So with the advent of community formats like Oldschool variants, Middleschool and Premodern, a friend and i wanted to try out Premodern Vintage.

All sets before 8th Edition are legal (old border) it basically should be a fusion of premodern and oldschool. We where talking about this for a while but Covid pretty much stopped us from actually playing and testing it in any significant enough way.
We want to start with the B&R List as it was back then and maybe change it from there as we see fit.

I have got three questions for you:

-Is that a Format you would be interested in?
-Do you think it is a good idea to start with the historic B&R List?
-What where your favorite Decks from that Era and what would you want to play?

@aelien said in Premodern Vintage:

-Do you think it is a good idea to start with the historic B&R List?

What was the list back then?

This era is exactly when I started playing competitive vintage so there's a lot of nostalgia here for me. Back then metagames were a lot more regional, and the best decks in Ritual-heavy Italy might not have fared well in Workshop-heavy Virginia. I bet @Smmenen 's History of Vintage has all the details you could imagine. I'll try and give my own perspective, as a newbie player in New England.

@thecravenone said in Premodern Vintage:

@aelien said in Premodern Vintage:

-Do you think it is a good idea to start with the historic B&R List?

What was the list back then?

I walked through the B&R timeline to put together the list as it was on the day before 8th edition came out:

Obviously a lot of these cards would be safe to remove, and players at the time knew it. As little attention as the format gets now, Vintage players were used to WotC making B&R decisions based on games they had played five years earlier. Black Vise was restricted until 2007 despite never having been part of a relevant Vintage deck for over a decade.

Just before 8th edition was an interesting crossroads in the format. Less than a month before 8th edition was the first restriction of Gush. I see Gro-a-Tog as the first modern Vintage deck ... or the first deck of its era, until a decade later, a third-time-unrestricted Gush created the first deck of our current era, Delver. I suspect GAT was far better against the field than its results showed. Back then the metagame didn't move as quickly. This was before the rise of proxy-tournaments and many metagames were defined by the preferences of a few skilled powered players. The gulf between GAT and the next-best deck is probably the largest of the entire time I've played Vintage, but it wasn't even a particularly popular deck.

This moment in time also marks the printing of the Storm mechanic, and the deck Burning Long. In December, Lion's Eye Diamond and Burning Wish were restricted (along with Chrome Mox. While this technically happened after 8th Edition and Mirrodin were released, Long is fully-functional without those sets, and I think it would be reasonable to keep those cards out of the format. Don't worry, you can still Tendrils without it.

The peak-fun in this era for me was probably a few months later, after Mirrodin, before Darksteel. The addition of Mirrodin gives you the epoch-defining Control Slaver, the first Goblin Charbelcher decks, and some very cool now-forgotten archetypes like Meandeck/Workshop Slaver, Scepter Control, Broodstar Runner, and Chalice Keeper

Keeping in mind how regional metagames were very different, here's the metagame pre-Mirrodin, in New England, as I remember it:


TNT Listed first because it was my first ever Vintage deck. Workshop to power out "big threats" like Juggernaut and Su-Chi (boy times have changed), with a Survival of the Fittest+Goblin Welder value engine

Stax The "good" Shop deck. Lock pieces, five colors, tons of restricted cards. Would cast Meditate to skip turns with Smokestack and Tangle Wire in play. Card draw, tutors, very few threats, often won with 20 swings of a Goblin Welder

MUD Colorless cards weren't nearly as deep as they are now. The main reason you'd give up on colored mana was to make Metalworker better. Grafted Skullcap was a card people actually played in a metagame where Hurkyl's Recall was even more popular than it is now. Better stick that Null Brooch early.


Burning Long/TPS, the two Dark Ritual/Tendrils of Agony decks. Long was more popular in America and five colors, cramming maximum brokenness. The Perfect Storm was more popular in Europe and stuck to blue/black, running more disruption (like Force of Will) to try and defend one big spell.

Dragon, there really isn't another deck like Dragon. A Bazaar of Baghdad deck, but nothing like the Bazaar decks you see today - it was pretty common to win without drawing it. The combo, while fairly straightforward to execute, involves one of the most convoluted chain of rules interactions in competitive deck history. It's a graveyard-based deck, but it's important to remember that before Dredge came along, people weren't running 7 graveyard-hate spells, so these matchups were very different. Dragon would try to outdraw control decks and race combo decks.


Null Rod Aggro In the time-before-proxies, budget aggro strategies were fairly common, players would specialize in Suicide Black decks (with Phyrexian Negator!) or Sligh. Slightly better were the R/G Beats decks or the R/W The Mountain Wins Again. Goblins decks would appear as well. None of these archetypes had a particularly big market share of players or tournament wins, but a few specialists would put up consistent finishes with them.

