Jump Starting Vintage

Ari Lax has used Vintage Masters as a launch pad for a full-on Vintage obsession! Read his astoundingly detailed test results and why he is convinced that Vintage is Magic’s greatest constructed format!

This last weekend marked the first reprinting of Black Lotus in over twenty years. With the release of Vintage Masters on Magic Online, the format has been
brought to the (digital) masses.

And what a format it is.

Last year, I spent the Sunday of Vintage Champs playing in a PTQ because I decided finding Power would be too hard.

That was a giant spew. I could have had a giant Ancestral Recall to go with the giant Wasteland.

This year, I’ve already started prepping for the event. Part of that is this:

The other part is finding out there are actually local unlimited proxy Vintage events that fire weekly three blocks away from my house.

I’ve been playing these events over the past couple months as Pro Tour testing permits with a wide spread of the format. I’ve covered most of what I would
count as the top tier of the format, and these are my results.

Note: These events can be a little light on Dredge and Stax from time to time. If you follow my suggestions, be sure to pay extra attention to those
matchups. Dredge in particular is a big one as its presence is slightly bolstered at no-proxy events as four Bazaar of Baghdads cost less than one Black

Week One: BUG “Fish”

I showed up on a whim this week to see if I could mise an extra deck. I was expecting Dredge, but fortunately a player who knew he couldn’t make it had
left his proxied BUG deck for whoever might show up.

Overview: BUG Fish is the latest contender in a long line of Vintage decks aiming to force interaction and win because some of their interactive pieces
have power and toughness. Abrupt Decay was the big addition that pushed the deck towards this color combination, giving you a good answer to the Time Vault
Voltaic Key combo that also fights well in creature matchups.

An approximate list:

Record: 4-0, defeating U/R Delver, Junk “Fish”, Grixis Planeswalker Control, and Griselbrand Oath


The fundamental premise of the BUG deck is really sound in the Vintage metagame right now. While your threats aren’t quite as powerful as Tinker +
Blightsteel Colossus or Voltaic Key + Time Vault, they are all immediate ways to generate advantage. If they answer your Dark Confidant, you haven’t sunk
many resources into it. Just two mana and a card. If they don’t answer it, you go up cards in a deck that forces the attrition game.

Snapcaster Mage is also beyond insane. I would like to start by reminding everyone that Regrowth was restricted for a very long time, and Snapcaster Mage
is Regrowth that trades the ability to hit Black Lotus for being a 2/1 and pitchable to Force of Will. Just like the card does in Modern and Legacy,
Snapcaster Mage lets you play as if your deck is saturated with counter magic or removal without having to play too many dead cards when you don’t want one
of those categories. The Vintage specific bonus is that Snapcaster Mage lets you go broken. I had the pleasure of chaining Ancestral Recall into Snapcaster
Mage into Time Walk into Snapcaster Mage, which turned a board state where I was down three cards and an onboard Jace into one where I basically had no way
to lose.

That said, I felt I wanted a higher impact threat to tutor for in a few scenarios. None of the cards I had could create an incremental advantage. The list
I played didn’t have Edric, Spymaster of Trest, which might fill this role, but I also wanted to look at playing a single Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Jace can
immediately provide an advantage or take over a board without support, while Edric just plays very well from ahead.

I also hated Flusterstorm. The card obviously plays a role in specific scenarios in the fight over Ancestral Recalls (can’t be Mental Misstepped) or
against Storm combo, but too often I found myself looking at my Flusterstorm and their Jace or Oath of Druids. If the blue spell count still works out for
Force of Will, I wouldn’t mind an upgrade from this to Thoughtseize, which can also help guide some of your other decisions. The big one for me would be
knowing when I want to move in on the Abrupt Decay their Mox mana denial plan. There’s a decent amount of approximation you can do just by figuring out how
far they are from Jace or Tezzeret the Seeker, but that only goes so far when they could be slow rolling another Mox.

Don’t ask about the zero copies Brainstorm. Not my list, not my decision. There may be a Merchant Scroll I am forgetting about, but there sure wasn’t a
Brainstorm. For the record, in case it wasn’t clear, I would play Brainstorm in every deck that plays blue mana and fetch lands.

