Fighting the Blues: Introducing a New Perspective

When I Used to be Blue

I sigh deeply as I see a Flooded Strand enter the battlefield on the opponent’s first turn. It sits there mocking me; an overpriced un-cracked fetchland. The opponent passes with an unmistakable smirk on his face. Suddenly, the hand of Tarmogoyf, Lightning Helix, and Kird Ape seems not powerful enough to get there. What if he plays a Counterbalance on his second turn? Does he have a Force of Will to diminish my pressure? The dreaded Terminus may be looming on the horizon to null my entire deck of creatures and burn spells. My creatures, which were acquired through much saving and trading, now face an uphill battle as pound for pound, their card strengths don’t match those of the controlling opponent. Speed is the name of the game. If I were to rip one creature after another the game may be still mine. But the possibility of drawing lands makes me nervous. I untap, draw for my turn. Taiga smiles back at me, my fourth land. The hill just got steeper.

Legacy Metagame Analysis November 2013

Welcome to our initial Legacy Metagame Analysis. This will be a monthly series of Legacy metagame reports covering all of the major tournaments, showing which decks are grabbing the top finishes. I have been doing my own metagame analysis for months now, and I find it really helpful as a bird’s eye view of what is performing well in Legacy.

Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 2002

Stephen Menendian completes the first decade of the History of Vintage series with an epic chapter on the tumultuous changes, debates, and dramatic innovations of 2002. Read about the emergence of new strategies like MaskNaught, TnT, and Grow, and read about the heated debates between Patrick Chapin, Oscar Tan, Mark Rosewater and the broader Type I community. Learn about the tournament results that changed the metagame, and the creators and innovators behind them.

So Many Insane Plays – Preparing for the 2013 Vintage Championship

SMIP Preparing For The 2013 Vintage Championship

I am in the Nick Saban school of game-day preparation: process is everything. Studies show that students who imagine themselves performing well on a test actually perform worse than a control group. The explanation behind this counter-intuitive fact is simple: performance is a product of preparation, and students who imagine themselves doing well are less likely to prepare as intensively. Process is everything: from what you eat, to how you sleep, to how you practice, and manage your life outside of that process.

Doomsday: The Puzzling – The Dream Halls Dilemma

Doomsday-the-Puzzling-The-Dream-Halls-Dilemma

Your opponent is on a very strong combo deck in OmniTell, but you are not deterred. You are also on a combo deck, but one which features more countermagic and disruption. This will be a game of inches, but one that you should win if you plan properly. You took the first game of the match, and your opponent is not about to go down without a fight. You brought in a pair of Dark Confidants and Cabal Therapies for some extra draw and disruption.

So Many Insane Plays – A Short History of Dual Lands

So Many Insane Plays - A Short History of Dual Lands

Mana is the foundation of Magic. Although it is possible to design and build decks without mana production, it is extremely difficult. More importantly, the possibilities for mana production define the range of strategic possibilities in Magic. This is why Zvi Mowshowitz once claimed that he began analyzing a format by examining the possibilities inherent in that format’s mana production capacity.

Lands are the building blocks of mana production. While there are many forms of mana production, and while it is possible to build decks without mana producing lands (or even lands at all), mana producing lands are the most basic building block in the game of Magic. They shape and constrain the strategic possibilities in the game.

Doomsday: The Puzzling – The Double Deathrite Conundrum

Doomsday: The Puzzling - The Double Deathrite Conundrum

The moment you feared has finally arrived. After stomping two Show and Tell decks, overcoming a UW Control deck with dominating countermagic, and narrowly defeating a RUG Delver deck, you are faced with your most difficult matchup yet: Shardless BUG. It’s the fifth round of a seven round Legacy tournament, and a trip to the Top 8 is on the line. Win here, and you can draw into the elimination rounds, where guaranteed prizes await. Lose here, and you might fall out of contention completely.

Your opponent, Jimmy the Cat Warrior, is a well known area player, and a skilled opponent. Escaping with a win here will require precision and exact planning. Fortunately, you are focused and determined.

Solid Magic – The GenCon 2013 Experience

SolidMagic-GenCon2013Experience

Those of you who have followed Vintage for awhile may know me, however some of you may not. I broke out in 2008 when I took 5th place at Vintage Champs with Drain Tendrils at the first event after the “big blue” restriction. After piloting numerous combo decks over the years I developed the RUG Delver deck that was tearing it up in the summer of 2012, and I wrote a report about my run with the deck at GenCon 2012, as well as a RUG Delver Primer last year.

