Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the Spice Cabinet! GP Vegas is in the rear-view mirror and we have a fresh look at how the metagame has shaped up in the post-Top tournament scene. This brave new world seems to be heavily populated by cheap aggressive creatures. Delver of Secrets put four decks into Top 8 with three different flavors of color combinations. Czech Pile made an appearance and while it eschews the blue insect, it still relies on fragile creatures like Deathrite Shaman, Baleful Strix, and Snapcaster Mage to get the deck’s motor running. Most surprising of all was that the final winner was none other than Andrew Calderon on Death & Taxes. Many people in the legacy community have been saying that Death & Taxes would be poorly positioned in the post banning world. Congratulations to Andrew for proving them wrong!  

What all of these decks have in common is that they are chock full of fragile creatures with two toughness or less. This really makes me want to take advantage of one of my favorite combos: Punishing Fire and Grove of the Burnwillows. While Jund is the traditional home for this super value combo, the weakness to unfair combo decks is a bit of a turnoff. After all, both my pet deck (Sneak and Show) and Lands put a copy in the Top 8 as well. As such, I decided to dust off one of my most popular brews from last year and give it a bit of a makeover.

Punishing Thieves

Creatures (14)
Deathrite Shaman
Snapcaster Mage
Gurmag Angler
Young Pyromancer
Notion Thief

Spells (27)
Dack Fayden
Spell Pierce
Force of Will
Gitaxian Probe
Cabal Therapy
Lightning Bolt
Punishing Fire
Chains of Mephistopheles
Lands (20)
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Grove of the Burnwillows
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island

To an untrained eye this looks like just another grindy Grixis list

Some of you may recognize the bones of this deck from my series of articles on “Punishing Ice” A.K.A. Freezer Burn. I ended up shelving the deck when Fatal Push was printed. Poor Thing in the Ice never had a chance against the hyper-efficient removal spell. However, I did find myself still winning games due to the strength of the deck’s core engine. Dack Fayden plus Punishing Fire is too much value for many fair decks to deal with in this current metagame. What really sold me on bringing the deck back was a Grixis list I saw which combined Dack Fayden with Notion Thief to devastating results.  

Sometimes you have so much value you can’t decide what to do first!


While adding black significantly weakens our already fragile mana base, it does allow us to play the best one mana planeswalker in legacy, Deathrite Shaman. The ramp from Deathrite allows us to play a turn two Dack Fayden into a turn three Notion Thief. From there on out Dack Fayden reads +1 “target opponent discards two cards and you draw two cards.” If our opponent does not have an immediate answer they will be reaching for their sideboard in short order.  

While trying to maximize the synergies of the deck, I still needed to find a replacement two drop that could fill the void left by Thing in the Ice. I tinkered with Pack Rats as a spicy win condition that could take advantage of the crazy card advantage that this deck generates. I ultimately found the Ravnica Limited bomb (and onetime Standard bogeyman) to be just a bit too clunky. Three mana to activate its ability is just too much in Legacy. In the end, I went with Young Pyromancer. The token generation can quickly get out of hand when you are looping Punishing Fire instead of discarding it to Dack Fayden.

No matter what path you choose though, it’s hard to stop the bus to value town!

Cabal Therapy was a natural inclusion once I settled on Young Pyromancer. A couple therapies can strip our opponents hand bare and getting free flashbacks from Pyromancer tokens is the cherry on top. Gitaxian Probe also gets to tag along, as Probe / Therapy is one of the most busted combos a fair Legacy deck can play. Probe also allows you to make a Young Pyromancer token as soon as you play it, which allows us to start cashing in value right away.

Now all of these spells have the effect of quickly filling up our graveyard, which opens the possibility of running everyone’s favorite zombie fish, Gurmag Angler. Gurmag is actually very important to the deck as we have a hard time dealing with big beefy creatures. It is incredibly frustrating trying to Punishing Fire a Tarmogoyf or Reality Smasher to death. Gurmag gives us a way to efficiently trade with these large threats in the main deck.

A handy flow chart!

The Spicy 61st

Today’s Spicy 61st card is dedicated to Aaron Gazzaniga as he may be the only person on this planet who loves Chains of Mephistopheles more than I do. If not for the insane price tag, Chains would see much more play in Legacy. For an efficient cost of 1B it wrecks almost every blue deck in the format by blanking their cantrips. With a Chains of Mephistopheles in play Dack Fayden reads +1 “target opponent discards a card, then draws a card, then discards another card, then draws a card, then discards two more cards for good measure”. Essentially it turns into a draw two discard four scenario. The same can be said if our opponent tries to Brainstorm, at the end of resolution they will have drawn three cards, discarded three cards, then put two more cards on top of their library. When I said it blanks cantrips, I really meant it!

Hope you all enjoyed this week’s article, get out there and start brewing!  

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 Mtgcast.com. He can be reached on Twitter at @Jmee3rd

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