Vintage Playoff, 2019-06-29

I’m playing Blue White Control in today’s Playoff, my first Vintage Playoff ever in heavy Hogaak/Karn, TCG meta. Here’s the list:

Let’s go through the matches.

Round 1 vs Mathonical (0-2)
Mathonical played Hogaak Dredge with maindeck Force of Vigor, Force of Negation, and Force of Will. You could say he forcefully stomped me properly in two games. (You can tell it’s a bad joke because it’s bad and italicized.) I didn’t draw enough hate for a game in both games combined, and the two copies of Karakas and Swords to Plowshares are insufficient to defeat Dredge game one. There definitely needs to be at least another maindeck hate for Dredge, if not two, and I’d probably start with a copy of Containment Priest. I could see cutting Dig Through Time and possibly the second Karakas for Containment Priest(s).

There’s another case for more Surgical Extractions and Faerie Macabres in the board. I would probably start with the two copies of Dovin’s Vetoes, as they are the narrowest and have the smallest impact.

Round 2 vs Valorj (2-1)
Valorj played a fairly typical BUG.
Crucible lock won me game one after eating multiple copies of Assassin’s Trophy and an Abrupt Decay.

He won game two quickly on the back of not one, not two, but three 6/7 Tarmogoyf’s in rapid succession. I dealt with the first via STP, but the second and third provided exactly enough damage to take us to game three.

I won game three through a combination of mana denial (Teferi to shuffle away a mox), Rest in Peace to shut off Tarmogoyf and Deathrite Shaman, and a single Spell Querller. By the time Valorj was able to cast Leovald, I was willing to give him the card with Karakas every turn.

Round 3 vs thepowernine (2-1)
thepowernine is an established Vintage player. Today, he played Grixis Arcanist. It’s a deck new to the format, but already well established. My deck is, incidentally, well prepared to defeat it. Teferi, Time Raveler stops the Arcanist’s combat shenanigans and counterspells. But I don’t put much pressure on his Planeswalkers. I’m not that aggressive.

I won game one off a turn one Strip Mine. He missed a couple land drops and finally found a basic Mountain, but I played my off-color spells to protect against Pyroblasts and established board control.

Game two focused around his Dack. He established an emblem before I could stop him, and his Arcasnists, plural, eventually wore me out. He was kind enough make my stolen Gideon, Ally of Zendikar a 5/5 so I could Karakas it, but he didn’t fall for the same trick twice.

Round 4 vs sora1248 (1-2)
We started the game with Strip Mine on Tropical Island, followed by Wasteland on Tropical Island. Despite the slow start – and I put sora on BUG until discarding a Vengevine on turn 3 – Survival Salad lived up to its potential for explosive plays by activating Bazaar through a Narset into double Rootwalla and double Vengevine. I answered with double STP to establish a modicum of board control. Spell Queller flashed in during combat to block a Rootwalla, unable to pump, and Planeswalkers followed.

Because I’m running 24 lands and moxen, I can effectively board in all of my hate and board out minimally against creature based decks and still play like a Draw Go deck. I went up two cards to 62 in game 2, and that did not work to my favor. By the time I drew a copy of Rest in Peace, he already had several Rootwallas, a Hollow One, and an Ouphe to my Spell Queller and Containment Priest.

Game three featured my first mulligans, plural, of the Playoff. They had to happen eventually, and I kept a five card start with a Surgical Extraction but no lands and Scryed a Flooded Strand to the top. A Rootwalla and a Hollow One made short work of me when I stumbled for lands on turns two and three.

Should I sideboard for sixty cards, and cease my silly antics, or is one match anecdotal? Truth be told, I’m a greedy player. 61 to 63 cards effect the chances less than 1%. The way I figure, the downsides of a 1% less chance of drawing a specific card are far outweighed by the chances of drawing more hate, in general.

Round 5 vs lampalot (2-0)
lampalot is another regular to the Vintage scene, and he has played a plethora of decks well. Today, he’s on BUG.

Here is game one:
Me: Mox Diamond, pitching Mistveil Plains, Mox Pearl, Hallowed Fountain, untapped.
lampalot: Strip Mine, activate on Hallowed, I respond with Spell Queller into an empty stack.
Queller resolves.
Force of Vigor on my Moxen.
Proceed to Draw Go, with two lands for me and none for lampalot, until exeunt lampalot, stage left, at five life.

Game two revolved entirely around Rest in Peace. Resolving an early RiP, we fought the remainder of the early game with countermagic and removal until we were both in topdeck mode. He stuck a Tarmogoyf, a Narset, and a Deathrite Shaman into my RiP, Moat, and singleton Teferi before he conceded to my Teferi at eight for the ult.

