First things first: huge congrats to fellow Hipster Carrie O’Hara for winning a PTQ! That makes four people put into the Pro Tour this year off the springboard of Team Draft League. Carrie has been someone I respect in limited and it delights me to see her have success. Way to go!

Now that we have that out of the way, we can talk a little about Leg Race — thats Le Gace, or Legacy — and the upcoming Grand Prix in New Jersey. When last addressed I had been wrestling with a deck to play and decided to try out NicFit. After assembling the deck it became very clear to me how unexciting the deck is, which was a major disappointment. The deck couldn’t find the pieces it needed consistently, as it had very little library manipulation or ways to tutor up its important spells like Grave Titan and Recurring Nightmare. The lack of redundancy hurts topdeck capability, so even after filling your board with 12 or 13 lands after multiple Veteran Explorer triggers you will find yourself still drawing dead. Sure, you can Cabal Therapy your opponents hand to the yard, but without a card like Sensei’s Divining Top or Birthing Pod to help tutor or filter your draw steps and manipulate the library, I was often topdecking Misty Rainforest when it wanted to draw Thragtusk. Sadly, it just didn’t have the speed or the power level required to go up against even the most mediocre UR Delver pilot. So it would have to take a backseat, a deck I might revisit and play for fun in the future. But for this tournament I would have to play something I was excited to play, and something I felt comfortable piloting into the format I have the least experience playing competitively.

My comfort level in Legacy spawns from playing Jund, so I wanted to find a non-blue deck that had strong deck manipulation effects, resiliency against spot removal, and enough flexibility in its game plan so I could quickly pivot between a defensive role and an aggressive role. After following Eternal Weekend, I came across this deck by Nate Sturm, who made third place in the Legacy portion of the weekend with this list:

Punishing Maverick

Creatures (21)
Dryad Arbor
Birds of Paradise
Noble Hierarch
Mother of Runes
Stoneforge Mystic
Scryb Ranger
Voice of Resurgence
Gaddock Teeg
Scavenging Ooze
Qasali Pridemage
Knight of the Reliquary

Spells (16)
Domri Rade
Swords to Plowshares
Punishing Fire
Council’s Judgment
Green Sun’s Zenith
Umezawa’s Jitte
Lands (23)
Horizon Canopy
Maze of Ith
Wooded Foothills
Windswept Heath
Grove of the Burnwillows

Sideboard (15)
Scavenging Ooze
Path to Exile
Gaddock Teeg
Sword of Fire and Ice
Elspeth, Knight Errant
Sylvan Library
Thrun, the Last Troll
Life from the Loam
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Red Elemental Blast
Council’s Judgment

This list is interesting to me. You have multiple ways to tutor up silver bullets, something I am very familiar with as a committed Birthing Pod player, a lot of defensive resiliency with Mother of Runes and a big finisher in Knight of the Reliquary. I believe I will be very much at home with a list like this, as there are some similarities to both Jund builds and Birthing Pod decks. I resolved to giving the deck a try and built this list, making one change based on my experiences with the card overperforming for me: I swapped out the Birds of Paradise for a Sylvan Safekeeper. It combos nicely with Knight and adds another layer of resiliency for your creatures.

I don’t have a lot of time to prepare for the Grand Prix this time around, so most of my testing has to be done outside of the tournament scene among private testing groups. But so far, I have an idea of the place this deck has in what I understand as the Legacy metagame: it has a solid matchup against many of the fair decks and Delver of Secrets strategies, a poor combo matchup, and I am as yet unsure how the control matchup — Miracles, in particular — falls against this deck. It looks rough game one, as I have seven dead cards against Miracles, but it should get better post-board. Because my knowledge of the format is still so limited, I can only hope that my faith in my ability to pilot the deck competently will set me up to have a decent experience at the event. While I do not expect to do very well at the Grand Prix, I do want to learn more about the format and have a good time playing Magic.

Some of my testing buddies have questioned my insistence on not playing blue, and that I am essentially entering a tournament without giving myself a decent enough chance against combo decks and other fringe strategies that I will not be prepared to face. There is definitely some truth to this, as I think having countermagic in your arsenal gives a deck more options and resiliency against spell based strategies, like ANT or Show and Tell decks, something I do not have available in this list, minus having Gaddock Teeg against Tendrils of Agony. But I do think there are ways around playing blue in Leagacy that are very effective. Also, I think that by not playing blue decks for as long as I can, I can learn how to play against them to the best of my ability, and learn how to sequence well against countermagic. I hope that this committment can set me up for an understanding of Legacy that elevates my comfort level into one where I am confident enough in my abilities to not be punished for playing countermagic. I will wait until I am more experienced with Legacy before I commit to Force of Will.

So next week I’ll go over any changes to the archetype that I might want to make before the GP. The first consideration is how to fit in copies of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, which would provide some extra hate against combo and spell heavy builds. Also, whether or not the new Commander 2014 hatebear is worth a slot in the sideboard.

Until next week! Good luck practicing for the Grand Prix!

After a ten-year lapse from Magic, where his favorite combo was Tradewind Rider with Stasis, Derek is back to learn the new-border evolution of the game. While less frustrating cards have been printed, he now has to get used to planeswalkers, and people rolling dice when he resolves Hymn to Tourach. He qualified for the Junior Super Series in 1999 at Pro Tour New York, then used his collection to finance his college education. Years later, he works in the fashion industry as a stylist, consultant, and sometime-matchmaker for brands. He loves all things black leather, and is out to journal his level-ups with hopes of playing at the highest competitive level of the game.

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