bryantdispense

Cook’s Kitchen –An Uprising of Mavericks

Last weekend was Star City Games: Baltimore, I managed to top 8 the Standard Open with the exact list I wrote about last week. It ran incredibly well, the only round I lost was to a questionable play of adding a third counter to Ratchet Bomb. Oh well, mistakes happen to the best of us. But my performance isn’t what this article is about. It’s about how well Maverick did in the Legacy Open! Maverick took six of the top eight slots of this week’s open. A deck hasn’t done this well since Vengevine paired with Survival.

What’s making this deck win so much? Consistency. Maverick is by far the most consistent deck in the format. It’s a very redundant strategy paired with plenty of tutors to find “silver bullets” that the deck has to offer. Because of these silver bullets, Maverick doesn’t have terrible match-ups. The deck literally has game versus every single deck in the format. I wish I were exaggerating. Sadly, I am not. As a combo player, I’ve lost to green and white creatures more times than I am proud of due to Gaddock Teeg being found by Green Sun’s Zenith or more recently a turn two Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. These cards are only a maximum of four slots of Maverick’s seventy-five. However, the effects are so powerful that Maverick players can mulligan until they find them and have a fighting chance of winning the game. These same four slots are also great against the control decks of the format, shutting off Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Wrath of God by simply keeping them from being cast. The cards in Maverick are all multi-functional and aren’t terrible in any situation, giving the deck very few weaknesses.

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From talking to Maverick players the deck can be very forgiving with mulligans and play mistakes since the deck is literally mana, acceleration, and powerful threats. Due to the power levels of some of these cards it’s not unlikely to draw a card and be back in the game even though Scryb Ranger was misused the turn before. I’m not saying Maverick isn’t a tough or hard deck to pilot correctly, what I am saying is that its strong enough to carry average or poor players to victory. Maverick is comparable to the ramp decks in Standard except it’s only necessary to ramp to three or four mana within the first few turns before dropping a Knight of the Reliquary, Geist of Saint Traft, or Elspeth, Knight-Errant.

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Maverick can easily be shaped into beating any given deck since the decklists are never set in stone with plenty of flexible slots for tutor targets. Maverick decks have many variations of the deck. There are lists that are just Green and White, some with red for Punishing Fire, some with Geists of Saint Traft, and then different versions that run Fauna Shaman into Loyal Retainers reanimating an Iona, Shield of Emeria or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. However, the core and center of these decks is usually the same:

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Noble Hierarch/Birds of Paradise

Mother of Runes

Knight of the Reliquary

Qasali Pridemage

Scavenging Ooze

Swords to Plowshares

Green Sun’s Zenith

Dryad Arbor

Scryb Ranger

Umezawa’s Jitte

Karakas

Horizon Canopy

Bojuka Bog

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The cards that aren’t key roles to the deck but are often found in lists are:

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Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows

Geist of Saint Traft

Gaddock Teeg

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Fauna Shaman/Loyal Retainers

Thrun, the Last Troll

Stoneforge Mystic

Elspeth, Knight-Errant

Eternal Witness

Rhox War Monk

Tarmogoyf

Aven Mindcensor

Sylvan Library

Gaea’s Cradle

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The core of the deck is pretty stable. The cards that are often in and out of lists are more interesting. I’m not going to discuss each one individually but I’ll mention a couple. Punishing Fires along side Grove of the Burnwillows is very strong in an aggro metagame, including the mirror! (It’s also very good against Delver/Stoneforge) recur-able removal that can kill Mother of Runes between an end step and a main phase isn’t terrible. The downside to this package is that it really weakens the manabase of the deck. It’s also not very effective versus combo or control. While what does help the combo and control match-ups is the GaddockTeeg/Thalia packaged that I mentioned earlier. While it seems like if you can beat aggro, combo, and control the deck is damn near perfect, the problem is Punishing Fires and Thalia aren’t exactly synergistic. Lists are forced to make a decision between the two of them. Recently Thalia has been the “Flavor of the Week” (American Hi-Fi reference anyone?) over Punishing Fires, but who knows what two weeks from now will look like?

