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By: stsung, Ren Stefanek
Nov 03 2016 12:00pm
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The last weekend of October was packed with events all around the world. There was GP Warsaw that I was supposed to participate in and GP Santiago. But these events don't really interest Vintage players. What was more important, an Eternal Weekend in Columbus was held. Due to this I did not expect the attendance to be high. But since September's Power Nine Challenge fired with over 50 players there was hope that the event would actually fire.

This time even more players joined, 65 players in total entered the event. One did not show up for the round but still their entry meant that we would play 7 rounds of swiss and top 8. Two players unfortunately entered with non-vintage decks.

Seeing many players that decided to play Shops decks, Paradoxical Outcome decks and Oath decks at Eternal Weekends I decided to switch decks for this Power Nine Challenge as well since I expected a similar trend. I sat down clicked on 'UR Delver' among my Vintage decks and changed some cards around. I wasn't putting too much thought in that process since I was sick and I simply did not have to time to ponder about that much. I did what I deemed right at the moment.

I decided to get rid of all Mentor metacards. I cut Sulfur Elementals and Sudden Shocks. I also cut Flusterstorm (finding out later that it was a huge mistake). Since I expected Shops and Outcome I decided to play Stony Silence main deck along with 1 Wear/Tear that apart from destroying artifacts including Time Vault, can also hit enchantments and lately Oath of Druids and Moat were rather troubling to see in play for me. I added Jace, the Mind Sculptor because I just couldn't imagine playing without it. Because I expected to have problems with casting it and I imagined I would need more turn 1 Young Pyromancers and more mana for Jace I decided to add Mox Pearl. I just wanted to know if that additional Mox could wreck my deck or not. In the few test games I played it was ok and helped me play Jace, the Mind Sculptor without problems. Since Mox Pearl can pay for my cards from the sideboard I did not need to have Plains in my sideboard. On the other hand I could have played more white cards and ditch the red ones since white can replace red's artifact hate. This reasoning was a bit strange but I decided to try the Mox anyway (and I don't regret it now).

Then I was wondering what to do with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, that was originally in the deck, Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile. I decided to keep more removal than needed with the 2 Paths and 3 Lightning Bolts and I added Gitaxian Probes that I did not play last time which meant that Jace had to go (the thought that I cut Probes for Jaces did not cross my mind at that time). While doing this I knew that Lightning Bolt would in most cases turn into '3 damage to the face' and wondered if Pyroblast, Flusterstorm and Lightning Bolt wouldn't be better. But my plan was to be aggressive, kill anything that moves and win.

I put more artifact hate in the deck, added Containment Priest and I was good to go. I clicked on the 250PP entry and waited for 7 minutes. During this time I realized that my stream should be ready and set up and that I might also need to reset audio. Even though I practically forget about everything I usually do prior to an event including checking if I entered with the right deck (hopefully I did), I felt that I could actually play Magic and not seriously mess up.

Round 1 - Esper Mentor

I was paired against Garlan who won one of recent Vintage events with Esper mentor.

My first hand was without disruption nor cantrips so I decided to take a mulligan. I kept Force of Will, Island, Strip Mine, Mental Misstep, Brainstorm and Time Walk which seemed way better. My opponent started with Underground Sea, Mox Pearl and Sensei's Divining Top that I tried to counter. After quite some time Garlan played Flusterstorm. That suggested his hand was no good so I decided to dig a bit and look for another Misstep. I did not find it, but there was Young Pyromancer that could help put pressure on my opponent. So I used my Force of Will on the Top. I played Young Pyromancer then and wondered what my opponent would play. He passed, so next turn I decided to Strip Mine his land, in response he played Gush for its alternative cost which I did not really mind since it would mean he would have 2 mana sources next turn (unless his hand was full of fast mana) and that he definitely does not have Mentor. I played another Young Pyromancer. Few turns later Garlan played Dig Through Time while being down to 9. I had Lightning Bolt in my hand and decided to play it because either way it would deal some damage to him. 1, 2 or 3. My opponent did not counter the card and I had lethal on the board. He Repealed one of my tokens and tried surviving the following turn. But even after drawing many cards he was simply without enough blue sources and couldn't do a thing.


In game 2 I kept a hand with 3 lands, Mental Misstep, Young Pyromancer, Dig Through Time and Gitaxian Probe which would be a good hand if I wouldn't ran into Force of Will with Pyromancer. I checked my opponent's hand to see Brainstorm, Demonic Tutor, Gush, Mox Emerald and Polluted Delta. I countered opponent's Mystic Remora and hoped that he wouldn't find Monastery Mentor. He played Brainstorm, took an extra turn and played Gush. That could be scary if Jace, the Mind Sculptor would follow, but it didn't. He tutored Ancestral Recall instead and played it. I did not feel greedy enough so I played Preordain and found Force of Will and Young Pyromancer. That was good. I let my opponent play and countered his Jace, the Mind Sculptor. It was time for Young Pyromancer and open mana for Path to Exile. My Pyromancer got plowed, the other one countered. Then we tried playing some spells, mostly the 8 mana ones. My opponent was about 25 cards ahead and killed me with Tendrils of Agony.

In the deciding game I kept Volcanic Island, Delver of Secrets and all the card draw possible. My opponent had a hand with Force of Will, Merchant Scroll, Swords to Plowshares, Supreme Verdict and Repeal. I knew that I would need to look for another creature very soon. Without Cabal Therapy I couldn't deal with Supreme Verdict and had to force my opponent into pitching it to Force of Will or just playing it. Since I played all those cantrips my opponent needed to catch up with me. I countered his Mentor and Swords to Plowshares and played Jace, the Mind Sculptor, my possible alternate win condition. Then there was a war over Dig Through Time. My opponent really wanted it to resolve so he finally pitched Supreme Verdict to his Force of Will. I was glad that happened and I had another Delver and hoped it wouldn't die soon. My opponent was down to 2 so I needed at most 2 attacks to get through and I still had Jace that could possibly find Lightning Bolt as well. I found the Bolt and won.

Round 2 - OddOath (1-0)

My first hand contained too many lands, no cantrips, and no disruption. I took a mulligan to have 4 mana sources, Ancestral Recall and Delver of Secrets. I clicked on 'keep' and kept Time Walk on top so I could flip Delver if it would resolve. If it would be hit by Misstep my Ancestral Recall could possibly resolve. My opponent played Tropical Island and Ponder, so I thought that playing Delver might not have been the best idea after all. I played Time Walk so I could at least hit my opponent for 6. I played Ancestral Recall, my opponent played Vampiric Tutor in response. I drew 2 Lightning Bolts and Gush. I played the Gush that drew me Gitaxian Probe and Stony Silence. I peeked at my opponent's hand confirming that I play against Oath. I played Ponder and Stony Silence to possibly slow him down. I just needed to untap, attack and resolve those two Lightning Bolt to win. My opponent was down to 6 so he couldn't use Griselbrand's ability. I played a cantrip, found Mental Misstep and tried playing the two Bolts. 'stsung wins!' showed on the screen and it was time to sideboard few Containment Priests and Wear/Tear in. I took Delvers and Gitaxian Probes out.

I kept Treasure Cruise, Time Walk, Force of Will, Mental Misstep, Tundra and Dack Fayden. I had Scalding Tarn on top. I played the fetchland and let my opponent play. He played Vampiric Tutor paying with Forbidden Orchard for it. I Missteped it, he Forced back. I let him tutor and play Oath next turn. I Forced it. I played Time Walk on my turn and swung with my two spirits. Next turn I could play Treasure Cruise. I played few cantrips and found Force of Will for another Oath of Druids. Later I found Young Pyromancer that joined my little army of Spirits and my opponent conceded.

