The Deck is back! 3-1 at Vintage event @GP Utrecht


Last sunday was a Vintage event at GP Utrecht, and there were about 14 players that played in the event, playing 4 rounds of the most awesome magic format available to mankind. Like quite a few players I spoke to, I played the deck I liked playing most. In my case: The Deck.
As a side note: This also meant that I played a lot against decks I never played against, which was an awesome experience!

I didn't get to playtest much, but it initially appeared weak to both mentor and dredge decks, and quite strong against shops and eldrazi. I made quite a few (blind) changes to the deck and sideboard after testing. Figures that my final loss was against tiny robots:).

Even though this build ended up quite a bit like a list I kept a long time, it went through a lot of iterations with lots of little implications that cascaded through the card choices. If anyone has any questions, I'll try to explain some of the choices.

Round 1: versus Mentor Silence
Game 1: My worst matchup immediately! I get lucky and manage to empty his hand with a mind twist for 5 after he played a few cantrips. Tinker for Sundering Titan destroys his mana base leaving him without an out.

Game 2: I misstep his ancestral. He missteps mine. We get a counter war going over a Vendillion Clique on his end step and drain both our hands. I have four mana, but only use three to cast mind twist for 2 on his last 2 cards in hand, which was a big mistake as I had nothing to do with the remaining mana. He responded with gush, Dig and ancestral, making the two cards not really matter. Except they were mentor and Dack! I get some perfect countermagic draws against his business spells, and eventually drain a treasure cruise to snapcaster the mind twist a second time (this time for all his cards!). Crucible / Strip locks him out of the game.

Thoughts: I got lucky about the moments he didn't have Force. He didn't quite know how to play against my deck, which will be a common theme amongst most matches :). So he didn't really know how to sideboard. Which is great, because I seriously lack the practise in sideboarding myself. Vendillion Clique did exactly what it needed to do: Break the standoff with the gush deck.

Round 2: versus Paradoxical Belcher
Game 1: He opens on Leyline of Anticipation, and I forget what deck plays this. I expected regular paradoxical storm. I misplay when ancient grudging his mox jet, which results in him deploying more instant speed artifacts and dropping a belcher without the mana to activate it. In retrospect, I should have waited it out and grudged either his mana crypt or belcher. I don't know whether or not I had the ancient grudge flashbacked or didn't have the mana, but he activated the belcher on his next turn, which dealt me 40-ish damage.

Game 2: I start off with pithing needle on belcher, and turn two the monkey goes to town and starts eating his mana base. He starts collecting cards in his hand, until I mind twist his hand away. Monkey beats him to 13 before I need the snapcaster I had from the beginning of the game to flash back a mental misstep on an overloaded vandalblast. 3 power on the board is enough for him to concede.

Game 3: I mulligan to 4 and keep a hand with snapcaster, underground sea, mox emerald and Black Lotus, scry reveals a vampiric tutor. He keeps a slow hand and I play what is probably my tightest game of this tournament. I vamp for a nature's claim I think, to stay alive. Snapcaster for vamp would force me to crack the lotus, so I can't get an ancestral and cast it the same turn so I opt to keep the snapcaster in my hand. He later tinkers for Memory Jar and whiffs, only putting 2 artifacts into play, while I ancient grudge them away. I start rebuilding and eventually use the snapcaster to flash back a mind twist from the jar hand to get ahead. I end the game with pithing needle, stoney silence and trinisphere in play with enough mana to play though it.

Round 3: versus Madness
Game 1: I have no clue how the madness deck plays out, but he starts racing me with 2 bloodghasts off a turn 1 bazaar. I never stabilize, and he gets ahead on creatures, lands and cards in hand. Seems like that was my plan!

Game 2: He has turn 1 bazaar again, and 2 bloodghasts. We go back and forth on resources until I stick a tinker for Sundering Titan, destroying three of his lands. The titan is enough to race the bloodghasts. It gets to a thrilling final turn for him where he can outrace me if he finds a third Bloodghast but he doesn't and I win this one.

Game 3: I mulligan to 6 and keep a hand with Leyline of the void. I draw tinker on my second turn and have 4 mana, which means I can combo out with Helm of Obedience.

Round 4: versus Tiny Robots
Game 1: He starts off with 2 ravagers and I make a colossal mistake in the early turns. I mystical for ancestral, which gives me crucible, terminus and a land. However, he doesn't yet have any other creatures or manlands, so I should have gotten ancient grudge to take out both ravagers. I climb back to my control seat, partly thanks to crucible, but my mana crypt and his ravagers are too much for my life total. It was a good game, and I made an honest mistake that contributed to my demise. He wisely played his options and let the damage flow freely.

Game 2: I force a walking ballista and he lands ravager. I have a decent hand, but I keep drawing counterspells and lands, which means that I never deal with the ravager. He adds in Revokers (3 of them), of which one trades with a flashy snapcaster, but other than that I don't draw into anything that can deal with the board state.

All in all I had a blast playing the deck. Learning a lot from it, and playing matchups I never played before was great! Mad props for my friend who borrowed me his power (since I only have Ancestral and Sapphire), and props to the organisers who kept a row of empty seats around our playing area and were very strict on people watching not being close to the actual cards.

As for The Deck: I didn't think it would be very good initially. Especially compared to the Mentor and Outcome decks. But it seems like it can be tuned to beat anything. I love it and hope to play it more in the future.
As for individual card choices, I'll try to write something down later. If you have questions, just ask! Lots of it was from theorycrafting, but the few testgames provided a whole lot of insight which greatly influenced the final build.

last edited by Joep

Do you know if the decklist for the Belcher list is available somewhere?

Sounds like an awesome tournament! I forgot how much I missed hearing about mind twisting your opponent with drain mana.

@yugular pretty sure I popped my para belcher list up a while back. Bit much stony and null around at the moment, but it went on a crazy tear back end of last year. Lot of fun to play too - having access to 5 instant speed twisters, outcome and the like is just too much fun...

@yugular here we go, this was my take. Basically worth playing for the lulz of killing your opponent who won the die roll in their upkeep and/or twistering in their draw step with a thief in play...

Tolarian Academy
Black Lotus
2 Chrome Mox
Lion's Eye Diamond
Lotus Petal
Mana Crypt
Mana Vault
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
3 Mox Opal
Mox Pearl
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Sol Ring
Time Vault
Voltaic Key
2 Expedition Map
2 Goblin Charbelcher
Memory Jar
4 Day's Undoing
Demonic Tutor
4 Gitaxian Probe
Time Walk
Wheel of Fortune
Ancestral Recall
4 Force of Will
Pact of Negation
3 Paradoxical Outcome
4 Leyline of Anticipation
1 Dack Fayden
3 Notion Thief
4 Simian Spirit Guide

3 Defense Grid
3 Grafdigger's Cage
2 Hurkyl's Recall
2 Mental Misstep
Tormod's Crypt
Mishra's Workshop
Tezzeret the Seeker
Void Snare
Gut Shot

Back on topic, nice to see uber control having a good run. When you said the deck, as an old school player I was about to say "Where's the tomes?" lol

last edited by portland

@portland That decklist is like 70/75 I have been running for over a year now (Yes I updated 3 PO once Kaladesh was released). I have some vids of it on my youtubechannel.

@joshuabrooks said in The Deck is back! 3-1 at Vintage event @GP Utrecht:

Sounds like an awesome tournament! I forgot how much I missed hearing about mind twisting your opponent with drain mana.

The tournament was great indeed. Everybody was just excited to play and ad far as I can remember, nobody dropped.
Good variatons in the decks as well. Other than what I encounted, I believe dredge, Oath and Leovold were also present, amongst others.

