Standard and occasionally Modern are everchanging formats with each set that is released by Wizards, where Vintage as a format is determined by some powerful forces that are hard to dethrone. But with War of the Spark, Wizards have pushed planeswalkers to a whole new level, making their loyalty abilities less powerful, but giving them a static ability that is somewhat weak on its own, but in the right deck and in the right format, abilities that are easily exploitable and this is where we are headed today.
With 37 (or 39, if you count the planeswalker decks) new planeswalkers in the mix, there is a lot to talk about, but today we are gonna take a look at three of the new additions to Vintage.
Vintage is a format that has a lot of power in the “Power 9” cards, Magics best mana accelerants in cards like Sol Ring, Mana Vault and Mana Crypt, and draw spells that are banned in almost all other formats like Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise. On the other hand, what it doesn’t have, is a lot of ways to deal with non-artifact permanents and it is especially soft to planeswalkers. In general, the planeswalkers that are printed so far, don’t really do enough on the board that would be worth taking a turn off to tap out. Occasionally there is a Jace, the Mind Sculptor who runs around, but besides JTMS, Dack Fayden is the only tier1 planeswalker who runs the streets in the format. Dack Fayden fits in because he is both hard to remove and interacts with artifacts, which is massive against MUD Shops, but also has targets against every deck in the format. In addition to that, Dack loots for blue interactive cards with the plus ability. It comes up rarely that you ultimate him, since the only spell that could be used to steal any target is Pyroblast and only a timely Lightning Bolt can steal creatures. But the ability to steal artifacts is massive and can easily be a gamechanger. Especially if you get to take a Time Vault or Blightsteel Colossus.
Teferi, Time Raveler
Quicken, Man-O-War and Mage of Zhalfir at once
Teferi has shown up in Modern, Legacy and a lot in Standard, and the card is pretty good without being busted. Teferi’s default is a 1WU Man-o’-War that draws a card with a fallback Quicken when you plus him and all the time a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir with its mere presence – what more can you ask for?
Like Dack Fayden, the converted mana cost is 3 and it’s blue, so you can pitch the card to a Force of Will. It has a draw ability and a taxing ability. Against some decks the minus ability will do more than just drawing a card, but I would imagine that we will see this one immediately draw a card and then repeat that process a couple of turns later. However, the plus ability and the static ability are really frustrating to play against and powerful to have on your side of the board.
Almost every blue deck in Vintage has the ability to interact through counterspells. What Teferi does, is make every single counterspell drawn a blank in the hand unless they can deal with the Planeswalker on the board. Meanwhile it lets us play out our game in our opponents end of turn. When every sorcery spell we own can be cast at instant speed and their spells have to be cast at sorcery speed, we can dictate the pace of the game. We will be the controlling player and the only one to have counterspells to interact. The mix of the static and plus abilities makes this card extremely well placed in both the current metagame and also in Vintage generally. The benefit of the occasional bounce and card draw only makes the card better in some specific matchups.
Narset, Parter of Veils
If Leovold had a reasonable mana cost
Once again, we have a planeswalker that is blue (aka a Force pitch) and has a converted mana cost of 3. This time on the other hand, it’s an uncommon planeswalker, which is also a new design with WAR. This makes Narset a bit different than what we are used to, since it only has a minus ability – and the static ability that’s (so far) unique to WAR planeswalkers. The minus ability can be used twice, if we aren’t able to get additional counters onto her, but twice should be more than enough. Vintage is known to play mostly non-creature spells, and statistically we have more than enough to expect a hit on that ability. Even though some might think that the ability to dig for some of Magics most iconic and powerful spells would be reason enough to play a planeswalker, it is the static ability that boosts Narset from “just another planeswalker” to “Vintage playable”. As I said above about the difficulty that most decks have with planeswalkers, getting our opponent to only draw 1 card each turn can set the pace of the game extremely fast. You pretty much turn off half of most blue decks and that is, like Teferi, both annoying to play against and very powerful. But this isn’t the only use of the static that is relevant. Leovold, Emissary of Trest has been played for a while in some tier 2 builds, where you try to utilize different draw sevens. While Leovold comes with a mana restriction of 3 colors in the cost, Narset is mono blue. This makes it very easy to pair her with cards and colors that let you draw seven cards, like Timetwister and Wheel of Fortune. These cards give us a new seven card hand, while our opponent will have to discard their hand and only draw 1 card for the turn.
Karn, The Greater Creator
More than just a Null Rod – it does something!
While I compared Teferi to Quicken and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and I compared Narset to Leovold, I think it is fitting to compare Karn with Null Rod. Some strategies in Vintage play Stony Silence and/or Null Rod to lock down their opponent, since most decks have the on-color Moxen and other powerful artifacts. Null Rod and Stony Silence often come with a cost of your own activated abilities, especially when you play Null Rod out of you MUD Workshop deck. Karn on the other hand only shuts down artifacts on the opponents’ side of the board. The cost that Karn comes with is different. He costs 4 mana and isn’t an artifact, so he can’t be accelerated out with a Mishra’s Workshop. Since most decks have Hurkyl’s Recall or other artifact hate cards like Fragmentize to deal with Null Rods, Karn is just colorless and dodges almost every removal spell in the pre-WAR metagame. If this wasn’t enough, the minus ability lets us play a tutor sideboard plan with specific interactions like Grafdigger’s Cage against Dredge and Oath, Witchbane Orb to make us untouchable against Storm or something else that just tips a matchup in our favor. On top of that there is of course the combo with Mycosynth Lattice which turns all of our opponents permanents to artifacts and renders them useless. And as a small bonus, if we don’t tutor up different tools to defeat our opponent, the plus ability can work as a win condition or as a Mox eater. Just remember that Trinisphere and cards like Howling Mine have a clause that states that the card has to be untapped for them to have an effect. If you turn them into creatures to attack with, they will be tapped!
I am really looking forward for what is to become of the Vintage format, and I see these 3 additions as some that might change the playing field a bit, from what we have come to expect from Vintage.
That was it for today – hopefully I will see you all when I stream the Arena Mythic Championship Qualifier later this month. Until then – win some games, and evolve as a player!
Michael Bonde // Lampalot
This article was written by Michael Bonde in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com