Jeskai Xerox in Vintage

by Andreas Petersen on 29 May 2019, Wednesday

Andreas Petersen

 

Finding the right Xerox Colors

 

Hello and welcome back to another Vintage article by my hand. Last time I talked about the impact of the new Narset planeswalker in the Blue vs Blue matchups and the reaction it would likely cause in the revolving metagame. Fast forward one week and it was time to prepare for the next Vintage Challenge after the previous top 4 finish with Temur Xerox.

 

Why Xerox wants White - Fight back against Eldrazi with Swords to Plowshares!

 

This time around I knew I wanted access to removal spells that could kill opposing Thought-Knot Seers and Reality Smashers, but I also knew that it had a huge cost. Either I should move to a base Blue-white manabase and give up on Dack Fayden, Pyroblast and Lightning Bolt, or I should build an ambitious manabase and accept losses to multiple Wastelands in a match. The omniprescence of Narset makes the Red cards even more necessary, so I opted for the latter. Enter Jeskai Xerox!

 

The Full Jewelry: This deck has use for Moxen #4 and #5

 

Xerox decks are known for playing a lot of one-mana cards and not a lot of generic mana costs. For this reason, they usually only run the on-color Moxen and spend the last few "mana" slots on utility lands like Library of Alexandria, Strip Mine or Wasteland. In this version however, I have a fairly high amount of generic mana requirements, and I also wanted to up the number of times I could play Young Pyromancer, Dack Fayden and Narset, Parter of Veils ahead of schedule. Being servicable with Snapcaster Mage and against opposing taxing effects like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Sphere of Restistance made me go with the full suite. The rule of thumb is to not play out the Moxen for no reason, as you have Dack Fayden and the singleton Brainstorm in your deck.

 

Maybe Next Time: A Card I Should Have Played

 

I didn't register Gush for this tournament, which is most likely a mistake. Gush is good with Young Pyromancer, Monastery Mentor and Dack Fayden, a total of six cards in my current list. It does however have some conflict with basic Mountain, the full Moxen and my desire to play three copies of Narset. I can see myself trying -1 Narset, -1 Mountain, +1 Gush, +1 Volcanic Island for the next event.

 

The Sideboard MVP: Cover Your Bases with Pithing Needle

 

I get a lot of questions about Pithing Needle, and I don't think I ever talked about it publicly before. In Vintage you need a certain number of sideboard cards against Shops and Dredge if you want to be competitive, and 15 slots aren't a lot to cover all the bases, even though they are relatively few. Needle is a great example of clever deckbuilding that lets you have enough cards to bring in against the non-Blue decks. Remember, our maindeck is packed with clunky Narsets and Dack Fayden fodder like Pyroblast, Mental Misstep and Spell Pierce. Against Dredge you Needle their Bazaar which is huge on the play, especially if they mulligan and have a long way up to discarding to handsize and start slow dredging, which is very beatable by the way. Against Shops you need to analyze the boardstate and identify your weaknesses. Sometimes you can't afford to get Wastelanded. Sometimes Arcbound Ravager needs to be switched off to turn on your Dack Fayden and sometimes you don't have enough life points to survive a topdecked Walking Ballista. Or maybe the turn one Steel Overseer needs to be stopped before it loses summoning sickness. The icing on the cake is to have this card against Survival of the Fittest which is still played here and there. Two sideboard slots well spent, I'd say.

 

How to Shatter?

 

Moving away from Green forces me to look at alternative options in the artifact removal slot. By Force takes advantage of extra mana while Shattering Spree is more flexible as long as you have a lot of Red mana. For this tournament I chose to go with By Force, partially because of the lands I played (only 3 Volcanic Islands) and partially because I played all five Moxen. I'm of the opinion that you need the full amount of Volcanic Island plus basic Mountain in your 75 to run Shattering Spree, so I like By Force for now. I might look into changing the manabase later because I like Shattering Spree more in a vacuum since it allows me to kill a single artifact for one mana.

 

My Jeskai Xerox: The list I fielded at the Challenge

 

With all said and done, here is what I played and what I was paired against in the event:

 

 

Round 1: Win vs Dredge

Round 2: Win vs Grixis Thieves

Round 3: Win vs Shops

Round 4: Win vs Dredge

Round 5: Win vs RUG Xerox

Round 6: Gentleman Scoop vs Shops

Round 7: Lost vs Shops

 

Closing Thoughts

 

I’m always happy to top 8 any tournament, but I’ve been playing for long enough that I know it doesn’t matter a ton. I’ve learned to lean on my instinct rather than specific results when evaluating a deck.

 

5 out of 7 of my opponents brought non-Blue decks that don’t care about Mental Misstep (Dredge does care about this one after sideboard, though), Narset nor Karn, the Great Creator. This makes for an interesting dynamic moving forward where players need to balance their Blue mirror breakers and more widely applicable cards even better.

 

I didn’t face a single unfair Blue deck which confirms my suspicion from the last article that Paradoxical Outcome is in very bad shape with the new planeswalkers running the streets of Vintage.

 

The presence of Karn, the Great Creator which, on paper at least, is very powerful against Shops yet has not harmed Shops in any meaningful way thus far. It turns out four mana is still a lot through Spheres and Wastelands.

 

I really like it when new cards are injected into Vintage. We like trying out new things and will sometimes go overboard to try them out or prepare for others who sleeved up new toys. When the dust settles, the format is always better than it used to be, and I think that trend continues this time around.

 

Next time I will write about all four old Constructed formats and show you my weapon of choice for each of them. See you there!

 

This article was written by Andreas Petersen in a media collaboration with mage.market.

 







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