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Vintage 101: Unleashing the Inner Power

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're taking some time to check in on a format I've talked a little about before on this column in Vintage Unleashed. In addition, we'll be looking in on the release of Commander Legends on Magic Online and how that is going, as well as a look at the Challenges from the past weekend. As always we also have our Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Unleash the Beast

This past weekend, my good friends at Team Serious (and Serious Vintage) ran a Vintage Unleashed (Vintage-UX) FNM via webcam paper play. I've talked about this format before on this column, but Vintage Unleashed is a thought experiment format in which many cards are unrestricted, with the philosophy of the format being that the only cards remaining restricted are cards such as Tutor effects and the traditional Power 9 / fast mana cards. You can find a full list of the rules for this format here.

Vintage Unleashed is intriguing, due to the fact that one would assume that the format is full of one-sided blowouts and absurd combo, but there is actually a really interesting balance to the format provided by the fact that every archetype has access to be doing powerful things, which raises the power level but also the interactivity of the format as well, meaning games are actually much more interesting than they would sound.

One of our first events for this format only had 6 players and nearly every player save one played a Gush / Fastbond deck, so it really wasn't a great indication of what is good in the format or what isn't. This event was also small (7 players) but there was a lot more variety in what each player brought, which was pretty cool to see. The good folk in Team Serious also streamed this event, which you can check out a VOD of on their Twitch Channel.

We're not going to look at every list from this event, but we are going to dig at a few of them. I'll link to the ones we don't explicitly display at the end of the section.

The first list we'll look at is Jame Easteppe's take on UX-Dredge.

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The big benefit to Dredge here is the ability to run more than one Golgari Grave-Troll and Mental Misstep in the more Pitch Dredge shell, but also to have four copies of Strip Mine in the sideboard to deal with problematic lands like Tabernacle. Another big factor in this list is main deck Chalice of the Void in more than one copy as well, which can be pretty powerful vs a good number of decks in this format. Jame did go 3-1 over the four rounds played in the event, so that in of itself is pretty cool that Dredge is still a powerful force.

Only one player in this event brought a Gush deck this time, so let's take a look at it.

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This is super interesting to have not only cards like Managorger Hydra but also Notion Thief. My only major critique here is that there should be a copy of Mystic Sanctuary to go with the Gush/Fastbond engine (mostly because Sanctuary enables really broken turns with the engine), but the Gushbond engine is also very good without it, so it's not like a real issue. Very cool list overall.

Another list that caught my eye was my good buddy Rajah James and his Hatebears/Shahrazad list. Yes... this is a format where Shahrazad is unbanned.

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Rajah chose to utilize the fact that Commander Legends was legal, and played a couple copies of Opposition Agent in this list as well as the fact that in post board games Lurrus of the Dream-Den could be brought in and used to recur threats from the graveyard. There's too much here to really board out to make Lurrus a Companion, but it works well as a board-in option. Really though, the Hatebears plan just reinforces the fact that this deck wants to cast Shahrazad a lot.

On the Mishra's Workshop angle, Phil Thorson played a pure aggro/prison Shops variant.

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The biggest thing in this list is the fact that all the really strong prison pieces that have been restricted over time are not restricted, so going ham on Trinisphere, Thorn of Amethyst, and Lodestone Golem seems really pretty good. Backing that up with four copies of Strip Mine and Wasteland is solid. I had been hoping to see a Shops deck like this in one of these events, although my inclination would be to go deeper on cards like Mystic Forge and Karn, the Great Creator this is still a very solid list.

I'll link to the other lists below here, be sure to check them out, and congrats to Team Serious on running what looked like a fun and successful event.

Commander Legends on MTGO

This past weekend saw the release of Commander Legends on Magic Online, and it's extremely clear that this set will have an impact on the format, and it's all down to one card.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Not only is the price of Hullbreacher reaching absurd levels as everyone is scrambling to get their hands on it to test in both Legacy and Vintage (nearly close to 100 Tix at the time of this writing), but the card also is simply showing up in good numbers already in Vintage due to how strong the card is with cards like Dack Fayden and especially wheel effects like Timetwister. Hullbreacher is a lot like Notion Thief in a lot of ways, but the card is actually more powerful than that by sheer fact that it has a less restrictive mana cost and generating free mana is absolutely insane.

As supply continues to filter into the Magic Online economy, be more aware of this card, as a similar card in Narset, Parter of Veils became restricted due to its effect on the metagame and making it so that players couldn't play their powerful cards (i.e. Ancestral Recall, something the format is well known for) so I would not be honestly too surprised if Hullbreacher was restricted at some point.

