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posted in Vintage Strategy read more

@serracollector You raise a good point about Sower. I had been running Sower and switched to Control Magic when Dreadhorde was super popular and there were a zillion Swords to Plowshares and Lightning Bolts.

I am not sure that card is even good to bring in against Dreadhorde now. I mostly want Control Magic/Sower to handle Hollow One so I think the switch to Sower makes sense.

I was considering dropping Control Magic all together.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

@ltdale I had not considred Ashiok, Dream Render. Is he really better than something like Tormod's Crypt? When playing against Dredge I badly want to get my hate down ASAP. The problem is the crucial swing game is when Dredge is on the play post board. If I give Dredge 2 turns undisrupted then my concern is my hand get ripped apart by Therapy and I lose Ashiok where as Tormod's Crypt can come down turn 1.

I can definitely see that Ashiok is more flexible and could be strong against various combo decks.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Agree about Mystic Sanctuary. That card is ridiculous.

The comes into play tapped is a bit annoying, but the fact that you fetch it means you run just 1 and then Fetch it when you want it.

Is it worth running more than 1?

I had briefly considered Baral before and rejected it without testing it, but now that your bring my attention back to it I like it more.

So last time I considred Baral I was running Mana Leaks in the Force of Negation slot so I when I opened with a land and a Mox I wanted to keep mana open for Mana Leak.

Now that I have Force of Negation it seems that playing Baral is a great turn 1 play.

One one hand Baral interacts favorably with the Tinker win because he is one more way to discard a Colossus.
On the other hand, in general he seems to fuel a Tendrils win even more. Being able to play AKs for {U} after a Yawg would make Tendrils easier.

The weakness of Baral vs Thirst is as a top deck in the mid to late game. Baral would function as sort of an extra mana source that I don't need while Thirst would see 3 more cards, but turn 1 Baral seems so strong.

Turn 1 Mox, Land, Baral.
Turn 2 Land: Opponents Turn: Intuition for 3xAK + AK for 3.

That seems like a fantastic opening.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

@dr-j I found the exact same thing (pre-Oko) before I added the Force of Negations. If your opponent does resolve a planeswalker you are already in trouble but playing Tinker+Walk in the same turn is not that tough for this deck so it is not like all is lost.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

If you have enough Mana for Drain, but not a hardcast Negation then he should run out Swords (assuming he is confident you don't have Misdirection)
If you can hardcast Negation then he is better off waiting for Pyroblast backup.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I have been playing some variation of this since vintage began and Tog was a thing.
Cody Vinci had a bunch of success with a similar list in the 2006 time frame.
This is the deck that just won my most recent testing gauntlet. It was done after Misstep restriction, but before Narset restriction and Oko printing.

1 Scalding Tarn
1 Polluted Delta
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Flooded Strand
4 Underground Sea
4 Island
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Black Lotus
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mana Vault
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Crypt
1 Blightsteel Colossus
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
2 Snapcaster Mage
1 Tinker
1 Time Walk
4 Force Of Will
4 Intuition
3 Force Of Negation
4 Thirst For Knowledge
4 Accumulated Knowledge
4 Mana Drain
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
1 Chain Of Vapor
1 Mystical Tutor
sideboard: -> This needs work
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland
4 Leyline Of The Void
3 Yixlid Jailer
3 Control Magic

The sideboard is probably bad right now. I had been running Strip and Wastes back when they were good against both Shops and Dredge, but now Wastes are not as good against Shops since Shops throw down a few creates and are happy to trade lands.

Ever since Force of Negation was printed I have been looking for a home for it.

The idea is you want to have huge bombs that you drop on your opponent's turn. Originally I thought of a Gifts shell and a Flash shell. Flash just straight up wins on your opponent's turn and 4 extra Force of Wills make it better. Because Flash is restricted it is a bit tough to make Flash viable particularly post board.

Gifts also did not work out. Generally opponents will want to counter the Gifts, but usually your Gifts sets up huge bombs the following turn. Your Force of Negations cannot protect those huge bombs and Gifts usually does not protect it either.

What you really want is play huge bomb on your opponent's turn and then chain that into another huge bomb on their next turn.

