It’s time for fair blue decks in Legacy to grow up. The presence of Leovold, Emissary of Trest in the metagame means that aggressive and tempo blue strategies are finding it harder and harder to win. This card and the strategies it supports are making one-two curve blue less and less viable in the face of the new one-three curve with True-Name Nemesis and mana dorks. So how do we adapt?
When my buddy Noah Walker came into town for the Baltimore team Open, he showed me a decklist that username “pellenik” on MTGO has been iterating. Every time pellenik 5-0s a league with it, you can tell it’s been improved just a little bit. Noah had his own take on the list and he played it to a 7-2 individual finish at the Open.
Grixis Control, by Noah Walker
It’s also the list I played at MTGFirst’s Quest for Power Nine tournament this weekend to a 6-1 record for first seed into Top 8, taking my only loss scooping to double Entreat the Angels in turns to Anuraag Das on Miracles. This deck is the real deal. It demolishes fair decks like Delver and Death and Taxes, leaving us plenty of resources to devote to the combo and prison matchups. Snapcaster Mage adds a playset of your most excellent card in every matchup. Against Death and Taxes, we have six Kolaghan’s Command. Against Show and Tell we have six Counterspell. The deck usually wins with creatures, but it’s also very realistic to win with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, even against creature strategies.
The biggest advantage this deck has is the same advantage that made decks like Shardless BUG so powerful: card advantage. Nearly every card in the deck replaces itself or better. Baleful Strix draws a card and trades up with creatures like Gurmag Angler and Tarmogoyf, Kolaghan’s Command is always two cards for one if used well, and Night’s Whisper is good old-fashioned card draw. When we have such efficient cards, we don’t have to worry about trading one-for-one with our removal in the early game, because the early game is all about living long enough to untap with control of the board and five more cards in hand than your opponent.
Sideboarding is fairly intuitive. Here are some recommendations:
In: 2 Thoughtseize, 1 Leovold, Emissary of Trest, 1 Invasive Surgery, 2 Pyroblast, 1 Abrupt Decay, 1 Vendilion Clique, 1 Flusterstorm, 1 Engineered Explosives
Out: 3 Fatal Push, 4 Baleful Strix, 2 Kolaghan’s Command, 1 Liliana of the Veil
Death and Taxes
In: 2 Thoughtseize, 2 Diabolic Edict, 1 Leovold, Emissary of Trest, 1 Fatal Push, 1 Abrupt Decay, 1 Engineered Explosives, 1 Vendilion Clique
Out: 4 Force of Will, 2 Spell Snare, 2 Counterspell, 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Sneak and Show
In: 2 Surgical Extraction, 1 Invasive Surgery, 2 Thoughtseize, 1 Flusterstorm, 1 Vendilion Clique, 2 Pyroblast, 1 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
Out: 3 Fatal Push, 4 Baleful Strix, 2 Spell Snare, 1 Kolaghan’s Command
In: 2 Surgical Extraction, 1 Invasive Surgery, 1 Vendilion Clique, 1 Leovold, Emissary of Trest, 1 Engineered Explosives, 1 Abrupt Decay, 2 Diabolic Edict
Out: 3 Fatal Push, 2 Force of Will, 2 Spell Snare, 2 Baleful Strix
Playing this deck in the current meta feels a lot like what it was like to play Grixis Delver before Dig Through Time. It’s just the best deck that no one is on. Your opponent doesn’t know your list, which gives you another slight advantage with a deck that’s whole game plan is to play tight and smart early and get ahead on cards. If you’re a blue mage feeling like your Delver of Secrets aren’t delivering like they used to, I very much recommend giving this list a shot.
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