I refer to a few brief years of my life as the “the dark ages.” It followed the renaissance of my youth, which was full of Magic, laughter and fun. It was shortly after the “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage” scene that my dark ages began. I was just turning 24 and taking never ending criticism from my spouse about playing a “children’s card game.” The discussion began to grate and slowly I gave up my thing which had given me joy for almost ten years. Years passed, many sets were released and as my 30th birthday approached, the marriage-that-should-not-have-been ended. I was free to read what I wanted, watch what I wanted and, most importantly, play what I wanted.
I have spent the last four years trying to find my Magical Place. I returned to a very different game than the Magic of my past. My powerhouse Serra Angel was nobody compared to the creatures of now. There were new additions that I didn’t even know existed, like Planeswalkers (which I still generally play wrong). It took me a minute to wrap my head around all that happened without me. I first tried to be Standard kid. FNM was my wheel house when I was younger. In fact, I have never been as excited about a set release as I was for Innistrad. I rarely buy a box and I bought five. I even bought a box of Russian and a box of Japanese and I hate foreign cards. I need to read cards. I don’t have one of those photographic memories that can tell you what common white card A from Coldsnap does.
I followed the GPs and PT reports, netdecked my little heart out and had every card for the top flying “straight to your face” deck. Just one problem: During all of Innistrad Block I attended a whopping one FNM. Between the crazy hours my job can have and being a single mom, I just could never find that four hours on Friday night for myself. Spending the money to maintain a competitive Standard deck is obviously wasteful if you can’t ever play Standard. By the time Avacyn was released, I was a little melancholy and a lot pouty. I had waited almost 20 years for an Angel themed set and I never even bought one fatpack. I couldn’t justify the cost without playing. I decided to find a home before I lost my Magic all together.
After seeing @MrScottyMac tweet photos of his infamous EDH nights, I thought maybe that could be my new wheel house. I had a sweet 3D alter made of Captain Sisay and help building my first deck from the infamous EDH guru @jacklacroix. Just one problem, though. My friends are all cocktail waitresses, blackjack dealers, security officers, medics and fire fighters–the Casino Circus. Getting the jaded, hardened workers of Sin City to adventure can be a Herculean challenge. I still had no real time to go beg for games at the shop and no Magical friends to tempt over to my house for a long night of drinking and Magic like Scotty Mac (luck sack). I was starting to think I had been away too long and lost my community for good. Maybe I would always be a homeless Angel. Then I saw these tweets:
Playing Vintage at Action Games in LV. 1-0, beat dredge round 1. 16 players. I'm on @smenendian Burning Oath deck.— David Williams (@dwpoker) January 20, 2013
@joeymac399 People play Vintage? What? You mean I might have a use for my power?— Dr. Jeebus (@Dr_Jeebus) January 20, 2013
What was this madness going on at my LGS? I didn’t know ANYONE who played Vintage. I didn’t know people still really played Vintage at all. I thought it was kind of like how everyone you meet loves to hike, but in all the time you have known them you have never seen them hiking. In fact, the only time I ever heard someone speak about Vintage was to complain about needing to sell your mortgage to play it or “Turn 2, dead, good game.” I thought about the conversation above and realized I didn’t actually know much of anything about the format. My interest and excitement were growing so I popped over to Eternal-Central and read up on the current decks and strategies. Then, as if to taunt me, there were tweets like these:
Earlier today, I likened Vintage to an awesome one-night stand between EDH and Legacy. I'll stand by that.— Grandpappy Belcher (@GrandpaBelcher) January 30, 2013
Any possibility that vintage can be even more awesome!?— Joe Mckellar (@JoeyMac399) January 20, 2013
Every time we play local Vintage, I want to play MORE local Vintage. Why don't people know how awesome this format is? #mtg— Grandpappy Belcher (@GrandpaBelcher) January 18, 2013
I decided to take a leap of faith and hope the Vintage community had room for one more, because it can be awful lonely for a homeless Angel out there.
It Takes a Vintage Village
I began to realize that there are maybe 25 to 30 heavily played staples that repeat in most Vintage decks, focused on the on the end game or win condition. Yes, some of those cards (like Power) are super expensive, but it seemed to me that if we were allowed to proxy Power, it would be worth investing in the rest of the cards since you would get to play them in many different decks. I ended up in contact with @JoeMac399 and found out that he had been working hard at building up the local Las Vegas community and was holding Vintage tournaments at Action Comics and Games (my LGS) every five to six weeks. On top of that, a group of guys gathered every Friday to sling Vintage while the masses FNMed. He was allowing 100 percent proxy decks for now in order to encourage people to show up and try Vintage. I knew I had found my home. The pros of Vintage just kept adding up:
- Play with the cards that made me fall in love with Magic in the first place.
- A more flexible time commitment than Standard.
- Invest in 30-40 cards and use them in multiple strategies and deck designs (forever).
- Allowed to proxy if I can’t afford the current “it” cards.
