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Vintage 101: What Humanity Has Become


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and we're here yet again to delve into another Vintage archetype!

First, some news. As some of you may have noticed, there was no Vintage Super League this week! The finals were pushed back to next week in order to give both competitors some time to develop their decklists since each competitor is required to bring three separate decklists to play a best three out of five match with. So look forward to next week's recap with Rachel Agnes and Andreas Petersen duking it out at 6pm PST / 9pm EST! It's going to be an exciting week!

Now, without further ado, let's dive into today's deck. An archetype defined by its tribal nature. I'm talking of course, about Humans.

Humanity's Blunders

Humans as an archetype has existed for quite some time within Vintage, owing to the fact that Cavern of Souls has existed for some time alongside cards such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. However, it was Magic Origins that would give the deck a powerful beater that could compete with some of the more fast and broken cards in the format: Scab-Clan Berserker.

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This card, combined with Cavern of Souls could produce a quick clock on a format with little actual creature removal. However, the Humans manabase was wildly inconsistent, needing a Cavern and other mana sources to produce RR for the Berserker. It was Ixalan that would give the deck its next piece of tech.

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While not boasting the uncounterable nature of Cavern of Souls, Unclaimed Territory still gave the deck another powerful rainbow land in order to increase the consistency of the deck's best starts. Combined with some of the other powerful creatures in the deck such as Thalia, Heretic Cathar, it would give the deck some more disruptive and powerful starts.

Now, with the advent of Ravnica Allegiance, the deck has received one of the most disruptive hate bears ever printed: Lavinia, Azorius Renegade.

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The Human List

Now that we've talked a little about the brief history of this deck, let's take a look at the actual list and deconstruct it, as we are want to do here.

Mana

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Outside of the Power artifact mana in the deck, most of the deck's manabase is rainbow mana lands in the form of Cavern, Territory, and Mana Confluence. This deck needs access to all its colors at the earliest, so it cannot afford to run specific mana lands, nor can it afford to run lands like Gemstone Mine (since it has no way of recurring them if the game goes longer). In addition, the deck runs a few copies of Simian Spirit Guide to generate additional mana.

Disruptive Elements + Creature Value

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As a creature based deck, most of this deck's primary disruptive elements are creatures. These creatures all fill different roles within the deck, from hand disruption in Kitesail Freebooter to disruption versus specific effects (Lavinia, Meddling Mage). In addition, the deck runs restricted cards in Thorn of Amethyst and Chalice of the Void since Chalice set on any number can be played through via Cavern of Souls. Dark Confidant is also a powerful effect that can quickly draw the Humans deck into more powerful action (and since the deck's curve tops out at three CMC the risk of losing to a Bob trigger are very low indeed). Suffice to say, this deck has some well-rounded threats and disruption.

The Human Sideboard Condition

Now let's take a look at the sideboard from this list.

Graveyard Hate

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Owing to the presence of Dredge in the format, graveyard hate is necessary. Since Grafdigger's Cage also doubles as hate versus Oath of Druids it makes more sense for this deck over cards like Leyline of the Void or Tormod's Crypt. Yixlid Jailer is also fairly powerful, given that it can shut down graveyard strategies and also attack.

Artifact Hate + Activated Abilities

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Needing to shut down opposing activated abilities (such as cards like Bazaar of Baghdad, Walking Ballista, or Sensei's Divining Top) is rather important, but so is being able to tax/shut down artifacts in general to deal with the Workshops and Paradoxical Outcome matchup.

Aggressive Threats

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While Mayor of Avabruck might seem a little out of place in this deck, the boost to other Human creatures is pretty powerful and helps the deck pump its creatures versus other creature decks. This can be important versus any creature deck and especially the mirror match. On the flip side, while he loses the ability to pump creatures, he does put out the equivalent of a 3/3 every turn.

While this deck can be somewhat inconsistent at times, when it does what it does, it is very powerful and can generate some pretty busted starts that line up very well with the rest of the format.

Vintage Challenge 3/23

This past weekend boasted yet another Vintage Challenge, with an eye towards the first Quarterly Vintage Playoff coming up this weekend (March 30). Let's take a look at the breakdown of the Top 8!

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
U/R Xerox 1st Sti
BUG Midrange 2nd TonyMontana
Pitch Dredge 3rd Karatedom
RUG Xerox 4th Clone9
PO Storm 5th Menta_Li_Ill
Pitch Dredge 6th LaughingRock
PO Storm 7th Condescend
U/R Xerox 8th DancingJesus191

This was an interesting Top 8, given that most of it was dominated by three archetypes (Xerox, PO, Dredge) with a lone BUG Midrange deck making the cut in 2nd place. Let's take a look at that list first, shall we?

While this is a pretty typical indicator of a BUG Midrange list, TonyMontana opted for a full four Assassin's Trophy in the main, as well as some copies of Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. Very interesting list, indeed. Also showing up in the Top 8 was Clone9 with a very minor green splash in U/R Pyromancer, playing one copy of Managorger Hydra and Chandra, Pyromaster.

Also showing up in the event outside of the Top 8 was a 4-2 Grixis Thieves list playing a few copies of new card Goblin Cratermaker in the sideboard and a copy of Subterranean Tremors in the main.

All in all this seemed like a relatively interesting event with some interesting decklists. It will be very intriguing to see how stacked the Vintage Playoffs is next week. Be sure to expect some of the biggest names in the format in this event, for sure.

The Spice Corner

It should be no surprise that our spice this week comes from our good friend Matt "ChubbyRain" Murray, this time with a super spicy Blue/Black Death's Shadow list.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Bit of a shorter piece today with no Vintage Super League, but don't you worry — next week is going to be all about the Vintage Super League finals, giving you the lists and all the play by play action, and hopefully an interview! In addition, we will be covering the lists in the Vintage Playoffs and talking about that as well.

As always be sure to hit me up on Twitter or Discord. I'm always around to chat!

Also, just to note that SCG Cincinnati this past weekend didn't quite go the way I'd hoped, but I learned a lot and go to talk to people as well as hang with two very awesome team mates (my friend MTGPackFoils and StrictlyAverage), so that made it all worth it!

Until next time folks, keep casting them Thalias!


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