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Legacy Weapon – LA, the BoM, and Eternal Weekend

As most of you know, I spent last weekend busy with the TCGplayer Championship, the only downside being that I missed watching the variety of awesome events going on around the world. As soon as I got home, I fired up Twitch and YouTube and dove into the replays. The best part of watching old coverage is skipping through the shuffling.

The legendary Bazaar of Moxen got 695 players, which is typical for them. Usually a couple crazy Americans make the trek to prove their Eternal prowess, though this time it overlapped with Eternal Weekend. My favorite part about the BoM coverage was that it was in English, as I’d loaded it up expecting a barrage of French. That Raphael Levy is a real dreamboat.

Eternal Weekend attracted 365 Legacy players, and I enjoyed Pikula and Buehler’s commentary. I never would’ve put that team together, mostly because I don’t think an old format requires similarly antiquated commentators, but I am sad that I missed it live.

Despite all the action elsewhere, a solid 281 players showed up for the SCG Open in LA, meaning an incredible 1,341 players played in large, competitive Legacy events last weekend.

The White Menace

Europe is known for its strong Storm players, and three copies made it into the BoM Top 8. They lost their quarterfinals matches, one of them to UWR Delver. The other two lost to Death and Taxes, which were piloted by Shahar Shenhar, the World Champion, and Thomas Enevoldsen, the Death and Taxes champion.

The lone Elves player got to beat up on Maverick in the quarters, successfully dodging all the Storm. After that, he crushed back-to-back mono-white decks to take the title.

That isn’t to imply he was cold to Storm. While fast combo is bad for Elves, it can still win off of some well-placed discard or a quick [card]Ruric Thar, the Unbowed[/card].

But despite Elves taking down the BoM and three Storm decks cracking the top eight, Death and Taxes was the big winner on the weekend. Not only did it put two players in the BoM top four, but it also crushed the Legacy Champs here in the States.

Death and Taxes, by Thomas Enevoldsen

[deck]Main Deck
10 Plains
1 Horizon Canopy
4 Rishadan Port
4 Wasteland
3 Karakas
1 Cavern of Souls
2 Aven Mindcensor
4 Flickerwisp
1 Mirran Crusader
3 Serra Avenger
4 Stoneforge Mystic
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Mother of Runes
1 Batterskull
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 AEther Vial
4 Swords to Plowshares
Sideboard
2 Wilt-leaf Liege
2 Ethersworn Canonist
2 Cataclysm
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Ratchet Bomb
2 Rest in Peace
1 Sunlance
1 Pithing Needle
1 Relic of Progenitus[/deck]

Enevoldsen tends to go back and forth on the maindeck [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card], and he must’ve liked it for this event.

As the undisputed master of the deck, his latest should be considered stock for a while.

Ari Lax took down the Legacy Championships with the following changes:

-2 Plains, -3 [card]Serra Avenger[/card], -1 [card]Flickerwisp[/card], -1 [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card]; +1 [card]Eiganjo Castle[/card], +1 [card]Horizon Canopy[/card], +1 [card]Fiend Hunter[/card], +2 [card]Mangara of Corondor[/card], +2 [card]Mirran Crusader[/card]

With an [card]Enlightened Tutor[/card] sideboard:

[deck]2 Enlightened Tutor
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Rest in Peace
1 Cursed Totem
1 Meekstone
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Manriki-Gusari
1 Sunlance
1 Serenity
1 Mindbreak Trap[/deck]

Ari once told me that [card]Enlightened Tutor[/card] was the scariest hate card for Storm to face. If you [card]Thoughtseize[/card] an opponent turn one and they have a [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card] or an [card]Ethersworn Canonist[/card] in hand, you take the relevant card and kill them. If they have an [card]Enlightened Tutor[/card], they can respond to the [card]Thoughtseize[/card] and there’s nothing you can do.

I like [card]Manriki-Gusari[/card] more now than I have in the past. Since [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card] no longer acts as an answer to itself, Manriki serves as a bullet in the slot where the extra Jitte used to be.

The main tool that’s missing from Ari’s sideboard is [card]Cataclysm[/card], which could replace [card]Sunlance[/card], [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card], or the second [card]Ethersworn Canonist[/card]. Against control decks, you have a lot more time to draw into your 1-2 of sideboard cards, so they get more mileage than slots designated for faster strategies.

Micah Greenbaum also Top 8’d the Legacy Championship with Death and Taxes, and he ran -1 Plains, -1 [card]Flickerwisp[/card], -3 [card]Serra Avenger[/card], -1 [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card], +1 [card]Horizon Canopy[/card], +2 [card]Mirran Crusader[/card], +2 [card]Leonin Relic-Warder[/card], +1 [card]Fiend Hunter[/card]

Of the various sideboards, Micah’s needs the most polish.

