Getting ready for the Vintage Superqualifier: Vintage Simic Fair Primer
30/08/2022 · 14 min read
Magic mirror on the wall, who's the Fairest of them all?
With a Vintage Super Qualifier coming up on Magic Online, I found it fitting to show you guys my homework. You will benefit from this guide if you consider picking up the deck, but definitely also if you wanna beat it. This is probably the most fair Vintage deck you'll ever lay your eyes on which, admittedly, used to be a big flaw in a format as crazy as Vintage can be at times. The good news is that there have been so many relevant printings for a deck like this that the odds are no longer stacked against us to begin with. Let me invite you to go to the Simic Fair with yours truly!
Why play this deck?
You want to consider sleeving up this deck if you enjoy playing the "55-45" deck of the format similar to Modern Jund historically and Blue/Red Murktide recently. By picking up a fair strategy in Vintage, you have to accept that sometimes your cards don't line up perfectly against the opponent. There's a few other options when it comes to fair blue decks, and I'll try and explain why Simic Fair is the better choice for the current landscape of Vintage.
Sultai is almost the same deck except Simic plays more copies of the creatures, and Sultai plays some interactive cards like Assassin's Trophy, Leovold, and Demonic Tutor. Another trade-off is a better manabase where fetching basic Forest is more convenient and opposing Wasteland less devastating.
Jeskai has found its way back to the metagame which is very surprising to me. The deck has to stretch its mana very far to play Wastelands and Swords to Plowshares while being base red which leads to frustrating games with uncastables in hand. Having access to Pyroblast is very strong if you play against a high percentage of blue decks, but my experience these days is that Bazaar of Baghdad and Mishra's Workshop alongside the occasional Hatebear strategy take up too big of the metagame combined to justify relying on Pyroblast. Jeskai offers a more reliable snowball effect in Dreadhorde Arcanist that the Simic deck doesn't have access to, but with more incidental graveyard hate and Vintage being more creature-centric, the Legacy-banned 1/3 is not as reliable as before.
|2 Brazen Borrower||//||$15.99|
|3 Collector Ouphe||$5.99|
|4 Deathrite Shaman||$9.49|
|1 Mox Emerald||$899.99|
|1 Mox Sapphire||$1,199.99|
|1 Mox Jet||$1,099.99|
|1 Black Lotus||$5,199.99|
|1 Mental Misstep||/P||$6.99|
|1 Dig Through Time||$0.79|
|1 Ancestral Recall||$949.99|
|2 Force of Negation||$42.99|
|4 Force of Will||$129.99|
|1 Treasure Cruise||$0.25|
|1 Time Walk||$999.99|
|1 Gitaxian Probe||/P||$2.99|
|2 Energy Flux||$0.25|
|1 Narset, Parter of Veils||$1.79|
|3 Oko, Thief of Crowns||$18.99|
|1 Underground Sea||$499.99|
|1 Strip Mine||$17.99|
|3 Tropical Island||$349.99|
|3 Verdant Catacombs||$19.99|
|4 Misty Rainforest||$27.99|
|1 Veil of Summer||$9.49|
|2 Mystical Dispute||$3.49|
|4 Force of Vigor||$37.99|
|4 Leyline of the Void||$9.99|
Once I came to the realization that the Simic colors could easily round out the deck slots without an additional color and actually covered all bases in a satisfying way, the list almost built itself with very few flex slots remaining.
Deathrite Shaman is your swiss army knife that accelerates, controls graveyards, wins board stalls, bolsters your lifetotal, blocks Ragavan, pays for Spheres among other things.
Tarmogoyf is surprisingly kind of lopsided since it can sometimes be a liability against unfair strategies. It deserves the four slots because it's very good against all other decks including all Bazaar strategies, all Workshop strategies, and all fair decks. Even against unfair decks like Doomsday or Oops, All Spells!, turning creatures sideways backed by disruption can do the trick sometimes.
Collector Ouphe - or Null Rodney as Randy Buehler named him in Vintage Super League during spoiler season - changed everything when it comes to fair strategies in Vintage. Having a 2/2 body attached to your Null Rod makes sure you close out the unfair decks faster while keeping them in a soft lock and makes it way easier to main deck.