It was time to get my Vintage on. After @GrandpaBelcher (member of the Serious Vintage podcast) noticed me tweeting back and forth with Joe about trying to find my home in Vintage he did what any good neighbor would do to the new kid on the block: he shipped me a “Welcome to Vintage” kit. It was absolutely awesome:
The Vintage community is amazing at welcoming new players and providing ideas, guidance and help. I think I’m home for good.
Get All the Cards
I wasn’t sure where to start so I leaned on a great friend for help. I enlisted the help of infamous Executive Producer @Bluenu to help me build my first Vintage list. My only requirement was that it had to play Angels. I’m sure in a format that plays the biggest and baddest cards ever printed, choosing to play Angels as my win con made him think I was a loon. He is one smart cookie though, so I knew he could conjure something up. Like all good friends, he didn’t laugh at me (much) and helped me build a list — a rough draft so I could dip the tips of my toes into Vintage and gauge the temperature. The list was basic control with Entreat the Angels and the popular Time Vault/Voltaic Key combo.
Angels Entreated by Executive Producer John Douglass (Vintage)
Now I just needed cards. The first thing I did was trade out of all the Standard cards sitting untouched in my binders since Innistrad days and cash in my Legit funny money. My first trade was to my Haus @MTGMedina for these four shiny bad boys:
I finally accomplished trading with the Legendary Medina. I still feel like I should have earned a girl scout badge or at least a sticker. (Yes, I know I could have gotten more cards if I had gotten regular Snapsie. I like shiny things. Sue me :P)
Mental Misstep is apparently quite the thing in Vintage decks so I knew I had to trade for some shiny ones of those too. I sat down at the Twitter trade table with @AllSunsDawn and after intense negations, I was able to trade him for a play set of foil Mental Misstep with some signed Angel lands thrown in for good measure:
Now I had to figure out how I wanted to handle the big dollar cards. Plenty of guys at my shop simply print out the card image, slap it on a basic land, sleeve up and sling cards. I could have done that and no one would have cared; they would have just been happy to have one more person to play Vintage with. I didn’t, though.
I was born with a very dominant gene which requires clean, beautiful, shiny cards. So I looked up the best proxy artist in the Continental U.S., @theProxyguy and worked out a trade for the cards I knew it would take me a while to acquire, obviously including Power 9. He explained to me that he does not sell proxies and only trades for them for use in Vintage. The cards were beautiful. He let me pick the art that I wanted, modern or classic frame, and shiny or non-shiny. I decided that I would get any card actually available in foil as a proxy foil and any card (like Power) not available in foil as non-foil. I love the MTGO art for the Power Nine and Duals and I like the modern frame, which looks cleaner to my OCD eyes. I traded for enough proxies so my fiance and I could both make decks and have a few extra to trade or give to people at my LGS. Here are the proxies I traded for to kick off my Vintage adventure:
His work is just stunning. The other great thing about my proxies is that when I do manage to acquire the real cards for my deck and want to start teaching my son Vintage, I will already have a set of beautiful cards that he can use. And they won’t be worth thousands of dollars in case he decides to bend/chew them. With boys, you just never know.
I was walking in high cotton and ready to start building. My build was Blue/Green/White (I might splash red, but I never play black) so I did not worry too much about the Black and Red staples to begin with. If you are thinking of getting into Vintage, trading for proxies, or just printing out your own, here is a little list to get you started. For a full list of staples you can check out @SMenendian‘s in-depth list here. Until you find out what type of deck you are going to enjoy, I would recommend having just the big dollar cards used in multiple decks proxied up. Here is a list to get started:
Now that I had a shiny new deck in an unexplored format, it was time to define my goal. I had found a home I thought I might like to stay in for years. Now what? I decided my goals would be as follows:
- Acquire the real cards. When real card is acquired, pay it forward by helping someone else get into Vintage by donating them my awesome proxy that I just replaced. This goal will obviously be an extended one. Being a Medic raising a special needs child doesn’t leave me with disposable income often. If I pick up a few extra shifts here and there and spend my Legit funny money wisely, I feel like I can get there eventually.
- Find the time to attend Vintage tournaments and make friends locally that I can play Vintage with. Maybe even invite people over and try to outdo Mr. Scotty’s Mac’s wild EDH parties.
- Top 4 a Vintage tournament.
I know you are thinking “why just Top 4 a Vintage tournament and not take one down?” It might not sound like a very lofty goal when the average Vintage tourney in my area is between 12-16 people, but my learning curve will be huge. Not only have I never played this format before, but I have rarely had someone to play Magic with, period. I have to re-learn basic rules, the way the new stack works, what combos exist in Vintage, what my meta looks like, how my deck fairs against it. There is only so much talking, planing and theorizing you can do until it is time to fish or cut bait. It is now time to play Vintage.
Join me next time as I completely freeze, test out my deck for the first time, get more help from the warm and awesome Vintage Village and end up with a spicy new brew. Angels to the face!
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