Dredging Up the Past: A Foray into Vintage

Written by Billy Mitchell on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Vintage

Dredging Up the Past: A Foray into Vintage

Billy Mitchell

Billy Mitchell is an L1 judge and competitive player from the Philadelphia area. Outside of Magic, Billy is a high school math and science teacher. He can be found on Twitter @badluckbandit.

As much as I’ve been grinding Magic lately, I have been fairly stuck in the PPTQ grind. I have played a few local Modern 2ks and a couple Star City Events but mostly every event I played has given me an opportunity to qualify for the Pro Tour. With all the testing I’ve been doing, especially in the Draft format, I could really use a break from the grind.

While I have been enjoying preparing for the Pro Tour, I feel at a loss for how to prepare. Drafting ad nauseum has given me a very strong feel of the pick orders and most of my opinions have been backed up by numerous articles. I’m still deciding what Standard deck to play and I’ll be paying very close attention to the GP results from this past weekend. If I had to decide right now, I would likely play GB Midrange though there is a GW Angels deck that has looked very good. Ultimately, the deck I play will be the best deck in the format a week prior to the Pro Tour.

With the pressure building up for the BIGGEST TOURNAMENT OF MY LIFE, I was looking for some kind of escape. Thankfully, my friend Zach has been asking me to play Vintage for close to a year and my schedule finally lined up that I could play in a monthly event.

If you aren’t aware, I live in the Vintage mecca in the United States. The caliber of Vintage players in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey is way above any other area you can find. It’s not a coincidence that Card Titan, an event organizer based in New Jersey, runs the North American Eternal Weekend every year. When I agreed to play in a monthly event, I assumed it would be a casual gathering of players. Instead, I was greeted by Pro Tour players, Eternal Weekend winners and numerous SCG, Grand Prix, and Eternal Weekend Top 8 players.

So yeah, casual.

By the way, what do I even play? In my mind Vintage is a grossly unfair format with very fast games and little interaction. What deck can I play that will match up to the speed of the format? How much of disadvantage am I at here? Zach thankfully had the solution.

This deck looks sweet. The highlight of the deck has to be Bazaar of Baghdad. All of my experience with Dredge is in Modern and the closest parallel to this is Cathartic Reunion, which reinvigorated the archetype a few years ago. Bazaar is like Reunion, except it costs zero mana, can’t be countered and can be “cast” every turn of the game. The card was absurd and leads to all of the busted openings. The general rule of thumb is to mulligan until you find it. To assist, you play four copies of Serum Powder. The deck can operate without Bazaar of Baghdad but the power level isn’t close without it. Typically one activation is all you need to really get the ball rolling and start the scourge of zombies.

The newest addition to the deck from Guilds of Ravnica is the Molderhulk. While the card can very easily be cast, it is best when reanimated from a Dread Return. A 6/6 body is fine but being able to return a Bazaar makes it absurd. Other variants of Dredge play Sun Titan but Molderhulk can, aside from being castable in the deck, can also be exiled to Unmask or Ichorid. The color is the same reason why many lists play Dragonlord Kolaghan over Flamekin Zealot.

This deck was so much fun to play. Highlights of my day include:

  • Dismantling my opponent’s hand with Narcomoeba, Bridge from Below, and Cabal Therapy.
  • Using Riftstone Portal to add mana with my Bazaar of Baghdad to cast Dread Return through a Trinisphere.
  • Winning on a mulligan to two cards.
  • Watching two of my friends make the finals of the event.
  • Sacrificing three Bloodghasts to Dread Return (with 2 Bridge from Below in the graveyard) to reanimate a Molderhulk, returning a Bazaar and consequently the Bloodghasts again, to again sacrifice to a Dread Return to return a Dragonlord Kolaghan.

If you have the opportunity, give the format a try. It is a truly unique format with the most powerful cards in Magic’s history. The best deck (Workshops in some variant)  is somewhat popular so be prepared to find the robot horde with Serenity and Ingot Chewer. Many stores (at least in the Northeast) run 15 proxy events and that is a great opportunity to play Vintage without breaking the bank. Grab a sharpie and live the undead dream!

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