Legacy of the Deceiver [Deck Tech] – Crucible of Words, by Cyrus Bales

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Crucible of Words – Legacy of the Deceiver [Deck Tech]

Greetings, it has been a while since my last article, but I thought I would share with you all a deck I built and spent a year playing in Legacy. Legacy is the primary format I play these days, it’s intricacies allow for the best games of Magic you can play without the windmilling of singletons in Vintage, in my opinion at least.

I had written this article before the ban list update, which has obviously changed the world of Legacy to quite an extent. However in many ways, this is the ideal time to be doing a deck tech, as it offers up a new deck for people who may now be on the hunt for something else to play.

The deck I would like to share with you is Legacy Splinter Twin. Now, I never played the deck in Modern despite having the cards, but when it was banned I started toying around with it in Legacy where it gets to make use of all the awesome blue cards. It took me a lot of attempts to get the list to a good place, but I’m pretty happy with it, and over a year I managed a 75% win rate with the deck with weekly Legacy at Axion games, alongside sanctioned weekend events when I could get to them. It should be noted that this win percentage is inflated due to some people having incomplete decks for midweek Legacy, against the competitive field, I would shave it down to 65%. This deck is a little dated, but here is what I ran for that time period. The Sideboard is constantly in flux, so this is just a snapshot, but the main deck has remained virtually identical for some time.

THE DECK

(60)
Deceiver Exarch
Pestermite
Snapcaster Mage
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Brainstorm
Force of Will
Lightning Bolt
Counterspell
Izzet Charm
Spell Snare
Gitaxian Probe
Ponder
Splinter Twin
Engineered Explosives
Blood Moon
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Arid Mesa
Volcanic Island
Island
Mountain

SIDEBOARD

(15)
Flusterstorm
Surgical Extraction
Relic of Progenitus
Shattering Spree
Wipe Away
Izzet Staticaster
Roast
Harvest Pyre
Pyroblast
Blood Moon

I’ll break down each part of the deck and why it is there; then go into the other things I tried and why they failed; then finally look at match ups briefly.

LANDS

I tried differing numbers of lands before I settled on this amount. With the high level of filtering, it felt like making your land drops was easy enough. Because the deck isn’t all out combo, it could miss land number four and survive alright. The worst lands in the deck are Volcanic Island, but are essential, as sometimes you need one land to hit both colours. Generally this deck fetches basics to dodge Wasteland and play with Blood Moon. There are enough basics to cast all the colour requirements from just basics. Rarely do the two Mountains cause you problems, but the percentage is not 0. The deck doesn’t want Wasteland because it wants to curve and needs coloured sources for all of it’s filtering. This is the same reason why other exciting lands are excluded.

CREATURES

You need your 6 combo creatures to win the game. Having three of each means you dodge Pithing Needle and Cabal Therapy to a degree, alongside Surgical Extraction from people’s sideboards. Snapcaster Mage is just the best value creature out there, it fits well into your “end of turn” play style and helps to filter, buy time and can sometimes beat down in a push.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy was the real breakthrough for me that took the deck to a stronger place. It allowed for filtering and could quickly take over a game, requiring an answer, which means less answers for your combo. The really impressive interaction is with Force of Will, allowing you to cast it for it’s alternative cost from the graveyard, giving you another layer of protection. I have run 3-3 splits between the utility creatures in this deck, and depending on the meta on the day will dictate whether 4-2 or 3-3 is the right call. Snapcatser Mage is also better with Splinter Twin for situations when it comes up, which is worth keeping in mind.

SPELLS

Obviously the other half of the combo is a must, otherwise the deck doesn’t work. The big stand out here is Blood Moon, which for many decks is a must answer card. It shuts off or at least uses up Abrupt Decay; in those match ups the game tends to revolve around tapping them out and sticking a Moon to lock them out. It gets to act as a form of protection in this deck when using it to lock out spells.

The obvious blue inclusions of filter spells and Force of Will don’t need going into, but the singletons probably do. Spell Snare is in a decent spot at the moment, and with blue decks in Legacy, you can easily get rid of it, or have more looks at finding it. Izzet Charm is a flexible slot that lines up in an alright fashion in aggressive match ups, as well as spell based ones, weak but versatile is worth it. Counterspell is very powerful in a deck that doesn’t tap out in it’s own turn very often, buying time or stopping potential problem cards is what it does, and it does it well. I used to run 2, but the uptick in aggressive decks made Izzet Charm shine and get the nod. You are often a little behind before you win, Counterspell is obviously weaker from behind. Gitaxian Probe is a well known powerful effect, and being able to peek to see what you are playing around is awesome. Trying to find additional space for more proved difficult, but having access in your deck somewhere, especially with flashback all over the shop has proven effective for me.

Lastly, the Engineered Explosives stops things getting out of hand and provides a flexible answer. Hitting MD hate cards people might have or stopping an onslaught of aggro, it’s ability to cover some of your bases is worth the inclusion. Lightning Bolt rounds out your suite, hitting lots of creatures and sometimes being able to win the game, especially versus Ancient Tomb decks.

THE SIDEBOARD

This deck hates Dredge. It’s a miserable match up, you can either write it off, or devote slots to it. With a lot of Dredge popping up locally, I opted to include some answers, they do have other uses too, so they aren’t just rotting away in the sideboard. The Storm match up is great, but adding in some more tools is helpful, as they can also help fight the counterwars in other match ups. An additional Blood Moon gives more potential for a free win versus some decks, although this along with the graveyard hate are the flexible slots. Flexible answers like Wipe Away are required for emergencies, I choose to run just the one due to the flashback opportunities. Shattering Spree covers a lot of things and is great for hitting multiple cards with just one card, alongside deleting a Chalice of the Void on one. The burn spells allow you to hit bigger creatures like Gurmag Angler and big Tarmogoyfs. Pyroblast is a staple, if you have to ask why a UR combo deck wants a one mana counterspell to fight counter-wars with, then Legacy probably isn’t for you. Izzet Staticaster is the most flexible card to ping lots of guys, and plays into the flash game whilst also being a blue card.

THINGS THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT

There was once a green splash to provide Engineered Explosives for 3 and enchantment hate(could have been white instead), but it quickly proved unworkable and damaged the safety of the manabase. Jace, The Mind Sculptor was also in early lists, but having too many high curve pieces when you would often be behind on the board was a disaster. It was a case of him doing nothing, so he got swapped out for the little Jace who became the all-star. Misdirection, I used to run one of these in the main deck, but cut it due to the card disadvantage often stopping your digging or combo. However with the surge in GB decks, I would advocate squeezing one in. The other big card people play around and are surprised is missing, is Daze. The reason for removing this is that the bouncing of a land damages your clock a lot, making it only useful on the turn you go off, where they might just be able to pay anyway. Often Misdirection is better if you want that from your deck. There is an aggressive version with sol lands that can make use of Daze, but this is not that deck.

The main deck is relatively settled, but the sideboard provides the real options that got cut and put back, then cut again. Divert was a big player for a while, and in the current GB heavy meta, I would suggest it should be again (although in a GB heavy field, it might not be the best deck choice to be honest). Divert gets around Abrupt Decay and some discard effects really neatly, obviously it’s usefulness declines over time though, but you can usually leverage it in the match ups you want it. It can use enemy removal against True-Name Nemesis and work as a makeshift Spell Pierce too. Spellskite was another similar choice, although this card seemed easier to deal with, but could protect other cards like the Jace. I was never fully satisfied with it, but in a world dominated by a 3 mana 3/3, it could be decent. Sulfur Elemental obviously has good synergies with this playstyle and is a great asset in the DnT match up. It is one of those cards that comes back every now and then depending on the meta. From there, it is basically just powerful run of the mill Red and Blue tools that you tweak with. Pithing Needle is a regular in my sideboard on many occasions as well.

The last card worth highlighting is Mizzium Skin, it’s a blue card, only costs 1 mana, and can counter things like Abrupt Decay. I recommend Mizzium Skin for some metagames and would usually give it the nod over Spellskite.

