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Vintage 101: To Make a Monster

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 our set review of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths for the Vintage format. There's a lot to digest with this set for sure. In addition, we'll be covering the Vintage Challenge from this last weekend and as always our Spice Corner.

Also, it's worth noting that there was an announcement from Magic Online about some of the Season 2 events, and Vintage is going to be given a Showcase Challenge over Pauper for Season 2. There are generally about three of these Showcase Challenges per season, and they cost Qualifier Points (QPs) to enter (generally around 40). The Top 8 of this event is invited to join in the Champions Showcase Qualifier event, which is one path to the Player's Tour. If this is something that interests you then keep an eye on the Premier Play Schedule.

In addition, starting with Season 2 there will be two format challenges for each format every weekend instead of just one. You can find more information about this here.

Without further ado, let's dive right into today's article!

The Lair of the Monsters

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths spoiler season is finished, so we can finally review this set from a Vintage perspective, as well as one card that stood out from Commander 2020. There is a ton to digest with this set. One of the big mechanics of this set is Companion. Cards with Companion have a deckbuilding restriction that allows you to utilize a sideboard slot to have the ability to cast it as a declared Companion from outside the game. These restrictions are all pretty varied, but we should talk about these cards first because there is some real power in them. So without further ado, let's jump right in.

Zirda, the Dawnwaker

Zirda, the Dawnwaker [PIKO]

Zirda is probably one of the more insane Companions that exists because it allows for an infinite mana combo with cards like Grim Monolith and Basalt Monolith. This is exceptionally strong, and of course the deckbuilding restriction is pretty easy to achieve in Vintage since there aren't many permanents that don't have activated abilities. One such place that this could easily fit in is into a Mono Blue Urza shell.

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Within the Urza shell, Zirda represents a way to go infinite with Urza by creating infinite mana and then utilizing Karn to retrieve Walking Ballista from the sideboard to win the game. This makes Zirda possibly one of the most busted of the Companions based on the fact that it is a single combo card that is always available and also costs Lotus mana to cast. Expect to see this card around for sure.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Lurrus of the Dream-Den [PIKO]

Lurrus is another Companion that has a fair amount of potential, while having a deckbuilding restriction that is reasonably easy to get to. There has been some talk about possibly slotting this into the sideboard of PO or DPS, but I feel those decks represent shells that require a lot more changes than you want to make to fulfill Lurrus' restriction, for example losing cards like Monastery Mentor, Narset, Parter of Veils, and especially Bolas's Citadel out of the PO shells is not worth the effect that Lurrus provides you. However, there is a deck that I think Lurrus works well with, and that is in an Underworld Breach shell.

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Losing your Planeswalkers can be rough on this deck, as Teferi is strong, but you can supplement Teferi with more cards like Orim's Chant, and Lurrus being able to rebuy a Breach for a turn is really strong. Whether this pushes Breach back up into a realm where the deck is overpowering I don't know yet, but I do expect to see people brewing with this card.

Umori, the Collector

Umori, the Collector [PIKO]

Umori is an interesting companion given that there are decks that often play one singular card type in the nonland slots of Artifacts. Umori is essentially a Foundry Inspector that is always available to these kinds of decks. While more often lately some of these decks have been playing other card types like Dismember and Karn, a current build of Golos Stax without Karn in the main might be a great place to put Umori.

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Sideboarding in this might be tricky simply because the Leylines basically make it impossible to cast Umori as a Companion. I do expect this will be another one we'll see people messing around with for sure.

Lutri, the Spellchaser

Lutri, the Spellchaser [PIKO]

While this adorable little guy has been banned in Commander/Brawl, he is still legal in Vintage, which can be interesting if you are opting to play a singleton deck. While this means you lose access to Force of Will. this could also slot well into a build where you have access to Thassa's Oracle + Demonic Consultation, but also Tainted Pact. It definitely has potential and I think it will be interesting to see. There is also the possibility of seeing this as a main deck card in some decks just as a flash 3/2 Dualcaster Mage effect that can also pitch to Force of Will.

