Grand Prix Lille is coming up and we’re doing our best to figure out the metagame in order to get an advantage. The hope is that by making accurate predictions we will be better able to construct our decks to beat what other people are bringing to the tournament. While metagames vary depending on your location, it’s clear that the two most popular decks are Miracles and Omnitell. Both decks play a lot of library manipulation and are highly consistent as a result. Omnitell in particular is centered around this advantage, with stock lists rocking a full sixteen cantrips alongside both Dig Through Time and Cunning Wish. Rounding out the ‘decks to beat’ section over at ‘The Source’ we have Team America, Blade Control, Grixis Control and Death & Taxes. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these are the decks that will see the most play at GP Lille (although I’m confident both Miracles and Omnitell will be highly represented). For this reason I’m more interested in looking at the recurring themes – the shared characteristics between these decks – than I am at targeting specific decks (with Miracles and Omnitell being the exceptions). This article is a list of cards that are well positioned in today’s metagame, similar to what Carsten Kotter has done in the past. Some of these cards are all around well positioned against the current metagame, whereas some are strong in specific strategies, where they solve a particular problem for the deck.
Relic of Progenitus
Looking at the top decks at the moment, they all utilize the graveyard to some extent. Dig Through Time has proven to be one of the strongest cards in Legacy, and BUG Delver and Shardless BUG still have Tarmogoyf. During the Treasure Cruise era a number of people experimented with graveyard hate to fight the powerful, new Ancestral Recall. I was never a fan of this as that would often require you to play slower cards, losing tempo to the very aggressive Viking Funeral deck. Dig Through Time however is a different animal, making for a slower metagame.
The other issue I would normally have with using graveyard hate to fight delve spells is that you’re playing a card that deals with only a few of theirs, and only if you draw it before they can deploy them. Relic of Progenitus neatly circumvents this problem by requiring a very low investment. A one mana card that also cantrips is one that you will almost never be unhappy to have in your hand.I prefer Relic over Nihil Spellbomb for its ability to keep the graveyard empty, which is what you want in drawn-out games versus a Dig Through Time deck.
The main reason Relic doesn’t see more play at the moment is that not every strategy can realistically afford to include it. Many decks take advantage of their own graveyards and can’t afford to pop Relic to blow it up. In addition to this Relic is also often a low power card that doesn’t win you the game, making it difficult to fit into the decks that are already skimping on victory conditions in favor of library manipulation as they would rather play more copies of Ponder or Preordain. In the decks where it does fit however I’m always happy to have it in my opening hand. If you’re on Goblins, Merfolks, Death & Taxes I would strongly recommend this card.
With Omnitell taking over as the number one combo deck of the format we must also adapt to these changes, making sure we have the most effective disruption. Omnitell is a combo deck that is both highly consistent and highly resilient, especially to more traditional means of fighting combo, such as Thoughtseize and Force of Will. While they do have ways to deal with permanents through the power of their Cunning Wish sideboards, it is a much more awkward task for a deck that is used to things always running smoothly. Ethersworn Canonist slots nicely into existing creature strategies, particularly Death & Taxes, but there are other cards that will accomplish the same thing for you. Eidolon of Rhetoric is the more expensive option, but it survives cards like Massacre. The mana cost isn’t too much of a drawback against Omnitell either, as it’s usually safer to put it into play off of Show and Tell than risk it getting countered.
If you’re on a Reanimator strategy or something similar I would go with Iona, Shield of Emeria as she already fits so nicely into your own game plan. Trinisphere is quite strong in many of the decks designed to beat up on fair decks, such as Pox, Food Chain and MUD, and is often even stronger than Ethersworn Canonist against Omnitell due to them being able to cast spells on your turn as well. Rule of Law and Arcane Laboratory do not see much play at the moment, but they fulfill a similar role.