Round 3 - Paradoxical Outcome Storm (2-0)


I was paired against S4mmich. I kept a hand that could play Stony Silence and Young Pyromancer turn 1 so I decided to keep and just try my luck. Young Pyromancer turn 1 works against many decks and Stony Silence shuts many other decks. Both cards resolved and it worked out for me. It was obvious that my opponent is on Paradoxical Outcome Storm deck and I hoped Stony Silence would be all I would need. Since Stony Silence is not an artifact it could possibly be enough to win the game unless it would get hit by Chain of Vapor and/or countered. Game 2 I just watched my opponent have some fun and did not even get the chance to play my own first turn. Game 3 was similar to game 1 even though I played Stony Silence on turn 2 and Young Pyromancer on turn 3.


Since I can't really describe game 2 I decided to make the match public. Game two starts at 7:02.


Round 4 - Grixis Pyromancer Tendrils (3-0)
Next match was very interesting and I messed it up. Anyway I kept Volcanic Island, Young Pyromancer, Dack Fayden, Wear/Tear, Strip Mine, Gitaxian Probe and Scalding Tarn. My opponent took a mulligan and kept Force of Will, Force of Will, Brainstorm, Demonic Tutor, Polluted Delta and Time Walk. I drew Preordain so looked for something, Delver of Secrets and Mox Sapphire on top so I kept both cards so I could play both of them next turn. But I needed to get rid of those Force of Will cards. I preferred two creatures (one most probably dying) and sacrificed Dack Fayden. Next turn I played Young Pyromancer and Preordain. My opponent played his own Young Pyromancer and Demonic Tutor. I thought for a while what card I would look for. I came to the conclusion that Gush would be the card I would search for. Gerbildood played Gush so I countered it. Cabal Therapy followed revealing my Wear/Tear in hand. I looked at my opponent's hand as well, seeing Fastbond. I killed my opponent's Pyromancer later, countered another one and let him play Fastbond trying to destroy it later. After my Ancestral Recall and Gush my opponent conceded.


I kept a hand with 2 Mental Missteps, Preordain, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and two lands. I destroyed my opponent's Young Pyromancer and played two Delvers. Unfortunately I made a very bad decision of not drawing Dig Through Time and playing it on the same turn. I did not expect to lose next turn. I kept Dig Through Time on top so I could flip Delver of Secrets and deal more damage. Next turn my opponent played Yawgmoth's Will and I knew I'm dead. I pressed 'F6' and wondered if I'd die to Tendrils of Agony or just to a too big card advantage. Merchant Scroll in the graveyard though suggested the first scenario. After Gush, 4 power cards and two tutors I died to lethal Tendrils.

Next game we kept similar hands full with cantrips but my opponent also had Cabal Therapy that I could only force which wasn't really my intention. My opponent played Fastbond that I did not manage to counter and Dig Through Time. He then tutored another Cabal Therapy and discarded my only chance at doing something - Young Pyromancer. Opponent's Dack Fayden hit the board. My opponent looted and then went Young Pyromancer, Gush, Ancestral Recall. Next turn I died to Tendrils of Agony. I facepalmed myself still not believing game 2 and hoped to win the next match.

Round 5 - Bant Control (3-1)
My next opponent's screenname was FowFTW and I personally hoped he would be playing Force of Will in his deck so I wouldn't need to change my thought process much. I took a mulligan and kept a hand with 3 cantrips and Mental Misstep. I looked at my opponent's hand writing down Flusterstorm, Nature's Claim, Spell Queller, Swords to Plowshares, Sylvan Library and Tundra. It was time to dig for Force of Will and if possible more than one! Instead I found Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile which did not look good. Next turn I drew Young Pyromancer but I did not want my next spell to get 'quelled' so instead I destroyed my opponent's Tundra since he did not have another land in his hand. Next turn the Young Pyromancer came into play . My opponent tried to remove it from the game so I played Mental Misstep in the hope of getting the spell Flusterstorm'ed. I did not expect this to happen but it did. I woke up suddenly realizing I have a chance to win the game. I let the spell resolve so I could still counter Sylvan Library or something more annoying (but the Library was a problem). I played Jace, the Mind Sculptor into Spell Queller bolting it later. My opponent though played Jace, Vryn's Prodigy which would be fine since I still had Path to Exile but he also played Karakas that turn. My stream died then and Magic Online crashed at this point of game as well. Anyway, what I tried to do was let my opponent bounce Jace back and try to counter it next turn. Unfortunately Time Walk wrecked my plans just a little bit and so things could get even worse I soon faced Vendilion Clique and Rashmi. I also knew about Spell Queller in my opponent's hand. I attacked with everything trying to give my opponent the opportunity to play Spell Queller and block my Young Pyromancer so I could play few removal spells targeting the Clique. This plan worked out and later I won the game with the remaining Elemental tokens still in play. I did not expect to win this game.

In the second game I'm not entirely sure what happened. My opponent just played a land, Fastbond and few counterspells during the game. I played Jace, the Mind Sculptor on turn 1, Dack Fayden on turn 2 and then fatesealed until my opponent conceded.

Round 6 - UWR Mentor (4-1)
I was tired from the last game but I just decided to go on! I was at X-1 so still could top 8. I kept Lightning Bolt, Gitaxian Probe, Gush, Delver of Secrets, Island, Lightning Bolt, Tundra. I Probed my opponent, but he Missteped my spell. I started to wonder if I face a combo deck. I played Delver and let my opponent play. He played Tundra, Sensei's Divining Top and Swords to Plowshares targeting my Delver. I luckily drew a fetchland, played Young Pyromancer and awaited another Swords to Plowshares. Well, the game continued as a game of Legacy, my opponent played Snapcaster Mage targeting Swords to Plowshares. In order to have at least some creature in play I decided to play Gush and see if by a chance I couldn't hit Mental Misstep. My hand consisted of 2 Bolts, 3 lands and Stony Silence. Stony Silence did not seem bad, but after checking my opponent's hand it seemed pretty useless - my opponent had Wear/Tear in his hand. I destroyed Snapcaster Mage and started attacking with the lone Elemental. I drew another Pyromancer, played it using Black Lotus (my Volcanic Island got destroyed earlier) and dealt 3 damage to my opponent so I could at least have 2 tokens if something bad would happen to my Shaman. Young Pyromancer got bounced by Jace, the Mind Sculptor, the tokens got rid of it so everything seemed fine for me with the exception that my hand consisted of Stony Silence and my opponent had 5 cards in hand and Top in play. No Terminus awaited my creatures (nor Balance or Supreme Verdict) so I won. Thanks to a Magic Online bug I could see a few more cards from my opponent's deck but there was nothing strange. I played against Mentor Control deck.

Second game my opponent played Library of Alexandria. I could either play Delver of Secrets or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Since I had Pyroblast in hand I decided to play Delver and wait with Jace so I could counter back. I checked my opponent's hand to see 2 copies of Force of Will. I was ready for those. So my Jace resolved and I could fateseal for the win.

Round 7 - UWR Mentor (5-1)
After seeing my standing going from 5th place to 7th I knew I would have to win the last round or be paired up (or with same record). To my disappointment I was paired against someone who was near the top 8.

I started with Delver of Secrets knowing I could counter some spells. I played another Delver and prepared the top of my library so they would transform. My opponent then played Sol Ring and Monastery Mentor which certainly seemed fishy. I Forced, he Forced. Swords to Plowshares targeting my Delver followed, I Missteped the spell. He played Gush and let it resolve. I just needed to swing twice in order to win. Well, Delver of Secrets died in the process but I still won in two turns since I kept Lightning Bolt in hand (and it did not get countered).

Library of Alexandria on turn 1 from my opponent brought a frown to my face. I played Ancestral Recall feeling relatively safe, two Moxen and again Delver of Secrets. I had Force of Will in my hand and two removal spells if something would go awry. Unfortunately things went awry more than I expected, my opponent played Cavern of Souls naming Human and then he played Monastery Mentor. He played few spells then and a Time Walk. I was done for.

