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Vintage 101: Vintage in July

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 looking at the current state of Vintage for the month and seeing where the metagame falls for the moment. In addition to that we've got some Challenge data to speak about and of course, a Spice Corner!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Vintage in July: A Metagame Update

It has been a hot minute since we last looked at a metagame update, so I think it's a good time to visit in and see where things are sitting. There have also been some changes on the front of the data collection effort led by Justin Gennari and the Vintage Streamer's Discord that better help exemplify how certain decks and strategies are classified. You can find the most current and up to date Metagame Dashboard sheet right here for this project. This data goes all the way back to 6/1/2021 (the release of Modern Horizons 2) and comprises 8,475 entries of data. This is quite a bit! As always, we are really thankful to Justin and the people that collect this data because without it we wouldn't be able to have these kinds of great overviews of the metagame.

Let's start with the charts and see how things are stacking up.

Some of the major changes made to classifications since the last time we looked at this was fixing and reclassifying the Tinker decks to be more in line with how they actually look, which is to say Tinker with Urza's Saga. In addition, we have a firm classification on UR Murktide as a deck now that has been popping up over time and is now a fairly stable presence in the overall metagame. With that being said, let's see what this is telling us about the current state of Vintage.

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Right now the biggest thing is the sheer popularity of the Tinker Saga decks as one of premier strategies of the format. These decks are basically big blue decks with a Tinker package (usually Bolas's Citadel) and Saga as a beat down game plan. The flexibility of these decks is very high and thus one of the reasons why players gravitate to them as playable options. That being said, the overall performance of this deck is very reasonable and it seems like despite its overall popularity the deck has settled into a part of the format where it's good, but not overbearing or broken to the point of sheer domination. There's plenty of ways to attack the game plans of these decks and they also have a reasonable skill floor to learning how to pilot them well.

In addition to the more midrange aspect Tinker decks, also within the Tinker macro archtetype is decks like Paradoxical Outcome and 8Cast. Of these, PO has been one of the long standing pieces of the format for quite a while and continues to be a reasonable way to approach the Tinker archetype. 8Cast has fallen off the map a little bit in the past year, as evidenced by the fact that the data sheets only have 237 entries recorded for that deck. 8Cast occasionally pops up and does well in an event, but it has indeed faded largely into a measure of obscurity in the format.

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Decks based on Bazaar of Baghdad have quite a presence in the format as well, with both Dredge and Hogaak being regarded as the two best Bazaar strategies in the format right now. The other variant of this, the Squee-based Hollowvine lists, occasionally does well, but it doesn't have quite the same numbers that Hogaak and Dredge do. Even more recently, Hogaak has undergone a real change in adopted red in its manabase and threat base by having Blazing Rootwalla, but also cards like Alpine Moon and Pyroblast]. Dredge has also continually evolved via cutting old standards like Bridge from Below and Cabal Therapy for more things like Creeping Chill and Silversmote Ghoul.

Bazaar has a very reasonable spread of win rates too at the moment, and I think a lot of this boils down to the fact that because they are known quantities it's very easy to prep for these decks with hate cards or effects that stop them in their tracks.

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Shops decks also have a reasonable presence in the current metagame, with Aggro Shops being the more premier variant to play at the moment. Much of this boils down to the fact that the archetype received new cards like Patchwork Automaton that really boosted the power level of Aggressive based Shops variants. All in all though, just like Bazaar decks, Shops is such a known quantity that prepping to beat Shops has a wide array of decks, and decks like PO are natural predators to the Shops decks via their use of cards like Hurkyl's Recall as well as the general speed of Tinker in general.

The only casualty of the Shops decks is the fact that the array of Shops decks that existed before between Aggro, Golos, and Combo is much smaller now. Combo only shows up very occasionally, as do the Golos decks. Aggro Shops is the premier variant for a reason, but even in that variant there's a lot of different options, from cards like Bronze Guardian to old school tech like Precursor Golem.

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Combo decks remain a big portion of the format, with most of the two major pillars being Doomsday and Underworld Breach based decks. The line between Breach and Tinker is very slim though as often many of those Breach decks are also in on Tinker and not quite as combo heavy, but instead having the combo as an option of winning. We've also seen some DPS show back up here or there, as more of a UB Tinker-esque variant as well with Urza's Saga.

Doomsday has often come up as a point of contention among players in the format, due to the fact that the deck has such a compact win condition now and the way to combat the deck requires very specialized hate effects (such as Archive Trap). I think for now the deck is fine as it does require a solid measure of the format to learn and play, and very specialized players are the only ones really doing well with it.

