《Murktide Regent》 has proved itself as one of the best creatures ever printed by becoming almost instantly a staple in both Legacy and Modern. It is not only a huge threat that can be played with only two mana, but unlike other Delve cards, this one actually plays well in multiples where you can often end games with a single 《Murktide Regent》 Attack.
You could also say the same about 《Expressive Iteration》! It barely took a few weeks for it to be everywhere in both Modern, Legacy and Standard. It is THAT good.
Both cards have in common that they don’t see much play in Vintage as they do in other formats. Vintage decks are built in a different way and the power level is simply high enough that it makes sense for cards to be less likely to be played.
That’s not the case anymore. Enter Izzet Murktide.
This is the list I won the Vintage Challenge with on March 19th:
Many of the Vintage cards are automatically locked in once you decide to play a color. That is the case with cards like 《Ancestral Recall》 or 《Time Walk》, so I’m going to go through those who are not obvious.
One of the weakest points of playing Izzet is the fact that we only have access to two in-color Moxes, so 《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》 here takes a lot of weight in covering our mana needs. We will often care more about the treasure than about the potential card. I could see a world where we simply play 4.
I’m not a huge fan of 《Dack Fayden》, but I think it deserves a slot in this deck. Without playing something like 《Urza’s Saga》, the deck is relatively light in win conditions, and 《Dack Fayden》 sometimes act as such. Card selection isn’t that much different to card advantage when you have cards like 《Ancestral Recall》 or 《Dig Through Time》.
《Dack Fayden》 is better than something like 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 because it has uses against 《Urza’s Saga》 decks. Izzet Murktide also sees more cards in a long game than other decks, so assembling the 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 + 《Dack Fayden》 combo is slightly easier here.
On the other hand, I am a huge fan of 《Flusterstorm》. 《Tinker》 decks are the most powerful decks in the format and 《Flusterstorm》 is the best tool you can have against the 《Tinker》 card itself. It also covers you against many of the broken spells while being a blue card that you can pitch to 《Force of Will》 making it so it’s never completely dead.
《Daze》 is a strong card that I tend to like in my Vintage decks. However, I think it has too much tension here with a high count of 《Expressive Iteration》 and I think 4 《Flusterstorm》 is enough to cover against the fast starts in the format. I wouldn’t play 《Daze》 in this deck.
I decided to play 《Gush》 over more defensive cards like 《Force of Negation》 because I expected to play against slower versions of 《Tinker》 instead of the ones playing 《Paradoxical Outcome》, but both directions are perfectly reasonable.
4 《Thought Scour》 over 《Preordain》
We saw in Modern how Izzet decks stopped playing 《Thought Scour》 to play better cantrips instead, and 《Preordain》 is much better to the ones available in Modern. So why would we play 《Thought Scour》 here?
The first reason is speed. This deck has less mana acceleration than any other deck that cares about having mana and that often means you need to get some of that mana disadvantage back. 《Thought Scour》 helps casting our 《Murktide Regent》s earlier, even if they are smaller, but that is often better than having more card selection and be one turn behind.
The second reason is that we play five Delve spells with two being the critical 《Treasure Cruise》/《Dig Through Time》 tandem. Vintage is a format where both players are often forced to play with little resources because how 《Force of Will》 and mana denial cards shape the state of the game. For that reason, being able to resolve a 《Treasure Cruise》 for one mana can make a huge difference.
Last but not least, 《Doomsday》. 《Doomsday》 is the best combo deck in Vintage and likely the 2nd strongest archetype after 《Tinker》. 《Thought Scour》 can act as a hate card against Doomsday if you can afford not to play it on the early game.
I think 《Urza’s Saga》 is so powerful in Vintage that I don’t think playing less than the 5 available 《Wasteland》 effects (4 + 《Strip Mine》) is a good idea. Playing against Non-《Bazaar of Baghdad》 and non-《Urza’s Saga》 decks, sideboarding out some copies is still reasonable, though.
I don’t like 《Lightning Bolt》 maindeck in Vintage because of how dead it is against many 《Tinker》 decks while also not being particularly useful against decks like Dredge. Other than creatures that die to bolt like 《Deathrite Shaman》 and 《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》 being played, what makes 《Lightning Bolt》 a reasonable maindeck card nowadays is how acceptable it is against Doomsday.
In addition to the package of 《Force of Will》, 《Mental Misstep》, 《Gitaxian Probe》 and Fetchlands that already can tax your life total, 《Doomsday》 decks also play 《Street Wraith》, 《Necropotence》 and 《Vampiric Tutor》.
As a result, it is very common for the 《Doomsday》 player to have a low life count after they resolve their powerful sorcery, particularly if you have attacked them with your 《Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer》. While it is obviously not a hate card against 《Doomsday》, it is relevant often enough for me to think it is a live card in the matchup, making it only truly bad against creatureless 《Tinker》 decks, which is the archetype that our maindeck is trying to beat anyway.
In this 《Urza’s Saga》 world, I simply don’t like to leave home without 《Energy Flux》. It is a card that actively punishes them for playing the card while still plays quite well with our 《Wasteland》 core. Good against 《Tinker》 and often a 2U: Win the game card against Workshop decks.
I think of 《Null Rod》 as a worse 《Energy Flux》 as it stifles their mana but doesn’t affect 《Urza’s Saga》 tokens. However, it is pretty good against Doomsday even if they only play 3 artifacts, as they usually have to go through 《Black Lotus》 to kill us through our 《Wasteland》 disruption. If Doomsday loses metagame share, I would be very happy about cutting 《Null Rod》.
《Trickbind》’s idea came to me by AlbertoSD where the concept is having a card that’s good against Doomsday that has some applications elsewhere. I’ve been sideboarding it against Bazaar decks and it also has minor applications against decks like Goblins. Overall, I think 《Archive Trap》 is likely a better card against Doomsday but it doesn’t hurt to have other options.
As usual, sideboarding map in Vintage is relatively intuitive as most cards tend to be either dead or very strong.
Tinker is the archetype we are trying to beat. However, the deck is so strong that we will simply sometimes to their raw power.
This is the classic fair deck against combo deck battle, where we have to navigate the game while trying to survive. I think it is usually better to not fight for cantrips and focus on the large spells as our 《Flusterstorm》 – the key card of the matchup – tend to be better.
Fair Magic. Nothing special to say here other than we are better than other fair decks against 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》 since 《Murktide Regent》’s +1/+1 counters are good against it. Also remember that 《Tarmogoyf》 is very well worth a 《Force of Will》 in many situations since we don’t have an easy way to kill it.
《Bazaar of Baghdad》 decks are bad matchups as opposed to what we have with 《Deathrite Shaman》 fair decks. Since we have almost no way to disrupt their engines other than 《Wasteland》, one 《Bazaar of Baghdad》 activation is often enough to beat us; game 1 is really abyssal.
Post sideboard we simply need to draw our hate cards, but that’s easier said than done. 《Trickbind》 for more graveyard hate cards like 《Ravenous Trap》 would certainly help here. Too bad we can’t play more copies of 《Leyline of the Void》!
We are a little light on hate against artifacts but that’s because opposed to graveyard matchups, our plan is actually acceptable against them. 《Murktide Regent》 is not only unanswerable for them but also plays well through 《Sphere of Resistance》 effects.
Thanks for reading and see you at the tables!