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Vintage 101: Which Witch?

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 diving into a big new card making a great splash in the Vintage format in Sedgemoor Witch. In addition to that we've got a few Challenges to talk about as well as last week's Mythic Society event, and of course our Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Witchy Witchy

We're getting knee deep into the muck and mire before we get to see what Modern Horizons will give to the format, but Strixhaven has given the format a very interesting and unique toy to play with as well, one that is finally starting to gain a bit of a foothold and popularity in the format.

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At first glance, Sedgemoor Witch's comparisons are immediately made to two other cards of this nature, and that's both Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor. This card sort of blends the line in both, leaning on some better stats than Young Pyro but with the same mana cost as Mentor. There are a few things to note here and the first of which is that this card is often not fully replacing either of these cards (although in the case of Grixis colors, it has seemed relatively fine to play more Witch than YP) but are often supplementing them (as is mainly the case with Esper where this card is functionally a Mentor 2-5). Being able to run multiple copies of this effect is big obviously, but the real interaction here is rooted in the card Flusterstorm, which often sees quite a bit of play in the Vintage format. Flusterstorm with the Witch is incredibly broken, to the point where you can even perform plays that let you Fluster one of your own spells in order to make enough triggers to end the game with.

Furthermore, the Witch has a few other interesting features, such as having Menace (which is typically not super relevant in Vintage due to the fact that you're generally not attacking with this card often), and also the Ward ability. While the Ward trigger feels pretty low in cost, since three life can often seem like not much, it does allow for some stack related gameplay if the opponent does attempt to remove the card with a removal spell, such as allowing the opponent to decide whether they are paying three life or not, allowing them to make that decision, and then deciding to intervene with a piece of interaction after the Ward trigger has resolved. This may not seem like much, but having the option and flexibility there is very nice, since you can force your opponent into a position where they had to expend more resources to deal with the card. Also, since the Ward trigger says "ability" as well, cards like Walking Ballista versus it will have to expend much more life to get rid of it.

The tokens created by this card are much more akin to the ones created by Young Pyromancer, as they never grow in size beyond 1/1, but the caveat added of gaining one life when one dies is another point in favor since it makes the cards positive in combat math as well as it makes them difficult to remove with Walking Ballista since they have to expend Ballista activations that actually gain you life in the process.

All in all, this has been an interesting card to see how it may interact with the format, and it's easy to see its power level. We've now seen it show up in a few different lists, from both Esper to Grixis.

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This list is utilizing the card alongside Mentor as functionally copies of the card 2-4. The biggest thing here for that is four copies of Flusterstorm main deck. In addition to that, the deck has copies of Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, which can help get rid of copies of the card with the looting effect in matchups where Flusterstorm is functionally a dead card (namely Shops matchups).

Esper seems like a powerful place for the card, which helps open up space for Esper to exist as an archetype in Vintage, which is very interesting to see. Furthermore, we have also seen this card show up in Grixis colors.

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The biggest driving force here is having the additional power of Pyroblast and Lightning Bolt as ways to attack other decks. As we will see later on in the article, Grixis versions are further improved by having copies of cards like Tinker and Bolas's Citadel to push the spell angle of the deck. This particular build has no way of getting rid of spare Flusters in dead matchups, but the line of casting some spells and then casting Flusterstorm on one of your own inconsequential spells to create a bunch of tokens is pretty real.

Is the Witch the real deal? I think so. It's certainly showing that it has the power level to hang with the format at large, and I think it will continue to see some level of play going forward.

Mythic Society 4/27

As always, every Wednesday evening is the Mythic Society events held at 7PM EST. These are very casual FNM-style four-round events, so they often have some fun decks or some spice in them. Be sure to check out their Twitter for information on how to register and sign up for these events. It's great that they're supporting the format in this fashion.

The first list on our docket is a very unique take on the Workshops archetype by mixing both Bazaar and Workshops into the same deck.

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What really ties this together is the presence of Squee, Goblin Nabob acting as a positive card draw option for Bazaar (since pitching Squee to Bazaar is basically free, it turns card disadvantage into card advantage essentially). Crucible of Worlds also really helps the deck with any lands it has to pitch while also letting it lock the opponent out with Wasteland + Strip Mine. There's a lot of elements of Ziasbond here actually, just without the Fastbond aspect.

We also saw a Lurrus White Weenie variant in this event.

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Path to Exile over Swords is big, but there's Leonin Arbiter and plenty of decks like Shops/Bazaar builds don't play many basic lands if any so the up side is solid. Luminarch Aspirant also continues to prove its worth in this format as it creates a really strong potential clock.

Our good friend Justin Gennari also opted to bring out some spice for this week's event.

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Goldspan Dragon is super neat stuff for sure. It's also worth noting that both Magda, Brazen Outlaw and Storm-Kiln Artist are both Dwarves, so they both trigger her ability. Furthermore, creating Treasure tokens is interesting because it pumps the Artist, but also creates free artifacts to sacrifice to a card like Tinker where you don't have to sacrifice a non-token artifact. Pretty cool list.

In the true Spice category we've got Mardu/4C Midrange!