[deck]1 Manriki-Gusari
1 Crackdown
3 Surgical Extraction
1 Absolute Law
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Humility
2 Mindbreak Trap
2 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Sword of Body and Mind[/deck]

Like Ari, Micah included [card]Manriki-Gusari[/card] and [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card]. Both options are reasonable, and [card]Absolute Law[/card] is a fine one-of. [card]Sword of Body and Mind[/card] looks good against Shardless BUG on paper, though I haven’t equipped one in Legacy since testing Owen’s Stoneblade deck from GP Providence. To save you time Googling, that was a while ago.

The problems start with [card]Crackdown[/card], which is just too cute to be good. Remember that this type of effect is best against RUG Delver, as it locks down every threat that RUG plays. However, resolving a three-mana enchantment seems difficult. Even if RUG is boarding out some number of [card]Daze[/card] and [card]Force of Will[/card] against the [card]Aether Vial[/card] deck, you can still expect a [card]Wasteland[/card] battle of some sort, and there’s your own Thalia to consider.

[card]Meekstone[/card] shuts down your [card]Flickerwisp[/card]s, but that’s a small price to pay for the ability to actually cast your game-winning hate card.

I’ve plopped my fair share of [card]Humility[/card]s into play off of opposing [card]Show and Tell[/card]s, but Sneak is one of your best matchups, and the card costs too much to be useful elsewhere.

Dominance

With [card]Sneak Attack[/card] receiving the most hype before the weekend, it makes sense that Death and Taxes crushed. Sneak Attack’s worst nightmare is a pile of [card]Phyrexian Revoker[/card]s, [card]Karakas[/card], and [card thalia, guardian of thraben]Thalias[/card].

I’ve heard Death and Taxes called one of the best decks in the format, and I’ve also seen people mocked for suggesting it. Even after last weekend, people are still dismissively referring to it as “white weenie.”

However, a deck can’t put up this kind of a performance without some real strengths. For starters, it’s consistent. Vials prevent screw while the spell-lands ([card]Wasteland[/card], [card]Rishadan Port[/card], [card]Karakas[/card], and [card]Horizon Canopy[/card]) mitigate flood.

The deck’s name refers to its inevitability. After all, the only things certain in life are Death and Taxes. It’s a white control deck that uses creatures as its lock pieces, closer to some prison-y [card]Smokestack[/card] deck than an actual [card]Crusade[/card]-style aggro deck.

Finally, it’s resilient. The mono-white mana base allows for a lot of basics, and the only way people can mess it up is if they add crap like [card]Eiganjo Castle[/card]. [card]Mother of Runes[/card] protects the creatures from removal and Vial protects them from countermagic.

Going over the coverage, I saw the deck come back from seemingly lost positions over and over, whether it was beating down with a [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card] against [card]Dread of Night[/card] or [card]Cataclysm[/card]ing a pile of Angels against Miracles.

Bad Matchups and Hate Cards

Decks with a lot of basics have some resiliency to the combination of [card]Wasteland[/card], [card]Rishadan Port[/card], and [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card], but they still need to be able to deal with [card]Aether Vial[/card] and equipment.

While Vial is great against CounterTop, Miracles is considered to have a good Death and Taxes matchup due to its resilient mana base and access to [card]Terminus[/card], which they can play at instant speed. [card]Phyrexian Revoker[/card] is a fine tool for shutting down Top, but unlike [card]Pithing Needle[/card] it’s weak to [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card]. That said, both Enevoldsen and Ari managed to win the matchup, largely thanks to [card]Aether Vial[/card] shenanigans.

Elves is a deck that can largely ignore the bulk of the white deck’s disruption. Since Elves can generate so much mana with creatures, cards like Thalia match up poorly against it. Meanwhile, [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card] can be answered by [card]Viridian Shaman[/card] or bricked by a combination of [card]Wirewood Symbiote[/card] + Elf, or [card]Quirion Ranger[/card] + [card]Dryad Arbor[/card]. [card]Natural Order[/card] into [card]Progenitus[/card] ignores both removal and hate bears.

Turn one decks have a great matchup against Death and Taxes because Thalia costs 2. I’ve experimented with cards like [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card], [card]Chalice of the Void[/card], and [card]Engineered Explosives[/card] (to eat Goblin tokens) as ways of handling turn one decks, but those options are too narrow for the typical Legacy field. A [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card] might beat a Belcher, but lose to a turn one [card]Griselbrand[/card]. Heck, it might not even beat a Belcher. Nowhere on the card does it say you have to drop your pants and pray on turn one, and I’ve had opponent’s [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card] me, see the [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card], and simply play 1-2 spells a turn for the win.

