Serious Vintage Episode 29: Dr. Superstition and the #MTGUnderground

For episode 29, Geoff Moes (@ThallidTosser on Twitter), Nat Moes (@GrandpaBelcher), and Andy Probasco (@tmdBrassMan) talk with Ben Perry (@DSuperstition) about the recent Team Serious Invitational, Ben’s Two-Card Monte deck, and the #MTGUnderground.

Here’s the timestamped table of contents for your listening ease and enjoyment:
00:26 – The Team Serious Invitational
19:36 – Two-Card Monte
38:02 – The MTG Underground
1:01:52 – Outro
Total runtime – 1:02:30

The Team Serious Invitational

It’s interesting that the Team Serious Invitationals get so much attention from the Vintage community beyond the Great Lakes region. They are simply a normal-sized Vintage tournament with the play skill and deck choices one would expect from a local metagame. Of course there’s good competition, but the emphasis is on fun and friendship. There’s no real trick to getting invited other than being fun and friendly. But we can’t open attendance to everyone because it’s often at someone’s house, and we don’t want to broadcast someone’s home address and let just anyone in.

We have legitimate prizes (I won a Tropical Island!), but the winner is also honorably presented with a medal. It’s a crude thing, but it denotes one player who was, for one day, the best Vintage player in this particular group of idiots. At the next Invitational it is then conferred upon the new winner, and so on.

Anyway, the most recent event had 24 players and was won by our guest for this episode, Ben Perry, playing Two-Card Monte. The other Top 4 decks were Burning Omniscience Oath, Bant Mentor, and Mono-White Eldrazi with eight Thalias. I should mention that (playtest) Eldritch Moon cards were legal for this event, ahead of the standard schedule allowed by WotC.

Here is your champion, before the fiasco.

You can also see the finals and other videos of the event in the embedded YouTube playlist below.

Don’t forget to check out the Brass Man Dance – also in the playlist!

Two-Card Monte

Two-Card Monte - 1st Place Team Serious Invitational

Business (33)
Leyline of the Void
Helm of Obedience
Painter's Servant
Goblin Welder
Red Elemental Blast
Ancient Grudge
Defense Grid
Memory Jar
Wheel of Fortune
Ancestral Recall
Demonic Tutor
Demonic Consultation
Vampiric Tutor

Mana Sources (27)
Black Lotus
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Mox Pearl
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Mana Crypt
Sol Ring
Mana Vault
Tolarian Academy
Mishra's Workshop
Ancient Tomb
Mana Confluence
Gemstone Mine
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Ensnaring Bridge
Abrupt Decay
Nature's Claim
Containment Priest
Leyline of Sanctity

You can read more about the deck from Joe Fiorini, who covered it in a recent article (and a special shout out to Joe for writing great Vintage content regularly!).

The basic idea is that you combine Helm of Obedience and Leyline of the Void, or Grindstone and Painter’s Servant, to eliminate your opponent’s library and win the game. The Painter-Grindstone combo is probably evident from reading the cards, but the Leyline-Helm interaction is odd, owing to the odd templating on Helm of Obedience. Essentially, Helm must put a card in the graveyard to finish resolving, and Leyline of the Void prevents that from happening since it’s a replacement effect.

Two-Card Monte has some great properties in the metagame. It looks a lot like a Shops deck, so it can be confusing to opponents who haven’t seen it before. Otherwise it plays like a combo deck that just happens to use artifacts a lot. Mishra’s Workshops help it play through other Shops decks’ lock pieces, and main deck Leyline of the Void let it crush Dredge. And it plays three counterspells and Welders to beat Force of Will.

The greatest fear it has is Null Rod. But why let fear get in the way of greatness?

The MTG Underground

“You are not your DCI number.”

Ben’s greater contribution to the Magic: The Gathering community as a whole is that of the MTG Underground. The idea, essentially, is that Magic is a game for players, and the DCI and Wizards of the Coast are completely tangential to that. You can have fun with Magic cards however you want, whether that’s at the top tables of a Grand Prix, drafting at your local game store on a Friday night, playing proxy Vintage and drinking at a friend’s house, or playing for ante and prop bets at a tiny card table under a bare bulb. Find what’s fun for you and do that.

Magic, the game, has lasting importance and meaning for many. Even if Wizards stops making cards and closes its doors, the game itself can continue in so many ways.

Definitely check out Ben’s blog MTG Underground, where he chronicles his adventures in the MTG Underground. There’s some useful strategic content there, but don’t worry about that. Read it for the story. Recommend it to your friends who don’t play Magic and who want to know why you do.

Question for Discussion

We closed with a question for discussion: How do you participate in the MTG Underground? Proxy Vintage and the various Old School type formats count. So do any cubes or odd variants that you and your friends might play. We talked about a couple of specific events: the “Classic” event that Nick Detwiler is putting together in New York, and the Vintage Artist Constructed event coming up at Gen Con.

Many of these formats take us back to the roots of our Magic history and remind us of the fun we had playing this game when we were younger and there was so much new to discover.

So how do you enjoy Magic when no one’s watching? You can hear some of our answers on the podcast.

Concluding Remarks

Thanks for listening, and thanks again to Ben for joining us! We’ll look forward to any questions or comments here or The Mana Drain or on Twitter. You can also email us at