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MtG: Vintage Thread

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19 Sep 2013 19:25 #161368 by Space Ghost
So, I thought it might be interesting to create a thread discussing vintage magic. To start, here is my decklist for a deck I used last weekend to win an Ancestral Recall at a local tournament (the only difference is that this list now contains the Recall).

Th deck is called "Winds of Chains" and I have been subtly changing it for about 10 years now. It has went through many iterations, but it has always had Chains of Mephistopheles as the center piece (mainly because I am fascinated with some of the older, more difficult to work cards.

Mana:

1 x Mox Jet
1 x Mox Sapphire
1 x Mox Ruby
1 x Lotus Petal
1 x Lion's Eye Diamond
1 x Tolarian Academy
2 x Gemstone Mines
1 x Stripmine
1 x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 x Underground Sea
2 x Volcanic Island
1 x Tropical Island
2 x Polluted Delta
2 x Flooded Strand

Creatures:

3 x Dark Confidant
1 x Psychatog
1 x Trygon Prdator
1 x Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Artifacts:

1 x The Rack
1 x Tormod's Crypt
1 x Ensnaring Bridge

Enchantments:

3 x Chains of Mephistopheles

Spells:

4 x Force of Will
4 x Mana Drain
1 x Timetwister
1 x Ancestral Recall
3 x Stifle
1 x Mystical Tutor
2 x Hurkyl's Recall
3 x Diabolic Vision
1 x Demonic Tutor
1 x Vampiric Tutor
3 x Thoughtseize
1 x Wheel of Fortune
3 x Winds of Change
1 x Sadistic Sacrament

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19 Sep 2013 19:33 #161371 by Erik Twice
Replied by Erik Twice on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread
Apparently Vintage is an amazing format right now. I looked it up and White Weenie, YES, THAT DECK is Tier 1 and the fastest deck is actually Elves.

If that's not awesome, I don't know what it is!

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19 Sep 2013 19:54 - 19 Sep 2013 20:00 #161376 by dragonstout
Replied by dragonstout on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread
I'm jealous, I'd love to play in a Vintage tournament. Hell, at this point I'd love to play Legacy too, and theoretically have the opportunities to, but newborn.

Nothing makes me want to play Vintage more than reading Stephen Menendian articles. That guy is one of my top 3 or so favorite MTG writers; it tells you something when I've read (even BOUGHT!) TONS of articles by him on a format I've *never played*. So passionate about the game.

Congrats on the Recall! I love the deck.

I love playing with Vintage-only cards in Cube, which is why I'm a Powered Cube guy all the way.
Last edit: 19 Sep 2013 20:00 by dragonstout.

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20 Sep 2013 05:55 #161386 by Attrition
Replied by Attrition on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread
That's an awesome deck Space Ghost; I'd like to see it in action. Looks like there would be plenty of challenging/interesting decision trees.

Vintage is really the only format I play, though cube drafting is OK occasionally. Vintage evolves at a pace that keeps things interesting without being impossible to keep up with. I use 100% proxies (nice ones though, none of the sharpie on basic land bullshit). I can't recommend trying vintage highly enough. There's a fantastic podcast called "So Many Insane Plays" that would be a great place to start for those interested in learning more about the format.

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20 Sep 2013 06:57 - 20 Sep 2013 06:59 #161389 by dragonstout
Replied by dragonstout on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread
Welcome, and glad MTG could pull you out of lurking, Attrition!

The "So Many Insane Plays" podcast is by Stephen Menendian, the guy I was referring to in my post. It's also the title of his long-running article series for StarCityGames whose full archives you can read. Nowadays he writes pay-per-article articles for eternal-central, but they're sometimes worth it EVEN if you don't play Vintage! To anyone who enjoys Magic puzzles a la the old "Magic: the Puzzling", I highly recommend buying his Doomsday puzzle articles. Very well-constructed puzzles!

I love this piece of a forum post by him, which demonstrates very clearly how he thinks about Magic; he's talking about the Burning Long deck he invented:

This deck is very difficult too, so much so that in the last tournament I played, I observed one player playing this deck, and I *literally* thought everything he did was wrong. This is not hyperbole:

* Every land drop was wrong (his land drop sequencing was suboptimal)
* Every Mox sequence was wrong
* Every tutor choice was wrong
* When he played Necro was wrong
* The mana he used to play Necro was wrong
* The amount of cards he drew with Necro was wrong
* The cards he discarded with Necro were wrong.

In short, I didn't see a single correct play.

and

My point though is this: while being difficult to play is certain a barrier or a challenge, it's also a worthwhile challenge. As long as a deck is not actually impossible to play, it promises that the better you are, the better you will perform. What more could we possibly ask for in Vintage? I'd rather play a deck with an extremely low floor and an extremely high ceiling, than a deck with a high floor and more limited ceiling.

Last edit: 20 Sep 2013 06:59 by dragonstout.
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20 Sep 2013 07:11 #161390 by Space Ghost
Replied by Space Ghost on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread
I agree with that quote on complexity completely. The deck above is not as difficult as Burning Long, but it is fairly difficult.

The Chains is used in conjunction with the draw spells (Wheel of Fortune, Timetwister, Winds of Change, Windfall, etc.) to basically empty your opponents hand -- it is possible (and would be easier if I had a Lotus) to empty your opponents hand on turn one, and often by turn 3 on an average game.

The difficult part is to figure out which lands to get with the fetchlands (primarily what order to get them in) and what to tutor for to limit your opponents ability to do mount an offensive before you can empty the hand. Diabolic vision is nice because it helps with Dark Confidant and the ordering of spells - but, it takes some effort since you are ordering 5 cards at once. Thoughtseize is used more for just figuring out what the opponent has going on then the need to take a card. Ancestrall Recall can be used as a discard spell if Chains is out, which is nice

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20 Sep 2013 17:33 #161438 by Attrition
Replied by Attrition on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread
Thanks for the welcome; I check these boards daily, I'm just not one to post much. Vintage MTG is one game/format that is worth prosletizing, especially as there seem to be so many misconceptions surrounding it (e.g. first turn kills, luck of the draw, game length, etc.). Magic has such a gloriously heterogeneous array of formats that there's really something for everyone. Speaking as a person with zero interest in playing Standard, I love the splashy plays, diversity of archetypes, metagaming decisions, and mind-twisting puzzles that vintage offers. There's also plenty of room for innovation, as that crazy Chains deck attests to.

Doomsday, Burning-long, and Gush decks in general require lots of practice to sequence even close to correctly. Even Shops and Fish decks can be tricky to pilot perfectly and I don't think I've ever played a game with zero mistakes. This kind of depth is what makes the format so awesome and it really never gets stale for me. Even slight variations in deck construction can radically alter the feel of an archetype and its matchups. For other lurkers out there, this is a great time to jump in and play vintage.

Space Ghost, I like the revival of hand destruction, though it's unclear to me why this gives you an asymmetrical advantage over your opponent. Are you saying you empty your opponent's hand so that they can't discard, then play a draw 7 under Chains so that they just flip a card off their library into their graveyard, while you get the full draw? That's obviously awesome but how do you empty their hand to begin with? Sorry to make you spell out the combo, but I haven't played with or against Chains of Mephistopheles.

Dragonstout, you should absolutely try to proxy a few vintage decks. You can get scans of the card frames online, insert some card art, print them out, and sleeve them. It's definitely a bit of work, but since the format changes relatively slowly you won't need to make new proxies often. As far as podcasts are concerned, I actually encountered "So Many Insane Plays" through Stephen's articles on Eternal Central, and I find that Kevin provides great balance to the podcast. It's really just a very well made show and well worth a listen for the Vintage-curious. "Serious Vintage" is another good one, though it's mostly about tournaments, sandwich punching, and food.

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20 Sep 2013 17:58 #161443 by dragonstout
Replied by dragonstout on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread

Attrition wrote: Space Ghost, I like the revival of hand destruction, though it's unclear to me why this gives you an asymmetrical advantage over your opponent. Are you saying you empty your opponent's hand so that they can't discard, then play a draw 7 under Chains so that they just flip a card off their library into their graveyard, while you get the full draw? That's obviously awesome but how do you empty their hand to begin with? Sorry to make you spell out the combo, but I haven't played with or against Chains of Mephistopheles.

Wheel of Fortune and Winds of Change empty the hand all by themselves! It's not asymmetrical, though; far as I can tell, Space Ghost just empties both players hands and then kills via Rack and Psychatog, who is able to attack across the Ensnaring Bridge. If a Dark Confidant is out, then he can attack too (note that his "put in your hand" doesn't trigger Chains). Play your 1-2 cards after attacks, and your opponent can't attack back. I'm sure there's more going on that I'm not noticing.

Attrition wrote: Dragonstout, you should absolutely try to proxy a few vintage decks. You can get scans of the card frames online, insert some card art, print them out, and sleeve them. It's definitely a bit of work, but since the format changes relatively slowly you won't need to make new proxies often.

The cards aren't the problem; until recently I had Power 9 etc. and still do have plenty of dual lands and Legacy stuff (and I've got a Collector's Edition Power 9 for my Cube). My problem is twofold: 1) with two kids, one a newborn, I don't have the time to go out and play ANY Magic 2) there is no Vintage community in San Diego. Now, there IS in L.A., and before either kid was born I used to make trips with friends up to L.A. for the day to play in big Legacy tournaments, but that's infeasible now (and the closer friend moved away, though he's back visiting for the first time today and has requested a powered Cube draft!).
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20 Sep 2013 18:25 - 20 Sep 2013 18:26 #161450 by Space Ghost
Replied by Space Ghost on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread

dragonstout wrote:

Attrition wrote: Space Ghost, I like the revival of hand destruction, though it's unclear to me why this gives you an asymmetrical advantage over your opponent. Are you saying you empty your opponent's hand so that they can't discard, then play a draw 7 under Chains so that they just flip a card off their library into their graveyard, while you get the full draw? That's obviously awesome but how do you empty their hand to begin with? Sorry to make you spell out the combo, but I haven't played with or against Chains of Mephistopheles.

Wheel of Fortune and Winds of Change empty the hand all by themselves! It's not asymmetrical, though; far as I can tell, Space Ghost just empties both players hands and then kills via Rack and Psychatog, who is able to attack across the Ensnaring Bridge. If a Dark Confidant is out, then he can attack too (note that his "put in your hand" doesn't trigger Chains). Play your 1-2 cards after attacks, and your opponent can't attack back. I'm sure there's more going on that I'm not noticing.


Mostly just this. Timetwister, Wheel of Fortune, Winds of Change, and Windfall will empty all the hands by themselves if Chains is out. So it is not asymmetrical in that sense -- usually, it can give you some type of board advantage. I will gladly empty everyone's hand on the first turn or two without a kill condition out. The assumption being that my side of the board will have some mana and a Chains on it. In the last tournament, I went second, played a strip mine, mox jet, lotus petal, chains, winds of change. Turn 1, I emptied both hands, Turn 2, I drew a Dark Confidant, Turn 3 I stripped mined their one land and that was that.

The Dark Confidant has synergy with the Chains for the reason that Dragonstout says -- Diabolic Vision has the same synergy. So there is some asymmetry there. Also, much of Vintage is based around card draws, so Chains basically cripples that engine too. I have tried several different versions of this deck -- I used to have Meddling Mage in it as well, but I think that Psychatog + Stifles works somewhat better.

Both of these are slight advantages, but that can be crippling in Vintage -- also, I think that the type of advantage is usually unexpected.

If Chains is out, the draw spells basically become milling cards and then Tormod's Crypt can help with that -- sometimes I will play with Planar Void instead. I have used Glimpse the Unthinkable and just had more of a Blue/Black Mill Deck...but it loses some of its speed.

Winds of Change, I think, is an underappreciated card. There is also some psychological advantage to be had by forcing your opponent to draw a new hand after they already decided to keep there hand. So depending on how you read them during the "mulligan phase", it might be a good card to lead with regardless. If they are over confidant, then it is nice just to give them a new hand. If they are hesitant, then maybe don't use it. If they mulligan one or more times, then it can be quite devastating because they were probably looking for land or some such -- especially if you can team it up with a Strip Mine. With all the mana fixing and tutors, it is fairly easy to get the mana you need and the answers to most of your immediate worries.
Last edit: 20 Sep 2013 18:26 by Space Ghost.

