Legacy Weapon – Gauntleting Bant

Memphis was something of a wakeup call for me. Playing Painter in that metagame was like biking uphill. Every round I played was somehow tougher than the last, and I had to pull multiple mind tricks and other such shenanigans to beat the hate.

After getting home and shrugging off some pointless procrastinations, like debating the merits of casting Green Sun’s Zenith for Gaddock Teeg or Ichneumon Druid vs. High Tide, I got down to business and picked a new deck to test. I hadn’t worked with Bant in a while, and it had some spicy new tools in the way of Green Sun’s Zenith and Stoneforge Mystic that I wanted to tinker with. I started with a variant of AJ Sacher’s shell, cutting the Natural Order package for a Stoneforge Mystic one, which, while lowering the deck’s power level, increased its resiliency against countermagic while fitting my play style better.

One thing I like to do with a new deck is to try it out online before running it through the gauntlet. This is the build I 6-0’d a Magic-League Trial with, which is somewhat more difficult than 4-0ing a Daily Event on MTGO due to the extra two rounds.

A Rough Bant List, by Caleb Durward

 

One thing that surprised me about the deck was that the Merfolk matchup seemed great, while decks with Islands in them typically have a miserable time facing the islandwalking menace. Noble Hierarch, and even Green Sun’s Zenith for Arbor, works as a natural buffer for Daze, and Stoneforge Mystic almost single handedly wins the game if it resolves, as Merfolk has difficulty with an active Umezawa’s Jitte or Sword of Fire and Ice. Perhaps I was merely drawing my Sower of Temptations at the right time, but I had stomped some competent opponents, so I felt I was on to something.

As for the rest of the deck, a few cards weren’t performing. I liked having Selkie and Terravore as Zenith targets, but they could be awkward if I drew them in the wrong matchup. The Lotus Cobra was added with the intent of being able to cast multiple threats per turn, but I never wanted to tutor for it and it was merely fine when I drew it naturally. Also, there were times when I needed a second Tundra after the first one was wasted.

After testing a slew of games against Team America and combo, I decided on swapping out the Stifles for a pair of Spell Snares and Vendilion Cliques. The Cliques have a side benefit of being another evasive creature for Sword of Fire and Ice while synergizing with Karakas in a wonderful way. Unlike the Countertop decks that pulled a similar trick, this deck can fetch the Karakas with Knight of the Reliquary, making the soft lock somewhat easier to obtain.

The final change I made was to shave a land (Flooded Strand, as its inability to fetch Dryad Arbor makes it the worst land in the deck) and add a single Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I have an interesting relationship with the card as it, like Natural Order and Show and Tell, is one of those spells that I just keep Spell Piercing for the win. That said, the card does a number of things for the deck that justify the slot. The versatility in being proactive (fatesealing,) reactive (bouncing,) or just acting as a draw engine makes it worth the risks that come with a hefty mana cost. Jace is great against two aspects of Team America, the parts that want to deny you gas and the parts that want to tempo out with huge threats. It’s less good against the part that wants to Daze you, however, and I never want to draw more than one, so a miser is fine.

This all lead me to this version:

Stoneforge Bant, by Caleb Durward

I ran it against most of the field, a daunting task in legacy, with no set number of games besides “when I was satisfied.” This is typically between eight and fifteen matches, depending on the complexity of the matchup.

I got frustrated, as always, writing about the various matchups as though they were set in stone. People like sideboarding guides, but legacy is diverse, and sideboarding is not a fixed thing that should be done the same way against different builds and players. More important is how the actual deck plays out. While I included a brief synopsis of the matchups against the general metagame, I followed it up with a set of blow-by-blow matches against three of the current major players that will hopefully prove more useful.

Countertop:

I tested against a few different variants, and the games were mostly even with high levels of interactivity and skill, which is everything I love about Legacy.

I pulled one sweet move off in testing. I had stalled out on two lands with a Noble Hierarch and a Knight of the Reliquary in play. My opponent had assembled the Counterbalance and Sensei’s Divining Top soft lock, but was tapped out after tutoring for the Top with Trinket Mage.