Oshowa Stompy Basically just a green Null-Rod Aggro deck, but a little stronger thanks to the addition of Bazaar of Bagdad. This is the great-grandfather of today's Survival decks

RUG Madness This was maybe the great-grandfather of today's Vengevine decks. Traded some of the disruption for splashier cards like Wheel of Fortune. Anger was what made the deck maybe two turns faster than all other aggro. It didn't have a huge following (though I played it and enjoyed it). This was probably the fastest aggro deck, but aggro decks were all really slow then.

UR Fish Except we didn't call it UR Fish, we called it something else that we really shouldn't have. This is the great-grandfather of Delver, but in a time where your best threats were two mana 1/1s instead of one mana 3/2s. You'd follow a Cloud of Fairies with a Standstill and sit on tempo-disrupting cards in a hodgepodge that was tough to pay around. I didn't respect the deck much in 2003, but in a lot of ways it was ahead of its time. Perhaps a bit too far ahead. Still, there was something beautiful about a fully-powered player being brought to their knees by a Spiketail Hatchling


Keeper/Four-Color-ControlAn elegant weapon for a more civilized age. Keeper has maybe always been more popular than powerful, but there's something special about it. Oskar Tan's epic multi-part love-letter to Keeper ("The Control Player's Bible") got more than a few people into Vintage, myself among them. Basically Vintage Good Stuff+Mana Drain, the Keeper mantra was that it had an answer to everything, you just had to play perfectly to find it. A Keeper deck was highly personalized, and players could have 6-page threads debating a single card slot. Steve O'Connell, the original founder of TheManaDrain, was a Keeper pilot, and it's almost certainly where the site got its name from. I don't have to sell you on Keeper: if you're a Keeper player, you already know it.

Landstill. It's been around forever. It's basically always been exactly the same.

Hulk Smash/Psychatog In the wake of Gush's restriction, The combo-control Gro-A-Tog deck gave way to the more purely control Hulk Smash. Basically just a pile of draw spells and counters, Tog wasn't as powerful as Long or flexible as Keeper, but it could outdraw anything. Tog wasn't the first deck I played, but it was the first deck I played well. Tog won the very first Vintage Champs, and there's no question if I were trying to win a tournament in this era, this is what I'd play.

There's a lot of fun options in this era, certainly more than I mentioned. My personal picks to play would be Psychatog ... Dragon ... Madness ... TPS ... Stax ... okay I guess I like a lot of these decks.

I would absolutely love premodern Vintage — in fact I actually already brew decks for such a format because it’s enjoyable for me to handle the cards from this era and fully anticipate it to be a thing in the near future.

I already am very enthusiastic about premodern and middle school and strongly dislike the new art, the new borders, Planeswalkers, and OP hatebears that dominate the modern vintage meta. I keep up with Vintage just for traditions sake, but actually playing modern vintage just isn’t remotely appealing to me.

@brass-man Thank you so much for your very detailled response! I myself have gone through the B&R timeline to get the list, but just wasnt fast enough to post here, sorry!

My go to deck for this era would definetly be TPS.

As for the B&R List: I agree that there are many cards on there that seem pretty harmless conpared to other, even unrestricted cards of that era, however since i myself did not play Vintage back then, but actually just startet out with magic in general around that time, my own judgement on those cards is purely theoretical.

Another good point brought up is that the metagame back then was highly regional and very slow to develop compared to modern times. Iam aware that this might let the metagame of that period seem more open and wide, while in modern times it could very much happen that a couple of best decks will dominate the meta by a lot. A counterpoint to this is the wide range of 93/94 Decks that are absolutely viable and see play.

Generally i like to test the format with the orginal B&R List before making any changes to it.

There is a format called OldFrame that is essentially this idea.

Personally, I'm not too keen on their restricted list, but each is welcomed to adjust as their playgroup desires.

For what it's worth, while some of the cards restricted back then were pretty silly (Fork??) I do prefer the idea of starting with the original list and seeing how things play out.

The MtgOldFrame folks caught two things I didn't - Flash and Time Vault worked completely different in 2003, and if you're using up-to-date oracle text then it seems appropriate to treat those cards as a special case. (and either errata or restrict/ban them)

Burning Wish/Cunning Wish also worked differently in 2003, in a way that was very relevant to the format. I can't believe I forgot to mention "Combo Keeper"/"The Shining"/"Your Mother" (regional decks had regional names), a Burning Wish based control list that I ADORED, but was rendered non-functional after the errata on Wishes. The modern rules-text makes those cards weaker, however, so there's no reason to consider bespoke-restricting them.

last edited by Brass Man

Tog was the best with the old wish rules.

