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By: Joe Fiorini, Joseph G Fiorini
Jun 26 2015 12:00pm
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VINTAGE FOR THE MASSES!

I often write about Eternal formats from the perspective of someone who is already entrenched in said formats. I usually aim my writing at a segment of the Magic populace that's already involved in the format as well. Today, instead of preaching to the choir, I'm going to try to gather some additional sheep to our flock (even though I detest that metaphor). As I've mentioned in several articles, it wasn't that long ago that I was an outsider to Legacy and Vintage. I'd listen to Vintage podcasts like "So Many Insane Plays" or read eternal format content on SCG and I would post comments about how I wished I could participate. I'm sure that there are other people who have felt the same way, so I have decided to shine the Eternal Spotlight on some decks that could make a competitive deck for a first-time Vintage player. In the past, I'd done this for Legacy, and I'll link to that article for anyone who is interested in budget decks for that format. Today, however, I'm hoping to show a neophyte how they can get their foot in the door of the greatest format of all time: Vintage. 

How does someone enter into a format like Vintage without such staples as Force of Will, enemy fetchlands, or the Power Nine? Well, it isn't always easy. To be honest, some of the sweetest decks in the format play those cards, and they aren't exactly cheap. To say that you can't play Vintage without owning all of them isn't exactly true though. Today I'm going to share with all of you a few decks that can get you started. I've picked lists that are cheaper than the average Vintage deck, and all of these lists have placed 3-1 or better in Daily Events. While these decks may not be your dream deck, it is very possible to invest in one of these decks and eventually win enough packs to trade for tix in order to finance a more expensive deck.

If you're not familiar with the payouts, 3-1 pays out six packs on a six ticket investment, and going undefeated pays eleven. As long as pack prices stay decent, you're making a profit each time you win at least three matches. If you can Channel any extra funds along with your winnings, you should be able to get what you need eventually. If you can sweep Daily Events with some regularity, you'll get there even faster! 

There's also a chance that once you get a taste of victory with one of these lists you'll decide to just keep the deck. After all, some people really love playing these decks, so there must be a reason why.

The Graveyard Shift!

The first deck I've got for you is the cheapest version of Vintage Dredge that I could find. There are some improvements that could be made to this list, for instance some of the lands would be better suited as either Mana Confluence or Undiscovered Paradise perhaps, but the deck is still a beast.

Let's take a look!

 

 

If you've never faced a Dredge deck, or if you've only faced the Legacy version, you're in for a shock when you see how fast Vintage Dredge is. The difference is in the dredge-enabling powerhouse called (Bazaar of Bagdhad). The land functions as a draw-engine and a discard outlet that can't be countered. Bazaar is so important to the deck that Dredge runs four Serum Powders just to find it. 

Since Dredge decks play most of their cards from the graveyard anyway, it's almost as if Bazaar reads "Tap: Draw five cards". It's even worse than that though, as each dredge replacement effect is binning at least four cards (unless it's only Dredge 2 from the single copy of either Dakmor Salvage or Darkblast). 

The rest of the deck has a bunch of graveyard shenanigans that kill you as early as turn two. The shocking thing is how often this happens in game one of a match. The reality is that Dredge is so insanely powerful that Wizards has had to print a lot of hate cards to keep it in check. And while those anti-dredge cards are very good at stopping the deck, the simple fact is that the opponents won't always draw those sideboard cards. If and when those sideboard cards are drawn, then the Dredge deck may have had time to find an answer anyway!

Why should you play Dredge?

Ichorid

If you want to do broken things in Vintage, and can't afford power, then this is the deck for you. Dredge breaks all of the rules that Magic is built upon, and it's as consistent as it is deadly. I'd say that Dredge is tied with only Shops for dedicated slots in peoples sideboards. Nobody goes into a Vintage tournament with less than four sideboard cards for Dredge unless they have a Death Wish, and many people play five or six pieces of hate.

If you do decide to go this route, please check out this primer by my friend and fellow Puremtgo Writer, John Mayer. Playing with Dredge isn't like playing a normal game of Magic, so you should put in some extra preparation time.

 

Death, Taxes, and Monkeys!

Simian Spirit Guide

This next deck went 3-1 without some of the cards an optimal build would have. Looking at the D.E. records, it looks like this player purchased Wastelands for the deck, and I like to think that the packs won by the list helped to purchase them. 

Without further ado, here's Simian's Mom! 

 

 

I've actually faced this deck, and it is pretty good. It had plenty of hate-bears, and this list is totally cruel to a Mishra's Workshop deck. Obviously, Ghost Quarter should be Wasteland, but guess what? Ghost Quarter IS Wasteland or (Strip Mine to be exact) when you're facing down Shops. Shops decks play exactly zero basic lands to fetch (which is also why GQ is so good in the Shops mirror), so they're just getting hosed by all of the land destruction. Also, all Workshop decks play four Thorn of Amethyst, which is great news for a creature-centric deck like this one.

This list looks heavily metagamed against Shops and Mentor/Delver decks. In addition to all of the lovely (or is it angry?) hate-bears, there's Sudden Shock to fry Monastery Mentor before any value can be gained, and there's even a couple Null Rods to hose all manner of decks. Personally, I'd probably run more Null Rods (in ROD we trust!) or maybe some number of Stony Silence instead. The ability to shut off artifacts hoses decks like Martello Shops, Storm, or any deck that runs Time Vault as a win-con. Stony Silence seems like it's harder to deal with than Null Rod, since artifact-hate is more ubiquitous.

Why should you play Simian's Mom?

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

If you enjoy beating down opponents while stopping them from making meaningful plays, then this is the deck for you? The other awesome reason to play this deck is that it contains zero power nine cards and no Bazaar of Baghdad. I usually only mention MTGO-related prices, but I want to add that since this deck doesn't contain any Bazaars or Power, it's much cheaper in paper than any other Vintage deck you could find. For anyone thinking of making the transition to paper Vintage someday, I'd consider this list. Sometimes it's fun to play the role of the fun-police!

The Mana Drain has a very useful thread on this deck, and I suggest you check it out if you want to play Simian's Mom. The Mana Drain is an incredibly valuable source for Vintage knowledge, and you should always check it out (right after reading my articles, of course).

 

Riders on the Storm!

 Up next we have a Storm deck played by The Atog Lord.

 

 

MTGGoldfish is calling this "The Perfect Storm", but I'm not exactly sure if that name fits. This list plays zero copies of Force of Will (which shaves a lot off of the cost), and instead opts for the full four copies of Duress like the old Grim Long decks used to play, but there's no Grim Tutor.

Three copies of Hurkyl's Recall are great for beating Workshop decks, and they do a wonderful job of building up the storm-count when used to replay one's own Moxen. Other than the extra Hurkyl's, this deck has a lot in common with most TPS decks. The game plan is to cast nine spells followed by Tendrils of Agony. This is the first kind of deck that I played when I started Vintage, and it is a ton of fun to pilot.

Although this deck costs as much as the first two decks combined, it's much cheaper (by 100-300+ tix) than most of the top decks. The lack of Forces, plus the fact that Modern Masters 2015 made Hurkyl's Recall drop in price means that this list ends up being much cheaper than even other Storm decks.

Why should you play Storm?

Yawgmoth's Will

If you like a powerful deck that is a challenge to pilot, perhaps Storm if for you. Simply put, Storm decks are not easy to play. They take a LOT of patience, practice, and fore-planning. Players like Unrestrict_Gifts and The Atog Lord are some of the best Vintage players in the world, so you shouldn't assume that you'll achieve the same level of success with the deck as those players have the very first time you pick it up. This also shouldn't stop you from trying it out. Perhaps with some practice you'll be storming out opponent's left and right, but it probably won't happen in game one. However, if you're willing to put in the work, then Storm decks like this can be very rewarding.

Here's the TMD thread on ritual-based storm decks. This is a great resource if you want to play TPS.

 

 

Time to add a new weapon to your arsenal!

 

Once you've picked out a Vintage deck to build, the easiest way to throw it together is to simply import the list into your collection. Any cards you're missing can be purchased in a matter of minutes by either adding the missing cards to your wish-list and searching an MTGOTradersBOT, or by ordering them from the MTGOTraders website. I know that I'm biased, but I have to mention that the using either MTGOTraders or their bots is the fastest way to get your cards. There's an automated delivery bot now, and it's pretty sweet! If you're not familiar with how the importing process works, I made a blog post that will show you how to do that, just click here.

I sincerely hope that some Magic Online player enjoys hearing about these decks and decides to give Vintage a try. Quite a few of the cards in these decks are usable in other formats anyway (especially Legacy), so the cards are a good investment. You could use some of the hate-bears in Modern or Legacy, and Legacy Dredge uses many of the same cards as the Vintage version. There are plenty of games to be had in tournament practice or the 2-player queues, and if all else fails I will play a game with any new players who want to play in a low-pressure environment. 

If you're thinking about getting into Vintage, I recommend also checking out The Mana Drain. It's a message board with tons of Vintage-related information, and it really is a great tool for someone to learn about the format. 

See you in the Vintage rooms!

Magic: Origins has been

Spoiled Rotten!!!

 

In the past, new sets haven't had much to offer Magic's eternal formats. It seems to me that in the last year there have been a lot more cards being printed that have potential in Vintage and Legacy. The past twelve months have given us all kinds of gems like Containment Priest and Dack Fayden from supplemental sets, all the way to the absolutely format-warping all-stars from the Khans block.

Treasure Cruise Dig Through Time Monastery Mentor Monastery Swiftspear

These four cards made their presence known!

 

Almost one-hundred cards have been spoiled from Magic: Origins so far. While it's the new-fangled flip-walkers that have the Standard community buzzing, two cards printed have caught my eye as having potential in either Vintage or Legacy. Take a look at Dark Petition and Day's undoing:

 

     

So, it looks like we have a fixed Demonic Tutor, and a fixed Timetwister. In some ways, I love it when Wizards R&D tries to fix a broken card or a member of the Power Nine, but in other ways it's concerning. Without getting too bogged-down in history, I want to illustrate a few "fixed" cards that ended up being really broken:

Time Spiral Memory Jar Brainstorm Treasure Cruise Demonic Consultation Lotus Petal

There are plenty more examples of these fixed version of powerhouse cards, but for the sake of brevity the cards pictured above make a fine example. All of those cards were trying to be fair versions of something that had been restricted in Vintage, and all of them ended up restricted themselves. Of course, we also have the cards that were intended to be merely "fixed", but ended up fully neutered:

Time Reversal Diminishing Returns Diabolic Tutor

The question on every Vintage player's mind is in which category does Dark Petition or Day's Undoing belong? As for Dark Petition, I think it has a chance of seeing some limited use in combo decks.

Spell Mastery doesn't seem hard to achieve, especially in Vintage. I imagine a turn for a TPS player that goes something like: Dark Ritual, Black Lotus, Dark Petition fetching Yawgmoth's Will, something, something Tendrils. So, if you're on the path towards winning with The Perfect Storm, this card is pretty much just another copy of Demonic Tutor in your deck. Many Storm decks already played Grim Tutor as additional copies of Demonic, so Dark Petition feels like a natural fit.

Then there are the times where Dark Petition is lacking. For instance, if it's early in the game and you're not set up to win yet, and you need to tutor for an answer to your opponent's card, or something to set up a win on the next turn. In situations like that, you could be short of the five mana you need to actually play the tutor. You don't really want to burn a one-shot mana source on a turn that you're not going off, because you need mana and storm count on your lethal Tendrils turn.

My verdict? I think Dark Petition could see some play as a one-of in Storm decks. I don't think that there's another type of combo deck that would want it right now. I don't know a lot about Legacy Storm, but I don't think that those decks would want Dark Petition either. If any ANT players reading this are of a different opinion, by all means let me know.

Day's Undoing is a really interesting card. The art is awesome, but does the function match the power of the visual aspect? It's funny to me that both this and the new tutor are the types of cards that would love to find homes in TPS decks. TPS is one of the few decks that actually wants a Draw7. 

Do decks that want to draw seven cards want to let the opponent use their fresh seven first? Absolutely not. In fact, the worst feeling in the world for a combo player (besides totally fizzling) is when they play a Draw7 and have to pass the turn! Forget about giving the opponent seven cards to find a Force or Flusterstorm with, this card wants you to just drop what you're doing and say, "Go!" Ending the turn is a deal breaker.

