I’ve been battling a lot of Vintage lately, and I’ve got two decks I really like right now. I really enjoy Vintage on Magic Online, because not only is it a way to get games in my favorite Constructed format at anytime, the buy-in is not nearly what you might think. Black Lotus costs six dollars, Moxes two, and the most expensive cards are things like Force of Will at $25 or Wasteland at $22 (plus Force of Negation in the ~$60 range, but that’s not played in every blue deck). If you have always avoided Vintage due to the price tag, I’d check it out, as it really is amazing getting to cast insane cards like Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, or Foundry Inspector (to be fair, many artifacts look busted when you have a land that taps for three mana).
The two decks I’ve played the most in the last week are Paradoxical Outcome and various UR control builds, and I have lists I like for both. Let’s start with Outcome.
Vintage 4C Outcome
This deck is looking to cast Paradoxical Outcome on all of its Moxes, draw a bunch of cards, and eventually win with Monastery Mentor + Time Walk. It also wins a large portion of its games by going Tinker into Bolas’s Citadel, which has singlehandedly revived Tinker for me (just getting Blightsteel hasn’t been good for years).
This deck is complicated, but it’s also very fast and cares less about what the opponent is doing than most Vintage decks. It’s also quite fun, as going off and drawing tons of cards really showcases some of the sweet plays you can only make in Vintage.
If you want to see this deck in action, here’s a video of me battling with a very similar version.
Tips and Tricks
- You should tap Sensei’s Divining Top and then cast Outcome in response. That bounces Top and gets you an extra card for free.
- Top + Citadel means you can pay 1 life to draw your next card, ensuring you don’t fizzle.
- Citadel can act as a win condition against cards like Ensnaring Bridge or Glacial Chasm, or if your Mentor gets dealt with. You can usually get one shot in, and leave Snapcaster and Lavinia to do the rest.
- Hurkyl’s Recall can generate mana in a pinch by targeting you and bouncing a bunch of Moxen.
- Don’t be afraid to Outcome for as little as two cards if you need to get something going. Once this deck gets rolling it almost never stops, so I’d lean towards being proactive.
- Setting up Tinker is plan A. It’s usually what I tutor for, and what wins the fastest. Against countermagic decks, I tend to avoid Tinker and try and get Ancestral Recall or Mentor instead.
There are four main matchups in Vintage: blue-based control (Jeskai, 4c, UR), combo (like this deck), Dredge, and Workshops. There are subsets of Dredge and Shop like Bazaar Aggro or Mono-White Eldrazi, but they don’t tend to play super differently.
If they are playing something where Bolt isn’t good (though most control decks have creatures or planeswalkers these days), you can bring in another land or a Needle. When playing against counterspells, I also like taking out Vampiric, as it is card disadvantage.
I basically take out all the slow cards like Dig and Scroll for hate cards, but even then have struggled. Dredge is both faster than you and has counterspells these days, so you really want multiple hate cards ASAP. Needle always names Bazaar, and Tabernacle is to kill their creatures in a way that isn’t interactable.
Against Workshops you just want to hit your land drops and force through a Hurkyl’s Recall, after which you can usually go off. In an ideal world, you Recall them end of turn, but that isn’t always possible. Try to keep your fetches un-cracked as long as possible to play around Wasteland.
In: 1 Pyroblast
Out: 1 Hurkyl’s Recall
This deck is set up well against combo to begin with, given the maindeck Lavinia and Pyroblasts, so I usually just swap those. You can also bring in Lightning Bolt if they have targets, and I don’t mind leaving the maindeck one in.
This deck is solid, and I like it when people are leaning towards more creature-based strategies. It has trouble against 3-4 Pyroblast control decks, and right now those are all over, so I’ve been playing more of the second deck I want to talk about: Oko Control.
Vintage Temur Control
Here we are looking to control the game with counterspells, and get value from our 3-mana planeswalkers or Dreadhorde Arcanist. These decks are often referred to as Xerox decks, because once they start casting draw spells they do so over and over again. This has the same shell as most blue-based control decks, and this archetype got a huge boost with the printing of Mystic Sanctuary. Turning all your fetches into a draw spell / removal spell / Time Walk while also being picked up by Gush or Daze is just disgusting.
All this deck wants to do is trade cards and keep the board clear, then win off its various value engines. It has a bunch of cheap or free counterspells and removal to achieve that goal, and can operate off minimal amounts of mana (it doesn’t even play all the Moxen).
Tips and Tricks
- On the play, I usually Preordain or Ponder instead of leaving up Pyroblast, unless you know you are playing against exactly combo.
- Force of Negation is only free on their turn, so if you want to protect an Ancestral Recall or Dig, do it on their upkeep or at their end of turn.
- Try and always save one fetchland to get Mystic Sanctuary later in the game.
- When delving, try and leave 1-mana spells for Arcanist and Time Walk, since that’s one of your best Snap/Jace/Sanctuary targets.’
- Oko can be mana denial, and often you want to immediately Elk one of their Moxes if they are short on mana.
- You can replicate Shattering Spree when you cast it from your graveyard, which is why it’s so good in this deck.
- Daze picking up Sanctuary is often worth it, even if you aren’t countering their spell.
In: 2 Wasteland
Out: 2 Shattering Spree
We are basically pre-boarded against control, so unless they are heavy artifacts (which honestly just makes them combo), you want to cut Spree for Wasteland.
This deck is fantastic against Workshops, and I’m something like 6-0 with this iteration. Spree is just great, and Arcanist can re-cast it without paying any mana up front, which is incredible. I have been considering cutting a Grudge for another Ouphe, which loses points here but helps against combo.
You want two Spree and a Grudge to take out Hollow One, since the 4/4 is annoying otherwise. Your plan is to stop Bazaar with Wasteland/Strip Mine and Needle, and use Leyline and Tabernacle to stop them from flooding the board. This matchup is tough, because it’s almost impossible to win game one, barring a lucky Strip Mine.
Note that even though I always board in Wasteland, it’s not a card I want maindeck. I like it because it’s live everywhere, but I’d rather have more targeted cards like Pyroblast or Lightning Bolt maindeck.
Against combo, you’re on the mana denial plan, and while you don’t want all the Sprees, two of them plus Grudge is good. If they have Bolt targets, you can take out Spree instead.
This hasn’t been a full overview of Vintage, but should be enough to get your feet wet. It’s an awesome format, and I highly recommend it.