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By: country hillbilly, Zach Whitten
Apr 10 2015 11:00am
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 Tasigur and his Kleine BURG

Hi everybody!  It has been a good while, and I missed you all.  Today I want to shine some light on what I’ve been up to, and why I think it is cool enough to share with all of you. 

Recently Vintage has been gaining quite the momentum - and everything that I have seen has been positive.  From the VSL (which I have my own reservations about... ) to the continued success of everyday Vintage events firing. The format has been fresh and fun and welcoming.

In my personal life I had a real issue with drafting - and it took me years to realize it.  Anyone who knows me knows I am the competitive type - for better or for worse.  In years past I have channeled almost all of my Magic time towards drafting, and becoming a better limited player. About six months ago I decided to sell out (for the 1000000th time) and sold basically *everything* except the barebones parts for blue decks.  This time, it was a little bit different.  We weren’t doing YSO regularly - I had no real “reserves” to burn through when I needed tickets - and I found myself relegated to playing constructed magic.  I use the term relegated loosely here - as it turned out to be a great boon.  I started playing some Vintage dailies soon after I sold out - and everyone who knows me knows I *love* trying new things.  I have no way to quantify this (I really don’t) but I am pretty sure I have moneyed with near 10 different archetypes since Vintage came online - mostly because that was my goal!  I found myself 3-1ing frequently, but never really in contention for 4-0.  Nothing bothered me more than this - not going to lie.

It was about this point where I grabbed two of my closest buddies and started waxing poetically about the things I do and don’t like in the format (shout out to Cronin and youhavenogame).  Delver and Shops were by FAR the best performing archetypes, with some random variations of other decks sprinkled in:  Dredge, Oath, Mentor, and some strange garbage piles.  

  • Wasteland seems stronger now than at any point in Vintage’s history.  Delver and Shops rely on their mana bases more than most decks - and it is an important way to interact with all the cheating manabases
  • Blue decks have a huge advantage in the format - because for some reason the geniuses at WotC decided a sorcery speed 8 mana random 3 [hint: Treasure Cruise ] was restriction worthy, but not a freaking INSTANT SPEED version which looks at a random hand and lets one pick the best two cards.  Dig Through Time has to be played if possible - just to keep up
  • Tasigur, The Golden Fang interested me from the moment I laid eyes on him.  In Vintage you should (IMHO) typically break down a card to its purest form.  This card is literally a ⅘ for B, which is insane.  The added ability to generate card advantage post resolution makes it tier one.  Legendary hurts… but.  Positive start
  • Deathrite Shaman - much like Wasteland - fits an important niche in the format.  Harkening back to the top two decks, it keeps DelverMancer decks *more* honest and it provides CRUCIAL ramp against shops-based decks - not to mention it can be resolved through a Thorn of Amethyst

Starting with the above I started thinking.  One card Delver plays which I just can’t stand is Preordain.  If there was one thing I was going to do, it was to come up with a better cantrip in that spot.  What works?  I thought of everything under the sun.  Gitaxian Probe seemed like a decent option, but there was no real value to be gained from the cantrip.  Then a card popped into my head and I couldn’t stop thinking about it: Thought Scour

Think about it.  It’s really the perfect fit.  It feeds your Dig Through Time as well as your Tasigur, The Golden Fang .  Not to mention Deathrite Shaman and Snapcaster Mages.  The fact that it also pitches to Force of Will and fills the perfect niche for this deck - 1 mana cantrips that fill the graveyard extraordinarily well.



Enough with the Preamble - let’s take a look at the deck as it stands today - 4/5/2015:





That looks great Zach - what now?  Well, you're in luck!  Before we get into sideboarding and the intricacies with playing the deck post board - let's play some "Would I keep this?" with some real hands!  


Hand One:

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Hand Two:

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Hand Three:

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Hand Four:

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Hand Five:

 photo 5_zpstnx3cjyu.png

So, full disclosure, I opened a Solitaire game in TP and said I would take screenshots of opening 7's until I saw a hand I would definitely mulligan.  It took five hands (the ones you see above) - and even that hand is close if you are hot for Wasteland in a particular matchup.  The reason I performed this exercise is I wanted a quick snapshot to show just how much of the openers are just good.  This deck DEFINITELY doesn't suffer from the terrible Oath affliction of "half the combo - should I keep this hand?"

Speaking of which - this deck really has one singular combo - but it is absolutely deadly. Notion Thief pairs with Dack Fayden to provide one of the most terrifying card advantage engines ever seen.  If you are not familiar - you can point the Dack Fayden effect at the opponent - and the Notion Thief  essentially turns Dack's +1 ability into both a Mind Rot and a Divination.  That's a hell of a way to wrap up a game - and it won't make you many friends.

I want to go through some sideboarding for those matchups you may see once in a while - or have a problem diagnosing.  Before we do that - let's get into the sideboard itself:

2x Abrupt Decay

2x Trygon Predator

4x Leyline of the Void

4x Grafdigger's Cage

3x Engineered Plague


Before we even get started I want to give a gargantuan hat tip to Cronin - one of the things you need to do when you surround yourself with smart people is listen to them every once in a while.  The first time that crazy Minnesotan mentioned how devastating Engineered Plague is against the Delver archetype I brushed it off as more Cronin-style shenanigans.  He repeatedly mentioned it and one day I listened.  Suffice to say - it is the real deal and in my opinion the BIGGEST way to mess up a delver pilot's day.  There are some issues with them - and we'll get into them soon - but Engineered Plague has been very special.

