I play a different Legacy deck in every local event based on what decks have been popular and recent metagame trends. For those of you who don’t know, a metagame is basically, what other people are playing at the moment. Metagames come in different sample sizes, from large-scale events, to tiny hometown eight-man events. Being able to predict the metagame and accurately depict how to beat the most played decks is the secret to success. It’s much easier to do on a small-scale level than at a large event such as a Grand Prix. Recently, I’ve been playing in two small town Legacy events a week.
These two metagames couldn’t be any more different. The first is dominated very much by blue-based decks and Maverick, which isn’t too far off from what the larger scale metagame looks like. This store isn’t very hard for me to figure out and combat with the appropriate deck and I actually win at that store frequently. The other store’s metagame is completely different, with only one other person from the first store. This second store consists of a lot of Elves, Affinity, random aggro, Burn, then Lands and UW Control. (This is actually a fantastic metagame for TES, though I don’t enjoy playing that deck at locals. I’d much rather expand my horizons). This store’s metagame is a very difficult puzzle to solve– up until this past weekend I haven’t won an event in the two month’s I’ve played there.
Sunday morning, I arrived at the mall [where store #2 is located] slightly too early at 10:30am before the mall opened at 11 (Seriously though, what mall opens that late?!). I sat down in the silent food court of the dead shopping mall and starred at my binders as I tried to solve the puzzle. I found a solution to everything other than Burn. That solution was Grixis Control:
Grixis Control (Revenge of the Sith)
1 Vendilion Clique
vs. Elves – Unfortunately, I never got to play against one of the three in the room. But boy was I prepared! Main deck Grim Lavamancer and Darkblast would’ve been a great foundation to combat the Elves the first game, recurable removal is really strong against aggressive decks. Especially decks where every creature in the deck has a power of one or two. Out of the sideboard there’s Perish and Engineered Plague! Yes, this is a lot of hate. However, out of the twelve-to-fourteen people in the weekly events there are usually at least three elf players in the room. A quarter of the metagame! I wanted to make sure I had the match-up down cold.
vs. Affinity – There’s usually one good Affinity player, then another guy who still plays with Atogs. There’s also occasionally a guy who loves to play Metalworker/Stax type decks. It takes some serious dedication to beat these decks unless one of two things happens. The first scenario being multiple Delver of Secrets opening hand, the second being a threat paired with a more than one counter spell to stop their relevant spells. In case you’ve forgotten already, I built the deck out of my binders while already at the mall. My options for artifact hate cards where to play Hurkyl’s Recall, Meltdown, Wipe Away or Ancient Grudge. The first two are the best choice out of what I had laying around, I also didn’t think splashing a Tropical Island was a good idea. I really enjoyed the idea of flashing back Meltdown with Snapcaster Mage. I probably would’ve run laps around that empty food court with glee. Sadly, that never got to happen.
vs. Random Aggro – It’s tough to define this category, but I’ll do my best. There are usually a couple less experienced players playing decks that just want to attack with large creatures and that’s fine. Not everyone is a Johnny, Combo Player or a Spike – it’s tough to keep this in mind sometimes but it’s a truth. There are a couple of brothers that both own the same two decks, the first deck being “Sneak and Show” or Hive Mind depending on the week (We deemed them “Com-bros” for this reason) or Mono-White aggro/Death & Taxes. The brothers played their combo decks the week before, because of this I put them on Death & Taxes! Sulfur Elemental, I found two in the foil binder very cheap and threw them in my sideboard. Anyone who has played RUG Tempo/Canadian Threshold in the last month knows how good Sulfur Elemental is against Maverick. Killing Mother of Runes isn’t an easy task without Sulfur Elemental, the +1/-1 comes in handy at killing Thalia too. If Sulfur Elemental is that good against Maverick how incredible would the split-second menace be against mono-white decks? Exactly.
vs. Burn – There was no hope here. Between next to no clock, very few basics, Dark Confidant, and literally zero life gain. Trying to fix the match-up would be ridiculous within these colors. The best option would be to switch decks, probably running something with Leyline of Sanctity.
vs. Lands – Game one is a bit of a coin flip. The goal is to draw two creatures and counter Life from the Loams as much as possible. Not allowing the lands player to Glacial Chasm or Maze of Ith the deck out. If this isn’t obtainable, there’s always Jace! Postboard, it would be ideal to remove Life from the Loam from the game using Surgical Extraction. The same can be said for Crucible of Worlds, don’t allow that card to hit the table. Ever.
vs. UW Control – You’re the aggro deck in this match-up. Have them waste removal on Delver of Secrets and protect Dark Confidant. The match-up is all about card advantage and Dark Confidant does this single handily. Inquisitions are fantastic in this match-up revealing the opponents’ hand giving away information is a big difference. Not having to play around removal or counters, it’s not tough to get the idea. Postboard, Pyroblast and Surgical Extractions. The black removal spells and Grim Lavamancer aren’t necessary. Yes, I left in Force of Will – it holds more value than dead removal spells.
Now that the match-ups are done, I’ll describe the event.
Round One: Reanimator. (2-0)
Round Two: Sneak & Show. (2-1)
Round Three: T.E.S. (2-0)
Round Four: UW Control. (2-0)
Round one, I sat down and knew what I was playing against, luckily I had Surgical Extractions in the sideboard. I wasn’t intending on playing the match-up, but I’ve had enough experience and the right cards for the job. It was a pretty easy victory. Remember the “Com-Bros” (I wish I had a brother. Who just happened to played combo, seriously) I mentioned? I predicted them wrong. Not on mono-white, meaning those Sulfur Elementals were dead. The game three of that match-up was probably the worse game of Magic I’ve ever been a part of. I had a turn two Dark Confidant, my opponent played a Blood Moon, I then attacked for ten straight turns trying not to die to my own Confidant. I never drew a basic land until I was at six life by that point in time my opponent was at eight – it was very scary. Luckily, the dark side didn’t kill me! I was pretty lucky in the T.E.S match-up. I wasn’t prepared to play against combo. There wasn’t any dedicated hate in the sideboard, although, the deck killed it’s self game one, then game two my hand was quite terrific against combo.
No matter how well you prepare for a metagame, sometimes things don’t always go as planned. There were fourteen people at the event. Every single deck I prepared for was there. Up until this point, I hadn’t played against a single deck yet that I came there swinging for, that was, until round four.
UW Control. Game one, I drew three Delver of Secrets within the first three turns of the game. I then managed to fight off Swords to Plowshares, Snapcaster Mage, flash back Sword to Plowshares to ensure an easy victory. Game two was different, it was much longer one in which my opponent had mulliganed aggressively into removal and I was threat light. I decided to play the controlling route and was successful. I landed a Jace and started to add counters before the concession. Sometimes the game plan changes and it’s required to change roles in order to get that win next to your name.
I created a metagame deck for the wrong night. That’s fine, I still ended up with first place. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you can combat the decks at the local shop if the pairings don’t work out as expected. The thing to keep in mind is decks still need to be functional and viable outside of the decks it’s tuned to beat. Otherwise we as Magic players would see a lot more Null Rod and Choke in the main decks.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource