Tuning NO RUG Part Three – Unleashing the Hydra


Sometimes, you just have it. I remember playing a tournament match against Zoo where my opponent was one game up. I was playing NO RUG, as usual. It was the last round and we were playing for Top 8 so I really wanted the win. Naturally, I had Natural Order on turn three in game two and turn five in game three. I just won. Sadly, this is not always how it goes, and it’s not always that easy. Today, we’re taking a look at one of these stories where we don’t always have the perfect hand.

Vaulting Through Ohio – Vintage in Sandusky

Earlier this year the members of Team Serious, that is, my teammates, decided there wasn’t enough Vintage action going on in the great Ohio valley, so they decided to do something about it and organized a tournament at POP! in Sandusky, Ohio (USA) for July 2nd, 2011. Team Serious extraordinaire Nat Moes of Charbelcher fame traveled in from the DC area and took down the whole thing with Wizards.dec. Yep, seriously. You can find all the sick decklists from that tournament here, courtesy of Asian assassin and rap battlemaster Twaun007.

I couldn’t make it to that tournament, but was determined to make it to the next one to support the posse and to sling Vintage cardboard with the world’s finest. New Subaru Outback in tow (RIP Honda), on extremely short notice (like less than a week away) I convinced my teammates the Lord of AllCats aka Jimmy McCarthy to drive down from Wisconsin with Mike Solymossy aka The Salad aka Soly aka Mr. Pink aka “I can’t be tilted” and to carpool out with me across three states. I was determined to dominate both sandwiches and Vintage alchemists. Read on for more details of my road trip Vaulting Through Ohio, leaving a wake of tattered sandwiches and dreams crushed beneath my feet.

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?

Tuning NO RUG Part Two – Mulligans and Sideboarding


Hey there, we’re back again this week with another look at Tuning NO RUG! In last week’s article I elaborated on the thought process that went into my recent version of NO RUG. This time we’re going to look at mulligan decisions and sideboarding plans with the deck.

I originally planned to include an in-depth analysis of an entire match against Bant Aggro, but it would be better to devote a separate article to that so we can look at some of the more complex decisions that go into match play with the deck, so be on the lookout for that next week! For this week join us as we jump into mulliganing and sideboarding with NO RUG!

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.

Instant Analysis – SCG Boston & Spanish Legacy Nationals

This article is meant to be a short and straight analysis of the current state of the Legacy format according to the last 2 big tournaments: Star City Games Open Series 2011 – Boston (268 players) + Spanish Legacy Nationals – Alcoy (318 players). I’m not going to judge wether Legacy is a healthy format or not. I’m leaving that to you and to the mtgthesource.com community. Right now I’m just going to focus on the numbers obtained by the most played decks in these two tournaments.

Do you think Legacy is a healthy format?

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Discover what’s hidden behind the deck numbers right after the break!

Tuning NO RUG: What Would Kibler Do?

Hi there, y’all! I’m pretty sure you don’t know me, so I should probably introduce myself first. My name’s Jonathan Alexander, but call me Jona (pronounced like Yona by the way; I’m from Germany). I have been playing Legacy since shortly after Zendikar was released. From the beginning, I played Blue-based decks most of the time, quite often decks like Canadian Thresh or Team America. Team America was actually what I played for the first few months of this year. Then Reid Duke got sixth at the SCG Open in Boston with a RUG (Red Blue Green) Natural Order deck, and everything changed.

Commander: Sharuum Control (Competitive 1vs1)

Few months ago, I went to my local store in Barcelona and some of my friends started talking about this new format called Commander, and that they wanted to try it out. I knew about the existance of EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander) but, honestly, it never caught my attention. Everybody was talking marvellous things about Commander,  the format where you could play with those old-school staples that were hidden in you dusty shoe boxes.

The dusty commons, uncommons and rares turned out to be a fun but losing machine. My friends and I tend to play for ante in every single format, so it took me few games (and bucks) to go from casual playing to designing a unbeatable deck for 1vs1.  So, what does it take to build a tier deck in commander?

