Eternal Weekend was a terrific diversion from Standard and Limited as we enter into the period of radio silence that comes before a Pro Tour—pros are buckling down, testing for Albuquerque. There, they will emerge like Chilean miners with fresh brews and cutting-edge technology to attack the Pro Tour. But this week, it was all about the most powerful cards ever printed,as we explored Legacy and Vintage in Pittsburgh.
In Legacy, some huge names took to the stage: CFB’s own Bob Huang and Ondřej Stráský contested the tournament very strongly, both securing Top 8 finishes. But it was Hans Jacob Goddik who went the distance with his Sultai Delver deck. Sultai beat out Temur in the finals, aided greatly by recent addition Fatal Push as well as the value engine that is Liliana, the Last Hope.
— CardTitan.com (@Card_Titan) October 22, 2017
In Vintage, we saw a tournament with blue heavily represented, as players sought to leverage the strongest spells in the game such as Ancestral Recall and Time Walk. Eldrazi was also heavily represented, although neither of these decks managed to break into the Top 8. In fact, the Top 8 was split between Oath—a deck that uses Oath of Druids and Forbidden Orchard to cheat whopping great monsters into play—and Ravager Shops.
Despite a continued trend of bans designed to keep Mishra’s Workshop decks in check, the power of these old robots cannot be denied. The Ravager-flavored versions look to go lower to the ground and adopt a more aggressive posture than Shops decks of old, fueled by Modern all-stars like Arcbound Ravager and Steel Overseer (and, in fairness, Draft chaff like Foundry Inspector and Chief of the Foundry). Andy Markiton, aided by the robot overlords, was the eventual champion—and snagged a massive Black Lotus for his efforts!
— CardTitan.com (@Card_Titan) October 22, 2017
Eternal formats are full of ridiculous interactions and situations that are truly bonkers, and the weekend showcased some of the absurd things you can do when given almost unfettered access to every card ever printed. Legacy and Vintage are not, however, stale old formats where new cards can’t break through to make an impact. While the most iconic cards often date back to Alpha, new pieces of technology from recent sets are often adopted and in some cases can spawn entirely new strategies or sub-archetypes.
Most recently, Fate Reforged’s Monastery Mentor faced restriction in Vintage as an overwhelmingly powerful finisher for blue decks—but the freshest addition to the format is the Standard role-player Walking Ballista. Given its incredible synergy with Arcbound Ravager, it’s unsurprising to see it doing work as—in the words of Randy Buehler—“the best Triskelion ever.”
Twitch user hybridization33 captured the moment at which The Rich Shay demonstrated exactly how much havoc a colorless Fireball effect can wreak. In the wake of a huge attack from a beefy Arcbound Ravager, the Ballista picked up the +1/+1 counters from the Ravager’s modular trigger and found that the local currency exchange offered a very competitive rate on exchanging counters into damage. Brian Durkin learned that hard way that the full 20 can be a pretty precarious life total after all!
Bravely unafraid of cliche, European master Ondřej Stráský made the Legacy Top 8 with his signature Czech Pile deck, a four-color monstrosity that is carefully assembled by dropping the contents of your Legacy trade binder on the ground and then registering the first 75 cards you pick up. Stráský, who has been on this deck all year, isn’t the only CFB pro who’s hot on the list. Italian Eternal stalwart Andrea Mengucci has been putting it through its paces, too.
Stráský updated his deck in a number of small ways, and it was Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy that was the latest and greatest in this list. Baby Jace may be something of a sleeper card in Eternal formats, as he is easier to flip here than anywhere else—not to mention the raw power level of the cards you can flash back with Jace, Telepath Unbound!
Czech Pile by Ondřej Stráský
Top 8 at Eternal Weekend NA (Legacy) 2017
This deck really is an all-star lineup of the best cards in the format. From Force of Will to Deathrite Shaman to Fatal Push, Czech Pile is a collection of the mightiest cards in Magic’s history and as such has an absurdly high power level. In a world of fetchlands and original dual lands, a functional four-color mana base is easier than ever, and this deck offers an excellent mix of proactive threats and decisive answers. A full article from the man himself will arrive right here before long, so stay tuned!
Eternal Weekend offered us a rare insight into the highest level of play of Eternal formats. Slow and lumbering to develop, both Legacy and Vintage have something of a reputation for being rather glacial when it comes to innovation. There’s some truth to that, certainly—but the results to emerge from this weekend indicate that these format continue to evolve, even if it’s not at the pace we see in formats like Standard.
In Legacy, Czech Pile and Leovold-based strategies led the field in terms of sheer numbers—but only when Delver’s discrete sub-archetypes are counted separately. Relying on undercosted threats and free interaction, Delver decks are heavily tempo-oriented, aiming to stick a threat early and protect it with cards like Force of Will and Daze. Right now, Grixis is the flavor of the month—but as Temur was bested in the finals by Sultai, there’s by no means a consensus.
Meanwhile, the old rogue’s gallery of Legacy decks continued to appear, with Reanimator, Sneak and Show, and Death and Taxes all showing up in good numbers. In the wake of the Sensei’s Divining Top ban, however, Stoneforge Mystic has got up off the bench and even put Hanni Alnimer into the Top 8 with a bit of a blast from the past—we haven’t seen Esper Stoneblade for quite awhile! Eldrazi, however, is the deck to watch. Any deck that can play Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple and Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors all together should be setting off alarm bells.
Speaking of alarm bells, the fact that five of the Top 8 Vintage decks were Workshop decks is certain to generate heated discussion. Many vocal proponents of the banning of Mishra’s Workshop will be getting out the soap boxes this week (in the somewhat unlikely event they were even put away in the first place)! Outside of the classic blue vs. Shops rivalry, however, Zendikar’s spaghetti monsters are also making an appearance in Magic’s oldest format. Over ten percent of the field in Pittsburgh was Eldrazi, and that number may yet rise as we see Vintage continue to settle after the Mentor restriction.
That’s it for Eternal. As the Pro Tour draws nearer, it’s time to make our way to southwestern USA and GP Phoenix, before PT Ixalan in Albuquerque. See you next week!