Hi all,

Vintage Masters has changed everything. Prices of many cards in other sets have plummeted, and others have skyrocketed due to their necessity for Vintage and Legacy decks. While many are scrambling for power and Wasteland cards, some of the rest of us are too intimidated to break in. There are many options that are still open, though, and I want to present to you some ideas with Tendrils of Agony.

I am taking a shift away from the normal Modern format articles strictly for this card, but why? Well, the price of rituals Cabal and Dark are easy to please due to their reprints. Yawgmoth’s Will is still an easy acquisition, and for some reason Ill-Gotten Gains never caught on despite it being used heavily in Legacy. I imagined when Legacy picked up online, so would it, but players are simply opting for other archetypes.

First, let’s look at the Legacy deck. This is most similar to Spanish Inquisition because of the seven different draw four effects and zero-casting cost creatures. It aims to combo before turn four and does so quite consistently.

Legacy Bargain Tendrils

Lands (12)
Phyrexian Tower
11 Swamp

Creatures (10)
Ornithopter
Phyrexian Walker
Shield Sphere

Other Spells (38)
Cabal Ritual
Cabal Therapy
Cruel Bargain
Culling the Weak
Dark Ritual
Diabolic Intent
Gitaxian Probe
Ill-Gotten Gains
Infernal Contract
Lotus Petal
Tendrils of Agony

So here, for well under 100 tix, we are able to assemble a consistent storm deck that ports well to Vintage. So how does it play? Here is an explanation of the card choices:

Cruel Bargain and Infernal Contract – Here we have a seldom-heard of Portal rare and an equally minimally used Seventh Edition rare. Neither are very valuable in tickets, but both are invaluable to the strategy. The deck has a dependence on these draw fours, though, which is both irritating and exhilarating at times. It is irritating in the way that playing Eggs or Modern Storm can be: you draw into a bunch of cards that do nothing. It is exhilarating, though, to grab the horns, ride the buffalo, and draw a zero-cost creature (hereafter “cheerios”), a Culling the Weak, and another draw four.

Tendrils of Agony – The best, most effective way to win with Storm in Vintage and Legacy.

Ill-Gotten Gains – This is the final piece of the combo’s win condition. It isn’t necessary to win, but it builds storm count like no other, and it really does work with Diabolic Intent.

Ornithopter, Phyrexian Walker, and Shield Sphere – Play them for free, and use them to tutor up spells and generate insane amounts of mana. These could be Kobolds, and maybe they should be in a deck that splurges for Chrome Mox. Here, though, they can buy you time against Goblin Guide or another attacking dork. Your life total does matter quite a bit, so while Memnite can get in some damage and reduce your storm necessity to win, I don’t think it belongs here.

Diabolic Intent – You have to watch this deck in action or try it out to see this do some magic. It’s amazing to tutor up Ill-Gotten Gains, cast it, get Intent, a cheerio, and an accelerant out, and then tutor Tendrils of Agony.

Culling the Weak – Is this card worth distorting our deck so much with all the cheerios? Absolutely. Four black mana is the magic number. It produces the amount needed to draw four cards and cast another ritual.

Phyrexian Tower – Here in place of 1 Swamp we have additional synergy with the ten cheerios to ramp our mana.

Other accelerants: Lotus Petal, Cabal Ritual and Dark Ritual – Not too many lists sporting Tendrils of Agony can go without them. The artifact can be played with an empty mana pool after a draw four, which helps you continue to go off. Cabal Ritual has lots of synergy with Culling the Weak. Dark Ritual cause duh.

Cabal Therapy and Gitaxian Probe – These two have obvious synergy. Therapy can be intimidating in a new format, so you have a crutch for the time being. Therapy works even better with the cheerios, though, allowing you to Mind Twist your opponent for one mana, clearing the way of their victory path and counter capacity.

Advice for playing your deck: never play a draw four without B open unless you absolutely have to, trust your deck, and win. It’s really exciting to play.

The port to Vintage actually makes us lose some cards: Lotus Petal is restricted still while Mox Opal is superior and runs free. Meanwhile, we gain massive tutoring power, more draw, and Yawgmoth’s Will. Here is the result:

Vintage Bargain Storm

Land (12)
Phyrexian Tower
11 Swamp

Creatures (10)
Ornithopter
Phyrexian Walker
Shield Sphere

Other Spells (38)
Cabal Ritual
Cabal Therapy
Cruel Bargain
Culling the Weak
Dark Ritual
Diabolic Intent
Demonic Consultation
Demonic Tutor
Duress
Infernal Contract
Lotus Petal
Mental Misstep
Necropotence
Tendrils of Agony
Yawgmoth’s Bargain
Yawgmoth’s Will

Here we lose Ill-Gotten Gains because THE go-to card for tutoring is Yawgmoth’s Will. Believe it or not, this strategy is what started Spanish Inquisition, as around 2006 players were using it to top 8 in real Vintage events in The Netherlands. Now, you might say, a lot has changed since then, but this is Vintage. You do see more durdly Fish decks, but the same Stax, Bazaar, and Combo strategies are ever-present.

Do you benefit from playing power and more expensive cards in these lists? Of course, but with them you still will get the experience of rifling through your deck, utilizing tutoring, the graveyard, and amazing mana acceleration that you don’t get to experience in other formats. Give them a try!

-drinkard

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