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Chasing Victory – Legacy: Is That Even a Real Deck?

 


13:52 slearch ok
13:52 slearch playing against mbc this round
13:52 slearch is that even a real deck
13:52 proleps I think that is the subtitle to Legacy
13:52 proleps Legacy: Is that even a real deck

All jokes aside, Legacy coming to Magic Online is the best thing to happen in quite some time. Well, for me anyway. Legacy is a man’s format, where you get to play real cards like Force of Will, Survival of the Fittest, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. Most importantly, the decisions you make actually have a huge impact on the game! I know that’s a weird concept, but it’s actually true.

Counterbalance  

So where to start? The Counterbalance craze has subsided somewhat. Nearly every deck out there has adapted to beat it, and honestly, it wasn’t that hard. If your deck is casting four drops or packing Krosan Grips, Counterbalance probably sucks against you. While it was previously their focus, now they are the ones that need to adapt, and shift their strategy a bit.

I could always fall back on Counterbalance, as I’ve brewed a fair amount with the archetype, but after learning some important lessons last Extended season, I was ready to get aggressive. Not aggressive like Wild Nacatl aggressive (as I got that out of my system), but I mean aggressive like Marit Lage aggressive. In these wide open formats, it’s often better to just force your opponent to react to you rather than trying to control everything they do.

There are just too many vectors of attack out there. You have to fight Wild Nacatl, Reanimate/Dread Return, Counterbalance, and Ad Nauseam. That’s an extremely difficult thing to do, especially in a format where Counterspell isn’t even close to good enough.

Still, the format is still fairly wide open and the MODO metagame was almost certainly going to be unpredictable. Counterbalance is one of my favorite archetypes of all time, and I wanted to play with it a little bit, whether it was viable or not. Who knows, maybe everyone had left their Krosan Grips at home.

I started with AJ Sacher’s list that he used to t8 the 5k in Orlando.

I made a slight change from AJ’s list, which was the third Thopter Foundry instead of the second Sword of the Meek. It doesn’t really matter what combo piece you draw as you probably have to tutor for the second piece, and having the blue card to pitch for Force of Will is nice. Sometimes you can do some neat tricks like activating Top and sacrificing it to Foundry to get a token and not put the Top back in your deck, therefore being able to see a card further with other Tops.

The maindeck was pretty nice, although there wasn’t a tutorable bullet for combo besides Counterbalance. An Ethersworn Canonist or Runed Halo should almost certainly be maindeck. I also wouldn’t have minded adding an extra land, perhaps a Mishra’s Factory.

I really like the manabase, especially the two basic Plains. The Goyf package in the sideboard with a lone Tropical Island was a bit risky. Against creature decks, you typically have to fetch out basics to avoid getting Wastelanded, and once they destroy your one Trop, your future Goyfs are mostly useless (barring any Crucible of Worlds shenanigans, although I tend to board out Crucible vs. faster decks).

Path to Exile was also underwhelming. Merfolk doesn’t really beat you with their creatures. You tend to lose to a combination of Aether Vial with Wastelands or counterspells. Sure, the creatures kill you eventually, but when you’re not interacting in combat, it doesn’t really matter how crappy the dudes are that are killing you.

I wanted a way to kill Vial, and having a sweeper would be nice as well. Ancient Grudge and Firespout were the best answers and gave me a ton of game in the Goblin matchup as well.

Red (basically over green) was a big improvement, and I felt miles ahead of Merfolk if I could just cast my spells. The problem of course, was Wasteland. That problem was soon remedied by changing the fetches around and playing a basic Mountain.

This is the latest list:

The maindeck is largely the same, but I changed the sideboard to account for the problems I was facing on Magic Online. Zoo decks were occasionally blowing me out with Krosan Grip and Qasali Pridemage. Moat itself wasn’t even close to a lock on its own. With Humility, it gets a little easier for you, but one Grip later and you could be dead.

Moat vs. Humility is a reasonable debate already, and having both is kind of nice sometimes, since having to tutor for them sucks whereas naturally drawing it is usually awesome.

The Crypts are for Reanimator, which I expect to get very popular, at least in real life. The deck is very expensive, but I feel like it’s the best deck in the format right now, hands down. Noetic Scales is also a cute thing to tutor up, but overall, it will probably just get Nature’s Claimed. Still, it’s better than tutoring up a Halo if you’re facing down a fattie since you’ll force them to find another way to put it back into play if they don’t have a Claim ready. You’re probably dead if they have Claim already.

If I were playing live, I would probably have more combo hate, but online there doesn’t seem to be much ANT running around. Again, Lion’s Eye Diamonds are expensive, but the cost to play any deck in this format is somewhat prohibitive. A couple Mindbreak Traps really help me feel secure about my chances vs. a random field, and I didn’t really want the slots against anything else.

