressed opinions that gameplay can be more polarizing then they would like. Cards like Hollow One, Paradoxical Outcome, and Doomsday can invoke non-games and the feelings of helplessness. Personally I don't think any of these issues are large enough to warrant restrictions but I wouldn't be opposed to restrictions in this line of thinking.

Jacob: Currently, I’m very happy with the format. Other formats are currently not particularly balanced, and comparing vintage to those it may be one the best. I think no deck is the clear best, and that makes for good gameplay as any deck can go up and fight the most popular ones. You see a different deck winning the challenge every week which is a great spot. There are still many things to discover with this format and I look forward to continue seeing how the meta shifts week to week!

Raffaele: The format looks to be generally in a good spot, maybe still a bit too prone to online meta swings from week to week due to a relatively small player base and the nature of Magic Online. True “balance” would be hard to achieve, Vintage always having been somewhat skewed towards Blue decks. By virtue of having the highest power level, it’s also the best equipped to withstand the power creep of the recent printings when they’re not format warping like Narset.

Gameplay on the other hand can sometimes suffer. Blue mirrors have somewhat gone back to revolving too much around who resolves Ancestral Recall first, snowballing the advantage harder than before, thanks to the higher power level of the cards. Doomsday is on the verge of becoming a bit too oppressive, being hard to hate out, as for Paradoxical Outcome I feel most of the complaints come from the experience you get having to watch your opponent take solitaire game actions for 10+ minutes. As for Bazaar, the matchup VS different archetypes too often does not involve meaningful decisions from the latter and algorithm/flowchart decisions from the former.

Max: Magic: the Gathering has been heavily shaken up by the 2019-20 power creep and the vintage format is no exception. Historically, one of the biggest issues with vintage and its restricted list has been the format’s decks’ linearity of power levels, rather than strict deck win rate balance. Last year’s sweep of restrictions stated this explicitly:

“Though our data shows that Vintage is in a good state of balance from an objective standpoint, with nearly all the Top 10 decks having a 47–53% overall win rate, we've heard community concerns about an increase in turn-one/two effective wins and less interactive gameplay. We agree and would like to move the format back to a place the community is happy with, even taking multiple steps over time if needed.”

Present-day Vintage is definitely more interactive than last year's mess of unrestricted Karn and Narset locks, so I believe that those restrictions (plus the later Narset restriction) steered the format towards the right direction. In addition, printings of cards such as Force of VigorSprite Dragon, Collector OupheDeafening Silence, and Oko, Thief of Crowns allow for more interactive gameplay between decks, which goes a long way in a format where decks can win T2 without casting spells. However, since then we’ve also had some additional “busted” cards printed such as Underworld Breach, Thassa's Oracle, original Companions, Once Upon a Time, and Mystic Sanctuary. In addition, once the “best tier” of cards (Karn, Grave Troll, etc) was taken away last year, people started brewing with the “second-best tier” of cards (Golos, Hogaak). Turns out that even the second-best tier of cards, which were too weak last year, are still so incredibly powerful that they can warp the Vintage metagame around them.

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Fortunately, the 2019-2020 power spike seemed to affect all the archetypes/”pillars” of vintage close to equally. While it’s true that someone’s pet Ravager Shops deck might have been power crept out, there’s still a perfectly viable Shops deck in the format, as there are multiple Bazaar decks, multiple combo decks, a turbo Xerox deck, a midrange deck, etc. From a “I want to get into Vintage and like to play X style of deck, is there something here for me?” standpoint, I can comfortably and gladly say that the answer is yes 99% of the time.

Now let’s put on the same shoes we were in last year. Similarly, at present and in isolation, no deck is so far ahead of the pack that it needs a card restricted from it. However, we must ask ourselves again, “Despite the format being relatively balanced (no deck at present having a >55% WR in challenges), is the format fun? Are the decks too powerful?” This is obviously a very subjective question, but my answers to those two questions are “not fun” and “too powerful”. Doomsday can easily kill on turn 2 with double counterspell backup. Vine decks can vomit 12+ power into play on turn 1. Shops can Strip-lock you on turn 2-3. Xerox mirrors are often solely determined by the first to find Ancestral, as one can just loop it back multiple times with Sanctuary/Gush.

Historically, these play patterns have been “once every now and then” occurrences which are innately part of vintage and what contributes to the fun. However, the London mulligan combined with recent printings enable decks to be more consistent than ever before. Bazaar, which would previously mull to 1 for its namesake card, now has Sphinx and Once Upon a Time to keep larger hands much more often. Shops now plays Golos + Karakas and Crucible + Inventors' Fair to get its gameplan online more consistently. Combo decks still have their suite of tutors, with some decks like Breach being able to cast them multiple times to find their full combo. Even Uxx decks get to cast Noxious Revival for free off of a fetchland with Sanctuary, double-dipping on consistency as they have 7-8 fetches to get their Sanctuary and then use Sanctuary to guarantee a redraw of the best card in their graveyard.

Thus, my suggestions below propose a set of restrictions across nearly all major archetypes. The goal here is to lightly “power down” the format once again without removing any deck from being viable. These proposed restrictions would have to take place simultaneously and thus do not read into any of them in isolation. The true question is presented in this section as “Do you think the format needs powering down?” If you do not think that it does, then you can ignore all of my proposed restrictions as presently, deck win rate balance is quite healthy.

Kazuki: The environment of the current Vintage seems to have been balanced there. Sure, there have been some cards with unusual card power recently (Lurrus before the rule change), but he was banned and the rules have since been changed so it doesn't matter now.

If you look at the top decks in the Challenge events, you'll see a different list every week. Also, there is no deck that is head and shoulders above the rest when looking at it on a win rate basis.

But it's one thing to talk about whether the meta game is balanced and another to talk about whether it's fun to play the current Vintage format.

The effect of the loss of Mental Misstep from the current meta game has made it difficult to stop Ancestral Recall. I think this is one of the reasons why blue decks are more often than not widening the advantage gap one way or the other, and why combo decks involving blue (Doomsday, Paradoxical, Breach, etc.) are dominating.

