The Ten Principles Of Type One

This article will provide a much-needed introduction with the most important principles to understand about the Vintage Format as it currently exists. While it is addressed towards those who are interested in learning the format, I think many Vintage Adepts will find this article interesting as well… And it will serve as an excellent reminder for anyone who’s attending any Vintage tournaments at origins this weekend.

Type One is the oldest and grandest format sanctioned by the DCI. It has a history as rich and varied as the game itself. Despite that background, it is in a constant state of growth and flux; in the last year alone, six new major archetypes emerged that spun the Type One metagame on its head, with more to come, and one that was preemptively restricted before it was legal.

One of the most interesting things about Type One is that with a history so rich, you can pick up a six-year-old strategy book on Magic and you are basically performing research on the format. This article will provide a much-needed introduction with the most important principles to understand about the Vintage Format as it currently exists. While it is addressed towards those who are interested in learning the format, I think many Vintage Adepts will find this article interesting as well.

The Restricted List

The first and most dominant feature of this format is the restricted list. For those who don’t know, this is a list of cards of which you may only play one copy of in a Type One tournament. It is imperative that you are familiar with this list. Featured on this list are the famous Moxen and Black Lotus. Here is that list:

Restricted Cards

Ancestral Recall


Black Lotus

Black Vise



Crop Rotation

Demonic Consultation

Demonic Tutor


Dream Halls


Enlightened Tutor


Fact or Fiction



Frantic Search

Grim Monolith

Gush (as of July 1, 2003)

Library of Alexandria

Lotus Petal

Mana Crypt

Mana Vault

Memory Jar

Mind Over Matter

Mind Twist

Mind’s Desire (as of July 1, 2003)

Mox Diamond

Mox Emerald

Mox Jet

Mox Pearl

Mox Ruby

Mox Sapphire

Mystical Tutor



Sol Ring

Strip Mine

Stroke of Genius

Time Spiral

Time Walk



Tolarian Academy

Vampiric Tutor

Voltaic Key

Wheel of Fortune


Yawgmoth’s Bargain

Yawgmoth’s Will

Most of the cards on this list are here because they provide too much acceleration or were key components of degenerate decks that distorted the environment.

The Mana Base

While the Moxen and the Lotus are used in every optimized Type One deck, fetchlands also belong in almost every Vintage deck, no matter the number of colors. The introduction of fetchlands has had a profound impact on Type One.

One big reason the fetchlands are so format-defining is the existence of dual lands: Tundra, Volcanic Island, Underground Sea, Badlands, Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author], Bayou, Plateau, Tropical Island, Savannah, and Taiga. The reason they are good with fetchlands is because each dual land counts as two basic land types. For example, Tundra counts as both an Island and a Plains. Being able to fetch out dual lands provides incredible, unheard-of mana stability with many colors. The result is that multi-color decks are far more stable and possible than they ever were in the past, and so splashing another color becomes a relatively easy thing to do. With fetchlands, you can play four colors and yet also run basic land, adding to the mana stability against non-basic hosers. An example of this is Steve O'Connell Paragon Keeper:

//  Countermagic

2 Duress

4 Force of Will

4 Mana Drain

//  Kill

1 Masticore

1 Morphling

//  Broken Utility/Card Draw

1 Time Walk

1 Future Sight

1 Fact or Fiction

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Skeletal Scrying

1 Library of Alexandria

1 Zuran Orb

//  Tutor/Search

3 Brainstorm

3 Cunning Wish

1 Merchant Scroll

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Mystical Tutor

//  Bullet

3 Swords to Plowshares

1 Balance

1 Mind Twist

//  SoLoMoxen

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Black Lotus

1 Sol Ring

//  Land

1 Strip Mine

2 City of Brass

3 Wasteland

1 Island

3 Tundra

3 Volcanic Island

4 Flooded Strand

3 Underground Sea

Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of how much fetchlands have changed Type One is the GroAtog mana base – a four-color deck that runs on nine dual lands!

// NAME: GroAtog

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Emerald

1 Library of Alexandria

2 Volcanic Island

3 Tropical Island

4 Underground Sea

2 Flooded Strand

2 Polluted Delta

// Counterspells

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

2 Misdirection

4 Force of Will

3 Counterspell

4 Brainstorm

4 Opt

1 Fastbond

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Merchant Scroll

2 Fire / Ice

2 Cunning Wish

1 Regrowth

4 Gush

4 Quirion Dryad

3 Psychatog

One side effect of their presence is that they have increased the power of Brainstorm. The drawback of putting two cards back is dramatically decreased when you have such a low-cost shuffler. Another effect of the existence of fetchlands is that no deck should ever use painlands again. For those of you who don’t know, painlands are the Ice Age and Apocalypse dual land substitutes, like Underground River and Adarkar Wastes. Finally, fetchlands have made two-color decks immune to cards like Back to Basics because you can run a high basic count and not get color screwed.

