- BREAKING THROUGH: BANNINGS, UNBANNINGS, GHENT, ATLANTA, MAVERICK AND M13 - by Ben Shirley (Views: 593)Tuesday 17th July 2012
WRITER PROFILE: Ben Shirley Lifetime Pro Tour Points: 0Magic Acheivements: 2010 UK Legacy Nationals top 8, Kent County Champion 2010, 2012 UK Legacy Open ChampionFavourite Format: LegacyFavourite Colour: BlueFavourite Card: Knight of the Reliquary
Welcome back everyone to the latest instalment of Breaking Through. This ďmonthĒ has to be one of the most exciting for Legacy Players for a while. Thereís lots of stuff to go over in this edition of Breaking Through, from the Banned and Restricted (B&R) announcement to legacy GPís to M13. So I should probably start from the beginning.
The Banned and Restricted (B&R) announcement 20th June
Leading up to the B&R update, there was a lot of speculation on what would get banned. Some thought Show and Tell had finally worn out its welcome as an unfair card amongst many other unfair cards, others thought Griselbrand was going to Grisel-Banned. While both cards could be banned, the main issue for Wizards was that they obviously didnít have enough information to make a definitive banning of either card. Griselbrand had barely been legal a month before the announcement and maybe the best acid test was the two Legacy Grand Prix a few weeks after the announcement which would be in both America and Europe. Which would Ďshow and tellí how Griselbrand has affected the format and if it is still healthy or whether we are heading back to the dark days of Survival of the Fittest. The next B&R update is due in September, so by that point Wizards should have a clear idea of what the problem is if any.
So Wizards decided not to take any action on either card for the moment. Show and Tell has been a card that has been on the verge of being banned for a long time, as it is possible to play it on turn 1 and could be cast easily on turn 2. So with the power creep in creatures and Wizards wanting to try out more powerful and more interesting or dynamic creatures, Show and Tell becomes the best and easiest way to cheat Griselbrand or any future creatures into play. Therefore Show and Tell kind of inhibits the design space for top end creatures that Wizards may wish to print in future. So a creature that is printed in the future to be fun and interesting in Commander could just flat out win the game in Legacy when Show and Tellíd.
It isnít immediately obvious that Show and Tell (S&T) is a stand out problem the S&T vs Griselbrand ban hammer death match. If S&T was banned, then Griselbrand would just be cheated in to play using a different engine. Griselbrand has already started to propel the Reanimator strategy into the upper echelons of the format.
Hypergensiscould easily and consistently allow a turn 2 Griselbrand. I also dread to think what would happen to the price of Eureka, if S&T was banned and Griselbrand wasnít.
For me personally, I would like to see both banned. I do not like Griselbrand, mainly because I struggle to understand the logic behind printing the card, it sees no play in Standard or Modern. It had to be banned in Commander for being too broken and is really unfair to play against in Legacy. I can understand that it was probably intended for casual players, but as casual players have traditionally underestimated how powerful losing life to draw cards is I do not understand why it was printed. Although I donít really have any issues with S&T at the moment, however the restriction on design space and the fact that it may easily break in future means that Iím not upset to see it go. If Wizards are not sure which card is the issue, I think both should go, like in the case of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic in last year's Standard.
However, much of the debate of the Bannings were overshadowed, when Wizards announced the unbanning of Land Tax. The explanation Wizards gave for the unbanning was that they felt that it wouldnít damage the format and that it did not make the top tier decks any better. Essentially the card no longer belonged on the banned list as itís not as powerful as it once was. The speculators quickly took to the internet and the price of Land Tax soared. The problem is that Wizards didnít unban Land Tax to fix the format. It also didnít mean that Land Tax was going to be the new hot deck, as the format is currently too fast for Land Tax/Scroll Rack shenanigans. Plus the two top decks in the format (Reanimator and RUG Delver) can operate quite comfortably off one or two lands, which would stop Land Tax triggering. Land Tax may be good in the future if the format slows a bit, but I wouldnít want to buy it until it drops to the price of Time Spiral (which is the price it should be).
GP Ghent and GP Atlanta
Due to some fortunate circumstances it appears that I will be going to GP Ghent. A few people have asked me for some advice on the format, in preparation for the event. The advice I gave was to try and pick a deck from the following list as early as possible and try to hone and tweak it, so that the pilot is comfortable with it.
The Decks (in order of viability)
The best deck and has game against any deck. But could get hated out.
Sneak and Show
2nd Best deck, tends to be more resilient to hate and more consistent than Reanimator, but Reanimator tends to be a turn or two faster.
Generally solid against everything, but has difficulty with Maverick.
Good against RUG Delver and solid against the four decks below, it has game against Reanimator but really struggles against Sneak and Show, unless it packs a lot of hate, It can also be quite bad against the fringe combo decks unless built accordingly.
Solid against Reanimator and Sneak and Show, OK against RUG delver, it a dog to Maverick, OK against the 3 decks below but loses to a resolved Stoneforge Mystic into Batterskull.
Does what Merfolk does, but slightly worse, black hand disruption really helps against Sneak and Show, as S&S can usually power through counter spells, if they aren't on a fast clock like against RUG or Fish. Pro players will tend to play either this or the deck below as pros will always favour the control decks to gain an edge. So results for this and Miracles may be misleading. Struggles against Maverick and RUG Delver, but not as much as the straight U/W version.
I donít think this deck is particularly good, seems like itís about 50/50 against most things, really slow, it is soft to Sneak and Show but doesn't have the favourable match ups like maverick does.
Good against the fringe decks and OK against Reanimator, softer than its Esper cousin against Sneak and Show
One deck that wasnít really on my radar though, was the deck that Channel Fireball decided to play in Atlanta. Channel Fireball did what they usually do and tried to brew a brand new deck which breaks the format, if that fails play the best deck and make sure it beats the mirror. In this case it was Reanimator built to beat other Reanimator decks. Unfortunately it appears the changes they made to the deck to allow it to beat the mirror made it more susceptible to the RUG and Maverick decks. The best finish was 10th by Mr Turtenwald.
REANIMATOR - OWEN TURTENWALD (10TH GP ATLANTA 2012) MAIN DECK SIDEBOARD
60 main deck cards
MAIN DECK ANALYSIS SIDEBOARD ANALYSIS
Card Type Breakdown:Creatures: 7 (11.67%)Artifacts: 0 (0.00%)Instants: 11 (18.33%)Sorceries: 16 (26.67%)Enchantments: 8 (13.33%)Planeswalkers: 0 (0.00%)Lands: 18 (30.00%)
Spell Colour Breakdown:White: 1 (2.38%)Blue: 20 (47.62%)Black: 20 (47.62%)Multicoloured: 1 (2.38%)
Mana Curve Analysis:Avg. Casting Cost: 2.69Lowest Casting Cost: 1Highest Casting Cost: 8
0 Mana Spells: 01 Mana Spells: 242 Mana Spells: 73 Mana Spells: 04 Mana Spells: 05 Mana Spells: 46 Mana Spells: 07 Mana Spells: 18 Mana Spells: 6
Spell Colour Breakdown:Blue: 11 (73.33%)Black: 2 (13.33%)Land: 2 (13.33%)
Card Type Breakdown:Creatures: 2 (13.33%)Artifacts: 0 (0.00%)Instants: 4 (26.67%)Sorceries: 4 (26.67%)Enchantments: 0 (0.00%)Planeswalkers: 3 (20.00%)Lands: 2 (13.33%)
The deck has some crazy stuff going on, with the 2 Karakas in the main deck , just to bounce legendary monsters in the mirror. It plays the bear minimum of 7 Monsters to allow the deck to play the full 4 Thoughtseizes to interact with opposing Reanimator decks early. One other difference is the fact the deck plays no Exhumeís at all, because of the fact that it affects both players and instead the deck has the full 4 Animate Dead.
Sideboard wise the deck can jam 2 City of Traitors and 3
Jace, the Mindsculptors with no fear of opposing Wastelands in the mirror and Jace provides infinite card advantage as well as acting like a pseudo Karakas.
The tournament was eventually won by Gaudenis Vidugiris playing the old enemy:
RUG DELVER - GAUDENIS VIDUGIRIS (GP ATLANTA 2012 WINNER) MAIN DECK SIDEBOARD
60 main deck cards
MAIN DECK ANALYSIS SIDEBOARD ANALYSIS
Card Type Breakdown:Creatures: 12 (20.00%)Artifacts: 0 (0.00%)Instants: 22 (36.67%)Sorceries: 4 (6.67%)Enchantments: 4 (6.67%)Planeswalkers: 0 (0.00%)Lands: 18 (30.00%)
Spell Colour Breakdown:Blue: 29 (69.05%)Red: 3 (7.14%)Green: 8 (19.05%)Multicoloured: 2 (4.76%)
Mana Curve Analysis:Avg. Casting Cost: 1.71Lowest Casting Cost: 1Highest Casting Cost: 5
0 Mana Spells: 01 Mana Spells: 282 Mana Spells: 83 Mana Spells: 04 Mana Spells: 25 Mana Spells: 4
Spell Colour Breakdown:Blue: 5 (33.33%)Black: 3 (20.00%)Red: 4 (26.67%)Green: 1 (6.67%)Colorless: 2 (13.33%)
Card Type Breakdown:Creatures: 2 (13.33%)Artifacts: 2 (13.33%)Instants: 11 (73.33%)Sorceries: 0 (0.00%)Enchantments: 0 (0.00%)Planeswalkers: 0 (0.00%)Lands: 0 (0.00%)
Vidugriris hasnít really done anything too spicy with his list and stuck with a fairly solid list. Of note are the removal of the 19th land and Fire / Ice over Forked Bolt, to help tap down opposing Griselbrands. Vidugriris cut the fourth Tarmogoyf in favour of a Scavenging Ooze to help win the mirror and Reanimator. If I were playing a main deck Ooze and one in the board, I would prefer to have the 19th land, which would be a Taiga for the extra green mana to activate the Ooze.
The other main reason to play a Taiga is to preventing the old Surgical Extraction blow out in the mirror. After Wastelanding a Tropical Island, the player would cast Surgical Extraction on the Tropical Island removing all green sources of mana from their opponents' deck, effectively locking their opponent out. The Taiga also allows a player to fetch on each of Tropical Island, Volcanic Island and Taiga, which result in an opponent's Wasteland not being able to keep the player off of a single colour.
Vidugriris also decided on Cursed Totem to fight the Maverick decks, which seems at odds with his Scavenging Ooze plan, so these could probably be Mind Harness. But Vidugriris really hates Maverick and is playing the full 4 Submerges to back up the Totems.
So with GP Atlanta in the books and GP Ghent on the horizon, what will I be playing? Well Iím glad you askedÖ
Last year I won a GPT for Amsterdam with Junk Depths and it was probably the time when I started the love affair with the other woman in my life. Knight of the ReliquaryÖ
So after many failed attempts with control decks, I decided that I no longer wanted to be the reactive deck and wanted to do something more proactive. The problem with being a control deck in Legacy is that you need to have an answer for everything and then you open yourself up to the linear decks as they are focused on beating you.
So I decide I wanted to turn creatures sideways and make huge Knights with Maze of Ith and Wasteland shenanigans. The deck list Iím currently playing is a tweaked version of the one I won the UK Legacy Open Championship with, a few weeks ago.
MAVERICK MAIN DECK SIDEBOARD
60 main deck cards
MAIN DECK ANALYSIS SIDEBOARD ANALYSIS
Card Type Breakdown:Creatures: 26 (43.33%)Artifacts: 2 (3.33%)Instants: 4 (6.67%)Sorceries: 4 (6.67%)Enchantments: 1 (1.67%)Planeswalkers: 0 (0.00%)Lands: 23 (38.33%)
Spell Colour Breakdown:White: 14 (37.84%)Green: 13 (35.14%)Multicoloured: 8 (21.62%)Colorless: 2 (5.41%)
Mana Curve Analysis:Avg. Casting Cost: 1.83Lowest Casting Cost: 1Highest Casting Cost: 3
0 Mana Spells: 01 Mana Spells: 122 Mana Spells: 183 Mana Spells: 6
Spell Colour Breakdown:White: 6 (40.00%)Green: 5 (33.33%)Multicoloured: 2 (13.33%)Colorless: 1 (6.67%)Land: 1 (6.67%)
Card Type Breakdown:Creatures: 6 (40.00%)Artifacts: 0 (0.00%)Instants: 5 (33.33%)Sorceries: 0 (0.00%)Enchantments: 3 (20.00%)Planeswalkers: 0 (0.00%)Lands: 1 (6.67%)
Iím really happy currently with the main deck, but the sideboard still needs a lot of work. The main difference between this version and the version from the Legacy open was the addition of the 4th Thalia and the 3rd Scavenging Ooze in the maindeck for the Combo and RUG/Reanimator matchups respectively.
I overhauled most of the sideboard, which is where most of the changes were made. With the extra copy of Scavenging Ooze in the main, I was able to cut a Purify the Grave out of the board. Purify the Grave should probably be Faerie Macabre, both have there advantages. Purify the Grave is resistant to hand disruption but the Faerie is uncounterable and can be used turn 1, where I want to be tapping out for Hierarch, Mom or GSZ.
Spike Feeder is in for dredge and burn. Harmonic Sliver is in to be
Green Sun Zenithíd for to destroy Cursed Totem, although the UK RUG players arenít on this plan yet (so it may get cut).