I cast Brainstorm, to which he responded by tapping Top. I let the draw resolve, then, with the Counterbalance trigger still on the stack, I floated mana and used the Knight to bring me up to three to cast a Vendilion Clique, which resolved since the top card of his library was now one. His hand contained a removal spell, Engineered Explosives, and Academy Ruins. I took the Explosives, which made him draw the Top and allowed the Brainstorm to resolve (Counterbalance revealing Counterspell) Now I had complete information, all while resolving a draw spell and a threat through the soft lock (though the Brainstorm did brick.)

I was glad that Jace was in the maindeck, and wished I had Cold-Eyed Selkie at times. Casting Green Sun’s Zenith for a lot to get around Counterbalance and fetching out a Qasali Pridemage is a threat that Countertop players haven’t had to deal with in the past, and most will have to run more hard counters to adapt. I recommend avoiding the archetype, for the time being.

Affinity:

The Bant deck looks like it crushes Affinity on paper, and it does in practice, too. The one scary card is Etched Champion, which one should try and save a Force of Will for. Typically, Affinity plays out a hand full of Memnites, Signal Pests, and other irrelevant creatures with one real threat, like Cranial Plating. This makes casting Green Sun’s Zenith for Qasali Pridemage a very lucrative play.

Goblins:

There isn’t much to say here. Find a Jitte or a Sword and put it on a creature ASAP. Post board you have Pithing Needle, which is fantastic against them, but you have to watch out for Perish. Bant has a lot of the right tools for the matchup, and Goblins is one of those decks that I would love to play against every round.

High Tide:

After testing, I was grateful I had moved the Vendilion Cliques to the maindeck, which is otherwise stuffed with dead cards like Swords to Plowshares and Sower of Temptation. Ideally, you can shuffle those away after a Brainstorm and make a game of it. Post board, the ability to tutor for Gaddock Teeg is very relevant, though High Tide can win through it if there isn’t enough pressure.

Note that the correct time to cast Spell Pierce is in the early game, such as their turn one Preordain or turn two Merchant Scroll. If they’re casting High Tide, you’re probably too late, but targeting High Tide itself is your last chance for value. The card should be similarly played in the Ad Naus matchup. A competent storm player isn’t just going to waltz their win condition into your telegraphed soft counter, so you need to deny them critical mass by countering what cantrips you can while applying pressure.

Merfolk:

I’m going to do something new, here. Rather than describe my results from grinding, I’m going to give some of the more important matchups a play-by-play, Ochoa style, and talk about whether I thought the match played out typically or not at the end.

Merfolk, by Alex Bertoncini

My opening hand has a grip of

 

which is a snap keep.

I lead off with a Tropical Island and a Hierarch while my opponent goes Island into Aether Vial. I draw a Vendilion Clique. Since the Vial is fresh, I have the luxury of Cliqueing on his draw step. If I were on the draw this game, I would consider casting the Clique on my turn so that he couldn’t Vial in response.

The Clique gets Dazed, which I’m pretty happy with as it stunts his development and clears the way for me to cast Brainstorm (hopefully finding land) into Knight of the Reliquary on curve. Unfortunately, he Wastelands me instead of replaying the Island.

I skillfully rip a fetch and get a Tropical Island to cast Knight. He vials in Cursecatcher, untaps, vials in Lord of Atlantis and bashes. (Me: 17 Opp: 20)

I draw Brainstorm and finally cast the card, drawing Wasteland, Green Sun’s Zenith, and Force of Will. I put back the Force of Will and second Brainstorm, considering my options. Casting Green Sun’s Zenith gives him too many outs, such as Cursecatcher plus Daze or Spell Pierce, and while I could fetch a Qasali I would have to tap my Knight to sack him, which I would rather attack with to take the initiative in the race. I play Wasteland and run out the Knight. At this point, my active Knight makes me feel very secure, as it gives Daze protection while also giving me a sacrifice outlet for my Tropical Island if Lord of Atlantis ever becomes a problem (though my Wasteland can pull a similar stunt.) The second Knight resolves, and I attack for five with the exalted trigger from Hierarch. (Me: 17 Opp: 15)