I didn’t expect to 2-0 this game, but it seems he either boarded out his Force of Vigors or didn’t draw them in thirty-something odd cards.

Round 6 vs TonyMontana (0-2)
Eldrazi MUD kicked my teeth in over the coarse of two games. Two Wastelands and a Strip Mine sealed game one. By the time I drew answers to Karn, Scion of Urza’s big tokens, it was too late. I lost the game with Moat on top of the library.

Results: (Hey! Listen! There’s a 7th round below, so keep reading!)
I ended the day at 3-3 with some well earned losses. Overall, I feel like I lost some games I should have won, probably should have mulliganed both openers in Round 6, and am generally pleased with the deck built less than two hours before the tournament.

Card Choices:
The MVP is, hands down, Teferi, Time Raveler. This guy does almost everything I want. As long as he didn’t immediately die on a swingback, he was fantastic.
Path to Exile vs Swords to Plowshares – people are running more lands and more basics these days because of Lavinia and Shops. London Mulligan may change that, but it’s not in effect yet. Given my Crucible lock, I didn’t want to give my opponents a get out of jail free cards.

Inclusions:
(1) Flagstones of Trokair – the deck originally started as a white blue Smokestack deck, but Smokestack under-performed in testing. Flagstones, however, did perform as both a pseudo-fetch land and an anti-Wasteland. For some reason, players don’t want to wind up a land behind. It also pairs well with Crucible.

(2) Thrummingbird – in a deck full of Planeswalkers, a cheap, efficient, blue flyer shines. This little critter consistently and immediately ate removal. It’s a surprisingly strong threat. Even proliferating a single Planeswalker can make or break the math of a game.

(3) Gideon, Ally of Zendikar – a non-blue threat that makes tokens and provides a Crusade effect in a pinch. Strong enough to be above the cut. Can win a game by itself. Certainly not the greatest Planeswalker of all time.

(4) Moat – what a card! Vintage has become progressively more creature-based. As a combo player, I dislike creatures. Moat makes all the creature decks play on my terms.

(5, 6) Taigam, Ojutai Master & Fractured Identify – I tested both before, and they’re both pretty good. I only drew Fractured Identify once, but was able to swing the Survival Salad matchup from almost even, opponent’s favor, to just shy of blowout status by hitting Detention Mage. Unfortunately, losing a Detention Mage token means going back to parity, but hey, it bought a couple turns. I could stand to run at least one more Fractured Identities main, maybe two. I definitely want to squeeze one into the board for those extra long matches.

(7) Gideon Jura – This guy is a heavy hitting closer at five and definitely overlooked in Vintage.

(8) Mox Diamond – Still great. Pairs well with Crucible. Taps for both blue and white.

(9) Dovin’s Veto – This card isn’t better than Flusterstorm the vast majority of the time.

(10) Supreme Verdict – Could definitely be a three-of.

Exclusions:
(1, 2) Fragmentize & Stony Silence – I don’t have a good answer here. Honestly, I think Energy Flux is better when you can cast it or pitch to Force of Will, but both Fragmentize and Stony Silence are better on the draw.

(3, 4) Lavinia & Monastery Mentor – The former is better vs Shops and Storm. The latter is best in a Storm or Xerox shell. I’m not either, and neither of these cards pairs well with Moat.

(5, 6) Treasure Cruise & Gush – I’m not sure what I would cut for these, but I would add in Gush first.

(7) Library of Alexandra – I didn’t expect to keep a full grip, and my deck doesn’t draw like Xerox. I don’t have Sylvan Library, Dark Confidant, or anything really to fill my hand outside of Ancestral Recall. I could see running it over a Flagstones, though.

Addendum, Round 7 vs brianpk80 (0-2)
What the heck? I didn’t realize there were seven rounds, but it’s always a pleasure to mix spices together when cooking. I’m 99% sure he’s on BUG and included off-color moxen, but I haven’t seen enough of his deck to yet know why.

He did viscerally abuse Sylvan Library down to three on game one, and Vraska, Golgari Queen game two. At one point, Brian had 12 cards left in his deck, and I had thirty-eight in mine, and then beat me with a Vraska ult.

Revised Results: 3-4

Overall, I’m very pleased with the deck. Thrummingbird can be replaced with a better Proliferate effect (Contagion Clasp? New blue critter? Either of the card drawers…).

Saturn tested. Saturn approved.