Planar Chaos in Vintage

A new set is here - one like which we have never seen before. The planes are in chaos! To the non-story dwellers, this means that card abilities that colors are expected to have in each set have another color's abilities altogether.

This is a fresh, new idea that should bring a lot of fun and new deck ideas to the table for Magic - but what does it mean for Vintage? This might be a lot of fun for Limited, and even newer constructed formats but Vintage is in a league all its own. Vintage is a format that believes in nothing but powerful cards and synergy. As you know, it's a format that expects the world from each of its cards and will not accept anything less.

Before we proceed, I think it's very important to understand a few things about Vintage, in general...

First of all, rarely will you find more than 1 or 2 truly competitive cards in a new set that meet the unbelievable expectations of the Vintage format. Sometimes you won't find any - and there's a reason for this. Over the years Vintage has been able to acquire some extremely powerful cards - cards which offer amazing results for very little cost at instant speeds. So, when looking a card from a new set that you think is quite good and would fit into your Vintage-X deck - be very critical and compare it with other options. Nine times out of 10, make that 9.99 times out of 10, your idea isn't up to par.

Second, just because something is 'playable' in Vintage does not make it format defining, it doesn't even make it competitive. To demonstrate this point a little better - use this guide:

Jotun Grunt - Playable Vintage card from Coldsnap
Gifts Ungiven - Competitive Vintage card from Champions of Kamigawa
Yawgmoth's Will - Format-defining card from Urza's Saga

Need another guide? I'll do it with related cards to better show the graduation of power:

Counterspell - Playable Vintage card from Alpha
Mana Drain - Competitive Vintage card from Legends
Force of Will - Format-defining card from Alliances

So, you may hear me say a card is playable in this deck, but that does not mean it's truly competitive or is going to change the format - very few cards ever do this, and I will tell you now that this set has none of these defining cards. It may in fact have only one, or even no competitive Vintage cards, either. (GASP! Say it ain't so JayC!)

And now, my reviews of what you might or might not have thought to be playable or competitive in Vintage from Planar Chaos:

Groundbreaker - I won't rule out the possibility of a U/G aggro based deck running this distant cousin of Ball Lightning. With Power, Berserk, Elvish Spirit Guide and Force of Will (among other counter magic) to it back it up, don't be surprised to see him given a trial run - no promises, though. We know that neither creatures nor Green have a very good track record in Vintage. (Oath is not a green deck!)

Simian Spirit Guide - This card will definitely find a home with Goblin Charbelcher-based decks. Its sister Elvish Spirit Guide was always a reliable source for tough spots or early 'going-off', this only adds to the possibilities of first & second turn nonsense. I wouldn't be surprised if it opened up other possibilities for combo in the near future, as well.


I really tried hard, but I'm not good enough.

Null Profusion - I must admit, I was pretty surprised to see this printed. Recycle was always interesting, to say the least. But will it find a home, or make one for itself? At first, I wanted to say yes. The possibilities of this card in place of Yawgmoth's Bargain while using Yawgmoth's Will are pretty incredible. Replaying Moxen and/or Black Lotus (while gaining storm count) and drawing cards only to be able to play them and draw more cards to finish the game off sounds fantastic. However, Yawgmoth's Bargain gives you the card draw with nothing to stand in your way, no drawbacks, no nonsense. This makes the little voice inside of me say, it's cute, but it's not up to par with Bargain and will probably not find its home in Tendrils combo or 'Long' - maybe somewhere else, though? Time will tell. For now, don't count on it.

Temporal Extortion - A second Time Walk for the already amazing U/B Combo Decklists? Why God? Why?! All jokes aside, I can almost guarantee this card will not see play. You see, in Vintage, life is usually of very little concern. In several cases, whenever you take damage or lose life, it's lethal - there are no second chances. Press Select or Start to continue. This being the case, you would probably expect to have this spell countered each and every time by your opponent without even having to counter it with something from their hand, leaving you with card disadvantage. My initial feelings are that it may be tried, but will probably never make the cut.

Dead // Gone - Initially I overlooked the possibilities of this card, but it's actually quite capable of being playable in the Vintage format. The 'Dead' side of this card offers removal against Goblin Welder, Dark Confidant, Meddling Mage, etc. Admittedly it can't target players, but it's still a nice option with the 'Gone' side being so versatile. Can you say bounce to Darksteel Colossus? You can now. What a great opportunity for Goblins, Stax-Variants, Slaver and Red in general. I would expect this to find it's way into sideboards or even 1-of maindecks.


I just bounced your win condition with a PC Common :p

Imp's Mischief - Considering Vintage's typical power / utility card has 2 or less CMC, Imp's Mischief could be quite a nice black Misdirection, depending. 'Long' now has an on-color redirect spell at an affordable price and surely Tendrils combo could give it a try. Decklists are tight, though... it's sometimes hard to imagine playing with even one card in such a strong decklist, but you may just see it happen for this very playable card.

Detritivore - Fantastic card design! Surely a Stax-variant can find a home for this creature which offers both control and finishing capabilities. Imagine Wasteland, Strip Mine and Crucible of Worlds now teamed up with this kind of assistance. Fetchlands are already prevalent in this format, paving the way to a large finisher. Just take away their fetched non-basics and finish the job. Some may be wary of the casting coast found in the suspend ability but with Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Mana Crypt, Moxen & Lotus, etc. etc. there should be no problems at all.

And now, the moment you've all be waiting for...

Extirpate - This card has got nothing less than amazing hype and excitement about it. And why shouldn't it? It's a fantastic card, truly powerful and should see a lot of play in a lot of formats. However, where will it stand in Vintage?


Playable, but competitive?

We know that Vintage runs a lot of powerful 1-of's, so this rules out a lot of opportunities to abuse this card's Cranial Extraction/Haunting Echoes like ability. However, powerful cards such as Force of Will, Brainstorm, Dark Ritual, etc. can now be neutralized after a first use with no hesitation as it's basically uncounterable thanks to Split Second, and has a CMC of 1 in the very relevant color of Black. The problem is, usually once these cards have been used once, that's all the opponent needed from them.

Let's look at the possible 4 of's found throughout Vintage that hit the yard on their own that might be great targets for Extirpate:

Dark Ritual
Force of Will
Brainstorm
Merchant Scroll
Meditate
Gifts Ungiven
Mana Drain
Thirst for Knowledge

Now, let's examine these cards. When you review this list, if after resolving a copy of any of these spells - do you need another? In most cases the answer is no, depending on the board, your hand, and the situation. If an opponent Brainstorms, and you Extirpate so he can no longer use the spell, he has plenty of other card draw and tutor capability. If your opponent resolves Dark Ritual, he's probably got the mana he needs in combination with Moxen and land found on the board. If your opponent resolves Gifts Ungiven once, I doubt he'd need it twice. Force of Will is nice to remove, but usually Force is used to backup a final combo finish, one can be all one needs for the win.

Most of Vintage is 1-Of power cards, Extirpate has little-to-no bearing on these cards. Decks like Grim Long, Tendrils-Variants will not feel much of an effect from such a card.

So where will Extirpate shine in Vintage, if anywhere?

Stax-Variants and/or Slaver-Variants that thrive on Goblin Welder tricks might feel some brunt from this card. The ability to remove Smokestack, Mindslaver or Tangle Wire can make a big difference.

Fish, although not entirely competitive anymore, would also be dealt a somewhat serious blow by this card, removing all copies of Meddling Mage or any other 4-of that stand in your way to victory.

Overall, though, Extirpate is not going to change the Vintage format in any way, shape or form. I would suspect it may find its way (foil versions only, of course) into some sideboards but this is by no means a main-deck slot and by no means a competitive, Vintage card.

Thanks for reading,

JayC

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