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Blue Control and Blue based DRS strategies are separate by metagame classifications, but both have a lot of similarities in relation to cards utilized by both strategies. Jeskai decks have seemingly gone way out with the occasionaly showing here or there. The same is true of the RUG Midrange variants as well. BUG and 4C decks have become far more popular over time, with 4C being popular mainly because of the advent of Wrenn and Six and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer.

Lurrus has also worked its way back into some of these lists, with the usage of 4C or via DRS Standstill decks.

On the opposite end of this though we have decks like UR Murktide which have really come into their own and applied deckbuilding strategies not typically utilized in Vintage decks, as well as the power of cards like Ledger Shredder lending an existence to decks like Stoneblade.

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On the very fringe of the format we've got a slew of Archon of Emeria decks, from mono white to Bant, and even straight GW. While these decks do collectively make up a very small portion of the metagame, their power level is on par with Vintage's more busted aspects and they are absolutely decks to respect and consider in events. The addition of Outland Liberator as well as cards like Endurance was a massive upgrade to the power level of these decks overall.

All in all, I think Vintage as a format continues to look rather healthy. There's a great slew of decks one can play, and the gameplay seems fine. There's a lot of ways to combat each of the major pillars of the format and week to week always seems to bring out interesting events.

Manatraders July - Vintage

Just a reminder that this month's Manatraders qualifying rounds are from July 11th - July 26th, and this month is Vintage, so be sure to get in and get qualified for the Swiss rounds on July 30th! If you need help wanting to know what to play, fear not because our good friend Justin Gennari has a video for you on that very subject.

Vintage Challenge 7/9

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Saturday event. This event had 59 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Hogaak continues to be one of the most played decks in these events, but it didn't have an insane performance. Breach sat right underneath with a really solid 60% win rate. The rest of the spread here is pretty solid overall, and things look really good in this event for sure.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Oops! All Spells 1st Cuikui
Lurrus Standstill 2nd duke12
Aggro Shops 3rd TaZi
Oath of Druids 4th Miharu_Fuyumiya
BUG Midrange 5th GGoggles
Paradoxical Outcome 6th JOANANTON
Breach 7th thepowernine
Tinker Breach 8th Fantaman95

Definitely a very interesting Top 8 here. Quite a bit of spread of stuff and varying strategies overall. At the end of the event though, it was Oops! All Spells that took it all down.

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This deck is sick. Having the pivot of winning with either Thassa's Oracle or through Goblin Charbelcher is incredibly interesting and fun. Having Tinker into Citadel in the sideboard is also wildly powerful.

The Second Place Finalist was on Lurrus Standstill.

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Very straightforward BUG Standstill variant here. Definitely very powerful with Lurrus to round out things like rebuying Standstill, etc.

Also in this Top 8 we've got some Aggro Shops action with Bronze Guardian.

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Bronze Guardian is an incredibly powerful card for sure. Making everything have a measure of protection from targeted artifact destruction like Shattering Spree or By Force is very strong. The fact that it also has Double Strike is just icing on the cake.

Further into the Top 8 we've got Oath!

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The Parun is back! It's been a while since we've seen a Niv-Mizzet in Oath. That card was always really fun to resolve and cast.

Vintage Challenge 7/10

The second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event, which had 52 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Hogaak again had the numbers this weekend, but not the performance to back it up it seems. Feels like many people were prepped for dealing with the deck for sure. PO had an exceptional performance this event, and it seems like things were spread out well across the rest of the decks past the cutoff.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Aggro Shops 1st mogged
Paradoxical Outcome 2nd burrarun
Tinker Breach 3rd Yamaro
4C Midrange 4th Dazai
GW Lumi 5th Wesal
RUG Midrange 6th Dafne17
Hogaak 7th aManatease
Aggro Shops 8th Thomas Serra

Another very reasonable Top 8 here. Quite a bit of solid variety across multiple pillars of the format for sure. At the end of the event it was Aggro Shops that took it all down.

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Patchwork Automaton has been nothing short of an amazing card for the Aggro Shops variants, but it's also worth pointing out the small impact that Unlicensed Hearse has been having on these lists as well.

The Second Place finalist was on PO.

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A non-Saga PO here, with some minor things like Dress Down to combat the other Sagas in the format. Very clean and focused list though with a very solid game plan.

Also in this Top 8 we've got the GW Lumi deck by its creator, Wesal.

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Sword of Feast and Famine is some real big energy and I am here for it. Looks like a really sick list overall. Very powerful.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we've got some Hogaak.

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Despite having overall poor numbers, Hogaak did still put one in the Top 8, showing that even when people are gunning for the deck sometimes the matchups line up and the deck does its thing well.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 lists here.

Jeskai Stoneblade with FOUR Magus of the Moon is some real energy.

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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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