Yorion, Sky Nomad

Yorion, Sky Nomad [IKO]

I actually think Yorion has some interesting applications for Vintage, despite needing to play 80 cards in the main deck to do so. A mass flicker effect seems weird, but I think there is some interesting brew design space for it. I could definitely see ChubbyRain coming up with something to do with this card for sure.

Jegantha, the Wellspring

Jegantha, the Wellspring [PIKO]

This is where we start getting into some of the Companions that I don't believe to be Vintage playable, but I feel that we should talk about them and why. Jegantha is one such Companion in that its requirement is really more difficult to fulfill in Vintage due to the presence of Force of Will / Force of Negation and also many other cards that see a lot of play in the format. Vintage is a format that has very few non blue decks and the ones that do exist are often playing cards like Bazaar of Baghdad and never going to be able to reasonably cast this card. The only possible place for this is maybe a White Eldrazi build, since those decks tend to have a varying set of mana symbols by nature. It just depends on whether giving up a slot for this is worth it, as at bare minimum this becomes just a vanilla 5/5 without evasion in those decks.

Kaheera, the Orphanguard

Kaheera, the Orphanguard [PIKO]

This is yet another Companion that I feel is on the lower end of playability. While some people have point out that if you are playing a creatureless deck this is basically a free 3/2 with vigilance, I don't buy giving up a sideboard slot and having to ensure you have the mana production to cast this to just have a 3/2. Most decks playing green/white have creatures naturally, so it doesn't quite fit there either. I doubt this sees play at all personally.

Obosh, the Preypiercer

Obosh, the Preypiercer [PIKO]

Obosh is another that is on the low end of playability, because its deckbuilding restriction by nature does not play well with one of the core tenets of the format (Moxen and fast mana). Not being able to play these cards at all puts a real damper on the deck and its colors don't do much either for this. Hard pass.

Gyruda, Doom of Depths

Gyruda, Doom of Depths [PIKO]

On the even side of things, I don't think Gyruda is playable either simply because the format wants to have access to too many odd-CMC cards like Ancestral Recall and Brainstorm. Also, I feel this card functions better in a format where you get access to four Lion's Eye Diamond and Lotus Petal to maximize casting Gyruda early. In Vintage however, this doesn't make the cut.

Keruga, the Macrosage

Keruga, the Macrosage [PIKO]

The final Companion simply doesn't make the cut because again, it cuts you off from playing the fast artifact mana that the format needs to cast a card like this in the first place. Losing this is a big miss on making this thing playable, as cool as a Dinosaur Hippo really is.

The Ozolith

The Ozolith [PIKO]

The fact that this works with Modular is merely enough to consider the implications of utilizing Arcbound Ravager with this card. I also believe that there might be room for an interesting deck using this and Hardened Scales to great effect as well. This is definitely a card to consider and could bring about a more "counter" based Shops-like tiny robot deck which would be ultra-cool to see.

Rielle, the Everwise

Rielle, the Everwise [PIKO]

This card seems exceptionally good with cards like Windfall, Wheel of Fortune, and Memory Jar. There is a power level here in this format where these cards see play that makes this incredibly interesting and I think that's something that can't be utterly denied. There is definitely potential with this card somewhere, possibly in a Grixis build running Underworld Breach.

Shark Typhoon

Shark Typhoon [PIKO]

Sharknado jokes aside, I think this is actually a truly interesting card for decks like Landstill, since it can generate a card threat under a Standstill lock with the Cycling effect, but then late game turns into a creature generator for playing a normal game of Magic if Standstill is broken. The fact that this is blue as well is not to be forgotten and the fact that it makes a flier too is really strong.

Yidaro, Wandering Monster

Yidaro, Wandering Monster <326> [PIKO]

Speaking of Standstill decks, this is another card that could find home in those kinds of things as a game-ending threat. Cycling four of these is not only great in Landstill's plan of keeping Standstill on the table as long as possible so the opposing player doesn't cast spells, but also generates a free 8/8 trample haste as well. This could be very cool for sure.