Vintage Challenge 11/21

We had two Challenges this weekend, the first of which was the normal Saturday afternoon event. Thanks to data collected by the Vintage Streamers Discord, we know we had 84 players in this event overall, so we have a pretty good look at the complete metagame here. Let's take a look.

A lot of Golos Stax at the top end of representation this week, followed by BUG Midrange and Doomsday. Despite the fact that Golos seemed so utterly prominent in this event, the deck only had around a 41% win rate overall, making its prominence much more on the back of just being a relatively popular deck to play this week more than anything. If anything in regards to Shops variants, Ravager Shops actually did better performance-wise but only had two pilots.

In fact though, the Top 8 was pretty infested by Golos, so let's take a look.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Dredge 1st Ennuixd
Hullbreacher Xerox 2nd Laessoe
Doomsday 3rd MaxMagicer
Golos Stax 4th Patxi
Golos Stax 5th HodorTimeBaby
Golos Stax 6th WamboCombo2020
Dredge 7th Wizard_2002
Hogaak Bazaar 8th BennyBo

Yeah, three out of 19 Golos lists made it through to the Top 8 here, something somewhat largely to be expected by the presence of the deck in the event, but it was none other than Dredge that took the whole thing down.

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The Creeping Chill variants of this deck are slowly becoming the norm for Dredge, and they definitely seem pretty strong overall. As I've noted before, Dredge continues to reassert itself as one of the best Bazaar strategies in the format and it keeps doing so with some really solid finishes.

In the Second Place slot we have a new deck with a new card in Hullbreacher.

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Leaning on the Wheel effects as well as the power of Dack Fayden is pretty strong with four Hullbreacher to play around removal. Creating free artifacts to cast spells with or to sac to Tinker is really downright gross, but doing it in such a way that your opponent ends up with no cards in hand is even worse. I'm concerned to see how this archetype grows as supply of the card also grows and work on this archetype also evolves.

Down the Top 8, since we had three Golos lists, let's take a look at one of them.

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This is certainly a fairly common Golos variant. I do appreciate the basic land in the main deck manabase however, because of cards like Assassin's Trophy often being leveled at lands. Still, Golos is interesting and very popular right now for a lot of players.

Moving out of the Top 8 we had a great showing at 11th by Ravager Shops.

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Tangle Wire and Fleetwheel Cruiser are super sweet in this list. Ravager being reinvented and doing well is certainly a super cool thing to see in the current format. The deck has definitely felt very powerful against a lot of the format's big hitters right now.

Vintage Challenge 11/22

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event, which had around 48 players overall thanks to the data from the Discord. Let's dive right into the Metagame breakdown.

4C Xerox tends to be a lot more popular in these early morning events, as many of the European crowd really likes the Deathrite Shaman based decks. Golos was also popular here as well, but not as insanely popular with a much smaller field than the Saturday event.

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

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Doomsday 1st CherryXMan
Doomsday 2nd SingPanMan
Hullbreacher Xerox 3rd IamActuallyLvl1
Ravager Shops 4th Medvedev
Hullbreacher Xerox 5th DiscoverN
Jeskai Xerox 6th Shir Kahn
Golos Stax 7th _Shatun_
Dredge 8th Oosunq

The big takeaway here is the presence of two of the Hullbreacher Xerox decks, one in RUG colors and the other in Jeskai colors, as it does seem like the deck is incredibly powerful. However, the finals of the event ended up being a Doomsday slug fest between two very solid pilots.

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With nearly the same 75 (except for minor differences), this mirror match is down very much to player skill and the answers available. Since Doomsday is a Xerox deck too, it can play as such or go for a combo kill when the opportunity presents itself. Navigating the mirror is simply trying to figure out the best time and place to go for that kill. Both of these players are stunningly good Doomsday players, so I'm sure this match was very interesting. In the end though, CherryXMan would be the one to take it all down.

Also in the Top 8 we had a Jeskai variant of the Hullbreacher deck.

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The major deck construction points used in the RUG version still very much apply to this version of the deck, but with white the deck is gaining access to Monastery Mentor over Managorger Hydra instead. This shell putting multiple players into Top 8s this weekend is certainly worth paying attention to though. I would not keep this deck off your radar for very long.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a showing by both Hullbreacher and Opposition Agent in a Lutri, the Spellchaser variant.

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Truly nonland Singelton is way cool. This deck is super cool and would be a lot of fun to play I'm sure.

The Spice Corner

Spell Queller in Vintage is super sweet.

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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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