Serious Vintage Episode 47: Introducing UX: Vintage Unleashed

For episode 47, Geoff Moes (@ThallidTosser on Twitter), Nat Moes (@GrandpaBelcher), and Josh Chapple (@joshchapple) talk with Jerry Yang. Jerry is a longtime Team Serious member and a big influence on many teammates’ love of fun Magic and incredible food. If you want credible, he also has multiple StarCityGames Power 9 Top 8 appearances to his name. But who are we kidding, you don’t listen to this podcast for credibility.

Here’s the timestamped table of contents for your listening ease and enjoyment:
00:42 – More Like ComBANion
11:42 – Now THIS Is Podracing: Vintage Unleashed
44:01 – Food & Drink: Staying Inside
1:08:21 – Outro
Total runtime – 1:09:06

Exit, Pursued by a Cat Nightmare

We open our show, picking up where we left off last time, with a discussion on the banning of Lurrus of the Dream Den in Vintage. This was recorded weeks ago, so I imagine everyone has already talked about this a bunch and moved beyond the topic. Some players liked Lurrus changing the face of Vintage, other players didn’t like how ubiquitous it was. Because of the staggered release of Ikoria online and in paper, thanks to coronavirus, many players never even got to play the card.

Anyway, it’s gone now. The cat’s out of the format!

Does this set a precedent for banning other problem cards? Maybe! Are there other problem cards that might need banning? Probably not. Wizards altered the function of the companion ability to make all of them less powerful. Does even Lurrus need to remain banned? Probably not. When will that change get made? Who knows?

UX: Vintage Unleashed

Some people play Vintage for the broken interactions. Winning or losing on turn one isn’t a problem for them, and powerful plays are what they crave. Recent trends in the format have been away from that, though. Vintage players used to be excited when cards were introduced to the format as it brought about much needed change. Now we’ve seen more restrictions pushing power levels down, and they’ve come faster. Karn, the Great Creator, and Mystic Forge were restricted within months of their printings, and Lurrus was banned even before it was playable in paper.

Vintage is still fun, but there’s so many more insane plays to be made. That, and the play-what-you-want mentality of the MTG Underground, led to the formation of the Unrestrict X movement and Vintage Unleashed. (Thanks to Rajah James, our guest last episode, for helping maintain the rules website.) With that format, the idea is opening up the top-end of Vintage. A rising tide lifts all boats, and the Vintage card pool is an ocean vast and deep, with very many boats to sail.

Here is the Vintage Unleashed restricted list in its entirety:
● Ancestral Recall
● Black Lotus
● Demonic Consultation
● Demonic Tutor
● Imperial Seal
● Lion’s Eye Diamond
● Mana Crypt
● Mana Vault
● Merchant Scroll
● Mox Emerald
● Mox Jet
● Mox Pearl
● Mox Ruby
● Mox Sapphire
● Mystical Tutor
● Sol Ring
● Time Walk
● Timetwister
● Tolarian Academy
● Vampiric Tutor
● Wheel of Fortune

The X in Unrestrict X turned out to be 31. Thirty-one cards are freshly unrestricted, and Shahrazad and Lurrus are unbanned. That’s less than half the size of the current Vintage list. What’s left restricted is limited primarily to the Power 9, fast mana, tutors, and unbounded three-mana draw-sevens. And there are a few cards there that are already being looked at for unrestriction. I’ll throw out Lion’s Eye Diamond, Wheel of Fortune, Imperial Seal, and Merchant Scroll as getting that scrutiny.

We talk to Jerry about some of these lifted boats and some of the misapprehensions from players who haven’t yet tried Vintage Unleashed. There are many claims of an unbeatable deck. Players tend to look at the list and immediately throw out something they like (or hate) as obviously the best. If that was your reaction, I very much encourage you to put a build together and try a few games. You probably haven’t found the format killer you imagined.

