Lim's Fish the Reel Deal in Philly!

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The letter E!ternal Weekend is in the books, and we have ourselves two new champions! Ari Lax, after years of near misses at high profile Legacy tournaments, managed to finally secure himself a title, winning the 2013 Legacy Championships on the back of Death and Taxes, wholly appropriate given the setting. The following day, at the Vintage Championship, it was Joel Lim playing Reel Fish deck that managed to best the other competitors on his way to becoming the winner of the 2013 Vintage Championship!

Given the high level of exposure that many of the more degenerate combo decks in both formats had seen in the weeks leading up to Eternal Weekend, it was incredibly fitting that the two champions would manage to win their titles wielding creature-based aggressive decks. Lax's Death and Taxes, with its aggressive and disruptive white creatures, has a lot in common with Lim's Reel Fish deck, which relies on aggressive Merfolk backed up with permission. These decks proved more than capable of defusing big combo decks like Sneak and Show, Storm, and Dredge, as they won playing "fair" Magic against an unfair field.

In the end, this weekend served as a great reminder that of all of the most broken things you can do in Magic, one of the most powerful things you can do is attack. With Grand Prix Washington DC on the horizon, you can guarantee that Eternal Weekend's results will have given potential players food for thought, and a much better idea of what to expect and how to combat it.

Again, congratulations to 2013 Legacy Champion Ari Lax and 2013 Vintage Champ Joel Lim, the victors of Magic's Eternal Weekend 2013!

Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Benjamin Donais   AJ Grasso, 2-1        
8 AJ Grasso   AJ Grasso, 2-1
4 Tylor Pratt   Reid Duke, 2-1   Joel Lim, 2-0
5 Reid Duke    
2 Greg Fenton   Greg Fenton, 2-1
7 Erik Pentycofe   Joel Lim, 2-1
3 Kevin Cron   Joel Lim, 2-0
6 Joel Lim    

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 1.  Joel Lim
 2.  AJ Grasso
 3.  Greg Fenton
 4.  Reid Duke
 5.  Benjamin Donais
 6.  Kevin Cron
 7.  Taylor Pratt
 8.  Erik Pentycofe
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  • Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – Vintage Champions in the Mix

    by Nate Price

  • There has never been a repeat champion at the Vintage Championship. Considering the density of this community, and the fact that it mobilizes incredibly well, there are plenty of players to repeat Top 8 performances. Still, since 2003, there have been ten Championships, and ten winners.

    Here in the field today, there are six of the ten previous champions here, looking to be the first player to repeat as the Vintage Championship winner. Here they are, and the decks they used to win their respective Championship!

    Marc Lanigra – 2012 Champion

    Marc Lanigra

    Hiromichi Itou – 2010 Champion Mark Hornung – 2011 Champion

    Hiromichi Itou and Mark Hornung

    Stephen Menendian – 2007 Champion

    Stephen Menendian

    Paul Mastriano – 2008 Champion

    Paul Mastriano

    Roland Chang – 2005 Champion

    Roland Chang


  • Sunday, 12:30 p.m. – The Sights of Vintage

    by Nate Price

  • Oh the things that are possible in Vintage. Between the power nine, Oath of Druids, Mishra's Workshop, and Bazaar of Baghdad, there are some incredibly cool things that you can see watching these matches.

    You've got all of the power, which is incredibly cool to see in play...

    No Sapphire? Slacker.

    The eternal struggle between Dredge and graveyard hate...

    The Vintage equivalent of 'Chicken.'

    Which is much better than the eternal struggle between Dredge and Dredge...

    I'm not even touching this one. You figure this board state out...

    And far more typical than the eternal struggle between Dredge and...Myr...

    Actually, I kinda like this one.

    Though making Myr isn't the only thing you can do with artifacts in Vintage. Most of the decks featuring the powerful Mishra's Workshop try to lock opponents out of the game, using cards like Sphere of Resistance and Thorn of Amethyst to make everything cost a million mana... mean my Moxes cost me how much to play?!

    They can also lock people out of the game with Smokestack...

    Answering the age old question of whether or not artifacts burn. The answer is yes. And so do Islands, creatures, enchantments (don't ask me), Planeswalkers (even Chandra)...

    If you get the right ones together, you can screw these soft locks and just completely lock them out of the game. Interesting that one of the biggest parts of the lock is a key...

    Or a Tezzeret... He's the night janitor at the Time Vault.

    Most of the reason that these artifact decks are so good is because of the prevalence of cheap spells in this format. It's also the reason that a card as narrow as Mental Misstep is such a defining card in this format...

    Mental Misstep—Stronger than Ancestral Recall.

    Although it can't stop another of the marquee cards of Vintage—Oath of Druids. With access to cards like Forbidden Orchard and Swan Song, which give opponents creatures, you can effectively control whether or not you get to Oath! Now, you have all of the creatures ever printed at your disposal, all of the magic of the multiverse at your fingertips. What do you use to kill your opponent?

    Hint: It's not ants.

    Although others prefer a more sinister approach...

    It's cool. We're working on a vaccine.

    Whatever you choose, you're sure to have an immense amount of fun playing with all of these high-powered Vintage cards. If you're worried about being able to get your hands on the cards (they are fairly hard to come by), talk to your local store owner or TO about hosting a proxy tournament! They're not able to be sanctioned, but they're a great way to enjoy Vintage fun and get a chance to experience this unique, incredibly rich format!


  • Sunday, 3:00 p.m. – View from the Top – the 3-0 Metagame at the Vintage Championship

    by Nate Price

  • It's still early here at the Vintage Championship. There are nine rounds of play today, followed by three single-elimination rounds for the Top 8 to determine a champion. Through three rounds of play, 29 players managed to scoop up three wins, putting them on the fast track to the top. Just as in Legacy, Vintage boasts a plethora of archetypes, though they are less apparently distinct in Vintage. Many of the decks, though they may use different tools to achieve their goals, do so using similar engines. They fall into what the Vintage community refers to as "pillars of the format." For example, there are multiple different ways for Oath of Druids decks, or Mishra's Workshop decks to actually kill opponents, though they both rely on those cards to provide their path to victory.

    Here's a breakdown of the 3-0 players here at Vintage Champs, with a few generic decklists to use as a reference!

    Dredge 5
    Kuldotha 3
    Storm 2
    Grixis Control 2
    UW Control 2
    Stax 2
    Oath 2
    RUG Delver 1
    Monoblack Depths 1
    Bomberman 1
    UR Landstill 1
    BUG Creatures 1
    Worldgorger 1
    MUD 1
    Junk Hatebears 1
    Death and Taxes 1
    Young Pyromancer Storm 1
    Tinker 1

    That's quite the breakdown. It's clear that Dredge is the most successful individual deck in the tournament to this point. Considering that every deck in the format is packing half of their sideboard cards intent on dealing with Dredge, this strong early performance is noteworthy, though it is also likely to waver some as the rounds drag on.

    Here's a look at a generic Dredge list:

    To sift through some of this variety, let's take a look at this breakdown by examining these decks when aligned with their pillars:

    Artifact decks 7
    Dredge 5
    Blue Control decks 5
    Creature decks 4
    Storm Combo decks 3
    Other decks 3
    Oath decks 2

    Based on this breakdown, it appears that artifact-based decks are taking the early lead. Here's a sample of a generic Kuldotha deck, as it appears to be the artifact-based deck of choice:

    Blue Control decks are also doing fairly well. Of these decks, the most commonly seen are the Grixis variants similar to the version Marc Lanigra used to win last year's Vintage Championship. Since that deck has gotten a good amount of hype, let's take a look at one of the other Blue Control variants doing well this weekend, one that has been a staple of Vintage for a while now:

    Named for the combination of Standstill and the various man-lands in the deck (Faerie Conclave and Mishra's Factory), the deck is a pure control deck, filled to the brim with various permission cards and card-drawing spells. It is a slow grind, beating people to death with lands while holding them off with enough permission to prevent things from taking a premature end. The virtually creature-less nature of the deck allows it to dodge one of the other major pillars of the format: Oath of Druids.

    The last of the decks I'd like to take a look at are the creature-based decks. In a format utterly defined by the cards of the power nine, and even more detrimental to creatures, Oath of Druids, creature decks don't seem like they'd really be all that effective. They often try to play fair in a seemingly unfair format. Sure, decks like Merfolk were originally designed to fight against the heavy-combo elements in Vintage at the time, but times have changed, and creature decks have certainly been accounted for in the metagame. Yet they are clearly doing quite well. Other than Merfolk, the biggest creature-based decks in the format tend to revolve around white creatures, much as the Death and Taxes deck that won the Legacy Championship does.

