How to animate your dragon
It’s been a long time. The last tournament report I posted was sometime my senior year in high school, back when you could play four brainstorms. My how the times have changed. I’ve since graduated from college, joined the working world and am engaged to my college sweetheart. The last three vintage events I played in were awesome. I played bomberman at a gencon trial and I think I was 3-1-1? I just whiffed on top 8 at the vintage preliminary tournament at eternal weekend with Jeskai mentor, and I 0-2 dropped the main event with jeskai mentor.
Local folks wanted to play a sanctioned vintage tournament, and I was all about that. I decided I didn’t want to play something I had ever played in recent times. It was only when I was studying lists from the past year I stumbled across the JR dragon list. I really liked it, but I wasn’t too keen on his sideboarding plans. Right as my coursework got busy in college Chris unveiled minus six. Deciding that JR’s deck used a slightly transformative sideboard and that I felt Jace was just an improvement over bob in deck game 1 at the last, I was down for hybridizing the strategies.
What I played:
The combo (13)
3 Animate Dead
1 Dance of the Dead
3 Worldgorger dragon
1 Taisgur, the golden fang
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
The mana (22)
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana crypt
1 Urborg, tomb of yawgmoth (was unsure on this one when I was testing, never actually saw it)
3 Underground sea
4 Force of will
2 Mental Misstep
3 jace, vryn’s prodigy
1 Imperial seal
1 echoing truth
1 dig through time
1 treasure cruise
1 vampiric tutor
1 demonic tutor
1 ancestral recall
1 time walk
2 gitaxian probe
I didn’t expect a ton of shops (in fact I expected none) so I swapped the maindeck bounce spell. Now when I was looking at oath plans, I came to the same conclusion as JR in addition to that boarding out the combo + jaces are 16 cards which means I need to play like a random bazaar. No thanks. I figured that dragon can play through null rod just fine, in addition to people would board it out which led to this sideboard.
1 Yawgmoth’s will
1 Tezzeret the seeker
1 Time Vault
4 Mana Drain
1 Gifts Ungiven
1 Toxic deluge
1 Hurkyl’s recall
1 library of Alexandria
1 tolarian academy
I cut one of the intuitions from the original deck figuring the card disadvantage from imperial seal would play quite nicely into the transformative sideboard in addition to being able to just mise games with probe/bazaar activations that turn setting up wins. I also had the option of keeping my opponent honest by bringing in 1 shot robot combined with lowering the number of bazaars/animate dead effects to diversify my threats.
After months of waiting to play vintage here we go! Not the largest turnout, but hey we fired a sanctioned vintage tournament in a small town used to not doing that.
9 People playing
Meta game of:
1 UB mill
1 esper mentor
1 coloreless eldrazi
1 WGD combo
1 Shay’s planeswalker slaver list
1 storm combo with sideboard oath
Cut to top 4.
G1: I know he’s on eldrazi and keep a hand that provides me basics, and ironically my win condition a hardcasted tasigur. We are both locked down by his thorn and I hardcast tasigur and start the beats. Eventually he discards a reality smasher that I animate dead and proceed to beat him down with a 4/5 reality smasher and a 4/5 tasigur.
G2: I get hated out hard with grafdigger’s cage and just too many threats too fast. I kept my dragon plan in to see if had leyline. I believe a probe revealed it and I switch to the time vault plan.
G3: Null rod + grafdigger’s cage and fast clock does me in again. Definitely not the deck I want to be playing against.
He casually remarks about how he’s played dredge 2 games in a row and is hoping I’m not on dredge. A turn one probe reveals a land light hand with wasteland and I want to force him to use it. I play out bazaar and pass. He wastes my bazaar thinking I’m on dredge but I just filter some junk away and he now knows my plan. A few turns later facing a fishy lethal attack our hero combos off.
G2: He comes charging out of the gate and I stick with the original plan boarding in tinker/blightsteel in place of a bazaar/animate. I get walloped by the fish army.