Endurance is good against heavily devoted graveyard strategies for obvious reasons, but being annoying for blue mages with plans to go on a Treasured Cruise or start Digging Through Time and the 3/4 stats for creature matchups are what makes the card maindeckable. It ups your game one win percentage vs. Bazaar, chews up small attackers like Ragavan, Ouphe, Dreadhorde Arcanist, 3/3 Food, Thalia and friends etc. Heck, it even disrupts Doomsday in some cases to buy you the crucial turn. If your opponents are running Lightning Bolt and/or Abrade as their removal spell, even better.
Oko, Thief of Crowns doesn't require a lot of introduction when it comes to powerlevel, but there's some Vintage-specific scenarios that you should look out for. Turning your opponents mana rocks into Elks can sometimes be clutch, playing out your Mox for "no reason" in case you draw Oko next turn for the effective hasty Elk, and using your Deathrite Shaman or Endurance to shrink opposing 4/5 Tarmogoyf so you can steal it with Oko's -5 are just a few scenarios that you will encounter during any given Vintage tournament.
Brazen Borrower was the solution for me when it came to running two colors with minimal removal spells available. At the same time, the archetype is weak to Sphinx of the Steel Wind, so having the dual answer/threat that pitches to the six Forces was a nice find. Bouncing constructs, attacking planeswalkers or breaking a ground stall is the most common scenarios for the card, so see it as a bread and butter card that solves a few issues on paper. Also note that an uptick in Wrenn and Six strategies will make this card notably worse.
Dig Through Time & Treasure Cruise aren't perfect for a strategy with no cantrips, but between counterspells, fetchlands and the natural exchange of ressources during an average game of Vintage, they'll have to do in order to have some mid-game haymakers in the deck.
The manabase looks straight forward on paper, but there is a bit more to it. Seven green fetches and six fetchables is a good ratio, and Forest is the basic of choice because of the deck's construction; double green is needed more often than double blue and is a better land to start building your mana. Turn one Deathrite that gets killed puts you in a better place to bridge into Tarmogoyf or Collector Ouphe while being protected from Wasteland. With you being the Deathrite Shaman deck, Wasteland is better on our side of the table more often than not, but the Forest is good insurance. Two different black sources join the party for Deathrite Shaman to eat away at graveyard and life total later in the game. I like having one of each because sometimes you want more green (Bayou), and sometimes you want more blue (Sea).
Flex Slots for this deck are few in my opinion, but I'll walk you through my considerations. Right now I play two copies of Energy Flux in the two flex slots because I want an even bigger advantage vs. Saga decks game one. Sometimes you completely crush a Shops deck, sometimes you deal with 1-2 Hollow Ones and most of the time it pitches to Force of Will or Negation. This deck is a unit of 75 cards compared to many other decks I've played, so feel free to look at the sideboard and play two of those cards in the main deck over the Fluxes. I've played two Endurance, Vigor/Flux split, and Dismember/Dispute split in these two slots before, but it all depends on your expected metagame. I usually check last weekend's Challenge top 32s before deciding on these two slots.
No Ponder is something that always catches people's attention, but the reality is that this deck is super consistent to begin with, and paying one (or two vs. Thalia and Spheres) is quite underwhelming in a super fair strategy. We need to play our spells before schedule (via Mox or Deathrite) or at least on time; not a turn later. Aside from being a fundamentally weak cantrip deck and facing tax effects regularily, cards like Narset, Hullbreacher and Leovold will put the nail in the coffin for Ponder in this strategy. Save that card for your unfair strategy that needs specific cards and specific times.
Zero removal spells can be scary on paper, but between Brazen Borrower, Oko, and creatures of my own, I haven't missed having access to Lightning Bolt, Assasin's Trophy or similar. You are usually the better boardstate deck.
Leyline of the Void is the Bazaar hate I like the most, especially with Oops! All Spells gaining popularity. There are metagames where Oath of Druids is a factor where Grafdigger's Cage would be attractive and metagames with no actual Dredge where cards like Tabernacle of the Pendrell Vale would shine, but for now I like the most lopsided haymaker possible.
Dismember will help any creature-based matchup with a flexible casting cost over something like Fatal Push.
Mystical Dispute is poor man's Pyroblast, but it does a great job between answering Force of Will, planeswalkers, and restricted draw spells.
Veil of Summer is the 75th card of the deck and gets the nod because I wanted an additional card to bring in vs. all blue decks. This could be a third Dispute, but I like the occasional blowout vs. discard, counters or Assassin's Trophy.
