When Underworld Breach was spoiled, it was a "decidedly" Vintage printing in the opinion of most players - a modern attempt at fixing Yawgmoth's Will and imbuing it with the Escape mechanic. Legacy and Vintage players were already wondering if it might be banned or restricted before the card was released. So far, that reality has manifested in Legacy but it is a bit less certain in Vintage. For one, Vintage has a much larger degree of graveyard hate that can be leveraged due to the power of the Dredge deck. Two, the format in general has a higher power level and Breach is not necessarily superior to Paradoxical Outcome, Doomsday, or Dark Petition Storm. In order to be successful, a Breach deck needs to find its niche in the format and exploit it. So while the initial Breach strategies were build along the lines of traditional broken decks in Vintage with Draw 7's like Wheel of Fortune , a full set of Breach, and many restricted cards, these types of decks didn't put up results. The first decks that really did well were Sun Titan Oath of Druid strategies that looked to mill over and bring back Underworld Breach, then recast Time Walk repeatedly to win. An example is Notmi's Breach Oath deck from the Vintage Challenge. A couple of weeks later, I won a Vintage Challenge playing a Breach deck that essentially grafted the Breach combo into a Mentor shell that played more of a combo-control game plan enabled by the format's Cantrip-Delve draw engine. This approach is largely what has persisted in the metagame and what this primer is about.
Legacy players will know this combo well, short-lived as it was. The gist of it in Vintage is using the ability of Underworld Breach to repeatedly cast Brain Freeze from the graveyard, first to mill yourself and fuel Breach, then to mill out your opponent, while recasting either Lotus Petal, Lion's Eye Diamond, or, in Vintage, Black Lotus to produce enough mana to execute the combo. The combo can be protected from the graveyard by using Flusterstorm, Spell Pierce, or Pyroblast and players should keep this in mind while executing the combo as Mindbreak Trap is seeing more play. A reminder that Underworld Breach does not allow you to pay alternate costs for spells and so Force of Will, Daze, and Gush have to be hardcast from the graveyard. Some specific circumstances to keep in mind:
- Ancestral Recall can target your opponent and can be used to win the game on your turn rather than passing the turn back to your opponent.
- If the opponent is running something like Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn or Gaea's Blessing that prevents decking, which is most common in Oath of Druids decks, you can navigate this situation by casting Nihil Spellbomb prior to Brain Freezing the opponent. Exile the opponent's graveyard with the shuffle ability on the stack.
- Alternatively, you can counter your original Brain Freeze (not one of the storm copies) and recast it from the graveyard to mill the rest of the opponent's deck. Cast Ancestral Recall targeting them to win the game before the shuffle ability resolves.
- If the opponent casts Veil of Summer and gives themselves Hexproof from your Brain Freeze, your options are to Time Walk so that the Hexproof expires and use Lurrus/Teferi, Time Raveler/Chain of Vapor to recombo, or repeatedly use Lightning Bolt or Seal of Fire to win. Or keep recasting Breach and Time Walk from the yard while attacking for 3 each turn with your Cat. You don't have to make it easy on the opponent if you don't want to...
Four-Color Breach Combo
Grixis Breach Combo
Jeskai Breach Combo
To Be Continued....
This will be something I contribute to piece-by-piece as I have time, but someone had requested primers and I wanted to start producing some. Let me know if there are specific topics or questions to be addressed.