First Premodern 10 Points Singleton Tournament

60 cards per deck. Only one copy of each card, except for basic lands. Every card except for ante ones is allowed. Adding the best cards to your deck costs points, of which you have 10. Every Premodern set is permitted. This is Premodern 10 Points Singleton.

Under those rules, 4 people dared to play this format for the first time today in Valencia, Spain. We brought quite different decks. Nacho Barrachina built a white-black control deck. Roberto Martínez, an artifacts deck. Pablo Cubedo, a blue-black reanimator deck. My deck was blue-green with many utility creatures, resembling what I remembered playing on Magic Online Singleton around 2004.

We played round-robin. Nacho won a match, like me. Roberto and Pablo both won 2 matches, so they played again to see who was the winner. Pablo managed to take the title and become the first Premodern 10 Points Singleton winner.

Pablo Cubedo’s winning deck. Akroma was a proxy for Symbiotic Wurm. 3-1.
Roberto Martínez’ deck, 2-2.
Vedast Sanxis’ deck, 2-2,
Nacho Barrachina’s deck, 1-3.

Bases de la III Liga Madrileña de Old Frame

SE CELEBRA EN:

Tempest Store: C/ Timoteo Domingo 17, 28017 Madrid (L5 y L7 Pueblo Nuevo, L5 Quintana); web.: www.tempeststore.com

FORMATO: Old Frame Vintage

JORNADAS:

  • Liga regular: 5 torneos abiertos a lo largo de 2024. Cada evento empezará a las 12:00, haciendo pausa de 14:00 a 16:00. Tras la misma, se seguirá jugando. La estructura exacta del torneo dependerá del número de jugadores.
  • Torneo final: Los 8 jugadores que acaben primeros sobre la clasificación final de la liga podrán participar en un torneo invitacional a final de año. 

La organización se reserva el derecho de cambiar cualquier formato de torneo por posibles incompatibilidades con los horarios de la tienda donde se realizan los torneos.

REGLAS DE LAS JORNADAS:

  1. Precio de inscripción en las jornadas de liga regular: 15 euros. 
  2. Premios: El 100% de lo recaudado en inscripciones se repartirá como premio en crédito de tienda. El 80% se repartirá en el mismo torneo de liga regular, y el 20% restante en el torneo final.
  3. Premios adicionales: Además de los premios anteriormente mencionados, pueden haber otros premios extras proporcionados por la organización de forma gratuita. 
  4. Duración de las rondas: 50 minutos
  5. Nivel de reglas: REL Regular.
  6. Uso de proxies: Se permite un número ilimitado de los mismos siempre que sean fácilmente reconocibles.
  7. Uso de reimpresiones: se permiten todas las reimpresiones que tengan un tamaño de carta habitual, incluyendo las de borde dorado, Collectors’ Edition, International Edition, Magic: The Gathering 30th Anniversary Edition. También se permite el uso de cartas de borde moderno, aunque se recomienda utilizar las de borde antiguo para seguir el espíritu nostálgico del formato.
  8. Cada jugador debe enviar la foto y lista de su mazo, con los nombres de las cartas en inglés e indicando del participante, al correo electrónico a ligaoldframemadrid@gmail.com antes de que comience el evento. La revisión de listas se hace tras finalizar el evento, a no ser que se detecte alguna irregularidad por parte de algún jugador.
  9. A la hora de determinar qué jugadores se clasifican al torneo invitacional final, se llevará una clasificación de la liga regular, dando a cada jugador 3 puntos por cada victoria y 1 por cada empate, pero sólo hasta sus mejores 4 actuaciones durante la liga puntuarán. En caso de que haya varios jugadores empatados con el mismo número de puntos e insuficientes plazas para ellos, se usará como primer criterio de desempate qué porcentaje de rondas ha ganado sobre las que ha jugado a lo largo de la liga regular. En caso de haber aún empates tras esto, se elegirá de forma aleatoria quién se clasifica para el torneo final.
  10. El uso de la aplicación Companion es obligatoria.
  11. Las jornadas de la Liga comenzarán con estricta puntualidad. Si un jugador quiere jugar con una ronda ya empezada, se le dará por perdida esa ronda y todas las anteriores.
  12. Tras finalizar una partida, es obligación del ganador dar el resultado, al personal de la tienda que lleva el torneo, o por la aplicación Companion. Nunca será la obligación del personal que trabaja en el local preguntar los resultados. Se darán como empate los resultados que no sean notificados a tiempo.
  13. Tras lanzarse una ronda, si un jugador tarda 5 minutos o más en presentarse en la mesa, será penalizado con una partida perdida. En caso de tardar 10 minutos o más, se le dará la ronda por perdida.
  14. Los jugadores que se retiran de un evento sin comunicarlo serán penalizados sin poder participar en la siguiente jornada de liga, ya que penaliza a jugadores que quieren seguir disfrutando del torneo.

NORMAS DE CONVIVENCIA:

Tempest Store se reserva el derecho de admisión de todo aquel jugador o cliente que:

  • Mantengan una actitud hostil o inadecuada según los parámetros de comportamiento establecidos por la tienda.
  • Tengan comportamiento incorrecto debido al consumo de alcohol o drogas.
  • Representen una amenaza para los intereses de la tienda, ya sea por mal uso de las instalaciones o por amenazar los intereses económicos.
  • Participen en actitudes violentas, hurto, o mala fe dentro de las instalaciones, lo que podría resultar en una suspensión de asistencia a eventos o zona de juego de por vida, acompañado de una denuncia a las autoridades legales pertinentes.

Tempest Store se reserva el derecho de admisión a cualquier jugador o cliente que incumpla o haya incumplido cualquiera de los puntos mencionados con anterioridad.

January 2024 Technomonstrual

On January 14, 2024, 22 players battled during 5 Swiss rounds and 3 playoff rounds to become the winner of the first “Technomonstrual”, a Premodern event that will take place once a month in Gremio de Dragones, a store in Valencia, Spain, where the Technoliga is played every Saturday. 

In this tournament, we tried the Spanish Tournament System, so the player that ended first after the Swiss phase got a bye for the playoff. Therefore, 7 players qualified for that phase instead of 8. 

This system achieves two things: 

  1. It prevents players from intentionally drawing in some situations in which they would under the typical tournament structure. Especially, it encourages the most important Swiss games to be played, those among the undefeated players in the last rounds.
  2. It properly rewards the players that do better in the Swiss phase, by giving them a bigger margin of error, a bye, instead of considering both phases as almost separate tournaments.

There was some scepticism about trying this system, so I “bribed” the players to try it, by adding some sealed booster packs to the prize pool.

Bribes were properly kept in a not-so-discreet suitcase. At the end of each Swiss round, a pack was given to a randomly selected winner.

So did the Spanish Tournament System theory hold or what happened in practice? These were the standings after 4 rounds:

If this were a regular tournament with top 8, we would expect all of the 6 first players to intentionally draw as there’s not enough incentive to play. But, thanks to using STS, the first two players were encouraged to play, as the winner wouldn’t just qualify for the playoff but would get a bye, therefore skipping the quarterfinals.

In a slightly bigger event, in which more players had 9 points at the end of the fourth round, STS would be even better as it would have forced the 9-point players to play the last round too. 

So what happened in practice? First of all, we had lunch:

When we came back, Luis’ 4-colour Stasis punished me for making some terrible plays. Before losing that round, I won 2-1 against Survirock, 2-1 against Thresgeddon, 1-0 against a similar deck and 2-0 against Storm. These were the final Swiss standings: 

In the quarterfinals, I lost with Oathclysm against Juan’s Storm deck.

Me playing against Juan.

Edu’s Fluctuator lost against Markus’ Black Power.

Edu and Markus.

And Pepsi, the tournament organizer, won against Vicente in a Burn mirror.

Pepsi and Vicente.

In the semifinals, Luis won against Pepsi.

Pepsi and Luis.

Juan Vilar won against Markus.

Juan and Markus.

In the finals, Luis won 2-0, ending the tournament with a perfect record.

Luis against Juan.
Luis happily showing off his torture devices and his first-place prize: 2 Japanese Rishadan Ports.

Top 7 Decks

Luis Sevilla’s Stasis
Juan Vilar’s Storm
Pepsi’s Burn
Markus’ Black Power (one of the main deck Drain Life should be in the sideboard)
My Oathclysm
Edu’s Fluctuator
Vicente’s Burn

Sistema español de torneos

Introducción

(For a longer version, in English, click here).

Estamos acostumbrados a jugar torneos con la siguiente estructura:

Proponemos usar lo siguiente, que llamamos STS (“Spanish Tournament System”):

¿Cuál es la diferencia? En la mayoría de casos, todos menos aquellos en naranja, otorgamos un “bye” al que quede primero de la fase suiza. Eso significa que tal jugador tiene por ganada la primera ronda de la fase eliminatoria. Por ejemplo, si hay “top 7”, el que quede primero del suizo se salta los cuartos de final y está directamente clasificado para la semifinal.

¿Qué conseguimos con esto? Esto evita muchos pactos que ocurrirían con la estructura habitual, al forzar a los jugadores a tener que ganar para seguir en el torneo, o incentivarles a jugar para potencialmente ganar el “bye”. Y premia al quien lo hace bien en la parte suiza, dándole más margen de error en las eliminatorias.

En el caso de 9 a 16 jugadores se puede usar la opción de la primera fila o de la segunda. En los casos naranja estamos usando la estructura normal, por lo que sí son esperables los pactos habituales.

Torneo de 64 personas

Analicemos un torneo de 64 personas. Con el formato habitual, se jugarían 6 rondas de suizo y “top 8”. Con STS, 6 y “top 7”. 

Asumiendo que no hay empates, tras 4 rondas tendríamos 4 jugadores 4-0 y 16 3-1. 

A partir de ahí es cuando la cosa cambia. Con la estructura normal, los 4 jugadores 4-0 pactarían las 2 últimas rondas, ya que con 14 puntos tienen asegurado pasar a la fase eliminatoria, y no tienen ningún incentivo para intentar ganar. Pactando pueden descansar, ver a sus rivales, sumar puntos para el MBP, etc.

Mientras ellos pactan, los 16 3-1 jugarían, pasando a haber 8 4-1 tras la quinta ronda, los cuales jugarían en la sexta para 4 de ellos acabar 5-1 y clasificarse junto con los pactadores.

¿Qué pasa en STS?

Los 4 4-0 no pactarían la quinta ronda, sino que jugarían. Esto es porque con 14 puntos no tienen garantizada su plaza, uno de ellos se quedaría fuera, al haber sólo 7 plazas para la fase eliminatoria y 4 de ellas estarán ocupadas por 4 de los 16 que van 3-1.

Por lo tanto, todos juegan la quinta ronda, y al final de la misma tendríamos 2 jugadores 5-0 y 10 jugadores 4-1.

Llega la sexta ronda y, de nuevo, los jugadores invictos no pactan. Esto es porque sí tienen una razón para jugar, cosa que no ocurre con el sistema normal: ver quién gana el “bye”. El que pierda está clasificado igualmente, por lo que no tienen nada que perder jugando. Empatando, el que tenga peor desempate de los 2 5-0 le estaría haciendo un regalo a su oponente, por lo que no debería aceptar pactar y deberían jugar.

Vemos cómo STS evita los pactos en este torneo, sin hacer el torneo más largo ni ningún otro coste.

¿Y si el número de jugadores fuera otro se evitarían también todos los pactos? No, en algunos casos pactar sigue siendo óptimo, pero incluso en tales torneos habría menos pactos que con la estructura habitual.

En el artículo principal planteamos cómo reducir aun más la probabilidad de pactos, a base de dar doble “bye” al primero del suizo y un “bye” a todos los X-1 o mejor. Eso conlleva alargar el torneo, en una ronda en las filas blancas y dos en las naranja.

Spanish Tournament System

Introduction

If you ever played a Magic tournament with playoffs, it probably followed this structure:

Typical tournament structure

This structure has two issues: intentional draws and overweighting playoff results. In this article, we will propose a different system that reduces or eliminates those two problems.

Intentional Draws

When the penultimate Swiss round in a Magic tournament takes place, most of the time we see a strange phenomenon: the highest tables are empty. Those with the best record up to that point decide to draw intentionally. 

Players decide to do that because the advantages of ending among the first players in the Swiss phase are minimal, so it is better to secure their spot in the playoffs phase instead of potentially not qualifying for it. 

Generally, there are only two advantages for finishing in the highest places in the Swiss phase, and the second of them does not apply to every tournament. First, on average, you should be playing against slightly worse opponents as you did better in the Swiss rounds. Second, you may choose to play first on your first games. The first benefit is negligible in a game with high variance like Magic. The second one is more relevant but still not that much.

Drawing is the right choice under the typical tournament structure. If getting either one point or three qualifies you for the playoffs but losing does not, playing would only be right if you expected to win that match a very high percentage of the time, which is not realistic. 

The regular structure leaves the highest tables on the last rounds empty, which should be the most interesting matches at that point of the tournament. This is especially bad when events are broadcast, as it is often the case nowadays.

To avoid this, some tournament organizers propose making the last Swiss rounds untimed. The first problem with this is that there is an extra cost, the tournament is longer than it would be otherwise. The second problem is that you are forcing players to play a game that should not be played, a game which under the tournament structure should be drawn. This typically happens in Table 1 in the last round. They are qualified no matter what, and they have almost nothing to play for, so it is not an interesting match, it is a match that would normally be drawn.

Other organizers ban draws. This has the same second problem we saw before and, on top of that, encourages participants to make strange game decisions, like trying to make games longer, or playing more defensively, as their goal is to either draw or win while lowering the likelihood of losing.

Instead of using a bad tournament structure, that encourages people to draw, and not allowing them to do so, it would be better to use a system that encourages participants to play those games, as the one we propose.

Overweighting Playoff Results

The way tournaments are typically structured, with very small advantages for the one that ends first in the Swiss phase, it is almost as if they consist of two separate tournaments. The Swiss part is there just for you to qualify for the second tournament, which is the playoffs.

