Posting this here as well, hopefully I will be able to post it to a wider audience if possible soon.
Howdy folks! My name is Joe Dyer, and I am a Vintage/Legacy content creator currently working for Cardsphere.com / PucaTrade / StrictlyAverageMTG.com, and I'm here today to talk about my experience playing in the SCG Con Power 9 Series Vintage event.
I am relatively new to playing the Vintage format. My love affair with the format began over the past few years as I solidified myself in playing the Legacy format competitively, but there was just something about playing Vintage that spoke to me. I had dabbled a tiny bit in the format, but nothing truly major. Last year I had decided to work on getting into Vintage through the use of Magic Online, buying into a deck that I had seen on camera via Eternal Extravaganza 7: Sunny Dredge.
I had started Legacy on Dredge before moving to the deck I currently play (Nic Fit), and Dredge in Vintage naturally appealed to my wish to do broken things with the graveyard. So, with some help here or there, I bought into Sunny Dredge on Magic Online.
As I started playing Leagues on the deck, I found I really enjoyed the high variance and the fun things that naturally occur in the format. When StarCityGames announced that they were going to be returning the Power 9 Series to SCG Con, an idea stuck in my head. What if I could figure out a way to play Vintage at this event?
Being newer to the format, and having only ever started Magic around Exodus, I did not have access to the funds to purchase the severely expensive cards for the deck. I started doing some investigating. One of my friends from the Patreon group for the Strictly Average site commented on being able to lend out Power to me, as he was just three hours away from me to drive to meet with him. Unfortunately, he only had one Bazaar of Baghdad, so I started trying to pin down those elusive Bazaars. A friend of mine I had stayed with at Eternal Weekend mentioned maybe being able to lend them, and I started frantically picking up the pieces of the deck I was missing.
Then the rails fell off a tad. A month before the event, my friend who had the Bazaars told me his travel plans shifted and he would be unable to get to the event in time to let me borrow them. I panicked a tad, having already made arrangements with my other friend Nicholas to come pick up the Power. I made an offhand post on Reddit, under the /r/MTGVintage subreddit, not thinking anything would come of it. Surprisingly enough, Ben of the Lonestar Lhurgoyfs responded to my post. One of his friends was going to be unable to make it to the event, and there was the possibility of being able to borrow the 4 Bazaars I needed.
I moved ahead, prepping for the event by playing various MTGO leagues and working on my sideboard. As I approached the event, this is the list I finally settled on.
Sunny Dredge, by Joseph Dyer II
4 Golgari Grave-Troll
2 Golgari Thug
4 Stinkweed Imp
3 Sun Titan
1 Dragonlord Kolaghan
1 Black Lotus
1 Lion's Eye Diamond
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Sapphire
4 Serum Powder
4 Bridge from Below
1 Ancestral Recall
4 Cabal Therapy
3 Dread Return
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
3 City of Brass
2 Dakmor Salvage
4 Undiscovered Paradise
4 Hollow One
3 Gurmag Angler
2 Ingot Chewer
4 Nature's Claim
Going into the event, I wasn't sure how I was going to do, but I went into the event with one goal: to enjoy myself. I am a reasonably competitive player, but often I tend to get inside my own head a bit. So with playing Vintage, I decided no matter what, no matter how I did on Day 1 of the event I was not dropping and I was playing all 8 rounds.
Before we get into the particulars of the Tournament Report itself, I would like to take a moment to give a little shoutout to some of the folks who helped me get to this event to be able to play Vintage in paper for the first time in my life.
- Nicholas Ireland – Without this man, I would not have had the Power I needed to play. Amidst his own life being crazy, he found time to meet with me to lend me some very expensive cards.
- Ben K from Lonestar Lhurgoyfs – Willing to lend someone he only ever met onsite at the event some very expensive cards, I appreciate this man more than anything. He showed just how awesome the Vintage community is to me in one fell swoop.
- Jonathan Medina – My content director from PucaTrade. He encouraged my goals to do this greatly and for that I am thankful.
- Ted Rodney – My other content director from Cardsphere. He also gave me awesome encouragement, giving me the opportunity to write about Team Vintage Super League which helped build my excitement for playing the format.