The only way to stop them is to eventually use Force of Will yourself as well, and as a result, the number of non-blue decks from the environment seems to be decreasing. If you're using a non-blue deck in the current vintage, you have to hope that you can draw the Mindbreak Trap you put in from the sideboard, and if you can't, it can be a very boring game, with nothing to do but suck your fingers and watch your opponents make combos on Turn 1-2.

So, while the current Vintage is balanced, it raises a question mark as to whether it is interesting.

Mike: I feel like the format is great!  Looking back on the full history of the format, and my personal history with the format, I don't feel like I've ever had as much deckbuilding or player agency as I do today.

Matthew: The Vintage format is balanced and diverse according to the data collected by streamers’ Discord. A balanced and diverse format is typically healthy but not always - there can be elements that warp and constrain the format within it. For instance, the August 2019 restrictions of Karn, the Great Creator, Mystic Forge, Mental Misstep, and Golgari Grave-Troll occurred in a format that was quite similar to this as Max points out. That format involved gameplay that was exceptionally broken, polarized between Karn Shops decks and Dredge, which required specialized answers that were concentrated with the BUG archetype. This format has manifested as 50% Bazaar and Combo with Deathrite Shaman archetypes again emerging as the primary counter strategy. The archetype that is creating the main effect on the format is Bazaar, which I explain in the next topic.

Topic # 2 - Should something from the Bazaar of Baghdad decks be restricted? if so, what card(s)? Explain your reasoning.

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Justin: NO. Bazaar of Baghdad decks are not performing at a win rate that they would need to be restricted. Since the Lurrus ban, Bazaar decks have an approximate win rate of 52.5% in premier events with HogaakVine topping the group with ~54.3%. However, some of the current play patterns that these decks produce are problematic. In particular, Hollow One allows these previously graveyard reliant decks to bypass conventional hate in a powerful and maindeckable way. The card Bazaar of Baghdad has a power level that is clearly restrictable, so it is prudent that we keep a close eye on decks using this card. The avenues Hollow One provides are detrimental to keeping Bazaar of Baghdad in check. Thus, a restriction of Hollow One is acceptable but not necessary.

Jacob: For me, this is a no. I think one of the things that defines vintage is having a very powerful graveyard deck that punishes the very fair “Xerox” decks and other control/ midrange strategies especially when you lack a large amount of graveyard hate in the sideboard.You generally have to have 6 to 9 “graveyard hate” cards in the board, depending on the deck, or else it’s often very hard to win unless you are playing a combo deck.

If these graveyard decks get nerfed people will lower their hate and it will make it so people can register more workshop hate, counterspells for combo, or removal for fair decks. I’ve been heavily invested in this format for about 5 months now and in that time I experienced the decline of Dredge and the rise of Hogaak. Dredge used to be one of the defining decks of the format but slowly the deck fell off. One reason is the rise in the use of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. Another reason is other graveyard decks rose up that proved to be potentially more powerful than Dredge, and also be adept in the Bazaar mirrors. Slowly the axis that the Dredge deck wins from (large amounts of power with protection in Cabal Therapy and various counters) became worse as the games can be more decided on Turn one against Dredge with a DRS or a wasteland, and Dredge can’t fight through those cards like the other two Bazaar decks of choice can. HollowVine is a fast deck that can have a great control plan with Squee and Forces. Recently, people have been adding cards such as Krovikan Horror to excel at this plan. The thing about this deck is it heavily struggles against on board creatures, so the decks that have been adding Horrors can to play Contagion and Sickening Shoal. This deck also can be hated out with Tabernacle, Lavinia, DRS, various graveyard hate, and since it doesn’t play too many threats to make room for blue counters, even a Tarmogoyf.

This brings us to our final deck Hogaak. Commonly regarded as the best Bazaar deck and a boogeyman of the format this deck is different because while it doesn’t have great disruption (no force of wills and blue counters) it’s fast and can Beat hate proficiently. By playing lands and supplier, deathrite, etc, it can beat soft grave hate and tabernacle. While this deck can obliterate fair strategies, it’s often soft to lavinia or a quick combo. To conclude, I think Bazaar decks are good for the format at their current power level and it adds a good angle to the format and nerfing it would possibly tamper with the balance of the current well rounded format we call Vintage.

Raffaele: YES. It’s not mandatory, but I think the format would greatly benefit from it. Despite the decks not being dominant, it’s more a matter of gameplay patterns, that might even risk driving people away from the format. I’ll say it anyway, I don’t see any reason why we can’t finally have a Bazaar restriction. Card makes the deck operate in a completely different way from the rest of the game, not caring about cards in hand, sometimes not having to resolve or even cast close to any spell at all (let alone pay for those). A deck that aggressively mulligans to a single card of the least hateable type of permanents, wins the vast majority of Game Ones, warrants more than half of the sideboard from the rest of the meta, would have been long ago restricted in any other format. Hogaakvine decks have demonstrated that the strategy can operate even without Bazaar, such a restriction would just make the deck work on the same axis as everyone else.

If we really have to resign to Sacred Cows and the supposed absence of a secondary market (which would not care about a restriction anyway) a Hollow One restriction could be considered due to the strong immune-to-hate plan that it enables.

Max: Hollow One enables incredibly powerful tempo starts, enables card advantage engines such as Vengevine, and trivially provides orthogonal strategies to traditionally graveyard focused decks. A restriction would force decks to refocus more on the graveyard (dredge), or playing out creatures (Hogaak), allowing specific hate cards to interact more efficiently against Bazaar decks.

Kazuki: If anything is going to be restricted from the current bazaar, I think Hollow One will be the choice. Sometimes multiple 4/4s appear on the first turn without costing anything, and that's all the game can be settled. You'll also often see that casting this and another 0 mana will trigger Vengevine and further damage.

If this was restricted, I think it would force Dredge and Hollowvine decks to change their structure and create a new change in the metagame.

Mike: At this time I think Bazaar of Baghdad is in a healthy spot.  The discovery of HollowVine and rebuild of Hogaak over the past year help to add a powerful Tempo deck and Aggro deck to the format.  The ceiling of these decks are often cited as an issue, but when compared to the ceiling of other decks the power level is reasonable.  Having a diversity of playable Bazaar of Baghdad options, other than Dredge, has forced players to diversify their understanding of how to combat specific Bazaar of Baghdad opponents instead of relying on outdated heuristics.

Matthew: Brian Demars wrote in his article after the August 2019 restrictions of Karn, the Great Creator, Mystic ForgeMental Misstep and Golgari Grave-Troll that Dredge was a deck to watch going forward and its metagame percentage should be closely monitored with further restrictions indicated if the metagame percentage “creeps up”. While the prevalence of Dredge has been diminished by a Golgari Grave-Troll restriction, the emergence of various strategies centering around Vengevine have resulted in a metagame very similar to that of August 2019. Golgari Grave-Troll was hit to reduce the brokenness of Dredge openings but also to reduce the consistency in which Dredge could deploy Force of Vigor, one of the most effective pieces of interaction to which Dredge had access. The non-Dredge Bazaar decks (HogaakVine and HollowVine) have received a functional analog in the printing of Once upon a Time. Once upon a Time enables those broken openings by finding redundant copies of Hollow One and Vengevine (and even Bazaar) while pitching to Force of Vigor. The result is a strategy that can consistently deploy 9+ power on turn 1 (some with haste), more on turn 2, with significant interaction available to ensure that this quick clock can reach the finish line.This strategy is similar to that employed by Delver in Legacy, but Bazaar does much more in these shells - providing both card selection and a clock as part of the initial opening. It is like a Delver of Secrets with Brainstorm as an enter-the-battlefield ability. Additionally, creature decks in Magic are not designed in today’s game to deploy such large amounts of power on Turn 1 or Turn 2. Mishra's Workshop, which was once considered the most powerful non-restricted card in the format, used to enable the premier Aggro deck in the format in Ravager Shops. Various Eldrazi decks also used to see play. But lands that tap for 2 or 3 mana do not compare to the value generated by a couple Bazaar of Baghdad activations. I was watching a player stream HogaakVine through the Challenge and they generated 22 power on turn 2 just by tapping Bazaar twice.

The effect on the format has been profoundly warping. Ravager Shops and Eldrazi have been ~4% and 1% of the post-Lurrus Premier Event metagame, respectively, as they have been simply outclassed. The player who generated 22 power on turn 2 complained when they lost to a combo deck on turn 2, but this has been a natural metagame response to Bazaar decks. There are very few approaches that are realistic answers to hasty, recurrent, non-stack based power generated off a land, and winning the game via a combo is one of them. Combo decks have made up 31% of the metagame, with Doomsday and Breech Combo being two of the most successful (though PO has put up fantastic results in the hands of talented pilots. For players trying to fight on traditional axises, you can see the toll in the cards that have become incredibly prevalent in the format. The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is one of the most effective board wipes against a broken turn 1 and is present in 57% of decks according to MTGGoldfish. That has dire implications for Paper Vintage when events begin firing again as one can’t expect a 2000 reserved list land, which some decks play in multiples, to serve as a sufficient control for the format.  Wasteland is present in 56% of decks as a means of fighting Bazaar directly (which doesn’t always work as Bazaar can generate considerable value and tempo with a single activation) and a means for Bazaar decks to fight Tabernacle. This number is 10% points higher than the current prevalence of Wasteland in Legacy for comparison. The most played creature in Vintage is Deathrite Shaman for its utility against Bazaar decks. The most common pieces of graveyard interaction are Surgical Extraction in 50% of decks and Leyline of the Void in 42% of decks and they underscore the importance of turn 0 interaction since turn 1 interaction is often too slow.

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So despite the numbers suggesting an archetype with a reasonable percentage (16.2%) of the metagame with only the 2nd highest win rate (52.5%), it has achieved that despite considerable warping of the format towards unfavorable matches and the deployment of efficient hate. I will also add that the metagame percentage from the Challenges underestimates the frequency of the deck in the Leagues. Because many games involving Bazaar are frequently short - decks aren’t often equipped to interact against Bazaar decks in game 1 and players will often scoop shortly after determining which Bazaar deck their opponent is playing - players playing the deck can grind more games than with other archetypes. My personal experience has been that over 50% of my matches over the past month have been against Bazaar. This is anecdotal and unfortunately we are unable to gather more reliable data from leagues, but the Vintage format intrinsically is the highest variance format by virtue of the Restricted List. Bazaar decks are outliers in that they generate repetitive game play, almost always starting with Bazaar of Baghdad in play on turn 1. Deck variance is the lifeblood of the game and undercutting by having most of my opponents start with the same sequences has led to unfun matches regardless of the results. It is why Brian Demars singled out Dredge of all the problematic decks in August 2019 as a deck to watch and it is why action is necessary now. The only reasonable options at this point that will affect all Bazaar decks are its namesake and Hollow One. Because of that, I am advocating for a Hollow One restriction.

Topic # 3 - Should something from Combo archetypes be restricted? If so, what card(s)? Explain your reasoning.

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Justin: NO. A common theme in my responses will be that X archetype is not performing so well that it needs to be restricted. This is true for all the combo archetypes as well. Since the Lurrus ban, Paradoxical Outcome has an approximate win rate of 50.3% in premier events, Underworld Breach at ~53.5% and Doomsday at ~54.3%. If one of the major combo decks were to start performing extremely well I would be in favor of a restriction of their engine cards Paradoxical Outcome, Doomsday, or Underworld Breach. If you wanted to weaken the archetypes but still keep their major identities another approach would be to restrict Mox Opal for PO and Preordain for Doomsday and Breach. As it stands none of these options are necessary at this time.

Jacob: This is a no again from me. IMO combo decks are well balanced in the metagame with both win rates and meta %. I think if anything were to be restricted it would be Dark Ritual, because that would nerf Doomsday to a point where the deck is still fine just much slower and it would make the deck have to have a slower more proactive game plan. While Doomsday is very good, not many people play it as they overlook it as something “hard,” and win rates at high level events can’t carry a restriction alone. I personally think this restriction would make doomsday worse to the point where it wouldn’t fight at the top tables any longer and I don’t think the deck is dominant enough to warrant a restriction either, thus the need for no combo restriction.

Raffaele: No. None of the combo decks look too oppressive at the moment. Doomsday is probably the one to be kept on watch due to the difficulty to hate it out, probably due to the lack of good options to interact with Thassa other than countermagic. Historically Shops used to keep in check this sort of combo decks, but that’s mostly (sadly?) not true anymore.

