Last sunday was a Vintage event at GP Utrecht, and there were about 14 players that played in the event, playing 4 rounds of the most awesome magic format available to mankind. Like quite a few players I spoke to, I played the deck I liked playing most. In my case: The Deck.
As a side note: This also meant that I played a lot against decks I never played against, which was an awesome experience!
I didn't get to playtest much, but it initially appeared weak to both mentor and dredge decks, and quite strong against shops and eldrazi. I made quite a few (blind) changes to the deck and sideboard after testing. Figures that my final loss was against tiny robots:).
Spot removal (4)
Even though this build ended up quite a bit like a list I kept a long time, it went through a lot of iterations with lots of little implications that cascaded through the card choices. If anyone has any questions, I'll try to explain some of the choices.
Round 1: versus Mentor Silence
Game 1: My worst matchup immediately! I get lucky and manage to empty his hand with a mind twist for 5 after he played a few cantrips. Tinker for Sundering Titan destroys his mana base leaving him without an out.
Game 2: I misstep his ancestral. He missteps mine. We get a counter war going over a Vendillion Clique on his end step and drain both our hands. I have four mana, but only use three to cast mind twist for 2 on his last 2 cards in hand, which was a big mistake as I had nothing to do with the remaining mana. He responded with gush, Dig and ancestral, making the two cards not really matter. Except they were mentor and Dack! I get some perfect countermagic draws against his business spells, and eventually drain a treasure cruise to snapcaster the mind twist a second time (this time for all his cards!). Crucible / Strip locks him out of the game.
Thoughts: I got lucky about the moments he didn't have Force. He didn't quite know how to play against my deck, which will be a common theme amongst most matches :). So he didn't really know how to sideboard. Which is great, because I seriously lack the practise in sideboarding myself. Vendillion Clique did exactly what it needed to do: Break the standoff with the gush deck.
Round 2: versus Paradoxical Belcher
Game 1: He opens on Leyline of Anticipation, and I forget what deck plays this. I expected regular paradoxical storm. I misplay when ancient grudging his mox jet, which results in him deploying more instant speed artifacts and dropping a belcher without the mana to activate it. In retrospect, I should have waited it out and grudged either his mana crypt or belcher. I don't know whether or not I had the ancient grudge flashbacked or didn't have the mana, but he activated the belcher on his next turn, which dealt me 40-ish damage.
Game 2: I start off with pithing needle on belcher, and turn two the monkey goes to town and starts eating his mana base. He starts collecting cards in his hand, until I mind twist his hand away. Monkey beats him to 13 before I need the snapcaster I had from the beginning of the game to flash back a mental misstep on an overloaded vandalblast. 3 power on the board is enough for him to concede.
Game 3: I mulligan to 4 and keep a hand with snapcaster, underground sea, mox emerald and Black Lotus, scry reveals a vampiric tutor. He keeps a slow hand and I play what is probably my tightest game of this tournament. I vamp for a nature's claim I think, to stay alive. Snapcaster for vamp would force me to crack the lotus, so I can't get an ancestral and cast it the same turn so I opt to keep the snapcaster in my hand. He later tinkers for Memory Jar and whiffs, only putting 2 artifacts into play, while I ancient grudge them away. I start rebuilding and eventually use the snapcaster to flash back a mind twist from the jar hand to get ahead. I end the game with pithing needle, stoney silence and trinisphere in play with enough mana to play though it.
Round 3: versus Madness
Game 1: I have no clue how the madness deck plays out, but he starts racing me with 2 bloodghasts off a turn 1 bazaar. I never stabilize, and he gets ahead on creatures, lands and cards in hand. Seems like that was my plan!
Game 2: He has turn 1 bazaar again, and 2 bloodghasts. We go back and forth on resources until I stick a tinker for Sundering Titan, destroying three of his lands. The titan is enough to race the bloodghasts. It gets to a thrilling final turn for him where he can outrace me if he finds a third Bloodghast but he doesn't and I win this one.
