What gets me really excited/stoked/aroused about Magic is getting to explore a new format. So when tourney organizer Josh Krause (@Originalmagicart) and Master Vorthos Mike Linnemann (@Vorthosmike) put out the call for the very first Vintage Artist Constructed tournament on the Friday of GP Vegas weekend, I instantly drawn to attending.
(haha, get it? “drawn”)
For those unaware, Vintage Artist Constructed uses the Vintage ban list, with one addition: every card in your 75 has to be illustrated by a single artist. Basic lands included.
I only had a couple weeks to decide on a list – and without any playtesting. I spent over a day looking up artists and the lands they had illustrated. That let me figure out which artists had viable card pools based on the colours they could play.
This was the list I went with:
[deck title=Greg Staples Boros Midrange]
4 Sigiled Paladin
4 Leonin Relic-Warder
4 Blade Splicer
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Baneslayer Angel
3 Punishing Fire
3 Warleader’s Helix
2 Martial Coup
2 Radiant’s Judgment
2 Parallax Wave
3 Mirrodin’s Core
2 Echoing Calm
2 Keldon Vandals
1 Warleader’s Helix
1 Captain of the Watch
3 Opal-Eye, Konda’s Yojimbo
2 Sunhome Enforcer
2 Stone Rain
1 Divine Reckoning
Josh put together a similar list in his preview article on the event, so I felt I was on the right track.
(My order of cards arrived the very last day before I had to fly to Vegas. Talk about a heartstopper! Thanks to Face to Face for pulling through! *awaits royalty cheque*)
On Friday afternoon, 19 brave souls representing 12 artists assembled to battle in a brand new format. The prize: an original concept sketch of [card]Thunderbreak Regent[/card]! We had an entire convention room, a floor judge and even a visit from Marshall Sutcliffe and Helene Bergeot! In addition to Josh and Mike’s interviews with Marshall, my bandaged thumb and I made a cameo appearance on camera.
I played against the following and noted some of the cards I faced:
R1: RW Moeller Aggro (Match 2-1, Record 1-0)
([card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card], [card]Stillmoon Cavalier[/card], [card]Chain Lightning[/card])
We traded games 1 and 2 stumbling on mana, but sticking a Baneslayer in game 3 gets me the win. I was lucky not to face a Jitte the entire match, although my sideboard was ready for it.
R2: UR Tedin Burn (2-1, 2-0)
([card]Lava Spike[/card], [card]Browbeat[/card], [card]Winter Orb[/card])
Game 2 I was gotten with [card]Mind Bomb[/card] and back-to-back [card]Fireball[/card]s(!), and Game 3 I was gotten with a Winter Orb. I had a Baneslayer on the table by that point, though, so I was able to stabilize and pull out the win.
R3: UB Chippy Control (2-0, 3-0)
([card]Abyssal Persecutor[/card], [card]Master Transmuter[/card], [card]Sphinx Sovereign[/card])
Each game I had to face multiple [card]Spellskite[/card]s, which made my burn spells terrible. I saw the Sphinx Sovereigns in a previous match and with no easy way to permanently remove them, I was sweating a bit. [card]Parallax Wave[/card] helped punch through the Spellskite wall during the match.
R4: GW Nielsen Aggro (2-1, 4-0)
([card]Mother of Runes[/card], [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card], [card]Garruk Wildspeaker[/card])
In my opinion, this is one of the decks to beat. It has removal for days, [card]Eternal Witness[/card] to bring it back and the unquestionably absurd play of turn 1 Mom backed by midrange creatures. The games against Wayland and his deck were probably the grindiest, and this match could have honestly gone either way.
R5: BR Walker Control (ID, 4-0-1)
([card]Pack Rat[/card], [card]Bladewing the Risen[/card], [card]Damnation[/card])
I drew into top 8 with Byron Miller (@byronmiller0202) and his BR control deck but we played for fun – and I got stomped in two games. The deck has efficient removal for Baneslayer, recursion with Bladewing for [card]Rakdos Pit Dragon[/card], plus [card]Chandra Nalaar[/card] to wreck my board. I was hoping not to face his deck again…
R1: RW Staples Midrange mirror (2-1, 1-0)
There were two other RW Staples decks in the event, each with slight variations. Ian’s (@boxian0) build was effective in the mirror thanks to [card]Honor of the Pure[/card], but in the end it really came down to who controlled the board with Baneslayer. In the deciding game I was able to keep one alive long enough to swing for the win.
R2: GW Nielsen Aggro (2-0, 2-0)
I faced Wayland’s deck in the Swiss and we had a close set of games. In game 2 I got stuck on two lands for a few turns while he endured a ridiculous mana flood. Although Wayland did an annoyingly great job at fending off my Splicers with multiple Swords to Plowshares and Eternal Witnesses, he had drawn too many lands to mount a comeback.
R3: RB Walker Control (2-0, 3-0)
So about not facing Byron again…here we were! After he missed his fourth land drop in the first game, I aggressively played out my hand to get through enough damage before his Damnation wiped my board – with burn spells sealing the deal. The second game was much more back-and-forth, but once again, sticking a Baneslayer (not irrelevant against a team of dragons) long enough got the win for me.
— Original Magic Art (@OriginalMtGArt) May 30, 2015
In the end, I claimed a Dragon with Baneslayer Angel. I hope I made #Vorthos proud.
A couple final points:
Byron’s Walker deck is really good. I’m thinking of building a similar version (even with the baller Kev Walker basic lands required) just because it has so much synergy and power. I hope we can have a rematch someday!
The format looks quite interactive so far, like a strong Block Constructed. But the charm of this format is that you can also do this:
Yes, that’s a [card]Denizen of the Deep[/card] with a Beta [card]Flight[/card] on it. And a Beta [card]Living Wall[/card] on D.
If you take away anything, it’s that you should give Vintage Artist Constructed a shot. There is still a lot of room to explore and I foresee myself building at least one more deck in the future. But I’m happy I could, in my own little way, be a part of #MakingMagicHistory.