Sideboard and Matchup Guide
Kill Urza's Saga on sight, and don't play too scared. An example of this is being on the draw and hold up Flusterstorm instead of playing Deathrite Shaman turn one. You will be very far behind, and it's very obvious for your opponent that you have the Flusterstorm when you play the Deathrite Shaman on turn two. Prioritize finishing the game as fast as possible. After sideboard you cement the matchup as very favored.
- -4 Tarmogoyf, -2 Endurance, -1 Force of Negation
- +4 Force of Vigor, +2 Mystical Dispute, +1 Veil of Summer
Don't die and kill them fast. Heavily consider letting Doomsday resolve to shorten the clock and hope your interaction is enough to get you to lethal. Make sure to check recent lists and keep track of their exile post Doomsday to make the best decisions. After sideboarding you should watch out for Murktide Regent as that card lines up well against lots of your disruption and is even good vs. Oko since it keeps the counters. Proactively Endurance'ing your opponent's graveyard can help blanking Murktide before disaster happens. I choose to keep more blue cards to pitch (Energy Flux), but if you think that idea is silly, feel free to leave in the land and a single Tarmogoyf.
- -4 Tarmogoyf, -1 Forest
- +2 Mystical Dispute, +2 Endurance, +1 Veil of Summer
Oops! All Spells
This matchup and Doomsday are very alike except they are a bit faster, and graveyard hate is good against them. Their plan b is Goblin Charbelcher with two in the main deck and the last two copies in the sideboard, so after disabling the graveyard with active Deathrite Shaman or Leyline of the Void, Ouph'ing, Elking or Wasting their mana becomes your priority aside from building a wall of counterspells. Oko also deals with resolved Charbelcher with no spare mana which is something they often have to hope is good enough. Note that Force of Negation and Flusterstorm don't interact against all of their action, so countering Dark Ritual and "good" mana rocks is something you have to do sometimes.
- -4 Tarmogoyf, -1 Forest, -2 Brazen Borrower, -2 Energy Flux
- +4 Leyline of the Void, +2 Endurance, +2 Mystical Dispute, +1 Veil of Summer
Make sure to google your opponent before your mulligan decision. If they have recent and a vast majority of Bazaar results, it will alter my mulligan decision. Game one is surprisingly winnable thanks to Deathrite Shaman, Endurance and Wasteland. We bring in the graveyard hate and some insulation against Hollow One. Note that active Leyline makes your Tarmogoyfs smaller. If you play against Dredge with Grief, you can bring in Veil of Summer instead of Mental Misstep.
- -3 Collector Ouphe, -2 Force of Negation, -2 Energy Flux, -1 Narset
- +4 Leyline of the Void, +2 Endurance, +2 Dismember
Generally I dislike Workshop strategies in a metagame where Urza's Saga - and thus artifact removal - is high on everybody's list, but they are present in the metagame regardless. Deathrite Shaman for mana bolstering and Tarmogoyf as a finisher are your aces up the sleeve, and I'll happily play against Shops all day long with Simic Fair.
- -1 Endurance, -4 Flusterstorm, -1 Mental Misstep
- +4 Force of Vigor, +2 Dismember
Generally, we are the better fair deck because we play high numbers of Tarmogoyf, Endurance and Oko. You should practice your Oko vs. Oko games and get a good idea on who's the beatdown and who benefits from a longer game. Brazen Borrower and Deathrite Shaman can break open a stall. After sideboarding we don't improve that much unfortunately, but I like my chances. Third Dismember over Veil can be considered if you expect a lot of creature battles.
- -2 Force of Negation, -3 Collector Ouphe, -2 Energy Flux
- +2 Endurance, +2 Mystical Dispute, +2 Dismember, +1 Veil of Summer
It's always annoying to play against this deck, but having the green beaters and Oko will make some games trivial to win and their creatures look outright embarrassing. We don't have the perfect sideboard plan against them and have to keep in Grizzly Bears with little to no text on, so we hope to lean on higher individual card quality to take the match. Some versions run Path to Exile or Swords to Plowshares which is what you are hoping to catch with Flusterstorm and Mental Misstep, but if you see things like Revoker and equipment, consider Force of Vigor over some number of situational counterspells.
- -2 Energy Flux, -2 Force of Negation
- +2 Dismember, +2 Endurance
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Published: 2022-08-30 00:00:00