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This Week in Legacy: Ovinosping, Hareruya Legacy Challenge and GP Vegas Preparation


Hello and welcome to another packed edition of This Week in Legacy. This week we'll be running by (per usual) a bunch of recent events and highlighting new technology. I'll also talk pretty in-depth about a few decks I haven't profiled quite enough but expect to be popular contenders in GP Vegas.

In fact, let's look into that now.

GP Vegas Preparation

We've gone pretty thoroughly through a wide swathe of the metagame in a few past articles. I think most important are the articles outlining GP Louisville's expectations (part one and two), though these are somewhat dated (most notably, Miracles is gone!) and my previous article on a few decks to watch out for during the primordial post-Top era is also pretty useful.

Here's a neat little table of the most popular decks I expect to be in full-force throughout GP Vegas, and a few of which I'll be going through over this article and next week's.

Tempo Midrange Control Prison Combo/Fair Hybrid Combo
Grixis Delver Bant Deathblade 4c Control Death & Taxes Elves Storm
BUG Delver 4c Loam Miracles Dragon Stompy Burn Sneak & Show
UR Delver   Grixis Control Mono-Red Sneak Attack Lands Reanimator
      Eldrazi Stompy Infect Turbo Depths
        Food Chain  
        Aluren  

Of all these, Grixis Delver I expect to be the most heavily-played deck, though with a variety of variations within the shell of Deathrite/Delver/Lightning Bolt, be it the lists of LewisCBR featuring Pyromancer and Stifle (which are cropping up as incredibly popular), the more "classic" builds featuring Cabal Therapy in the main, or even lists eschewing Young Pyromancer for more Gurmag Angler or other Delve creatures such as my own. BUG Delver, ala the lists of malimujo, are also a pretty reasonable choice, but certainly can feel a bit clunkier and slow out the gates.

UR Delver

The first deck I'd like to more closely profile is the other Delver deck, UR Delver, or as some like to call it, UR Prowess.

What's New?

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Olle Rade is the pace setter for many UR Delver lists moving forward, and his adoption of Soul-Scar Mage is certainly something to take note of. I've already mentioned its strength against large creatures such as Tarmogoyf and Gurmag Angler, and Olle also partners it with Grim Lavamancer in this list too. Most importantly though, it keeps this list incredibly low-to-the-ground and quickly able to flood the boards with threats, who, if they stick, are going to be doing considerable amounts of damage. With Miracles less of a deck to fear, having this attitude is certainly a little more reasonable, and this deck is also considerably better without Counterbalance relevant.

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Although not featured in Olle's list, other players have looked towards Bedlam Reveler and Cryptic Serpent as late-game bombs to finish the game. Reveler has typically been the go-to card in this slot before Amonkhet, seen as a Treasure Cruise replacement for the people who missed the glory days. However, he has often proved somewhat clunky and difficult to cast, especially when the deck leans on Island as its primary basic land of choice. Cryptic Serpent makes for an easier card to cast, and has a better body on its own, but I'd say each are relatively even in terms of their pros and cons. Other cards found in this slot include Snapcaster Mage and True-Name Nemesis. Young Pyromancer has also been getting a little bit of love from people feeling Stormchaser Mage as somewhat lackluster.

How Do I Beat It?

UR Delver can be a challenging deck to beat when it has its fast, aggressive draws. When it floods the board with creatures and then chains cantrips and Bolts down your blockers, it can feel incredibly fearsome. But when the deck's threats are gone it can be a little less threatening and, like against most Delver decks, simple point-and-click removal (especially one-mana removal) is great to blunt UR Delver's initial assault and force the deck to run out of steam. It's also important to time your removal appropriately. Killing creatures on the opponent's end of turn or during ones own main phase can prevent taking a boatload more damage from a Daze cast mid-combat, triggering Prowess. Think of the Prowess creatures more like Infect creatures. 

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The deck can also feel like it lives and dies on the power of Price of Progress. And hence, having a mana base that can support basic lands is of real value against UR Delver, and you should be aiming to fetch out these basics as soon as possible. Don't be afraid to use Daze and Wasteland (on yourself!) in order to limit the power of Price of Progress.

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The most crippling thing to be doing against UR Delver is stopping their velocity, their ability to chain cantrips one after the other. Chalice of the Void, Sanctum Prelate and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben all make the deck non-functional or slow to a crawl, removing the greatest asset of the deck, its speed. Beware of sidebaord cards like Smash to Smithereens, however, that can make these lock piece cards a little sketchier. 

Moving on to the midrange decks, this deck is quite an up-and-comer, as told via Julian's analysis of MKM Frankfurt where it had one of the highest win percentages across all decks. Of course, I'm talking about...

Bant Deathblade

(Somebody please change how it's called on Goldfish -_-)

Reid Duke sprung GP Louisville with his innovative True-Name BUG list, which was actually derived from Bant lists that had been taking down many tournaments across the world. Reid's change was splashing Black even harder, adding Leovold, Emissary of Trest and some number of Abrupt Decay, which had already started occurring for many other players too once Conspiracy: Take the Crown debuted. He eventually cut Stoneforge entirely, but it turns out the Kor Artificer still has a great place in the deck, especially with sweepers a little less popular. The deck also capitalizes on all of its mana dorks to fix its otherwise atrocious-looking mana base that has nary a basic in sight.

This deck is a monster at preying on fair decks, particularly Delver decks. Its mana dorks can push through Delver's mana denial, and then its three mana bombs (and Stoneforge!) can just be too much for a Delver deck to compete with, especially with Daze backing them up. Its equipment destroys most creature decks. And it has access to cards like Jace and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to grind with the rest of the format. There is a lot to love.

What's New?

Other than the aforementioned Leovold, the deck has also started to refine its removal suite. Swords to Plowshares is now leaned on harder than Abrupt Decay with Counterbalance out of the mix, and the deck isn't that soft to other permanent-based hate like Chalice of the Void anyway since slamming three-drops tends to make that less of an issue.

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The deck has also occasionally been seen with some oddball three drops in the mix - Gideon of the Trials being one of the newer additions, and honestly a little bit suspect. I'm sure he complements the assortment of hatebears in the sideboard, however. And these decks certainly go heavy on those - Maxtortion's above list features Containment Priest, Canonist and Meddling Mage, along with a suite of Thoughtseize and Flusterstorm.

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How Do I Beat It?

The first way to punish people durdling around with turboing out True-Names and Stoneforges is to just throw a Griselbrand or Tendrils of Agony at them. Leovold, Emissary of Trest provides some disruption, but is likely insufficient game one to truly let the deck punish combo. The sideboard, of course, makes things a little more difficult, and this is a matchup where the power of Abrupt Decay is actually well appreciated. Being able to remove hatebears uncounterably and then strip countermagic from the Bant player's hand is a little easier than the opponent being able to use a fistful of countermagic to protect their queen from a Pyroclasm.

Speaking of Pyroclasm, sweepers are incredibly effective against the deck, especially non-Red ones. Toxic Deluge immediately springs to mind as the perfect answer to a deck with tonnes of mana dorks and True-Names. It also very effectively gets around Leovold. Smaller effects like Marsh Casualties, Make Obsolete and Profit // Loss are also quite worthwhile, but depending on the boardstate your mileage may vary. I also like Forked Bolt, as this can not only clean up some dorks left on the board, but can also just nab a Stoneforge or Deathrite mana-efficiently.

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White sweepers are also obviously nuts. The deck was always soft to Terminus, and, although it's less prominent, Miracles is still alive and ready to sweep these little dorks away. Supreme Verdict can also do a number on the deck similarly.

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I also really like Red Elemental Blast effects against this deck; it's such a tempo-positive play using one mana to counterattack the opponent's True-Name or Leovold bomb before it can do any damage.

Expect outlines of a few more decks (and a breakdown of May's metagame post-Top!) in the next edition. There'll be lots of helpful information coming up for GP Vegas, I promise.

Ovinospring

The Ovinospring event is one of the larger Legacy events in Europe. Held in Italy, 108 people participated in this event. The Top 8 broke down as below, and find the lists here.

