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Vintage 101: Time After Time

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be diving into the new cards from Core Set 2021 and seeing how they may relate to the Vintage format! This set is pretty exciting stuff for sure. In addition, we have two Challenges from over the weekend to talk about as well as our Spice Corner.

One thing I would like to note before we get going is on the topic of some recent changes to multiple formats in regards to the ongoing situation with systemic racism within the game/community. As many are aware, cards (whose names I won't mention here for obvious reasons) were banned on varying basis of racial and cultural issues. Our good friend Rich Shay posted some information in regards to this situation in how we can better address this history and how to move forward, which you can find on his Twitter here. It is an excellent read in understanding the nature behind this action and provides a very measured response on how best to address this situation overall. In addition, Rich is also collecting signatures from BIPOC players to initiate contact with Wizards of the Coast over this situation, which you can find here.

In addition, I posted on Twitter earlier this week about this, but if you are a BIPOC player/content creator that plays Vintage/Legacy, please reach out to me! I would like to talk to and feature these players in an upcoming Vintage 101 article!

With that out of the way, let's move on the Core Set 2021!

The Core Factor

A new spoiler season has come upon us, with Core Set 2021 being fully spoiled. This set has a lot of incredibly interesting reprints, from cards such as Grim Tutor (which only had one printing in Starter) and cards such as Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and even Containment Priest. However, there are plenty of new cards to talk about, and thankfully so far nothing in this set seems to be on the insanity level we've gotten used to from the previous sets of Ikoria and Throne of Eldraine Theros: Beyond Death. So let's dive into those cards!

Angelic Ascension

Angelic Ascension [M21]

I'm of the mind that this card simply isn't good enough at two mana, as a 4/4 downside is a huge deal. However, it can also be cast on your own creatures, so the possible upside of converting a token or a bad creature into a 4/4 flier isn't hateful. I still believe this is likely just a fringe card though.

Barrin, Tolarian Archmage

Barrin, Tolarian Archmage [PM21]

This card is actually really interesting and can do some interesting things with the combination of card draw and bounce. In addition to that, it functions well in those games with PO Storm where you have to pass the turn if you whiffed and gain an extra card out of it. I'm not entirely sure if that's where this fits, but it is incredibly interesting design and definitely worth looking into.


Miscast [M21]

My gut tells me this isn't good enough, but might be passable enough of a counterspell to toss into a Lutri Xerox build if you needed the additional affect. Being relegated to only instants / sorceries however doesn't help much in Vintage, and conditional counterspells of this nature are often poor outside of like, Daze (where it is often used to tempo out T1 Lotus plays, etc.).

See the Truth

See the Truth [PM21]

This card has exceptionally interesting applications in PO Storm, especially when utilized in conjunction with Bolas's Citadel by making it a Draw Three without actually drawing. This has tons of upside potential to be played over Night's Whisper in PO decks for sure, as this effect is already pretty good as it's basically a Draw 1, Scry 2 and that isn't that bad for an alternative mode effect that is much strong.

Stormwing Entity

Stormwing Entity [PM21]

I actually really like this card for Delver style tempo decks, and those have existed in the format in some shape or another at different times in the format's history. It could be very interesting to see how this might slot in given that it is so incredibly good for two mana for a 3/3 flying with Prowess. Casting an instant or sorcery to enable this in Vintage is exceptionally easy.

Teferi, Master of Time

Teferi, Master of Time <275> [PM21]

I suspect Teferi isn't all that playable, given that the -3 is typically useless in Vintage. It is interesting however that this is the first Planeswalker with a static ability of making it so its loyalty abilities can be used at instant speed, however, and that in of itself warrants a look as an utterly unique effect. The loot effect of Teferi might be really good however, but it's competing with other powerful four CMC spells like Paradoxical Outcome, etc. so who knows if this is good enough or not.

Teferi's Ageless Insight

Teferi's Ageless Insight [PM21]

I saw some minor discussion over this and looked at this card myself initially and thought "meh?" After a more careful review of the card, my opinion is the same. I don't think this is very good, and it's basically a blue Alhammeret's Archive.

Silversmote Ghoul

Silversmote Ghoul [M21]

This card is intriguing from the aspect that it pairs well with Creeping Chill, which has seen on and off play in Dredge shells. If Chill really picks up, this could be a great inclusion into those decks as another Prized Amalgam/Ichorid type creature that can continually recur from the graveyard.

Village Rites

Village Rites [M21]

This is actually a really powerful effect for one mana and a creature, but I'm not sure where it might fit. Still, very interesting effect.

Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge

Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge [PM21]

While Vintage does have plenty of artifacts to go around, I don't know that a three mana 5/4 flier with such a truly conditional method of being able to attack is any good at all. Maybe in some form of mono red Prison shell, but those decks are very far and few between in Vintage.