The only way I see this card getting played, is if someone finds a way to play it at instant-speed, or someone makes some Notion Thief deck that uses this card to Mind Twist opponents. I'm not sure if a dedicated Notion Thief deck would even work, perhaps it could. If so, then Day's Undoing is just what that deck would want. As it stands though, I don't see the card being played much. Perhaps I'm wrong, but Vintage decks need to win decisively, not durdle around all game looking for powerful but non-lethal combos. 

 

Closing Thoughts

I never thought I'd own the Power Nine, not even on Magic Online. When I first read the initial press release about Vintage Masters, I hadn't even created the account that I use today. I was just getting back into paper Magic, and I spent a lot of time reading articles to try to get up to speed on what I'd missed in the years I wasn't active.

When Vintage Masters was about to be released, Wizards made the announcement about the "Special Rarity", and I didn't take that news very well. I had limited means for acquiring Digital Objects at the time, and I initially expected to be able to draft a set of Power over time. Once I learned how ultra-rare these cards would be, I gave up hope that I'd ever be able to play Vintage. In the end, Vintage Masters ended up being available for much longer than WotC originally intended, and the prices on the Power Nine didn't end up being all that high. Black Lotus is still cheaper than a Rishadan Port to this day, as hard as that is to believe. The lowered price-point coupled with a prolific writing output and tournament-winnings have allowed me to enjoy the King of formats, and I am forever grateful to PureMTGO and MTGOTraders for enabling me to get where I am today.

My point in telling you all this is to illustrate how far I have come in the past year. I've gone from not believing I'd own these decks to having everything I need to play Vintage. It is more than likely that there are people out there who are in the same position I was a year ago. Many people haven't had the same opportunity or haven't been as fortunate to obtain a set of Power and Force of Wills, but perhaps they would love to join us in enjoying the game in this fashion. A lot of Magic players lose touch with just how hard it is for the average person to buy one-thousand dollars' worth of cards for a digital card game. In the past. I always assumed that it wasn't possible to play Vintage for under 1,000 tickets. I wish that I had known about decks like the ones I've showcased, perhaps I would have been writing this column a lot sooner!

I wrote this article mostly for potential Vintage players. If you're someone who's already an established player, then please pass this along to anyone you know that might like to make one of the featured decks into their first Vintage deck. Growing the player-base is good for the entire community, as well as Wizards.

It's up to all of us to do our part and make the Vintage format thrive. I can say without a doubt that the people I've met since becoming a Vintage player are the best group I've ever associated with in my Magic career. The average person I've interacted with has been kind and helpful, so I know that you all have it in you to be good ambassadors for the format.

Every week I do all that I can to try to promote the format to anyone who will listen, and I certainly hope that it's having a positive impact. I may not have the tallest soapbox, but as long as there is breath in my lungs, you can rest assured I'll have the loudest voice. 

It appears that I'm out of time, so until next week: Keep winning those Mana Crypt flips! 

5 Comments

I think Dark Petition might by ScionOfJustice at Fri, 06/26/2015 - 18:10
ScionOfJustice's picture

I think Dark Petition might be playable in a modern pyromancer ascension deck due to it being broken with an active ascension. As far as Day's undoing, I'm shocked that card was made. Great with Notion theif as you noted, also should be great in robots in modern, maybe even burn decks will splash it like Viking's Funeral did with TC.

Yeah, burn probably won't by Joe Fiorini at Fri, 06/26/2015 - 18:35
Joe Fiorini's picture

Yeah, burn probably won't mind seven new cards!

Notion thief is modern legal too...

Day's Undoing by Rerepete at Fri, 06/26/2015 - 19:17
Rerepete's picture

Looks like Stifle or Trickbind might be useful.

Pretty sure that doesn't work by TheKidsArentAlright at Fri, 06/26/2015 - 20:17
TheKidsArentAlright's picture

Pretty sure that doesn't work since,as I understand it, ending the turn happens as part of the resolution of the spell and not as a triggered ability.

correct. TBH I thought he by Joe Fiorini at Fri, 06/26/2015 - 20:26
Joe Fiorini's picture

correct.

TBH I thought he meant to stop the Notion Thief ability with Stifle, but that also does not work!