By the time this article goes live, we’ll be just 6 days away from the largest Magic tournament in history.

Even better than that, we’ll be a mere 7 days away from the world premiere of Vintage Artist Constructed, a new format focused on promoting the art of Magic and having a great time in the process.

Thunderbreak Regent

Click the Dragon for Event Details

I’ll be giving away some great prizes at the event, including this original pencil sketch for Thunderbreak Regent by Ryan Pancoast.

If you’ll be in Vegas for the GP, even if you aren’t going to be playing for the Dragon, please come by and say “Hello”, it would be great to meet as many of you as possible.


Decks to Beat

Given that this format is all of about a week old, the metagame is beyond unexplored.  While I was investigating the viability of the idea, I did some research into the various artists and found several builds that I consider to be the obvious front runners.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of viable deck, there are several other artists with extremely potent decks, so brew, brew away, but be aware of these potential titans.

Chris Moeller

[deck title=Chris Moeller Boros Aggro] [Creatures] 4 Goblin Lackey
3 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
4 Cerodon Yearling
1 Fortune Thief
4 Siege-Gang Commander[/Creatures] [Spells] 2 Ajani Goldmane
4 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
4 Searing Spear
1 Titan’s Revenge[/Spells] [Lands] 15 Mountain
10 Plains[/Lands] [Sideboard] 1 Safe Passage
2 Arrest
2 Sphere of Law
3 Boil
1 Fortune Thief
2 Manic Vandal
4 Seal of Cleansing[/Sideboard][/deck]

[card]Goblin Lackey[/card] +
[card]Siege-Gang Commander[/card] and
[card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card] backed up with some of the most efficient burn in the game?  Yeah, this deck is pretty scary.

Most of the choices should be fairly self explanatory, but the

[card]Fortune Thief[/card] may be a surprise for some.  Back when it was in standard, this little felon stole many an otherwise un-winnable game.  Removal is sometimes hard to find in this format and you might be able to buy enough time to burn out your opponent with this critter on the board.

I chose to splash white for Isamaru, Ajani and some powerful sideboard options, but a case could easily be made to keep this deck 100% red and avoid any potential mana issues.

With cards like

[card]Seal of Fire[/card],
[card]Punishing Fire[/card] and
[card]Yamabushi’s Flame[/card] sitting on the sidelines, a straight-up melt faces approach may be equally viable, though being cold to Enchantments doesn’t seem like the best idea.

The Sideboard is geared to fight the mirror with 6 anti-Jitte cards and the Spheres.  A bit overboard?  Not sure, but gaining Jitte advantage will be very important if you do face off against another Chris Moeller deck.  Kamigawa block all over again.


[card]Arrest[/card]s and
[card]Safe Passage[/card] are there for the larger creatures and ground stalls, when you can’t punch a hole through with burn alone.

Overall, I put this deck, or something like it, at the top of the heap.  Am I overvaluing the impact of Jitte?  It’s possible, but this format appears to be high on creature combat and that is Umezawe’s pointy stick’s bread and butter.


Greg Staples

[deck title=Greg Staples Boros Control] [Creatures] 4 Sigiled Paladin
4 Blade Splicer
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Baneslayer Angel[/Creatures] [Spells] 4 Punishing Fire
1 Radiant’s Judgment
4 Parallax Wave
1 Divine Reckoning
2 Warleader’s Helix
3 Martial Coup
2 Demonfire[/Spells] [Lands] 14 Plains
6 Mountain
4 Mirrodin’s Core
3 Saltcrusted Steppe[/Lands] [Sideboard] 2 Honden of Cleansing Fire
4 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Divine Reckoning
4 Satyr Nyx-Smith
2 Sunhome Enforcer
2 Keldon Vandals[/Sideboard][/deck]

I’m a sucker for a big mana, tap-out control deck.  Ever since Shaheen Soorani gave me the list for B/W Angel control deck in Ravnica/Time Spiral Standard, I’ve been enamored with that style of play.


[card]Baneslayer Angel[/card],
[card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card] and
[card]Martial Coup[/card] as options for Greg Staples’ deck, rekindled those flames and this deck is the result.

Yes, the 4 drop slot is beyond clogged.  Yes, I have no way to recur

[card]Punishing Fire[/card].  Yes, casting
[card]Sigiled Paladin[/card] on turn 2 will be a challenge.

Yes to all those concerns, and more.

My argument against all of those valid concerns?

Baneslayer Angel by Greg Staples

Well, that and a boat load of mass removal.

I don’t know if it will really be able to hold its own against the aggro burn of Moeller or the Mana Drain control of Tedin but this was my choice to sleeve up for the event.  I won’t be playing for the Dragon but I wanted to have a deck to gunsling and this Staples concoction hit all of my buttons.

For a while I had

[card]Global Ruin[/card] in the maindeck and sideboard hoping to live the dream of Baneslayer into “Armageddon” but even goldfishing that strategy seemed way too slow.

Some cards that I considered but eventually passed on:

[card]Magus of the Scroll[/card],
[card]Judge Unworthy[/card], and
[card]Captain of the Watch[/card].  They all missed the cut for various reasons but I could see arguments either way. 

Dropping the burn and going mono white might be even stronger but I really appreciate the additional reach that

[card]Demonfire[/card] and
[card]Warleader’s Helix[/card] provide.


Mark Tedin

[deck title=Mark Tedin Mono Blue Control] [Creatures] 4 Wistful Selkie
3 Chimeric Idol
2 Temporal Adept
2 Draining Whelk
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/Creatures] [Spells] 1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Sol Ring
1 Ponder
4 Mana Drain
4 Memory Lapse
4 Nevinyrral’s Disk
3 Mind Control
2 Ring of Gix
2 Braingeyser[/Spells] [Lands] 2 Urza’s Factory
23 Island[/Lands] [Sideboard] 2 Predator, Flagship
1 Mind Control
1 Timetwister
4 Force Void
1 Myr Matrix
4 Winter Orb
1 Chimeric Idol
1 Ring of Gix[/Sideboard][/deck]

[card]Mana Drain[/card]. 
[card]Sol Ring[/card].
[card]Mana Vault[/card]. 
[card]Mana Crypt[/card].  Turn 5
[card]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/card].  Game.

If only if it was that easy.

Objectively, this deck probably has the most explosive potential of all the decks in this article.  3 restricted mana sources and 4 Drains could easily lead to 7 mana on turn 3.  Not exactly Emrakul mana, but it’s getting there.  Additionally, the end game of

[card]Temporal Adept[/card] +
[card]Draining Whelk[.card] is pretty nasty, if you can survive until that point.

Fast Mana, counterspells, tons of draw and board sweepers looks potentially oppressive but I could see this build having problems against a beatdown deck like Terese Nielsen or Chris Moeller.

A good curve of creatures with some reach or recursion could easily put any potential Mark Tedin concoction into a bleak corner quickly.

Still, even so, this deck’s long game is extremely potent and attractive.  I’ll admit that this deck is really tempting and we’ll likely see several Tedin decks at the Vegas event. 


Terese Nielsen

[deck title=Terese Nielsen G/W Beatdown] [Creatures] 4 Birds of Paradise
4 Dryad Militant
4 Mother of Runes
4 Lotus Cobra
4 Eternal Witness[/Creatures] [Spells] 4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Call of the Conclave
4 Glorious Anthem
1 Loxodon Warhammer
3 Garruk Wildspeaker[/Spells] [Lands] 13 Forest
11 Plains[/Lands] [Sideboard] 2 Choke
4 Nyx-Fleece Ram
2 Sacred Ground
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Loxodon Warhammer
2 Voidstone Gargoyle
3 Divine Offering[/Sideboard][/deck]

The Terese Beatdown is savage.

With a solid selection of beaters in the 1,2, and 3 spot I think this deck might surprise a few people, especially when backed up with [card]Glorious Anthem[/card] and

[card]Garruk Wildspeaker[/card].

The maindeck may be weak to Jitte, but at least you have Moms and Swords to keep that particular monster at bay until the time for sideboarding comes along. 

Is this the optimal build?  Should we really be ignoring

[card]Force of Will[/card] and
[card]Fact or Fiction[/card]?  I think so, but I’d like to see an alternate build.

Going U/G control with

[card]Ertai, Wizard Adept[/card],
[card]Faerie Trickery[/card],
[card]Gaea’s Skyfolk[/card], and
[card]Undo[/card] definitely looks promising but the loss of
[card]Mother of Runes[/card] and some of the early pressure might not be worth it in the end.


