Let's make something very clear: Vintage is a complete mystery to me. As Magic's oldest, most powerful, and most open format, I'm beginning to find out that you can play pretty much anything and do well. Well, take that loosely. Of course there's an established metagame, but even the decks within their specific strategies all contain slightly different variations.
Magic 2015 is released on Magic Online on July 25th (or rather that's when the Prereleases start) so we should have some brand new Standard decks and videos after that. Until then, I wanted to show something a little more unique and fun that we don't often have the opportunity to see.
As I do with my other articles, I found today's decklist by scouring the Vintage decklists from Magic Online. This is where most of my vintage knowledge is actually coming from currently as I grow more and more familiar with the format. One thing that I've noticed is that Vintage can be broken down into several primary strategies:
- Oath of Druids, giving your opponent a creature with Forbidden Orchard and cheating a Griselbrand into play.
- Tinker, sacrificing a useless Mox, to cheat either a Time Vault or a Blightsteel Colossus into play. Time Vault is played in conjunction with Voltaic Key and once both are in play, you can generate infinite turns.
- Yawgmoth's Will, to replay all of your cheap card draw spells and Dark Ritual effects in order to win through a large Tendrils of Agony.
Some decks run one of these combos. Some decks run several of them. Whether one combo or another is included, most Vintage decks you'll come across contain the following package of restricted cards:
- Ancestral Recall- Black Lotus- Brainstorm- Demonic Tutor- Fastbond- Imperial Seal- Mana Vault- Merchant Scroll- Mox Emerald- Mox Jet- Mox Pearl- Mox Ruby- Mox Sapphire- Ponder- Sol Ring- Time Vault- Time Walk- Tinker- Tolarian Academy- Vampiric Tutor- Yawgmoth's Bargain- Yawgmoth's Will
Yes, it's quite the extensive list. While only some lists contain all of the aforementioned cards, all lists contain some of them. You have to remember that the Black Lotus and the five Moxes often count toward the deck's land count, which means there are actually more free spaces in a given deck than you might think.
Regardless, this is the deck we'll be battling with today:
As you can see Magic Online user Thail took the following list to a 3-1 finish in a Vintage Daily Event. His deck includes not only the Oath of Druids engine, but also Tinker and the Time Vault combo. Let's see how we do in this ridiculous format!
Oath of Druids vs. Stax
Oath of Druids vs. Tinker
Oath of Druids vs. Burning Oath
Oath of Druids vs. Doomsday
Oh man, is this format crazy or what! Wow, 4-0 with the deck. We won by attacking with Griselbrand, by fatesealing our opponent after casting Doomsday and watching him time out, by getting Time Vault and Voltaic Key into play, and we weren't even playing perfectly…
This deck definitely has a lot of avenues it can attack from, but as I mentioned in the videos, I can't help but wonder why all the decks with Tinker don't include a Blightsteel Colossus. The thing is, with Time Vault, you don't always want to Tinker for Time Vault when the Voltaic Key is nowhere in sight.
I got to thinking about it, and the reason became obvious: well, if we have an Oath of Druids in play, we're going to hit the Blightsteel Colossus instead of the Griselbrand about 50% of the time. And then I kept thinking about it...is that so bad? Often, Blightsteel is capable of winning in one turn, and this means if our Oath of Druids triggers a second time, that instead of ignoring it, we can actually let it resolve and have both a Griselbrand and a Blightsteel Colossus in play. Sure, there might be flaws to this plan that I'm overlooking because I'm not a Vintage guru, but it seems like a possibility worth exploring at the very least.
Basically, the reason I found that we always want to hit Griselbrand is because we want the ability to draw a million cards. This gives us the opportunity to find a Time Vault and a Voltaic Key (or a Tinker), and make sure our opponent never takes another turn. In situations where we don't have enough life to draw the required number of cards, we can simply opt for finding a Force of Will to protect ourselves until our next turn where we'll be able to draw seven more cards after attacking. The strategy is definitely sound, and it won us games without a Blightsteel Colossus. I guess it was just frustrating have a turn two (or heck, even turn one) Tinker, and not being able to search out anything really relevant with it, while finding a Blightsteel Colossus, if unimpeded, would have won the game on the spot.
My other qualm with Vintage - if you can call it that - is the naming conventions! Oh man, the naming conventions! I have no idea what these decks are called or what to call these decks. This Oath of Druids deck using Time Vault and Tinker while this one doesn't! This one has a storm package! This Storm deck has Tinker, while this one uses Time Vault! Do these decks already have names, or is this a relevant distinction that I need to make when naming them? The last thing I want to do is upset the Vintage community! Boy, this paragraph has a lot of exclamation marks!
Either way, I hope you guys have enjoyed this look at Vintage while Standard is finding a new identity for itself with the inclusion of M15. Thanks for watching and I'll catch you on Monday.
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV