Down the Drain

I have not had the opportunity to play much Vintage, but when I have, it’s been primarily with Mana Drain decks. Mana Drain is not a remotely reasonable card. The ability to counter your opponent’s spell and then follow up with a huge play of your own can be absolutely gamebreaking, especially when it also provides you the opportunity to leave up mana to counter whatever your opponent’s follow up is.

In recent years, Vintage has been getting faster and faster, particularly with the printing of cards like Mental Misstep, Flusterstorm, Monastery Mentor, and Young Pyromancer. This focus on efficiency had pushed Mana Drain out of the format, but perhaps the recent round of bannings will have sufficiently slowed the format to a point where Mana Drain can become the pillar of the format that it used to be:

Mana Drain
A substantial portion of this deck is relatively stock, as are a lot of Vintage Control decks. The interesting things about Vintage decks aren’t all the powerful cantrips and cheap counterspells that you have to play in order to keep up. The interesting stuff is what you get to do with the last 20 slots of your deck. Because you see so many cards so quickly, and because games are so highly interactive starting from the first turn, you see those cards very often and they have to have a very high impact.

The core of this deck is that you want to do unfair things with Mana Drain, so we start with four copies. The rest of the deck is built to take advantage of Mana Drain mana. You’ve got a whole bunch of expensive cards with small colored commitments that have the potential to be game-ending haymakers: Fact or Fiction, Blood Moon, Treasure Cruise, Subterranean Tremors, and Consecrated Sphinx. You even have Snapcaster Mage to rebuy either Mana Drain or your Mana Drain payoffs, as well as multiple maindeck Flusterstorms to help ensure that you win the inevitable counterspell fight over your Mana Drain.

There are a lot of interesting takes on Control in Vintage right now, ranging from Young Pyromancer tempo decks trying to take the place of Monastery Mentor decks to Standstill decks to Jace, the Mind Sculptor to Oath of Druids builds. If you expect to see a lot of Blue decks and need to go over the top of them, it turns out that Mana Drain plus giant haymakers is a pretty good way to do it. Additionally, if you’re worried about Mishra’s Workshop decks, resolving a Mana Drain is a pretty good way to ensure that you’re in the driver’s seat against those decks.

With the top tier decks in the format having been taken down a peg, now is a great time to investigate other powerful things that you can do in the format. As long as you have plenty of early interaction, this seems like a good time to go a little bigger and play a few more counterspells.

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