Best posts made by marcb
posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

I kind of want to play this with deathrite shaman and Moat in a 4c shell.

posted in Eldrazi read more

Most of these calculations use the hypergeometric distribution. For example, not including cavern of souls you have a 60 card deck with 9 white mana sources. By turn 5 you will see 11-12 cards depending upon play first/draw first and assuming you draw one card per turn. You want the probability of drawing into at least 2 white sources. Using a hypergeometric calculator ( and assuming 12 cards, for this example, the probability is 58%. This jumps to 80% if you include cavern of souls so that the number of white mana sources jumps to 13.

posted in Decks read more

There are some cards that I think this deck might want to consider.

With all the flashback spells, situational spells, extreme card draw, and soul fire for lifelink, firestorm is surprisingly not bad. It's similar to his sb firespout except for one red you can discard 3-4 cards and target the opponent or a planeswalker, and his creatures without touching yours and gaining a good amount of life.

This card is borderline playable normally. Here it gets lifelink possibly, and if you ultimate dack, ice plus taigam and mystic retrieval can steal a lot of permanents. Also, ice on precursor golem if that's in your meta is awesome in general.

Monastery mentor
With all the token generating planes walkers, does this really not warrant testing?

Cavern of souls
Not a big deal but uncounterable taigam is great. Then you can counter removal on him without fear. Also helps cast soulfire and mentor if you play it. Edit: should have specified that this is a one-of given other mana requirements.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I should start by saying that I rarely post on themanadrain, but have been a daily lurker and occasional poster for at least 15 years. I don't get to test much as my work is very busy.

When Oko was spoiled a friend asked me if it was good in Vintage, and I immediately said no. He's a good player and has top 8'ed many tournaments (outside of Vintage), so when he asked me repeatedly and suggested it might be good, I listened. I decided to try and see if Oko was any good in vintage. I usually play 4c control type lists, a la Brian Kelly decks with high land counts, slightly higher mana curve and access to the best control cards across most colors, think Sylvan mentor or Kelly Oath.

I started with the 4c list I had been playing, which was a control deck running Dack Fayden, Narset, and Wrenn and Six, which helped with color fixing and an occasional Strip/Wasteland lock. My first iteration of the deck with Oko looked a lot like the RUG Planeswalker lists that just top 8'ed in Pittsburgh but 4 colors meant I could run black, which allowed for demonic tutor and assassin's trophy. I really liked assassin's trophy because it really enables the land destruction pathway, as seen in this years finals match against golos shops and for a control deck to have a card that answers any problem permanent (such as an opposing Oko out of lightning bolt range, any large creature, narset, etc) is really helpful.

When I added Oko to the deck, I realized a couple of things right away. It is a great planeswalker to fight other planeswalkers and can really control the board. It forces most opponents to over commit to the board to try and stabilize. Adding Oko also meant my planeswalker count went up to 8. I think it's important to realize that Vintage now has enough good planeswalkers to run 8-10 in a deck. This hasn't been the case in the past, and in my opinion changes the way we can build decks utilizing oath of druids since a planeswalker control list like the ones currently being played are at their best when unmolested by opposing creatures and nothing tells your opponent not to play creatures better than oath. The inherent strain placed on the opponent by decks that run 8-10 planeswalkers and oath is hard to describe, and Oko is probably the glue holding it all together. Oko strains the opponent the most of all planeswalkers as an early Oko can turn your opponents mox into a creature to trigger oath even if he was holding back creatures. If you don't have oath, Oko can take over the board with creatures forcing your opponent to play creatures, resulting in making oath live. This idea of playing a more controlling list with oath as the win condition is pretty removed from the typical combo oath strategy of turn one oath, but I think it is a viable option for RUG planeswalker like decks to at least consider. It also means that it may not be necessary or even correct to play 4 oath and 4 orchards, if oath is functioning like a mid to late game win condition rather than a primary combo. It just means that while the opponent is playing 2-3 x tarmogoyf you are playing 2-3 x oath. As a side note, Oko also works well with oath post board to remove containment priest and graffdiggers cage.

4c Planeswalker Oath


3 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Emerald
1 Sol Ring
2 Volcanic Island
2 Underground Sea
3 Tropical Island
1 Strip Mine
1 Wasteland
1 Forbidden Orchard
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

Oath Package
3 Oath of Druids
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Inferno Titan
2 Crop Rotation (for orchard, strip lock, mana fixing, or tabernacle)


2 Oko, Thief of Crowns
2 Narset, Parter of Veils
2 Wrenn and Six
2 Dack Fayden

4 Force of Will
1 Force of Vigor
1 Flusterstorm
1 Mental Misstep
1 Pyroblast
4 Assassin's Trophy


1 Dig Through Time
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Brainstorm
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Time Walk
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Treasure Cruise

SB: 1 Pithing Needle
SB: 1 Ashiok, Dream Render
SB: 1 Bojuka Bog
SB: 1 Veil of Summer
SB: 2 Blazing Archon
SB: 2 Forbidden Orchard
SB: 1 Oath of Druids
SB: 4 Leyline of the Void
SB: 1 Null Rod
SB: 1 Force of Vigor

I would like to make some brief comments on the card choices in the deck.

The lands/manabase is notable for a single Forbidden Orchard. As a control deck, I didn't want to play a long game and have to fight my own spirit tokens. Oko gives alternatives to activate oath and I wasn't planning on combing early. In the interest of diverse options, I run 2 crop rotations, which can find orchard but several other utility lands including strip, tabernacle, and bojuka bog from the SB. This also increases Green count for oath of vigor. I put 2 Orchards in the board for games when you need to speed up. Also, Wrenn can get back lands sacked with crop rotation, and postboard bojuka bog can be sacked to find tabernacle (for example) and then recurred with Wrenn.

The one sol ring could be the last mox to increase the chance of turn one oath, but I preferred the extra mana provided by sol ring.

Oath package

I went with 3 oath of druids since it is more of a midgame play after the opponent has been forced into playing creatures to deal with the planeswalkers. The last is in the board for games when you need to accelerate.

Emrakul is nice in that if you draw it, which occurs more often in a deck not trying to combo, it can be discarded to reshuffle. Just be sure to return a strip mine first to avoid loosing a strip lock.

Inferno titan is castable and can easily deal with Elk tokens. Blazing Archons in the board is pretty common these days for dredge, survival, etc.

The planeswalkers are pretty self-explanatory. Oko is great for board control and forcing favorable board states for oath or keeping your other planeswalkers alive. Narset is amazing and can play with Dack to occasionally force your opponent to draw 1, discard 2. Wrenn can fix mana, strip lock, replay tabernacle or bojuka bog, and go infinite turns with time walk late game, while avoiding pyroblast (much like oath). Dack can sometimes ultimate, which causes assassin's trophy to become a two-mana uncounterable control permanent, which is pretty sick.

Control package is pretty heavy on control, though I would love 1-2 more counter spell effects. Assassin's trophy is a great answer to everything (except stonecoil serpent). It can compliment strip lock or remove key permanents. The flexibility makes it invaluable in my opinion.

The draw package is pretty standard. Delve cards get turned on earlier with oath.

Anyway, I think that I will stop here. I know this was long, but i would love to hear any thoughts from people who have tried something like this or feel that this list has subtle (or glaring) weaknesses.

posted in Vintage Community read more


Thank you so much for the insightful response. It sounds like I really need to buy a pauper deck or something just to test out the UI before committing to vintage MTGO.

As far as the difference in emotional experience between MTGO and paper Vintage, I'm not sure how I will feel until I try it, which of course would require an investment in a digital Vintage collection.

If I had to choose between an ultra-competitive online environment or a casual fun game of Vintage (drink in hand), I would definitely choose the latter. To be honest, your thoughtful unsolicited response is a microcosm for what I love about Vintage, the players. If I thought that I had another option to easily connect to the vintage community and play and discuss decks, I wouldn't be looking at MTGO.

