Changing the Game
Legacy is about to go through an upheaval, whether you want it to or not. And this is the reason why:
Decks that can abuse Mental Misstep, or are mostly invulnerable to it, are about to rise to the top in a big way. Some naysayers think that this card is being overhyped, overrated, over-exaggerated, and even overcooked (fat), but those people are just wrong, and the next few events featuring New Phyrexia are going to prove it.
When I first saw Mental Misstep, I was taken aback. I knew immediately that the card was strong, but it took a few days to sink in that it was going to change everything as we know it. Drew Levin's article about it can be found here. He goes into great detail trying to discern exactly what the card will mean for Legacy over the next few years, putting on paper everything I've been thinking for the last few weeks. While it doesn't completely nullify the existence of decks relying on one-mana threats, it does put them in a much weaker position. While I don't necessarily think every single deck should/will run four of them in the maindeck, I think that blue decks will be able to gain an incredible advantage by having access to them.
In my last real Legacy tournament, I played Natural Order Bant (or NO Bant) to a Top 8 finish, losing only to the eventual winner playing High Tide. Having played zero games with the deck before the tournament, I can safely say that the deck is just awesome, and more people should be playing it. Few people have answers to Progenitus, and those who do are usually cold to a Force of Will. The thing is, I always hated Spell Pierce in the deck, but I hated Daze too. I couldn't really figure out what I wanted to play in that spot, but now it's quite obvious. Mental Misstep fills that hole and allows for some breathing room when casting or waiting on your Force of Will. Goblin Lackey will no longer ruin your day. Aether Vial will seem much less broken. Wild Nacatl will no longer be a real threat. All of your creatures will be much less vulnerable to Swords to Plowshares and Lightning Bolt.
The Deck: The New World Order
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 1 Qasali Pridemage
- 1 Rhox War Monk
- 2 Tarmogoyf
- 1 Terastodon
- 1 Terravore
- 1 Progenitus
- 2 Dryad Arbor
After learning a few things on my last go-around with the deck, I've made some significant changes to the maindeck and sideboard. You can read my tournament report, as well as some thoughts on changes here.
Cards like Fauna Shaman, Scryb Ranger (from the original list by AJ Sacher), and Trygon Predator just weren't up to snuff, and I supplanted them with a goodie. Terastodon was always a creature I wanted to play with in a deck like this, but my haste in building my deck on the day of the tournament caused me to forget about key sideboard and maindeck cards. Gaddock Teeg would have singlehandedly won me a match during the Swiss (though I still won, but it was really close), and the Terastodon might have won me both matches I lost to the eventual winner Jesse Hatfield.
I also had forgotten completely about Dredge and built my sideboard with zero answers to graveyards, yet somehow miraculously beat a Dredge player for the win-and-in in Round 8 of the Swiss. While there are some definite standouts in the sideboard, I think that every card has its place. People don't realize that playing this deck is a lot like playing a control deck for the most part. You keep your opponent on their heels with counters and removal, then you win with a big combo finish, though that finish often takes a turn or two to really slam it home. You're the most consistent deck in the format, much like RUG Scapeshift from a few Extended seasons ago, relying on a one-card-combo to seal the deal, though your combo has much less raw power than most. It's much harder to disrupt than most combo decks because it isn't susceptible to Counterbalance or Mental Misstep. Your "Plan B" is also fine, seeing as you can tutor up some Lhurgoyfs and get to work.
While I'm not going to get into an extensive sideboarding guide (as it would all be hypothetical at this point), I'll try to give you a general idea of how to play against and sideboard against various popular archetypes.
This matchup is all about tempo. If they can get you behind with an early Goblin Lackey or Aether Vial, you're usually in trouble, but they have virtually no outs to Progenitus. Most lists don't even play black anymore, so you don't really even have to worry about Warren Weirding. Mental Misstep goes a long way to fighting their early pressure, since their deck is incredibly reliant on having either Vial or Lackey on the first turn. If you can stop either, you'll generally be given enough time to win. Gempalm Incinerator is quite annoying for your Dryad Arbors and Noble Hierarchs and can potentially mana screw you, so be careful when deciding on whether or not you should keep a mana-light hand. Their Rishadan Ports and Wastelands can wreck you.
There aren't a lot of good sideboard options for you in this matchup, but it's definitely on the downslope in popularity, so I wouldn't worry about it too much at the moment. With Mental Misstep in the mix, expect Goblins to continue falling out of favor.
This matchup is similar to Goblins, but they have countermagic to fight your combo. Your countermagic is a bit weaker, since they have access to the same counters as you do, but they have Cursecatcher on top of that. If you can counter their Aether Vial with Mental Misstep, they should be in a bit of trouble because it will take them quite a while to actually kill you. Try to save your Swords to Plowshares for their Lord of Atlantis because he grants their team islandwalk, and they'll just run all over you. Again, they have very few outs to a Progenitus, but don't be afraid to blow up some permanents with Terastodon should the situation call for it.
As far as sideboarding is concerned, Llawan is your best bet. She can singlehandedly lock them out of the game—and especially so if you can counter/destroy their Aether Vials.
