The Road to VSL: A Workshop on Workshop

Greetings to all my SHOPpers! In my last article Get in Losers, we’re going SHOPping I went over a brief history of the Mishra’s Workshop archetype and how it evolved over the years. Today I will be discussing powerful modern-day Mishra’s Workshop decks to play in 2017 and beyond. If you want to put a Thorn in the side of your opponent and lay Waste to their mana, get Wired for a Workshop on the archetype. I will leave no Lodestone unturned.

Let’s start with a question. How do you know if a Mishra’s Workshop deck is right for you? After all, Vintage isn’t necessarily a format where it’s easy to scrounge up a few decks and see which you like the most. As a burgeoning Vintage player, you should try proxying up decks and playing with friends, watching/reading Vintage content (Hi!), and researching before just jumping into a deck/archetype right off the bat. Measure twice, cut once.

So what kind of players would enjoy Mishra’s Workshop decks?

Do you hate fun? (Yes / No)

Oh, you answered “Yes?” Perfect, go out, buy your playset of Mishra’s Workshops and enjoy bringing misery on everyone around you! Buh-bye!

I’m just kidding of course, so let me take off my Jester’s Cap and get right to business.

Do you enjoy playing a top tier deck?
Do you enjoy playing prison or mana denial decks in other formats?
Do you like bringing the beatdown from time to time?
Do you like artifacts?
Do you enjoy locks/uninteractive games?
Are you good with die rolls?
Are you okay with being separated from our savior Ancestral Recall?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, perhaps we have a Workshop pilot in the making. On the contrary…

Do you like blue spells?
Do you like combo, control, or midrange decks?
Do you like tutors, card advantage, and planewalkers?
Do you dislike giving up control some games?
Do you dislike when powerful sideboard cards are played against you?
Are you average or worse with die rolls?
Can you not be separated from our savior Ancestral Recall?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, perhaps you may want to look at other decks in Vintage.

So what makes up a Workshop deck? You will find many cards do overlap between decklists. While they may only differ by a few cards, the roles those cards can play make the deck work differently enough that they should be assessed differently. Just because the decks share a game plan, doesn’t mean all shops decks are the same.

Cards like the following are typically found in all workshop decks, as they are what the deck wants to do at its core:

Tolarian AcademyWastelandCrucible of WorldsLodestone GolemThorn of Amethyst
Tangle WireTrinisphere

Cards like the following can define a particular type of shop deck that may branch off the traditional path:

Uba MaskFleetwheel CruiserSmokestackKuldotha ForgemasterMutavault

What better way to start off than with a couple of decks by Montolio? He is one of the most accomplished Vintage players in the world and is regarded as a specialist in the Mishra’s Workshop… Sphere. 😉

Arcbound Ravager

Oh boy, can you say, “Synergy?” There are more +1/+1’s in this deck than I can count… er? Arcbound Ravager is the primary beatstick in this deck and provides the deck with ways to win relatively quickly or attrition the opponent out in a longer game.

Steel Overseer

Steel Overseer is an excellent way to grow otherwise puny creatures into formidable threats in quick fashion. Including Mishra’s Factory, there are 24 creatures in the maindeck to grow and the counters provide synergy with Arcbound Ravager and Walking Ballista.

Walking Ballista

Speaking of Walking Ballista, this amazing addition to Vintage from Aether Revolt has been making waves. While it seems somewhat mana intensive at first glance, the flexibility provided by the Ballista make it an excellent, scalable threat that provides pressure and removal of sorts to creatures, planeswalkers, and of course, players. After all, many shops decks were playing Triskelion prior to this card’s printing and the Ballista is almost strictly better. This card works beautifully with Ravager as well, potentially finishing an opponent off out of nowhere. Hasta Ballista, baby!

Foundry Inspector

Foundry Inspector rounds out the notable inclusions for this deck and is no slouch. Admittedly, when I first saw Rich Shay win a Vintage premier event with four copies of this card, I was still hesitant. It just doesn’t look like it does enough in a world like Vintage, but after further inspection and testing it out myself, I am impressed. It has a respectable body, works in multiples, and makes larger Ballistas a more likely occurrence. Additionally, it makes some of the more costly sideboard options more manageable to cast.

