The biggest Legacy Grand Prix ever is just days away. With over 30% of the field playing Delver of Secrets, it might be the perfect time to play a rogue strategy. Today, I'd like to discuss a bunch of strategies that aren't exactly mainstream…yet. All of these decks have at least top 8'ed an SCG Invitational Qualifier or an Open, other than the first. Which one has me most excited? Is it Moggcatcher, Goblins, Burn or some other under the radar rouge strategy?
I'm talking Rogue Tribal!
- 2 Shardless Agent
- 1 Earwig Squad
- 1 Frogtosser Banneret
- 1 Invisible Stalker
- 1 Looter il-Kor
- 1 Nightshade Stinger
- 1 Notion Thief
- 4 Oona's Blackguard
- 1 Silhana Ledgewalker
- 2 True-Name Nemesis
- 2 Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Whether to play Sultai or Grixis is the perpetual debate in the rogue community. Red does gives you access to old school powerhouse Gwendlyn Di Corci. The addition of Commander products has changed Legacy Magic, however, and Shardless Agent and Edric, Spymster of Trest are just too good to pass up.
This build uses cheap evasive Rogues to enable prowl, giving us overpowered disruption like Noggin Whack and Earwig Squad on the cheap. Meanwhile, Oona's Blackguard, Frogtosser Banneret, and Cloak and Dagger "pay" us for sticking to the tribe.
Abrupt Decay is the perfect removal for us, giving us answers to Delver of Secrets, Monastery Swiftspear, and Young Pyromancer, while also giving us answers to powerful rogue-hosers like Engineered Plague and Callous Oppressor.
While the maindeck is undeniably, completely as strong as it is, the sideboard gives us tools to change that. Faerie Macabre is a potent weapon against the recent surge of Dredge and Reanimator decks, and when used preemptively against someone trying to use blue delve cards, it functions as a zero-cost double Sinkhole, in at least one regard.
Peer Pressure is obviously for the mirror. Generally, you'll want to choose Rogues.
Morsel Theft is a concession to recent popularity of burn decks, though it could also be used against Donate/Illusions, if that archetype makes a comeback.
Yisan, the Wanderer Bard lets you find the Rogues you need, when you need them, assuming when you need them is three turns from now. Be careful not to accidentally Yisan up Earwig Squad, as you won't get the prowl-trigger.
"Damn, that's a Cold-Eyed Selkie." -Aaron Forsythe
If you face any opponents playing blue, you can board Cold-Eyed Selkie in for some brutal islandwalk beatdown. Similarly, Veldrane of Sengir comes in against Tarmogoyf decks, giving you access to brutal forestwalk.
While Rogue Elephant isn't actually a rogue, it can get you out of your opponent's brutal forestwalk and is just good enough to play without the tribal synergies. Along these lines, Boggart Logger is actually a second copy of Rogue Elephant, when you need to get rid of your opponent's brutal forestwalk, but it also serves as a second Veldrane of Sengir for when you need to hose stupid green decks, conveniently dodging the legendary drawback that is supposed to keep Veldrane of Sengir in check.
While I would not personally recommend playing Rogue-tribal at Grand Prix New Jersey, this is a legal deck that fits that description. If you have your heart set on Rogue-tribal, I should also note that both Undercity Informer and Balustrade Spy are Rogues. If you played with zero land (not even Rogue's Passage), you could target yourself, mill your whole library, and Dread Return a combo kill.
Treasure Cruise gives us some much needed staying power. Plus, it lets us draw three cards for one mana, which some argue is overpowered. If I were to tweak this list, I think I would take a hard look at Noble Hierarch. Yes, exalted combos with infect, but I'm just not sure we need the extra mana. Our curve is really, really low.
One of the most-hyped Rogues from our above list was dubious Commander design, True-Name Nemesis. At this point, True-Name Nemesis has become a Legacy staple, but we haven't come close to exploring the full range of True-Name Nemesis decks not explicitly forbidden by the floor rules (and the floor rules are crystal clear on this).