I also didn’t really get to exercise my sideboard this week, so I have no idea if this deck is properly tuned to handle Dredge or Stax. Deathrite Shaman is
certainly a plus in both matchups, so it’s possible it needs a little less disruption than most blue decks, but that isn’t a guarantee.

Opponent’s Decks:

The Delver and Junk decks felt very analogous to Legacy. The Abrupt Decay deck was favored in the Tempo/Fish mirror as it had the best answer, while the
blue deck was favored in the BUG versus Junk matchup because True-Name Nemesis is really dumb.

Griselbrand Oath on the surface is analogous to the Modern Goryo’s Vengeance deck or Tin Fins in Legacy. It’s a Storm deck that has decided the best way to
get a Necropotence into play is Oath of Druids plus Forbidden Orchard putting Griselbrand into play. If your opponents play creatures you get the bonus of
not even needing the Orchard, but the problem I had was that the creature deck I was playing had Abrupt Decay. Not only was the Oath plan unreliable
against my creature deck, but if he was just regular Storm he would have had very few reasonable targets for Abrupt Decay. Instead of leaving me with four
poor cards, the Oath of Druids plan turned them into some of my better ones.

Week Two: Espresso Stax

This week I showed up with the express intent of being the bad guy. No one in the room had played Mishra’s Workshop the first week I was there, so I took
it upon myself to be the jerk who did that. I took list Brian Demars posted earlier this year and aimed to prevent my opponents from casting spells.

Overview: There are a few different Stax variants in Vintage. They all play the same disruptive core of Mishra’s Workshop with disruptive artifacts like
Lodestone Golem, Sphere of Resistance, and Chalice of the Void. Espresso Stax is the build featuring Smokestack and is all-in on the resource denial plan.
Your non-Lodestone Golem threats are Karn, Silver Golem and Steel Hellkite, which kill Moxes, and you have Rishadan Ports to supplement Wastelands and
Strip Mine as mana denial.

Record: 3-0, defeating RUG Survival of the Fittest, Grixis Planeswalkers, and Genesis ChamberSkullclamp Affinity.


Steel Hellkite overperformed. If there was a card that could bail you out of a lot of unwinnable board states, that was it.

This was definitely a die roll deck. On the play I felt untouchable. My opponents were lucky to resolve a spell if I got to play the first one. On the
draw, the opposite was true. They would be up a mana, and all my Spheres would be struggling to catch up unless they missed a tick. The big one was Chalice
of the Void, which went from game ending on the play to often near blank on the draw.

Opposing Decks:

The RUG Survival (or, to use Eternal format deck names, Applejacks) deck sounds like a joke on paper, but it seems pretty good on a fundamental level. It’s
a Null Rod deck, but it has a bigger game plan than the other creature decks in the format. I don’t know if the threat suite is one hundred percent
correct, but a good amount of it is. Stormbreath Dragon is shockingly awesome when you realize it dodges all the removal except Dismember.

The list from top 8 of the latest larger Vintage event here:

I have no idea how I beat Affinity with Stax. Well, I actually do, but it involved turn 1 Trinisphere and mulligans. That deck is broken in a very unique
way for the format, and it feels similarly positioned to something like Lands or Twelve Post in Legacy. You aren’t broken on the level of the most broken
decks, but you are broken in a different way than most of them.

Of course, you have hate overlap with Stax, which is a bit of an issue, but you are definitely less centralized on a given artifact so a single Ingot
Chewer doesn’t crumble the castle nearly as much.

A sample list of this general archetype (that was incidentally piloted by the Survival player already mentioned above):

Week Three: BUG Control

If I show up with one list from a Brian Demars article, I have to try the next one too right?

Overview: This is your 100% stereotypical Vintage deck. Blue cards, Yawgmoth’s Will, Tinker, Time Vault, Jace, the Mind Sculptor. You happen to be green as
Nature’s Claim is the versatile interactive card to beat Shops.

Record: 1-2, Defeating Two Card Monte, losing to U/W Stoneblade and Grixis Planeswalkers.