The next list is another Montolio creation and while I have no experience with the decklist myself, it isn’t hard to see how it (metal)works.

Metalwork Colossus

This 10 power creature can be quite the threat if resolved. I do like the fact that it has the ability to be reliably recurred in the late-game. This should give this list a fair amount of advantage over other shops decks, however, I find that Crucible/Wasteland tends to win those kind of games more often. The Colossus has a type of pseudo-affinity, where it’s casting cost is reduced based on your board presence. It may not get a reduction from moxen or creatures, but it gets a hefty reduction to make up for it from the likes of Tangle Wire, sphere effects, and this next card…

Fleetwheel Cruiser

Start your engines with a car that can start itself! Fleetwheel Cruiser is unique addition to some shops decks from Kaladesh that effectively applies pressure to the opponent fast. Playing beatstick creatures like Juggernaut or Slash Panther isn’t unusual for shops decks. The goal is to make the opponent stumble on mana and resources long enough for you to finish them off. Workshop decks rarely establish hard locks, so frequently you will want to win the game sooner than later. The Cruiser does this job better than the previous cards and has the upside of being immune to cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Supreme Verdict. Crewing this vehicle is easier than expected and in instances where it is not turned on it does provide a discount on Metalwork Colossus.

Up next, we have a decklist that earned a top 4 finish from 2017 Swedish Vintage Nationals.

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Smokestack

Smokestack is an extremely powerful and game-warping spell printed in a Magic era long-gone. While it may seem oddly symmetrical, much like Tangle Wire, Smokestack provides its user the ever-important choice of when/if to tick it up. This deck plays a resource denial plan excellently and will often peck you to death for two damage a turn, as you slowly lose everything you hold dear. As I like to say, Stax decks use Stacks, and stack triggers onto the stack to make you sac. Basically, it’s stacks on stacks on stacks.

Crucible of Worlds

This powerful artifact should see play in pretty much every Workshop decklist, if only for the fact that it is needed to combat the opponent’s copy. Getting Wasteland/Strip Mine locked is a real thing in Vintage and there is little way to prepare for it. A huge aspect of shops mirrors come down to who can stick a Crucible of Worlds and obliterate the opponent’s lands turn after turn. Crucicble sees maindeck play in many Smokestack decklists because it has additional synergy with the deck’s namesake card. Also, Crucible + Invetor’s Fair is like living the dream, even if it is perhaps a bit win-more.

Null Rod

What’s this? Null Rod in a deck full of artifacts? In fact, this deck plays more artifact abilities than most decks that don’t play Null Rod! So why does this deck play the powerful artifact hoser? It just boils down to the usual shops question of “Who can use it better?” Tangle Wire, sphere effects, Chalice of the Void, Smokestack, and Null Rod apply restrictions to BOTH players, but the Workshop decks often take advantage of the situation better than the opponent. It is worth it to sacrifice the utility of your moxen if you can do the same for the opponent (who can often use the moxen for far more broken things). Null Rod just does work in these shops decks and for that reason, expect to see this spell in many decklists.

That wraps up my discussion on Mishra’s Workshops decks. Do I have any aspiring shops players reading? Do these lists seem interesting? Even if every coffee is brown, you can still add different flavors for variety. Same goes for shops decks. Enjoy using one of the most broken lands ever printed and I will see you next time on Road to VSL. Thanks for reading!

The Road to VSL: Lit-Leo & the Ban/Restricted Update

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had a chance to catch your breath from the recent ban and restricted announcement made on April 24th. Previously, I spoke about how I felt that Gush and Gitaxian Probe both deserved to be restricted in Vintage. And here we are! Living in a world where the correct decision was made. This article will not be going into the reasons for the restrictions because you can already read Wizard’s statement as well as my last discussion on the matter. Let’s dive right into what to do now.

Gitaxian ProbeGush

Let’s start by taking a look at a list by Hank Zhong who got second place at Eternal Extravaganza last month.

Pretty stock Sylvan Mentor deck here. Most mentor players are playing either 2 or 3 Gitaxian Probes depending on personal preference. I lean towards playing 2 because I dislike how it works with Sylvan Library. Having the information is nice but both cards tax the same resource; your life total. I have been satisfied just playing the 2 copies so far, thus the restriction does not hurt too bad. All we have to do is remove one of these Gitaxian Probes and I would replace it with the 4th main-deck Swords to Plowshares. At least in the coming weeks, we will see an increase in the number of creatures. Between Young Pyromancers in blue decks and the copious creatures in the Eldrazi and Shops decks, there will be more targets than ever. Plus, I’m a sucker for playing lots of Swords to Plowshares.

Now we get to the big girl Gush. Gush is one of a kind so it has no immediate replacements. While some decks started moving towards 3 copies, most played 4, and rightfully so. It had amazing synergy with Dack Fayden, Library of Alexandra, and both Jaces. On top of that, Gush allowed you to cheat on mana sources as it can reliably turn into a land drop after floating the soon-to-be bounced land. Sylvan Mentor is particularly mana hungry and is eager to drop Jace, the Mind Sculptor on the high end. I even find myself hard casting Force of Will more often than many other decks. Before I theorize about how to replace Gush, I need to predict how the metagame might react to the restriction.

There will be a surge of Shops decks, at least right out the gates. Many players will overreact and perceive the restriction as a crippling blow to their blue Gush or Probe decks. Several Vintage aficionados do believe that this restriction will actually help Mentor decks more than hurt. Probe and Gush were arguably bad cards against Shops, pulling most of their weight in Blue mirror matches. So what happens now? How do the Mentor decks configure themselves against Shops and White Eldrazi decks? In Europe, for the Vintage Championships early this month, Shops and Colorless Eldrazi decks displayed their dominance before any bannings. Clearly they were a force to be reckoned before and more so now than ever. Blue will still be dominant, but Mentor should adjust for its Thorn of Amethyst match-up primarily. Now let’s talk about how to do that.

First, I would like to include another mana source to the deck. Going to 22 mana sources plus Black Lotus gives us a slight increase in land consistency. Without Gush, we need extra land. It’s as simple as that. Additionally, more mana sources are favorable against Shops and Eldrazi due to their high number of Wastelands and taxing effects. Sol Ring had fallen out of favor recently as it is susceptible to Mental Misstep and the colorless mana is often not terribly useful. Without Gush, the reintroduction of Sol Ring may also be upon us. I also advocate playing the 5th off-color Mox as well.

Now that we have extra mana in the deck we need to find an additional outlet for when we draw too much. Let’s add another mana sink in there. A second Jace the Mind Sculptor fits the bill perfectly here. I believe a decklist like the one below would be a great starting point for Mentor going forward.

I will wait on the optimal sideboard for when the metagame has sorted itself out. Some number of Sudden Shocks may be appropriate as well as some combination of Ancient Grudge, Nature’s Claim, and Ingot Chewer.

Moving forward, there will be plenty of new decks besides Mentor variants. Let’s take a look at our little Sultai friend. Leovold, Emissary of Trest is quite the powerhouse from Conspiracy 2. When he wasn’t doing overpowered things and getting himself banned in Commander, Leovold was doing quite the job at hosing Gush and Gitaxian Probe from Mentor decks. Now is still as good a time as any to employ Mr. Handshake, as he also evokes quite the hand gesture from your opponent.

Leovold, Emissary of Trest

Leovold had a breakout performance in this season of Vintage Super League. He proved quite potent against Mentor decks and players certainly found stretching their mana base to include him worth the reward. Here is a spicy little Vintage deck I designed to take advantage of him post-restriction.

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I think this Leovold Bug deck is well-positioned for the upcoming metagame and will be testing it out plenty on Magic Online. This deck has access to main-deck Null Rods, which help against Paradoxical Outcome decks as well as Car Shops and Ballista Shops. I wanted to take advantage of a small tutor package utilizing both Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor. There are the classics to grab such as Ancestral Recall, Black Lotus, and Time Walk but there are plenty of other spicy one-of targets to grab. Tarmogoyf, Snapcaster Mage, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Abrupt Decay, Null Rod, and a slew of sideboard bullets really push the power of these tutors.

Leovold does a great job of naturally checking many opposing Blue spells in Vintage. Just because we have seen the end of a Gush dynasty doesn’t mean people have stopped playing draw spells. Many decks will double down on different card draw spells to make up for its absence. We will always see the likes of Preordain, both Jaces, Dack Fayden, Paradoxical Outcome, Mystic Remora, Sylvan Library, and Standstill. And let’s not forget those cheeky one-ofs like Treasure Cruise, Ponder, Brainstorm, Wheel of Fortune, Timetwister, Windfall, and of course, now Gush and Gitaxian Probe. Leovold turning off these cards while providing a 3-power clock really turns up the heat on the opponent.

Additionally, Leovold’s bulk allows it to brawl well against many opposing creatures such as Snapcaster Mage, Dark Confidant, Mishra’s Factory, Young Pyromancer, Phyrexian Revoker, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Eldrazi Displacer. You will always get value from his “Target me or my boss, draw trigger” and there are a surprising number of times the ability will come up and you will draw from it. Everything from Dack Fayden stealing your artifact, Walking Ballista’s ability, Eldrazi Displacer, Karakas, and Jace’s Fateseal allow you to draw cards. That’s that value I DO like.

That concludes my discussion on the banned and restricted announcement and how I myself will be moving forward into these new waters. I am eagerly awaiting the results of both Magic Online and paper events in the coming months since we haven’t had such a large shakeup since Lodestone Golem’s restriction. I am always happy to discuss Vintage so feel free to message me or check out my social media pages. Thanks so much for reading!

@baetog_

Gushing About the Ban/Restricted Update

Hello everyone!!

I am back and ready to hit you with some more sweet juicy Vintage goodness. So much has happened to shake Vintage up in the last few months. By now I am sure you have how seen the super strong Aether Revolt artifact, Walking Ballista in action. On the back of this construct a new archetype of Workshop decks has been forged. Eternal Extravaganza just concluded last weekend and there were three copies of Ballista Shops in the top 8, and it even earned the trophy on a mulligan to FOUR game three.

Walking Ballista

With Vintage Champs in Europe coming up next month, its bound to be a very exciting time in Vintage. Despite the prevalence of Mentor decks with Gush at the helm, there is sure to be an Inventors’ Fair worth of interesting decks. This tournament will shape much of the upcoming of Vintage metagame regardless of which decks do well. This brings me to to the topic of the most recent ban/restricted announcement.

“As such, there are no changes to any formats at this time.”

No. Changes. At. This. Time.

Screeeeeech.

Wait, what?

This announcement made quite the uproar, for all formats, and Vintage was no exception. It was shocking that NOTHING felt worthy of a restriction in Vintage. There is the usual talk about restricting cards like Mishra’s Workshop or Bazaar of Baghdad. I think they are great cards to have in Vintage and won’t discuss their removal here. A few ban/restricted announcements have come and gone and people are still complaining about Monastery Mentor with it’s prominence of decks in top 8’s and the ease of victory it often ensures.

To understand my opinion regarding Monastery Mentor in Vintage, I would like to first mention that I am a fan of slow moving restrictions. Ideally, we give the format time to flesh out and find answers to popular strategies. When Paradoxical Storm was crushing the Magic Online queues left and right it certainly felt there was a large outcry for Paradoxical Outcome or Mox Opal’s Restriction. Now I feel the deck, while powerful, is safely under control. Sure, they could have instantly responded and restricted a key card to the deck, but allowing the format to solve itself and find the appropriate checks unhindered worked out. Other formats like Modern and Standard see many, many more events than Vintage, both in paper and online. Because of the massive amounts of data on those formats, Wizards is incentivized to act swiftly and appropriately to problem cards. Vintage is a different beast and more data from large events should be compiled first.

Needless to say, I can understand Wizard’s decision to wait until the European Vintage Champs to analyze all tournament results to finally make a move. If the results continue to reflect overly formidable Mentor decks, I believe Wizards will intervene with some kind of restriction. If the Mentor menace fails to put up the good showing that we have come to expect and prepare for, we may not need a restriction after all. I am not holding my breath on this outcome. I do feel like Mentor decks could use a nerf at this time, and I believe two cards should be restricted to aid this.

