Vintage is a strange format where the evolution of strategies is often fundamentally different than it is in other formats. The best cards are generally the older, more unfair cards, and they have formed the backbone of the format since its inception. Given the raw power of cards like power, Bazaar of Baghdad, Mishra's Workshop, and Oath of Druids, that’s unlikely to change any time in the near future. Really, newer cards just provide new ways to reap the benefits of these older, more powerful engines. However, occasionally, the format becomes so linear that you can attack it from an oblique angle that it is altogether unprepared to face. Check out this one-track list John McCarroll posted on Twitter.
Mono-Red ? Vintage | John McCarroll, Top 8 MTGO Power Nine Challenge
- Creatures (19)
- 1 Sulfur Elemental
- 2 Hazoret the Fervent
- 4 Goblin Rabblemaster
- 4 Magus of the Moon
- 4 Simian Spirit Guide
- 4 Sin Prodder
- Planeswalkers (4)
- 4 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
- Sorceries (4)
- 4 Fiery Confluence
- Enchantments (4)
- 4 Blood Moon
This deck is something else. There’s no power. No Workshops. No Gush. No Monastery Mentor. None of the cards that have defined Vintage for the last couple of months make an appearance. Instead, this is a deck that attacks the format by fundamentally preventing the top tier decks from playing their primary gameplan.
Your goal is to resolve an early Blood Moon effect backed by Null Rod, Chalice of the Void, or Trinisphere. Blood Moon shuts off dual lands and fetch lands, giving you plenty of time to set up against fair Blue decks. It also shuts off Mishra's Workshop and Ancient Tomb. That means that, on the play, you’re the only one who gets to reap the benefits of these powerful lands before forcing your opponent to play more fair. With the ability to shut off both land- and artifact-based fast mana, as well as deny your opponent key colors, this deck can stop opponents from being able to really play at all.
On top of that, you have access to Fiery Confluence. You can’t always have Null Rod to shut off artifact mana. Sometimes your opponent will be able to cast a few Moxes and do some stuff. Maybe they cast a Lodestone Golem. Maybe they snuck a Monastery Mentor into play. Fiery Confluence deals with all of this. It can be effectively a triple Stone Rain. It can sweep the board of Monastery Mentor and his pesky friends. It can destroy key artifact creatures and even kill your opponent.
With this much disruption, the means by which you win the game is almost trivial. However, you’ve got a couple of great mechanisms to do so. The fastest is likely Goblin Rabblemaster, which takes just a few turns to crash in for lethal all on his own. The most resilient is likely Chandra, Torch of Defiance, which can allow you to both deal damage, dig for more disruption, cast additional spells, and lock your opponent out of casting theirs.
Then there’s Sin Prodder. Sin Prodder may seem out of place, but it does a lot of little things. If it flips lands, you’re improving the quality of your draw, since you either get the card for free or your opponent mills it away. If it flips spells, you either get awesome spells to cast or your Sin Prodder is dealing huge chunks of damage for a three-mana investment. When your opponent can’t cast spells, Sin Prodder is a great way to move the game forward.
If you’re looking for a way to break into the current Vintage format without a single piece of Power, this may be your best way to do it. You have the most proactive and powerful haymakers against the top tier decks in the format, and can lean on fast Planeswalkers and Rabblemasters against just about everything else.