Next weekend planeswalkers from all over will be converging in Pittsburgh to battle for the title of Legacy and/or Vintage Champion of the United States. If the POTUS is the most powerful person in the world, that would make the two champions the two most powerful planeswalkers in the world, possibly even the Multiverse. Who wouldn’t want that kind of title? With that kind of prestige on the line, how could I not make the short four hour drive to do battle? Getting ready for this event has meant putting a lot of time into MTGO recently. I haven’t actually played much Legacy since the banning of Sensei’s Divining Top. To be honest I was kind of lost on what to do without it. I’ve relied on spinning Tops and resolving Blood Moons in my trusty Painter deck for a long time. People told me it would be alright without them, but like the mature individual I am, I told everybody they were stupid and just didn’t understand me and the bond that Top and I shared.
Immediately after the ban, once I was done loudly bemoaning my loss, I settled on BUG Delver. A long time ago before I ever cast a Painter’s Servant or Goblin Welder, Delver of Secrets was my weapon of choice. BUG was new to me though.
It seemed like a very solid choice. People seemed to be gravitating towards Storm and Grixis Delver. Having a disruption package of Daze, Force of Will, Hymn to Tourach, and Liliana of the Veil against Storm was proving very effective. And despite hearing from multiple people that BUG Delver didn’t match up well against Grixis I decided they were all wrong. Grixis actually doesn’t play good answers for Tarmogoyf. I kept hearing that Young Pyromancer would let them go too wide, but if you can keep that card off the table with Abrupt Decay or counterspells, then the matchup becomes very easy. Despite being happy with the deck, I set it down pretty soon after I picked it up. I had moved further away from the store in Philly where I attended weekly events and there were no major Legacy tournaments coming up. While my focus had shifted towards Modern, I was still able to get casual games of Legacy in, here and there. Over time I grew disillusioned with BUG delver. I still think the deck is a solid choice but I found the losses were bothering me more than losses I obtained with other decks. Some people scoff when people talk about the mental aspects of the game but they’re a big deal. I knew if I wasn’t truly enjoying my games, one loss could mean I was no longer in the mindset to do well throughout the rest of the event.
For a while, I just ignored my Legacy problem. I really didn’t need to know what to do in Legacy anyway. All my events were Modern and I was content playing as much Amulet Titan as I could because that deck is a delight. Eventually Eternal Extravaganza 7 was on the horizon and I panicked a bit. While talking to some friends, I came to the conclusion Standstill, a strategy I greatly enjoyed could be a good choice.
In our test games it seemed to be favored against the grindy 4 color Czech Pile deck and various Delver builds that seemed to be all people were playing online. I took a Bug version through some leagues and scored a handful of 3-2s. Not a bad record, but also not good. I wanted to do better. I needed to do better. I sent out a message to Aaron Kasprzak, a noted Standstill aficionado and was rewarded with a UW list that went 8-1 day one of GP Vegas. With this list I was finally able to start doing better than straight 3-2s, scoring some 4-1s. But after a couple leagues I started losing more. I decided I needed a break from Standstill.
In my effort to get away, I decided to do a league with a deck Jeff Hoogland had been streaming that was a port of the Modern Tron deck. I joked that if I went 5-0 I would lock it in for the event. I didn’t get the coveted 5-0. But got back to back 4-1’s followed by a 3-2. Despite constantly hating on the Modern version the deck won me over. It was a lot of fun to play and over the course of more leagues it was still giving me a win percentage in the high 70’s. This is the list I registered.
Tron beats up on non-Delver fair decks really hard, it was about even against Delver, and I didn’t play versus much combo but the matchup didn’t seem great. You see, this is the problem with my testing. I only played online and only encountered Storm once. When I took the deck to the actual event though I played against storm multiple times and ended up with not a very good record. I had a lot of fun and performed about as expected vs everything. But three of my rounds were against Storm and I couldn’t win. The Mindbreak Traps in the sideboard were not helpful. Every time I had them they would just get Cabal Therapied or Duressed away. Going forward with the deck I would play more proactive disruption. Having your own Duresses or Sphere of Resistances would probably help the matchup considerably. I think after changing the sideboard, I would play this deck again. I will not however be taking it to Eternal Weekend. I think, due to the nature of the event there will be a wide variety of decks and wouldn’t be totally surprised to run into weird combo decks more than fair midrange decks. Quite simply it’s not worth the risk.
Where does that leave me then? Well a frequent testing partner of mine. Brendan McGrail came in the top 16 of Eternal Extravaganza with an Esper Delver list he really enjoyed. For some reason, on the official EE site, this was misattributed to me. Maybe that’s a sign that I should be playing it. What drew him to the list was you get some of the free wins that Delver decks tend to get by just resolving a cheap threat and backing it up with a ton of permission, but also Lingering Souls lets you play the long game and really helps in the Czech matchup. Brendan is much more disciplined than I am when it comes to just playing a “good” deck. Whereas I often want to do something gimmicky that makes me feel clever he just wants to be playing a better deck than most of his opponents, and play a card or two that helps him hedge against whatever the perceived best deck at the time is. He’s not the only one who’s told me I should just suck it up and play the best deck. As much as it kills me, everyone that has told me something similar to that effect is probably right.
Right now, the “best” deck in Legacy is largely considered Czech Pile. Even though I hate following everyone else’s lead, the Spiky part of my personality loves this deck. But lately there have been versions that have been splashing white for Lingering Souls. After hearing Brendan talk about how good the card was for him, the thought of playing it did seem promising. In addition, playing white lets the deck play Swords to Plowshares rather than Lightning Bolt. In a deck that is about grinding out advantages Swords is much better than Bolt because it’s a clean answer to big creatures like Gurmag Angler and Tarmogoyf, and you aren’t winning many games by targeting your opponent with Lightning Bolt anyway. I had played some games with traditional Czech Pile to help others test and found the deck pretty fun despite hating the greedy manabase so I resigned myself to seriously testing one of the Esper versions. Once I found a list, I immediately broke one of my cardinal rules and made a change. I am not a fan of the card Diabolic Edict so I replaced a main deck copy of that card with a Liliana, the Last Hope. The Last Hope is very good right now. There are a lot of creatures with one toughness running around lately; Spirit tokens, Snapcaster Mage, Baleful Strix, Mother of Runes, Thalia, Flickerwisp, Eldrazi Mimic, Bearer of Silence, Delver of Secrets, and Young Pyromancer to name a few. Should our own creatures die in midrange “mirrors” being able to buy them back is also quite nice. Lastly, I’ve won multiple games by just trading resources until Lili could ultimate which then quickly ended the game. Cutting Edict does however means our game gets worse against Show and Tell decks, True-Name Nemesis decks, and Lands. That being said, I am currently 2-0 against the Show and Tell decks I’ve played and have found that I can usually race a True-Name in the air with Lingering Souls. I want to get a lot more games in before the event but so far it seems to have an even or good matchup against most things. Eldrazi and Elves are the only two decks I have a losing record against at the moment. Of note, I have zero games against Lands as that deck is prohibitively expensive online. If Eternal Weekend was tomorrow, this is the deck I would register.
Assuming this deck keeps treating me well, I will be very happy to play it. But getting back into the format has me very excited and in between leagues with this deck I plan on brewing and trying out other decks too. There are after all two SCG Opens featuring Legacy I’ll be at between now and the end of the year. Even though I’l likely stick with Esper I plan to tinker around with Painter some, try Chart a Course in UR Delver, and lastly, the one I’m most excited about see if I can find a home for Search for Azcanta in Legacy. I’ll certainly let you know how that goes. In the meantime, if anybody wants to connect, you can comment below, find me on twitter @ExpeditionMap, or catch me on Twitch.tv/mmap125 where I plan to start streaming Modern and Legacy.
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