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Breaking Fastbond in Vintage


The August 26 B&R announcement was a nice one! I’m much more excited to play every single Constructed format than I was before, and this is especially true of Vintage.

Restricted:

Mystic ForgeKarn, the Great CreatorMental MisstepGolgari Grave-Troll

The format was a little too busted for my enjoyment and I think the “Step 1 Restrictions” are a great step toward restoring truly quality gameplay to what has historically been my favorite way to play MTG.

Unrestricted:

Fastbond

The B&R update is only a few days old, but I’ve spent those days thinking about and brewing up ways to potentially break the card and today I’m happy to share some of those ideas with the Vintage community.

Breaking Fastbond in Vintage

An Unlikely Team-Up

Fastbond opens up the potential for entirely new archetypes to exist in Vintage. Since we now have access to four copies, the card is now a legitimate “build-around” strategy.

I’ve also had great help in the form of a Dr. Rich Shay! Over the years playing Vintage I’ve had the opportunity to break the format with many of the OG greats: Menendian, Chapin, Cron, Chang, Mastriano, and Biller all come to mind. However, geography and team affiliations never lined up proper for a team up between Rich and I, even though breaking the format with Rich has always been on my Vintage bucket list.

Fastbond’s unrestriction was the perfect opportunity to brew something up!

Untuned but Full of Promise

It’s been two days and the project shows a lot of promise. Since Fastbond potentially facilitates a completely new archetype, there’s a lot of cards and information to sift through right off the bat. I’ve been mostly concerned with finding a nice home for Fastbond to live, moreso than building a deck tuned to beat the metagame. It also makes sense to work on the framework first, since it’s unclear exactly what the metagame will look like post-restrictions, though it seems obvious Workshop, Bazaar, and Force of Will are going to round out the meta to varying degrees.

I’ve mostly been proxying and goldfishing lists to see how far I can push various engines without worrying too much about specific matchups. I’ve come up with unique and promising engine. The deck goldfishes extremely quickly, typically on turn one or turn two. My experience has been that in most cases the deck typically wins the game on whatever turn it plays Fastbond.

Turbo Fastbond

Brian DeMars

1 Phyrexia’s Core
1 Rath’s Edge
1 Buried Ruin
1 Strip Mine
1 Mishra’s Workshop
2 Bazaar of Baghdad
4 Wasteland
2 Radiant Fountain
4 Crystal Vein
4 City of Traitors
4 Horizon Canopy
2 Waterlogged Grove
3 Savannah
1 Forest (347)
2 Windswept Heath
2 Zuran Orb
3 Ancient Stirrings
4 Fastbond
4 Enlightened Tutor
4 Crop Rotation
1 Commune with the Gods
4 Crucible of Worlds
4 Horn of Greed
1 Black Lotus

This deck likely looks weird and confusing. It is. The basic concept of the deck, and what it seeks to achieve, is to draw the entire deck on the first or second turn and eventually create one of multiple infinite loops.

First things first, the list I built and am sharing is “for science,” and not tuned to play in a tournament, yet… That’s where Rich’s expertise as a current format specialist is going to prove invaluable as we mold abstract ideas into more polished deck lists.

There are zero maindeck ways to interact with anything. My goal was to explore various engines and see how consistently and quickly I could make the deck go off. In toying around with my rough draft, I started to refine a bunch of abstract concepts into the shell of what may be a legitimate strategy. I also uncovered a few sweet combinations that may hold the key to breaking Fastbond. All things considered, I think the list has a ton of potential after two days of work.

The first thing I learned is having Fastbond is everything. You can’t keep a hand that doesn’t have it, or a way to find it quickly. Luckily, the London Mulligan does a lot of our dirty work for us and Enlightened Tutor doubles our chances of a turn two kill.

The second thing I learned was that it’s hard not to draw your entire deck with a Fastbond AND Horn of Greed or Crucible of Worlds in play.

Crucible of WorldsHorn of Greed

The rest of the deck is comprised of powerful synergies and infinite combos that overlap and fall together.

The Combos

Let’s talk about each of the infinite combos. All involve Fastbond and Crucible being in play, which is always the endgame of the deck.

Zuran Orb = Infinite Life and Infinite Mana.

Radiant Fountain + Wasteland / Strip Mine = Infinite Mana.

Pay 1 life, play Radiant Fountain to gain 2 life and Tap it for a mana. Pay 1 Life: play Wasteland and use it to destroy our own Radiant Fountain. Each loop is life neutral and nets +1 mana.

Glimmerpost is also an option in place of Radiant Fountain, since finding the third copy of Glimmerpost will provide infinite life and infinite mana.

It’s also possible there could be a sweet Cloudpost/Fastbond deck that utilizes this combo, but it’s only been a day of testing and so I haven’t gotten to try that out yet!

Once you have infinite mana you essentially build your own Yawgmoth’s Bargain with:

Horizon CanopyWaterlogged GroveBazaar of Baghdad

Draw cards until you find the last piece. If you have a Horn of Greed, on the other hand, you can chain lands together until you find a Crucible. Basically, all roads lead to drawing cards, making lots of mana, and going infinite.