MATCH UPS

Lands: This match up is a doddle. You have protection from Wasteland and have the Blood Moon as a trump card. You can also tap down and survive a 20/20 for several turns without issue. This is a deck you want to play against as often as you can. Especially with them moving away from Rishadan Port, it makes one of their few tools less commonplace.

Miracles: This is a really engaging match up. You will go to time, a lot. I think I’m probably about 50-50 with the deck over a year of play. You have the ability to tap their top down at end of turn to stop activations on your turn, which buys you a substantial edge sometimes. They have to fight the Jace, which makes it a pivotal card in the match up. You don’t really want this match up in a tournament as it’s fairly even, but is draining and takes a long time, where a single mistake is game over. The relevance of this particular match up now feels non-existent, however there will probably some kind of UW centric control deck moving forward, perhaps Standstill?

Sneak and Show: This match up is a tricky one, you both have the ability to win out of nowhere, but they can win faster. If you can weather the first few turns, you tend to be favoured, but getting windmilled is a real possibility.

Grixis Delver: This is a match up I am generally happy with. You play the control role quite well. If they can get an early rush you can’t deal with, you are often beaten by a counterspell, but generally you grind them down and drop a Moon. It’s a positive match up in my experience, just use your resources wisely and fear the Zombie Fish.

Four-Colour Control: This deck is slow enough to not rush you, and doesn’t pack Daze, meaning it plays mostly in front of you and predictably. However the issue here is that their disruption is very powerful. Discard and uncounterable kills spells do not make for a fun time. Very similar to the BUG Delver match up really, they are both pretty awkward, however Four-Colour Control can win through a Blood Moon more easily, making it more of a problem. If you still want to play this deck against this match up, bring your Diverts.

Storm: This is a great match up. You play at instant speed mostly, so you don’t drop your shields until you win. You have plenty of sideboard tools and your general plan naturally works out well here. You can get wombo’d, but you should be happy to play this match up.

Elves: You need to take out the right pieces and get hit combo in a timely fashion. You can sideboard more effectively against this deck if you need to. It’s not a brilliant match up, but you shouldn’t be upset to see it, and you can swing it further in your way via the sideboard.

Dredge: Go and get lunch. Sure, you can hit your SB hate cards, but you have to. And they aren’t always enough versus a good pilot and draw. In the MD, you can bolt your own guys and maybe get around with an Engineered Explosives to keep you alive until you combo, but the chaining of Cabal Therapy and the quick clock is bad for you. You have to hope they beat themselves and rely on one piece you can hit. You will often do everything right and still lose.

Eldrazi: You have the Moon, and you can play around Chalice of the Void pretty well. You can also tap down their attackers and their level of removal is pretty low. This is a pretty decent match up, their best card is Thought-Knot Seer, but you have blue cards to be more reliable. My win percentage versus this deck is really high, I’d happily play against it.

Infect: This match up is fine. You tend not to give them an opportunity where you tap out, so they have to respect what you are doing. If they only have one creature, which happens a lot, you can use your tappers to effectively fog them, and whilst they pack counterspells, they have little in the way of actual removal. They also have to be proactive into your open mana, which is beneficial for your selection of tools.

SO WHY PLAY THIS DECK?

This deck is pretty enjoyable, and has the classic ability to manipulate your draws and plan a strategic game. It also has the ability to win games out of nowhere and tends to not get sucked into too many draws. It has play in most match ups and because it is relatively unknown, it steals a lot of game ones. The sideboard provides a lot of tools to tweak match ups which gives it some flexibility. The Blue-Red combination has a lot of different decks, this offers a slightly different angle to approach one of the more popular two colour combinations.

Of course, I wrote this article before the recent banning, so things are somewhat up in the air. This deck might be a reasonable shout, as it can handle the combo decks pretty well, and give some of the Delver decks a decent run for their money. Part of me worries about the potential dominance of GB decks now, but with Lands being able to prey on a lot of these delver and mid-rangey decks, it could put Twin into a good spot. At the very least, you will enjoy playing the deck though.

Thanks for reading,

Cyrus Bales

Legacy of the Deceiver [Deck Tech] - Crucible of Words, by Cyrus Bales

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