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posted in Vintage Strategy read more

This is so cool! Really enjoyable to hear two smart people talk through the league like this. Hope you enjoyed making it.

posted in Vintage Tournaments read more

this thread makes me happy

posted in Survival read more

@ajfirecracker I believe a Bazaar/Vengevine deck with Mishra's Workshops to power Sphere of Resistance and CMC=X creatures has seen some success on MTGO and predates this build of the deck. I tried finding a list on MTGGoldfish but couldn't, it's possible I'm mixing it up with the Zias Workshop/Dredge lists. In preparation for the event I tested a list with Workshop and Skullclamp, but ultimately I liked this better.

posted in Survival read more

I built and played a HollowVine variant for the recent Team Serious Invitational and finished in 2nd. I went 5-0 (no draws) in the Swiss, and lost in the finals to a player I beat earlier in the day. I couldn't be happier with the list. Working on this deck has been a ton of fun ... it forces you to think about the game in a way that's less traditionally Vintagey, it kind of uses Dredge reasoning to do non-Dredge things, and I think an experience Standard aggro player would get a kick out of it.

It does one of two things, it does them on the first turn, and it does them very consistently. Bazaar of Baghdad can put a 4/x (Hollow One/Vengevine) into play, or artifact mana/Elvish Spirit Guide will put a hate-bear (Thalia, Guardian of Thraben/Collector Ouphe) into play. Often both.

On reflection, I believe this is a Sligh deck. Not in the sense that it's aggressive, but that it's a deck that was willing to run Brass Man because having a one-drop was more important than having a not-terrible card. I'll get more into that below.

Here's the decklist, with a built in primer:

Here's how I sideboarded:


-4 Stonecoil Wurm
-2 Deathrite Shaman
-1 Strip Mine
-1 Wasteland
+4 Mindbreak Trap
+4 Force of Vigor


-1 Thorn of Amethyst
-1 Chalice of the Void
-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
+4 Force of Vigor
+2 Kataki, War's Wage


+3 Leyline of the Void
+2 Surgical Extraction
-4 Collector Ouphe
-1 Chalice of the Void

misc notes/thoughts

  • Personal opinion, of course, but I think the use of hatebears is an upgrade (side-grade?) over other hate packages. I won a third to half of my games without active Bazaar, and I feel that if I had pitch counters or Spheres over Thalia/Ouphe, I would have slowed my opponent down more effectively, but given them more than enough time to comeback from it. Thalis and Ouphes triggering Vengevines is also pretty significant. I do think that the counters/spheres are better disruption if you already have a strong hand without them.

  • The **Outcome ** matchup feels very good, despite being my one loss. No matchup feels particularly bad in the way that Shops v Outcome does. I think you can build a reasonable deck that's very favorable against this, but there aren't metagame incentives to do that right now. I was most afraid of BUG with Tarmogoyf and Tabernacle, but I beat them 2-0.

  • The weakest card in the deck was Stonecoil Wurm, which I ran over Memnite because I wanted a way to kill Bridge from Below against Dredge. I'm not sure if there's a minimum number of free creatures you need to run to make the deck work - bad free creatures might be a necessary evil.

  • Surgical Extractions are a nod to the TSI metagame where Survival is more likely than Dredge. I'd probably run more dedicated Dredge hate in the Champs metagame, but so far I've been very favorable against the deck despite not dedicating many cards to it.

  • Kataki, War's Wage is very bad against Walking Ballista. I thought that the Collector Ouphes would make it better, but I'm not sure that they do. It's really nice in that matchup to have your hate card be a 1W creature, but I'm not sure it's correct.

  • Deathrite Shaman isn't here for the mana, just for the other two abilities. It's been strong for me in that role alone. I considered, but didn't test, Dryad Militant

  • Lavinia, Azorius Renegade seems real powerful in this, but I'm a little worried about the inability to play it turn one off of Elvish Spirit Guide. Gaddock Teeg might be good, I didn't test it.

