Cook’s Kitchen – ‘Murica (NELC: 02/02/2013)
If there was one thing that I enjoyed about playing Esperblade the previous month, it was without a doubt playing Geist of Saint Traft in Legacy. Every game that I won at a reasonable pace was from either an early Jace or Geist of Saint Traft. Playing cards like Stoneforge Mystic and Lingering Souls while effective didn’t really peak my interests.
Playing with Geist was actually fun because it was a quick win and didn’t consist of multiple turns grinding the opponent out. As much as I enjoyed playing Geist of Saint Traft, Esperblade isn’t exactly the right shell for it. If playing UW Delver in Standard for a year taught me anything it was that in order to make Geist the most effective it can possibly be, it needs a clear path. Meaning that Geist is good against Control decks, and in any deck that you can clear blockers out of the way. One of the benefits of running Geist in Legacy is that there’s better removal spells than Gut Shot and Vapor Snag.
With how Legacy at Jupiter Games has shifted to mid-range aggro decks, playing Geist meant packing plenty of removal in order for Geist to walk on through. With all of the Deathrite Shamans running around, playing Grim Lavamancer only made sense. Not to mention, more and more people have been picking up Elves which Lavamancer does a number against. The last benefit of Lavamancer aside from the fact that it provides recurring removal is that it’s another spell that provides “reach” besides Lightning Bolt. Sometimes these fast tempo decks need that extra boost or a few points to get the job done, Grim Lavamancer is there for that. The downside of playing Grim Lavamancer is that Snapcaster Mage isn’t a viable option in my opinion. The deck could’ve ran a pair of Snapcasters, however, I’m not a fan of anti-syngergistic cards in my decks.The solution was instead to run a couple of Vendilion Clique, they essentially both cost three mana for a value effect except that Clique is larger and has evasion.
[Editor’s note – click any of blue card names or featured card images to view and purchase the card from Jupiter Games!]
I would like to note that I didn’t work on ‘Murica solo, I had assistance from Paolo Cesari. The deck was a joint effort, we both decided to pilot the deck in the NELC since we both believed it was a great metagame call. Back to the conversation, another reason we opted to play Vendilion Clique over Snapcaster Mage was the fact that Clique has synergy with the singleton Karakas used to bounce Geist in a pinch. One of Paolo’s suggestions was to add his favorite pair of cards to the deck Stifle & Wasteland. I was hesitant when he made the suggestion, there was already a Karakas and Plateau as lands that didn’t cast a turn one Delver of Secrets or Cantrip. There was also the fact that I had piloted the deck without these cards to a perfect 5-0 at a local event just two days before the event. Although, I had to admit that it made sense to add those cards to a tempo based deck.
What we ended up looked a bit like this:
By Bryant Cook & Paolo Cesari
Paolo’s list was almost identical, except he had a 4th copy of Wasteland over the basic Island. I had more than one occasion where the Island was invaluable. I would open with a fetchland, multiple Cantrips and a Delver of Secrets! The only card I feared was Wasteland at that point. Fortunately I was able to find an indestructible mana source, basic Island, take that Wasteland! Paolo claims he never wanted a basic throughout the day, it could just be personal preference. In order to make room for Paolo’s Stifles, we had to shave some numbers, I was originally playing two additional Ponder, the fourth Force of Will, and another copy of Spell Pierce in the main deck. When I ran the deck at our local event, it was very consistent. I’m not saying the list with Stifle isn’t, it’s just less consistent due to two less Ponder. Which isn’t really that big of an issue. I believe over the course of the day on Saturday that Stifle carried its weight as it won multiple matches on its own. There were at least three occasions where my opponent sat there furious without lands due to the combination Paolo recommended. I’ll admit, there were times when the pair of cards were phenomenal, but then again sometimes Stifle just sat in my hand.
The removal package of Lightning Bolt, Swords to Plowshares, and Grim Lavamancer did a fine job over the weekend for both Paolo and myself. It was a very weird removal suite, there’s Lightning Bolt which is either a removal spell or a tempo increaser, next to Swords to Plowshares which can slow down the game plan. Paolo and I didn’t want the same problem that RUG Delver has of not being able to answer large opposing creatures such as Tarmogoyf or Knight of the Reliquary. The slight life gain was worth the ability to answer anything in our eyes, another option was to run Path to Exile. While this card would actually work better with our overall goal of winning before the opponent stabilizes, it was incredibly counter-productive to run it along side of Stifle and Wasteland. Perhaps lists that opt not to run the mana denial pair should run Path rather than Swords to Plowshares.
The remaining cards left are the core of the deck, the reminisce of RUG Delver, and our starting point for building ‘Murica! Almost all of these cards, Ponder, Brainstorm, Spell Pierce, Daze, Force of Will and Delver of Secrets really don’t need any further explanation. They’re the cards that make the tempo engine viable. These cards ensure that Delver of Secrets is a threat in the early turns and then protect the flying aberration until the opponents life total is zero.
As for the event? I didn’t fare so well. I had a disappointing 4-3 record at the end of the day while Paolo went 5-0-2 through the swiss and eventually made the quarterfinals where he fell to Maverick. Quite the opposite record, even though I had an abysmal performance, I have a lot of faith in this deck. It was a blast to play and was very good, I felt like I was in every game, much like the feeling I had the month prior when I piloted Jund in Modern. My losses were all very different. I gained my first loss during the second round against a gentleman who was very nervous piloting ScapeWish NicFit, who instead of combo killing me just grinded me out with Thragtusks and Primeval Titans. A match-up which I should undoubtedly lose, it’s a pretty bad match-up. The frustrating part on my end was that I had every opportunity to win that round, my opponent misplayed several times each game. If I could have had a stronger draw in a couple of places I could’ve been the victor. Sometimes it’s just not meant to be.
My second loss was to UWr Rest in Peace combo, probably my closest round the entire day. The first game I had my opponent with zero cards in hand, five lands, and a Helm of Obedience in play and five life. I draw a Spell Pierce for turn and my hand is now Swords to Plowshares, Spell Pierce, and a land with a Vendillion Clique attacking him to two life. He untaps and draws Rest in Peace. Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. The second game was clearly defined by Stifle paired alongside Wasteland. The final game of the round was a blowout, turn one Sensei’s Diving Top followed by a Counterbalance. I Daze, he Forces. I play a Geist on turn four to which he reveals a Back to Basics to Counterbalance. I look down at Tundra, Volcanic Island, and Plateau in play, Awkward. I end up finding Disenchant and my basic Island before he attempts to win the game, two cards in his hand and he goes for the win. I Force of Will he plays his own on my Force. The Helm resolves, he activates, I Disenchant in response, he activates top and reveals a two to Counterbalance my Disenchant.
My final loss of the day was round seven against Esperblade, a long day with a disappointing record, I just wasn’t interested in Magic at this point. I played poorly and my opponent just ran me over, it was rather embarrassing. What I found interesting about this round was that my opponent had no interest in our round either, he just wanted to know more about ‘Murica. He asked me for my decklist, I gave it to him, he asked if I worked with Paolo who had been preparing for top 8. We chatted about the deck before parting ways, I think it was still a great choice for the event and would play the deck in a similar metagame all over again.
One bad match-up, one close round, and a slew of misplays. Those were my three loses, I’ll accept the bad match-up, the close round could always go either way, and the third loss was to carelessness. If I would’ve just picked myself up, it might not have been a problem. I spent most of the day when I wasn’t playing a round trading cards in to the store. I parted ways with a lot of Standard cards, a few spare Legacy cards, and copies of white boarder dual lands for their foreign black boarder counterparts. I’ve started a slippery slope with FBB dual lands, thirteen down, twenty-seven to go.
I’m looking forward to going out to the March 2nd event at Jupiter Games!
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource