Vintage is one of the most unique and powerful formats you can experience. Vintage is turn one Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Vintage is turn one Trinisphere and a Lodestone Golem. Vintage is also taking 13 points of damage from a Gorilla Shaman. Vintage is also both players cast Force of Will, Mana Drain and Flusterstorm they both have no cards in hand until the board state is just land. I cannot recommend it enough. Whether you print off decks to play against your friends, or you’re lucky enough to be able to play in paper. Now with vintage becoming available online, the format is seeing a lot more widespread play and I am excited to see what the Internet can come up with.

Vintage is a format defined mostly by three cards. The first is Bazaar of Baghdad, a land which doesn’t add mana but instead allows you to tap it and draw two cards and discard three. Bazaar is the card that powers one of the cheapest and also most despised decks of the format: Dredge. Dredge uses it’s namesake mechanic to replace it’s draws with placing a huge number of cards into the graveyard in order to abuse cards such as Ichorid, Narcomoeba, Bridge from Below, and Dread Return (usually targeting Flame-Kin Zealot or Griselbrand, for more dredging). It is a powerful deck that commands respect and usually requires players to devote anywhere from 4-7 sideboard slots to beating it. If you’re familiar with/fond of the Legacy version of dredge, this deck will blow your mind. Dredge functions on an entirely different level to normal magic. It has become a hilarious trend to hand the deck to people who have never played vintage, or are unfamiliar with how the deck functions at all to use as their first Vintage experience. This deck does suffer from a severe weakness to graveyard removal, but a competent pilot can fight through hate.

Dredge

The Meat

4 Serum Powder
4 Bridge from Below
3 Bloodghast
4 Narcomoeba
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Ichorid
4 Golgari Grave-Troll
3 Darkblast
1 Golgari Thug

Dread Return Package

2 Dread Return
1 Flame-Kin Zealot
1 Griselbrand

Lands

4 Bazaar of Baghdad
4 Undiscovered Paradise
2 Petrified Field

Protection

4 Mental Misstep
3 Leyline of the Void
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Unmask
Sideboard

3 Wispmare
4 Nature's Claim
2 Firestorm
4 Ingot Chewer
2 Mana Confluence

The second “pillar” of the format is Mishra’s Workshop. Mishra’s Workshop is also a land; it adds 3 colourless mana to your mana pool with the caveat that you may only spend it on artifact spells, which is a pretty big restriction unless of course your entire deck is artifact spells! This deck uses cards such as Sphere of Resistance and Lodestone Golem to make spells cost more mana to cast. Which would usually be symmetrical, unless of course you have Mishra’s Workshops which give you three times as much mana as your opponent! This deck is a “prison deck”. It creates a board state whereby  opponents cannot cast any spells. Then, the ‘Shop deck beats them to death with large artifact creatures and/or Mishra’s Factories and Phyrexian revokers. This deck can seem brutally unfair and it attacks from an angle that almost no other deck in another format uses. However it can disassembled through pinpoint artifact destruction, carefully chosen counterspells and/or a well-timed Hurkyl’s Recall.

MUD

Fast Mana

1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Emerald
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Vault
1 Mana Crypt
1 Sol Ring

Prison

4 Chalice of the Void
4 Sphere of Resistance
1 Trinisphere
3 Tangle Wire

Other Brown Things

2 Crucible of Worlds
2 Coercive Portal

Dudes

4 Lodestone Golem
3 Phyrexian Metamorph
3 Triskelion
1 Karn, Silver Golem
4 Phyrexian Revoker

Land

4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Buried Ruin
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Mishra's Workshop
2 City of Traitors
3 Mishra's Factory
Sideboard

3 Wurmcoil Engine
3 Relic of Progenitus
4 Grafdigger's Cage
2 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
3 Pithing Needle

The third defining card can actually come in the form multiple cards but can be summed up by the fact they are all essentially blue. Blue-based control decks are similar to ones in legacy or modern, however the vast majority of them have unfair two-card combos incorporated such as Time Vault and Voltaic Key, and Tinker and Blightsteel Colossus/Inkwell Leviathan/Myr Battlesphere. These decks make full use of the Restricted List, playing anywhere up to 26 restricted cards and often aim to cast most them multiple times during a game. The deck aims to interact with the unfair strategies of Dredge and Workshops through Force of Will and, after surviving an initial barrage of Spheres and Bazaars, resolve Time Vault and Voltaic Key. Blue-based decks branch off into multiple different strains, the most common of which is Grixis. Grixis uses Dark Confidant, Lightning Bolt and Snapcaster Mage to gain advantage and deal with its opponents threats. However, the real lynchpin of the deck is Mana Drain. Mana Drain allows the control deck to switch gears effortlessly. Once the deck casts Mana Drain targeting a spell that costs anywhere from 2 mana or more the bonus mana from the Drain allows the deck to resolve a key threat at a reduced cost whilst still pressing advantage. This can be a difficult deck to combat as it does not have single weak point to exploit. However the two previous unfair strategies I spoke about can beat this deck by just doing too many unfair things for this deck to deal with.

Snapcaster Control

Lalaïna Randrianome - 2nd, Bazaar of Moxen 9 Main Event
Lands

4 Scalding Tarn
3 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
2 Island
1 Polluted Delta
1 Flooded Strand
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Tolarian Academy

Creatures

4 Dark Confidant
3 Snapcaster Mage
1 Blightsteel Colossus

Instants and Sorceries

4 Force of Will
3 Mental Misstep
3 Lightning Bolt
2 Mana Drain
1 Time Walk
1 Flusterstorm
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Hurkyl's Recall
1 Steel Sabotage
1 Brainstorm
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Spell Pierce
1 Tinker
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Yawgmoth's Will

Other Spells

2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Black Lotus
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Voltaic Key
1 Mox Jet
1 Time Vault
1 Mox Pearl
1 Sol Ring
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mana Crypt
Sideboard

1 Flusterstorm
1 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Pithing Needle
2 Yixlid Jailer
1 Ravenous Trap
4 Ingot Chewer
1 Mountain
1 Rack and Ruin

The rest is made up of decks with efficient powerful creatures (such as Spirit of the Labyrinth, Noble Hierarch, Thalia and Stoneforge Mystic), storm decks that aim to cast multiple spells in a single turn and finish with a Tendrils of Agony, decks built around giving it’s opponent a small creature with the land Forbidden Orchard so that it can trigger Oath of Druids in order to summon a huge monster such as Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Blightsteel Colossus or Griselbrand. The Griselbrand Oath decks usually feature a storm element given Griselbrand’s insane ability to draw cards.

In 2010 Gush and Frantic Search were unrestricted, the former of which reignited an archetype that had been absent for a long time. A renowned member of the international vintage community wrote an entire book on “Understanding Gush” as a card. The deck comes in a variety of forms including versions focusing on abusing Lotus Cobra and Gush, as well as a list that incorporates Young Pyromancer in order to swarm it’s opponent with 1/1 elemental tokens.

Vintage can be a very diverse and interesting format, but this can also come at tremendous cost. It’s no secret the format has some outrageously expensive elements. However this doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to play! There are some extremely powerful and relatively cheap options available to players wanting to experience the format without splurging on a set of power nine. Options for the financially conscious include Green White Hate Bears, a deck which is analogous to the modern version that took down the Bazaar of Moxen modern event this year. Another option is Noble Fish, a Null Rod/Stony Silence fuelled deck containing many of the creatures mentioned above. Our own Shane Svoboda played a list like this at the most recent vintage event at GP Sydney to a top 8 finish. Although his list was “powered” (it included Lotus, Moxen, Ancestral Recall and Time Walk) the deck can function without them, replacing the fast mana with Elvish Spirit Guides and a Lotus Petal.

Hatebros

Dudes

4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Aven Mindcensor
2 Devout Witness
4 Leonin Arbiter
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Qasali Pridemage
4 Spirit of the Labyrinth

Other Stuff

3 Stony Silence
4 Swords to Plowshares

Fast Mana

1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Emerald
4 Elvish Spirit Guide

Lands

2 Karakas
3 Cavern of Souls
4 Razorverge Thicket
4 Savannah
4 Plains
1 Strip Mine
3 Wasteland
Sideboard

3 Serenity
3 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Umezawa's Jitte
1 Batterskull
3 Rest in Peace
4 Grafdigger's Cage

Another budget alternative is the mono black combo/control deck “Dark Times”. This deck uses Dark Rituals coupled with Thoughtseize and Duress effects to strip it’s opponents of their defenses and finish off with the Dark Depths/Thespians Stage/Vampire Hexmage combo to produce a Flying, Indestructible 20/20 Marit Lage token as early as turn one. Some lists also feature a Leyline of the Void/Helm of Obedience package in order to accomplish both a game-ending combo as well as sure up a sometimes rough Dredge matchup.

Dark Times

3 Dark Ritual
3 Mental Misstep
4 Vampire Hexmage
4 Abrupt Decay
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Jet
1 Lotus Petal
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Crypt
4 Thoughtseize
3 Leyline of the Void
2 Crop Rotation
2 Life from the Loam
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Demonic Tutor
4 Unmask
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Bayou
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Dark Depths
3 Thespian's Stage
3 Swamp
1 Strip Mine
3 Wasteland
Sideboard

2 Null Rod
4 Nature's Claim
3 Golgari Charm
2 Null Rod
1 Leyline of the Void
4 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Surgical Extraction

Vintage is an amazing format and I cannot repeat myself enough in encouraging people to try out this fast-paced, action-packed, diverse and incredibly fun format. I hope my article has you all racing to your binders and/or printers in order to create a vintage deck of your own.

PS:

An excellent resource for deck lists, tournament results and strategy discussion.
That will take you to the vintage encyclopedia. A comprehensive list of all the vintage decks that have been played.