This is where Accumulated Knowledge comes in. You can use Force of Negation to protect AKs for 3 and 4 on your opponent's turn. Force of Negation is also fairly easy to hard cast and saves you from random broken stuff in the early game.

At first I tried both Vault/Key wins and Tendrils wins. I hated Vault/Key after Force of Vigor was printed. It was a decent backup plan to take infinite turns and attack with Snapcaster Mage for the win, but I generally prefered to Tinker for BSC or Tendrils. Tendrils did not quite work. Cody's old list had a lot of combo 1ofs that allowed broken plays. He would do stuff like:
tap library: Draw
Gush: Draw 2.
Frantic Search: Draw 2, discard 2 gushed lands, untap library
tap librar: Draw

So all of those cards were sort of decent but suboptimal during the mid game and then could go bonkers when when he went off. He also ran as many as 3 Rebuilds during the Stax era and then added at least 1 Dark Ritual during the Pitch Long era.

The Force of Negations crowed those cards out so going for a huge Tendrils was too tough. If I wanted to do that I would end up switching the deck to be closer to Paradoxical.

I was left with Tinker->BSC as the primary win condition. Yes this gets hated by Grafdigger's cage, but Force of Negation counters that and I can always just bounce EOT before I Tinker.

In general you can always Intuition for 2xSnapcast Mage + Tinker to win the following turn (assuming you have 5 mana)

So the way the game plays out is you just play control. You AK for 3 and then 4 and then ideally you use Snapcaster to draw 4 cards again. You can still Intuition for Yawg, Tinker, Snap later to find Tinker. Between the MASSIVE card advantage and the 11 counterspells you can stop most of your opponent's threats. Then you finally Tinker with double or triple counter backup.

Here is where the Force of Negations shine again. So you might be thinking that your opponent could just Swords the BSC and then you are screwed, but if they only have 1 spell you are fine. You should already have a counter. What is really scary is if they are about to Swords BSC on their turn and then attack with Dreadhorde Arcanist to flash it back. Maybe they have Pyroblast too!

So you Tinker BSC with Force of Negation + Mana Drain backup.

Your opponent is holding Swords + Pyroblast with Dreadhorde Arcanist out and an untapped Tundra and a tapped Volcanic Island.

Your opponent could EOT go for Swords, but won't have Pyroblast backup so they wait.
Their plan is to go for Swords and then if that is countered they can attack with Arcanist and Swords against with Pyroblast backup.

So they Swords first. You Force of Negation back. Now they have a problem because Force of Negation will Exile the Swords. They are Forced to Pyro the Force of Negation, but then you Mana Drain the Pyroblast, Swords is Exiled and you win with a BSC.

So Force of Negation was REALLY, REALLY good in this deck in a way that it was not good in other decks.

There are two cards that seem like they wreck this deck. Narset and Oko. I have admittedly not tested against Oko at all. It was printed after I started my gauntlet, but Narset was still unrestricted so I tested against that a bunch.

A resolved Narset obviously wrecks you, but Narset rarely resolves. In general non creature Sorcery speed threats are the easiest for this deck to handle. You essentially run 7 Force of Wills against them.

So while I have not tested against Oko, I am pretty confident that Oko will only rarely resolve. Still, the way I tended to handle a resolved Narset was to Intuition for Snapcasters and Tinker rather than AKs.

Possible improvements to the list:

  1. It does happen that BSC gets Swordsed. Maybe run a second BSC or Vault/Key. If so Thirst should probably get dropped. The problem is you now have more cards to pitch to Thirst, but fewer Thirsts. I am not sure how helpful this is since if I just had my BSC Swordsed and I have no counters, then I am probably going to lose either way. I think the second BSC is a lose less card when I want it and dead the rest of the time.
  2. Maybe drop a Thirst to run a 4th Force of Negation.
  3. Wastelands in the sideboard are terrible and even the Control Magic was terrible. Maybe add 4th Yixlid Jailer for dealing with Dredge and then 4 anti shops cards. Hurkyl's Recall? The sideboard needs work. Grafdigger's Cage is actually a possibility since you can Tinker out your own Cage to get BSC, but now you just removed your own hate. Does not seem ideal.
  4. Maybe combine 1/3. Add Vault/Key to the board to deal with opponent's Grafdigger's Cage.
  5. Thirst compliments Force of Negation because I had keep mana up to hardcast Negation and then EoT Thirst if there is nothing to counter. Thirst is decent, but against Narset it was not ideal so I toyed around with use Fact or Fiction instead. Fact can load AKs into the yard fairly well and does not say "draw" but I think I still prefer Thirst, particularly if I am relying on Tinker->BSC to win.
  6. Maybe Narset needs to be added! I seriously underestimated Narset. Arguments against Narset are that I have few creatures and thus can's protect it and I hate tapping out to play spells at Sorcery Speed. This means Narset will perform worse here than other decks, but it is still a HUGE bomb.
posted in Vintage Strategy read more