Gush

The first card I believe should be restricted in Vintage is Gush. Gush is an amazing card and there are countless articles and even a book written on it (shout-out to Stephen Menendian!) Gush has been on the restricted list in the past and at times Wizards has felt the card could have a safe reintroduction to the format. Even with main deck Pyroblasts running around, I still feel as though this card is slightly too oppressive to allow 4 copies any longer.

Gush allows many blue decks to cheat on mana sources, as well as a free way to gain card advantage, while simply playing cards they were playing anyway. Many of the best cards in Vintage that have little or no deck building constraints are restricted. Gush should be right there along with Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, Ponder, and Brainstorm. I believe Gush to be the central problem in this format and that Mentor decks would obviously take a huge blow from its restriction.

This being said, many Vintage players have shown an interest in restricting Monastery Mentor itself. I disagree with this for the simple reason that I believe Gush to be the real problem card. Perhaps if Mentor decks are still plowing through events at full-speed, a Mentor restriction can be discussed. If you take Mentor away, Gush will simply go into the next most broken deck. Gush is like the annoying kid who keeps interrupting the class by talking to whoever is sitting next to them. Sure, you could remove the other student, but the problem still remains. Remove the bad seed and maybe the classroom can learn more.

Gitaxian Probe

The second card I would like to see restricted in Vintage is Gitaxian Probe. This is a card that I don’t believe belongs in Vintage but for an entirely different reason. It’s no secret by now that Phyrexian mana was a design mistake. I do commend Wizards for trying to explore different design spaces and the mechanic felt flavorful, strong, and different, which should always be the aim. Even the simplest of cards like +2/+2 Giant Growth and sorcery speed Peek can be broken in half just because of the way Phyrexian mana works. Sure, getting Dismembered by one open blue mana Feelsbadman, but in my opinion the most miserable of cards to play against is Gitaxian Probe.

Just recently banned in Modern, I have to say that most people don’t seem to miss it and for good reason. It just doesn’t add a good dynamic to the game on top of being arguably broken and boring. Similarly to Gush, the card has a very low deck inclusion investment with only an occasional weakness to sphere effects and Mental Misstep. It even allows you to occasionally skimp on a land as well. Combo decks are heavily incentivized to run it as it provides perfect information for a combo turn as well as Storm and card advantage with cards like Yawgmoth’s Will. The card is more than just a peek-like cantrip in non-combo blue decks as well. Probe has amazing synergy with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Snapcaster Mage, and of course, Monastery Mentor. Synergizing with these cards isn’t necessarily a bad thing…unless it is free, and combined with the miserable experience of playing against it, gives me the opinion that Gitaxian Probe should be restricted in Vintage.

I would like to end this article by discussing a card that is picking up steam in Vintage and that we could perhaps see more of in the coming months. It is no coincidence that his recent popularity is at least in part due to the prevalence of Gush and Gitaxian Probe.

Leovold, Emissary of Trest

This three color powerhouse was actually originally designed specifically for Tiny Leaders (RIP), an EDH offshoot format, because the Sultai color combination was lacking a legal general. While Leovold is an absolute menace in EDH, he has also made his way to Legacy and Vintage, where his ability to suppress blue opponents is put on full display. Leovold has also been especially potent on Vintage Super League where blue mirror matches are the norm. Leovold does have the downside of costing three different colors of mana and having virtually no useful text against Shops and Eldrazi decks. It is with these restrictions that you will find the real cost of adding him to your deck. This combined with the fact that you don’t have easy access to Swords to Plowshares in a BUG control shell is an additional cost.

I predict that, without a Gush restriction, Leovold will remain the best way to keep Mentor decks abusing Gush, Probe, and friends at least on their toes. It is possible that Leovold could be enough to check Gush Mentor decks but I am not convinced. Now, there are decks like Brian Kelly’s Green Sun deck from VSL that play both Gush and Leo so maybe in the end we’ve just created a horrible monster. I would rather see Gush and Probe go, but either way, I believe our sly little buddy from Trest will be seeing quite a bit more play. For my next article I will be posting a few Leovold decklists as we eagerly await the Europe Vintage Champs. See ya next time!

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_