This deck felt terrible to me.

You are on the same level of broken as every other deck in the format. You aren’t really going over the top of anyone. All of your opponents can play the
same Moxes and Jaces that you have. The assumption has to be that your disruption is better than everyone else’s.

But it’s not.

Flusterstorm doesn’t handle the majority of cards it seems like you care about. To name a few: Dark Confidant, Time Vault, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, most
things past turn 5. Mana Drain is almost impossible to cast alongside one of your planeswalker threats, putting you into the position of having to pass and
sit on Drain hoping they just run into it. Then if they don’t, or if you lose the counter fight because your spell costs UU and often cuts you off of
Flusterstorm, you did nothing with that turn. There also aren’t a ton of good things to sink Drain mana into. Jace and Tezzeret still cost UU to play with
all your colorless, and that also steps on the toes of you using your off color Moxen effectively.

The card that did impress me was Thoughtseize. Vintage is a lot about doing what your specific mix of singletons scripts for you, and with Thoughtseize you
get to A) know what they are up to and B) stop it. It also handles Abrupt Decay when you are looking to protect Voltaic KeyTime Vault. If I ran the deck

Opposing Decks:

Two Card Monte is a bit of an old one
from Matt Elias. The list is obviously different, but here is the original list from 2010 as an approximation.

Not sure what I think about the deck now, but the fact it exists is worth noting.

The U/W Stoneblade deck is a derivative of the U/W Angels decks that floated around Vintage the last year or two. It’s the same creature-based U/W deck
with any of the true broken things (Yawgmoth’s Will or other Black spells, Time Vault). This specific list featured Stoneforge Mystic over the namesake
Restoration Angel, which is presumably an edge against non-Abrupt Decay creature decks like Merfolk. It’s probably also significantly better against Stax
as it’s a legitimate two drop threat you can easily land on the play.

The Grixis Planeswalkers deck is the actually interesting deck here. This week, he actually got to play spells! I easily lost!

Tezzeret was quite impressive out of my opponent’s deck, and I don’t mean the expected one (Tezzeret the Seeker). Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas was phenomenal
for all the reasons it is good in Legacy. It’s a planeswalker that starts at four counters and kills Jace, the Mind Sculptor. It pitches to Force of Will.
It kills them quickly or provides card advantage. The difference between Legacy and Vintage is that you don’t have to play some crazy niche deck like
Tezzerator to play a reasonable number of artifacts.

The other card that was massively impressive to me was Trinket Mage. Having a creature to force their hand on a Jace activation away from a Brainstorm is a
big deal. Having that creature be a Trinket Mage they can’t reasonably -1 bounce is also a big deal. The trigger on Trinket Mage is extremely versatile,
with Pithing Needle and Sensei’s Divining Top being the two big finds. Needle is especially notable as it lets Trinket Mage do a good Acidic Slime
impersonation. Even if you have the card you name in your deck, it’s Vintage. Odds are you had exactly one of them and your opponent was the one with it in

Ancient Tomb is another nice one. Two colorless mana is what most of your planeswalkers cost, and it lets you get ahead of a string of Sphere effects from

Pretty sure Baleful Strix is terrible though. I really don’t see the appeal of most creatures that don’t have a value trigger or Protection from a Player
because of how good Abrupt Decay is, so I don’t get why you would play a card that is good against those decks and only those decks. You might think Strix
is the former, but two mana for a 1/1 (not a real attacker) that just replaces itself is not enough value. The best reason I had for the card was to make a
5/5 Flying with Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas.

The list is from the same event as the previous Survival deck.

Week Four: Martello Shops

I liked my opponents not being able to cast spells, so I tried it on again for size. This time, I went for a list that could play a non-lock game on the

I make no promises the below list is the exact one I played. I might be too embarrassed to share the exact sideboard full of random one-of monsters I

Overview: This deck still has most of the traditional Stax elements (Mishra’s Workshop, Chalice of the Void, Lodestone Golem and other Sphere of Resistance
effects), but trades a reliable ability to incrementally lock your opponent out for the Kuldotha Forgemaster + Metalworker package in an attempt to do
something broken in case your opponent gets out from under the lock or simply starts ahead of it.