And so we have developed Two Fundamental Principles:

Principle # 1: Every deck uses Black Lotus and at least one Mox.

Principle #2: Fetchlands have fundamentally changed Type One.

Format-Defining Spells

Here I am going to point out five spells that really define the Vintage Format, omitting obvious cards like Moxen and Black Lotus.

Force Of Will

The most important spell in Type One is Force of Will. It is the glue that holds this format together. Without it, combo decks would unleash a wave of terror in which control decks, while not unplayable, would lose to combo at a sufficient rate to discourage people from playing control, the archetype best suited to keep combo in check. Pure aggro decks would have little real chance in a heavy combo environment.

A basic tenant of Type One is that you either run this spell, or find ways to beat it. One common way to get around Force of Will is Duress. Another is simply to run Force of Will oneself.

Yawgmoth’s Will, A.K.A. Yawg Win

This is perhaps the most broken spell in Type One. The more broken the cards are in any given deck, the more broken this card becomes. With Black Lotus, it becomes a free spell – and with bombs like Ancestral Recall and Time Walk in the yard, this becomes so broken that it is commonly referred to as Yawg Win – because once it is played, the game is usually sealed right there. It is perhaps a misnomer that this is an environment-defining spell – instead, the format defines it. And when you consider how broken Type One can be, that is saying a lot.

Mishra’s Workshop

This land is unrestricted. Its function is to let you skip the two- and three-drops and pretend that Juggernaut is a two-drop. Just think about this for a moment: You can tap a Mishra’s Workshop and play a Tangle Wire or a Metalworker. That is amazing. Just think about that: Play a land, tap it, Tangle Wire. You can Tap this land and a Mox and play a Juggernaut. The acceleration really helps get around counter walls, as you are able to play multiple threats per turn. This card was restricted for a long time, and you could make some really good arguments that it belongs on back on the restricted list now. There are two or three upper-tier decks trying their best to abuse this card.

Illusionary Mask

A card that is used in multiple decks right now, it is hard to deny the power of the Illusionary Mask/Phyrexian Dreadnought combo. For those who don’t know, you can play a Phyrexian Dreadnought through an Illusionary Mask without suffering the Dreadnought’s drawback. Yes. That means on turn 1, you can go Dark Ritual, Illusionary Mask, Phyrexian Dreadnought. Cool, huh? This card isn’t format-defining like Mishra’s Workshop, but I have a feeling that in the post-July 1st metagame, we are going to see a proliferation of different decks using this card beyond the two that are already running rampant in the Vintage metagame. For more detail on one deck running this card, see my article from last year here.


This card has quickly taken the spot of the best creature in the format (although some belligerents still believe that Morphling is better). One of my favorite plays in Type One is to cast Berserk on my ‘Tog. This card is a kill mechanism of choice for many of the best Type One players. ‘Tog is hungry, but Vintage provides some massive card drawers. Sadly, he doesn’t fit into every deck that can use him – but all other things being equal, if you have cards in your deck, he is the best creature in the game.

In Summary:

Principle #3 (and perhaps the most important): Force of Will is the Glue that holds T1 together.

Other Important Spells To Take Note Of

Library Of Alexandria

This card is sneaky. It appears slow, but it is really a house. In the control-on-control mirrors, if this card is active for more than a few turns, it leads to such a lead in card advantage that it usually translates into a game win.


With Ancestral Recall being one of the best and easiest cards to cast in the game, how could this not be a good card? But beyond that, it counters Lightning Bolt, Sinkhole, Hymn to Tourach, Stroke of Genius, Braingeyser, Fork, Force of Will, Mana Drain, and many other common spells in Type One. It is excellent for forcing your own spells into play by acting as a pseudo-Force of Will. While this isn’t even nearly as important as Force of Will or the other cards on this list, it does have a definite impact on the environment.


Many people argue, with merit, that this is the most powerful card ever printed. It is dramatically undercosted, but it is hampered by being in the weakest color: White. There are only a handful of playable white spells in the upper tier decks right now, and this is clearly one of them. It is something that you must be prepared to face if you are an aggro deck.

Swords To Plowshares

This is the best targeted removal spell ever printed. Its only drawback is that it, like Balance, is hampered by being in a weak color. The lack of solid white cards often means that the addition of white isn’t worth the cost to the mana base. Four-color decks are incredibly doable, however, so there is the at least incentive to add white as one of the tertiary colors.

Blood Moon

With the advent of fetchlands, this surpassed Back to Basics as the best hoser in Magic. Quite simply, if resolved, this card is game against many decks.