Vendilion Clique provides both instant speed disruption and a clock, making it ideal for decks with little need to tap out on their own turn, such as Miracles. It also happens to be very well positioned against the format’s top two decks. You can cast Vendilion Clique in response to a miracle trigger or during their end step to make sure the coast is clear for you to resolve a powerful spell on your own turn. Casting it in response to a Show and Tell and stripping away their Omniscience is the dream, as you will not only have dealt with one of their combo pieces, but they will have wasted another, as well as a turn’s worth of mana.
There are so many tricks you can do with a Vendilion Clique that the potential for outmaneuvering maneuvers that will quickly cripple their plan is high. The best part is that it’s by nature a proactive card, meaning it’s very much live even when the ability doesn’t add much value! Did I mention it does a pretty good job at carrying an Umezawa’s Jitte?
Krosan Grip answers Sensei’s Divining Top, Counterbalance and Omniscience, as well as various equipments and powerful one-ofs, such as Sylvan Library. Krosan Grip doesn’t go into as many decks as Disenchant would, but it’s particularly strong when the decks you want it against all have the ability to counter it, flip a top, or bounce a Batterskull. Just keep in mind that Counterbalance will still trigger and counter it if they have a three on top.
If you don’t feel like keeping three mana up at all times you could go with Seal of Cleansing or Seal of Primordium instead. Put one into play off of Show and Tell and you will be able to respond to their Cunning Wish Dig Through Time by blowing up their Omniscience, forcing them back to square one. As for creature decks I would strongly consider maindecking two to three copies of Qasali Pridemage, as it’s already a powerful threat on its own. Golgari Charm is an elegant option for black green players as it also answers their sideboard plan of Young Pyromancer.
This is one of those cards that if you resolve it against Mono Blue Omnitell it will almost certainly win you the game. A powerful effect indeed, hence why it’s priced at four mana. Four mana is a lot in Legacy, and since Omnitell can easily go off before turn four, I’d usually stick to other hate. However, for slower decks that normally pose a poor combo matchup this type of ‘I-win-the-game-spell’ is precisely the type of card you need, especially if you’re able to reach four mana earlier than normal, slow your opponent down for a turn, or both. Just take a look at Niklas Kronberger’s Abzan Loam list that claimed first place at Prague Eternal last week.
[deck title=Abzan Loam by Niklas Kronberger, 1st place at Prague Eternal]
1 Deathrite Shaman
4 Dark Confidant
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Gaddock Teeg
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Mox Diamond
4 Chalice of the Void
2 Sylvan Library
2 Life from the Loam
3 Punishing Fire
3 Abrupt Decay
2 Green Sun’s Zenith
3 Liliana of the Veil
3 Windswept Heath
3 Verdant Catacombs
3 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Maze of Ith
1 Tranquil Thicket
2 Barren Moor
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Slaughter Games
1 Reclamation Sage
2 Ethersworn Canonist
2 Golgari Charm
3 Leyline of the Void
The deck plays cards like Deathrite Shaman, Green Sun’s Zenith and Mox Diamond to ramp its mana, alongside powerful disruption in the form of Thoughtseize and Chalice of the Void (among other cards). Versus fair, blue decks that skimp on action cards in favor of cantrips being able to snipe their best cards can prove to be a great advantage. Miracles is a lot less scary when you no longer have to fear Entreat the Angels for example. This is why many Goblins players have adopted Earwig Squad as a one-of, myself included. Storm opponents scoop when their namesake cards are taken away. Stoneforge Mystic turns into a mere Squire when you take away their equipments. Another option is to play Slaughter Games as a Burning Wish target, effectively granting you access to multiple copies even in game one.
This weekend I will be participating in the Scandinavian Open in Malmö, Sweden. My last big tournament before GP Lille. You can catch the stream over at twitch.tv/svmtv and hopefully see me doing battle in the top 8. If you happen to be at the tournament site, be sure to stop by my friend who makes amazing alters. She will be taking commissions on site, and I strongly encourage you to check out her Facebook page; MTG Alterations & Art by P.G. Berg