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.

So Many Insane Plays – Understanding Confidant Gush

(Editor’s Note: This content was formerly published on Quiet Speculation, and the former Downloadable Product has since been made available free here with the permission of the author and QS. Enjoy!)

Gush is the Vintage Magic equivalent of the Wonderlic test. How a player views Gush as a card is indicative and suggestive, although not determinative (by any means), of their Vintage IQ. If a player looks at Gush, and is either unimpressed or thinks it’s simply not that good, it is only a matter of time until they are proven wrong. If a player doesn’t know how to play Gush, and fumbles around with it in testing, it’s guaranteed that they will underestimate it. If a player casts Gush on turn two, and passes the turn without doing anything else meaningful, they are GushFailing.

In many respects Gush is a test of a true Vintage master. The best Vintage players know and have always known how powerful Gush truly is. They respect it and abuse it. This is more so now that so many parts of the old GushBond engine have been restricted. Gush is now only a menace in the hands of the most experienced players. It is a card that separates the wheat from the chaff.

With this reality now manifest, consider the fact that Gush has been unrestricted since October 2010. Yet, it took until the Vintage championship in August 2011, nearly a year later, for the Vintage community to awaken to its true power; for Rich Shay and others to demonstrate and remind players of Gush’s true place in the Vintage pantheon. How many players have wisely used that time to hone their Gush skills? How many have played Gush decks, or at least tried them, in the interim?

So Many Insane Plays – Three Lessons From Bobby Fischer

So Many Insane Plays – Three Lessons From Bobby Fischer for Magic Players: What I Learned From Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall – From America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness

Bobby Fischer is arguably the greatest Chess player of all time. This fact is all the more astounding because he was an American who rose to the pinnacle of a sport dominated by non-Americans (think soccer, or “football”). His method of play, his studious preparation, and even his descent into madness contain valuable lessons for the young or mature Magic player.

Frank Brady has written a fascinating, page-turning biography of one of America’s most transcendent and enigmatic icons: Brooklyn-born World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer. Young Americans may not appreciate the Fischer legend or his iconic stature, since it was forged in the crucible of the Cold War. As a point of comparison, he was transcendent in the way Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods are in the modern era (in the 90s and 00s, respectively), in terms of their visibility beyond the sport and cross-cultural global status. In each case, they transformed the sport participated in, and became icons beyond it.

Fischer’s defeat of Soviet chess legend Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Chess Championship, in my estimation, approaches the 1980 U.S.A. Men’s Hockey Team’s “Miracle on Ice” defeat of the Soviet Union in the Winter Olympics, in terms of its cultural relevance. The Soviet Union had long dominated the Chess World Championship, largely on account of a system of state subsidized training and support. Chess was to the Soviet Union was baseball once was to the U.S.: a national pastime. The significance of Fischer’s win cannot be overstated in that context, although in a post-Cold War era, it’s difficult to appreciate.

In reading Brady’s book, I couldn’t avoid comparisons to Magic and my experience in Magic. Although Magic is a different game from Chess, there are many parallels, from the dedication required to reach mastery levels of the game itself and to hone one’s craft, to the rating systems which defines achievement. I’ve culled three critical lessons from the book that are directly applicable to Magic.

So Many Insane Plays – Legacy Checklist August 2011

Are you overwhelmed by the breadth of card choices available in the Legacy landscape? Would you like a concise list to help you navigate?

Author Stephen Mendendian is here to guide you through the Legacy card pool, and has constructed an awesome checklist of epic proportions, based on real world tournament results. Useful for anyone getting into Legacy, for the Eternal veteran, for the collector, or for the dealer or speculator making sure he’s not left behind – the Legacy Checklist is a very useful tool for all. This Downloadable Product contains a comprehensive list of Legacy playables, special notation for “staples,” and comes with both a long form list and an Excel spreadsheet.