    Here's a good generic creature list:

    This deck runs a number of cards that are serious deals against the various power cards in Vintage. First, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, is the real deal. Lodestone Golem is another incredibly powerful card in Vintage, and Thalia not only has the possibility to come down faster, but she affects Moxes and Black Lotus, as well. Qasali Pridemage provides an excellent answer to both Oath of Druids and the various artifact decks, Deathrite Shaman is great against decks looking to cast Yawgmoth's Will, and Aven Mindcensor is incredible against all of the tutoring effects that Vintage boasts. You may notice that I have chosen a powerless deck in this example! This is an incredibly good way to get into Vintage if you don't have access to some of the big cards.


  • Sunday, 6:00 p.m. – Round 6: Mishra’s Picture Book

    by Nate Price

  • One of the most intriguing pillars of Vintage to me are the Mishra's Workshop decks. They are able to take advantage of many of the things Vintage offers in a way that no other decks in the field can. First, there's the fact that six of the "power nine" cards are artifacts themselves, which cards like Kuldotha Forgemaster and Metalworker are able to abuse. Then there are cards like Metalworker and Mishra's Workshop, which are able to generate obscene amounts of mana, which the artifact-based decks are able to use to cast any of their spells, far less restrictive than the color requirements of other decks. Finally, Workshop decks tend to run a disruption engine that is unique to them. From Sphere of Resistance to Thorn of Amethyst and even Lodestone Golem (he brings his own clock!), Workshop decks thrive on denying opponents the chance to play their spells, or at least making them pay a lot more for them.

    This round, I was treated to an interesting match between two undefeated players, both playing Workshop variants! On one side, Greg Kraigher, who made last year's Vintage Championship Top 8 with a very similar Workshop deck. On the other, Richard Lessmann, who brought the Kuldotha Forgemaster version of Workshop to this year's Championship. Both players have yet to pick up a match loss, so one of these decks was going to be put in its place.

    Richard Lessmann

    Since this is Vintage, and words can only say so much, I decided to show you guys the ridiculousness with pictures!

    The first two games were just silly. To illustrate, let me show you what Lessmann had in play at the end of his first turn:

    City of Traitors allowed Lessmann to get a Sol Ring and Mana Vault into play, giving him the five mana needed to cast a first-turn Kuldotha Forgemaster, as well as the fodder needed to go get something beastly. He even had the Chalice of the Void for zero to prevent Kraigher from doing anything equally ridiculous. Kraigher appropriately did not, and a Myr Battlesphere rolled over for a large and lethal attack before Kraigher could even get anything to stick in play.

    The second game saw Lessmann start with something almost as ridiculous, though it was on a mulligan to five, leaving him virtually without a hand.

    With a first-turn Black Lotus, Lessmann was able to power out a Lodestone Golem. Unfortunately for him, Lodestone Golem is a good template for Phyrexian Metamorph. After copying Lessmann's beater, Kraigher made a Ratchet Bomb and immediately blew it up, leaving Lessmann with just one permanent.

    He then added another Metamorph before trading the original away with Lessmann's Golem. This left no permanents on Lessmann's side, while Kraigher filled his side up with a Precursor Golem.

    That was enough to end the game, sending it to Game 3.

    In the final game, things went the other way, with Kraigher mulliganing to five. Still, that didn't prevent him from getting out to a reasonable start. Neither player had anything too explosive to open Game 3. Lessmann slowed things down with a Chalice of the Void for zero, but didn't have too much to follow it up with. Kraigher got an early Phyrexian Revoker, immediately naming Kuldotha Forgemaster. He cast it off of a pair of Rishadan Ports, which would prove instrumental in keeping this game fair over the next few turns, as Lessmann found himself a Tolarian Academy that the Ports kept occupied.

    Lessmann looked like he might jump the hurdle and take off with a Metalworker, but Kraigher had a timely second Revoker to prevent even a single activation.