The combos are the teeth of the deck, but the Sol lands are the glue that hold it all together:

City of TraitorsCrystal Vein

In a Fastbond combo deck, the “drawback” of these cards isn’t a drawback at all– it’s an upside since we can keep replaying them from the graveyard. I started with 4 Workshops and found myself cutting cards until I could play the maximum eight copies. These lands can help you get Fastbond into play through a Sphere, and they also help ensure you can consistently play Crucible or Horn in the same turn you play Fasbond.

Crop RotationMishra's Workshop

Crop Rotation is another important card since it lets us tutor for lands that can either accelerate our engine artifacts into play, or find specific lands that are combo pieces once we start to rev our engines.

The deck actually “feels” a lot like piloting a Gush deck. I’d be surprised if it didn’t because it’s abusing Fastbond! It feels especially like a Gush deck with Horn of Greed, since it turns all your 33 lands into cantrips. It’s also worth noting that Crucible is kind of like a never-ending, infinite Yawgmoth’s Will.

The win condition package I have in my goldfishing deck is:

Phyrexia's CoreRath's Edge

I created this package specifically for a goldfishing version of the deck and doubt this will make the cut in a final version. One of the tensions of the deck is that you can’t go “actual” infinite with a Horn of Greed in play because you’ll deck yourself. Phyrexia’s Core lets you abandon your Horns once you’ve drawn most of the deck. Once we’re infinite we can loop Rath’s Edge.

While these are not exciting cards, they still draw a card and make mana with a Horn of Greed in play and are uncounterable win conditions. It’s pretty weird to have a deck that plays like a Storm deck that completely ignores Flusterstorm!

Another thing the deck can do is loop Bazaar of Baghdad to mill itself. Although I’m likely to try and squeeze more Horizon Canopy into the deck for the future. I could see Bazaar being stronger with a dedicated Life from the Loam engine to gas up the yard.

Life from the Loam

I’m not sure whether to push harder toward Bazaar or 12 Canopy lands. My list is in the middle, which is probably not ideal.

One of the last pieces of tech I came up with was:

Buried Ruin

I basically wanted a way to get back Zuran Orb when I was self-mill looping my deck with Bazaar. It’s a nice fit in a Bazaar-fueled Fastbond list, since you’re more likely to be hellbent and want an artifact combo piece from the graveyard. Other spicy targets for Buried Ruin include:

Expedition MapWalking BallistaElixir of Immortality

Or, you could even put some lock pieces in your deck:

Sphere of ResistanceTrinisphere

You can recur all of them into play with a more prison-oriented Fastbond deck. I’ll talk a little bit about that in a second.

Sequestered Stash - Foil

Sequestered Stash is another Buried Ruin variant that also helps gas up the graveyard with lands to replay.

I’ve been trying out Commune with the Gods as well. I had another version of the deck that was based around creatures:

Ramunap ExcavatorCourser of KruphixCollector Ouphe

Courser of Kruphix enables a bunch of actual infinite combos while also providing a Future Sight for lands. It can also be found with Commune with the Gods or Enlightened Tutor.

Ouphe is sweet in a deck that doesn’t want to play Moxes and doesn’t need artifacts (if you go infinite via Courser rather than Zuran Orb).

Summoner's Pact

It’s also worth noting Summoner’s Pact can tutor for whichever non-Fastbond combo piece does the most damage and all these cards pitch to Force of Vigor. FoV will almost certainly be a 4-of card in the 75 of any version of the deck I build for tournament play as it answers most graveyard hate (Leyline, Tormod’s Crypt, and Rest in Peace) and moves Workshop’s Spheres aside with ease.

Oath of DruidsForbidden Orchard

Another one of the later ideas I’ve been kicking around. I’ve already got four Enlightened Tutor and could easily put four Forbidden Orchard into the list in place of the Windswept Heath package. Four Orchard also opens the deck up to playing more powerful non-green spells.

Ancestral RecallTinkerVampiric TutorImperial SealDemonic Tutor

The deck could Oath up a giant monster, or it could also Oath up the Ramunap Excavator/Courser of Kruphix package while also juicing up the graveyard. I think there’s a bunch of potential here.

It’s only been a few days since Fastbond’s arrival was made known, but it’s clear to me the card is clearly extremely powerful and worth building around. It’s not every day that DCI throws a card like this onto the menu. It’s certainly been fun brewing up wild ideas and trying to figure out what to do with it!

It actually reminds me of playing Vintage back in the glory days when I’d work on decks with my Meandeck friends, except this time it’s a bizarro world where I’m brewing with Rich from the East Coast scene. The plan is to continue refining some of these ideas and hopefully doing a “team-up” stream once we’ve gotten a few game-ready lists together to start testing out. Even if we don’t end up finding a combination of 75 that “breaks it,” I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun to try!

I’m loving the B&R thus far. I’m a little worried that Fastbond might need to go back in the box, but the experience of brewing with such a powerful card has certainly reinvigorated my enthusiasm for thinking about Vintage. I like the bold move by the DCI to open up a bunch of space in the metagame and giving the players an exciting new tool to build around. I think it’s an exciting time to be a Vintage fan because everything feels up in the air and there’s a ton of possibilities in play.

Have any of the other Vintage fans tried out Fastbond yet? If so, I’d love to hear what you’re up to in the comments. If you want to throw in your two cents about how to build a broken Fastbond I’d love to hear it.

Discussion

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