When Wizards began spoilers over the summer with Conspiracy I was still excited for spoilers (pre-hype exhaustion as mentioned by fellow writer Kate). They spoiled a card that I was very excited for but couldn’t quite decide what shell he best fit into: Leovold, Emissary of Trest.

I wanted to make a deck that was as efficient on mana as possible so if I was able to draw extra cards I could fully take advantage of them. In order to make the deck mana efficient I decided to use Aether Vial as a means to dump as many creatures onto the board as possible while being as mana efficient as possible. Vial also allows us to use our mana to cast our non creature spells while we are still able to get pressure onto the board. Why don’t we get into what is really important? Here is the decklist for Sultai Leovold:

BUG Leovold

Lands (21)
Creeping Tar Pit
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Tropical Island
Underground Sea

Creatures (21)
Baleful Strix
Deathrite Shaman
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Grim Flayer
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
True-Name Nemesis
Vendilion Clique

Spells (18)
Abrupt Decay
Hymn to Tourach
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Sylvan Library
Umezawa’s Jitte
Æther Vial
Sideboard (15)
Engineered Plague
Force of Will
Golgari Charm
Life from the Loam
Maelstrom Pulse
Surgical Extraction

Most of this deck is designed around card advantage and the ability to have a mix of creatures for value and spells that either answer the board or further your game plan.


Baleful Strix is here as a great way to not only dig a bit deeper into your deck, but can also require an answer or threaten to take out your opponent’s biggest threat.

Deathrite Shaman is our one mana creature “planeswalker” that can ramp us, fix our mana, gain life or slowly drain our opponent of their life. Deathrite is able to fill a lot of roles and threaten to also win a game on its own if the opportunity arises.

Edric, Spymaster of Trest is a card advantage engine through combat damage. The trigger that Edric provides allows for it to be vialed in before combat damage to reduce the chance of being stopped and potentially sneak through damage that might have been prevented or blocked otherwise.

Grim Flayer is an interesting new Legacy playable card. It enables decks to essentially play eight Tarmogoyfs but with trample it becomes better against chumps and True-Name Nemesis since it is able to still get damage through. That is where the sweetness comes in since if we deal combat damage then we get to look at the top three cards of our library and may dump any number of cards that we don’t want into our graveyard. Where the sweet interactions really come into play is when we have Flayer and Edric so we can stack the triggers to filter our top three cards and then draw cards which gives us immediate access to whatever we kept on top.

Leovold, Emissary of Trest is a mix of good and bad for what it does. Once it hits the board it makes anything your opponent has that targets terrible against you since it allows you to draw cards. Turning all of the targeted removal an opponent has into more cards for you means any spot removal ends up being a two for one in your favor. The problem with this ability is that we are forced to put Leovold into play as soon as possible so we don’t miss out on anything, since he won’t trigger after spot removal has been cast. If we are given time then Leovold can actually do a decent impression of Spirit of the Labyrinth in response to a Brainstorm causing our opponent to only draw one card if they haven’t drawn any and then have to put two back. It gives a lot of opportunity to lock an opponent down to the cards they draw once a turn on their turn. Having access to Vial in order to put Leovold into play at instant speed means we have the opportunity for blowouts while losing the ability to somewhat blank removal.

Tarmogoyf is simply a big dumb beater which is great for what we are trying to do. We have a lot of different card types in order to grow them as large as possible and having Leovold to punish spot removal on them makes them even better and harder for our opponent to answer without giving us value to draw into more.

True-Name Nemesis is a solid wall against creatures that we need to stop like opposing Tarmogoyfs as well as Batterskulls while being a great equipment carrier. As a Death and Taxes pilot I know what it feels like when I am staring down an opposing True-Name holding a Jitte and it is not an easy situation to be in. Creature match ups is where True-Name really shines since it doesn’t mind combat and can’t be taken out via spot removal.

Vendilion Clique is here for a great disruptive anti combo card as well as an anti Miracle card to tuck away a Terminus. Being a flying attacker means that with Edric we are able to draw extra cards with relative ease through combat.

Bitterblossom, while not a creature in itself, does slowly pump out creatures giving us the ability to slowly overwhelm the board. These 1/1 flying tokens give us additional equipment carriers that can fly over the top to get our Jitte online. They are great for what we are trying to do and if a Bitterblossom is answered or countered then it gives two card types towards a Goyf or delirium for a Flayer. In addition to the fact that they carry equipment well, as the token numbers increase the amount of cards that you can draw with an Edric in play becomes extremely high.

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Hymn to Tourach is the single discard spell that we have and the random discard is a great way to potentially cause an opponent to discard lands or key spells to throw them off at least a turn or two. While at times spot discard like Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek or Duress are better to pick out specific cards, the random selection of Hymn getting two of them can be far more disruptive and reduces the sheer number of cards an opponent has which can be more relevant against a deck like Storm that relies on a sheer mass of spells.


Abrupt Decay as usual is our staple removal spell of choice. It is perfect against what most decks in Legacy are trying to do since it can’t be countered and most decks are running cheap efficient creatures and spells.

Disfigure is one of the next cheapest and most efficient removal spells available. It hits Deathrite Shaman, Stoneforge Mystic and flipped Delver of Secrets unlike Darkblast which requires multiple casting in order to answer these same creatures. It may be correct to run Darkblast since we like our graveyard full, but I don’t want to put all my eggs in that basket when we have a great selection of BUG good stuff alongside the sheer card advantage to draw into it.


Jace, the Mind Sculptor is our lone Planeswalker which allows us to dig into the top of our deck, bounce problem creatures and be a decent win condition in itself. The power level of Jace is hard to argue when you have been sitting across from an opponent with a Jace on board and they are controlling the top of your deck before they take your hand and ask if you can win with the cards you have because that is now your library.


The sideboard is something that has been mostly thrown together. I am unsure if all of the card choices are correct or if my match up analysis is on point or not, but why don’t we dive into my choices?

Chill is my preference against Burn since it can give us some time to get a Deathrite Shaman or Umezawa’s Jitte online to gain life.

Engineered Plague and Golgari Charm are here against swarm strategies as well as Tribal synergies.

Extirpate and Surgical Extraction are our main anti graveyard hate cards. I may have mentioned this before, but I prefer to answer select cards against graveyard synergies, especially against Reanimator. Leyline of the Void while nice and all, only answers cards that you can put into the graveyard while it is in play. Drawing into it, rather than beginning with it in play just isn’t as effective and if it gets answered and unless you can immediately cast it again your opponent has a window to use their yaard. Many graveyard decks are designed to be able to circumvent a Leyline of the Void post board. I would rather allow my opponent to use their Entomb to put a Griselbrand into the yard so I can respond to a Reanimate and take ALL of the copies of it from their deck. I not only three or five for one them but completely removed a serious threat from their deck.

Flusterstorm and Force of Will are here to give us game post board against turn one combo decks. Although the main board is more aimed to beat the fair creature match ups we lost some points against fast combo and as a result I felt the need to take a few sideboard slots to give us more game against the fast combo decks.

Life from the Loam helps against the Lands deck to ensure that we are not completely shut out by Wasteland lock. It also allows us to punish other greedy mana decks by having recurring Wastelands while filling our graveyard for Tarmogoyf and Grim Flayer.

Maelstrom Pulse is an additional answer to cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Moat, Ensnaring Bridge and any other problem nonland permanents that we may come across. The benefit of Pulse over decay is that it hits any and all nonland permanents rather than anything that costs three mana or less. The downside in comparison to Decay is that Pulse is very counterable and may not destroy the intended target.

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Initial Thoughts

The deck seems like it should be a lot of fun in theory and as with many BUG good stuff type decks I presume it will likely be competitive enough to bring to a high level tournament. At the very least it should be a blast to run and play around with the weird interactions while being competitive and able to grind out wins. I really hope to pick up some Leovold and Flayers to sleeve this thing up soon and have some fun with it, maybe even prove the competitive promise of it. In the meantime I will be playing around with Vintage Aggro Loam for my next article so I hope you all  hold your excitement for that.

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Happy brewing to each and every one of you. If anyone has an idea for a brew that they would like to see, I will gladly take requests and challenges on twitter. 🙂

Aaron Gazzaniga manages a restaurant and in his off time has been an avid magic player/brewer since 2003. Having begun in Odyssey Standard Block and always favoring control and prison style decks, we come to this moment in time where Aaron finally gets to talk about and share his ideas. If you want to contact Aaron tweet @aarongazzaniga

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