The opponent leaves vial on two and uses it to cheat in a Coralhelm Commander. He plays a Mishra’s Factory (a signature of Alex Bertoncini’s list) and levels the Commander twice before attacking with Cursecatcher. (Me: 15 Opp: 15)

I draw Brainstorm, which I cast drawing Force of Will, Forest, Wasteland. I put back Force and Wasteland before playing the Forest and casting Green Sun’s Zenith for two while leaving up Wasteland. Zenith resolves. At this point, sacking Cursecatcher to deny me tempo is an option for my opponent, as I would have to use the Knight’s ability if I wanted to also activate Qasali that turn. Since he didn’t, he probably needs the Cursecatcher as a threat, which implies that his hand isn’t filled with gas, but that he might have a third Lord (probably Merrow Reejery). Overall, I like my position. I sack my Tropical to fetch out another Wasteland, hitting his Mishra’s Factory. My other Knight swings in for eight with two exalted triggers (Me: 15 Opp: 7) and I sacrifice Qasali to cack his Aether Vial post combat. Opponent levels up Coralhelm twice, attacking with it and Lord of Atlantis, and I flash a Swords to Plowshares for his only blocker to prompt the scoop.

Sideboarding:

Out

 

In

 

I fan open a grip of triple Brainstorm, Tarmogoyf, Green Sun’s Zenith, Stoneforge Mystic, and a Tundra. If the Tundra were a green source I would probably keep this hand, as then Green Sun’s Zenith is live as a shuffle effect, but as is I have to ship it. If the first Brainstorm hits gas instead of mana I will definitely get run over, and the likelihood of the Tundra getting wasted is pretty reasonable.

My six is a strong keep:

 

Opponent leads with Island, Cursecatcher. Now, this is a very standard opening for Merfolk, and many players will ignore it in full-on autopilot. In Legacy, however, it pays to think, and I try to get information from every turn of the game.

By leading with Cursecatcher, we know he didn’t board all of his Cursecatchers out. Since it’s one of Merfolk’s weakest creatures against us, we can assume he boarded out even weaker spells, such as Spell Pierce or Standstill. Most current Merfolk lists have some mixture of Submerge, Umezawa’s Jitte, and Sower of Temptation in their board (with Hibernation and Mind Harness seeing more niche play) which means that he also had to have shaved some creatures as well. He might have cut Kira, Great Glass Spinner due to its nonbo with Umezawa’s Jitte, which would make our Sower of Temptations better (but he would gain answers in Submerge and/or Jitte.)

The information doesn’t stop there! Since he kept a hand with a weak turn one play, instead of Aether Vial, we can assume he has one or two sideboard cards alongside an otherwise strong hand. He probably kept something similar to 2-3 lands, Cursecatcher, at least one relevant threat, Daze/Force of Will, and one or two of Submerge/Sower of Temptation/Umezawa’s Jitte. The other option is he intends to curve out with a lord every turn for the rest of the game, which would be much worse for our hand.

It seems like a lot to go through, but with practice this type of analysis is internalized very quickly. The next step comes with every turn of the game. Did your opponent’s play confirm or disconfirm any of your assumptions? Did he draw something that might have taken precedent, changing his plans? Most importantly, how can you abuse this information?

I draw a Stoneforge Mystic for the turn, which bumps us up from one must-counter (Sower) to two, while fitting a missing spot in our curve. I sack the Misty for Tropical and drop a Noble Hierarch into play.

Opponent plays a Mishra’s Factory and Umezawa’s Jitte before attacking with Cursecatcher. (Me: 18 Opp: 20) Our plan now is to tutor up a Jitte of our own to legend rule them, losing our Hierarch but struggling back into the game.

I draw a fetchland for the turn before playing Wasteland (Daze protection) and casting Stoneforge Mystic fetching Jitte. I sacrifice Wasteland to hit his Factory before passing the turn. He equips Jitte and cracks in, trading his Cursecatcher and Jitte counters for my Stoneforge and Hierarch. I untap and draw Wasteland. Now, if I run out Jitte here and it gets Dazed I am very far behind, and since he doesn’t have a creature on board I can be sure my Noble won’t get Jitted before my next turn, so I open with Brainstorm, drawing Swords to Plowshares, Tundra, and a fetchland. I put back Tundra and Wasteland (risky in that he might rip another manland) before cracking a fetch for another Tropical and playing my second Noble Hierarch.

Opponent plays island and Merfolk Sovereign. I draw a Forest. Here, I could Sower his lord, but I’m still at a healthy life total and his Grey Ogre isn’t all that threatening, so I’m content to continue playing around Daze and legend rule his Jitte. He attacks for two (Me: 13 Opp: 20) before playing his fourth island, casting Aether Vial, and passing the turn with two cards left in hand.

I draw Island and play my last fetch before Sowering his Merfolk Sovereign. He untaps and drops a fifth Island and casts his own Sower, getting back his Sovereign. I crack my fetch for Dryad Arbor, untap, and draw Green Sun’s Zenith. I Swords to Plowshares his Sower before attacking with mine for three (Me: 13 Opp: 19.) I then cast Green Sun’s Zenith for three, fetching out a Cold-Eyed Selkie and shipping the turn. The opponent moves Vial to two, draws, and passes. I rip Plains before sending in the team. He vials in a Lord of Atlantis, which blocks the Dryad Arbor (Me: 12 Opp: 16.) I draw a fetch and a Pithing Needle off of my Selkie trigger (pumped via Merfolk Sovereign,) which I cast naming Umezawa’s Jitte.

Opponent casts a Merrow Reejery before swinging for three (Me: 9 Opp: 16.)

I draw a Knight of the Reliquary and send in the Selkie alone, gaining an exalted trigger. I draw Karakas, Wasteland, and Brainstorm, which I cast to draw a fetch, Qasali Pridemage, and Brainstorm. I put back Karakas and a redundant fetch before cracking the other one and casting the second Brainstorm, drawing Sword of Fire and Ice, Stoneforge Mystic, and Llawan. Ding! I put back Stoneforge Mystic and Wasteland before casting Llawan. Opponent vials in his Lord of Atlantis at my end of turn, draws, and concedes.

Match Overview: While Merfolk had some lackluster draws, they only needed to stumble for a few turns for Bant to run away with the game. On paper Merfolk looks fairly advantaged (look at all those islands that Bant plays!). but in practice the Bant deck just has too many must-counters for Merfolk to deal with barring a nut draw. The skills used are typical of any deck playing against Merfolk, and include knowing when you can and cannot afford to play around Daze, Wasteland, and so on. The more I play against it, the more the Llawans in the board feel excessive, and I’m convinced they could be cut to shore up other matchups. If I was playing Merfolk, you can bet I would have at least three Perish effects in the board.

Team America: A friend, testing the matchup to dry run the list, was griping at how abysmal it was. I didn’t think it could be that bad, so I sleeved up and got to work. It was pretty bad. Here’s a sample:

Team America, By Gerry Thompson

I lose the die roll and see:

 

The hand is slow, and the Dryad Arbor is essentially a mulligan anyway, but it has a mixture of answers and threats, as well as the Karakas plus Vendilion Clique combo.

