2013 Vintage Year In Review: July-December

Brian DeMars concludes his 2013 Vintage Year In Review with the large tournaments and top decks of July through December and some 2014 predictions.

Hello and welcome back to the second installment of the 2013 Vintage Year In Review! When we left off last time, things were really heating up for Vintage midway through the year—Workshops and Bomberman decks were struggling to establish who would be top dog in the format, creature-based decks were in the midst of making the jump into the top tier, the Blue Angels were flying high, a gigantic BoM tournament just took place, and Paul Mastriano (bucking all the trends) won the N.Y.S.E. and reasserted that blue Time Vault combo could still hang with the big boys and win a big tournament.

Moving into the big summer months, the Vintage metagame appeared to be very much up in the air going into the biggest events of the year.


The Vintage year continued on into the summer with a big LCV tournament that was won by Dragon, proving that the decks in Vintage are all so powerful that anything can win on any given day! The most interesting or important element of this Top 8 (besides Animate Dragon coming out of retirement to claim yet another trophy) was the surge in results that various Fish decks continued to make throughout the summer.

Check out all of the Top 8 decklists here.

1st: Oscar Basart – Dragon
2nd: Sergi Hernandez – RUG Delver
3rd: Jose Antonio Romero – G/W Beats
4th: Miquel Alcoriza – Pyromancer Gush
5th: Toni Anaya – Rug Delver
6th: David Serrano – Forgemaster MUD
7th: Marc Bertolin – BUG Fish
8th: Josep Maria Garcia – Burning Long

Half of the Top 8 is made up of various aggressive creature strategies (more than half if one considers Pyromancer Gush to be a tempo deck), which is something that I would have almost thought impossible a year previous!

Let’s take a quick look at Sergi Hernandez’s runner-up RUG Delver list:

With the metagame spreading out to incorporate all kinds of different decks that attack opponents from various angles, threat-heavy decks with lots of disruptive permission like RUG and BUG became premium strategies. The idea is that a deck like this can stick a quick threat in the form of Delver of Secrets or Tarmogoyf, counter a few key spells, and quickly end the game via beatdown—just like in Legacy.


Things really heated up for Vintage in August (and not just because of the hot summer weather!) as Gen Con rolled around once again. Strangely enough, it was the first year that the Vintage Championship was not held at Gen Con, but that didn’t stop Vintage fans from coming out and playing a quality tournament.

Check out all of the Top 8 decklists here.

Mishra’s Workshop finally got on the board in 2013 with a quality win in the hands of Jordi Amat Puig.

1st: Jordi Amat Puig – Forgemaster MUD
2nd: Mike Solymossy – Doomsday
3rd: Anthony Michaelo – Terranova MUD
4th: Marc Lanigra – Grixis Control
5th: Adrian Becker – Affinity MUD
6th: Steven Stierman – Four-Color Humans
7th: Sam Krohlow – Doomsday
8th: Jason Jace – Oath

I’m not really surprised that Workshops had a good showing at Gen Con because for whatever reason (Champs or not) there is something about the convention that seems to make people want to dust off their Mishra’s Workshops. Indianapolis for whatever reason always provides for a strong showing of Shop decks.

At home at Gen Con.

As we can see from the list, Amat Puig’s deck is streamlined to make a lot of mana very quickly and play very powerful threats and lock components.

Suit him up and play it all out!

Lightning Greaves is great in this deck at creating explosive plays with Metalworker, speeding up Kuldotha Forgemaster’s "Tinker" ability by a turn, and also at simply protecting key threats like Lodestone Golem from spot removal like Nature’s Claim or Lightning Bolt.

Also, notice that this list is filled with "over the top" threats that are really good against the smaller creatures that creature decks were playing. Delver of Secrets and Tarmogoyf are pretty quickly outclassed by Wurmcoil Engine and Sundering Titan.


One month until the Vintage Championship and the new Vintage metagame was really starting to take definitive shape. The TDG 2013 Eternal Series sported an interesting Top 8 that had a little bit of everything going on. The event ended in a Top 4 split, but there are some pretty interesting decks in the Top 8, particularly the Esper Control deck that Allan Tran piloted to a Top 4 finish.

Check out the whole Top 8 here.

1-4: Allan Tran – Esper Control
1-4: John Grudzina – RUG Delver
1-4: David Ata – Pyromancer Gush
1-4: Mickey Mahr – Espresso Stax
5-8: Vincent Pau – Esper Bomberman
5-8: Ryan Glackin – Workshop Affinity
5-8: Nick Detwiler – MUD
5-8: Nick Membrez – Merfolk

The Esper Control deck from this event is really interesting:

The deck is obviously very controlling but also has a diverse base of board-based threats that are capable of taking over the game. The primary path to victory with this deck appears to be Time Vault, but the deck also has Stoneforge Mystic, planeswalkers, and Thopter Foundry + Sword of the Meek to close out games.