Record: 2-1, defeating Grixis Control (see my last week’s deck, minus Nature’s Claim, plus Lightning Bolt) and a Stax mirror while losing to U/W


For some reason most of the Forgemaster Stax lists I found online didn’t play Tangle Wires and instead played Crucible of Worlds. I fixed that. One of
these cards is a conditional and slow lock. The other one is three mana double Time Walk. It isn’t too difficult to figure out, even if Tangle Wire does
occasionally stunt an early Forgemaster. I might want a Crucible or two for the Stax mirror, but outside of the seven Strip Mine mirror match it seems

This deck felt way better than the previous list. I was actually in games if they had multiple Moxes on the play as opposed to just being dead. I wasn’t in
games where they had multiple Moxes plus an Ancestral Recall and a Time Walk or multiple Moxes plus a Force of Will, Vendilion Clique, and Jace, but that
only happens 1/3 matches based on this sample size, right?

Lightning Greaves really overperformed. It lands at a convenient curve spot (read: castable off a single land) and accelerating your Forgemaster action is
a huge deal when racing blue decks from the draw.

Overall, I was really happy with this list. If was going to Stax people, this would easily be my front runner list.

Opposing Decks:

Nothing really new and spicy to discuss here. Here’s the Stoneblade list as I failed to include it in the previous event’s discussion.

Week Five: Storm

You all knew this was coming, right? List courtesy of Rich Shay, who lost in the finals of the Columbus Legacy Open on Sunday and won a Pittsburgh area
event with the following list:

Overview: Play some restricted spell. Draw some number of cards between seven and all of them. Cast Tendrils of Agony. Pat yourself on the back for still
being able to count to ten.

Results: 3-0, defeating Dredge, U/W Stoneblade, and Stax


I was originally very cold on the concept of playing Storm or another combo deck in this format. What good is Dark Ritual when everyone can just play Moxes
and Mana Vault?

It turns out the answer isn’t in Dark Ritual, but instead in the fact that you just play more Restricted cards per game than anyone else. What other deck
gets to play Necropotence, Yawgmoth’s Bargain, or Mind’s Desire? All of those cards are instant wins when they resolve, or in the case of Mind’s Desire,
are cast. It’s actually shockingly difficult for the blue decks to beat your threat density. Most games they need three or more counterspells in a very
short time frame to beat you, and unlike Storm in other formats is you are stopped one turn most of your mana remains in play.

Your Yawgmoth’s Wills are also on another level compared to the typical blue decks. They have to set up long games or draw a Black Lotus to have a good
Yawgmoth’s Will. You have two Black Lotuses (Lion’s Eye Diamond), Dark Rituals, and Gitaxian Probes to take advantage of less stocked Wills, and as a
result the card is almost always lethal on almost any turn.

The other big draw is that you are one of the few decks with an actually good game 1 against Dredge. Cabal Therapy? Sure, good luck guessing what card you
have to name. You can easily kill them fast enough to race most hands.

There are tradeoffs of course.

I beat Stax, but it’s definitely rough. I won the die roll, drew a bunch of lands, and had my Hurkyl’s Recall game 1. Most of your powerful spells aren’t
very good in the face of any Sphere effect, and counting to ten is even harder when it costs ten additional mana. Compare this to a normal blue deck, which
can easily land Key + Vault through a Chalice on zero or a Sphere effect. The sideboard here is really good at fixing that, giving you access to more
lands, more sweepers, and Empty the Warrens as a more reliable turn 1 option that is also marginally castable through Sphere.

One of the cards I didn’t like was Blightsteel Colossus. It was continually dead in my hand, and Memory Jar was usually just a better Tinker target.
Blightteel + Time Walk is a thing, but for that you basically have to have the Time Walk in hand and the ability to find a Tinker as Tinker plus
Tutor is also just a lethal pairing through a number of different ways. I definitely want a copy in my board to add more non-Storm win conditions against
Stax, but the main deck slot is not necessary. In the off chance that you draw the Memory Jar, Tinker becomes a worse card, but Tinker for Black Lotus sets
up a lot of lines with Yawgmoth’s Will so the card still has uses.

Later on at Grand Prix Atlanta, I battled some lovely interactive Storm mirrors against Jarvis Yu, and his list featured Mox Opal and Imperial Seal. Moving
forward, I would likely have both of those in my deck. Seal finding anything is a big deal as it’s a Lotus or a Mind’s Desire or a Recall or a Duress or
a… you get the picture. I’m really not sure why it isn’t in this list, though Rich Shay felt it necessary to point it out by sending the list to me with
a line stating zero Imperial Seal. As for Mox Opal, it’s just a Mox. It doesn’t cost you an extra card like Chrome Mox. It just makes mana. Draw more than
one? It also makes mana. Importantly, it makes blue mana. Twelve artifacts might seem low, but with all of the draw sevens you will find at least three. If
necessary, you can even jam a Sensei’s Divining top over one of the Preordains to boost the numbers.

The cards I would look at cutting for the two I mentioned (or maybe even three if I played a second Opal) are the Simian Spirit Guide, the Mental Misstep,
and Preordains. Preordain is just the next best draw fixer, and if you play a Seal that does the same job. Simian Spirit Guide is better than an Opal
against Shops as it isn’t covered by Chalice of the Void or Sphere of Resistance, but against the rest of the format making a Storm count, blue mana, and
more lines where you Hurkyl’s Recall yourself is definitely an edge to Mox Opal. As for Mental Misstep, the card was fine but the fifth disruption might be
excessive given how often your answer to Force of Will can just be “play another thing they have to Force”. Misstep also might be the wrong option in that
slot given how awesome Pyroblast was out of the sideboard.

Opposing Decks:

Nothing to really see here, moving along.

Ok, I guess I haven’t discussed Dredge. My general opinion of this deck started quite low, but the more I play against it the more room I see it has for
interactive cards and the better I think it is. I don’t know if I’ve reached the point where I would consider playing it, but the fact that it has the
inherent game one edge against Shops is a big deal.

Week Six: U/W Angels

In discussing Storm with Rich Shay after the last event, I discovered he had another list that he was brewing up. It ended up putting all the people who
played at his larger event into the elimination rounds, so I gave it a spin.

Overview: U/W Angels is a deck mostly based around how well Restoration Angel matches up against current Vintage. The four toughness dodges Lightning Bolt,
the four cost dodges Abrupt Decay, the three power kills a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, the excessive colorless mana cost lines up with off color Moxen, and
3/4 fights basically everything that costs less than a Tinker worth of mana to play.

The list I played:

This specific list, entitled Dance Magic. Dance in true Eternal format fashion, is heavily based on an observation from Rich Shay that he didn’t like Jace,
the Mind Sculptor anymore. The format was becoming too creature-based for the Planeswalker to reliably survive, and as such he went for a different draw
engine. Fact or Fiction is shockingly powerful, and there’s good reason the card was at one point restricted. It also opens up a number of synergies that
don’t apply to Jace.

First of all, the card is awesome with Mana Drain. Not only is it an instant to cast when they don’t play something relevant into your Drain, but the
difference between two and one blue to cast your threat is a huge difference in then having Drain up to protect it. And again with the timing, an end of
turn Mana Drain on a counter targeting your Fact or Fiction is immediately backbreaking as opposed to your opponent having a turn with your mana tied up
against Drain plus Jace.

Fact or Fiction also plays well with Snapcaster Mage. Again, our spells have Flash, so we can pick and choose our spots after they have to decide what
sorcery speed actions to perform. Snapcaster also rebuys Fact or Fiction, but almost as importantly creates some miserable situations with splits. If
there’s a Snapcaster in the flip things get bad fast. Your opponent can’t short stack a pile with a relevant Snapcaster target, and if the card is that
good (Ancestral Recall, Time Walk) they really can’t give you both together. The “stock” list of the Angels deck plays Trinket Mages with Grafdigger’s Cage
and as such tends to not play Tiago Chans, but I think that this list gets to play one of the best unrestricted cards in the format as a result of the
slight shift.

Then, we have Restoration Angel. Restoration Angel and Fact or Fiction gives you a nice guessing game. Don’t attack? I draw a bunch of action. Attack or
play a Jace? Down a card to a 3/4 flash flying. Restoration Angel also plays well with the Snapcaster Mages that Fact or Fiction wants you to play.

Spirit of the Labyrinth is the final piece here. Fact or Fiction never actually tells you to draw a card. Symmetry broken. They have Jaces that can’t do
anything and you have absurd Fact or Fictions. The 3/1 body does good work against Lodestone Golem, and the combination of Spirit + Vendilion Clique is
fairly broken and gives us another Flash creature that plays well with Restoration Angel.

To say this list was well thought out is almost an understatement.

Results: 2-1, defeating Grixis Control and U/W Stoneblade, losing to Grixis Control.


Fact or Fiction was amazing. Restoration Angel was amazing. Snapcaster Mage was amazing. My Mana Drains felt like they did things. Vendilion Clique was
pretty good.

Spirit of the Labyrinth was disappointing.

First of all, people don’t actually have a ton of card draw. Look at that typical BUG control list. We have 1 Thirst for Knowledge, 1 Ancestral Recall, 1
Brainstorm, 1 Ponder, 1 Sensei’s Divining Top, 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Ancestral Recall and Ponder are easily castable before Spirit hits the board. Top
and Jace still play when facing down a Spirit. You basically hit Brainstorm and Thirst for Knowledge. Two whole cards shut down, three cards somewhat
interacted with, and two that you have to hope to race. Not exciting. If I was playing against a bunch of Wheel of Fortunes and Tendrils of Agony or Bazaar
of Baghdads I might be more excited, but the card underperformed in the blue mirrors that I expect dominate the format.

The card also violated something I started noticing about the format. I want all of my cards to be consistently powerful. It seems odd to say this in a
format where everyone can just play a bunch of Tutors, but having the maximum amount of action and interaction early is huge. Games often have huge early
showdowns, and I want all of my cards to create those or play in them. Spirit doesn’t do either, and the synergy between it and Vendilion Clique is more
cute than powerful.

I would snap play this deck again, but unless I was expecting all Storm and Dredge, I have to figure out what I wanted in the Spirit slot.

I also wouldn’t mind one or two Jace. It’s not like the card is an actively bad threat, you just don’t want it as a focal point of your deck. It’s
certainly powerful enough and you see enough cards that a copy to randomly have is worthwhile, even if you can’t Demonic Tutor for it.

Opposing Decks:

The match I lost to Grixis I got my Ancestral Recall Misdirectioned. It then got Snapcaster Maged, and my opponent Snapcaster Maged his Misdirection. The
end game was still close because I had more action in my library than he did.

I also felt like I should have had no chance to beat the Stoneblade deck, but I was able to handle the early threats reasonably well with my draws. Despite
being behind in the Stoneforge Mystic + True-Name Nemesis fight that usually defines creature matchups the raw power of the other cards in the format helps
balance it out. My Disenchants were also huge, and I can now see I likely overestimated the strength of that pairing in a format where literally every deck
has valid artifacts to destroy.

Week Seven: Angel City Vault

This list came from Danny Batterman, a California player who among other things has been a huge help to my PT team despite not being qualified. He and
Belcher specialist Ben Perry have been working on this list for a while, and I finally got around to giving it a shot.

Overview: The general idea of this deck (and the original Brian Demars Steel City Vault) is just play the most broken/restricted cards with Time Vault as
your win condition instead of Tendrils of Agony. It only plays one less restricted card than Storm, and I’m sure if the mana worked Necropotence would also
make the cut. The general X City Vault name refers to whatever city the deck was played in. Steel = Pittsburgh. Angel = Los Angeles.


Empty = Detroit. You get the picture.

Results: 2-2, losing to 5C Stax and some other Stax variety and beating Dredge and Grixis Control.


Yeah, this deck is as busted as advertised.

