SMIP Podcast # 69: Three Months Later AKA The Q2 Metagame

So Many Insane Plays Podcast Episode 69: The Post-Restriction Metagame
by Kevin Cron
Podcast, Vintage
August 4, 2017

Kevin Cron and Steve Menendian discuss the Vintage metagame since the restrictions of Gush and Gitaxian Probe, and their recommended actions for the DCI.

Podcast (somanyinsaneplays): Download (Duration: 2:17:29 — 92.0MB)

0:01:00: Announcements: Trials in Michigan and California
0:07:30: The Q2 Metagame: MTGO Vintage Challenges, Paper, MTGO Dailies
0:57:00: The effects of Gush and Probe Restrictions
1:13:00: Restriction Recommendations
1:43:00: Possible Unrestrictions: Imperial Seal
1:48:00: Yawgmoth’s Bargain
1:50:30: Windfall
1:57:00: Library of Alexandria
2:04:00: Flash
Total Runtime: 2:17:29

Contact us at @ManyInsanePlays on Twitter or e-mail us at

Here are some snapshots and graphics that we've created, which are obviously not in the podcast, but used for the podcast:

Part of the table from our paper results:

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Daily results:

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MTGO challenge metagame:

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I posted the Top 8 results from the challenges last week or the week before.

last edited by Smmenen

Great podcast as normal gents. I honestly wish there was a littke more discussion on Library of Alexandria. I am 100% with Kevin on this one. I think the card would not only create diversity, but also, as Kevin briefly stated, boost some of the lower percentage decks, that many love but do not play due to the current 2 deck meta. What decks are these? Landstill obviously, but as Kevin suggested, are you running 8-9 strip/library efx in a deck that runs Mana Drain, Jace TMS, and Engineered Explosives? Another one would be Bomberman. The synergies with Trinket Mage, Salvagers, and Sylvan library (Kelly Oath Bomberman, Im looking at you), are all great with Library. Once again tho, do you want 4 colorless lands in a 3+ color deck running cards like Engineered Explosives and Abrupt Decay/Ancient Grudge/Dack Fayden/Jace TMS?

As you, Steve, mentioned in a podcast or post several years ago, cards with double of one color, or multiple colors, are sometimes actually "more" expensive than they look in Vintage, due to Moxen and speed of cards like Workshop. In your example you were stating how a card like Meddling Mage is actually 3+ mana due to being 2 colors, and thus not turn 1 off a Mox, or possibly even turn 2.

Let me try to gives some more scenerios, like Kevin did with the double Library, Fetch, Delver hand.

Mana Drain in hand, drop 2nd blue source, or drop Library and try to start engine? Same with Jace TMS, say a hand with Mana Crypt, 2 fetch, 2 LOA, Jace and X, do you LOA, or go for turn 2 Jace?

Mox, Oath, Orchard, double LOA. Turn 1 Oath, or Library Engine?

And these scenerios are just tough decisions, that could make the difference in win or lose very easily, not even counting scenerios of, ah shit I needed a "insert colored mana source" and drew LOA.

The last deck it would boost, which has been on the fringe lately, is dredge. Mind you, Im not a dredge pro by any means, but have 4 extra cards that say draw on turn 1/2 has to be good for the deck, no?

@Serracollector said in SMIP Podcast # 69: Three Months Later AKA The Q2 Metagame:

Mana Drain in hand, drop 2nd blue source, or drop Library and try to start engine? Same with Jace TMS, say a hand with Mana Crypt, 2 fetch, 2 LOA, Jace and X, do you LOA, or go for turn 2 Jace?
Mox, Oath, Orchard, double LOA. Turn 1 Oath, or Library Engine?

Thats a decition you make based on what deck you are playing and wich other cards you are holding.
Id say anyway most of the time you want to open with the library and pass. If it gets wasted then you have a plan b anyway like in the oath example. Ill just keep my bomb in hand and try to get more ca until im sure ill just stick it later on.
The mana drain example is a bit more complex.
Am i playing a combo deck? Wich one? Do i have missteps? Fow? If drain is my only counter and im playing a deck that can just win if i pass with no UU open you are laying down that fetchland instead and go for the library next turn. If im playing vs shops and i got no hate or am afraid about a big bomb they could drop and im not sphered out im dropping fetch and drain their threat. If im playing shops and i got no basics and a waste could screw my game im leading with library as a wasteland bait. Who cares about ca when you cant cast them. Possibilities are infinite its your judgment in every given scenario to give you the answer.

Correct, but these scenerios is where people will not only have to decide what to do, but if they should of put in all 4 LOAs in the first place. Not even counting the fact Kevin drop up of how many colorless sources to run via wastes vs LoAs

Please, please, please, for the love of God, do not unrestrict Library...

How is this an actual thing?

Edit: Listening to the logic. Steve is the voice of reason - you will get blue decks racing to the bottom. And no, you won't have a Delver deck running LoA. Blue control decks won't be running it. I honestly don't think these decks will even be feasible in this metagame. You will get combo decks like Paradoxical running it, or DPS, or Oath, or Flash (vomit). These decks have the ability to sit on Library and then go over the top. Or they have the option to force action if they don't have a Library in their opener. You would drive fair decks out of the format.

Edit2: If people want to freeform this on MTGO, let me know... 🙂

last edited by Guest

@ChubbyRain said in SMIP Podcast # 69: Three Months Later AKA The Q2 Metagame:

Please, please, please, for the love of God, do not unrestrict Library...

How is this an actual thing?

Hahaha the same thing streaked across my brain as I listened to this over a coffee. The only plus is the colossal pile of Library activations in response to each other having to be represented somehow as massive stack battles begin.

As this cast points out, the Duality of the format is miserable and was unchanged by the restrictions. However I think you have it wrong, it's not Mentor and Thorn. It's Misstep and Thorns. On MTGO you have 31% of the field, 40% of top 8s as Shop Decks but Mental Misstep being played at north of 85% of its apex (about 3.2) in all not Thorn decks (with Dredge even giving the number a bump). If you lump in Pyroblast you are north of 90%.

In my opinion, and a look at the blue based builds pre-Khans backs this up, the format is Misstep and Thorn and has been since Delve ruined Magic forever. The confluence of Delve, Dack, Tokens mechanic has done such irreparable damage it's nearly impossible to untangle the impact and craft a solution. Mentor is miserable but it won't change anything as a 1 of, it'll still just be Thorns vs. Missteps. Those 3 spots will become a couple of Pyromancers and a random shitty creature or a Null Rod / Stony since you may cut moxes.

Misstep oppresses many cards that can tactically fight Thorns and Mentor. Those cards either aren't worth sinking mana into or you are sucked into the same endless vortex that got it banned everywhere else: Misstepping the Misstep that Misstepped the Misstep. Remember Goblin Welder? Thoughtseizing the Mentor or Thorn? Pithing Needle? Dread of Night? Illness in the Ranks in your board? Deathrite Shaman? Hate Delve ... RIP Dryad Militant! None of these cards are earth shattering but they litter the growing graveyard of interesting cards that get cattle bolted on the drawing board (or can't be played because you have no room after stuffing your deck full of the ubiquitous piece of crap Misstep). Nobody omits a card from a deck because it can be Force of Willed or Mana Drained or Spell Pierced or Spell Snared or even Flusterstormed. Mental Misstep alone wears that crown of shit.

Don't you hear your own discussions about unrestrictions and your set reviews? They are littered with sighs and qualifications about what a waste of time a 1 mana sorcery speed spell in the face of a hail of derpsteps? Imperial Seal in this cast is a prime example, you point out that it's never played because of the card.

If you believe that forcing a "blue player" to have spells with text against a deck that's a 1/3 of the field (which I'm not necessarily defending) then Misstep needs to go. It will also open up space (which may not be claimed because people don't like changing decks) for the natural thorn predators to re-emerge ... like BUG fish ... who can actually resolve a DRS without a Misstep war. Other creature based Null Rod decks.

Even if you restrict workshop you'll be left with Thorns and Missteps. White eldrazi prior to Ballista was arguably a better Thorn deck than shops. Are our memories that short?

The argument that some aggregate combo deck like Ritual storm will slaughter us all if we have only 1 misstep are unfounded. Thorn / thalia is the natural predator for these decks. In addition to Fluster and Trap there have also been 1/2 a dozen hate bears that completely stone storm.

To the point about Gush not being a problem for ~3 years ... it's true. Some new comers, especially MTGO only players might not even remember this era.

In the period before Khans in some of the largest events ever where Gush was legal (we're talking about massive ~250+ person events for their era like Bazaar of Moxen) Gush was barely a presence. The winning blue decks largely centered around Dark Confidant (both BUG Rod Fish, Bolas control). Gush was a bit player in these events circa Spring 2012, and 2013.

Delve / Dack / Tokens was the lever that when pulled opened the dam and made Gush dominant and made Mental Misstep and Probes usage skyrocket. When free was just free it was pretty good and people played Missteps. When free nets you a +1 mana for your delve spell and a Monastery Swiftspear free becomes too good. Once the use went up there is a 'stickyness' to Misstep because of its incestuous nature. But as others have pointed out you can't discuss solutions and ignore these printings.

It sucks. I remember flying to Europe in 2013 so excited to play Vintage. The floor was littered with tons of different decks.

Noble Fish, Stoneblade, BUG Fish, Bomberman, Gushbond Storm, Rod Shops, Metalworker Shops, Dredge (not really), Oath, Bolas Control, Welders, Standstill, Budget Junk and Merfolk decks.

2013 (294 players, 3 MUD, as the blue decks begin playing 3 MM + Fluster)

2012 (326 players, 2 MUD, Zero Gush, 4 other very different blue decks)

2011 (483 players ... just pre-Phyrexian Mana ... 1 shop deck out of 483)

Amazing how you can beat Thorn when you don't have half a dozen dead cards in your blue deck?

