Cap effects/strategies in Vintage



  • It's hilarious in retrospect that so many of us thought Jester's Cap was in any way broken when it first came out, but it definitely seems that "capping" effects are far more relevant these days. I'm curious to know if anyone here has experimented with a dedicated cap/mill strategy in Vintage and whether it's been successful. Not with Jester's Cap itself, but rather something like U/B/splash W with Sadistic Sacraments, Praetor's Grasps, Glimpse the Unthinkable, Haunting Echoes, perhaps even Word of Command, etc. buttressed of course by Dark Rituals, Vivid Lands (for Praetor's), and plenty of control magic and hand destruction.



  • I mainly ask because I'm just getting back into the game after 20 years and I'll gladly defer to the expertise among this site's contributors before going down any silly rabbit holes (i.e., before I start blowing my money on ineffective cards). ;)


  • TMD Supporter

    Those seem pretty slow from my perspective. Mill/removing critical cards, would have been a better strategy before people were playing as many early threats as they do now. It is common nowadays for people to put out a Young pyromancer/eldrazi/ravager/mentor/delver etc in the early turns of the game, and just racing a mill strategy, while not caring about "key" cards getting removed.

    Cap used to be better when the "Big Blue" decks and combo decks were only running 2-3 win conditions, but for the most part those days are past. The idea was to take away all the avenues for a win from a deck.



  • @countbeckula said:

    It's hilarious in retrospect that so many of us thought Jester's Cap was in any way broken when it first came out, but it definitely seems that "capping" effects are far more relevant these days. I'm curious to know if anyone here has experimented with a dedicated cap/mill strategy in Vintage and whether it's been successful. Not with Jester's Cap itself, but rather something like U/B/splash W with Sadistic Sacraments, Praetor's Grasps, Glimpse the Unthinkable, Haunting Echoes, perhaps even Word of Command, etc. buttressed of course by Dark Rituals, Vivid Lands (for Praetor's), and plenty of control magic and hand destruction.

    Leyline of the void/helm of obedience is the only viable mill strategy (found in 2 card monte decks). Otherwise cap effects are used as road bumps and nuisances. Yes, they can be effective and yes they can be strong. But they are often dead cards or just too slow as a win con strategy.

    Funny story as I sit here and say they aren't effective enough anymore. Just 3? weeks ago at the 1k Reception event in Coopersburg I was facing William "The Groom" Dayton. He was on a shops variant I was on salvagers oath. Game 3 my opening hand included orchard, crypt and oath so I figured as long as he has no strip effect turn 1 I'm in decent shape. Turn 1 he drops shop, grafdiggers cage. I take my first turn, draw ancient grudge and play orchard, crypt oath figuring I can grudge on my upkeep and oath into a quick game 3 win on my 2nd turn. Until he takes his second turn. He drop tolarian and some accelerants then plays jesters cap and activates it taking all my win cons.

    Don't count on stuff like that happening too often, though. Threat density in decks is just too robust these days. You waste a turn on cap to remove 3 cards and you basically gave your opponent a time walk in most cases.



  • Right on, and thanks for that feedback. To clarify, I don't mean to suggest playing actual Jester's Caps, but between Extirpate, Praetor's Grasp, Sacrament, etc. it didn't seem altogether too slow and of course it's just so much fun to mess with an opponent's deck.



  • The closest I have seen to this recently has been in a dark times derivative, where there was enough black support. The tricky thing about this kind of targeted deck removal, is it often depends heavily on what you are up against. Playing it against decks that rely on restricted or single combo-cards would work well. Against "consistent" decks that run many four-ofs, I feel like such a deck would be less successful. I actually really like the idea of snapcaster + surgical extraction. Where it struggles, whenever I have tried it, is creating a path to win the game. Removing cards from your opponent's deck, prevents them from winning, but it does not help you to win (that is, unless you are able to remove all of the cards from their deck that would let them win).


  • Administrators

    At a macro level in vintage, this has never really worked. There was a short-lived time period where a 4-Jester's Cap Workshop prison deck was part of the meta, but definitely not the most successful deck of the time, and this was something like 7 years ago. I vaguely remember a Rootwater Thief fish deck from years earlier, but I don't recall if it had any notable finishes.

    There are some specific situations and matchups where specific cap-style effects are reasonable. But these situations are rare. I've run Praetor's Grasp in big-blue mirrors, Sadistic Sacrement in storm mirrors, and I've seen Extirpate used to some effect - but far more often I've seen these cards be worse than the alternatives.

    People tried to get a lot of mileage out of these cards when control decks were running 1 to 3 win conditions. These days most decks are running far more threats. Imagine looking at a Sadistic Sacrement in hand when your opponent casts a Monastery Mentor or Thought-Knot Seer. In the right metagame you might find a use for one of these effects, but I would strongly suggest not relying on them as your primary gameplan.



  • Ive played my share of goblins for many years now and enjoy the broken synergy between earwig squad, surgical extraction and cabal therapy. When it wins games, its a lot of fun!



  • Yep, I also played earwigs with rootwater thieves and other rogues (before caverns existed). It was a bad approach: too slow against storm decks, too fragile against control, too little effect against aggro decks with lots of win conditions. I even lost matches after resolving squad due to the opponent having a wincon in hand.


  • TMD Supporter

    I've tried slaughter games against various strategies, always cut the card in the end. I guess I was personally afraid of having all my griselbrands taken, but it seems too narrow to work enough.



  • Ive seen sadistic sacrament out of the board for storm and oath, but its only good against decks playing 3 wincons or less. So 3 oath targets or Tendrils/Empty/Ancestral for storm.



  • @Recklessmbermage said:

    Ive played my share of goblins for many years now and enjoy the broken synergy between earwig squad, surgical extraction and cabal therapy. When it wins games, its a lot of fun!

    Earwig Squad is probably the most playable cap effect right now. In the past, it was Goblin Lackey that made Gobs worth playing. Right now, Goblin Welder is a far better way to satisfy the prowl condition.


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