This was something I had asked for a while back when discussing what the new website could have. I honestly do not know how popular this would be, but a lot of users of TMD do tend to play 93/94 as well. Having a separate to discuss stuff on this format would be awesome. A single sub-forum would probably be enough.
Best posts made by Hrishi
Old-School (93/94) Sub-forum
Hi, I've enjoyed combo decks for the longest time and enjoy deckbuilding with them. Deckbuilding is my favourite part of MTG, and I love discussing ideas, especially when it relates to combo. I've long wanted to contribute to the forum with a deck discussion of my own. I hope some people find this interesting to read!
So what exactly is Drain Tendrils? In essence, it is a combo/control deck that leans heavily on control elements but utilizes a storm kill as its finisher once you have taken control. As the name suggests, the deck has a number of Mana Drains and finishes the game with a Tendrils of Agony.
Nobody needs any introduction to how important Mana Drain was to Vintage, considering the name of this very website. In recent years it's fallen off quite a bit, but it is still a ridiculously powerful card.
I always like include some historical perspective when writing about decks heavily influenced by older versions. Note that the metagame has changed dramatically since this thread was active, but I still found it an interesting read. Feel free to skip if none of this interests you!
Following the unrestriction of Thirst for Knowledge and the restriction of Gush, I became interested in trying to revive this archetype, as the gameplan felt beautifully elegant to me. My good friend Matt Murray ( @ChubbyRain ) was also interested in this and worked on it for a while, ultimately winning the Vintage Challenge in June 2017.
The deck fell out of popularity since then, but I've always felt the idea of the deck's gameplan was extremely powerful, so it was always in the back of my mind and ended up being something I tuned for months and months. I fell out of Vintage for a while, but this stayed my pet deck ever since. Eventually I took an updated version to win the New Zealand Eternal Weekend Vintage event. This inspired me to do a write-up on it.
This is the decklist mentioned above. Please only take this decklist as a sample. I'll write down a quick overview of some of the choices below.
Artifacts1 Mox Jet1 Mox Ruby1 Sol Ring
Restricted Cards1 Ponder1 Tinker
Sideboard2 Abrade1 By Force
The biggest departure from the more traditional Paradoxical Storm decks (and indeed, older versions of this deck) is the lower artifact count. The reason for this is to be less prone to disruption on that axis. You are perfectly capable of transforming into a traditional Big Blue deck that wins off Mana Drains and bombs without needing to depend on a Storm kill. At the same time, being a deck capable of such a kill puts your opponents on the defensive, fearing that you are indeed capable of winning out of nowhere.
This deck, more than others, is perfectly happy to use a Paradoxical Outcome as a simple instant draw spell. It does not need to end the game immediately. Of course, it is absolutely capable of doing so in some cases, but you are able to use those Outcomes less aggressively and set up a win, rather than punching through.
That being said, this was simply the configuration I felt most comfortable with and evolved with through the months. It's perfectly legitimate to go an entirely different route.
Now that I've written a fairly high level overview of what the deck attempts to do and shown off a sample decklist, I'll try to describe its function in more detail. To put it simply, this deck is a sort of fusion between Big Blue and Paradoxical Storm. One of the reasons I really like how the deck functions is that it has the ability to play the game as a control deck, as well as a combo deck as the situation demands. The deck typically has three ways it can attempt to win the game.
Usually your first option when it comes to figuring out lines you must take. Note that unlike Paradoxical Storm decks, you must consider the role in each individual game very carefully. In most cases, you are not attempting to win the game as soon as you can. You would much rather take control of the game, develop your manabase and then use Paradoxical Outcome once you have controlled the game. If you feel your role is to be the combo aggressor, then by all means attempt to go broken. It's just the deck plays more like a control deck with a combo finish, rather than a fast combo deck.
There are a million different ways you will be prevented from comboing off. There are Null Rods, Resistors, Thalias, Stony Silences and even Dack Faydens. There is no shortage of ways to attack your artifact mana and your ability to draw cards. In such a situation, it's usually better to not fight that battle and simply change your gameplan to resolving and protecting Tinker.
Choosing your Tinker target is very important. In the current state of things, my first choice is Sphinx of the Steel Wind. I'll talk about this topic more later.
