Three weeks ago I sat down for round two of the weekly Legacy event and my opponent was Trevor Brown. Recently, I’ve been playing a new deck in our locals every week, as I’ve mentioned before. This strategy has done me very well over the last two months considering there hasn’t been an event where I didn’t make finals. During this round two Trevor had figured out a decent strategy to figure out what I was playing that week. Looking at the success rates of decks most popular on the Star City Games circuit. He looked at his and said, “This hand just loses to burn. Are you playing burn?” I just sat there with a blank face. “YOU’RE PLAYING BURN AREN’T YOU?” I just smiled. Trevor played a turn one Dryad Arbor and passes. I lead off with a Mountain into a Lava Spike. I ended up winning the event and a dual land. But the point of this tale is that I’ve become predictable. Almost a week later I sat down Wednesday night trying to figure out what deck to play the next night. I sent Trevor a message because he’d figured me out. His response was, “Why don’t you build something new?”
I did just that. I knew that I wanted to build a metagame deck. There has been next to no aggro decks in the Syracuse metagame lately which has lead to an increase in Island based decks and Stifle/Wasteland. There has also been a rise in combo due to my recent success down at Jupiter Games over the last few months. Knowing these things I wanted to build a deck with a very stable manabase with counterspells. These ideas lead me to create:
The deck is modeled after RUG Delver if it was forced to become mono-colored. All of these creatures besides possibly Phantasmal Image or Kira, Great Glass-Spinner (See: Below) have been in a RUG list at some point or another. The removal package switches from Lightning Bolts to Dismembers. While you are required to pay a minimum of two life to cast Dismember in this deck, it does kill larger creatures and allows for a better manabase. The downside is the deck loses the option to throw the creature removal at the opponent in exchange for their life total. Otherwise the deck looks very similar.
The benefits to this deck over, say, RUG or UW Stoneforge is that it has an incredibly consistent manabase that is very good in a Stifle/Wasteland Metagame while being able to play it’s own Stifles and Wastelands. Back to Basics can also serve as a game winner in these matches or against traditional control decks. Something I’ve considered is cutting Brainstorm all together. Before axes and battering rams are trying to break down my door let me explain. Without Brainstorm, the deck would be able to play zero fetchlands. This is very appealing. The four slots would probably be 2 more Ponder and 2 of something else, maybe Preordain. It would make the deck less powerful in the long run losing the ability to hold late game land and turn them into useful cards with Brainstorm however. It’s just a thought, I haven’t put any practice into it.
One card that was included in the deck for more of “Danger of cool things” than how good it was is Phantasmal Image. It kills Geist of Saint Traft and Thrun, the Last Troll which have been increasing in play in Legacy. However, Image wasn’t included because it can Legend rule out opposing creatures. It was included as a utility creature to copy flipped Delver of Secrets on turn two or possibly a Snapcaster Mage to increase value. There’s also sideboarding in Jitte’s against UW control to copy potential Stoneforge Mystics. I’m unsure if this is the most optimal play, but it’s still very cool. Regardless, Phantasmal Image made the original cuts.
I focused the sideboard around beating bad match-ups, perhaps it wasn’t the best idea for a weekly event. This article wasn’t intended to be a tournament report, meaning, I’m not going to do a round by round. But instead, I’ll note things I liked and disliked throughout the event.
Notes from the event
- Stifle/Wasteland was incredibly strong against the popular three color manabases.
- Stifle/Wasteland wasn’t very effective against me, aside from the one game I opened with both Underground Sea to have them both Wastelanded on back to back turns.
- The deck is incredibly strong against combo.
- I never was in a position where Phantasmal Image was good.
- I didn’t get to live the dream of turn one Delver of Secrets, turn two, Image copying a flipped Delver of Secrets.
- Darkblast was an issue, even though I won through it.
- Engineered Plague on Wizard was a bigger issue. I didn’t win through it.
- Ensnaring Bridge was unbeatable.
- The deck had a problem with resolved Permanents.
- Back to Basics was insane. Especially paired with Stifle on fetchlands for basic lands.
- A deck full of creatures with Flash was very good because I was always able to bluff counter mana.
- I wanted more creatures maindeck.
- Decks with lots of removal would’ve been an issue.
- I wanted a couple copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptors for longer games against control match-ups.
If I were to play the deck again, I would run something that looked like…
The differences between the maindecks are:
-2 Phantasmal Image
-1 Spell Pierce
-1 Underground Sea
+2 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
+1 Vendilion Clique
The differences between the sideboards are:
+2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
No Phantasmal Image. I was extremely unimpressed with the card, perhaps it’s good in a different metagame. Probably a better game with more useful creatures to copy, more than likely it’d be good in an aggro metagame. However, I don’t see this deck doing well in that metagame. Instead running a creature like Kira, Great Glass-Spinner would be better because it nullifies removal against a deck with very few creatures. If anyone else can think of something better feel free to chime in.
After watching Caleb Durward play his mono-blue deck at the last Star City event I realized that the deck was missing Repeal. Four Dismember looked awfully ugly on paper. I considered Vapor Snag, but running unsummon in a format where most creatures have great “Enter the Battlefield” triggers seemed weak. Repeal can answer those pesky resolved permanents while drawing a card! I cannot wait until the day I bounce an Insectile Aberration (Flipped Delver of Secrets) and draw a card for a measly blue mana.
Island over an Underground Sea is a change that doesn’t matter all that much, but I never once tapped Underground Sea for a black mana throughout the event. However, it was the target of Wasteland more times than I’d like.
Is this deck better than RUG Delver? I’m unsure. It would win a lot more tempo mirrors than RUG Delver, the downside is it’s slightly worse against randomness and aggro decks. At the Jupiter Games NELC Qualifier events every month Mono-Blue Tempo would definitely be a better choice than RUG Delver because there are very few aggressive aggro decks in the metagame. However, there are a lot of tempo decks packing Stifles paired with Wastelands. These cards not being effective against Mono-Blue would steal a lot of matches.
The deck is very good against combo too, which may be a bad thing considering I haven’t done worse than top 16 in the last six months. Forget what I just wrote, I want to continue to do well at the monthly Jupiter Games events. In all seriousness, I think Mono-Blue Tempo could be a real competitor. Windmill-slamming Back to Basics on the table has a dirty yet satisfying feeling. It’s an underserved win, but a win is a win!
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource