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:).
Spot removal (4)
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.