Game 3: I mulligan to 6 and keep a hand with Leyline of the void. I draw tinker on my second turn and have 4 mana, which means I can combo out with Helm of Obedience.
Round 4: versus Tiny Robots
Game 1: He starts off with 2 ravagers and I make a colossal mistake in the early turns. I mystical for ancestral, which gives me crucible, terminus and a land. However, he doesn't yet have any other creatures or manlands, so I should have gotten ancient grudge to take out both ravagers. I climb back to my control seat, partly thanks to crucible, but my mana crypt and his ravagers are too much for my life total. It was a good game, and I made an honest mistake that contributed to my demise. He wisely played his options and let the damage flow freely.
Game 2: I force a walking ballista and he lands ravager. I have a decent hand, but I keep drawing counterspells and lands, which means that I never deal with the ravager. He adds in Revokers (3 of them), of which one trades with a flashy snapcaster, but other than that I don't draw into anything that can deal with the board state.
All in all I had a blast playing the deck. Learning a lot from it, and playing matchups I never played before was great! Mad props for my friend who borrowed me his power (since I only have Ancestral and Sapphire), and props to the organisers who kept a row of empty seats around our playing area and were very strict on people watching not being close to the actual cards.
As for The Deck: I didn't think it would be very good initially. Especially compared to the Mentor and Outcome decks. But it seems like it can be tuned to beat anything. I love it and hope to play it more in the future.
As for individual card choices, I'll try to write something down later. If you have questions, just ask! Lots of it was from theorycrafting, but the few testgames provided a whole lot of insight which greatly influenced the final build.
@Joep Nice list and report. Have you considered Jace, Vryn's Prodigy alongside or in place of Snapcaster?
I have thought about it briefly, but never tested him out. The main reason is that right now the deck invalidates a lot of the removal opponents play as the creatures have already done their damage when they enter the battlefield. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy would change that and actively make any removal my opponent has good and worth fighting over, which means I'll be spending resources on a fight I would otherwise not have to.
On the other hand, the upside is pretty good. The looting does seem to be where I wanted to be with Dack, as drawing and discarding 1 or 2 cards is pretty much all I would need in this deck. The upside that it turns into another snapcaster is also awesome.
If I decide to play another planeswalker, this might just hit the sweet spot in terms of upside. I would not replace a snapcaster at this point, because those are too important with the Terminus package, and they also serve the role of surprise blocker. In addition, I run 2 Mental Missteps at this point, making Snapcaster a great addition.
That said, I am still a little hesistant given what I outlined earlier. Then again, it's a solid card that I might just give a spin to get a real feel for it other than theorizing over it.
Love the podcast ans discussions as usual.
Sometimes you do get way too deepin a cornercase and that usually ends up significantly in your predictions. But I guess predictions atre alway kind of u predictable.
Just finished the Blood Sun part. I loved the analysis and think you asked a relevant question in what would you play turn 1 against an unknown opponent.
You got hung up a bit in the card draw of the sun making it harder to evaluate, while I thought that with the framing of that question the card draw would be the least relevant. My reasoning is that the type of decks that play these effects will want to disrupt as hard as possible on turn 1, so I think the moon effect is always preferable to the sun (and most of those decks are structured to win through combat damage, putting the magus at the top). The card draw of the sun is actually the least relevant in this case I think. Later in the game, though, the card draw becomes increasingly relevant. Would the question be about a turn 2 or 3 play, it would factor in quite a bit more I think.
In the end I think that the blood sun will see play but is ultimately inferior to blood moon and magus.
Now if they ever print a magus (or otherwise similar effect), then this becomes more relevant because it allows for more aggressive tricks like lotus vale and dark depths. As it stands, with at most 4 sun effects in a deck, that isd completely unreliable and way too much work for little payoff.
