At the urging of several “friends,” I decided to sleeve up the card Restoration Angel in Vintage. As it turns out, there are better things you can do with a four-mana three-of in Vintage than cast a 3/4 instant-speed flier. Perhaps there is a metagame where such a card is reasonable, but it doesn’t cut it on raw power.
Neither does Stoneforge Mystic.
Snapcaster Mage barely cuts it – for those of you about to compare the card to Regrowth, when’s the last time you saw Regrowth really crush Vintage? Was it when Merchant Scroll and Brainstorm were legal four-ofs? Because that was a long time ago.
Here’s how games go, for those of you who don’t have time to watch the videos:
You get completely destroyed by Mishra’s Workshop. I’m sure I ran bad and played bad and whatever else, but there is just no way that a deck with this high of a curve and this few mana sources is close to favored against Mishra’s Workshop strategies. All of your four-drops are basically uncastable unless you have multiple pieces of acceleration and a turn-zero Force of Will, in which case your four-drop could be literally anything better than Restoration Angel and you also would have won the game.
Playing a draw-go control game is miserable in Vintage. Either Workshops shows up with a zillion Stone Rains, Dredge shows up with a zero-mana uncounterable instant-speed Careful Study with buyback, or other blue decks show up with the same level of stack interaction but with cards that are banned in Legacy instead of legal in Modern.
I have no clue how people think that Mana Drain is a reasonable card to play in this format. It’s possible that this deck’s curve is just too high to reasonably bridge into it, but every single deck seems to have ways of embarrassing a Mana Drain, whether it’s Duress or Abrupt Decay or Sphere of Resistance or Bazaar of Baghdad. I can respect metagaming for the blue mirrors, but I would so much rather be proactive than reactive in a format capable of being this fast and this powerful.
My gripes the UW Angels, summarized, are:
- the mana is awful, but I’m pretty sure that…
- …Mana Drain isn’t nearly as good as people think it is. Also…
- trying to cast a zillion four-drops is a great way to leverage Mana Drain, but it’s also a great way to lose games to decks that showed up to play Vintage.
- This deck’s broken openings are in no way unique to the rest of what’s going on – all of the compelling arguments for the cards in this deck can be made for cards in, say, Oath or Landstill or literally any other blue control-midrange-combo deck, except Dark Confidant and Trygon Predator are just better in this format than Stoneforge Mystic and Restoration Angel.
- If people play creatures worth killing, I sure haven’t seen any of them online. I also haven’t seen a ton of creature-specific removal that would make me think that anyone else has seen them either.
I’m pretty sure that Vintage is at the beginning stages of what Legacy went through circa Grand Prix Chicago (or Schaumburg, or whatever). People who are just way better at Magic are going to come into the format without all of the preconceptions that Vintage players currently hold about the “metagame,” play a ton of games, and figure out powerful angles that break apart all the existing conventional wisdoms about the format.
I’m confident that people will find ways of beating Shops. The deck is literally just a higher-powered U/R Magnivore/Wildfire deck. Sphere and Thorn are Stone Rain and Boomerang, Lodestone Golem is Avalanche Riders, and Kuldotha Forgemaster or Karn, Silver Golem is Magnivore. Obviously the parallels aren’t perfect because the deck plays a high-variance manabase and all of its Stone Rains are actually Mesmeric Fiend-style Stone Rains, but the point is close enough.