- Jeremy Beardsley – My friend and compatriot from Strictly Average MTG. Again, great encouragement all around.
- The Strictly Average Patreon Group – These guys are amazing. Nothing further needs to be said.
- TopDecked – This app is real, and anyone who plays at large events should be using it. A+
- Nom the Wise and the Dredge Queen herself Erin Campbell from the Dredge Discord – These two helped with understanding of deck building decisions, especially sideboard construction. Not to mention, Erin kept cheering me on throughout the weekend in the Discord. I cannot ask for a better group of folks to keep me encouraged.
Round 1 vs. Peter Mangus (playing Jeskai Mentor)
I sit down for my first round and have an enjoyable discussion with my opponent as we shuffle up. It seems like everyone is just merely excited to be out playing the format.
I play a Bazaar of Baghdad and do Dredge things, pushing through a combo kill with Dragonlord Kolaghan on Turn 2. He has no answers and concedes.
Sideboarding: Generally when I sideboard in post-board games it thoroughly depends on whether I'm on the play or the draw. On the draw, I board out most of the Dread Return package for action. In this case I boarded in Hollow Ones / Gurmag Anglers and Wispmares knowing that Rest in Peace could be a consideration as well as Containment Priest. Hollow One feels somewhat awful because of Dack Fayden, but that's the chance you have to take to make them have it.
I manage to get a Turn 1 double Hollow One to his Dack Fayden and force him to have to steal one to try to offset Dack. Unfortunately, I am unable to find any creature based answers to force him off his Containment Priest and I die to combat damage.
Sideboarding: Back in the package goes for the most part, and out come the Hollow Ones. I never saw a Rest in Peace, so I kept the Gurmag Anglers in.
Therapy is very good here in this game as it lets me pull apart his hand, leaving him with a castable Swords to Plowshares. I Dread Return a Sun Titan and flashback Therapy once more, forcing his hand on casting it to exile the Titan. I then Dread Return Dragonlord Kolaghan to push through the damage for the win.
Round 2 vs Jared Lentz (playing UW Landstill)
I sit down and have a nice chat with Jared, who is soft spoken but super friendly. We shuffle up and get to playing.
I establish a very quick Dredge kill and he concedes without doing much of anything.
Sideboarding: Without obviously knowing what this was I was playing against, I mis-boarded slightly expecting Grafdigger's Cage. How wrong I was.
My opponent goes on the Library plan and makes a Standstill and no less than THREE Rest in Peace throughout the course of the game. I make a 1 power flier and keep beating in, nearly getting him to 10 life before he is able to find a way to grind out the win against me. It's also worth noting that during this game we ran into a slight judge issue in that my opponent forgot to discard to hand size during his cleanup step and didn't realize it until we moved to go back to his turn.
Sideboarding: Re-boarded properly and pulled parts of the Dread Return package back in, hoping to just be faster than his Rest in Peace.
On the play and my Dredge variance never sees me a single Narcomoeba, which would have beaten the Rest in Peace in his hand. I scoop it up.
Round 3 vs Bob Marshall (playing Team Leovold)
This game took much faster than most of my rounds had thus far. Bob however, was pleasant and fun to talk to.
I make a Turn 1 Bazaar and he makes a Deathrite Shaman without green mana available, allowing me to overrun him with creatures.
Sideboarding: I see enough Deathrite Shaman in Legacy, but I have no ways to kill it in my deck, so I bring in Anglers and Hollow Ones only. I do not board out the entire Dread Return package this time, keeping at least Kolaghan and Sun Titan in to try to race.
We play fairly back and forth for a bit, my opponent gaining some life off the Deathrite. However, he taps out for a Leovold, Emissary of Trest as he misunderstands the interaction of that card and the Dredge mechanic. After a judge clears it up, I go to the races and manage to resolve an Ancestral Recall with a Golgari Grave-Troll in the graveyard, effectively ending up “drawing” 18 cards. One swift Kolaghan later, and he is dead.
Round 4 vs Kevin Cron (playing Jeskai Mentor)
I sit down and I already know who my opponent is, as I had introduced myself earlier in the event from my writings on Team VSL. Kevin was incredibly pleasant to play against and super to talk to.
Kevin plays a Turn 1 Mox Ruby and I manage to produce a Turn 2 kill.
Sideboarding: Same as before with Jeskai.
Lot of back and forth in this game, but I end up losing to multiple Containment Priests and Snapcaster.
This game is where things got very amusing. I cast a Gurmag Angler to try to pressure Kevin's life total, and Kevin instead brought the spice. There are pivotal turns in this format I've found that tell you whether you've won or lost, and this turn was it. Kevin casts Gilded Drake, swapping it for my Gurmag Angler, and then proceeds to Snapcaster Mage into Swords to Plowshares on the Drake. I lost very shortly after.
Round 5 vs Phillip Kwon (playing White Eldrazi)
I mistakenly think my opponent is someone I've met before at a previous event, which is hilarious when we both think the same thing and realize later we were both wrong.
While he does make a Turn 1 disruption piece, it is at very least not Trinisphere (I recall Thorn of Amethyst) and I am able to muscle through it to kill early with Dragonlord Kolaghan.
Sideboarding: Since White Eldrazi is much like a Shops type deck, I bring in Nature's Claims and Ingot Chewers. I also bring in the Hollow Ones.
I manage to get an early Hollow One and lay on some beats but his game plan lets him stick a Thought-Knot Seer and some disruption to be able to push through my plan.
Sideboarding: I go back on the Dread Return plan, hoping to be faster.
My opponent has no Turn 1 disruption, and I am able to Dread Return Dragonlord Kolaghan with 1 Bridge from Below in the graveyard, yielding 2 tokens (one of the sacrificed creatures was an unearthed Fatestitcher) to swing for 10 immediately. My opponent draws, has no answers to another swing of 10 and concedes.
Round 6 vs Kirby Kirchgasler (playing Ravager Shops)
My first Shops opponent of the event!
I am able to deliver a quick kill with my Dread Return plan, no issues overall with this game.
Sideboarding: Shops is when I only board in Ingot Chewers and Nature's Claims. It hardly matters though.
He puts a ton of disruption on me and I am not able to keep up with his threats.
Even on the play, I mulligan enough that I am simply not fast enough to deal with his clock.
Round 7 vs Joel Hammitt (playing Oath)
My first Oath opponent of the event! I actually really like this deck, and the matchup isn't terrible.
Dredge things happen, Bazaars get tapped, and I am able to pressure his life total to not matter.
Sideboarding: This is generally when I bring in Wispmare + Nature's Claim to be able to deal with Oath or Leyline of the Void if they have it.
Despite being able to stick an Oath of Druids, I am able to put enough pressure on his life total that by the time he does resolve his Oath trigger, he only manages to see an Emrakul before dying.
Round 8 vs Kevin Sizemore (playing Oath)
My second Oath opponent of the event! My final round opponent of Day 1 was super surprised at the sheer speed of my deck, commenting several times on how fast it was.
I exile my 7 to Serum Powder and then mulligan to 6 on the draw to a hand containing Fatestitcher, Lion's Eye Diamond, Stinkweed Imp, and Bazaar. This turns into my first Turn 1 kill of the event.
Sideboarding: Same as before with Oath.
My opponent Demonic Tutor's for a Leyline of the Void, and I have a Wispmare to deal with it, and Nature's Claim for his Oath of Druids, delaying him so much that I am able to just stick 12 power on board and defend it.
At this point, I found myself 5-3 and locked in to come back to the event for Day 2!
Round 9 vs Mike Tompkins (playing Ravager Shops)
The first match of Day 2. I tried to keep myself in the mindset that I was still only there to enjoy myself and have fun, and I certainly did, but I do find that I made a few play mistakes here or there throughout the day.
I keep a great hand and kill on Turn 2 through his board state.
Sideboarding: Same Sideboarding tactics as before.
I spend some Nature's Claims and try to slow him down but he eventually finds some disruption and a clock and I can't keep pace with it.