Amyway, those are my thoughts on Blood Sun. Love the card. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the show.
I just had a chance to listen to the podcast. Really great you're putting in this work to give us more vintage content.
I like the concept of shoter (than so many insane plays) episodes, and I think that roughly 1 hour is a good length. Obviously I only have 1 episode to go by now, but the duration seemed appropriate for the topics discussed.
I like the idea of rotating guests, and I really enjoyed listening to Brian Kelly's discussion of the snakestill deck. I like to hear how other people reason when deckbuilding and experimenting, and I think that there is none greater than Brian for this at the moment. Great guest to get this show on the road.
I do have some questions about the snakestill deck for Brian. For a deck that wants a fast standstill in play, why was the 4th standstill cut?
I like the inevitability aspect for a single champion of wits. However, the mishra's factory weakness was glossed over a little fast in my opinion. How does this deck fare against the workshop decks with factories? Do the standstills come out? Or do you assume the opponent plays as if you have all the factories?
I also appreciate that you at least tipped on the current prices of power and duals. Mainly because I never hear anyone about it, yet is has a profound impact on my personal ability to play vintage. I don't play online, and with the current prices for power and duals, I will not be able to complete a set (I have a sapphire and an ancestral), and the average tournament (which are now nearly non existent in the Netherlands) will not be able to give power as prizes.
Keep up the good work! Love to have a new podcast to listen to.
As a point of improvement for the future, I would like to hear a little more discussion. Right now it's more an interview with Brian than a discussion. I woul personlly prefer to hear more back-and-forth between you two, uncovering where you make different decisions and what that results in.
I have yet to watch the videos, but i like the initiative and experiment. I believe someone did something similar for standard once. With faeries, jund and trix etc. It sounded really interesting then, and it also does in the context of vintage. Pitching decks that might have caused restrictions against eachother.
I don't know if you explained it in the introduction video already, and if you did I'm sorry for the stupid question, but do you have a gauntlet already?
Nice to see with this and the podcast that we get more new vintage media. Keep up the good work!
Great podcast as always! Thanks for continuing to put in all this work.
I learned something today! I always thought Shaman's Trance was the same as this card. Ultimately I think that cards that depend on your opponent's deck are too inconsistent for regular play.
The one scenario I missed in your analysis was against storm combo, where you can make mana from their graveyard much more easy and have more of an opportunity to chain these meaningfully. Then again, to get in such a situation probably means you win anyway.
I love that this card exists because it will create a few fun stories. Don't think it eill become a staple.
Great show as always.
In your report card Steven asked for a similar card to stonecoil serpent for shops, and I was surprised that Endless One didn't come up. Although it is Eldrazi only, I think it is the most recent comparable card, utilizing the scaling ability for early and late deployment. It is also the baseline X/X for X that Steven asked for I believe.
About Underworld Breach, I really like the card, but I think you hyped up eachother too kuch. There us a lot of competition in the U-based Xerox variants for graveyard resources, and this uses up at least 6 if you want more than a regrowth. Between Snapcaster, Arcanist and the delve spells, I think there is too much competition for this resource to just slot in that easily.
Then again, I like the card, so maybe it diversifies this slot (or takes over). I am really curious about this card in the future and look forward to your nextvreport card to see the actual adoption rate.
Keep up the great work!
A thought on the challenge review. You seem to pick always the same decks more or less.
While it makes sense, when the tops don't differ from one another, it would be interesting to highlight the unusual among those, like the Painter deck this week, or the Breach Oath deck, when it first appeared.
I think these lists would be much more interesting to look at instead of the standardized lists that change one or two cards at most every week.
Anyway, thanks for managing a vintage column!
Actually, I really like seeing the top lists. As I actually play very little, it helps cement the ideas and choices that are succesful. In addition, someone who is new to vintage can just open the latest acticle and see the recent lists, instead of having to do more research themselves. I think there is value in having such a resource available and updated regularly.