@vaughnbros said in Simulating Dredge:

My point was more that thw 3x FKZ is probably better split into other DR finishers as well as the 2x Titan. There are a plethora of other good options, e.g. Kologhan, Laboratory Maniac, Muldrotha, Griselbrand, Hatebound Flayer. This allows the deck to overcome scenarios where you can’t win with Bridge into a bunch of zombies.

I totally agree with this statement. Titan and FKZ can be chained together to win now, but by themselves they are not great.

You go for Titan hoping to Dredge into FKZ. It is safer to just go for a target that hoses your opponent.
It is probably better to replace those with some other targets.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I had a huge bug against Leylines. Instead of RFGing the cards I was supposed to discard I put them back in my hand. This is why Serum Powder looked so bad post board. I basically got 4 free draws in first two turns.

I fix that bug and a made a few other edits and the Mox Diamonds and Breakthroughs are no longer quite worth it. I essentially have a 20 card sideboard so some maindeck cards have to come out.

Here is the list suggested now. It is probably a bit more conventional:

4 Bazaar Of Baghdad
4 Serum Powder
1 Breakthrough

1 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Golgari Thug
3 Shambling Shell

4 Hollow One
4 Bridge From Below
4 Fatestitcher
2 Ichorid
1 Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
4 Narcomoeba

2 Sun Titan
3 Flame-Kin Zealot
4 Dread Return
4 Cabal Therapy

1 City of Brass
2 Cephalid Coliseum
1 Black Lotus
1 Lion's Eye Diamond
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Sapphire

2 City of Brass
4 Force of Vigor
4 Nature's Claim
1 Chain of Vapor

Running 4 Nature's Claims with only 5 green mana sources (Not counting Serum Powder) seems pretty shady, but Claim also pitches to Force of Vigor so I suppose it works with 9 other cards. I will read some replays to see how Claim is being used.

With 19 non Dread Return ways to bring out creatures this list is far more robust.

Regarding the Dread Return package: I am not suggesting that Flame-Kin Zealot is the best package at all.
I was just goldfishing so obviously the Win-Now targets are going to reign Supreme.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Mox Diamond seemed counter-intuitive to me, but I have been testing with it and here is what I am seeing.

Sometimes you have the second land, in which case Mox Diamond is a huge bomb. It likely gives you 2 extra Bazaar activations by turn 2 which greatly improves a turn 2 win percentage.

If you have a breakthrough then you are getting something that is potentially 4 extra dredges all on turn 1 (although the odds of continuing to hit dredgers is in practice quite low)

Sometimes you just don't have a second in land in which case you can just pitch it the graveyard.
In this case it is a risky card with big reward. With 8 other lands in the deck you usually have the second land so getting the big reward is huge.

To Vaughnbros point goldfishing is only is only so helpful and ends up pushing you towards glass cannon builds. I am not saying that this is the ideal build, but I do suspect there may be some good ideas in here.

I added Basking Rootwalla as a new card and it made Force of Vigor a lot better in the sideboard.
I also fixed suboptimal play with Mox Diamond against Leylines and it is looking better in the sideboard.
(Yes, I know it can't flashback with Leyline out)

Really I should add games against Grafdigger's Cage, Wastelands and maybe Containment Priest to find a deck that is robust against a greater diversity of hate.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

A lot of the results I saw were counter to what I expected to see.

My intuition going in was as follows:
I had noticed that the Cyclers were worse. This was largely because once I used a cycle card to dredge my good dredger it was stuck in my hand. If these cycle cards said draw a card and discard a card they would have been great! Instead I would dredge a Shambling Shell and then have no dredgers.

