The Road to Vintage Super League: Sylvan Mentor

rachel

Happy almost hump day everybody! Hope everyone had a great prerelease and are now proud new owners of many masterpieces. For those that don’t know me, my name is Rachel and I’m a Vintage and Cube enthusiast and streamer. I like long walks to my LGS and warm Cube games by the fireplace. And today we’re kicking off a series about making a path to the Vintage Super League. This is my first article and I hope you will enjoy the journey with me!

Vintage Super League, or VSL, is to Vintage players what the Pro Tour is to Standard and Limited players. While it may not come with the prize money, fancy destinations and pro points, a dream is still a dream, and this girl’s dream is to make it onto the VSL as a competitor. This series will chronicle almost every tier 1 Vintage deck, from choosing a deck for certain metagames, to sideboarding, to game play. I’m using my knowledge of the format and learning it the hard knocks way so you don’t have too.

Playing Vintage on Magic Online is an all-time favorite past time and you can always find me in the two-man queues, or playing in dailies (when they fire). Paper Magic is a luxury I also take part of when I can. I play a range of different decks including Mentor, Fish, Oath, and Prison. Decks like Shops and Dredge don’t really fit my play style as much, but they are still quite strong when metagamed properly.

Today, I’ll be Mentoring you as we Sa-Shay into one of the absolute best decks in Vintage. I can’t Gush enough about it. The one, the only: Mentor Gush.

This is the current build of Mentor that I find to be ideal. What makes this version unique from other Mentor builds? This card:

Sylvan Library - Eternal Masters

Sylvan Library – Eternal Masters

While the idea of Sylvan Library with Monastery Mentor is not new, I feel like I have made some excellent tweaks here to make it more powerful.

Despite the presence of more creature based prison decks, along with Aggro Shops builds, you still rarely find your life total under much duress in Vintage. Converting the resource that is your life total into palpable extra cards is something that few other cards provide. Vintage Mentor decks are blue-based decks that rely on the explosiveness of Monastery Mentor in particular to provide a fast clock, as well as outclass other creatures. However, they still follow many conventional norms of blue control and when it comes down to blue vs blue, card advantage is king.

I see many players confused about card advantage, defined as cards that do more than replace themselves. While card filtering and cantrips are crucial to deck fluidity, velocity, and consistency, many blue decks still lack true ways to gain actual card advantage. Some cards that generate card advantage:

StandstillGushJace, the Mind SculptorTreasure CruiseDark Confidant
Dig Through TimeAncestral Recall

Cards that generally do NOT generate card advantage, but who’s inclusion in decks make them more consistent and powerful:

PreordainBrainstormPonderGitaxian ProbeSensei’s Divining Top

So what do we do now that we have all this card filtering but no true card advantage? Well, I’m here to tell you about your new ,or old, best friend. Sylvan Library provides excellent card advantage using your life as payment. Even as your life total whittles down it still provides card filtering and selection, along the lines of Sensei’s Divining Top. Similarly to Top, fetch lands also provide much needed shuffle effects to continually make sure you are drawing gas. Additionally, being an enchantment means that it will be relatively difficult to remove, unlike cards similar to Dark Confidant. Being a two-drop also grants it immunity from the omnipresent Mental Misstep. Being green allows it to dodge Pyroblast and Hydroblast and as an enchantment it is protected from Flusterstorm. Many times when you cast Sylvan Library your opponent will give pause and most likely end up using Force of Will on it. And they would be right to! It is a real Lib-Rarity that the player who resolves this powerful enchantment doesn’t ride the card advantage to victory.

For main deck choices, I like the various splits and numbers:

Jace, the Mind SculptorJace, the Mind SculptorDack FaydenDack Fayden

Provide a great diversification in mana cost for planeswalkers and allow you to keep churning through your deck for answer cards and of course to feed the Mentor. He’s always hungry! And the more he’s fed the bigger he and his little companions grow.

Sylvan LibrarySylvan Library

While being a main focus of the deck, it does have its downside in that it is redundant. Sylvan Library when drawn in multiples serves no purpose other than the hope that one is countered or removed. For this reason I feel like two is the correct number, as it means that you have a reasonable shot of seeing it in a given game but a slim chance at drawing both.

Swords to PlowsharesSwords to PlowsharesSwords to Plowshares

I feel like this could be metagame dependent. If there are many problematic creature decks hanging around, like I find to be the case on Magic Online, then I believe 3 copies is great. Otherwise, feel free to shave to 2 main deck copies with 1 or 2 more in the board.

Force of WillForce of WillForce of WillForce of WillMental Misstep
Mental MisstepMental MisstepMental Misstep

These are pretty nonnegotiable here. Free counterspells are essential in Vintage far more so than Legacy. These are the two best and provide great synergy with the card advantage of Sylvan Library and prowess triggers for Mentor. Mental Misstep is a dominating driving force in Vintage. Expect to see it as a 4 of in many decklists.

Monastery MentorMonastery MentorMonastery MentorMonastery MentorGush
GushGushGush

These are the cards that give the deck the most punch. If you need to know why these cards are central to a deck in the game’s most cutthroat format I suggest you just try a few games out and they will demonstrate their power. Winning after resolving a Mentor is just an afterthought. It will just happen. Gush helps you resolve the Mentor and also helps you immediately trigger it.

Mox PearlMox SapphireMox JetMox RubyMox Emerald

Many of the plays in our deck, Jace, Mentor, Sylvan Library, are drastically more powerful when played on the first or second turn and have their maximum chance at snowballing the advantage. For this reason, all 5 moxen have been added to increase our odds of being able to deploy these threats faster. You can also hold them later in the game to immediately trigger Mentor. Mana early, Mentor food later.

Gitaxian ProbeGitaxian ProbeGitaxian Probe

Mostly here for their outstanding synergy with Monastery Mentor, but don’t be afraid to cut them versus aggressive decks that pressure your life total or decks with Sphere of Resistance and Thorn of Amethyst. Also, note that while powerful with Mentor, this card is a nonbo of sorts with Sylvan Library as it taxes the same resource, your life total.

FlusterstormPyroblast

These are mostly flex spots. Feel free to gear these towards your particular metagame ,along with the sideboard, or cards you have a liking to. Flusterstorm can be increased to 2 or down to 0 main deck copies since it really excels in combo matchups and against decks where you foresee counter battles. Pyroblast is similar and stronger against Force of Will than Flusterstorm, but weaker to Mental Misstep. This would be the best place to experiment a pet card in my opinion.

Ancestral Recall

Sadly, I cannot seem to fit more of these into my deck 🙁

Notable Omissions:

Strip Mine

I felt that this deck, by running 4 colors, Gush, and with the prevalence of Wasteland, didn’t really want another colorless source in addition to the Library of Alexandria. I prefer the games you can run away with Library of Alexandria over the times I get someone with Strip Mine, although some Mentor decks would prefer the Strip Mine or even both.

Preordain

Honestly, there just isn’t room for this card in this decklist and while it is an amazing card in many Mentor builds, here it is superfluous.

Seeker of the Way

Some versions of this deck have run Seeker as a way to provide pressure and gain life simultaneously, which translates into more cards off of the Library. However, I found that Seeker of the Way often didn’t live by its own merits and was only really a win-more card. With vintage decks, win more cards are especially suspect as lists are super tight. Without access to a Sylvan Library having a Seeker was not optimal. In the end, he fell by the WAYside and has been asked to Seek alternate employment.

Thank you so much for following me along my road to the big leagues! I hope this provided insight into a super fun and powerful Vintage deck that is Sylvan Mentor. For the next installment in the series, I will have video gameplay of some of my matches with commentary as we see how this deck fares in the wild west that is Vintage. It’ll be a pyroBlast!

I’d love to hear what you’d love to read about, so feel free to comment/contact me. You can find me on Facebook under Rachel Agnes, and Twitter/Instagram/Twitch under the name Baetog_.

<3 Baetog_

%d bloggers like this: