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!

So Many Insane Plays – Avacyn Restored Eternal Set Review

So Many Insane Plays - Avacyn Restored Eternal Set Review & Updated Vintage Checklist

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

I. Introduction

Welcome dear Eternal player. It’s great to have you back as we dig into the final set from Innistrad block, and the last major set for 2012 until the fall. This is a huge set, with a bunch of playables, design innovations, and a fascinating, game warping mechanic. In this set review, I will take a look at every single new printing for Vintage (and in some important cases, Legacy) applications. Moreover, I will present you with a plethora of decklists that provide a context for each application. I have a decklist for every playable Vintage card in this set, and then some.

The enigmatic title implies a return to the place or revival of something known as “Avacyn.” Yet, this set feels very much in line with the path opened by Innistrad, to push and advance the development of creature-oriented strategies in the Vintage format. Delver of Secrets, Snapcaster Mage, and Grafdigger’s Case were each major printings aiding that trajectory. It seems that Avacyn Restored is giving one last push in that direction. The central figure in that effort is obviously Cavern of Souls, which is discussed prominently in this set review.

So Many Insane Plays – A Guide to Aggro in Vintage (First Edition)

Vintage author Stephen Menendian delves into the world of Aggro in Vintage, with a comprehensive look at what the various pieces of the color pie offer to the aspiring deckbuilder, and their applicability in the current Vintage landscape. In this 30 page article Stephen lays out the case for 12 different Vintage Aggro decks, including card analysis, explanations, and sideboarding advice.

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

So Many Insane Plays – The Dark Ascension Vintage Set Review & Updated Vintage Checklist

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

Greetings Vintage adept! Welcome to my Dark Ascension Vintage Set Review. This will be the most comprehensive review of Dark Ascension for Vintage play available anywhere. I will carefully analyze every card in Dark Ascension for potential Vintage format applications. I will bring to bear not only my expertise, but unmatched experience in evaluating new cards for Vintage play. Not only do I have a proven track record of accurately forecasting new cards for Vintage play, my careful and detailed analysis snares cards that other reviewers overlooked or dismiss. I hope you find this set review enlightening and practical as you decide which cards you will acquire from Dark Ascension, and how you might approach the set from a deck construction perspective.

So Many Insane Plays – Trends & Predictions for 2012 & A Vintage Tournament Report

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

Welcome Vintage addict, and happy holidays. In this article, I will present my final tournament report of the year, in which I narrowly missed Top 8 on account of a few critical play errors. I took more detailed post-match notes than in recent tournaments, so I may delve more deeply into game states. This kind of analysis is among the most pedagogically helpful for Vintage readers, and will hopefully be entertaining as well. But perhaps just as important is my analysis of the trends of the format and my predictions for 2012.

Readers note: If you are reading a hard copy of this article, have a pen or pencil available. I recommend that you print out a copy of this article to get the most out it. Throughout this article I’m going to ask you to examine lines of play, commit to one of several options, and then analyze them.

So Many Insane Plays – The 2011 Vintage Year in Review

Vintage in 2011 was simply amazing. Each new printing, deck, and idea – each new development – formed a chain of dominoes that led to one incredible story after another. I feel sorry for you if you missed it. The good news is that I’ll tell you all about it. For those of you who played Vintage in 2011, you can relive it again. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment. The year’s end is a time for perspective, to reflect on events and to find meaning in them.

For Vintage, 2009 was the Year of the Monster. 2010 was the Year of Worldwake, Vintage defined by the competing forces of Jace and Lodestone Golem. What about 2011? 2011 was a year of many storylines: the re-emergence of Gush at the Vintage Championship, the rise of Landstill, the printing of Snapcaster Mage, and the return of creature decks. But the biggest story of 2011 was the emergence of Dredge as a tier one deck, capped off by winning the Vintage Championship. The performance of Dredge was not only unprecedented, it was precipitated by a dare – a gauntlet thrown down by one of Vintage’s most prominent voices.

So Many Insane Plays – Understanding Remora Gush

(Editor’s Note: This former Downloadable Product has now been made free to all customers. It has also been retitled from the previous title ‘So Many Insane Plays – Remora Gush: The Final Evolution of Gush in 2011.’ Enjoy!)