The deck looks really well positioned in a metagame full of creature decks like RUG Delver and BUG Fish because it has so many threats that are really difficult to answer that simply outclass beatdown creatures.


If in early fall Vintage was trending toward being a format that favored control decks, then the Top 8 of the 150-player Ovinogeddon tournament in Milan certainly confirmed the trend. A stunning six of the Top 8 decklists were control decks, many of which were extremely different from the ones that Vintage players are used to seeing.

While there were some interesting control decks in the Top 8, the finals was a very familiar mirror match that anybody who knows the format will no doubt recognize: Grixis Control. Grixis Control ultimately won the Vintage Championship last year (piloted by Marc Lanigra) and is basically just an all-around solid Vintage mainstay deck.

Don’t ever count Grixis Control out.

The Ovinogeddon Top 8 is by far the most controlling Top 8 field that I saw from any event all year long! So Mana Drain fans prepare to be astounded . . .

Check out the full Top 8 decklists here.

1st: Daniel Scherer – Grixis Control
2nd: Isupov Alexey – Grixis Control
3rd: Bill Federico – Dredge
4th: Pezzo Fabio – Oath
5th: Carbonetto Kenny – Intuition Control
6th: Barbiero Davide – BUG Fish
7th: Sartini Roberto – Intuition Control
8th: Sdrubolini Samuele – Esper Control

Only a single Dredge and BUG Fish pilot were able to crack the control-heavy Top 8.

Also, what is Intuition Control?

Are there any Psychatog fans in the house today?

The 2002 Vintage mondo-combo of Intuition –> AK was back in force at Ovinogeddon, with two pilots utilizing the powerful card-drawing strategy to break into the Top 8.

Intuition also does double duty in a deck like this since it allows players to essentially Tutor up any silver-bullet card to the graveyard in order to be flashbacked with Snapcaster Mage.

All of the decks in this particular Top 8 seem really hateful toward creature decks, and given that the field was so big it is more than possible that these savvy pilots were simply beating up on Workshops and Fish decks all afternoon long!


November was another huge month for Vintage Magic because it had big tournaments and also exciting releases.

While Theros may have been an underwhelming set for Vintage playables, the 2013 Commander decks had two really standout printings.

Vintage playable? I should say so!

While it may have been slightly annoying to many players that Wizards released the Commander 2013 decks the same day as the Vintage and Legacy Championships (making the cards difficult to acquire at the tournament site), nobody denies that both cards are extremely powerful printings for Eternal formats.

The Vintage Championship was the largest sanctioned Vintage event in the history of the format and ended with a historic result. For the first time ever an aggro deck won the painting and the Championship. Joel Lim and his Mono-Blue Merfolk deck toppled a gigantic no-proxy field and won the event.

Check out all the decks from the Top 8 here.

1st: Joel Lim – Merfolk
2nd: AJ Grasso – RUG Delver
3rd: Greg Fenton – Oath
4th: Reid Duke – Storm
5th: Benjamin Marleau Donais – RUG Delver
6th: Kevin Cron – Four-Color Control
7th: Erik Pentycofe – Dredge
8th: Taylor Pratt – Blue Angels

Let’s take a look at Joel Lim’s Championship-winning Merfolk deck.

One day after becoming legal for tournament play True-Name Nemesis won its first Vintage Championship! Not bad for a Merfolk . . .

Lim’s Merfolk was able to take advantage of a field light on Workshop decks and heavy on various blue decks. The fact that once a Lord of Atlantis or Master of the Pearl Trident gets onto the battlefield every creature gains Islandwalk (and is thus unblockable) is a huge game in creature mirrors where blocking is important. Also, the plethora of lords grows a few creatures into a formidable army of gigantic monsters that can simply overwhelm opposing armies on the attack and block.

I hope you weren’t planning to block . . .

The year of the creature was capped off in the United States with the Null Rod pillar getting winning a Vintage Championship for the first time ever!

But the Vintage Championship was only the beginning in November.

Across the ocean there was yet another monstrous Bazaar of Moxen tournament in Paris, which was ultimately won by BUG Fish (the same as the last BoM!).

Check out all of the decklists from the BoM Top 8 here.

1st: Michael Bonde – BUG Fish
2nd: Marcel Gelissen – Forgemaster MUD
3rd: Pau Cantero – Gush
4th: Pierrick Mode – Forgemaster MUD
5th: Matthew Harper – Demon Oath
6th: Julien Drouard – Sneak and Show
7th: Henrick Sander – Doomsday
8th: Rasmus Fristed – Forgemaster MUD

Mishra’s Workshops made a pretty nice showing at the second Bazaar of Moxen tournament, but at the end of the day it was Michael Bonde and his BUG creature deck that stood victorious.