When all other routes fail, this is still an option available to you. Jace and Snapcaster are both technically win conditions that can take you all the way. Consider a situation where comboing off is not an option and your Tinker target is gone. You should still be alright, Jace can win the game on his own if you protect him, and Snapcaster can slowly end the game as well.
There are some cards that should go into any deck attempting this gameplan. I've always found it helpful to narrow down what cards make up my deck's core and what cards are extras that work well.
1 Ancestral Recall
4 Force of Will
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Time Walk
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
There should really be no discussion about any of these cards. You are playing a blue deck splashing black, so play these cards.
1 Mystical Tutor: A lot of decks do not like running this card anymore, for good reason. However, I feel it's a core part of this deck's gameplan, in order to achieve a critical mass of tutors that can find your kill cards. Feel free to board it out against blue decks, but it's invaluable versus a lot of the field.
1 Vampiric Tutor: I would not board this out even against blue decks. Everything I said about Mystical Tutor applies here, except it can fetch things like Black Lotus and Tolarian Academy.
3-4 Paradoxical Outcome: As strange as it sounds, you could go with 3 Paradoxical Outcome if you really wanted to, I did for a while. Since you aren't really attempting to go off as fast as possible, you can afford to wait to draw into one, which you then re-use with a Snapcaster hopefully. However, as mentioned above, I ended up being happy with 4 copies.
1 Tendrils of Agony: This is your combo finisher, play it. You can board it out when you feel you'd rather heavily lean on Tinker to close the game.
1 Tinker: This is your other finisher for when you are not able to combo off. I've found Tinker to be a spectacular card, and it comes down to picking the right Tinker target for the occasion. Board it out when you feel your Tinker target isn't going to get the job done, due to your opponent's deck configuration.
1 Mana Vault: Mana Vault is a low cost include in this deck. It lets you accelerate out some stuff, and you get to bounce it back with Outcome.
2 Sensei's Divining Top: Must include card, this plays so well with Paradoxical Outcome and gives you some much needed card selection. Remember that you can tap the top to draw, then respond with an Outcome to get an extra card.
3 Underground Sea
3 More Blue Duals
Not too much to add here. You'll be mostly be picking your third colour based on your sideboard, although there are some main-deck considerations too. If you want to play only two colours, just add more Underground Seas and basic lands.
1 Tolarian Academy: One of the most busted cards ever made. You will find that this is a constant tutor target in this deck. It provides boatloads of blue mana and is often your ace in the hole in the face of Null Rod and Stony Silence. Just remember to be careful when exposing it to Wastelands.
1 Library of Alexandria: While sometimes this can be a bit slow, it takes over the game in many other instances. Just note that there comes a point in the game when you use that accumulated card advantage to throw all your cards at your opponent to beat them. Pick that moment carefully!
Graveyard-based Card Advantage
1-3 Snapcaster Mage
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Dig through Time
I thought I'd lump all these together as this part of your configuration is fairly inter-connected. In general, the more Snapcasters you want to play, the fewer Delve spells you can. As a general rule I found, you can play any 3 of the above cards. Be very wary of choosing a configuration that runs both Treasure Cruise and Dig through Time as that can mess with your Yawgmoth's Will pretty severely. You'll want to run more cantrips than normal if you choose to go that way.
2-4 Mana Drain
2-4 Mental Misstep
I didn't include Force of Will here as that should be obvious. Feel free to play with the numbers of the above cards until it feels right to you. I ended up with playing 10 counters including the Forces. Mana Drain is amazing to fuel explosive turns, but it can be a bit slow to get going. Mental Misstep is great versus Xerox-style decks, but is completely dead to some other decks like Shops. Flusterstorm is the same, but can be pointed at more spells at least.
0-2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
0-2 Dack Fayden
Not much to say about Jace, he takes over the game if you have an empty board. It also serves as a win condition. While I chose to play Jace because it works extremely well with Mana Drain, Dack is another fantastic option. However, note that stolen artifacts don't play nicely with Paradoxical Outcome. Of course, you'll need to play red to use Dack. I found that running 2 planeswalkers seemed correct, so any combination of the above would potentially work. I haven't tried crazier options such as Teferi, but that might be a consideration too.
