On the first of February there was a monthly Legacy tournament at Manaleak. I decided that it was time to put my money where my mouth was and play a deck I’d written about. Except I chickened out a little. Having seen this article from Adam Barnello on the same day that my article was published I felt that the his build with more Cloudforms and Phyrexian Dreadnoughts and fewer fatties could be better.
I also listened to some podcasts (especially Legacy Breakfast) and read a few articles on the updated Legacy metagame and how it seemed to have evolved since the banning of Treasure Cruise a few weeks ago. I felt that with Wasteland and Daze getting better, maybe it was time to dust these cards off, along with my Stifles and Standstills, and play more of a Tempo game. I liked the idea of running Mastery of the Unseen alongside Standstill more though, so I left those in instead of switching to Lightform.
I did want to try the Flicker approach to the deck though, so I included it in a transformative sideboard plan (I do love me a transformative sideboard).
Tempo Dreadfest, a Legacy Deck by Christopher Cooper
I would call the above list far from optimised but I am certainly working on it.
In Round One I played against Derek Neill with Dark Maverick. I kept a turn two Phyrexian Dreadnought with Stifle backup on the play into turn three Standstill and got greedy when he resolved a turn two Knight of the Reliquary. I managed to forget that Maze of Ith is a card. When his Knight found it and then started boosting itself by +2/+2 each turn, I was in more than a little trouble and ended up breaking the Standstill before losing in short succession.
Against a fair deck like this I felt that I wanted to go for the sideboard plan. My Tempo strategy was unlikely to severely inconvenience him but would he have enough removal to deal with my big threats?
I kept a hand that had Sensei’s Divining Top, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Momentary Blink and a Cloudform along with some land. I felt that this hand should be able to do enough to drop a big threat, flicker it and take over the game. The Top quickly found me an Omniscience that I was able to manifest under the Cloudform. I then had to wait until my next turn to have the mana to flicker it, at which point he Thoughtseized me and took my Momentary Blink and played Thalia, Guardian of Thraben.
I had to dig a little to try to find a land (including failing to find when I cast an Enlightened Tutor just to get the shuffle effect) and was a turn too slow to find my fifth thanks in part to a Wasteland and then a Deathrite Shaman who ate my Momentary Blink. I then lost a few turns later, with the Emrakul, the Aeons Torn still in my hand waiting for the Omniscience to come in.
I then came up against Steve Barton with his Merfolk deck. An early Aether Vial from Steve followed immediately by a Standstill led to a familiar feeling from the first game, and I went with the same post-board plan as against Derek.
Unfortunately, a similar series of results saw me trading resources with him to try to deny him tempo until his sheer critical mass came to bear against my limited 2/2 blockers and saw the same result. So far so bad for the new experimental deck.
I did have some good news in round three though, of a sort. I got my first match win! Hooray! Except it was a bye. Boooo! But it did mean that I got a chance to look at what else was going on in the tournament, see who was on what and what other spicy tech was out there that I could steal for future ideas.
The fourth round saw me paired against Legacy Breakfast’s very own Stuart Pullin, who was on UWr Miracles. This was the sort of deck I was after. A long, slow durdle of a deck that if I stick a threat could cause serious problems.
I yet again had the unfortunate situation where I had to break my own Standstill, after an “in response” Swords to Plowshares your dude, make Snapcaster Mage proved a little troublesome. However, I managed to stabilise from it relatively quickly with Jace, the Mind Sculptor who allowed me to start refilling my own hand before meeting a Council’s Judgment.
After a few turns of going back and forth with Counterspelling each other’s tentative spells, I finally decided to try to land Cloudform. An unsuccessful Counterbalance trigger allowed it to resolve and I started making threats. A natural Phyrexian Dreadnought off the top gave me a rather sizeable threat, but I decided against flipping it straight away as it wouldn’t be the killing blow. Instead I waited a turn and manifested another creature thanks to a second Cloudform, allowing me to represent 14 damage with Stu on 14.