Drannith Magistrate

Drannith Magistrate [PIKO]

This is a cool card and also seems pretty powerful as a hatebear effect. Being able to be a hatebear that shuts down Bolas's Citadel, Mystic Forge, flashback spells like Cabal Therapy and also the new Companion cards seems incredibly strong for two CMC. Furthermore this card is actually an insane lock with Uba Mask, making it so the opponent can't cast anything they draw, which is really quite cool and I hope a shell comes out of that. I would not be surprised to see this see play.

Sprite Dragon

Sprite Dragon <369> [PIKO]

Kind of like a tinier version of Managorger Hydra, I think this card has some potential in the PO builds splashing red as another threat that goes tall over going wide. This being blue means Pyroblast is a consideration, but it could also slot into Delver brews and the like as a card that naturally rewards you for just playing the format. There's a lot of consideration to this for sure.

Song of Creation

Song of Creation [PIKO]

While this card is incredibly cool from both an art (Noah Bradley simply killed it on this art) and design perspective, I'm not sure that it fits into Vintage at all. I would love to see something come out of this though, because it is a cool card to mention. Maybe some brewers out there can come up with something sweet?

Whirlwind of Thought

Whirlwind of Thought [IKO]

This is another card that I'm not sure where it fits especially at four CMC, but its effect is certainly right in line with the things that Vintage decks normally do. If this is ever castable I'm sure it simply runs away with the game in a lot of decks.

Titans' Nest

Titans' Nest [IKO]

This is another card that feels absolutely insane on paper, but at four CMC in three different colors in Vintage might not be worth it. Giving all of your spells effectively Delve seems absolutely nuts and we've seen how Delve is busted before in this format. I don't think this will see play, but its ability certainly feels broken.

Crystalline Giant

Crystalline Giant <361> [PIKO]

This card is absolutely intriguing, it's just going to be down to how random the random really is with this card as to whether or not it might see some actual play. Costing three generic mana is right on target for casting this with Mishra's Workshop and a three mana 3/3 is already a great rate. If this gains hexproof first and then something like flying or menace it has some crazy potential for sure. The random aspect of it might be what does it in however, but I still think this is a really cool card.

The Triomes

Indatha Triome [PIKO] Ketria Triome [PIKO] Raugrin Triome [PIKO]

Savai Triome [PIKO] Zagoth Triome [PIKO]

This set also brings us a set of fetchable tri-lands that all enter the battlefield tapped, but also have Cycling 3. I don't believe these to end up being played all that much in Vintage, however, I can see some corner cases where having three colors on a single land may be worth experiencing the Dryad Arbor problem every now and then and simply fetching them on end steps, or using them for the Cycling late game. Granted, this would only be as a 1-of in certain decks, but it certainly is intriguing to consider.

Long term I don't personally see much future for these in Vintage, but who knows!

Manascape Refractor

Manascape Refractor [C20]

This card costs the magical number of three in Vintage, and is an Artifact so Mishra's Workshop is already on the table. While this likely just a 1 of in those kinds of decks, I can definitely see this getting played in some Shops builds, likely the Golos Stax ones that also play Keys. This card, while entering tapped, is absolutely nuts in that it counts the abilities of every land in play (including your opponents) which means this card is simultaneously a Workshop, Tolarian Academy, Library of Alexandria, Inventors' Fair, Wasteland, the list goes on and on, while also tapping for every color in play. I see this as more of a mirror breaker card in Shops matches where having more mana and action often puts you above your opponent, and makes their Wasteland/Strip Mine effects worse because this can be deployed as a copy of their Workshop in play. This is one of the cards I was most excited about from Commander 2020, and I do expect we'll see people playing around with it.

Vintage Challenge 4/11

We did have yet another Vintage Challenge last weekend and it had some pretty powerful wizards taking part in it, so let's dive right into the thick of things!

