Legacy is complicated.
I liken it to relationships. They both have a ton in common. Bear with me.
When you find a Legacy deck, it's a lot like finding “the one.” People find their significant other and they stick with it through thick and thin, richness and poorness, sickness and health, through bannings and rotations as long as they both shall live. It's all very romantic.
I'm sure you know the person who has been playing Elves for years and refuses to play anything else, even when it's not that great. Much like running decks that aren't well-positioned, people stay in relationships with who they care for through the rocky patches in hopes that things will get better. Eventually their patience is rewarded when the format pendulum swings in their favor.
This is probably the most sensually I've ever described deck selection.
You don't even want to know the process I went through years ago to get hooked on Jund.
Point is, this weekend is one of the biggest and most highly touted American legacy events in the history of Magic. Grand Prix New Jersey is going to be ridiculous. I know I work for these people and you probably think I'm supposed to say this kind of stuff, but it actually blows my freaking mind how sick this event is going to be. Do people still describe things as sick? That would be hella ratchet of me if I was so behind the times. Oh well. YOLO.
People from around the globe are attending this event because it's the most all-out of its kind. No, there's no full-art Gaea's Cradle being handed out, but preregistration says that this GP might be the biggest ever.
As Jared Sylva pointed out last week, New Jersey was about to break the Top 10 most attended GP's seven full days before the event has even started.
So for an event of this magnitude, what are you going to be packing?
Rudy is a fairly well-known grinder, so I'm happy to see him take down his second Legacy Open with lots of hard work.
This deck shows exactly what you need to be doing in Legacy in order to beat the most popular deck out there, U/R Delver.
To understand this variant of Delver you have to understand what makes it so potent. I've compiled the most pertinent list of information regarding the archetype as I could and I think my hard work will show you just how to combat it:
1- Have you ever blind-flipped a Delver of Secrets?
2- Ancestral Recall draws three cards for one blue mana.
3- Treasure Cruise often draws three cards for one blue mana.
4- Young Pyromancer makes lots of babies.
6- Cheap counterspells are maddening.
7- Fifty thousand cantrips.
8- Great job printing Treasure Cruise, WoTC.
9- I am 100% certain Gerry Thompson saw this coming and elected to do nothing.
10- I am ranting.
U/R Delver might not have won Columbus, but it damn sure put six copies in the Top 16. The Open Series tends to drive the metagame going forward to a major event, so you can expect to play against it in abundance over the course of New Jersey. It has the ability to control the tempo of the game with very cheap threats, a little burn, counters, and a fairly good matchup against most popular decks in the field.
What Rudy's deck does is attack it with plenty of firepower. We're seeing more and more decks that can support putting copies of Pyroblast in the main, which gives a lot of game in the counter war as well as keeping Treasure Cruise from reaching full potential. Umezawa's Jitte and Batterskull work very hard in this matchup to keep your life safe and various threats off the board. The sideboard also adds a ton of important kinds of cards to keep the U/R deck from hitting critical mass. A timely Relic of Progenitus or Pyroclasm can clean up a lot of elemental tokens.
It's possible with a little tweaking that this variant of Jeskai Stoneblade could be the new standard going forward. It doesn't just support a good U/R matchup, it can go toe-to-toe with the other juggernauts of the format. Rudy defeated Brad Nelson earlier in the Swiss. Brad was piloting Sneak and Show, which is a deck Brad is tremendous with. Not only that, but Rudy also beat Goblins. This shows two opposite ends of the spectrum that Jeksai Stoneblade is competitive against, meaning it may be out in droves this weekend.
What does that mean for you?
Beat 'em or join 'em?
I say join 'em.
More than any other format, Legacy players can and will do well with their pet deck entirely due to experience. This weekend you'll see decks like Lands, Enchantress, Esper, Reanimator, and a bevy of others because these are their decks of choice.
Jeskai Stoneblade has proven that it can beat a gauntlet of different choices, and going in against such a diverse and massive field that is going to be your biggest ally.
Any suggestions to this deck would be minor from me at best. Rudy told me that he tuned it as best he could and made sure it was ready for this event, but that doesn't mean it won't have to evolve over the next few days to take down a Legacy GP.
Please be sure to share your innovations below!
Of course I wish all of you choosing to compete in New Jersey the best of luck. I wish I could be there with you, but college is a cruel mistress.
FNM Hero: Rough Goings
As our adventure playing Boss Sligh continues I am learning a great deal about this deck's place in the Standard format.
This weekend Tom Ross Top 8'ed Columbus piloting U/W Heroic. This leads me to believe he has put his Boss Sligh deck on the backburner for the time being.
The format is inadvertently very hostile toward Boss Sligh. The Top 8 of Columbus sported 25+ “sweepers” at five mana and below, and that doesn't even include maindeck answers like Sean Evans packing four End Hostilities. This is all of course because of decks like G/B Devotion or Jeksai Heroic Combo. These effects are devastating against mana dorks and small heroic creatures. Without them their decks become slower and clunkier.
Without creatures Boss Sligh also has a hard time winning.
An early Lightning Strike on your Akroan Crusader or a Drown in Sorrow when you've committed a couple of creatures to the board can be pretty tough to bounce back from, but the second sweeper is almost game over. Burning them out is always a possibility, but realistically the deck only plays eight burn spells, eschewing Magma Jet for more aggression.
Hordeling Outburst, a card we're playing ourselves, is also a difficult card to beat. The amount of blockers they receive from casting it acts as a pretty good stop sign, forcing you to commit more to push through it.
Playing from behind with this deck isn't exactly the easiest thing out there.
While I've been making enough credit to pay for my entry fee and sleeves, my local metagame is ready and able to slow down my blisteringly fast red deck. An idea I've been kicking around is possibly using a little credit and my $20 a month allotment to transform the deck a bit into more of a Big Red build.
Ashcloud Phoenix seems like a fantastic buy at $6 apiece. My early set review had this card as a premium buy at two bucks, and in only a month the value has tripled. I'm almost certain the growth will stall for now, but eventually this card will spike again.
So far I'm thinking about something like this:
- 22 Mountain
Of course this is a very rough draft of what I might want to morph the deck into over the coming weeks, so any input on your part is always welcome! Just remember there is a strict budget to adhere to.
What Your Lands Say About You
Snobbish behavior tends to get on my nerves. As someone who worked in the service industry since age fourteen, I find acting like you're better than another person is a horrible way to be.
With that being said, I am a total land snob and you should be as well.
When I was a wee lad, a local player opened my eyes to the importance of making sure all your lands match.
“If someone Duresses you and sees your lands and you draw a different one and play it, they have that extra information.”
That made perfect sense to me, but then I asked him another question: is there a certain kind I should be playing?
“Pick your favorite art and go from there.”
The rest was history. My collection is comprised of over 150 Euro & APAC lands. I don't screw around. We're aiming for sex appeal here, boys and girls. I want to look as dope as I can when I sling spells. Do kids still say dope? One of you needs to please help me.
However, I understand that not everyone wants to spend $5-20 dollars per basic land. Hell, I'm pretty sure I'm down with the sickness when it comes to them, but I'm here to help with budget alternatives that will make your opponents think you've got swag- seriously I suck at sounding hip.
My foray into FNM Hero has me thinking thrifty, but like Macklemore said, you don't have to spend a ton of money to look fly. All of these lands are under a buck with almost all of them clocking in at a whopping 25 cents! Let's pimp your ride!
Luckily Portal: Second Age lands all look amazing and can be picked up for quarters. The Odyssey mountain is my current favorite non-Euro/APAC, and lastly the Invasion artwork on the third mountain feels intricate while still looking great.
Shards of Alara, in my opinion, is one of the best artworks on a land period. It truly feels bleak and hopeless, and the moon in the background is reminiscent of Guru lands in a way. Champions of Kamigawa shows off another interesting take on decay, while the Lorwyn swamp gives off a touch of whimsy while still looking awesome.
The Ice Age offering is one of the most underrated lands in the entirety of Plains artwork. I would run 22 of them in a heartbeat. Return to Ravnica, which wasn't a set I was terribly impressed with when it came to lands, gives a ridiculously attractive looking Plains to work with, and lastly Tempest (a set I dislike almost all the lands for) looks gorgeous compared to the others in the cycle.
New Phyrexia, to me, looks great strictly because the trees are all connected. Portal's Forest looks like a lush and endless array of greenery and the realism is very striking. The last one is a gamble, because if you can find this Onslaught Forest congratulations! It's almost always out of stock and has some of the most striking artwork featured on a land period.
The Avacyn Restored Island has a freaking boat on it, so I don't even really need to explain why it's sweet. Invasion showcases the sheer power of the land dubbed “Party Island.” Finally we have the Mirage homerun with a beautiful picture supplemented by a great looking sunset in the back.
Make sure to link your favorite lands as well in the comments. With all these budget decks I'm building I wouldn't mind investing in some cheaper options. It's strange playing $20 Mountains in my $50 deck: makes me feel like eating McDonald's with a golden fork and knife.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go drown my sorrows at watching the Steelers get dismantled by the Jets in a bottle of Tito's.
Our loss means that…sigh…the Cleveland Browns are #1 in the AFC North… (CEDitor's Note: Taste it Mark!)
Something tells me there's not enough vodka in Russia to ease my troubles.
Make me feel better by winning New Jersey, please.