Splinter Twin in Legacy

This year’s Legacy Champs took place a few weeks ago, and was taken down by none other than Bob Huang, this time piloting a Grixis Delver deck. Grixis is very well positioned in today’s metagame, and it’s no surprise to me that it managed to put up a great finish, especially in the hands of an excellent pilot.

What did take me by surprise however was seeing a Splinter Twin deck, not just in the event, but in the top 8! Max Ansbro piloted a Blue Red Splinter Twin list splashing white all the way to the elimination rounds.

 

[deck title= Jeskai Splinter Twin by Max Ansbro]

 

[Creatures]

*3 Deciever Exarch

*3 Pestermite

*2 Snapcaster Mage

*2 Vendilion Clique

[/Creatures]splintertwin

 

[Spells]

*2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

*4 Brainstorm

*4 Ponder

*4 Force of Will

*2 Counterspell

*1 Spell Snare

*1 Engineered Explosives

*4 Lightning Bolt

*4 Splinter Twin

*3 Dig Through Time

*1 Pyroblast

[/Spells]

 

[Lands]

*4 Island

*1 Mountain

*4 Scalding Tarn

*4 Flooded Strand

*1 Arid Mesa

*4 Volcanic Island

*1 Tundra

*1 Plateau

[/Lands]

 

[Sideboard]

*2 Relic of Progenitus

*2 Wear // Tear

*2 Ethersworn Canonist

*2 Sulfur Elemental

*2 Misdirection

*2 Pyroblast

*2 Flusterstorm

*1 Izzet Staticaster

[/Sideboard]

[/Deck]

 

I saw the list, and my interest was immediately piqued. I called some of my friends to tell them about it, and while none of them seemed as excited as I was, it wasn’t long before I was able to put the deck together. My friends were quick to lend me whatever cards I needed, and I took the deck for a spin at one of our local weekly Legacy tournaments.

 

Round 1 I sat down across a friend and excellent Shardless BUG player. My hand was a bit slow game 1, but an end of turn Pestermite took him by surprise and I proceeded to combo him out on the following turn. He evened things out in game 2, and we were off to a final game. Time was called and I conceded to his one copy of Night of Soul’s Betrayal. This was the first example of my inexperience with the deck punishing me. Had I been more skilled with it we wouldn’t have gone to time. I don’t know if I should have shaved on the combo during sideboarding to make such hate less devastating, or simply bring in some enchantment removal as protection, but I’m certain my chances would have been much higher, had I come prepared.

I lost the second round, and then got an unintentional draw in the third, once more showcasing my lack of experience piloting the deck. The fourth round I was paired against a friend on Burn. We played a couple more games after we had finished our match, and wow, did the matchup seem great for Splinter Twin! Nearly every game consisted of me having some way to deal with his creatures, and then killing him with the combo with countermagic still in hand. His inability to interact well with what I was doing, and the ease at which the Splinter Twin deck could answer his plays made the matchup a very favorable one for the blue deck.

 

I wasn’t too happy with my poor finish, but I still felt the deck had potential and that I myself had a lot to improve upon as a pilot. I found that knowing what type of game I was supposed to be playing was very difficult with this deck, and I’m certain I made at least a dozen terrible decisions.

It was for this reason that I decided not to give up on the deck just yet, and a few days later I found myself at home testing against a friend on Miracles. We played a lot of games and the matchup felt super tight and pretty even. My red cards were better than his white ones, but Counterbalance was just such a beating that I had trouble winning the games where he got it into play on turn two.

We talked a lot about the deck between games, trying to find a configuration of the deck that we were happy with. I wanted to add more snapcasters, but we came to the conclusion that the maindeck was fairly well tuned already, and it was tough to make room for it. The white splash had also felt pretty lackluster, and my friend recommended the card Desolate Lighthouse. Blue and red are both great colors in Legacy at the moment, and Desolate Lighthouse was the reward for staying nearly two colors. My opponent would be reluctant to tap out on his turn due to fearing the combo, and every turn I got to sculpt my hand a little bit more, giving me inevitability.desolatelighthouse

 

Two copies of Desolate Lighthouse felt like a great addition to the deck, and I’m definitely keeping them around. The combo won me a few games, but I was never happy to see any of the pieces in my opening hand, and felt much more comfortable just playing as a blue red control deck. Counterbalance was the problematic card, and I think if I could reliably deal with it the matchup would be strongly in Twin’s favor. Right now I am considering trying the green splash instead, playing three copies of Krosan Grip in the sideboard. It’s worse than Wear // Tear against Death and Taxes, but much better against Counterbalance. I think it’s worth a shot.

A lot of the time I wanted to shave on the combo going into game two, and play more of a fair game instead. The fear of the combo alone is often enough to put you in the driver’s seat, and I would much rather play to that advantage than cross my fingers and hope. This however leads to us being a bit short on win conditions (one of the reasons I wanted more Snapcaster Mages), and so I would like to fit another card that can win me the game somewhere in the 75.

 

Tips & Tricks

 

Splinter Twin isn’t just a combo piece. You can put it on a Snapcaster Mage as a ‘make-your-own’ Isochron Scepter. The 2/1 body isn’t always too impressive, so turning it into a swiss army knife of instants and sorceries is a great upgrade.

 

Pestermite and Deceiver Exarch can be used on your opponent’s upkeep to Rishadan Port them and hopefully buy a turn, allowing you to catch up or land a Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

 

The Miracles matchup is very tight and requires you to spend your resources carefully. You can gain an advantage from getting good use out of your weaker cards. Lightning Bolt can take out a Jace, and so can an end of turn Pestermite (with a little help).

 

Izzet Staticaster + Pestermite go very well together as you can untap the Staticaster to deal even more damage in a turn.

 

[deck title=Splinter Twin by Sandro Rajalin]

 

[Creatures]

*2 Pestermite

*3 Deceiver Exarch

*3 Snapcaster Mage

*2 Vendilion Clique

[/Creatures]

 

[Spells]

*4 Brainstorm

*4 Ponder

*4 Force of Will

*4 Lightning Bolt

*3 Dig Through Time

*2 Counterspell

*1 Pyroblast

*4 Splinter Twin

*3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

[/Spells]

 

[Lands]

*2 Desolate Lighthouse

*4 Volcanic Island

*2 Tropical Island

*3 Island

*1 Mountain

*4 Scalding Tarn

*4 Flooded Strand

*1 Polluted Delta

[/Lands]

 

[Sideboard]

*3 Krosan Grip

*1 Null Rod

*2 Sulfur Elemental

*1 Izzet Staticaster

*2 Flusterstorm

*2 Pyroblast

*2 Relic of Progenitus

*1 Blood Moon

[/Sideboard]

[/Deck]

This is the list I will be trying next. The original version felt a bit tight on mana at times, so I’ve added an additional land to bring the total to 21. With the addition of another land I decided to add a third Jace and two copies of Desolate Lighthouse in order to mitigate the chances of flooding.

Null Rod does some work against Miracles in addition to replacing the Ethersworn Canonist as combo hate against Storm. It also deals with the equipment in Death and Taxes, something I think will be necessary now that I’ve cut the Wear // Tear for Krosan Grip.

Blood Moon is a card that just straight up wins against some decks, and a single copy can go a long way in a deck where Dig Through Time can help find it.

 

I still haven’t quite figured out this deck. Blue and red are both very strong colors in the format at the moment, and I’m not sure as to whether the Splinter Twin aspect is actually good or just cute. What I do know is that the deck is very challenging and fun to play, and I want to take it for at least another spin or two before I make up my mind. 

Until next time,

Sandro Rajalin.

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