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posted in Vintage Community read more

Hello, I have pitch for addressing some of the issues brought up in this thread.

I think that any solution has to do most or all of the following:

  1. Increase access to vintage-critical cards (this means both increase the supply and reduce the cost)
  2. Incentivize sanctioned tournaments of all sizes and attendance at those tournaments (small LGS to larger events)
  3. Not meaningfully devalue collections
  4. Not meaningfully effect the secondary market
  5. Allow for WotC and event organizers to profit (without this there is no reason for either of those groups embrace a change to the current system)

My idea is inspired by the MTGO god pass that allowed users temporary access to all cards for a single fee.

For the time being I’ll call this thing the [Proxy Pass]. The [PP] would allow purchasers unlimited sanctioned use of proxies of a list of cards* for the duration of an event. WotC would sell these passes en mass to organizers who would then sell them to participants on an individual basis. I imagine that these would be accompanied by proxy-ready blanks (just a formalized version of swamp+sharpie) and the participant who purchased the pass would fill out and register their proxies as they register their deck.

*The list of proxy-able card would include reserved list cards + vintage staples over a certain value/play frequency (a cheaper staple 4-of for an archetype might be included over a more expensive card only played as a singleton). I am not the right person to generate this list, and I invite suggestions around how to best construct it.

I don’t know exactly how the pricing for these passes would look but let’s imagine that the cost to the participant is $40 per day. Of that $40, $30 would go into the the pockets of WotC, guaranteed regardless of participation as organizers have to buy their passes beforehand. The remaining 10$ would go to the organizers who sold the pass for their event at a slight markup, both to profit themselves but also to protect their guess about how many passes to purchase vrs. the demand from players. Obviously the real numbers might look different in either direction but the point of my mentioning this is that it allows for profit for both WotC and organizers, WotC’s is unrelated to actual participation in the events and thus more stable while organizers benefit from both the ability to mark up the price on the passes and the idea that their existence will drive up attendance in their events and that the passes are an addition to registration fees. All of this is to explain how this idea fulfills the 5th requirement.

[PP] also represent a functionally infinite supply scarce staple cards for Vintage at a reasonable price hopefully, to bring the price of playing in a sanctioned event to the levels of a Modern or Standard one. This will ideally not lead to 100% proxied decks as players will be expected to own the cards not found on the proxy list.

My hope is that because these [PP] don’t actually create any product (the proxied ‘cards’ expire at the end of an event) the effect on the value of people’s collections and on the secondary card market will be minimal. Competitive play is, to the best of my understanding, not the driving force behind the price of expensive Vintage staples.

There are also some secondary benefits to this proposal, the first is that even players who own all of the proxy-able cards can also chose to purchase a pass as a means of protecting their valuable cards from things like theft or damage. As many in the thread have mentioned even bringing a fully powered vintage deck to a tournament location represents a huge, huge risk. While I am sure that some will chose to take that risk, offering the ability to play the same cards without risking them would be a welcome option I imagine. This also hopefully would open the door to more lending etc. as having the bones of many different vintage decks built but not redundant sets of Power and other costly cards might let players encourage friends to dip their toes into the format without as great a risk.

There also should be some oblique benefit to collectors as use of these cards in competitive play devalues them and removing them from circulation should help maintain high quality cards in the system.

I think that those are the main strengths of this idea, but I also want to recognize weaknesses as well.

  1. First off, I could be wrong in my assessment of the effects secondary market and collections and making these [PP] a viable alternative to owning expensive cards cause them to lose value in such a way that it damaged those institutions. Furthermore, it also introduces a means for WotC to indirectly effect the secondary market by choosing which cards they add to the proxy list as adding or removing cards could have an effect on their price.

  2. This idea also adds some logistical issues to tournaments surrounding the proxies and would take extra effort on behalf of organizers to ensure that no cheating or other advantaged play was generated from these cards.

  3. It is also important to recognize that since Vintage is not a popular format, the incentives for adding this system are not very great for WotC, while in the ideal case more accessibility would drive up participation and thus make it a worthwhile change that is speculative. The other piece of this is that if WotC chooses to do as I’ve suggested they will calculate the value of the [PP] at a high enough price that it becomes restrictive for both organizers and participants to purchase, sure it will always be cheaper than buying a lotus but if it is an extra $200 on top of a registration fee it may keep almost the exact same number of players out.

  4. Another weakness is that flooding tournament play with proxies taking the place of all of the most iconic cards will have a real effect on how it feels to play Vintage and may even turn some of the long time proponents of the format away from playing.

Obviously there are so many unknowns in a proposal like this, and I have definitely missed what will be glaring problems to others, so please, in the interest in arriving at a truly viable solution share your insight.

Finally a disclaimer, I have never played in a paper tournament, never owned a magic card and likely never will. I speak from a deep well of ignorance about the tournament process, the Vintage community and Magic as a whole. If I have made a bad assumption, missed someone else's espousing of the same idea or anything of the sort it was done out of ignorance not malice and I hope you will forgive the pretension.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

@chubbyrain1 Good catch with the sanctuary, I think my brain shorthanded it to 'if you control 3 other islands, put a card on top'. I'm sure that there is a janky work around that would allow the deck to get a haste/extra turn on top with some amount of consistency to push through the Rec plan but as many other have noted it is a fundamentally flawed plan.

Additionally, I think that while Eerie Ultimatum/Enter and even something like a Yawg Will or even Past in Flames represent more powerful things to flash back they also require too many additional elements and have a high price/fail case. If we are choosing Scholar as the Oath target you are almost obliged to win the game on the spot.

I think that Rec is way more castable than any of the other spells mentioned, with the exception of Yawg Will and actual use a non-zero # of times.

Given my mistake I think that another option would be to go towards a more disruptive/controlling list and either eschew the Field of the Dead entirely in favor of Vault/Key + Mirage Mirror + Dark Depths with more Wasteland effects and W6 in the main hoping to control the game with land destruction and some counters and eventually land an Oath to hit a critical mass of free lands off of a Rec, an instant win the Vault or a slightly delayed one with Depths. Also lets you slot in Tinker + Blightsteel as another plan.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Hello,

I have been thinking a bit about a new-ish card that I feel like got a little discussion going but never ended up in a deck. That card being Scholar of the Lost Trove from JMP. After looking at a few different options for leveraging the free flashback ability I landed on the strange and probably inefficient choice of Splendid Reclamation a 4G card you likely have never heard of in the context of vintage.

The idea is that we trigger Oath on our upkeep, milling until we flip a Scholar, hopefully our graveyard is now stocked with some # of lands, with at least one Mystic Sanctuary and Field of the Dead, a copy of Reclamation and either a Time Walk or Burst of Speed. We will target Reclamation with the trigger from our Scholar, putting a bunch of lands into play and making enough zombies to attack for lethal. Since we are also putting a Sanctuary into play and will almost certainly have the requisite 4 islands we can put Time Walk/Burst of Speed on top and then draw it with our draw step to win the game on the spot.

The remainder of the deck is fairly stock Oath list with some disruption/protection and a standard pile of blue cards that draw more cards. The requirements of my chosen combo/kill condition mean that I am running fewer disruptive spells and cantrips than I would normally in an Oath list. I don't think it falls below the minimum needed to survive things like PO but it is close.

I'll be honest, this is both conceptually and practically worse than a stock Oath list, I am toying with it for the challenge of building something a little more unique. It works surprisingly well when it goes off, with the fail state being somewhat rarer and softened a bit by the inherent value of a free flashback effect even when it doesn't win outright.

As always happy to hear comments, suggestions or questions or to play a match.