Why does the flash deck need viscera seer? Like you can just self kill the Ballista by pinging with it?


Seer let's you beat one plow or other removal effect. Since both pieces have undying you could sac the unhallowed if they plowed him in response to the undying trigger from the balllista. So it makes you less interactive at the cost of one spot in the deck.

ummm. . . yea, but you can't flash the combo with hulk then.

Mikaeus = 6 cmc
Ballista = 0

you have exactly no cmc extra to tutor up if you get mikaeus with protean hulk. This a combo is not.


Hmm, I wonder if I'm remembering a more clunky edh version of the combo.

Like first get seer and body double (copying hulk), then sac double for MTU and WB then combo and that beats one removal spell. But that requires something else besides seer...

You may be right. I can't recall why you would just need seer.

last edited by walking.dude

@nedleeds at this point I feel like every phyrexian mama card should just be restricted. They were even a bigger mistake than treasure cruise and dig trough time.

@Stormanimagus Mikaeus makes Ballista a 1/1 so it doesn't die when you remove the +1/+1 counter Undying gives it.

@Hydra Ah, well then that isn't an "all-in-one" combo with Protean Hulk and Flash. That is 7 CMC of critters sadly :(.

You can still kill with Hulk => Mikaeus the Unhallowed/Walking Ballista if you grab Karmic Guide + Viscera Seer as an intermediary.

I'm not sure there's much improvement here over the old Body Double+Carrion Feeder=>Reveillark+Mogg Fanatic kill. They both take the same amount of cards, they're both vulnerable to the same removal. Ballista can't get stranded in hand like Reveillark/Double can, but it also can't win through Null Rod or Stony Silence. Either kill can run the same support in terms of Body Snatcher and Benevolent Bodyguard to play around certain game states.

The Kiki Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Karmic Guide + Viscera Seer kill takes one fewer card, but doesn't kill at instant speed, which can be very relevant in a 4 Flash deck running Pact of Negation

Amusingly, Galerider Sliver is big boost to the Heart Sliver+Virulent Sliver kill, which has its own drawbacks but suffers the least from drawing it's kill cards.

Ultimately I wouldn't be surprised if there's some other combo we've missed entirely though ... as no one's been working on Flash kills for some time


all of the combos I listed were a single resolution of Flash, everything but the Mikaeus combo was successfully used in Vintage when the card was unrestricted.

At the time Flash was restricted, the most common list would sacrifice Protean Hulk to get Body Double and Carrion Feeder, the Double copies the Hulk, and you sack it to Feeder to get an extra trigger. the second trigger gets Reveillark+Mogg Fanatic. From there you sack Reveillark returning Double, and sack the Double (now a copy of Reveillark), to return itself and Fantatic infinite times for infinite damage.

If you end up with a combo piece stuck in hand you can get Body Snatcher + Carrion Feeder (+ Benevolent Bodyguard to play around removal) and use the Snatcher to put the stranded card into play. You can also run redundant combo pieces.

Of course, 4 Brainstorm went a long way toward making sure combo pieces didn't get stuck in hand, and that restriction could represent a significant difference in the way the deck should be built/played.

In reference to the comment about unrestricting Library, as a White Eldrazi player I would definitely figure out a way to make this work maindeck. Might not be good. I mean, my goal is to land Mox and uncounterable Thalia turn 1 so playing LOA and pass isn't great. But the potential is there.

@stormanimagus said in SMIP Podcast # 69: Three Months Later AKA The Q2 Metagame:

Why does the flash deck need viscera seer? Like you can just self kill the Ballista by pinging with it?

Mike Noble answered this question 25 days ago:

In post 68 I posted a theoretical Flash list:

Theoretical Vintage Flash, 7/13/17
Stephen Menendian

40 Spells:

The combo:
4 Flash
4 Protean Hulk
2 Summoner's Pact
1 Mikaeus
1 Walking Ballista
1 V. Seer
1 Karmic Guide

Restricted Cards:
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Ponder
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Brainstorm
1 Dig Through Time

4 Force of Will
4 Mental Misstep
4 Pact of Negation

1 Chain of Vapor

3 Preordain

20 Mana:

13 Lands
5 Moxen
Lotus Petal

And in post 56 I went through the combo steps.

However, I think Brassy is right, that you need a card to deal with a combo part stranded in hand.

For the record, on the restriction/unrestriction front, here is how I think we came down on this podcast:

Restrict: 2Sphere & Mentor
Unrestrict: Bargain, and possibly Windfall

Restrict: Nothing right now, but if Workshops continues it's current level, restrict Workshop next cycle.
Unrestrict: Bargain & Library

I THINK that's where Kevin landed.

Why would anyone not play Academy Rector for Yawgmoth's Bargain and Omniscience, if Flash gets unrestricted?

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