The hexproof that the Cloudform provided proved highly relevant as it made a pair of Swords to Plowshares rot in Stu’s hand, but Terminus from Sensei’s Divining Top (SDT) during my attack step sent my creatures away. A follow up of a pair of Snapcaster Mages saw me off in a rather quick succession.
Here was a chance for my sideboard plan to really shine. This is the sort of deck that my plan of making a bunch of 2/2s for 4 could shine, and I would have plenty of time to do so. I landed a quick Mastery of the Unseen after using a Counterbalance (with SDT already out) as bait for his Force of Will. I quickly found Omniscience and set it up to manifest and followed that up with manifested Academy Ruins. Again, a pair of Snapcaster Mages stymied my plans and we faced off for a few turns until I found Momentary Blink.
It was at this point that Stu decided to move in and start attacking with his mages, I was starting to make a lot more creatures and was going to be close to overwhelming him if he didn’t deal with things sooner rather than later. The turn before he had made Engineered Explosives on 2, which would nail my Mastery of the Unseen but also take out the Snapcasters and his own Counterbalance. Very awkward, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
I decided to block the one mage with my manifested Omniscience and the other with my other manifest in an attempt to bait the Explosives post combat, and used Momentary Blink on the Omniscience to prevent it from dying (RIP damage on the stack). Stu did take this opportunity to blow up all the 2-drops, following it up immediately with Jace, the Mind Sculptor who fatesealed me off Enlightened Tutor not knowing I had another in hand. I cast that tutor in my upkeep so that I could draw a threat, but met Counterspell. I then nicely topdecked Garruk, Apex Predator, cast it thanks to Omniscience, ate the Jace and with that forced a concession from my opponent.
The third game saw Stu be half a turn ahead of me for most of the game. I managed to match his turn one SDT with one of my own, but my Counterbalance fell to his Force of Will, then my first Mastery of the Unseen met his Counterspell and the second Mastery hit Counterbalance off the Counterbalance trigger. So I’ve quickly blown my best threats, I have to be really conservative with my Cloudforms if I’m going to win this game.
Fortunately for me we both proceeded to spin our wheels a little over the next few turns, with both of us making land drops until time was called on the round. Stu kindly conceded when I eventually played an Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite on turn 4 of extra turns, scooping, he said, to the inevitability of my bombs and the enjoyment he’d got from the games. Thanks Stu!
So a final record of 2-2 without a real match win on the day didn’t show the deck in the best of lights but it did show me some weaknesses in the deck, and also some strengths. I really liked Mastery of the Unseen and how that could take over a game when it went unchecked, but it was a little bit slow. I would definitely up the count of that over the Cloudform, which while useful with hexproof didn’t seem particularly game breaking.
I would definitely not stick with the Tempo build, it was plain not good enough. The fact that in the three games I played in that configuration I didn’t even come close to winning a game suggests it’s time to move on from that build. The “fatty” configuration fared better and I always felt that I was in the game, even if there were more moving parts and at times it was a little bit slow to get going. Cloudshift instead of Momentary Blink would help this too as flashback didn’t prove to be relevant at all in the games I played.
I would definitely play this deck again, albeit refined a little and with a stronger sideboard allowing a better disruption package. Having more artifact fatties and another copy of Academy Ruins would be good as well, and Wastelands can be cut for more duals or even basics. I found myself colour-screwed on more than one occasion due to their inability to tap for coloured mana.
However, it was an absolute blast to play, and I am considering taking it to the next Manaleak monthly Legacy tournament on the first of March, which is a Win-a-Dual. It’d be great to see some of you there.
Bonus Section: Metagame breakdown from Manaleak Monthly Legacy Tournament 1/2/2015
UWr Miracles x2
Death and Taxes
Green Chalice Stompy
Top 4 were: Dredge, Green Chalice Stompy, UWr Tempo and ANT.
Community Question: How or at what point do you decide that your home brew is ready for tournament play? (1. FNM, 2. Monthly Event, 3. PPTQ)
Thanks for reading,