When I first started posting my submissions for Four Magic Cards, I left the fourth blank. This wasn’t because I wanted to be a tease or because I wanted you to read my first three before getting to know my fourth. Honestly, I didn’t know what card to pick.
A lot of the people I saw tweeting #FourMTGcards were pros and grinders. Their choices tended to be easier. Many of them selected cards that they used to win their first PTQ or cash their first Grand Prix. But I’m no grinder. I’ve never played in a PTQ. My most wins at a premiere-level event was my 3-3 finish at Grand Prix: New Jersey in November of 2014.
As an eternal player and a collector, there’s a few obvious targets. My first piece of power would would work. Or not. My first piece of power was actually two pieces at the same time; Mox Ruby and Mox Sapphire, purchased alongside the tenth member of the “power ten”, Time Vault. Black Lotus would be a sensible choice as well. It’s one of Magic’s most recognized, emblematic cards. It’s also one of the most expensive things I own.
But there was nothing special about these cards. Aside from their value, they were each just another card. There was no great story to their acquisition. Nor were these cards involved in any any great tales of games won against unfathomable odds. While these cards are certainly special in their own right, they just weren’t special to me.
When I started collecting cards for Vintage, I didn’t have a specific goal in mind. I figured I’d start with the power and by the time I had it all, I’d know where I was heading. I assumed I’d be playing either a “Big Blue” style control deck or an Espresso-Staxx-like Workshop deck. I continued to pick up my pieces but never really settled on anything.
Okay, so now’s the part where I reveal my card choice. Anyone who’s watched me stream or anyone who knows me personally will not be at all shocked by my choice.
It was a tough choice, but I’ve got to say it. Young Pyromancer is my favorite Magic card. When M14 was being drafted, I built bad Pyromancer decks. I’ve played UR Delver in Modern. I’ve slotted him into Legacy decks and of course I play him in Vintage. The only format I haven’t played him in is Standard – and that’s only because I don’t play Standard!
In Vintage, Young Pyromancer plays an interesting role. He can truly be played in all three of the classic deck types, Combo, Control, and Aggro. Being that it’s Vintage, my (and many others’) first thought was to be greedy. The first deck I played with Young Pyromancer was a slight modification on Stephen Menendian’s “Bob Grow” deck:
[Business] 3 Dark Confidant 4 Young Pyromancer 1 Fastbond 4 Preordain 1 Time Walk 1 Yawgmoth’s Will 1 Merchant Scroll 1 Ponder 1 Demonic Tutor 1 Tendrils of Agony 4 Force of Will 4 Mental Misstep 4 Gush 2 Ancient Grudge 1 Hurkyl’s Recall 1 Ancestral Recall 1 Brainstorm 1 Vampiric Tutor 1 Mystical Tutor 2 Flusterstorm 1 Skullclamp [/Business] [Mana] 1 Island 1 Flooded Strand 2 Polluted Delta 2 Misty Rainforest 2 Scalding Tarn 2 Underground Sea 2 Tropical Island 2 Volcanic Island 1 Mox Sapphire 1 Mox Emerald 1 Mox Ruby 1 Mox Pearl 1 Mox Jet 1 Black Lotus [/Mana] [Sideboard] 4 Leyline of the Void 2 Yixlid Jailer 3 Ingot Chewer 1 Mountain 3 Nature’s Claim 2 Thoughtseize [/Sideboard]
This deck takes the idea of a Gush-Bond based storm deck and adds in Young Pyromancer. This means you’re attacking on two fronts.You could take out the storm win condition (in this case, Tendrils of Agony) and still win lots of games! This also means that if you get out a Pyromancer and being to combo off, it’s not really a problem if you fail. Young Pyromancer practically adds training wheels for a new combo player like me!
It also gives you the option of what someone on Twitter referred to as a “chip shot” combo turn. If you’ve got a Pyromancer out, cast a few spells, Tendrils them down a bit, then swing for lethal the next turn. Or, in the other direction, swing at them for a while and when you’ve got a combo-ready hand, storm for the win.
I rather enjoyed playing this deck but at heart, I’m a control player. I toyed around with this deck trying to make it into more of a control deck, but I never could find the right combination of cards. I almost gave up, but a few months later (the difference in the thread dates is six months), someone found the answer.
I’ll be the first to
admit scream from the rooftops that Delver of Secrets is a dumb card. However, the UR Delver deck has shown itself to not just be the best control deck for Young Pyromancer, not even just the best deck for Young Pyromancer, but possibly the best deck in the Vintage format.
I won’t reproduce a list here because this deck has become a format staple. It’s been present almost every week in the Vintage Super League. It was among the top decks at the most recent Vintage Championship (both in paper and online). And this relatively new player on the Vintage scene is likely the deck most responsible for the restriction of Treasure Cruise, the first card restricted in Vintage since Thirst for Knowledge, over five years before!
I could write a whole lot more about Young Pyromancer. (If others are any indication, I could maybe even write a 56 page ebook!) But I find that this post was the hardest to write. Aside from the tough decision regarding which card to pick, this is the first of these posts to be about a card that I still play all the time. It’s also the only card among my choices that is still being tinkered with by the Magic community as a whole.
I can’t be certain what the future holds for me or for Magic. But as long as I’m playing Magic, I’ll be trying to cram Young Pyromancer into whatever decks I play.
Thanks for reading!