The opponent leads with an Underground Sea and passes. I draw a second Swords to Plowshares and Waste his Sea. He plays Tropical Island. I draw Tundra and play it. He runs out a Dark Confidant, which I attempt to Swords but get Dazed. I play a fetch and burn the other Swords on his Confidant before passing the turn. He plays a fetch and passes. I draw Qasali Pridemage, play another fetch and crack both to tutor for Savannah and Tropical, playing the Pridemage. He Brainstorms in response, sacking his fetch to Spell Snare the Pridemage. On his turn he Ponders before playing a Bayou and a Tarmogoyf as a 4/5. I play a Karakas and pass the turn. On his draw I go for Vendilion Clique, but get Force of Willed (pitching Force.) He casts another Ponder, then a Terravore, which enters the battlefield as a 6/6 trampler. He swings with the Tarmogoyf. (Me: 14 Opp: 19)

I brick on my draw and fetch up Knight of the Reliquary with Green Sun’s Zenith. He casts [card]Go for the Throat[/card] before cracking in, dropping me to two. I need to draw Swords or Sower to live another turn, and don’t.

Sideboarding:

Out

 

In

 

I’m not certain how many Forces should stay in for this matchup, as drawing the card against a Hymn to Tourach hand is typically bad, but it’s still a fine answer to their threats.

My opening hand is:

 

I hesitantly keep. I’m going to have to lead off with Tundra, then have a draw step and a Brainstorm to hopefully hit green for a turn two Noble Hierarch. Sword of Feast or Famine is great against the deck, and will do some damage if I can sneak it into play.

I lead with Tundra, while the opponent plays an Underground Sea and passes. I untap, draw Tarmogoyf, and cast Brainstorm, which draws Umezawa’s Jitte, a fetch, and Sower of Temptation. I put back Dryad Arbor and Jitte. Now, I’m faced with the decision of holding up Spell Pierce or playing Noble Hierarch. It’s not a hard decision, since if I Time Walk myself to hold up Spell Pierce and he drops a threat I am very far behind.

The opponent casts Hymn to Tourach, which hits Spell Pierce and Sword of Feast and Famine. I draw Savannah and run out Tarmogoyf, which he Force of Wills (pitching Force.) Opponent Brainstorms, sacks a fetch, Ponders, and ships the turn. I rip Tarmogoyf and run it out, but he has a Ghastly Demise for it. On his turn he plays both Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf. I draw Green Sun’s Zenith and Sower the Dark Confidant. He casts Go for the Throat on my Sower and cracks in with Goyf. (Me: 14 Opp: 17)

I rip Vendilion Clique and pass turn turn. Bob reveals Misty Rainforest, and my Clique on his draw is responded to with a Brainstorm. He shows a second Dark Confidant and two land. I take the Bob, and he plays the Terravore he left on top, which I cannot answer and die.

Match Overview: This is the deck’s worst matchup. While my first instinct is to add a hate creature like Thrun, the Last Troll or Chameleon Colossus, I know that won’t actually change anything. The main card I kept wishing I had in the board was Misdirection. Unlike Force of Will, which is mediocre against Hymn to Tourach, Misdirection is seemingly great against the entire Team America deck, and has the potential to steal some games.

For my final blow-by-blow, I wanted to do a recent combo deck. Unfortunately, the current buzz is all about High Tide Combo, which should see limited play due to the Candelabra of Tawnos shortage.

Here’s Zoo instead!

Big Zoo, by Casey Steiner

 

Big Zoo:

My opening grip contains

 

which I keep.

The opponent leads with Forest into Wild Nacatl. I draw Stoneforge Mystic, drop Tundra, and pass the turn. He plays Karakas and tries for Qasali Pridemage, which I Spell Snare. He attacks. (Me: 19 Opp: 20)

I draw Brainstorm, but wait until I can cast it on-curve. I decide not to run out Tarmogoyf, as odds are one of us will bin a land to let it enter play Bolt-proof. Instead, I play Stoneforge Mystic fetching Umezawa’s Jitte. Opponent drops Wasteland and casts Green Sun’s Zenith for Qasali Pridemage before attacking. (Me: 17 Opp: 20)

I draw Sword of Fire and Ice. Now, if I had a second source of white I would simply pass the turn, giving me the option of Vendilion Cliqueing mid-combat or casting Swords to Plowshares on his Qasali and Stoneforgeing in the Jitte. As is, I play Tarmogoyf and pass the turn, leaving up Tundra.