Sideboarding Strategies vs. the Top Archetypes:

Delver (UR or RUG [URw if youhavenogame]):

-2 Force of Will, -1 Dack Fayden, -1 Thought Scour, -1 Notion Thief

+2 Abrupt Decay, +3 Engineered Plague

Comments: You aren't winning the counter battle - be proactive and make them use up their VERY valuable FOWs.  Post game one resolve Plague at all costs and most decks don't have an out.  You name human without fail here so notion thief is definitely worse.  Snapcaster becomes an instant pseudo-Regrowth.  Remember: Tasigur is a HUMAN so he is 3/4.  This is surprisingly relevant in some situations.

Mentor (Mentor UWr or Artifact Mentor Lists):

-2 Force of Will, -1 Dack Fayden, -2 Thought Scour

+2 Abrupt Decay, +3 Engineered Plague

Comments: You aren't winning the counter battle - be proactive and make them use up their VERY valuable FOWs.  Post-game one resolve Plague at all costs and most decks don't have an out.  Keep the Notion Thief in here because you name monk 95% of the time.

Shops (Terra Nova or Raffzahn Lists):

-4 Mental Misstep

+2 Abrupt Decay, +2 Trygon Predator

Comments: This is shops.  Expect mana denial strategies (Spheres and Mana Destruction) and look out for Phyrexian Revoker.  It is their best hope against your best cards Dack Fayden and Trygon Predator.  Wasteland and Deathrite Shaman are really important in this matchup.


-2 Thought Scour, -1 Notion Thief, -3 Thoughtseize, -1 Dig Through Time, -1 Force of Will

+4 Leyline of the Void, +4 Grafdigger's Cage

Comments: This is Dredge - and as normal the only card you should really fear is Bazaar of Baghdad.  Game one your only chance is Deathrite + Waste.  Otherwise they mull to Bazaar and Win.  Game two LOTV is markedly better than Cage - but the extra redundancy is really good - and keep your missteps!

At this point I've already written way more words than I was planning to, but I really do enjoy the deck.  I have not figured out how to play the mirror (let's face it - not something that went into the genesis of deck design) - so if you have an idea or a way to give the deck an edge I'd love to hear about it.  Also - if you do pick the deck up - leave me a comment or PM me online.  I'd love to discuss it.


In addition to a bunch of 4-0's over the past week, it also helped to get me to my elusive goal of hitting 1900+ constructed, and in a pretty short time relative to how long it took me to hit it in limited.  I can say with a degree of certainty I think the deck is one of the best in the format - and deserving of tier one status.

Talk soon!



Captain of Clan Magic Eternal


If anyone doubts this deck, by Joe Fiorini at Fri, 04/10/2015 - 17:44
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If anyone doubts this deck, they're wrong. I can personally attest to it's strength.

I used to play bug delver and shardless bug in legacy, this deck reminds me of that, it's fundamentally fair, but the power level is extremely high.
The first time you get mind twisted by dack /notion theif, you'll know what's up.

I actually had to sell bug delver to afford my vintage buy-in, otherwise I would be playing with the deck already.

Thanks for the comment Joe by country hillbilly at Sun, 04/12/2015 - 12:07
country hillbilly's picture

Love seeing you out grinding on Saturday nights man! What are you playing now?

Had the 4-0 last night - but I drew stone-cold nothing in r4 :(

Last night, I was going to by Joe Fiorini at Sun, 04/12/2015 - 15:58
Joe Fiorini's picture

Last night, I was going to play mentor, but I audibled to public enemy number one at the last minute. I was 9 tix away from owning Delver, so I just went for it. But I hit shops twice, and drew terrible 4 times.

Round four, I did win game one on the draw though, so that felt good. I hear that's the worst it gets facing shops.

Also, round one I needed one more mana for something, and clicked on my strip mine by mistake. I had planned on saving it to kill a land with, likely mishra's factory, but montolio played wasteland next turn.

I keep winning games in practice, and having it fall apart in the daily. I went with Delver, because I figured it was the most consistent, but it didn't work out. Not sure what I'm playing tonight.

The Delver v. Shops matchup by TheKidsArentAlright at Sun, 04/12/2015 - 16:52
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The Delver v. Shops matchup actually creates an interesting tension. On one hand, Shops has strategic superiority. If your opponent's plan is to play a bunch of cheap spells, making them more expensive or just plain unplayable is an excellent place to be. On the other hand, any deck with access to red and green can opt to overload on hate cards, Trygon Predator and Ancient Grudge being especially powerful, and tip the odds in their favor. I'm not sure exactly which configuration you're running, but a package of 2 Trygons main with a Mountain, 4 Chewers, 2 Grudges board will really help the Shop matchup. It does make you a bit weaker against the other Delver/Mentor decks though.

I think it was a matter of by Joe Fiorini at Sun, 04/12/2015 - 17:14
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I think it was a matter of never seeing a trygon predator and only two chewers in four games, plus I wasn't able to create a board presence before being locked out.

Def need practice though.

Wow, that Dack Fayden/Notion by jay85 at Sat, 04/11/2015 - 12:31
jay85's picture

Wow, that Dack Fayden/Notion Thief combo is some next level stuff! I never would have thought of that. I really want to build this deck now just so I can win with that little combo.

It is brutal man, last night by country hillbilly at Sun, 04/12/2015 - 12:09
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It is brutal man, last night in round three I pulled off the lotus + fetch for Jace - Activate JAce and find both recall and Sapphire in top 3. Was a magical feeling!

Thanks for reading and taking the time to give feedback!

I think Shops is the best by TurboK at Sun, 04/12/2015 - 18:51
TurboK's picture

I think Shops is the best deck in the format right now, and with the popularity of Mentor and Delver I think this deck is great in the online meta as it has good game against both Shops and Mentor/Delver.

I would love to try it out, but can't get myself to buy the Wastelands now (waiting for Tempest remastered to come out).

Keep crushing those dailies!