Welcome to What We'd Play! With SCG Baltimore right around the corner, many are unsure what they'd play in such a high-profile tournament. That's where we come in and let you know what we'd play this weekend and why we'd play it. Hopefully this last-minute advice aids in your decision making! Be sure to vote for who you agree with in the poll at the end!
Jadine Klomparens - Temur Delver
Temur Delver failed to live up to the expectations set for it by the banning of Deathrite Shaman, but I still believe in the deck. It certainly isn't the "one true way to play Delver of Secrets" in this post-ban world, but it's still a respectable choice nonetheless. Alexander Chen's Top 8 at Grand Prix Richmond with the deck was no fluke.
With the rise of Death's Shadow in Legacy and the fall of Lightning Bolt as a Legacy fair deck staple (seriously, Grixis Control isn't even playing the full playset of Bolt), it's time to accept that the stock of Tarmogoyf has fallen. When Tarmogoyf is difficult to remove, it's great. When everyone has Fatal Push and Snuff Out, not so much. The 2-2 split with True-Name Nemesis gives the deck enough untargetable creatures to have a reliable shroud plan against removal-heavy matchups while still having enough speed to effectively race combo.
Even beyond the Tarmogoyf /True-Name Nemesis split, my build is skewed pretty heavily towards the fair decks. Two copies of Dismember screams that you're looking to get some Gurmag Anglers off the table, something I think is critically important at the moment in Legacy. Grixis Control is on the rise right now, and despite looking awful on paper, that matchup can be favorable if you're prepared. Your mana denial is effective against them, but a Gurmag Angler will often slip through the cracks. Have an answer.
Todd Anderson - Dimir Death's Shadow
Dimir Death's Shadow is right up my alley, and I'm assuming all old-school Delver pilots will be doing something similar. I've already gotten a lot of questions about my Death's Shadow decklist, so hopefully this answers some of those. If you want a detailed version about the changes I've made and the iterations the deck has gone through, you can check out my article from yesterday here .
Tempo strategy? Check. Disruption? Check. Punishes all the combo decks in a severe way? Check check check. The major changes to the deck include cutting some of the niche cards like Reanimate and Stubborn Denial in favor of consistency. An extra Ponder here, an extra Fatal Push there, all leads to having more consistent draws and doing mostly the same stuff every game. And when that "same stuff" is casting a gigantic Death's Shadow and riding it to victory, well you're gonna have a good time.
While control decks could pose problems, the games always feel pretty close, so I've added a few copies of Bitterblossom in the sideboard to help push us over the edge. Alongside a few copies of Hymn to Tourach maindeck, as well as a third in the sideboard, we have plenty of hard-hitting disruption to keep them off balance while our mish-mash of creatures gets the job done. And while Legacy is a diverse format and you can basically play whatever you want, it's important to remember that a mastery of any given archetype is more important than ever trying to metagame.
Learn your deck, play it well, and figure out how to change it to be competitive.
Emma Handy - Burn
Burn is great and not just as a budget option.
The surge of Delver and Death and Taxes in today's metagame has made Grim Lavamancer and co. fantastic, particularly with the work they've done to push combo out of the format. The premier Chalice of the Void deck of the format, Eldrazi Post, is also incredibly weak to Price of Progress if they don't have a quick kill to back up their disruption. Don't forget that Death's Shadow does most of the work for you, and the format's most common source of lifegain, Deathrite Shaman, doesn't even exist anymore.
If you're thinking of playing the deck this weekend, there are a few things that are fairly customizable about the deck, but let me go ahead and shut down some of the things that people are still arguing about-
- Don't leave home without Ensnaring Bridges. They're also good against non-black Tarmogoyf decks.
- Barbarian Ring looks horrible when over half the field is expected to have copies of Wasteland.
- Scalding Tarn is the best fetchland to lead on and should be a four-of. People have forgotten about Burn and leading on a blue fetch is a nice bluff that can cause players to sequence their spells poorly and make them more likely to lead on a dual land, rather than a basic, increasing the efficacy of Price of Progress.
- Smash to Smithereens is better than Abrade.
- Volcanic Fallout is not a good sweeper right now, as the deck it's best against, Death and Taxes, makes it difficult to cast.
Jim Davis - Goblins
- 4 Gempalm Incinerator
- 4 Goblin Lackey
- 4 Goblin Matron
- 4 Goblin Piledriver
- 4 Goblin Ringleader
- 1 Goblin Sharpshooter
- 1 Goblin Trashmaster
- 4 Goblin Warchief
- 3 Mogg War Marshal
- 1 Siege-Gang Commander
- 1 Skirk Prospector
- 1 Stingscourger
- 1 Tin Street Hooligan
When I said I was bringing the boys back, I meant it.
No Deathrite Shaman means our fair matchups all start to look real good again, and combo decks have been on the downswing and are tough but winnable with sideboard cards. Sure, we probably aren't ever beating Rakdos Reanimator, but we have good tools against most other combo decks and with aggressive mulligans, even those matchups are winnable.
I played this list at the #SCGNY Classic last weekend, and while I didn't do great, two of my losses were complete pilot error - I sideboarded incorrectly against Azorius Stoneblade (Pyrokinesis doesn't even kill anything!) and should have made a very heads up turn 4 chump block that ended up losing me the race many turns later against a Sultai True-Name Nemesis deck. Otherwise the deck felt very solid, with new additions like Goblin Trashmaster really making their presence felt.
Make no mistake, Goblins is deceptively difficult to play. But if you've got the gusto and the stomach for understanding your role in each matchup and grinding your opponent into dust with card advantage, the boys are back in town!
Danny West - Maverick
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 4 Mother of Runes
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 1 Qasali Pridemage
- 1 Ramunap Excavator
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Scryb Ranger
- 2 Stoneforge Mystic
- 2 Gaddock Teeg
- 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 1 Dryad Arbor
Lola the English Bulldog is going to a hospital this weekend for her last therapist dog certification visit! So unfortunately, I won't be at SCG Baltimore smashing stuff with my Legacy weapon for well over a decade now.
Look, everyone knows I adore this deck. And honestly, it's not just pet; I've played it long enough to legitimately gain an edge, even if I'm playing some cards that are kind of clownish on their own. Metagaming in Legacy is kind of irrelevant since most of the room is going to play the deck they have access to, but the archetype can still be tuned quite a bit off the last list I played at the home court at SCG Philadelphia earlier this year. The above list is my best guess toward the format's leanings as a whole, with Death's Shadow being the massive new factor to consider.
If you'd like the general ropes of how to play, I suggest watching a little of this action.
The maindeck is close to the deck I played then because I still like where it landed enough to leave it alone. The Abrupt Decay slot can be pretty much whatever at this point, but I will say I wouldn't want to be facing down Street Wraiths and Gurmag Anglers and holding it. Speaking of which, here's the extremely quick and filthy:
- Swampwalk can matter when you're facing Street Wraith, so think about your Wastelands carefully. Games 2 and 3, it's way more important to think about Massacre. Legacy games have a habit of one creature sort of coming out of the scrum and taking the ball all the way. Don't underestimate a random threat just because it seems dopey. Legacy has a lot of good cards to protect those threats.
- Death's Shadow as it exists right now has zero basic lands. Path to Exiles were added to my sideboard for these types of considerations.
- There are more important black threats now than there have been in a while. For that reason, I put a protection from black sword in the sideboard. It's been a year or two since Sword of War and Peace was in the sideboard, and I haven't missed it since the last time Miracles was definitively the best deck.
- Speaking of which, Miracles is still as tough as it ever was. I tend to bring in a lot against it and get most match wins with fortunate situational Chokes or Surgical Extraction on the right removal they happened to be holding two-of. Play tight and hope for the best.
- I'm roughly 2-7 lifetime in sanctioned events versus Infect. You've got to throw something, so may as well not bother with this one.
- Temur Delver is the same theme park ride it's always been. Other Delver decks can be trickier (especially the thankfully rare Sultai iterations), but it's great that this is the main one that got to come back and that losing Deathrite Shaman hurt the popularity of the others. Make sure you can race a True-Name Nemesis and don't let them put you to seven before you do anything relevant, and you'll be fine.
- Some Elves players are going back to Progenitus. If you Stoneforge for Jitte to keep them off life itself and they have the Natural Order, don't hate the Gaddock Teeg in your hand. It's not his fault you're a real Previous Level Charles.
- Don't bring in Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage if you expect a lot of graveyard hate or you don't believe you're favored by the "real life Magic" plan. This probably needs to start coming in against Miracles, though I haven't played the matchup since I started sideboarding the combo at all. It's much closer to being a half-court shot than a free throw; don't feel like you're supposed to rely on it with regularity.
- Your Lands matchup should be pretty okay. You're welcome to find space for Bojuka Bog if you don't think what you have is enough. Between the extra Paths, the Surgical Extractions, and the Armageddon, I've always felt like it was a lot less of a crazy good deck against me than the rest of the room. And I'm rarely delusional about such matters.
- Play a Sylvan Library somewhere. I don't like setting up turns and optimizing interactions with fetches because I tend to play much more to the battlefield than other zones. I just know I win more games playing another geeky creature than I would playing Magic properly with tools like this over the course of a given tournament. By all means, play with this card.
- Someone test Tireless Tracker and tell me what happens. I can't be asked.
Sam Black - Zombie Bombardment
Stitcher's Supplier and the banning of Deathrite Shaman have breathed new life into Zombie Bombardment, and Stitcher's Supplier offers enough milling to justify adding the package of Bridge from Below and Insolent Neonate, which makes the deck both more explosive and much better at blocking. This deck is well positioned against Grixis type decks because their removal lines up so badly. After sideboarding, they rely very heavily on Surgical Extraction, Snapcaster Mage, and Liliana, the Last Hope, and Silent Gravestone turns off all of that without impacting any of your graveyard action.
Against combo decks, you have pressure backed by eight discard spells and four Surgical Extractions after sideboarding. Against creatures, you have Goblin Bombardment maindeck combined with Zealous Persecution, Malicious Affliction, and Swords to Plowshares in the sideboard.
This deck is extremely fun, attacks from a lot of angles, which combines well with being a rough deck choice, because it means opponents will have a lot of trouble figuring out how to play against it, has game against everyone, and a lot of counterplay to other decks' plans against it.
Cedric Phillips - Humans
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 2 Imperial Recruiter
- 4 Meddling Mage
- 4 Mother of Runes
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 1 Orzhov Pontiff
- 1 Palace Jailer
- 4 Phantasmal Image
- 1 Reclamation Sage
- 1 Reflector Mage
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
This is the list of Humans that I went 10-5 at Grand Prix Richmond with a few weeks ago, losing an unfortunate game 3 against Storm in round 15 to miss out on a money finish. Simply put, this deck is a lot better than even I thought it was going to be, as finding a way to fit in not only Wasteland but also a maindeck copy of Reclamation Sage made a huge difference.
Sequencing with this deck is oddly difficult because there are certain lands you don't mind having hit by Wasteland depending on what your draw looks like, but you should be operating under the guideline (in most instances) that your first land is going to die. Ultimately, Aether Vial is your best card and while that's a non-bo with Ancient Ziggurat, it hasn't stopped Humans in Modern from being the best deck, and it certainly doesn't stop this deck from being powerful either.
The biggest thing I haven't figured out yet is how to fit Swords to Plowshares into the deck. Perhaps Dismember is better because of the awkward manabase but having an early answer to Stoneforge Mystic and/or Gurmag Angler is a hole that certainly needs fixing.
Naturally, this deck is still a work in progress, but the power level is undeniable, and it exploits something that few other decks do - because Legacy decks are so streamlined, Meddling Mage can win games all on its own by naming the right card. Toss in the power of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in a cantrip format along with a neat tutor package via Imperial Recruiter (it finds Reflector Mage, whereas Recruiter of the Guard does not!) and you've got a deck that can do way more than it should be able to.