The regular structure does not properly reward those who did well in the Swiss phase. Considering that draws were not allowed, the first quarterfinals could see an undefeated player, with a 5-0 record, playing against a 3-2 player. If the 3-2 player wins, which is expected to happen almost 50% of the time, it means that someone with a 5-1 record is out, while a 4-2 player is still there. That is a flawed system, which overweighs what happens in the playoffs. 

Our Proposal: The Spanish Tournament System

At the 2023 Old Frame World Championship, we tried something different. We were 20 players, but, instead of playing the typical 5 Swiss rounds plus the top 8, only 7 players qualified for the playoffs, and the one that ended first after the Swiss phase had a bye, directly qualifying for the semifinals.

This structure lowers the likelihood of drawing being the optimal choice, as ending first was very valuable, it did not just mean qualifying for the top 8 and having a slight advantage there, it meant qualifying for the top 4. It also made every match interesting, as they were fighting for something. No intentional draws took place.

Two Premodern tournaments in Alicante (this and this) followed the same structure, Swiss plus top 7. The result was the same, no voluntary draws occurred as finishing first in the Swiss phase was worth playing for. The first Technomonstrual also used this structure, where it encouraged Table 1 on the last round to play.

Here is the table we propose to use for tournaments of different sizes, which we will call the Spanish Tournament System (STS), in honour of its origins: its creators, César Garrido and Vedast Sanxis, and because it was first tried in Valencia, Spain.

Spanish Tournament System: Light Version

How does this work? Let us ignore the orange rows for now. As we can see, we are granting a bye to whoever ends first after the Swiss rounds. When we are giving a player a bye in the playoffs, it is as if that player took 2 “spots” in that phase. Therefore, instead of top 4, we would have top 3. And instead of top 8, top 7. 

By doing this, participants are less likely to be in a situation where drawing is the best choice, as getting a bye and skipping a playoff round is very valuable. And those that do very well in the Swiss phase have more margin of error in the playoffs.

For 9 to 16 players, we can either play 4 Swiss rounds and 3 playoff matches or 5 and 2, respectively.

What happens in the orange rows? When that is the number of players, if we want to make sure that everyone who wins every round except for one, every “X-1”, qualifies for the playoffs, but we do not want or cannot make the tournament longer, we have to use the usual tournament structure. 

Double-Bye: No Intentional Draws

Does the previous table, what we are calling the “light” version, prevent every intentional draw from happening? No, there are still scenarios in which drawing is optimal. What could we do if we want to make sure that voluntarily drawing is never the right choice, and we do not mind making the tournament longer? Then we would use this structure:

Spanish Tournament System: Double-Bye Version

In this case, the player that ends first after the Swiss rounds would have 2 byes in the playoffs. And those that go X-1 or better would get a bye.

If we do this, participants should always play, either because it is the only way to continue in the tournament or because winning one or two byes is very valuable.

In every case except for the orange ones, this system only adds an extra match to the tournament, in the playoff phase. Why are we adding 2 rounds in the orange cases? If we do not, a player with an X-1 record may not reach the playoffs, it is the same reason why we proposed using the regular top 8 structure in those cases before. 

Appendix 1: 64-Person Tournament

Let us analyze a particular case, a 64-person event, and see how the regular tournament structure compares to STS. Typically, that would mean 6 Swiss rounds and top 8. In STS, 6 Swiss rounds and top 7.

Assuming no draws, after 4 rounds we would have 4 4-0 players and 16 3-1 players. 

After that, using the Magic Judges system, the 4-0 would voluntarily draw the last 2 rounds to secure their place in the top 8 as they do not have any reason to play those games. On the other hand, there would be 8 4-1 players after the fifth round, and then 4 5-1 players at the end of the last round, which would fill the rest of the top 8. 

In STS, the 4-0 players would play the fifth round. As there are only 7 spots in the playoffs, intentionally drawing both rounds and ending with 14 points means one of them would not qualify, so they have to play. When the fifth round ends, we would have 2 5-0 players and 10 4-1 players. Then, in the last round, the 5-0 players would play again. By playing they have an approximate 75% chance of reaching the semifinals, instead of just slightly higher than 50% if they drew. From that match, we would have a 6-0 player and a 5-1 player, and, at the same time, from tables 3 to 6, 5 more players would end up with a 5-1 record. So a total of 1 6-0 and 6 5-1 would reach the top 7.

Therefore, in STS there are no intentional draws in this case, while in the typical structure, the 4 most important Swiss phase matches would not be played.

Appendix 2: Table for X-2 or Better

What if you want to make sure that everyone who has won every round except for 2 qualifies for the playoffs? In that case, you would use the following table:

In most cases, a double-bye is given to the winner and one bye to every X-1 or better. This longer structure reduces variance, so it may be appropriate for tournaments in which there is more at stake.

Appendix 3: Playoff Charts

As most organizers are used to tournaments with just 3 playoff rounds, we are sharing some charts for more complicated structures. First, charts for tournaments where players have either 0 or 1 bye. 

For example, for a tournament with top 15, the first playoff, where the first player would play against the 16th, does not take place, the first is directly qualified for the quarterfinals. 

Now let us see what happens in the playoff phases when 2 byes are granted to the first-place finisher in the Swiss phase:

If we go back to the 128-people tournament we saw that the first player went 7-0 and got 2 byes, 7 6-1 players got one bye and 14 5-2 players qualified for the playoffs. In that case, what would happen is that in the first playoff round the second player does not play against the 29th, the third against the 28th, etc., as the chart shows. Instead, the first to 8th qualify for the next round, and the matches that would take place are those between the 9th and 22nd, 10th and 21st and so on until the 15th against the 16th.

Back to Sweden

Introduction

Although there have always been “flashback” events, like some booster drafts with old packs, I think it is reasonable to say that the first popular Old Frame format was invented in Sweden, which ended up being called 93/94 Old School, or “93/94 Old School: Swedish”, as so many variations of this original idea appeared. On their website, I see they invented it as early as 2007, although it did not become very popular until a few years later.

Sweden was again, in 2012, the place where an Old Frame format was invented, which is probably the most popular nowadays: Premodern.

So I guess it is not a coincidence that the Nordic country is where a group of 93/94 Old School regulars have tried our main format, Old Frame Vintage. However, they decided to make several changes, essentially creating a new format, which we have called Old Frame Vintage: Lindström Style, in honour of its creator, Martin Lindström.

Changes

What is different about Old Frame Vintage: Lindström Style? In general terms, they let you play 4 copies of many cards that are restricted in Old Frame Vintage.

These are the cards that are restricted in Old Frame Vintage but are not in Old Frame Vintage: Lindström Style:

Lion’s Eye Diamond. Old Frame Vintage: Lindström Style is the place where you can play the mythical Burning Long deck.

Also, these are the cards that they do not allow but we do:

  • Every Portal, Portal Second Age, Portal Three Kingdoms and Starter 1999 cards. In practice, the only cards that have seen play from those sets are Imperial Seal and Grim Tutor.
  • Time Vault.

Both formats allow cards played from Alpha to Scourge, the whole Old Frame era, except for the “starter” sets mentioned before, but Old Frame Vintage: Lindström Style seems to be a much more dangerous place, as so many powerful cards are unrestricted.

Some of them seem especially problematic, like Flash, which is very strong together with Academy Rector, letting you bring a Yawgmoth’s Bargain into play for just 1U at instant speed. Or Gush, which dominated the Type 1 scene in Gro-a-tog decks in 2003 before it was restricted. Lion’s Eye Diamond also became a key card in Burning Long decks those days, together with a playset of Burning Wish.

It will be very interesting to see how that format develops. And it is an honour that it is being played by some of the creators of the first Old Frame format, 93/94 Old School.

If you want to try the format in person, there is a tournament in Gothenburg in less than a month.

September 25, 2023 Banned and Restricted Announcement

Changes

Changes Explanation

Although we highly prefer to avoid making changes to our banned and restricted lists and let, instead, the metagame adapt to temporary unbalances, some archetypes and colours have clearly dominated the Old Frame Vintage format for the last few years, with no sign of it changing.

As of today, since we restricted Merchant Scroll, there have been 13 online Old Frame Vintage leagues and 13 live tournaments. Out of all those 26 events, 24 of them were won by decks that played 4 Brainstorm. The only exceptions were the Online Old Frame League VI, won by Tools and Tubbies, and the first Liga Madrileña de Old Frame event, won by Sligh.

Players need a very good reason not to play 4 Brainstorm while staying competitive. In every event there have been participants trying different archetypes, some of them targetting blue decks very heavily, even playing cards like Chains of Mephistopheles main deck. But decks featuring Brainstorm have kept on winning tournaments.

The fact that all of these 26 tournaments have been casual also deters most people from putting the effort to innovate and bring some opposing deck that could potentially perform well in a blue-dominant field.

4 Foil Japanese Mercadian Masques Brainstorm, they will not be seen together anymore.

We find this situation to be very similar to when we restricted Merchant Scroll. Both cards could be played as 4-of in Vintage when Scourge was released, as most players were not taking full advantage of their power. Fetchlands had been printed just a few months before and in those days it took players longer to make changes to their decks, so Brainstorm was not that popular.

However, as was the case for Merchant Scroll, it also ended up being restricted. So we consider that this change is also backed by history, even though our format is not identical to what Vintage was when both cards were restricted in June 2008.

We think this change should increase the number of competitive options that players have, by lowering the power level of those blue decks that are clearly doing better than the rest.

We acknowledge that The Perfect Storm and other storm variations like Pitch Long, Doomsday, or Drain Storm have performed better than any other play style so far. By restricting Brainstorm we are also targeting those decks specifically.

Drain Storm

Rodrigo Togores’ winning deck at the Liga Madrileña de Old Frame 2.2.

Drain Storm Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
December 2020III MTGOF LeagueTop 4Jaime Cano
December 2021IX MTGOF LeagueFelipe Guzmán
July 2022XII MTGOF LeagueDavid Aparicio
February 2023XIV MTGOF LeagueTop 4Jaime Cano
March 11, 2023LMOF 2.21stRodrigo Togores
May 13, 2023LMOF 2.36thPablo Merino
May 28, 20232023 Worlds2ndElías Úbeda
May 28, 20232023 Worlds19thPaco Sangüesa

Old Frame Vintage Decks

Old Frame Vintage Resources

Are you interested in trying Old Frame Vintage but do not know where to start? You are in the right place, here you will find a list of links to useful materials.

Old Frame Vintage Decks

Aggressive Decks

Combo Decks

Control Decks

Old Frame Vintage Articles

MTG Old Frame Live Tournaments

When the MTG Old Frame League was launched in mid 2020, the idea to have live tournaments of any of the formats played in our community was little more than a dream.

But the celebration of the I Open Old Frame in Valencia, Spain on December 2021 made that dream come true and now we even have a regular league played in Old Frame Vintage in Madrid, Spain.

Following is a recollection of all the live Old Frame tournaments we are aware of, past and future. And please, make sure, if you know of other tournaments being run, or want to run one in your local area, let us know, so we can help you promote it and log it here!

One-Of Old Frame Live Tournaments

I Open Old Frame

The I Open Old Frame was the first Magic the Gathering Old Frame tournament we are aware of. It was played on December 18, 2021 in Valencia, Spain.

I Open Old Frame Banner
I Open Old Frame Banner

Recurrent Old Frame Live Tournaments and Leagues

I Old Frame League Madrid

The I Old Frame League in Madrid was the first recurrent tournament in the Old Frame Vintage format and it’s still ongoing, with it’s second season running.

The first season had five game days and a grand final played over a period of about half a year in 2022.

What’s Next? Scheduled Old Frame Live Tournaments

Here are the current scheduled Old Frame Live Tournaments, ordered by date:

  • January 21. Old Frame League Madrid 2023 – Day 1. Venue: Tempest Store, Madrid, Spain.

Stiflenought

There are very few things more horrendous than seeing a Stifle played by your enemy. One of them is to see only spells played by that very opponent in the stack.

Stiflenought is about controlling the tempo until you can play a Phyrexian Dreadnought and counter it’s “Enter the game” effect by either playing Stifle or perhaps other cards such as Vision Charm.

David Kaplan’s winning deck in the IX Online Old Frame League.

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Time Vault
1 Voltaic Key

CREATURES

4 Phyrexian Dreadnought

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall
4 Brainstorm
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Fire/Ice
4 Force of Will
1 Gush
1 Misdirection
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Red Elemental Blast
4 Stifle
1 Vampiric Tutor
4 Vision Charm

SORCERIES

1 Demonic Tutor
4 Duress
1 Imperial Seal
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Time Walk
1 Yawgmoth’s Will

LANDS

4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
3 Underground Sea
3 Volcanic Island

SIDEBOARD

1 Island
2 Hurkyl’s Recall
2 Overload
2 Pyroblast
1 Pyroclasm
1 Pyrostatic Pillar
1 Rack and Ruin
1 Red Elemental Blast
3 Snuff Out
1 Tormod’s Crypt
Black Lotus

Stiflenought Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
July 2020I MTGOF LeagueTop 4Felipe Guzmán
October 2020II MTGOF League1stJohn Longo
December 2020III MTGOF LeagueBrian Durkin
December 18, 2020I Open Old FrameTop 4José Manuel Fernández
December 18, 2020I Open Old Frame7thPablo Suárez
December 18, 2020I Open Old Frame8thPablo Cubedo
March 2021V MTGOF LeagueTop 4Michael Arnold
April 2021VI MTGOF LeagueTop 4Karl Pfeiffer
October 2021VIII MTGOF LeagueFelipe Guzmán
December 2021IX MTGOF League1stDavid Kaplan
July 2022XII MTGOF LeagueDavid Kaplan
February 2023XIV MTGOF LeagueNicholas Boltuc
March 11, 2023LMOF 2.210thRogelio de los Ríos
May 28, 20232023 Worlds1stJavier Sánchez
May 28, 20232023 Worlds11thNacho Barrachina
May 28, 20232023 Worlds18thRubén Pascual
September 17, 2023LMOF 2.51stFrancisco Cumplido

Landstill

Imagine a world in which you can beat your opponent without casting spells by using lands. A world in which the player facing you will give you a free Ancestral Recall if he plays a spell. That’s the world of Landstill, one of the greatest control archetypes in the Old Frame Vintage format.

David Aparicio’s winning deck at the XIV Online Old Frame League.

ARTIFACTS (5)

1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Sapphire
2 Null Rod

INSTANTS (21)

1 Ancestral Recall
4 Brainstorm
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Fact or Fiction
4 Force of Will
1 Gush
4 Mana Drain
1 Misdirection
1 Mystical Tutor
3 Swords to Plowshares

SORCERIES (5)

1 Balance
2 Decree of Justice
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Time Walk

ENCHANTMENTS (4)

4 Standstill

LANDS (25)

2 Faerie Conclave
4 Flooded Strand
4 Island
1 Library of Alexandria
3 Mishra’s Factory
2 Plains
2 Polluted Delta
1 Strip Mine
3 Tundra
3 Wasteland

SIDEBOARD (15)

1 Blue Elemental Blast
3 Disenchant
1 Hydroblast
1 Misdirection
4 Meddling Mage
1 Swords to Plowshares
2 Tormod’s Crypt
2 Wrath of God
Black Lotus

Landstill Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
December 18, 2020I Open Old Frame2ndTadeo Pons
June 19, 2022LMOF 1.54thDavid Aparicio
February 2023XIV MTGOF League1stDavid Aparicio

Doomsday

Doomsday is such a great and fun deck to play, you will probably wonder why are you not playing it instead of all the other possible lists in the Old Frame Vintage format. Thin your library down to just five cards and let the fun begin!

Doomsday Decklist

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Lion’s Eye Diamond
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Diamond
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall
4 Brainstorm
1 Cabal Ritual
4 Dark Ritual
4 Force of Will
1 Gush
1 Impulse
1 Meditate
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Predict
1 Vampiric Tutor

SORCERIES

3 Burning Wish
1 Demonic Tutor
3 Doomsday
3 Duress
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Time Walk
1 Timetwister
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Yawgmoth’s Will

LANDS

1 Badlands
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Flooded Strand
1 Island
4 Polluted Delta
1 Swamp
3 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island

SIDEBOARD

1 Burning Wish
1 Cabal Therapy
1 Cabal Ritual
1 Chain of Vapor
1 Defense Grid
1 Doomsday
1 Hydroblast
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Massacre
1 Mind’s Desire
1 Necropotence
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Time Spiral
Black Lotus

Doomsday Deck Tech

Doomsday is a great combo deck that abuses the homonymous Weatherlight Sorcery. How would you win a game if you only had five cards on your deck but you could short them however you want? That’s the premise that this deck tries to work upon and the creator of its win condition.

Doomsday Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
March 2021V MTGOF League1stJames Whitehouse
February 2022X MTGOF LeagueMichael Arnold
May 15, 2022LMOF 1.46thJuan Manuel Delgado
January 21, 2023LMOF 2.15thJuan Manuel Delgado
February 2023XIV MTGOF LeagueAntoine Lamune
March 11, 2023LMOF 2.25thJuan Manuel Delgado
May 13, 2023LMOF 2.33rdJuan Manuel Delgado
July 29, 2023LMOF 2.41stJuan Manuel Delgado

Decks & Archetypes in Old Frame Vintage

The Old Frame Vintage format started from a need in collectors of Magic the Gathering cards printed with the old frame design and colours. We wanted to give actual play to our valued possessions. After all, we were not hooked by the beauty of the art and the classy design of old frame. The powerful decks, combos and creatures that accompanied us through our childhood, teenage years and early youth were the key.

Old Frame Vintage‘s metagame continued where Type 1 was as Eight Edition and Mirrodin were printed. Scourge being the final set. But since the first edition of our online league, a bit has changed.

We have seen archetypes gain popularity, others lose it and the ever present new brews having more or less success. Check our Old Frame League‘s landing page to see winning decks. Hulk Smash, Stiflenought, TPS, Bear Deck Wins or The Shining are just a few of our winners.

Let’s dive into the metagame of Old Frame Vintage, and check the most relevant archetypes and decks.

Aggro Decks

Not much there to say about Aggro decks, the original Magic the Gathering decks for most people and the love of Red magic spell players.

Get a lot of cheap creatures in play as quick as possible, beat down on your enemies until they are down to a dangerous life count and finish them off by burning them.

Extra points when you do this against a Combo player one turn before they set up or when you have enough burn spells to kill even after all the Force of Will attempts by your Control opponent.

Sligh

The ancestor of the Red Deck Wins archetype, Sligh is until proven otherwise, the most viable Aggro option in the Old Frame Vintage format and has already accrued a win in a live tournament: the I Old Frame Madrid League.

Combine cheap and powerful red creatures like Grim Lavamancer, Jackal Pup and a Taiga powered Kird Ape with all the burn spells you can afford. Lightning Bolt as the obvious first choice.

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt.

Check the winning list and other performances on our Sligh article.

Stompy

The perpetual rival of Sligh for the crown of the aggro decks in the Old Frame Vintage format, Stompy uses bigger and stronger creatures and spells to grow them even bigger instead of trying to finish you with fire. And what a great job it can do of that.

Basking Rootwalla, River Boa and even Xantid Swarm can grow big time with spells like Rancor, Seal of Strength, Giant Growth or Berserk.

Basking Rootwalla.
Basking Rootwalla.

Wanna be the first one to bring the Aggro Green to victory? Check our deck list in our Stompy primer.

Combo Decks

Combo decks are to the vast majority of Old Frame Vintage players the most satisfying decks. There is nothing better than playing card after card in front of your hopeless opponent who can only hope you somehow screw up before scooping.

But sometimes you do screw up, and this is why combo decks can also be the most frustrating and their detractors avoid them like a plague.

It’s not a surprise that the format with the strongest spells in Magic the Gathering has tremendously powerful combo decks. Let’s see them.

Doomsday

Doomsday is one of those cards that has been in the mind of Magic the Gathering combo players since its release with Weatherlight. If my deck had only five cards, in the order I choose, how would I win?

Doomsday, illustrated by Adrian Smith.
Doomsday.

The release of Tendrils of Agony with Scourge gave yet another answer to that question and that’s usually the win condition we will see in Doomsday decks in the Old Frame Vintage format.

You can check a deck list and more in our Doomsday article.

Dreadnought

There may be several variants of the Dreadnought deck, but the bottom line is always the same: to play Phyrexian Dreadnought without having to deal with its annoying ETB. From there, having a 12/12 Artifact Creature in play and winning the game are very easy to put together.

Phyrexian Dreadnought.
Phyrexian Dreadnought.

Let’s see how different decks achieve this:

  • 4-Color Dreadnought: control the board with powerful spells like Duress, Force of Will or Meddling Mage and avoid the “Enters The Battlefield” effect on the Dreadnought with Stifle or Vision Charm.
  • Ghoulnought: in Ghoulnought we add Reanimate + Sutured Ghoul to the the Phyrexian Dreadnought + Stifle combo as another win condition. Because a 12/12 is nice, but a potential 48/48 (or 52 with Hermit Druids around), is just better.
  • MaskNought: this variant, normally UB, plays Illusionary Mask as another way to cast the Dreadnought.
  • Stiflenought: similar to the 4-Color variant but with only two-three colours, to achieve more consistency. Can play Psychatog as an alternative win condition.

High Tide

High Tide is, doubtless, the second strongest spell of Fallen Empires (sorry blue guys, but Hymn to Tourach) and reason enough to say this set is not a failure like some would think.

High Tide.

An instant spell that doubles the blue mana your Islands give until the end of turn for only U is just mental. And combined with enough control cards makes for a tremendous last turn in which a Stroke of Genius will deck your opponent.

High Tide has already seen success in Old Frame Vintage with a win in one of the first live tournaments ever, the III Old Frame Madrid League. You can read more on our High Tide article, including a deck list.

Reanimate

We all love zombies, even if they have been a bit too much everywhere for the past few years. And there is just something special to casting the most powerful creatures in the format straight from your graveyard by means of using cards like Animate Dead, Dance of the Dead, Exhume, Necromancy or Reanimate. It doesn’t matter if it is to kill with them or to do something cool with their ETB effects.

Reanimate. Illustrated by Robert Bliss.
Reanimate.

There are two main variants of Reanimate decks:

  • Turbo Dragon: the star of this deck is the Worldgorger Dragon and the way it interacts with cards like Animate Dead, Dance of the Dead or Necromancy. Basically you can create an infinite loop in which all of your permanents keep on entering the game over and over again generating infinite mana that you can then use to mill the opponent with Ambassador Laquatus.
  • Reanimate: forget the infinite mana, just combine Reanimate or Exhume with cards like Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Phantom Nishoba, Reya Dawnbringer, Spirit of the Night or Verdant Force. Maybe all of them! And have fun beating up!

The Perfect Storm (TPS)

The queen of the format, the most played deck and the most successful too with three victories in the first 11 Old Frame Vintage leagues. The Perfect Storm‘s name is simply a hint to it’s goal: to abuse the Storm keyword of, mainly, Tendrils of Agony.

Tendrils of Agony. Illustrated by Pete Venters.
Tendrils of Agony.

The idea is quite simple. Draw a lot of cards, play a lot of super cheap spells, recur them if possible with cards like Yawgmoth’s Will and cast as your 10th spell Tendrils to make your opponent lose 20 life as the Storm effect makes 10 copies of it.

You can read more about this deck and see a strong deck list for it in our TPS article.

Control Decks

Control decks are as old as blue spells in Magic the Gathering. Staple Alpha cards like Blue Elemental Blast, Control Magic, Counterspell, Drain Power, Mana Short, Power Sink, Spell Blast or Unsummon created a trend that still to this date continues: there is nothing more fun to a Control player than making sure your opponent doesn’t do what they want.

Of course, you cannot live only off Force of Will and Counterspells, you need cards that replenish your hand and cards that finally give you the win when your opponent’s hopes are all but gone. Control does this easily too.

Keeper

The son of The Deck the original control deck by Brian Weissman and probably the strongest control deck ever, Keeper is still an amazing option in the Old Frame Vintage format for those who prefer to react to the plays by the rival player and win only when massive control has been assessed.

For that, we go all in with Balance, Fire/Ice, Gorilla Shaman, Mana Drain, Swords to Plowshares and The Abyss amongst other control cards.

Mana Drain. Illustrated by Mark Tedin.
Mana Drain.

You can find Keeper deck lists and more information about the deck in this Keeper article.

Landstill

Landstill is one of these control decks that everyone forgets about until they suddenly reappear and win a tournament. Perhaps not a top choice in Old Frame Vintage, but a totally viable one.

Combining creature-lands like Mishra’s Factory and Faerie Conclave with Standstill is how the deck gets both card advantage and beats you, and what a beautiful combination it is.

Standstill, illustrated by Heather Hudson.
Standstill.

Nothing feels better for a control player than having a draw-three free “spell” in response to the first spell an opponent casts in a turn, like you didn’t have enough counter magic and hate in your hand already!

Read more about Landstill, including a competitive deck list, in our Landstill article.

Stax

Stax is also known as Prison Control, and that probably gives everything away. Guess what, if you face this deck and it gets ahead of you, you really feel like you are imprisoned. Slowly losing all of your permanents while the opponent keeps on getting advantage, that’s how it goes.

Smokestack has definitely been in some of my nightmares, laughing at me with their friends: Tangle Wire, Sphere of Resistance, and powered up by Mishra’s Workshops. I get shivers just by thinking about it.

Smokestack. Illustrated by Scott Kirschner.
Smokestack.

If artifacts and control are your thing, take a look on our Stax page for deck lists and inspiration.

Midrange Decks

Midrange decks are, well, in the middle.

They are not aggro decks but they are not really control decks either since they rely on beating you down with creatures relatively quickly.

The funny thing is that midrange decks tend to perform well against both the aggro decks, since they usually have bigger creatures in less quantity, and against the control decks, because they have just enough disruption to help a couple of their creatures enter and remain in the game and beat you down before you set up your control win condition.

Let’s see which are the most popular archetypes within the midrange decks.

Hulk Smash

Hulk Smash is a deck that has a little bit of everything. Aggro with the card that makes the deck, the greatest creature ever printed in Old Frame to most people, the Psychatog.

The control comes from Duress, Force of Will and Mana Drain really disrupting the plans of the opponent while you set up. And finally a bit of a combo with the duo of Cunning Wish and Berserk to destroy the dreams of the player across you with the largest ever Atog.

Psychatog. Illustrated by Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Psychatog.

Hulk Smash really took the Vintage format by surprise around the year 2003 and it still can beat any deck on our new Old Frame Vintage. Just check our Hulk Smash article.

TnT

Oh, Tools and Tubbies, what a deck it is! Combine powerful Artifact spells, some of them creatures, cast easily with Mishra’s Workshops and the possibility to get other creatures once the ones you have in place have lost their purpose thanks to Survival of the Fittest.

Bring then even more synergy for your Artifacts with Goblin Welder and boom, this Midrange deck can easily beat you aggro style or by some sort of combo. Their choice.

Survival of the Fittest. Illustrated by Pete Venters.
Survival of the Fittest.

TnT has had its fair share of success already in the Old Frame Vintage format despite being underplayed with a win in the VI MTG Old Frame League. If you want to add more victories to it, check our TnT article.

Tempo Decks

Often confused (particularly by me) with the Midrange Decks, Tempo Decks are similar to them in the fact that they balance themselves between the Aggro and Control decks.

The main difference, however, is in the way their strategy works. While a Midrange deck will mostly seek to play powerful spells within the mana curve to follow a strategy, tempo decks tend to be more reactive.

The cards in a tempo deck are meant to be played at the right time by reading the board state and thus the options are any given time are abundant. It is almost an art to know when to play your threat and when to save your mana to react to an opponent’s play when playing tempo.

Bear Deck Wins

The oldest reference to a Bear Deck Wins deck in Magic the Gathering I could find online was a 2010 Mono Green Aggro deck that combined a ton of bear (mostly vanilla) creatures, Bearscape, Rancor and Overrun to have tons of fun against your opponent.

The Old Frame version of Bear Deck Wins is a bit more complex than that, unfortunately at the cost of reducing the number of bears.

The control part of this Tempo deck comes from the usual suspect Blue and White cards: Daze, Force of Will, Meddling Mage, Misdirection, Stifle and Sword to Plowshares mainly. While the aggro comes from threshold creatures, with the Werebear that gives name to the deck and Nimble Moongose.

Werebear. Illustrated by Carl Critchlow.
Werebear.

BDW is a great addition to the Old Frame Vintage meta. The fact it has already won a fair share of battles and gotten strong finishes proves it. In our article on Bear Deck Wins, Felipe Guzman did a delightful introduction to the deck. You can read how he came up with the deck list that he uses and get recommendations on playing it. It’s unmissable.

Fish

A tempo deck that uses Merfolk and land-creatures to beat you while your spells are taken care of by the disruption caused by Force of Will, Misdirection, Null Rod, Strip Mine, Wasteland and others.

Lord of Atlantis. Illustrated by Melissa Benson.
Lord of Atlantis.

Fish also has a drawing motor in place thanks to at least one of Curiosity and Standstill. To try to get ahead of the most powerful decks.

There are several variants of the deck:

  • Mono Blue Fish: the original Fish deck makes the most out of the synergy between Lord of Atlantis and other Merfolk while also having a definitely more stable mana base.
  • UR Fish: Combine Fish with some of the stronger cards of Sligh, such as Grim Lavamancer and Lightning Bolt plus the Blue/Red double card Fire/Ice.
  • WU Fish: The White/Blue version of Fish mainly incorporates one of the strongest creatures of the format: Meddling Mage together with Sword to Plowshares and other white disruption spells.

You can read more about this archetype by reading our Fish article.

Reap

What is the point of using Distorting Lens in a competitive Magic the Gathering deck? Well, Reap is the point. Turn your opponent’s permanents black and soon you will card advantage your way to victory.

Force of Will, Pyroblast, Wasteland, Red Elemental Blast, Gorilla Shaman and some Cunning Wishes will take care of the rest.

Reap. Illustrated by Ron Chironna.
Reap.

Get a deck list worth playing on this article of Reap.

Sligh

Combine cheap and powerful red creatures like Grim Lavamancer, Jackal Pup and a Taiga-powered Kird Ape with all the burn spells you can afford. Lightning Bolt is the obvious first choice.

Alfonso Utrilla’s winning deck at the first Liga Madrileña de Old Frame event.

ARTIFACTS

1 Mox Ruby
2 Null Rod

CREATURES

4 Grim Lavamancer
4 Jackal Pup
4 Kird Ape

INSTANTS

4 Fireblast
2 Fork
4 Incinerate
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Price of Progress

SORCERIES

4 Chain Lightning

ENCHANTMENTS

3 Pyrostatic Pillar

LANDS

4 Bloodstained Mire
7 Mountain
1 Strip Mine
4 Taiga
4 Wooded Foothills

SIDEBOARD

4 Naturalize
2 Null Rod
1 Pyrostatic Pillar
4 Red Elemental Blast
4 Tormod’s Crypt
Mox Ruby

Sligh Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
December 2020III MTGOF LeagueJared Doucette
February 6, 2022LMOF 1.11stAlfonso Utrilla
March 13, 2022LMOF 1.28thAlfonso Utrilla
April 17, 2022LMOF 1.38thAlfonso Utrilla
May 15, 2022LMOF 1.44thAlfonso Utrilla
March 11, 2023LMOF 2.24thAlfonso Utrilla
May 13, 2023LMOF 2.32ndAlfonso Utrilla
May 28, 20232023 Worlds14thAlfonso Utrilla
July 29, 2023LMOF 2.44thAlfonso Utrilla

4-Color Dreadnought

The deck may be called 4-Color Dreadnought, but we all know that deep down it’s still the colourless 12/12 artifact that seals the deal. We just need to make sure that the opponent is not going to disturb us when we pair Phyrexian Dreadnought with either Stifle or Vision Charm.

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire

CREATURES

3 Meddling Mage
4 Phyrexian Dreadnought

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall
4 Brainstorm
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Enlightened Tutor
4 Force of Will
1 Gush
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Red Elemental Blast
4 Stifle
1 Vampiric Tutor
3 Vision Charm

SORCERIES

4 Duress
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Time Walk

ENCHANTMENTS

1 Seal of Cleansing

LANDS

1 City of Brass
4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
1 Strip Mine
2 Tundra
3 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island

SIDEBOARD

1 Abeyance
3 Annul
1 Null Rod
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 Seal of Cleansing
4 Swords to Plowshares
1 Yawgmoth’s Will

Black Lotus

4-Color Dreadnought in MTG Old Frame Tournaments

As our Phyrexian friend is more inclined to appear in slightly different, yet more consistent, versions of this deck (ie. Ghoulnought, StifleMask and Stiflenought), 4-Colour Dreadnought has not been a regular deck in Old Frame Vintage. That being said, when it appeared, it crushed. Here are the results accounted for so far:

MTG Old Frame League (up to the XII League)

  • 1 Tournament Wins (IX Old Frame League).
  • 0 Second Place finishes.
  • 1 Top 4 Finishes.
  • 1 Registered Players accounted for.

Live Tournaments

  • 0 Tournament Wins.
  • 0 Second Place finishes.
  • 0 Top 4 Finishes.
  • 0 Registered Players.

Ghoulnought

In Ghoulnought we use Reanimate to bring Sutured Ghoul to the battlefield, on top of having the usual Phyrexian Dreadnought + Stifle combo as another win condition. Because a 12/12 is nice, but a potential 48/48 (or 52 with Hermit Druids around), is just better.

David Kaplan’s winning deck at the X Online Old Frame League.

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire

CREATURES

4 Hermit Druid
4 Phyrexian Dreadnought
1 Sutured Ghoul

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall
4 Brainstorm
4 Force of Will
1 Krosan Reclamation
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Shallow Grave
4 Stifle
1 Vampiric Tutor
3 Vision Charm

SORCERIES

1 Cabal Therapy
4 Duress
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Reanimate
1 Time Walk

ENCHANTMENTS

1 Dragon Breath

LANDS

1 City of Brass
4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
3 Tropical Island
3 Underground Sea

SIDEBOARD

1 Arcane Laboratory
3 Crumble
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Gush
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Null Rod
2 Sylvan Library
3 Snuff Out
1 Vision Charm
1 Yawgmoth’s Will

Black Lotus

Introduction to The Perfect Storm in MTG Old Frame

TPS is a good deck TPS is arguably the best deck in the MTG Old Frame format. I’ve played the deck and think it is great. So, I wrote a primer on it! I hope this article is helpful for both people who want to give the deck a try as much as for those who want to beat it!

And believe it, you can beat it, you just have to build your sideboard and mulligan accordingly (but I am getting ahead of myself. We’ll get there in a few paragraphs).

I wrote a sideboard guide and left it at the end. So if you don’t want to read the theory in the front end, just skip ahead to the bottom of the article.

Also, this is the time to thank Karl Akbari for his comments on the draft of this article! Karl, Iñaki, and I did quite some thinking about this deck, so many of the ideas here come from those discussions.

Finally, the super old Vintage forums have been somewhat helpful but mostly fun to read (those guys really did not see how good fetch lands were when they printed them! I guess most of us didn’t tbh). Anyhow, too much introduction already, let’s talk storm!

Deck components

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Grim Monolith
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Memory Jar
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall
4 Brainstorm
1 Cabal Ritual
1 Chain of Vapor
4 Dark Ritual
4 Force of Will
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Meditate
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor

SORCERIES

1 Demonic Tutor
4 Duress
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Mind’s Desire
2 Tendrils of Agony
1 Time Walk
1 Timetwister
1 Tinker
1 Windfall
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Yawgmoth’s Will

ENCHANTMENTS

1 Necropotence
1 Yawgmoth’s Bargain

LANDS

2 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
1 Swamp
1 Tolarian Academy
3 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island

SIDEBOARD

1 Chain of Vapor
1 Coffin Purge
3 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Hydroblast
1 Massacre
1 Mind Twist
3 Stifle
1 Tropical Island
3 Xantid Swarm

Mox Sapphire

I want to start with just a little bit of deck theory. Let’s break down the deck into its main components:

  • Mana sources (28, divided in 12 lands, 5 rituals, 11 mana producing artifacts)
    • 6 Fetchlands (4 Flooded Strands & 2 Polluted Delta, for instance)
    • 3 Underground Sea
    • 1 Swamp
    • 1 Tolarian Academy
    • 1 Volcanic Island
    • 1 Cabal Ritual
    • 4 Dark Ritual
    • Mox Pearl
    • Mox Sapphire
    • Mox Jet
    • Mox Ruby
    • Mox Emerald
    • 1 Black Lotus
    • 1 Mana Crypt
    • 1 Sol Ring
    • 1 Mana Vault
    • 1 Lotus Petal
    • 1 Grim Monolith
  • Protection spells (10)
    • 4 Force of Will
    • 4 Duress
    • 1 Hurkill’s Recall
    • 1 Chain of Vapor
  • Setup spells (14)
    • 4 Brainstorm
    • 1 Ancestral Recall
    • 1 Tinker
    • 1 Time Walk
    • 1 Necropotence
    • 1 Demonic Tutor
    • 1 Vampiric Tutor
    • 1 Mystical Tutor
    • 1 Meditate
    • 1 Windfall (while this could technically be a draw 7, it is better to count is a draw 4)
    • 1 Merchant Scroll
  • Draw seven cards (3)
    • 1 Time Twister
    • 1 Wheel of Fortune
    • 1 Memory Jar
  • “I win” spells (5)
    • 1 Mind’s Desire
    • 1 Yawgmoth’s Will
    • 1 Yawgmoth’s Bargain
    • 2 Tendrils of Agony

How to play The Perfect Storm

The plan of the deck is very “simple”: 

Step 1: Get mana.
Step 2: Set up a turn where you cast your hand while drawing multiple cards (normally via a “draw 7” spell). Count to 9 and then,
Step 3: Cast an “I win” spell. Shuffle for Game 2.

Ok, ok, yes, I am meme-ing. I get this is an oversimplification and there are many times that you can win without even casting a draw 7.

You see, this deck is not very linear like other storm variants such as TES or ANT in Legacy or Gift Storm in Modern. In other words, the deck does not have one deterministic line that you try to assemble every game. Most of the time, you just go off with the resources you have available and while you are combo-ing off, you have to make lots of decisions with imperfect information with the hopes of casting your lethal Tendrils. It is surprising the amount of “leaps of faith” you have to take on that key turn. 

Just to get you familiarized, I’ll list some potential lines that you can take to get over the finish line on turn 1!

Turn 1: You keep your 7 card hand with no draw spells. 
- Play Tolarian Academy, cast Mox Pearl, Mox Emerald, Mana Vault, and Black Lotus. 
- Tap Tolarian Academy for UUUU, Mana Vault for 3 and one of your Moxen for either G or W (since it is off-color, we will count it as colorless). Storm count is 4, you have 4UUUU floating, and two cards in hand.
- Cast Hurkill's Recall targeting you, and then replay your four artifacts (storm count is 9 and you have 2UUU floating).
- Crack the Black Lotus for BBB and cast the lethal Tendrils of Agony from your hand.
Turn 1: You are on a mulligan to 5. 
- Play a fetch-land and get a land.
- Cast Mox Jet, tap it for B and play Dark Ritual
- Cast Mana Vault, which you tap to have 3BBB floating, and cast Yawgmoth’s Bargain. Storm count is 4 and you have 19 life.
- Pay 15 life to draw 15 cards, play 5 spells. For example, Lotus Petal that you will crack for B, Dark Ritual, Sol Ring, Mox Sapphire, and Mystical Tutor (storm is 9, 2BB floating).
- With the Mystical Tutor grab a Tendrils of Agony and put it on top of your deck. Pay one more life (down to 3) to draw it thanks to the Bargain and cast it for lethal!
NOTE: you should always have a couple extra points of life left to cast a Vampiric Tutor instead of Mystical Tutor, or Force of Will in case they have Stifle. You know they did not have Force of Will because you resolved Yawgmoth’s Bargain!
Turn 1: You are on a mulligan to 5.
- Play Swamp, Dark Ritual and Necropotence.
- Opponent casts a Force of Will and you Force back. Necropotence resolves. You have 19 life and zero cards in hand and your opponent has 5 cards and is also at 19.
- Pay 9 life this turn to draw 9 cards and exile two of them as the End of Turn triggers. 
Turns 2+: Build your position over the course of the next few turns. You can pay between 6-9 life to draw the equivalent number of cards over the next couple turns.
- You should be able to win from there!

While these hands are rare, they are not that rare. In certain match-ups, you have the chance to go off on Turn 1, but more often than not you may want to be a little patient. Start with a Duress first, test the waters. Try baiting a counter spell with a bomb and follow up next turn with another bomb! It is perfectly fine to take a longer approach, like in the following case:

Turn 1: Fetch a land, cast Mox Pearl, Sol Ring, and Timetwister. Pass the turn.

You and your opponent have 7 cards in hand but you have 3 permanents in play to their zero. You effectively restarted the game, but you are in a significantly more advantageous position. Leverage this advantage and win the game in a few turns.

The one piece of advice I can give you to master the deck is to first goldfish multiple times and just try to go off one turn before you think you are ready to go and see how many times you actually get there. You will be surprised about how many of these times you end up casting a lethal Tendrils from a position you did not believe was possible! Yes, the deck is that powerful.

How to beat the deck 

You can fight TPS on multiple fronts. Normally, these are the angles of hate you have at your disposal in Old Frame:

  1. Mana denial via Wasteland, Null Rod, Stifle, Karn, Silver Golem, and Blood Moon.
  2. On the stack, using counter spells and stifling Tendrils of Agony.
  3. Attacking the opponent’s life total with burn spells or creatures.
  4. Attacking the opponent’s hand with discard spells such as Duress, Hymn to Tourach, and Mind Twist.
  5. With taxing effects such as Sphere of Resistance, Smokestack, Chains of Mephistopheles, Nether Void, Arcane Laboratory, or Meddling Mage.
  6. Or just killing you faster. This is vintage, dying on Turn 1-2 happens! 

