Hello everybody! Thanks for coming back for another weekly dose of Eternal content. Today we’ll be looking at some of the powerful yet cheap cards in the Vintage format and I’ll be briefly discussing how you can get the most out of them in your decks. All the prices quoted here are taken from Manaleak.com and are correct at time of writing. Whilst I am aware that some of the cards are currently out of stock on the website, the goblins behind the scenes are working their holey socks off trying to find some more of them to Resupply.
Unfortunately, due to some poor timing on my part, that this article clashing with the Dragons of Tarkir launch date tomorrow, it will likely be Monday before these cards are available. However, there is the ‘Restock Request’ button below each card on its page. If you use this, then the goblins will get busy burrowing in their cave looking for extra copies of that card.
I’ve tried to pick cards specifically here that are really only played in Vintage rather than Legacy or Modern, so a lot of them are banned or restricted in other formats. However, there are a few specific cards that just happen to be really particularly good in Vintage for one reason or another.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you… *drumroll*
My Top 10 Vintage Cards Under a Tenner
10. Null Rod: £5.99
This card is one of the defining pillars of the format. Got no Moxen? No Black Lotus to your name? Fear ye not, for Null Rod is at hand. For a card that does nothing it has a pretty powerful effect in that it shuts off a lot of deck’s mana production as well as stopping the TinkerBot that is Kuldotha Forgemaster and the draw seven effect of Memory Jar. It’s a mainstay in a lot of creature Aggro decks like Merfolk and Delver that don’t lean on their own artifacts to win. With some decks, though, there is merit to running Chalice of the Void as well/instead of Null Rod.
9. Mana Vault £4.49
This is one of the best non-power artifact ramp cards in the format along with Sol Ring. It is used in a variety of affordable shells. I think that one of the best ones for it is a budget Affinity list that aims to power out a bunch of cheap artifact creatures and use Genesis Chamber to fuel more artifacts for a Cranial Plating.
Alternatively it sees play in some Monastery Mentor builds as a way of both powering out the Mentor early and triggering prowess afterwards.
8. Oath of Druids: £3.99
Oath of Druids is one of the most important cards in the format. When an entire deck is named after a card you know it’s a doozy and this is definitely one of them. Both this and its major partner in crime, Forbidden Orchard, are relatively cheap and a playset of each combined with a Legacy-based Control shell will see you in reasonably good stead to build a Vintage deck. A Sneak and Show deck will be even better prepared as you will already have Griselbrand and some fast mana (though the “Sol Lands” are not as necessary as they are in the Legacy form as there’s fewer colourless mana needed for the important spells).
Omnishow is also a possibility with this shell, as shown by LSV and Kai Budde in weeks 4-6 of Vintage Super League 2 recently. Show and Telling in Omniscience to follow it up with a free Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is a pretty powerful play and just being able to Force of Will without ditching another card and a life point is still a big deal.
Yes, this deck will work better if you have the Power Nine to go with it. Yes, it requires you to have a fair few cards already to work. But it is a very powerful, unique effect that can just win games sometimes. I would highly recommend it if you can build it.
[draft]Oath of Druids
7. Fastbond £2.99
This breaks one of the fundamental rules of the game. It is incredibly powerful in a lot of different shells and is often the only reason for including Green sources of mana in a Blue-based deck (well, that and it allows Ancient Grudge in the sideboard too). In combination with Gush it allows you to create both mana and cards at the cost of life and is one of the most broken draw engines in the game.
Even a “non-busted” Fastbond still allows you to play out all of your lands quickly to develop a mana advantage or combine with Yawgmoth’s Will to recycle your fetchlands. It also combos with Zuran Orb and Crucible of Worlds to generate infinite life and mana to do something epic to win the game (in Vintage Super League 2 week 1-3 Bob Maher used Kaervek’s Torch as it is in less danger of Misdirection than other options are whilst still having built in “uncounterability” to a degree). This is a fantatic way to do broken things in an un-Powered deck.
6. Skullclamp: £1.99
Speaking of broken things, Skullclamp is a card that is banned in pretty much every format ever. Not only does it draw cards when the creature its attached to dies, but often it will also kill that creature too. It is fantastic in the Affinity deck I mentioned earlier to eat all of the myr tokens and draw even more creatures to cast and is also good in an Elves! shell as a draw engine either instead of or alongside Glimpse of Nature.
5. Mind’s Desire: 99p
This is a little bit more of a niche card that only really sees play in Storm variants and now occasionally in Goblin Charbelcher variants. It’s a little odd that I’m naming it in here because it is so niche, but it is powerful and incredibly fun to cast and adds a lot to the decks that want it.
