Monday nights in the Twin Cities here in Minnesota mean battling Vintage. Every Monday night one of the local game stores hosts a Vintage tournament, which has been getting some good turnouts the last couple of weeks.
I was looking forward to this Monday more than I usually do as I had not been able to attend the last three Monday Vintage tournaments. I had decided that I was going to play Storm this time because a great friend of mine, Joe Kaufmann, and I had recently put it together on Magic Online, and I was looking to get some practice in with the deck to be more prepared for when I battle online. The last time I played Storm was in my first Vintage tournament back in 2005 or something like that.
We had another good turnout on our hands with 12 people coming to battle which meant four rounds. I was ready to battle with the following list:
Round 1 - Drew with Gush Storm
I was up against Drew, a local player who has top-eighted a Vintage tournament in our area before. I did have the slight advantage of knowing what he was playing as I helped him assemble some of his deck beforehand, but I knew I was still in for a battle.
I have an early Duress to take countermagic out of his hand, leaving him with two Force of Wills and no blue cards. I bait out a Force with a different spell, but am planning on playing all my artifact mana and tutoring for Mind's Desire for a big turn.
I cast my mana and Dark Ritual; Drew responds with Ancestral Recall and I respond by casting Vampiric Tutor, which resolves and I get Minds Desire. My hope is that Drew will look to counter the spell I tutored for rather than my Dark Ritual, but he draws a Mental Misstep and while I can draw the Desire that turn I am one mana short of going off.
His Ancestral is pretty bad so we play draw go for a while and I eventually build up a hand where I can try for Mind's Desire again. I go for it and reveal Demonic Tutor, Dark Ritual, moxen, Gitaxian Probe and finally the lethal Tendrils of Agony.
Drew takes a mulligan to six and leads with Mox Sapphire and Underground Sea. I lead with a fetch and he casts Thoughtseize on his turn two. I Vampiric Tutor for Necropotence and he surveys my hand and takes Yawgmoth's Bargain, which I was only one mana short of casting. I draw and play Dark Ritual then Necropotence. I Necro for 11 cards and kill him with Tendrils on the following turn.
Round 2 - Dylan with 4-Color Control
Dylan had just top-foured our most recent big Vintage tournament that another store in our area holds so I put him on that deck for this one as well. His deck contains Drains, Dack Faydens, Jaces, Goblin Welders, Baleful Strix, etc.
Dylan takes a mulligan to six and I Duress him on turn one and take his only piece of disruption in Mana Drain. I have enough mana to go off on turn two with Mana Crypt, Lion's Eye Diamond and Dark Ritual into Grim Tutor, cracking the Diamond for black. I tutor up Yawgmoth's Bargain, draw 15 cards and win from there.
Notice anything? Dylan points out to me, as he is usually known for playing Storm or combo in most formats, that I could have simply gotten Yawgmoth's Will and won the game on the spot for sure. This shows my inexperience with the deck and that I made a play that could easily win, but not necessarily the best, winning play.
I side in the blasts and thankfully remember that he is playing Dack Fayden and keep my Blightsteel Colossus in my sideboard. I side out Hurkyl's and two other cards I can't remember.
Dylan had a quick Jace, the Mind Sculptor with the help of Mana Crypt and brainstormed for a couple of turns while I sculpted my hand and built up my mana base, hoping to see a Duress or Gitaxian Probe. He loses a couple of Crypt flips and Missteps a couple of bait spells and is sitting at a precarious 11 life.
He lands a Dack Fayden and I decide I have to move. I play the rest of my fast mana and cast a Memory Jar with 1 black floating. I crack it right away and have a hand of Probes, 2 Pyroblasts, Duress, lands and a Demonic Tutor. I do not have enought mana to make use of the Demonic Tutor well so I use it to tutor up Lotus and seeing the coast was clear with Gitaxian Probe, I crack it for red and kill both of his planeswalkers.
We both don't have a whole lot left and Dylan promptly draws another Jace the following turn, and we are in trouble. He brainstorms and goes to 1 life after losing three Mana Crypt rolls and fetching once. I am able to get a mini tendrils off and Dylan has no way to stop it.
Round 3 - Morgan with Forgemaster Shops
This is Morgan's first time playing Vintage and again I have an advantage knowing what she is playing, as she was looking for advice on deck choice before the tournament.
I win the die roll! This is extremely important in this matchup as the games are like night and day depending on who plays first. I play Gitaxian Probe and see Metalworker x2, Kuldotha Forgemaster x2, Tangle Wire, Mishra's Workshop and Ancient Tomb. I Duress away the Wire and plan on playing Necropotence on turn two with Dark Ritual.
Morgan plays Workshop and Metalworker and passes the turn. I play Necropotence and pay 12 life. My hand wins the game if she cannot disrupt me on her turn 2. She uses Metalworker and plays out most of her hand, but no Spheres or Golems, so I untap and win with Tendrils of Agony.
I board in the Hurkyl's Recalls, Blightsteel Colossus and Empty the Warrens. I keep a hand with land, Mox Emerald, Hurkyl's Recall and other stuff. Morgan leads with Ancient Tomb, Mox Ruby, Trinisphere! I have to draw lands to keep up, but I only draw Tolarian Academy and another fetchland before I am dead. See what I mean by being on the play or draw!
The most interesting decision I had in the tournament was in this game on turn one. I have Duress, Dark Ritual, Necro, two fetch lands, Yawgmoth's Will and Mox Opal. I fetch a basic Leechridden Swamp, cast Duress and I see this hand:
Take a moment and think about what you would take and what your line of play is for the next two turns...
What did you decide to take? Don't scroll down until you decide!
I decided to take Mox Sapphire. Witchbane Orb and Thorn do very similar things in this spot as they are hard to win through. I cannot take Metalworker, Lightning Greaves doesn't matter and it is possible to win through Chalice on 1. My thinking is that she has to brick on one draw step and I get Necropotence on turn two and she is likely not going to play Chalice on 0 because it would cut off some of her outs that produce mana.
She bricks on the first draw and I draw Duress! I cast it taking Thorn, then Ritual and Necro paying 12 life. She bricks on the second draw as well and I untap and make 18 goblins and Tendrils her for lethal. Phew!
Round 4 - Martin on U/R Delver
I have had a pretty good losing streak going when playing in the last round for undefeated status and U/R Delver is very good against my deck, so when Martin offers the split I decide to take it. We play anyway because it's Vintage (i.e. awesome).
My opener is this:
I play Probe drawing Sensei's Divining Top, into double Dark Rituals, Duress, into Imperial Seal getting Yawgmoth's Will, Lotus Petal, play Top draw Will, sac Petal play Will, play Petal, two Rituals, Imperial Seal for Tendrils draw it with Probe and win. A nice turn one kill with Duress protection!
I board in Blasts, Empty and Toxic Deluge for Chain of Vapor, Hurkyl's and other cards, and decide against Blightsteel fearing Dack Fayden. Martin does his thing playing turn one Delver, flipping it quickly and countering everything I play and I die.
We exhaust each other's resources over several turns and I eventually have to Toxic Deluge away his Snapcaster Mage and Empty the Warrens for six tokens. Martin counters one copy so I only get four. We both brick for like six turns drawing lands and Delvers that refuse to flip, and the board is clogged with creatures.
I had fired off an early mini tendrils when I was at 1 life fearing Lightning Bolt. After drawing lands along with multiple Duress and Dark Rituals I realize that was a mistake--I should have played with no fear, as it was my only winning line. Eventually Martin's Delvers flip and I die.
I enjoyed this match with Martin as it showcased the many ways that Vintage games can play out, from turn-one kills to 10-12 turn topdeck wars.
Overall I really enjoyed playing Storm. Even though there is so much countermagic in Vintage, so many of your spells are must counters that your opponent sometimes won't have enough. This happens because literally half of your deck is restricted in Vintage. This is what Storm has been doing since its existence and is still a strong player in the Vintage metagame to this day.