Vintage. *Gasp* Most Magic players think there’s an utterly impossible financial hurdle to play the format. Just as most people who only draft think about Standard, and many Standard players think about Modern, and Modern players think about Legacy… You get the picture. Let me tell you, Vintage play is much more accessible than you think.

How is that possible? Power is so expensive! Let me let you in on a secret. You don’t need power. Okay, that sounds insane, right? Like, why play Vintage if I don’t play with power? That’s going to be a decision for you to make, but if you want to play, there are a few ways.

There’s a pretty vibrant Vintage community up here in the NYC area. Plenty of folks get together to play casually and practice for upcoming tournaments. These tournaments generally allow a limited number of proxied cards. Usually, it’s 10-15 proxies. That means that even if your deck has power, but you don’t, you can just mark up some old cards to look like your missing power and boom, you’re playing Vintage.

You can also play a deck that punishes folks that play power. Null Rod, Kataki, War’s Wage and other artifact hate cards are quite popular in Vintage. They even the field up a bit and turn a $1,000 cardboard into just that. Moxen are pretty to look at, but when they don’t tap for mana pretty is all they are.

And a ton of Vintage staples are restricted. This is good, as it that means you only need one for your deck. I play a deck called Steel City Vault. The deck tries to win by casting a bunch of artifacts and then getting Time Vault and Voltaic Key into play. Other wins are with Jace and/or Inkwell Leviathan. Here’s a look at it.

Steel City Vault

Lands (11)
City of Brass
Underground Sea
Tolarian Academy
Tropical Island
Volcanic Island
Misty Rainforest

Creatures (2)
Inkwell Leviathan
Goblin Welder

Spells (47)
Wheel of Fortune
Ancestral Recall
Mind’s Desire
Mox Emerald
Gifts Ungiven
Mana Vault
Mystical Tutor
Time Vault
Transmute Artifact
Merchant Scroll
Sensei’s Divining Top
Voltaic Key
Lotus Petal
Force of Will
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Memory Jar
Mana Crypt
Vampiric Tutor
Mox Opal
Thirst for Knowledge
Black Lotus
Fact or Fiction
Demonic Tutor
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Yawgmoth’s Will
Hurkyl’s Recall
Sol Ring
Mox Pearl
Mox Jet
Time Walk
Sideboard (15)
Nature’s Claim
Ancient Grudge
Nihil Spellbomb
Illness in the Ranks
Yixlid Jailer

The first thing you’ll notice about this deck is the sideboard has a lot of cards dedicated to graveyard hate. That’s just a fact of life in Vintage. One of the cheapest and most powerful decks in Vintage is Dredge. Bazaar of Baghdad is just that insanely powerful. It’s a one card combo. Seriously, if you can’t win faster or interact with Dredge you’re bound to lose to it at least once in a big event. Even in Legacy, Dredge is one of the cheapest decks, so just imagine how accessible it is in a format where everyone else if trying to get cute with power and you are ignoring the basic rules of the game. Expect Dredge.

Thoughtsieze punishes other combo decks and, of course, in a format rife with artifact mana and insane artifacts from before the Brother’s War, Ancient Grudge and Nature’s Claim are clutch. Not to mention you’ll need an answer for Null Rod if you plan on using your Time Vault.

There are several decks to play in Vintage, some are outright powerhouses others are merely reactive and hateful punishers. A great place to look up decks and see what’s going on in your area is The Mana Drain. There are plenty of forum’s and a ton of discussions about strategy and card selection. Top8Magic has a great list of winning decks as well.

Once you decide on your deck you can focus in that. It takes a lot for a deck to completely fall out of favor in this format. Card selection is so deep you can always find an answer. I’m only 16 cards away from a fully legal Vintage deck. The hope is to play at the Vintage Champs next year! Give those sites a look and maybe you can get a few friends to proxy up a Vintage deck to help you practice. Nothing feels cooler than casting Time Walk and actually having that extra turn matter, oh except Misdirection on your opponents Ancestral Recall!

Zac Clark, Durdle Magus

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