Serious Vintage Episode 18: Combos and Counterfeits

I know you’ve all missed us, so here we are once again. For episode 18, Geoff Moes (@ThallidTosser on Twitter), Nat Moes (@GrandpaBelcher), and Josh Chapple (@joshchapple) reconvene to talk about the January Team Serious Open, the impact of counterfeits on Vintage, and the great taste of Melt Bar & Grilled.

Play

Here’s the timestamped table of contents for your listening ease and enjoyment:
00:28 – The Combotastic Team Serious Open
20:08 – Fits and Counterfeits
30:28 – Melt Bar and Grilled
36:00 – Outro
Total runtime – 36:33

Combo, Combo Everywhere

I had to do some research on this, and as far as I can tell, the January 2014 Team Serious Open ties the record for largest Vintage tournament in Ohio in at least two years. Thirty-four players showed up from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, Georgia, and Pennsylvania for some hot Vintage action, and it was great. If you want to schedule Vintage in a city that Star City Games visits with their Open series, I highly recommend hosting an event over the Standard portion. We got lots of participation off of that, including a couple of players who came to play after 0-2-dropping.

The podcast covers some of the details, but the important thing is that there was a ton of combo and blue decks—more than 30 total. One dredge deck and two Workshops filled out the field. It was an interesting metagame, to be sure, and more evidence that Ohio is no longer Workshop central, as it once was.

The top eight decklists and metagame breakdown are available on The Mana Drain. We went over a couple of decklists in the podcast, detailed here for your convenience:

Keeper 2014, by Rick Gideon

[Business] (37)
Force of Will
Mindbreak Trap
Mana Drain
Mind Twist
Lightning Bolt
Swords to Plowshares
Ancient Grudge
Disenchant
Moat
Brainstorm
Ancestral Recall
Time Walk
Fact or Fiction
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Enlightened Tutor
Mystical Tutor
Vampiric Tutor
Demonic Tutor
Regrowth
Tinker
Crucible of Worlds
Voltaic Key
Time Vault
Steel Hellkite
Blightsteel Colossus
Yawgmoth’s Will

[/Business] (0)

[Mana Sources] (26)
Black Lotus
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Mox Pearl
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Sol Ring
Tolarian Academy
City of Brass
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Tropical Island
Underground Sea
Tundra
Volcanic Island
Library of Alexandria
Strip Mine
Wasteland

[/Mana Sources] (0)
[Sideboard] (15)
Grafdigger’s Cage
Red Elemental Blast
Steel Sabotage
Ancient Grudge
Balance
Echoing Truth
Hurkyl’s Recall
Mindbreak Trap
The Abyss[/Sideboard]

Rick Gideon’s Keeper list (recently updated to correct numbers) harkens back to the old days of Vintage, including a toolbox of things like Moat, Mind Twist, and The Abyss, and a suite of tutors (including Enlightened Tutor) to help find them. One thing to take note of is the unusually high number of mana sources he’s running: 26, almost half the list (which is 63 cards) and as many as some Workshop builds. Many Vintage decks running blue will start cutting mana to play more draw spells like Preordain or Gush. Aside from Ancestral and Brainstorm, though, Rick’s deck attempts to make its land-drops naturally, then tops out at four mana for Jaces and a Fact or Fiction.

Minus Six, by Daniel Buzzie

[Business] (38)
Force of Will
Duress
Echoing Truth
Worldgorger Dragon
Oona, Queen of the Fae
Bazaar of Baghdad
Dance of the Dead
Animate Dead
Necromancy
Imperial Seal
Mystical Tutor
Vampiric Tutor
Demonic Tutor
Intuition
Read the Runes
Sensei’s Divining Top
Brainstorm
Ancestral Recall
Time Walk
Dark Confidant
Thirst for Knowledge

[/Business] (0)

[Mana Sources] (22)
Black Lotus
Mox Pearl
Mox Jet
Mox Sapphire
Mox Emerald
Mox Ruby
Mana Crypt
Sol Ring
Underground Sea
Swamp
Island
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Polluted Delta

[/Mana Sources] (0)
[Sideboard] (15)
Yawgmoth’s Will
Tinker
Blightsteel Colossus
Time Vault
Voltaic Key
Tolarian Academy
Library of Alexandria
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Tezzeret, the Seeker
Mana Drain[/Sideboard]

Daniel Buzzie was a great opponent, and I was surprised by the flexibility of his deck, even beyond the transformational sideboard. This build of Dragon, initially designed by Chris Browne and popularized by Nick Coss, anticipates its opponents overboarding the graveyard hate they have for Dredge and switches to a Tezzeret Control deck post-board. Daniel, however, seemed to stick mostly with the main deck plan and pulled off some surprising wins (and draws) with its multiple ways to find and reanimate Worldgorger Dragon. We don’t see this deck much in Ohio, but I’m glad he made it out and had success.

Our next events are scheduled for March 8 and April 12, and though they won’t overlap with an SCG Open, we’re excited for the possibilities as the scene continues to grow.

Also, Counterfeits Everywhere

Counterfeit Magic cards have been a hot topic around the Internet recently, as the seeming influx of reportedly hard-to-discover fakes has people worried about the value of their cards; the potential for unscrupulous players, traders, and sellers to take advantage of people; and the future of the game in general. We talk about our feelings on the subject, but the gist of it is that there really isn’t anything to worry about yet. If you’re smart and have been playing Magic the Gathering for a while, you know what a Magic card should be — how it should look and feel. And if you’re a Vintage player buying an expensive Mox, Jace, dual land, or even a Thoughtseize or Tolarian Academy, you should know to check to make sure you’re getting the real deal. As with any trades or purchases you make online, be careful.

We talk about some techniques for identifying counterfeit Magic cards that pass the initial tests. Cesar Fernandez also writes about some methods for looking at the current crop of Chinese cards here (you’ll have to use Google translate or another service if you don’t speak Spanish). Other sources include Apathy House, which is very thorough, and Wizards of the Coast themselves from the last time this happened.

Don’t panic. Just be vigilant and careful.

Cheese on Everything

We wrap up this episode with a review of Melt Bar and Grilled, an Ohio institution that now has five locations: Cleveland Heights, Lakewood, Mentor, Independence, and Columbus. They specialize in insane grilled-cheese sandwiches and have a great selection of on-tap and bottled beers. What could possibly go wrong?

Answer: not a thing. Melt is delicious.

Conclusion

Thanks for listening! We’ll look forward to any questions or comments here or on Twitter. You can also email us at seriousvintagepodcast@gmail.com.

Nat Moes

Nat Moes lives in Columbus, Ohio, and plays Vintage and Legacy with a group of idiots with the audacity to call themselves Team Serious. He is responsible for spreading the plague that is Goblin Charbelcher and has few Magic: the Gathering accolades to speak of aside from some tournament T8s. He is a cohost of the Serious Vintage podcast.

  • nedleeds

    Great pod. Your token less stage dark depths will just continue to trigger. He can stifle it, but … it just tries to trigger again, and again, and again, and again. so he was just duressing himself. He could stifle the thespian stage activated ability and delay your combo, then maybe pithing needle it.

    You sacrifice depths on resolution, and the card has an intervening “if you do” …

    • Geoff

      Knowing the rules is so overrated, amirite?

      Thanks for the correction, and thanks for listening!

      • Nat

        Man, I thought that too! That’s why I asked if that did anything during the podcast.

  • nedleeds

    Well with the new trigger rules it’s a way for an opponent of Lage to try to steal a win since your Depths trigger is your responsibility. If he convincingly stifles (this is likely not the case since as you point out he binned his needle of love) the ‘Depths has no counters” trigger and stares menacingly maybe the depths player just sighs and puts the land in the graveyard.

    At competitive REL I might issue some GRV warnings since technically you have no good reason to sinkhole your own Dark Depths (the legend ruled original Depths would obviously go away), if it’s in the yard, you had to have sacc’ed it … and if you sacc’ed it you have a cthulu.