Deck Player Placing
ANT Audrer Boulic 1
Grixis Delver Alfonso Zarzoso 2
Elves Maurizio Dominic 3
Grixis Delver Riccardo Saino 4
Death & Taxes Michelangelo Scarmato 5
Grixis Control Andrea Boccia 6
Dragon Stompy Corrado Anchisi 7
Turbo Depths Marco Amateis 8

The first-placing ANT list interestingly splashed Green for not Abrupt Decay and Xantid Swarm, but instead for Carpet of Flowers to push through the soft countermagic of Delver decks. Another interesting list was Grixis Control - somewhat like Czech Pile but opting out of Leovold for a more aggressive beater in Gurmag Angler, but still retaining the core of Snapcaster, Strix, and the all-mighty Kolaghan's Command.

The most interesting list is that of Michelangelo Scarmato, however:

There are three interesting additions to this list:

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Main deck Council's Judgment is something that has been seen before in Death & Taxes, but is incredibly pertinent currently against True-Name Nemesis. Many have opted for Orzhov Pontiff as a Recruiter target (notably: Michangelo didn't include Recruiter!) to deal with the annoying Merfolk Rogue, but this of course requires a skewing of ones mana base in order to accommodate it. Council's Judgment, although having poor synergy with Thalia, is an incredibly flexible tool for not only dealing with True-Name, but also other problem permanents. It's been a staple of my sideboard since its printing, and I can definitely understand its main deck power.

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Gisela, the Broken Blade largely fell to obscurity once Palace Jailer and Pia and Kiran Nalaar (in Red-splashing versions) came to prominence. However, Jailer can look a little lackluster when faced with a True-Name or Baleful Strix, with the Monarchy easy to lose in these situations. Gisela, on the other hand, races True-Names and cuts through Strix with first strike. Her main fear, however, is getting tempoed out with a simple Lightning Bolt, though Mother of Runes and Karakas may help with that.

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Eight-and-a-Half-Tails is an odd one. A very mana-intensive "fifth Mom", I'm a little unimpressed by it in the two drop slot and would sooner prefer a simple beatstick or even utility creature such as Containment Priest or Ethersworn Canonist. I can imagine it being an incredible late-game mana sink, since the protection ability can be activated twice (unlike Mom, who can only activate once) but six mana is quite a bit.

Hareruya Legacy Challenge

The Hareruya Legacy Challenge (or, as Google Translate tells me, the "9th Legacy Challenger God Decision Fight") featured 298 players (that's a lot) battling it out for a spot at the top. The Top 16 broke down as follows:

Deck Player Placing
Sneak & Show Orimo Yuto 1
Lands Nakagawa Tango 2
Dragon Stompy Kikuchi Yuudai 3-4
Esper Delver Katakawa Souta 3-4
UR Delver Kusafuka Takuma 5-8
Grixis Delver Hirano Masayuki 5-8
Jund Hagawara Noriyuki 5-8
Grixis Delver Oka Yousuke 5-8
UW Stoneblade Matsumoto Yuki 9
Sneak & Show Meguro Masahiko 10
Elves Hosokawa Yuuya 11
Grixis Delver Kono Toru 12
Miracles Yoshida Kei 13
Death & Taxes Tsubouchi Kuniya 14
Infect Nakamura Masashi 15
Mono-Black Reanimator Nakano Akinori 16

Japan certainly has a knack for Sneak & Show, and this took out the title and 10th place, both lists touting main deck Cunning Wish and Omniscience. I'm sure the second-placing Lands player had quite a bit of an uphill battle in the finals, despite the spicy additions of Sheltered Thicket, Sylvan Scrying, and sideboard Drop of Honey!

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Meanwhile, Dragon Stompy has continued to show that the new shell can make a deep run through a tournament, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance has done a lot to remedy the deck's variance issues. This list leaned heavily on Ensnaring Bridge and Hazoret the Fervent to lock out the opponent, though the omission of Sin Prodder and inclusion of Goblin Rabblemaster certainly looks a little odd - as does the sideboard Jokulhaups as a big red reset button!

