I've been deep in the tank in preparation for the CFB Legacy Grand Prix in Las Vegas this weekend. It's no secret that I'm a huge Eternal fan, and I want to have a sick deck for the event.
Last week, I wrote about Death and Taxes, which is one of two decks I'm likely to sleeve up for the event. The other? 4-Color Stoneblade.
The deck is a known commodity if you follow MTGO results, and has been putting up solid finishes over the past month. But with an overall lack of large-scale Legacy events and coverage, it may not be a deck with which everyone is intimately familiar.
If I had to describe the deck in one sentence, I'd say it's a cross between Esper Deathblade and the Sultai Control deck Reid Duke used to win the last Legacy GP.
Keep in mind that when Reid was playing Sultai (with lots of Abrupt Decays and better mana), we lived in a world of Miracles (Counterbalance-Top + Blood Moon, Back To Basics, and From the Ashes). Now, without Miracles, it's possible to play a creature-based deck with worse mana and not be so directly punished by the best deck in the format.
What can I say? I love SFM:
"Let he without sin cast the first Stoneforge."
The linchpin of Stoneforge Mystic is what draws me to both of these great decks. The card is fantastic in both decks and is one of the premier threats in Legacy. SFM is efficient, powerful, and generates card advantage and tactical advantage by tutoring for whatever equipment is best for the job.
"By the power of Grayskull!"
No matter the matchup, there is a weapon to help you get the job done.
My first thought when I started looking at deck lists was how high the overall power-level of every spell is.
The deck has a similar matchup metric to Death and Taxes, with the advantage of Force of Will, Daze, and sideboard cards for some of the fast combo decks Death and Taxes struggles against. The trade-off is that 4c Stoneblade has a more vulnerable mana base and a lower threat density.
4c Stoneblade is a greatest hits collection of the best spells and creatures available in Legacy, facilitated by a greedy but sustainable mana base.
One of the big draws:
I love that the deck has a whopping eight 1-drop mana creatures that fix 3+ colors all by themselves. It is really powerful to always have a 1-drop that quickly accelerates to 3 and insulates against the liability to Wasteland.
Mana creatures (that also have potent offensive capabilities) are among the most useful creatures in all of Magic and I'm happy to have all of them. The drawback of playing lots of Birds and Elves has always been drawing too many late in the game and ending up threat-light. Deathrite and Hierarch are reasonable threats even late in the game.
"Why am I always messing with the big guns."
A little Jenny Lewis reference? Why not?
Aside from Stoneforge Mystic (which makes everything into a threat with equipment), Leovold and TNN are your power forwards.
Leovold is a great card advantage creature (since it draws cards whenever an opponent targets a friendly permanent) and shuts your opponent off of drawing multiple cards per turn. In particular, it is a nasty answer to Brainstorm and Ponder. You can't draw out of a problem when you can't draw extra cards.
TNN may be the overall best threat in the format. Without a ton of Terminus decks to keep it in check, the card hits hard, carries equipment like a boss, and is only answered by a handful of existing cards.
In fact, the fact that TNN is such a problematic card is the reason I'm considering playing this deck instead of Death and Taxes. TNN wearing an equipment (the entire point of the deck) is impossible for any fair deck to beat.
I guess that's why they call it the blues.
The killer in me is the killer in you.
Last, but not least: removal. One of the most hotly debated questions about the ideal main deck is whether to play 3 or 4 STP. I've seen the 3rd Abrupt Decay in that spot as well as Vendilion Clique. I'm old fashioned, and there's no way I'm not sleeving up 4 Beta Swords to Plowshares in any deck that can cast them.
That's the gist. It's an aggressive, midrange-y deck filled with a bunch of the best cards that are legal in the format. I'm a fan.
I feel very good about the configuration of the sideboard.
Against All Noncreature Decks
One is the loneliest number.
I want to stop spells and I want to do it for cheap. Thankfully these cards exist.
Against All Storm-Style Decks
You only get one. Make it count.
We can lump Elves into this category. Canonist is for decks that are going to try to play a lot of spells in the same turn.
Against Graveyard Decks
Drawing one of these cards against Reanimator or Dredge is just grave-y.
Obviously, these are bullets against Reanimator and Dredge, but they work double-duty in different matchups. Containment Priest shuts down Natural Order against Elves and is a house against Sneak or Showed monsters. Surgical Extraction is also great against most of the various combo decks, or against Lands, since it can take away half of their combo, stop Punishing Fire, or extract Life from the Loams.
Against Fair Decks
Hoagies and grinders, hoagies and grinders, navy beans, navy beans…
These are some great grinder cards. Zealous Persecution is awesome at killing Death and Taxes creatures, as well as opposing TNNs, which I assume will be out in large numbers next weekend. It's also quite a beating against Elves and a random answer to Empty the Warrens that can also get aggressive.
Sylvan Library draws cards. It's grand.
Against Miscellaneous Decks
Pithing Needle has a lot of applications across a wide range of matchups. It's a good 15th card off the bench. It can shut off Thespian's Stage combo. It can turn off Sneak Attack. It can answer a planeswalker. Wasteland. Karakas. Cavern Harpy. Rishadan Port. The list goes on and on.
I like the deck a lot. I'm still undecided between 4c Stoneblade and Death and Taxes, but both would be excellent choices for the event. Stoneforge Mystic is so strong against a field full of Delvers.
I will continue to test on Magic Online, and I probably won't make a final decision until the night before the event. I love when the choice is between two great decks because you can't lose. Either way, I'm fairly certain I'll be Stoneforge Mysticing in Vegas, and I couldn't be happier.