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Cards such as Thrun, the Last Troll and Geist of Saint Traft are found in heavy control metagames. The untargetability of the two creatures in a format that’s populated with 90% spot removal can often easily win games. The downsides are the mana costs of these legendary menaces. Four mana in a very mana-hungry deck can be obnoxious, and the same could be said for the blue requirement of Geist. But if you’re already splashing blue, Rhox War Monk for life gain against burn isn’t terrible or Spell Pierce against combo.

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One would think Stoneforge Mystic would be under the core of the deck. Recent lists have been moving away from Stoneforge Mystic, there were several lists day 2 of Grand Prix: Indianapolis that weren’t running any -these lists were mostly inspired by the Canadian players. At Baltimore I was lucky enough to have my round one opponent not to show up, meaning that I got to watch some feature matches! I was an onlooker to Ryan McKinney vs. Brian Kibler, after the match I was part of a group conversation where Kibler was mentioning how slow Stoneforge Mystic was and how it doesn’t actually improve the deck. Most lists would just be better off running two Umezawa’s Jitte according to Kilber. This wasn’t his only argument, the rest have since slipped my mind, but they were very convincing at the time.

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What does this mean? A lot of players are looking for a card to ban from Maverick to stop the deck’s recent success. Many people are pointing fingers at Stoneforge Mystic which would be a bit foolish since many lists are leaving behind the Squire-Tutor. Stoneforge Mystic, while being unfair at times isn’t, the sole reason of consistency within these Maverick decks. What Mystic does do is turn mediocre threats such as Scryb Ranger into an actual card that needs to be answered by attaching a Sword. Many people think of Stoneforge Mystic and associate Batterskull, when looking at a majority of successful Maverick lists Batterskull is absent. The reason being that it just isn’t needed. The card is clunky and the deck already has cards that serve similar functions. If Stoneforge Mystic isn’t cheating a five mana card into play, it’s just a tutor for equipment – a more expensive Steelshaper’s Gift! At that point, the deck would actually just be better off playing more actual threats.

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Maverick isn’t really benefiting from Stoneforge Mystic, the more likely culprit would be the main source of consistency – Green Sun’s Zenith. The card is a reusable tutor to put any creature besides Mother of Ruins, Thalia, or Stoneforge Mystic (in lists that still play it) into play that isn’t restricted! A one-of Gaddock Teeg to stop Storm Combo is now a five-of with four Green Suns in the decklist. Same could be said for Thrun against control decks! The card provides virtual repetitive threats. Maverick is allowed to play Rampant Growth at the cost of one green mana and it can attack for one (Dryad Arbor)! Green Sun Zenith is a multifunctional card that may be pushing the boundaries of how good the card is for Legacy. Although, I don’t believe that it or any other card in the deck should be banned. I’m going to say this in one line to get this point across:

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Maverick is the most fair deck in Legacy.

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The deck literally wins with 1/1’s and 2/2’s most of time. Yes, it can win with a huge Knight of the Reliquary but how often does this happen with many decks in the format holding removal for the card? I think the problem is that people haven’t taken Maverick seriously as a deck that stands tall in the Legacy metagame. The metagame has shifted and players haven’t shifted or prepared to stay current within the new metagame. People need to be boarding Virtue’s Ruin as they did Perish during NO RUG’s reign. Other options include Sulfur Elemental or Dread of Night. Respect the deck, people. It’s a great, fair deck that can win on the back of small utility creatures that turn sideways. It’s what Wizards of the Coast loves to see, people winning rounds through the red zone. I wouldn’t count on anything being banned for the time being, I suggest picking strategies in a new and different metagame that answer these pests.

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Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!

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Bryant Cook

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Bryant Cook on MTGthesource

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BCook3289@yahoo.com

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