Max: I would restrict Thassa's Oracle, Underworld Breach, and Paradoxical Outcome* (for PO specifically, see Topic #6). In the combo world, we’ve seen boons granted to PO in the form of the restriction-immune Bolas's Citadel, the revival of Doomsday after Gush and Probe restrictions, and an all new archetype with “Yawgmoth's Will 2”: Breach. These restrictions are meant to keep the archetypes completely functional, while slightly “nerfing” their consistency a little bit.

Specifically, Breach as a value card fits naturally into many URx decks even without a full combo-kill package, and the dedicated “Combo Breach” decks already often play or sideboard into cards like Sprite Dragon, Young Pyromancer, or Magmatic Channeler. I don’t think going down to one copy would hurt the deck that much as this deck leverages tutor effects better than any other.

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Doomsday as a deck has a number of things that make it incredibly powerful, such as low opportunity cost for combo execution, Pyroblast resiliency, and incredible overall redundancy. I think an Oracle restriction would be a fair nerf for a couple reasons:

  • The deck now gets 1 chance to win via combo. This increases the risk that the DD player takes when playing out an Oracle for a Consult kill, and weakens DD piles. With only one chance at the combo, perhaps the deck starts to lean more on the Tasigur/creature sideboard plan similar to Breach.
  • Nerfs DD piles by 20% (1 card). A current “stock” DD pile is Ancestral – Lotus – Oracle – Fluster – Oracle. Drawing 3 and playing out the 1st Oracle with Fluster backup off the Lotus is a strong play that requires the opponent to have 2 pieces of interaction (including removal). But even if the opponent does, there’s still the second oracle off the top of deck which would require a third piece. With an oracle restriction, the DD player now has to make a decision:
    • Do they stick with the existing line with a second Doomsday as the 5th card down, which allows creature removal to disrupt the combo?
    • Do they add a “filler card” (Probe/Wraith) to the pile so they can cast Oracle with a completely empty library (also requiring 2 more life)?
  • Allows people who want to show up and beat Doomsday to be able to via cards such as Trickbind and Nimble Obstructionist. It is important that every powerful deck has powerful “equal and opposite” cards that players can put in their deck should the meta become so warped. While these cards are effective now, one would have to draw 2 of them in order to win. If the meta becomes this warped, this also would encourage DD decks to shift more from all-in linear combo to the Tasigur-esque gameplay post board.

Kazuki: As I mentioned earlier, I'd like to see some sort of tweaks to these because the blue combo decks are making the environment boring. I suppose there is an option to restrict cards like Doomsday, Paradoxical, and Breach and make the archetype whole and extinct, but I don't want it to go that far.

So I would like to restrict Preordain and Mox Opal. I believe that limiting these will make combo decks less stable and easier to fight in other decks.

Mike: I don't believe anything from Combo should be restricted.  Doomsday has stepped up since the restriction of Mental Misstep, and printing of Thassa's Oracle, to prove that it can exist in a post-Gush world.  Having a powerful Dark Ritual deck that punishes aggressive decks and can fight against fair blue strategies is a welcome sight to the format.  Like Bazaar of Baghdad, the ceiling it can hit with unrestricted cards is sometimes perceived as a problem.  However, again like Bazaar of Baghdad, the freshness of the deck over the past year may play a part in its power.

Paradoxical Outcome and Underworld Breach, while also powerful combo options, have such varying degrees within each deck that they can blur the lines between combo and control.  Whether going all out on the namesake, or loading up on board control planeswalkers, the spectrum that these two archetypes can span creates an incredible depth to deckbuilding.

Matthew: Combo decks are typically very beatable entities and historically decks like Eldrazi and Ravager Shops have done well against Doomsday by resolving a clock and Sphere effect. Again, these strategies have fallen out of flavor because Ravager Shops cannot really compete in a metagame that involves decks that generate large amounts of power on turn 1 while running maindeck Force of Vigors. Eldrazi also relies on a precarious mana base to power out relatively expensive creatures and folds under the pressure of a format that has shifted in favor of Wasteland. A restriction of Hollow One should relieve some of the pressure on these decks. Paradoxical Outcome has performed well, especially in the hands of talented pilots, but it is not outperforming the field in general and tools exist to combat it in nearly every archetype, whether Collector Ouphe, Lavinia, Force of Vigor, Pyroblast, or Null Rod. Much of the desire likely stems from the fact that Paradoxical Outcome has existed in a similar form for such a long time and players are bored of the repetitive play patterns. I am ambivalent about a Paradoxical Outcome restriction or whether Blue decks and Combo decks need to be weakened in general by a restriction such as Preordain.

Topic # 4 - Should something from the Mishra's Workshop decks be restricted? If so, what card(s)? Explain your reasoning.

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Justin: NO. Mishra's Workshop decks are currently the most underperforming major archetype in Vintage averaging an approximate 47.8% win rate in premier events. Instead of asking for restrictions the correct question may be to ask about unrestrictions. The only card among the restricted workshop cards that may be safe to unrestrict is Thorn of Amethyst. The problem with unrestricting Thorn is that it does not lead to interactive and enjoyable gameplay for both players. Every new artifact printing could be playable in Vintage due to the power of Workshop, so a better approach may be to let new printings help bring this archetype back to prominence. A big reason Workshop decks are on a decline is the printing of Force of Vigor, if this card were to be restricted to power down other decks Workshops may surge back to the top. I heavily prefer the ‘wait for new printings’ approach as even in the last set Mishra got plenty of new toys.

Jacob: No again. I don’t think Shops decks are very good and any deck can beat it just like it can beat any deck. I think Shops loses so hard to fast combo decks it would get pushed out of the meta so hard with any restriction. It’s not good enough to warrant a restriction unless about 5 decks have a restriction before it, so it’s a no from me.

Raffaele: No. Restrictions and new printing really undermined Shops and many of its specialists either quitting or abandoning the archetype made so that there is not much tuning going on with it. I’d like for it to somewhat get back part of its role in keeping combo decks in check if they become too degenerate, but it's hard to do it without making the deck too oppressive. That might require new printings or a tailored series of (un)restrictions whose effects are hard to measure in theory since they’d ripple through the entire format.

