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posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Okay so in order @BlindTherapy the number of hits is fairly low you are correct, but the opportunity cost of running OUaT is even lower based on my testing. I tried fetchlands and found that they are much weaker than you would anticipate, losing three life one off just isn't good enough and they cannot be found by Grant. I would play the fourth copy of Citadel and at least two copies of Nurturing Peatland before adding any fetches.

The last point against fetches is that this deck really wants to bottom cards and not shuffle unless it is tutoring out an important piece explicitly. Plunge and Spoils both really care about that and a bottom 5 that doesn't find a land or creature is more okay with the overall plan than it would seem.

The Mox Diamonds are again a fairly low opportunity cost and they are actually most important for their ability to turn a the second land in your hand into a permanent mana source and possibly turn on the free mode of Grant.

@Serracollector The Unearth vs. Reanimate thing is exactly as Therapy explained. Additionally, this is not a Dark Rit. deck, you really don't want to play rit when you can't win on the spot and since we are using a creature as a wincon we don't really get to win the turn we go off. We need permanent mana sources because we will have to take 2-3 turns each game and often what we do with that mana changes drastically with new information. Like should we cast rit turn one to fuel a lot of lifeloss to land an earlier shadow only to be unable to cast a tutor or plunge on the turn when we could attack.

The reasons for omitting the BBB draw fours are similar we don't often have BBB + additional mana to use the cards we find with them on the same turn so they end up slowing down the deck by nearly a whole turn.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

I liked this idea enough to give it a few hours of thought and testing and came up with the following:

Vintage Combo Shadow

1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Black Lotus
4 Mox Diamond
1 Lotus Petal
4 Chrome Mox

2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Bayou
3 Tarnished Citadel

4 Death's Shadow
4 Street Wraith

4 Berserk
1 Spoils of the Vault
4 Plunge into Darkness
4 Once Upon a Time
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Mental Misstep
3 Tainted Strike
1 Snuff Out
1 Force of Vigor

1 Gitaxian Probe
4 Thoughtseize
1 Imperial Seal
1 Demonic Tutor
4 Land Grant
3 Reanimate

Sideboard

2 Gurmag Angler
4 Leyline of the Void
3 Force of Vigor
3 Veil of Summer
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Duress

As per the original idea the goal is to play Shadow as quickly as possible and then kill with it on your next turn.

Manabase: The goal was to consistently play a Shadow on turn two and win with it the next turn. To do this the deck needs two or three permanent sources of mana for the entire game but the earlier you can put them into play the more likely you are to play a shadow on pace. I went with only BG colors because while the blue cards are powerful, they don't really contribute to our turn three kill plan. Tarnished Citadel a card most people have likely not seen is the best land to put into play as it allows us to take three damage each time it is tapped, the two copies of Overgrown Tomb are there to both damage us and to be found by Land Grant and finally the singleton Bayou is for situations where we cannot afford to take damage, also a good land to pitch to Mox Diamond to slightly increase the chances we find a more painful land.

We play the on-color Moxen, Lotus and Lotus Petal as part and parcel of the Vintage fast mana package. Rounding out our acceleration is the full set of both Chrome Mox and Mox Diamond which while costly allow us to consistently cast our spells and convert unneeded pieces into mana. I would caution people picking up this pile from mindlessly playing out either Chrome or Diamond without considering what you gain from them as they are useful when the accelerate you into something meaningful but can be a trap if used without a purpose.

Finally, we have the playset of Land Grant and Once Upon a Time, these spells will help ensure that we find the lands we need and fix our opening hands. Pay attention to both the restriction on a free OUaT and Grant when assessing an opener, specifically you can use Street Wraith before casting OUaT to gain more information and can use Mox Diamondwe in addition to your land drop for the turn to ensure that Grant is free.

Lifeloss and Utility: To Play a Shadow on turn two or sooner we need to be able to lose at least eight life in those turns, and to kill we will usually need to lose 17 or more life. To do this, profitably, we have a number of cards that both disrupt our opponents (Thoughtseize), cycle to find our own combo pieces or provide mana for ours spells. Street Wraith does double duty as a cycler to find what we need and pinging us for two, it is also good good friends with Reanimate as cycling a Wraith then brining it back puts us to 13, just one life away from being able to cast a Shadow. It is also important to note that Wraith attacks for three which can be an important part of dealing 20 damage and winning the game. As I mentioned earlier, Tarnished Citadelis one of our best ways to lose life, if we land it on turn one we can hit ourselves for nine by the time we are killing, it is a good idea to play it early and tap it aggressively. Tomb does something similar but only once, and is a necessary evil to support the Land Grant. Plunge, Vamp, Imperial Seal and Spoils are all very similar for our purposes as they are going to find a missing piece of our combo and lose us some life along the way. Vamp is the best for pure tutoring while Plunge gives us the most control over out life total. Finally, we have our two 'blue' cards in Misstep and Git Probe both of which are too good not to play and a way to lose some life and gain some value. Snuff Out has been fine for me, you could easily replace it with an Unmask or a Surgical in the main.

