In Legacy I’ve been on RUG for a good six months now. I’ve become comfortable with the deck, and I’ve tried it in many variations. Currently I’ve settled here:

RUG Delver

Creatures (12)
Delver of Secrets
Nimble Mongoose

Spells (30)
Force of Will
Lightning Bolt
Forked Bolt
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare

Land (18)
Misty Rainforest
Tropical Island
Scalding Tarn
Volcanic Island
Sideboard (15)
Gilded Drake
Scavenging Ooze
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sword of Fire and Ice
Surgical Extraction
Ancient Grudge
Helm of Obedience
Vendilion Clique
Life from the Loam

My maindeck has moved five cards back and forth for a while but I’m pretty secure with it now. I used to worry a lot about not having any non-Delver creatures that work without a graveyard. I was living in a constant fear of Rest in Peace. Relic of Progenitus didn’t really bother me so much, I could build my graveyard up pretty fast.

The decks that played RIP in the board—Death and Taxes, UWR Delver, Miracles and Esper Stoneblade—weren’t exactly free wins for me to begin with. In my experience, I was always racing these decks to get in what damage I could while saving counter magic or Stifle for a Rest in Peace. I if it hadn’t gotten them to a low enough life total by that point it was probably pretty grim looking for me. They just had to save a Swords for my Delver or have a Batterskull race it and I was pretty much out of the game. They got to fight on one front while I had to fight on two. I don’t know if you’ve read any Sun-Tzu, but that’s no way to win a war.

My first inclination was to remove a pair of Mongoose and play a main Scavenging Ooze and Vendillion Clique. This was ok but it still didn’t feel great. I was 50% graveyard dependent and it still seemed like I was losing to Rest in Peace. This was because my opponent was still picking his battles. Krosan Grip went into the board for a week, but it didn’t feel that good at three mana and didn’t do anything to get me ahead. Generally, even if I did draw it they had turns to develop their board and pretty soon I was dead with a 3/4 Tarmagoyf as a blocker.

Frustrated, I went back to the drawing board. Let’s rebuild the deck as it was intended. (I was losing games I felt like I could take with all four Mongeese. I even had a moment of crisis where I thought I might sell off my Tropical Islands and go get Tundras for American True Blade. But finally I stopped worrying and decided to love the bomb, as it were. If Rest in Peace was the problem, why not make it the answer?

Enter: Helm of Obedience. With two Helm in my board I’m liable to see it in two games with all my card draw. The decks that are playing RIP are fair decks, I can afford to get to four mana during those games (Brainstorm and Ponder can find land as well as other cards) and save my counter magic in those games for protecting my Helm instead of my creatures. All this seems very Magical Christmasland but at $26 for two Helm of Obedience I was willing to take a shot in the dark.

Last week was my second week playing Helm of Obedience in my board. The first week I never played a single fair deck so it didn’t really matter. But in round one of my second week I was up against Devin Reilly on Miracles. The first game was super tight. He was at three with four land untapped in play (two Islands and two fetches). I had a Lightning Bolt in hand as well as a Spell Pierce and a Daze and he had Terminus‘d my board a turn earlier. I passed the turn, he cast Brainstorm. I responded with a Bolt, which he took. I followed up with a second Bolt and he cast Counterspell. I cast Spell Pierce to which he cracked his fetch and I cast Daze. We went to game two.

I started in with a Mongoose that eventually ate a Terminus. Then I followed that with a Delver that got Swords to Plowshares‘d then I played a Goyf. All the while I had my Helm in my hand slowly baiting out his resources with my creatures on at a time. I was sure to use my Wastelands and Stifles to keep his White mana low lest I be the victim of an Entreat the Angels for two or three. Finally, he cast Rest in Peace. I had just reached four mana so of course I let it resolve. The next turn I played my Helm of Obedience and passed turn. We didn’t even have a counter war over it and the game was over a turn later. I was threatening his life total so much he wasn’t ready for an attack on a different front. That felt pretty good actually, being able to use my opponent’s strategy against him. I felt like Machiavelli.

The next round I faced off against Tony Loman (of “Tony and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Magic Day“). Tony always has some wild brew. The problem with Tony’s brews is that they actually work. This time he’s on a four-color Death Blade plus goodies-style deck. Game one I eek out a win with Delver and Goyf. Game two he casts Rest in Peace and True Name and I have three turns to find my Helm and another two mana. Instead I keep finding my Ponders and Brainstorms. On the final turn I find my Helm but I’m one mana short of activating it. Tony didn’t believe I had the Helm in my deck the second game until I top-decked it a turn late. Sweating a little, he sided out one of his two Rest in Peaces.

Game three I snap kept. Four spells, plus one Life from the Loam a Fetch and a Wasteland. I was on the Loam the Loman plan. My first draw was another Wasteland. This plan worked just fine and it wasn’t the first time Tony and I had a series end with Life from the Loam. That’s when he told me it was probably a mistake siding back out the Rest in Peace but showing him that Helm probably won me game three because I was on the graveyard shenanigans plan.

Rouund three I played Evan on infect. Remember Mike Flores’ “Who’s the Beat Down” article? Well I’m glad that was written! This is a perfect scenario for when a deck that normally is the aggressor has to pull back and play control. The first game. I was able to get his Glistener Elf off the battlefield even after my Lightning Bolt was Dazed. Soon I was facing down three Inkmouth Nexus and a Tropical Island. My Forked Bolt looked dumb. I took some poison but found a Wasteland and removed his Trop and played a Delver, which immediately flipped, revealing a Bolt. In a few turns’ time, Evan was still looking for a colored mana source and I had three flipped Delvers. Game over.

Game two saw much of the same for Evan as he ran out of creatures and failed to draw more, while I played a Tarmagoyf and a Nimble Mongoose. I finally felt like I was coming out of my slump! No way I’m going to spit in fate’s eye and invite my own hubris to destroy me.

I asked Mario Martinez if he wanted to split the prize and play for braggin rights. He did. Mario was on Shardless Bug. In game one I was able to d=run him down with some Wasteland/Stifle action while earning a clean victory with Mongoose and Delver. The next game I found myself with a Life from the Loam and a Wasteland which he was able to eat with his Deathrite Shaman but not until I had destroyed 5 lands over a few turns. Even after he resolved an Ancestral Visions it didn’t much matter as he was unable to cast most of his hand. by this time I was sitting pretty with a Goyf and an Umezawa’s Jitte. I finally x-0’d a Legacy event after a long dry spell. That felt really good. Over the course of the night I used every single sideboard card. The moral of this story is that, the most important game changing cards are your last 15. I was able to change the way I approached my bad matches based on just 2 cards. Instead of cursing my opponent’s tech I was able to use it against them. That is  what people mean when they say next level.

Zac Clark, @Durdlemagus

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