Max: No, I don’t think that anything from Shops should be restricted as Shops has been the most underperforming of the 3 pillars over the past couple months. It should also be noted that the other restrictions suggested here, notably the Dack Fayden restriction in Topic #5, should hopefully provide an indirect boost to Shops.

Kazuki: No. The presence of the Workshop deck is diminished in the current environment, and I see no reason to make it even more restrictive from the current situation.

Mike: I don't believe anything from the Workshop decks should be restricted.  Having two major flavors of Workshop decks, Prison based and combo based, give more non-blue strategies a chance to shine.  Overall the decks supported by Mishra's Workshop have slowed down since its peak performance in 2017 due to printings and restrictions, and having two distinct versions forces opponents to respect the nuance of Mishra's Workshop instead of expecting a linear answer to be the correct one.  Eternal formats should have decks looking to slow the game down with board control, and I believe the current Mishra's Workshop variants do that well and reasonably.

Matthew: Shops decks have skewed much more towards Golos Prison as Aggro Shops lists are inferior to Bazaar decks. In that form, Shops does not present much in the way of a metagame issue, nor does it particularly need help from an unrestriction. The interaction with Golos introduces new and interesting play patterns to the deck that had previously been absent.

Topic # 5 - Should something from the blue Xerox Fair decks be restricted? if so, what card(s)? Explain your reasoning.

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Justin: NO. Both major fair blue decks are performing within acceptable bounds with Deathrite Shaman decks (~52.7%) leading Xerox control strategies (~49.5%). The one restriction one could consider is Preordain. This cantrip is the cornerstone to many decks core draw engines. A restriction here would weaken these decks engines if they were overperforming above the field. This would also weaken combo decks like Doomsday and Underworld Breach. It is worth considering in the future if decks with preordains are dominating but as this time that is not the case.

Jacob: Yet again, No. I think Vintage is stable now and restricting anything would put it out of balance. You restrict something from Bazaar? Xerox goes wild. Restrict a combo card? Bazaar everywhere. Restrict a Xerox card? Combo until the next restriction. I can’t really see any card getting restricted from xerox decks as all cards contribute a little for one whole pile that revolves around Ancestral Recall. Since wizards would never give Recall the Lurrus treatment as it’s such a pillar of the format, the worst they could do is restrict preordain, which quite honestly hurts combo a whole lot more than Control. To hit BUG the most you could restrict trophy, but there’s no need as BUG isn’s suppressing anything maybe outside of dredge from this metagame and there is not reason to touch BUG because it’s not super dominant.

Raffaele: No. Control decks are usually shaped by the metagame they have to face and have to stretch a bit thin having to fight polarized archetypes with the Blue mirror still probably being the most common matchup. Unless they print more one sided hate-pieces that end up being mirror breakers we should be fine, maybe we could tone down the Ancestral snowballing though.

Max: With other archetypes receiving restrictions, it is only fair that Uxx receives the same. Unfortunately, the 2019-20 card that was the biggest boon to Uxx is Mystic Sanctuary, which would not be heavily impacted by a restriction. If Gush is unrestricted (Topic #6), Mystic Sanctuary must be restricted, but it’d probably be best to just restrict it regardless.

Looking into other egregious Uxx cards from 2019-20, three stand out in Lavinia, Dreadhorde Arcanist, and Assassin’s Trophy. Lavinia on the surface seems like a too-strong anti-combo/xerox/Bazaar card but gets hit with every removal spell in the format, Karakas, Pyroblast, and requires Pearl or Sapphire to come down on turn 1, unlike Ouphe which can take any Mox. Based on this, I don’t think Lavinia deserves a restriction.

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Dreadhorde has been getting a target on his head in Legacy, and it makes sense why he’d be powerful in vintage too. However, vintage is much less 1-mana-cantrip dense than Legacy and having to wait a turn and attack is a much bigger cost. This card also has anti-synergy with other parts of the traditional xerox engine, such as Sanctuary and delve. I think that Dreadhorde encouraging xerox decks to have to attack/partake in combat leads to more interesting games rather than “spam card draw and counterspells for 8 turns until you draw Mentor”. Thus, I don’t think Dreadhorde should be restricted.

Trophy is a particularly interesting card. A lot of its power comes from the fact that vintage decks do not play many basic lands. Some might call this greed but part of it is that slots that would be basics in other formats are replaced with single color moxen in vintage. In addition, the premier Trophy deck also plays 4x Wasteland, meaning that fetching a basic early to play around Wasteland removes your ability to benefit from “your half” of the Trophy. On the flip side, Trophy is double non-blue mana and the deck that plays it is a midrange deck that relies on its broad applicability of cards rather than a turbo-preordain deck that spins wheels to find narrow answers. In addition, with the various other restrictions I suggest here, it is likely that the value of Pyroblast will decrease. Perhaps there is the opportunity for Veil of Summer to fill those Pyroblast slots as a means of better interacting with Trophy.

All that said, I would be totally fine with a Trophy restriction. I don’t think that BUG will swap to the same turbo-xerox degeneracy that URx does but rather fill the slots with other forms of interaction, such as Abrupt Decay, Oko, and Thoughtseize. I could also understand arguments for a DRS or Wasteland restriction to hit BUG. I like DRS as it also helps the Hogaak deck, is a creature, and provides soft graveyard hate. I like Wasteland as a reliable way of interacting with Bazaar & Workshop and keeping a soft check on color greed. While Trophy isn’t the most objectively powerful card and isn’t really comparable to some other restricted cards like Time Walk or Yawg Will, it seems like the fairest “knob to turn” as it's easily substitutable by Decay/Oko, as opposed to DRS->BoP or Waste -> GQ.

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With something gone from BUG and no 2019-20 cards in URx worth of restriction, I think it’s time to say farewell to 3x Dack Fayden. Since his birth in 2014, Dack has been an absolute powerhouse at deck churning and enabling delve, while simultaneously being an incredible tempo swing versus Workshop and even Bazaar with Hollow One. In a format sculpted by its restricted list, Dack has the ability to quickly and repeatedly find these restricted, best cards in your deck. Being a planeswalker, Dack can also be hard to interact with, especially from a URx or UWx deck, which is part of the reason for the maindeck Pyroblast arms race. I feel a Dack restriction will help morph the URx decks towards more interactive gameplay, such as Dreadhorde for card advantage or Sprite Dragon/Pyromancer for tempo.

