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Changes to Vintage by Gabriel Showers

A recent change in rules has happened in the Vintage format, which is a
popular format amongst many a kitchen table around the world. The cards
Gush, Voltaic Key, Mind Twist and Black Vise have been unrestricted, which
means you can have four of each in any Vintage legal deck. Also, Gifts
Ungiven is being restricted to one per deck.
Gifts Ungiven was a powerful engine for an overpowered deck named after the
card- Gifts Control, as well as for many other decks. The Gifts Control deck
would use several copies of Gifts Ungiven to serve the function of the
older, restricted Fact or Fiction. Which would put certain key cards into the graveyard,
including such mean cards as Tinker, Recoup and Yawgmoth's Will, then use
those cards to Tinker into Darksteel Colossus while maintaining control with
very expensive counterspells.
As for the rest of the cards being unrestricted, who knows what the pro
players will concoct? Frankly, I don't care. The Casual Fringe is about
Casual Magic Gaming, and while many casual circles go by Vintage format
rules, not everyone brings their Moxes and other such crazily expensive
cards to play with while they eat and drink and make merry. However, that
does not mean that the kitchen table games of the world are drastically
underpowered either. So, with that in mind, here's what I'm thinking about
the unrestricting of Gush, Voltaic Key, Mind Twist and Black Vise.
Gush was restricted due to Psychatog, one of the most powerful creatures
ever printed. If your friends play Psychatog decks, be expecting a lot more
Gushes in the near future. This also means that Psychatog decks will tend to
be more blue than black, favoring a high Island count to fuel the
Gush/Psychatog symmetry- this means more draw, control and bounce, less
removal and disruption. Gush also has a place in many mono-blue control
decks that never need more than 3 or 4 Islands in play to counter everything
the opponent plays and then combos out with similarly undercosted draw
spells and plays Brain Freeze for the win, or plays a cheap artifact to
sacrifice for Tinker into a fatty artifact creature like Darksteel Colossus
or Sundering Titan. High Tide/Palinchron combo decks may find a place for a
few copies of Gush, but I doubt this because these decks rely heavily on
having many Islands in play. Gush will also help enable the alternate cost
of one of the less expensive 'free' counterspells, Foil. Gush will be played
directly before a Mind's Desire (probably with mana floating) to increase
storm count or directly after Eye of the Storm resolves. The new Aeon
Chronicler and Kamigawa block's Soramaro, First to Dream each get a +4/+4
boost out of an alternate cost Gush. I would also like to think that the
blue Ninjas (Higure the Still Wind, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Mistblade
Shinobi and Walker of Secret Ways) will get a nice boost from Gush, because
these Ninjas need little mana to be effective (riding in on low-cost early
fliers like Ornithopter and Cloud of Faeries [I prefer Cloud Pirates myself.
GO PIRATE NINJAS!]) and thrive on having cards in hand like Boomerang and
Counterspells to provide more control and keep the Ninjas on the board safe
from removal and board sweepers. Basically, any casual blue control deck
that can maintain control with 2 less Islands in play during the mid-game
should be running a few copies of Gush, as should any deck packing a good
amount of Islands and winning with storm spells.
Voltaic Key will be untapping Titans and Colossuses here and there, but
more dangerously will be untapping Grim Monoliths and Mana Vaults to play
those Titans and Colossuses (or worse) in the first place. The really
dangerous thing about the Key is its versatility and subsequent
unpredictability. It could find a home in a huge amount of decks. Piloting a
control deck? The key will untap Null Brooch or Icy Manipulator or Isochron
Scepter. Need crazy mana? The key can untap Basalt Monolith or Thran Dynamo
or Gilded Lotus. Need to dig for the combo piece? The key is capable of
untapping your Scroll Rack or Aladdin's Lamp or Wand of Denial. Need to drop
creatures into play for free? The key lets you use Aether Vial multiple
times in a turn. Need to find those creatures? The Key can compliment
Citanul Flute. Make multiple permanents indestructible with the Key and That
Which Was Taken. Need to clear the board? Get Nevinyrral's Disk active a
turn earlier with the key. Need a win condition? Use the Key to untap
Phyrexian Processor or Cursed Scroll or Grindstone or Door to Nothingness.
Decks using Coretapper to get crazy amounts of charge counters onto
Darksteel Reactor will want to use the Key. Decks with Isamaru Hound of
Konda may consider combining Voltaic Key with Sword of the Chosen for the
quick beats. Also, you can respond to your opponent's Kill Switch activation
by activating the Key targeting the Switch- just make sure that they're out
of mana so they can't activate it again, otherwise the Key gets stuck in the
Switch lockdown, until you play another copy- hooray unrestriction! Voltaic
Key can also play tricks with artifacts that care if they're tapped or not,
like Trinisphere, Storage Matrix and Howling Mine. Voltaic Key is also a
1-costed artifact, meaning you can find multiple copies easily with Trinket
Mage and Artificer's Intuition. Also, because it's cheap to play and can
untap other artifacts that generate mana, it could possibly be included in
decks using a storm effect for the win.
Mind Twist is some really powerful discard. It can empty an opponent's hand
very quickly. The idea with Mind Twist is playing early threats (like The
Rack or Nantuko Shade or Hypnotic Specter or Dark Confidant) and then
killing you opponent's hand mid-game. Clearing it of removal for your
threats. Alternately, you can place your bets on Dark Ritual. First turn
Swamp, Dark Ritual, Mind Twist for 2 means both you and your opponent have
lost 2 cards from hand, but you have a land in play and may have forced your
opponent to discard their only mana sources. First turn Swamp Dark Ritual,
Dark Ritual, Mind Twist for 4 means you have lost one less card than your
opponent and have a greater likelihood of forcing them to discard their
early mana sources. Getting threshold for Cabal Ritual into Mind Twist can
ruin opponents, as can Cabal Coffers powering up the 'Twist. Early artifact
mana, especially Sol Ring and Mana Vault, can give the Mind Twist the speed
and the large X value it needs to cause the maximum amount of havoc. Dark
Confidant likes Mind Twist, so it only makes you pay one life to reveal it
and put it in your hand from the top of your library. I must say that
unrestricting Mind Twist means that decks that use it have a greater chance
of drawing it early and wrecking with it, but drawing the second or third
copy will often be superfluous with the opponent's hand already empty.
Here's where Soul Spike comes to town, turning extra copies of Mind Twist
into a drain effect, and along with Contagion and Sickening Shoal, extra
copies can be used to remove threats that made it down to the board before
the resolved Mind Twist forced your opponent to go hellbent. Too bad Dark
Confidant dislikes Soul Spike and Contagion so much. Phyrexian Arena,
Yawgmoth's Bargain and Necropotence are just fine with them though. Of
course, the most wrecking play one can make with Mind Twist is powering it
up with mana from the ridiculously expensive Mana Drain, but Mana Drains
thankfully don't show up at too many kitchen tables.
Black Vise, of the cards that have become unrestricted, is the only one
that deals damage. This means that Black Vise is the only recently unrestricted
card that in and of itself is a very powerful win condition. Black Vise
regularly comes down turn 1 for only one colorless mana and often deals 3
damage to your opponent on their first turn. It regularly does more damage
in subsequent turns. Like Voltaic Key, Trinket Mage and Artificers Intuition
can find all the multiple copies of Black Vise you are now running in your deck. And while
we're in Blue, you should note that Black Vise is really good with bounce
effects such as Boomerang, Hoodwink, Wipe Away, Capsize. Black Vise turns these
temporary answers to threatening permanents into the massive damage needed
to kill an opponent before they are able to keep one of those threatening
permanents on the board. This does not even take into account mass-bounce
bombs like Upheaval and Evacuation. Be on the lookout for mono-blue decks
packing four Black Vise, four Ebony Owl Netsuke, four Paradox Haze, maybe a
few Viselings and nothing else but bounce and land. If an opponent is
holding cards in hand waiting for a combo piece, Black Vise will hurt them
for each turn they wait around with a grip of cards. The Vise also has a
place in land destruction decks, which usually don't have a solid first turn
play, and can strand the opponent with a grip of cards and no land to play
These are just a few ideas of what can happen with the recent changes to
the rules regarding these cards. Its' up to you, the casual player, to build
the crazy rogue decks with these cards and surprise everyone with your own

For the Love of the Game, From the Casual Fringe,
Gabriel Showers

This article was published on Tuesday August 14, 2007.
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