The Vintage Mid-Size Tournament Metagame Breakdown – July

Join the Mana Drain’s illustrious leader, as he steps forward and fills a gap in our current Vintage knowledge. Phil Stanton has been filling you in for months about the metagame at big tournaments, but what about more local tournies where you don’t get 100 players each week? If that describes what the type of tournament you play at, then you’ve come to the right place!


Karlsruhe T1 (38)


1) Landstill

2) Tog

3) CounterBazaar

4) 4cControl

5) Landstill

6) Landstill

7) 4cControl

8) FoodChainGoblins

Maine T1 (31)


1) Gay Red

2) ControlSlaver

3) ControlSlaver

4) Dragon

5) Gay Red

6) ControlSlaver

7) ControlSlaver

8) B/W Aggro

Myriad Games T1 (44)


1) UGMadness

2) 4cControl

3) Titan.dec

4) CrucibleStax

5) Gay Red

6) Titan.dec

7) Belcher

8) NinjaMask

Eindhoven (41)


1) 4cControl

2) 4cControl

3) 4cControl

4) 4cControl

5) ClampGoblins

6) ControlSlaver

7) Titan.dec

8) Mud

Pittsfield, Ma T1 (47)


1) Dryad Hate

2) Titan.dec

3) CrucibleStax

4) Landstill

5) CrushingChamber

6) 4cControl

7) Gay Red

8) Dragon

Copenhagen T1 (43)


1) Draw7

2) 4cControl

3) 4cControl

4) TriniStax

5) Juice

6) FoodChainGoblins

7) Titan.dec

8) Landstill

Top 8 breakdown for July Type 1 Tournaments for midsize (30 to 50 people) environments.

This month’s breakdown includes six tournaments that average just shy of 41 players. From my research, all of the tournaments that are inclusive are in New England and Europe. There were some in the North East, West Coast, and Midwest that were found to fall short of my 30 person requirement. These typically ranged from 20-28 players.

*Authors note: Philip Stanton has an excellent meta-breakdown featured at StarCityGames.com right now. However, he only covers tournaments that meet or exceed 50 players. While this can be useful, I find that it’s only marginally helpful to those who also frequent mid-size Type 1 tournaments. Conversely, Neither Phil’s or my own articles will be as helpful as a small metagame breakdown would be.

The Eindhoven top 8 is comical with a notable top 4 pattern. I attribute that to the current hot trend 4cControl is having in Germany and the Netherlands. It’s a classic case of whatever the good players play will always do well. There are also two decks that don’t see much (or any) in the way of top 8 success in the rest of the t8’s.

Mud is showing up in the Top 8’s of larger tournaments (check out Philip’s article for specifics), but strangely it’s making rare appearances in mid-size tournaments. I feel that with Crucible of the Worlds, its potential manabase, utility, and speed, Mud (particularly with Welders) could be flying under too many peoples radars.

The Clamp Goblin deck looked like crap at first glance, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. It’s Goblins with a draw engine and a few ways to go off. Could this deck have real staying power? I’d say probably not. I do think that this deck has a good premise that can be refined and even in its earliest forms should be able to pull the ol’ surprise factor out on enough people to earn it some wins.

The Maine top 8 is indicative of a new environment. Many experienced players made it to this event, but the player base for this tournament was apparently novice. Control Slaver is a hard deck to play against for just about anything, it also just so happens that Gay Red does well against it. Control Slaver is another example of whatever the good players play will always do well. Also, as I’ll mention further down, the proxy system in place makes both decks relatively easy to build on a budget.

The Myriad Games top 8, I actually attended. Three out of the four Workshop decks in attendance made the top 8. In the small to mid-size fields, Workshop decks pack such a punch in a low Workshop environment that I believe they are probably your best way of making a top 8. To clarify, New England in particular is generally control and aggro-control heavy.

This is in part to the proxy system we have set in place for most places that hold Type 1 tournaments. This store is one of the first to increase the standard 5-proxy system to a 10-proxy system. The former made it easy to run decks like Fish that do not require a full set of power. Most control and aggro control decks generally require you to only own a few pieces of power and maybe a set of Mana Drains. This makes the default choices of control and aggro-control instantly more attractive than aggro decks, but still don’t give you enough deck building freedom to build some of the Workshop monstrosities. This in turn makes them sparser than either an unlimited proxy environment like Ohio or a high density Workshop area like Germany. Now, once you add 5 more proxies to the mix, 4 Workshops and another Mox isn’t so hard to cough up suddenly.

(By the way, rumor has it that a few years ago, the Germans bought up as many Workshops as possible and are all hoarding them. Blame the Germans!)

What happened here was basically a metagame that is accustomed to playing control, since we have at least one Type 1 tournament per weekend, and that carried over to a fundamentally different environment that a few people caught on to. I personally didn’t expect much in the way of Workshop decks, but faced all four of them in a row.

