With Grand Prix New Jersey being this weekend, players are testing as much as they can to prepare for what will most likely be one of the biggest events of all time. With multiple Open Series results in since Khans of Tarkir's release, the clear frontrunner for card that has impacted Legacy the most is Treasure Cruise. However, some players are basically crying over it, as I see complaints and demands about Treasure Cruise becoming banned (something I find rather comical). The card will not and should not ever be banned, and the attitude some people are taking on it is, frankly, quite embarrassing.
It seems as though players are looking for WOTC to handle the situation, rather than themselves, of a really good card entering the Legacy format. Some questions people might ask to support their case are:
- Will Treasure Cruise dominate Grand Prix New Jersey? The answer is most likely yes.
- Do you have to play a blue deck with Treasure Cruise in it? Of course not!
If you like having fun, if you like to win with style, and if you love not playing Treasure Cruise, then this is the deck for you.
Look at that work of art! I'm actually smiling as I type this and that's because this is a deck that actually really gets me excited to play something new in Legacy. For over a year I bounced back and forth trying out decks such as Shardless Sultai and Deathblade, but both of those decks weren't anything new, and I didn't have much success with either of them. I would lose interest with them and then quickly resort back to Delver type strategies that I performed better with, but I was always on the lookout for something new and exciting.
One of the most awesome things about Legacy is the massive card pool you have to choose from. When I was playing the Delver decks (Sultai, Temur, or Jeskai), they all pretty much played the same base. Each decklist would normally start off with 4 Delver of Secrets, 4 Daze, 4 Brainstorm, 4 Ponder, and so on. However, Nic Fit is a deck that doesn't follow the norm and plays by its own rules, which is something I love. In the past, there have been a wide range and various versions of the archetype, but I feel like this one is the best since it is able to attack from many different angles.
One of the main reasons why I want to play this archetype is because of what I think is an incredibly underrated card from the new Commander 2014: Titania, Protector of Argoth. Most people are infatuated with Containment Priest and Dualcaster Mage and are glossing over the clearly powerful Elemental, but trust me, this card is a powerhouse and fits perfectly into this style of deck.
In case you're not familiar with how this archetype plays out, let me explain its plan of attack. Against any fair deck, your goal is to ramp your mana with a Veteran Explorer. Since you have many ways of getting Veteran Explorer into the graveyard, this shouldn't be much of a problem. Cards like Innocent Blood, Phyrexian Tower, and the all-powerful Cabal Therapy make it so you're often looking at five mana on the third turn of the game.
The creatures and spells of the deck have a lot of natural synergies. For example, you are happy to flashback a Cabal Therapy with either a Trinket Mage or a Veteran Explorer because either way you're getting maximum value out of both. This should also clear the way for your Titania, or other powerful spells like Karn Liberated or Dig Through Time, to resolve and be unopposed. Many fair matchups will allow you to have enough time to set all this up as Innocent Blood, Cabal Therapy, and Engineered Explosives do a good job of slowing down your opponents. You also should have enough time to set up one of the combos in the deck. Zuran Orb + Titania gives you a bunch of life and huge creatures, or Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage gives you one enormous creature that your opponent likely can't answer.
The other option you have against many of the fair decks is to win with your land package. The Tabernacle of Pendrell Vale is an excellent weapon against U/R Delver - likely the most popular deck at Grand Prix New Jersey - but it also has a lot of value against some of the other popular decks like Elves or potentially even Dredge or Merfolk. In such a large tournament setting, having a card that can have such devastating effects against heavy creature-based strategies can be a sound plan. The other land package is, of course, the Thespian's Stage and Dark Depths combo. Even though there are only one of each, you're able to find them with Crop Rotation, and you are able to rebuy it with Titania just in case you lose a piece to Wasteland. Finally, the combination of Engineered Explosives and Academy Ruins can be a nightmare against the same decks that Tabernacle is strong against while having an added bonus of being good against Miracles by being able to take out a Counterbalance or Entreat the Angels tokens.
One card that I like having maindeck a lot in this format is Nihil Spellbomb. It helps to keep Treasure Cruise decks in check, but it also has the bonus of being maindeck graveyard hate against strategies such as Reanimator or Dredge. Remember, your plan against the fair decks is to take it slow and be a control deck. Your cards match up well against theirs, and they will have an extremely difficult time against you. Because of your already good matchup against these fair decks, you will most likely only sideboard a few cards such as Abrupt Decay, Notion Thief, or Toxic Deluge. And because of this, we can devote sideboard slots to defeating combo decks.
The big trick to beating the combo decks is understanding how to fight them. Your gameplan of ramping with a Veteran Explorer is still there, but many dead cards might clog your hand in game 1 (Innocent Blood, Night of Souls' Betrayal, Karn Liberated), so you will rely heavily on being able to shuffle them away with Brainstorm and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Chances are high that you'll lose game 1, but once you have access to Force of Will, Spell Pierce, and Surgical Extraction, things change in your favor. These cards do an excellent job in slowing down any of the combo decks, and if you're ever able to Cabal Therapy then Surgically Extract a combo piece, you may be able to snag a free win on the spot. The two copies of Notion Thief will often make their way in as well, as the potential of catching your opponent's Brainstorm is worth so much.
So why would I play this deck at Grand Prix New Jersey? A few reasons!
It is relatively unexpected and many players will be unfamiliar with your gameplan. They'll be unsure how to play against you. Since the deck can be so flexible and has several different builds, even a person familiar with Legacy may play around cards that don't exist in your deck, sideboard incorrectly, or play into something you actually do have access to.
It matches up well against the expected metagame. I believe combo players fear a room full of Force of Wills, Dazes, and a fast clock like the one U/R Delver provides. Therefore, many players may be more willing to show up with midrange style decks that this deck can go over the top of.
The deck is very fun to play. I've always felt that playing a deck that you actually enjoy has a great deal of merit to it. This is because the more you enjoy something, the better you'll want to do with it. Tournaments can be stressful events, and having fun playing your deck can be just as important as getting a good night's sleep.
Legacy is a great format. It can be a lot of fun and quite challenging to play, and I'm looking forward to this event. I hear people complain sometimes about the format, but it is truly one where you can play any deck that you want. Just looking at results from the Open Series, you can see all sorts of different decks being played. Treasure Cruise is by no means the end to the format, nor does it need to be banned. Deathrite Shaman came under a lot of the same fire when it came out, and although it changed the format in some ways, it certainly didn't end Magic as we know it.
I'm looking forward to playing this deck at Grand Prix New Jersey, and I hope you are too!