Unless you die before you can go off, any one angle of attack on its own is fine. The deck is built to deal with linear lines of disruption. You have cards to plan and play against any single line of hate your opponents may present.

However, things become increasingly more complicated when opponents attack you on multiple fronts. Dealing with two lines of hate (eg, mana denial and taxing effects, or counter spells plus a fast clock, etc) is increasingly harder than any single strategy because fighting over two lines splits your resources.

When decks can consistently fight you on three angles, chances are you are not winning that game unless you can kill them quick. 

Note that for this build of TPS it is easier to deal with artifacts than other types of permanents (thanks to Hurkill’s Recall). At the same time, it is easier to deal with blue or red spells or permanents (because of Pyroblast and Hydroblast). Therefore, taxing the deck with creatures or enchantments of other colors is significantly more effective.

Given the limited card pool of Old Frame, I get that this is easier said than done, but the point is that your sideboard should make it hard for TPS to win, so do not put all the eggs in one basket. 

In a recent match, I played versus Karl (he was on TPS I was on Stiflenought). He wins Game 1 as TPS normally does. On Game 2 I quickly put out a 12/12 and have a Force of Will to back it up (angles 2 and 3/6). He is unable to deal with both, so I win. On Game 3 I put two different pieces of disruption on the board (Meddling Mage and Arcane Laboratory). Meddling Mage slowly managed to kill him a few turns later (angles 3 and 5). You can watch the video here

In sum, if you want to consistently beat TPS, make sure your deck can fight on at least two (ideally three) of the strategies mentioned above

Metagame choices and card alternatives

The main deck of TPS is clearly not set in stone (specially in relatively small and evolving metagames like the ones we play in the league). While the deck has some main deck components that I would consider to be essential for it to function, there are a few cards that could be considered flexible slots.

In the current version of the deck, I see the following 9 cards as flex slots:

  • 1 Volcanic Island (or 1 Badlands). These are run almost exclusively to support 1 Wheel of Fortune. While the purely UB version is insanely fast, reliable, and almost impossible to mana screw, I think the deck needs at least three real draw 7 effects, and Time Spiral is very slow. This one is not going anywhere any time soon.
  • 1 Wheel of Fortune. See above. Playing a pure UB version makes the mana more reliable and consistent. However, in metagames where people are not actively trying to go after your mana, then you are more than happy to run 1 Wheel of Fortune to increase your draw 7 count. There may be a world where Time Spiral is better in this spot, but I don’t think we live in that world at this moment
  • 1 Cabal Ritual. Most of the old decks did not run it, but I now think the card is too good to pass (Iñaki Puigdollers sold me on it!). At worst, it is a Lotus Petal, at best it is a Black Lotus. Many times it just helps cast Necropotence from an off color mana source. If you suspect your opponent will attack your graveyard, you can sideboard this out on Games 2 & 3 (in that case is a flex slot).
  • 1 Grim Monolith. I like Grim Monolith because it helps cast Tinker more consistently (and also across two turns), ramps to Bargain, and does not hurt you once it is tapped. One of the main selling points this card has is that 10 non-Lotus Petal mana artifacts are significantly more than 9 (even though it does not seem like much, the difference becomes noticeable in a large sample size). That being said, this could be a second Cabal Ritual in a more dedicated black deck running Infernal Contract.  
  • 1 Meditate. Spending a turn to draw cards is not a great deal but four cards for 2U is more or less the best you can get in Old Frame (it also pitches for Force of Will). I tend to sideboard out this card a lot.
  • 1 Merchant Scroll. This card wasn’t played back in the day. I was skeptical to try it but I have come around to liking it. The flexibility of allowing you to find the exact enabler (ie, Ancestral Recall, Meditate, or Brainstorm) or defensive spell (Force of Will, Hurkyl’s Recall, or Chain of Vapor) makes this a fantastic card in most matches! I sideboard this out in matches where you don’t plan to search blue instants (ie, when you sideboard in Xantid Swarm vs Mana Drain decks).
  • 1 Windfall. While this card may technically draw you seven cards, most of the time it is a draw 4. I think of this card as the second Meditate. I tend to sideboard out this card a lot.
  • 1 Hurkyl’s Recall. I think it is correct to have one main deck effect that can return a sphere of resistance or a null rod to your opponent’s hand. This one also works as a storm enabler by returning your own artifacts to your hand. I sideboard these out against Mana Drain decks that battle you on the stack (not with artifacts on the battlefield).
  • 1 Chain of Vapor. Same as Hurkyl’s Recall but chain can also return creatures such as Meddling Mage, or opposing enchantments such as Illusions of Grandeur (in response to opponent playing Donate), or Pyrostatic Pillar.

In a similar vein, there are cards that I am not currently running but they could be considered as main deck cards in future iterations of the deck: 

  • 1 Island. I used to run a basic Island instead of the Volcanic Island. A basic island is good in a fast metagame with many decks running Wasteland. For the time being, I think it is better to run a Volcanic Island to have access to Wheel of Fortune. I would run a basic island if a significant portion of the meta runs Wasteland. While I would be tempted to swap it directly with either the 3rd Underground Sea or the Volcanic Island, if the meta becomes too focused on land destruction, I would run 13 lands instead of 12.
  • 1 Scrubland. Some decks used to run Scrubland instead of basic Swamp. Scrubland gives access to white sideboard cards. Running white basically allows the deck to run 3-4 copies of Abeyance for the mirror match (and maybe Orim’s Chant). This move may be correct in a meta where storm decks are over represented and you need dedicated slots to win the mirror match.
  • 1 City of Brass / 1 Gemstone Mine. Some decks have run these in the past. I think the only reason they did it was because people did not fully realize how powerful fetch lands were (or maybe because they did not own them). In sum, don’t let late adopters from 2003 fool you! Use fetch lands and leave your City of Brass in your Old School deck.
  • 1 Time Spiral. Most of the time it is too slow and ends up being food for Force of Will. I love the fact that this lets you shuffle your graveyard but 4UU is hard in many matches. I would consider it as a sideboard option if too many people start playing graveyard decks
  • 1 Infernal Contract. It is an alternative to Meditate that does not make you give up a turn. Note that BBB is significantly harder to cast than 2U (even in decks running Badlands instead of Volcanic Island). While I don’t love Meditate, I prefer it over this card 
  • 1 Frantic Search. This card is fantastic when you have Tolarian Academy in play but when you don’t it is between ok and terrible (card disadvantage without gaining mana is a terrible deal). Thus, I don’t like to run it because the downside is too costly.
  • 1 Chromatic Sphere. The 4 Burning Wish and 4 Lion’s Eye Diamond decks used to run between one and four of these. I don’t think they are necessary in TPS though because they don’t seem to resolve any needs/problems for this deck.
  • 2nd Cabal Ritual. I think the deck needs to run around 28 mana sources to consistently do what it wants to do. The combination of these mana sources is not fixed. The second Cabal Ritual can easily be run instead of 1 Grim Monolith. I think this change is correct if you are running 1 Infernal Contract instead of Meditate and/or if the meta is Null Rod heavy.
  • 2nd Meditate. Some of the old lists ran a second Meditate to set up. The second Meditate may be correct in a relatively slow and grindy metagame. Nowadays, I definitely prefer to run a Merchant Scroll instead in a second Meditate.
  • 3rd Tendrils of Agony. Some old lists ran three copies of Tendrils of Agony but I think it is too many. You don’t want to have Tendrils of Agony in your opening hand. Instead, you want to draw it throughout the course of the game (ideally the turn you go off). Running just one copy is too risky since it may be hard to find it during the key turn and also it may end up exiled if your opponent discards it when you have Necropotence out. I think two copies of Tendrils of Agony is actually the perfect number! 
  • Time Vault + Voltaic Key. I used to run it but I took it out. Key by itself ramps a little bit with the mana rocks and can transform off-color mana into on color mana one time. Time Vault is basically a dead draw unless you have the key. When you know how to play the deck, you don’t need to run these cards.  

Sideboarding with the deck

I’m running the current sideboard:

  • 1 Hydroblast
  • 3 Stifle
  • 1 Mind Twist
  • 1 Massacre 
  • 1 Coffin Purge
  • 1 Chain of Vapor
  • 3 Hurkyl’s Recall
  • 1 Tropical Island
  • 3 Xantid Swarm

As usual, this is how I would sideboard if I were to play the deck today. I retain the right to change my mind in the future and change my plan accordingly. The more I learn about the deck, the more chances there are that I change the plan for some matchup. Also, bear in mind that these general strategies will work for stock versions of these decks (whatever that is), it is important to adapt to what you see your opponent playing. Your opponents will get creative and so should you!

Mana Drain control decks match-up

They fight you with Force of Will, Mana Drain, and Duress. Cunning Wish for Stifle or another counter spell is another angle. There is a small chance they bring in one Arcane Laboratory. Most of the time, these decks don’t present a quick clock. The one Chain of Vapor may deal with either the lab or reset one of their creatures. Your plan is to either go off before they have Mana Drain mana up or take your time to resolve Xantid Swarm and go off then. While top deck tutors are not great vs Mana Drain decks due to the card disadvantage, they may be ok on the play (but not on the draw).

- 1 Underground Sea
- 1 Hurkyl's Recall
- 1 Cabal Ritual (vs very slow decks with only 0-3 creatures)
- 2 top deck tutors 
+ 1 Tropical Island
+ 3 Xantid Swarm
+ 1 Mind Twist (vs very slow decks with only 0-3 creatures)

Fish decks with Null Rod match-up

This is a hard match-up because they fight you from multiple angles. They have counter spells, Wasteland, and permanent-based hate (Null Rod and Meddling Mage). Some decks even run a playset of main deck Stifle! It is hard to grind them out because they can actually present some form of clock. Try to win before the hate pieces touch the battlefield.

- 1 Grim Monolith
- 1 Meditate
- 1 Windfall 
+ 1 Massacre 
+ 1 Chain of Vapor
+ 1 Hurkyl's Recall

Phyrexian Dreadnought match-up

You can think of this as a race but keep in mind that they play 4 main deck Stifle, plus Force of Will, and possibly Meddling Mages. Alternatively, you can let them resolve the 12/12, return it to their hand on their end step, and win on your turn afterwards. 

- 1 Grim Monolith
- 1 Meditate
- 1 Windfall 
+ 1 Chain of Vapor
+ 2 Hurkyl's Recall

Dragon match-up

While they are a somewhat slower combo on Game 1, they have main deck Duress and Force of Will. On Games 2 & 3, they have access to Null Rod.

- 1 Grim Monolith
- 1 Meditate
- 1 Windfall 
+ 1 Stifle 
+ 1 Chain of Vapor
+ 1 Coffin Purge

Mono Red match-up

They are fast and they run the main deck Null Rod package and some number of Pyrostatic Pillar post board. Cards like Meditate, Necropotence, and Yawgmoth’s Bargain very quickly lose their value because our life total gets depleted quickly. Just try and win before their hate pieces hit the board (unless you can, you know, Duress/Force of Will them!)

- 1 Cabal Ritual
- 1 Grim Monolith
- 1 Meditate
- 1 Windfall
+ 1 Hydroblast
+ 1 Chain of Vapor
+ 2 Hurkyl's Recall

TNT / Stax match-up

The plan is basically to either win turn one, or wait until they play their Sphere of Resistance, then return them to opponent’s hand at the end of their turn, and win on your turn. 

- 1 Cabal Ritual
- 1 Grim Monolith
- 1 Meditate
- 1 Windfall 
- 1 Wheel of Fortune (just vs TNT)
+ 1 Chain of Vapor
+ 3 Hurkyl's Recall
+ 1 Hydroblast (just vs TNT)

Storm / mirror match-up

This is a hard matchup that sometimes is decided by the coin toss of who goes first.  

- 1 Meditate
- 1 Windfall 
- 1 Hurkyl's Recall
- 1 Chain of Vapor
+ 3 Stifle
+ 1 Mind Twist
+ 1 Hydroblast (just vs decks with 4 Burning Wish)

What’s next?

Starting with our September 2021 league, the Old Frame format added four new sets to its existing pool: Starter 1999 plus the three Portal sets. For our purposes here, these sets provide us with two new tools: 

Grim Tutor, illustrated by Mark Tedin.
Imperial Seal, illustrated by Li Tie.

Should we include either or both of these cards? I could answer this question but I think this is a good moment to stop an already long article and encourage you to try them yourself in our next league!

Until next time. In the meantime, keep storming!

Lesson from Year 1 of the Newest Old Format

Hi old framers! 

As a way to celebrate the first year of this format, I thought about using this chance to have a little looking back, looking forward type of reflection. I basically wanted to go over the different decks and archetypes people have played, what decks have done well and not so well, and finish with a small overview of what may lie ahead.

Before going in, I want to say something about the data I used to analyze our first year’s metagame. I basically went into the MTG Old Frame website, downloaded the pictures of the decks from here, and started counting! I found 49 decks this way. These decks were played across our initial 7 leagues of the format (average 7 decks per league).

Getting these 49 decks was the best I could do with the information I had access to because not everyone has shared their deck picture during each league. Also, I have the impression that people who have done well are more likely to share their deck picture compared to people who did not do so well in a given league. That being said, I believe I have about 65% of the real sample of decks, so while I am missing some information, I think the sample is representative enough of what has happened over the past few months.

As a side note, starting with the eight edition of the league, I’ll try to be a bit more active following the metagame and see what people play and what decks do well, etc.

What archetypes did people play during the first year?

The Table below summarizes the answer to this question. I have to say that the metagame looks quite diverse to me, with almost all old school archetypes being represented plus a few new ones that have emerged thanks to the current rules (ie, Stifle Nought).

As expected, the metagame has more control, combo and control/combo strategies than aggro ones, but given that WoTC philosophy at the time consisted on printing very powerful spells alongside shitty creatures, that is not a huge surprise… 

Archetype%
Draw Go (Keeper, Shining)510%
Dreadnought (All variants)510%
Grow a Tog (Includes Hulk Smash)714%
Null Rod (Fish, Threshold, Bazaar)612%
Stax (TNT, Mono-Brown, 5-Color)714%
Storm (TPS, Doomsday)816%
Other Decks (Combo)816%
Other Decks (Aggro)36%
Total 49100%
Table 1. Archetype representation across the initial 7 leagues

What archetypes did well during the first year?

Let’s see what archetypes have been represented in the Top 4 positions across the initial seven leagues.  

The first thing that jumps out is that storm decks in Top 4 positions rank somewhat higher than the other archetypes. That being said, the table also shows that all archetypes that have been played have made Top 4 at least once (even aggro decks!). I take this as evidence of a decently balanced and diverse metagame!

Archetype%
Draw go (Keeper, shining)414%
Dreadnought (all variants)414%
Grow a Tog (includes hulk smash)27%
Null rod (Fish, threshold, bazar)311%
Stax (TNT, mono brown, 5-color)518%
Storm (TPS, doomsday)621%
Other decks (combo)311%
Other decks (aggro)13%
Total 28100%
Table 2. Archetype representation in top 4 decks across the initial 7 leagues

Let’s now try to make more of a fair comparison of what archetypes have done well given their overall representation in the metagame. In other words, some decks may appear more in Top 4 positions because there is more people playing them or because they over perform against other decks (or a combination of both). So, let’s combine the previous two tables into one and compare the percentage of deck representation with that of top 4 positions


Archetype
Decks registered Top4 positions
%%
Draw go (Keeper, shining)510%414%
Dreadnought (all variants)510%414%
Grow a Tog (includes hulk smash)714%27%
Null rod (Fish, threshold, bazar)612%311%
Stax (TNT, mono brown, 5-color)714%518%
Storm (TPS, doomsday)816%621%
Other decks (combo)816%311%
Other decks (aggro)36%13%
Total 49100%28100%
Table 3. Overall archetype representation and Top 4 positions

As expected, some decks tend to be slightly more represented in top4 positions given their metagame share. Draw Go, Dreadnought, Stax, and Storm tend to have a higher chance of making Top 4 positions given their overall share of the metagame. Draw Go and Storm strategies were among the best archetypes in 2003, so it is not surprising that they do quite well in today’s leagues. Stax became one of the best vintage decks a little later with the printing of Trinisphere, but it is nice to see it doing so well without the extra tools it got from Mirrodin block. It looks like Old Karn paired with Spheres of Resistance and 5 Wastelands are good enough to bully blue mages out of a game! 

In a beautiful turn of events, Dreadnought strategies rank among the best ones in the format! Looks like our metagame will have to learn to live with the constant menace of the 12/12 trampler.

I think what surprised me the most about this table is that Tog strategies haven’t done so well all things considered. This is quite surprising since they did REALLY well in 2003. They even slowly kick out of the format the slower Draw Go decks, such as the Keeper or the Shining. I guess, we have to only wait until one player puts together the right combination of spells, Quirion Dryads, and Psychatogs to take over the format!  

So, what are the actual decks that made top 4?

This is probably a good time to stop talking about deck archetypes in an abstract form and start talking about actual decks!

The following table shows the actual decks people have successfully piloted into Top 4 positions:

WinnerRunner upSemi finalistSemi finalistNotes
Grow a TogTPSCadaverous bloomUbr DreadnoughtJuly 2020*
Ubr DreadnoughtUr StaxTPSStax (mono brown)September 2020*
TPSUr StaxBazaar Survival (aka, Oshawa Stompy)Burning wish control (aka, Burning Robadeck)December 2020*
TPSTNTThe shiningGrow a Tog (aka, the 63 card special)February 2021
DoomsdayTPSUbr DreadnoughtOath of druidsMarch 2021
TNTSuicide blackUwb DreadnoughtThe shiningApril 2021
Ugw threshold (aka, Bear Deck Wins)Urw FishTrixKeeperJune 2021
Table 4. Summary of Old Frame decks reaching top4 over the initial 7 leagues
* Merchant scroll was unrestricted during these 3 leagues. 

The added value of this table is that it shows changes in deck representation over time. Storm was quite well represented in top 4 positions during the first few leagues, but it fell out of flavor in the last two ones. I think this is a combination of (1) people moved into other decks and (2) the metagame as a whole has learned how to fight mages who were up to no good! 

It is also nice to see that several top 4s have included a very “random”/unexpected deck. Cadaverous Bloom did quite well in the first league, Survival in the third, Oath in the fifth, Mono Black in the sixth, and in the seventh Trix was joined by two fish decks! This shows that it is quite possible and realistically to make top 4 with virtually any deck in this format. The element of surprise (and the fun of playing them) seems to really pay off!  

The last league provides strong evidence that the metagame keeps evolving and adapting over time. Null Rod is becoming a serious and credible threat, so Storm and blue mages will have to respect it. I personally love to see that even with this fix pool of cards, the format is not yet 100% resolved (even though it is almost 20 years old)

Let’s see some of those Top4 decks, shall we!

I want to highlight a few of the decks that have done quite well and that I expect are able to successfully and reliably continue to do well. In a future article, I want to talk about some of the less mainstream combo decks (eg, Oath, Dragon, Trix and the like) as well as the other possible sweet and janky brews the format has to offer (eg, Survival, Reap, and others).

Luke Tooker's Keeper.
Luke Tooker’s Keeper.

Luke Tooker’s Keeper is a powerful draw go deck that seeks to control the early to mid game with removal, counterspells, and mana denial. After assembling a solid board position, the deck can close the game with a deadly Morphling or some tokens.

Karl Akbari’s The Shining.
Karl Akbari’s The Shining.

Karl Akbari’s The Shining plays similarly to the Keeper in the early turns. But it plays red to have access to a Burning Wish board. This deck can close the game with a single Psychatog but it is more common to do so with a lethal Tendrils

Vedast Sanxis Catalan’s TNT.
Vedast Sanxis Catalan’s TNT.

Vedast Sanxis Catalan’s TNT has proven to be one of the more successful Workshop strategies. This deck was known as the people’s favorites for a while given its non-blue non-traditional combo oriented approach to attack the format with mana denial, sphere effects, powerful and fast creatures and some techy silver bullets

Kim Karl Pfeiffer’s Ubw Dreadnought.
Kim Karl Pfeiffer’s Ubw Dreadnought.
Michael Arnold’s Ubr Dreadnought.
Michael Arnold’s Ubr Dreadnought.

Kim Karl Pfeiffer’s Ubw version and Michael Arnold’s Ubr version show two different approaches to the phyrexian dreadnought archetype. The Ubw version more closely follows the one commonly played in the premodern format. This one seeks to reliably cast the 12/12 on T1-2 (or on T2-3 after Meddling Mage blocked the opponents’ key card or draw out a counterspell in the process). On the other hand, the Ubr version traded some of those explosive elements for a slightly more controlling suite. You can see Michael’s deck putting up a beautiful and impressive game against Storm on our Youtube channel by clicking here.

James Whitehouse's Doomsday.
James Whitehouse’s Doomsday.

On the storm front, James Whitehouse has been the only pilot brave enough to bring Doomsday into a league. With the upcoming availability of 4 personal tutor, I wonder who will be the next!

Felipe Guzman's TPS.
Felipe Guzman’s TPS.

Here is yours truly’s take on TPS. I don’t want to say much here since I’m finishing a primer on the deck that I will share with you shortly. I’ll link it here once it is ready to go.

Fabio Zanasi’s Uwr Fish.
Fabio Zanasi’s Uwr Fish.

Fabio Zanasi’s Uwr fish deck is a classic Null Rod based deck. The deck uses Standstill and Curiosity as card draw engines while it attacks the opponent’s development with mana denial and cheap counterspells, while slowly hits with small efficient creatures and manlands.  You can see this in action against another Null Rod deck here.

Felipe Guzman's Bear Deck Wins.
Felipe Guzman’s Bear Deck Wins.

I’ll finish this section with another deck of my own,  Ugw threshold aka Bear Deck Wins !

I think this deck can very successfully fight the metagame as it stands now. I wrote a premier on this deck that you can read in the link above. 

What else can we expect to see moving forward?

Despite the powerful spells, with broken combinations of cards, and the nostalgia of playing with 20+ year old cards, one of the main attractive features we have seen thus far are people’s decks. I am, just take a minute to really look at these beauties 

Raymond Mitchell’s Life.
Raymond Mitchell’s Life.

Raymond Mitchell’s beautiful collection shines (pun intended) in his decks

Vedast Sanxis' Hulk Smash.
Vedast Sanxis’ Hulk Smash.

Vedast’s decks are also very shiny.

Speaking of shiny cards, some people (coff coff Karl coff coff) go out of their way to make their deck as shiny as possible!

Foil Force of Will.
Foil Force of Will.

Alex Caviris' deck.
Alex Caviris’ deck.

In all fairness, not all beauty comes from shiny cards in oriental languages. For instance, Alex Caviris’ choice of power 9 cards shows its own kind of beauty. 

And yes, we don’t care which cards you choose to play; in the end, we just want to jam!

What now?

Starting from the september 2021 league, four more expansions will become legal in the format (ie, Starter 1999 and the three Portal sets). The addition of sweet tutors and other nice cards will not only reinforce some of the existing decks, but also open new possibilities. From the top of my mind, I’m sure that Grim long will become a viable strategy now and I suspect more people will try to assemble different types of A+B combos with more success. We will see more decks such as Trix, Vault-Key based decks, etc. With more people trying to assemble two card combos while paying precious life to get there, aggro decks and Null Rod based strategies should become more viable strategies and successful strategies.

I don’t want to dwell much on what may happen since I can’t predict the future, but I am 100% certain of the fact that I am excited to play good old frame magic!

Canadian Threshold

Introduction to Bear Deck Wins

This article will be the first in what I hope is a series of primers and deck techs for Old Frame Vintage. I want to write about a few of the decks I’ve played with the hope of making publicly available some of the lessons I’ve gathered in a way that does not easily get lost on Facebook. I also aim to motivate people to try this fun format and/or some of these decks!

Today I want to start this series by writing about a somewhat unusual deck that could be described as a Bant tempo threshold, or maybe a Bant “Delver-less” Delver. But I strongly prefer Bear Deck Wins!

Some background and how Bear Deck Wins came to exist

I want to start with a little bit of history here. While I did not play Vintage back in 2003, I have played every Old Frame league since we started the format a little bit more than a year ago (around mid-2020). Since we began playing this fantastic format, I have been wanting to come up with a tempo strategy that plays well against the more established and dominant decks of the format. From a personal point of view, I enjoy playing tempo strategies. One of my favourite decks of old times is the classic Canadian Threshold (currently known as Temur Delver). Anyway, the idea of playing a tempo deck in Old Frame Vintage has been in the back of my head for a while, but I haven’t fully committed to trying one such deck.

That changed about two leagues ago.

I was having quite a lot of fun (and some success if I may add) finishing games counting to 10 and then casting a lethal Tendrils of Agony piloting The Perfect Storm (TPS for friends), but I decided it was time for a change. TPS was clearly the dominating deck of the format and there was some discussion about the need of banning something. I didn’t think the deck needed anything banned because as a pilot I knew the weaknesses of the deck and how to play against it. This resulted in me wanting to “prove” that the beast could be defeated. So, I decided it was time to try a tempo deck that was capable of consistently beating up Storm. This is what I first tried:

Ubg “Sultai” Threshold.
Ubg “Sultai” Threshold

I included a full mana denial package coupled with 8 threshold bears and Shadowmage Infiltrator for incremental card advantage. My goal was to beat up Storm and draw cards with Finkel. To be honest, I didn’t expect to do well against the rest of the field. In any case, I did not play against Storm nor did I manage to draw a single card with Finkel. The joke is on me I suppose 😛

Despite my luck (or lack thereof?), I realized that the deck was not so much a meme against the rest of the field as I originally expected it to be! I also learned a couple of valuable lessons in the process. First, the deck needed more creatures since 9 is not even close to enough to quickly bring down an opponent down to 0. Second, Finkel SUCKS! It is way too slow to beat and even slower to draw cards in this type of deck. This was a pity because I really wanted it to be good since I loved the card. But, I guess the ones to blame are the WOTC R&D guys who decided to print an uncommon card in the same set in the same colors as a rare card with the world champion’s face in it.

Anyhow, the third problem was that I realized that Duress is not very good in a non-combo deck that needs to close the game fast using “small” creatures. Fourth, the deck had a problem dealing with other widely used creatures, such as Phyrexian Dreadnought, early-game Quirion Dryads, or late-game Psychatog. Finally, I was desperately missing some way to create either virtual or real card advantage.

After some thought, I realized that black was not a good color for what this deck wanted to do. I considered red (i.e., Pyroblast, Lightning Bolt, Fire // Ice, and Grim Lavamancer), but I didn’t love how that deck looked. Then I was basically forced to consider white (aka the worst color in magic in 2021, which coincidentally was also the worst color in 2003). I was skeptical about trying white at first, but I discovered that this color really resolved all the problems the deck had!

Swords to Plowshares can deal with every creature in the format (except my own nimble mongoose), Meddling Mage not only increases the creature count up to the ideal 12 but also helps to create virtual card advantage (by leaving unplayable cards in your opponent’s hands), Balance is an incredibly unbalanced card, and Disenchant can help to split the naturalize effects into two colors (and with different names, which has a small advantage against other Meddling Mages or Cabal Therapies). Also, for card advantage purposes I wanted to try Deep Analysis since it works quite well in conjunction with Mental Note.

This is the deck I run in the June league… Behold Bear Deck Wins

Bear Deck Wins or Ugw “Bant” Threshold, or delverless delver.
Bear Deck Wins or Ugw “Bant” Threshold, or delver-less Delver

Despite the deck being just a pile of “bad cards,” the deck plays quite well! I won’t do a full tournament report since that is not the goal of this article but I will say that I won the VII MTG Old Frame League and the deck runs quite smoothly!

After going 4-0 in the group stage, winning 2-1 vs Mana Drain Control, 2-0 vs Uwr Fish, 2-0 vs TNT, and 2-1 vs TPS, I won 2-0 vs “Donate + Illusions of Grandeur” in the semifinals and 3-2 against Uwr Fish in the finals.