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QUEEN MARCHESA, LONG MAY SHE REIGN! This list is SWEET. Main deck Lurrus, Tithe Taker, Mentor. Just super sweet stuff all around. I dig it.

Vintage Challenge 5/1

We had two Challenges last weekend, the first of which was the mid-afternoon Saturday event. Thanks to the efforts of the Vintage Streamer's Discord we know this event had 74 players in it overall.

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

BUG was once again the most popular strategy in this event this weekend, but Doomsday was pretty hot on its heels. Doomsday continues to keep pushing its way back into the limelight as one of the premier control/combo decks of the format, even to the point that Breach is being pushed back down again from this spot. The metagame continues to ebb and flow, and it seems like the format is really in a constant state of shifting back and forth, which is not a bad place to be at all really.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Doomsday 1st Diem4x
PO Storm 2nd Cioffo86
Golos Combo Shops 3rd yamakiller
Golos Stax 4th EddyViscosity
Lurrus Control 5th wambocombo2020
Ravager Shops 6th nietzreznor
Doomsday 7th ZYURYO
Dredge 8th NekoReality

Some solid representation here across several pillar archetypes of the format, with plenty of Shops in the Top 8 here. The only thing mainly missing here is one of the fair midrange/control variants. Doomsday did indeed have the best day though, putting two players into the Top 8 and one as the winner of the event.

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As we have seen with these lists in general, there seems to be a severely clear consensus now on what the correct Vintage Doomsday list looks like now. The discoverN style of lists have taken over, even down to the sideboard slots involved, and it's easy to see why. This archetype is really pushing the limits and is exceptionally powerful in general.

In Second Place, we have PO Storm!

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This is a real solid Esper list. No frills, no cute stuff. Just lean PO action.

Also in the Top 8 we had a cool Lurrus control variant.

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This is primarily a Dreadhorde Arcanist deck, backed up by Sprite Dragon and the mana advantage provided by Lurrus once it's in play. Seems like a really neat and interesting list, plus getting to recur Nihil Spellbomb seems really amusing.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have Dredge.

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Creeping Chill has really become one of the defacto ways of winning the game in this deck outside of the creature threats. It definitely does quite a bit of things and is very powerful especially in the Doomsday matchup (where you can catch your DD opponent unaware and Chill them out of the game). Also, two Dakmor Salvage is super interesting, mainly because of the Bloodghast in the deck.

Outside of the Top 8 in the Top 32 we had another showing by the Bazaar/Workshop deck we mentioned in the Mythic Society event.

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Buried Ruin is a solid card in this deck because of the aspect of being able to recur lock pieces with it and then replay it with Crucible. Very powerful interaction overall.

Vintage Challenge 5/2

Our second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event, which thanks to the data collection efforts had 51 players in it.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here.

DOOMSDAY! Who'd have thought, right? Very popular deck amongst the early morning Sunday crowd typically. Many of the players in these Sunday events really enjoy playing this deck for sure, and it obviously is very powerful. Ravager Shops also had quite a representation as well, but it was the Golos variants that converted into the Top 8 which we will now look at.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Grixis Tinker 1st karatedom
BUG Midrange 2nd HJ_Kaiser
Doomsday 3rd shir kahn
4C Midrange 4th bweezy
Dredge 5th Wizard_2002
Golos Combo Shops 6th Game_Night
Doomsday 7th discoverN
Golos Stax 8th fistfullofmetal

Pretty decent Top 8, with a good mixture of archetypes. Plenty of Shops and Doomsday, but at the end of the event it was karatedom on Grixis Tinker featuring the card of the week Sedgemoor Witch that took it all down.

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The Tinker aspect of this deck is very powerful with Bolas's Citadel. It can create situations where you can make a bunch of tokens in a turn and then Time Walk or just let you really dig through your library for the cards you need to win the game. This deck is VERY powerful though. Witch is truly no joke it seems.

In Second Place we have BUG Midrange.

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Solid list here, leaning on Goyf as the primary clock and also having some copies of Collector Ouphe seems solid when decks like Shops are good. No Mystic Sanctuary here but that card tends to float in and out of BUG lists all the time, so it's not 100% necessary.

Also in the Top 8 we had a 4C Midrange variant.

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Quandrix Apprentice! Seems really intriguing in a deck with only 18 land in it. I have to wonder how well the card played. I just want to Flusterstorm with one of those cards in play and do the thing. Seems really fun.

Further down the Top 8 we had Golos Combo Shops.

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Strong deck indeed as we saw last week with Slasher21's win in the Showcase Qualifier. This deck can do some powerful things. Mirage Mirror becoming a copy of Time Vault is equally a very amusing and powerful play.

Outside of the Top 8 we have Brian Kelly, doing Brian Kelly things.

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Yeah there's a Valki, God of Lies here. Never change BPK! Your lists are thoroughly awesome.

Around the Web

  • Our good friend Brian Coval posted a video on PO Storm! Check it out here.
  • Speaking of Witches, our good friend Justin Gennari put up a video on Witch Tinker, which you can find here.
  • Our other good friend Andy Markiton (Montolio) put a video up on the Sedgemoor Witch deck as well. You can find that here.

The Spice Corner

The triumphant return of GOBLINS!

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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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