Magic is kinda boring right now.
Sure I can give you the ins and outs of my last five Delver variants but does anyone actually care? Unless you have a StarCityGames.com Open Series or Classic event in your area chances are you don't care enough to actually read about it. I rarely ever see the fine people on Magic Online playing carbon copies of my lists except for Sebsa and Alexandrino but no one ever really tells me my decks suck either so I dunno. It's hard to gauge whether anyone actually cares.
Anyway while I'm not gushing about how sweet Izzet Charm is (and presumably the rest of the Return to Ravnica spoilers) I'm scouring the Internet for technology and updating my Legacy bucket list. Unfortunately I don't have many high level Legacy tournaments coming up but I recently convinced myself to start buying Legacy cards on Magic Online. Hopefully I can use that to get some of these (likely bad) ideas out of my system.
I was itching to try this one in my last Bucket List article. Since then I have built the deck and tested it against Brad Nelson playing RUG Delver. I'll be honest—the results weren't good. I could win games with Back to Basics and/or Propaganda but the whole Stasis thing was ineffectual against him. Between not being able to resolve it his Dazes and low land count working me over or my deck imploding he was beating me very handily.
As of now RUG is still the litmus test for any deck in Legacy. There might be cooler options out there like U/W Control and Show and Tell but RUG is the deck players fall back on when they don't know what to play. It's also what most of the better players gravitate toward because it gives them the illusion that they are in control of their own destiny.
At first I wanted to play this deck. After tricking Jason Ford into playing it at an SCG Legacy Open he spent more time convincing me the deck was bad than he did actually playing in the tournament. Regardless Sam Black ended up making Top 8 of the next Legacy Grand Prix with the deck so I'm not sure what to believe.
I feel like Sam Black is one of those guys who make brews so crazy only they understand them. For that reason I'm willing to walk away from this one. I wasn't that invested in the first place.
Shoal and Tell
I played this in a four-round event and went 3-1. If it weren't for Mike Flores repeatedly bringing up how insane the deck felt I probably wouldn't have ever considered playing the deck again. However he seemed very passionate about how good it is but then again that's how he is about everything.
When I played the deck I felt like my combo was incredibly flimsy. I couldn't fight through a wall of removal and sometimes Show and Tell would be too slow. With my cantrips I could often be in favorable spots to find my combo pieces only to end up short. I didn't want to play that risky of a deck.
That said here's my new version:
It's kind of cool that the combos work so well together but I can imagine being very frustrated when I can only Blazing Shoal for +8 with Conflux. The Dream Halls aspect doesn't even add that much to the deck. I'm just enamored with the idea of splicing the two.
I could use some more mana sources possibly Lotus Petal. With the additional Preordains and lower curve overall maybe sixteen land isn't that bad but only twelve of them produce blue on turn 1. Petal wouldn't allow you to keep any hands you wouldn't keep already (unless it was facilitating the turn 2 kill) but it would accelerate Show and Tell and allow you to play around Daze or Spell Pierce easier.
Mostly due to the recent success of Infect in Standard I've started exploring the Legacy options. After all if you can kill on turn 3 in Standard with backup why can't you do that in Legacy?
Invigorate? Berserk? Those cards are absurd! Presumably all you need is one attack phase as coming up with +9/+9 shouldn't be an issue. Getting your guy through and protecting it are both difficult depending on the matchup and Olle doesn't pack a lot of answers for those scenarios.
I'm uncertain how much protection you need such as Apostle's Blessing but I'm interested to find out.
Yes I'm still trying to make it happen. I know I want the following:
4 Goblin Welder
4 Painter's Servant
2-4 Animate Dead
2-4 Faithless Looting
4 Red Elemental Blast
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1-3 Lion's Eye Diamond
0-4 Sensei's Divining Top
0-3 Mox Opal
X Ancient Tomb
X City of Traitors
X Great Furnace
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Leyline of the Void
1 Helm of Obedience
Honestly that's how my notebook looks. I start by filling in the numbers I definitely want then fill in some numbers where I have an idea of what I want and then let it sit there. Unless something about the deck really calls out to me the decklist typically goes unfinished.
The thing I like about this deck is that it attacks on different angles while both parts have synergy. Not having access to Brainstorm and Force of Will is the aspect I don't like. With all the Blasts potentially some sideboarded discard and two fast combos it might not matter though.
Reanimator + Storm
As you guys probably already know I can appreciate a good transitional sideboard. Ideally you have one that flows with your maindeck and dodges the hate they expect to bring in against you. Granted fighting the hate with Pithing Needle or discard is a viable option but sometimes the hate is too much. You might be a huge favorite game 1 but post-board that all goes out the window. I imagine that against most decks that are hating out Reanimator eight to ten Goblins is enough to beat them.
While I can respect Anger especially since I never thought of it is that any better than playing Goryo's Vengeance and Shallow Grave? I'm guessing not. The red is necessary for the sideboard plan but past that I'm pairing my Griselbrands with blue cards.
I've seen some Patron Wizards lists pop up recently and they seem kinda cool. Fish-style decks are good in the right metagame but they suffer from not having any real end game or way to lock up a game. Patron Wizard might be the key to that. With Spellstutter Sprite (and potentially Delver of Secrets and Snapcaster Mage) your creatures have a bunch of utility. You could even play Cursecatcher and use those plus Aether Vial to power out Silvergill Adepts.
