As promised, here is the third instalment in my article series on the new Punishing Ice deck. GP Louisville is only a few days away, so making sure our sideboard is as close to perfect as possible is a top priority. While the great diversity of Legacy is a reason to love the format, it also makes sideboarding a frustrating task. We cannot be prepared for everything. What we can do however, is make sure that our sideboard has answers for as many of the most popular decks as possible.

As a refresher, take a look at the list before we dive into a couple of the most popular matchups.    

Punishing Ice

Creatures (10)
Bedlam Reveler
Thing in the Ice
Snapcaster Mage
Vendilion Clique
True-Name Nemesis

Spells (30)
Jace the Mindsculptor
Dack Fayden
Engineered Explosives
Life From the Loam
Punishing Fire
Lightning Bolt
Force of Will
Spell Pierce

Land (21)
Grove of the Burnwillows
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Flooded Strand
Volcanic Island
Tropical Island
Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Pithing Needle
Krosan Grip
Sylvan Library
Grafdigger’s Cage
Surgical Extraction
Kozilek’s Return

Miracles – Making up 12% of the Legacy meta, Miracles is the current boogieman. If you do not have a plan to beat miracles do not bother to enter the tournament. The only way you are dodging this matchup is if you sell your soul to the devil.


You know a combo is busted when people start making alters specifically for the combo


In: 2 [casthaven]Engineered Explosives[/casthaven] 2 [casthaven]Pithing Needle[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Krosan Grip[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Sylvan Library[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Pyroblast[/casthaven]

[casthaven]Engineered Explosives[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Krosan Grip[/casthaven] are on cleanup duty [casthaven]for Counterbalance[/casthaven], Explosives also pulls a double by mopping up Mentor and Angel tokens.

[casthaven]Pithing Needle[/casthaven] shuts down [casthaven]Sensei’s Divining Top[/casthaven], or in an emergency can shut off a [casthaven]Jace, the Mindsculptor[/casthaven]. [casthaven]Pyroblast[/casthaven] helps pad the counter war win rate, it can also kill a Jace or [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] if you get really lucky.

Ask any miracles player and they will tell you that [casthaven]Sylvan Library[/casthaven] is one of the best cards you can bring in against them. It is free card advantage and continuous card selection, it is also difficult to answer as an enchantment.   


Out: 4 [casthaven]Lightning Bolt[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Misdirection[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Punishing Fire[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Island[/casthaven]

Miracles preys on one converted mana cost cards with [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven], so [casthaven]Lightning Bolt[/casthaven] is out. All of their creatures die to [casthaven]Punishing Fire[/casthaven] so losing Bolt is not that bad.

[casthaven]Misdirection[/casthaven] is not the greatest since there often won’t be another target to point their [casthaven]Swords to Plowshares[/casthaven] at. As a counterspell [casthaven]Pyroblast[/casthaven] is a bit more flexible so [casthaven]Misdirection[/casthaven] comes out in order to make room.

We often tend to flood out in these long grindy control matchups, so shaving an [casthaven]Island[/casthaven] lets us pack in a bit more power while helping our draws late game.    


Grixis Delver (& other flavors of Delver) – As the second most popular deck in the format at 7%, Grixis Delver is actually a very favorable matchup. This is good news for us, we want to play against Delver decks all day, but that does not mean there is not a bit of fine tuning to be done.

In: 1 [casthaven]Pyroblast[/casthaven] 1-2 [casthaven]Engineered Explosives[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Kozilek’s Return[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Submerge[/casthaven] (if they are a heavy green version)  

[casthaven]Pyroblast[/casthaven] counters about a third of the cards in most Delver lists. At its worst it says “destroy target [casthaven]Delver of Secrets[/casthaven]”, which is pretty good considering it’s the title card of the deck.

[casthaven]Engineered Explosives[/casthaven] is a catch all sweeper letting you clean up every creature other than [casthaven]Gurmag Angler[/casthaven]. While a bit mana intensive, it can carry a game on its back letting you take down multiple threats at the same time.

[casthaven]Submerge[/casthaven] is your ace in the hole against [casthaven]Tarmogoyf[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Gurmag Angler[/casthaven]. Instead of trying to burn them out, [casthaven]Submerge[/casthaven] them in response to a fetchland activation and shuffle their last hope of winning away.