Kazuki: It's not my intention to restrict anything from Xerox decks, but as I mentioned earlier, restricting Preordain to combo suppression will result in these as well. I think it's unfortunate that the reduction in the 1 mana draw spell makes cards like Mentor and Arcanist a little less valuable, but I think other cards could fill in the holes.

Mike: I don't feel anything should be restricted from fair blue decks.  This is undoubtedly the section of the format that drifts towards fighting with itself.  While there will be Pyroblast and Flusterstorm sightings among other top performing decks, UWR decks that are built with only the mirror in mind tend to have significant issues when those cards are dead in other matchups..  That being said, fair blue is an umbrella, and one that includes options that aren't built to live and die by the stack.  BUG and 4C decks offer blue options that give the deck some agency outside of chaining together cantrips thanks to a variety of powerful planeswalkers (insert joke about Deathrite Shaman being a planeswalker here).  Mystic Sanctuary has stepped up as the preferred recursion engine of the fair blue decks that can support it.  While reusable through Gush and Daze, it is limited by its speed, and in the end it ends up being a Snapcaster Mage that has been adjusted for nearly a decade of new additions.  As long as the deckbuilding of fair blue doesn’t ignore the existence of non-blue strategies the metagame will stay in balance.

Matthew: It is not unreasonable to restrict Preordain though it is not necessary to do so. As someone who has tested Team VSL and had to play cards like Sleight of Hand, Opt, and Serum Visions, the drop off between Preordain and the lower tier of cantrips is huge. The effect of a Preordain restriction would be significant and would weaken Blue and Combo decks relative to the field. If that is desirable remains debatable. This is another restriction that has been floated by the community of which I am personally ambivalent.

Topic # 6 - Are there any cards that should be unrestricted/unbanned? Explain your reasoning.

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Justin: YES. The big outlier here is Lurrus of the Dream-Den. The cat was banned under completely different conditions than currently exist in Magic. With the nerf to companion this card deserves its chance in Vintage again. Will it be played? Almost certainly. Will it be broken? Maybe. Either way I think the card deserves to be inthe format and if needed, rebanned on its own merit. Personally, I thought the broken companion Lurrus made for extremely fun and interesting Vintage magic and would like to see how a nerfed version slots into the format. None of the other cards on the restricted list would produce great things for Vintage if unrestricted but a few should be unrestricted just to reduce the list. These cards are: Channel, Imperial Seal, Library of Alexandria, and Windfall.

Jacob: I haven’t been in this format long, but I think Mental Misstep could be unrestricted. The current vintage metagame revolves around Ancestral Recall and makes xerox mirrors spiral around whoever draws that card and can top it with sanctuary. Un restricting Misstep could add skill to the mirrors and also nerf Doomsday as well since Dark Ritual and Ancestral are such big parts of its game plan. Shops would incidentally get buffed because that deck skips the 1 drop slot and add “dead” cards to the opponents deck and shops would get the comeback it seems. The only thing that this means is combo is getting nerfed, Xerox is getting nerfed, Shops is getting buffed, what happens to Bazaar? Well I think the answer is it rises because it then gets to play 4 Misstep which could be a reason why Xerox gets nerfed, Soul-Guide Lantern and DRS among other good one mana hate would fall out of favor and Bazaar would take over. I think if you unrestrict Misstep, something from Bazaar may have to go with it.

Other unrestrictions: Lurrus? The unbanning of this card would make it see play in maindecks rather than companions. I think that the 3 mana rule makes it so it would be better to just have Mentor, or 3 mana walkers in most decks that want it. It would be interesting to see this card in main decks of xerox decks alongside the powerful walker engines, and I think it’s not too good to keep out of the format.

Imperial Seal seems like it can come out because it’s not even that good of a card. It already sees no play and Vamp, a better version, sees not a lot play as well. Top deck tutors get beaten by counterspells and I don’t think it would see much play if it got unrestricted, so that’s a safe choice in my opinion.

Finally, I think Memory Jar is probably safe to remove as with the printing of Bolas's Citadel it sees no real play. I don’t know what removing this card from the list would do to the format, but I can’t see it doing much.

Raffaele: YES.

MENTAL MISSTEP: You restrict threats, not answers, answers should never be restricted ever. The claimed change in deckbuilding just didn’t happen, the missing Mental Misstep's were just substituted with Pyroblasts. The disdain that the Mental Misstep arms race gave to some players that cried for its restriction thinking it was helding cards like Welder at bay has been exchanged with everyone having to sometimes experience the frustration of opponent having the 1x of an answer that in most cases it doesn’t make sense to play around. It would provide the much needed effect of having the mirror be revolving less around Ancestral and whoever casts it first, mitigating the snowball that London Mull, Mystic Sanctuary and the recent power creep have introduced. With Bazaar having access to it though, something should probably be done to the deck, that’d probably benefit the most from an unrestriction possibly making it too oppressive, possessing yet another free way of countering hate cards.

Lurrus: there is no reason the card should be banned in its current iteration that was never played in Vintage. I personally would just get rid of the companion mechanic in our format, it’s either going to be subpar in most cases or utterly broken in others, it’s unlikely that a couple of Lurruses INSIDE your deck, for you to draw them at the wrong time, can do anything wrong.

Golgari Grave-Troll: the restriction probably made no sense in the first place, letting proper Dredge support Vigor in the main deck or milling a couple of more cards is probably not going to make any difference, you already have to deal with the other Bazaar deck maindecking FoV.

Other mentions, most of these cards might be safe to unrestrict for one reason or another, but the potential risk might outweigh the card actually adding anything meaningful to the format.

  • Imperial Seal: Especially with Mental Misstep unrestricted I guess it might be safe to unrestrict.
  • Channel: Might be safe to unrestrict, but the effect looks really scary.
  • Windfall: Even if it were safe to unrestrict and might be sub par in most occasions, feels like having too high of a chance to provide non-games or play-draw advantage.
  • Mystic Forge: I’d like to think that being susceptible to removal, the card could have a chance at living as a 4x without 4 Karns, but we all know how it's going to end.
  • Necropotence: According to recent B&R it could be considered for unrestriction. Yeah.

