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By: EpsilonMinus, Michael Petersen
Oct 24 2013 4:39am
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Greetings, Eternal fans!  Allow me to introduce myself and this article series.  My name is Michael Petersen and I have been playing for the last few months on MTGO as EpsilonMinus, chiefly in the Classic format.  In the meantime, I have been making recordings of Classic League and Daily Event matches and posting them to my YouTube account.  So, by popular demand (and by popular demand, I mean one person suggesting it to me in the comments), I am going to start trying to chronicle my progress as a Classic player as we make the final transition into Online Vintage.

First, a brief paragraph about my Magic history.  Like many of you, I started playing at the kitchen table during grade school.  This was in 1994, just after Revised Edition was released, and my most prized possession was my Force of Nature that I had in my 100+ card green/black/red deck (this was before we had fancy terms like Jund in our vocabulary).  I also read gaming magazines like the Duelist and Scrye and had a fascination with cards like Black Lotus, which unfortunately came out at a princely 120 (!) dollars, which was far beyond my weekly allowance.  Then, of course, I moved away to a smaller area (and then a smaller one after that) and moved on from the game, seemingly returning every five years, for some odd reason, and I continued to have a fascination for the power cards and the old formats.  I would play Vintage on Apprentice (remember that?) and when Classic first appeared on Magic Online, I remember buying some cards, but ultimately not being terribly interested in playing what was, at the time, essentially Extended with Mirage cards and Force of Will.  However, I did purchase a playset of Tarmogoyfs and Force of Wills.  Sadly, however, I did not have the foresight to purchase any Lion’s Eye Diamonds.

Which brings me to the present day.  I had been following Vintage again on The Mana Drain, and I received word of the announcement that the Power Nine would be released on MTGO in 2013 and I decided that it was time to start building up my collection.  In the meantime, after starting out playing Legacy in the Tournament Practice room, I discovered that there was a Classic League series.  Unfortunately, I discovered it just after the deadline, but I resolved to join the next league.  After all, since I was buying up the staples for Vintage, I had the staples to play Classic.  Moreover, as a happy coincidence, Classic Daily Events began firing on a consistent basis again, which gave me more opportunities to practice and hone my game.

Classic is a pretty interesting format.  It is often described as Vintage without the Power Nine, which is relatively accurate as shorthand, but it is rather unappreciated by outsiders how much repercussion the absence of those nine cards has on the format.  After all, the shells look fairly similar: you have Oath, Workshops, Dredge, Fish, Gush, Storm, etc.  However, although the decks may seem similar, the overall metagame differences between the two formats are vast, a subject I will delve into further next time, when I take a look at the entries into this season of the Classic League.

However, I was intuitively able, by looking at the results of the last Qualifier of Season 1 and the Invitational, to figure out what the top dogs of the format were: Oath of Druids, Workshop Affinity, Stax, and Dredge, so I wanted to play a deck that I felt like it could match up well with all those decks.  Also, even though I seem to be drawn to the formats most inhospitable to creature-based strategies, I still have a nostalgia for swinging through with critters, so I wanted to play a creature-based aggro deck.  

What I settled on was this:


It was a direct port from a budget Vintage deck from the LCV league in Spain, which was convenient because I didn’t have to figure out what to replace the power cards with.  I did, however, retool the sideboard to reflect what I was expecting to see in Classic, which was Oath, Dredge, Shops, and Gush decks featuring the then recently printed Young Pyromancer.  I knew I was taking a calculated risk, because the deck was a bit soft against other creature decks, but I thought it was one worth taking.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

The field of 28 players, featured 1 Oath deck, 1 Affinity deck, 2 Gush decks, 2 Dredge decks, and 4 Stax decks, and a whole lot of Fish and off-the-wall rogue decks (including an exact replica of the deck I had chosen!) that my laser-focused metagame deck was simply not prepared to deal with.  I somehow managed to finish 3-2 and was in Top 8 contention until the final round, but after getting mauled by a GWB Junk deck, I knew that I was going to have to find something else.  If you would like to see more, you can view all my matches here.

After several attempts at other decks in various Daily Events, including a R/W Blood Moon/Imperial Recruiter aggro deck (fun, but not good enough against Oath) here, a four-color Cavern of Souls Humans deck (fun, but not good enough against Affinity) here, and a U/W Stoneblade Time Vault control deck (didn’t suit my play style) here, not to mention various other experiments that never even made it to the point where I would try it in a Daily, I had settled on a deck.  I began with the following list, which won a Northeast Vintage tournament early this year:

Vintage Zenith Bant
Bill Sees
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Edric, Spymaster of Trest
1 Scavenging Ooze
2 Tarmogoyf
3 Deathrite Shaman
3 Trygon Predator
4 Meddling Mage
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Qasali Pridemage
23 cards

Other Spells
1 Ancestral Recall
3 Path to Exile
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
1 Time Walk
3 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Sapphire
14 cards
1 Forest
1 Strip Mine
1 Underground Sea
3 Tropical Island
3 Tundra
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Wasteland
17 cards

Green Sun's Zenith


I liked the idea of having a toolbox with Green Sun’s Zenith, and I liked the idea of having access to the best anti-Shop and anti-Dredge cards in the sideboard with Serenity and Kataki, War’s Wage plus Rest in Peace and Grafdigger’s Cage.  However, unlike my previous deck, I would have to make some modifications to my list to make it into a Classic deck, which I will go into in greater detail next time in order to preserve space here.  After a couple dailies and some fine tuning, I ultimately ended up with this:


During my initial two attempts, I finished 2-2, getting tripped up by Shops and Dredge respectively, which led to some more sideboard tweaking to improve those matchups.  Finally, I broke through, finishing 3-1 in the past couple weeks.  I have been very pleased with the deck’s performance.  It has good game against most of the top-tier decks in the format, and while it is not a world-beater against the other creature decks or rogue builds, it doesn’t fold up like a lawn chair against them either (I had to play Elves Combo and Vial Slivers in the past two weeks, two decks that probably would have demolished my White Trash deck.)

