Of Wheels and Welds: A Weekend of Vintage
Hey everyone I am pasting my report that I made on the source here for everyone.
Everyone enjoy and feel free to comment.
The only real way to start this report is to say that Vintage is amazing. I’ve been playing pretty consistently since April and have grown to enjoy the format more and more each time I play. Part of it is that the matchups can turn on a dime so quickly, the other being that I found a unique deck and have been learning it and tweaking and that no one else plays it. Which is kind of a shame considering how busted the deck truly is.
Anyways, after the April Magic Online Power Challenge or whatever dumb name wizards chose to give it, I started giving more and more thought to attending the NYSE IV. When my good buddy told me he won an Old School tournament that gave out free entry to the NYSE and was for sure going, I decided to take off the Friday and drive up to Long Island and get a ton of Magic in. Friday morning rolled around and I began the trek to pick him up and then we both set out for the Comic Book Depot. We got there in the early afternoon and started jamming some games to help me get familiar with actually playing real paper vintage rather than the online games I had played up until that point. I made some pretty gross looking proxies but hey what can you do. This is what I chose to sleeve up for the Friday vintage trial as well as the Saturday main event at Brothers Grim Games.
2 Polluted Delta
3 Volcanic Island
4 Seat of the Synod
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Sol Ring
2 Mox Opal
1 Chrome Mox
4 Gitaxian Probe
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Dig Through Time
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Time Spiral
1 Memory Jar
Other Blue Shit:
1 Time Walk
1 Hurkyl's Recall
1 Transmute artifact
1 Mystical Tutor
4 Expedition Map
2 Voltaic Key
1 Time Vault
3 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Defense Grid
2 Goblin Welder
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
3 Force of Will
2 Chain of Vapor
3 Ingot Chewer
4 Grafdigger's Cage
2 Defense Grid
1 petrified field
For those that care, changes from the last time were to drop the 2 Dack Fayden and 2 Thirst for Knowledge for Ponder, Mystical Tutor, Dig Through Time, and Windfall. The Dacks were just too slow really for the deck and were likely a relic from the past of the list I initially started with when Lodestone Golem was unrestricted. I also like the changes because it adds even more busted/restricted cards. I will also say that I need to take better notes, as it is much harder to remember all the stuff I did in a match compared to a legacy match. Just so many more things going on. So I'll apologize in advance.
I spent the afternoon getting the feel for playing it in paper against my friend’s Grixis Thieves deck and before long people started trickling in and we were off to the races. There were 28 players and 5 rounds for the event with various payouts based on final record.
Round 1 vs Landstill
Game 1: I started out quickly with a Mana Crypt into a Defense Grid, which my opponent replied saying I must be on storm. Probably a fair judgment considering no one plays full-on academy. All I remember is that on turn two my opponent tapped out for a stoneforge mystic and I managed to tinker or transmute away my crypt on my next turn and assemble Time Vault and Key.
Sideboard: knowing that it was Landstill I was expecting stony silence and heavy countermagic so I brought in the two defense grids, two chain of vapors, the petrified field, and some number of force of wills probably while taking out the chrome mox, windfall, H. recall, probably a top and some other random thing.
Game 2: This one starts out very slow with me drawing some cards and laying some mana while he just makes land drops. I highly suspect some combination of flusterstorm/pyroblast in that case and eventually he gets down a stony silence, Engineered Explosives on 1, and a standstill out. When I move to probe I see a Force, Pyroblast, Brainstorm, Misstep, Mana Drain, batterskull and know that I have no chance of ever resolving the chain of vapor in my hand.
Game 3: This one goes pretty long as well, although I don’t have to deal with stony silence this time. I bide more time under a standstill until I have a stacked hand facing lethal. I lead off with Defense Grid (while already having one out there) and proceeded to ponder into exactly what I needed to Transmute away my mana crypt and force of will his counterspell after he had to pay 6 mana for it.
I felt a little nervous and bad after the first round since I knew that I had taken a little bit to make decisions and dragged the game a tad since I wasn’t too familiar with Vintage. Anyways I quickly said sorry if I took long at times and got over it because I was more pumped to have won my first paper game.
