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Vintage 101: Two Years Down

Two Years Down!

Hello folks! It occurred to me the other day that Vintage:101 is now two years old. It's been a fun and crazy two years for sure. Vintage has seen a lot of change over the past two years, and there has been a resurgence in Vintage content production as well. Anyways, this week's article will look at a few decks from the Vintage Leagues on Magic Online,  but I'll also have a special "thank you" at the end. Enjoy!

Black, Red, and Green Machine!

One of the things that draws many folks to play Vintage (and, to an extent, Legacy) is the fact that the format allows its participants to play cards that aren't allowed in Modern or Standard. In the most extreme example this includes iconic pieces such as the Power Nine, Dual Lands (the real, painless ones), and crazy lands like Strip Mine and Library of Alexandria. There are less ostentatious examples too though. For instance, cards like Bloodbraid Elf and Deathrite Shaman used to be fantastic cards in Modern. but they ended up joining the ever-growing Modern Banned list. Decks like Modern Jund can be ported to the eternal formats in order to continue being useful, and sometimes they are good enough to compete.

Here's a Vintage Jund list that I found. It certainly looks pretty fun to play, and it contains several Modern-format exiles.

Plainly speaking, it can be tough to win in Vintage with a deck that doesn't play blue, Mishra's Workshop, or Bazaar of Baghdad,  Some folks have had success with Junk Hatebears. White Trash Hatebears, and the other non-blue "Fish" decks, but it takes a skilled pilot and carefully tuned deck. With that in mind I like to think that this Jund deck could be viable in the right setting. 

The creatures in this deck all provide a steady source of incremental value and there are no real crazy haymakers in the list. That means many games are going to be close and grindy. Instead of playing crazy stuff like Yawgmoth's Will this deck has cards to stop their opponent's crazy plays.

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There is only one copy of Chains of Mephistopheles an one copy of Null Rod in the main deck, but there are additional copies in the sideboard. Null Rod is great against nearly every combo deck in the fomat and it shuts down the Ravager/Ballista menace that is so prominent in the format. Although the card can be very confusing, Chains of Mephistopheles is still very effective at hosing card-drawing cards. 

To further combat combo decks this Jund deck includes Scab-Clan Berserker. With a little help from a Deathrite Shaman or some artifact mana Scab-Clan can hit the battlefield in the first few turns of the game. Once Renowned Scab-Clan Berserker must be dealt with before attempting to combo off. 

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Vintage Jund lacks the explosive card-drawing that blue decks have access to, but over time it can generate a considerable advantage. Dark Confidant is one of the main sources of card advantage, and it functions even with a Chains of Mephistopheles on the battlefield. Sylvan Library is another great source of card advantage, and it functions through Null Rod. The life lost from Dark Confidant and Sylvan Library can be a concern, but it's possible to gain some of that life back with Deathrite Shaman


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Manglehorn and Ramunap Excavator are a great fit in this deck, and they're both extremely useful in the current environment. Even though Paradoxical Outcome seems to be on the downswing, there are still a lot of Moxen being played. Manglehorn hoses all artifact mana, and it's also artifact destruction on legs. 

Ramunap Excavator has been a boon to creature-based decks in my opinion. The majority of these creature decks are also Wasteland decks, but this type of deck rarely wants to spend three mana on something that doesn't attack or block like Crucible of Worlds. Having a Crucible with a body is fantastic! 

Eye for an Eye; Jund in Vintage

One of the hallmarks of this archetype is the large amount of one-for-one removal. Games are started by trading cards one-for-one as efficiently as possible, eventually building up to the cards that create two-for-ones. Early on this Jund deck will be casting Thoughtseizes and Abrupt Decays. Eventually hitting a Bloodbraid Elf, Dark Confidant, or Sylvan Library will let the Jund pilot create some card advantage and hopefully dominate the rest of the game. 