Splendid Scholar Oath

Mana:

1 Black Lotus
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald

4 Forbidden Orchard
3 Tropical Island
3 Volcanic Island
1 Snow-Covered Island
1 Island
2 Mystic Sanctuary
2 Field of the Dead

2 Misty Rainforest
1 Flooded Strand
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Strip Mine

Oath "Package":

4 Oath of Druids
2 Scholar of the Lost Trove
2 Splendid Reclamation
1 Gaea's Blessing
1 Burst of Speed
1 Time Walk
The Fields of the Dead and Mystic Sanctuaries are part of this category as well

Disruption:

4 Force of Will
2 Red Elemental Blast
1 Flusterstorm
1 Veil of Summer
1 Force of Negation
1 Mental Misstep

Xerox Engine:

1 Brainstorm
1 Ponder
1 Gitaxian Probe
2 Preordain
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Ancestral Recall

Walkers:

2 Oko, Thief of Crowns
1 Dack Fayden
1 Narset, Parter of Veils

Sideboard

2 Soul-Guide Lantern
1 Pyroblast
1 Ancient Grudge
2 Ravenous Trap
1 Surgical Extraction
2 Nature's Claim
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
1 Wasteland
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Oko, Thief of Crowns
2 Wrenn and Six

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Okay so in order @BlindTherapy the number of hits is fairly low you are correct, but the opportunity cost of running OUaT is even lower based on my testing. I tried fetchlands and found that they are much weaker than you would anticipate, losing three life one off just isn't good enough and they cannot be found by Grant. I would play the fourth copy of Citadel and at least two copies of Nurturing Peatland before adding any fetches.

The last point against fetches is that this deck really wants to bottom cards and not shuffle unless it is tutoring out an important piece explicitly. Plunge and Spoils both really care about that and a bottom 5 that doesn't find a land or creature is more okay with the overall plan than it would seem.

The Mox Diamonds are again a fairly low opportunity cost and they are actually most important for their ability to turn a the second land in your hand into a permanent mana source and possibly turn on the free mode of Grant.

@Serracollector The Unearth vs. Reanimate thing is exactly as Therapy explained. Additionally, this is not a Dark Rit. deck, you really don't want to play rit when you can't win on the spot and since we are using a creature as a wincon we don't really get to win the turn we go off. We need permanent mana sources because we will have to take 2-3 turns each game and often what we do with that mana changes drastically with new information. Like should we cast rit turn one to fuel a lot of lifeloss to land an earlier shadow only to be unable to cast a tutor or plunge on the turn when we could attack.

The reasons for omitting the BBB draw fours are similar we don't often have BBB + additional mana to use the cards we find with them on the same turn so they end up slowing down the deck by nearly a whole turn.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I liked this idea enough to give it a few hours of thought and testing and came up with the following:

Vintage Combo Shadow

1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Black Lotus
4 Mox Diamond
1 Lotus Petal
4 Chrome Mox

2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Bayou
3 Tarnished Citadel

4 Death's Shadow
4 Street Wraith

4 Berserk
1 Spoils of the Vault
4 Plunge into Darkness
4 Once Upon a Time
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Mental Misstep
3 Tainted Strike
1 Snuff Out
1 Force of Vigor

1 Gitaxian Probe
4 Thoughtseize
1 Imperial Seal
1 Demonic Tutor
4 Land Grant
3 Reanimate

Sideboard

2 Gurmag Angler
4 Leyline of the Void
3 Force of Vigor
3 Veil of Summer
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Duress

As per the original idea the goal is to play Shadow as quickly as possible and then kill with it on your next turn.

Manabase: The goal was to consistently play a Shadow on turn two and win with it the next turn. To do this the deck needs two or three permanent sources of mana for the entire game but the earlier you can put them into play the more likely you are to play a shadow on pace. I went with only BG colors because while the blue cards are powerful, they don't really contribute to our turn three kill plan. Tarnished Citadel a card most people have likely not seen is the best land to put into play as it allows us to take three damage each time it is tapped, the two copies of Overgrown Tomb are there to both damage us and to be found by Land Grant and finally the singleton Bayou is for situations where we cannot afford to take damage, also a good land to pitch to Mox Diamond to slightly increase the chances we find a more painful land.

We play the on-color Moxen, Lotus and Lotus Petal as part and parcel of the Vintage fast mana package. Rounding out our acceleration is the full set of both Chrome Mox and Mox Diamond which while costly allow us to consistently cast our spells and convert unneeded pieces into mana. I would caution people picking up this pile from mindlessly playing out either Chrome or Diamond without considering what you gain from them as they are useful when the accelerate you into something meaningful but can be a trap if used without a purpose.

Finally, we have the playset of Land Grant and Once Upon a Time, these spells will help ensure that we find the lands we need and fix our opening hands. Pay attention to both the restriction on a free OUaT and Grant when assessing an opener, specifically you can use Street Wraith before casting OUaT to gain more information and can use Mox Diamondwe in addition to your land drop for the turn to ensure that Grant is free.

Lifeloss and Utility: To Play a Shadow on turn two or sooner we need to be able to lose at least eight life in those turns, and to kill we will usually need to lose 17 or more life. To do this, profitably, we have a number of cards that both disrupt our opponents (Thoughtseize), cycle to find our own combo pieces or provide mana for ours spells. Street Wraith does double duty as a cycler to find what we need and pinging us for two, it is also good good friends with Reanimate as cycling a Wraith then brining it back puts us to 13, just one life away from being able to cast a Shadow. It is also important to note that Wraith attacks for three which can be an important part of dealing 20 damage and winning the game. As I mentioned earlier, Tarnished Citadelis one of our best ways to lose life, if we land it on turn one we can hit ourselves for nine by the time we are killing, it is a good idea to play it early and tap it aggressively. Tomb does something similar but only once, and is a necessary evil to support the Land Grant. Plunge, Vamp, Imperial Seal and Spoils are all very similar for our purposes as they are going to find a missing piece of our combo and lose us some life along the way. Vamp is the best for pure tutoring while Plunge gives us the most control over out life total. Finally, we have our two 'blue' cards in Misstep and Git Probe both of which are too good not to play and a way to lose some life and gain some value. Snuff Out has been fine for me, you could easily replace it with an Unmask or a Surgical in the main.

Combo: This part is fairly simple, we have the full four Shadows and Berserks as well as three additional similar effects in Tainted Strike. Remember that you can double up on Berserks and even combine it with a Strike if your life total is too high.

Conclusions

This deck functions as advertised, it plays a Shadow on turn two or earlier and kills on turn three or earlier when it isn't disrupted. It loses to itself infrequently (missing on Spoils or something similar) and certainly feels unique. That said it doesn't hold up well to disruption, lots of the Xerox decks are going to overpower a single discard spell and counter our Shadow. PO has been a coinflip in my experience, on the play you are fast enough to beat them and a single discard spell is often good enough. Shops is better that it would appear and usually they will need a good hand to keep up. BUG is unwinnable.

Play this deck for the novelty, I would say that the above list is a good start if you want a very combo oriented version, but do not expect to run the table.

As ever I am happy to talk theory and testing with anyone who is interested in the list or the logic that got me there.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

I don't see a place for this in Vintage at the moment. I think that it has potential to become an engine card in Legacy with Shardless Agent and the Cascade mechanic. It also may be efficient enough to see play in Modern paired with Chandra Torch of Defiance's +1 or even in a Prowess shell with Light up the Stage.

All of that to say I don't think that planning on getting access to the 'draw 3' mode by way of flashing it back from the 'yard is going to be efficient enough and that if it gets broken it will be by effects that let you play cards from exile or the top of your library.

posted in Vintage News read more

I loath to advocate the middle road, but for the moment I think that there is merit to waiting. People are still building and playing with new toys, even if they may be sub-optimal. Lists and archetypes are changing often enough that power is more important than tuning.

Many of us have played in iteration of the Vintage format where the margin is how many copies of Pyroblast you registered, wether you played Spell Pierce or Flusterstorm as your 9th piece of countermagic. I think that we are coming into the release of IKA after a period where tuning was the premium skill and moving into a place where people are building new things with new cards and those skills we were honing are less important.

I feel like we have yet to reach the point where the meta will not adapt and open up without direct action being taking. I, from a place of no particular authority, believe we can already see the seeds of this happening; BUG lists running a Reanimate to rebuy a spent Lurrus or yoink one from their opponent. People like Iamactuallylvl1 reminding us that Tinker for Citadel beats a 3/2 lifelinker in PO. An uptick in bolts and people leveraging Sprite Dragon in more classic Xerox shells. To me all of these things look like the first steps in preying upon the assumption that it's Lurrus or nothing.