Max: With Companions being one of, if not the biggest mistake in terms of card design, I can understand animosity towards the cards as being the worst embodiments of “new magic” and that “new magic” shouldn’t warp the format pillared around Black Lotus and Time Walk. I am sympathetic to this feeling and personally would rather Companions never have been printed than to be at where we are today. However, we cannot change the past and speaking strictly from a game design/balance point of view, I think that the current implementation of Lurrus would be perfectly reasonable to have in Vintage.

The next thing I’d like to address is the trio of blue multi-draw cards: Gush, Paradoxical Outcome, and Windfall. In a spectrum, one can imagine that Gush is the most xerox/least combo card, Windfall is the least xerox/most combo card, and PO is somewhere in the middle (although I’d argue more towards the combo side than straight middle).

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Comparing Gush to PO, Gush has the deckbuilding cost of playing islands, the cost of casting the card is a land drop, the payoff is usually +1 mana and the card draw is 2. Gush is also (usually) bad in multiples; Gushing into another Gush is pretty bad. PO has the deckbuilding cost of playing with a bunch of mana rocks (the worst of which being Mox Opal), the cost of casting the card is usually 0 as you’re generating mana off your rocks, the payoff is usually 0-2 mana on the first one, and the card draw is usually 2-4 on the first one. PO is fantastic in multiples as additional copies make more mana and draw more cards.

From the effect/text on the card, I think it is safe to say that PO is a more powerful effect than Gush. However, PO is unrestricted and Gush is restricted. In order for that to make sense, it must be the case that the deckbuilding cost for playing PO be sufficiently high enough that you are rewarded with a more powerful effect for incurring a greater cost at registration. I do not believe that is the case. While there are few deckbuilding costs more trivial than “playing with islands”, the cost of “playing with fast mana” in a format such as vintage is still quite low. In addition to the stock UBWx pure PO combo deck that’s existed for ages, there have been some crossovers putting the PO engine into other combo decks such as Oath of Druids and Breach. I think this is good evidence that the deckbuilding cost is not restrictive enough.

Windfall vs PO. I think Windfall in the current metagame would be a much more honest/fair combo deck draw engine. It encourages you to dump your hand fast just like PO, but also wheels your opponent into potential Force of Wills to stop your combo later on. Ways to defend this would be cards like Defense Grid – a very easy card to interact with - and Veil of Summer, an already underplayed card for its power level which, compared to stock PO’s Pyroblast/FoW suite, protects future wheels and not just the current one.

Final conclusion: PO and Gush should be restricted together, or unrestricted together, and Windfall should be unrestricted. I personally believe that both Gush and PO should be restricted, as this would keep a lid on Xerox and would force pure combo decks to switch to Windfall or other engines.

Kazuki: Yes. Lurrus has changed the rules from when it was banned and requires further mana to use. I feel like the current rules have settled on a card power that is probably not a problem under the current rules, so I don't think lifting the ban will cause any problems.

Mental Misstep was the best card to counter an opponent's Ancestral Recall. Now that it's gone, many Xerox decks are throwing in Pyroblast from the main instead. Limiting this card did not serve the purpose of changing the construction of Xerox decks and improving their compatibility against Workshops decks, it only made Ancestral Recall easier to cast.

Imperial Seal is a very low tempo tutor due to its specification of being sorcery and being placed at the top of the library, and you won't see nearly any decks using this card in the current metagame. If unrestricted Misstep, there's nothing wrong with this card.

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Library of Alexandria is also getting faster in the environment, and I can no longer afford to give up a turn to activate this one. It's one of the Reserved Cards, and I don't see anything wrong with it as a card power, except for the problem that it's a very expensive card.

Memory Jar is also not likely to be used more than once when it's unrestricted, considering its cost weight of 5 mana to cast.

Other cards, such as Windfall and Mind's Desire, could be considered to be unrestricted, but it might be dangerous because it's hard to say how far that would allow Storm to be active.

So I would like to see the unban Lurrus, and the unrestriction on Mental Misstep and Imperial Seal.

Mike: Yes, I believe Lurrus of the Dream-Den should be unbanned.  The rest of the format is in balance, with all of the decks I mentioned above rotating in and out of being the top dog as the weeks and months go by.  However, Lurrus of the Dream-Den is currently unique, aside from the landmark banning, in that it's existing functionality hasn't been legal in Vintage.  The tongue-twister of "Lotus, Lurrus, Lotus" that accelerated the cat into play to start generating value isn't so easy to execute anymore.  Additionally, as we've seen in the past with Time Vault, Flash, Burning Wish, and others, errata can have a very real effect on how a card gets used and whether it should even be considered when constructing decks.  I think Wizards should give it the good ol' Gush try and let it prove itself again rather than leave it on the sidelines of the format.

Matthew: Unban Lurrus. Unrestrict Windfall, Imperial Seal. Unrestrict Golgari Grave-Troll (If Hollow One is restricted). There is not a compelling reason to keep Lurrus banned with the 3 mana tax added. It will still be a very good card in the format as recurring Lotus and other valuable permanents as a free card is still a powerful effect and it will probably find a home as a non-companion, but it will be unlikely to warp the format. Windfall and Imperial Seal are unlikely to have significant impacts on the format. Golgari Grave-Troll is an unnecessary restriction if Hollow One is restricted.

If Hollow One is not restricted, unrestrict Mentor. Mentor would provide a budget option for decks to combat HollowVine, HogaakVine and Dredge that is not Tabernacle of Pendrell Vale.

Topic Wrapup

That was quite a bit of info from some very smart players! I want to thank each one of my contributors for this for their opinions on the format and sharing their obvious passion to see the format succeed. It's evident in every response that they want to show the format objectively and are also being great ambassadors for the format and the game.

I am considering doing these on a regular basis just like the Legacy ones, albeit maybe not as frequently (since I'm doing a Legacy one every three months or so at this point). If this is something you'd be interested in seeing more of, let me know! I certainly enjoyed reading the thoughts of these players!

Vintage Challenge 10/17

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the normal during the day Saturday event, which had about 71 players in it, thanks to data from the Vintage Streamer's Discord. Let's dive right into the Top 32 breakdown!

