In the PPTQ era, Legacy is a format that people tend to forget, but it’s still one of the most skill-intensive and challenging around.
Therefore I want to analyze a deck that I believe is one the best in the format: Sultai Delver. This deck is capable of fighting a lot of combo decks with discard spells and has counters to fair decks with Abrupt Decay and Hymn to Tourach.
There are plenty of ways to build it—I’m going to show you my deck list and from there I’ll discuss my choices.
Dark Confidant: Great against Miracles, you don’t care about your life total and they need to cast a Swords to Plowshares right away. Weak against Lightning Bolt decks that can either capitalize on your life loss or just trade 1-for-1 with it.
Tasigur, the Golden Fang: Even if this guy is like an additional copy of Tarmogoyf that can provide card advantage, he might become an uncastable card due to Relic of Progenitus or Rest in Peace that also doesn’t synergize well with cards like Tarmogoyf or Deathrite Shaman. His ability doesn’t really shine since your deck has cards like Daze, Thoughtseize or Hymn to Tourach that can easily be dead cards in the late game.
Tombstalker: Very fast clock against combo decks, can fly over Elves, and doesn’t die to Lightning Bolt and Punishing Fire but it’s also very bad against Jace, the Mind Sculptor and you can’t play it alongside Dark Confidant. Including it or not depends heavily on the metagame, if you are playing in an Italian/European metagame filled with Miracles, it’s simply not a good choice.
True-Name Nemesis: Very difficult to deal with, but on the other hand, it costs 3 mana, and really shines only if paired with Stoneforge Mystic. In addition, it is a clear nombo with the Golgari Charm in the board so in the end it’s not worth it.
Liliana of the Veil: I want to have a lot of good cards versus Miracles, and Liliana is great in that matchup. But she’s also a 3-mana spell that can’t flip Delver of Secrets, so that’s why I’m running just 1 copy.
Murderous Cut: This is very spicy, I haven’t seen many people playing this card, but since I’m playing 0 cards with delve, I figured that I can easily fit one in my deck. It’s great to have after turn two or three and ends up being a Swords to Plowshares with no downside.
Hymn to Tourach: Pure card advantage, the earlier you play this card the better it is. This card is great against basically everybody except a Wilt-Leaf Liege deck. It’s your main weapon against other Delver decks and Jeskai or Temur, but not ideal if your opponent played a turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic on the play, but you’ll eventually find the right spot to fit this card and gain your 2-for-1. I think that 3 copies in the main and 1 in the board is the right number.
Thoughtseize: Discard spells have always been great against combo decks, but also it’s one of the few way to deal with Batterskull once your opponent has resolved a Stoneforge Mystic. If you are playing against a Stoneforge Mystic deck and you don’t have Deathrite Shaman, Delver of Secrets, or Ponder, it’s OK to lead with Thoughtseize—otherwise I suggest that you to wait until you’re further along in the game.
Force of Will: As you will see in the sideboard guide, I’m boarding out Force of Will a lot of time but you can’t really afford to play without them maindeck. Be aware of the fact that it’s really painful once it’s revealed by a Dark Confidant and it’s not the best vs. the mirror or Vial/aggro decks.
Stifle: I think that this deck is totally different from the Temur Delver that Jacob Wilson used to 8-0 the SCG Invitational. This is still a tempo deck with Dazes and Wastelands, but you don’t rely too much on those, you have other weapons like Hymn to Tourach and Abrupt Decay and if you want to sideboard into a more fair/disruptive deck, Stifle simply doesn’t fit that role.
Keep in mind that If they draw a miracle and reveal it, you can play Vendilion Clique, target them and put the miracle card on bottom before they get the chance to play it.
You can use Abrupt Decay to destroy Sensei’s Divining Top in response to the draw ability or if they crack a fetch, it’s effectively a 2-for-1 in their favor, but against Top it’s worth the investment.
Blood Moon might showed up post-sideboard, so don’t tap out if you fear that something is going on when you have Abrupt Decay in your hand.
Daze is usually bad, even on the play—they will very easily play around it and after awhile it’s just a dead card.
This matchup is even/negative pre-side. Positive post-side.
Some of them can play red just for Pyroclasm, so be aware and don’t overextend if there’s no need.
The matchup is in your favor, you can attack their hand with discard spells and have a lot of counterspells to prevent them from resolving their Show and Tell.
Post-side you can resolve a Grafdigger’s Cage to prevent Natural Order and Green Sun’s Zenith, and you add 3 Disfigure to slow them down while your Insectile Aberration or Vendilion Clique is beating in the air. Golgari Charm can clean the board and sadly Dark Confidant dies to that, but I don’t want to board them out because it’s very important to keep the card advantage coming. If you manage to stall the board with a Tarmogoyf and a Deathrite Shaman, having Dark Confidant in play is very important.
Daze is pretty bad against them, and even Force of Will is not great, we go too low on blue cards so we can’t afford to keep them in the deck.
On The Play
On The Draw
As you can see, being on the draw or on the play changes how you sideboard.
Daze isn’t very effective on the draw while on the play it’s still a good card, but you need to play it carefully and don’t just slam it on turn 1 if your opponent plays a Delver of Secrets and you haven’t played a Deathrite Shaman. You need to stay ahead with land drops and be able to cast Hymn to Tourach before they do.
Also if you are on the play you have time to cast Sylvan Library, while if you are on the draw it’s difficult to find time to cast a non-interactive spell.
The mirror match is very challenging, full of choices and very enjoyable.
Stoneblade (No Delver) – Either Esper or Jeskai
You treat them like a control deck with True-Name Nemesis and try to get ahead on card advantage.
Death & Taxes
Another very tough matchup, your worst enemy is Mirran Crusader, so you must find a way to deal with it. Discard spells are the best way, but be sure not to discard Wilt-Leaf Liege , so that’s why I don’t like Hymn to Tourach, while Liliana is still an edict and you can maneuver a +1 when the coast is clear.
They have an equipment team in the deck, what you always want to destroy with Abrupt Decay so don’t be unprepared for them and don’t waste your Decays on useless creatures or Aether Vials.
I covered more or less all the main archetypes that you can find during a Legacy tournament, and I encourage you to play this format because it’s incredibly beautiful and challenging.