@portland said in The Deck is back! 3-1 at Vintage event @GP Utrecht:

Back on topic, nice to see uber control having a good run. When you said the deck, as an old school player I was about to say "Where's the tomes?" lol

The tomes are now called "Jace, the Mindsculptor" :).
Btw, I believe the original version of The Deck only had 1 Tome and 2 Disrupting Scepters. I actually playtested with a sinle Liliana Vess as a sort of Scepter replacement (also het Imperial Seal ability is good with Terminus), but she was too expensive and needs a relatively clean boardstate. In fact, the planeswalker suite went throug quite a few iterations before settling on the, almost boring, 2 Jace.

  • 2 Jace, the Mindsculptor + Liliana Vess + Chandra the Firebrand
  • 2 Jace, the Mindsculptor + Liliana Vess + Dack Fayden
  • 3 Jace, the Mindsculptor + Dack Fayden
  • 2 Jace, the Mindsculptor + Dack Fayden + Ajani Vengeant
  • 1 Jace, the Mindsculptor + Dack Fayden + Ajani Vengeant
  • 1 Jace, the Mindsculptor + Dack Fayden
  • 2 Jace, the Mindsculptor

I also thought of testing other planeswalkers as well. Mainly Kiora , the Crashing Wave (but the build was 4 colors at that time, without green), Kayla, Ghost Assassin (the W/B Conspiracy 2 one, but lacked the time), and Narset Transcendant as a Chandra variation (and seen on the vintage championships)

Some thoughts on the planeswalkers:
Chandra the Firebrand: easy castable with only 1 colored mana, but her +1 is too situationally effective. The -2 is good, but usually requires you to pass a turn. All in all had a good upper bound, but is generally mediocre.
Liliana Vess: ultimately too hard to cast. Double black and 5 mana is too expensive for a card that cannot have an immediate board impact. Otherwise great abilities.
Ajani Vengeant: pretty decent Walker. Part Wasteland, part removal and lifegain. Overall slightly too fragile for the cost.
Dack Fayden: Stealing moxen is great! The filtering is good for getting rid of 1 or 2 excess lands (especially with crucible), but after that fits more in decks that can close out the game quicker, because the +1 loses nearly all of it's effectiveness after 2 uses due to the lack of redundancy (and sometimes even the first filtering is meh). There are just too many cards you don't want to discard. Still, this was by far the hardest cut I made.

Puzzeling the planeswalkers is quite fun, and they offer great stategic toolboxes. They don't like all those creatures running around though, which makes them a little dangerous to run many of. Also, Jace beats out a lot of competition easily. But then again, if I would go up to 3 walkers again, it would probably not be a third Jace.

last edited by Joep

@Joep Nice list and report. Have you considered Jace, Vryn's Prodigy alongside or in place of Snapcaster?

@Ten-Ten said in The Deck is back! 3-1 at Vintage event @GP Utrecht:

@Joep Nice list and report. Have you considered Jace, Vryn's Prodigy alongside or in place of Snapcaster?


I have thought about it briefly, but never tested him out. The main reason is that right now the deck invalidates a lot of the removal opponents play as the creatures have already done their damage when they enter the battlefield. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy would change that and actively make any removal my opponent has good and worth fighting over, which means I'll be spending resources on a fight I would otherwise not have to.

On the other hand, the upside is pretty good. The looting does seem to be where I wanted to be with Dack, as drawing and discarding 1 or 2 cards is pretty much all I would need in this deck. The upside that it turns into another snapcaster is also awesome.

If I decide to play another planeswalker, this might just hit the sweet spot in terms of upside. I would not replace a snapcaster at this point, because those are too important with the Terminus package, and they also serve the role of surprise blocker. In addition, I run 2 Mental Missteps at this point, making Snapcaster a great addition.

That said, I am still a little hesistant given what I outlined earlier. Then again, it's a solid card that I might just give a spin to get a real feel for it other than theorizing over it.

last edited by Joep
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