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Vintage 101: Two Thousand Seventeen


A Brand New Year

2017 is right around the corner, and there are a lot of exciting things coming up for all you Vintage aficianados out there! Even though the format is full of many established decks, there's always someone brewing up something exciting. We've got a new set coming up soon too, and I'm very excited for it! 

No matter what cards end up being in upcoming Aether Revolt spoilers, I can say with absolute certainty that the set will be of interest to Vintage players. While the set has yet to produce a brand-new Vintage staple, the latest set of the Masterpiece Series has been revealed, and it has a ton of cards that Vintage players covet! As a matter of fact, between the shiny new Wastelands and Strip Mine expeditions that were released last year and the new artifacts on this list, it is possible to make a MUD deck that's over half-filled with these ultra-rare foils. 

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All of those cards are either part of current MUD decks or have been played in past versions. Duplicant, Sundering Titan, and Wurmcoil Engine aren't as popular now as they used to be, but they're still quite playable. I've already seen quite a few comments from Mishra's Workshop enthusiasts who want to get their hands on these things! It's also makes me happy to see these being printed because it suggests to me that the powers that be at Wizards of the Coast are paying more attention to my favorite format. Some of these cards see more play in Vintage than in any other constructed format after all. Well, if anyone in R&D is reading this, thank you! 

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There's also a new Engineered Explosives, which is a fantastic Vintage staple. Ensnaring Bridge is getting a new Masterpiece treatment and it sees Vintage play (as well as Legacy and Modern).  Pithing Needle, Staff of Domination, Grindstone, and Defense Grid also see varying degrees of play in the format. Going through the list I've only seen a few cards that don't get played in Vintage at all, but most of those are in high demand in other eternal formats. This latest batch of Inventions has me very excited, even the Ornithopter

If your idea of a good time is turning a very expensive deck into something even more ostentatious, this Workshop deck might be a good place to start...

 

With or without shiny cards, Workshop decks are still very potent. This one, played by bschl, is a list I'm particularly fond of. 

I love the aggressive Workshop decks, and you don't get much more aggressive than Arcbound Ravager, Triskelion, and Fleetwheel Cruiser. This type of deck also doesn't have to worry about having the mana issues that Thought-Knot Seer can cause. 

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This list also sports an interesting piece of tech in Defense Grid. Against all of the various blue decks in the format, Defense Grid does a lot of work. It's almost like having a second copy of Trinisphere as it does a reasonable impression when hindering cards like Force of Will. In combination with Tangle Wire, Grid also makes cards like Nature's Claim and Steel Sabotage utter garbage. There's only one copy in the deck as to not draw too many, and it decreases the liability that can occur when facing a non-blue deck. 

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With main-deck Defense Grid and Crucible of Worlds relegated to the sideboard it's clear that this list is heavily metagamed for a blue-heavy field. If I played this list in an event where I expected to face a lot of mirror matches I'd find room for the Crucibles in my main deck. 

Playing Vehicles in Vintage

The Vehicle-based MUD decks are what I'd play if I was looking to play Workshops in the current meta. The decks are aggressive enough to goldfish a kill quickly yet they pack enough disruption to crush a combo deck. These decks don't get to leverage the power of Null Rod the way a true Stax deck does, but I don't feel that is a deal-breaker. 

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Vintage Lantern Control

If you're familiar with Modern, you probably know about a deck called Lantern Control. Well, it looks like at least one brave soul has decided to try and port the deck into the eldest of formats. Let's take a look! 

As you can see, the deck is a prison deck and it shares several cards with its Modern format cousin. Vintage has a much larger card pool though, so the deck gets a lot of new toys. 

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Rest in Peace does a lot of work in this deck. Obviously it's a great main-deck hate card for taking out Dredge decks, and it also makes popular cards like Treasure Cruise or Jace, Vryn's Prodigy nearly worthless. The really great thing is that Rest in Peace makes it so your Energy Field can't die by it's drawback clause. With an Energy Field and Rest in Peace in play you can ignore a lot of what your opponent does, 

Rest in Peace also becomes a win condition in combination with Helm of Obedience. It's just like the interaction between Leyline of the Void and Helm, but with the added bonus of the synergy with Energy Field. Activating the Helm for one is enough to mill an opponent's entire deck in one shot. Helm of Obedience isn't a fantastic card on its own, but it isn't useless either. In my experience playing with Helm I've managed to win games by stealing my opponent's Griselbrand or Monastery Mentor

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The deck also gets to borrow some tech from Legacy Miracles. Sensei's Divining Top helps the deck find the cards it needs, but it also turns Terminus into a instant-speed one-mana Wrath of God. Wiping your opponent's board of Mentor tokens is great, and doing it for one mana while dodging Mental Misstep is even better. 