If none of these options sound like your thing, there are plenty of hate cards for white creatures and artifacts. If your problem is Thalia and/or [card]Mother of Runes[/card]—[card]Dread of Night[/card], and [card]Sulfur Elemental[/card] are the best tools available, with [card]Infest[/card], [card]Engineered Plague[/card], [card]Toxic Deluge[/card], and [card]Virtue’s Ruin[/card] also getting the job done.

If your problem is equipment and/or [card]Aether Vial[/card], I recommend [card]Pithing Needle[/card], [card]Ancient Grudge[/card], [card]Null Rod[/card], or [card]Manriki-Gusari[/card]. [card]Tower of the Magistrate[/card] seems good at first, but it’s vulnerable to both Wasteland and Port.

Nemesis Rising

When I wrote about [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card], I mentioned how it could solve some problems for UR Delver, which was previously cold to [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card], [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], and piles of removal. Now, we have a maindeckable answer to all of that nonsense.

Pikula and Osyp had the same idea. Pikula spent the weekend commentating, but Osyp credits him for the [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] tech.

UR Delver, by Osyp Lebedowicz

[deck]Main Deck
4 Wasteland
4 Volcanic Island
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Flooded Strand
2 Island
4 Delver of Secrets
3 Young Pyromancer
3 True-Name Nemesis
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Brainstorm
4 Ponder
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Forked Bolt
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
3 Spell Pierce
3 Gitaxian Probe
3 Stifle
Sideboard
4 Submerge
3 Blood Moon
2 Vendilion Clique
2 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Spell Pierce
1 Flusterstorm
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Umezawa’s Jitte[/deck]

This deck is well constructed. I love it, right down to the [card]Blood Moon[/card]s in the sideboard.

Since he’s adding Nemesis, a 3-drop, he cut a 3-drop in [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. The Mage has always been a mainstay of UR Delver, giving depth to the deck’s countermagic and removal, but curve is king.

I’m still unsure whether [card]Goblin Guide[/card] or [card]Young Pyromancer[/card] makes the best threat. [card]Goblin Guide[/card] complements [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], and openers with a mix of the two make for some unbeatable draws. On the other hand, [card]Young Pyromancer[/card] overwhelms the opponent if left unchecked and can also buy time for Nemesis to do its thing.

In the sideboard, I’d consider a second [card]Flusterstorm[/card] or [card]Red Elemental Blast[/card] over the fourth [card]Spell Pierce[/card], which is low impact in comparison to the other two options. I’m guessing that Osyp wanted a more general card to fit more sideboard plans.

[card]Vendilion Clique[/card] is a sweet one, and it comes in for Nemesis against the unfair decks. While Clique is too slow for a hate card, it fills the high end of the disruption curve and clocks the opponent while doing it.

[card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] also made an appearance at the LA Open:

Esper Blade, by Mark Ivazaj

[deck]Main Deck
1 Island
1 Plains
1 Swamp
1 Creeping Tar Pit
4 Flooded Strand
2 Marsh Flats
4 Polluted Delta
1 Scrubland
3 Tundra
2 Underground Sea
1 Academy Ruins
1 Karakas
1 Batterskull
1 Engineered Explosives
2 Baleful Strix
3 Snapcaster Mage
4 Stoneforge Mystic
3 True-Name Nemesis
4 Brainstorm
4 Force of Will
2 Spell Pierce
4 Swords to Plowshares
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Ponder
3 Thoughtseize
1 Vindicate
Sideboard
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
3 Meddling Mage
3 Rest in Peace
3 Flusterstorm
1 Path to Exile
1 Unexpectedly Absent
1 Zealous Persecution
1 Supreme Verdict[/deck]

Mark decided to try out a few new cards, including [card]Unexpectedly Absent[/card] in the board as a more versatile [card]Path to Exile[/card]. In this list, Nemesis take the role of [card]Lingering Souls[/card]. Not as versatile as a pile of bodies, but it carries equipment well. Imagine an unblockable, untargetable, undamageable 7/5 with lifelink and vigilance.

I like the idea of combining unblockable 3-drops with [card]Creeping Tar Pit[/card]. Without any other cards, a turn three Nemesis with a Tar Pit deals 18 damage by turn six, which is not a bad clock for a midrangey pile of disruption.

While I like Mark’s list, I doubt he hit on the perfect 75. Perhaps [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] could provide a tempo boost, or [card]Dark Confidant[/card] could make the deck stronger against the unfair decks. Stoneblade has gone through many adaptations, and finding the best build for the new threat will take time.

Caleb Durward

Discussion

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