Vintage 101: Mana Drain Returns!


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    Take a look at three of the top decks from the Vintage Challenge with Islandswamp!

    https://www.mtggoldfish.com/articles/vintage-101-mana-drain-returns

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    The Triumphant Return of Mana Drain
    A few articles ago, in the wake of the third and most recent Gush restriction, I posited that perhaps we might see a resurgence of Mana Drain in contemporary Vintage. It appears that is exactly what is happening, although I certainly wouldn't say that Mana Drain is overly dominant. We went from a situation where very few successful decks wielded Mana Drain to one where several different kinds of Drain decks have had breakout performances. A few weeks ago Grixis Thieves won the Power Nine Challenge (although the top-performing Shops deck from the Swiss portion dropped from the event early). Now, this past Saturday we had another Drain deck take down the event as well as a second deck featuring Drains and Gifts Ungiven in the Top Eight.



  • Thank you, for this nice article.

    I really like @desolutionist Gifts control deck. Alot. Really digging the yawgmoth bargain in there.

    I think U.S. meta has always been slower to shift than the European meta. The Spanish have been running Gifts and Thirst in the same deck to top 8's since their unrestrictions. I believe they call the deck "Supremacy". Shows up as a keeper style deck in tcdecks.net
    Which means Drain never left their meta.


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    Joe, you said that Outcome is a better card than Gifts. I disagree. If I could start every game with 3 Mox and a land, I'd much rather cast Gifts than Outcome. 2 specific cards are better than 3 random ones, in my opinion. Often those 2 cards combo with each other and the rest of your hand to end the game. You can draw some cards with Outcome to just brick and pass the turn; Gifts gets the 4 most powerful cards from your deck in that situation and leverages against the unknown cards in your hand. Another advantage Gifts has over Outcome is that you can cast it from Lotus, Lands, or Drain mana. Consider a hand with just 2 lands and a Mana Drain. What would Outcome do there? Nothing. But a Gifts would end the game. Outcome requires more setup and deck constraints for not much greater return. Gifts might be the most powerful blue spell right now and I don't think anything is close.

    You said that player skill is a factor, but when evaluating cards don't we assume they're being used optimally? I know what Outcome does is powerful, but really don't think it's taking all the air out of the room like Gush had. If you look back at 2005-2006 era, people thought Thirst was powerful because it drew 3 cards, but when the dust settled it was Merchant Scroll that built the better deck because it just got the right one.


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    @desolutionist said in Vintage 101: Mana Drain Returns!:

    Joe, you said that Outcome is a better card than Gifts. I disagree. If I could start every game with 3 Mox and a land, I'd much rather cast Gifts than Outcome. 2 specific cards are better than 3 random ones, in my opinion. Often those 2 cards combo with each other and the rest of your hand to end the game. You can draw some cards with Outcome to just brick and pass the turn; Gifts gets the 4 most powerful cards from your deck in that situation and leverages against the unknown cards in your hand. Another advantage Gifts has over Outcome is that you can cast it from Lotus, Lands, or Drain mana. Consider a hand with just 2 lands and a Mana Drain. What would Outcome do there? Nothing. But a Gifts would end the game. Outcome requires more setup and deck constraints for not much greater return. Gifts might be the most powerful blue spell right now and I don't think anything is close.

    You said that player skill is a factor, but when evaluating cards don't we assume they're being used optimally? I know what Outcome does is powerful, but really don't think it's taking all the air out of the room like Gush had. If you look back at 2005-2006 era, people thought Thirst was powerful because it drew 3 cards, but when the dust settled it was Merchant Scroll that built the better deck because it just got the right one.

    To be clear I meant what I wrote as a compliment to you. You've always seemed like an excellent player to me.



  • @desolutionist I disagree with you, Outcome is much, much better. With 3 Moxen and a land Outcome will cost 1 mana overall. Gifts will make you spend that mana and pass the turn tapped out.


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    @fsecco said in Vintage 101: Mana Drain Returns!:

    Gifts will make you spend that mana and pass the turn tapped out.

    Gifts will put better cards into the game, faster. The Tutor aspect of Gifts Ungiven allows you to play a mostly controlling deck with only a few slots dedicated to 'combo', without giving up any speed. And that's why I prefer it to anything else right now; I can hone in on targeting the meta and not worry about having enough artifacts to enable Opal or to make Outcome worth it. I resolved a lot of Gifts Ungivens in the last week or two and all but one resulted in a win. I played with a Paradoxical deck before Gifts and I just didn't like how conditional it was and how it forced you to play with bad cards. Turn 1 Mox, Mox, Mox, Land is Outcome's best play and I don't even think that's better than Gifts. Is three random cards better than a pile such as [Lotus, Will, Ancestral, Tinker]? And that's just in a vacuum; if there were a JVP or similar in hand, it would end up in play that turn (rather than tapped out like you say)



  • @desolutionist I understand that Gifts is very good. I was just pointing out that in that blank Turn 1 scenario you pointed out (of 3 Moxen and Land) Outcome is better because it puts 3 cards in your hand + gives you 3 mana to work with.
    Gifts will give you cards to work with next turn, which is way slower.


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