Blightsteel Colossus is usually the default Tinker target, and is phenomenal with Time Walk, resulting in an instant win. Note that this requires no blockers to do so. It's weaknesses is that it can be stolen by Dack, and it often doesn't save you if you are very far behind on the board, as a single swing does not do it, and you will be killed on the following turn. If your metagame has a heavy presence of Dack, I would avoid.
Sphinx of the Steel Wind is another strong pick because it lets you win on the board thanks to the Vigilance and Lifelink. On top of that, it is immune to Dack. However, it still falls victim to Swords and Jace and it can be slow to close the game.
Inkwell Leviathan is the only other consideration, in my mind. It's immune a ton of cards, but a notable exception is Hurkyl's Recall. However, it's slow and takes many turns to close the game, so I would only recommend in specific metagames.
While the core of the deck makes up approximately 54-55 cards (with a bunch of options as I've outlined above), there are more cards that make up the remaining slots. These slots can be extremely competitive so remember to consider each card's role in the deck carefully.
1 Merchant Scroll: Decks have stopped playing this card a ton, but I really like it here. On top of being able to fetch an Ancestral Recall early, this can get you Paradoxical Outcome or Mana Drain too, which can be very useful. Once again, this contributes to the critical mass of tutors. Post-board, you can grab a Hurkyl's Recall too.
Gitaxian Probe: Free storm and information about your opponent's resistance level, what's not to like? It can feel rather dead in the face of spheres though. Feel free to board out versus Shops and other such decks.
Ponder: This card is nice to include as it's a low cost method of some filtering. Note that there are some annoyances with playing this alongside Mana Drain as you don't really want to lose having UU up.
Preordain: Same comments above apply, except I think this is slightly worse than Ponder in this deck.
Repeal: Nice versatile way to bounce a great many things, and can also be cycled at instant speed.
Thirst for Knowledge: I've personally found this a bit slow, but as many people know this works quite well with Mana Drain and slowly accumulates some card advantage. One issue is I don't really want to be discarding my artifacts. I want to be playing them for my Outcomes which makes it a bit awkward. If I played with this card, I'd try to include a few more artifacts somehow.
Mind's Desire: This card is one of my favourite cards (if you couldn't already tell). The deck is often a bit too reactive to use this as well as you would hope, and it has led to some spectacular fizzles, but when it works, there's nothing quite like it. Feel free to avoid if this is not for you.
Timetwister: Another high variance card, but this can be quite strong in a number of cases, notably if you have an artifact heavy hand. Once again, it can turn dead if you're ahead on cards already and you don't really want to gamble away your chances of winning at times.
Imperial Seal: While this card sees very little play these days, this could also serve as yet another tutor to grab your Tinker, especially in metagames where you tend to lean on that gameplan a lot. With a Top out, you can access the card immediately, too.
Monastery Mentor: Obviously ridiculously powerful if you're playing white, but I've found this kinda takes the same spot as Tinker. I wouldn't personally play this over Tinker, but if you'd rather go this way, Mentor is a fine way to go.
Hurkyl's Recall: You can play a couple copies main if you'd prefer to lean a bit more heavily on the storm plan too. It can just be dead in a number of matchups.
Engineered Explosives: Another nice catch-all answer to many things, and is a bonus artifact for your Outcomes.
I could go on all day about the number of cards that could be considered. Above are some examples, but there's got to be many more.
Configuring your sideboard can make or break your tournament. In this section I don't want to give specific sideboard cards as it's extremely metagame dependent, but I'll just talk about what you need to address. Look to my sideboard I posted above for an example. The only card I think is mandatory for this sideboard is Hurkyl's Recall. I feel you absolutely must play 2-3 copies as it works very well with your gameplan.
I picked red as my tertiary colour above because I felt it was the strongest option for artifact destruction as well as being anti-blue, but there are probably legitimate reasons to go with either white or green. In fact I also played around with only 2 colours, which could also work.
Dredge Hate: Don't skimp on your dredge hate (and ensure you're prepared for Survival if you wish, too). You aren't a combo deck that wins at breakneck speeds and Dredge will outrace you.