Conspicuous Snoop

Conspicuous Snoop [PM21]

This card is actually really super intriguing because it represents an opportunity for a deck to possibly appear in Vintage that actually has never existed before, and that's a Goblin tribal based type deck. In case it's not readily apparent, this card goes infinite with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Boggart Harbinger as a tool to make that happen. Essentially, putting Kiki-Jiki on top of the library with Harbinger gives the Snoop Kiki's ability, which can then be used to copy itself as many times as you need to. After that, you use the ability to make a copy of Boggart Harbinger to fetch up Sling-Gang Lieutenant (or even just good old Mogg Fanatic) and sacrifice all the Snoops to kill the opponent.

I like cards like this because it's likely too fragile to actually see play, but it is a really interesting concept overall.

Niambi, Esteemed Speaker

Niambi, Esteemed Speaker [PM21]

There's a lot going on in this card, and I'm not sure if it meets the mark for Vintage, but it does a lot of interesting things. This can convert additional copies of cards like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade into cards, but also can discard anything Legendary which is interesting. You can potentially even ditch a Karakas in a match where you don't need the mana and don't need the effect if need be. Interesting potential all around.

Sparkhunter Masticore

Sparkhunter Masticore [PM21]

If you didn't have to discard a card to cast this (and yes I know it's a Masticore so that would be totally off flavor), I'd almost call this card passable, but as it stands I don't think this is any good. It might have protection from things like Oko + Dack, but Shops decks are already well geared at dealing with Dack Fayden (via cards like Stonecoil, Revoker, Ravager, the list goes on) and Oko is bad against cards with counters on them plus can't hit Stonecoil anyways. I don't think the Masticore makes the cut, but it is a cool design space for them to be looking into.

Colossal Dreadmaw

Colossal Dreadmaw [M21]

No context required.

Vintage Challenge 6/13

Our first Challenge of the weekend was the normal Saturday Challenge and it was fairly interesting. Let's take a look at the Top 32 Metagame breakdown, shall we?

The big glaring thing is all the Jeskai Xerox, as that seems to be among the most popular of decks at the moment. However, the deck didn't convert all that super well to the Top 8 of the event, only putting one copy into the Top 8 (in the hands of a very capable pilot). What did convert well was Breach and 4C Control.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Breach 1st KauffJ
Jeskai Xerox 2nd Yamakiller
BUG Midrange 3rd Ecobaronen
Breach 4th Aigis
PO Storm 5th Laughingrock
4C Control 6th Leeties
Breach 7th Pun1sher
4C Control 8th Sliphorn

Out of the FOUR Breach decks in the Top 32, three of them converted to the Top 8. I still maintain that the Lurrus Metagame did one defining thing and that was to show exactly how best to build the Breach deck, and how best to optimize it for the metagame. I suspect Breach might end up being one of the better and more powerful combo decks of this current era, and it just mainly took time for people to really pick up on it. Now that they are, it is severely crushing events.

At the end of the event, it was indeed Breach that took it down in the hands of KauffJ.

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KauffJ reached out to me after their win and let me know a few good things, one being that the credit for this list was to go to JoseOrtiz for their list linked here. They made a few changes from that list, but wanted to note that the deck felt obscenely powerful and that they went 19-3 in games over the course of the event. Looking at this list I can definitely see that power, and how good this deck really is.

In Second Place we have Yamakiller on Jeskai Xerox.

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Yamakiller is on more of a straightforward Jeskai plan without the use of cards like Dreadhorde Arcanist, and just straight four Pyroblast in the main deck. Combined with the six Force effects plus all the other powerful cards, it's no surprise to see this list do well in the hands of an extremely powerful wizard.

In Third Place we have our good friend Andreas Petersen (Ecobaronen) on BUG Midrange.

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This is also a fairly straightforward list, but it is cool to see cards like Green Sun's Zenith showing up for the threats in the deck. In addition, we have a rare showing by Jace, the Mind Sculptor who has been on quite a downward trend in Vintage overall. Also really interesting in Andreas' list is the presence of three Daze main deck. Daze as a spell in Vintage is actually pretty solid, especially in early turns where players are trying to maximize on information and playing out Moxen/Lotus before lands.

In Fourth Place we have our second Breach list.

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The biggest difference here is that this variant is four colors, working in cards like Lavinia, Azorius Renegade and Teferi, Time Raveler into the mix. I get a feeling that it is likely that this might be the version to gravitate towards in regards to Breach variants when tuning for the mirror match, as Lavinia can be back-breaking there and so can Teferi. Also, note the two Peacekeeper here in the sideboard. Those are mainly for the Dredge/HollowVine matchups as it is very easy to maintain and it prevents those decks from attacking through.

In Fifth Place we have PO Storm.

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This is a red splash list with the win condition primarily focused on Monastery Mentor, while having access to things like Pyroblast and Abrade. Again note the double Peacekeeper here. What makes this option attractive is that it negates the need to run Tabernacle in the sideboard exclusively for those matchups it is good in.

In Sixth Place we have 4C Control.

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This list is spot on to the style of list played by Tomas Mar (Svaca) with Dreadhorde Arcanist and DRS being the primary threats. It is sort of odd to see Wrenn and Six without any Gush, but looking at the manabase it looks a little difficult to fully support with both Wasteland and Strip Mine.

