Hello everyone! I recently found myself in the Top 4 of the largest StarCityGames.com Legacy Open to date in our nation's capital and wanted to let you guys know how I got there. But first I'll go over a brief history of my experience with Maverick the deck I played.
I've never had much success playing Legacy. In the past I approached the format with the philosophy that with all the unfair things you can do why would you ever want to play a fair deck? I've gone through a ton of combo decks like Cephalid Breakfast Dredge Survival Aluren Elves Hive Mind etc. With the exception of Survival playing those decks usually left me with the feeling that I was at the mercy of my draw with limited ability to interact with my opponent.
Initially I was hesitant to pick up one of the fairest decks in the format especially since it didn't even have Brainstorm a card I had become quite fond of. But my friends Ben Stark and Pat Cox had been singing Maverick's praises so I decided to give it a go. I went 7-1 with it in the first event I played the StarCityGames.com Invitational in Indianapolis. That was all it took to get me hooked. I played it in the SCG Legacy Open that same weekend to an unexciting 2-2. Undaunted I played it again at Grand Prix Atlanta and started off great at 9-0-1 before running into a couple unfortunate losses to finish in the Top 64.
I had been looking forward to the SCG Open Series in Washington DC since I hadn't been able to attend many this year. I conveniently had a place to stay because Pat had moved to Arlington recently. He said he knew of a few cool hikes in the area so I went up early and we hiked the aptly named Billy Goat Trail on Friday which was rad.
Saturday was fairly uneventful. I played the Bant Pod deck our own Cedric Philips won a PTQ with. It felt powerful enough but I ended up losing to Delver and ramp twice each.
After playing the deck at GP Atlanta I knew there were a couple things I wanted to change going into the SCG Legacy Open. When Ben and I played on Day 2 we figured out that we had more cards to board in than we did to board out. Oops. So I knew I wanted to trim down to one Gut Shot and play a Spike Feeder since burn is usually more prevalent on the SCG Open Series scene.
Sylvan Library was serviceable enough against most decks and very good against others but drawing two was always miserable so I went down to one. Cavern of Souls had proven to be quite good as a one-of so I wanted to see how two played out. It was easy to cut the Taiga now that I was only boarding one Gut Shot. I'm still not sure if one Cavern or two is right; it can be quite powerful but also leads to awkward mana with Pridemages or if you draw two.
One of my main concerns going into this tournament was making the deck better against Stoneblade and U/W Control. Unfortunately I wasn't sure how to go about doing that. Fortunately I was able to briefly talk to two of the best pilots around to get their take on the matchups. Reid Duke said that the cards that were hardest to play against out of Maverick for Control were Gaddock Teeg and Armageddon. Ben Friedman echoed those cards for Stoneblade although with less emphasis on Teeg. With their feedback I was happy to slot one Teeg for the main and two Armageddons for the board.
Without further ado here's the list I played and the matches.
- 1 Fauna Shaman
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 4 Mother of Runes
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 3 Qasali Pridemage
- 2 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Scryb Ranger
- 1 Stoneforge Mystic
- 1 Gaddock Teeg
- 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 1 Dryad Arbor
Round 1: Travis Gibson with RUG Delver
There seems to be some disagreement among top players as to how this matchup goes. I think Maverick is definitely the favorite although it can get closer to a coin flip depending on the RUG configuration. Due to the six Plows/Paths after board it becomes unlikely to have a Delver go unanswered. Knight and Ooze control Mongoose and Goyf easily. For RUG to win the mid or late game they have to sequence and manage their mana very well to avoid both flooding and getting Wastelanded out.
Travis had the full four Submerges in his board and even Grim Lavamancer main so he definitely had one the better setups against Maverick. We split the first two games and I ended up drowning in three Submerges in the third.
Round 2: Joe Marucci with Mono-White Prison
Joe led off with Mox Diamond and Land Tax on the play so I knew I was in for a rough one. I was able to slow him down enough with Thalia to get in a bunch of damage before he cast Armageddon with Ghostly Prison in play. I was then blessed with running lands to get in for the last couple points.
Game 2 he didn't have quite as good an opener and Thalia showed up to slow him down again. This time his disruption was in the form of Suppression Field which effectively turned off my Wasteland Pridemage and Knight activations. Luckily his board didn't develop much past that and I was able to attack through his Prison.