Combo: This part is fairly simple, we have the full four Shadows and Berserks as well as three additional similar effects in Tainted Strike. Remember that you can double up on Berserks and even combine it with a Strike if your life total is too high.

Conclusions

This deck functions as advertised, it plays a Shadow on turn two or earlier and kills on turn three or earlier when it isn't disrupted. It loses to itself infrequently (missing on Spoils or something similar) and certainly feels unique. That said it doesn't hold up well to disruption, lots of the Xerox decks are going to overpower a single discard spell and counter our Shadow. PO has been a coinflip in my experience, on the play you are fast enough to beat them and a single discard spell is often good enough. Shops is better that it would appear and usually they will need a good hand to keep up. BUG is unwinnable.

Play this deck for the novelty, I would say that the above list is a good start if you want a very combo oriented version, but do not expect to run the table.

As ever I am happy to talk theory and testing with anyone who is interested in the list or the logic that got me there.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

I don't see a place for this in Vintage at the moment. I think that it has potential to become an engine card in Legacy with Shardless Agent and the Cascade mechanic. It also may be efficient enough to see play in Modern paired with Chandra Torch of Defiance's +1 or even in a Prowess shell with Light up the Stage.

All of that to say I don't think that planning on getting access to the 'draw 3' mode by way of flashing it back from the 'yard is going to be efficient enough and that if it gets broken it will be by effects that let you play cards from exile or the top of your library.

posted in Vintage News read more

I loath to advocate the middle road, but for the moment I think that there is merit to waiting. People are still building and playing with new toys, even if they may be sub-optimal. Lists and archetypes are changing often enough that power is more important than tuning.

Many of us have played in iteration of the Vintage format where the margin is how many copies of Pyroblast you registered, wether you played Spell Pierce or Flusterstorm as your 9th piece of countermagic. I think that we are coming into the release of IKA after a period where tuning was the premium skill and moving into a place where people are building new things with new cards and those skills we were honing are less important.

I feel like we have yet to reach the point where the meta will not adapt and open up without direct action being taking. I, from a place of no particular authority, believe we can already see the seeds of this happening; BUG lists running a Reanimate to rebuy a spent Lurrus or yoink one from their opponent. People like Iamactuallylvl1 reminding us that Tinker for Citadel beats a 3/2 lifelinker in PO. An uptick in bolts and people leveraging Sprite Dragon in more classic Xerox shells. To me all of these things look like the first steps in preying upon the assumption that it's Lurrus or nothing.

Perhaps I am wrong, and in a few weeks the biggest topics of discussion will be the correct number of Baubles and Remoras to pair with your new cat friend, and if that is the case then I will defer to those who have the tenure with Vintage as a whole to address companions both efficiently and in the right spirit. My only argument is that I don't believe we are there yet and in the oldest eternal format we can afford to take the time to get it right.

All of that said, the fundamental problem of the 8th card, no matter how many restrictions you attach to it is one that I don't have an answer for. If companions become as ubiquitous and varied as walkers have perhaps we will be looking at a game that is almost unrecognizable from the one we know now.

Karakas has arrived.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

@Serracollector While I do love a recurable draw 3 I think that Lurrus + Standstill is a different deck from the one I built. My experience with Standstill decks is that you need both more lands than I play (22-23 instead of my 18) more countermagic shoot for 10 or so hard counters and some bigger threats to slam alá JTMS. I'm sure that there is a deck out there that uses Lurrus and Standstill but its not this particular one.

I would also mention that I don't know if Lurrus solves any of the problems Standstill has currently has; usually if you play enough copies of Standstill to have it be a plan a. then you will find another copy naturally after you opponent pop's yours and makes you draw 3. So the question is what does the standstill plan gain from Lurrus? When you answer that one a good secondary question would be how am I going to get enough mana into play such that I can play Lurrus, Standstill and protect them in the same turn? After that you are probably well on your way to a good deck, best of luck!

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

After a day or so of tinkering with the deck I think that @Griselbrother was correct about the dubious value of Lurrus + Bauble as an engine. They were as a whole slightly less powerful than just playing some of the more standard cards (Dack, 3feri, narscet etc.) however that engine + mystic remora has thus far been more than enough to justify losing those cards.