In Seventh Place we have our third Breach list.

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This list is fairly similar to the first place list, with some changes in regards to the sideboard composition mainly, and even then they're fairly minute changes.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have another 4C Control list.

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This version of the deck is fully off of midrange cards like Goyf and all in on DRS, Arcanist, and Dark Confidant to accrue card advantage. Seems incredibly powerful to me!

Outside of the Top 8 we did have at least one Companion deck show up in the form of a Lutri Grixis Thieves/Storm list.

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This is a pretty cool list and looks like a lot of fun for sure. It's nice to see Lutri still around and interesting as a fun option, not as something that is required to play.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event. As always, 2019 cards needed 10 copies or greater to break into the list.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Negation 31
Dreadhorde Arcanist 28
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 27
Narset, Parter of Veils 26
Mystic Sanctuary 16
Underworld Breach 16
Sprite Dragon 14
Oko, Thief of Crowns 12
Soul-Guide Lantern 11
Stonecoil Serpent 10
Lutri, the Spellchaser 1

Again, Modern Horizons really does seem to be one of the sets that really added further definition to Vintage in regards to blue decks. Force of Negation, among other things this set added, is likely one of the most format defining additions of the last two years for sure.

Vintage Challenge 6/14

The second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday Challenge, so let's dive right into the Top 32 breakdown!

Again, there was a fair amount of Jeskai here, and the upward trend seems to indicate that this is probably the most popular Xerox build in the format right now. It converted really well in this event, which had a bit of a reversed Top 8 than the Saturday Challenge.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Xerox 1st DiscoverN
Jeskai Xerox 2nd Dazai
Breach 3rd DieM4x
4C Control 4th Svaca
4C Control 5th Leeties
Jeskai Xerox 6th CherryXMan
Breach Painter 7th NathanLipetz
Ravager Shops 8th Pasco

As noted before, Jeskai converted extremely well into the Top, putting three copies of the deck into the top, with two in the finals. In addition, 4C Control remains to be very strong, converting well as well. Breach also placed well, in both the normal Grixis version and the Breach Painter version.

At the end of the event however it was DiscoverN who took it all down on Jeskai Xerox.

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One important thing to note about this list is that it is slightly a hybrid Breach list as well, slotting in an additional Breach over the typical one copy and a copy of Brain Freeze into the main to enable the combo. As such it's a bit of a Breach/Xerox build in a sense, a control deck with a combo finish.

In Second Place we have another Jeskai Xerox list.

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This is more of a traditional and straightforward Jeskai list, again not wanting Dreadhorde Arcanist and more on cards like Lavinia and Mentor. In addition, no singleton copy of Underworld Breach here as a Yawgmoth's Will-like effect.

In Third Place we have Breach.

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Some interesting decisions in this list, by having a Mindbreak Trap in the main deck, along with not a lot of ways to hate on HollowVine outside of Pithing Needle / Leyline of the Void. I suspect the speed of this deck relatively carries this deck in some cases, so it's likely the pilot just didn't consider that those decks would show up enough to worry about.

In Fourth and Fifth Place we have two 4C Control lists by Svaca and Leeties (who Top 8'ed the Saturday Challenge as well).

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Svaca's list is much like the list that Top 8'ed the Saturday challenge in that it leans more on cards like Dark Confidant, while Leeties essentially ran back the same list they Top 8'ed with the day before. Seemed to work out really well for them!

In Sixth Place we have our third Jeskai Xerox list.

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This list is also relatively similar to the Second Place list, except the fact that there is a singleton Underworld Breach here. In addition, there's also a singleton Daze in the main deck, and that is super sweet.

In Seventh Place we have Breach Painter.

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This is a pretty cool list. It feels sort of Two-Card Monte'ish in its construction with multiple combos to get to a win, with Breach just sort of neatly tying everything together.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have Ravager Shops.

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This list is super interesting, with a singleton Karn, the Great Creator as well as the Golos in the main deck. In addition, Homeward Path seems like a wildly interesting way of dealing with Dack Fayden stealing artifacts.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a pretty sweet Depths Combo list featuring Fastbond.

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This list is pretty cool, and I really dig the main deck Reclaimer+Thalia. Very sweet.

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

Card Name Number of Copies
Dreadhorde Arcanist 24
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 21
Narset, Parter of Veils 21
Force of Negation 19
Stonecoil Serpent 15
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 14
Collector Ouphe 13
Underworld Breach 11
Force of Vigor 10
Soul-Guide Lantern 10
Sprite Dragon 9
Thassa's Oracle 4
Sea-Dasher Octopus 3
Lutri, the Spellchaser 2

There is Sea-Dasher Octopus in this list of cards. Yes, this was a thing that happened.

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The Spice Corner

It's the return of ERIC'S CRAB SHACK!

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Our good friend Brian Kelly continues to push the Lutri envelope.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join me next week as we continue our journey into the Vintage format!

As always you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord Server.

Until next time, keep on being Otterific!

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