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Legacy No-Green Four-Color Control – Deck Guide

Over the past couple of years, control decks have really centered around the Bant shard, primarily as a result of cards like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. Black-based control decks have all but completely fallen by the wayside. However, in the Legacy Showcase Challenge this past weekend, Magic Online player Nooxtom piloted a Four-Color Control deck that eschewed green in favor of a heavier black base. To me, this was exciting because this deck gave me some old school Legacy vibes and it’s nice to see that a deck like this still has legs in Legacy. Today, I want to go over this deck and evaluate what makes this particular combination of cards effective at the moment.

Let’s start with the deck list and plan.

 

 

 

Legacy Four-Color Control by Nooxtom

 

Header - The Game Plan

This is a classic Legacy midrange/control deck. It plays a ton of ways to remove creatures, disrupt your opponent’s hand and strategy and a significant number of ways to generate card advantage. The goal of the deck is to slowly grind your opponent’s resources down until they have very little left to work with. While winning the game is an afterthought here, once your opponent has been two-for-one’d a sufficient number of times, a couple of Snapcaster Mages can finish the job in due time. It can sideboard to accommodate any matchup you might expect and is a very versatile deck in the format.

A lot of the cards here are calling back to days past, so let’s take a look at the cards in the deck and understand how they fit in.

 

Header - Card Choices

Snapcaster MageBaleful Strix

This is a classic suite of value creatures that we don’t often see these days. This kind of incremental value has been superseded by cards like Uro that generate more value overall and clock your opponents hard. That being said, Snapcaster Mage is still one of the most powerful creatures of all time and in a deck with a ton of spells, it can really do a lot of work. Flashing back Expressive Iterations and Hymn to Tourachs will certainly leave your opponents buried in card advantage. I think one of the best things about Snapcaster right now is that Swords to Plowshares is exceptionally good, so having an extra four copies of that is critical.

I wrote about Baleful Strix somewhat recently when I wrote about different Ragavan decks. It’s a strong card that does ostensibly handle a lot of what the creature decks are presenting. The problem is that Lightning Bolt can still clear the way for a Murktide Regent to clock in for eight, which may leave you far enough behind that the two-for-one wasn’t as relevant. That being said, it’s a meaningful road block and in a deck built like this, Strix will really contribute to leaving them down on cards.

One of the issues with this creature suite is that these are functionally your only ways to win. Once your opponent is down to few resources, this won’t be a big deal, but it’s important to keep in mind. It can be challenging to play against combo decks when you don’t have the pressure to back up your disruption as they can rebuild over time.

Teferi, Time RavelerJace, the Mind Sculptor

Teferi, Time Raveler has been a stable force in Legacy for some time now. This deck runs a few more copies than most Teferi decks, but this deck gets to take advantage of the +1 more than most. Casting Hymn to Tourach on your opponent’s turn is a brutal line and if they don’t have many cards in hand, this is pretty likely to just lock up the game. It serves a variety of other roles, as well, slowing down opponents and generating value off of your ETB creatures.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor, on the other hand, is just a strong, if not clunky, card. It doesn’t have anywhere near the potency it once did but it’s still a great way to take over a game where you have disrupted your opponent into dust. Again, it’s always a bit sad to see Jace fall by the wayside, but there are significantly more efficient cards that can generate advantages in the format these days.

Expressive Iteration

When I wrote about Expressive Iteration a few months ago, this was exactly the kind of shell I expected to adopt the card. Splashing for Iteration isn’t new, but it’s perfectly suited for a deck with a ton of cheap interaction and proactive disruption. This has quickly become the best way to generate card advantage in the format and it’s difficult to picture a better set up for the card than this one. I still don’t think we’ve seen the depth of what Iteration can do and this is certainly one of the best card draw spells in Legacy.

Inquisition of KozilekHymn to Tourach

Seeing discard spells show up at the top table in a Legacy tournament is exciting business these days. While Expressive Iteration does provide decks with a nice way to recoup the disadvantage caused by discard, Veil of Summer is at an all-time low and in conjunction with efficient removal spells, these spells will really let you make sure your opponent can’t safely develop. Inquisition of Kozilek over Thoughtseize is interesting, especially with Murktide in the format. It is a lot more mindful of your life total though, which does matter in a deck that plans on flashing it back with Snapcaster Mage. Hymn to Tourach is a relic of the past that can still pack a potent punch. It’s a bit clunky these days and this deck may occasionally struggle to consistently cast it, but curving discard spells into each other is still a powerful strategy in 2021.

BrainstormPonder

While this suite of cantrips doesn’t usually need any introduction, it is worth noting that the full eight cantrips is even more important in a deck with four Snapcaster Mages

Force of Will

Force of Negation is a bit weak at the moment, but Force of Will still stands tall. You don’t really want to play more countermagic in this deck since it doesn’t work particularly well with Expressive Iteration.

Swords to PlowsharesPrismatic Ending

Some combination of these removal spells is among the best removal suite in the format at the moment, as indicated by this deck essentially splashing white for these spells. 