G3: I board into key/vault fire off an early timetwister after he’s got some threats on board and try to combo off. I am able to toxic deluge away his army that I tried to bait into, and then go for a gifts pile including will, tinker, jace, time walk (not sure if it was the optimal pile but I felt it led to a win). I also hurky's recall his grafdigger's cage and pithing needle on tasigur (which was safely in the sideboard). I get jace/walk and then play both, recast tinker, get the iron giant and pass turn. He plays a 2/2 lord that is most likely going to block my 11/11. Not really feeling that, I demonic tutor for echoing truth and that’s the end of that one.
I am not sure if he knows I am on dragon, but he doesn’t fire off his mill cards. I don’t have any threats and I see he has triple force off thoughtseize, so I proceed to throw sacrificial lambs to empty his hand. He eventually glimpses me, hits a dragon with me having a bazaar and I necromancy.
Turn 0 leyline + multiple jace’s erasures do me in. The timetwister he played was particularly brutal. I was on the time vault plan.
He mulligans and I am feeling confidant with my opening 7 containing tinker/mana crypt/land. He plays out leyline and I walk my tinker right into his force of will. Not horrible considering I traded 2 for 2, and he’s down to 3 cards in hand. I eventually am in a bind where jace’s erasure mixed with archive traps are doing some damage but haven’t’ hit vault or key. I proceed to vamp for tezzeret, with force backup for a single archive trap. He traps and I counter. I pass not having the mana for tezzeret praying I don’t lose vault to mill. I am lucky in that erasure misses and he doesn’t have more mill. I then take my infinite turns and seeing as I have many cards left he concedes.
G1: He isn’t sure how I win but I was on the play and got an insanely early twister off on turn 2 to reshuffle his library. Twister is kinder to me than him, and I proceed to combo off.
G2: I go into the time vault plan to play around grave hate. I can’t do much as he picks apart my hand and kills me with illusions, horrors, zombies and other nasty things.
G3: I figured out I’d top 4 either way but I’m playing for 2nd place (on the play) or 3rd place (on the draw) so it’s worth it to win! He gets me down to 8, and time is called. I am trying to assemble vault key and I have an active jace that is a looter. I fire off timetwister and draw into…5 terrible cards, 1 toxic deluge and my last card is a tinker. I’ll note that I could have potentially easily drawn the game by letting him dump stuff into his yard, then twistering after I deluged away his threats. Anyways, I take my infinite extra turns (I’m on turn 1 so I have 4 turns). I draw into tinker, grab the iron giant and toxic deluge away his board and the robot gets there for the victory.
Colorless eldrazi AGAIN damn it
I die after digging through a ton of my deck, his threats prove to be too fast and disruptive.
Facing down elimination and a thorn of amethyst, I can opt for the greedy play to try to win or animate the dragon to move on to G3. I cheese the draw.
I play fetch go. He plays null rod, which I don’t force as I stuck with the dragon plan. I vampiric end of turn for something and my sequence of island, time walk on turn 2 into turn 3 bazaar discard dragon, animate dead is pretttttty good against him getting one turn.
He’s got turn 0 leyline which I was hoping I wouldn’t see. I stuck with the dragon plan figuring if I can bounce leyline I wouldn’t have to deal with it again since he can’t recast it. I echoing truth 3 thought-knot seers the turn before I was going to die in response to the comes into play of one of them and get an ancestral recall followed by him taking my best card. The leyline + grafdigger’s cage + thorn proves to be too much as my poor jace acted as a merfolk looter for many turns and I wasn’t really able to do a heck of a lot.
Had a ton of fun and hoping this is my reemergence into vintage!!
much love to the dragon!
solid performance for sure with all the splash hate
Thanks man. I enjoyed playing it, and I think if one were to play it at larger tournament the deck needs some tuning. Some cool tech I stumbled upon after the tournament was big game hunter since you already play jace, bazaar and 3 mana under a thorn isn't all that hard.