The following article (which is free by the way) will try to cover my personal approach to competitive 1vs1 Commander based on the general Sharuum the Hegemon. This 99+1 card deck is designed to win games, and for that you need acceleration, protection, creatures, broken spells, removals, etc… but also, you need a well designed mana base.

So Many Insane Plays – 2011 Q2 Vintage Metagame Report

SMIP-Q2-Vintage-Metagame-Report

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

Ah Vintage, you are a stunning creature. Just 18 and a half years old, reaching maturity, you are in full bloom. It is my pleasure to help others appreciate your wonder. The Vintage metagame is a special creature, but it takes a seasoned hand to help illuminate this beauty. Every quarter, just as corporate America is compiling and releasing earnings reports for investors and regulators, I am doing the same, but for the Vintage format.

This is the most unusual metagame report I’ve ever composed. This is true for a number of reasons, but above all because of the sheer diversity in the Vintage metagame. This diversity manifests in a number of ways.

So Many Insane Plays – What is the LEAST Unrestrictable Card in Vintage?

This month may herald some exciting changes to the Vintage Restricted List. In recent years, the DCI has typically made adjustments to the Vintage Banned and Restricted List mid-year, perhaps with an eye towards the Vintage Championship at GenCon. For each of the last five years, changes to the Vintage Restricted list have been announced, and all of the announced changes to the Vintage occurred in June or September.

Debates over the Restricted List generally follow the same narrative in two forms: a particular card is too dominant, and statistical evidence or player discontent is proffered in support; alternatively, a particular card can be safely unrestricted, because players want it and the unrestriction would have a modest statistical impact on the format given what we know about the metagame. Last week I co-wrote an article arguing that Fact or Fiction should be unrestricted along those lines. In both cases, the argument centers on whether a card would be statistically healthy for the format and the degree of player support for or against a particular change.

But what if we flipped the question? What if, instead of asking “what is the most unrestrictable card in Vintage?,” we flip the script, and ask “What is the LEAST unrestrictable card in Vintage?” Why ask this? If we can answer this question, we will be forced to conceptualize and formulate a clearer understanding of the Vintage Restricted list and the purposes it serves. We may uncover hidden or obscured criteria for restriction or unrestriction. And, this process may help answer the original question regarding what the most unrestrictable cards in Vintage may be. This is likely because, in most cases, a person answering this question will likely begin by working backward.

Why Fact or Fiction Should Be Unrestricted: An Open Letter to the DCI

By Stephen Menendian and William Winger

Almost ten years on, the time has come to reconsider Fact or Fiction‘s restricted status. As difficult as it is for us Eternal enthusiasts to believe, Fact or Fiction has now inhabited the Vintage Restricted List for half of the game’s existence. Announced December 2001, and effective January 1st, 2002, the restriction of Fact or Fiction demarcates the midpoint in the life of the Vintage format and the game itself, the fulcrum between 1993 and 2011. This fact underscores the need to reconsider whether it still deserves to be restricted. We make the case not only that Fact or Fiction no longer deserves that status, and can join the ranks of cards like Gush and Frantic Search which have safely returned to the format unrestricted, but that its unrestriction would be a net positive, promoting the strategic diversity of the format and generating interest, enthusiasm, and good will throughout the format.

Instant Analysis – SCG Orlando Legacy Open 2011

Instant Analysis SCG Orlando 2011
Another weekend has come and gone, but this was no ordinary weekend in Legacy. This was the first week that major tournaments around the world would have New Phyrexia legal, and along with it the most hyped card for Legacy in ages, Mental Misstep. While the massive Bazaar of Moxen tournament was going on halfway around the world in France, Americans had the opportunity to gather in sunny Orlando (Florida, USA) to play their weapon of choice in a new era of Legacy. The Mental Misstep Era.