The newest addition to the True-Name Nemesis family is, in the words of famed deckbuilder Conley Woods, Land Death.
Land Death, sometimes referred to as Land Destruction or Deadguy Ale (named for known land and pig destroyer, Chris Pikula and his motley crew of metal investors), is the strategy of manascrewing your opponent by destroying their land with sorceries that generally cost more than almost everything in their Legacy deck.
One key to playing this style of deck is to ask yourself how many lands your opponent is likely to have in their deck that produce each color of mana. If they are playing a low land count deck like Delver, they could easily have as few as two or three actual lands that produce a given color. Destroy them all and you have effectively blanked every card of that color in their deck.
Smallpox is an important piece of the disruption package, as it gives us a cheap way to remove a threat while keeping the land destruction going. Perhaps most importantly, it gives us an answer to True-Name Nemesis.
One of the most obviously strictly better upgrades you could make for this deck is replacing the Rain of Tears with Icequake. With no snow-covered lands of our own, there is very little risk of a Misdirection leading to it actually backfiring. Several top 8 competitors from this season's Legacy events used a non-zero amount of Snow-Covered basics.
This next list isn't about the Rogues so much as it is about cutting the Rogues it used to play. The dedicated Rogue deck above contains Earwig Squad, which used to see some play in R/b Goblin decks (since it can prowl off of Goblins, as well as Rogues). Even more popular were R/g Goblin decks that made good use of Tin-Street Hooligan, one of the best Rogues at interacting with artifacts (up there with Joven, Chandler, Aladdin, and Goblin Vandal).
- 3 Gempalm Incinerator
- 3 Goblin Chieftain
- 4 Goblin Lackey
- 4 Goblin Matron
- 4 Goblin Ringleader
- 1 Goblin Settler
- 1 Goblin Sharpshooter
- 2 Mogg War Marshal
- 1 Stingscourger
- 1 Tuktuk Scrapper
- 3 Warren Instigator
- 1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
What have you done to counter the impact of Treasure Cruise on the format?
"My Treasure Cruise draws 4 cards and has haste." -Richard Liu
Goblins is all about preying on the "fair" decks. Trying to use Lightning Bolts and Swords to Plowshares to stop the onslaught of Goblins is a losing proposition, and if your opponent uses some cheesy combo deck, well, that's what the hate cards like Grafdigger's Cage, Ethersworn Canonist, Magus of the Moon, Rest in Peace, Red Elemental Blast, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben are for.
This next list also technically features zero Rogues; but speaking from experience, and Shouta Yasooka will tell you this, Tezzeret Agent of Bolas is always considered rogue.
A bit of disruption, some lock component artifacts, and multiple deadly artifact combos, all fueled with one of the most underrated planeswalkers (and some worse versions of himself). This list is sweet and has a lot of things to like.
Sword of the Meek + Thopter Foundry lets us pay 1 to gain one life and make a 1/1 flier. As many times as we like. Both Tezzerets help us set this up, not to mention Transmute Artifact as a hard tutor.
Our other combo is Helm of Obedience + Leyline of the Void. We're interested in the Leylines anyway, as they are extremely disruptive to Treasure Cruise/Dig Through Time-packing opponents, not to mention wiping smiles off of faces that one or two times you randomly face a graveyard combo deck. The real fun, however, is when you Helm of Obedience an opponent while you have a Leyline. Technically, using Helm for one means going until you put a card in your opponent's graveyard. With Leyline, none of their cards ever reach the graveyard, so you exile their whole library. Ancient Tomb and artifact mana combined with Leyline costing zero almost half the time means we can actually pull off this deadly combo pretty fast.
In addition to setting up these two mondo-combos, this deck is really about exploiting the various Tezzerets. Sure, they can effectively draw you an extra card each turn, but they are also powerful win conditions on their own, each threatening to go ultimate the turn after you play them. If you already have enough artifacts in play, you can often kill people in one hit from twenty.
