Blog Fanatic: Champions of Kamigawa Set Review: Mr. Bleiweiss vs. Vintage

What’s more awesome than awesome sauce? It’s Ben’s look at Champions of Kamigawa in Vintage! Last time around, Ben invoked the ire of the entire Vintage community with his less-than-respectful look at the Type 1 community and Fifth Dawn. Will this be another flamefest, or will the Vintage community heed Ben’s words and rally around his Vintage metagame instincts? Look inside, then post your thoughts in the forums!

“I hold in my hand the names of 14 Vintage-playable Kamigawas”

Senator Joe McCarthy, 1952

What’s up everyone? I am here to deliver the”awesome sauce” to all you players of Vintage, or those who are curious about which”awesome sauce” Champions of Kamigawa cards will see be”awesome sauce” in Vintage. For those who are worried about the lack of stories over the past couple of weeks – I’ll be getting back to those next week! However, this week is Champions of Kamigawa in review. Today’s column will deal in Vintage, Wednesday’s in Extended, and Friday’s in Standard. It will be”awesome sauce” indeed!

It seems to me that all the Vintage players now regard me as”awesome sauce”. In fact, several members of The Mana Drain were overheard calling me”Awesome Sauce” Bleiweiss on their forums. Since I am the hippest dude in the land, I will appropriate”awesome sauce” for the mainstream, thereby killing this expression completely and utterly dead. Do you not love me already for this, Carl Winter? Don’t worry, we can both be”awesome sauce” together.”Awesome sauce” is not a mutually exclusive club.

In my last set review, I lambasted into the Vintage community for lack of foresight and innovation in their deck design. This was in an attempt to motivate said Vintage players. This was a success – the entire Vintage community was motivated to start”hate the Bleiweiss” fan clubs, proclaiming me the second most hated figure in the Vintage community. Success! While these people were rallying against me, they failed to notice that I wasn’t too horribly far off on my Type 1 predictions in Fifth Dawn. I do yield on All Suns’ Dawn however – it’s no good. If you go back and read between the antagonism, you’ll find a little bit of truthery.

Champions of Kamigawa is here, and it will be legal in time for the second StarCityGames.com Power Nine Vintage Tournament. What’s this mean for you, the Vintage player of impeccable taste and dress? Did Champions of Kamigawa bring massive, environment shaping upheaval? Will all the old decks me dead and will all the new decks reign supreme? Only one way to find out – with the fourteen Champions cards that have the Bleiweiss stamp of approval for Vintage play!

Last time we broke this down by color. This time, we’ll break it down by deck type. Hurray for variety! It is truly the spice of life. And he who controls the spice controls StarCityGames.com supply of”awesome sauce.”

Oath of Druids

Oath of Druids? Am I smoking crack? No! The biggest stepping stone for the Vintage Oath of Druids deck has been an opponent’s lack of creatures. Some decks simply don’t need to play a creature to kill you (Draw Seven, Long Death). Others can hold their kill condition until needed (various Psychatog decks). Now there’s an easy and convenient way to force your opponent to play with creatures, without impacting deck design space in the least!

Forbidden Orchard (Rare)


Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Whenever you tap Forbidden Orchard for mana, put a 1/1 colorless Spirit token creature into play under target opponent’s control.

This City of Brass variant forces your opponent to have a creature – combined with a Mox of any sort, it’s a turn one Oath of Druids with a near-certain turn two activation. This might be enough to push Oath of Druids into playability in the format.


What is this, Extended day? When Exploration just isn’t enough for your land-dropping needs, along comes Exploration on crack. She might cost a little more, but she has other unintended consequences for the deck.

Azusa, Lost but Seeking (Rare)

G2, 1/2. Legendary Creature – Human Monk

You may play two additional lands on each of your turns.

In addition to Turboland possibilities, Azusa combos well with Crucible of Worlds and any land that you can send to the graveyard. Granted, Azusa isn’t the most exciting Vintage card in the world, but I wouldn’t call her completely unplayable, should someone build a viable Turboland.

Food Chain Goblins

Now we’re getting into excitementland! Food Chain Goblins has become one of the more popular budget decks in Vintage, and there are two cards which significantly boost the power level of this deck.

Glimpse of Nature (Rare)

G, Sorcery

Whenever you play a creature spell this turn, draw a card.

Akki Rockspeaker (Common)

R1, 1/1. Creature – Goblin Shaman

When Akki Rockspeaker comes into play, add R to your mana pool.

Glimpse of Nature gives the deck an alternate way to go off, sans Goblin Ringleader. You need four mana to cast your first Ringleader off of Goblin Recruiter in the current deck version – with Glimpse of Nature, you only need one mana. Granted, the Recruiter can fetch the Ringleader, but the Glimpse gives the deck extra drawing power in games where the Recruiter has yet to be found. Akki Rockspeaker gives the deck extra mana to work with mid-combo, much in the same way as Skirk Prospector can allow your other goblins to sacrifice for extra mana and Goblin Warchief will reduce the cost of your goblins, giving you extra Food Chain mana to float around. Both of these cards are viable adds to current Food Chain builds, and Glimpse of Nature seems to be equally interesting in the Skullclamp/Kobold deck that currently resides somewhere around tier three in Vintage.

Suicide Black

Duress is one of the key cards that keeps Suicide Black from falling completely off the map in Vintage. I once called Blackmail Duress numbers 5-8 for Suicide. Obviously I had been smoking crack that day. This is Duress numbers 5-8 for Suicide.

