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Aburame Shino

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Aburame Shino's Corner

Preparing for the Star City Power Tourney in Rochester
June 10, 2006

    If you’re a serious Type 1 player, you should know all about the Power Nine Tournaments that Star City Games hosts throughout the year across the United States. Players from all around the world attend these events, hoping to leave the event with a new piece of power or two. These events also help define the top teams and deck constructors, such as Team Meandeck, who have spawned many decks just because of their reputation, and ICBM, with their well-known Oath of Druids build.

Since I just recently started getting into the Vintage scene again (I keep dipping in and out due to fluctuations in interest around here) I decided that I was going to head to the Star City tourney in Rochester, NY. While this is easily a little under a fifteen-hour drive from my home in Wisconsin according to Google Maps, I don’t have a problem with that since I enjoy the format so much. Unfortunately recent events came up and I will not be able to attend, which upsets me since I really wanted to go. However, that doesn’t mean the people that are already going shouldn’t be prepared. I compiled this list of decks that may, and probably will be, played at Rochester starting with the deck that I was going to bring.

Oath of Druids

While there are many different versions of this deck in the mainstream, they all have the same strategy in mind while playing: Get an Oath of Druids into play, give the opponent tokens via Forbidden Orchard, then attack every turn with the Angel of Wrath or Boros Archangel. Different builds run different cards in the sideboard based on what the metagame looks like, but the most common sideboarded Oath target is Simic Sky Swallower (previously Pristine Angel before Swallower’s release), which basically says ‘eat me’ to all the different sorts of removal being played in the format. Other Oath targets include Woodripper, who can take out multiple artifacts with little problem, Darksteel Colossus, which is an all-around fat trampler, and Ancient Hydra, a beast that can easily machine-gun pesky creatures.

There are many different versions of this deck, but the two that have the largest reputation (at least in my area) are the GWS and ICBM versions. GWS Oath is built for digging through the deck via Impulse, Thirst for Knowledge, and any other cheap draw spells that it can get its hands on in order to get the cards it needs to win the game. ICBM Oath is built more for control, with cards such as Rushing River and Chalice of the Void in the main to shut down the opposing board.

While both of these versions of Oath of Druids are powerful in their own way, it is my personal opinion that ICBM Oath is a better choice when it comes to deck construction. There is just so much more that you can do in the ICBM version of the deck that you cannot do with the GWS build.

Stax

Stax, previously known as The Four-Thousand Dollar Solution, is a lockdown deck in its entirety. The deck runs easily the best land ever printed for mana acceleration, Mishra’s Factory, to power out a gross amount of mana very early in the game. Before its restriction it was not too uncommon to see a Stax player’s first turn go “Mishra’s Factory into a Trinisphere”, which is why it later got restricted to one a deck, due to the game-warping power a turn like that did to decks that didn’t run Factories of their own. The deck’s main control card is Smokestack, which slowly eats away at the opposing board while you prepare to finish them off with a kill condition such as Karn, Duplicant, or Sundering Titan. Top the deck off with Goblin Welder so you can keep your broken artifacts in play longer in exchange for an occasional Mox and you’ve got yourself one spicy Stax Sandwich.

Another build of the deck, UbaStax, is a deck that abuses the word ruling when combining two Uba Masks with a Goblin Welder. Simply put, after the opponent has drawn his card but before the draw phase ends, you would use the Goblin Welder to take the Uba Mask they have in play and replace it with a copy in their graveyard. Because using a card’s name in the effect box only means it’s talking about itself and not other copies of it, the Uba Mask that removed the opponent’s draw from the game is no longer in play, so that player would not be allowed to play any of the cards that the first Uba Mask removed and denying him of all his draws (providing the UbaStax player doesn’t do something stupid).

While Stax is still a powerful deck when built properly, the current Vintage metagame just doesn’t seem to have a place for the deck at the moment, mainly due to the other decks that are being played which are faster and more consistent than Stax.

Meandeck Ichorid

Based off of Extended’s Friggorid, a powerhouse deck that abuses the dredge ability then revives multiple Ichorids every turn to defeat the opponent, Meandeck Ichorid uses the same concept of dredging to get the graveyard filled with cards, but with a different twist. Instead of using cards such as Tolarian Winds, the Type 1 version of the deck uses Bazaar of Baghdad as its key draw-to-dredge machine. Given the proper hand, this Vintage deck can dump almost its entire deck by turn three and win shortly after. Team Meandeck’s creation also runs Ashen Ghouls, which are treated almost exclusively like four extra copies of Ichorid in the deck.

Meandeck Ichorid entered Type 1 at the last Star City Games Power tournament in Richmond, Virginia when it was created to defeat the expected-Stax heavy formats which it did with flying colors. Because Stax is built to shut off the number of spells the opponent plays, it has no way of stopping a swarm of creatures that don’t need to be cast at all and disappear just as fast as they appear. While the deck is powerful, I don’t see it being played unless Stax is running around in prime condition.

Control-Slaver

When I first began playing Vintage, I would always be confused as to what the difference between Stax and Control-Slaver was. I understand now that I have actually studied up on the deck. The purpose of Control-Slaver is mainly all about Mindslaver. As soon as the card is resolved and sacked, they would do the best they could to screw with the opponent’s tempo, forcing you to use Ancestral Recall on them, using Force of Will on your own cards, and simply putting you in a really bad position. The deck can also return Mindslaver via Goblin Welder and take control of all of the opponent’s turns, providing there are plenty of artifacts still in play. After that, the deck would typically win with a creature such as Pentavus, Triskelion, or any other way they see fit.

While the deck is powerful, being able to control the opponent’s turns just doesn’t seem appealing to me as a player, since I actually enjoy having other people playing in the game against me. If I end up playing this deck ever I’ll have to homebrew it into my own version because of this, though chances are I’ll end up leaving the Slavers in because they are that good. The deck doesn’t necessarily need the Mindslaver in the deck to win, but there’s no real reason not to run the card.

Fish

Fish is the only deck in Vintage that does not have a cookie-cutter deck list because the list is changed based on what the tournament scene looks like. If the format is heavy on Oath decks, cards such as Rootwater Thieves are placed in the main to make sure the most dangerous threat (usually Akroma) isn’t in the deck to beat them down. Tournaments heavy on Storm Combo will usually result in having a couple True Believers mainboarded to make sure the opposing Tendrils can’t hit you. The only surefire part of all of the Fish decks is that they run four copies of Aether Vial. That way, they can put uncounterable creatures into play while still leaving mana open for other spells and abilities.

Playing Fish requires you to have really good metagame analysis. If you put the wrong cards in the deck you could end up having dead cards in your deck and lose a lot of matches because of it. It’s not really helpful to have Rootwater Thieves if you’re playing Food Chain Goblins, now is it? If you have a good grasp of figuring out what you’re up against, then go right ahead and play Fish.

IT (Intuition-Tendrils)

I actually was able to see Intuition-Tendrils while it was still in the testing phases of GWS at a local Mox tournament. These are the kinds of decks ill-knowledged people are thinking about when they say that Vintage is all about whoever wins the coin flip. Given the proper hand, Intuition-Tendrils has the ability to go off and win on turn-one with mana from Dark Rituals, Cabal Rituals, cast a Yawgmoth’s Will to replay all of those spells, then play a Grim or Demonic Tutor, fetching a Tendrils of Agony and winning with an incredibly large Storm Count. Because of the deck’s ability to say “I win” without much effort, it is considered one of the better combo decks currently in the format, right alongside The Perfect Storm.

The only serious problem I see when it comes to IT is that it revolves heavily around resolving a Yawgmoth’s Will and hoping the opponent doesn’t hit their graveyard with a Tormod’s Crypt in response. The deck can win without casting a Yawgmoth’s Will, but only if the person using the deck is smart enough to realize that the Chain of Vapor in the deck is used to help bump up the Storm count by bringing back multiple Moxen and not just to get an opposing threat off of the board.

Worldgorger Dragon

For those who don’t know how the deck works, you win by targeting a Worldgorger Dragon with an “Enchant Dead Creature” such as Dance of the Dead, Necromancy, or Animate Dead. This returns the Worldgorger Dragon to play. Then the Dragon’s ability triggers, removing all your permanents from the game. Since the card that revived it is gone, the Dragon returns to the graveyard, and all the cards you removed return to play untapped. Tap all the lands for mana in response to the enchantment, re-target the Worldgorger Dragon with the revival card, and repeat that until you choose to target a win condition such as Shivan Hellkite or Ambassador Laquatus and filter all the mana through it for the win (the latter doesn’t work too well due to Oath of Druids, which is why it isn’t used much anymore).

I have a love-hate relationship with this deck. I love the fact that it can win by simply getting a Worldgorger Dragon into the graveyard then hitting the dragon with an Animate Dead, but I hate the fact that the deck has been kicked out of the format with people running Tormod’s Crypt in their sideboards. It also doesn’t help that sophisticated players know how to put the dragon’s ability on the stack then get it off the field with a Rushing River or Swords to Plowshares, which will force you to lose all of your permanents and leave you in an incredibly bad situation. I don’t think a lot of Dragon is going to be there, but it’s more than likely going to be played.

So many decks, so little time

You can see the reason why I love to play Type 1 right now. There are so many cool things you can do there is no way you can be upset with it. If you like Aggro, you can play Food Chain Goblins. Combo, The Perfect Storm or Intuition-Tendrils are right up your alley. And there’s many more than the ones I’ve listed, such as Kobold Clamp, URWana, Gilded Claw, and much more. Vintage is the only format where you can get away with all of this brokenness and still have a good time doing it. For those of you heading off to Rochester this week, I hope you don’t scrub out and I wish I could be there with you.

Email: OrconStores@yahoo.com
AIM: OrconStores

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