Oh Boy I Can't Wait For VSL Season 7!

  • I've enjoyed this season a lot too, largely in part due to deck exploration. Last week was the worst though as there were so many lopsided games. The people who drew poorly drew really poorly.

  • TMD Supporter

    @smmenen The definately got better as it has moved further in. Erin/ @Oestrus has been a pleasant addition to the cast.

    I miss from a viewer point of view seeing every player play every week... though I understand why that’s not good for the players. However, that’s honestly a minor nitpick.

  • TMD Supporter

    I didn't get a chance to do this on the stream, so I wanted to take the opportunity here to acknowledge some folks who helped tremendous with my VSL brew this trimester. In particular, I want to recognize Tom Metelsky (@i_b_TRUE) and @JACO who also provided some information, including his latest list and a great primer he wrote on EC here.

    Tom was very generous with his time, talking over some of the tweaks I made to his list, which he used to win a Vintage Challenge a few months back, and hearing out my suggestions. In particular, I added Yawgmoth's Will and Peek to the maindeck, and Boseiju to the sideboard, among other changes. Tom also walked through some challenging testing matches I had, and gave me encouraging feedback.

    Here is what I played:


    Stephen Menendian
    Flash Rector
    1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    3 Academy Rector
    1 Griselbrand
    1 Monastery Mentor
    3 Cabal Therapy
    1 Demonic Tutor
    1 Gitaxian Probe
    1 Merchant Scroll
    1 Ponder
    1 Preordain
    3 Show and Tell
    1 Time Walk
    1 Ancestral Recall
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Dig Through Time
    1 Flash
    1 Flusterstorm
    1 Island
    1 Yawgmoth's Will
    1 Hurkyl's Recall
    1 Mental Misstep
    1 Mystical Tutor
    1 Vampiric Tutor
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Ancient Tomb
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Sol Ring
    1 Omniscience
    1 Yawgmoth's Bargain
    1 Mana Crypt
    2 Flooded Strand
    1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
    1 Library of Alexandria
    2 Misty Rainforest
    1 Peek
    2 Scalding Tarn
    2 Tundra
    3 Underground Sea
    1 Polluted Delta
    1 Sensei's Divining Top
    4 Force of Will

    2 Hurkyl's Recall
    1 Balance
    2 Containment Priest
    2 Kambal, Consul of Allocation
    1 Karakas
    4 Leyline of the Void
    1 Tinker
    1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
    1 Blightsteel Colossus

    The deck is really fun to play, and I cashed almost all of the leagues I played with it. I probably tested it in between 5-10 leagues, and did really well. Despite being extremely non-linear in appearance, it's actually remarkably consistent and resilient.

    Also, DW gave me a good ribbing tonight for durdling around in my 2nd match against Erin tonight. I probably durdled a bit too much, but I was trying to play around Flusterstorm. To explain: my main plan was to Show and Tell Ominiscience into play, and then use the Vamp to find Emrakul, and Bargain to draw it. The problem was that if I cast Show and Tell the turn earlier, Erin could have put the Demon into play, and use the Demonc to tutor up Flusterstorm to stop my Vamp. So I had to wait another turn. Also, if I had paid life for Probe, then I risked not being able to Force, and Vamp, and pay a life to draw the Emrakul. There may have a been a more direct route, but that's what was going on in my head. I wasn't trying to waste anyones time. In fact, I thought folks would have enjoyed seeing Emrakul hard cast! Despite seemingly overwhelming board state, I really didn't have much action in hand, so I just needed to be a bit careful.

    The deck is not really a combo deck. It's a combo-control deck. It doesn't have Tendrils, and it needs to actually win the long way - usually setting up Omniscience --> Emrakul.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it!

  • Week 9 was a fun watch. Technically my latest list was the one I emailed you last month:

    That's a bit off of what I'd play today, but I think it's pretty important to have at least 2 basics main. Both mine and Tom's list from the challenge had 2 basics, and not having 2 definitely cost you in the M1G2 last night against Dave. Not being able to fetch another basic to play through Wasteland + Thorn left you in a pretty rough spot (unable to cast Ponder and/or Ancestral without problem). Still, I was excited to see you play Rector in VSL, especially in light of what was supposed to be the "Brewer's Challenge" be pretty uninspiring outside of yours and a couple other decks. Rector Omniscience has been one of my favorite decks the past few years, and is still the most fun Vintage deck I've played since TNT. I also enjoyed you playing Ad Nauseam Tendrils, which was a throwback to the ANT lists of 2008/2009. Very nice, and different from what the other players were doing.

  • TMD Supporter

    There were some interesting decks this week!

    I thought it would be worth saying a few words about one of my decks. In my second match against Rich, I played a deck I call "Woke Mentor." The name refers to Thing in the Ice, which transforms into "Awoken Horror."

    Thing in the Ice has not received much love of late, but it has a few crucial advantages over Young Pyromancer in addition to the obvious fact of being blue, and thus pitchable to Force of Will:

    1. It is much more resilient against Walking Ballista. Pyromancer dies to the smallest possible Ballista, while Ballista has a difficult time killing off a Thing in the Ice. Since Ballista was printed this year, Young Pyromancer has proven to be a much weaker substitute to Monastery Mentor than otherwise would have been the case.

    2. Lightning Bolt. In many of the Xerox decks of late, players have starting running more Bolts and fewer Swords. Thing in the Ice survives Bolt, whereas Pyromancer does not.

    The first two are the most obvious advantages. But there are a few other ways that Thing in the Ice has tactical and strategic advantages.

    1. Kelly Oath creatures.
      One of the great advantages of Thing in the Ice over Kelly Oath is that the opponent can actually Oath without you losing the game. Because Thing in the Ice triggers are difficult to stop and can be timed with precision, you can use Thing in the Ice to bounce Oathed up creatures, like Inferno Titan, stranding them in hand, while you attack in. I have had this happen. I have even bounced Griselbrand just prior to a lethal attack.

    2. The Low-To-The-Ground, Hyper Aggro Shop Deck

    Pyromancer ostensibly gains it's advantage from horizontal growth, but this growth now does little to impede Shops aggressive game plan. This is where Thing In the Ice Shines.

    Thing in the Ice is a 0/4 wall against a fast Foundry Inspector, but then undoes all of the work of Steel Overseer, Hangarback generation, etc. when it flips. The only creature it won't Unsummon is usually a Phyrexian Revoker.

    There are, of course, disadvantages of Thing in the Ice vis-a-vis Pyromancer. In particular, Pyroblast and Swords are stronger against it than Pyromancer.

    But, to look at Thing in the Ice as better or worse than Pyromancer misses the point. Tempo threats for Xerox/Gush decks don't lie on a simplistic continuum of better or worse or high/medium/low. The question is always contextual: which threats are better in different shells, conditions, and contexts?

    In a field of Xerox mirrors, Pyromancer probably has the edge. It's distributed power is better against Plow and certainly better against Pyroblast. But in a metagame that looks like the Top 8 of the Vintage Championship - of Aggro Shops and Kelly Oath (with little to zero Pyroblast) - Woke Mentor is, I believe, a better choice. Thing in the Ice is better than Pyromancer against Oath sans Pyroblast and much better against Aggro Shop, in my testing.

    And, if you run a deck like Soly's from Champs, Thing in the Ice gets even more value, since Soly ran 4 Snapcaster. Thing in the Ice's transforms returns Snapcasters, and allows you to replay them for value.

    In Conclusion, Thing in the Ice is an overlooked Xerox finisher that is worth of special consideration in metagames with a higher density of Oath and Aggro Shop, and especially strong in metagames with few Pyroblasts like Vintage Champs Top 8. Young Pyromancer is often underwhelming in those matchups, and it here that Thing in the Ice can shine. Thing in the Ice may also be decent in Xerox metagames that have more Bolts and fewer Plows.

  • @smmenen I feel like this argument is familiar...


    @chubbyrain said in Discussing Gush Mentor (beating it, restriction discussion, anything):

    My opinion has been that the actual win conditions in Gush decks are interchangeable and should be based on what you feel the metagame will be like. Mentor is arguably the most powerful in a vacuum, but people start running Sudden Shocks, Sulfur Elementals, Dread of Nights, etc. Thing in the Ice is a very powerful alternative. Shops becomes very popular...look to Delver/Young Pyromancer. Shops becomes nonexistent...look to Doomsday. People start cutting Dack Faydens and loading up on Supreme Verdicts...Tinker becomes viable. The format is actually very dynamic and open...so long as you are willing to run 3-4 Gush in your Blue decks. That's the one card I feel is metagame proof.

  • TMD Supporter

    Except you wrote that when Mentor was unrestricted, which makes your statement obviously false. Mentor is not "Interchangeable" with other Xerox finishers, and never was.

    Everyone knows, or now should know, that Mentor is miles better than any of the alternative Xerox-based Tempo finishers. in my post, I am comparing distant 2nd place and far inferior replacement options, Young Pyromancer to Thing in the Ice.

  • @smmenen Yes, Xerox win percentages are way down as a result of the Mentor restriction...

    The only obvious thing is that neither Mentor or Gush were integral to the function of the deck. That was my argument. I said Mentor was the best in a vacuum but no one plays Magic in a vacuum. But then again, you focus on the word "interchangeable" since it makes you right, ignoring the rest of what I said...

  • TMD Supporter

    @chubbyrain said in Oh Boy I Can't Wait For VSL Season 7!:

    @smmenen Yes, Xerox win percentages are way down as a result of the Mentor restriction...

    I"m not sure what you mean by "way" down, but yes, Xerox has had a significant reduction in metagame % since the restriction of Mentor. It's been roughly a 20-33% metagame penetration decline since the restriction. Yes, that's a pretty significant reduction.

    Anyone even half paying attention knows that Mentor was a huge blow to Xerox decks.

    Give it a rest, Steve.

    If you don't want me presenting facts and obvious axioms, then don't bait me into doing so by responding to my posts.

  • @smmenen The "give it a rest" was you attempting to lawyer every argument in such a way that it makes you right. My intent was clearly to state that other win cons could be successful in the Gush - Delve engine. And that focusing on the win con ignored the rest of the deck. It was hyperbole to a degree, but I believe the point is apparent.

    Edit: I edited it out, as it was clearly a flame. Sorry.

  • Anyways....
    This season of VSL has been a blast to watch. Congratz to Kevin on the amazing run since his 0-3 start.
    The decks have been pretty fun to see as well. Lot of different decks and angles that I don't remember see in recent VSL's. The coverage has been very entertaining as well. Thanks @Smmenen and the rest of you for putting on a good show.
    Can't wait to see how it end's up on Tuesday between Kevin and Reid.

  • TMD Supporter

    Tune into the finals in just a few minutes!


    All of the decklists have finally been posted:


    Really proud of the decks I played this season.

  • Great season - thanks to everyone involved. The finals were a blast to watch, especially when @Smmenen was commentating. His enthusiasm was ridiculously contagious.

  • Congratulations on making the finals, Kevin!

    Is there any chance you and Steve will do a So Many Insane Plays that analyzes some of the decisions and scenarios that arose during the season? I for one would quite enjoy that.

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