A lot has been made recently about the downturn in TMD participation and the Vintage format in general. I'm not trying to stir the pot there as I think there are many valid views on what people want out of the format and community. However, it got me thinking about my own lack of participation on TMD recently, and I concluded that this was largely due to a lack of content in which I'm interested. Again, I mean this to be limited to my own perspective and I don't mean to be critical of others' interests or discussions. I'm merely mentioning my motivation: if there is content that personal appeals to me, then maybe I should take the first step and try to create such content. And so here is what I wanted to try....
For those that don't know, I enjoy streaming Vintage on MTGO on my Twitch channel, https://www.twitch.tv/chubbyrain1. It's a fun way to interact with people in chat while promoting the format and testing new concepts. That said, there is a limit to what you can do during a stream. My idea was to create a relatively short companion post on TMD before I go live. On it I wanted to include more of the theoretical aspects behind the deck building, such as my overall strategy, individual card choices, sideboarding plans, etc. My hope is that this fosters a more in-depth discussion of the finer points of deck design and metagaming than is possible on twitch chat. I welcome your feedback and comments - just please try to avoid the topic of restrictions. This is what I'm planning to stream around 7:30 pm EST time tonight (1/23).
I approach brewing Vintage decks to conducting science experiments. You identify which aspects or hypotheses that you want test and design the experiment around those elements. Often the entire decks stems from one or two such questions. So what is the central idea I wanted to test with this deck? Honestly, I thought there were a lot of similarities between Deep Analysis and Painful Truth and wanted to explore a similar approach in a different archetype. "What is he talking about?" If you haven't been following MTGO Vintage lately, then you might not have seen this Grixis Control list that oRS used to win a Vintage Challenge a couple of weeks ago. The deck leans Painful Truths as a way of generating card advantage that compliments the Delve/Gush/Dack draw engine. The fundamentals here (+2 CA, -3 life) are actually similar to the flashback on Deep Analysis. Since casting the card from your graveyard doesn't cost you a card, the net effect is +2 cards. The advantages to Deep Analysis is that it doesn't require you to run black, is one mana cheaper, and the "alternative cost" of hardcasting from your hand is powerful in the late game. The cons are that it requires some amount of setup and DA is susceptible to Pyroblast effects from the opponent.
- Nahiri, the Harbinger - JVP, Dack, and Nahiri are clearly the key ways to loot Deep Analysis into the graveyard. I feel I don't need to do much to justify including JVP and Dack as they are established Vintage staples. Nahiri is more of a Vintage oddball. The rationale behind her inclusion is that the MTGO metagame is rather Oath and Pyroblast heavy. Her -2 ability is a very powerful effect against Oath and Sylvan Library. At the same time her -8 provides a rather quick clock that many decks in the metagame will have difficulty answering since they are typically dependent on Pyroblast to remove planeswalkers like Jace and Dack. Crazy? Brian Kelly has been running Arlinn Kord, Xenagos the Reveler, and Sarkhan Vol mostly because they dodge Pyroblast.
- Tinker + Blightsteel - Previous versions of Nahiri Control ran Moat and so I defaulted to Emrakul, the Aeons Torn as my go to creature for Nahiri's -8 ability. With the restriction of Mentor and the downswing in various Eldrazi decks, I don't think Moat is as well positioned as it was previously. Because of that, I wanted to test another powerful, game-ending threat that works well with the decks many discard outlets. After deciding on Blightsteel, Tinker becomes an easy addition, though I will point out that the deck is hardly dependent on Tinker to win the game. As such, I'll be pretty aggressive pitching it to Force of Will and siding it out in matchups where it's going to be difficult to ride Blightsteel to victory (such as Jeskai Mentor with Swords and Dack Faydens).
- Balance - I absolutely HATE balance in most Mentor shells. Yes, I know the card is powerful, but the typical Mentor deck tends to be Moxen light (running Sapphire, Ruby, and Pearl only) and creature heavy (running Mentor, Pyromancer and Snapcaster Mage). This deck has much more synergy. I have the full artifact package as well as only Mentor and Blightsteel as the only true creatures. Balance plays well with both JVP and Deep Analysis as these cards allow you to rebuild quickly following a Balance, even if you have to discard the majority of your hand.
- Fire/Ice - Ice plays well with Dack's Emblem as well as Nahiri's -2 (Tap your artifact or creature, then Exile it). Fire is deceptively good right now at killing Pyromancers while dodging Misstep and killing many of the low to the ground Shops creatures like Overseer, Revoker, and Inspector. While it isn't the most efficient removal spell, it is never truly dead which is why I like it in the main deck.
- Lighting Bolt - Apparently Arlinn Kord and Xenagos are things... Bolt their planeswalker, JVP their 2/2 token, then get on with your life.
- Tsabo's Web - Stops Mishra's Factories which are pretty powerful against planeswalkers, Karakas which negates JVP, and hits Dredge. It's very similar to Pithing Needle but I like it because of the card draw and ability to dodge Misstep, which has been become more common in Dredge lists. Brian Kelly is also a fan and have you seen that foil version on MTGO? It's gorgeous - so dark and malevolent! The MTGO foil display glitch for old cards is one of the best features on the client.
This wasn't meant to be an extensive write up, but I hope there are enough things to talk about. If you want me to try something like this again or have other feedback or comments, please chime in!