Since the beginning of Legacy's inception Daze has always been a big part of the Legacy format. Many of you may still be able to think back to the old days when Daze and Nimble Mongoose were running around completely dominating the format in the form of Threshold. The good old days as I like to call them when a 3/3 creature was actually considered good and Call of the Herd was an instant four-of in every bad rock deck I would try to make. I have been playing Legacy for a long time and I have always been fortunate to be able to surround myself with fun and very talented Legacy players—which is one of the reasons I have been fortunate enough to be involved with the format for so long.
I feel deeply honored to be able to sit back and watch the format evolve in ways I could have never imagined. Even as the format evolves one thing remains certain: Daze continues to be a powerhouse in the format. Free counterspells will always be considered premium spells so don't expect Daze to be going anywhere anytime soon.
As the Legacy format continues to evolve and more players begin playing than ever I have noticed players maxing the value of opponent's Dazes on a regular basis. Either by just running vital spells right into Daze or playing around Daze at times when they shouldn't be. I hope to be able to give some general guidelines when it comes to playing through Daze that can give newer players who are just jumping into the format something to start with. For you Daze masters feel free to add your points especially since there isn't a whole lot of written content on the topic. Everyone has their own justifications for plays; I am no different. Whether they are right or wrong is always up for debate.
To know when to play around Daze is to know the matchup. Just because the deck plays Islands doesn't mean the deck automatically plays Daze. We don't always have the privilege of knowing what decks our opponents are playing during rounds; however we should understand what deck they are playing within the first few turns. That means my first- and second-turn plays are usually the same regardless of whether they play Daze or not. What do I mean by this? I value the cards in my deck to a point where if I make a play that gets Dazed it should give me tempo advantage or I'm content if the spell doesn't get resolved.
Our opponent goes Island go and we are playing an Aether Vial deck. We have Aether Vial in our hands in addition to two lands. I always run the Aether Vial out there turn one. Why is that? Well there is less than a fifty-percent chance they will have Daze in their opening hand. It's just not profitable for a card like Aether Vial to sit in your hand. It needs to be played out turn one. The longer the game goes the less value you get from Aether Vial. The point of Aether Vial is to give you tempo advantage. By letting it sit in your hand you're hurting yourself more than if you cast it and it gets Dazed. Not playing Aether Vial right away means you set yourself back on counters which can cost you the game.
If your turn-one play gets Dazed chances are you are in the clear to follow it up with a more powerful turn-two play such as my favorite: Dark Confidant. Even if they have another Daze they'll be at no land and you will be at two. Best case: They Force of Will the Confidant. Worst case: They Spell Snare the Confidant. Usually it just resolves.
Another example of cards I run out immediately in the early turns is Steppe Lynx or Goblin Guide. These creatures are perfect examples of cards that continue to lose value the longer the game goes. They let you get a good amount of early damage on the board. If you play either of them on turn one into a Daze you're still making progressive taking the game over since your opponent is forced to return an Island back to their hand. The drawback of bouncing a land to one's hand shouldn't be forgotten.
Know your deck's Game Changer:
You should evaluate the cards in your deck and see which cards swing the game to your favor. Certain cards and plays have the ability to finish games on their own and others gain you incremental advantage. This knowledge is key so you can choose your play order correctly and not let your opponent's Daze reach its maximum potential.
Let's take a quick look at a deck that I know like the back of my hand:
- 4 Tidehollow Sculler
- 4 Dark Confidant
- 2 Jotun Grunt
- 3 Mother of Runes
- 3 Serra Avenger
- 4 Stoneforge Mystic
When you do a quick evaluation of the deck the major game changers are Stoneforge Mystic and Dark Confidant. Those two cards will singlehandedly win you the game if they resolve. Stoneforge Mystic causes your opponent's counterspells to be dead cards in their hand letting your equipment finish the game and Dark Confidant allows you to power through all the answers your opponent may have with the never-ending amount of cards you draw. With this knowledge you know that protecting these cards is key to winning and thus are not cards you want to run into a Daze if you have the option to play around it.
For Jace control decks obviously Jace the Mind Sculptor is your ultimate game changer. In Enchantress decks Argothian Enchantress and Enchantress's Presence are what make your decks operate. Good ANT players are able to play around Daze so their cantrips and tutors don't get countered. The main point I want to make is no matter what deck you're playing protect your best cards! Make sure you play them with enough mana open to pay for Daze so they have to use a hard counter to prevent your spell from resolving.
Know your situation:
Ask yourself simple questions: Is it more profitable for me to play my Jace the Mind Sculptor now on turn four knowing I am walking into a counter war where my opponent's Dazes are relevant? Or do I wait until turn five and try to hit another land drop first? Can I afford to wait to play my Knight of the Reliquary when waiting means my Reanimator opponent has another turn to reanimate a target before I get the chance to fetch Karakas? Take a minute to review your situation and make the most profitable play. I know I personally have been accused of just running spells out there with no fear. My friends always joke with me that I show them no respect. I am aggressive by nature but before I run key spells out I always ask myself: Is what I have to gain more than I have to lose?
How do I know if my opponent has Daze?
There is absolutely nothing worse than playing around spells your opponent doesn't even play. Trust me; I have been there and done that. Just because your opponent is playing Islands doesn't automatically mean they are playing Daze. Here are some quick indicators to help you determine right away if you want to be prepared for Daze in your match. These are general indicators and are true more often than not.
- Your opponent plays Island Aether Vial go. Watch out; they are probably running four Dazes!
- Your opponent plays Stifle on one of your fetchlands. They are probably packing three to four Daze and four Wasteland.
- Remember: Snapcaster Mage doesn't let them play Daze for its alternate cost. Those decks will be more likely to run more removal discard and hard counters like Spell Snare. Nothing is more embarrassing than playing around Daze to only watch your precious spell get Snared!
- Noble Hierarch and Daze usually go hand in hand. Noble Hierarch lets players use Daze very profitably not losing a 'land drop' if they return an Island to their hand from Daze.
- If your opponent leads games off with a bunch of cantrips I tend to put them on combo. Race the matchup or control the match appropriately. When your opponent goes double Dark Ritual kill you that's a pretty good indicator you can just play your spells with no fear of getting countered. They may just kill you before you get to play the aforementioned spells but them's the breaks.
- If your opponent leads off with Entomb or you just know they're playing Reanimator they will be packing Dazes. However Jin-Gitaxias Core Augur is a beating so you can't afford to play around Daze most of the time.
Playing against Daze has always been a blast and playing against it correctly has always been one of those things that makes Legacy more interesting than other formats in my humble opinion. It adds that “What if?” factor when thinking about your plays. Daze has always been one of the best-developed counterspells which is why it's been a mainstay in the Legacy format for so many years. In a format with so many people sporting greedy manabases a free counterspell that makes you pay one more mana is amazing!
Hopefully you were able gain some insight on valuing your game changers and when you want to play your spells aggressively. If you're going to SCG Open: Kansas City make sure you come by and say hi!
Thanks for reading.