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By: jay85, Jay Nelson
May 18 2015 12:00pm
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I know in my last article I said I was going to show you all a competitive budget deck for Modern, but then I participated in Ham On Wry and I really wanted to write a little bit about that instead. So next week will be Modern, but today it's all about Vintage!

I don't get to play Vintage very much. I always seem too busy to join the daily events, but after playing in Ham On Wry IV I'm seriously thinking about making the time to start playing more. I had a lot of fun and I can't get the format out of my mind right now. 


It's a pretty stock Delver list. When it comes to eternal formats I like to stick with Delver decks because I feel they're not only strong but are also fairly easy to pilot successfully. When playing a deck like this your whole gameplan consists of dropping Delver of Secrets on turn one, flip it into Insectile Aberration on turn two, and then proceed to protect it with counter magic and cheap removal while also trying to disrupt whatever your opponent is trying to accomplish. Sounds simple, but in a format like Vintage it can become pretty difficult to do.


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Black Lotus Mox Sapphire Mox Ruby Ancestral Recall

The deck only utilizes five out of the nine Power. We aren't running cards like Tolarian Academy, Monastery Mentor, or Tinker so I don't see the need to run all the moxen except for Mox Sapphire and Mox Ruby.


Force of Will Spell Pierce Mental Misstep Flusterstorm

This is our counter spell package. I'm pretty sure I don't need to go into great detail on why Force of Will is included. It's the best and most popular counter spell in Vintage and Legacy. Being able to stop turn 1 combos is crucial in this format, and that is what FoW is best at doing.

Mental Misstep is good in countering things like Ancestral Recall, opposing Delver of Secrets, Voltaic Key, Chalice of the Void, etc. Spell Pierce can also counter those same things, excluding the Delver. Where Mental Misstep fails Spell Pierce makes up for it by being able to deal with other problematic spells, such as Dack Fayden and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, to name a few. I really like Mental Misstep and I wish it wasn't banned in Modern. Us Modern players desperately need a way to deal with the dreaded turn one Thoughtseize.

I would not consider Flusterstorm the best protection for your spells (since opponents can just bypass Flusterstorm and target your win-con with another counter), but more as protection against what your opponent is trying to resolve. One of Flusterstorm's greatest abilities is being able to counter a storm card like Tendrils of Agony.


Ponder Preordain Brainstorm

The cantrips of not only this deck but most all Vintage decks in general. Brainstorm and Ponder are restricted, which is why you only see a singleton of each in the decks. This is for good reason, especially when it comes to Brainstorm.

In the right hands Brainstorm can easily become the strongest card in the deck. Team it up with a fetchland and you got yourself an instant speed Ponder, being able to shuffle away extra lands and/or dead cards that you put back on top of your library. It's also great against discard spells like Thoughtseize and Cabal Therapy. While one of these are on the stack you can cast Brainstorm and "hide" crucial cards you don't want to discard.

I'm fairly certain I'm leaving out other plays you can make with Brainstorm, so if you have any to add make sure to leave a comment!


 photo Delver of Secrets_zpsgarhbdxc.png Young Pyromancer Trygon Predator

As I said earlier in the article, your plan should be getting Delver of Secrets resolved as soon as possible and then protect him with counter spells and keep the coast clear for him with Lightning Bolt and Fire/Ice. I love Delver and I think he is one of the best Magic cards ever printed. If you've never played with Delver of Secrets before I highly recommend building a Delver deck and giving him a go. It's fun flipping him, even if it means using Brainstorm in order to do that, and attacking for three in the air adds up quickly.

I watched the final round of Ham On Wry IV and the match was Young Pyromancer against a Monastery Mentor deck. I was rooting for Pyromancer 'til the very end. It was a close, exciting match, but in the end the Mentor pulled ahead and Toeiman won.

Does this mean Young Pyromancer has finally met his match? I honestly don't know. I think Pyromancer is probably still the way to go in Modern and Legacy, but the Vintage Mentor decks that I've seen are pretty darn good.

I think Trygon Predator is a strong creature in this format. So many decks run artifacts that it's very likely the predator will find some prey to feast upon multiple times. It can destroy an opponent's Mox, Time Vault or Voltaic Key, Chalice of the Void, Trinisphere, the list goes on...


Pyroblast   photo Versus_zpsxlkaljvj.png  Red Elemental Blast

What's the difference between these two spells? If you say, not a lot, I would agree. But they are different. When you read them carefully you'll realize that Red Elemental Blast cannot target a spell or permanent unless it is blue, while Pyroblast can target anything, even if what it is targeting is not blue. So then, why the heck does this even matter?

In some scenarios I believe Pyroblast is simply the stronger card. If you have Young Pyromancer out and need to make a token, then using Pyroblast on any permanent will make you that elemental token, even if Pyroblast doesn't destroy or counter anything. This same strategy also works with things like Monastery Mentor and storm cards such as Flusterstorm and Tendrils of Agony.

But does this mean Red Elemental Blast loses the debate? Not necessarily. The reason why it's still a good idea to run Red Elemental Blast is because your opponent can't change its target with Misdirection if there are no other blue permanents on the battlefield. She can, however, still redirect it if you are trying to counter a blue spell since she can just redirect it to her own Misdirection.