Talk about a lot of Golos Stax! Very interesting swing in the direction of Workshops decks being so prominent in this event, despite BUG also being very popular and that deck being very good against Shops decks because of cards like Force of Vigor. PO was also reasonably well represented, but it was really the Shops decks that took the stage.

Now let's look at the Top 8 of this event.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Walkers 1st Sanchez5272
Jeskai Xerox 2nd ThePowerNine
Golos Stax 3rd BenCapen
PO Storm 4th Sharkcaster_Mage
Golos Stax 5th Yamakiller
PO Storm 6th Condescend
BUG Midrange 7th CitrusD
PO Storm 8th Supercow12653

Kind of a wild Top 8, with a lot of PO and a lot of Stax. Weirdly enough though, it was two Jeskai decks that rose to the top of it all into the finals, with a VERY interesting Jeskai deck taking it all down.

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This is a pretty sweet list, between having some powerful Planeswalkers like Jace, Teferi, Dack, Chandra, but also having a big threat like Niv-Mizzet, Parun, which generally never sees play outside of Oath variants. Just an overall incredibly interesting take on Jeskai Xerox for sure.

In Second Place we have our good friend ThePowerNine also on Jeskai.

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This list is clean and mean, relying hard on the power of Dreadhorde Arcanist. Our friend ThePowerNine is no stranger to this type of list, as he himself put it on the map last year at SCG Con's Power 9 Series event.

In Third Place we have Golos Stax.

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These Golos lists vary a bit on whether they are including Smokestack or not (and make it truly STAX) but this pilot seems to have wanted it for sure. Witchbane Orb is another cool SB option that gives game against cards like Hurkyl's Recall.

In Fourth Place we have PO Storm.

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This is close to very similar lists that folks such as Bryant Cook have been playing in the format as of late, with the sideboard Sprite Dragons to supplement the Mentor in post board matchups. This is a good place to start if you want to look at playing PO for sure.

Since Fifth and Sixth were Golos and PO respectively, let's move down to Seventh Place with BUG Midrange.

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BUG lists are incredily clean and strong decks, with a massive amount of disruptive and powerful plays. Three Leovold is intense, but it is exceptionally good against a lot of combo decks.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event. As always we're looking for cards with more than 8 copies with exceptions made for Companions and MDFCs.

Card Name Number of Copies
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 36
Stonecoil Serpent 34
Force of Vigor 33
Collector Ouphe 28
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 20
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 18
Narset, Parter of Veils 17
Force of Negation 15
Oko, Thief of Crowns 15
Teferi, Time Raveler 14
Sprite Dragon 11
Karn, the Great Creator 10

As was to be expected with as many Golos decks that were in the Top 32, Golos topped the charts this week with a little hit he likes to call "I search for my Tabernacle, you lost." All the rest of the usual cards are here, and even with 33 copies of Force of Vigor across the T8, there were still plenty of Shops rising to the top.

Vintage Challenge 10/18

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event, which brought in 45 players. Let's dive right into the Top 32!

This event completely flipped in the other direction, but I think the major reason this is because we sort of have to treat each of these Challenges as two different regional events despite being all on the same platform, since the different time slots and this event being way earlier simply caters to a different subset of people (specifically those on the other side of the planet) and thus the metagames always just end up being relatively different. There was a lot of PO represented here, but also a lot of BUG and Hogaak.

Now let's look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
4C Xerox 1st Yashimoro
BUG Midrange 2nd Venom1
Dredge 3rd CafeCafe
PO Storm 4th Illig719
Golos Stax 5th Toondoslav
PO Storm 6th Boose
Doomsday 7th CherryXMan
PO Storm 8th Jadis

PO certainly rocked a lot of this Top 8, along with some other unfair decks and some fair decks. I've noticed that these early events definitely seem inclined to a lot of combo overall, and given that like 4/8 of the Top 8 was combo, it certainly shows.

At the end of the event however, it was 4C Xerox that took it all down.

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This is more of the BUG Midrange style list with Goyf and Leovold, but also having access to Wrenn and Six as well as Dack Fayden and Pyroblast. If you just like playing pile-like decks, this is a good place to look at.

In Second Place we have BUG Midrange.

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This is pretty spot on to the other list in the first event of the weekend, the big difference being an extra Collector Ouphe in the sideboard.

In Third Place we have Dredge.

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This list is also on the Wasteland + Strip Mine plan to deal with problematic lands like Tabernacle mainly. Main deck Chalice of the Void too is something more Dredge players should always consider. It's incredibly powerful when it comes up.

In Fourth Place we have PO Storm.

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Pretty much the exact same 75 as the other list in the first Challenge event, so there is merit to how well this list performs. Balance is also a super cool sideboard option that hasn't really shown up in the format a ton until more recently this year.

In Fifth Place we have Golos Stax.

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Look ma, no Smokestack! Just kidding. Karn, Scion of Urza is incredibly powerful in the main deck as well, being able to push through the deck as well as create huge threats.

Since Sixth Place had another PO Storm deck, let's move down to Seventh with Doomsday.

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CherryXMan is no stranger to this archetype, having put up multiple Top 8's with Doomsday in the past. This is another deck that has thankfully gotten a lot easier to pilot thanks to Thassa's Oracle and there is a fair breadth of content available for it to learn it.

Further down the Top 32, we have a sweet Fastbond shell with Thassa's Oracle and Tatyova, Benthic Druid.

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This list is super cool. I totally adore Fastbond shells for sure, and this is both Fastbond shell plus Thassa's Oracle combo, which makes it even more interesting.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event.

Deck Name Number of Copies
Force of Vigor 26
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 22
Collector Ouphe 21
Force of Negation 19
Oko, Thief of Crowns 19
Narset, Parter of Veils 16
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 13
Sprite Dragon 12
Stonecoil Serpent 10
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 8
Teferi, Time Raveler 8

All the usual suspects are here still, that should be no surprise to anyone, and no surprise that Force of Vigor is still probably one of the most defining cards of Vintage in 2019-2020. Very powerful card indeed, and while it waxes and wanes, it definitely has a real impact in how you build decks now.

The Spice Corner

Reader Matt McCormick reached out with a sweet and spicy list this week. It's FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST TIME!

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What I'm Playing This Week

While I'm not able to play the Vintage events this weekend, I thought about firing up a time honored deck of mine: Risen Reef.deck.

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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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