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

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

    Since the DCI unexpectedly unrestricted Regrowth in April, I have been interested in reviving Gush strategies in the format, just as the unrestriction of Burning Wish spurred me to do the same with Ritual strategies with Burning Tendrils. As I warned folks, Regrowth bolsters the greatly diminished GushBond engine in both consistency and speed. It functions in a similar role to Merchant Scroll – a two mana sorcery that usually becomes Gush. The difference is that Regrowth reuses a Gush you have already played whereas Scroll fetches a new one out of your library. Sometimes Regrowth is actually better. Merchant Scroll can only find blue instants. Regrowth can find anything in the graveyard, and recur Time Walk or Black Lotus, or even a countered Yawgmoth’s Will.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – The Burning Tendrils Bible

    Are you interested in learning about the best combo deck in Vintage? Stephen Menendian’s Burning Tendrils primer, Burning Tendrils vs. MUD matchup analysis, and four Burning Tendrils tournament reports together can now be yours in these collected works, now titled The Burning Tendrils Bible.
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  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 2001

    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!
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  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 2000

    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.
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  • Schools of Magic: 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.
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  • 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.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Dragon’s Maze Eternal Set Review & Updated Vintage Checklist

    So Many Insane Plays - Dragon's Maze Eternal Set Review

    Stephen Menendian takes a deep look into the Dragon’s Maze for potential Eternal playables, and reviews the set with his characteristic insight and detailed analysis. Stephen has also conducted some preliminary testing of an unrestricted Regrowth in Vintage, and briefly shares some insights that you do not want to miss. Finally, for collectors, traders, and Vintage enthusiasts alike, be sure to check out the updated Vintage Checklist of playables.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – 1st Place in Vacaville with Burning Tendrils, Again: A Tournament Report and Other Thoughts on Vintage

    SMIP-1st-In-Vacaville-Again

    Stephen Menendian has done it again, finishing first at the latest Vintage tournament with his creation, Burning Tendrils. In this detailed 27 page tournament report, Stephen characteristically provides a thoughtful play-by-play recap of his tournament experience, delving behind each play with an explanation of his decision process, and an analysis of alternative lines of play from each land drop to sequencing spells. Stephen will test your abilities in the process by asking the reader to select a line of play. Stephen also introduces an updated non-Oath Burning Tendrils list for control metagames, talks about Voltaic Key and Time Vault in Burning Tendrils, and shares his broader thoughts on the archetype and the Vintage format. As always, Stephen breaks the mold for tournament reports with his iconic style and brilliant insights.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Rogue Hermit: Legacy Edition

    SMIPRogueHermitLegacy

    If you haven’t already done so, please check out the first part of this article for background on this archetype, the history of Hermit Druid, and the significance of the Gatecrash Hermit Druid variants. In this article, I will explore the design potential of a Legacy version of this archetype.
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  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 1998

    Continuing in the Schools of Magic: History of Vintage series, author Stephen Menendian retraces the history of 1998, an unforgettable year in the history of Type I. Follow the important changes to the Restricted List, the rise of recursion strategies and new combo decks, and the lasting impact of Urza’s Saga on the format. Read about the birth Oath and Workshop Aggro decks in the format, and about the continuing evolution of The Deck, Necropotence, Prosperity, and Zoo strategies.
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  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 1997

    Building on the previous chapters of the Schools of Magic: History of Vintage series, author Stephen Menendian has uncovered a treasure trove of lost decklists and forgotten history as he explores the trends, experiences, and metagame of Type I in 1997, the fifth year of Magic. Whether you are a student of the history of the game, a fan of the early years of Magic, or simply curious about the early years of Vintage, this article is not to be missed. With fifteen tournament winning and high-performing decklists and in-depth analysis, this article is perfect for those who want to relive 1997, as the first age of Type I Magic draws to a close.
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  • Team Eternal Presents: Pernicious StrixStill – A Primer

    Pernicious StrixStill - A Primer

    Editor’s Note: Team Eternal is one of the frontrunners of the Landstill archetype (both BUG and WUB) in the Netherlands, and is composed of Michèl Theissen and Jeroen van Beeck, among others. Since 2011 this duo has been working on the archetype full time and has given the deck a chance to shine in Europe. In this article, some of the deck’s card choices and tactics are presented and discussed.

    Introduction

    StandstillThe archetype known as Landstill, in all its variants, predates the birth of the Legacy format, and can easily traced back to the Mana Drain-fueled powerhouses that exixted in Type 1.5 (Classic Restricted), before the modern Legacy format was created. Many versions of said archetype can be found on the Legacy boards of the well-known forums. While the deck is well known and extremely powerful, it does not see the light of day as much as we believe it should. If your goal in a game of Legacy is to a) play with the best draw spell in the format (i.e. Standstill), b) get rewarded for high level play, and c) provide your opponent with many, many turns of being frustrated to the point of conceding, then Landstill is the deck for you. Continue Reading

  • Type 4 Introduction and Eternal Central Stack Update February 2013

    Type 4 Introduction

    It’s been a long time coming, but we have finally released our updated #TYPE4 stack for public consumption! The link below is a GoogleDoc that is free for everyone to access, and is downloadable. It is fully sortable with built-in filters at the top of each column, so you can narrow down the view by different card types (removal, counters, etc.), set, color, and more.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Rogue Hermit: The Fastest Deck in Vintage

    SMIPRogueHermitVintage

    A long time ago, Wizards of the Coast printed Hermit Druid.

    Hermit DruidThis little critter may look harmless enough, but he soon got into trouble – big trouble for such a little guy. Once players figured out that they could build decks without basic lands, they realized that they could activate this guy to empty their entire library into their graveyard. For years, players had tried to prevent their opponent’s from doing just that. But the printing of so many new cards that could be played or used from the graveyard changed all that.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – 1st Place in Vacaville: Two Burning Tendrils Tournament Reports

    So Many Insane Plays - 1st in Vacaville

    Hot off his Team Serious Open victory in December, Stephen Menendian took his Burning Tendrils creation to another 1st place finish in Vacaville this past month. Read this epic 29 page double tournament report to see what the latest changes are that Stephen has made to combat the ever-evolving metagame. Complete with play-by-play game coverage and Stephen’s characteristic detailed analysis, trace both the lows and learning experiences of an underwhelming tournament performance, to lessons learned translating into the highs of another tournament victory at the most recent Vacaville vintage tournament. Follow Stephen’s thought process in each situation as you learn how to become a better combo pilot by learning from the best in the format.
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  • Gatecrash Type 4 Set Review

    Gatecrash Type 4 Set Review

    With the newly released Gatecrash hitting retailer’s shelves this week, it’s time to take a look at what impact this will have on the greatest casual format of all time: Type 4. While not quite as exciting as Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash still offers a number of flavorful additions you’ll want to track down to add to your stack.
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  • Dominating the Dojo – 1st Place in Bloomsburg with Twaunspresso Stax

    DTD1stWithTwaunspressoStaxinBloomsburg

    A ways back, Hitman (aka Paul Kim) mentioned making the trip out to Bloomsburg (PA, USA) to battle for a Mox Emerald. After a pep talk from fellow hip hop aficionado and Sucka Free MC Yangtime (aka Jerry Yang) I was talked into attending. It went a little something like this…
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  • 1st Place at Action Comics Vintage Vegas January, With Burning Long

    1st-Place-Vegas-Burning-Long

    We had another great Vintage tournament at Action Games and Comics on Saturday, January 19. The turnout was a bit better than last time, but not enough for 5 rounds and a cut to top 8. Baby steps. At least there is Vintage being played!

    I chose to play the same deck that I played last time, Burning Long. The deck has some very absurd draws and can attack from many angles. Whether you are storming your opponent out with Tendrils of Agony or abusing Oath of Druids in any number of manners, you can dodge specific hate that your opponents are packing for more linear decks and fight back with great success. Continue Reading

  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 1995 & 1996

    Building on the foundation of Schools of Magic: History of Vintage 1993 & 1994, author Stephen Menendian dives deep into the history of the Type I/Vintage format in this historical look at 1995 & 1996, the most formative years in the format’s grand history. Do not miss the story of The Deck, perhaps the most famous archetype in the format’s history. Culled from long forgotten archival materials, historical records, new exclusive interviews with key players of the era, and much much more, you will see decks published in these pages for the first time ever and read about:
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Victory with Burning Tendrils *1st Place*

    Stephen Menendian has finally had the chance to play his latest Vintage creation in a marquis event, and ended up winning the tournament! Read play-by-play action of 8 rounds of tournament Magic, and learn how to employ Stephen’s latest sideboard and tournament refinements. Learn strategy, tips, tactics, and decision making in critical situations, all in this 25+ page in-depth accounting of tournament victory at the Team Serious Open with Burning Long.
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  • Rocking Junk – Why You Do Not Need to Play Blue to Win in Legacy

    Over the past couple of years in Legacy, there has been a bit of backlash against Blue for being very good. Blue is able to counter spells, draw more cards, and manipulate other cards. No other color has access to the array and variability of these techniques like blue, but, fear not. You don’t need to be playing Brainstorm, Force of Will, or Jace to be winning in Legacy. As we can see by recent results, many tournament top eight’s are filled with many different decks, including those that do not run any blue cards. This goes to show you the amazing diversity in the Legacy format and how much innovation is there, or opportunities just waiting to be exploited. Many have recently stated that Maverick, RUG Delver, and Miracles were the end-all be-all, but the results beg to differ.
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  • So Many Insane Plays – Matchup Analysis: Burning Long on the Draw vs. MUD

    Stephen Menendian runs his new Burning Long deck up against Workshops for some intensive matchup analysis. Each game is with Burning Long on the draw for maximum difficulty, and greater challenge. This detailed, play-by-play article, taken from a long set of post-board games, illustrates the dangers and key principles of play for the Long pilot. This is a must-read for anybody interested in learning about the nuances of modern Vintage combo versus Workshops, especially for the aspiring combo players.
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  • The Void in Vacaville: A Vintage Tournament Report With Dredge

    “The one great crusade worthy of an enlightened man is that directed against whatever impoverishes imagination, wonder, sensation, dramatic life, and the appreciation of beauty. Nothing else matters. And not even this really matters in the great void, but it is amusing to play a little in the sun before the blind universe dispassionately pulverizes us again into that primordial nothingness from whence it moulded us for a second’s sport.” – HP Lovecraft

    Vintage for Cash is a tournament series in Northern California organized by Blaine Christiansen and hosted by Olde World Games in Vacaville (CA, USA). So far there have been four events, and this tournament report describes the most recent on November 3rd 2012. I suspected there might be a small turnout for this one since it was only announced a few weeks ahead of time. Blaine wanted to get in one more Vintage event before the holidays. Little did I know there was also a PTQ to siphon away some of the non-Eternal specialists leaving us with only 11 people actually showing up (the previous 2 iterations had 18 and 16). Small does not mean uncompetitive, however. Blaine (Finalist at 2012 Vintage Champs) organized the event, and it was known that Stephen Menendian (former Vintage Champ and all around Vintage heavy-weight) and David Ochoa (returning to Vintage fresh off an amazing Pro Tour performance) would be in attendance, not to mention other good players from the area whose names Vintage enthusiasts across the country might not recognize. Realizing that outplaying my opponents was likely a losing proposition, I decided to play up other aspects of “the game,” namely deck selection and metagaming.
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  • Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 1993 & 1994

    Several years in the making, Schools of Magic: History of Vintage is a brand new series tracing the rich and exciting history of what has become Vintage. Stephen Menendian has been researching the obscure and often forgotten history of Magic’s oldest and most interesting format. For the first time, you can now read the history of Vintage/Type 1 Magic from 1993 to the present. Each chapter will cover a year in the history of the game, highlighting major new printings, innovations and the emergent new decks that resulted. The ultimate payoff for the reader is a profound appreciation for the strategic evolution of the game, and a keen recognition of the ways in which the strategies that emerged in the format that began in 1993-1994 continue unabated today in the Vintage format, from the Weissman school to the O’Brien School. While this series is intended for Eternal fans, and Vintage players in particular, anyone and everyone who enjoys Magic, from the wily Pro Tour veteran to the kitchen table casual player, will enjoy this story.
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