Flooded StrandPolluted DeltaMisty RainforestUnderground SeaScrublandTundraVolcanic Island

This mana base makes a lot of sense to me. You need to be black-heavy because of Hymn to Tourach and a need to cast Inquisition early. Blue lands are critical for this deck since many of the cards in this deck touch blue, so all of your fetches need to get your blue duals. Scrubland allows you to cast Baleful Strix off of Volcanic Island and it, and since you’re just splashing Iteration, you don’t need a Badlands. That being said, Badlands and Tundra would let you cast Strix and Iteration (which Scrubland doesn’t allow), so there could be some merit to it (but be sure to change the fetches around if you do that).

Wasteland

Wasteland is greedy in a four-color deck with stringent mana requirements, but having a pair of Wastes can really help you not lose to random problematic lands, like Karakas with Ragavan.

 

Header - The Sideboard

Prismatic Ending

This card has just been so incredible in Legacy. It answers just about everything so if you’re concerned with a thing, Ending is probably fine to bring in.

Force of Negation

While Force of Negation isn’t good enough for the main deck, it’s still an incredible sideboard card. Having three means that most decks that are trying to kill you on turn one will have difficulty doing so.

Hydroblast

Hydroblast can be really important right now with Ragavan all over the place. It also counters Expressive Iteration, so it’s particularly effective against Delver decks right now.

Meltdown

It’s funny that Meltdown has picked up so much in popularity recently, but it makes a ton of sense. It’s great against Urza’s Saga and decks like 8-Cast, so I love seeing it here.

Nihil Spellbomb

Nihil Spellbomb is a nice sideboard card because it’s effective (if only a touch slow) but also generates clean value. This makes it a great card to sideboard against fair decks with a graveyard element (such as Uro decks) since it still generates value while it slows them down.

Plague Engineer

Plague Engineer is back in vogue with Elves picking up in popularity and I’m happy to see it. I could actually see playing another copy in the board but there’s not too much space to fit it in, but you can tune to your discretion.

PyroblastRed Elemental Blast

We’ve seen this in Legacy before: you splash red for one card in the main deck and you gain the ability to sideboard in Pyroblasts. This is still the best sideboard card in Legacy and has only gotten better over the past few months. Try not to leave home without it.

 

Header - Tips and Tricks

  • While it’s clear that Teferi can bounce Snapcaster Mage, so can Jace, so if you desperately need a removal spell and have one in the yard, that’s a valid line.
  • Building on that, both your planeswalkers can reset Plague Engineer in case you need to name another creature.
  • This is less of a trick and more of a tip: be mindful about your lands. You really need to be deliberate when searching up your colors to make sure you can cast your spells.
  • Also, this isn’t a deck that needs to aggressively Wasteland. Your spells are expensive, so it may be better suited helping you cast spells.

 

Header - The Sideboard

Izzet Delver

Izzet Delver

Out: 4 Force of Will, 3 Inquisition of Kozilek, 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

In: 2 Pyroblast, 2 Red Elemental Blast, 1 Hydroblast, 2 Plague Engineer, 1 Prismatic Ending

You want to trade one-for-one and two-for-one as much as possible here. You can definitely grind them down, but they can absolutely keep up with that. Be careful about Court of Cunning, as that can easily steal a game against you if you’re unprepared. I like Hymn more than Inquisition because even in the face of Ragavan, it lets you maintain an advantage and keep up with their Iterations.

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Bant Control

Bant Control

Out: 4 Swords to Plowshares, 3 Force of Will

In: 2 Pyroblast, 2 Red Elemental Blast, 2 Nihil Spellbomb, 1 Prismatic Ending

I could see a world where you actually want to board out Hymns, since they’re poor against Uro and Bant might have Veil of Summer. However, I think with Nihil Spellbomb you can keep Uro in check and you can just play a long, grindy game against them. You might want to swap the Force/Swords numbers to manage Uro more effectively, but I think having a single copy of Force may go a long way.

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Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes

Out: 2 Force of Will, 1 Hymn to Tourach

In: 2 Plague Engineer, 1 Prismatic Ending

In this matchup, drawing too many Hymns or Forces can be a liability. They still serve a purpose and, if well-timed, can be very effective, even if they’re not always the best. This will be a grindy matchup and even though you can kill everything, not having a meaningful clock may make this tough at times. Regardless, value disruptive hands with multiple lands highly and you’ll be able to get to the midgame pretty safely. This matchup is more challenging than it looks, though, so be on your toes.

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Doomsday

Doomsday

Out: 4 Swords to Plowshares, 2 Prismatic Ending, 1 Baleful Strix

In: 3 Force of Negation, 2 Pyroblast, 2 Red Elemental Blast

Your clock is slow but the disruption is high, so that should give you a real chance to survive the early game and start grinding them down with Hymns. Doomsday can keep up with a lot of midrange strategies but discard spells are quite effective against them, so that should give you more of an edge than some other blue decks.

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