From 20 to 0 in 90 Seconds: Anatomy of a Vintage Game

It has been a long time since I've written "In game" analysis. Hell, I haven't really written that many Vintage articles this year.

If you take out the History of Vintage series and the Gush book (Understanding Gush), here are the number of Vintage content articles I've published in the last few years:

2018: 5 (including my article for SCG)
2017: 4
2016: 0 (obviously, the Gush book took alot of time)
2015: 4
2014: 1
2013: 8

So anyway, I've been writing alot more about Vintage lately, and this is my first in-game analysis in an article in quite a while! Possibly since 2013!

So here it is:

This article should show how awesome I think Vintage is right now. And also how powerful the Survival deck is!


last edited by Brass Man

Yes, that game between LSV and Froelich was amazing. Unrestricted Mentor was simply nuts. And combine that with unrestricted Gush (and unrestricted Probe when that was the case), and you probably had one of the best decks ever... Right?

These unrestricted Mentor matches reminds me of Kevin Cron's and yours 2016 Vintage Champs Paradoxical Mentor deck which was one of the most awesome and fun decks I've played. It's funny, I kinda miss unrestricted Mentor even though the card is utterly nuts and should never have been printed.

last edited by Griselbrother

Great article and analysis. Thanks!

Thank you. Survival is an extremely powerful deck, more than a "flash in the pan," I believe.

I wanted to show it in action, while also illustrating the challenging decisions that Vintage players must navigate. I will do more articles like this in 2019, looking at some of the more interesting in-game decisions in contemporary Vintage.

This was great analysis, I loved it.

@Smmenen It must have been very hard for you to play that quickly, given you are renown for analyzing all possible lines of play thoroughly before committing to one.

@rat3de said in From 20 to 0 in 90 Seconds: Anatomy of a Vintage Game:

@Smmenen It must have been very hard for you to play that quickly, given you are renown for analyzing all possible lines of play thoroughly before committing to one.

It certainly wasn't the way I prefer for a game to play out. Let's put it that way 😉

I'm still unsure what the best overall line of play is. It seems like the best line is probably to not Force anything, Plow Vengevine, and then try to resolve Dack, and build the Monk army, but it's really hard to know how that would have played out. It may just lose if my opponent has Wonder in his deck. Maybe the optimal line is just to Force a Hollow One and Plow a Vengevine.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen I think your mistake stemmed from the fact that you probably do not watch or play as much MTGO as much as you would need to be 100% up to date on how Survival has changed. I truthfully believe that if you played more on MTGO you would probably top 8 the challenges pretty frequently. That said, in the future there are certain toolbox creatures in Survival that nearly all version play, namely these are Wonder, Squee, and Elvish Spirit Guide. You can check on, but I have yet to come across a refined list that does not include these three. Just something to look out for. Also I was wondering if you would be coming out to Eudo for this month's vintage. Cheers!

last edited by Rat3dE

Aside from not foreseeing the Survival for ESG, I don't think any play I made was based upon a lack of knowledge of how Survival works... Rather, the question was more about which line gives me the highest probability to win...

I am well aware of what the Survival decks look like, and have tracked them since they first emerged, and I've trophied three Vintage Leagues this term, and encountered every major Survival varient - the FoW blue one, the black one, and the mainstream one.

The mistake I made in game stemmed from a lack of time on the clock. But I'm not asking about whether the play I made Forcing Rootwalla was suboptimal, either.

The two lines I was comparing were Force Hollow One and keep the tempo pressure on, or slow down, resolve Dack, and try to build the army for an alpha strike. Alot depends on what the opponent might draw, but my question was about which of those is the objective best line...

So I wasn't asking about a mistake. I was asking about which of two lines, neither of which I took, was the better overall line...

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen I know what you are asking, I just do not feel like I can make a recommendation, as I have only recently started playing Vintage. I was merely pointing out your oversight on ESG and you questioning in your above comment if they played Wonder in the deck. I was only responding, letting you know that most decks do play Wonder, so I consider this a futile question. As many a great players have said before me though, the best play is often the play where you play to win, rather than to not lose, what that may be or entail, I do not know. You asked a question, that is my answer. Now if you would not mind answering mine that would be great.

last edited by Rat3dE

The second Survival was backbreaking. I agree with your analysis that Force of Will on Rootwalla was a mistake, but I don't know if your chances are much better after resolving Dack, particularly under time trouble. Your opponent has so many lines available with an active Survival, including stonewalling you with recurring Vengevines, building up a lethal Wonder attack, etc.

One other variation to consider is back on turn 1: you didn't really need to Probe as Survival is a must-answer threat almost regardless of the opponent's hand (the only time I might risk keeping Survival around is against a hand devoid of creatures, which is vanishing unlikely).

Holding back Probe gives you an extra monk if you draw a mana source on your next turn; your topdeck of Black Lotus gives you three chances to draw a mana source and play both Dack and Mentor on turn 2.

EDIT: And of course, the optimal line with perfect information would have been to play Fragmentize, Probe, and Dack on Turn 1, and using Dack to draw into Force of Will + Preordain in preparation for the second Survival. But that's obviously not the correct line given the information you had access to.

last edited by evouga

Great article! I still think his line with DRS was wrong. With 2 lands he could've pitched DRS for Rootwalla and pitched Rootwalla for any other creature. That way he gets his chump blocker anyway but ends with a card in his hand, guaranteeing his Survival chain next turn.

But to your point in the article, these kind of automated responses is why Magic responds so well to training. Your results are very different when you're playing all the time vs when you're away form the game (or deck) for a while.

last edited by fsecco
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