    The Kuldotha Forgemaster that Lessmann drew soon thereafter may not have been able to activate, but it dominated the board, giving him a chance to begin attacking, trying to end the game.

    Things became very interesting when Kraigher finally hit four mana, giving himself a Lodestone Golem. While this certainly advanced his board, it allowed Lessmann a turn with an active Tolarian Academy, which he later admitted was a huge mistake. All it took was that one window, and Lessmann found himself the proud owner of a massive Sundering Titan.

    Interestingly, you'd thing that things were firmly in Lessmann's favor. Instead, Kraigher found himself not one...

    Not two...

    but three Phyrexian Metamorphs, each becoming a copy of the massive 7/10 Titan.

    From there, it was a matter of two attacks, and he had stolen the game away from Lessmann. While it may have been a mistake, the window it created ended up providing an even bigger boon for Kraigher than for Lessman, and he advanced to an undefeated 6-0.

    Greg Kraigher

    I spoke with Kraigher after the match about his decision to play Workshop, especially given all of the other powerful options in Vintage.

    "It's kind of a linear deck," he told me. "You still have to play your cards right, and you still have to make really integral decisions, but it isn't like the infinite realms of the blue decks, where you have to think about absolutely everything you could possibly do. How many do I Necro for? What is in this opponent's deck? It's a little simpler in that line of play, but it's still very challenging. You really have to know how to mulligan."

    There were six mulligans between he and Lessmann in this round, and he explained that it's just a part of how the deck runs.

    "You don't necessarily mulligan more in Game 1, but you definitely do in Games 2 and 3, when you know what you're looking for in the matchup. You probably aggressively mulligan more than the blue decks do, but less than Dredge."

    Now, his deck is obviously built around Mishra's Workshop, but there are quite a number of other cards that really make the deck work.

    "The reasons why the deck is incredibly competitive are Grafdigger's Cage and Phyrexian Revoker," he told me. "They're probably not the ones you would think, but they're really good. Phyrexian Revoker does so much work against the blue decks. It's a Strip Mine against Moxes. In this last match, it shut down Metalworker and Forgemaster. And it's incredible against Jace. As for Grafdigger's Cage, it's the only way I have game against Oath of Druids. Oath is such a bad matchup for me already..."

    In order to make these matchups better, players have to reach for their sideboards, and that's one area that Kraigher thinks the Workshop decks excel.

    "I'm fairly fortunate that I've played this deck a lot and I have a very transitive board," he explained. "In most matchups, I'm boarding in twelve cards, which is insane. It lets me get rid of a lot of the dead weight. You can't keep a lot of hands against certain decks because they're just 'ok.' You don't want to be 'ok.'"

    Over the early turns of the game, he really looks to begin locking people out.

    "You are really looking for a card like Sphere of Resistance, which can slow them down before you begin to lock them up under Tangle Wire. On the draw, Tangle Wire is just essential. It's your way to steal the initiative back from them, to effectively put yourself on the play."


  • Sunday, 6:15 p.m. – The Pillars of Vintage

    by Nate Price

  • One of the problems with doing metagame analyses on Eternal formats is the sheer variety of viable decks in the field. There are dozens of decks that players could be playing, and they all have a reasonable chance of winning any given event. In Legacy, this creates a significant problem, as the decks tend to be fairly distinct from one another. In Vintage, the problem is muted by the fact that the decks, even as diverse as they are, tend to fall into a few categories that employ similar structural elements. Sure there is a difference between Stax and Kuldotha and MUD, but at their hearts, they're all Mishra's Workshop decks.

    To help me wade through these so called "pillars" of Vintage, I enlisted the help of one of the most prolific Vintage strategy writers on the planet, the 2007 Vintage Champion, Stephen Menendian. Menendian literally wrote the book on Vintage, compiling years of writings on the history of Vintage into a published compilation about the history of Magic's oldest format.

    Stephen Menendian

    "There are basically five pillars in Vintage," Menendian explained. "You've got the Gush decks, like Gro or Gush Control. There are the Dark Confidant/Jace, the Mind Sculptor decks. The others are Workshop decks, Dredge decks, and then Combo. I guess you have to make a distinction for the super heavy Control decks, like Landstill, UW Angels, Bomberman... They're distinct from the decks that run Oath of Druids, so I guess you have six to think of."

    Like most metagames, there is usually a paper/rock/scissors element, where a circle of predation keeps things even. For example, is current Standard, you've got Doom Blade/Thoughtseize decks, which beat Mono-blue Devotion, which tends to beat Mono-red Devotion, which tends to beat the Doom Blade/Thoughtseize decks. A similar thing occurs in Vintage, though there is also some give within the pillars, where Forgemaster is better in some matchups than Stax and vice versa.

    "Some decks in Vintage have slight advantages against each other. Gush decks, for example, have an advantage against the Bob/Jace decks, but are at a disadvantage against Workshop. Dredge decks don't really interact with maindecks, instead interfacing more with decks' sideboards. The one deck that does have an innate advantage against them are the speed combo decks. Workshop decks are actually soft to Dredge and Bob/Jace decks."

    These things do occasionally change, though. As new sets are printed, new cards enter Vintage and have a chance to impact the complexion of the format.

    "This last year, they unrestricted Rewrowth, and a little over a year ago they unrestricted Burning Wish, which was very big. Cavern of Souls is another important new addition. Swan Song is interesting. The card I'm most interested in is Young Pyromancer, though. It's the best Gro creature of all time. It's great against Workshop. Because it grows horizontally rather than vertically, it's much harder for Jace to combat it. It also floods the board, allowing it to play a control role if needed, much the same way that Empty the Warrens does. It's an incredibly strategically versatile threat that requires specific answers to deal with it. Once you get Gush and Fastbond going, you have all of the mana you need to cast your cheap card drawing spells and can generate an army."


  • Top 8 Profiles

    by Nate Price

  • Reid Duke

    Age: 24
    Hometown: Sugar Loaf, NY


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    2011 Magic Online Champion, eight GP Top 8s, two wins

    What deck are you playing this Vintage Championships and why?
    Storm Combo. I have the most experience with it. Also, I only get to play Vintage once in a long while. Why not play the most exciting deck possible!

    How did you prepare for this event?
    Lots of Vintage experience in 2009. Read Brian Demars's article on for a Vintage crash course.

    What is your favorite thing about Vintage?
    The gameplay is very interesting, and every decision counts. With so many one-ofs and so much deck searching, you have tons of choices.

    What card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
    Aside from the obvious ones, Necropotence.

    What would winning the Vintage Championship mean to you?
    I would be very proud to be Vintage Champion. It would prove that I can apply my skills and experience in other formats to any kind of Magic.

    Erik Pentycofe

    Age: 28
    Hometown: North Rose, NY


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    None listed.

    What deck are you playing this Vintage Championships and why?

    How did you prepare for this event?
    Playtesting with local friends.

    What is your favorite thing about Vintage?
    Bringing creatures back from the graveyard for free.

    What card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
    Bazaar of Baghdad

    What would winning the Vintage Championship mean to you?
    Just making it to the Top 8 with this caliber of players is very rewarding. Winning would complete a personal goal, and I wouldn't be able to wait to come and try to defend my title next year. Plus bragging rights would be nice.

    Taylor Pratt

    Age: 29
    Hometown: Dedham, MA

    Customer Support

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Nothing major. GP Providence 2011 Day 2.

    What deck are you playing this Vintage Championships and why?
    Blue Angels. Mountain of countermagic backed by good old card advantage and a clock that can turn the corner with a quickness.

    How did you prepare for this event?
    Local testing group, John Lessard's particular decklist (minus the Mox Jet I could not find).

    What is your favorite thing about Vintage?
    The moment when things try to go broken, when there's a stack with upwards of eight or twelve effects, and the calm rebuilding phase after the storm.

    What card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
    Vendilion Clique and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Jace is one hell of a drug.

    What would winning the Vintage Championship mean to you?
    Bringing home both paintings in my trunk.

    AJ Grasso

    Age: 27
    Hometown: Tom's River, NJ

    Retail Manager

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    2009 Tri-State Vintage Player of the Year Runner Up, 2008 SCG Virginia 2nd place

    What deck are you playing this Vintage Championships and why?
    0-2 RUG Delver. Because no one respects the Delver.

    How did you prepare for this event?
    Two months of testing and tuning. Lots of help from Team 0-2 Drop and Brian, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Thanks guys for all the help! A huge thanks to Catherin, I wouldn't be here without your support!

