19 Lands:
  • 4 Wasteland
  • 1 Strip Mine
  • 4 Cavern of Souls
  • 8 Island
  • 1 Scalding Tarn
  • 1 Flooded Strand
23 Creatures:
  • 4 Cursecatcher
  • 4 Lord of Atlantis
  • 4 Master of the Pearl Trident
  • 2 Phantasmal Image
  • 2 Merrow Reejerey
  • 4 Silvergill Adept
  • 3 True-Name Nemesis
18 Others:
  • 1 Steel Sabotage
  • 3 Null Rod
  • 1 Misdirection
  • 4 Mental Misstep
  • 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
  • 4 Force of Will
  • 1 Flusterstorm
  • 1 Echoing Truth
  • 1 Chrome Mox
  • 2 Steel Sabotage
  • 3 Tormod’s Crypt
  • 2 Hurkyl’s Recall
  • 1 Echoing Truth
  • 2 Dismember
  • 1 Flusterstorm
  • 1 Waterfront Bouncer
  • 2 Grafdigger’s Cage
  • 1 Karakas

Surprisingly enough, we saw quite a couple of players sleeving up for today's Vintage tournament that decided to play with a slightly “less ideal” deck. Instead of adding the Power Nine to their main deck, they opted to aim for the prize for the best budget deck. One of those players is Anne Harrison who showed up with a Merfolk deck.

Anne and her partner Matthew (who is, at the time of this writing, playing in the Top 8) are both from Cambridge and they already traveled here yesterday evening, mostly because it was the only affordable flight that would get them from London to Milan.

A few weeks ago, they decided to make the trip to Milan since there weren’t that many other events on their calendar. While Matthew is usually judging, Anne prefers playing. Since her better half is a big fan of the Vintage and Legacy formats and there aren’t that many opportunities to enroll in such events, this seemed like the perfect chance for them to go on a little trip together.

Anne told me that they’ll most likely enroll in three of the four main events this weekend, only leaving out Standard. While it’s mostly a question of personal preference, they also didn’t even bring the cards necessary to build a Standard deck.

Anne told me that she first got in touch with Magic back in 1998. One of her friends tried to teach her how to play, but the way he explained it, she thought that decks would always be presented in a fixed order (rather than being shuffled). So it seemed like it was more of an exercise in memorization than anything else. Only two years ago, she properly learned how the game is being played and that’s when she first decided to give it another try.

She mentioned that the fetch lands certainly helped convince her; she saw how everybody was constantly shuffling at an event she attended and that certainly got her curiosity (as it wasn't exactly in line with her expectation). The fact that her boyfriend was playing Magic definitely helped, too.

Getting into Merfolk

The first Modern deck Anne played also happened to be Merfolk. According to her, it was one of the most miserable Magic experiences she’s had as she really didn’t enjoy playing in that tournament. She didn’t touch the archetype for many months and instead focused on tribe decks like Warriors, Faeries and Elves.

She did, however, put together a Merfolk deck featuring Sygg, River Guide that seemed like a great contender for Vintage, especially as it didn’t feature the Power Nine. She wanted to give it a go this weekend as she’d been playing so many other decks in the past few weeks. She also added that she didn’t like playing “Hatebear-like” decks too much as they don’t fit her playing style.

The biggest difference between her deck and most other Merfolk decks was that she was only running Chrome Mox. The lack of Time Walk didn’t seem like too much of a problem as it can be somewhat situational. She tried different engines to accelerate her deck, but ended up with Jace, the Mind Sculptor to fill this gap.

Phantasmal Image is yet another card she particularly likes as it can either provide her with another Lord or mirror a threat that her opponent is throwing at her.

“Thinking about the whole 75 cards, I wasn't sure about Echoing Truth and Dismember. I figured that Echoing Truth would be great against the Monastery Mentor decks and Dismember could help against pretty much the rest of the field.”

She went with a single Echoing Truth in her main deck and left out Dismember altogether as she considered the latter too costly in terms of life. If it's necessary for the respective match-up, she can always bring it in from her sideboard. Speaking of the sideboard, she mentioned that she’s no longer sold on Waterfront Bouncer and that she would most likely replace it with another Grafdigger’s Cage as it seemed more useful overall.

Anne wanted to let people know that you can definitely enjoy playing Vintage without the Power Nine. While it can be frustrating against certain decks, you got to keep in mind that you’ll always have bad match-ups. At the same time, you can have a bad draw in a good match-up.
Playing without the Power Nine is a good way to try Vintage without investing too much money. In that regard, it’s especially good for Legacy players that want to give another format a try.

We just learned that:

  1. Anne was the most successful “Unpowered” player
  2. Matthew lost in the Top 8

That means that Anne made more money than her partner, despite her finishing 7 places behind him! Definitely a good example why it pays out to give Vintage a try without the Power Nine!