2nd Place at Action Comics Vegas Vintage, With Burning Long

Vintage, my favorite format by far, has eluded me for the most part for the last few years. Once upon a time, thanks to the innovation of proxy tournaments, Vintage saw a surge in popularity and tournament play thanks to SCG and their P9 series. Now, no thanks to the innovation of proxy tournaments, Vintage has seen a decline in play and popularity marking it as barely discussed and almost completely irrelevant save for a few tournaments a year. I believe without card ownership (too many proxies), gamers have no ownership in the format, thus dooming it to failure.

But this isn’t an article about why Vintage, for the most part, has failed. This is a tournament report and for the Vegas Vintage tournament this past weekend, and a reminder that while Vintage is waning, it is still a great format full of endless possibilities and tremendous fun!

My Meandeck teammate Stephen Menendian, ever the innovator, recently brewed a combo list I couldn’t help but play. With the recent unrestriction of Burning Wish, and the printing of what can be argued as the best creature to cheat into play, Stephen has created an unorthodox but extremely powerful deck that attacks from many angles and is quite difficult to restrain. Here is the list:

Burning Long

[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)
Yawgmoth’s Will
Tendrils of Agony
Empty the Warrens
Show and Tell
Diminishing Returns
Nature’s Claim
Shattering Spree
Ancient Tomb
Laboratory Maniac

Stephen has written a ridiculously thorough primer on the deck which you can find here. If you haven’t yet read that I’d encourage you to do so now, and I will let you peruse that for reasons certain cards made the cut and why some didn’t.

While the deck is not easy to play due to the myriad of decision trees presented to you within a game, I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun playing in a tournament. Most games I lost, I felt I either made poor decisions or just got unlucky.

On to the tournament!

Round 1 vs. Alex (playing U/W/B Stoneforge Control)
Alex was playing his first vintage tournament today, and thanks to my super busted draws, was at a big disadvantage. I had turn 1 Oath and Forbidden Orchard both games, so they weren’t very close. We played a few post-match games with our hands face-up and hopefully Alex was able to learn some things about the format thanks to this. He was a nice guy, and seemed enthusiastic about learning a new format.

Round 2 vs. Joe McKellar (playing Burning Long)
The mirror match! Joe organized the event, and I can’t thank him enough for that. Game 1 we Duressed back and forth for a bit, and Joe was ultimately able to land Griselbrand off a Show and Tell, while I dropped in a [/card]Forbidden Orchard[/card]. What a beating! I won a fairly uneventful game 2 with Draw 7s, and unfortunately for Joe, game 3 saw him mulligan to 5 while I had plenty of gasoline to fuel my win. An early Oath found Griselbrand and I was able to draw plenty of cards to storm Joe out after Wishing for Tendrils of Agony.

Round 3 vs. Hunter (playing U/B Confidant Control)
I believe a made many mistakes in game 1. I kept a mediocre hand with two Durreses, and I think I made the wrong call for sure on the second Duress, and possibly the first as well. Hunter showed me a hand of 2x Underground Sea, Polluted Delta, Mox Ruby, Tinker, Mana Drain and Brainstorm. With the first Duress I took Brainstorm, not wanting him to be able to hide anything for my second Duress. The next turn I took the Mana Drain, hoping to be able to combo out before his Tinkered Blightsteel Colossus could infect me with poison. My next draw saw no remedy, and game 1 was in the books.

Game 2 I mulliganed to six cards. My play this game was probably a bit suspicious. I was able to Burning Wish for and cast Balance turn 1, leaving both of us with one card in hand and me with two Moxes. My card was Yawgmoth’s Bargain, so I felt pretty good about the play at the time. That was until Hunter drew land, land, and played Dark Confidant. I drew a few lands off the top, but by the time I got to six mana, Hunter had two Confidants and Jace, and the game was over.

Round 4 vs. Robert (playing RUG Delver)
We looked at the standings and saw we could both draw into top 4. Having never tested the deck or the match-up, I felt this was the right call. We played about 6-7 games for fun during the round, and while Robert won most of them, the experience was invaluable for the cut to top 4. When your opponent pays Phyrexian mana for Mental Misstep with a blue open it probably means they have Spell Snare in hand, and not another Mental Misstep!

Top 4 vs. John (playing RUG Delver)
John was playing almost the exact same 75 as Robert, and as I stated the test games during round 4 really let me know what I was in for. Game 1 was extremely close as John got off an early flipped Delver and Tarmogoyf, all while countering my threats. The bomb density of the deck shown through here though, as I was able to stick an Oath and win the game when John dropped me to one life. The lifelink from Griselbrand kept John from attacking and after I was able to swing through in the air to gain some life and deal some damage, 7 more cards found a Mind’s Desire. After a Desire for seven all the right pieces fell, including Burning Wish to find Tendrils and Black Lotus and Dark Ritual to cast it.

Game 2 I mulliganed a hand I knew would have easily won the game turn 1 if Yawgmoth’s Will and Tendril’s of Agony were in the maindeck. I’m still not sure the mulligan was correct. The hand was Duress, Demonic Tutor, Mox Opal, Mana Crypt, Sol Ring and Dark Ritual. My six card hand was underwhelming aside from Ancestral Recall, which was Mental Misstepped. I gave John too many Orchard tokens and after some Lightning Bolts and a Tarmogoyf, this game was quickly over.

Game 3 I was able to Empty the Warrens early for 6 goblins, and John having had to mulligan to five could put up little resistance.

Finals vs. Robert (playing RUG Delver)
Game 1 saw another mulligan to five on my side of the table, and with a few Orchard tokens and a Goyf, Robert finished me off in no time.

Game 2 I was able to Empty early again, but Robert stopped the Goblin onslaught with multiple Tarmogoyfs, Delvers, and Snapcaster blocks. He was at a precarious life total however, and after finding a Burning Wish for Tendrils, I was able to secure the victory.

Game 3 was insane! Robert dropped a turn one Delver followed by a Grafdigger’s Cage to stop my turn 2 Oath. I found Empty the Warrens and only needed Black Lotus to swing the tide to my favor and put Robert on a 2 turn clock while his Delver still needed 4 turns to kill me. How was I to find the elusive Black Lotus? With black magic, of course! Demonic Consultation was cast. 1…2…3…4…5…
Black Lotus!

What a way to lose the game. With great reward comes great risk, and today the victory would ultimately belong to Robert.

3-2-1, for 2nd place

I could not have been happier losing a game of Magic, and that is certainly an exception to the rule. That just shows how fun Vintage can be!

This was an incredibly fun event, and I can’t wait for the next one. I was ear to ear smiles all day.

Thoughts on Burning Long
Aside from seeing wins if I had Yawgmoth’s Will in the maindeck, I never really needed to Burning Wish for Will to actually close games. This was surprising to me, because when goldfishing against myself, I almost always finished with Yawgmoth’s Will. Griselbrand smashing for 7 and then drawing 7 was usually more than enough to find Burning Wish and then Tendrils.

I never cast Necropotence, though I drew it many times. It was either redundant because of Oath/Griselbrand, or I couldn’t get the 3 black mana to cast it. I’m sure this is only because of my small sample size.

Before the event I wanted to cut Mind’s Desire for Imperial Seal or Regrowth. The card is such a beating against control, especially if you are able to find Tolarian Academy. There aren’t too many ways to stop it and it is very easy to sneakily set up. I’m glad I kept it.

Now for some classic props and slops!

– Stephen Menendian, for brewing this monstrosity. It is such a fun deck. You are almost always in the game and the games are almost always dramatic or interesting.
– Joe McKellar, for organizing the event and Action Comics and Games for hosting. I haven’t had so much fun playing magic in a long time. Just what I needed!
– Dave Williams, for letting me know the event was even taking place.

– Store credit. WTF? I don’t want your store credit. Give me some cash money!
– Demonic Consultation. You’ve burned me in the past and you’ll burn me in the future. I won’t stop playing you.
– The popularity of Vintage. Many people walked by and said the things you always hear about Vintage that are blown out of proportion. “Oh, how fun, turn 1 wins.” “I don’t even know what all those cards do.” I didn’t have a single turn 1 win and I was playing the fastest deck in the room. Come on people, RTFC if you don’t know what it does. I like to play magic for the intellectual stimulation, and learning new cards and possibilities is a big part of that. I guess not everyone shares the sentiment.

Thanks for reading!

Lou Christopher