Metagame breakdown sorted by % of Top 8’s placements




Percentage of Field

1 4cControl




2 Titan.dec




3 Control Slaver




4 Landstill




5 Gay Red




6 Food Chain Goblins




7 Dragon




8 CrucibleStax




9 B/W Aggro




10 NinjaMask




11 Mud




12 Belcher




13 Clamp Goblins




14 Crushing Chamber




15 Juice




16 TriniStax




17 Counter Bazaar




18 Tog




19 UGMadness




20 Dryad Hate




21 Draw7




There were a total of 21 archetypes present in 6 tournaments which breaks down to 3.5 decks per top 8. I don’t know whether I’d prefer there be more or less viable archetypes in Vintage, but I lean more to an open metagame. We do have the entire card pool and because of this I’d expect there not to be a set list of 60 cards that is perpetually dominant. Rogue decks are making top 8 appearances, and I love that. The Clamp Goblins deck looks to show some promise as I mentioned above, and the Dryad Hate deck seems to be worth looking into as well.

4cControl is packing the biggest punch all over the map. It missed 1 top 8, but from what I have learned this was because the only 4cControl deck that appeared ran no draw, opting of Chains instead. The reason why this was a bad idea can be written in a whole other article, but common sense with regards to playing control should tell you why without another article.

This leads me to a common misconception; everyone in New England plays 4cControl. Using July as a model, you can see there are three New England Tournaments: Maine, Myriad Games, and Pittsfield, Mass. There were a total of two 4cControl decks in the top 8 in all three. As for the player base, there was only one rumored 4cControl build (sans draw in favor of Chains) in the Maine tournament and when I was at Myriad, I only saw one other 4cControl build apart from my own.

Statistic Breakdown

Crucible of Worlds and Goblin Welders are shown to be the top two threats. Keep in mind that this is early in Crucibles lifespan; I expect it to catch up to Welder and even actually exceed Welder’s numbers on the list soon. Triskelion comes up for third which goes hand in hand with the number of Welders.

Rack and Ruin, Fire / Ice, Gorilla Shaman, and Swords to Plowshares are the most popular removal cards. This should really come as no shock, since Control Slaver and 4cControl both run the top 3 of those.

Unless you count Cunning Wish, Demonic Tutor and Tinker are the two most popular tutor spells, with Vampiric bringing up a close third. One might think that the two cheaper Mirage Block tutors would be far more popular, but they would be wrong. Since Tinker actually turns a turn 2 Tinker-Mox into a Sundering Titan or a Darksteel Colossus, the speed in which the Tinkered card wins the game offsets any limitations set forth on this tutor.

Thirst for Knowledge and Standstill lead the way for draw spells, though this is in part due to the fact that 4cControl can run anywhere from two to four Skeletal Scryings. Even so, Ancestral (an obvious one-of) takes an overall second place.

Here are the raw numbers for these July tournaments:

144 Force of Will

126 Wasteland

106 Volcanic Island

99 Mana Drain

95 Brainstorm

88 Red Elemental Blast

77 Polluted Delta

74 Island

72 Rack and Ruin

70 Underground Sea

67 Flooded Strand

61 Goblin Welder

57 Fire/Ice

51 Thirst for Knowledge

44 Mox Sapphire

43 Ancestral Recall

41 Swords to Plowshares

40 Standstill

39 Black Lotus

39 Time Walk

39 Tundra

38 Blue Elemental Blast

36 Crucible of Worlds

36 Cunning Wish

36 Mishra’s Factory

35 Mox Jet

35 Skeletal Scrying

35 Sol Ring

34 Strip Mine

33 Duress

33 Mox Pearl

33 Stifle

32 Gorilla Shaman

30 Exalted Angel

30 Mox Ruby

30 Null Rod

27 Chalice of the Void

27 Library of Alexandria

27 Mox Emerald

27 Trinisphere

26 Demonic Tutor

26 Faerie Conclave

24 Flametongue Kavu

24 Mana Crypt

24 Mishra’s Workshop

23 Mountain

22 Naturalize

22 Yawgmoth’s Will

20 City of Brass

20 Fact or Fiction

20 Nevinyrral’s Disk

20 Shivan Reef

20 Tangle Wire

19 Ancient Tomb

18 Blood Moon

18 Misdirection

18 Tropical Island

17 Tinker

17 Tormod’s Crypt

16 Cloud of Faeries

16 Curiosity

16 Grim Lavamancer

16 Smokestack

16 Spiketail Hatchling

16 Sundering Titan

16 Vampiric Tutor

15 Chain of Vapor

15 Damping Matrix

15 Disenchant

15 Mindslaver

15 Mystical Tutor

14 Intuition

14 Memory Jar

14 Xantid Swarm

13 Balance

13 Decree of Justice

13 Maze of Ith

13 Tolarian Academy

12 Accumulated Knowledge

12 Goblin Lackey

12 Goblin Piledriver

12 Mana Vault

12 Mind Twist

12 Squee, Goblin Nabob

12 Triskelion

12 Wooded Foothills

11 Goblin Warchief

11 Swamp

10 Bazaar of Baghdad

10 Ground Seal

9 Daze

9 Echoing Truth

9 Fire / Ice

9 Pentavus

8 Bayou

8 Circular Logic

8 Compulsion

8 Dark Ritual

8 Elvish Spirit Guide

8 Flametongue Kavu

8 Food Chain

8 Goblin Recruiter

8 Goblin Ringleader

8 Juggernaut

8 Mishra’s Factory

8 Mishra’s Workshop

8 Pyroblast

8 Skullclamp

8 Taiga

8 Worldgorger Dragon

7 Animate Dead

7 Chill

7 Duplicant

7 Gemstone Mine

7 Genesis Chamber

7 Gilded Lotus

7 Goblin Sharpshooter

7 Lightning Bolt

7 Platinum Angel

7 Viashino Heretic

6 Goblin Charbelcher

6 Gush

6 Necromancy

6 Oxidize

6 Tormod’s Crypt

6 Tsabo’s Web

6 Voidmage Prodigy

6 Wheel of Fortune

5 Annul

5 Artifact Mutation

5 Back to Basics

5 Coffin Purge

5 Deep Analysis

5 Forest

5 Gempalm Incinerator

5 Goblin Matron

5 Hurkyl’s Recall

5 Lotus Petal

5 Siege-Gang Commander

5 Skirk Prospector

5 Sword of Fire and Ice

4 Akroma, Angel of Wrath

4 Aquamoeba

4 Arcbound Crusher

4 Basking Rootwalla

4 Careful Study

4 Chromatic Sphere

4 Control Magic

4 Cranial Plating

4 Darksteel Citadel

4 Exhume

4 Frogmite

4 Glimmervoid

4 Grim Monolith

4 Hidden Gibbons

4 Hydroblast

4 Illusionary Mask

4 Juntu Stakes

4 Land Grant

4 Memnarch

4 Merchant Scroll

4 Metalworker

4 Mind’s Eye

4 Myr Enforcer

4 Nevinyrral’s Disk

4 Night’s Whisper

4 Ornithopter

4 Phyrexian Dreadnought

4 Plains

4 Plated Slagwurm

4 Price of Progress

4 Psychatog

4 Pyroclasm

4 Quirion dryad

4 Reanimate

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

4 Sphere of Resistance

4 Survival of the Fittest

4 Tendrils of Agony

4 Timetwister

4 Tinder Wall

4 Triskelion

4 Unsummon

4 Volcanic Island

4 Volrath’s Shapeshifter

4 Wild Mongrel

3 Arrogant Wurm

3 Birds of Paradise

3 Chrome Mox

3 Dance of the Dead

3 Diminishing Returns

3 Energy Flux

3 Exploration

3 Firestorm

3 Flametongue Kavu

3 Hurkyll’s Recall

3 Mogg Fanatic

3 Mox Diamond

3 Planar Void

3 Putrid Imp

3 Quirion Ranger

3 Root Maze

3 Shattering Pulse

3 Teferi’s Response

3 Teferi’s Response

3 Trinket Mage

3 Vindicate

3 Windfall

3 Zombie Infestation

2 Ambassador Laquatus

2 Berserk

2 Constant Mists

2 Defense Grid

2 Diabolic Edict

2 Ebony Charm

2 Engineered Explosives

2 Fastbond

2 future sight

2 Gaea’s Blessing

2 Gigapede

2 Karn Silver Golem

2 Karn, Silver Golem

2 Kill Switch

2 Lim Dul’s Vault

2 Living Wish

2 Masticore

2 Misdirection

2 Necropotence

2 Perish

2 Pernicious Deed

2 Phantom Nishoba

2 Pyrite Spellbomb

2 Rack of Ruin

2 Rule of Law

2 Sphere of Resistance

2 Timewalk

2 Unmask

2 Wash Out

2 Windswept Heath

2 Winter Orb

2 Wonder

1 Attunement

1 Bloodstained Mire

1 Bone Shredder

1 Cabal Ritual

1 Caller of the Claw

1 capsize

1 Channel

1 Circle of Protection: Red

1 Counterspell

1 Crop Rotation

1 Darksteel Colossus

1 Deconstruct

1 Demonic Consultation

1 Dust Bowl

1 Elvish Lyrist

1 Entomb

1 Forest (2)

1 Frantic Search

1 Gaea’s Blessing

1 Gilded Drake

1 Hurkyl’s Recall

1 Keldon Vandals

1 Lion’s Eye Diamond

1 Mana Leak

1 Mind’s Desire

1 Moat

1 Pernicious Deed

1 Phage the Untouchable

1 Plagiarize

1 Scavenger Folk

1 Slice and Dice

1 Sliver Queen

1 Symbiotic Wurm

1 Tainted Pact

1 Terminate

1 The Abyss

1 Uktabi Orangutan

1 Undiscovered Paradise

1 Viridian Zealot

1 Yawgmoth’s Bargain