I have no idea if this deck is actually any good. With Patron Wizard in every opener it probably would be.
Both of the above cards are the fixed descendants of Survival of the Fittest. While versions of those decks exist solely to gain value it seems like there should be a combo deck based on them somewhere. This isn't the year 2000 and I'm not William Jensen so I have no desire to play with Tradewind Rider. If I'm using Birthing Pod I'm using it to kill them.
Historically I've done pretty well with BUG decks in Legacy. Most of my SCG Open Series Top 8s have been on the back of that deck so why did I ever stop playing it? I think it was mostly because I wanted to try other things such as the plethora of awesome ideas in this article.
Regardless even when BUG wasn't "good" I was doing well with it. Hymn to Tourach is a very powerful Magic card and was responsible for the vast majority of my wins. Since then Delver of Secrets has been printed though which dramatically shifts my desire to play midrange into a full on aggro assault.
In this metagame it looks like being at one is the same as being at 20 unless you're trying to cast Force of Will. For that reason Death's Shadow looks a lot better than Tarmogoyf especially considering most of the spells you want to play with deal you damage anyway. Add in some Watery Graves over Underground Seas and you have a deck with some synergy.
A reader posted in my article comments last week showing me this hot import from Japan:
I turned around wrote about it in the StarCityGames.com Premium Newsletter and it made Top 4 of the next tournament! That's pretty amazing.
All in all the deck seems better at some things than regular Omni-Tell. Living Wish unlike Burning Wish can find both pieces of your combo now. With Cavern of Souls and Academy Rector RUG Delver is suddenly a much easier matchup as well at least game 1. Post-board Surgical Extraction is a huge beating. If people go back to playing Stifle then that could be a problem too. Then again something as simple as Defense Grid or Xantid Swarm could shift things back in your favor.
At first I was excited with the prospect of playing this deck but now people know what's in it and will likely be prepared to it.
I don't want to play "real" Storm decks. If I'm going to shove on Lion's Eye Diamond / Wish I might as well play Goblin Charbelcher. The utility I get from playing Brainstorm and Duress doesn't outweigh everything I lose and I firmly stand behind that.
I forget where I pulled this decklist from but it was probably from a Magic Online Daily Event.
Intuition is a blatantly unfair card but one that is quickly falling out of favor thanks to Spell Pierce Red Elemental Blast and Surgical Extraction. Setting up Past in Flames with one card is incredibly powerful though.
This is more of what I'm in to. While you have Intuition to set up Past in Flames you also have some combos in Helm of Awakening / 2x Sensei's Diving Top and Grapeshot / Pyromancer Swath. In my initial testing versus RUG Delver the matchup seemed like mostly a coin flip which is about as good as you're going to get with a spell-based combo deck.
RUG master Lam Phan was spotted playing U/R Landstill at the Legacy Championship at Gen Con likely due to fellow Canadian ShockWave's influence. That guy has been 3-1ing Daily Events for what is probably years now with mostly the same decklist. I'm not quite sure how good the decklist actually is but I love Standstill and love playing draw-go.
As a deck designer and metagame analyst I feel like it's my job to keep my range open and have a bag of tricks I can dip in to whenever the need arises. For example Cunning Sparkmage plus Basilisk Collar was something I reinvented every three months or so. Patrick Chapin would always bring back Plumeveil when it was necessary. Legacy has several things like that as well.
Punishing Fire / Night of Soul's Betrayal
Sometimes the format comes full circle and little creatures start being dominant again. When Stoneblade and Maverick were huge I loved playing with Punishing Fire. After Lingering Souls because known as Legacy playable suddenly Night of Soul's Betrayal was getting played in maindecks. Rather than having to think up a new solution to a problem it's better to remember other techy answers that have popped up in the past.
This combination was a huge player in Extended but it's understandable why it wouldn't transfer to Legacy. Isochron Scepter is slow and vulnerable and not many decks are just kold to the combination. If I were going to play that deck I would wait for an opportunity where both cards were fine on their own.
Similarly I'd also be interested in playing this combination if Leyline were good on its own. It's hard to tell exactly when there's going to be a Dredge or Reanimator resurgence though.
High Tide/Doomsday / Scapeshift
If and when the format slows down and becomes less aggressive these slower more resilient combo decks could potentially take over.
Dredge / Reanimator
These decks are great when the hate is non-existent or the format becomes littered with decks like Elves. For the MOCS one of these would have been perfect.
This is one of the most criminally underused strategies in Legacy. One of the things that first drove me toward the Rector build of Omni-Tell was the fact that it played these two cards. Most of the decks these cards would be built around would involve something like Coiling Oracle or Baleful Strix which are not exactly powerful Magic cards.
I know that various Storm decks have started using these as well but that doesn't impress me. You don't have fodder to sacrifice.
If you guys want to remain updated on my Legacy misadventures let me know in the comments. If Legacy and specifically Legacy brews isn't your thing here's what I've been playing on Magic Online in order to defeat the metagame of Delver Zombies and Infect in that order:
It's probably not perfect but it's been doing well. If I weren't playing Splicer/Angel I'd want Torpor Orb instead of Grafdigger's Cage probably. Both are bad with Snapcaster Mage but they neuter the opposing deck so much it's worth it. Birthing Pod has been my biggest problem by far. While cutting Geist of Saint Traft pains me it's something that has to be done for the Magic Online metagame.
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