Gerry Thompson (UW Landstill) scooped to Chris VanMeter (Tempo UBG) in the finals (lame!), and the decklists for the Top 16 in Orlando can be found here. Merfolk was all over the place, and I’d guess was the most played deck. The top finishing Merfolk player was Nick Spagnolo who clocked in at sixth place playing a 12-lord version with 2 Umezawa’s Jitte main and no Kira, Great Glass-Spinner. A whopping five other Merfolk players finished just outside the Top 8 in ninth through sixteenth place, and they were all playing 3-4 Missteps and they varied on what can be considered the flex slots with stuff like Merfolk Sovereign, Standstill, Kira, and more counters. The Orlando metagame seemed to be composed of Team America, Bant, Show and Tell, Zoo, BGW Junk, and Painter being played, along with another two dozen other lesser played decks in smaller numbers. The Top 16 included the aforementioned Merfolk, Team America, Landstill, Intuition Painter, Metalworker, and another Death and Taxes sighting! There were 146 players in this event and Legacy is still as diverse as ever, but things will start to get interesting as the metagame shifts around the perceived and real value of Misstep.

Instant Analysis – Bazaar of Moxen Legacy 2011

Instant Analysis Bazaar of Moxen Legacy 2011
Have you ever won a piece of Power 9 playing in a Magic tournament? It’s a great feeling, and a nice little financial reward for beating let’s say 20 to 60 other players. Now what if you could beat 600 other players, and you won an entire set of Beta Power 9 for your triumph? If you could, you’d most likely be playing in the annual Bazaar of Moxen (BoM) tournaments, where the turnout is big and the prizes are bigger!

Last year’s BoM Legacy event had over 500 people, and many were wondering if the attendance would rise as Legacy has become more popular, or if it would fall because of rising travel prices and a depressed economy in most quarters of the globe. This year’s installment of the grand BoM took place last weekend (May 13-15) and we’re happy to report it was a smashing success. The Legacy trial for byes and cash on Friday May 13 attracted 144 people, and ended up being won by Show and Tell after 8 rounds of straight Swiss (no playoff; decklists not available). This year over 500 people were preregistered for the Legacy main event on Saturday May 14, and a whopping 633 people ended up battling it out for an impressive prize pool detailed below. Nine rounds of Swiss competition followed by a Top 16 playoff meant players were in for a long and grueling day of battle, and after 2am in the morning Matthias Frauenschläger (UBG Landstill) defeated Oliver Salten (Reanimator) in the finals. Congratulations are in order to Matthias for his victory and to the organizers for hosting a fantastic tournament. Join us as we retrace the tournament highs and lows and break down the largest privately held (non-Wizards of the Coast sponsored) Legacy tournament ever held anywhere!

Bazaar of Moxen 2011 Vintage Decklists, Reports, and Video Roundup

Bazaar of Moxen 2011 Vintage Decklists, Reports, and Video Roundup

This past weekend marked the fifth annual Bazaar of Moxen tournament in Annecy, France. An insane 383 players came out to battle in the Vintage main event for some incredible prizes, and Omar Rohner of Spain ended up conquering the field with TurboTezz, overcoming Italian powerhouse Lorenzo Fedeli (playing a different build of TurboTezz) in three action packed games!

Martin Lindstrom of Sweden won the Golden Mox Jet, awarded to the player with the highest finish in both the Vintage and Legacy main events. Cesar Fernandez of UAL is the hardest working man in coverage, and is responsible for typing up these decklists. We have slightly reformatted them and along with the Top 8 decklists we have brought you some BoM Vintage tournament reports from around the web, as well as some bonus decklists from other competitors who finished outside the Top 8. Check it all out after the jump!

So Many Insane Plays – New Phyrexia Vintage Set Review

(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!)

The Phyrexians have arrived, and they seek to remake the orb of Mirrodin in their own image. Will they remake Vintage as well?

Scars of Mirrodin block has proved to be a surprisingly worthy sequel to the original Mirrodin invasion. Scars of Mirrodin has been as impactful as any set from the previous block, and Mirrodin Besieged brought with it more than a few serious playables. Before we delve into the final set in this important block, let’s recap Mirrodin Besieged.