In the end I think both these spells are strong and worth including in a lot of decks, but for the sake of argument I am going to say Pyroblast is the winner here. I say this only because of the deck I am writing about, though. Pyroblast seems like the stronger choice for a Delver or even a Mentor deck. In other decks Red Elemental Blast may be the right choice, but I don't think it is for this list. Also, there is nothing wrong in using both spells. Keep the two Pyroblast main board and replace the third in the side for a Red Elemental Blast. I can see how this would be added protection against Cabal Therapy, and that may just be the way to go. I wouldn't disagree with you doing that.


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Tormod's Crypt Grafdigger's Cage

There are two archetypes we are trying to beat here, and that is Dredge and Workshops. They are very difficult match ups and we really need the cards we side in just to stand a chance. Tormod's Crypt and Grafdigger's Cage are for Dredge. With just one of these out early I think it is very unlikely (if not impossible) for our Dredge opponent to win. Tormod's Crypt is also good against decks running Yawgmoth's Will since you can exile their graveyard in response. And Grafdigger's Cage can also be brought in to deal with decks like Oath of Druids.


Ingot Chewer Pulverize Nature's Claim  photo Mountain_zps9dnxxyng.png

Workshops will beat you. Even if you manage to draw a couple of these hate cards they can still beat you. We are devoting seven slots in our sideboard just to try and deal with 'shops. The basic Mountain is because they are running a playset of Wasteland.

One thing I learned along the way was that Chalice of the Void set on one won't counter an evoked Ingot Chewer. It is your best answer if a Chalice ever gets past your counter spells.

I really don't have any strategy or advice to give you when playing against Workshops since I am new to the whole Vintage scene. I'm not going to try and fool you into thinking I know how to beat this deck. If you are looking for answers my best advice is to ask someone who plays a lot of Vintage, especially someone who plays Workshops. As luck would have it, two people I recommend are right here on Puremtgo.com! Joe Fiorini (known as Islandswamp on Mtgo) and Guilherme Carmona Alexandrino (known as TugaChampion on Pure and Alexandrino on Mtgo). They definitely have the knowledge to help you out if you need it, and both are very approachable.


Scouring Sands

If there is one thing I would change to this deck it would be replacing Scouring Sands for a Sudden Shock. I think Scouring Sands was included to deal with an opposing Young Pyromancer and his pesky tokens, but Monastery Mentor is such a big threat we really need to have more answers to it. Replace Scouring Sands for Sudden Shock if you haven't already. I just did.


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Playing in Ham On Wry IV really whet my appetite for more Vintage. I didn't do so hot in the tournament, playing one more round after losing to Romellos before finally dropping out. My record at that point was 2-3. But you know what; it was a lot of fun! I just love how the most intense moments usually happen when spells are still on the stack, waiting to resolve. I found myself on several occasions holding my breath, praying I won the counter wars that took place.

If I was to use the Western genre as my analogy for describing the differences between Modern and Vintage I would say Vintage is like two gunslingers in a duel. One small hesitation, one tiny mistake, and you can find yourself dead in the middle of the street, whereas Modern is more like a shootout in Tombstone. A ton of bullets flying. Villains shooting at you from inside the tavern or on the roof top of the general store. The greatest aspect of Modern is surely its diversity. So many different decks swirling around it can feel like you're being attacked from all sides during the course of a daily. But Vintage is definitely the duel. It's all about the build up to the quick draw. Sculpting your hand in an attempt to deal with whatever your opponent is going to throw at you when high noon comes around. The faint twitching of your trigger finger as you decide what needs countering and what can resolve. The stare down as you and your opponent wait for just the right opening.

I really enjoyed the tournament and I'm going to make an effort to join some Vintage dailies in the near future. But that doesn't mean I'm leaving Modern. Oh no, I love Modern way too much to just abandon it like that. So next week I will finally get to that budget deck I was talking about at the beginning of this article. Until then, thank you very much for reading and watching my videos. It means a lot!



Nice Work!! by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 05/23/2015 - 07:56
Joe Fiorini's picture

Flusterstorm definitely should be the last counterspell you play. The more I played with it, and learned to use it to its full potential, the more I loved it. The real downside to Flusterstorm, is that it won't touch a Jace, Charbelcher, or many other non-instant/sorcery bombs. It's really incredible though, in my opinion.

I'm watching the videos now (sorry for not having time to watch them before) and I started with R4. It looks like you just got really unlucky, only hitting one Draw Spell (Cruise) and one dack in the time that I've been watching. Other than attacking your three tokens into his untapped Deathrite Shaman, everything looked fine. It didn't seem like you were close enough to killing him to warrant sacrificing a token, especially as it just served to even out the board.

The attack on Dack was smart, that was worth a suicide attack.

Nice work! I'm hoping I can start making my own videos soon. I feel so antiquated being text-only.

I don't know about other by jay85 at Sat, 05/23/2015 - 16:54
jay85's picture

I don't know about other people but creating videos for articles is so time consuming for me. I can't record them live (some reason my computer just can't handle it, I guess) so I have to record the replays. That takes me one evening. Then uploading them onto Youtube is a real pain. No joke, it takes me over an hour to upload just ONE of the videos. So there goes another evening. But overall I think it is well worth it to include vids. I wish I could help you in some way so you could put videos into your articles, Joe.
If it helps, I use Camstudio. It's free and seems to work fine (though that may be the reason why I can't record as I play. I haven't really tried any other software.) I also use a microphone called Blue Snowball. It was only around $50-60 bucks at Best Buy. It really helped in cutting out the background noise.
Thanks for reading and watching!