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Doomsday 1st Jeremy_Hines
Grixis Xerox 2nd DiscoverN
Oath of Druids 3rd IamActuallyLvl1
PO Storm 4th NumotTheNummy
Jeskai Xerox 5th Pun1sher
Dredge 6th PTarts2Win
HollowVine 7th WingedHussar
Mono Blue Urza 8th PokersWizard

Again, every Challenge event continues to show a really interesting Top 8 every week. Vintage continues to be in a very decent place right now metagame-wise and it does not explicitly feel like there is a definitive "best" deck to be playing. However, I do think the overt presence of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale might suggest that the HollowVine deck is secretly one of the best decks and is being kept down by multiple Tabernacle sideboards. If people weren't running these, HollowVine could likely be at the top tables all the time. This suggests to me the Karn problem of how Karn was insane last year but was kept down by BUG Midrange. The weird notion of this is however, unlike the Karn era where there was only one deck that could push it down and be good against the metagame, every deck can likely have access to 1-2 Tabernacle in the sideboard to deal with HollowVine.

It's an interesting conundrum for sure. That being said at the end of the event, it was none other than DOOMSDAY that took down the whole event.

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Thassa's Oracle for sure has truly impacted this archetype long term, becoming just the actual best way to win the game with a resolved Doomsday, allowing for a lot easier piles and ways to get to a win.

In Second Place we have a sweet Grixis Xerox list where the kill condition is actually just Underworld Breach.

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This list is really sweet and seems like a lot of fun.

In Third Place we have resident PO expert Justin Gennari not playing PO and instead doing well with... Oath of Druids?!

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This is pretty much classic Miharu_Fuyumiya Oath, but it's still a truly powerful list. Congrats to Justin on stepping outside of his comfort zone just a tad and doing well with this deck! Oath is a lot of fun for sure.

In Fourth Place we have renowned streamer Numot the Nummy playing PO Storm.

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This version of the deck leans more on the Esper plan than splashing red for Pyroblast, but it seems to be working out pretty well. Very solid list overall!

In Fifth Place we have another Xerox deck, this time Jeskai.

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It's great to see Breach as a value card in these kinds of decks. The card has seemed to have settled into the format very well as just a solid value card.

In Sixth Place we have Dredge!

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This is pretty stock Dredge at this point, and not much innovation going on within this archetype. It's great to see it do well, but I feel like there may need to be some more hard innovation in the Bazaar aggro archetypes to combat the format overall. Strip Mine + Wasteland out of the sideboard can be good to combat Tabernacle for sure though.

In Seventh Place we have HollowVine!

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As noted earlier, this deck seems excessively powerful and maybe truly absurd if the rest of the format wasn't packing hate for it. Being able to have access to tons of free spells is extremely strong, along with the Bazaar + Squee engine to push through the deck. Again this might be the best deck in the format, we just don't know with everyone packing tons of hate for it.

Rounding out the Top 8, we have a sweet Mono Blue Urza list!

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This list is super sweet and I really love the idea of having both Sai and Saheeli here. Really overall a cool list.

Now let's take a look at the 2019 and 2020 cards in this event! For space sake I am not including any 2019 cards less than 4 copies.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Negation 39
Force of Vigor 30
Dreadhorde Arcanist 19
Narset, Parter of Veils 19
Collector Ouphe 13
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 13
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 12
Mystic Sanctuary 12
Oko, Thief of Crowns 9
Once Upon a Time 9
Teferi, Time Raveler 8
Sphinx of Foresight 7
Stonecoil Serpent 7
Wrenn and Six 6
Bolas's Citadel 4
Karn, the Great Creator 4
Urza, Lord High Artificer 4
Veil of Summer 4

2019 Cards

Card Name Number of Copies
Soul-Guide Lantern 6
Thassa's Oracle 4
Underworld Breach 4
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 3

2020 Cards

Modern Horizons and War of the Spark still look to be the most defining sets for Vintage from 2019 as we continue to see cards from those sets influencing play. It was interesting as well to see Oko on the lower end of play this week, as more and more Jeskai builds cropped up this week and decks with Dreadhorde Arcanist.

We have a new set on the horizon however, so what will happen with Ikoria in the mix? Only time will tell.

The Spice Corner

This Oath Breach deck is super sweet!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Join us next week as we continue our journey into Magic's most powerful of formats!

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

Until next time, keep mutating creatures!

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