• So Many Insane Plays – The 2016 Vintage Checklist

    Editor’s Note: The 2016 Vintage Checklist has been fully updated and replaced by the 2017 Vintage Checklist. Please head over to that product page below for full details!
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Magic Online P9 Challenge Metagame Analysis

    Returning home from Eternal Weekend was a dispiriting experience this year, as far as Vintage is concerned. We enjoyed the largest crowds ever for both Vintage Champs and Legacy Champs – at a special, non-convention event, no less – while Vintage had languished in a slow decline on Magic Online, the platform for which it has the most promise, unconstrained by the Reserved List or paper card supply.
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  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 2003

    For a format whose history stretches back towards the origins of the game, 2003 may well lay claim to being the most dynamic and pivotal year before or since in the History of Vintage. It was a year in which the format was rocked by dramatic restrictions, metagame convulsions, astounding printings and shocking new mechanics, quickened engagement and interest from the DCI and Wizards of the Coast, and the inauguration of a new annual Championship tournament. The investments of the player base in 2002 were bearing fruit, and the innovations and novel strategic developments were accelerating. New strategies were born, and old Schools of Vintage Magic were revived. In a sense, 2003 was a springboard for the evolution of the format since. It marks a transition from historical Type I to the format that would soon become known as Vintage.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – A Comprehensive Guide to Vintage Delver

    (Editor’s Note: This Downloadable Product, originally released January 9 2015, was last updated February 13 2015, to account for the recent restriction of Treasure Cruise, and the incorporation of Dig Through Time in Vintage Delver.)

    In his first major deck primer in over a year, and fresh off his win of Season 1 of the Vintage Super League, Stephen Menendian delves into the depths of Vintage Delver, with over 50 pages of in-depth content. With a comprehensive look at building the deck piece by piece, executing the game plan, sideboarding strategy, and in-game tactics, this is something no serious Vintage fan should miss.
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  • #GiftsWeek – So Many Insane Plays – MeanDeck Gifts 2015

    It amazes me how many new Vintage players are out there, and, moreover, how many never played during the Gifts era. In some ways, the Gifts era was the peak period of involvement in the game and the format for myself. It was the height of the StarCityGames Power 9 series circuit, and much more. It was a time of enthusiasm and discovery.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Top 8 at NYSE Open 2, a Tournament Report

    (Editor’s Note: This was originally published by VintageMagic.com, and has been re-edited and published here for archival purposes, with the approval of the author and VintageMagic.com).
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  • So Many Insane Plays – The “So Do You Wear a Cape?” Book Review

    Enthusiast Titus Chalk has authored a brilliant, page-turning history of Magic: The Gathering sprinkled with entertaining anecdotes, remarkably deep insights, and journalistic treasures. Chalk’s brisk narrative, brimming with behind-the-scenes stories that reflect painstaking investigatory work, traces the broad arc of Magic’s 20+ year history. Chalk sketches the development of the game, its unbridled growth, and the myriad debates and issues surrounding it, from the complaints of fundamentalist parents over the ‘demonic’ elements of the game, to the emergence of the Pro Tour (with its heroes and villains), the business of the game, from its initial financing to its sale to Hasbro (with Richard Garfield pocketing a cool $100 million, no less), to the growth of the secondary market, to the wrangling over the Reserved List. It’s all covered.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Pitch Burning Tendrils, Other Brews, and Three Tournament Reports

    Stephen Menendian’s latest weapon of choice is revealed here, in an epic 45 page primer and three tournament reports (including the Vintage Championship). A compelling read for Vintage enthusiasts and experts alike, Stephen’s nuanced and characteristically detailed analysis of the critical trends in the late 2013 Vintage metagame, innovative deck designs, and updated favorites like Maniac Doomsday, are all part of a must read, end of year Vintage strategy article you won’t find anywhere else. His latest deck is, in his view, the best deck in Vintage going forward, and the perfect weapon for upcoming tournaments.
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  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – The First Ten Years

    The first ten chapters in Vintage expert Stephen Menendian’s acclaimed series, Schools of Magic: History of Vintage, are compiled for the first time, weighing in at over 225 pages of unforgettable history. As Magic crosses its 20th anniversary, players are more curious and nostalgic than ever about the game’s colorful history and remarkable growth. As the game’s oldest sanctioned constructed format, the History of Vintage traces back to the origins of the game and reflects the trends and strategic innovations of the game itself. The format that came into existence with the with the first Banned and Restricted List announcement in January, 1994 continues unabated today known as “Vintage.”
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  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 2002