This is the new list I am working with:
Lurrus's Living Wish

1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
3 Mishra's Bauble
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Black Lotus

3 Deathrite Shaman
1 Tarmogoyf
2 Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

3 Mystic Remora

1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
4 Force of Will
1 Dig Through Time
1 Force of Negation
1 Gush
1 Mental Misstep
1 Force of Vigor
2 Swords to Plowshares

2 Tundra
2 Underground Sea
3 Tropical Island
1 Snow-Covered Island
1 Bayou
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Polluted Delta
2 Flooded Strand
1 Windswept Heath
1 Strip Mine

4 Living Wish
1 Ponder
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Gitaxian Probe
4 Preordain
1 Time Walk

Sideboard

1 Monastery Mentor
1 Lurrus of the Dream Den
1 Managorger Hydra
1 Collector Ouphe
1 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Yixlid Jailer
1 Kataki, War's Wage
3 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
1 Wasteland
1 Snow-Covered Plains
2 Serenity

My experience with this iteration has boiled down to the following you are looking for a hand that on turn 1 plays Deathrite, Remora, or Lavinia (added a 2nd one) and should feel confident in finding one of those things or a truly broken 'vintage' hand. This primary plans means often you are casting Living Wish in either a position where you are up a ton of cards and it locks in a winning position or where both you and your opponent are down to no resources and you get to slam a high value threat going into a topdeck war.

I initially envisioned this deck as a sort of having your cake and eating it too situation (mentor or hydra powered up by the lurrus engine) but the reality is its more like having your cake and then a sandwich for later in that you want to fully commit to plan a. with the confidence you will find a 4 of card to pull the right piece in if that fails.

Other changes are adding two Serenitys for the shops matchups, The Ramunap got cut because it was too ambitious a plan and I added a basic plains to bring in as a 61st card in Xerox mirrors. The Yixlid and Kataki have been okay but not great I can even see one of them becoming a Lavinia who has been incredible. Spellbomb and the singleton maindeck goyf have both been powerful and worth keeping.

I'd love to hear thoughts if anyone else has picked up the deck or just has ideas after reading all of this. I also imagine there is a world where you drop the black cards and the Leovold and try either straight Bant or try adding red with a W6 package + more wasteland effects.

posted in Single-Card Discussion read more

I have been toying around with the idea of using Living Wish to get around the restriction of playing Lurrus in a normal-ish xerox shell. My first look (below) has been a four-color build eschewing red.

Lurrus's Living Wish

1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
2 Mishra's Bauble
1 Lotus Petal
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Black Lotus

3 Deathrite Shaman
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

4 Living Wish
1 Ponder
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Gitaxian Probe
4 Preordain
1 Time Walk

1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
4 Force of Will
1 Dig Through Time
1 Force of Negation
1 Hurkyl's Recall
1 Gush
1 Mental Misstep
1 Veil of Summer
1 Force of Vigor
2 Swords to Plowshares

2 Tundra
2 Underground Sea
3 Tropical Island
1 Snow-Covered Island
1 Bayou
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Polluted Delta
2 Flooded Strand
1 Windswept Heath
1 Strip Mine

SB
1 Monastery Mentor
1 Lurrus of the Dream Den
1 Managorger Hydra
1 Collector Ouphe
1 Ramunap Excavator
1 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Yixlid Jailer
1 Kataki, War's Wage
1 Hurkyl's Recall
3 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
1 Wasteland

The thought process that led me here was that Lurrus looping things for value was threatening enough as its own engine and disrupting it was taxing on the amount of removal that I have been seeing recently. Living Wish represented a way to pull a Mentor in from the sideboard after forcing you opponent to spend resources fighting the Lurrus.

The secondary benefit to me was a better and possibly even good (I have only seen the matchups a few times) plan vrs. Dredge and Hollowvine in game one with the ability to find a Tabernacle and possibly lock them out. I was successful with this in my testing so far which seems promising.

The option to find and put a non-blue threat into play has also been useful at navigating Pyroblast matchups but I have struggled with counter wars as a result and don't have the raw card advantage and threat density of a normal BUG list to contend with that issue. You either play Wish into green threat and then you countermagic gets overwhelmed by theirs or you burn all of your blue cards fighting early then don't have anything to power up a mentor/hydra. I won all the games where I had a turn one Deathrite Shaman and usually struggled otherwise.

Things I am trying to figure out still: do I want the Mox Ruby and Lotus Petal or would I prefer some greater # of Baubles in those slots? Is the fourth Deathrite better in the main or board to be fetched? How many threats do I need/want in the main? Should I be trying to find space for Mystic Remora as it pairs very well with Lurrus? How do I contend with the Shops MU? I am not killing fast enough to be totally happy with Hurkyl's nor can I play more durable hate like Energy Flux. I have not been unhappy with the Wish board configuration so far, but always happy to hear opinions.

All in all I have had enough success to suggest trying something in this vein out as a means to circumvent the drawback of a powerful card.