Sideboarding: Bringing back in pieces of the Dread Return package.
I spend an early Nature's Claim on some disruption and am able to Dread Return a Kolaghan and friends for some beatings.
Round 10 vs Jonathan Leone (playing Paradoxical Outcome)
My Round 10 opponent ended up in Top 8, so I can't really be upset about losing to him. It was a solid set of games we had.
In the most epic way to lose a game 1 ever, my opponent Turn 1's a Time Vault + Voltaic Key combo off of a Tinker.
Sideboard: Bringing in artifact destruction primarily, Nature's Claims + Ingot Chewers.
I have enough disruption to shred apart his hand and a clock to back it up to take the win.
There is a lot of back and forth this match, and my opponent was on a Mull to 4, so I thought I had this. I got him to 9 life and then boned a Cabal Therapy that should have named Paradoxical Outcome when I named the safe card I knew he had in his hand. He casts three Paradoxical Outcomes and storms me out.
Round 11 vs Paul Mastriano (playing Ravager Shops)
Third Shops opponent of the event. My post board games were very lopsided and marred by a poor keep in Game 3.
Dredge things occur and I kill him solidly on Turn 2.
He has enough disruption to keep me off balance and swings in for 5 a turn, killing me quickly.
I kept a hand I should have mulliganed easily and got blinded by the anti-hate in it. I am super punished even though he nearly kills himself with Ancient Tomb damage.
Round 12 vs Sullivan Brophy (playing Fatestitcher Dredge)
I sit down chuckling to myself a bit because my opponent is well known for playing Dredge and I had spoken with him a little bit a few rounds back about the deck, so of course it was our penance for having to play the mirror. His list was minorly different than mine, but still practically the same list.
I turn 2 him with better Dredges and an Ancestral Recall.
Sideboarding: What sideboarding?
I mull a bit and he turn 2's me.
I mull to a 4 that doesn't have Bazaar but does contain Ancestral Recall and a colored source to cast it with. Sullivan himself commented that even would have kept the hand so I feel confident it was the correct decision. He of course, Turn 2's me.
Round 13 vs Tyler Thebeau (playing Paradoxical Outcome)
My final round for the day, I hope for a better set of games than I have been playing.
My opponent is slowed down considerably by his own hand and I am just faster, producing an early Dread Return kill.
My opponent manages to establish the Vault/Key combo and I scoop to Game 3 to hope to have a chance to be faster and win out.
I manage to stick a clock on the board and start swinging with Therapy disruption, which works fine until my opponent top decks a Voltaic Key with a Time Vault in hand. He makes the combo and finds a Monastery Mentor to kill me with.
All in all I ended the event at a 6-7 record which put me into 40th place after breakers. Out of the 124 players in the event, 44 made it to Day 2, so I was in the bottom of the event at the end of Day 2, but I still felt that I played well and gave it my all to keep playing. Not to mention the fact that I got to play 13 rounds of Vintage, which was amazing.
I learned quite a bit about the format more, and about my deck during this event. I learned that I can definitely technically pilot the deck easily, and I am learning further when it is correct to Serum Powder and when not to. I am learning better about sideboarding for certain matchups and when it is just correct to try to race your opponent's hate.
Furthermore, I learned that the Vintage community is an incredibly giving and wonderful group of people. During my weekend and mostly especially on Day 2 I was gifted the opportunity to speak with Stephen Menendian, Kevin Cron, Jason Jaco, and Andy Markiton (who went on to win the whole thing!) and was stunned by their willingness to have discussion with me about the format they clearly love. I was thoroughly floored by the humbleness of these players who I had spent much time watching on things like Vintage Super League. Andy Markiton especially even thanked me for coming up and introducing myself to him, and I was simply in awe at that attitude.
The Vintage community really showed me this weekend that it is certainly possible to play Magic for the sheer love of the game and the strategy of it. I am hopeful and looking forward to a time where I will continue to keep playing this amazing format (as I will certainly be playing more and more on Magic Online) and to coming back to another large event like this with even more confidence under my belt.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share, even if I didn't make Top 32 or anything, I hope this was informative to anyone.