    Stephen Menendian completes the first decade of the History of Vintage series with an epic chapter on the tumultuous changes, debates, and dramatic innovations of 2002. Read about the emergence of new strategies like MaskNaught, TnT, and Grow, and read about the heated debates between Patrick Chapin, Oscar Tan, Mark Rosewater and the broader Type I community. Learn about the tournament results that changed the metagame, and the creators and innovators behind them.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Preparing for the 2013 Vintage Championship

    SMIP Preparing For The 2013 Vintage Championship

    I am in the Nick Saban school of game-day preparation: process is everything. Studies show that students who imagine themselves performing well on a test actually perform worse than a control group. The explanation behind this counter-intuitive fact is simple: performance is a product of preparation, and students who imagine themselves doing well are less likely to prepare as intensively. Process is everything: from what you eat, to how you sleep, to how you practice, and manage your life outside of that process.
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  • Doomsday: The Puzzling – The Dream Halls Dilemma

    Doomsday-the-Puzzling-The-Dream-Halls-Dilemma

    Your opponent is on a very strong combo deck in OmniTell, but you are not deterred. You are also on a combo deck, but one which features more countermagic and disruption. This will be a game of inches, but one that you should win if you plan properly. You took the first game of the match, and your opponent is not about to go down without a fight. You brought in a pair of Dark Confidants and Cabal Therapies for some extra draw and disruption.
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  • Doomsday: The Puzzling – The Double Deathrite Conundrum SOLUTION

    Doomsday-the-Puzzling---The-Double-Deathrite-Conundrum-Solution

    Previously on Eternal Central we featured a free Puzzling challenge titled Doomsday: The Puzzling – The Double Deathrite Conundrum. The solution to this Puzzling can be found below.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – A Short History of Dual Lands

    So Many Insane Plays - A Short History of Dual Lands

    Mana is the foundation of Magic. Although it is possible to design and build decks without mana production, it is extremely difficult. More importantly, the possibilities for mana production define the range of strategic possibilities in Magic. This is why Zvi Mowshowitz once claimed that he began analyzing a format by examining the possibilities inherent in that format’s mana production capacity.
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  • Doomsday: The Puzzling – The Double Deathrite Conundrum

    Doomsday: The Puzzling - The Double Deathrite Conundrum

    The moment you feared has finally arrived. After stomping two Show and Tell decks, overcoming a UW Control deck with dominating countermagic, and narrowly defeating a RUG Delver deck, you are faced with your most difficult matchup yet: Shardless BUG. It’s the fifth round of a seven round Legacy tournament, and a trip to the Top 8 is on the line. Win here, and you can draw into the elimination rounds, where guaranteed prizes await. Lose here, and you might fall out of contention completely.

    Your opponent, Jimmy the Cat Warrior, is a well known area player, and a skilled opponent. Escaping with a win here will require precision and exact planning. Fortunately, you are focused and determined.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – It’s a Young Mancer’s Game: Grow 2013

    (Editor’s Note: This former Downloadable Product has now been made free to all customers. Enjoy!)

    Since the DCI unexpectedly unrestricted Regrowth in April, I have been interested in reviving Gush strategies in the format, just as the unrestriction of Burning Wish spurred me to do the same with Ritual strategies with Burning Tendrils. As I warned folks, Regrowth bolsters the greatly diminished GushBond engine in both consistency and speed. It functions in a similar role to Merchant Scroll – a two mana sorcery that usually becomes Gush. The difference is that Regrowth reuses a Gush you have already played whereas Scroll fetches a new one out of your library. Sometimes Regrowth is actually better. Merchant Scroll can only find blue instants. Regrowth can find anything in the graveyard, and recur Time Walk or Black Lotus, or even a countered Yawgmoth’s Will.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – The Burning Tendrils Bible

    Are you interested in learning about the best combo deck in Vintage? Stephen Menendian’s Burning Tendrils primer, Burning Tendrils vs. MUD matchup analysis, and four Burning Tendrils tournament reports together can now be yours in these collected works, now titled The Burning Tendrils Bible.
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  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 2001

    2001 was the beginning of a Renaissance for the Type I format. After half a decade of slow decline, tournament interest and enthusiasm surged, as players organized tournaments online, in Europe, and as Origins and GenCon became major Type I tournament scenes. Witness the rise and fall of Accelerated Blue, the dominance of Fact or Fiction, and the emergence of the first Welder-based Workshop decks, Gush strategies, Sapphire Oath, and much, much more! Rediscover long-lost decklists and tournament report excerpts that capture the feeling and experience of the format in 2001. Revisit the debates between players like Tom LaPille, Oscar Tan, and Matt Smith, and learn history’s judgment of their arguments. Continuing Stephen Menendian’s epic History of Vintage series, Chapter 9 (2001) is a dramatic turning point in the history of the format. At 30 pages of action-packed history, this chapter is not to be missed!
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  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 2000

    Continuing the epic Schools of Magic: History of Vintage series, Chapter 8 (2000) is a tale of two Invitationals. The old ‘Schools of Magic’ were being revived or reconstituted just as a long-standing pillar of the format was about to fall. The Type I metagame for each Invitational that buttressed the year is a revealing snapshot of what a difference the restrictions in 2000 made, as players brought into being a new Type I order. 2000 was also the year that the Type I community began to organize itself into online forums, rather than just Usenet and email lists. Learn about the emergent and passionate community of Type I players and advocates, how they influenced the format, and what they meant to the history of the game.
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  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 1999

    1999 was a year of great highs and dark lows for the slowly evolving Type I format as the remainder of Urza block tidal waved through the format. Watch as Keeper, Combo, and Necro compete on the Magic Invitational stage. Observe the sweeping restrictions that rocked the Type I format in 1999, and read about how players felt about and reacted to them. Learn the real story behind Magic’s only ever emergency banning. See what changes Brian Weissman made to The Deck following Urza block. Learn about the enigmatic yet subtly powerful Mercadian Masques expansion. Stephen Menendian paints a vivid and unforgettable portrait of a format at the precipice of the millennium and great change. Stephen’s penetrating insight delves behind the facts, decklists, and results to reveal the hidden relationships in an unforgettable year in the History of Vintage.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Designing For Eternal

    SMIP-Designing-for-Eternal

    Introduction

    You Make the Card 4 arrived with much fanfare and even greater surprise. It has been seven years since the last You Make the Card (YMTC) campaign. Its return coincides with the 20th anniversary of Magic, and is a celebratory gesture by Wizards of the Coast on the game’s behalf.

    Perhaps as surprising as YMTC’s welcome but unexpected return are the voting results so far. In the card type vote, Land and Enchantment received the most votes, with Enchantment winning a tight run-off. Not only was this result unexpected (few people thought Enchantment would be a top vote-getter), but it was surprising for what it signifies. I believe that these results may be interpreted, as others have suggested, as a signal to collectively push this process in a different direction than previous YMTC events, in which voters selected Creature, Artifact, and Instant as the card types.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Dragon’s Maze Eternal Set Review & Updated Vintage Checklist

    So Many Insane Plays - Dragon's Maze Eternal Set Review

    Stephen Menendian takes a deep look into the Dragon’s Maze for potential Eternal playables, and reviews the set with his characteristic insight and detailed analysis. Stephen has also conducted some preliminary testing of an unrestricted Regrowth in Vintage, and briefly shares some insights that you do not want to miss. Finally, for collectors, traders, and Vintage enthusiasts alike, be sure to check out the updated Vintage Checklist of playables.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – 1st Place in Vacaville with Burning Tendrils, Again: A Tournament Report and Other Thoughts on Vintage

    SMIP-1st-In-Vacaville-Again

    Stephen Menendian has done it again, finishing first at the latest Vintage tournament with his creation, Burning Tendrils. In this detailed 27 page tournament report, Stephen characteristically provides a thoughtful play-by-play recap of his tournament experience, delving behind each play with an explanation of his decision process, and an analysis of alternative lines of play from each land drop to sequencing spells. Stephen will test your abilities in the process by asking the reader to select a line of play. Stephen also introduces an updated non-Oath Burning Tendrils list for control metagames, talks about Voltaic Key and Time Vault in Burning Tendrils, and shares his broader thoughts on the archetype and the Vintage format. As always, Stephen breaks the mold for tournament reports with his iconic style and brilliant insights.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Rogue Hermit: Legacy Edition

    SMIPRogueHermitLegacy

    If you haven’t already done so, please check out the first part of this article for background on this archetype, the history of Hermit Druid, and the significance of the Gatecrash Hermit Druid variants. In this article, I will explore the design potential of a Legacy version of this archetype.
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