So, thank you for getting this far.  I’m going to leave the embedded videos from my last Daily Event at the end of this article.  As far as what you can expect to see in the future, I will be providing videos of my upcoming matches in Season 2 of Classic League, along with my analysis of the week’s matches as a whole and analysis of any DEs that happened to fire during the week as well as how the DE metagame is comparing to the metagame from the Invitational Qualifiers.  I will also post any interesting or noteworthy DE matches I end up playing, although probably not always complete tournaments, so if you enjoy the video content and want more, I would highly recommend (shameless plug) subscribing to my channel, if you happen to be on YouTube.  Also, if you have any questions, feedback, (constructive) criticism, stuff you’d like to see me do more or less of, please let me know in the comments (but not about Game 1 of Round 3, because I did belatedly figure that one out!)

Without further ado, here are my matches from the last Daily Event.  And I would like to add finally, that even though the deadline for Season 2 of Classic League has passed, your chance to qualify for the Invitational has not!  If you 4-0 a Daily Event, you automatically receive a berth and if you 3-1 a Daily Event, you qualify for a Last Chance Tournament being held the weekend before, so I hope to see you all in the queues!

Round One versus Spy/Informer Combo: 

 Round Two versus Vial Slivers:

 Round Three versus Dragon Breath Oath:

Round Four versus Omni-Tell:


Well the good news is that, by RexDart at Thu, 10/24/2013 - 09:15
RexDart's picture

Well the good news is that, come next July, you'll only *need* one LED since it's restricted in Vintage. So don't feel too bad about missing that boat. Plus it may see a reprint in Vintage Masters.

I'm a Noble Fish enthusiast myself, and I like your list. When I get the chance to watch the videos, I'll be interested to see if Daze worked out. I have never ran it in Classic, because it's pretty bad on the draw, and some of the decks like Shops can play around it rather easily. In Legacy, mana is far more tight, and it has better utility there.

Shamans by fmf_navy_corpsman at Thu, 10/24/2013 - 15:07
fmf_navy_corpsman's picture

Interesting deck Michael but why the Deathrite Shamans? You only have one black mana producing land. The Shamans best function (of the 3) is the 2 points of damage it does as it goes along with the nickel and diming your opponent to death. Every deck I see that uses the Shaman uses that function the most compared to the other 2.

He has six fetches that can by RexDart at Thu, 10/24/2013 - 17:01
RexDart's picture

He has six fetches that can grab that Underground Sea, plus the Sea itself, plus the KotR. I think 8 ways to grab it is enough to make the ability relevant. His deck wants the mana production off DRS more than it wants anything else.

Six Fetchs by fmf_navy_corpsman at Fri, 10/25/2013 - 15:18
fmf_navy_corpsman's picture

True he does, but this is Classic, the land of 4 Wastelands and a Strip Mine for everyone. But I can understand the mana need along with the graveyard depletion.

Glad to see some new faces in by enderfall at Thu, 10/24/2013 - 16:02
enderfall's picture

Glad to see some new faces in the Classic scene!

Thanks for the comments, guys by EpsilonMinus at Thu, 10/24/2013 - 22:01
EpsilonMinus's picture

LED: I actually wrote this a day before the news about VM broke, amusingly enough. I was mostly being cheeky, though. I'll probably pick one up, especially if as I suspect, it is included in Vintage Masters and the price comes down, because I'm a completist. However, I'm not big on playing combo, so it's not a necessity. Goyfs and Forces are definitely more my style.

Daze: I'm actually going to address this in detail in the next article, when I talk about the differences between the Classic and Vintage metas and porting a Vintage deck into Classic, but the short of it is, I probably wouldn't have tried it out if it wasn't in the original decklist and there are times when I've thought about replacing it, but I think out the three realistic options (Daze, Misstep, Pierce) it was both the most versatile and fit the best with my play style. Strangely enough, I actually like it against Shops, because they can't use the Workshop mana to pay the cost.

Deathrite: Pretty much echoing what RexDart said. In Legacy, where you have a lot of grindy creature battles, you could definitely say that Deathrite's third ability is the most important, but in Classic, it's most important to have the extra mana to get over the Sphere effects of Workshop decks. Obviously, the versatility puts him over the top, but let me put this way, I'd probably at least considers a creature that only had the mana effect, but I don't think I'd play a creature that had only the other two effects. That being said, I think the 3 Shamans in the original is too many. (Plus, he's running two fewer fetches!)

That game against Oath, the by GainsBanding at Fri, 10/25/2013 - 03:29
GainsBanding's picture

That game against Oath, the Blightsteel was the last card in his deck. So he lost during his draw step. But you could have Path'ed his guy anyway.

Nice article!

EpsilonMinus's picture

It just happened so quickly and I'd forgotten that Oath was an upkeep trigger and he went straight into his draw step. I agree I probably would have Pathed and probably won anyway, although he could have had Misstep in his hand. Thanks for reading and watching!