Generational Magic: Experiencing Vintage on a Budget

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In my travels to the various stores in the area I had the opportunity to sit down with Corey Kafka, the owner of Jester's Cards and Games in Milford, Ohio. Corey and Travis, one of his employees, talked about one of their popular formats: Cheapo Supremo! Or, in layman's terms, Budget Vintage.

Stores that offer the format cap the maximum differently, but here, your deck needs to cost $30 or less. At the end of our conversation I mentioned I'd stop by and try it out, even though I had no familiarity with the format or any idea what to play. Of course, that didn't stop me!

Fortunately, what deck to play was remedied by Michael J. Flores himself in this article, highlighting a cycling deck in the Pre-Modern format.

The deck piqued my interest, so I wondered if I could translate it into their Cheapo Supremo format. The only card that I wouldn't be able to use is Lotus Petal, because it takes up two-thirds of the budget. I know losing a turn can be huge, but was hopeful a potential turn-three win would still be possible, So I replaced the Petal with another cycling card.

Since I wasn't tied into just pre-Modern cards, I cut a few cards for Vile Manifestation and Viscera Dragger to allow for slightly different avenues of attack. I knew the deck was sort of a one-trick pony, so if my opponents had early disruption or graveyard hate, I was in trouble. I sleeved up and was ready to dive headfirst into the fun of Cheapo Supremo.

Give Me Some of the Cheap Stuff!

There were a couple of RCQs going on in the area, so attendance was down a little. Including me, we had ten players ready to go. One of the more interesting notes was that everyone at the event was playing a different deck. Only two decks were somewhat similar, with one White Weenie deck one Mono-White Soldiers deck.

Round 1: Doug, Oath of Druids

How long have you played Cheapo Supremo?
Since they started, back around 2016-2017.

What do you enjoy about Cheapo Supremo?
I like that it has a very deep card pool and that you aren't able to buy your way to victory. For example, I wanted to use Holistic Wisdom, but it's now a $6.00 card, so I wasn't able to play it. I feel that's generally a good thing.

I do take joy in the fact that I get to play Vintage cards and not break the bank. The format keeps me looking at new sets as well. It breeds creativity and I get to enjoy the game as a whole.

What other decks do you have experience with in this format?
I enjoy just about any deck with blue in it; Thopter Sword, Cephalid Breakfast, etc. My focus has mainly been on Vintage over the years, so funnily enough, I'm not very adept at combat. I do keep trying to make Tron and Cloudpost decks work though.

Has the constant deluge of Magic products affected your relationship with the game?
It can be difficult to keep track of everything. The fact that there is a Legacy-legal "Cosmic Pup Planeswalker" is very odd for me as well. It's definitely not the Magic I grew up with, but that's alright.

It is nice when cards are reprinted though. That usually ends up with the price dropping to make that card more accessible for this format.

Do you buy any Magic products for this format?
Other than the occasional single on the secondary market, no.

Match Details (0-2)

Doug did enjoy my deck and what I was attempting, but I lost hard. In the first game I mulled to five and wasn't able to attempt the critical Fluctuator until a few turns in. He had the easy counter for that and the next one I played, while he beat me down with a Hooting Mandrills.

Game 2, I was able to get down an early Fluctuator, but Doug always kept up Counterspell mana. When I tried to cast Songs of the Damned, he flashed the counter and that was that.

Round 2: Andrew, Thopter Sword

How long have you played Cheapo Supremo?
I've played Magic in general for about five or six years, but this format for only the past six months.

What do you enjoy about Cheapo Supremo?
I love building decks. You can find anything to build around in this format. I have probably 10 to 20 different lists I'm developing and working on. Figuring out how to get them under the $30 mark is the puzzle.

What other decks do you have experience with in this format?
Along with Thopter Sword, I enjoy UW Ensoul Artifact, and A-Cauldron Familiar-Witch's Oven. I'm working on a UB Reanimator deck that isn't great, but is a lot of fun.

Has the constant deluge of Magic products affected your relationship with the game?
Not really. I've always just bought the singles that I need at that time. I've never been a fan of cracking packs.

Do you buy any Magic products for this format?
Every so often I will buy a Commander pre-con and have some fun tweaking it. I did buy a box of Modern Horizons 2 once. There's just such good value in that set.

Match Details (0-2)

Here was the first moment I felt close to winning, but was still so far away. I was able to get a Fluctuator in play on turn two and Songs of the Damned on turn three, but with his one island and three artifacts out, Andrew cast Metallic Rebuke and ended the dream.

The second game wasn't even a game. I mulled to six, had only one land for seven turns, and died to many Flowstone Thopter tokens.

Round 3: Bye; Discussion with Everett

Being on the bottom is never fun, but getting a bye at this point meant a moment to sit back, relax, and wait. Fortunately Everett, the person who organizes Jester's Cheapo Supremo events, finished his match early, so we were able to chat.

How did Cheapo Supremo start at Jester’s?
The previous owner started it up about five or six years ago. There was a large Commander and Modern community here and he wanted to provide something that had an easier entry and was new-player-friendly. He provided a box of the latest Standard set for the first event's prize, and it kept going from there.

Before the pandemic, we would run Cheapo Supremo twice a month, and regularly have 20-30 players. After the pandemic, it took some time to get it going again. Nick, another event coordinator here at Jester's, and I started the initial legwork to get the in-person tournaments back up. We've gotten good interest in it and have many people brewing decks.

When do you normally have Cheapo Supremo?
Every Saturday except one, when we have a bunch of Commander games going on.

Do you allow proxies?
Absolutely. We're a very proxy-friendly store. Even though Cheapo Supremo is only $30 or less, sometimes you want to test it out. It's nice to be able to proxy it up and see if you like it beforehand.

What's your favorite Cheapo Supremo deck?
My favorite is my Mono-White Soldiers deck that I've been playing since the beginning of the format. I do like Cephalid Breakfast as well. It's fun, but kind of the boogeyman of the format here.

It can be hard to choose because there is such a variety of options. Doug for example has Browse in his deck. Who plays that card? No one, except in this format.

Has the constant deluge of Magic products affected your relationship with the game?
Absolutely. Not only due to being a player and keeping up with the cards, but more so as an event coordinator and Magic judge, it can be exhausting at times, but it's part of my job. There will be some new odd mechanic that you'll need to be aware of, so it takes time to absorb it all.

Round 4: Chris, Crashing Footfalls

How long have you played Cheapo Supremo?
I've been playing for a little over a month.

What do you enjoy about Cheapo Supremo?
I am a deck brewer at heart, and there's a lot of room to brew. The format is so different, because of the card pool and power level. Again, it's a brewer's paradise.

What's different between the version you're playing and the Modern version of this deck?
I get to play Simian Spirit Guide to increase the deck speed. It also plays Laelia, the Blade Reforged, which is very synergistic with cascade when the cards are exiled.

What other decks do you have experience with in this format?
I've been tinkering with a UB Flash deck headlined by Slitherwisp. The deck is only instants, cards with flash, and lands.

Has the constant deluge of Magic products affected your relationship with the game?
Not really. I don't purchase a lot sealed product. I believe the last time I bought a pack was back during Khans of Tarkir.

Do you buy any Magic products for this format?
Yea, just a few singles here and there.

Match Details (0-2)

Chris, like everyone else, was ready to pick apart my deck. Game one I got the turn-two Fluctuator and again smelled victory. I was ready to go off on turn four, but during my upkeep, he tapped my Polluted Mire with a Fire // Ice. On his turn, he cast Bloodbraid Elf, exiled 14 cards to put 14 counters on the Laelia, the Blade Reforged he had in play, and swung for lethal.

I had no chance in the second game due to him having two Ravenous Traps in his starting hand. I did have the turn-two Fluctuator, but Chris exiled my graveyard halfway through my cycling and showed me the second copy. Scoop time.

At Least the Deck Didn't Cost a Lot, Right?!

Even though I didn't win a single game, it was still great to get out, try out a different format, and meet new people. Along with the decks I played against there was also: Mono-B Discard, Mono-U Walls, and the eventual winner, Mono-W Angel life gain.

Jester's official mascot and record keeper, Jango Fetch

If you've never tried Vintage on a budget, I would highly recommend giving it a shot. There's a plethora of decks available and even if you end up not doing well or liking your deck, you at least know it didn't cost you an arm and a leg to build it. Have you played any new and interesting formats lately? Tell us about it in the comments or on Twitter.

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