Red Elemental Blast

Blue is the best color in Magic. This card counters blue spells and destroys blue permanents like Psychatog and Ophidian. It naturally follows that this is the best sideboard card ever printed. The one casting-cost is incredible tempo advantage for the same reason Unsummon is preferred in Standard over Aether Burst.

Principle #4: Unless you are planning on winning in the first few turns, you must have a way to deal with Library of Alexandria.

Principle #5: Swords to Plowshares is the Best Targeted Removal Spell ever printed.

Principle #6: Blood Moon is Vintage’s Best Hoser.

Principle #7: Red Elemental Blast is the Best Sideboard Card ever printed.

Mana Curves

The cards that occupy the zero casting cost slot – the Moxen, Force of Wills, Lotus – are necessary. Spells that cost four or more, unless they are artifacts or blue, are generally unplayable in Type One because they are too expensive. The reason artifacts can cost that much is because of the existence of Mishra’s Workshop, and because each accelerator – Grim Monolith, Mana Crypt, the Moxen – are all artifacts. Two of the reasons blue cards can evade this general rule is because of the existence of Mana Drain and Tolarian Academy. While there are a few exceptions to this rule, such as Academy Rector, this does remain a general principle of deck construction in the format.

As a result, most of deck construction is dependent upon utilizing the most powerful one- and two-drops, and the best of the best three-drops the game has to offer. Over time, Wizards has printed many cards with a variant power levels at similar casting costs. As a result, the very best one casting-cost cards tend to be incredibly undercosted. For example, at one blue you have cards like Ancestral Recall, Brainstorm, and Sleight of Hand. Other great one-drops include Swords to Plowshares, Dark Ritual, Lightning Bolt, Red Elemental Blast, Mystical Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Blue Elemental Blast, and Duress. A great deal of the mana acceleration costs one. And many great creatures sit at this casting cost as well: Goblin Welder and Jackal Pup, to name a few. Most decks need great one casting cost spells.

The two-drop is also strong in Type One – spells like Balance, Time Walk, Demonic Tutor, and Quirion Dryad sit at this casting cost. Spells costing three are also format-defining and are used because they are so powerful: Wheel of Fortune, Timetwister, Intuition, Cunning Wish, Psychatog, Ophidian and Yawgmoth’s Will, to name a few more. In any given deck, the relative importance of the one-drop versus the three-drop will vary depending on the amount of acceleration the deck employs. Rector Trix has no real two-drops; this is because it features a maximum amount of acceleration. For reference, World Champion Tom Van De Logt’s winning Rector Trix:

1 Black Lotus

1 Lotus Petal

1 Mana Crypt

1 Mana Vault

1 Mox Diamond

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Sol Ring

4 Cabal Therapy

4 Dark Ritual

1 Demonic Tutor

3 Duress

1 Necropotence

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Bargain

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Ancestral Recall

3 Brainstorm

2 Donate

4 Force of Will

4 Illusions of Grandeur

1 Rushing River

1 Time Walk

4 Academy Rector


4 Flooded Strand

4 Gemstone Mine

2 Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author]

1 Tolarian Academy

3 Underground Sea

Principle #8: For the most part, Spells with a casting cost of four or more are unplayable unless they are Blue, Artifact, or have an Alternate Casting Cost.

Hybrid Builds

Control, combo, and aggro are no longer adequate strategies with which to compete in the modern metagame. Pure strategies generally have fallen to the wayside, as the newer decks that have emerged are combo-aggro-control, such as GroAtog; aggro-control; combo-control, such as The Shining (Future Sight combo); or aggro-combo, such as MaskNaught. Combo tends to need to have a way to protect itself, and thus needs control elements. For example, Chapin’s Academy deck featured four Force of Will and four Misdirection as a way to out-control the control decks. Decks that do not have the possibility of”going off” tend to have a worse chance in Type 1 because of the speed of the format with decks like Hulk and Mask tending to define that speed.

Principle #9: Hybrid Strategies are currently the most successful in Type One.

It’s A Wide World Out There

There is one other point that really needs to be made: One of the reasons Vintage is such a great format isn’t because it’s so fast or so broken. It’s because there is such a large card pool brimming with potential. It takes an open mind and a creative spirit to mine the potential and unlock some hidden combo in the vast card pool that is Type One legal. Part of the fun is the metagame opportunities that naturally exist in such a large card pool. Take advantage of it.

Principle #10: Scour through the card pool. Find the technology to beat your local metagame. It’s worth it.

Hopefully, this article has given you a solid foundation as you consider what deck you might play at your next Type One tournament. Good luck and remember, I’ll see you at Origins.

Stephen Menendian (Smmenen on the Mana Drain)

-You can reach me at [email protected]

– I’d like to thank Adam Levison for his editing – he has given graciously of his time.

– For more Vintage articles I’ve written, check out my article on MaskNaught or my GroAtog article.