In the past year, I’ve had several subjects I wanted to write about, but none of them were really engaging enough to warrant my time…until now. Another GenCon is in the books, and I’d like to take a slightly different approach to a tournament report. I played in three vintage tournaments and one M14 sealed event, but that wasn’t really what made GenCon 2013 a great time. Once you understand how my whole trip went, including the shenanigans, tomfoolery, and devastating plays, you’ll understand why GenCon truly is the best 4 days in gaming.

So Many Insane Plays – It’s a Young Mancer’s Game: Grow 2013

SMIP-Its-a-Young-Mancers-Game

About once a year, Stephen Menendian innovates a new deck that changes the Vintage metagame. Decks like Maniac Doomsday and Burning Tendrils are examples from recent years, and decks like GroATog and Meandeck Gifts are examples of yesteryear from rich history of the Vintage. If you only read one strategy article this year, this is the one to get. Stephen is proud to unveil his new Grow list coupling Young Pyromancer and Regrowth with Gush, which he claims will shake up the entire metagame. Gush is back in a big way.

Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 2001

SOMHOV2001

2001 was the beginning of a Renaissance for the Type I format. After half a decade of slow decline, tournament interest and enthusiasm surged, as players organized tournaments online, in Europe, and as Origins and GenCon became major Type I tournament scenes. Witness the rise and fall of Accelerated Blue, the dominance of Fact or Fiction, and the emergence of the first Welder-based Workshop decks, Gush strategies, Sapphire Oath, and much, much more! Rediscover long-lost decklists and tournament report excerpts that capture the feeling and experience of the format in 2001. Revisit the debates between players like Tom LaPille, Oscar Tan, and Matt Smith, and learn history’s judgment of their arguments. Continuing Stephen Menendian’s epic History of Vintage series, Chapter 9 (2001) is a dramatic turning point in the history of the format. At 30 pages of action-packed history, this chapter is not to be missed!

Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 2000

SOMHOV2000

Continuing the epic Schools of Magic: History of Vintage series, Chapter 8 (2000) is a tale of two Invitationals. The old ‘Schools of Magic’ were being revived or reconstituted just as a long-standing pillar of the format was about to fall. The Type I metagame for each Invitational that buttressed the year is a revealing snapshot of what a difference the restrictions in 2000 made, as players brought into being a new Type I order. 2000 was also the year that the Type I community began to organize itself into online forums, rather than just Usenet and email lists. Learn about the emergent and passionate community of Type I players and advocates, how they influenced the format, and what they meant to the history of the game.

Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 1999

SOM History of Vintage 1999

1999 was a year of great highs and dark lows for the slowly evolving Type I format as the remainder of Urza block tidal waved through the format. Watch as Keeper, Combo, and Necro compete on the Magic Invitational stage. Observe the sweeping restrictions that rocked the Type I format in 1999, and read about how players felt about and reacted to them. Learn the real story behind Magic’s only ever emergency banning. See what changes Brian Weissman made to The Deck following Urza block. Learn about the enigmatic yet subtly powerful Mercadian Masques expansion. Stephen Menendian paints a vivid and unforgettable portrait of a format at the precipice of the millennium and great change. Stephen’s penetrating insight delves behind the facts, decklists, and results to reveal the hidden relationships in an unforgettable year in the History of Vintage.

So Many Insane Plays – Designing For Eternal

SMIP-Designing-for-Eternal

Introduction

You Make the Card 4 arrived with much fanfare and even greater surprise. It has been seven years since the last You Make the Card (YMTC) campaign. Its return coincides with the 20th anniversary of Magic, and is a celebratory gesture by Wizards of the Coast on the game’s behalf.

Perhaps as surprising as YMTC’s welcome but unexpected return are the voting results so far. In the card type vote, Land and Enchantment received the most votes, with Enchantment winning a tight run-off. Not only was this result unexpected (few people thought Enchantment would be a top vote-getter), but it was surprising for what it signifies. I believe that these results may be interpreted, as others have suggested, as a signal to collectively push this process in a different direction than previous YMTC events, in which voters selected Creature, Artifact, and Instant as the card types.