This week, in honor of Grand Prix Seattle, I have a Legacy pick and it’s a real doozy: Sneak and Show!
Sneak and Show
There’s nothing revolutionary here, just a deck that has been around for as long as I can remember, and in that time it has dominated the format. In my recent practice with the deck I had someone ask me, “is Sneak and Show a good deck again post-Dig Through Time?” and the question surprised me. If Sneak and Show is a great deck, then Dig Through Time gets printed, and it’s not as good of a deck, and then Dig Through Time gets banned, then there is no reason to believe anything except that the format will be back to the way it was before. All the same cards are available. If it was great and we’re back to square one, then in my eyes, it’s great again. I’m banking on the hope that a lot of people have forgotten about the deck and behave in the same way they did when Dig Through Time was legal, and that they won’t play crazy hate cards like Humility and Ensnaring Bridge.
Although not everything is the same as it was before Dig—this deck is massively improved by the mulligan-scry rule. When the games last a short amount of time then the impact of one fewer card is lessened, and the chances of getting a nonfunctional hand are also decreased by the scry. Also the actual scry has more value, since it’ll be clear if you want a card or not when all you’re hoping to do is assemble a combination of cards that ends the game. Something like Ancient Tomb, Lotus Petal, Show and Tell, and Griselbrand achieves this.
One choice in this list which may not be standard is 4 copies of Preordain.
I have been really satisfied with the Preordains, and to help give you some perspective, just look at the Modern banned list—both Ponder and Preordain were banned at the same exact time! The experts at Wizards of the Coast decided that the cards were on a similar power level that was too high for Modern, so it’s not totally out of the question to look at Ponder, an awesome card in Legacy, and compare it to Preordain. I also like having the extra cantrips, since many games involve using a Sneak Attack to put Emrakul into play and destroy all the opponents permanents, which doesn’t actually win the game outright, it merely puts you in a very favorable position. You still need to topdeck a creature before the opponent can stabilize, and although you’re a big favorite to win I have seen people just never draw what they need and lose. Adding Preordains to your deck means better top decks, which helps immensely in these types of situations. Another strategy people use to beat Sneak and Show is to overload on discard like Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach—I’ve found a great way to beat players on this plan is to do everything in your power to put a Sneak Attack into play and let them go wild with the discard. If you can resolve Sneak Attack you just sit there and hope to topdeck a big creature over the course of the next several turns. Preordain shines here.
Rending Volley may look like an odd addition to the deck, but I’ve found that Containment Priest backed by counterspells is very problematic. I’ve also seen Meddling Mage come out of the sideboard of Jeskai and even Sultai Delver decks. Volley costing only 1 mana and being uncounterable makes the card kind of perfect for solving these specific problems and in a worst-case scenario you can tag a Delver of Secrets or a Stoneforge Mystic and prolong the game. Lessening the effects of their Daze and Spell Pierce-type cards and allowing you to see a larger portion of your deck means your deck fails to function less often—a moderate concern for any combo deck.
Through the Breach may look strange as well, but it’s here for any matchup in which you believe that Show and Tell is a liability. Goblin players love to put Ashen Rider in their sideboard so when you cast a Show and Tell they drop Rider and exile your Emrakul. This leads to a total blowout, and to the Ashen Rider’s controller feeling gratified on a level I can’t comprehend, as they’ve outsmarted me so badly. Through the Breach dodges these shenanigans, and it makes the mirror match less horrible. In the mirror you don’t want to cast a Show and Tell because there’s a chance your opponent puts a card into play that’s just better than what you can produce. Through the Breach is slower, which is why it doesn’t get included in the main deck, but it’s more reliable and worth having.