Perhaps I am wrong, and in a few weeks the biggest topics of discussion will be the correct number of Baubles and Remoras to pair with your new cat friend, and if that is the case then I will defer to those who have the tenure with Vintage as a whole to address companions both efficiently and in the right spirit. My only argument is that I don't believe we are there yet and in the oldest eternal format we can afford to take the time to get it right.

All of that said, the fundamental problem of the 8th card, no matter how many restrictions you attach to it is one that I don't have an answer for. If companions become as ubiquitous and varied as walkers have perhaps we will be looking at a game that is almost unrecognizable from the one we know now.

Karakas has arrived.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@Serracollector While I do love a recurable draw 3 I think that Lurrus + Standstill is a different deck from the one I built. My experience with Standstill decks is that you need both more lands than I play (22-23 instead of my 18) more countermagic shoot for 10 or so hard counters and some bigger threats to slam alá JTMS. I'm sure that there is a deck out there that uses Lurrus and Standstill but its not this particular one.

I would also mention that I don't know if Lurrus solves any of the problems Standstill has currently has; usually if you play enough copies of Standstill to have it be a plan a. then you will find another copy naturally after you opponent pop's yours and makes you draw 3. So the question is what does the standstill plan gain from Lurrus? When you answer that one a good secondary question would be how am I going to get enough mana into play such that I can play Lurrus, Standstill and protect them in the same turn? After that you are probably well on your way to a good deck, best of luck!

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

After a day or so of tinkering with the deck I think that @Griselbrother was correct about the dubious value of Lurrus + Bauble as an engine. They were as a whole slightly less powerful than just playing some of the more standard cards (Dack, 3feri, narscet etc.) however that engine + mystic remora has thus far been more than enough to justify losing those cards.

This is the new list I am working with:
Lurrus's Living Wish

1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
3 Mishra's Bauble
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Black Lotus

3 Deathrite Shaman
1 Tarmogoyf
2 Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

3 Mystic Remora

1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
4 Force of Will
1 Dig Through Time
1 Force of Negation
1 Gush
1 Mental Misstep
1 Force of Vigor
2 Swords to Plowshares

2 Tundra
2 Underground Sea
3 Tropical Island
1 Snow-Covered Island
1 Bayou
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Polluted Delta
2 Flooded Strand
1 Windswept Heath
1 Strip Mine

4 Living Wish
1 Ponder
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Gitaxian Probe
4 Preordain
1 Time Walk

Sideboard

1 Monastery Mentor
1 Lurrus of the Dream Den
1 Managorger Hydra
1 Collector Ouphe
1 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Yixlid Jailer
1 Kataki, War's Wage
3 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
1 Wasteland
1 Snow-Covered Plains
2 Serenity

My experience with this iteration has boiled down to the following you are looking for a hand that on turn 1 plays Deathrite, Remora, or Lavinia (added a 2nd one) and should feel confident in finding one of those things or a truly broken 'vintage' hand. This primary plans means often you are casting Living Wish in either a position where you are up a ton of cards and it locks in a winning position or where both you and your opponent are down to no resources and you get to slam a high value threat going into a topdeck war.

I initially envisioned this deck as a sort of having your cake and eating it too situation (mentor or hydra powered up by the lurrus engine) but the reality is its more like having your cake and then a sandwich for later in that you want to fully commit to plan a. with the confidence you will find a 4 of card to pull the right piece in if that fails.

Other changes are adding two Serenitys for the shops matchups, The Ramunap got cut because it was too ambitious a plan and I added a basic plains to bring in as a 61st card in Xerox mirrors. The Yixlid and Kataki have been okay but not great I can even see one of them becoming a Lavinia who has been incredible. Spellbomb and the singleton maindeck goyf have both been powerful and worth keeping.

I'd love to hear thoughts if anyone else has picked up the deck or just has ideas after reading all of this. I also imagine there is a world where you drop the black cards and the Leovold and try either straight Bant or try adding red with a W6 package + more wasteland effects.