It also helps port a Storm deck from Legacy to Vintage, though sadly it does lose a lot as both Lotus Petal and Lion’s Eye Diamond are restricted. Nevertheless, it’s worth playing around with and trying to build a deck and have a crack at Vintage.
4. Preordain: 99p
Preordain is the next best unrestricted cantrip in the format. Whilst in Modern it is too good and is banned, in Legacy it isn’t quite as good as Brainstorm or Ponder and so is generally squeezed out of the format, especially as Gitaxian Probe tends to take the next slot.
However, in Vintage both Ponder and Brainstorm are restricted and because of this Blue decks need some way of digging reliably for what they need. Enter Preordain. Preordain functions in very much the same way as the aforementioned cards do in both tempo and controlling Blue decks. A basic Blue/Red Delver deck can be ported pretty easily from Legacy into Vintage with very few changes. Admittedly the deck is better with a few Moxes, Time Walk and Ancestral Recall, but you can still find that what is effectively a Legacy deck can be very, well, effective.
3. Mental Misstep: 75p
This innocent looking counterspell is possibly the most played card in the format. It can literally go in any deck that either expects to face decks with powerful, one mana converted cost spells or have their own powerful spells to protect from opposing Mental Missteps, i.e. all the decks.
Its power is due to the fact that most support cards in the format are the most efficient available across all of Magic, which more often than not means one-drops. Here is a short exemplary list of cards that can be hit by Mental Misstep: Delver of Secrets, Swords to Plowshares, Pyroblast, Spell Pierce, Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, Nature’s Claim, Ancestral Recall, Deathrite Shaman.
2. Yixlid Jailer: 29p
This is a rather unusual card as in a lot of Magic games this doesn’t really do a lot. What it does do though is turn off Dredge. More importantly, it turns off Dredge whilst still allowing you to further your own game plan.
If you are running a Black-based Hatebears deck, then this is a very strong card. It pairs nicely with cards like Dark Confidant, Orzhov Pontiff, and even Snapcaster Mage. “But wait!” I hear you cry. “Doesn’t Yixlid Jailer shut off Snapcaster Mage?” Well, actually no, not unless the Jailer enters the battlefield after the Snapcaster Mage has given the spell flashback. Otherwise, timestamps mean that if the card gained flashback after the Yixlid Jailer enters the battlefield then it keeps that ability.
(This does actually work like this. I did a double check with local judge and fellow mtgUK writer Chris Aston to make sure. Please direct any confusion mail towards him. Thank you.)
(A supplement: To make this more intuitive, please think about a similar scenario:
Reduce in stature
Let’s assume I have one Runeclaw Bear in play. My opponent casts Humility, making it a 1/1. Then she casts Reduce in Stature on it. Because there are two effects applying at the same layer, the most recent of these is used as a ‘winner’. So my Runeclaw Bear will be a 0/2.
This is the same timestamp principle that Yixlid Jailer uses.
Even without any other synergies it is still a very powerful card to consider for your sideboard and certainly worth consideration for any deck with a Black splash.
1. Ingot Chewer: 20p
At number one we have one of the best hate cards in the format. Ingot Chewer is one of the best sideboard cards against Mishra’s Workshop decks. These are traditionally very artifact-heavy by necessity and having a 1 mana removal spell that isn’t affected by Thorn of Amethyst that can also become a beater in the late game is a strong plan. It can see maindeck play in hateful builds and can even be cast off Cavern of Souls if you feel so inclined to make an uncounterable Shatter.
Ingot Chewer was also used out of the sideboard by some Oath of Druids decks in the Vintage Super League recently, with both LSV and Kai Budde deciding that making a 3/3 that eats Sphere of Resistance, Mox, or even Kuldotha Forgemaster is still a pretty good hit off an Oath trigger. It certainly was, to a very strong effect.
There you have it, my top 10 Vintage cards for under £10, finishing up with the cheapest of the sideboard cards at just 20p each. That’s less than £1 for a playset. Who says Vintage has to be expensive?
With the Eternal Championships now less than two months away I hope you’re starting to settle on deck ideas for all three formats and will have prebooked your spots. A list of those who have already booked there spot can be found in the pinned post, so if you know anyone who’s planning on coming along who’s name is not on the list then its time to start pestering them before the prices go back up.
Thank you as always for reading, join me at the same time next Thursday as I take a look at something Modern.