  • Once the deck stalls out, it's very unlikely to recover, creatures such as Tarmogoyf that can block a 4/x are very scary, though in practice I've been able to pressure fast enough to force my opponent into bad attacks or blocks. I have this weird feeling that the Exalted trigger on a Noble Hierarch could be really effective against opposing Lhurgoyfs/Constructs/Eldrazi, but with the deck as it is there just isn't much use for the mana, and maybe a Path to Exile would be better.

  • It doesn't use the graveyard as much as you think. It doesn't use the graveyard as much as your opponents think. People see Bazaar and Panic but there's just 4 Vengevines in the list and I'm not sure Tormod's Crypt is any more effective than a Swords to Plowshares. I do think perhaps there's some opportunity to run a few more graveyard-centric cards and I want to try Ox of Agonas in this

  • Once Upon a Time is really good. It's probably great in Survival and solid in Dredge. I have a lot of thoughts about it, some unintuitive. People see the card as a way to find Bazaar more consistently, but in a Bazaar reliant deck, you can't keep an opening hand that has OuaT and no Bazaar. The card is at its best in a hand that can be greatly improved by a specific Land/Creature, but still has plays if you miss. In that sense I think that this list is one of the best homes for the card, but it's excellent in Survival as well (maybe better). This deck just just need Bazaar, it has a ton of hands that need one particular piece to take them over the edge and Once Upon a Time gets all of them. It gets Vengevine to make your Bazaars better and Basking Rootwalla to make your Vengevines better. It gets Collector Ouphe to shut your opponent down and Elvish Spirit Guide to cast it on turn one. It finds Strip Mine and your opponent groans. I believe I found literally every creature in my deck with OuAT at least one time during the event.

  • This is maybe the most aggressively mulligan'ing deck I've played, even moreso than Dredge because I'll happily Serum Powder a hand with Bazaar in it. I did more than once and didn't lose those games. On camera I Powdered three times and opened with Bazaar which means I saw literally 30 cards before either player played their first spell.

I think there are some properties of this deck that might not be clear just looking at the list. The combination of Serum Powder/Once Upon A Time/Bazaar of Baghdad compresses your possible opening hands, which makes some lines more common or relevant than they look. Some of your hands are going to be Bazaar hands where other cards don't matter so much. To speak in specifics ... a deck with 4 Elvish Spirit Guide and a bunch of 2 drop HateBears is one of the oldest archetypes in vintage and it's never been particularly dominant, and certainly isn't seen as a "raw power" deck. HateBears are slow most of the time and 4 ESGs isn't enough to consistently play them turn one. This deck isn't any more likely than those decks to have a turn 1 Thalia in a random 7 card hand ... but there is a key difference.

The 7 card hands that go "turn 1 land, ESG, Thalia, turn 2 land Ouphe" are just as common as they were in any other aggro bears deck. Those hands are strong in HateBears and they're strong in HollowBears. The flaw in HateBears is that those hands aren't common enough, and the other possible hands are very weak. Once Upon a Time improves both decks, making those hands more likely. But with HollowBears, some large portion of the hands that don't have that opening, have a strong Bazaar opener instead. But if you don't have either your chance of having a Serum Powder in those remaining cards is much much higher, and Powder is extra strong in that scenario.

The end result is that you see a manabase that looks like manabases you've seen before, but in practice the amount of games you play turn 1 lock piece is much higher than the amount of games you play one on turn 2.

Because of this effect, which honestly I'm having a hard time articulating ... the entire design of this deck is pushed toward your opening hand, and choosing which cards to run seems to be more about crafting a turn 1/turn 2 sequence which work together than it is about finding cards that are particularly good.

posted in Survival read more

There's already great discussion about this deck in the main Survival thread so I don't know if it needs to be forked off, but I've been deep in this archetype later so I wanted to post something.

Sorry if attribute wrong, but I think the main contributors to the deck so far have been @wfain , @zias and HanChoBai (MTGO name, I'm unsure if they have a TMD account).

While the HollowVine deck shares a lot of cards with Survival, I think it's philosophically different, it trades away some versatility and reach, and in return gets some consistency and raw power. I'll try to keep this first post more general and then follow up with my own flavor of the deck.

core synergy

HollowVine starts with the synergy between these cards, familiar to any Survival player

vengevine triggers

Where HollowVine decks break from Survival is that they often run (maybe 4 to 😎 of additional free creatures, used to trigger the "play two creatures" clause on Vengevine. These are cards like Memnite or Stonecoil Wurm, which, frankly, are not very good on their own, but increase the likelyhood of getting a Vengevine into play on one of the first few turns.

hand fixers

HollowVine decks often borrow from the midgame to fix their opening hands with some combination of Serum Powder and Once Upon a Time

disruption, additional threats, variation and personalization

From here, lists vary widely. HollowVine hasn't coalesced into a single archetype yet, and there may just not be a clear correct build (which I personally find an exciting place to be).

With the remainder of the deck (and there's a lot of cards left), people have tried a lot of different configurations. You'll often see additional cards that take advantage of the graveyard, pushing the value of Bazaar - cards like Bloodghast, Bridge from Below, and Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. Bridge+Hogaak form the cornerpiece of the Modern format's HollowVine deck, and there are plenty of articles written about the synergy there.

All lists run some further form of disruption, but it varies a lot between builds. HollowVine doesn't act like a pure lock or control deck, but uses disruption as a tempo play to keep the opponent one or two turns off balance while a 4/x quickly finishes them off.

A Workshop variant runs Mishra's Workshop to consistently play Sphere of Resistance effects, and a Workshop can turn otherwise weak Vengevine-triggers into real threats, with cards like Stonecoil Wurm and Walking Ballista

Lists that run more graveyard centric cards might run a pitch-counter suite, making those lists very similar to Dredge.

Myself, I've tested several variants I haven't seen published elsewhere, including a Skullclamp-centric list with lots of Gaea's Cradle, and an Eldrazi list leveraging Ancient Tomb/Sphere of Resistance and the 0-cost Vine-triggering Endless One.

posted in Vintage News read more

The last time I attended a Team Serious Invitational, I won it with Death Survives: Death Shadow Survival. I plan on winning this time with an equally absurd list.

Don't miss @cutlex , who is playing a list I designed for him that he hasn't looked at yet. And @cleverpseudonym who is still deciding whether or not he wants to play a different list I designed for him that he hasn't looked yet.

I predict a Brass Man deck wins and I get a card restricted.

I've seen the decks that @lhc and @volrathxp are playing and they're both GREAT.

My deck is going to lead to some very short games so I'll probably have lots of time to try and sneak on camera.

Hope to see you there.

posted in Vintage News read more

TSI Feb 2020

The Team Serious Invitational is back and it's worth watching, goddamnit. 35ish inebriated planeswalkers will converge on Columbus, OH tomorrow with the most ridiculous brews they can muster, and you get to see it all. Coverage will be hosted by the legendary Moes cousins @GrandpaBelcher and @GeoffMoesDoesn'tEvenHaveATMDAccountYouAsshole.

See the action unfold in real time tomorrow, February 8th, coverage starting at ... I don't know probably 1:00PM EST? I mean stop rushing us already.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@pelican I don't have a ton of info, but there's an Discord chat server I hang around a bit, with a vintage-specific channel, they chat about the leagues there

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

Just saw this card now and I love it. Nihil Spellbomb is my favorite grave hate spell, and was a 1-of in any non-pure-combo black deck I've played for years. I literally yesterday was working on a Trinket Mage deck thinking "this list would be better as RUG over BUG, but I really want to run Nihil Spellbomb. This will be good in small numbers for a wide spread of archetypes. I get that this isn't particularly as sexy as Breach, but I suspect in the long run this is the Theros card that will see the most play and win the most games.

posted in Vintage Tournaments read more

I banned the spam account but if anyone is actually running an MtG tournament with DevOps training, please DM me, I'm very interested in attending.