A lot of this deck's percentage comes from the free wins that go along with these hate cards, along with Leyline of the Void. Tezzeret is a very, very hateful man.
Of course, Tezzeret is far from the only artifact-themed deck to put up a top 8 finish this season. There's always…
...No, not Affinity.
- 1 Blightsteel Colossus
- 4 Kuldotha Forgemaster
- 4 Lodestone Golem
- 4 Metalworker
- 1 Platinum Emperion
- 1 Steel Hellkite
- 2 Sundering Titan
- 2 Wurmcoil Engine
While there really aren't as many "brown" cards in Mono-Brown as there used to be, Metalworker decks have gained some positional advantages. See, Delver has completely taken over the format, with over 30% of the Legacy decks to top 8 events since Khans became legal. Delver decks rely on an incredible amount of one-cost spells. An early Chalice of the Void or Trinisphere can completely lock someone out of a game. Ancient Tomb or City of Traitors are obvious, but remember, Grim Monolith stacks with them too.
Once a lock component slows the game down, Metalworker and the rest of the colorless acceleration power out huge artifact threats that can easily go over the top of most fair games. Kuldotha Forgemaster gives us a combo kill of sorts, letting us search our deck for Blightsteel Colossus or Platinum Emperion. In addition to large artifact creatures, we can also tutor up Staff of Domination to actually go off. Staff of Domination + Metalworker plus three artifacts in hand gives us as much mana, life, and cards as we want!
Then you might be attracted to this next list:
- 4 Deathrite Shaman
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 1 Qasali Pridemage
- 1 Sylvan Safekeeper
- 3 Vampire Hexmage
- 1 Dryad Arbor
Vampire Hexmage + Dark Depths = a 20/20 flying, indestructible creature, of course, but the addition of Thespian's Stage adds a consistency to this deck it never had prior. See, if you use Thespian's Stage on your Dark Depths, it will have zero counters and immediately give you the 20/20.
Once you are living in a world where two key lands combine to give you a 20/20, a lot of cards take on new meaning. An early Knight of the Reliquary may look like Maverick, but when you end step search up half of your combo, then untap and can find the other, they are going to be in for a rude awakening.
Living Wish can set up the combo, but it also provides an element of interaction, giving us some hate-bears and a few other tools to help make up for our lack of permission.
Green Sun's Zenith is a mana accelerator early, finding Dryad Arbor, but it often wants to be looking for Knight of the Reliquary to pull the combo together. Hall of Famer Olle Rade's Invitational card, Sylvan Safekeeper, is also a fine option, letting us protect Marit Lage from Swords to Plowshares.
Now, I know what you're thinking.
Is this really the only option for enjoying a Thespian's Stage?
42 40 39 37
While older Lands decks relied on woman-lands for threats, the addition of Thespian's Stage + Dark Depths gives us a much bigger plan. Additionally, Punishing Fire + Grove of the Burnwillows lets us punish the recent surge of Delver decks, literally setting them on fire (metaphorically).
I know this is a lot of crazy decks, but seriously, all of them are real besides the Rogue deck. And who knows? If someone wins a match with Rogue-tribal at Grand Prix New Jersey, I'll feature them here next week.
The point is, even during this crazy period of Legacy's, ahem, legacy, the format is ripe with creativity, with exotic brews.
Where have all the deckbuilders gone?
All of these decks have top 8ed a Legacy event this season. Each appeared just once (flying under the radar so far), but all of the one-ofs in this format add up to almost 10% of the field. That is a ton of surprises, a ton of twists.
To help prepare for GP New Jersey, I'd like to leave you with the rest of the metagame data gleaned from those event results. Here is the Legacy top 8 metagame, weighted by finish, since Khans of Tarkir.
What I'm wondering, is what will be the highest finishing deck besides these fourteen archetypes? What's the dark horse pick of the weekend?
Sneak and Show