Ryan Archer – Making Your Opponents See Red in Legacy

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Today I’m going to do something that may seem crazy to those of you who have been following my articles here on Brainstorm Brewery: I’m not going to talk about green-white in Standard. Lately, there have been next to zero Standard tournaments in my area, and as such, I have been focusing my attention on another format. A format which which I am not so familiar – a format called Legacy.

You may be asking, “Why do I need to care about Legacy?” Well for starters, it’s one of the most skill-intensive and fun formats around. It’s half of the tournament for Star City invitationals, where you can win a ton of money and other fabulous prizes. (Fabulous prizes equal getting your likeness turned into a goat.) That’s why I decided to take the plunge into Legacy: the invitational. I don’t necessarily care much about the token part, though during the car ride to Indianapolis my group and I tried to decide which token we would make when we won. Many great choices were thrown around including a Pack Rat token, a wurm token, an ooze token, and my pick, an angel token, because you never really see any male angels. Also, I’m slightly overweight so could you imagine this fat flying male angel coming to save the day? I wish I would have won that tournament.

So let’s go back. I just made top eight at the SCG classic in Lansing. All of a sudden I’m qualified for my first invitational. I know nothing about the format. I don’t know how the decks interact. I know nothing. I also don’t have a lot of time. I decide that since I don’t understand the other decks well that I should play a combo deck. I start looking at deck lists. I find nothing. Then all of a sudden I see Reuben Bresler make the finals of an open with the following red monster. I know, I know, it’s not a GW midrange deck, but it’ll do. I changed the Ratchet Bombs in the board to Tormod’s Crypts to handle Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and arrived at this:

This deck had everything that I wanted. It was a combo deck. It seemed easy to play and it seemed a little more forgiving than something like storm where if you make a mistake while comboing off you will lose. It also plays maindeck Blood Moon. That’s right, in a world where everyone loves to play duals and fetch lands you get to play maindeck Blood Moon. I figured in a format in which I know nothing, I might as well play a card that, against a lot of decks, completely shuts off their ability to play the game. Some lists play zero basics. I got no practice, but that’s okay because I had to work the Friday of the Invitational and missed it, instead playing in the two SCG opens on Saturday and Sunday.

The Legacy open went nowhere. I was tired from having to wake up early for top four of the Standard open. My opponents drew very well and I mulliganed a lot. I went 1-2, not really learning anything interesting about the format other than my opponents’ nut draws. I vowed that next time I would be ready for Legacy.

Since then, I’ve stuck with the deck, learned to play it, and have gotten better with the various lines of play. Since there haven’t been any large local Legacy tournaments, I figured I’d do a tournament report based on some smaller local Legacy events. But first, some quick discussion on how the deck works and some subtle nuisances. I’m going to assume you know nothing about the deck so some of the first few points may seem obvious.

So now that you’re an Imperial Painter expert, on to the matches.

Tournament 1

Round 1 Against the Local Ringer Playing Elves

So I know my opponent and I know what he’s playing. I curse my bad luck because not only is he good (placing top eight at several Legacy opens), he’s also playing a mono-color deck. “So much for those awesome Blood Moons,” I think to myself. I really miss those Ratchet Bombs now. I don’t really know this matchup, but I do know we are both combo decks racing to win.

Game one, I mulligan and keep a hand with a Lightning Bolt, a combo piece, some lands, and a Blood Moon. I play out my Grindstone. He plays some elves. I draw a Sensei’s Divining Top, play it, and bolt an elf. He plays some more elves. I play Blood Moon, having nothing else to do, but at least it shuts off his Gaea’s Cradle. He plays more elves and creates a bunch of mana off of Heritage Druid. He plays Natural Order, finds Craterhoof Behemoth, and attacks me for lethal.

I sideboard in EnsnaringBridge and anything else I can find for the Blood Moon-type cards. Game two, I play Ensnaring Bridge early to stop him from attacking – or so I think. He builds an army and casts Green Sun’s Zenith to find Viridian Shaman, then proceeds to kill me the exact same way.

We played about eight matches afterword so I could learn the matchup. I won one. I really don’t have any advice to help with this one except hope to avoid playing against it.

Round 2 Against Esper Stoneblade

My hand is great and has both combo pieces, until he casts Thoughtseize on both turn one and two to strip away both of them. I have some time to set up, but the turn before I can mill him, he attaches Batterskull to True-Name Nemesis and attacks for exactsies.

Game two, I board in more Blood Moons and counterspells. Again, he turn-one Thoughtseizes me, taking my combo piece, then casts Surgical Extraction to rid me of the rest of them. I now have no choice but to beat him down with creatures. I start destroying his lands with Wasteland. He plays a Stoneforge Mystic, which fetches a Batterskull before dying to my Lightning Bolt. We trade resources for a while and both end up low on cards. I play Blood Moon and he concedes. A little premature, I think, with a Batterskull in hand and me having to attack to win. Game three, he plays Tundra. I play turn-one Blood Moon that doesn’t get countered and he concedes again.

Round 3 Against Death and Taxes

I draw well in game one. He plays Aether Vial. I play Phyrexian Revoker naming Aether Vial. He doesn’t really mount any kind of offense before I assemble the combo and beat him. Game two, I play some disruptive creatures but I also play some creatures that prevent him from attacking. Imperial Recruiter is able to find Painter’s Servant and also block, which helped a lot, as a lot of his guys only had one toughness. Eventually, I find the land I’m lacking and combo him out.

I end up going 2-1 which is good enough for third place.

Tournament 2

Round 1 Against Dredge

I keep a hand of both combo pieces, a Sensei’s Divining Top, and lands, including Ancient Tomb. I have the option to play Servant first, but choose not to so I can cast Top and Grindstone. This turns out to be a mistake, as I draw City of Traitors, so instead of killing him on turn two, he gets an extra draw step. Luckily, he doesn’t dredge anything relevant.

Game two, my hand is decent while his hand is Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Golgari Grave-Troll, and four irrelevant cards. He says, “Hope this is enough,” cracks a Diamond to get the Troll into the graveyard, dredges nothing relevant, and passes. I play Grindstone with Servant in hand. He dredges again and hits Cabal Therapy and Narcomoeba. Sacking the Narcomoeba, he correctly names Painter’s Servant. He sacks the second Diamond, again just to get the Troll into the graveyard. He dredges one more time, and again hits nothing relevant. The next turn he has to draw a card instead of dredge – a good position for me. I eventually draw Imperial Recruiter to find Painter’s Servant and finish him off.

Round 2 Against Belcher

I know my opponent but I don’t know what he’s playing. He wins the roll and starts playing spells gaining mana. I pretend to think about whether or not I want to Force of Will something, but eventually with six red mana, he casts Burning Wish to find Empty the Warrens, making 14 goblins. I concede before he sees a card from my deck.

Game two, I mulligan to six but keep a first-turn Thorn of Amethyst hand. The Thorn is too much and I combo him out quicker than he can combo me out. Game three is wild. I play an early Revoker naming Goblin Charbelcher. I also play an early EnsnaringBridge to stop the goblin tokens. I then play a Thorn and he starts to build his hand. I play another Thorn and he sighs, but continues building his hand. I play every defensive card I draw,  just in case. I end up with tons of permanents but fail to draw a Painter’s Servant or Imperial Recruiter. I just end up milling him out the natural way with Grindstone over many turns.

Round 3 Against RWU Delver

We both keep our initial seven cards. He starts things off with a Stoneforge Mystic fetching a Batterskull, something about which my deck cares almost zero. I play Grindstone and get a Painter’s Servant Force of Willed. He is applying almost no pressure and I play Imperial Recruiter, getting another servant. I am able to stick one this time, and when he goes to make it a farmer with Swords to Plowshares, I have a Red Elemental Blast waiting. I untap and mill him out.

Game two is awesome for me. He plays Tundra and casts a Ponder. I play Ancient Tomb, exile a Simian Spirit Guide for mana, and cast Magus of the Moon, which he doesn’t counter. From then on I have every answer for everything he does. Turn two, he plays Grim Lavamancer and I follow up Spellskite. He plays Sword of Feast and Famine, I play Phyrexian Revoker. I end up drawing the combo and mill him out while he has six mountains in play and a hand full of cards.

3-0 which, because of tie-breakers, is good enough for first place.

Summing Up

I think that this deck is great for anyone trying to get into Legacy. Now obviously, I’m not trying to claim that I’m the best by showing you some small tournament results, but the deck is fun and interactive and I wanted to demonstrate that. You are really able to punish some of the greedy mana bases that the format has to offer, especially now that everyone is going ga-ga for True-Name Nemesis.

Do you have a suggestion for someone new to Legacy? What’s your opinion of the new True-Name Nemesis format? Sound off in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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Ryan Archer

@RyanArcherMTG     -     Email     -     Articles
Ryan Archer is a PTQ grinder and a Magic financier. When he's not making top eight in a tournament or looking for the next card to spike, he's playtesting as a member of Team RIW or writing articles for BrainstormBrewery.com or MTGinfosource.com
Ryan Archer

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    • Paul on December 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm
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    I play Werewolf Stompy in Legacy and the number of games you win off a turn 1 Blood Moon effect is absurd. Very fond of these decks which attack the game from such a different angle. The only “issue” with Painted Stone’s viability is getting access to the Recruiters (granted, actually a reasonable proposition since the reprint) and the fact that they are comparatively much more expensive than anything else in the deck.

  1. I only know of one man cartoony enough to play Werewolf Stompy and that’s Jon Johnson.

    • Paul on December 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm
    • Reply

    The first legacy deck I built was Dragon Stompy. While incredibly explosive, I feel that the Cavern/Magus/other Human aspect of Werewolf Stompy is just better. Whether I’m cartoony enough or not, I still play it. We also share a last name, if that helps!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about hair cool. Regards

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