The Vintage metagame is deep and rich. There are more options than ever for the Vintage player. Blue pilots can choose between Confidant/Jace decks, Snapcaster Control, Gush decks at the top tier, and a myriad of other choices such as Standstill, Oath, Painter, or Fact or Fiction-based decks. Combo pilots can choose among Confidant TPS, Worldgorger Dragon Combo, and now Doomsday. Workshop players can choose among aggressive builds, like Slash Panther, controlling builds, like Nick Detwiler’s Espresso Stax, and more combo oriented builds, like the Kuldotha Forgemaster decks that are rampant in Europe.

So Many Insane Plays – Is Vintage ‘Too Fast’ or in a Golden Era?

Brian DeMars recently penned an article titled ‘Is Vintage Too Fast?‘ While the article is framed as a question, it doesn’t take a psychic to guess at the author’s answer. Brian forcefully argues that Vintage is too fast, and that the DCI should restrict Bazaar of Baghdad and Gush to slow it down.

Although Brian’s article is well written (from a rhetorical and literary perspective), and entertaining, ultimately his argument is poorly conceived, badly reasoned, and, most importantly, factually wrong.
It’s the former attributes that give it the patina of credibility and the superficial appearance of insight, when the opposite is true. As Matt Elias observed on TheManaDrain, ‘I have no doubt that your heart is in the right place, but [your article] is consistently incorrect.’

Not only is Vintage arguably slower than it has been in years, the format is more amazingly diverse, rich and deep, with more design options than ever and a rapidly evolving metagame. Far from being too fast, available tournament data suggests that this is arguably the best Vintage metagame ever. By creating a false impression of the format, Brian misleads his readers into believing that the format requires drastic, irresponsible changes to solve non-existent problems. In fact, Brian’s restriction proposals would make Vintage a significantly less diverse and dynamic format.

Not only is Brian’s conclusion wrong on the facts (as I will demonstrate later in this article), his reasoning is flawed. Brian’s argument is based on three main points. Only one of these points supports his conclusion that the format is faster. The other two legs of his argument not only fail to support his argument regarding the speed of the format or his policy recommendations, but are factually wrong and misleading.

So Many Insane Plays – Top 8 With Doomsday at Waterbury, and Forward Thinking

Last week Stephen Menendian unveiled an explosive new Doomsday deck. This week he provides a detailed tournament report, including a blow by blow account of battling his way to the Top 8 of the esteemed Waterbury/TMD Open 15 tournament, including an epic match with the legendary Chris Pikula.

Stephen goes on to detail lessons learned from his tournament experience, and shares his updated list and ideas for the Maniac Doomsday list going forward for aspiring players looking to pilot this beast in upcoming tournaments! He also presents more detailed information on the notable Mishra’s Workshop matchup, and slight tweaks to give you an edge for your expected metagame.

So Many Insane Plays – DOOMSDAY RETURNS! How to Build Doomsday Piles and Win in Modern Vintage

Hot off a Top 8 at the Waterbury/TMD 15 Open playing Doomsday, Stephen Menendian has written a primer on this unusual and exciting archetype. In this primer Stephen explains optimal deck construction, Doomsday piles, and sideboarding options and plans. With over 15 different Doomsday scenarios analyzed with detailed graphics, this article is a treat for all Magic lovers!

Is Doomsday now the premiere Gush strategy with the printing of Innistrad’s Laboratory Maniac? How does this Doomsday puzzle work? Find out all of these answers and more in So Many Insane Plays – DOOMSDAY RETURNS!

So Many Insane Plays – Innistrad: A Comprehensive Vintage Set Review

SMIP Innistrad Set Review

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

I. Introduction and Overview

Welcome loyal reader to my Innistrad Set Review!

This article is dense and action packed. I will begin by recapping my New Phyrexia Set Review, and evaluating my predictions there. I will then talk about what entered Vintage with M12, and with the metagame changes this summer. Then I will share my thoughts on Innistrad, beginning with an essay on Innistrad, followed by a comprehensive analysis of which cards are Unplayable, Remotely Playable, Possibly Playable, and Definitely Playable. Finally, I will unveil the list of cards you will want to pick up from Innistrad, and the updated Vintage Checklist. Whew, that’s a lot to get to, so let’s get started!

So Many Insane Plays – From Confidant to Cobra Gush: First Place in Sandusky

Today, Stephen Menendian unveils his post-Vintage Champs deck of choice. The recent Team Serious Open in Sandusky, Ohio, provided a battle ground in the post-Champs metagame, with many of Vintage’s brightest minds in attendance. After the dust settled Stephen was crowned the winner, piloting an innovative take on Cobra Gush. He gives an in depth look at his card choices and reasoning, and looks at each of his games in this tournament, turn through turn, detailing the decision tree and ramifications of in-game actions.