Opponent drops a Dryad Arbor before casting a second Qasali and attacking with the first. I burn my Swords on the threat, preserving my life total, and untap, drawing Force of Will. Brainstorm draws Sower of Temptation, Wasteland, and Stoneforge Mystic, putting back Sword of Fire and Ice and Stoneforge. I play the Wasteland before cracking in with Tarmogoyf, which he takes. (Me: 17 Opp: 20)

I Clique him on his draw, but he responds with a Swords to Plowshares, which I Force of Will (pitching Sower.) Clique lets him keep his hand of Gaddock Teeg and Wild Nacatl, and he plays the second Wild Nacatl and attacks with the first. (Me: 14 Opp: 20)

I untap, draw the Stoneforge Mystic, play the Jitte and equip it to the Vendilion Clique and send in the team. Note that I can only do this because his Karakas is tapped, otherwise he could simply bounce the Clique and I would have to equip the Tarmogoyf instead. He double blocks Stoneforge Mystic with a Nacatl and Dryad Arbor and blocks Tarmogoyf with Qasali before activating it to blow up the Jitte. (Me: 14 Opp: 17)

I pass the turn. He plays a freshly drawn Tarmogoyf before sacking Wasteland to put me off white. His Dryad Arbor and Wild Nacatl take me down a peg. (Me: 12 Opp: 17)

I draw the Sword of Fire and Ice, which I cast before attacking with the Clique. (Me: 12 Opp: 14)

The opponent plays a fetch, which finds a Plateau, finally turning on his Wild Nacatl. He plays the Gaddock Teeg from hand, leaving up Karakas and passing the turn. I draw Green Sun’s Zenith and crack in with Clique, which gets bounced by his Karakas. I tutor up a second Tarmogoyf with the Zenith. He rips Wasteland and knocks off one of my Tropicals. I draw a Noble Hierarch, play it, and pass it back. He draws a Knight of the Reliquary, which is big trouble because the card will quickly outclass my board while putting away my last few lands. I rip a Knight of my own.

The standoff continues for some time, with a lot of draw-go and topdecked removal to answer topdecked monsters. Finally, he puts Teeg in front of a Knight and bounces it with Karakas, allowing me to play Jace and break parity.

Sideboarding:

Out

 

In

 

Unfortunately, Gaddock Teeg is very good against this board plan, so I now have to force every Green Sun’s Zenith for two. Awkward.

My opponent takes a mulligan while I keep a hand of

 

He opens by fetching up a Taiga and casting Wild Nacatl. I draw Brainstorm, play my fetch, and pass it back. He plays another sackland, cracking mid attack. I respond by fetching up a Tundra, which allows me to Submerge his Nacatl, which gets shuffled away. He plays Tarmogoyf and ships the turn. I draw a Wasteland, and consider Wasting him off of green while using the Swords on his Tarmogoyf, but am content to cast my own Goyf and pass the turn. He plays a Noble Hierarch and gets in for three. (Me: 16 Opp: 18)

I draw an Island and tank. I still haven’t seen a second green land from him, so I like the Wasteland play more, now. I start by casting Brainstorm, drawing Umezawa’s Jitte, Stoneforge Mystic, and Noble Hierarch. I have the option of casting Noble this turn and Jitte + equip next turn, gaining tempo, but that play is more all in, a risk I don’t need to take when I have six cards in hand to my opponent’s two. I put back the Stoneforge Mystic and Island before Wastelanding his Taiga and casting Swords to Plowshares on his Noble Hierarch. I send in the Goyf. (Me: 16 Opp: 16)

Opponent drops Savannah and plays Green Sun’s Zenith for two, fetching Qasali Pridemage and attacking for three. (Me: 13 Opp: 16)

I play Knight of the Reliquary before cracking back. (Me: 13 Opp: 14)