Ad Nauseam (Storm, ANT, etc.):
A combo deck that can kill you on turn 1, Ad Nauseam is nothing to sneeze at. While this deck may become significantly weaker due to the existence of Mental Misstep, you can be sure that people will often misplay their Mental Misstep and allow you to combo out. If they ever give you a chance to counter a ritual, I'd likely try to counter the second one. They'll often use Brainstorm and Ponder to dig for what they need, so don't be afraid to counter one of those. Try to get value out of your Mental Missteps to keep them on their toes and digging while you smash them with Progenitus.
I'd definitely bring in Vendilion Clique and Gaddock Teeg, and possibly Trygon Predator as another threat, siding out Swords to Plowshares. An early Terastodon can wreck them, as can a Green Sun's Zenith for Gaddock Teeg. Vendilion Clique can also be particularly annoying for them, given the right circumstance. These disruptive creatures combined with a counterspell package should be enough to stall them until you can hammer the nail in.
This matchup used to be rather difficult, but most people are under the impression that it will most likely cease to exist after Mental Misstep hits the scene. While I feel that this requires a bit of further examination, I do feel that High Tide just can't win without High Tide resolving. With that said, the deck is incredibly resilient and can play Mental Missteps of their own to help their spells resolve, but adding more counterspells to the deck will only hinder its ability to combo off effectively.
After boarding, I'd recommend siding in Surgical Extraction, Gaddock Teeg, Vendilion Clique, and potentially Trygon Predator, siding out Swords to Plowshares obviously, as well as a few random creatures. Terravore and Rhox War Monk are average, and Terravore even dies to a revolved Time Spiral (which I found out the hard way). Do everything in your power to keep High Tide from resolving, as very little else matters.
These matchups don't play out the same against you, but your game plan against each is relatively similar. Most have very little in the way of actually beating a Natural Order in the first game—or even much after sideboarding for that matter. These are the matchups you really want to play against because your Swords to Plowshares and Mental Missteps are just amazing against them. Keeping your Tarmogoyf alive through a Swords to Plowshares is just awesome and can really keep them on the back foot, digging for another answer while you set up your combo. You're the control deck, so use your resources to give yourself enough time to find the win.
The Submerges really shine in this matchup, wrecking your opponent in response to a fetchland—or even just stunting their next draw by putting a Noble Hierarch on top. Don't be hasty to use your Submerges if you don't have to, but don't let yourself fall too far behind if they have an aggressive start. Having twelve really cheap or free answers to their one-drops is particularly sweet. I find that Force of Will is often poor in these matchups, but I'm always afraid to side them out. They save your life quite often, but having to two-for-one yourself is painful.
This matchup plays out similarly to that against Zoo and other aggro decks, but they have a much different angle of attack. They have the ability to aggro you with Elvish Archdruid, but most tend to rely on Glimpse of Nature and a combo finish. This gives you the ability to crush them, since they rely on a crutch that costs one mana. If they resolve Glimpse of Nature, you'll be in a lot of trouble usually, but Swords to Plowshares and counterspells make your life much easier.
After sideboarding, you get Submerge, which is actually quite good when they're trying to combo off with Heritage Druid, as well as Vendilion Clique. Seeing what's in their hand will often give you valuable information on what to counter and what to let resolve. It also provides a steady clock that they have no real answer to, and you can hold up the ground with Tarmogoyf and friends. Terravore is also pretty sweet here, since he has trample. I'd recommend siding out the Terastodon, since you'll rarely be able to mana screw them. This is one of the matchups where I really miss having access to Engineered Explosives, but you can't fit in everything. I might end up playing Engineered Explosives, but I can't really justify it at the moment.
This deck is not one I enjoy playing against, pretty much ever, but they're particularly vulnerable to your four-drop based combo. Sure, they have Force of Will and the occasional actual Counterspell, but you'll often be able to force it through with your own countermagic. I'd recommend asking for a judge to watch your match if you even suspect your opponent is slow playing because this deck allows them to gain a significant advantage by abusing the clock. Sensei's Divining Top and fetchlands make for some "fun times," and they'll gladly spend the maximum amount of time on using their effects if they've won the first game. Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say that everyone who plays CounterTop is a cheater. I'm just saying there is room for abuse, and you definitely don't want to get hustled.
As for sideboarding, I'd bring in Vendilion Clique, Krosan Grip, and Trygon Predator. If they get aggressive with Rhox War Monks and such, I might also suggest Submerge, but you'll probably become the aggro deck against them, and Submerge is much better in this deck at helping establish control.
The Grand Finale
It's quite difficult to go over every single matchup in Legacy because there are just too many decks. Playing your pet deck against a Grinder to see how well it does might actually be helpful in this format, since you can never really expect to play against the same archetype more than twice. Everyone loves Legacy because it gives you access to a plethora of powerful cards that can all interact with your opponent in positive ways. Every deck has the capability to win given they use cards that help maximize those chances, which makes for interesting matches and interesting tournaments. I'm a huge advocate of this deck and the format as a whole, and my only wish is to be able to eventually afford the cards to play. With the expanding player base and the expansion of the format's popularity, cards will continue to rise in price. Eventually, something might need to be done to resolve this issue, but for now, I'll just keep trying to borrow decks so I can battle.
In the coming weeks, we'll get to see just how much Mental Misstep "changes" the format, but my bet is that it will just be a great addition to blue decks. While everyone has access to it, being able to Brainstorm it away seems so good in matchups where it has little value. I don't think every Zoo or Elf deck will play four of it, but I honestly wouldn't be that surprised if they did either.
Thanks for reading.
strong sad on MOL