1st Place at Action Comics Vintage Vegas January, With 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.

Let’s look at the list and talk about where I thought the metagame would be and some of my decisions.

Burning Long, by Lou Christopher

[Business] (30)
Ancestral Recall
Time Walk
Wheel of Fortune
Memory Jar
Mind’s Desire
Yawgmoth’s Bargain
Vampiric Tutor
Demonic Consultation
Demonic Tutor
Burning Wish
Oath of Druids
Empty the Warrens

[Mana Sources] (30)
Dark Ritual
Black Lotus
Lotus Petal
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Mox Pearl
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Mana Crypt
Sol Ring
Mana Vault
Lion’s Eye Diamond
Mox Opal
Chrome Mox
Tolarian Academy
City of Brass
Gemstone Mine
Forbidden Orchard
[Sideboard] (15)
Hurkyl’s Recall
Yawgmoth’s Will
Tendrils of Agony
Empty the Warrens
Show and Tell
Nature’s Claim
Shattering Spree
Defense Grid
Laboratory Maniac

For those keeping track, that is the exact maindeck I played last time. The sideboard was quite different, as I did not expect to play against Shops. A teammate recommended Defense Grid as a great choice for the metagame of control and aggro control decks I expected to face. We were also expecting an increase of Stony Silence and Leyline of Sanctity, so an extra Nature’s Claim was added to my list, where 3 was the recommended number.

We had 16 show up to battle. That meant 4 rounds of swiss with a cut to top 4. I would need to finish at least 3-1 to top 4. Here’s how it happened.

Round 1 vs. Ben playing Delver
Ben was playing an aggressive RUG Delver list with Tarmogoyfs and lots of counter-magic. Game 1 I had the standard Long win that came from multiple Dark Rituals into multiple tutors finding me Yawgmoth’s Will with a replay of all the accelerants and finally Vampiric Tutor putting a Burning Wish on top and with a Brainstorm I was able to draw and cast the Wish for a lethal Tendrils of Agony.

In the second game his counterspells and my own mana base left me with little time to get anything together. My draw contained Duress, Defense Grid, Ancestral Recall, Oath, and an Orchard with a City of Brass as well. I led my turn with a Duress that he Mental Misstepped. I tried to cast Defense Grid on my second turn, but he had Steel Sabotage to counter the artifact. I tried to cast Ancestral, but he had Flusterstorm for that. After he Forced my Oath of Druids, I had no time left because my 2x City of Brass and all the spirit tokens I gave him finished me off.

I feel like I played very poorly in the third game. I sided out both of my Griselbrands because I knew he was running Grafdigger’s Cage and I wanted to use the Laboratory Maniac technology to break my rusty cage and run!

I had double Defense Grid and an Oath of Druids in my opening grip, but no Orchard. He needed creatures to beat me, so I saw no problem waiting on a creature from him. He had Force of Will for both of my Defense Grids, but could not use his Flusterstorm to counter my Oath of Druids. Though he wanted to, and I let him, until we both realized Flusterstorm can’t hit artifacts or enchantments. This wouldn’t be the last time this tournament that the wrong answer would give my varied threats a chance to win. He laid a Delver the turn before, so I would be Oathing on my turn. The kick was the Grafdigger’s Cage he played turn 1. Since I sided in the Maniac, I felt like this one was locked up. I Oathed the Maniac to the top of the deck, drew him and cast him. Ben missed on his Delver and did nothing relevant. Since we had equal creatures, I couldn’t Oath. Here’s where I made a bad choice, and I believe Ben coerced me into the attack that would prove fatal. I didn’t want to bank on finding the Orchard before he played another creature, or even worse had Lightning Bolt or Red Elemental Blast for my Maniac, so I wanted to swing in for 2 to get the damage race going. He obviously blocked, and now I needed him to find 2 creatures before I could Oath again. He helped that cause by Oathing his own 5/6 Tarmogoyf into play, putting me on a 5 turn clock that I would have few options to win with if I had to block with my Maniac to extend it that long. I didn’t draw any gas, and died to Goyf. If I would not have swung, his Delver might not have flipped for many turns, and if it flipped next turn I was at worst on a 7 turn clock. Since I had already committed to the Laboratory Maniac win, I should have held tight and not swung, instead trying to find Forbidden Orchard to Oath again for the win.

Not the start I was hoping for.

Matches 0-1, Games 1-2

Round 2 vs. Derrick playing Dredge
I watched Derrick play the previous round, so I knew most of his deck’s contents, as it is hard for Dredge to hide information once it gets going. It wouldn’t really matter. Turn 1 I had an Empty the Warrens for a storm count of 7, to make 14 1/1 goblins. I had a few paths to get there, and because of the fear I had from my last debacle with Demonic Consultation, I averted a potential turn 2 win that would have me looking for a 1 of, Time Walk. Instead I played Necropotence, refilled my hand and passed the turn. Derrick dredged a bit but didn’t get enough going to stop the goblin horde.

In our second game, Derrick mulliganed to 2, as Dredge will sometimes do, and I had time to sculpt the perfect hand. I could cast Bargain turn 1, but went for the gigantic turn 2 Mind’s Desire because he had little going on because of his unfortunate mulligans. The Desire found plenty of mana and a Burning Wish which found the lethal Tendrils.

Matches 1-1, Games 3-2

Round 3 vs. Chicago Mike playing Goblins
Mike was quite the character, and I’m sure a hoot outside of magic tournaments. Mike was a very jovial opponent, and we had many laughs during our match. I’m always happy to meet a fellow Illinoisan repping that Midwest pride! In game 1, Mike led with a Goblin Lackey into a turn 2 Goblin Matron that found another Goblin Lackey. I had a turn 1 Oath that fetched up Griselbrand on turn 2 and after drawing 14 cards with the flying draw-7, I cost a large Desire similar to last round, finding Burning Wish into Tendrils of Agony.

Game 2 was quite different. Mike was able to Red Elemental Blast my Ancestral Recall and then use Wasteland on my Gemstone Mine. I had to play a Mox Opal so I wouldn’t have to discard it before I had Metalcraft online because I couldn’t draw a land. This would probably cost me the game, if the Wasteland and REB didn’t already. I finally drew a Mox Pearl, which would allow me to cast Sol Ring, bring my Opal online and get the ball rolling. He had a Krosan Grip for my Opal in response to the Sol Ring and his goblin horde finished me off next turn.

Game 3 showed that Mike wasn’t completely familiar with the format, which he mentioned earlier. Because he played so defensively game 2, I brought a Duress back in. Luckily, I saw it and I Duressed him turn 1, seeing 2 Red Elemental Blasts. I had Tinker, Griselbrand and Burning Wish in hand. I figured I would Tinker, he would REB it and next turn I would cast Burning Wish for Show and Tell for my Griselbrand. He didn’t, so I Burning Wished for another Duress, then the Show and Tell with another Burning Wish, and won easily the next turn with Griselbrand and Memory Jar.

Matches 2-1, Games 5-3

Round 4 vs. Kent playing Stony Fish
Game 1 was a nail-biter. Kent Dazed my turn 1 Ancestral Recall and was able to apply some pressure with a Meddling Mage on Oath of Druids, as I had to discard one for lack of land and having one in my hand but wanting to preserve storm with my Moxen while at 8 cards. He followed the Meddling Mage with a Tarmogoyf, and my life total was dwindling. I was able to generate plenty of mana but I had to choose Windfall for 3 over Necropotence since he already had lethal on the board. The Windfall was perfect, finding both Black Lotus and Burning Wish, and with the help of 2 fetchlands, my 9 storm finished him off with the Tendrils in my Sideboard.

Game 2 was very ridiculous. I kept a hand with a turn 2 Necropotence. This would prove very bad when he led with 2 Tarmogoyfs that were already ¾ when they swung on turn 2. Due to my low life and 1 more attack on the way, I was only able to draw 5 cards off of Necropotence. With a Brainstorm before the Necropotence, I was only seeing 3 new cards. They weren’t good enough and the Goyfs swung in for the win the next turn.

In game 3 I Duressed him on turn 1 and saw creatures, land, and a Daze. I dropped a turn 2 Oath without an Orchard to power the Oath up, hoping he’d cast a creature. He did on his turn 2, Meddling Mage naming Tendrils of Agony. I Oathed on my turn, and after flipping most of my deck, I hit Laboratory Maniac. With only 1 card left in my library after the Oath and drawing for my turn, I Brainstormed to win on the spot.

Matches 3-1, Games 7-4

At this point we cut to top 4. I was in, as well as my first round opponent Ben with RUG Delver, my nemesis from the last tournament, Rob with U/R Standstill, and David Williams with another copy of Burning Long.

I would be facing Rob with Standstill to start the playoff. He played U/R Delver at the last event, and at first that’s what I put him on.

Top 4 vs. Rob playing U/R Standstill
I had a turn 1 Duress for Rob that was Mental Misstepped. Hoping that was his only Misstep, I cast Ancestral Recall turn 2, which died in similar fashion to Red Elemental Blast. Next turn I Emptied for 5 (making 10 tokens) and had him on a turn 2 clock. After whiffing his first turn, he drew the Engineered Explosives he needed to wipe my team and my board of 3 Moxes and no land. He had a token from a Forbidden Orchard that he Wastelanded the turn before, and to go with his 2 Mishra’s Factories, I was dead soon after.

Game 2 I played turn 1 Defense Grid with a Forbidden Orchard and a Mox. I had the Oath in hand to cast next turn. He cast Grafdigger’s Cage on his turn, but I had Burning Wish for Shattering Spree and since I sided out my Griselbrands, I was setting up for the Maniac kill anyways. I still used the Spree on his Cage, and after Maniac was the last card in my deck when I Oathed on my next upkeep, I enthusiastically won on my draw step when I had no library left.

He was very surprised to see the Maniac, and after I saw him side some more cards in, I assumed he had Echoing Truth, Lighting Bolt and Red Elemental Blast to deal with the Maniac. Because of this, I thought he might side his Cages out, so I brought the Griselbrands back in.

Game 3, I had 2 Defense Grids and multiple Duresses that allowed me to cast Oath of Druids without worrying about a thing. I had the Orchard, so after I Oathed up Griselbrand, I was able to draw 14 cards and Burning Wish for an easy Tendrils kill.

Matches 4-1, Games 9-5

Finals vs. David Williams playing Burning Long
David wanted to get to a restaurant before it closed. He offered the chop and we wrapped this tournament up. I’ve had 2 finals appearances in 2 Vegas tournaments. I should play more Vegas Magic!

The event was run pretty well, and we didn’t really have any hiccups.

Thoughts on the Deck After This Tournament
I am ready to drop the Demonic Consultation. The one time I really wanted to cast it, I was afraid to. It doesn’t bode well for playing my best Magic if I can’t trust a card in my deck to do what I need it to do. It’s also such a redundant effect in the deck that it’s not necessarily going to be missed. I’d like to replace it with Hurkyl’s Recall, which the creator of the deck, Stephen Menendian has recently used 2-of in the maindeck. It speeds up the goldfish as well as being good against Workshops.

The Defense Grids were exactly what I wanted and pulled their weight and then some. Probably was my MVP of the day. It was so much easier pulling the trigger on storming out when I didn’t have to worry about Force of Will or Flusterstorm. The metagame was pretty much what I expected and I would play them over any card for a controllish meta. It also helped get Metalcraft with Mox Opal once with a Mana Crypt, enabling my colored mana. For the control meta, I also like the Empty the Warrens in the main deck.

– Stephen Menendian (@SMenendian), again. This deck is a beating, and is very fun to play. I can’t think of 1 other deck I would rather be playing right now.
– Joe McKellar (@JoeyMac399), again, for getting everybody together. We had double the attendance from last time and I think most everyone had a good time. I didn’t hear a lot of gripes or complaints, just people having fun. This should mean more people next time.
– Dave William’s gorgeous deck in a room full of proxies. While not the most epic card in his deck, he has a beautiful Beta Wheel of Fortune that you just don’t see too often. It’s my favorite card.

I have no slops to give. This was a very fun event. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a few more people so we could have hit 5 rounds with a cut to top 8.

If I misrepresented any game states or details, no harm meant. I’d love to hear any questions about any of my plays or if people think I should have done things differently. I might not have given enough details for that.

I can’t wait for the next tournament, and I hope Vegas vintage continues to grow.

Lou Christopher