(Hey guys. The Magic Online Community Cup is upon us again and they're currently accepting nominations. If you believe I would be worthy of representing you guys, direct your browsers here and do me the favor of nominating me for your representative at the Community Cup.

In the subject field, simply type "Frank Lepore." In the question field, type anything your heart desires and let them know that you want to nominate me for the Community Cup and why. That's all it takes. I would be honored to represent the community that has become such a large part of my life and I appreciate any help you guys could provide to get me there. Thank you so much for your consideration. -Frank)

Last week I received a few requests for a Vintage Masters Draft today. I was all set to show one off that Melissa and I did together on Magic Online. We had it all recorded and everything. Then I went and did something silly. (As a bonus, I'll still be including the Draft below, for those interested.) Check it out.

A mere two weeks after writing my well-received article on the dangers of tilt, expounding on the fact that I'm not a closer, I go on to win the TCGplayer Open in Orlando, Florida and I did it with a non-tier one strategy: Bant Superfriends! It was a sweet and well deserved victory, you can be sure of that. Can I say that? That my own victory was "well deserved"?

No matter!

I played the deck in the Providence Open the week before, and I knew I liked it. I also showed it off in my Standard article last week as well. For reference sake, here is the exact list I used:

DECKID=1203779

As you can see I made a few changes and additions from the list I used last week, some of them I mentioned and others were last minute. I knew there were only four cards I was truly concerned about: AEtherling, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Obzedat, Ghost Council, and Stormbreath Dragon. Well let me tell you, Rapid Hybridization over performed against all of them...except AEtherling that is (which was the main reason I added two Pithing Needle to the sideboard, but being able to shut down Xenagos, the Reveler and Domri Rade were also nice bonuses). At one point I was able to Rapid Hybridization a Stormbreath Dragon who attempted to go monstrous in the same turn it was cast. Needless to say...he did not. Go monstrous, that is. You get it.

My final record at the end of the event was 10-1-1. I lost one round all day to previous Orlando Top 16 competitor Kit Chinlund. He was a pretty funny guy and we had already interacted before the tournament as his name ended up being misspelled on the site and he had asked me to Remedy this. I did, but it didn't stop him from referring to himself as "the guy whose name was misspelled on the site." He dismantled me pretty handily in that round, but I actually faced off against him again in the finals and I ended up winning our match with two Elspeth, Sun's Champion emblems and a Kiora, the Crashing Wave emblem in play. +4/+4 and flying to all of my krakens was pretty insane.

The changes I made to the sideboard include cutting one Nyx-Fleece Ram and one Jace, Memory Adept and adding two Gainsay. The reason was that my Burn and control matchups were already pretty solid and Gainsay was amazing against both control decks and Monoblue Devotion which was becoming popular again. The other change to the maindeck that I made was the addition of two Dissolve and two Rapid Hybridization. You can kind of see the evolution of the deck from one list to the next. Some people in the comments were mentioning how Dissolve isn't what you want in the deck but they don't really know what they're talking about. The deck is good because it has so many cards that, when left uncontested on the board, generate a ridiculous amount of card advantage. Being able to protect these cards with Dissolve, or protect an Elspeth, Sun's Champion or an Advent of the Wurm token is huge. Not to mention Dissolve deals with all four of the aforementioned troublesome creatures and is one of the best answers to AEtherling. Dissolve is not a card you want to be casting on turn three here. It is not a part of your early game strategy; it is a defensive late game plan.

Speaking of AEtherling, this was a card I added because the deck could sometimes have a hard time closing out games. I am convinced that AEtherling is the best finisher in Standard right now and it isn't particularly close. Everything else seems to have some kind of answer, but an AEtherling with two or three blue mana up (and often one mana will do) is literally unstoppable. AEtherling won me games I was nowhere close to winning and he did it in two turns. Don't get me wrong, Elspeth is an amazing card, but she needs support cards. When a control deck drops Elspeth, Sun's Champion and can't protect her, they're often left with three 1/1s and a missing planeswalker. This is why a card like AEtherling is so vital for this deck. While I won plenty of games with an unanswered Elspeth, AEtherling came along and won the games that Elspeth couldn't. The Hero's Downfall games. The Elspeth mirror match games. When you remember that Aethering can also take out every planeswalker in one unblockable swing, it basically ends the discussion.

I've been immensely fond of this deck ever since having found it on Magic Online. I think most of the world is afraid to combine early creatures with Supreme Verdict but honestly, the combination is just fine. If the need arises, I begin to consider the Sylvan Caryatids reusable Lotus Petals that can efficiently block. The truth is, sure, none of us enjoy losing our own creatures to a Wrath of God, and yes, successful deck design would often tell us that if we're going to wrath on turn four or five, we shouldn't put creatures in our deck that we want to play on turn two or three. But the truth is these creatures allows us to play our Supreme Verdicts much, much later in the game than we normally would. Instead of wiping away two creatures we can often Wipe Away four because our opponent is forced to overcommit, lest he never get ahead. The best part about all of this though is that after we untap from our later-in-the-game Supreme Verdict, we often have a good enough amount of lands to cast a Sphinx's Revelation and not even feel bad about it! Whereas the regular control deck would only have around five lands, we often have six to eight mana available after our first Supreme Verdict, and that's more than enough to steal the tempo of the game.

Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix are just such useful tools in this deck - not only for the card advantage, life gain, and ramp capabilities they provide, but also for their defensive nature - that the spirit of the deck goes in such a sharp tangent from the traditional control decks of the format.

I can't say enough about the deck really. I played against all of the following this weekend:

- RUG Midrange
- Orzhov Control
- Monogreen Aggro
- Naya Auras
- Monoblue Devotion
- Orzhov Control
- Boros Burn
- Orzhov Control
- Orzhov Control

That's quite an extensive list and covers most of the major archetypes in Standard. The only deck I didn't really play against was a UW control variant, and I actually won a couple games against one when I was testing with Melissa before the event. Either way, I still advocate the deck. I still think it's a solid choice for the format, as it presents a lot of very difficult to deal with threats, most of which provide varying forms of card advantage. If you have any questions about the deck, let me know, and I'll try and get to them in the comment section.

For now, as promised, a Vintage Masters Draft! Vintage Masters is a Magic Online only set that was recently released to get the Power 9 (Mox Jet, Mox Emerald, Mox Pearl, Mox Sapphire, Mox Ruby, Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Timetwister) onto Magic Online, while also reprinting a ton of valuable Legacy staples (Force of Will, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, all ten dual lands, etc.) to make the price point for Legacy on Magic Online less prohibitive. It's been doing great job so far, since most of the cards mentioned have nearly halved in price, but it's also an exciting time because each of the Power 9 sells for around 60 tickets (a ticket is the equivalent of one dollar on Magic Online) which makes opening the packs while drafting quite the thrill. Black Lotus is hovering at around $130 right now, so you can imagine how nice it is to open one.

Nevertheless, the draft format has also been a blast. It combines a lot of powerful cards from a ton of older draft formats and archetypes together to form this kind of throwback, Cube-like draft, only not as powerful. But don't take my word for it. Take a look for yourself!

Vintage Masters Draft 1 - Draft

Vintage Masters Draft 1 - Round 1

Vintage Masters Draft 1 - Round 2

An unfortunate loss, but our opponent's deck did seem a little better. Thanks for reading and for all the kind words you guys left for me after my win. I still can't really believe it. Thanks you so much for the support. Let me know if there's any deck you'd like me to show off for Thursday and I'll catch ya then!

Frank Lepore
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