Artifact Destruction: You need a way to deal with Shops post-board and you need to be able to blow up Null Rods and many other nasty artifacts. Consider cards like By Force or Fragmentize.
Oath: Consider Oath, but it really depends on the metagame. Grafdigger's Cages will do nicely, as will enchantment removal such as Nature's Claim
Anti-Blue: You typically will have to side out a few cards when playing other blue decks. Make sure you have a few cards that work nicely against them, such as extra Flusterstorms or Pyroblasts.
Some Creature Removal: There are some creatures that are pure misery to play against, such as Notion Thief and Thalia. Try to ensure you have some sort of answer post board, such as Swords to Plowshares or Abrade.
There's a lot more I could cover here, but this should cover mostly everything you need to be prepared for. Remember that you should be siding out either your Tendrils or your Tinker package if the matchup demands that.
I hope you enjoyed reading this write-up. This is very much a work-in-progress, but I really enjoy playing this archetype and I'd like to open it up for discussion and see how it can be improved on. In many cases, your own decklist will reflect your personal play patterns and preferences, but I thought I'd share!
RE: JULY 2, 2018 BANNED AND RESTRICTED UPDATE
I'm amazed by some of the comments in this thread. There's no results that say Outcome is dominating Vintage by any means, and yet I can't help but feel that going by this thread it's going to be restricted anyway. I'm not sure I really want to play a format where public opinion on the internet is the deciding factor of what cards do and do not get restricted.
If Outcome's results are oppressive, by all means restrict it. Until then I don't see any cause for restrictions. We seem to be restricting multiple new cards every year. Are we trying to get the restricted list to stretch for a mile long? Is Vintage not the format where you get to play all cards ever printed or does it come with the qualifier "you get to play everything but every powerful card ever printed will get restricted until we are playing highlander"?
RE: Vintage Buyouts
@MaximumCDawg I think if they expect these reprint sets to make a major impact, they shouldn't be of limited availability (like Modern Masters and Eternal Masters were).
Now, I own every card that I would need to build any sort of deck with Ancestral Recall and Force of Will in it, so this is completely irrelevant to me. I also own Moats. However, it sucks that people are now potentially priced out of owning Moats. The same happened with Library of Alexandria about a month ago, if I'm not mistaken.
As for having 22 years to buy Moats, I would point out that we have new players coming into Vintage ever so often who did not have 22 years to buy anything. As a personal note, I started playing Magic in 2013. People telling me that they had no sympathy for me needing to buy cards needed to play vintage because I had 22 years to buy them would have left an extremely sour taste in my mouth. Thankfully, most people aren't like that.
RE: Thoughts on restrictions
From a personal standpoint, I'm getting sick of cards being printed that do nothing but specifically hate on "vintage strategies". It's such binary gameplay and extremely boring. Call me a "blue mage" or whatever, but honestly I have the most fun when I play big blue or something like that, slinging the most broken spells ever printed against someone else doing the same, blue or otherwise. Some of my favourite games in Vintage were when I played against Prison Shops, or when I played Storm Combo versus a Big Blue deck, or indeed, big blue creature-less mirrors.
I do not have fun trying to answer a random human whose name I cannot remember whose text basically says "you cannot do X", where X refers to something specifically you do in Vintage.
RE: April 24th, 2017 Banned and Restricted update: GUSH AND PROBE/TOP in Legacy
@wappla First you used Rich's deck choice in a daily to attack him. Then you called him a hypocrite. Then you made a snide remark suggesting he was engaging in self-deception. Then you claim you are the one are being bullied?
RE: N.Y.S.E. Open VI?
While it's going to be hard for me to make it (to put it lightly), I just wanted to say that for the times I did, the prize support was a very minor part of the event. I would say that the main attraction was how well the event was run, the fun times to be had by all, and above all else, the fact that it was a large paper Vintage event, of which there aren't very many left! The prize support is secondary to being able to run the event, IMO.
For anybody on the fence, definitely consider going. This event was one of the best Vintage events I've ever been to.
RE: JULY 2, 2018 BANNED AND RESTRICTED UPDATE
I mean, the power level argument is silly. We're playing Vintage, with the most powerful cards ever printed. Oath of Druids is legal as a 4-of in this format, is that not "super high power level with very little downside"? Saying a card has a high power level is not a sufficient reason to do anything. Cards that do not have a high power level do not get played in this format.
The restricted list is meant to keep format diversity, not restrict cards that people feel hit some arbitrary measure of power.
RE: Ethical Dilemma: Scooping on MTGO
This was a depressing read. I understand that people will either favor conceding or never conceding, but that is their own choice to make. Calling someone an asshole for favoring one position over the other is idiotic.
I will never hold it against someone for not conceding to me. Similarly, I will usually always concede to the person I am playing against in such a circumstance, unless there is specific reason to not do so.
To cut a long story short, it's idiotic to compare this to e-sports or anything of the sort. I am not being paid to play Magic. This is my leisure time and I can choose to spend it however I like, as long as it is within the rules. It is not my obligation to play every single round. I can choose to concede for any reason whatsoever, whether it's because I'm hungry, or because I would rather go home early, or because I simply do not want to play.
Stop confusing professional sports and our Vintage events. When I'm paid to play Vintage, then I'll take a different approach. Until then, I'll do whatever brings me the most personal satisfaction because, once again, it is my free time to do with as I choose.
Good god, I really feel sorry for @ChubbyRain because he does a lot of additional work in bringing metagame information every week, and streaming because it is helpful to bring newer players into the format. His reward is being called an asshole for conceding, an action which is perfectly legal by the rules of Magic, blamed for manipulating metagame information because of concessions and worse. I'm disappointed.
RE: August 28, 2017 Banned & Restricted Announcement
@apollogod Solitaire is a challenging one-person game too.
Your disdain for combo decks is well documented. Thankfully not everyone feels the same way. I am excited for Bargain being unrestricted and will be playing Vintage again.
To address your earlier point, I do find it more fun to be killed by someone drawing 19 cards and comboing me out than being swung to death by idiotic humans whose text say "you cannot do x". Then again, I feel your question is somewhat rhetorical, but sometimes these things don't translate well over the web.
RE: Old School?
I had requested a sub-forum on 93/94 in this thread. Please upvote!
RE: SMIP Podcast # 69: Three Months Later AKA The Q2 Metagame
I think whenever unrestrictions are mentioned, people go into a frenzy and start panicking. This happened for all the last unrestrictions, each one being heralded as the end of Vintage.
Relax, the card pool can handle almost anything. I think dangerous unrestrictions ARE the way to go, rather than having a restricted list a mile long. Constantly balancing the format by adding more restrictions is not the way to go, in my opinion. It's not a sustainable approach.
Kevin's proposal is probably the most interesting to me, even if it's the most "dangerous".
RE: October 17, 2017 Banned & Restricted announcement
I think another big factor to take into consideration is that the metagame is barely 2 months old. Yes, people are going to say that Workshops have dominated for years, but why is that relevant? Before the restriction of Thorn and Mentor, Vintage was, in theory, a completely different beast. This applies to every single restriction.
Let's take this in for a moment. When I started playing Vintage the only changes to the B&R list were unrestrictions that were long overdue, such as Regrowth and Burning Wish. When these happened, hilariously, some in the community heralded the death of Vintage. Now, we've had 8 restrictions in short order.
Dig Through Time, Chalice of the Void
Gush, Gitaxian Probe
Thorn of Amethyst, Monastery Mentor
And now people want to increase that to 10? The above restrictions happened from January of 2015 to now. This is a staggering number of restrictions in less than 3 years.
It's pretty shocking that the simple concept of sportsmanship is such a complicated and twisted affair. Maybe it's because I used to play other sports, but it seems like the concept of sportsmanship should be obvious and people need to learn how to lose. What I mean by this is, learn how to lose a match with grace and don't throw a tantrum about somebody's luck or whatever else.
Too often I've been shocked at the public displays of bad mannerisms in public after a loss. Learning HOW to lose is just as important as learning how to play the game. I'll share a story from back when I first started playing Vintage (and indeed, magic itself), without naming names, but I have told this story before so some people know what I'm talking about.