Round 3: Erik Johnson with Merfolk
The upswing of Merfolk in the format is great for Maverick. It's easy to manage their Lords early with Plows which gives you time to take over the game with something like Jitte or Knight.
Game 1 Erik led with the very reasonable start of Mutavault into Aether Vial. His second land was another Mutavault but he had no blue source forthcoming. He got in a lot of early damage but I was able to barely stabilize with a Knight after killing his Vial with a Pridemage to cut off his ability to play out any more of his hand.
In game 2 my draw was insane with multiple Plows Thalia Knight and Jitte. Erik's draw was a little awkward but I would have been surprised to see one that could have kept up with mine.
Round 4: Bill Senneway with RUG Delver
We split the first two games in what were mostly one-sided affairs. I was able to protect an Ooze in game 1 and couldn't find an answer to a Delver flip compounded by a Rough / Tumble to slow me down in game 2.
Game 3 was pretty drawn out where I was on the verge of stabilizing for several turns with Ooze and fighting through his Submerges. I finally stabilized and managed to avoid a draw when he failed to find a creature to chump on his turn 4 of extra turns.
Round 5: Michael Caffrey with BUG Veteran Explorer
Michael's deck was pretty interesting and you can find his deck tech here. I was lucky enough to not even know he had Jace in his deck since I never saw it.
Game 1 I went Hierarch into Thalia and later Ooze and Pridemage. Thalia was able to attack into his Baleful Strix and Coiling Oracle. Fierce Empath fetched up a Grave Titan for him but I was able to keep him off double black with Wasteland. Eventually he Zenithed for Hornet Queen (that's nine mana!) but I was able to pro-green my Ooze with Mother of Runes to get the last few points through.
Game 3 was intense. Michael had Cabal Therapy on turn 1 for Knight which I didn't have but conveniently drew next turn. He had Explorer next turn to flash back the Therapy and take my two Plows and accelerate. I was putting up some modest pressure but got swept by Deed. I removed his yard with Ooze before it resolved and he played another Deed. I played Knight into Deed; he blew it on his turn and afterwards played Eternal Witness with two cards in hand returning Misty Rainforest instead of Deed.
I untapped looked at the Armageddon in my hand and had to play it knowing he had a land in hand and guy on board with nothing to show for myself since I couldn't let him untap and play the Hornet Queen he most certainly had. I played Cavern my last land and passed. He hit me down to about eleven before I drew a second land and played Thalia to all but lock it up. He had even played Therapy a couple turns earlier for Thalia but I again conveniently drew it the following turn.
Round 6: Eric Brown with Sundial Stax
This was a video feature match and was covered pretty well here.
Round 7: Grant Babcock with Goblins
In game 1 Grant was dependent on a Vial which I was able to Pridemage away early. After that I took over with Knight and Jitte. It looked like he might make a game out of it with a Matron for Ringleader but he missed completely on the Ringleader.
Game 2 was a very similar situation. I had Nature's Claim for his first Vial but he had a second. He was stuck on one mana for quite some time and my Linvala held off his Sharpshooter. Eventually he drew a second land and was able to cycle Incinerator to get rid of my Linvala. After that it was all downhill for me.
He mulled to four for game 3 I got a quick one with Linvala.
I imagine Goblins is normally a rough matchup for Maverick so I think I got lucky to get a win against it.
Round 8: Andy Park with Storm
Game 1 all I had was a couple guys including a Pridemage when he tried to go off. He played Ad Nauseam at a pretty healthy fifteen or sixteen life but with only a Lotus Petal in play for mana. Unfortunately for Andy he had a terrible sequence of flips and had to stop at two life. He had flipped very few mana sources amounting to basically just a Lion's Eye Diamond and Polluted Delta. I think he forgot about Pridemage and played his LED before fetching so I could Mage the LED in response. I'm not sure if he could have even gone off if he hadn't played the LED but that sealed it.
I mulled to four or five game 2 looking for a Teeg or Thalia. He stormed me out with Past in Flames in short order. I was unaware of the Past in Flames kill originally so I brought in my graveyard hate for game 3.
In game 3 I got Thalia and Teeg in play for a quick one.
