With the 2016 Vintage Championship just around the corner, its crunch time for figuring out the latest metagame trends and making tweaks to decks and sideboards in preparation for the big event. So what does it take to win the Vintage championship? The short answer is a good deck and lots of practice. Unfortunately, figuring out what the best deck is can be a fairly complex question, and the answer lies in seeing what plays best against the decks that have been successful most recently. Last weekend there was a huge event in Baltimore – Eternal Extravaganza 5. It isn’t much of a stretch to assume that many other players will be looking at the top 8 decks from this event when making their decisions for Vintage Champs – so how will these results effect the metagame?
7 of the top 8 decks from Eternal Extravaganza were blue based decks, and 5 of those 7 featured Gush. The winning deck was a Gush based Mentor deck that isn’t terribly different than the decks we’ve been seeing regularly since Mentor was first printed.
The sea has been extra bad about keeping secrets lately
This deck is good example of what to expect other players to bring to this year’s Vintage Championship. I like the addition of the full 4 copies of Swords to Plowshares. One trend I’ve noticed lately is that many of the creature decks in the format (primarily Humans and Eldrazi) play Cavern of Souls. Cavern renders counter spells ineffective, so it is typically better to have the opportunity to remove dangerous creatures after they’ve hit the battlefield. With many of the blue decks also packing creatures as a win condition, having access to a lot of Swords to Plowshares becomes an even better idea.
Gush decks have proven to be contenders in this metagame time and again, and are likely to be the most popular decks played at the winning tables this year. Whatever deck you decide to bring to Vintage Champs this year should be turned to beat blue Gush decks above all others.
One of the 7 blue based decks in the top 8 of EE5 was Brian Kelly playing a new Oath of Druids deck featuring Gush.
The last two Vintage Championships were both won by Oath of Druids decks, and last year’s was won by Brian Kelly himself. This latest version moves the deck in a very controlling direction with only two copies of Forbidden Orchard, the land that enables the Oath strategy to work when an opponent hasn’t played any creatures. Brian’s deck seeks to get Oath on the table early to prevent his opponents from playing any of their creature based win conditions, then he can sit back behind a wall of counter magic and card advantage until he eventually draws a Forbidden Orchard or can win by just hard casting his creatures.
Fire in the hole!
Once again Brian’s deck features the Auriok Salvagers combo. Auriock Salvages can return Black Lotus from the graveyard for only two mana, and since the Lotus generates 3 mana, it can be infinitely recurred to make as much mana as you will need to play all of your spells and eventually recur Pyrite Spellbomb for the win. Even if you don’t have a Black Lotus you can use the Salvagers to recur Engineered Explosives or even to put a couple Moxes in hand to discard to Dack Fayden. The Salvagers combo is nice because it can easily be played without relying on Oath of Druids, and it’s something that can’t be reasonably used on Magic Online. Many online players will have limited experience against it, which could give you an edge when playing a deck like this one.
Workshop decks have been the target of many restrictions since last year’s Vintage Championship. Even without 4 copies of archetype staples like Chalice of the Void and Lodestone Golem, the Workshop decks have managed to persist and have won several of the last big tournaments. The big addition has been Thought-Knot Seer, which has pulled a lot of weight to fill in for the restricted Lodestone. Now with Kaladesh, Shops have a new card type that plays perfectly with their core strategy – vehicles. The only non-blue deck to top 8 Eternal Extravaganza was a new deck called Car Shops that utilizes these new vehicles to their ultimate potential.
Fleetwheel Cruiser is my early pick as the best card in the Kaladesh set for Vintage. 5/3 trample and haste are amazing stats on a 4 mana artifact, and with Mishra’s Factories to help crew the vehicles, this deck should be able to close out games very quickly. Skysovereign, Consul Flagship isn’t bad either, as a 5 mana artifact that can knock off an annoying creature, or one of the many Planeswalkers played in blue decks. As a bonus, you can play vehicles with Mishra’s Factories against Oath of Druids to be able to keep up your attack without activating the Oath!
Unlike most American Vintage tournaments, the Vintage Championship doesn’t allow proxies, so there will be an abnormally high volume of budgets decks. The best budget deck by far, seems to be unpowered Eldrazi.
Mark Hornung used this deck to beat me in the last round of Eternal Extravaganza 4 to keep me out of the top 8, and although this deck is nearly Legacy legal, it’s definitely a contender. Null Rod is a powerful disruptive card and it makes playing without Moxes a bonus instead of a handicap. Almost every land you play generates the equivalent of 2 mana, so this deck is unusually fast for being unpowered. Anyone coming to the event primarily to play Legacy on Saturday may very well decide to run this on Friday.
In addition to Eldrazi, Dredge is a deck that seems to pop up more often when proxies aren’t legal. Many players are able to borrow the cards needed to play Dredge, and the mechanical nature of the deck makes it a good choice for those that have limited Vintage experience. Whatever you decide to play at Vintage Champs this year, don’t forget your anti-dredge sideboard cards.
It will only be a few short days now before this tournament goes down and a new champion is crowned. How will Kaladesh affect the overall metagame? Will Oath win again? Will Workshops overcome this year’s adversity and take the top slot? Will blue decks continue their dominance? We’ll find out soon.
Joseph Fiorini says:
Nice work Paul! I really want to try a Gush Oath deck, but I can't bring myself to run Salvagers on MTGO so I need a different route to take.
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