FINALLY! They unrestricted Gifts Ungiven. I like it because it is a very skill intensive card, and I know many of you will agree. Some months ago I dreamt of this very moment, and I wanted to test what I had imagined, so I swapped the Intuitions and Accumulated Knowledges with more copies of Gifts to test in my “Burning Robadeck” deck. I liked what I saw, so my first approach to share with you is detailed below.
I don’t think I need to play Recoup at all. It was an awful card to draw back in the day, and now we have better cards like Snapcaster Mage who deserves some slots on his own. Noxious Revival is another option. Also, with the unrestriction of Burning Wish a while ago, we once again have access to virtually playing 4 Yawgmoth’s Will, so we don’t need to Recoup it from graveyard.
Burning Gifts 2015, by Jaime Cano
In the countermagic and protection section I began to test with some singleton to Gifts for, but in testing it was rarely needed, and I ended up running more focused countermagic to help resolve Gifts, and to help stay alive against faster decks. Rounding out the defense I like to play Repeal a lot, because it is a very flexible and cyclable card in a combo-control deck, and is never a dead draw. We only need to get rid of the problem for a turn or so to kill the opponent. I added a Fire/Ice because it is very good at killing many of the creatures in Vintage that you care about, and also cycles if not needed, gaining some value a lot of time, by tapping down an opponent’s creature, Tolarian Academy, or even Trinisphere. Finally, Hurkyl’s Recall is rarely dead. It is at least a storm enabler or a mana producer against non-Workshop decks, and a fast solution to some awkward positions involving Tinker, Null Rod, Thopter Foundry, or Grafdigger’s Cage.
Now, we don’t have unrestricted Brainstorm, Thirst for Knowledge, or Merchant Scroll, but we want to play with them. With a lone Jace we have three ways to put back Colossus in the deck. I added a Dig Through Time to put in card advantage Gift piles, and it is very strong here.
Burning Wish is a very powerful tool, giving easy access to bombs like Yawgmoth’s Will and Tinker without losing card advantage, and it also enables the possibility of only playing one dead card in the entire deck (Blightsteel Colossus). But it does create some inconvenience in terms of our sideboard space. It also allows virtual main deck answers to some decks, like the Pyroclasm (it can be also Toxic Deluge but I prefer a red card until Monastery Mentor becomes too popular) that completely owns Young Pyromancer or Humans decks. Burning Wish for Duress or Thoughtseize against combo or control is a valuable tactic, and Burning Wish for Treasure Cruise to refill your hand is very strong. If you don’t already have a Burning Wish in hand, one very useful Gifts pile to find Yawgmoth’s Will is Burning Wish, Snapcaster Mage, Demonic Tutor, and Black Lotus.
Speaking of the sideboard, I have chosen to play fewer possible Wish targets in order to have some room to play graveyard and artifact hate. I found that in this deck that Pulverize is by far the best solution against Workshops, but this devastating tactic changes the manabase to all four Volcanic Islands and a sideboard Mountain. Graveyard hate slots are more difficult to cover. This deck can be very fast, but we don’t want to ignore Dredge, so some amount of hate is needed. With the Intuition version it was easier because playing 4 Ravenous Trap was like playing seven graveyard hate at Instant speed with 3 Intuitions in a deck full of Moxen. But with Gifts we lose this tactic, so I have found a workaround to achieve this by doing a Gifts pile with Ravenous Trap, Surgical Extraction, Trapmaker’s Snare, and Snapcaster Mage, in order to have Instant speed access to two graveyard hate pieces. This is mana intensive, so I’m not sure if this will be the way to go moving forward. There are always more options to test.
This is my first approach to an unrestricted Gifts Ungiven, and I am having a lot of fun playing it. I hope the new metagame will be as fun and as fair as the last metagame with unrestricted Gifts. That was the best time in Vintage for me since I started playing in 1995.