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20 Sep 2013 18:40 #161453 by Attrition
Replied by Attrition on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread
Thanks for the Chains explanation; seems pretty fun! It doesn't seem too mana intensive to pull off either, though having a lotus in there certainly wouldn't hurt, as you already mentioned. As you say, the advantage you're getting through chains is often unexpected, which I think is evidenced by my looking for ways for you to draw absurd amounts of cards rather than what you're actually doing, which is basically wrathing everyone's hands to lock out your opponent once you have some kind of board advantage. Do you struggle against dredge when you can't find Tormod's Crypt or are the tutors enough to find it for you consistently? Also, since you're throwing so much into your own graveyard, wouldn't it be worth adding Yawgmoth's Will?

Dragonstout, time is always the killer; but it really surprises me that there's no substantial Vintage in a city the size of San Diego. The powered cube sounds awesome though; have a great time with that!

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20 Sep 2013 19:04 #161455 by dragonstout
Replied by dragonstout on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread

Attrition wrote: Dragonstout, time is always the killer; but it really surprises me that there's no substantial Vintage in a city the size of San Diego. The powered cube sounds awesome though; have a great time with that!

To be honest, I'm not sure what the Legacy scene is like now either since I've played so little Magic over the past couple years (relatively, of course). But even Legacy, which is much more popular than Vintage, when my friends and I first started playing Legacy there was no San Diego scene, which is why we made our monthly trips up to Los Angeles to play in tournaments there (and that store recently started running Vintage tournaments as well). When last I was heading out to stores, though, there was an established biweekly Legacy tournament in San Diego, even in TWO stores, with sometimes larger tournaments (bigger prizes) that would draw people from Los Angeles etc.

I just hope Modern doesn't kill this stuff off; there's something VERY different about Magic when the classic-bordered cards are allowed. There is also just a magic about playing the restricted-list cards; Necropotence is easily one of the top 5 most fun cards to play ever, IMHO.

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20 Sep 2013 20:09 #161457 by Attrition
Replied by Attrition on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread
I couldn't agree more on the difference that getting to play old cards makes. I played from Revised through Alliances (1994-96) and only started playing again a few years ago, so I'm fond of the old card frames and non-digital card art. The power levels of those formative years were more erratic and the effects so much zanier. Eternal formats are one of the few places that the bizarre frontier feel of early Magic still persists. EDH, cube, and type 4 are all super fun and all have the potential to be as crazy as vintage, but because they're casual formats they just don't present the same satisfaction that carefully solving a sequencing puzzle in Vintage affords.

I've actually never played Legacy, though I certainly wouldn't be opposed if the opportunity presented itself. Modern just doesn't hold the same appeal for me. It's not because of some affected hipster aversion to more mainstream formats or nostalgia for the "good old days" (though there's undeniably a little of that). I just like the way the old cards play and the strange boardstates and interactions they produce.

I don't know how you guys feel about the reserve list, but for my part I'm a huge proponent of its abolition for the sake of getting more players into this incredible format. So much power is now in Europe. For those (understandably) worried about drops in card value that reprints would precipitate, at least 1) the original old cards will always be valuable bling and 2) at least those cards would see more table time with an increase in the number of vintage players. A format that requires thousands of dollars to play or significant time investment just to make decent proxies has limited appeal to most prospective players. None of this is new or original, but it's certainly the elephant in the room for the format, especially when we're bemoaning how difficult it is to find games even when we can find the time to play.

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20 Sep 2013 21:13 #161462 by dragonstout
Replied by dragonstout on topic Re: MtG: Vintage Thread

Attrition wrote: I don't know how you guys feel about the reserve list, but for my part I'm a huge proponent of its abolition for the sake of getting more players into this incredible format. So much power is now in Europe. For those (understandably) worried about drops in card value that reprints would precipitate, at least 1) the original old cards will always be valuable bling and 2) at least those cards would see more table time with an increase in the number of vintage players. A format that requires thousands of dollars to play or significant time investment just to make decent proxies has limited appeal to most prospective players. None of this is new or original, but it's certainly the elephant in the room for the format, especially when we're bemoaning how difficult it is to find games even when we can find the time to play.

I think it's pretty hard to find anyone on any forum anywhere who actually SAYS they like the Reserve List. Who knows who they are...even with a massive Legacy collection, I'd LOVE if the Reserve List were abolished. To me that is easily the best thing about Modern: the guarantee of increasing the supply of expensive staples.

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