So what can you do? Flash can be a deck in the format, especially now that it’s reunited with its old friends Brainstorm and Ponder. Or maybe the combination of Channel and Veil of Summer is alluring. Win with Goblin Charbelcher or Memory Jar. Try the Workshop combo route with Mystic Forge and Time Vault. You can play Gitaxian Probe and Mind’s Desire, or Lurrus and Balance, or Gush and Monastery Mentor. Necropotence! Tinker! Yawgmoth’s Will!

Some of these explosive strategies are held back by other restricted cards. Workshops get back Trinisphere, Strip Mine, Thorn of Amethyst, Lodestone Golem, and Chalice of the Void to help lock things in place. Mental Misstep is back, joining the normally free or cheap counterspells: Force of Will, Force of Negation, Mindbreak Trap, and Flusterstorm. Jerry mentions that Collector Ouphe and Lavinia, Azorius Renegade are great with Cavern of Souls. Narset can still rein in an opposing draw engine, and Dredge (with unrestricted Golgari Grave-Troll) is still around keeping people honest.

Combos and decks from different eras get rebuilt or recombined. Do a lot of broken things. Have a lot of fun.

This Sounds Awesome. Where Can I Play?

Glad you asked! Vintage Unleashed is the format for the third tournament in the Team Serious Virtual Realm, July 11 at noon ET. I would love to have a great turnout for this inaugural event!

The signup sheet is here, including a link to the Discord and more complete rules for the format. As with our previous Virtual Realm events, we’ll have a Friday evening Pub Quiz leading up to the tournament on Saturday.

The event is free, but we’ll be doing a raffle for some fun prizes with proceeds going to the Equal Justice Initiative, which focuses on “ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”

Should be a lot of fun, and people are welcome to join the Discord, hang out, play Pub Quiz, or support the raffle even if they can’t play in the event.

Food & Drink: Quarantine

We admit in the show that having Jerry on to talk about food during a quarantine, when no one is really going out to eat, is kind of like having a fine arts expert talk to you about their kindergartner’s drawings, but it’s a good time.

Jerry in quarantine has looked for easy-to-prepare comfort foods. He recommends several kinds of instant ramen (try Nissin Raoh or Mi Goreng), hot dogs, and frozen burritos and things you can do to enrich them beyond their salty, preserved, comfort-food status. The number one rule is to add an over-easy egg (or boiled or poached egg), but you can also try cilantro and peanuts, lime, greens, fresh vegetables, pickled vegetables, bacon or other protein, various hot sauces and so on. The goal is to get a flavor profile that goes beyond just “salt,” possibly add some nutrition, and maybe add complex textures as well.

There’s also a discussion of macaroni and cheese, harkening back to Episode 43 with Elizabeth where we talked about that as a pregnancy food. For boxes of pasta + cheese, Jerry likes Kraft Dinner, while Josh prefers Cracker Barrel vastly over Annie’s. Josh mixes his “Macaroni+” with frozen mixed vegetables. If you need a pick-me-up in these dark days, I recommend hotdogtopus.

Jerry and Josh also compare the size of their vans (see pics of Josh’s van below), and Geoff talks on the difficulty of getting his young niece and nephews to eat. As it turns out, you can cook frozen chicken nuggets wrong but Marco’s Pizza and E.L. Fudge cookies bring people together.

Questions for Discussion

What cards have you always wanted to play unrestricted in Vintage? Maybe you got to play them and miss them. Maybe you never got to play them at all. What’s the highest ratio of lands to playable revealed cards you’ve gotten off a Mind’s Desire? Jerry’s gotten higher. What’s your quarantine food status like? Anything you like that makes you comfortable in uncomfortable times? And, hey! If you were a hot dog, and you were starving, would you eat yourself? I know I would. First I’d smother myself with brown mustard and relish. I’d be delicious.


Thanks so much again for listening! And thanks to Jerry for helping us talk about the fun new format, Vintage Unleashed. We hope you enjoyed it, and please do join us for the inaugural tournament! Continue being safe and remaining healthy so you can fight oppression. We’ll look forward to any questions or comments here or The Mana Drain or on Twitter. You can also email us at