I hate set reviews just as much as the next guy. They’re formulaic, usually uninformative, and from the writer’s perspective, they usually leave terrifying, horrible quotes that can come back to haunt you. “Umezawa’s Jitte: seems cute, could see play in casual Coretapper decks.” In fact, when I got assigned to dailies this week and worked out topics in my head, I kept focus on the emphatic mantra “I will not review Coldsnap, I will not review Coldsnap.” In the scramble for ideas, however, a disturbing thought kept coming back to me. I know I want to avoid a set review, for all the reasons outlined above, but the current hot topic in Vintage may have supplied me with a workaround, and a shot at Magic Writer history. Yes, that’s right, you’re about to read the world’s first ever errata review.
In case anyone hasn’t been keeping track, in the past few weeks a protracted campaign from parts of Vintage community led to a small, but significant attack on the Oracle. Due to a change in policy, and I’m sure in no small part to the fact that these cards are no longer playable in most formats, Wizards agreed to go back and “unfix” a number of cards that they had previously errata’d for power reasons. A lot of this errata is simply cleanup. I’m sure someone out there is thrilled that their Ertai’s Familiar deck is functional again, but for most of us that’s hardly relevant. It’s also very possible that one of the newly legal combos will break legacy in half, but I’m just going to focus on what the errata means for Vintage.
Irrelevant ridiculous combos:
All of these combos now work the way they used to, and provide some resource in an arbitrarily large quantity. With any of these three combos, you need a third card to actually make the combo a kill, classically an Altar of Dementia for the infinite creature loops, and a 187 creature like Ghitu Slinger for the Recurring Nightmare loop. The reason these aren’t so hot in Vintage should be pretty obvious to anyone who’s familiar with the format. To win here, you need a specific card in the graveyard, a specific combo enabler that costs anywhere from three to five mana, and a specific kill card in hand. Bad news for budding deck designers, Worldgorger Dragon outclasses any of these combos wholesale. The Dragon kill requires only two mana total, you can run up to twelve copies of Animate Dead, and you can run already useful cards like Bazaar of Bagdhad or Read the Runes to find the kill while going off. Even if you can’t find the kill card, with Dragon you can draw the game if things look bad, with the newly playable combos, the best you get is a steady stream of 2/2 flyers.
Cards that changed for the worse:
The new errata on Intuition makes the spell target an opponent. This means that like Gifts Ungiven, you can’t cast it if your opponent has a True Believer or a Solitary Confinement in play. In the metagame out there right now, that’s not really something to be too worried about. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some more True Believers in the near future, though. Blue/White decks may be getting a pick-me-up soon, with the increased popularity of Tendrils decks, the fishy card I’ll be mentioning later, and a certain two-drop from Coldsnap (I promised, no Coldsnap reviews).
No one was actually running it, but in the once-popular UG Threshold decks, this card was a house. With a Nimble Mongoose in play, it was a one-sided Abyss for a single mana. In a Fish and Slaver dominated meta, Drop of Honey was nothing short of a bomb. You can still keep one around with two Basking Rootwallas and stack triggers, but the effect is nowhere near as impressive.
The once mighty Goblin Snowman goes from an auto-win to an auto-loss against the SS deck. Four Stifle is just too much to handle now that his defensive ability has gone from static to triggered. He will be missed.
Interactions that people might actually play with:
I’m not actually that impressed with the combo here, as I’m not very impressed with either card on its own, and together, they simply generate two extra mana. One of the largest problems here is that any deck that takes full advantage of Cloud of Faeries and Aether Vial is going to have a little trouble maximizing the use of that mana. You can’t exactly run five-drops in a fish deck, just because sometimes you hit your “engine” on turn 3. The best suggestion I’ve heard so far is using equipment, either Umezawa’s Jitte or Sword of Fire and Ice. Neither of those cards are going to kill your mana curve, but you can still use Vial/Cloud for a strong turn 3 if you happen to draw it. I don’t think this is going to break Vintage or anything, but people were already running both cards before, so you can be sure people will try and abuse the interaction now.
Grim Monolith and Power Artifact is probably much better, and wasn’t seeing any play before, but redundancy could be everything. The obvious place to throw this is a Metalworker/Staff of Domination deck, but it seems like that could be just a little too cute.
Ah, the one you were waiting for huh? At eight mana it’s not terrible, but it’s certainly not Flame/Vault. Really, it doesn’t compare that favorably to Belcher Severance in a vacuum, either. While the Mizzium combo costs one less, Goblin Charbelcher and Mana Severance have a lot more utility on their own. If you were interested in breaking Mizzium/Vault anyway, I’d look at its strengths. Mizzium can copy and hold off a Darksteel Colossus, or copy and kill a legendary artifact. Against Stax, Mizzium can copy a Crucible, but all of those uses are pretty narrow. Time Vault lost a lot of its punch, but still plays nice with lock pieces like Tangle Wire and Smokestack. Obviously the biggest edge this combo has is that both pieces are artifacts. That means they cost colorless to bring out, and both can be Tinkered out, welded, or pitched to Thirst for Knowledge.
I don’t believe the combo is going to be too effective in Stax, though the Tangle Wire interaction could prove me wrong. Stax already has enough “infinite turn” combos, but those combos involve Smokestack or Strip Mine, which are a lot better on their own. If I were trying to run Mizzium in something, the first thing I’d look at would be the older SSB belcher/severence lists. Welders, Thirsts, and Gifts all play very well with the new combo. My guess is that right now, with the cards available to everyone, Mizzium just isn’t strong enough, but it’s probably just one new card or piece of tech from being very playable.
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