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Priemer’s Primers: Curb Stomping the Competition

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Legacy

Do you like locking out your opponent on turn 1? Do you like ramping out big, angry Red creatures and beating your opponent to death? Well, you’re in luck, because this week I’m going over Stompy!

Stompy is an archetype that has existed in Magic to varying degrees since the very beginning of the game. Traditionally these decks were mono-Green and traded long game prowess for cheap, powerful creatures in the hopes of finishing the game as quickly as possible. However, back in the Extended format circa 2009, Stompy received a bit of a makeover, becoming a mono-Red deck centred around using Rite of Flame and Seething Song to power out massive Red beatsticks like Rakdos Pit Dragon and Deus of Calamity as early as turn 2. This strategy stuck with the archetype and Dragon Stompy was born. With Extended’s demise, a few brave souls took to porting the deck over to Legacy, resulting in this monstrosity:

Following Stompy tradition, this deck aims to jam a Blood Moon effect or Trinisphere on turn 1, then follow up with a large threat that the opponent can’t deal with, such as Rakdos Pit Dragon or Kargan Dragonlord. Chalice of the Void on turn 1 is also a stark reality with this deck thanks to City of Traitors and Ancient Tomb, which does wonders for protecting these creatures from Swords to Plowshares, as well as incidentally shutting off the majority of the spells in Legacy. Gathan Raiders and Koth of the Hammer fill out the threats as large beaters that can hit the table as early as turn 2, with Koth playing the extra role of acting as board control once you fire off the emblem, as well an alternate win condition in case you start to flood out. Bonfire of the Damned is hands down the best asymmetrical sweeper you can ask for, and all the ramp in the deck hardcasting a Bonfire for 2 or 3 is still well within reason.

For the sideboard, Dragon Stompy opts for a “shock and awe” strategy of obliterating the opponent’s board through cards like Boil, Anarchy, Ratchet Bomb, and Pyrokinesis. With these cards Stompy will often jam a Chalice or Trinisphere, then enter an arms race with the opponent, with both players building up their resources. However, just as the opponent is about to get out from under their lock, Stompy drops a haymaker and sets them back 2-4 turns with one spell. Tormod’s Crypt is another such haymaker, as dropping this against Dredge or Reanimator forces them to play around it for the entire game, and even Umezawa’s Jitte is devastating against the various creature decks in the format.

But what happens when a Pit Dragon isn’t good enough? In 2013 a Stompy variant developed that sought to not only have Magus of the Moon on turn 1, but to have it uncounterable as well. With a little brewing, Stompy went through the looking glass and transformed, both figuratively and literally.

Cavern of Souls is a considerable boost to the idea of turn 1 Magus of the Moon, as Force of Will is one of the only ways a fair tri-colour deck like BUG can stop you. However, this requires the deck to run more Humans as threats. Fortunately, the Werewolves of Innistrad are all Human when you cast them. What this means is that instead of the smaller Humans (Kargan Dragonlord and Gathan Raiders), and the non-Human Rakdos Pit Dragon, the threat suite is filled by Hanweir Watchkeep, Instigator Gang, and Rakka Mar. Under a Chalice, Blood Moon, or Trinisphere, the odds are good that your opponent will not be casting spells. This turns the seemingly tame werewolves into hulking 5/5 monstrosities that can quickly put away a game. Wildblood Pack (Instigator Gang’s better half) is especially terrifying, granting +3/+0 to your attacking creatures, allowing you to attack for 5 with a Magus of the Moon or Simian Spirit Guide, and with an active Rakka Mar you can create what’s essentially a Ball Lightning for just one Red mana.

Sideboarding is fairly similar to Dragon Stompy; however, because so much emphasis is put on the Blood Moon effects, the sideboard cuts back on the board wipes like Boil and opts for more effects to fight more difficult combo matchups like Sneak and Show or Reanimator. Ashen Rider and Phyrexian Revoker help keep Sneak and Show in check by attacking both of the ways it cheats creatures into play. Faerie Macabre does wonders against Reanimator, as well as hindering Dredge. This does wonders when you’re on the draw, as those decks can often go off on turn 1. The Shattering Sprees of Dragon Stompy are replaced by Manic Vandal, which in this deck is an uncounterable way of dealing with opposing Batterskulls and Jittes, as well as giving you outs to Sword of Fire and Ice. Lastly, the deck runs a third Bonfire of the Damned that gives you further outs to the creature decks that aren’t as affected by Blood Moon, such as Death and Taxes or Elves.

Finally, there exists a Stompy deck online that has recently taken MTGO by storm. Acting as a hybrid of traditional Stompy and everyone’s favourite Red tribe, this deck is the most recent addition to the Stompy pantheon.