Also notable is the new Miracles list taking its first high-profile Paper finish!

Katakawa Souta showed that Esper Delver has the strength to tussel with its big Grixis brothers in the format, though the oddball manabase (only one Tundra?!) and sixty-two card main deck make me feel like, although this list has a lot of potential, there's also a lot of cleaning up that needs to be done. I'm really loving the hatebear-heavy sideboard, along with heavy-hitters like Zealous Persecution. I'm also impressed by Lingering Souls in the main or side of these lists, increasing threat density while still keeping Delver flips high. UR Delver also found its way into the Top 8 and like many previous Japanese tournaments we've profiled, did not play the suite of Prowess creatures but instead opted for a tempo gameplan. Main deck Set Adrift is certainly an exciting one.

Jund keeps Junding along in Japan, and recent additions like Grim Flayer and Chandra, Torch of Defiance give the deck a little bit of a boost. I also really like the synergy Flayer has with the Punishing Fire engine.

Now to the spicer decks in this tournament:

This is Blue-White Stoneblade splashing colourless cards in Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher! This is really spicy, especially the Dazes (which capitalize on the burst of mana from Sol Lands) as well as Stubborn Denial, a card that I've been wanting to play in Legacy for quite sometime (RUG Delver featuring Mandrills and Goyf and Denial anyone?). It can either be a bad Spell Pierce or a brutal hard counter once beat sticks are on-board. There might be a shell to investigate deeper with this list. Even going Mono-Blue, for Skyspawner, Drowner of Hope and others. But nonetheless, counterspells, Swords to Plowshare, and Eldrazi are an unlikely combination. That's pretty sweet.

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No one would've expected Magus of the Will to make a Top 16 either...

This takes the Tin Fins logic to a further extreme. Not only is Griselbrand and Yawgmoth's Bargain in this deck, but if Magus of the Will is reanimated via Shallow Grave or Corpse Dance, its haste makes it into a Yagmoth's Will. Using these tools (and I'm sure there's a variety of intricate lines this deck has) along with Infernal Tutor, Lion's Eye Diamond, and Tendrils of Agony, this deck can Storm off incredibly. The disruption package of this deck is also incredibly impressive - a full nine discard spells of Thoughtseize, Unmask, and the forever-stellar Collective Brutality all make this list more than a glass cannon. Is a Tin Fins-esque shell the place for Magus of the Will? Maybe!

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June 5th Legacy Challenge

Lastly, we'll have a look at the weekly Legacy Challenge data!

Find all the deck's here.

Although Grixis Delver certainly dominated this 80+ person tournament, somewhat expectedly, the greatest shining hope was that of Death & Taxes. Scabs, the revered-by-many Thomas Enevoldsen, took down the whole event with his new take on Death & Taxes.

There is no more Recruiter of the Guard in this list. Instead, Enevoldsen has looked to Ancient Tomb to accelerate out three-drop hate pieces like Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Vryn Wingmare, previously deemed too slow for normal Death & Taxes lists. Probably the most impressive synergy is the main deck Containment Priest and Eldrazi Displacer, along with Flickerwisp and Palace Jailer. A lynchpin of the White Eldrazi lists in Vintage and its Eldrazi & Taxes Legacy equivalent, Displacer breaks apart fair matchups. 

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I also really like how Enevoldsen has, unlike Bahra, incorporated Chalice of the Void into the sideboard, allowing him to keep the main deck Swords to Plowshares that are so valuable against Delver and other fair matchups, but still have the very powerful angle of Chalice in the seventy-five.

There is a lot to love with the direction that Enevoldsen has taken the deck. Losing Recruiter of the Guard is a tough pill to swallow, but perhaps Eldrazi Displacer is the way to gain back that lost grind power. I'm definitely going to be trying out Enevoldsen's list in the weeks moving ahead.

Not only did Enevoldsen show Death & Taxes is still a great deck, but so did justinlieberman, Egget and MrBlueSky, all with varying takes on the deck. justinlieberman, like Scabs, opted out of Recruiter of the Guard and instead maxed out on beatstick Mirran Crusader, giving this Death & Taxes list a more aggressive White Weenie bent. Egget played a list a little more stock, though splashed Black a little harder for Orzhov Pontiff in the main and Kambal, Consul of Allocation in the sideboard. Lastly, MrBlueSky found a 4-3 with a list that ups its grinding power by including Dark Confidant, taking the Black splash a step further and opting out of Rishadan Port. This made room for sideboard Thoughtseize, which is pretty exciting, along with Kaya, Ghost Assassin as planeswalker bomb of choice!

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Death & Taxes' death is overstated, my friends. I'd expect the White Weenies to still be crushing at Vegas, with a lot of new technology up its sleeves.

The other interesting list from the Challenge was silviawataru's take on Death's Shadow in Legacy!

silviawataru opted for an entirely straight Blue-Black core (only lightly splashing Green for Deathrite and one sideboard Decay), with no tricky stuff like Street Wraith, Reanimate or Berserk to be found. If anything, it looks like a stock Delver core, with Gurmag Angler and Death's Shadow as the big finisher beatsticks. Snuff Out is a really exciting tempo-positive spell that grows the Shadow, that used to get a lot of Legacy play, and although neat against some creatures, I'm sure there is embarrassing moments against Deathrite Shaman this deck needs to be careful about. Nonetheless, the Death's Shadow hype from Modern has definitely got a lot of people investigating the card's potential in Legacy, and I'm sure there is an excellent shell for it, be it straight Blue-Black, BUG, or Grixis as featured by Bob Huang in the Legacy Premier League.

Conclusion

That's all from me for this week. Here's some great articles and content that's been published throughout the week!

That's... A lot of Legacy!

Join me next week for a deeper run down of what to expect at GP Vegas and a look at May's statistics.

'Til then!

Sean Brown

Email: sean_brown156@hotmail.com
Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I'm Playing This Week

Australian Eternal Masters is what we call our equivalent to Eternal Weekend in our jolly little corner of the planet. And it's coming up this weekend. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I'll be playing Grixis Delver. I've long lamented Young Pyromancer and Gitaxian Probe and have been slamming my Grixis Angler Delver list, taking it to a 4-0 in my recent weekly. My revised list looks like this:

I've been pretty happy with it, slaying some interesting matchups such as Bant Deathblade, Food Chain, Grixis Delver, and Infect throughout last week. One thing that truly scares me is my inability to deal with resolved True-Name Nemesis. Although I have a pile of Pyroblasts in my sideboard, when your plan revolves around Gurmag Angler, the brick wall of True-Name can really be a pain to push through. Maybe I need a Marsh Casualties... But then I'll need to tweak the mana base.

One way to beat True-Name is to just fly over. And that's exactly what good friend Steven Stamopoulos is doing with his Team Australia list, which 4-0'ed alongside me. And honestly, each iteration this list goes through makes it look greater and greater.

The threat base is leaner and leaner, with no more Snapcaster and instead a purely evasive fighting force. I'd be likely to tweak the spell suite, utilizing a second Pierce over the Counterspell and Dismember over one of the Pushes, especially since the deck is flush with Black mana, making Dismember less appalling. But maybe it's actually just unnecessary since Angler can just be evaded anyway.

Nonethelss, me and Steve talk probably for a little too long about our respective lists on the latest episode of The Salt Mine. If you're interested in Grixis Delvering a different way, I highly recommend giving it a listen.

The Spice Corner

Friend James O'Brien has also cooked up an interesting list that he took to a monthly Top 8:

This list eschews the grind power of Black cards for a more aggressively bent Loam list, with a full set of Punishing Fire and Tarmogoyf. I'd be thinking of adding Renegade Rallier as a way to address the deck's lack of grinding power, though Tireless Tracker is certainly a strong addition already included that helps with that. I also want Chandra, Torch of Defiance, though that may be just me being greedy. I nonetheless really like this deviation from stock lists into somewhat uncharted territory, with a mana base that is a little bit leaner. Check out James' incredibly well-written piece going through his entire thought process on his current list here.


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