About two weeks ago I headed to San Jose California for the team GP which was the first stop of my ten-day long trip. The second stop was Pro Tour Return to Ravnica. I had high hopes for both events but instead I finished poorly in both falling short of making Day 2 at the team GP and then finishing 8-8 at the PT.
Magic can be tilting at times especially when you can't really figure out exactly why you are losing. Blaming "luck" won't improve your game but maybe that's what it is sometimes. Who really knows? People often say you have to play good and run good to make Top 8 of a big tournament whether it is a SCG Open Series or a Pro Tour. Well a couple of weeks back when I was out playing the team GP my good friend Ryan Phraner played good and ran good with a list nearly identical to the one I played at the last SCG Invitational. He made Top 4 of the SCG Legacy Open in Providence. The deck was originally played by Javier Arevelo earlier this year and since then I tested the deck and came to the following list.
In this article I will go over the card choices in the deck and try to explain the overall strategy as simply as possible. If you think this deck interests you and fits your play style I would recommend this to you for your next SCG Legacy Open or Invitational.
The overall strategy of the deck is to disrupt your opponent with cheap discard spells and efficient counterspells. In the meantime you want to be beating down on your opponent with your early creatures that can get big very fast (Goyf / Ooze / Delver). Meanwhile you want to build up massive card advantage with Snapcaster Mage Dark Confidant and Jace the Mind Sculptor. After sideboard your card advantage can come from the second Sylvan Library Umezawa's Jitte and Pernicious Deed. Javier claims that Deathrite Shaman belongs in this deck I have yet to try him out but if that is the case it will also bring you card advantage and is a very solid utility creature. Overall you want to be thinking about cheap efficient powerful and tempo-based cards for this deck.
Let's first take a look at what creatures are in the deck and why they made the cut.
3 Dark Confidant - Playing only three is something odd to me but Sylvan Library acts as the fourth Confidant that 1) can't get killed by the cheap creature removal spells in the format (Bolt / Plow / Path) and 2) gives you the option not to take damage when you are at a low life total. However Confidant is super powerful in this deck as you are able to strip away your opponent's hand with discard spells and drop down a Dark Confidant to break through a topdeck war. The curve is fairly low in this deck as the majority of the cards cost either one or two mana with only a handful of threes and fours so don't be too afraid of losing a game to Dark Confidant. You also have four copies of Brainstorm and Sylvan Library to control your draws and you have life gain with Scavenging Ooze and Umezawa's Jitte (after board). Against burn decks you side out your Confidants in favor of cards like Blue Elemental Blast and Umezawa's Jitte.
4 Delver of Secrets - Delver is just one of the best creatures you can be playing in Legacy and having four in a deck that has four Brainstorms and 1/3 instants/sorceries is fitting. Delver is the card you want to play on turn 1 in almost every matchup and will most likely be your best threat to deal damage. However in the RUG Delver matchup you have to use your Delvers to trade with their creatures whether it may be their own Delver or Nimble Mongoose. Not taking early damage and turning the game into an attrition battle is how you want to play the matchup. Just think about it—you have Scavenging Ooze and Jace the Mind Sculptor to control the late game which they can't really answer.
2 Scavenging Ooze - Ooze is very important to the deck since the life gain is crucial; you lose life with Dark Confidant Sylvan Library Thoughtseize and your fetchlands. Ooze is also important because it can get super big and gives you an answer in game 1 to decks that rely on their graveyards.
2 Snapcaster Mage - Although Snapcaster Mage is a super powerful card and fits nicely in a deck with lots of cheap instants and sorceries I only decided on playing two since it's expensive on the curve. You may think and see that he does in fact only cost two mana to cast. However to get maximum value out of him you want to be flashing back your discard spells removal or Brainstorms which will tack on anywhere from one to three additional mana. With that said I feel two is the correct number.
3 Tarmogoyf - I would like to fit a fourth in the deck but you are already loaded on two-drops and it is tough to cut any of them since they all play a specific role. Goyf gets very big very fast in this deck and can close out games quickly with the help of a Delver. I would disagree with playing any less than three for the most part and if you really want to add a fourth that would be fine as well.
1 Maelstrom Pulse - Catchall removal that supports Decay since having a spot removal card for Jace is very important.
4 Abrupt Decay - The newest addition to the deck and it has been great. Legacy for the most part is a format of one- two- and three-mana spells so being able to take out almost anything at instant speed is just awesome. Did I mention it can't be countered either? No more Counterbalance lock no more having to play narrow cards like Ghastly Demise or Smother. Instead you get to play a super versatile card that is great against the majority of the decks.
Counters / Card Draw
1 Sylvan Library - As I mentioned earlier Sylvan Library acts as the fourth Dark Confidant with the upside of dodging the creature removal spells. It really shines in the U/W Control matchup since they are most likely unable to kill it game 1. In this particular matchup you can probably pay the maximum and in other more aggressive matchups it will just serve as a Sensei's Divining Top. Remember the unique interaction with Brainstorm; if you decided to Brainstorm in your upkeep you must call a judge over to watch which cards you put back and which cards were drawn so that you could take or not take them with Sylvan Library. It's a very unique situation that you may want to discuss with your judge before the tournament starts.
4 Brainstorm - A Legacy staple in pretty much any blue deck and this one is no different. You have the nice interaction with your fetchlands flipping your Delver controlling the damage from Dark Confidant and providing another great target for your Snapcaster Mages. Originally I had two copies of Thought Scour in the deck which would also combo well with your Brainstorms and be good against your opponent's Brainstorms in response to a discard spell. However since the combination of control decks has become less popular and I wanted to make room for other spells I ended up cutting them.