The deck is simply really good at doing everything reasonably well. It can attack opposing mana bases with Null Rod, Strip Mine, and Wasteland. It can deal with most permanents with Abrupt Decay. It can draw cards with Dark Confidant. On top of all that, it packs a lot of counterspells and has a fantastic crew of beatdown monsters.

It’s also interesting that the two big tournaments at the end of the year were both taken down by Null Rod based decks!

In my opinion, BUG is probably the deck to beat in Vintage at the end of 2013.

Wow, what a month for Vintage!!!


After the dust had settled from the biggest events of the year in November, Vintage fans were left to try and figure out where the metagame will go next. December had some sweet events as well. Check out the Top 8 from the Next Level Vintage: Mega Eternal Weekend:

1st: Time Hughes – Espresso MUD
2nd: James Dowling – U/R Gushtill
3rd: Graham King – Grixis Control
4th: Isaac Egan – Grixis Control
5th: Jeffery Chan – Oath
6th: Anrea Canessa – Aggro MUD
7th: Brett Hughes – Grixis Control
8th: Andy Horn – RUG Delver

One final event in December and 2013 came to an end for Vintage, and I am not at all surprised to see Mishra’s Workshop standing tall at year’s end.

Soot counters make their triumphant return to Vintage.

Back in the day when I used to play a ton of Vintage with my good friend and former Vintage Champion Mark Biller, we used to have two philosophies regarding general Mishra’s Workshop strategy.

Rule #1: When we were discussing deck construction and anyone asked "well, what do we do about or how do you beat card X?" the rule was to always respond by saying, "You put another counter on Smokestack."

Smokestack used to be (and still is) a fantastic catchall that Workshop decks could use to battle through almost anything.  The card is insanely powerful and plays to all of a MUD deck’s greatest strengths: board presence and mana advantage.

"Where’s Karn?"

Rule #2: "Where’s Karn?" Whenever somebody showed us a Workshop deck, we were always concerned about playing the maximum number of Karn, Silver Golem. I always believed that the card had a ton of synergy in a Workshop deck because it could play a bunch of different roles depending upon what the situation called for. It could blow up Moxen and go land destruction if you needed it to, it could provide important blocks when necessary, and it could also allow a player to out of nowhere alpha strike for lethal.

I am really happy to see an Espresso deck like this performing well because it confirms a lot of beliefs about Shop decks that I learned way back in the day. While the metagame might be bigger and different now than it was six or seven years ago, some things remain the true—or at least true some of the time!

2014 Hopes & Predictions

Make no mistake about it, 2013 was a terrific fan for Vintage. There were more and bigger tournaments for Vintage this past year than I can remember taking place in the last decade. The format also appears to be healthy and possess a great deal of diversity. On top of that, the metagame seems to be dynamic, changing, and evolving, which is really exciting for the players that attend the tournaments.

My hope for Vintage is that the format will be able to take the many positive trends that really got rolling in 2013 and translate them into even better things in 2014.

The release of Vintage Masters on Magic Online promises to create a lot of positive hype for the format that could easily translate into increased popularity for paper Vintage. It will be very interesting to watch how the online metagame changes or impacts the paper metagame worldwide.

After going over tons of tournament results and looking at tons of decklists while writing my 2013 Vintage Year In Review, here are a few predictions about Vintage for the next couple of months.

Fun Police

I think that Vintage will see a burst of Oath of Druids decks. With all of the creature decks and MUD decks performing so well, it seems that Oath is really well positioned. The biggest problem with Oath is that the mirror is awful and that just like everything else when it gets too popular it is very beatable via sideboard and maindeck hate.

The Oath equalizer?

Abrupt Decay gives BUG a really good shot of matching up decently against Oath of Druids despite being a creature deck. The fact that BUG has a card like Abrupt Decay that shores up its matchup against Oath of Druids leads me to believe that BUG will be a huge player in 2014.

BUG was debatably the best-performing deck in 2013, and I see that trend carrying into the new year. Mishra’s Workshop was not far behind BUG in terms of performing well and would be my pick for the second best deck in 2013, although I could also see a case for saying that Workshop was the best deck of the past year. I give the slight edge to BUG simply because it won more high-profile events, but there were a lot of Workshop decks in Top 8s all year long.

I predict that BUG and Workshop will continue to perform well in 2014, and if I were playing Vintage (which I am tomorrow!), my #1 priority with regard to deck choice and deck design would be getting edge against MUD and BUG.

My other big prediction is . . .

3CC Progenitus

That True-Name Nemesis will make its presence felt in the new year. The card is simply too powerful and too game breaking across a number of matchups to not make waves.

The Best Sweeper

I also think that Toxic Deluge is criminally underplayed in Vintage at the moment and will become a major player and that blue-based control will make a move at attacking the creature-heavy metagame.

Mana Drain will find a way. It always has and always will.

I hope you all enjoyed reliving 2013. It was certainly a fantastic year for Vintage, and I hope that 2014 is just as great.

Anybody else want to make some predictions for 2014?