On a slight tangent, I've visited this site nearly daily for at least 15 years because of all the awesome discussions dating back to Roland Chang and Vroman debating 5c Stax vs Uba Stax or Rich Shay and DeMars discussing whether Control Slaver really needed Burning Wish with a tendrils in the SB. Over the years, new players have joined in the conversation, and I have learned so much from all of them (too many to list, but you know who you are). All I really want to do is play some friendly Vintage Magic with people who appreciate the format as much as I do. And when I can't play (which is most of the time), I come here to engage the community. I wish I could do more as I feel more players were active in these forums in the past, and I don't know why things have changed. There are still several current TMD members, whose posts I look forward to, because I know that I'm going to learn something or be forced to think about a deck or match-up in a novel way, but for some reason the frequency of these posts have decreased. Why do people suddenly not enjoy discussing Vintage on a forum? I've never won a tournament. Nobody knows me on this site, yet I've always felt welcomed to participate.


posted in Eldrazi read more

I kind of want to try island sanctuary in a mentor deck with sylvan library. Also, could consider moat, meekstone, and even possibly enlightened tutor in a deck without black to find them. I think most people have covered the better cards/strategies already, I just think it would be so fun to play some of the old control strategies. Could you imagine your opponent's face when he gets rid of your meekstone and you respond with siren's call before his attack step.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I almost never start threads on the mana drain as I don't feel like I've earned the right since I never get a chance to play in tournaments. On the other hand, I follow vintage quite closely and play whenever possible. Most of the time, rather than finding to people to play with, I find time to read content on the mandrain and work on deck brewing ideas. I'm often drawn to midrange control and control decks, and I've been recently thinking about spell queller as it nicely helps to get around cavern of souls, which seems to show up everywhere these days. The starting point for the deck I've been working on is Kevin Crohn's Esper Tamiyo list from his recent Team Serious event (link here). When I first saw the list, there were a lot of elements I really liked about this list such as more creatures, which nicely mitigate thorn of amethyst and a way around cavern of souls. When I looked at the deck directly, I noticed that black was really only there for notion thief, demonic tutor, and abrupt decay. I was curious about what would happen if black were replaced by red. The deck already has cantrips and Gush, so the addition of Dack Fayden, creates a strong draw engine a la mentor decks. After a lot of brewing, I came up with the following list

5c Midrange Control (61 cards)

1 x Black Lotus
1 x Sol Ring
1 x Mox Sapphire
1 x Mox Pearl
1 x Mox Emerald
1 x Mox Jet
1 x Mox Ruby
3 x Flooded Strand
4 x Scalding Tarn
1 x Underground Sea
2 x Tropical Island
3 x Tundra
1 x Island
1 x Plains
2 x volcanic Island

2 x Deathrite Shaman
1 x Snapcaster
3 x Spell Queller
1 x Thalia, Heretic of Cathar
1 x Emrakul, the aeons torn
1 x Jace, Vryn’s prodigy

1 x Moat
1 x Tamiyo, Field Researcher
1 x Nahiri the harbinger
2 x Dack Fayden
3 x Gush
2 x Preordain
1 x Gitaxian Probe
1 x Ponder
1 x Ancestral Recall
1 x Time Walk
1 x Dig Through Time
1 x Brainstorm
2 x Swords to Plowshares
4 x Force of Will
3 x Mental Misstep
1 x Flusterstorm
1 x Engineered Explosives
1 x Fire/Ice

1 x Swords to Plowshares
1 x Ancient grudge
1 x Wear/Tear
2 x Containment Priest
3 x Rest in Peace
1 x Flusterstorm
1 x Moat
1 x Supreme Verdict
2 x meddling mage
1 x Pithing needle
1 x Notion Thief

The deck is rough containing 61 cards (Fire/Ice is the 61st card but is interesting in its own right and can feed Nahiri's minus ability and Dack's ultimate in rare circumstances). There's a lot about this list that I like in the current metagame. It has the counter spell suite and draw engine of a pure control deck with strong silver bullets in the form of moat and Nahiri for example. A lot of the card choices were made with eldrazi and workshops in mind, given their success in the current meta, although there is still strong consideration of other decks such as mentor, oath, dredge, etc.

I'd like to explain a couple of card choices unique to this deck compared to Kevin's Esper Tamayo list, so that those reading can understand my thoughts. Then, I would love if anyone would like to contribute ideas to the discussion that might help me improve this deck with respect to the more played decks in the metagame.

Overall, the deck is a midrange control deck (maybe even a moat deck) looking to provide strong board control through moat, thalia 2.0, Tamiyo, and Nahiri while providing just enough pressure to force a win in a reasonable timeframe. The amount of board control often slows the pace of the game significantly, which really allows the planeswalkers to shine allowing for so many interesting interactions that are harder to capitalize on in more faster paced games.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher

This card is surprisingly good with a few creatures in your deck to take advantage of his plus ability to draw. It's also a great deterrent to other creatures from attacking. Her minus ability directly protects against creatures. This was one of the new cards that made me want to try this deck to begin with.

Nahiri, the Harbinger

This card probably is in direct contention with big Jace. I put it in the deck for a few reasons. Given the strong draw engine provided by gush and Dack, I valued his ability to destroy permanents significantly over Jace's ability to bounce creatures (an increasingly bad proposition with cards like TKS and reality smasher around). I was interested in the synergy with Tamiyo's creature tap ability (also supported by Thalia in this list to allow this to easily find targets to destroy when needed). Finally, he can provide a rapid win condition two turns after he's played in the form of Emrakul who happens to fly over moats perfectly. I also felt better about playing baby Jace without being worried that flipping him would trap big Jace in my hand.


Can be played off of Nahiri or Tamiyo's ultimate and flies over moat. Occasionally, it protects against painter's servant or shuffles good cards back into your library when discarded to Dack Fayden.

Baby Jace

His plus ability is better at creature protection than bouncing creatures with big Jace, and I like one in any deck that has a gush draw engine as replaying gush for the alternate casting cost while allowing reuse of swords or other key instants/sorceries is a really valuable effect at 1B.

In the sideboard, meddling mage is the only interesting choice, but it really does a great job when naming reality smasher or Thought-Knot-Seer in a way that StP just underperforms given the discard effects on these eldrazi and the fact that they are often played via cavern of souls. They can also help name cards that can't be targeted with spell queller such as triskelion, dark petition, tendrils of agony, etc.

For anyone that actually read to this sentence, thanks! Any advice would be really appreciated.


posted in Decks read more

re: anvil, then you can play a leovold and lock out the opponent from playing anything but instants during their draw phase.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

I think the combination of

2 Karn, Scion of Urza
1 Tezzeret, Artifice Master
2 Dack Fayden
1 Daretti Ingenious Iconoclast

is definitely a new planes walker package worth considering over the more traditional

2 Jace, the Minsculptor
1 Tezzeret, the Seeker
2 Dack Fayden
1 Time Vault
1 Voltaic key

in Grixis control decks.

The newer set takes up less card space, stays on mana curve, has much better board presence for a control deck, much better synergy, and fewer dead cards. Although it looses the occasional Tez, the Seeker into vault or vault/key oops I win factor, it has less variance and more utility as each of the newer cards are good by themselves, where as time vault by itself is bad, key is not great, and Tez is ok without vault if you can get enough artifacts to ultimate or find utility artifacts as needed.

I have been testing the above package in an otherwise normal Grixis control list (with a bit more artifact mana/ancient tomb and especially Tolarian Academy) with Tinker and Myr Battlesphere as the tinker target, which is also amazing for pumping Karn constructs, for drawing 2 with new Tez, and producing artifacts to sac to Daretti. Not to mention, few things are more fun than ultimating Daretti on Battlesphere for 3 copies. Finally, although @ChubbyRain already mentioned the synergy of Dack, Tez, and Karn, Daretti is actually a great choice for control decks too as he provides a permanent immune to pyroblast that repeatedly destroys artifacts or oath targets over a long game without spending mana and is very synergistic with the aforementioned cards. Finally, I'm not sure anyone has mentioned Myr battlesphere yet as the tinker target in this kind of deck, though the synergy there is pretty powerful from pumping constructs, keeping new Tez at draw 2, or providing a great target for Daretti's or Tez's ultimate.

I would love to hear what others have discovered in play testing too, but i think there is something to these cards in combination worth exploring.

PS - Sorry for the stream of consciousness post, but I'm severely sleep-deprived at the moment.