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I first started visiting my a local card shop shortly after Champions of Kamigawa had been printed. I was fascinated by the people playing Gifts Ungiven decks. They played so many wacky cards like Hana Kami and Soulless Revival, and they were the only decks in the room that played as many colors as I liked to. Every weekend when we would go over to the shop, there was always a group of people playing with cards we didn’t recognize. The first time we walked over, we saw Darksteel Colossus in play and decided to watch. This was my first exposure to Vintage; watching people playing Meandeck Gifts against some kind of Dark Ritual storm deck.

Meandeck Gifts still defines Vintage to me. Those decks would Gifts Ungiven for Tinker, Recoup, Yawgmoth's Will, and Time Walk to guarantee the ability to cast both Tinker and Time Walk to start closing out games. With Mana Drain generating excess mana to fuel the critical turn, the deck was a dominating force for a couple of months, and eventually led to Gifts Ungiven getting restricted. Gifts Ungiven has since been unrestricted, but hasn’t really done much in the format. I’m hoping that Daniel Unwin may have changed that:

This deck is everything I love about Gifts Ungiven decks. Look at all the singletons! There are so many possibilities, so many permutations of Gifts piles, and no game is going to play out the same. The raw flexibility combined with a suite of cards that lets you always get the effect you want is exactly what I want to be doing, and I can’t wait to see if this version of Mentor takes off.

The key to this deck is the combination of Unearth and Snapcaster Mage. This means that you can use Gifts Ungiven for any instant or sorcery and have the ability to cast it, given enough time. Frequently, that Gifts pile is going to contain Yawgmoth's Will and Time Walk, so that you can set up a turn where you Monastery Mentor, chain a bunch of spells, and then Time Walk so you can kill your opponent.

Alternatively, you can set up piles with Cabal Therapy and other discard spells to shred your opponent’s hand. Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor will guarantee you access to whatever non-instant card you’re looking for. You can get Dig Through Time and Ancestral Recall if you’re looking to get ahead on raw cards. Out of the sideboard, the possibilities get even more absurd given that you can board in all manner of hate cards for specific matchups like Massacre, Hurkyl's Recall, and Yixlid Jailer.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a Gifts Ungiven resolved in Vintage. This may not be the deck that brings Gifts back to its former glory, but every new piece of technology helps. The addition of Unearth and Snapcaster Mage gives you an efficient way to turn a resolved Gifts into a card that affects the game in a meaningful way, which is something that has been sorely lacking in previous iterations of the Gifts decks. I don’t know if it’s enough, but I certainly hope to see more in the near future.

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