We recorded and uploaded the final match on our MTG Old Frame Youtube channel. You can watch the game!

So how does the deck work?

The deck uses a tempo strategy whose plan is to employ a mana denial role with Wasteland, Strip mine, Stifle, and Null Rods while hitting your opponent’s life total with threshold-powered hate bears. It is important to note that the deck does not want to play a long game since it does not have an active play to consistently gain card advantage.

That is why the “counters” package is rather small and focused (just 4 Force of Will, 2 Dazes, and 1 maindeck Misdirection with zero mana drains). Normally these are used proactively to resolve a key spell or just to stop the bomb that is going to kill you. Most of the time you let your opponent resolve their set-up spells and counter their key one. 

I’ll share some deck notes and somewhat random thoughts for anyone who wants to play this deck in the next Old Frame Vintage tournament:

  • If you “dazed” a spell or “stifled” a fetchland on G1, it is relatively correct to board some of those out (especially if you are on the draw on G2). Daze and Stifle are not particularly strong cards in Old Frame Vintage, and they quickly lose their effectiveness when your opponent can afford to correctly play around them. The best deal you can get here is that your opponent plays around them but you have them in your sideboard
  • Sometimes, it is correct to let your opponent draw off their Ancestral Recall since your plan more often than not involves you winning the game empty-handed while your opponent still has a few cards in hand that they are unable to play. Again, the rule of thumb is that you let your opponent resolve their set-up spells and fight their key spell. 
  • If you don’t have threshold but you are close to getting there, it is correct to cast your spells before combat in case your opponent wants to pick a fight and help you get to 7 cards in the graveyard
  • Resolving a Nimble Mongoose is often more important than solving other creatures since once it’s in play it is VERY hard to remove (just watch out for Burning Wish into Innocent Blood!)
  • Many times, you can’t afford to play your Brainstorms perfectly (ie, by returning two bad cards and shuffling with a fetchland). So, it is often correct to Brainstorm somewhat more aggressively in order to find the missing creature to start beating your opponents down to zero!
  • Your opponent’s Quirion Dryads will grow larger very quickly, and they basically stop most of your attacks until they can draw you out of the game. The same applies to late-game Psychatogs (early-game ones are somewhat easier to handle). Those are the spells that you can’t let your opponent resolve (or alternatively Plow them as fast as possible)
  • In most matches, you are the beatdown unless you are playing against a fast combo deck (ie, Storm or Dreadnought), in that case, you are the control. 

What is unique about this deck that we didn’t know in 2003?

Circa 2003 several decks ran Null Rod to combat decks that relied on powerful artifacts to accelerate their game plan. That being said, most Null Rod decks from that time did not run Moxes or Black Lotus at all (probably because people who owned power used it and those without fought them using Null Rod). Since our format is 100% proxy friendly, we are able to play with the best combination of cards without worrying about budget. And I think that is the beauty of it! 

What changes would I make moving forward?

Mental Note severely underperformed throughout the leagues I played IT. The goal for the card was to accelerate getting up to threshold but that did not happen as consistently as I expected (or much at all to be honest). I think it is correct to run an instant speed cantrip in that slot. Why instant speed you ask? Because you want to leave up mana for a T1 stifle and still have the option to use that mana in case your opponent does not crack a fetch land on their first turn.

Therefore, this leaves us two main candidates, Peek and Opt. While I haven’t tested any of these two options, in theory any one of them may be correct. That being said, I am currently more inclined to advocate for Peek over Opt. While Opt gives more flexibility in terms of card selection, I think this deck values more the value of information of knowing your opponent’s hand over digging a card deeper. Most of the cards in the deck are somewhat interchangeable and similar in power level, so for this deck, I think it is more important to know how to plan the game. Related, since Mental Note is leaving the deck, I would switch Deep Analysis for a Merchant Scroll. In the sideboard, I would switch the Powder Keg for another Compost. I don’t think Powder Keg is very good but Compost is quite good against TPS and fantastic against Mono Black!

In sum, these are the changes I would make to the deck moving forward:

Mainboard:

– 2 Mental Note

– 1 Deep Analysis

+ 2 Peek (or Opt if Peek happens to underperform)

+ 1 Merchant Scroll

Sideboard:

– 1 Powder Keg

+ 1 Compost

What about a sideboard guide?

This is how I would sideboard if I were to play the updated deck today. However, I don’t claim these choices are going to always be 100% correct all the time. Just adapt your choices when you think it matters! That being said, the goal of the sideboard guide is to give potential new players of the deck (or of the format) an idea of how to play the deck and diminish the cost of playing it in our next league!

vs blue control decks using mana drain

– 2 Daze

– 1/2 Stifle (to make room for Swords to Plowshares)

+ 1 Null Rod

+ 1 Misdirection

+ 1/2 Swords to Plowshares (only if they play Quirion Dryads)

vs storm (TPS, Doomsday)

– 2 cantrips

– 1 Misdirection

– 1/2 Dazes (only on the draw)

+ 2 Compost

+ 1 Null rod

+ 1/2 Naturalize/Disenchant

vs Uwr fish

– 3 Null Rod

– 2 cantrips (on the play)

– 2 Dazes (on the draw)

+ 1 Balance

+ 2 Swords to Plowshares

+ 1 Naturalize/Disenchant

+ 1 Misdirection

vs TNT

– 2 Daze

– 1 Misdirection

– 2 Peek

– 1 Stifle (on the draw)

– 1 Null Rod (on the play)

+ 4 Naturalize/Disenchant

+ 2 Swords to Plowshares

vs dreadnought

– 3 Null Rod

– 2 Stifle

– 2 Nimble Mongoose

+ 1 Balance

+ 2 Swords to Plowshares

+ 4 Naturalize/Disenchant

Some final thoughts

I’m about 2000 words in, so I’ll make this quickly. I obviously did not design this deck 100% from scratch but I developed it by looking at old deck lists as a reference and took things from there. We stand on the shoulders of giants, right? The deck also greatly benefited from talks with some of the other Old Frame Vintage grinders and friends. Our community is truly awesome!

While I don’t think this deck is the tier 0 of the format, I really think it is a very good and powerful one! You can really win games out of nowhere with an early Stifle or Wasteland and you have a decent plan against every deck in the format. But you know, this is Old Frame Vintage, so every now and then someone will just T1 kill you! And when that happens, just enjoy the show. I also think this deck is very fun to play. It has some interesting combat math to it that is not quite common to most eternal formats. I also think it is a very good deck choice for someone to start playing Old Frame Vintage for the first time coming from Legacy or Premodern (especially if you haven’t played Vintage or didn’t play it back in the good ol’ days).

Fish

A tempo deck that uses small and cheap creatures and “manlands” to beat you while your spells are taken care of by the disruption caused by Daze, Force of Will, Misdirection, Stifle, Null Rod, Strip Mine, Wasteland and others.

Lord of Atlantis
Lord of Atlantis

Fish also has a drawing motor in place thanks to Standstill and sometimes Curiosity, to try to get ahead of the most powerful decks.

There are several variants of the deck, including:

  • Mono Blue Fish: the original Fish deck makes the most out of the synergy between Lord of Atlantis and other Merfolk while also having a definitely more stable mana base.
  • UR Fish: Combine Fish with some of the stronger cards of Sligh, such as Grim Lavamancer and Lightning Bolt plus the Blue/Red double card Fire/Ice.
  • WU Fish: The White/Blue version of Fish mainly incorporates one of the strongest creatures of the format: Meddling Mage together with Sword to Plowshares and other white disruption spells, like Balance and Disenchant.

ARTIFACTS

1 Mox Sapphire
3 Null Rod

CREATURES

4 Cloud of Faeries
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Manta Riders
4 Rootwater Thief

INSTANTS

4 Force of Will
4 Misdirection
1 Psionic Blast

SORCERIES

1 Time Walk

ENCHANTMENTS

4 Curiosity
4 Standstill

LANDS

4 Faerie Conclave
9 Island
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Maze of Ith
4 Mishra’s Factory
1 Strip Mine
2 Wasteland

SIDEBOARD

4 Annul
1 Boomerang
2 Chill
1 Gilded Drake
2 Legacy’s Allure
1 Maze of Ith
2 Suq’Ata Firewalker
2 Wasteland
Black Lotus
Fabio Zanasi’s Fish deck at the VII Old Frame League.
DateTournamentPositionPlayer
February 2021IV MTGOF LeagueFabio Zanasi
July 2021VII MTGOF League2ndFabio Zanasi
October 2021VIII MTGOF LeagueTop 4Michael Giuliani
July 2022XII MTGOF LeagueÓscar Canedo
September 25, 2022LMOF 1.62ndDavid Aparicio
October 2022XIII MTGOF LeagueÓscar Canedo
February 2023XIV MTGOF LeagueÓscar Canedo

Reap

What is the point of using Distorting Lens in a competitive Magic the Gathering deck? Well, Reap is the point. Turn your opponent’s permanents black and soon you will card advantage your way to victory.

Force of WillPyroblastWastelandRed Elemental BlastGorilla Shaman and some Cunning Wishes will take care of the rest.

ARTIFACTS

4 Distorting Lens
1 Mox Emerald
1 Sol Ring

CREATURES

1 Gorilla Shaman

INSTANTS

4 Accumulated Knowledge
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Blue Elemental Blast
4 Brainstorm
3 Cunning Wish
1 Disrupt
1 Fire/Ice
4 Force of Will
1 Misdirection
1 Mystical Tutor
4 Pyroblast
2 Reap
4 Red Elemental Blast

SORCERIES

1 Merchant Scroll
1 Time Walk
1 Regrowth

ENCHANTMENTS

1 Sylvan Library

LANDS

1 Flooded Strand
1 Island
1 Library of Alexandria
3 Polluted Delta
1 Strip Mine
4 Tropical Island
4 Volcanic Island
3 Wasteland

SIDEBOARD

1 Counterspell
1 Disrupt
1 Dwarven Blastminer
1 Flaming Gambit
1 Gorilla Shaman
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Hydroblast
1 Intuition
1 Misdirection
2 Naturalize
2 Pyrokinesis
1 Reap
1 Timetwister

Black Lotus

High Tide

What’s bluer than blue? High Tide! Let all those Islands surge with power and cast all the expensive spells you want until you have a win condition like Brain Freeze.

David Aparicio’s winning deck at the Liga Madrileña de Old Frame 1.3.

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
3 Candelabra of Tawnos
1 Mox Sapphire

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brain Freeze
4 Brainstorm
1 Chain of Vapor
1 Cunning Wish
2 Disrupt
1 Fact or Fiction
4 Force of Will
1 Frantic Search
4 High Tide
2 Impulse
1 Intuition
3 Mana Drain
3 Meditate
1 Mystical Tutor
2 Turnabout

SORCERIES

1 Merchant Scroll
1 Mind’s Desire
1 Time Spiral
1 Time Walk
1 Timetwister
1 Windfall

LANDS

3 Flooded Strand
11 Island
1 Library of Alexandria
3 Polluted Delta

SIDEBOARD

1 Brain Freeze
3 Back to Basics
2 Defense Grid
2 Disrupt
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Hydroblast
1 Meditate
1 Misdirection
1 Stifle
1 Stroke of Genius
1 Turnabout
Black Lotus

High Tide Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
April 17, 2022LMOF 1.31stDavid Aparicio
October 2022XIII MTGOF LeagueTop 4David Aparicio

Keeper

The son of The Deck the original control deck by Brian Weissman and probably the strongest control deck ever, Keeper is still an amazing option in the Old Frame Vintage format for those who prefer to react to the plays by the rival player and win only when massive control has been assessed.

For that, we go all in with BalanceFire/IceGorilla ShamanMana DrainSwords to Plowshares and The Abyss amongst other control cards.

Raúl Torres’ deck at the Liga Madrileña de Old Frame 2.3.

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring

CREATURES

2 Gorilla Shaman

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall
4 Brainstorm
3 Cunning Wish
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Fire/Ice
4 Mana Drain
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Skeletal Scrying
2 Swords to Plowshares
1 Vampiric Tutor

SORCERIES

1 Balance
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Mind Twist
1 Time Walk
1 Yawgmoth’s Will

ENCHANTMENTS

1 Future Sight
1 Goblin Trenches
1 The Abyss

LANDS

1 City of Brass
2 Flooded Strand
1 Library of Alexandria
2 Polluted Delta
1 Strip Mine
3 Tundra
3 Underground Sea
3 Volcanic Island
4 Wasteland

SIDEBOARD

1 Arcane Laboratory
1 Circle of Protection: Red
1 Coffin Purge
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Disenchant
1 Energy Flux
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Flaming Gambit
4 Red Elemental Blast
1 Shattering Pulse
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Swords to Plowshares
Black Lotus

Keeper Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
July 2020I MTGOF LeagueQuinn Maurmann
October 2020II MTGOF LeagueRubén Pascual
December 18, 2020I Open Old FrameTop 4Nacho Barrachina
July 2021VII MTGOF LeagueTop 4Luke Tooker
February 6, 2022LMOF 1.12ndRaúl Torres
April 17, 2022LMOF 1.39thRaúl Torres
May 15, 2022LMOF 1.48thRaúl Torres
June 19, 2022LMOF 1.53rdRaúl Torres
September 25, 2022LMOF 1.65thRaúl Torres
May 13, 2023LMOF 2.35thRaúl Torres

Stax

Stax is also known as Prison Control, and that probably gives everything away. Guess what, if you face this deck and it gets ahead of you, you really feel like you are imprisoned. Slowly losing all of your permanents while the opponent keeps on getting an advantage, that’s how it goes.

Smokestack has definitely been in some of my nightmares, laughing at me with their friends: Tangle WireSphere of Resistance, and powered up by Mishra’s Workshops. I get shivers just by thinking about it.

Óscar Canedo’s semifinalist deck at the 2023 Old Frame Vintage World Championship.