Unlike Storm, you’re typically using a huge mana advantage over a multiple turns to tutor up a combination of cards to end the game. Storm just keeps doing
things with its mana until they die. Mox Opal is a huge part of the game plan as a result. Transmute Artifact was another odd one, but it played very well
as a tutor for Key + Vault or just as a Pyretic Ritual with Black Lotus.

I was very unimpressed with Inkwell Leviathan as the monster of choice over Blightsteel Colossus. Even against Grixis Control, I was looking to land a
one-two knockout punch (Blightteel + Time Walk) as opposed to hit them over multiple turns. I can see where the card shines against creature decks that
lack things like Yawgmoth’s Will and Key + Vault that can go over the top of it, but I don’t think that makes it more than a sideboard card.

I also think there’s a lot more room to go bigger with Yawgmoth’s Will here. Gitaxian Probe was insane out of Storm, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the
same here. Info is huge in the format. Know they have Abrupt Decay? Assemble Walk + Colossus or Wheel it out of their hand. The card also lets you turn
smaller Yawgmoth’s Wills into bigger advantages and do so earlier in the game. It seems easy to just shave numbers on different categories and end up with
a set of the card in your deck. It even pitches to Force of Will. I also would like to try and get Lion’s Eye Diamond in the deck if I was moving more in
on Yawgmoth’s Will, but I don’t know it needs to be taken that far.

I played against Stax twice, so obviously my Goblin Welder excelled, but overall I was not impressed with this deck in the matchup. Storm was way better at
exploiting a smaller window because of the aforementioned difference between using extra mana over multiple turns instead of exploding out in a single
turn. The big one here was how hard it was to beat a Ratchet Bomb, which operated very close to a two mana Armageddon. The zero basic lands was also a huge
issue, and I felt like any Wasteland deck would be a nightmare to play against regardless of whether they had more virtual Stone Rains to back it up. The
sideboard hate was also not optimized. You want to use your hate to open a hole and Hurkyl’s Recall them, not run them out of things. Ancient Grudge and
Viashino Heretic seem worse than Ingot Chewer and similar less expensive answers.

For the official record, one of the losses to Stax was definitely my fault. I was in a scenario where I had resolved a Hurkyl’s Recall to set up a turn,
but all I ended up with on that turn was the ability to Vampiric Tutor with a Voltaic Key, a bunch of Moxes, and a Tolarian Academy in play and pass. My
opponent had a Chalice of the Void, a Lodestone Golem, and a Sphere of Resistance I knew from the Hurkyl’s with six mana. I snap got Time Vault and got
Chaliced for 2. If I was thinking, I could have played a Tinker/Vault head game over whether Chalice goes on 2 or 3, or I could have just gotten a Time
Spiral that likely would be enough.

Opposing Decks:

This was my first real experience playing against Dredge with a “fair” deck. I now understand the issues the less comboish decks have there. Between Mental
Misstep, Nature’s Claim, and Chain of Vapor, a single hate card is a non-issue, and two might not be enough. I was able to draw seven my way into a
critical mass of answers, but without those powerful effects I can imagine looking at a lot of dead ones. Surgical Extraction was especially awesome,
countering multiple Vampiric and Mystical Tutors. It’s also worth noting how good draw sevens are against the deck in general. Of the four games I won
against Dredge with this and Storm, three were resolved by decking them with draw sevens. This gets even easier once you fire off a Tormod’s Crypt or Nihil
Spellbomb, as often you need to Timetwister or Time Spiral to start the chain without giving up your deck size advantage. Note that Twister and Spiral also
buy you a free turn as effective Tormod’s Crypts.

The Five Color Stax deck looked awesome. Chromatic Lantern was involved, as were Balance and Goblin Welder. I want to work more on that archetype and
Goblin Welder in general. Of course, some of that again is that Welder is so obnoxiously good with Tangle Wire, which time and time again is winning games
for myself and my opponents. Seriously, I don’t understand how any Stax list cuts that card (mirror where they also can tap Chalice of the Voids I guess?)
and I might even play it in the Null Rod decks.

Note: I think the Espresso Stax list I played could have used Ratchet Bombs. It fits the LD theme. Phyrexian Revoker is also on the short list.

