At this point, there is a decent difference between the online and the paper metagame. This means that in order to get a full grasp of what not only exists but is at the top of any given field, we need to examine both online and paper results. Two weekends ago on October 23, there was a fairly sizable Legacy event run in the U.K. at Axion Now which was won by Andy Fernandes playing an innovative Naya Stompy deck. This deck utilizes a ton of newer cards and makes use of an initiative card that hasn’t been implemented online: White Plume Adventurer.
I think this deck looks awesome and it’s really cool to see a deck built like this succeed in the format. Usually these decks tend to be prison decks but this strategy is more of a beatdown deck that is trying to cast creatures ahead of schedule. Let’s take a look at the list and see what it’s trying to do.
1 Jegantha, the Wellspring 4 Ancient Tomb 4 Archon of Emeria 2 Battlefield Forge 2 Brushland 4 City of Traitors 4 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker/Reflection of Kiki-Jiki 1 Forest (277) 4 Lotus Petal 4 Mawloc 4 Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes 1 Mossfire Valley 1 Mountain (275) 4 Mox Diamond 1 Plains (269) 1 Plateau 1 Relic of Progenitus (Retro) 1 Savannah 1 Shadowspear 4 Swords to Plowshares 4 Thought-Knot Seer 4 Urza's Saga 4 White Plume Adventurer Sideboard 2 By Force 2 Choke 1 Jegantha, the Wellspring 2 Kozilek's Return 2 Path to Exile 2 Pyroblast 2 Trinisphere 2 Unlicensed Hearse
This deck’s plan is fairly straightforward: curve out powerful threats as quickly as possible. The threats in this deck are all fairly potent and by utilizing mana acceleration, casting them one or two turns earlier than they would be otherwise is a great way to leave opponents behind quickly. Instead of lock pieces, this deck utilizes additional creatures that will make the lives of opponents who are trying to play fair very difficult. The goal is to gain board position and maintain it through the early and midgame and even if you fall behind, there are plenty of creatures in this deck that can easily regain your board position.
Usually it’s difficult for decks to be able to play Jegantha since a lot of decks want cards like Force of Will or Chalice of the Void. While there is a precedent for decks like this to play Chalice, this deck is leaning away from lock pieces in lieu of playing actual threats, which opens the door for Jegantha to be a viable option. As we’ve seen, having a companion (even a fairly weak one) is a significant benefit since it adds a lot of late-game consistency. I don’t think it’s worth going too far out of the way to support Jegantha, but it’s not too high of a cost to meet the requirements here so I think this is a great inclusion for the deck.
Archon is a “hatebear” that doesn’t show up that much in Legacy, but it’s actually very effective when it resolves. The problem with the card is that it’s not that effective if it comes down on turn three since they will have had plenty of time to set up already. However, on turn one, it can really put a wrench in your opponent’s plans. There are a decent amount of matchups where it’s not that impactful, but even then a 2 /3 flyer is still pretty decent.
Thought-Knot Seer used to be the bane of the format and one of the most terrifying cards to play against. It has fallen off a lot over the past few years, namely because of cards like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Murktide Regent. However, Seer is still an extremely potent card that can leave opponents in shambles. It rounds out the threat suite fairly nicely and attacks opponents from a different angle, which is exactly what this deck wants.
While Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes was added to Magic Online, as I discussed last week, White Plume Adventurer is one of the Commander cards that hasn’t been added yet. In paper, it’s starting to put up some real results and it’s an amazing fit for this deck. The initiative is a very powerful mechanic that’s difficult to disrupt and the fact that it comes along with this fairly aggressively costed creature is a huge boon. The untap ability has some worth but primarily this is here to get the initiative going quickly and start to generate a significant amount of advantage.
While Fable has really taken over just about every other format, it has had a slow start in Legacy (outside of Red Prison, of course). This is the perfect fit for the card since it applies pressure, sorts through dead cards in hands and threatens to copy some very powerful creatures. The beauty of this card is that the initial Goblin is very threatening to play against since the ability to make a Treasure every turn is very potent, so it will often eat a removal spell and open the door for other creatures (or Kiki-Jiki) to take over the game.
I expected Mawloc to show up in some capacity in Legacy, most notably in Green Sun’s Zenith decks, but I didn’t expect it to show up in this manner. After seeing it, it’s not too surprising since the card is fairly powerful and versatile, especially if it can be cast for a larger number early. The fact that this Legacy format is so defined by creatures makes a card like Mawloc more appealing. Killing a creature and leaving a 4/4 or 5/5 behind is a great way to take over a game quickly.
