This upcoming weekend marks a weekend that many players are looking forward to - Eternal Weekend at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Both the Legacy and Vintage Championships will take place, and I am very excited to have a chance to compete against many great players in such skill intensive formats.
A part of me wants to skip the Vintage Championships on Sunday to give myself another chance of qualifying for Pro Tour Fate Reforged. Last weekend, for the second time this PTQ season, I managed to make my way through the swiss rounds of a PTQ, but fell short in the semifinals with a deck I thought was good enough to win with (I even got passed a Sorin, Solemn Visitor!). However, my plan is to currently pass on the PTQ and try my best at both Grand Prix Nashville and Grand Prix New Jersey to earn the invitational to Washington DC.
Legacy and Vintage require one to have a great deal of experience playing with the important cards of the format and fully understand how each deck manages their plan of attack. With both formats having a wide range of decks, the more time spent testing, thinking, and reading up on the format, the better chance you have to succeed. About a month ago, I took Sultai Delver to a 7-0-2 record at the Open Series in New Jersey Edison before losing in the top 8 to Reanimator:
I was very pleased with the list and my play until the top 8, as I made a costly mistake in game 3 which left a sour taste in my mouth. This is one that happens too often when I play and is something I want to work on, which is playing too safe to a point where it turns into a mistake. The scenario was one where instead of leaving up a black source (Underground Sea) to drain my opponent for two life with Deathrite Shaman, I decided to "play it safe" by leaving up a green source (Tropical Island) just in case my opponent went for a reanimation spell. But my thinking was flawed because my opponent didn't even have a creature in his graveyard, and I had a Force of Will along with another blue card in my hand in case anything went wrong. With those factors and the fact that my opponent didn't make a move last turn, I should have realized that he didn't have anything, and it would be highly unlikely for my opponent to reanimate something and beat my Force of Will.
As it turned out, my opponent stabilized with a Griselbrand at one life and I ended up losing.
I did feel as though the deck played out very smoothly as I was able to defeat a wide range of decks including Sneak and Show, Elves, Miracles, and Burn. However, things have changed with the adaptation of Treasure Cruise. Originally, I thought Dig Through Time would be more powerful, but the past two Legacy Open winners have gotten the job done with the newest Ancestral Recall. With the addition of Treasure Cruise in many decks, some cards in my Sultai Delver deck get better, some get slightly worse, and there are some cards I want to add to the list to adapt to the metagame.
The first card that seems to get better is Spell Pierce. First off, it is an excellent answer to stopping Treasure Cruise from resolving, and since it is likely they will try to cast it by removing their entire graveyard, your opponent may not be able to cast a second one for a while. Ignoring countering the card Treasure Cruise, Spell Pierce will now have more targets since players are now building their decks with more cheap cantrips to fill up their graveyard for Treasure Cruise. Countering those cantrips can really stunt their development, as most decks rely on Ponder and Brainstorm to smooth their draws.
Another card that gets better is True-Name Nemesis. Since players now have a lategame card that can push them over the top in Treasure Cruise, it's important to have a card that they still might not be able to answer. Many Sultai decks choose not to play True-Name Nemesis, but I really think it's the backbone of the deck. It is great against a lot of the fair decks in the format, and in the matchups where it might not be very good (Sneak and Show for example), you can always just pitch it to a Force of Will.
When I was playing Shardless Sultai I would have problems attacking against Combo Elves due to Wirewood Symbiote, and I basically had no answer to Mirran Crusader coming out of Death and Taxes. With True-Name Nemesis, both of these problems become much more manageable, and it really makes a difference.
As far as cards that have gotten a bit worse, the best place to start is Tarmogoyf. Because players are removing their graveyard to cast Treasure Cruise (including yourself sometimes!), Tarmogoyf can only get weaker moving forward. Additionally, because players attack graveyards to slow down opposing copies of Treasure Cruise with cards like Rest in Peace and Relic of Progeitus, Tarmogoyf's power and toughness suffers.
The other card that lost some value is Thoughtseize. Even though Thoughtseize is one of my favorite cards, Treasure Cruise makes it lose value because even if you one-for-one your opponent into the ground, they can counteract all your hard work with a single topdeck. Even though some cards have gotten stronger and some cards have become slightly weaker, it doesn't mean that the numbers should drastically change. All it really means is that it's something to consider when you're building your deck and figuring out your gameplans.
Let's take a look at the updated list so you can see how the list evolved along with new additions:
As you can see, some cards have changed, but for the most part the base of the deck and sideboard has remained very similar. I do feel that Sultai Delver will remain one of the top decks in the format, and players will have a wide range of cards to build from to choose the cards they think are best suited for them. Sultai Charm, Life from the Loam, Submerge, Spell Snare, Grafdigger's Cage, and Remand are just a few of the cards that have crossed my mind.
Sultai decks seem to always suit my playstyle no matter the format, which I think is something that's very important when choosing a deck. Even if "combo deck X" is clearly the best deck, but you're not good with combo decks and do not have much experience with them, it's normally better to just spend your time practicing a deck you are very familiar with while possibly tuning your sideboard to have a good match up against popular "combo deck X."
Sunday is the Vintage Championships, and I have never been good with combo decks (Dredge) or decks that follow a certain plan (Workshops) so I decided to also play Sultai in Vintage. Last year I finished in 12th place, and this year I am hoping for first! Here's the list I decided to go with.
- 4 Dark Confidant
- 4 Deathrite Shaman
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 3 Snapcaster Mage
- 2 True-Name Nemesis
- 1 Vendilion Clique
I feel this deck is slightly underpowered, and it doesn't really have a true engine going for it, but it's something that I am very comfortable with. The one card that you might be thinking is missing from the deck is Vampiric Tutor. However, it is a card that I strongly dislike because it is card disadvantage even though it can find you something to make up for the loss of a card. It may be "wrong" to not play it, but it's just a card I view as a mulligan, and you all know how much I dislike mulligans.
Overall, I'm happy with running Sultai twice this weekend. If you want to know how my weekend is going, be sure to follow me on Twitter as I will be posting updates during both tournaments. And if there are any Vampiric Tutor advocates out there that want to try to convince me to play it, or any other card, please do let me know!