4 Daze - Daze fits great in this deck since it is a very tempo-based deck and you almost always have the option to tap out on your main phase making the alternate casting cost very appealing. In combination with discard and Wastelands Daze often acts as a hard counter since your opponent will be short on resources. Late game Daze is not as good but can still have some effect on the board or just be shuffled away with Jace or a Brainstorm.
2 Spell Pierce - Spell Pierce is very strong versus combo and other Jace the Mind Sculptor decks. Being able to gain information with your discard spells allows you to know when you should leave mana open for a spell pierce and when to tap out and rely on Daze.Spell Pierce is often strong against other tempo-based decks such as RUG since you will probably be able to stop an early Brainstorm or a Lightning Bolt on one of your creatures. Spell Pierce should come out in some matchups such as Goblins along with your Dazes since Cavern of Souls is a problem for your counters.
3 Jace the Mind Sculptor - Not much more can be said about Jace the Mind Sculptor that hasn't already been said. He helps add a different angle of attack to our deck keeping control decks honest and slowing down creature decks. After attacking your opponent's hand Jace is the best follow-up. The list only runs three because it is slightly high on the curve and you already have many other card advantage cards in the deck. I would rarely side out Jace because even in the matchups he is not great in he is still good. The fate seal ability combos well with your discard since you know what your opponent needs or doesn't need.
The Discard Package
2 Hymn to Tourach - The discard is very very important to this deck since we don't have Force of Will. An early discard spell will give youinvaluable information and in turn will help you sculpt your game plan as well as throw a wrench into theirs. Hymn to Tourach is pretty close to a scratch off lottery ticket (and I really like those) but not just any lottery ticket because even if you don't hit the specific spell you would have hit with a Thoughtseize you are still gaining card advantage while denying your opponent resources. Sometimes you can just hit two lands and pretty much win the game on turn 2. Hymn is just overall a super powerful discard spell that you want in almost any discard-based deck.
Remember that the bad thing about discard spells is that they are fairly weak in a topdeck war so if you can avoid playing too many I would suggest that. Having Snapcaster Mage really helps since he can act as an additional discard if needed.
The mana base is pretty straightforward with 21 lands that are supported by the low curve and card draw. Wasteland is sometimes very good against you but you do have one of each basic that you can search up to protect yourself from it. Ryan played one Creeping Tar Pit in his list as his 22nd land but I feel it is not needed unless the metagame shifts towards more controlling decks. Overall I am pretty happy with this mana base.
The sideboard is very interesting and can be changed around depending on your metagame and how the overall metagame of Legacy shifts. Right now some of the top decks are RUG Delver Esper Stoneblade Maverick Goblins High Tide Omni-Tell and Dredge just to name a few. The advantage of playing a deck like BUG Delver is that it doesn't really have any unwinnable matchups since discard counters and early pressure will often give you game against anything. A sideboard breakdown of what cards you want in each matchup is as followed. Personally I rarely have an exact sideboard plan as I am open to switch things around on the spot.
The sideboard we have against these decks is minimal but remember you are maindecking two Ooze and have other fringe cards you want to sideboard in. For example against Dredge you want both your copies of Pernicious Deed and against Reanimator you want your Diabolic Edict.
In this matchup your counters are bad and want to take out all six of them in favor of more board controlling cards. You want to leave in your discard spells since stopping your opponent from playing a Ringleader is very important. If you can keep Goblins in check with your spot removal you should be fine. If things start to get out of hand you have both Jitte and Deed to help get things back under control.
This is the most interesting matchup by far and probably the one you will see the most of. You really have to test this matchup to learn what cards will shine and when. Your main goal should be thinking about how you can bring it to the late game. You almost never want to damage race and instead just want to trade one for one. Your discard is not great against them so you want to shave both the Thoughtseizes. You can also cut down on the Dazes since your goal is to bring it to the late game and both Daze and Thoughtseize are bad topdecks. Instead you want to lock them out of green mana.
Maverick: This matchup is good for you game 1 and gets better after board since they don't really have any specific cards to stop your plan. Thalia isn't great against you and can be killed easily and Choke doesn't really affect you. If it did you have four Abrupt Decays to take care of it. You basically just want to treat this like the RUG matchup and bring more controlling cards in. Jitte and Deed both shine here but also Life from the Loam will allow you not to get Wasteland locked if they manage to untap with a Knight. Overall you just want to cut your counterspells and bring in creature removal.
Esper Stoneblade: You are set up nicely against them game 1 as discard and counters are very tough for them to deal with. They also really have no way to break through and win the game other than them winning the Jace war. They will almost certainly have the full amount and we only have three but it's not that bad. You can hit them with discard or have a board presence of creatures where they will have to use Jace defensively. I really like Surgical Extraction here since they have only a few ways to win and hitting Jace will swing the game heavily in your favor. Life from the Loam and the extra Sylvan Library you will want as well.
Combo: Almost any combo deck is a good matchup for you. Just make sure you board appropriately for each one. For example against High Tide you want to leave in a couple of Abrupt Decays for their Candelabra of Tawnos but against omni-tell they have no targets so you have to cut them. Against both you want your Surgical Extractions and Vendilion Cliques as they serve as solid disruption in combination to your discard spells. Also remember that against some combo decks such as Omni-Tell you want to bring in both Blue Elemental Blasts.
In conclusion I really like this deck and think it will continue to perform well. If you guys have any further questions leave your comments below and if you plan on making it out to GP Philadelphia feel free to say what's up.
Thanks for reading