What Goblin Stompy seeks to do is combine the traditional prison elements of previous Stompy decks with the attrition elements of Goblins. This deck eschews the staples of the traditional Goblin decks like Lackey, Matron, and Warchief, instead opting for the tutor engine that is Moggcatcher. Unlike Goblin Matron, Moggcatcher lets you put the Goblin card you tutor directly into play at instant speed, giving you the power to run Goblins in your deck that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to cast. Tutoring out a Goblin Settler to kill off lands with Trinisphere in play, or tutoring Kiki-Jiki and Siege-Gang Commander are very real lines of play in this deck, but the Goblin that really shines in this deck is Goblin Rabblemaster. This Piledriver 2.0 has taken over Standard, and he’s no less powerful in Legacy. In a prison deck like Stompy, Rabblemaster provides a steady stream of creatures all the while being protected from an otherwise backbreaking Swords to Plowshares by Chalice of the Void.

With this sideboard, you get to run a combination of traditional Goblin and Stompy sideboard cards. From the Goblin side, you get Goblin Sharpshooter and Stingscourger to tutor up and deal with opposing creatures, with Sharpshooter mowing down armies of X/1s while Stingscourger keeping Show and Tell’d monsters under control. Ensnaring Bridge and Emrakul are also clutch in the Show and Tell matchups, as you can either prevent the opponent from ever attacking you, or just outright getting an Emrakul of your own into play. Pyrokinesis and Dismember do wonders for keeping the opponent’s board clear so you can push through damage every turn. Koth of the Hammer and Hammer of Purphoros give you outs against the Miracles decks that like to Terminus away your creatures, either by animating a Mountain every turn or giving your creatures the necessary haste to keep the pressure on them.

SO WHAT ARE MY MATCHUPS LIKE?

Across all three versions, by virtue of your maindeck prison cards, your matchups against combo and fair decks are insanely good. Legacy is a mana-light format, and the mana is does have is predominantly nonbasic. Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere keep decks like Storm, Dredge, and even non-BUG Delver decks from ever really casting their spells. These decks rely on their 1-drops, so by either making taxing their mana by making them cost 3 or by just countering them outright, you can put a serious damper on anything broken they try to pull. For the fairer decks that rely on nonbasic lands, such as Shardless BUG, Jund, or 12 Post, Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon on turn 1-2 can be a death sentence. Shutting a player off of their entire manabase is one of those plays that earns a player a special place in Hell, but can also draw an automatic concession. You essentially mulligan into one of the appropriate hate cards and shut down the opponent.

On the other hand, Stompy also has some truly awkward matchups that range from frustrating to downright unwinnable. These are decks that more often than not employ your own trump cards in their decks, and therefore are able to play around them. Decks like Sneak and Show, MUD, and Painted Stone are all capable of beating your prison strategies, with Sneak and Show and Painted Stone also running Blood Moon, while MUD runs the Chalice of the Voids and Trinispheres you do. This means that they are largely unaffected by most of your strategy, and can either go over your head with larger creatures or just straight up combo you out. This is where having the appropriate sideboard really pays off, as you will be boarding out at least 4-8 cards in these matchups.

Another awkward matchup that pretty much ignores your decks is Death and Taxes. Your mana denial spells are weakened due to the deck being mono-White, and since the deck runs a variety of threats all along the mana curve, your Chalices and Trinispheres are far less impactful. While most Stompy decks include Anarchy specifically for this matchup, you really need to hit it as they’re running out of gas so help you pull ahead. Dragon and Werewolf Stompy also have the added benefit of Bonfire of the Damned, which helps keep them under control. Goblin Stompy can swarm the board against them, however the sheer size of their creatures makes it much harder to push through damage.

SO WHY SHOULD I PLAY STOMPY, AND WHICH VERSION?

Stompy offers the ability to crush any hope of your opponent even playing the game, all the while demoralizing them and breaking their spirit. If anything in that sentence appeals to you, you’re a horrible person and like myself, a prime Stompy candidate. Which version, however, is determined by what your metagame looks like. If you are primarily facing tri-coloured decks like Shardless BUG and UWR Delver, Werewolf Stompy is your best bet. The emphasis on making Magus of the Moon uncounterable as well as the overall size of its threats makes it an excellent counterpoint to such a meta. If you’re facing a lot of slower, grindier decks like Miracles, Junk Depths, and 12 Post, Goblin Stompy is better suited to fight them. This is because you can tutor up Goblin Settler and Kiki-Jiki to repeatedly nuke their lands and grind them out with your token producers like Rabblemaster and Krenko. Dragon Stompy is better suited to a more blind metagame, such as a larger tournament where you can’t really predict what people will be playing. This version runs more aggressive threats in Rakdos Pit Dragon and Gathan Raiders which can easily overpower opposing creatures in an unknown field. Werewolf Stompy can do this as well, but given that their creatures are more situational, it’s tricky to get them to flip against decks that can actually cast a spell every turn. This makes Dragon Stompy a far more reliable choice.

Overall, Stompy one of the best decks in Legacy to just endlessly frustrate and troll the opponent into submission. The core of your deck is tuned to just make life miserable, so if you get a kick out of swinging in with big Red beatsticks and feeding off of an opponent’s pain and misery, Stompy is the deck for you.

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