Building the Vengeance

Yesterday, I attended Warriors 3, as I now find myself doing weekly, for their Monday draft event. I went 4-0-1 after drawing into the Top 8 and playing the quarterfinals to maximize my return, but it was what I played that is the focus today.

Every block has a few cards, usually uncommon enchantments, that provide some kind of ridiculous board presence and are tied in some way to a marquee aspect of the block. Lightning Rift and Astral Slide, which went on to be powerhouses in Constructed, are the two cards that really showcase the type of power these cards can provide. More recently, Rage Extractor and Furnace Celebration were very small blips on the Scars block radar, but existed in a format where either there wasn’t enough access to the cards that turn the card on coupled with a very aggressive meta, not to mention the existence of poison decks. I loved the Celebration, but even in triple Scars, with endless Spellbombs and such at your disposal, it usually wasn’t good enough.

Innistrad is different however. Dudes die all the time, and boards take time to develop, making a card like Burning Vengeance a viable option in Limited.

The Vengeance has a ton going for it in this format, starting with the fact you can get it early or late. This strategy will change for the worse as sets come out, and Innistrad shows up later in the draft, so enjoy it now while it’s easier to draft. The opportunity cost of taking a Vengeance in this format is also pretty low; unless you are passing a total bomb, snapping it up doesn’t cost you much if the deck doesn’t materialize. The set being so deep because everything is sorta weak also makes it easier to make up for a wasted pick later, so there is less risk. BV fits well into a few already existing archetypes in UR and UW/r. The biggest plus of playing BV is not needing to have it on three to best use it. Past engines like Rift, Slide, or Furnace Celebration suffered from two problems. One, you would often dig through your deck to find one, using the very resources you were going to win with to get there(cycling cards or spellbombs). Often, you would dig so deep that you’re gassed once you find one, or just wasted too much time and can’t gain control.

The difference in Innistrad in the resource used to power the enchantment: flashback. There are 20 non rare cards with flashback(21 counting Runic Repetition), and only Memory’s Journey really shouldn’t make a cut ever, unless you have like 4 BV’s and want to cycle them back into your deck when you accidentally mill them while gassing up. While you bide your time, you can go about your business like a normal deck. You play some dudes, play the front end of some flashback spells to either apply pressure or keep opponents in check, and play some of the milling cards you were going to play anyway to fill up for later. Once you get a Vengeance, the whole game changes. Those sometimes minor effects from all your flashback now have FREE shocks attached. It is REALLY hard to lose when you get one or more free Shocks a turn.

As for how to draft this deck, it’s not hard. As mentioned before, there is a low cost to taking a Vengeance, most times a Vengeance deck operates quite like a normal deck without it’s namesake, albeit with a few extra milling effects or flashback cards you might ‘randomly’ not recast.  Your actual picks depend largely on context(like every other archetype in this format thankfully). Each BV you get makes flashback cards and spells that extend the game a little better, and aggro creatures that would be used in a ‘normal’ draft deck worse. With one BV, it’s a supplemental strategy. You just won’t draw the thing often, but that’s ok since aside from this one card, your deck is a typical draft deck with dudes, removal, and tricks. With two BV, you can play a more controlling role. Don’t ignore your curve since against slower, bomb laden decks you need to get them beat down just a bit so you can keep them on the back foot in the late game. With 3 BV, you can pretty much take every flashback/milling card you see with impunity, and only pass one when taking a bomb of some kind.

Here’s an example of a 2 BV deck, and also what I ran yesterday at Warriors 3:

  • Reckless Waif
  • Ashmouth Hound x2
  • Village Ironsmith
  • Armored Skaab x2
  • Selhoff Occultist
  • Slayer of the Wicked x2
  • Skirsdag Cultist x2
  • Fortress Crab
  • Falkenrath Marauders
  • Sensory Deprivation
  • Blazing Torch
  • Burning Vengeance x2
  • Rally the Peasants
  • Silent Departure
  • Geistflame
  • Dream Twist
  • Desperate Ravings x2
  • Mountain x8
  • Island x7
  • Plains x2

Relevant Sideboard cards included Bonds of Faith, Urgent Exorcism, and a second Fortress Crab.

Although I didn’t really have a system when drafting this deck, I started Red and Black, until a BV came around 6th. I took it, and tried to stay open, since I suspected Blue would open up in the second pack. A Desperate Raving I really expected to come back in pack one(that I admittedly wouldn’t have thought about had I not drafted a BV) did not, which was puzzling at first, but later I had realized how powerful the card is in any deck that can cast both ends. Packs two and three I continued to waffle back and forth, taking a few Falkenrath Nobles and some other random black cards, but some Blue as well. When I got the second BV early in three, that sealed it for me. I took two Slayer of the Wicked(bombs in case you weren’t aware) and anything I could jam into a U/R deck. It worked, but I may have gotten a little lucky. There is also a chance I should have just played the second Fortress Crab instead of the second Skirsdag Culitist since I only had about a dozen dudes or so.

I can’t wait to refine the drafting process for this when Innistrad is released on MTGO, and I’ll be sure to include at least one in my draft posts, which will probably be a combination video/written post since I really don’t want to go all train of thought to fill dead air for the entire draft. Also, feel free to comment here. Again, I have to approve comments, but it is only in place to prevent spam, and I approve anything else, even if it’s just ripping me. All opinions are welcome.



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4 responses to “Building the Vengeance

  1. Steve Glowacki

    I’ve drafted Burning Vengeances in mill-myself strategies but have never felt that I had nearly enough Flashback spells to warrant playing the card. My last FNM deck I could have played a somewhat a more flashback-oriented strategy with what I had drafted than what I ended up actually playing, but I had so few win conditions that I dreaded milling them or discarding too many if I played Dream Twists and Desperate Ravings on top of my Horned River Kaijin Milling Turtles; I lost at least one game because I had almost no real threats in my deck. I admit that I forced the archetype extremely hard and should have abandoned it when there were packs with no blue cards at all early on.

    I’m somewhat intrigued by your splash with absolutely no support; if I played the above list I would be so afraid of having a hand full of dead cards due to not drawing enough lands. I also find myself dreading playing Desperate Ravings in a deck with cards of widely varying power levels. Even if you cast it with nothing good in hand, you can draw what you need and then discard it. Both of those things are probably things I shouldn’t be afraid of, but I am anyway because I don’t play nearly enough to figure out whether the power level of is worth the risk and am rather quite risk averse.

    I have a lot more to say about my experiences with this format, but I fear that they are incredibly misinformed by my somewhat low amount of playing it and the low quality of players present at the only time I’ve done well. I’d like to play some more with decent players, but I don’t exactly have means to make that happen and Magic Online is absolutely not an option. One FNM a week makes me feel way way behind the curve.

    • theolentangy

      I wouldn’t ever be scared to discard something to Ravings; I constantly held back lands when I knew I would be Raving soon. You are also actually very unlikely to lose a key splash land to a Ravings unless you have almost no cards in hand, and even then you have to draw the land first to randomly discard it. You saw the creatures I had; not many were truly threatening, but they could come out fast and deal enough damage to make a Rally the Peasants or Silent Departure lethal. I admit I would have rather not played the two White cards, but I didn’t have a choice thanks to my waffling too long during the draft portion; plus they are Slayers of the Wicked!

      Sure it was a BV deck, but it wasn’t totally centered around it. I would have played every one of those cards except Dream Twist and Fortress Crab if I wasn’t playing BVs.

      Ahh, and yes, I wouldn’t try to force BV into a deck without Blue cards; it just doesn’t work!

  2. Your deck seemed pretty nutty. It made combat math pretty impossible to do for fear of just getting blown out. Im going to have to pick up some naturalizes the next time I draft green, which incidently I hope I never have to do again in this format as it’s abysmal compared to the other colors.

    • theolentangy

      Indeed. Naturalize is something I wouldn’t be afraid to maindeck these days. There are plenty of decent targets, and some even induce combat blowouts by removing a Bonds of Faith, Dead Weight, or Sensory Deprivation. Killing a Galvanic Juggernaut or annoying equipment also can swing a game

      As for my deck being weak to Naturalize, it’s all in how you play it. You can try to lean heavily on BV, or and play like it is a normal deck. I had to lean heavily several times in the event because the rest of my deck was full of 2/2 and 3/2 dorks that had trouble breaking through. What would have really screwed me was graveyard hate, but I can’t really think of anything all that great to use against me. Maybe Curse of Oblivion, but it seems rather slow. Naturalize is a fine option though. Just try to get the BV player to commit to getting maximum value from his flashback first and then drop the hammer.

      Oh, and I like Green! No one else seems to draft it, and it has two solid tricks and an excellent tempo oriented removal spell in Prey Upon. I’m still not sure exactly what I should pair it with or how aggressive I should be, but it seems just as deep as the other colors(except black, which is relatively shallow and sucks).

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