Distress (Common)

BB, Sorcery

Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card.

Not much to say about Distress other than it is relatively solid – though it will compete against (or with?) Hymn to Tourach for space in Suicide, and Distress is also Misdirectable. Correspondingly, there’s another Black”discard” spell that deserves at least a little look.

Cranial Extraction (Rare)

B3, Sorcery – Arcane

Name a nonland card. Search target player’s graveyard, hand, and library for all cards with that name and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.

I’ve often wondered why Jester’s Cap doesn’t see play in Workshop-based decks in Vintage. It’s entirely possible to drop a first turn Cap, allowing the Mishra’s Workshop player to cripple any sort of one-win condition based deck such as Dragon, some Tog variants, and the such. One strike again Jester’s Cap is that it takes six mana to use in one turn. Another is that it leaves one copy of a four-of in a person’s deck. Also, Mindslaver does a great job of recurring with Welder to control every turn in the opponent’s game – who cares if they draw their win condition if you’re the one deciding how they play it? Cranial Extraction, backed by a Dark Ritual, seems like it can end the game against some decks in Vintage right now. It solves the”leaving one copy in their deck” problem, and combos well with the aforementioned acceleration spell.

Note: I’m not saying Cranial Extraction is a must-play in Vintage. I am saying that it deserves at least a small peek.

Blue-Based Decks such as 4-Color Control and Psychatog

There’s been a lot of speculation about Gifts Ungiven, one of the early preview cards on Magicthegathering.com. I believe it is more playable in Vintage than any other format, as it will always net you two restricted cards, if you so wish.

Gifts Ungiven (Rare)

U3, Instant

Search your library for four cards with different names and reveal them. Target opponent chooses two of those cards. Put the chosen cards into your graveyard and the rest into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

It’s close to Intuition in flavor. Three strikes against it – it costs one more than Intuition, it can’t get multiple copies of the same card (such as Accumulated Knowledge or a win condition), and you lose the two cards you most want to get. With that said, there’s something naughty about grabbing Yawgmoth’s Will, Ancestral Recall, Regrowth and some other bit of ridiculousness all at the same time. You can set this up to your advantage in many instances.

Squelch (Uncommon)

U1, Instant

Counter target activated ability. Draw a card.

Squelch is Bind/Interdict for a new generation. I include it here because it is functionally identical to Interdict, but has a nifty foil version that you can play. There’s, to date, no foil Interdict.

Peer Through Depths (Common)

U1, Instant – Arcane

Look at the top five cards of your library. You may reveal an instant or sorcery card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

Impulse isn’t seeing a ton of play these days, but is Impulse better when you sacrifice the ability to get lands, enchantments and creatures in exchange for a look at one additional card? In Vintage, that one extra card means a lot. Peer Through Depths seems to be a solid Impulse replacement for some blue decks, quite possibly including Smmenen Blue.

Sensei’s Divining Top (Uncommon)

1, Artifact

1: Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order.

Tap: Draw a card, then put Sensei’s Divining Top on top of its owner’s library.

The Top is an interesting hybrid of Brainstorm, Sylvan Library and Mirri’s Guile. It seems to be very good in combination with Fetchlands, and can get you to the card you need”right now” for only a one mana investment. Another solid support card for Vintage.


Sligh doesn’t exist anymore, but if it did, it would surely like Akki Avalanchers, a 3/1 goblin for only one mana.

Akki Avalanchers (Common)

R, 1/1., Creature – Goblin Warrior

Sacrifice a land: Akki Avalanchers gets +2/+0 until end of turn. Play this ability only once each turn.

Unfortunately, Sligh doesn’t exist in the Vintage metagame right now. If it does make a comeback, this guy is solid for the deck.

White Weenie

If Sligh is dead, White Weenie is even deader. White did get two solid creatures in this set for Vintage play. The first is the improved(?) yet Legendary Savannah Lion.

Isamaru, Hound of Konda (Rare)

W, 2/2. Legendary Creature – Hound

The second is more relevant, but does not really have a deck to its name right now – the efficient, Dragon hosing Samurai of the Pale Curtain.

Samurai of the Pale Curtain (Uncommon)

WW, 2/2. Creature – Fox Samurai

Bushido 1. If a permanent would be put into a graveyard, remove it from the game instead.

White gets a watered down version of Planar Void (it doesn’t remove cards that go to the graveyard from hand), yet one that can attack with impunity in many cases. Thanks to bushido, it can also do battle with Juggernaut and other three toughness dudes.

Who knows, but it looks like it has potential in an environment full of Force of Will

Lastly, the most worthwhile land in the set.

Boseiju, Who Shelters All (Rare)

Legendary Land

Boseiju, Who Shelters All comes into play tapped.

Tap, Pay 2 life: Add 1 to your mana pool. If that mana is spent on an instant or sorcery spell, that spell can’t be countered by spells or abilities.

Boseiju might not be able to force through Ancestral Recall, but it can punch Yawgmoth’s Will through a barrier of countermagic. It can allow you to resolve any number of nasty sorceries and instants against any sort of control deck, though coming into play tapped is a very heavy detriment to this card – much more so than the payment of two life. Still, Boseiju very well can spell the difference in control mirror matches, where it neuters Force of Will, Mana Drain, and other forms of permission prevalent in many Vintage decks.

Join me again on Wednesday for more”awesome sauce” and a preview of Champions of Kamigawa at Pro Tour Columbus.

Ben can be reached at [email protected].