While I did not play against it, I watched Mike McGeachie try Dack Fayden in his Grixis Planeswalkers list. Yea, that card is beyond nutty. The complaint I
heard was “Man, you don’t have any artifacts left I want to steal and my hand is now too good to really need to loot”.

Moving Forward

I found the following decks to be the obvious good decks of the format:

BUG Fish as the best attrition deck. My list would likely have more (read: 2-3) powerful high drops like Edric, Spymaster of Trent, Jace, the Mind
Sculptor, or Sower of Temptation.

U/W Angels, likely with Snapcaster Mages and Fact or Fiction, as the best control deck. I could see extending into the Auriok Salvagers world for the
infinite combo (Black Lotus plus Salvagers for infinite mana), but that almost ensures a black splash for Nihil Spellbomb and tutors and suddenly a
different deck. It even already has an Eternal format name: Bomberman.

Restricted List decks with Draw sevens as the real broken deck. Also, likely has four copies of Gitaxian Probe.

Dredge if you find the right interaction suite for the event.

Shops, likely Martello. I would still like to test Espresso lists that are better on the draw and the wild Five-Color lists.

To be fair, this isn’t shocking as those are all the decks everyone knows are best.

The decks I was not impressed with:

Delver. Everyone I saw playing these decks was on the wrong side of BUG or U/W, and I don’t even see the appeal of playing Delver of Secrets over those
decks against the rest of the field.

Blue-Black-x traditional control decks. They just all felt like worse versions of the really broken decks or the U/W decks, stuck in the middle hoping to
draw the right mix of counters and threats without enough redundancy to make either happen. It’s possible there is a Thoughtseize + Force of Will version
of these decks that plays closer to the all-in Vault decks that works without the draw sevens, but

that is too divergent from the clunky Mana Drain piles.

The one thing I was unsure on was Oath of Druids. The card is excellent against half of the good decks (Dredge, Shops, and Blue-White) and terrible against
the other half (BUG, Storm, Vault). I think the recent Bazaar of Moxen winner’s option to sideboard the package is a strong one, and I could see doing that
in a fair number of decks. It seems like it is especially well suited to decks with Time Vault as assembling that combo against Shops post-Oath seems way
easier than assembling a Tendrils of Agony. I may also be overvaluing the card against Blue-White based on my list not having Trinket Mage for Grafdigger’s
Cage, which is unfortunately better than the way cooler trinket of Spawning Pit.

Things to work with:

Gush. This is the one pillar of the format I really didn’t have time to work with.

-Alternate Fish lists. Bant seems worse than BUG as Abrupt Decay is so good, and I’m skeptical that sacrificing Power and True-Name Nemesis for Hatebears
in Junk is right, but I still should try both to confirm. I should also trythe literal Fish deck that won Vintage Champs last year.

Dack Fayden. This isn’t really a brew, it’s more of the card being insane and just finding the best shell. This card alone may chase Shops out of the
metagame for a while, which in turn might push the metagame towards Storm and X City Vault as their primary predator gets out of the way.

Notion Thief. While I did criticize Spirit of the Labyrinth, this card does way more broken things. It also fights Dack Fayden very well (I draw two, you
discard two) and can be abused in a number of ways. Did you know Dack Fayden’s +1 Faithless Looting targets a player? What about Notion Thief alongside
draw sevens? There are a lot of possibilities here for a card that pitches to Force of Will.

Tangle Wire and Null Rod. I know there are a lot of Junk Hatebear decks, but I think the fair creature beats space is fairly unexplored and has a lot of
potential for growth.

Survival of the Fittest. Who let this card be legal as a four of? Frantic Search and Skullclamp also fall in this category but are a little harder to work

Vintage is the real deal. Even beyond the appeal of playing with cards you can’t play anywhere else, the format is incredibly deep. Every list has a ton of
decisions to make in building because you have to play more individual cards and the mana means there are way too many playable cards to figure it all out
in one go. Games are very unique from each other as a result of the restricted list, and the game play is challenging but proactive.

It’s not only possible that Vintage is the best Constructed format right now, but I would go as far as to say anyone arguing against it is fighting an
uphill battle.