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The Vintage card pool also allows the deck to utilize the best possible removal spells. Swords to Plowshares is the gold standard for spot removal, and Balance is arguably the most powerful two-mana removal spell of all time. In this deck Balance is a Wrath of God, a Mind Twist, and sometimes even an Armageddon.

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Ensnaring Bridge is a big part of the deck's strategy so there's no need to keep cards in hand most of the time. That makes Balance even better than it would otherwise be. There's also no creatures and relatively few lands as well. Between Ensnaring Bridge and Energy Field, this deck has the ability to stymie most opposing strategies in the format. 

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Much of the remaining cards in this list are ported from the Modern Lantern Control archetype. These cards are used to control the opponent's draw step so that they're unable to find a card that will break one of the prison pieces (Ensnaring Bridge or Energy Field). Whenenver an opponent would draw something relevant the card is either milled with Codex Shredder or exiled with Pyxis of Pandemonium

Lantern Control Sideboard

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Leyline of Sanctity can come in against Storm-based combo decks as it shuts down Tendrils of Agony. Leyline also doubles as a hate card for Oath of Druids as it makes the enchantment not function properly. Grafdigger's Cage is decent against Dredge, but it also shuts off Yawgmoth's Will and Oath of Druids.

I'm honestly a little confused about Forcefield. I don't think that it's very effective against token strategies, and it seems like it would be better as a The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale instead. 

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Jester's Cap isn't seen very often in Vintage these days, but it's definitely playable. Some Workshop decks will use a single Cap in certain matchups. For instance, many Oath decks run three targets for their Oath of Druids, and exiling those is pretty devastating most of the time. 

Jester's Scepter is a card I've never seen anyone play, but I have to award at least a few style points for playing two of the three "Jester's Artifacts" in the sideboard. I guess it exiles your opponent's cards so it fits into the theme of what the deck is trying to do. The Scepter can also counter some spells which is surely relevant. I wonder if Null Brooch might be better at that job though, as it has synergy with Ensnaring Bridge and is nearly as cheap to play. 

Playing Lantern of Insight in Vintage

I know that this deck doesn't look like much, but I've played against it (or something almost identical) on Magic Online before, and it stopped me from winning for a long time. I wasn't able to finish the match as it went much longer than I anticipated, but the cards in the deck did a good job of preventing me from doing anything relevant. The good news is that unlike the Modern version, this deck at least has an instant kill combo to avoid running out of time. 

I'm still not sure about all of the cards in the deck; some of the lantern control cards are pretty underpowered by themselves. The cards that hurt me the most were Ensnaring Bridge, Rest in Peace, Energy Field, and Helm of Obedience. If I was going to brew with something similar to this deck I would probably focus on the Rest in Peace/Helm/Energy Field synergy. 

Vintage Super League Season Six

In addition to Aether Revolt, the beginning of 2017 also means that it's time for season six of the Vintage Super League! The main event will feature David Williams, Rich Shay, Brian Kelly, Chris Pikula, David Ochoa, Paul Rietzl, Bob Maher, Eric Froelich, and of course Randy Buehler. There are still three slots up for grabs though, so there will be another play-in tournament to qualify three more people for the VSL. 

The qualifying tournament format can be found here, and there's a great list of names competing for these spots. There's Reid Duke, Andy Probasco, Kevin Cron, and Oliver Tiu in the first group. The following week will feature Steven Menendian, Rachel Agnes, Rodrigo Tores, and Caleb Durward. One slot will be won in each of the first two weeks, and the remaining six contestants will play in a double-elimination event to produce the winner of the final spot in the main event. 

As always, the VSL will feature top-notch entertainment, and you can find it on the official Magic: the Gathering Twitch channel

 

That's all the time I have for this week. I'll be back in 2017 with more Vintage content. You can hit me up on Twitter @josephfiorinijr -- Islandswamp on Magic Online and TMD 


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