@twaun007 I had a tidespout tyrant oath deck that ran 4x cunning wish to grab brainfreeze out of the sb after mox juggling (or sometimes a rebuild). The wishes also got echoing truth, trickbind vs storm, a counterspell or any "answer spell" in a pinch to allow me to go off. Cunning wish was the bomb.

I use it to grab the AK for 4 that I just exiled with my Psychatog

@brass-man said in Premodern Vintage:

Burning Wish/Cunning Wish also worked differently in 2003, in a way that was very relevant to the format. I can't believe I forgot to mention "Combo Keeper"/"The Shining"/"Your Mother" (regional decks had regional names), a Burning Wish based control list that I ADORED, but was rendered non-functional after the errata on Wishes. The modern rules-text makes those cards weaker, however, so there's no reason to consider bespoke-restricting them.

Really you don't need to replay Yawgmoth's Will. I'm playing The Shinning variant for an Old Frame and I'm currently 5-0 and didn't need a double Yawgmoth's Will in a game. The same for Tendrils. Right now we are better players than back in the day and we have learn how infinite recursion is rarely needed. crew are trying to free as many cards as posible and they take a masive unrestriction some weeks ago. (Black Vise,Braingeyser.,Crop Rotation,Doomsday,Dream Halls,Earthcraft,Entomb,Fork,Mind over Matter,Stroke of Genius)

They have hosted three monthly tournaments online, you can see decks on their facebook group.

@duke ah so we arent alone, and that format actually already exists, nice!
Ill check out mtgoldframe for sure

I'm really surprised to see Fact or Fiction restricted. I guess Mana Drain is still a big boogey man in the format.

I think even if Mana Drain weren’t allowed, Fact or Fiction has to be the best blue draw engine available. Stroke of Genius is probably next.

And of course Accumulated Knowledge.

I think it would be more fun if there was a different restriction list. Like for example, restrict Mana Drain. But I’m just a sucker for 4 Counterspell 1 Mana Drain decks.

I think one of the most dangerous and interesting unrestriction could be Gush. There isn’t a whole lot of great cantrips like Preordain and Quirion Dryad is your best threat. It would be a good deck but maybe not so good that nobody wants to play.

You could have almost any restriction list and most people interested in premodern vintage would not be deterred.

last edited by LieNielsen

Premodern itself tends to favor impulse, accumulated knowledge, and FoF as it's draw engine.

The format was slower, and it was better for it at that point in Magic. That is the format that actually got me into "Vintage".

As some people have brought up there are some weird problems with rule changes though that may cause the format to be substantially different, and the restricted list still had some lag effects from it being "Type I and Type II" with a combined list. So I think the restricted list would / should be dramatically different for such a format.

I think Anti-Fish, which was just UR fish with River Boas, was actually the best deck of that time, but Hulk Smash was very powerful and so was Drain into random big drops.

Just to elaborate a bit more on that format at the time from my persepctive, UR Fish could absolutely bury you in card advantage. They not only ran Standstill, but they had Curiosity (an enchant creature!), man-lands, Null Rods, Strip effects, Grim Lavamancer. Daze, Force of Will, and the Hatchling allowed the deck to tap out every turn so they just incrementally gain massive mana usage advantage over the course of the game too. You basically had to take a strict plan of kill their early creatures, AND hit your land drops to stand any chance against them.

I don't recall the combo decks being very good. Storm was somewhat of a boogie man, but it was bad against the best deck (Fish), the restricted list made them fairly inconsistent and you had the sideboard space to devote to them if you wanted to (no Dredge). The other combos did not consistently happen early in the game, and if they did you still had a suite of 8+ counterspell effects in any control list. Occasionally, someone would get the turn 1 Dragon Combo, but you need like a perfect 7 for that.

I thought Shops was also definitely a control deck back then, not much of an aggro deck, as they mostly relied on locking you out of the game. It was a very reliant on Urza's block, whereas now people can tap into about 50 different artifact sets.

last edited by vaughnbros


I didn't get much traction the first time I posted it, but I still stand by the idea and think it could be fun to explore. The major issue is that Vintage is such a small portion of players. They seem to either want a fast metagame (MTGO) or a glacial one (Old School). There doesn't seem to be an in between.

I'd love to explore Magic's history again. Maybe someday I'll try again, year by year.

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