First, let me just start this off by apologizing for my absence, last week, but I was dealing with a misdiagnosed broken wrist, that I finally got a proper diagnosis (as well as a cast) on over the weekend. My injury has not only hampered my typing skills, but it also has brought my dexterity below the requisite level for properly handling a deck of Magical cards, so I haven’t played much (or any) of the paper game in the last week and a half, either. Between reduced play, reduced typing skills, and a few days where I will need to trek back-and-forth between Brooklyn and NJ to see my ortho, it’s possible that I may miss another week during the next eight weeks that I have the cast on, but for the most part, I’m hoping to keep up with my regular posting schedule over the course of my recovery so that I can provide some insights that might help Legacy lovers in their preparation for Eternal Weekend and Grand Prix New Jersey.

Now, I know I just talked about how I want to help you prepare for big Legacy tournaments, but let’s shift gears for a second—don’t worry, I’ll have some juicy Legacy statistics for us to break down, next week—and talk about the format that, as Reid Duke says, actually will make you feel like a powerful wizard. That’s right, folks, we’re talking about Vintage. In my last post, I wrote about how I had just bought into the format, piloting a Mendian-esque UR(g) Delver list. I didn’t have a whole lot of meaningful insight, at the time, as I had only played a small handful of matches, but I was definitely excited. I’m not so sure we can say that my level of experience is anything that a format expert would consider meaningful or relevant, so today, I’m speaking to the Legacy player who hasn’t really given Vintage much of a shot. In a sense, I’m talking to the me of one month ago. While I may not have all the tricks and nuances of the format mastered, yet, I can tell you a little bit of what the format is like from the perspective of a Legacy player trying to spread his wings a bit. I can talk about how some of the hard-fast rules that we’ve internalized have changed or are just turned completely upside down. I can talk about misconceptions we may have had about the format, as outsiders to this great format that MTGO has suddenly helped bring to the masses!

It’s A Degerate, Turn One Format

I won’t be the first person to write about Vintage who’s said this, and I certainly won’t be the last: the statement in this sub-heading is flat-out wrong. By this point, I’ve played over two dozen Vintage matches and have had a total of ONE game end or effectively end (not quite over, but it may as well be) on the first turn. When you figure that each match is 2-3 games, that’s less than a 2% rate! Because of the amount of velocity in the format, it’s not uncommon for both players to see half their deck before the game is decided, which gives both players many opportunities to outplay their opponent with superior decisions.

[casthaven]Gush[/casthaven] vs [casthaven]Brainstorm[/casthaven]

Remember how when you first got into Legacy, everyone always told you how [casthaven]Brainstorm[/casthaven] is the hardest card to cast (correctly), and how there are tons of articles written on that one card, alone? In Vintage, we only get one [casthaven]Brainstorm[/casthaven], and maybe one more if we Snapcaster it back… okay, and Jace… but anyways, one [casthaven]Brainstorm[/casthaven], compared to the four we get in Legacy. That obviously means that it is not going to be as significant a part of the game. Meanwhile, we get access to a powerful, “new” draw spell in [casthaven]Gush[/casthaven]. [casthaven]Gush[/casthaven] likely has a similar level of depth behind it as Brainstorm. The spell just has so many modes! Sometimes (rarely) you just cast it the honest way, on their end step. Then sometimes, you can use it as a draw spell that also protects your lands from Strip Mine/Wasteland. Other times, you’ll use it during your own turn for “free”, after using your Islands to float mana, and then use the floating mana to help pay for whatever you just drew into. It’s great with [casthaven]Young Pyromancer[/casthaven], and even better with Dack. There’s a special “bonus” mode that might not be immediately obvious (I mean, okay, Elves players do stuff like this all the time); if you did not make your land-drop for the turn, and you’re main-phasing [casthaven]Gush[/casthaven], you can replay one of the bounced Islands to effectively gain one mana. It’s like a mini-ritual, stapled to two-thirds of [casthaven]Ancestral Recall[/casthaven], for FREE!

Ease Up On The Sandbagging Of Lands—[casthaven]Gush[/casthaven] vs [casthaven]Brainstorm[/casthaven]: Part II

I suppose I could’ve included this in the previous section, but it’s important enough that it deserves extra emphasis. Figuring this out was one of those, “Aha!”/lightbulb/everything-you-know-is-wrong moments. In Legacy, particularly with blue decks (or maybe only with blue decks? I haven’t actually played a non-blue deck), it’s been drilled into us from the beginning of time that if your deck doesn’t need any more lands to operate, you may want to consider holding onto some so that you can [casthaven]Brainstorm[/casthaven] them away (ok, maybe it is just a blue deck thing.. no non-blue deck worries about casting [casthaven]Brainstorm[/casthaven]). In Vintage, though, if you’re playing a [casthaven]Gush[/casthaven] deck, you often just want to play out all your lands (barring situations where it’s critical to bluff a mystery card in hand), so that you aren’t set back at all by Gush. And when we finally do draw our one [casthaven]Brainstorm[/casthaven], [casthaven]Gush[/casthaven] can help get excess lands back into our hand to [casthaven]Brainstorm[/casthaven] away.

Don’t Scoop Until It’s Truly Over

Some people follow this rule, devoutly, in all formats—even hellbent and staring down a lethal attack, you’re gonna make them turn their dudes sideways before picking up your cards—and there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t take it to that extreme, but I play until I find myself at a dead end after my last draw step; if I need to topdeck a [casthaven]Brainstorm[/casthaven] and then hit a very specific three cards off of it, I’m still playing with the hope of pulling off the improbable. In Vintage, due to the presence of Power, this is emphasized even more. You might find yourself facing certain death, only to topdeck [casthaven]Ancestral Recall[/casthaven]. Then you hit Lotus, Mox, [casthaven]Gush[/casthaven]. Then you draw into a Dack and get to turn those two Islands you picked up for [casthaven]Gush[/casthaven] into more gas. Then you [casthaven]Time Walk[/casthaven], and you get to draw another card and get another use out of Dack. Then you hit Snapcaster. Etc, etc. And now imagine that you had a lonely [casthaven]Young Pyromancer[/casthaven] out at the start of this sequence. He’s not so lonely, anymore, is he? And the thing is, that isn’t some crazy improbable, one-in-a-million sequence that never actually happens (ok, maybe that exact sequence is, but similar situations come up more often than you think). The point I’m trying to illustrate is that because of the abunance of velocity, easy mana/”free” spells, and cards of high power level relative to cost, you’re never as down-and-out as your Legacy instincts may lead you to believe that you are.


That’s it for now, but if you wanna watch some Vintage, I’ve added UW Angels to the list of Vintage decks that I can stream. I’ll start streaming more Vintage as I try to qualify for the MTGO Vintage Masters Constructed Championships, since paper Magic is a bit difficult, right now. I’ll also be keeping up with Legacy to try to get my groove back with Miracles, in advance of the upcoming SCG Invitational.

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