Round 2 vs Oath
Game 1: I start out playing some Volcanic Islands and Welders in my first two turns before my world comes crashing down as he plays an Oath. I end up trying to do as much as I can with my turn before facing down some massive creature and set it up where I have memory jar ready to go for my next turn. The Oath reveals Sphinx of the Steel Wind and I pump my fist since its just a dumb beater and I don’t care about that. My opponent then Time Walks and I die a little since I still had the second welder. The next turn involves the second Oath trigger, which reveals ANOTHER sphinx as well as a Gaea’s Blessing. The yard gets shuffled in and before the draw step he Vampiric Tutors. I almost start saying something about Time Walk but catch myself and see what happens. He draws and plays Chalice on 1! Swings in with the first sphinx putting me to 11 and passes back. I play and draw millions of cards off of Memory Jar and then welding it back in, and am able to get around chalice to assemble vault/key. Tezzeret comes out some turns later and ultimates for a zillion 5/5s.
Sideboard: Cages, Forces in and a chain while I take out the Welders (a little unsure I should be doing this completely as it leaves only Tezz and the Myr-bot as win cons) and some random stuff like chrome and hurkyl.
Game 2: Not much happened here. I ended up going from 20-18-16-14 off of what I assume must be probes but I didn’t write down anything in his hand so I’m not really sure there. Game must have ended pretty quick with a assemblage of the Time Police.
Round 3: vs Blue-Red Moon TITI
Game 1: I managed to slow roll this game since my opponent’s hand was pretty poor to interact with me after a probe: mox jet, treasure cruise, lightning bolt, sudden shock, some lands, and a dack. A library started drawing him a significant amount of cards but my draw engine is pretty good too and some cards later I think I just dumped out TimeKey.
Sideboard: Since I saw Dack game 1, I figured it was safe to assume that there wouldn’t be null rod so I left the chains and forces in the board and brought in the protection of 2 more defense grids. I brought in field as well since I figured a blue control deck would run strip mine and some wastes.
Game 2: I started off with a super explosive opening of multiple pieces of fast mana and I think Time Vault as well. Like an idiot too used to Legacy Painter, I attacked on turn two with my goblin welder, only the get completely wrecked by a black lotus into a shattering spree (that I had seen, but not the lotus) killing off four of my artifacts. The untapped welder could have saved one. The game goes long and I get locked out under a Dack and a Blood Moon.
I took out the field since Blood Moon would most likely be the only land hate.
Game 3: Another turn 1 Library made this game much more interesting as I was trying my best to win before an avalanche of card advantage. Another spree took down a lot of my board and the game progressed to a state where I only had Welder and mana on the board with map and key for relevant stuff in the yard while he was Dacking away. His last card in hand ended up being Jace TMS, which he used to fateseal me, leaving it on top. I floated mana from mana vault and welded it out for the map, saccing it to shuffle and get a seat. I drew for my turn and it was Big Tezz! I had just enough mana to play him, -2 for Time Vault, and weld an artifact to the yard to return Voltaic Key and go to town with infinite turns.
Round 4: vs Splinter Twin
Game 1: I start this one off assuming that I’m playing another gush deck. I probe seeing 2 gush, 2 preordain, a bolt, a misdirection, and an island. I quickly assemble the Time Friends after my opponent gushes and doesn’t find countermagic. He later tells me that he drew a hurkyl’s recall but decided to preordain again rather than hold it up.
Sideboard: I brought in chains and grids I believe, taking out chrome, hurkyl, and other trinkets.
Game 2: This one is much more interesting and goes very long. An ingot chewer messes with my mana while a Pestermite comes in at the end of a turn tapping down my mana vault while I only have two volcanic islands for mana. I start taking damage from those sources before another chewer comes in and threatens lethal. In an effort to choke me on mana, my opponent at this point also hurkyl’s my board. I actually welcomed that since it gave me a chance to net two mana off of my mana vault the next turn as I tried to win. My opponent had 2 cards left in his hand at this point, and my plan was to cast all my mana, chain of vapor them saccing my board, replay them and then tinker and transmute for the two best friends. I ended up being one blue mana short as my first chain got forced and the second one wouldn’t be able to generate 3 blue.
Game 3: My opponent mulliganed to five (afterwards telling me it was a turn two kill) while I kept something like mystical tutor, mana crypt, time walk, key, land, land. Not sure the specifics, but it allowed me to turn 1 time walk, upkeep turn 2 mystical for tinker and then win. It was stone cold dead to any form of permission but I dodged it. Opponent also told me that top card ended up being a mindbreak trap. Crisis averted!
4-0 into 4-0-1
I ended up chopping with the other 4-0 for some solid credit that I combined with trade ins when I came back on Sunday to get two thunder spirit for my buddy, a flooded strand, the last defense grid I needed, and other random little goodies. We drove back into the city to crash and woke up bright and early to head out for the main event. We showed up and there was a massive crowd outside but eventually got in, got registered, and got started in round 1. I’ll preface to say that damn it got real hot in there, Nelly would be proud.
