Eternal On The Other Side Of The Ocean – MassMoxBase

Thursday, March 3 – Carsten Kotter was almost sleep when the idea hit him – a Vintage mana base with almost nothing but artifact mana accelerators – could this be the next big thing in Vintage?

Today’s article is going to be different from my usual fare. First, I get the rare opportunity to talk about Vintage, something I dearly miss ever
since I’ve moved to Berlin. Second, while there will be decklists below (quite a few, actually), these aren’t tuned, haven’t been tinkered with, and
haven’t been run through the gauntlet but are rather early drafts that might at some point develop into powerhouses. The grunt work of testing and
tuning is left to you, the reader. In exchange, I’m not going to steal any prizes away from you at tournaments, based on the simple fact that we don’t
have any such tournaments here (to my continued chagrin).

The reason I still get to treat myself to a little Vintage is that I think I’ve stumbled across something that should make an impact on the format, but
as I don’t have the opportunity to exploit it myself, I’m just handing it out to the community to do with as you wish. Make me proud and break it,
would you?

With that out of the way, those that remember Extended while Urza’s Saga was new(ish) probably realized that NBS (the High Tide deck I presented last time) is extremely
similar in the way it works and looks to the High Tide decks of that era. Accordingly, while testing the deck, I thought at some point, “Man, the
Extended decks back then really packed a punch! NBS is arguably weaker than the old Tide lists — no Frantic Search — and still blows
opponents out of the water a lot.”

Why do I share these random thoughts of mine? Well, that same day when I was drifting to sleep and thinking about my favorite format I never get to
play (Vintage), I suddenly thought of something that seems really obvious if stated simply: With Mox Opal around, we can now build a mana base made of
(nearly) nothing but artifact mana! To wit:

5 original Moxen (Emerald, Jet, Pearl, Ruby, Sapphire)

1 Mana Crypt

1 Sol Ring

5 Vault effects (1 Mana Vault, 4 Grim Monolith)

3 Lotus effects (Black Lotus, Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond)

4 Chrome Mox

4 Mox Opal

(You could run Mox Diamonds, but that doesn’t seem useful considering the amount of lands you’d need to support them. Maybe a few if the deck has
enough draw-sevens to make useful their ability to turn dead lands into more mana.)

Twenty-three accelerators, seventeen of which cost zero. That’s a hell of a lot of speed!

But what do you do with that kind of acceleration? If you force Dark Ritual in there, the deck is getting pretty mana-heavy, and you still need a few
lands to fix your colors if nothing else (outside of simply retooling Belcher, which I’ll talk about a little later). That’s where old Extended comes
in. You know what deck really would have liked to play a million Moxen? Academy — and conveniently, Crop Rotation isn’t on the restricted list
any more.

Sleep forgotten, I whipped up an utterly imperfect list on Apprentice to do a little goldfishing (I’ll save your eyes the displeasure of having to bear
this fruit of my sleep-addled mind. To give you an idea how random it was, I even forgot to put Black Lotus in!), and lo and behold, the deck won on
turn 1 a lot. It also mulliganed to oblivion way too much. Satisfied that the idea had some merit if my five-minute brew was able to do that
kind of crazy stuff, I went back to bed, happy to delay any further contemplation until I’d had a few hours of solid sleep.

Next morning, things looked a little more complicated. Now, to understand my situation, you have to know that there’s no way to play real Vintage
around here — that is to say, tournament Vintage against people playing actual Vintage decks and not their Standard Vampires deck with a Demonic
Tutor (which I’m not interested in, for some reason…). As such, I don’t really have a good grasp of the metagame and not much incentive to playtest
the format. All that is just a nice way to say that there will be decklists in this article, but they aren’t meant for you to take to the next
tournament. They’re merely the fruits of my imagination trying to come up with a way to milk the MassMoxBase for maximum profit (a lot of goldfishing
was admittedly involved). Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll have to take whichever of these unpolished gems you believe has the most merit and
polish it until it can outshine the competition in a real tournament. 

With that out of the way, let me explain what strategic choices the MassMoxBase forces on you. First and foremost, you’ll be in deep trouble if Stax
gets a turn against you. You’ll be running very few lands after all, meaning sphere effects and Chalice on zero (as well as Null Rod) really ruin your
day. This implies two things:

a) You’ll want to run Force of Will. If you lose the die roll, it’s the only way to stop the opponent from shutting down your Moxen.

b) You’ll want to be really good at winning on turn 1 to race hate cards as often as possible.

In the following, I’ll present you with ways I’ve come up with so far to incorporate the engine into existing decks and give you sample decklists and a
list of strengths and weaknesses for each approach. Afterwards, I’ll mention additional ideas that I think could become actual, new archetypes.

Pick whichever idea you like best and give it a run. You might be able to bring down the DCI’s ban hammer on something (trust me, it feels pretty sweet
to know you’re responsible for getting a card onto the list of most busted things ever).

Stuffing More Moxen Into Existing Decks


Out of decks that already see (some) play, the most obvious application for the MassMoxBase is Belcher. The deck always wants more starter sources, and
Mox Opal delivers, even adding additional color-fixing to the deck. Belcher doesn’t conform to the Force of Will requirement and still remains as dead
as ever to Workshop when it wins the roll and drops basically anything (not to mention the trouble caused by Force of Will), but the deck still is one
of the meanest turn 1 killing machines ever built. Note that the additional fixing/acceleration provided by Opals means the deck can now ignore the
crappy red rituals and go all-in on black with a minor blue splash (for the goodies Tinker, Timetwister, Windfall, and Ancestral), allowing it to go
for either Belcher or a storm kill in the form of Tendrils. No more fooling around with stupid Goblins and far better mulligan recovery (because on a
mull to five, Timetwister is just much better than Empty for eight Goblins). You’re also better prepared to survive hitting the land — more of
your mana sources are permanents, so it’s easier to reactivate Belcher next turn.

Ad Nauseam

Another deck that looks as if it would like the additional acceleration is ANT. The deck is basically geared to go turn 1 Duress, turn 2 kill you,
something that should be even easier to do with more Moxen. The biggest problem stems from the fact that the deck usually eschews running some number
of off-color Moxen already, meaning that getting the necessary artifact count might prove difficult. The list below tries to get around this by running
a number of artifact lands instead of basics or other Moxen, but I’m unsure how this additional vulnerability to Wasteland and Null Rod will impact
actual performance. In addition, Rituals might just be more suited to what ANT tries to do, and as a result, I’ve focused my thoughts elsewhere. As
such, the list is even less developed than the others in this article, so handle with care.

Two-Card Monte

StarCityGames.com own Matt Elias developed Two-Card Monte, another
deck that draws its strength from pure speed. It even runs a high number of cheap artifacts already, so Mox Opal seems like a natural fit. Even without
Grim Monolith, the presence of Painters and Grindstones naturally raises the deck’s artifact count, meaning you might be fine without it. Considering
his current list already runs three Opals and the deck was invented after I had to stop playing Vintage, I don’t feel confident suggesting a list here.
If you know the deck well, you may find a way to get the whole super-speed package in there and make the deck even faster. The potential definitely
seems to be there, in my opinion.

Steel City Vault

Closing out the section of existing decks, Steel City Vault might also profit from speed boost. The deck already is very dependent on its artifacts, so
the additional vulnerability against Null Rod shouldn’t hurt that much. If room can be made for Opals and some Grim Monoliths, it might bring new life
to this archetype that seems to have fallen out of favor, from what I can tell by looking at tournament results and TheManaDrain.com. Again, no list
because I haven’t played a single game with the deck, and I’d rather not just improvise one I know won’t really be up to snuff.

New Ideas for an Old World


The main thing I’ve been playing around with is actually Academy, a deck so old nobody has been playing it for years, especially after the storm
mechanic made its kill seem far too clunky to be worth the effort. In the context of the MassMoxBase, the deck has a few things going for it, though.
First, Tolarian Academy obviously profits a lot from having so many cheap artifacts around, and the fact that you aren’t reliant on necessarily winning
in a single turn makes it easier to play through Sphere effects that come down when you can’t win on turn 1. The insane amount of mana an Academy can
produce helps with that, too. Secondly, the deck can support Force of Will, which as mentioned above is something I value quite highly with the

This is the latest list I’ve been fooling around with:

The idea is pretty simple: make a bunch of mana turn 1, hope you can cast a draw-seven, which will in turn allow you to play even more artifacts, and,
at some point, get Tolarian Academy into play. Use that in conjunction with mass-draw effects and, in particular, Time Spiral to continue drawing cards
and playing artifacts until you can set up one of your wins: Key-Vault, Tinker into Blightsteel Colossus (hopefully followed by a Time Walk), or
Candelabra of Tawnos plus Voltaic Key(s) to untap Academy a few times to Stroke the opponent out. In addition, you have access to Burning Wish, which
will often find Time Spiral but also provides access to a Tendrils of Agony in the sideboard, especially useful for those draws when you have a Demonic
Tutor and a bunch of Lotus effects. The Wish is also your only way to find a solution to annoying board states, especially those involving a bunch of

The list above is very fast, goldfishing roughly on the level of old Long.dec (when it had four Lion’s Eye Diamonds and Burning Wishes), but also gets
to play Force of Will. It feels less consistent in its opening hands but is mulliganing more than I’d be ready to accept.

If I wanted additional defense against opposing countermagic, I’d likely turn to Defense Grid, which you should always be able to play on turn 1 while
also fueling Mox Opal and Academy.

Bounce My Moxen

Another approach would be to profit from having so many Moxen by turning Retract and Hurkyl’s Recall into quasi-Dark Rituals that also happen to
produce a lot of storm. I’m not sure if it would be more useful to concentrate on the storm-ramping aspect and include a bunch of maindeck Tendrils and
Empty the Warrens or go for a slightly more traditional shell with fewer storm spells and more combo-style business spells (draw-sevens, etc.) that are
fueled by lots of mana. The storm plan would be to play artifacts, tap them for mana, bounce them, and replay them to achieve lethal storm count,
followed by one of the win conditions.

Both approaches have their pros and cons; drawing Tendrils when you don’t have enough artifact mana in hand to win is pretty lackluster, compared to
something that would simply draw more cards. On the other hand, just concentrating on artifacts -> mana -> Retract -> storm would be a pretty
easy way to win the game and gives you quite a lot of consistency because you get to run up to eight win conditions that just combine with your bounce
effects to instantly win the game, similar to how Belcher operates. Just to illustrate these ideas:

Transmute Artifact

Instead of relying on full-on engines, there is another way mass Moxen could be abused: Use the oodles of available artifact mana to power out a
two-card combo early on with extreme consistency. The high number of on-color Moxen (Opal and Chrome) should make it easy to cast Transmute Artifact
for the missing combo piece as early as turn 1, especially if the targets you’re aiming for are cheap enough. Painter’s Servant/Grindstone and Time
Vault/Voltaic Key both fit the bill, though I’d instinctively focus on Time Vault because that combo isn’t stopped by stupid stuff like Emrakul in the
opponent’s [Oath] deck.

The advantage you get for having to run more random cards that don’t do much on their own?* Sphere effects suddenly are far less of a problem. Once you
have the first mana to start dropping Moxen, you don’t need to cast more than one spell a turn. Playing one piece on turn 1 and another on turn 2 is
perfectly serviceable for giving you the win. Ironically, the smaller engine also leaves a little more room for disruption in addition to the
obligatory Forces.

*Note that by using Vault/Key, you actually have very few pure combo pieces in the deck. Key regularly proves useful for either fixing mana or
accelerating once a Monolith/Mana Vault is in play.

This also has been extremely good at going infinite by turn 2 against the goldfish, though it still suffers from some draws that simply don’t have
enough business, leading to mulligans into oblivion. To my mind, a deck like this actually has the most untapped potential among the decks shown so far
because it’s pretty much nothing but acceleration, tutors, and card drawing. If you’re picky, it could be considered a variant of Steel City Vault, I

A Totally Different Approach

Finally, there’s the option to build something less focused on total aggression around the mana engine that is the MassMoxBase. Vintage combo-control
decks would be all too happy to consistently present Mana Drain mana on turn 1, and if the card disadvantage of Chrome Mox can be worked around,
presenting the opponent with a Tezzeret on turn 2 while having Drain at the ready from the word ‘go’ should be comparatively easy with the abundant

Having all these Moxen might also allow you to run a powerful, cheap draw engine in the form of Thoughtcast. Drawing two for U isn’t Ancestral Recall;
it’s still more than broken enough to seem like a good idea. I know I’d be excited to run a blue Night’s Whisper in my control decks already; having
the ability to always play Thoughtcast for its bargain price seems like it should be good. Just having more four-casting-cost bombs (aka Jace) could
also be the correct approach, though. If you regularly have four mana on turn 2, you’ll want to be able to do something exciting with it, after all.

By being slower, this kind of deck obviously becomes more vulnerable to Null Rod and other opposing disruption but gains the ability to play a longer
game successfully and meaningfully interact with what the opponent does while still presenting a fast clock.

I don’t think you’d want the full sets of Chrome Moxen and Grim Monoliths this time, considering the fact that you’ll a) want a few more lands than
true combo and b) the card disadvantage of the Moxen is more likely to bite you without all those draw-sevens. Luckily, Seat of the Synod seems like a
perfectly reasonable card to play exactly because you want more lands. Maybe something like this:

That Was Fast

Well, there you have it: half a dozen shells and a few more ideas to try out the most degenerate fast-mana engine since LED was unrestricted. It’s now
your mission, should you choose to accept it, to find out which of these is sufficiently bonkers to be dominant or to find a deck that I haven’t
thought of yet that is. Having access to such a massive amount of acceleration just has to be breakable, so go out, and show Wizards that printing more
Moxen definitely wasn’t the brightest of ideas.

I hope you enjoyed today’s different approach; if so, let me know in the forums. There definitely are a huge number of stray ideas for new decks
floating around in my head, and if that’s something you want to read about, I’d only be too happy to let you all share in the ramblings of my deranged
mind. If you hated it, let me know that, too, otherwise you’ll have to suffer through something similar again at some point! See you next time; until
then, don’t forget to pile-shuffle after every game.

Still here? Get brewing already!

Carsten Kötter


Bonus Content: MassMoxBase in Legacy

Missing your Legacy fix? I obviously couldn’t think about all of the above without at least realizing that Legacy has its own set of zero-cost
accelerators suited to enable Mox Opal. Here are two ideas I’ve come up with (obviously untested), but the accelerators in Legacy have far more
annoying disadvantages than their Vintage cousins, meaning I don’t really think these will be up to snuff. Want to prove me wrong? Go ahead. I’d enjoy
it. Nothing like a good combo winter to clean the chaff out of a format!

I’m sure there are more things to try out; I just haven’t gotten around to thinking about them. Have fun goldfishing!