In the deciding game I played Delver and started dealing some damage. A big battle over a removal spell targeting Delver took place, but I lost the battle. My opponent played Time Walk that I let resolve, Snapcaster Mage that I tried to counter but in vain. He got another extra turn and I did not expect to win from there. After my opponent's 3 turns I felt really badly since it dawned on me I would miss top 8 due to tiebreakers. I continued in the game though. My opponent played a mana rock each turn and passed. In the meantime I drew Young Pyromancer, few counterspells and all the removal in the world. I tried countering Mentor but my opponent played Ancestral Recall, Snapcaster Mage into Ancestral Recall and then Flusterstormed all my spells on the stack. He still had 'unlimited' cards in his hand. I spend some time clicking on 'no' to Flusterstorm and then played Path to Exile. Of course it was a desperate act that and was bound to fail and even if I would get rid of Mentor, it would leave behind some Monks. So in the end I had nothing and my opponent had Mentor and 4 tokens and I could say good bye to top 8.

I was sad losing this match because it was for the first time that I managed to be more or less awake during the whole tournament and was capable of thinking more or less straight. Unfortunately it was not meant to be for me to top 8 and all I could do is go to sleep and wake up to a bitter reality in which I had too much work to do.

The only card I really missed during the whole tournament was Flusterstorm. When playing Grixis Therapy I had a way how to get rid of the card - by discarding it. In this deck though, there is no discard so the only way how to deal with it is to play something and get it countered. I could live without Jace, Vryn's Prodigy or Snapcaster Mage. But seeing my opponent's Flusterstorm was always painful and it totally wrecked everything for me in the last match. I would also consider putting a second Dack Fayden in the deck. Even though I wasn't really a fan of 3 Lightning Bolts in the deck they got the job done. Since I played against decks I did not really expect to play against I can't really say if my decklist was good enough against those decks (Shops/Eldrazi). But even with relatively high number of 'useless' cards in these matchups the deck was capable of playing against them and even win.

It was a good experience to play with this deck after quite a while that I was playing Planeswalker control and Grixis Therapy because it allowed me to view the deck and its game plan from a different perspective.


Metagame breakdown

Since the two players doing metagame breakdowns of the Power Nine Challenges were at Eternal Weekend I decided to collect the data myself. The metagame was totally different from what I expected. There weren't many Shops decks. 6 in total with 2 being Car Shops. Paradoxical Outcome decks were either Mentor decks, Big Blue decks or combo decks (Outcome Tendrils). I put 3 Landstill decks in the category of Big Blue. Two being traditional hard control decks and one rather strange build. The most played archetype was Gush being over 35% of the field, followed by Big Blue decks if we count the Paradoxical Outcome decks. Dredge fared the best, followed by Gush and dedicated combo. The decks listed as other were Merfolk (top 8 finish), Reanimator, Junk Trash, Affinity with Shops and two Standard decks (the players entered the event with them by accident and dropped from the tournament, thus there were 62 players that truly participated in the tournament).

Deck archetype Number Percentage of metagame
Big Blue 7 10.94%
Doomsday 3 4.69%
Dredge 7 10.94%
Eldrazi 3 4.69%
Mentor 16 25.00%
Oath 5 7.81%
Other 6 9.38%
Outcome Tendrils 4 6.25%
Pyromancer/Delver 4 6.25%
Shops 6 9.38%
Storm 3 4.69%



Thank you for reading, S'Tsung (stsung on modo and stsungjp on Twitter).


A valiant effort. One reason by Paul Leicht at Thu, 11/03/2016 - 14:56
Paul Leicht's picture

A valiant effort. One reason I could never compete in the higher rel tourneys is the time commitment. I get tired after a couple hours of MTG. Playing for 8-12 hours? Forget about it.

Paradoxical Outcome... by Elbinac at Thu, 11/03/2016 - 20:44
Elbinac's picture

Paradoxical Outcome with Moxen & friends seems a bit obvious, I wonder if WotC planned on restricting it sooner or later?

I suppose tis a good time to be running Storm/Mentor hate.

restriction by stsung at Fri, 11/04/2016 - 08:28
stsung's picture

we will see about that. I personally think it is worth restriction. on the other hand the current paradoxical outcome decks are very vulnerable to stony silence or null rod (that is easy to get rid of). i think that the following power nine challenge will show how strong the PO decks can trully be and if they can deal with Shops and Eldrazi.

the Esper or UW mentor lists are rather scary.