Round 9: Samuel Chan with Maverick
I was on the play for game 1 and was able to play a tempo game early. I had Knight on two and Plow for his Knight. I ended up with an active Mother of Runes and didn't let him stabilize.
Game 2 I was the one in trouble early. Samuel had an active Jitte on turn 3. I had to slow down my game and wait until turn 4 where I Zenithed for Pridemage to kill his Jitte. In the meantime Samuel had assembled a formidable ground team of Ooze and Knight. I got down a Fauna Shaman but my Knights weren't big enough to tangle with his. I ended up stabilizing the board with Maze of Ith and Scryb Ranger + Dryad Arbor blocking and bouncing every turn at a precarious two life. Eventually I was able to fetch up Linvala and start to lock him out. After I got Linvala down I fetched up some Wastelands and took care of his white sources to avoid a legend ruling.
We ended up going to time before I could start attacking. The game ended in a draw giving me a win for the match.
Quarterfinals: Crispin Allen with Storm
Being able to see the decklists prior to playing here was huge. Crispin was playing an interesting build of Storm with the Burning Wishes in the board and no outs to Teeg or Thalia in the main save for two Cabal Therapy. After board things would get interesting. He would be able to bring in a bunch of Dread of Nights and Wishes to go get Infest and maybe Chain of Vapor.
I had Thalia in my opener game 1 which made things simple.
Game 2 I had a really tough keep. It was double Macabre Teeg Karakas Ooze and two other nonlands. I kept since Karakas protects Teeg from Infest and he basically had to have two Dread of Night to get out from under Teeg. The Macabre are also very good if he tries to go for Past in Flames or for shorting him when he goes for Cabal Ritual with only seven or eight cards in the graveyard.
I drew the land for Teeg and he went for Infest. I bounced Teeg with Karakas and replayed. He found two Dread of Nights pretty quickly but I had Fauna Shaman and Ooze to bring the beatdown. He ended up trying to go off so I shorted a Cabal Ritual with my first Macabre. He Infernal Tutored cracking LED and discarding Past in Flames with a lot of mana floating but I was feeling pretty good with the other Macabre in hand. I also had enough to activate Ooze for one. I let the Tutor resolve since I could get rid of most of his graveyard if he went for Past in Flames. He got LED and played it though so all I had to do was respond by removing the Past in Flames with Ooze.
Semifinals: Travis Gibson with RUG Delver
Ah my only loss in the Swiss and where my tournament would eventually end. This match was covered rather well on camera here. The match was short and I actually missed a huge play at the end of game 3. When I had Shaman Ranger and Heath in play and Travis attacked with his two Mongeese if I fetched Dryad Arbor and then blocked Arbor on one and Shaman and Ranger on the other I would have been in much better position. He couldn't use Lavamancer without shrinking his Mongeese. I could then have bounced the Arbor and fetched an Ooze with Fauna Shaman. I could untap play Cavern on Ooze and play Ooze with two green up. Depending on how quickly his Delver flipped I could have had real shot at winning from there.
I was really hoping to win here and face my goody-good twin Reid in the finals. But alas we both lost and it was not to be. Congratulations to Travis for taking down the whole thing.
Going forward I feel Maverick has an awesome position in the metagame. Most people would be surprised at how much game it has against the unfair decks in the format. I think Maverick is favored against just about anything other than U/W Control and some off the wall combo decks. The main draw is how consistent the deck is. Maverick can consistently execute a variety of different game plans depending on what is needed. It also has a lot of redundancy and as a result not only doesn't mulligan much but also mulligans well when it does.
Aside from the usual list changes due to expected field I wouldn't change much about the deck if I had to play this in a tournament again tomorrow. Cards that I would consider trimming from the main are Scryb Ranger and Fauna Shaman. Once you cut Fauna Shaman Stoneforge Mystic also loses a lot of value. Ranger is at its best against RUG but it so rarely lives long enough to make it better than something like another Scavenging Ooze. One thing that I'd like to explore would be a more Fauna Shaman centric version to abuse Loyal Retainers for Elesh Norn or Iona. I'm not sure if it would be worth diluting the main plan to enable that line though.
Thanks for reading everyone and follow me @oronhubbard on Twitter if you want to keep up with me.