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
4 Grafted Skullcap
2 Karn, Silver Golem
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Memory Jar
4 Metalworker
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
3 Powder Keg
4 Smokestack
1 Sol Ring
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Tangle Wire
2 Nether Void

CREATURES

4 Goblin Welder

LANDS

4 Badlands
2 City of Traitors
4 Mishra’s Workshop
1 Polluted Delta
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
2 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island
4 Wasteland

SIDEBOARD

2 Arcane Laboratory
2 Caltrops
3 Jester’s Cap
2 Karn, Silver Golem
3 Null Brooch
1 Powder Keg
2 Tormod’s Crypt
Black Lotus

Stax Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
October 2020II MTGOF League2ndÓscar Canedo
October 2020II MTGOF LeagueTop 4Antonio Fiscarelli
December 2020III MTGOF League2ndJohn Longo
December 18, 2020I Open Old Frame6thVedast Sanxis
February 2021IV MTGOF LeagueAttilio Bragantini
December 2021IX MTGOF LeagueFabio Zanasi
December 2021IX MTGOF LeagueAntoine Lamune
October 2022XIII MTGOF LeagueNicholas Santini
March 11, 2023LMOF 2.28thVedast Sanxis
May 28, 20232023 Worlds4thÓscar Canedo
May 28, 20232023 Worlds7thRoberto Martínez
July 29, 2023LMOF 2.42ndJorge Larrumbide
September 17, 2023LMOF 2.55thJorge Larrumbide

The Perfect Storm (TPS)/Tendrils

Best of the combo decks? So good that makes Old Frame Vintage an unplayable format? TPS (short for The Perfect Storm) has been a nightmare for many players since the moment the Storm ability was introduced in Scourge, the last of the Old Frame sets.

David Kaplan’s winning deck at the XIII Online Old Frame League.

The Perfect Storm Decklist

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Grim Monolith
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Memory Jar
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
1 Time Vault
1 Voltaic Key

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall
4 Brainstorm
1 Chain of Vapor
4 Dark Ritual
4 Force of Will
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor

SORCERIES

1 Demonic Tutor
4 Duress
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Mind’s Desire
1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Time Spiral
1 Time Walk
1 Timetwister
1 Tinker
1 Windfall
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Yawgmoth’s Will

ENCHANTMENTS

1 Necropotence
1 Yawgmoth’s Bargain

LANDS

1 Flooded Strand
1 Island
4 Polluted Delta
1 Swamp
1 Tolarian Academy
3 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island

SIDEBOARD

3 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Mind Twist
1 Mystic Remora
3 Phyrexian Negator
1 Pyroclasm
1 Rack and Ruin
3 Red Elemental Blast
1 Tormod’s Crypt
Black Lotus

Tendrils of Agony, the Card of the Deck

Tendrils of Agony, illustrated by Pete Venters.
Tendrils of Agony, illustrated by Pete Venters.

Card Name: Tendrils of Agony.

Mana Cost: 2BB.

Type: Sorcery.

Card Text: Target player loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.

Storm (When you cast this spell, copy it for each spell cast before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)

Expansion: Scourge.

Rarity: Uncommon.

Artist: Pete Venters.

TPS Deck Tech

The Perfect Storm is, without a doubt, one of the most played and the most successful deck in all the Magic the Gathering Old Frame Vintage format. For that reason, Felipe Guzmán, one of our favourite players and friend and collaborator of the site and project, wrote a wonderful introductory article for those who want to start playing and would like to try a competitive deck.

You can find the article here.

The Perfect Storm Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
July 2020I MTGOF League2ndSimon Schoofs
July 2020I MTGOF LeagueKarl Akbari
October 2020II MTGOF LeagueTop 4Karl Akbari
December 2020III MTGOF League1stKarl Akbari
December 18, 2020I Open Old Frame1stPaco Benlloch
December 18, 2020I Open Old Frame12thRoberto Martínez
February 2021IV MTGOF League1stFelipe Guzmán
March 2021V MTGOF League2ndFelipe Guzmán
October 2021VIII MTGOF League1stDavid Kaplan
December 2021IX MTGOF LeagueTop 4Galen Lemei
February 6, 2022LMOF 1.1Top 4Diego Obregón
March 13, 2022LMOF 1.22ndVedast Sanxis
March 13, 2022LMOF 1.24thDiego Obregón
March 13, 2022LMOF 1.27thDavid Aparicio
April 17, 2022LMOF 1.33rdDiego Obregón
May 15, 2022LMOF 1.43rdDiego Obregón
May 15, 2022LMOF 1.45thVedast Sanxis
June 19, 2022LMOF 1.51stDiego Obregón
July 2022XII MTGOF LeagueTop 4Vedast Sanxis
July 2022XII MTGOF LeagueVíctor Manuel Martínez
September 25, 2022LMOF 1.64thDiego Obregón
October 2022XIII MTGOF League1stDavid Kaplan
October 2022XIII MTGOF LeagueVedast Sanxis
January 21, 2023LMOF 2.11stVedast Sanxis
May 28, 20232023 Worlds12thVedast Sanxis
May 28, 20232023 Worlds16thAndrés Ramón Martínez
July 2023XVI MTGOF LeagueTop 4Galen Lemei
September 2023XVII MTGOF League1stJuan Espadas
September 2023XVII MTGOF LeagueTop 4Vedast Sanxis

Frequently Asked Questions About TPS

Can you Stifle Storm?

Yes, you can Stifle Storm. Storm is a triggered ability, what makes it subject to be countered by Stifle, which counters an activated or triggered ability.

When you Stifle a card with the Storm ability, the spell on the card will still happen, it just won’t be copied for each spell cast before it this turn. A stifled Tendrils of Agony makes target player lose 2 life and you gain 2 life. That’s it.

Reanimator

The Reanimator archetype in the Vintage Old Frame format is a strategy that seeks to put powerful creatures into play as quickly as possible, reanimating them from the graveyard to take advantage of their abilities and power.

This archetype is built around the use of spells like Reanimate, Animate Dead or Exhume, which allow a player to return a creature card from their graveyard to the battlefield.

The Reanimate archetype usually runs a combination of fast mana sources, graveyard manipulation spells, like Careful Study, and disruption to enable the player to quickly put powerful creatures into play by reanimating them.

Reanimate Decklist

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire

CREATURES

4 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
2 Phantom Nishoba
1 Reya Dawnbringer
1 Spirit of the Night
4 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Verdant Force

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall
4 Circular Logic
1 Entomb
4 Force of Will
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor

SORCERIES

2 Careful Study
1 Demonic Tutor
3 Duress
4 Exhume
4 Reanimate
1 Time Walk

LANDS

1 Badlands
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
4 Polluted Delta
2 Swamp
4 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island

SIDEBOARD

2 Energy Flux
1 Mox Ruby
3 Null Rod
3 Red Elemental Blast
3 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Zombie Infestation
Black Lotus
Alexander Caviris’ Reanimator deck at the XII Old Frame League.

Reanimator Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
July 2022XII MTGOF LeagueTop 4Alexander Caviris
February 2023XIV MTGOF LeagueChema Valero

Turbo Dragon

Naro’s deck at the Liga Madrileña de Old Frame 2.1.

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring

CREATURES

1 Ambassador Laquatus
4 Squee, Goblin Nabob
4 Worldgorger Dragon

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall
4 Force of Will
4 Intuition
1 Rushing River
1 Vampiric Tutor

SORCERIES

1 Demonic Tutor
2 Duress
1 Time Walk
1 Wheel of Fortune

ENCHANTMENTS

3 Animate Dead
2 Compulsion
2 Dance of the Dead
3 Necromancy

LANDS

4 Bazaar of Baghdad
1 Island
4 Polluted Delta
1 Swamp
2 Underground River
4 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island

SIDEBOARD

1 Coffin Purge
1 Deep Analysis
2 Duress
1 Entomb
4 Magus of the Unseen
3 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Verdant Force
Black Lotus

Turbo Dragon Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
April 2021VI MTGOF LeagueAlexander Caviris
February 2022X MTGOF LeagueDeep Sea Dick
January 21, 2023LMOF 2.14thNaro
May 13, 2023LMOF 2.38thNaro
May 28, 20232023 Worlds9thRaúl Talavera

Stompy

The perpetual rival of Sligh for the crown of the traditional aggro decks in the Old Frame Vintage format, Stompy uses bigger and stronger creatures and spells to grow them even bigger instead of trying to finish you with fire. And what a great job it can do of that.

Basking RootwallaRiver Boa and even Xantid Swarm can grow big time with spells like RancorSeal of StrengthGiant Growth or Berserk.

ARTIFACTS

1 Mox Emerald

CREATURES

4 Basking Rootwalla
3 Pouncing Jaguar
4 River Boa
4 Scryb Sprites
4 Skyshroud Elite
4 Xantid Swarm

INSTANTS

4 Berserk
4 Giant Growth
4 Invigorate

ENCHANTMENTS

3 Briar Shield
4 Rancor
3 Seal of Strength

LANDS

8 Forest
1 Pendelhaven
2 Windswept Heath
3 Wooded Foothills

SIDEBOARD

4 Compost
4 Naturalize
4 Phyrexian Furnace
3 Tempting Wurm

Mox Emerald

Tools and Tubbies (“TnT”)

Oh, Tools and Tubbies, what a deck it is! Combine powerful Artifact spells, some of them creatures, cast easily with Mishra’s Workshops and the possibility to get other creatures once the ones you have in place have lost their purpose thanks to Survival of the Fittest.

Bring then even more synergy for your Artifacts with Goblin Welder and boom, this Midrange deck can easily beat you aggro style or by some sort of combo. Their choice.

Survival of the Fittest.
Survival of the Fittest.

TnT has had its fair share of success already in the Old Frame Vintage format despite being underplayed with a win in the VI MTG Old Frame League.

Vedast Sanxis’ winning deck at the VI Online Old Frame League.

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Grim Monolith
4 Juggernaut
1 Karn, Silver Golem
1 Masticore
1 Memory Jar
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Su-Chi
2 Triskelion

CREATURES

1 Anger
1 Elvish Lyrist
4 Goblin Welder
1 Quirion Ranger
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall

SORCERIES

1 Time Walk
1 Tinker

ENCHANTMENTS

4 Survival of the Fittest

LANDS

4 Mishra’s Workshop
1 Strip Mine
4 Taiga
3 Tropical Island
1 Volcanic Island
2 Wasteland
4 Wooded Foothills

SIDEBOARD

2 Blood Moon
2 Compost
1 Genesis
3 Jester’s Cap
4 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Viashino Heretic
1 Wonder
Black Lotus

Tools and Tubbies Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
February 2021IV MTGOF League2ndVedast Sanxis
February 2021IV MTGOF LeagueJared Doucette
April 2021VI MTGOF League1stVedast Sanxis
April 17, 2022LMOF 1.32ndJuan Manuel Delgado
May 28, 20232023 Worlds5thFélix Campo
September 17, 2023LMOF 2.53rdJuan Manuel Delgado

Rector Trix

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Mox Diamond
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring

CREATURES

4 Academy Rector

INSTANTS

1 Ancestral Recall
3 Brainstorm
4 Dark Ritual
4 Force of Will
1 Rushing River
1 Vampiric Tutor

SORCERIES

4 Cabal Therapy
1 Demonic Tutor
2 Donate
3 Duress
1 Time Walk
1 Yawgmoth’s Will

ENCHANTMENTS

3 Illusions of Grandeur
1 Necropotence
1 Yawgmoth’s Bargain

LANDS

2 Gemstone Mine
4 Polluted Delta
3 Scrubland
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Tundra
4 Underground Sea

SIDEBOARD

2 Abeyance
2 Blue Elemental Blast
1 Duress
1 Illusions of Grandeur
1 Island
4 Phyrexian Negator
2 Seal of Cleansing
2 Stifle

Black Lotus

Grow

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire

CREATURES

4 Quirion Dryad
3 Psychatog

INSTANTS

1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Ancestral Recall
4 Brainstorm
3 Counterspell
2 Cunning Wish
3 Daze
4 Force of Will
1 Gush
3 Misdirection
1 Stifle

SORCERIES

1 Demonic Tutor
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
2 Merchant Scroll
3 Sleight of Hand
1 Regrowth
1 Time Walk

LANDS

2 Flooded Strand
2 Island
1 Library of Alexandria
3 Polluted Delta
1 Strip Mine
4 Tropical Island
4 Underground Sea

SIDEBOARD

1 Berserk
1 Blue Elemental Blast
1 Diabolic Edict
2 Duress
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Ghastly Demise
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Misdirection
2 Naturalize
2 Smother
1 Stifle
1 Submerge

Black Lotus


Hulk Smash

Attilio Bragantini’s second place deck at the XIV Online Old Frame League.

ARTIFACTS

1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring

CREATURES

3 Psychatog

INSTANTS

4 Accumulated Knowledge
1 Ancestral Recall
4 Brainstorm
3 Cunning Wish
4 Force of Will
2 Intuition
4 Mana Drain
1 Mystical Tutor

SORCERIES

1 Demonic Tutor
3 Duress
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
2 Deep Analysis
2 Merchant Scroll
1 Time Walk

LANDS

3 Flooded Strand
2 Island
1 Library of Alexandria
2 Polluted Delta
2 Tropical Island
4 Underground Sea
3 Volcanic Island

SIDEBOARD

1 Artifact Mutation
1 Berserk
1 Blue Elemental Blast
3 Coffin Purge
1 Fire/Ice
1 Lim-Dul’s Vault
1 Mind Twist
1 Naturalize
2 Pernicious Deed
3 Red Elemental Blast
Black Lotus

Hulk Smash Appearances in Tournaments

DateTournamentPositionPlayer
February 2021IV MTGOF LeagueTop 4John Longo
February 2022X MTGOF League2ndPhil Torson
February 2022X MTGOF LeagueTop 4Attilio Bragantini
February 6, 2022LMOF 1.14thDavid Aparicio
July 2022XII MTGOF LeagueAttilio Bragantini
October 2022XIII MTGOF League2ndKarl Akbari
October 2022XIII MTGOF LeagueAttilio Bragantini
February 2023XIV MTGOF League2ndAttilio Bragantini
May 2023XV MTGOF LeagueTop 4Attilio Bragantini
May 28, 20232023 Worlds6thPablo Cubedo
May 28, 20232023 Worlds13thDavid Aparicio
September 2023XVII MTGOF LeagueTop 4Attilio Bragantini