I think that this archetype is really fun and it can potentially have the tools to succeed. There are some changes that I might test however. I might try Hymn to Tourach and/or one Mind Twist. The Legacy versions of Jund that I've seen all played Hymn. The thing about Hymn to Tourach is that when it's good, it's devastating to an opponent. Against some decks though, Hymn to Tourach just doesn't matter much. Targeted discard spells tend to be more effective in the long run, but as one-drops they also get countered by Mental Misstep. I wouldn't cut any Thoughtseizes, but I'd probably cut an Inquisition of Kozilek to make room for a different discard spell. 

The other concern I have with playing this deck is how it might deal with token creatures. This isn't quite as much of a problem now that Monastery Mentor is restricted, but it's still something to take into consideration. This deck has plenty of great answers to a Mentor or Young Pyromancer, but it doesn't have a good answer to the plethora of token cretaures they leave behind. I think that you could reasonably solve this problem with things like Pernicious Deed, Maelstrom Pulse, or Engineered Explosives

I'd like to see more decks like this being played because it's refreshing to see people trying different things. Even though I'm a blue/black player at heart I like seeing non-blue decks kicking butt. 


Inferno Titan Mentor Priest

This next list is pretty interesting to say the least. I never thought I'd see Containment Priest and Oath of Druids in the same 75 card deck, but here we are. This list managed to 5-0 a league too, so there's something to this. 

Take a quick look at this list and you can plainly see that it's all over the place. Grove of the Burnwillows and Punishing Fire in a deck with a miser's Gush? Sure, why not! There's still room for a Dack Fayden and a Life from the Loam/Wasteland value package. Oh and a main-deck Stony Silence plus eight mana artifacts and a pair of six-drop Inferno Titans. This deck definitely throws most deck construction conventions right out the window. 

All of these disparate cards and combos are really good though, so with tight play they can be leveraged to eke out a victory against a wide variety of opponents. A lot of the cards that seem strange also give the deck more flexibility in an unknown metagame, which is probably quite beneficial in the Magic Online Vintage League environment. The main-deck Containment Priests likely make the Oath and Dredge matchups much easier, Stony Silence squashes combo, and against Workshops decks this list can sideboard into an Oath of Druids deck (just don't forget to take out your Containment Priests). 

Net-Decking Isn't Always Easy...

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Usually when I feature a deck in one of my articles, I write a little bit about whether or not I'd expect to see other people pick up the archetype. In this case I am quite confident that nobody will end up net-decking this list (although perhaps someone will attempt it now that I've mentioned it just to prove me wrong!). Typically strange brews like this don't gain mass appeal. Unless Clone9 manages to post some additional results with this brew I think it will remain on the fringes of the format. 


Yawgmoth's Bargain Again!

Dark Petition Storm kind of died off once Paradoxical Storm became the go-to combo deck in Vintage, but the un-restriction of Yawgmoth's Bargain seems to have breathed some new life into the archtype.

The main changes that this deck has undergone is that additional ritual effects have been added (Cabal Ritual) and three Dark Petitions have been shaved. In the place of the Petitions are three copies of Yawgmoth's Bargain. At first it seemed like a mistake to me to trade a five-mana game-winning spell for a six-mana one, but I think it has merit. For one more mana Yawgmoth's Bargain will almost always win the game, whereas sometimes Dark Petition won't quite get you there. Also Bargain can't be countered by Flusterstorm, and since it draws you a ton of cards it also helps to find a removal spell for that Mindbreak Trap your opponent might be sandbagging. 

Gitaxian Probe was commonly a four-of in Dark Petition Storm. Since that is now restricted, Eruxus has replaced three Probes with copies of Preordain. There's no Cabal Therapy in this list either. Instead of Therapy this list is running two copies of Flusterstorm. I feel that Flusterstorm is a perfectly reasonable choice as it has some benefits over Cabal Therapy. Cabal Therapy is much worse in a deck like this with only one Gitaxian Probe, and Flusterstorm can't be nullified with Mental Misstep


Dealing With Bad Matchups


The worst matchups for a Storm deck are usually Workshop Prison or Hatebears. Other Null Rod aggro decks can be a tricky matchup as well. You may notice that this deck only has twelve lands in the main deck. That might seem a little sketchy considering the prevalence of Workshop Prison and other Wasteland decks in the current metagame, but it's not as bad as it looks upon first glance. The main deck has two basic lands to fetch, which is vital in many matchups. Also note that this deck is packing additional mana in the sideboard. There are two additional lands in the sideboard, plus three Simian Spirit Guides. Spirit Guide's job is to help power out Hurkyl's Recall against Workshop decks. and it does its job while ignoring mana-taxing artifacts like Sphere of Resistance

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When facing opposing creatures that cannot be ignored, this deck has Bontu's Last Reckoning to get it out of trouble. In the past I would have recommended Toxic Deluge over Bontu's Last Reckoning due to the fact that Deluge doesn't tie up your mana for an extra turn, but times have changed. Since the restriction of Thorn of Amethyst Workshop decks have responded by getting even more aggressive, and because of that it's often a problem to pay life for Toxic Deluge. Also, it's possible to grow a creature out of range of a Toxic Deluge in response to it being cast. With that in mind I think its safe to say that Bontu's Last Reckoning has finally found a niche to fill in Vintage. 

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Dark Rituals in Vintage

Right now there aren't a lot of Dark Rituals being cast in Vintage, but I know that a few players are trying to orchestrate a Ritual Storm comeback. I think that the restriction of Thorn of Amethyst definitely helped this archetype, because resistor effects have been the bane of Storm's existence since the dawn of combo. It's technically possible to cast nine spells and a Tendrils of Agony when facing a Sphere of Resistance, but it's close to impossible.

Dark Petition Storm has had to deal with Workshops when they had four Lodestone Golems and four Chalice of the Voids. The current incarnation of Workshops is down to one Lodestone, one Chalice, one Trinisphere, one Thorn of Amethyst, and four Sphere of Resistances. That's only eight effects to work around, which is significantly less than in the past. 

White Eldrazi was another bad matchup for Storm, and that deck relied heavily on Thorn of Amethyst. The metagame appears to have very few White Eldrazi decks in it right now, so that's another bonus for Dark Ritual

What are the good matchups for Storm? In my opinion any deck that is slower than Storm and not playing taxing effects is a good matchup for the deck. To be more specific, I think that Oath of Druids decks are generally an easy matchup for Storm. Oath has to pass the turn before it takes its combo turn, and even after activating Oath it might not win right away. With many players turning to Oath to combat the prevalence of Workshops, it might not be a bad time to pick up Dark Ritual Storm. 


A Special Thank You

The other day I was checking my Facebook account and one of those "Facebook memories" popped up. The post was from two years ago, according to the date on it, and it was something I posted about writing my first few articles for MTGGoldfish. I honestly could not believe that I have had this writing gig for two full years already. I'm still amazed by it, and I'm honored that I get to write about my favorite format on my favorite website. That's right folks, even before I started writing this column I had an MTGGoldfish shortcut on my desktop. I primarily play Magic Online and as such I was always very interested in card and deck prices, so that's what initially drew me to the website.

When I was offered this position I couldn't believe it. I was beyond excited about it, and I put a lot of effort into bringing the Vintage format into focus for the uninitiated. After two years of writing this column I still enjoy writing it, and I'm still incredibly proud to be a part of this community. I want to take this time to thank everyone who works on the website. I'd also like to thank the Vintage community for being so supportive. Finally, I'd like to thank the people that were reading my articles before I started writing for MTGGoldfish; those early articles gave me the confidence to keep developing my voice. 

That's all the time I have for this week, I'll be back soon with more Vintage than you can shake a scepter at! You can find me on Twitter/MTGO/TMD @Islandswamp


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