As I covered last week, Minsc & Boo is really making its mark in the format. While cards like this do tend to make more of an impact in blue decks, this card is a perfect fit for this deck. It applies a ton of pressure and generates a significant amount of card advantage, which adds a decent amount of dimensionality to the deck. The fact that this deck can cast the card as early as turn two (or I suppose turn one if you’re fortunate enough) makes it even better, and I think Minsc & Boo will be a mainstay of decks like this for a long time.
You can’t mess with the best removal spell in the format and it’s no surprise to see it here. In a lot of ways, this could have been space dedicated to a lock piece, such as Chalice of the Void, but I think there’s a lot of merit in leaning into removal over prison in this format at the moment.
This is the Saga toolbox. It’s a small toolbox overall but it does cover a fair amount of bases. Relic of Progenitus goes a long way against any graveyard decks and can always cantrip at the very worst. Shadowspear helps make your threats even more threatening and makes it almost impossible for opponents to race you.
Mana acceleration is great in Legacy and not every deck gets to take advantage of these cards. While you are putting yourself behind on cards to use either of these artifacts, basically every card you cast ahead of schedule allows you to pull far enough ahead that it doesn’t matter. In addition, these are extra ways to activate Urza’s Saga ahead of schedule, and that’s a big game in Legacy. Overall, I think both of these artifacts are fantastic in this deck.
The Mana Base
This is a fairly odd mana base to look at by Legacy standards but overall it makes a lot of sense. The traditional fetch/dual mana base would work if not for Thought-Knot Seer. I think there’s not that much of a downside to having four painlands in the deck since they largely function as tri-lands (with the occasional cost of dealing some damage to you). The Mossfire Valley looks extra weird but it allows you to cast Minsc & Boo and Mawloc off of Urza’s Saga and Ancient Tomb, so I think it makes sense overall.
Like most stompy decks, these “Sol” lands are at the core of the whole strategy. Easily allowing you to cast just about every card a full turn ahead of schedule for almost no cost is massive and it doesn’t take long to bury opponents in board presence through this approach. While Ancient Tomb is quite a bit better than City, having the maximum number of Sol lands is really important and will help ensure that you always apply as much pressure as you can.
Urza’s Saga is in the same camp as Uro to me: what more can be said about this card? It’s an incredible threat that’s difficult to interact with and can tutor up a small toolbox of cards that can totally swing games against a lot of opponents.
Even in this high-powered Legacy format, Choke is still a devastating card against the blue decks, so I like having a haymaker here.
There are a ton of viable options here, but playing the one that gets around Mother of Runes is a totally reasonable choice.
Extra copies of Swords to Plowshares are a great way to shore up your creature matchups.
I’m a bit surprised not to see more copies of this card, especially since you have Fable of the Mirror-Breaker to sift through excess copies. You do have Choke, which eats up some anti-blue sideboard space, and two Pyroblasts can still go a long way.
This deck is already set up like a Prison deck so slotting in Trinisphere against decks like Delver or combo is a great choice.
Hearse is an incredible card that’s really annoying for decks that rely on the graveyard to play against. It’s not quite as devastating as Rest in Peace, but the fact that it threatens to attack them later in the game is a big deal.
Tips and Tricks
- The initiative is like the monarch in that you will lose it if they deal combat damage to you, so make sure you try to resolve it on a somewhat stable board.
- Fable’s backside (Kiki-Jiki) can copy creatures at instant speed, so you can copy Thought-Knot Seer on their draw step to lock them out of some meaningful draws.
Essentially, this plan is trimming on your cards that trade poorly with Lightning Bolt and bringing in interaction. Cutting Petal against the Wasteland deck might seem weird, but you are significantly reducing your curve and having too many mana sources may leave you liable to flood. With this much removal, you should be able to keep up with them in a long game, just try to play around Daze where you can (but don’t play around it too much) and get one of your sticky threats in play at the first safe opportunity.
Out: 4 Swords to Plowshares
I could see a world where you want Unlicensed Hearse to deal with Uro/Mystic Sanctuary, but a lot of your cards are good, so I don’t know if it’s necessary. Overall, just getting almost any of your threats in play should make your opponent’s life difficult, so try to hit the ground running.
Out: 4 Archon of Emeria
In general, a lot of these games will come down to race situations. You both have some scary starts, but in general, I think you will have an edge because you don’t have any impactful lock pieces to draw. I like bringing in more interaction from the board and I would anticipate them bringing out Chalice of the Void, which will hopefully make Path to Exile a bit better.
Out: 4 Swords to Plowshares
Doomsday has some starts that you can’t really interact with outside of a fast Thought-Knot Seer or Archon. In general, if you can’t find disruption, the best approach is to pressure them as much as possible, which can make it awkward for them to go off. All-in-all, this is a tricky matchup in which you don’t have much meaningful interaction, so try to keep a reasonable hand and hope your disruption and pressure are good enough.