[casthaven]Kozilek’s Return[/casthaven] is the best top deck you can hope for when you are staring down an army of [casthaven]Delver of Secrets[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Young Pyromancer[/casthaven] tokens. While a bit clunky at 2R, this sweeper will get the job done when you absolutely need to stabilize.   


Out: 3-4 [casthaven]Force of Will[/casthaven]

Some may think it is blasphemy to board out the holy godfather of counterspells, but those individuals are misguided. Two for one-ing ourselves is not something we want to do against a tempo deck. Instead of fighting them in a counter war on the stack, let them resolve their punny creatures and burn them out with infinit recurring [casthaven]Punishing Fire[/casthaven]’s. We know the Delver player is not going to combo us out in a single turn, so there is no reason to keep in [casthaven]Force of Will[/casthaven] when we have other more efficient answers.

Sneak and Show – As the winner of the last Legacy GP in Chiba, Sneak and Show is a powerful combo deck that demands respect. It success in recent top events, coupled with the fact that almost all of the key cards in the deck were recently reprinted, leads me to believe that we will see a strong showing of Sneak and Show at GP Louisville. If I was not already dead set on playing Punishing Ice, Sneak and Show would be my pick for the best deck to pilot this coming weekend.  


In: 2 [casthaven]Pithing Needle[/casthaven] 2 [casthaven]Flusterstorm[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Pyroblast[/casthaven] 2 [casthaven]Surgical Extraction[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Krosan Grip[/casthaven]

[casthaven]Pithing Needle[/casthaven] will put the brakes on [casthaven]Sneak Attack[/casthaven], this is incredibly important for the matchup. A resolved [casthaven]Show and Tell[/casthaven] will give you at least a turn to find an answer, but [casthaven]Sneak Attack[/casthaven] often means instant death. Shutting off half of a deck’s win conditions is a pretty good job for a one mana artifact.     

[casthaven]Flusterstorm[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Pyroblast[/casthaven] will help you win the counter war, which is where this match will be won or lost. Allowing a [casthaven]Sneak Attack[/casthaven] or a [casthaven]Show and Tell[/casthaven] resolve is a very bad thing, you have limited options when it comes to dealing with big bad monsters. So don’t let yourself get in that position, make sure you win the counter war.

Remember how I said to win the counter war? Well once you win the counter war, make sure you [casthaven]Surgical Extraction[/casthaven] the combo piece they were trying to resolve. I have played a few matches where a [casthaven]Pithing Needle[/casthaven] on [casthaven]Sneak Attack[/casthaven], followed by a [casthaven]Surgical Extraction[/casthaven] on [casthaven]Show and Tell[/casthaven], has resulted in an immediate concession from my opponent.

[casthaven]Krosan Grip[/casthaven] makes for a decent answer for [casthaven]Sneak Attack[/casthaven]. You have to be a bit clever with who holds priority when, but it will get the job done in a pinch. What you really want [casthaven]Krosan Grip[/casthaven] for is when you run into the versions of the Sneak and Show playing [casthaven]Omniscience[/casthaven], that is where [casthaven]Krosan Grip[/casthaven] really pulls its weight.


Out: 4 [casthaven]Lightning Bolt[/casthaven] 2 [casthaven]Punishing Fire[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Engineered Explosives[/casthaven] 1 [casthaven]Life From the Loam[/casthaven]

The cuts for this matchup are pretty easy. All of these cards do nothing in the matchup so out they go. We still leave 2 [casthaven]Punishing Fire[/casthaven] in the deck as a way to flip [casthaven]Thing in the Ice[/casthaven]. Often the bounce effect that comes with flipping [casthaven]Thing in the Ice[/casthaven] is our only out to a resolved [casthaven]Show and Tell[/casthaven] or [casthaven]Sneak Attack[/casthaven].

Unfortunately that is all the time I have for today. We covered three of the most popular decks, as well as the three most popular styles of deck; Control, Tempo/Aggro, and Combo. Hopefully by looking at the logic behind these sideboard choices you can apply the same ideas to decks of similar style.

Good luck to everyone at GP Louisville, I look forward to seeing all the great people of the Legacy community!!!   

Jerry Mee is a Boston Native who has been playing Magic since Onslaught Block. Primarily a Legacy player, he cohosts the weekly Leaving a Legacy Podcast found on He can be reached on Twitter at @Jmee3rd

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