I had a few ideas.

First I wondered if maybe Phantasmagorian would be worth it. That way I could dredge a dredger off of a cycle card, and then discard the dredger to Phantasmagorian.

I also expected Once Upon a Time to be very good because finding a second Bazaar is amazing and the next most important cards were dredgers and they are all creatures.

I was thinking that between Once Upon and Time and Noxious Revival I could pretty consistently hit a turn 2 Bazaar. That might allow me to go back to running Bloodghasts without needing to add mana lands. Then I could use Force of Vigor and Hollow One (who can also be found with Once Upon a Time) and I could still have a decent game against Leyline post board. So I expected to have Ichorids and Bloodghasts and then maybe Narcomoebas and Prized Amalgams along with Bridge Tokens to beat down with.

At first I only added the cards that I expected to be good and my main takeaways were stuff like Dakmoor Salvage is terrible and Phantasmagorian is pretty bad, or at least worse than Shambling Shell.

Then I figured I might as well add Rainbow lands, Emerald Charm, Nature's Claim and Chain of Vapor. That was too see if I could do better post board.

Those clearly came out above Force of Vigor and once Force of Vigor was removed Noxious Revival started to look terrible.

Then I had so many mana lands, that I added Fatestitchers. At first they looked like a 2-3 of, but then I added Black Lotus and LED and the Fatestitchers immediately jumped to a mandatory 4 of. This reminded me that nsammael had been pushing for an aggressive Fatestitcher build, so I went back and read some of his comments.

He had theorized that 4xDakmoor Salvage might good. I did not find that at all, but he had also pushed Mox Sapphire, Lotus Petal and Mox Diamond.

I was unimpressed with the Mox Diamond idea. I have a lot of experience with that card from Turboland decks with like 30 lands and I did not particularly like it them. I did not see how a deck with at most 10 lands was going to support them. I was wrong and he was right! Mox Diamond is great.

I suspect I have a suboptimal heuristic post board. I might be using a City of Brass to remove Leyline instead of discarding it to Mox Diamond. I will try that tomorrow. I am also a little bit suspicious that the Breakthroughs drove away the Hollow Ones. I need to make sure I did not do something retarded like forget to cast a free Hollow One before casting Breakthrough. Intuitively Breakthrough makes Hollow One worse since Breakthrough gets more stuff in the yard where Hollow One is mostly dead, but I did not expect it go from 4 to 0.

There are a few cards that I have left out and I plan to add:
Chrome Mox: RFGing a Narcomoeba to Chrome Mox seems pretty solid. I doubt I want to RFG Breakthrough and Fatestitcher I want in the yard, so I am not sure about this.
Ancestral Recall: Draw 3 is good.
Brainstorm: Draw 3 is still good.
Careful Study: Decent.
Faithless Looting:Slight chance of Flashback, but does not work with Cephalid Coliseum so probably worse than Careful Study.
Burning Inquiry: Draw 3, Discard 3 is actually really good, but your discard is random. Can also mess up opponents or really help them out by loading their yard. After London Mulligan players that mulliganed will have on average good quality cards so Burning Inquiry should usually mess them up a bit.
Cephalid Sage: Originally I added Sun Titan to return a Bazaar to bring back Bloodghasts, but instead he frequently brings back Lotus and LED. Since I am not running Bloodghasts at the moment it occurs to me that Cephalid Sage might be more consistent about getting to draw 3, although not being able to play a bunch of Fatestitchers is a drawback. Being blue means he could pitch to Chrome Mox.

My intuition is that between Breakthroughs and Fatestitchers I already have a lot of good things to do with my mana, so Ancestral Recall, Brainstorm and Careful Study won't be worth it.

I think Chrome Mox won't have enough blue cards to support it, but I thought the same thing about Mox Diamond. Also Mox Sapphire did not even make the cut post board because it cannot tap for Green to cast Nature's Claim so I doubt Chrome Mox will make the cut post board. That leaves it with heavy competition pre-board.

I will post if I find anything new. I think the most likely improvement I make will be to discard a Rainbow land to Mox Diamond to remove Leyline on turn 1.