Intuition is another one of my favorite cards and there’s a lot of cool things you can do with it right now. Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows, Life from the Loam/Wasteland, Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek, or even just completing your Top/Counterbalance lock are all dreams you can live with the help of Intuition.

Here is a list I played in a Daily Event:

My record was not stellar, but I did learn a lot of things about the deck and where I wanted to go in the future, which is about all you can ask out of a four round event.

I borrowed the Mox Diamond idea from Dan Skinner’s Oath deck from a while back. Note that while these are mana sources, you shouldn’t cut lands for them as you still need a land to use them. While with Chrome Mox, you can basically cut lands for them, or three lands for four Moxes as I usually do, the Diamonds need to take up a spell slot.

I wanted a way to cast Intuition and Counterbalance earlier, and Mox Diamond was perfect in that regard. There were too many off color cards and artifacts to really consider Chrome Mox, plus there was always Life from the Loam to make up for the card disadvantage.

Whereas Counterbalance was the soft lock, Forbid was typically the hard lock, especially in combination with Counterbalance. Once you cast Intuition, you’ll have plenty of discard fodder between Loam and Punishing Fires. I would have played a second in the sideboard, but was cutting it close and didn’t have time to hit up the bots.

The rest of the deck was pretty awesome and I had a lot of fun. Ensnaring Bridge and Karakas both gave Reanimator huge fits, especially in game one when they are low on answers.

The problems mainly had to do with the manabase. It was rock solid and the colors were never an issue, unless of course my opponent decided to activate Wasteland. Mox Diamonds helped, but I didn’t have enough lands to continually make land drops. If I ever resolved an Intuition (or drew the Loam), then Wasteland wasn’t an issue, but it’s difficult to resolve that card through Force of Will, Daze, and Wasteland.

If I had managed to stabilize my manabase, the Punishing Fires would typically take over against the aggressive Wasteland decks.

The only other thing that might look out of place is the sideboard Explorations, but in slower matchups like against other Loam decks or control mirrors, Exploration plus Loam lets you just run them over. Once you start playing two lands a turn and probably Wastelanding them once or twice a turn, it becomes very difficult to lose. Having a third (and therefore Intuitionalbe) would have been nice, but I didn’t want to cut anything.

All in all, playing Counterbalance was an extremely fun experience, but I will probably never do it again. As I said earlier, there’s way too much hate, and it’s very difficult to control every aspect of Legacy. If I ever get the chance to approach a wide open format, I’m going for the throat. No more of this pussyfooting around until I finally kill them on turn 30. How about we kill on turn two and go grab some lunch?

I recommend this:

Of the various ringers who have played this deck, the majority of them (Adam Yurchick, Dave Williams, LSV, Dan Skinner) have all gone 4-0, barely losing any games. This is THE deck you should be playing in Legacy at the moment (although if you’re planning on playing on Magic Online, don’t look too hard for the Reverent Silence, you probably won’t ever find any).

Oddly enough, it’s not the deck you necessarily have to tune yours to beat, since barely anyone is playing it at the moment. That could be due to the high cost of the deck, or maybe because no one gives it the respect it deserves. Maybe it’s because they overestimate they hate cards?

This list isn’t perfect, but I like where it is right now. The fatties could be a little different. There’s a WW deck with Karakas which should be a good matchup, but they have some annoying stuff. Even if you Iona white, they have Karakas. If you get some other fattie, they have Swords to Plowshares. If you get something like Inkwell Leviathan, they can race you with equipment or brick wall you with Sword of Fire and Ice. It seems like there should be a better fattie to target, but Malakir Bloodwitch is about the best thing I can come up with and that seems pretty bad.

I considered some utility to Entomb for, like Deep Analysis, Ancient Grudge, and maybe even a little Roar of the Wurm action. In the end, I just stuck with the Coffin Purge for the mirror, although I’m not completely against running any of the other cards.

There’s a decent amount of hate out there. Almost everyone has Crypt or Relic, but Nature’s Claim is way more effective at stopping the hate than the hate is at stopping you, especially considering they might have to mulligan and keep an otherwise risky hand just because it has a hate card.

If you want to win, I would definitely recommend playing Reanimator. If you want to hate on the dudes who only play the cool deck, that’s fine too. It’s Legacy, you can play whatever you want and do reasonably well as long as you know your deck and your matchups. I highly recommend you get into Legacy as it’s the most fun you can have playing Magic, and MODO Legacy desperately needs more players to ensure its survival.

Hopefully I’ll see you in the queues!

GerryT

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