Gideon became the sideboarded Ulvenwald Tracker, the Tracker wasnít really as main deckable as I originally thought. I removed all 3 Ethersworn Canonists from the board due to the decline in Storm decks. I added a misers Phyrexian Revoker for Sneak and Show (which is a terrible match up anyway, but I had a 15th card).
I took the decklist above to a GPT for Ghent in Manchester ending up with a record of 4-2 and finishing 9th on Breakers. I beat U/W Miracles, Doomsday, Dredge and Punishing Maverick. My first loss was to Enchantress (Which is a horrible match up and made more frustrating by getting my opponent to 1 life game 1 and 2 life in game 2). My second lose was to RUG Delver, which didnít feel as good a match up as it should, I probably played it terribly though as I havenít really tested it.
So hopefully a bit more testing and tweaking of the sideboard and Iíll be able to do well in Ghent with it.
So what cards am I looking forward to seeing in M13? Well as a core set there are obviously not as many new cards than the usual expansion set but there are a few that might see some play in Legacy.
Clock of Omens
Ok, so this one is a bit out of left field. But I think itís a really interesting card that might see some play in the MUD decks or Shot in the Dark (Tezzaret Control). I just like the idea of tapping
Metalworkerthen untapping it by tapping clock and Lightning Greaves. The fact that the artifact decks play artifact lands means that this card also reads pay 2 mana untap target artifact. The 4 converted mana cost is a little high and Iím not entirely sure that itís better than Voltaic Key either. At least itís uncommon.
When spoiled there was a lot of buzz on the internet and everyone thought this would be the next Delver. That was until they read the card properly and realised it counts the cards in the opponentís graveyard. Therefore this card is obviously not a main deck card. However when I got thinking, it seemed like it would be good in the RUG Delver mirror, where your opponent is trying to get to threshold and you also have Thought Scour. However I think Scavenging Ooze is just better in the mirror, as you probably want to keep your opponent off threshold. Plus Ooze gains life and becomes bigger than your opponent's creatures. That said RUG has no good way to deal with a 5/5 Flier, which is something I quite enjoyed when I used to play Tombstalker.
Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Moving onto the more obvious cards. Planeswalkers tend to only make the cut in Legacy if they are very powerful; Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Elspeth, Knight-Errant, Garruk, Primal Hunter and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. Or if they are easy to cast; Liliana of the Veil and
Garruk Relentless. Ajani obviously fits into the latter category and will probably see play in Maverick as the -3 Ability will usually one shot most opponents when activated on a Knight of the Reliquary. It does seem quite good out of the board for the Maverick mirror. But the main issue for me with Ajani in Maverick, is that it doesnít improve Maverick's poor matchups and the +1 ability probably doesnít do enough. Will it see play in Legacy? Definitely. Will it be good enough? Probably not.
Master of the Pearl Trident
People like Merfolk in Legacy and Merfolk wasnít a good deck for a long time. However the tides were starting to change and was getting to a point where Fish wasnít so questionable as it used to be. Suddenly a lot of people started playing the deck again, glad to be free of the frustration of playing a bad deck. The SCG Open in Seattle was won by Merfolk this past week. So Wizards decided to print an even better version of the best Merfolk lord. So it will definitely be a 4 of in every Fish deck. Some people were talking about playing it over Lord of Atlantis, that seems crazy. The starting point on the deck list should be 4 Master of the Pearl Trident and 4 Lord of Atlantis. It makes more sense to cut the Merrow Reejereys first (which would also mean that Aether Vials could stay on 2 counters). Another called would be to cut down on Coralhelm Commanders, but I was always a big fan of the blue dragon. Time will tell on how the Fish players decide to make the cuts.
This is probably my favourite card in the set and Iíll probably be putting 2 of these straight into my Maverick sideboard for the mirror. The main issue is, is it better than Linvala, Keeper of Silence in the mirror? My thoughts are that it probably is. Sheís not legendary, so she canít be bounced by Karakas or killed by Linvala (Legend rule). She kills Linvala when she attacks and at worst trades with Linvala on defence. The static exalted ability to all creatures gets around the static ability of the opponent's Linvala. Although she doesnít close down the opponent's team like Linvala does, I donít think I care when I am attacking in the air for 9 or 10 a turn. (Iíll let you in on a secret, Maverick is really soft to fliers).
Phew, we finally got there. I hope you enjoyed this edition of Breaking Through. As always you can follow me on Twitter using @flouncerat or comment below.
Ben 'Flounce' Shirley
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