Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time have made immediate impacts in Legacy, to no one's surprise. What's been more surprising is the general consensus that Sneak and Show has fallen a bit to the wayside. I think that part of the reason this has happened is because of how finely tuned these fair decks have become. This isn't the Wild West of Legacy like a couple of years ago anymore. Everyone knows the deck is out there, and the hate is getting better and better. Part of the reason why Death and Taxes is popular is because of how great the Sneak and Show matchup is, and as long as Show and Tell is a force, Thalia and company will be too. With the addition of Containment Priest, everyone's flipping out!
Let's relax for a second and really take a look at things before we throw our decks off of a roof.
Yes, Containment Priest is a problem, a big problem, and Death and Taxes will certainly find a spot or two for it in the 75 if they really want to. In regards to that matchup, there are two ways we can go about it. One way is to find ways to get around it. Omniscience is one way, and playing some number of those is surely a fine strategy, and also has applications in the mirror and other situations. The decks that could also play this card would be Deathblade, Maverick, Miracles, and white Delver decks. Jamming Pyroclasm more often against most of these decks is a fine plan, but the other issue is that it has flash, which creates a situation where you're forced to have a counterspell for it. If Mother of Runes is involved, then it gets even more difficult, and even if you do resolve Show and Tell cleanly, there's still Karakas along with a ton of other headaches. This labyrinth of obstacles can be too much sometimes, and if it is, it leads us to our second, and my preferred option.
Peanut butter and Jam.
You get it.
Players are getting much better at handling the powerhouse as a whole. While you'll still have the "oops, I win!" hands, sequences, and draws, the games where you have to work are much tougher now. This has caused some players and builds to take a more stable, controlling route. This makes sense because you want to be able to protect your combo as much as possible, and sculpt a hand that they eventually can't beat.
I think this route has a major flaw.
The more time you take to set up, the more time your opponent has to set up, and the more answers your opponent can find, the more threats you need to find. The answers in Legacy far outnumber the threats in Sneak and Show, and waiting too long is putting a clock on yourself. I learned this from playing Omni-Tell for quite a long time, and Omni-Tell is the type of combo deck that tried to wait. I basically threw caution to the wind when I kept trying to play that game, but they always seemed to have the answers at the right time. I began doing much better once I built the deck differently and started jamming much harder than before. They still had the answers sometimes, but that's Legacy.
If they have it, they have it, and you lose. If they don't, they lose.
Going into the Legacy Open in New Jersey a while back, I decided that I wanted to build the most aggressive version of Sneak and Show possible. There isn't much room in the maindeck to mess with, but the little room we did have made a drastic difference. Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Preordain, and even Omniscience were choices previously incorporated in the shell, but I think that if you're trying to keep the pressure as high as possible, then Dig Through Time is your best bet.
Sneak and Show is pretty much capped on the amount of ways it can jam a Show and Tell or Sneak Attack as quickly as possible, so we can't really do anything more there. What we can do is have a quick "reload" option, which is exactly what Dig Through Time lets you do.
"But you're an Emrakul deck! Dig Through Time doesn't work with Emrakul!"
Don't let Emrakul hit your graveyard, or use the Emrakul to cast Dig with the trigger on the stack if you have to. I know it's unlike me to make absolute claims like this, but I've never had an Emrakul mess up my Dig Through Time, nor has anyone that has played the build over the past month. It seriously doesn't matter nearly as much as some think.
Or, as I like to say: Who cares? Just kill them!
I'm of the firm belief that your maindeck is the driving force behind how aggressive you're trying to be with Sneak and Show, and your sideboard is where the finishing touches go. Basically, you want to be as angular as possible, and the cards you're trying to be angular with should kill them on the spot.
Enter Goblin Rabblemaster.
Rabblemaster is the Blood Moon for control and non-interactive decks. Exactly how many of those deck's pilots can confidently say that they are properly prepared to fight against it, and even if they are, how much more strain does it put on their hate against us? It's pretty common for Miracles opponents to shave some Swords to Plowshares and Terminus against us, and having something that demands an answer on its own not only changes the complexion of the game (the match, in the grand scheme of things) from the get-go, but also softens up their interaction for your actual combo.
With this configuration, there may be a good chance that Daze fits more easily than Spell Pierce. Spell Pierce is great when you have excess mana, and when on defense against big problems like Liliana of the Veil, Thoughtseize on the play, Aether Vial on the play, and opposing unfair startups (Dark Ritual, Entomb, etc). Daze isn't as good when defending against opposition, but is much more favorable when throwing caution to the wind and jamming harder than an air guitar solo when no one else is home.
"C'mon, don't tell me I'm the only one that does that..."
This unfortunately conflicts with the other plan I had in mind: maindeck Through the Breach. Through the Breach lets you ambush your opponent at a very sharp angle and creates a situation similar to Goblin Rabblemaster post-board, except your initial combo enablers are the beginning of that angle, instead of Rabblemaster itself, and Through the Breach is the card that gets through.
In a format as warped as Legacy, it's important to know how big of a deal things like Treasure Cruise are for whatever you're playing, especially if your deck is trying to do unfair things. Cards like Wasteland and Stifle are on a bit of a downtick because of how aggressive the Delver decks are now. This allows us to be a bit more aggressive with our dual lands against them, and in turn, more liberal with our fetchland sequences. We can take advantage of this by leaning more focusing our soft countermagic on the spells that help them set up, like Ponders and Brainstorms, rather than using them to push through our own spells. I know, it sounds like it's the exact antithesis of the strategy I've been promoting this whole time. Cutting off their ability to increase their amount of interaction and setups against you feels more effective than fighting what they may or may not have already. In short: there's less to fight if they don't see as much.
Switching gears for a bit, I think that another way to effectively combat the Delver menace while also taking complete advantage of the aforementioned downtick of Wasteland and Stifle, while also playing Treasure Cruise yourself, lies in the following:
So, not only is Deflecting Palm a functional Skullcrack in Legacy, it's also a way to actually kill your opponent in an extremely efficient manner. Emrakul can talk to the hand. Batterskull can get the smack down, and any singular large creature is a huge life swing for you. Is it worth the splash? Well, let's think about it like this. Are they really going to Wasteland your Price of Progress deck, and if they do, can't Treasure Cruise just catch you up again? The fact that Deflecting Palm doesn't target, and it prevents single source lifegain is huge in my book, and I don't think it'll be long before we start seeing it pop up. Heck, maybe I'll pull the trigger on it and run it in New Jersey!
The Grand Prix is going to be nothing short of incredible, and I hope that this gives you a few ideas on how to combat the Delver machine. I'm certainly going to be working hard for this one, and hopefully we can do well in what promises to be the most exciting Legacy event ever!