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Legacy Weapon – The Logic Behind Jank Countertop

I didn’t go to GP Salt Lake City this last weekend, as I didn’t have a ride and there was a local PTQ anyway. I ran Zoo again, and scrubbed out by round five. While I felt sick, and was glad I wasn’t traveling, I was also jealous of all the players that got to battle Standard for days on end.

Fortunately, there’s always the next event, and I’m looking forward to the Open in Des Moines. I need a Legacy deck, though, as I’m starting to tire of Tempo Thresh. Not that the deck isn’t one of the best decks in the metagame, but it’s starting to feel like work to pilot. My initial instinct is to go to the deck I probably should’ve played at the Invitational:

Nic Fit

[deck]1 Wooded Foothills
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Dryad Arbor
4 Bayou
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Forest
3 Swamp
2 Eternal Witness
1 Wickerbough Elder
2 Grave Titan
4 Veteran Explorer
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
2 Scavenging Ooze
1 Wall of Blossoms
3 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Liliana of the Veil
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
4 Cabal Therapy
1 Skeletal Scrying
2 Sensei’s Divining Top
3 Pernicious Deed
1 Damnation
1 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Innocent Blood
Sideboard
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Nihil Spellbomb
4 Mindbreak Trap
2 Extirpate
1 Gaddock Teeg
2 Dread of Night
2 Hymn to Tourach[/deck]

If you’re a longtime reader of the column, or a devout follower of Legacy, you might recognize this deck. Overall, my build hasn’t changed much, with some maindeck [card]Innocent Blood[/card]s and sideboard [card]Dread of Night[/card]s being the only new additions. It hasn’t changed much because it hasn’t needed it. While a couple of new, specific threats have arisen, Maverick and Stoneblade are still the decks to beat, and this deck still beats them.

I didn’t bring Nic Fit to GP Indy because I was afraid of [card]Stifle[/card]. [card]Stifle[/card] on a [card]Veteran Explorer[/card] or a [card]Pernicious Deed[/card] was often game in testing. [card]Dismember[/card] and [card]Go for the Throat[/card], my removal spells of choice, were excellent at killing a [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], but bad against [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card]. I found I’d rather be on the Thresh side of things, so I played that instead.

Now, people are adapting to Thresh, but Maverick is continuing to grow in popularity. Note that Nic Fit is a dog to most of the unfair decks, particularly Hive Mind, but those decks are being held down by hoards of [card thalia, guardian of thraben]Thalias[/card], [card]Gaddock Teeg[/card]s, [card]Daze[/card]s and [card]Stifle[/card]s. Now, as with the Invitational I top eighted with Nic Fit, it seems correct to play the fair deck that beats the other fair decks.

On the other hand, I’ve already given this deck a lot of tournament time, and there’s not much more that I can learn from it, while bringing a new brew could teach me lots. If there’s any single thing I should chalk up to my tournament success, it’s my willingness to try a new deck every week. After all, the more decks one becomes proficient with, the more tools in the arsenal, and options are always a good thing.

Inspiration from the FNM of Legacy

I try and make it to Monday Night Legacy at Hot Sauce in Chicago for a variety of reasons. The atmosphere is casual, and a few PTQ/Open/GP Grinders show up, as well as some dedicated eternal types that travel to type one tournaments. In many respects, it reminds me of the first FNMs I ever attended (which were Legacy).

It was at Monday Night Legacy that I got a feel for Nic Fit, as it’s the only real deck I own. As such, playing it is comfortable for me. This last Monday, however, I got to operate under my favorite deck building conditions, including a limited card pool and panicky-low amounts of time. I wasn’t being sarcastic about liking to work in those conditions; adversity breeds creativity! Roughly an hour before my ride showed up, I realized I’d lent out my [card]Cabal Therapy[/card]s and a [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card]. I spread out my Legacy “playables” on the floor, like I was looking at a sealed pool, and started arranging by color. At first I tried out [card]Puresteel Paladin[/card] with [card]Spell Pierce[/card]s, but didn’t have the manabase to support it.

Once I realized that, I examined what I could support, which was a compilation of the Nic Fit and Tempo Thresh duals. I’d already given back the borrowed [card]Force of Will[/card]s, so I didn’t have a spell density for Delver. My threat base would be borrowed from Nic Fit’s, but the lack of Therapys made [card]Veteran Explorer[/card] a no go. To fill the slots, I maindecked the Countertop combo and dug up some spicy ones to fill holes in the deck’s game plan.

If you follow me on twitter, then you might already know that I tried out this abomination:

Not Recommended for Tournament Play.dec

[deck]1 Dryad Arbor
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Volcanic Island
2 Tropical Island
2 Bayou
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Island
1 Swamp
1 Forest
1 Tower of the Magistrate
1 Underground Sea
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Wall of Blossoms
2 Birds of Paradise
1 Grave Titan
1 Trinket Mage
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Sulfur Elemental
1 Lotus Petal
3 Green Sun’s Zenith
1 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Doom Blade
1 Go for the Throat
3 Spell Pierce
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Dominate
1 Duress
4 Brainstorm
4 Accumulated Knowledge
2 Counterbalance
2 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Darkblast
Sideboard
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Dismember
1 Doom Blade
1 Counterbalance
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Pernicious Deed
1 Submerge
1 Perish
1 Nature’s Ruin
1 Sulfur Elemental
1 Wickerbough Elder
1 Eternal Witness
1 Echoing Truth
1 Imp’s Mischief
1 Arcane Laboratory[/deck]

The deck has a whole lot of wonkiness to it, and is definitely from the, “Well, you can always shuffle it away with [card]Brainstorm[/card],” school of deckbuilding. That said, I swept a four round tournament and the deck performed well in testing afterwards, beating some strong players with good decks. When real life results don’t match what I think will happen, I take note, as human intuition is incredibly fallible.

If people only played decks that looked good on paper, there would be no innovation.

The tournament itself had some interesting moments. Against Tempo Thresh, I managed to [card]Imp’s Mischief[/card] a [card]Submerge[/card], happily paying five life to protect my [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] and hit his flipped Delver. He had enough mana that [card]Divert[/card] wouldn’t have done it, and I didn’t have a blue card for [card]Misdirection[/card], so [card]Imp’s Mischief[/card] was actually the best card for the moment. It’s still getting cut.

Usually, a miser [card]Lotus Petal[/card] turns out to be awful, but it was actually key for me, never dead, and gave me the correct mana where a [card]Chrome Mox[/card] wouldn’t have. Against Dredge, I turn oned a [card]Counterbalance[/card] on the play, following it up with a Top. That felt sweet, and made me want three of each of the soft lock in the maindeck, though that might be a bit too many potentially dead cards against aggressive decks. Another time, the [card]Lotus Petal[/card] helped me cast a [card]Grave Titan[/card] on turn four, which seemed relevant. I even tutored for it with [card]Trinket Mage[/card] once, although an artifact land might’ve been better in that situation.

[card]Grave Titan[/card], even without a strong ramp strategy, is still one heck of a finisher, and it’ll probably find a home in most of my midrangy black decks. The format is flooded with fast, efficient answers, and rarely can the opponent trade with [card]Grave Titan[/card] as a one-for-one. Every aspect of the card oozes relevance, from the ten power for six mana to the deathtouch in a field of giant [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card]s. If I ever cut the Titan, it would be for some colorless threats in the maindeck. [card]Mother of Runes[/card] is good at shutting down most of the wider played threats in Legacy, but it’s still weak to cards like [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card], [card]Masticore[/card], and [card]Mishra’s Factory[/card] with an [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card]. That last one is weak to Wasteland, however, so it’s probably not ideal.

I’m a big fan of maindeck [card]Nihil Spellbomb[/card] in all formats, and Legacy is no exception. Snapcaster is the second best creature of all time (right behind [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card]) and [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card] is an unanswerable menace. If you nuke the Thresh player’s yard, however, the snake killing rodent is much less intimidating. Suck on that, Riki Tiki Tavi. Between [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card], [card]Loyal Retainers[/card], and [card]Punishing Fire[/card]s, even the aggro decks depend on the graveyard, and the cantripping Spellbomb is never dead.

I mentioned [card]Loyal Retainers[/card] being a good aggro card in that last paragraph, but if you haven’t been paying close attention lately then you might’ve missed Adam’s Legacy Open win on the Invitational Weekend. Adam has innovated the [card]Fauna Shaman[/card], [card]Loyal Retainers[/card], [card elesh norn, grand cenobite]Elesh Norn[/card] combo as a way of breaking the Maverick Mirror (as well as a ton of other matchups). The idea is that, even if he draws the Elesh Norn without a [card]Fauna Shaman[/card], which he could [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] for, [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card] fetching up [card]Gaea’s Cradle[/card] is an effective way of casting the seven mana monstrosity. In one match, I watched Adam go from a losing board position to winning after a few [card]Fauna Shaman[/card] activations, with [card]Bojuka Bog[/card] assisting in finishing off a pair of [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card]s. While the prohibitive dollar cost of [card]Loyal Retainers[/card] might deter some, I think this is the strongest adaptation of Maverick to date, and should pick up some steam as the best build.

Getting back to the deck at hand, I brushed some dust off of the [card]Accumulated Knowledge[/card]s, and they were decent. If I’d had more time to build, I would’ve included more planeswalkers, but that would’ve been incorrect. Typically, by the time I got to [card jace, the mind sculptor]Jace[/card] mana I wanted to be doing other things, like casting [card thrun, the last troll]Thrun[/card]. The format is full of good anti-Jace cards at the moment, like [card]Lingering Souls[/card] and suchlike. I liked the cantrip aspect of the AKs, as they let me hit my land drops early, and I also liked that they could break the mid to late game. That said, I had better options.

Here is what I’m considering for Des Moines (yes really).

Jank Countertop

[deck]1 Dryad Arbor
3 Tropical Island
2 Bayou
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Island
1 Swamp
1 Forest
2 Underground Sea
2 Scavenging Ooze
2 Birds of Paradise
1 Grave Titan
1 Trinket Mage
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Lotus Petal
3 Green Sun’s Zenith
1 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Dismember
3 Spell Pierce
4 Brainstorm
2 Counterbalance
2 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Skeletal Scrying
2 Umezawa’s Jitte
2 Diabolic Edict
1 Echoing Truth
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Predict
1 Darkblast
Sideboard
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Counterbalance
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
2 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Pernicious Deed
3 Submerge
1 Wickerbough Elder
1 Eternal Witness
2 Deathmark
2 Dread of Night[/deck]

The deck has a good matchup against Tempo Thresh and some of the unfair decks. The maindeck is weak to a [card]Mother of Runes[/card], but post board I should have the tools to handle the meddlesome cleric. I’m running [card]Deathmark[/card] to compliment [card]Submerge[/card] because a lot of GW players have figured out how good [card]Gaddock Teeg[/card] is at preventing [card]Submerge[/card] from resolving. Also, [card]Deathmark[/card] can be Snapcast back effectively.

The [card]Echoing Truth[/card] and switch to [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card] is a concession to all of the [card]Lingering Souls[/card] flying around Legacy these days. [card]Maelstrom Pulse[/card] also does the trick, but I like how [card]Echoing Truth[/card] can reset multiple [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card]s, or [card]Time Walk[/card] a big equipment turn, and is a little cheaper with Snapcaster. The loss of [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] hurts, since the equipment is so powerful here (lots to be doing with the extra mana), the protections are relevant, and Sword works much better with [card]Birds of Paradise[/card]. To top it all off, Sword hits the coveted three slot, which is relevant in a Counterbalance deck. I’m guessing I’ll end up with a 1-1 split between Sword and Jitte before this weekend, however janky that looks on paper.

With the format this aggressive, and the UW Blade decks running actual threats, [card]Skeletal Scrying[/card] might be too ambitious. Initial testing has me liking the double [card]Predict[/card], and I could see going up to a third. My buddy Joe pointed out that, with the amount of discard in Legacy, [card]Accumulated Knowledge[/card] might actually be better, though I like how [card]Predict[/card] can put creatures in the yard for [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] to munch on.

Joe also mentioned that white for [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] might be better than the black removal, which I could see, but having the right tools is more important than having the most efficient tools, and in this case I like black’s answers to the format better.

I still have three days of testing left, and if Jank Countertop can’t beat Maverick post board then I’ll probably audible back to Nic Fit, but for the time being I think this is what I’m running.

As for Standard, I still like the [card]Spectral Flight[/card] Delver list with that I X-1’d the Standard portion of the Invitational with, although the maindeck [card]Mental Misstep[/card]s could’ve been something else. I recommended the list to Adam Cai, who gave it to his buddy with -2 [card]Mental Misstep[/card]s, +1 [card]Gut Shot[/card], +1 [card]Phantasmal Image[/card], which was good enough to take down an Invitational Qualifier.

As I write this, I’m currently chopping the final round of a random daily with a version of the deck, and I’m still loving the maindeck [card]Dissipate[/card]s and singleton [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card]. If anything convinced me to switch away from Delver, it’d be the sweet allure of UB control and double the Sphinx. I’m not sure what my exact build would look like, but I like the list that Patrick Chapin top 32d GP Salt Lake City with. Considering the varieties of Geists roaming around, having a pile of Clone effects is just smart.

Caleb Durward
@CalebDMTG
[email protected]

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