Round 1 vs Storm
Started off talking with my opponent and he said that he flew in from Hawaii for the event.
Game 1: I fanned open a solid hand to start the day as it included a mox, two land, trinisphere, windfall and a probe. I saw that my opponent was on storm and had a duress and knew that I was in trouble. My trinisphere went down, I windfalled, and ended up just having a ton of expensive cards in my hand. I died real quick a turn or two later after topping and not being able to find any mana to get the juice flowing.
Sideboard: took out the defense grid, hurkyls, a top for 3 forces.
Game 2: I started the game off forcing a city of solitude while digging for time vault. I was drawing a ton of cards but just couldn’t really find anything to go to the next level. The ultimate turn came down to me choosing to cast a welder and key over a top since I had force of will in hand but no blue card within the top three of my library, while also keeping time vault on top. My opponent ended up casting memory jar and using the extra cards to chain of vapor goblin welder and then lay a xantid swarm. I had to discard the welder and time vault and with my next turn couldn’t find anything with the sensei top to wheel. Tendrils ate me the next turn.
The first paper vintage loss for me, sad. I knew that I was in rough position for trying to get prizes but figured I’d just enjoy jamming Vintage for the day.
Round 2 vs 4 color Mentor
Game 1:Another very quick game as my opponents hand could do little to interact. I probed and saw fastbond, mentor, gush, bolt, tundra and an island. Play some metal, draw some cards, Time Key operational. Life totals ended at 18 for me and 19 for him.
Sideboard: I probably had some standard package here of a chain or two and the extra grids while taking out chrome, hurkyl, top and such. Basically to ensure that if they gush there’s no way in hell they’ll have enough mana to do anything through a grid on my turn.
Game 2: I don’t remember much of this one. I have my life total ending at 7, so I’m guessing that there was a mentor and some minions draining me for a little.
Game 3 vs Moon TITI
This round was against the same opponent in round 3 the night before so I knew what to expect. He told me that he added a few more juicy things to his board that would help out, so I was hoping to get some quick wins.
Game 1: I fetch once and start out with some super quick mana. I think a defense grid protected me for a quick kill as life totals ended at 20-19
Sideboard: similar to how I did last time
Game 2: I took a mulligan and kept a pretty bad hand but it had mana and a few things going on and didn’t want to go to five. Mainly I kept because of welder, but it also had some lands, a key, and myr-bot. I led on welder, while my opponent led on library. I probed once and saw a seriously stacked hand of snapcaster, shattering spree, pyroblast, force of will. Library started pulling him ahead drawing three cards or so, while I just kept drawing nothing. Fortunately, he couldn’t find mana for the life of him, while I just naturally top decked Time Vault and welded it in for the kill after he forced it. Another bullet dodged.
Round 4 vs Dredge
Game 1: I led this one off with turn 1 key and turn 2 vault but no third mana. I took the gamble because I had probed and saw bazaar, mox jet, abrupt decay and other stuff and gambled that he couldn’t find a green source in time. He did and quickly ran me over.
Sideboard: 4 cage, 3 force for trini, grid, hurkyl, windfall, wheel of fortune, map, dig probably.
Game 2: I laid a cage and slowly prepped for a large wheel turn. I knew that his hand contained mox jet, ingot chewer and a blank while he had two bazaars and a mana confluence in hand. I kept a timetwister on top of my library even though I had mana ready because I wanted to be able to untap with more ready to go and I figured I could force his chewer the next turn. I chose to play around naturally drawing a therapy and of course that is what happened. I lost my force, lost my cage to chewer and prayed that I could survive two bazaar activations. Somehow there were three bridges and three narcs left in his library, which let me untap, get the timetwister, nuke his yard and establish a win.
Game 3: I mull down to five cards, keeping probe, recall, and some mana. His turn 1 is spent playing undiscovered paradise and blind therapying me for cage. Fortunately he missed and basically time walked. I probed and saw why he chose that line, as he had bazaar and gas ready to go. I drew off recall, laid some rocks, and found a cage. This game went very long as I had to think through a ton of lines, which is my fault. It went to time, and it was either going to be a draw or I could pull it out as I had wheeled already and put down three cages. After the first twister, I time spiraled, and twistered again looking for anything to assemble vault key. I had myr-bot in play already, so I just needed turns. After a ton of shuffling, topping, drawing I found it. I wasted a bit more time since he had two zombies in play and I wasn’t thinking of the math of myr yet, but eventually I realized that I had enough time to just attack for the win before the draw. Academy was tapping for ridiculous amounts all game, one of the major reasons I love this deck. We’re talking like 15+.
Round 5 vs UWR Mentor
Game 1: He started with some bombs early, time walking and playing a dack. Well this deck can get out of hand quicker. Even though he had dack out early, he only had two cards left in hand. I got some thoughtcasts off and had a stacked hand when he played out a jace VP. It flipped, flashed back time walk and set up a monster turn because I was an idiot and played a defense grid rather than a trinisphere the turn prior. It was just one tiny little difference yet it was coming back to bite me. Pretty sure when it got back to my turn I baited a counter and then spiraled into a win. I could be mixing this game up.
Sideboard: Chains, grids, forces. Gotta protect the goodies.
Game 2: I countered an early dack that let us progress into the mid game. I ended up drawing every grid and the trinisphere, while not really doing much else. However, I was ahead since my opponent’s turn 1 mana crypt was dealing some heavy damage. Two mentors came out and I had a decision to make. He was at 2 while I was at 12, facing down two mentors and two tokens. He had three cards in hand but hadn’t cast any spells the past two turns and JVP was only at 2 counters so there couldn’t be any flashback. I chose not to cast my draw spell in case he was holding a counter and let the fates decide the match on his upkeep. The roll came up in my favor giving me the win. Just for kicks I looked at the top of my library and it was a Time Spiral.
So at this point I started thinking I had a shot as long as I kept getting these blue decks. I can easily out card advantage them and tapping out for threats is literally the best thing to see. I did also know that my breakers were going to be bad for losing round 1 but holy shit did they end up being so much worse than I thought.
Round 6 vs Oath
Game 1: I started this game off with a time walk into a trinisphere using a mana crypt. It was dealing me a ton of damage but kept my opponent off of anything. I was able to slowly lay down some moxen and a key when I went to tinker after he had just made his third land drop. I figured he didn’t force the 3sphere turn one so he only had three turns to draw a force. He had it. He tapped out for a jace on his turn so I knew that my board of volc volc seat key trini was not that great. I drew a sapphire for the turn to complement my transmute artifact and went to yolo-town. I transmuted, ditched the sphere to get Time-V and played the naked sapphire. No counter so boom game 1 is ours.
Sideboard: I saw bug lands and he pitched a show and tell to force so I just figured it was Oath. Brought in cages, forces, chains and took out welders, chrome, hurkyl, trini, and trimmed.
Game 2: I have a decent hand but his ends up being better. I dropped a cage and tinkered for another one since I knew he had a decay and oath in his hand even though there wasn’t an orchard yet. It didn’t matter as both got decayed, he drew the orchard and grisel came down to make me his bitch.
Game 3: This one was very long. I probed early seeing misstep, show and tell and an EE and just bided time. I had seen a pithing needle game 2 on Vault, and another came down as well. We just kept passing back and forth with me playing a key and a cage eventually leading to a point where my hand was Tezz, two force, time spiral, and some other blue card. I chose to go for it since Tezz would be lethal the turn after, there was no oath on board and I had double counters. I led sapphire into Tezz, he forced, I forced back, he Mindbreaked Tezz and my force, so I forced that. He finished off with flusterstorm, so I was basically there naked now, with Tezz exiled. This is where I was figuring I should probably keep 1 welder in to beat down through infinite turns, as I was only left with Myr-bot. I got lucky and was able to chain together 2 or 3 thoughtcasts into an ancestral recall, eventually ending it by using chain of vapor to bounce his pithing needle, mystical tutoring into tinker, and then on my turn tinkering for vault, using key 1 to untap TV, and then playing key 2 to keep it going after EE on one bombed the first key. I had to play it out for a while to find the battlesphere, as we both realized it could technically be near the very bottom of my library.
I looked at the standings and knew right away that I would have win back to back if I wanted to Top 8. I’m pretty sure that I was in 15th place or so after 6 rounds with breakers of only 45% or so. Thanks a lot earlier opponents. I had also been fortunate to this point to have dodged shops or eldrazi, which were pretty well represented throughout the room.
Round 7 vs Shops (winner)
Game 1: I lost the roll and we got deckchecked. Once they came back I fanned open sapphire, sol ring, mana vault, voltaic key, time vault, probe, trinisphere. So yea a casual turn 1. Ancient tomb into Thorn of Amethyst halted that real quick. I drew for a few turns seeing if I could find a land, discarding 3sphere and probe to throw him off a little bit before scooping.
