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.

TheMisprintGuy Magic Oddica – Chapter II: Crimps

Editor’s introduction: Chapter II of our very special Magic Oddica by Keith Adams, aka TheMisprintGuy. This time Keith is covering another common type of rarity: Crimped cards. After Chapter II, Keith will start covering some of the most amazing rarities ever seen, but in order to understand some of this type of misprints, we need to start from the basics.

TheMisprintGuy Magic Oddica – Chapter II: Crimps.

One of Magic: the Gathering‘s most likely errors is that of crimped cards. “Crimps” refers to a mistake that happens during the packaging process. Sometimes one or more cards will not be placed into a pack properly, and when a pack is sealed a misplaced card will be crimped along the top or bottom of the card.

TheMisprintGuy Magic Oddica – Chapter I: Miscuts

Editor’s introduction: We are proud to introduce you to our new Eternal Central Contributor, Keith Adams, aka TheMisprintGuy. Keith will be publishing a weekly video-column named TheMisprintGuy Magic Oddica where he’ll cover the huge specter of the most amazing Magic rarities.

Before we move on to his very first article we would like to introduce you to Keith Adams with a little bio about him:

Keith Adams has been collecting & playing Magic: the Gathering since 1995. In 2001, Keith purchased a few misprinted cards, and never looked back. Today, he has one of the world’s largest collections specializing in misprints, test prints, & other hard to find rarities that are almost unheard of in the Magic: the Gathering community. Keith has now joined our team of writers to expand your knowledge of the world of oddities!

Keith’s collection ranges from cards that pre-date Alpha to the downright strange items that never should have left the factory. A Black Lotus that has a casting cost of 3 mana? A Time Walk that is red? Cards that have more than one set printed on them? They really do exist, and Keith will turn these imperfections into a virtual gallery to share with us, so stay tuned!

Click on Read More to discover his very first article! 

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!

Innistrad Type 4 Set Review

The full Innistrad spoiler is now out, and that means it’s time for set reviews from everybody and their mother. But this is no ordinary set review, this is a set review specifically for Type 4! Woohooooo!

For the uninitiated, Type 4 is a casual game with a shared stack/deck of cards, infinite mana, and the ability for each player to cast up to only one spell a turn (one on your turn, one on player 2’s turn, one on player 3’s turn, etc.). The full rules and an introduction can be found here, courtesy of our very own Stephen Menendian.

Ultimately, each builder of a Type 4 stack will determine the flavor and play style of their stack by how it is constructed, with the delicate balance of creatures, tutors, removal, counterspells, and everything else. They will also dictate the power level by what spells are deemed acceptable or too powerful. No matter how your stack is constructed each new set ultimately brings forth a few new interesting cards. With the Innistrad spoiler now in the wild, join us as we review all of the top contenders for slots in your ever expanding Type 4 stack!

September 2011 Banned & Restricted Update Instant Analysis

The DCI has announced their quarterly updates to the Banned and Restricted lists, and there are some major changes in Vintage, Legacy, Modern, and Extended!

Vintage
Fact or Fiction is no longer Restricted.

Legacy
Mental Misstep is Banned.

Modern
Blazing Shoal is Banned.
Cloudpost is Banned.
Green Sun’s Zenith is Banned.
Ponder is Banned.
Preordain is Banned.
Rite of Flame is Banned.

Extended
Jace, the Mind Sculptor is Banned.
Mental Misstep is Banned.
Ponder is Banned.
Preordain is Banned.
Stoneforge Mystic is Banned.

These are some major changes to every widely played format outside of Standard (where Jace and Stoneforge are already Banned). What does this mean for these formats? Check out our Instant Analysis after the jump!

Chasing the Mind’s Desire – Looking Ahead to the September 2011 Banned-Restricted List Announcement

The next Banned and Restricted List announcement will be delivered September 20th 2011, if this announcement is in keeping with the timetable established over the last three years or so. About three months ago Stephen Menendian, a former Vintage World Champion, and I co-wrote an article outlining why Fact or Fiction should be unrestricted for Vintage play. Unfortunately the importance the DCI felt in addressing the problem with Standard, where they banned both Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, prevented them from focusing their attention on the other formats. In the intervening time we’re seen the birth of a new format, Modern, which has already been played at the highest level in Pro Tour: Philly. Including the shift in Standard due to rotation as Innistrad enters, I think there is the possibility that each of the formats (Standard, Modern, Legacy, and Vintage) look very different on October 1st than they do today.

In this article we’ll target Vintage specifically, as it’s a format I believe is ripe for potential changes. Join us as we delve into a look at the Vintage landscape, and what ramifications possible changes could have as we analyze some of the weaker cards on the Vintage Restricted List.

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.

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.