    What is your favorite thing about Vintage?
    Beating broken decks with "fair" cards!

    What card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
    Delver of Secrets

    What would winning the Vintage Championship mean to you?
    The world. I've wanted this for a long time.

    Kevin Cron

    Age: 36
    Hometown: Alto, MI

    Business Analyst

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    SCG Power 9 Syracuse Champion, two-time Vintage Champs Top 8

    What deck are you playing this Vintage Championships and why?
    Keeper Four-Color Control. I get to play all of the best cards, like Deathrite Shaman and Toxic Deluge!

    How did you prepare for this event?
    Testing dozens of decks, playing in smaller Vintage tournaments, and hosting a Vintage podcast.

    What is your favorite thing about Vintage?
    The community. It's the best in Magic.

    What card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
    Deathrite Shaman.

    What would winning the Vintage Championship mean to you?
    I've been trying to win Vintage Champs since its inception, and many of my close friends and teammates have won it. I'm very excited to have another chance to join the club.

    Benjamin Marleau Donais

    Age: 25
    Hometown: Montreal


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    I won or split a few smaller Vintage tournaments 10-11 years ago playing unpowered decks.

    What deck are you playing this Vintage Championships and why?
    I played RUG Delver because it had nice matchups against an expected metagame of Dredge, MUD, and aggro decks. It also does pretty well against blue decks. It's also the deck I felt I could play best.

    How did you prepare for this event?
    I played a lot on Cockatrice a month ago, looked at some Top 8s online in addition to reading articles, and listened to podcasts like Kevin Cron's.

    What is your favorite thing about Vintage?
    The fact that you can play any cards in your deck. I've loved that ever since I put a Sol Ring in my casual deck as a kid. Please unban Shahrazad!

    What card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
    Vendilion Clique performed way better than I thought, but nothing beats a Black Lotus.

    What would winning the Vintage Championship mean to you?
    A nice painting, bragging rights, and an awesome first Vintage tournament in ten years.

    Greg Fenton

    Age: 26
    Hometown: Rockville Centre, NY

    Artist; Musician; teacher of both studies

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Lately beep beep booping my opponents. Prior to that, I once won an FNM in 1999 playing Squirrel Prison.

    What deck are you playing this Vintage Championships and why?
    "Oath of Druids." I've found it to be both competitive and versatile while also tickling my inner "Timmy" fancy.

    How did you prepare for this event?
    Playing the same deck that I always play, except that I replaced Jedit Ojanen and Wood Elemental with two Griselbrands (which have been great!) Oh, I also put in a Forest.

    What is your favorite thing about Vintage?
    It encompasses everything that Magic has had to offer throughout its rich twenty-year run. No restrictions. Well...maybe just a few.

    What card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
    Yawgmoth's Will, Abrupt Decay, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, come to mind.

    What would winning the Vintage Championship mean to you?
    It would be an incredible honor. The Vintage format and community have been so special to me throughout the past few years. It's a memory that I'd treasure.

    Joel Lim

    Age: 34
    Hometown: Hamilton, NJ


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Greater than 70% win rate at FNMS and Game Days! I qualified for a team Pro Tour once...

    What deck are you playing this Vintage Championships and why?
    Reel Fish. There is a lot of blue in the field, being the best color in Magic. Having growing, unblockable guys mixed in with enough counterspells seemed like a new approach, so I've been working on making this deck a force in the format over the last year.

    How did you prepare for this event?
    Played regularly at the Top Deck Games monthly $2k events. The NJ, PA, NYC area is spoiled with options every weekend, too. I also tested with some friends at my LGS for a few hours

    What is your favorite thing about Vintage?
    The community. Meeting great people and having fun playing all of the broken cards in Magic, like Master of Waves the Pearl Trident.

    What card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
    Null Rod

    What would winning the Vintage Championship mean to you?
    Too soon to think about that. I just started playing Vintage competitively in January of 2012. My friend Blifferet and I designed this build, and I'm just happy to make the Top 8 of Vintage Champs with it in my first try. I'm hoping that more people give this incredible format a whirl, especially since you can just play a tier two Legacy deck and make the Top 8 at Vintage Champs!


  • Top 8 Decklists

    by Nate Price

  • Erik Pentycofe – Dredge
    2013 Vintage Championship


  • Quarterfinals Roundup:
    Erik Pentycofe (Dredge) vs. Greg Fenton (Oath)
    AJ Grasso (RUG Delver) vs. Benjamin Donais (RUG Delver)

    by Nate Price

  • Erik Pentycofe (Dredge) vs. Greg Fenton (Oath)

    Pentycofe jumped out to an incredibly early lead with a pair of Bazaar of Baghdads. Between the two of them, he was able to dredge to a majority of his deck, putting some thirty cards into his graveyard, and a pair of Narcomoebas into play. While he didn't have the components to outright kill Fenton, he was able to generate four Zombie tokens with a pair of Cabal Therapies, cleaning out Fenton's hand. With no business left, and facing down a sure kill on the following turn, Fenton simply conceded the first game to Pentycofe. This was the point where things would get interesting, as most decks come incredibly prepared to deal with Dredge after sideboarding. many cards in your graveyard?

    Fenton began the second game with a Leyline of the Void in play, a backbreaking card against Dredge.

    This is how you beat Dredge.

    Pentycofe immediately removed the Leyline with a Chain of Vapor, once again freeing his graveyard.

    This is how it fights back.

    This cat and mouse game continued, with Fenton tutoring for a Black Lotus, allowing him to reacast the Leyline that was now in his hand. This just led to Pentycofe killing it with Ancient Stirrings, but Fenton had yet another sideboard card, threatening Pentycofe with a Nihil Spellbomb. The Spellbomb was popped to off Pentycofe's graveyard after he dug a bit, resetting his game plan. This is where the two game plans intersected, as a Bazaar of Baghdad hit play for Pentycofe, across the table from an Oath of Druids for Fenton.

    Fenton had been generating all of his mana thus far off of a Forbidden Orchard, meaning that he had plenty of creatures to allow him to Oath. It also meant that he had given Pentycofe a bunch of creatures to attack him, and they had done work. After Fenton Oathed into Griselbrand, Pentycofe went for the lethal attack. In order to prevent the lifegain and truly make the attack lethal, Pentycofe tried to kill the blocked creature with a Darkblast, but Fenton had a Force of Will. When Pentycofe showed a second Darkblast, Fenton sighed as he cast Mana Drain to counter it. The exchange had left him alive, but just barely. After attacking with Griselbrand, however, his fortunes changed, and his life total shot up. With the extra life, he had bought himself the ability to search through his deck and assemble Voltaic Key and Time Vault, locking Pentycofe out of the game.

    The final game was an exercise in how bad things can be for Dredge after sideboarding. Fenton managed to get two copies of Leyline of the Void into play, as well as a Pithing Needle on Bazaar of Baghdad. To make matters worse, he was able to play Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Jace went into fateseal mode, looking at the top card of Pentycofe's deck. It appeared that the game was soon going to be over as Fenton uttered the worst words you can hear from a fatesealing Jace: "You can keep it."

    Fenton's hand proved nearly impossible to fight through.

    From there, it was elementary, as Fenton built up a large amount of permission in his hand as Jace slowly ticked to his ultimate. The turn before it would go off, Pentycofe conceded.

    AJ Grasso (RUG Delver) vs. Benjamin Donais (RUG Delver)

    The first game of this Delver mirror match began in Grasso's hand, as his first-turn Tarmogoyf spiked to a four power before its first attack. Vintage Delver decks are built to churn through their decks, and Tarmogoyf never stays small for long.

    Donais was a little slower to the board, opting to assume the control role. He fought a heavy counter battle over the burn spells set to kill Tarmogoyf, ending the turn with a dead 'Goyf and no cards in hand for Grasso. Donais had drawn a tremendous number of card drawing spells, and he was well ahead of Grasso's position. Even though Grasso had a second 'Goyf, Donais finally matched it, but he had far more cards in hand. With that advantage, he managed to pull ahead, eventually summoning more creatures that Grasso, including a Vendilion Clique that washed away a Young Pyromancer. In the end, it was enough to take Grasso down.

    AJ Grasso fell a bit behind in Game 1...

    Game 2 began in a very similar fashion, with Grasso taking the early lead on the board. And again, just as in the last, his early creatures were removed by a more controlling Donais. This came to a head when a Snapcaster Mage-powered double Lightning Bolt took out a Tarmogoyf, leaving Donais with the only creature on the table. Donais broke things open further with an Ancestral Recall, putting him ahead of Grasso in cards, if only barely. This also found him a Tarmogoyf, giving him the superior board.

    And Donais looked to take control again in the second...

    Against the wall, Grasso fought back. He resolved a Gush, floating a red mana from his lone Volcanic Island. That allowed him to replay it and get a second red mana, allowing him to double Lightning Bolt Donais's 'Goyf. He also found himself a Delver of Secrets to hold the Umezawa's Jitte he had resolved far earlier in the game. The combination of Delver and Jitte soon took over the board, leaving Grasso firmly in the driver's seat. By the time that Donais found some creatures to fight back, the Jitte had an overwhelming number of counters on it. It didn't take long from that point for the powerful artifact to send the match into Game 3.

    But Grasso's Jitte ultimately carried him to victory.

    Donais had a powerful start (pun intended) in the third game of the series, opening with Mox Sapphire, Black Lotus, and Ancestral Recall all on the first turn. His Recall was Mental Misstepped, but he got a second crack at it with a Snapcaster Mage. That was Force of Willed, and he was left with a significantly depleted hand. Grasso was a bit short himself, having spent a number of resources stopping Donais's attempt to jump ahead. Still, Grasso managed to assemble a Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer in play, giving him a potentially massive board presence. When he cast Mystical Tutor into Ancestral Recall, which resolved, the game looked to be over in short order. Donais tried to stem the tide by casting Lightning Bolt on the Pyromancer, but another Mental Misstep kept it alive and added to his army. One more attack put Donais to three. After drawing his card, he conceded.


  • Finals - Joel Lim (Reel Fish) vs. AJ Grasso (RUG Delver)

    by Nate Price

  • It is only fitting that at the end of a weekend of standing convention on its head, with creature decks dominating in combo-heavy fields, that two creature decks should meet here in the finals of the Vintage Championship. Joel Lim and AJ Grasso, friends from the New Jersey area with a massive group of supporters here to cheer them on, faced countless trials on their way to this destined meeting in the finals.

    Joel Lim & AJ Grasso

    "You want to hug it out before we do this," Lim asked?

    That managed to draw a smile from the otherwise stoic Grasso.

    "I see," Lim said. "You've got your game face on."

    The Games

    Grasso dominated the early stage of the match. After powering out a first-turn Tarmogoyf, he fought a war over Lim's Black Lotus and won, trading his Spell Pierce and Force of Will for the Cursecatcher Lim had in play. When Lim used Wasteland on Grasso's only land, Grasso was left with nothing but a Tarmogoyf in play, albeit a 4/5 Tarmogoyf. That size was large enough that he was able to take huge swaths out of Lim's life total.

    It looked like Lim would be unable to compete, but a pair of Phantasmal Images on Master of the Pearl Trident rapidly closed the gap. His massive army was unblockable due to the lone Volcanic Island on Grasso's side of the board, and he managed to surpass Grasso's racing capability, representing a lethal twelve-point attack before Grasso could threaten one himself.

    AJ Grasso

    "Please miss...please miss," Lim said as Grasso went to his draw step. After taking a minute to survey the board and check it against the card he drew, Grasso conceded a game that had gotten away from him quickly.

    "You're not supposed to have power cards," Lim joked as Grasso resolved both Mox Sapphire and Mox Ruby on his first turn, He tried to use them to cast a Young Pyromancer, but Lim knew it was worth the fight, removing Merrow Reejerey to Force of Will it.

    Joel Lim

    It was funny that he was so worried about Grasso's power cards when he used a Black Lotus to power a Master of the Pearl Trident and Phantasmal Image into play. This was the same force he had used to steal the first game from Grasso. And again, just as in the last game, he had another pair of Lords to make them utterly lethal, all before Grasso could get any traction. Just as in the Legacy Championship the day before, the finals of the Vintage Championship was a short and brutal affair.

    "Blue is too good," Lim said after the match. "These Islandwalkers earned their keep."

    Joel Lim defeats AJ Grasso 2-0 to win the 2013 Vintage Championship!

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