Sideboard: out 4 probe, dig, , tops? in 3 chewer, 2 chains, 3 force
Game 2: I probe early seeing 2 tangle wires, a witchbane orb (im assuming in case I was belcher) a TKS, revoker and trinisphere. I screw up again as I start off with a ton of fast mana into a map and get academy and play it rather than the fetch in my hand. I had a transmute in hand as well, so if I had just waited to academy turn 2 they I can easily transmute out battlesphere and likely take the game. Of course it got wastelanded and I had to durdle deciding what to do. Eventually I decide that transmuting into memory jar with none floating is the play. I do that and get absolute garbage off of it and cant play anything. Opponent is taking damage off of Tombs to play wires and TKS, while I am able to hardcast ingot chewer to take out a thorn I believe. We start racing, when he stops because he is at 9. I draw a chain of vapor and take the aggro road, bouncing his thought-knot. He doesn’t copy and I swing in for another 3 putting him to 6. The draw I got off the trigger was welder, pretty sick right there. He goes to 2 recasting TKS. With no taxing effects in play I chose to weld back the memory jar to go big. I found the 2nd chain off of that and bounced the TKS to swing in.
Game 3: He mulled and I opened up land, ponder, force, force, spiral, transmute? X. There’s no way I could mull that hand. I forced a turn 1 thorn. I pondered and saw black lotus, wheel, and a blank, so I kept the lotus and played it, thinking I should get it down before it costs more. I figured I could force something else and then go to Wheel town. His second turn he led with a tangle wire, and I chose to let it in hoping I could draw more mana pre-wheel. He followed with a hangerback. Draw go for two turns as I tapped down my seat and lotus. The turning point came as he played another taxer and I forced it again, and he TKS’d my wheel away. I went to my turn and lotused out a welder and 2 maps. I tried my best to set up academy with minamo and needed a draw step of gas to get started. Only drew mana before I died.
Basically I’ll always think of that as the Wheel that could’ve been. Since I had the second force I should have just countered anything that could stop me on his 2nd turn, then untap play lotus and Wheel. That’s what the deck does best and I chose to sit back. Could have drawn some nut hand to take down the game in that spot, which I was lucky to get to in the first place.
After that loss my chance of getting top 16 were over. I was the bottom of the 15 pointers in 34th place or something. I headed into the last round a little annoyed at myself even though it was the first time playing Vintage in paper. I felt like I had it and let it slip away. Or it wouldn’t have mattered as who knows what I would have gotten off that wheel. Restocking the shops hand while he had a tomb and workshop out would likely have been death too.
Round 8 vs White Eldrazi
Game 1:He starts with a revoker on Black Lotus and a Revoker on Mox Opal after I play a seat of the synod. I take some beats not really drawing gas. I’m facing lethal when I hurkyl’s his board, hoping to untap into something good. Don’t get there.
Board: same as shops
Game 2: I keep mana crypt, voltaic key, time vault, academy, seat, transmute, x. I wait for him to mull to five before killing him.
Game 3: Pretty interesting game here as he plays a wingmare, displacer, revoker on time vault and TKS in the first few turns. TKS takes my timetwister. Meanwhile, I had been playing some artifacts and mapping up academy. Last turn of the game came down to me bouncing a vryn wingmare when he didn’t have enough to recast it and attacking me to 2. I untapped on my turn and tinkered up jar with about three mana left over and proceeded to get one of the worst 7s I could ask for. For draw there was only ponder and mostly just lands. I still had an out where I could draw another wheel effect to keep going as I had lotus, but I didn’t see any top 3 and the shuffle draw failed me as well.
It was a slightly disappointing end to the tournament, as I was on the precipice of reaching the finals with this crazy brew. Although I was still impressed with how the deck performed. On the drive back I was talking shop with my friend, and came up with a few changes that will help out overall. Switching lotus petal for chrome mox as many times I was just playing the mox without imprint to power up academy, dropping the chewers for the 4th force and two steel sabotage, and changing a volcanic island to just a plain island now that the red requirement is that much lower (and petal helping out)
I certainly enjoyed playing immensely and have been really impressed with how interesting Vintage is after playing Legacy for so long. I will probably aim to run it back at Tales of Adventure in two weeks. To anyone I played, sorry if I got anything wrong. Everyone should feel free to comment as well as I am looking forward to getting to know the various people in the community better, both online and paper.
The Moral of this Story is to Always Wheel.