It was my 3rd or 4th tournament overall, and I was slowly getting my Vintage collection together. I had just gotten a Black Lotus and was so excited! However, I had no dual lands and the proxy limit at an event I was going to was 15 cards, and I'd go over the limit since I chose to put my money into the Lotus first! So when I got to the event, I spoke to the person running the event and asked if I could trade my Lotus in for some Dual Lands for the purposes of competing in the event. The organizer was nice to wave me off and tell me not to worry and to go a few cards over the limit since it was obvious I was trying to get down to a zero proxy collection.
I was playing in the last round of the event, but wasn't going to quality for top 8 or anything. I had won the first game and he had won the second. We were in the third game and he had seen my lotus but proxied duals and commented on it lightly earlier. In game 3, I had cast my game winning Yawgmoth's Will. My opponent's expression visibly changed and harshly demanded that I show my deck to the judges to see if I was over the proxy limit or not. This was among my first events so I got scared that I had done something wrong. The judge came over, checked my deck and counted my proxies, then went off to the organizer.
Thankfully the organizer knew of my condition, of course, and said it was fine and to keep playing. I went through the motions, killed him with a Tinker and a Time Walk. My opponent stood up in a huff and left without another word.
It was absolutely shocking behaviour. Not only was he fully aware that I was new and trying to get into the format by buying cards slowly, he had also seen my Lotus and knew that I wasn't just throwing proxies onto everything. More importantly, he had no concerns about my deck UNTIL he saw that he was about to lose when I had cast the game winning spell.
Now, this person is actually a regular in the north east Vintage circuit and is apparently a nice person in general, but this display of behaviour permanently damaged my opinion of this person. I will never look upon him favorably because of the way I was treated when I was a newcomer. It all came down to throwing a tantrum when about to take a loss, instead of taking the loss with grace.
I remember hearing this when I was a lot younger, but I feel it's extremely relevant to this day.
And if should win, let it be by the code
With my faith and my honor held high;
And if I should lose, let me stand by the road,
And cheer as the winners go by.
RE: Brian Kelly is actually responsible for the Unrestriction of Mishra's Workshop
My biggest question here is what are restrictions actually for? Are they to bring problematic decks and metagames in line or are they a tool to shake up and create a metagame? It feels like, more and more, some people want restrictions to create a "better" metagame and to shake up the format. I've always said restrictions should only be used as a last resort.
Imagine if we restricted Dark Petition 2-3 years ago when people clamored for it. It would very likely remain on the restricted list for a long time to come, and nobody would entertain the idea that it could be safe. However, as we've seen, it's not even close to being a problem. It's ludicrous to even think about.
Vintage is the last place where people get to play all cards. While an argument can be made that restrictions still let you play with them, in reality this isn't actually true. Many cards are very playable as a 4-of, but completely unplayable as a 1-of.
Essentially, when cards get restricted, one of three things happen.
The card is so busted that is still finds a home as a 1-of in almost any deck that can support it. It can remain a card that people build around even as a 1-of. An example is both Tinker and Yawgmoth's Will.
The card sometimes sees play as a 1-of in decks but it isn't strong enough to go everywhere, but it has only a small presence in Vintage. An example is Gush, Memory Jar and Merchant Scroll.
The card is effectively "banned". What I mean by this is, the card can see play as a 4-of, but is essentially pointless as a 1-of as the card requires building around, and it's not worth doing so when you play a single copy. You might still see it from time to time but it's virtually non-existent. Examples include Windfall, Channel and Fastbond.
What I mean by this large rant is, when people want cards restricted, sometimes those cards actually get banned, for all intents and purposes, because it's not really possible to play many cards as a 1-of. Vintage is the last place people can play these cards, and I would highly prefer a very lenient restricted list in order to make this possible. Instead of making Vintage a format where you get to play with all iconic cards of MTG's history, many of them are actually "banned".
I get incredibly disappointed each time I look at the restricted list and see a number of cards I never got to experience in its heyday, and probably never will get to experience because of the way the restricted list is slow to change.
Vintage, to me, is not just about playing shiny new Standard Mythic with Moxen. There's nothing special about that. It's meant to allow cards from MTG's entire history. Instead, the way things are going, we'll end up with Highlander, with a restricted list stretching miles long.