I wanted to make as many Vintage friends as I could as I tried to learn my new format. I began following anyone I could find that played Vintage on Twitter. I saw several of them discussing building their new Vintage brews and “Goldfishing.” I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant. So I do what I always do when I have a question I don’t want to ask in public and reveal my true durdle nature: I pinged @Justin_DZ. He explained that you draw cards and take turns normally, but you aren’t playing against an opponent. The goal is to see how your deck works in a vacuum; to see if you regularly get too little or too much mana, and how easy it is to progress to your endgame.
[ed: Actually, Justin is vegetarian. Heather is from Texas.]
This seemed like something I should have thought about on my own or at least inquired about at some point in the last 20 years. As I began goldfishing, I noticed a green splash for one Trygon Predator. It seemed awkward in testing. My preference is to play no more than two colors. I was hesitant to change my list until I could actually test it against another person. In comes the fiancé …
Flashback Four Years
I am in the kitchen attempting to make my first batch of cake pops (I love baking) and had read this awesome blog with some of the cutest confections ever created. My fiancé, Ryan (then boyfriend of only two weeks), was over for a home-cooked meal before he boogied on to work. I had my hands covered in cake dough and asked him if he could open yonder kitchen drawer and hand me a utensil. The drawer he opened was my junk drawer. He was shocked such a mess existed in my house (I can be a bit of a neat freak). He began pillaging around in the drawer and pulled out a white box. As he waved it at me and said, “What’s in this?” my heart stopped.
My parting gift from my ex was a Dear Jane letter on my kitchen table when I came home from work one day telling me to take care of our daughter and that he had confiscated my entire Magic collection. It was gone: all my angels, my power, my 15 years of collecting. I guess if you are funding the great escape, Power Nine and multiple Library of Alexandria are the way to do it. I didn’t really have time to focus on it, though, because my daughter had a bigger problem. Her dad was gone. I accepted it, breathed out and went about raising my baby girl.
Now here was my boyfriend, standing in my kitchen, holding my white deck with my original Beta Serra Angel. I was beside myself with glee. It was only one deck with 63 cards (I didn’t start believing in sideboards until about a year ago) and it meant everything to me. I immediately started prattling on and on about what Magic was, how awesome it is and then it hit me. I realized what I had been saying. I really liked this guy and didn’t want to go through the same scenario as my ex. As I waited for the inevitable “I can’t believe someone like you would play that nerd game” or other typical response. he thumbed through the 63 cards and stopped on Maze of Ith. (The deck also had Mahamoti Djinn, Mesa Pegasus, Sol Rings, Ivory Cup, Ivory Tower and a whole bunch of other stuff that really doesn’t make a coherent deck.) He pulled the Maze of Ith out.
“This is one cool looking card. Can you teach me?”
… My fiancé @PrimEvilDingus is pretty much the only person I have been able to play MTG with in the last four years. Not often, mind you, due to working opposite shifts and running after our children. But, I treasure any time I get to play Magic. I’m just sorry he has been stuck with me as a teacher. Now that I had my Angel Vintage deck to play, I needed a deck for him. He has an affinity for big green monsters. The first pack he ever opened had a Primeval Titan inside and I could tell he was in love. We miss you PrimeTime, stay strong.
It just so happened that the Vintage Village came through again. When I initially talked about getting into Vintage on Twitter, several awesome Vintage players shipped me their lists. One list came from @Modflyalters:
Is the Vintage Village awesome or what? I showed Ryan the list and he loved it. Now I just had to get him some cards so we could start testing our new decks. He already had a majority of the cards because of the awesome proxies I traded @theProxyGuy for. It is always more fun when you have some real old-school Magic in your deck, though. I cashed in what was left of my Legit funny money and bought him these bad boys:
Now we each had decks and I had decided against using my glitter basic Plains for my Medina Plains:
I could play my glitter lands but I feel the Vintage community won't appreciate it as much. twitter.com/Revisedangel/s…— Heather Dawn (@Revisedangel) February 13, 2013
It was time to get down to business and start playing some real games of Vintage:
Bout to try my hand at my first ever game of vintage. May the Verse be w/ me! twitter.com/Revisedangel/s…— Heather Dawn (@Revisedangel) February 9, 2013
If you are just getting started in Vintage, like me, but don’t have an already established community, here is what I suggest:
- Proxy up or build your Vintage deck. There are many different styles and strategies out there. I suggest figuring out whether you prefer a style of play (Control/Aggro/Dredge) or a specific creature best (Griselbrand/Tarmogoyf/Blightsteel Colossus) and focus on building around what you love.
- Want to play with only real cards and be competitive, but don’t have Power? There are several Vintage decks that play no Power, or maybe only a few copies of Power so if you might only need to Proxy three or four cards total. Dredge decks can easily be competitive and skip out on Power. Landstill and Darktimes can do fine without Power. Here is another list with just a few additions of Power that is pretty sweet: Wizards by Omar Nieto
- Talk your best friend and/or Magic buddy into making a Vintage deck, too. Get him addicted and then go forth and spread the sickness (ed: but do not get down with said sickness, please). It will take a little while to learn Vintage. Don’t get discouraged, I’m about to go from awful to worse.
It took about five games for us to really get the basics of our decks down and start to figure out progressing to our endgames. Neither of us had played with or against Tarmogoyf before and while I had heard that he was good, I am now a believer. Every time he hit the battlefield, we would both yell “TARMOGOYF” at the top of our lungs and beat our chests like Tarzan. Though I will never abandon my Angels, there is a lot to be said for big green fatties.
My deck was fun to play but I found that anytime I flipped an Entreat the Angels I was holding my breath, just praying it wouldn’t get countered. The tricky part was always keeping a counter to protect Entreat in case it showed up, which limited what I could do to control his board state. Miracle is a really fun mechanic to play with but I wasn’t sure how effective this would be in Vintage. I did find the green splash unnecessary after testing. I still wanted to test the deck a little more before making alterations. I wasn’t sure my Entreated Angels would be viable, so no point making tweaks if the whole endgame isn’t viable. Ryan’s deck took every match. I did get a few shots in, though:
My buddy @JoeyMac399 (who I blame for this whole Vintage endeavor) sent me a message: They were going to have an impromptu Vintage gathering during FNM on the weekend. Now was the moment of truth. It had been a very long time since I had played Magic with anyone other than Ryan, and even longer since I had played Magic at my LGS Action Comics. I was nervous. When I am testing or playing matches at home, I am usually focused, play at a decent speed and remember rule interactions and cards. I have always had a problem focusing when playing Magic in large crowds for several reasons:
- I’ve had several people tilt on me before for making a misplay (almost always one that hurts myself) or stopping to ask questions about certain rule interactions. These incidents have stayed with me and make me a little jumpy.
- I haven’t memorized every card in Magic history so I need to stop every now and again and read one. I always feel rushed (even when my opponent is doing nothing to make me feel this way), like I’m on a 30-second countdown clock and if I don’t hurry up and play something or make a decision, Skynet is going to activate and kill us all.
- I catch myself watching everything but my board and my opponent’s board — especially during my opponent’s turn. I’m looking at the people next to me, listening to the conversation behind me, wondering how much that person’s Japanese foil Jace cost and did they get it before or after JTMS became the price of Power. This doesn’t happen in smaller environments or one-on-one.
- I’m one of those obsessive people who needs to plan and prepare. I start studying for a test a month in advance, write note cards, highlight everything. Every time I play someone in Magic outside my little circle I feel like I’m naked. I know I haven’t been able to spend the time learning my deck or the rules. I actually start to feel sorry than people are going to have to play me and then almost talk myself out of going altogether.
I decided to put on my big girl panties, asked my Mom to sit with the babies for a few hours and ventured out by myself (Ryan had to work) to go join my local Vintage Village. As I was driving there I was hoping for two things:
- I don’t embarrass myself, my ancestors, and Medina.
- Please, for the love of Angels, let me get paired against @jtrentini or @JoeMac399 (both awesome, smart guys who understand my durdling ways) and don’t let David Williams @dwpoker (Poker Star, Pro Tour player, Vintage afficanado) or Lou Christopher @LouChristopher (Vintage player extraordinaire and writer for eternalcentral.com) show up at all. If they do, then please don’t let them get paired against me because I’m not sure I can handle superstars on my first trip out to Magic in forever.
When I arrived at Action Comics I had a surprise waiting for me. Ryan knew how nervous I was about not having more time to learn our decks so he jumped work early and was waiting for me when I pulled in. I started to relax and get super excited to finally get to spend a night playing Magic.
FNM was in full swing when I walked to the back table where the Vintage Village had set up. They were like their own little mafia, with everyone stopping by between rounds to see what the old0school cards were doing. Nine people had showed up to play impromptu Vintage so there would be four rounds and prizes for the Top 3. Kelly (the amazing woman who owns Action Comics) finally convinced me after years and years to sign up for a DCI card. Growing up in Texas and during my college years playing at the Mad Hatter in Lubbock, no one ever cared if I had a DCI card or not. I wasn’t making a run at the Pro Tour so I just never saw the point. Now I’m trying to do things the right way and play in real events, so I finally got one after 20 years. (Thanks Kelly!)
- Joe Mckellar: Burning Long
- Lou Christopher: Burning Long
- Derick Guterrez: Bobo Combo
- Drake Wilder: 5-Color Wizards
- Hunter Devito: Rogue Druid Combo
- Jame Trentini: Naya Hate Bears
- Luis: Bob/Gush Control
- Ryan Lafferty: Big Green Fatties
Round One vs. Drake
My Round 1 opponent was a quiet gentleman (which was probably good because I get distracted easily) who was also very helpful. I felt pretty good going into the match because I had @jtrentini on my left and @JoeyMac399 on my right if things got out of hand. Joey was playing with these awesome @LSV tokens, so I did lose a bit of focusing on plans to steal them.
I lost both games. In the second game I did get to Entreat two Angels and even though I lost, every time an Angel sticks on the board I feel victorious. I wasn’t bummed about losing. Drake and his deck had been fun to play against and he didn’t even tilt when I started moving too fast and tapped my Misty Rainforest for mana instead of fetching. He didn’t scream JUDGE at me, or make any comments about letting women play Magic. After our match was over he even explained how I could use my Sensei’s Divining Top and my fetchland together. He also admired my awesome proxies.
(Ryan was paired vs @JoeyMac399 first round. He won the first game but lost the match.)
Round Two vs. Lou
Well, hell. Not only did Lou come, but of course I get paired against him. I won’t sugarcoat it. I tanked. I completely froze. I prayed for a tornado to pick me up and carry me away. I didn’t do any of the things right. I didn’t counter his spells. I didn’t even know what most of his spells did, but I certainly wasn’t going to make him waste more time by asking. I played my Sensei’s Divining Top both games and never tapped it once. I landed Jace, the Mind Sculptor and forgot his ability multiple times. I was a hot mess.
To make matters worse, Lou was super nice. He explained some rules to me, explained some of his cards when he thought I didn’t understand what they did and after he beat me both games, asked me why I had never tapped my Sensei’s Divining Top. I didn’t know how to say “I do know what it does, I’ve been playing with it for a decade and I’m just a big goon,” so I took my MeMaw’s advice. MeMaw always said, “If you don’t know what to do, shut your legs and shut your mouth.”
So I just stared at him blankly and then he explained what Top does and some of the best ways to use it in Vintage. His explanation was actually quite helpful and it was obvious that he drips knowledge about the format. I hope I get to play him again when I have my deck figured out, am a little more comfortable with the format and not such a nervous wreck. Of course, I am sure I left him wondering if I just recently learned English.
Round Three vs. Ryan
Thank you baby Jesus and all the Angels above: The next game was versus my fiancé. With the two format newbies being paired against each other, we took a little bit longer than everyone else but actually had some pretty fun matches. I lost the match, but the second game I got to Entreat all the Angels.
My Mom called at the end of my third-round match to update me on a war between my puppy and my son over my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal. All three were in time out. I told Ryan to stay and finish up the last round and I would go rescue our children. Getting to play Magic had been spectacular and everyone at my shop was awesome. I waited all night to get to see someone do a Turn 1 win. It really doesn’t happen often in Vintage like everyone thinks. I finally got to see one go off before I had to leave. It’s amazing when you get to see Magic.
After playing in this event, I was pretty sure Entreat the Angels would not work. I do still think it is important to play the cards you love, not just the cards that dominate. I believe this applies even more so to Vintage where you will eventually be investing big dollars in your deck for sanctioned events. The trick is finding a way to play with the cards you love and still be competitive. I knew I was going to be in for some deck redesign and some soul searching to figure out how to master being such an insecure ninny when I play in events. I really have the most fun playing Magic when I get to play with Angels. I was starting to think that might just not be possible. I ended my night with a little prayer to the Wizard Gods …
Join me next week as I scrap Angels Entreated altogether and Restore Vintage.
@RevisedAngel on Twitter
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As a little bonus for those who don’t follow me on Twitter or just don’t tweet (we have love for all our anti-social readers too) here are a few people flashing me their power. If you have some awesome proxies or actual power (so jelly) feel free to Flash Me 🙂
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