Last month, I started recording Vintage videos, and today I have a guide for a deck of my own creation that tries to grind out as much value as possible and control the game.
In Vintage there are two major archetypes: Blue-based decks and MUD. This deck tries to win the fight versus blue-based decks with the help of its greedy mana base by playing the most powerful cards in 4 colors, while going big with its sideboard against MUD.
Playing 4 colors might be risky if you play against Team Leovold, U/R Delver, and MUD, which are packed with 5+ Wasteland effects and Null Rod. The power level of my cards can easily overcome theirs, though, and if my mana doesn’t collapse, I won’t have a problem winning the game.
Along with my deck guide, I’ve also recorded a Live Deck Tech and gameplay videos to bring you a full picture of what this baby can do.
In Vintage you don’t have many slots to toy around with if you want to play a blue-based control deck, so I am not going to tell you why I am playing Ancestral Recall or Brainstorm, and I’ll focus on the most debatable slots.
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
This card is awesome, and ever since it was printed last year, I’ve been playing with it in Eternal formats. I’ll likely never stop. In Vintage, it’s even better, since there are very few removal spells around and Leovold can win the game by himself.
The problem for Leovold in Vintage is that every deck that plays it is aggressive, with cards like Deathrite Shaman and more creatures in general. I hate creatures in Vintage, since they don’t give me immediate card advantage (aside from Snapcaster Mage and Leovold) and I’m not interested in playing Deathrite Shaman in a format with few fetchlands and Mental Misstep.
In Vintage, life matters very little—games are decided on card advantage, as you’ll see in my video series where I play against five blue-based decks.
Dack Fayden Vs. Notion Thief
The natural configuration of control decks in Vintage is Grixis. Red gives you great cards like Dack Fayden or Pyroblast, as well as a good package of interaction versus MUD. That means that if I want to play Leovold, I have to go 4 colors, which has its flaws, but also its upsides.
You might argue that in place of Leovold, Emissary of Trest, I could play Notion Thief, which combos even better with Dack Fayden than Leovold does. In fact, if you target your opponent with +1 from Dack with Notion Thief you basically lock up the game, whereas with Leovold you’ll make them draw 1 and discard 2.
But I love Leovold not only because it costs 1 less mana, but because it always gives card advantage, even when your opponent wants to kill it. That, for me, breaks the tie.
As I mentioned before, life points hardly matter in Vintage, and this is how you’ll out-card your opponents most of the time. I can’t see myself playing fewer than 2 in any control deck, whether it be Sultai, Grixis or four colors.
This is the newest piece of interaction to Vintage.
At first I dismissed this card as overcosted for this format, but after playing with it, I discovered how versatile Abrade is. It’s good against MUD, Vault-Key, and creature decks. The 2 mana cost is hardly a problem—I would even say it is a bonus—since it helps dodge Mental Misstep. I’m currently playing 1 main deck and 2 sideboard, but I could easily see myself cutting an Ancient Grudge for a 4th.
I often see blue decks not playing a single Gitaxian Probe, and I truly dislike that choice. Gitaxian Probe is free—again, life doesn’t matter—and gives you information and a card in the graveyard for your delve spells.
Knowing if your opponent has Misstep for Ancestral or Pyroblast for Leovold is crucial to formulating a correct game plan.
This is another new piece of technology for Vintage control decks, and a card that I’ve been loving more and more. It lets you answer Young Pyromancer efficiently, and with the help of Mana Drain, will be a game-winning card against MUD.
Since this deck has such a greedy mana base, I like to board Needle in versus MUD and Team Leovold just to name Wasteland on turn 1. If you draw it later on, you can name Arcbound Ravager or Deathrite Shaman. I wouldn’t board in Needle against U/R Delver, but I would fetch my Mountain early.
It’s very important to have that Mountain in your sideboard even if you play Leovold, Emissary of Trest. You have many cheap red spells post-sideboard that you always want to be able to play, and only 2 Volcanic Island.
Let’s dive into some of the most popular matchups.
I like to cut Mox Pearl often because I don’t want to flood out in card advantage matchups. Whether you have Abrade depends on what kind of blue-based deck your opponent is playing. If they play Time Vault or Notion Thief, I would keep it.
Your deck is well equipped to win the card advantage game thanks to Leovold and your many 2-for-1 cards.
The main deck matchup is very poor since you have a huge number of dead cards, but improves dramatically once you board in 10 cards just for them.
All that matters is hitting land drops. If you can cast your spells you are going to win, so take care of Spheres and Tangle Wire, and the rest will be easy.
Despite Mox Pearl’s benefits against mana denial, they have Null Rod, so I like to shave some jewelry. Dack Fayden, while always a fine planeswalker, is not that good, and I would rather have removal spells to deal with their early creatures and get into the late game. Despite Pyroblast being the best answer for Leovold, I still don’t board in the 3rd. I don’t want to draw multiples and die to Deathrite Shaman into Dark Confidant.
The deck is a blast to play if you love grindy and long card advantage games, and it’s the purest representation of Vintage Magic that I love to play!