Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 1997

Schools of Magic History of Vintage 1997

Building on the previous chapters of the Schools of Magic: History of Vintage series, author Stephen Menendian has uncovered a treasure trove of lost decklists and forgotten history as he explores the trends, experiences, and metagame of Type I in 1997, the fifth year of Magic. Whether you are a student of the history of the game, a fan of the early years of Magic, or simply curious about the early years of Vintage, this article is not to be missed. With fifteen tournament winning and high-performing decklists and in-depth analysis, this article is perfect for those who want to relive 1997, as the first age of Type I Magic draws to a close.

So Many Insane Plays – Rogue Hermit: The Fastest Deck in Vintage

SMIPRogueHermitVintage

A long time ago, Wizards of the Coast printed Hermit Druid.

Hermit DruidThis little critter may look harmless enough, but he soon got into trouble – big trouble for such a little guy. Once players figured out that they could build decks without basic lands, they realized that they could activate this guy to empty their entire library into their graveyard. For years, players had tried to prevent their opponent’s from doing just that. But the printing of so many new cards that could be played or used from the graveyard changed all that.

So Many Insane Plays – 1st Place in Vacaville: Two Burning Tendrils Tournament Reports

So Many Insane Plays - 1st in Vacaville

Hot off his Team Serious Open victory in December, Stephen Menendian took his Burning Tendrils creation to another 1st place finish in Vacaville this past month. Read this epic 29 page double tournament report to see what the latest changes are that Stephen has made to combat the ever-evolving metagame. Complete with play-by-play game coverage and Stephen’s characteristic detailed analysis, trace both the lows and learning experiences of an underwhelming tournament performance, to lessons learned translating into the highs of another tournament victory at the most recent Vacaville vintage tournament. Follow Stephen’s thought process in each situation as you learn how to become a better combo pilot by learning from the best in the format.

Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 1995 & 1996

SOMHOV19951996

Building on the foundation of Schools of Magic: History of Vintage1993 & 1994, author Stephen Menendian dives deep into the history of the Type I/Vintage format in this historical look at 1995 & 1996, the most formative years in the format’s grand history. Do not miss the story of The Deck, perhaps the most famous archetype in the format’s history. Culled from long forgotten archival materials, historical records, new exclusive interviews with key players of the era, and much much more, you will see decks published in these pages for the first time ever and read about:

So Many Insane Plays – Victory with Burning Tendrils *1st Place*

Stephen Menendian has finally had the chance to play his latest Vintage creation in a marquis event, and ended up winning the tournament! Read play-by-play action of 8 rounds of tournament Magic, and learn how to employ Stephen’s latest sideboard and tournament refinements. Learn strategy, tips, tactics, and decision making in critical situations, all in this 25+ page in-depth accounting of tournament victory at the Team Serious Open with Burning Long.

So Many Insane Plays – Matchup Analysis: Burning Long on the Draw vs. MUD

Stephen Menendian runs his new Burning Long deck up against Workshops for some intensive matchup analysis. Each game is with Burning Long on the draw for maximum difficulty, and greater challenge. This detailed, play-by-play article, taken from a long set of post-board games, illustrates the dangers and key principles of play for the Long pilot. This is a must-read for anybody interested in learning about the nuances of modern Vintage combo versus Workshops, especially for the aspiring combo players.

Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 1993 & 1994

Several years in the making, Schools of Magic: History of Vintage is a brand new series tracing the rich and exciting history of what has become Vintage. Stephen Menendian has been researching the obscure and often forgotten history of Magic’s oldest and most interesting format. For the first time, you can now read the history of Vintage/Type 1 Magic from 1993 to the present. Each chapter will cover a year in the history of the game, highlighting major new printings, innovations and the emergent new decks that resulted. The ultimate payoff for the reader is a profound appreciation for the strategic evolution of the game, and a keen recognition of the ways in which the strategies that emerged in the format that began in 1993-1994 continue unabated today in the Vintage format, from the Weissman school to the O’Brien School. While this series is intended for Eternal fans, and Vintage players in particular, anyone and everyone who enjoys Magic, from the wily Pro Tour veteran to the kitchen table casual player, will enjoy this story.

So Many Insane Plays – Doomsday: The Puzzling – Five Puzzles to Blow Your Mind!

Stephen Menendian returns to (finally!) publish an update to his inspired Legacy Doomsday that many of you have been clamoring for! More importantly, he’s here to test your skills, challenge your knowledge of the format, and expand your mind as he takes you to your wit’s limit with five brilliant and progressively difficult puzzles.

Modeled after Mark Rosewater’s famous column, the “Puzzling,” these brain teasers will provide hours of entertainment as you examine the complex, intricate, mind-boggling possibilities with Doomsday! Each puzzle is based on game situations that might actually arise in Legacy tournaments. You’ll find yourself coming back to these puzzles over and over again for insight and fun! The beautifully rendered layouts and easy to follow narrative make this an article you cannot miss!

After the jump we’ll share a long excerpt from the review for FREE, so check it out!

So Many Insane Plays – The Glorious Return of Burning Long!

Combo is coming! Long.dec is back! Dark Rituals are back! Stephen Menendian has been working tirelessly since the announcement unrestricting Burning Wish. He has been testing, tuning, and brewing Burning Tendrils. Stephen has uncovered some critical discoveries and made some incredible design leaps to unleash a deck that he firmly believes is well positioned to take its place in the top tier of the Vintage metagame. In this article, Stephen will take you through a meticulous design process, a careful primer on how to employ each tactic, and a detailed analysis of card selection and omission. Let Stephen guide you on an entertaining ride through new Vintage!

After the jump we’ll share a long excerpt from the review for FREE, so check it out!

So Many Insane Plays – A Time For Grixis Control and Other Thoughts on the Vintage Metagame

The night before the Vintage Championship I struggled to decide what I would play. As recounted in my GenCon Vintage Champs report, I had decided I would play Cobra Gush in the prelim tournament, based upon my conclusion that it was the best Gush option. Despite my strong performance, I still sensed – inchoately – that UBR Confidant/Jace Control might actually be a better option, especially in a Workshop heavy metagame. I had just such a list drawn up and ready for testing that night.

So Many Insane Plays – Return to Ravnica Eternal Set Review

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

Welcome to Ravnica. Welcome back, that is. This seems to be a motif of Magic: revisiting old haunts, often with new twists. If we look more deeply, Return to Ravnica is less of a return than a revolt from Ravnica. While superficially similar, the mechanics, themes, and ideas are a rejection of what we found in Ravnica. Yes, the Guilds exist. Yes, hybrid cards are here. Yes, dual lands and mana producing artifacts are here.

But what’s not here are the incredible mechanics, top tier creatures, and powerful bombs. Ravnica was a set of huge spells, potent engines, and broken mechanics. Ravnica was the home of Dark Confidant, Life from the Loam, Remand, Dredge, and Golgari-Grave Troll. It was the set of Darkblast, Seeds of the Past, Flame-Kin Zealot, Stinkweed Imp, and Muddle the Mixture.

This set is far more timid in terms of the splashy spell. Epic Experiment and Jace, Architect of Thought highlight and exemplify the limitations of the set. These are cards that want to be great, that could be great, but are just a hair away or a subtle limitation from reaching that aspiration. In contrast to the bold mechanics of the Golgari or Dimir from the original Ravnica (Dredge & Transmute), we have weak and anemic mechanics that are, admittedly, flavorful, but far less interesting in the older formats.

If there is a card from the original Ravnica era that reminds of this new Ravnica, it’s Dimir Cutpurse: a creature that is almost, but not quite good enough. This new Ravnica features plenty of near playables, aggressively costed gold cards that demand attention, but perhaps not a spot in your 75.

But perhaps most surprising of all, and certainly the most subversive to the original Ravnica, is the fact that the best Eternal cards from this set aren’t threats, but answers. Again and again, the cards that stand out for Eternal play aren’t huge bombs, flashy spells, or dangerous mechanics, but exactly the opposite: brutal hosers, stalwart answers, and utility tactics. Could that be more different than the original world of Ravnica?

So Many Insane Plays – 2012 Vintage Championship Report & Post-Mortem

So Many Insane Plays - 2012 Vintage Championsip Report & Post-Mortem

The Vintage Championship is the one of the few Vintage “majors,” tournaments of higher level competition and prestige. The most famous European major is the Bazaar of Moxen, renowned for its extraordinary prize payout. Although the Vintage Championship does not have the best prize payout of the Vintage majors, like the Italian OvinoGeddon or the American Waterbury, it does have a prize that is perhaps more coveted: a piece of original alternate artwork of one of the ‘Power Nine’ cards, framed as a trophy.

So Many Insane Plays – The Parameters of Land Tax in Legacy

Land Tax is finally legal in Legacy. Hallelujah!

Land Tax is a card that I have long argued is among the safest cards to unban from the Legacy banned list. In 2010, I asked my readers if they felt Land Tax was a safe unban, and an overwhelming 80% agreed at the time that it was.

It’s sometimes surprising how Wizards will unban or unrestrict a riskier card than cards that are obviously safer for Eternal play. A good example is unrestricting Gush before Fact or Fiction in Vintage. A good Legacy example is unbanning Entomb before practically every card they’ve unbanned since. Half of the cards argued for in my 2010 article are now legal, and Land Tax is arguably the safest of all.

So Many Insane Plays – 1st Place With Baleful Strix Control: A Vintage Tournament Report

I’ve played a ton of Magic lately, surprising given how crazy busy my professional life has been recently, and the ideas have been flowing as if by divine inspiration. Perhaps that’s a consequence of playing Doomsday over and over again in both Vintage and Legacy: my neural pathways have been taxed to the limit, and I’m creating new Magical branches in my brain.

When Kevin Cron and I podcasted So Many Insane Plays #15 – Doomsday Scenarios recently, our goal was to cover the Bazaar of Moxen results and to present some Vintage and Legacy Doomsday scenarios. Yet, in covering Planechase 2012, I was struck by how insane Baleful Strix seemed, especially in light of the metagame we had just covered from the Bazaar of Moxen 2012 Vintage tournament.

The second place deck was MUD. Baleful Strix is pretty much exactly what you want against Workshops: it’s an artifact creature, which means it can be played under Lodestone Golem and Thorn of Amethyst without any problem, and trades with a Lodestone Golem while also netting you a card in the process. In other words, it’s a 2-for-1 there. With Goblin Welder, it’s almost impossible to deal with, and things can quickly spiral out of control for the opponent.

So Many Insane Plays – The Legacy Doomsday Device Primer

For the last 7 months, Stephen Menendian has been toiling away in his Magic laboratory on a concoction that is certain to shake up Legacy. In this article, Stephen reinvents Doomsday in Legacy, just as he has in Vintage. Focused determination and meticulous refinement have produced a decklist and a deck approach that will blow your mind.

Stephen’s Legacy Doomsday deck overcomes many of the problems that traditional Legacy Doomsday decks face. It not only runs more countermagic than nearly every other deck in the format, but it is completely invulnerable to storm hate, Gaddock Teeg, Arcane Laboratory effects, and Leyline of Sanctity. It is blisteringly fast and savagely brutal.

This 33 page primer will provide all of the tips, tricks, and advice you need to learn how to play this monster, and will provide the 12 basic Doomsday scenarios you must master. If you buy any article this year, this should be it!