Legacy is famous for being filled with powerful cards and thus powerful decks. There is arguably no deck in the format more powerful and explosive than Charbelcher. The combo deck's goal is to cast a Goblin Charbelcher or Empty the Warrens as early as the first turn. To do this, the deck is filled to the brim with rituals and cards that build both mana and storm counts. The deck is so single-minded, in fact, that it plays just two actual lands maximizing the frequency in which an activated Goblin Charbelcher is lethal (the deck cheats on a virtual land count by also playing four Land Grant).
One of the deck's biggest proponents is Cedric Phillips. The Grand Prix and Pro Tour Top 8er took the deck to a Top 8 performance at a StarCityGames.com Legacy event in Philadelphia (a part of the conglomeration of large cash events hosted by StarCityGames.com that led to the creation of the Open Series). This weekend he's back in the Charbelcher saddle, and managed to convince StarCityGames.com Open Top 8er Calosso Fuentes, who made the Top 8 of the Legacy event held in Richmond, Virginia just two weekends ago to switch to the strategy.
I sat down to chat with both players about their deck choice and the archetype in general. Here's the list they're both running today in Indianapolis.
The biggest problem about playing the Charbelcher deck in Legacy is the existence of Force of Will. The counterspell, which can be cast before a player has even dropped a land, can completely wreck a Charbelcher player's early combo, countering a crucial spell and preventing the player from going off. Weren't they afraid of facing off against the counterspell each round?
"Force of Will is not that much of an issue," Cedric explained. "It beats the Charbelcher, but it loses to Empty the Warrens. I liken it to playing against Leyline of the Void with Dredge. They have to mulligan to it, and you can play around it."
While Cedric has built a reputation for himself playing the deck, I was curious what had convinced Calosso to jump ship from his Top 8 deck in Richmond to the new archetype. "The deck's game 1 percentage against the field is really high," Fuentes informed me. "It beats Zoo and Land handily. Merfolk can be tough, but Counterbalance is probably the worst."
"I find Fish to be a better matchup than most thanks to Xantid Swarm," Cedric interrupted. The innocuous looking 0/1 comes in off the board against control strategies to shut down their counterspell aspirations. The Charbelcher sideboard is a delicate affair, with multiple Burning Wish targets and only eight actual cards to board in: the Xantid Swarms and a playset of Ingot Chewers. "Those are for the Monowhite Stax deck," Ced pointed out. The mana denial deck would be very powerful against Charbelcher without some help to deal with cards like Sphere of Resistance and Trinisphere.
"I don't like the Ingot Chewers," Calosso opined, the only area he seemed to disagree with his Charbelcher compatriot, though he was playing the 3/3s. "I would prefer a red blast to help force through Xantid Swarm against control decks."
The two players agreed the key to doing well with the deck was goldfishing and testing against blue decks with counterspells to get a feel for how to make those players make mistakes against you. The two both seemed happy with their deck choice (though a deck registration error had left Calosso with an early match loss), and before leaving they offered to demonstrate the raw power of the deck.