He casts Swords to Plowshares on my Knight before attacking with both dudes, netting zero damage. I redraw the Stoneforge and run out the Jitte and Noble Hierarch. I send in the Tarmogoyf, since I should be able to make him sacrifice his Qasali next turn. (Me: 13 Opp: 11)

He sacrifices the Qasali at my end of turn, which both surprises me and tells me the last card in his hand must be gas. Either the card is removal, and he wants to be able to cast it alongside whatever threat he topdecks, or it’s a mana hungry threat, such as a Green Sun’s Zenith, and he needs all of his mana on his turn. Regardless, he plays a Wild Nacatl and cracks in with a much larger Tarmogoyf. (Me: 9 Opp: 11)

I rip the land I need to play and equip the Sword of Feast and Famine, but take a second to go through the different lines of play. If he has a Swords to Plowshares, I gain four and have a Sword in play. I drop to five on his return swing, and get to untap, equip the Sword to Noble, and hope I draw something sweet. If he doesn’t have the Swords, he’s in a pretty awkward spot, and it’s not like casting a Stoneforge Mystic and failing to find is a very good alternative, so I go all in. He discards Green Sun’s Zenith, which he was probably holding for a land to search up Knight of the Reliquary to break parity. I play my Stoneforge Mystic, move the equipment, and pass the turn. (Me: 8 Opp: 6)

Opponent draws and passes the turn. I rip Submerge and move the equipment back to Tarmogoyf. He casts Swords to Plowshares in response, and I ship the turn. (Me: 13 Opp: 6)

He plays a Grim Lavamancer off the top. I draw another Noble Hierarch, cast it, equip my first Hierarch, and crack in with it. My logic for attacking with Hierarch and not Stoneforge was that both creatures kill in two hits, but Stoneforge can eat Wild Nacatl on defense. I realize mid combat that if he chumps with Grim Lavamancer I won’t be able to re-equip and defend, so I Submerge it while we’re in the declare attackers step, allowing me to untap and re-equip to Stoneforge while denying him a live draw.

He replays Grim, chumps for a turn, then scoops.

Match Overview: The first game showed the difficulty of these new Big Zoo decks. A good Zoo pilot can reliably get his opponent low enough to make attacking back awkward, allowing the Zoo player time to topdeck that crucial burn spell, but the Green Sun’s Zenith lists trade burn for disruption and late game power. The problem is, whatever your new late game is, it’s probably worse than whatever your opponent is doing. While I’ll test against what’s popular, I recommend the older, sleeker, more Steppe Lynx and burn heavy builds that were popularized by Matt Elias last year. That said, the Zoo draw was not typical in that Nacatl stayed a 1/1 for far too long.

As for the second game, that Sword of Feast and Famine looked pretty good, didn’t it? Against the older Zoo decks, Umezawa’s Jitte is the stone blade, and I’ll sacrifice a lot of material to put counters on one. Against Big Zoo, Sword of Feast and Famine can take over the game in a similar way, as it makes it so the opponent cannot profitably attack, block, or even sandbag cards.

Final Thoughts

There were a number of test games where I had the opportunity to Brainstorm away my second equipment to get value out of late Stoneforge Mystics, but actually couldn’t because the game state required me to spend my mana on other things. That means my new priority is fitting in a maindeck Sword of Feast and Famine, probably moving the Jace to the sideboard.

If GP Providence were tomorrow, this is what I would register:

 

One of the last cards to be cut was the Cold-Eyed Selkie in the board. I was wavering between that and the Trygon Predator. Both cards have a lot of utility in different matchups, but in the matchups where Trygon shines the opponent typically has fewer ways to deal with the card, and since he lives longer he has a larger impact on the game, despite his relatively even power level with Selkie.

That’s all for this week. As always, ask your questions in the forums and I’ll do my best to get back to you, while any longer responses can be sent to CalebDurward@hotmail.com. Opinions on the blow-by-blows would be particularly useful. Thanks for reading!

-Caleb Durward

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