Kev Walker

[deck title=Kev Walker Rock] [Creatures] 4 Llanowar Elves
4 Pack Rat
4 Ohran Viper
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Krosan Tusker
2 Master of the Wild Hunt
2 Spiritmonger[/Creatures] [Spells] 4 Rancor
4 Devour Flesh
2 Damnation[/Spells] [Lands] 2 Volrath’s Stronghold
14 Forest
10 Swamp[/Lands] [Sideboard] 4 Viridian Zealot
2 Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
2 Damnation
2 Slaughter Pact
4 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Visara the Dreadful[/Sideboard][/deck]

My Kev Walker deck started out Mono Black but this is probably what I would sleeve up if I wanted to play with Kev’s art.  The additional card draw, acceleration and beatdown potential that adopting a “Rock” strategy provides is too good to pass up.

Not only do I still retain the 4

[card]Pack Rat[/card] + 4
[card]Damnation[/card] combo and
[card]Volrath’s Stronghold[/card] but I gain an additional 4 outs to Jitte and an annoying creature for control decks in
[card]Nath of the Gilt Leaf[/card].  Best of both worlds?  It certainly seems like it.

With over 360 cards to pull from, there are of course a ton of options that I had to leave on the table.  From

[card]Arashi, the Sky Asunder[/card] to
[card]Vulturous Aven[/card] you could easily diversify the threats or removal and end up with a great deck.

If you still wanted to keep the deck mono black, likely for

[card]Geralf’s Messenger[/card], here is where I would start:

[deck title=Kev Walker MBC] [Creatures] 4 Hand of Cruelty
4 Pack Rat
4 Geralf’s Messenger
4 Graveborn Muse
2 Doomwake Giant
2 Visara the Dreadful[/Creatures] [Spells] 4 Devour Flesh
2 Douse in Gloom
4 Damnation
2 Promise of Power
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Debtors Knell[/Spells] [Lands] 3 Volrath’s Stronghold
23 Swamp[/Lands] [Sideboard] 2 Douse in Gloom
1 Slaughter Pact
4 Phyrexian Revoker
2 Eradicate
1 Wit’s End
2 Annihilate
2 Mirri the Cursed
1 Debtors Knell[/Sideboard][/deck]


John Avon

[deck title=John Avon Mono Brown Combo] [Combo] 4 Crown of Empires
4 Scepter of Empires
4 Throne of Empires
2 Mirrorworks
2 Eternity Vessel[/Combo] [Spells] 4 Pyroclasm
3 Brittle Effigy
4 Fellwar Stone
4 Prophetic Prism
4 Vessel of Endless Rest[/Spells] [Lands] 4 Darksteel Citadel
3 Gods’ Eye, Gate to the Reikai
3 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
15 Mountain[/Lands] [Sideboard] 3 Serrated Arrows
1 Brittle Effigy
4 Boom Bust
2 Honden of Infinite Rage
2 Witchbane Orb
1 Living Inferno[/Sideboard][/deck]

Yes, my John Avon deck, which has tons of options color options due to John’s extensive landscape work, is almost entirely Mono Brown.

No, it’s not a joke. Sure, you could probably piece together a passable Jund deck with

[card]Maelstrom Pulse[/card] and
[card]Sapling of Colfenor[/card] if you wanted to, but I feel that this is the best (and most amusing) option for a deck using John’s art.

7 pieces of removal should buy a good amount of time and if the * of Empires engine gets on line, the game will quickly get out of hand.  The power is there (though maybe not the consistency) and I’m sure the deck would be an absolute hoot to play.

If you really wanted to, you could probably shoehorn 4 Pulses into the maindeck with some changes to the mana base and improve the deck without much, if any, negative impact.  It would definitely be a good out to Nevinyrral’s Disk but I kept it with a straight red base for simplicity’s sake. 


I am so incredibly excited for this format and the event at Vegas

New format, a Meet Up of art fans and the largest Magic event in history? Nerdvana.  For me at least.

I hope you you enjoyed these rough drafts and look forward to seeing what people bring to battle with at the event.  They are by no means tested, well thought-out lists, but they should give you a good idea of your competition when you sit down to fight for the Dragon.

See you in Vegas!