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Legacy Weapon – It’s Thopterin Time!

Weeks ago, I held an impromptu contest for Legacy brews. The winner was a spicy little durdlefest that featured a pile of free mana, wrath effects, and [card]Humility[/card]s.

For reference:

Turbo Prison, by Kevin Foy

[deck]Main Deck
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Ancient Den
2 Tree of Tales
2 Vault of Whispers
4 Glimmervoid
2 City of Brass
1 Karakas
1 Academy Ruins
1 Wasteland
1 Creeping Tar Pit
3 Oblivion Ring
1 Ensnaring Bridge
3 Humility
1 Toxic Deluge
4 Supreme Verdict
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Thopter Foundry
1 Sword of the Meek
1 Life from the Loam
2 Intuition
4 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Thoughtcast
3 Mox Diamond
4 Mox Opal
Sideboard
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Toxic Deluge
2 Chalice of the Void
3 Krosan Grip
2 Vendilion Clique
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Pithing Needle[/deck]

My first concern was not the mana or the low number of win conditions, but whether the sideboard was adequate for the rough matchups, and I didn’t think it was enough to fight combo.

In most [card]Academy Ruins[/card] decks, you want to run artifact graveyard hate like [card]Nihil Spellbomb[/card] or [card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card] over [card]Leyline of the Void[/card]. Typically you need to mulligan to Leyline, increasing inconsistency.

During the first round of testing, the brew performed well. I was winning about half my matches, and experienced some powerful draws. The sideboard Leylines overperformed, as this deck can actually cast the things when it draws them! On top of that, Leyline can’t be [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]ed, which is a popular card in [card]Life from the Loam[/card] and [card]Past in Flames[/card] decks.

After squeezing some [card]Gaddock Teeg[/card]s into the sideboard, I felt the deck was ready to make a video set with, which you can watch here.

Before and after the video, I had a ton of time to MTGO. I jammed Dailys, 8-mans, 2-mans, and friendly matches with buddies in between rounds. I made a lot of mistakes (the deck is not easy) and learned a ton.

A weakness I ran into was equipment (excellent against [card]Humility[/card]), hence all the [card]Krosan Grip[/card]s in the sideboard. I disliked having [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] as a maindeck liability. With the [card]Intuition[/card] and [card]Life from the Loam[/card] package, I settled on [card]Tower of the Magistrate[/card] as a free way to shore up that weakness. I didn’t want to cut an artifact land (which enables metalcraft, [card]Glimmervoid[/card], and affinity for artifacts) or a colored source. Instead, I cut [card]Wasteland[/card]. I never found myself tutoring for it, and I never wanted to Waste-lock people. Usually, their spells and permanents were already dead, so targeting their mana base was a waste of time. The one time I faced a relevant nonbasic, [card]The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale[/card], I paid 4 every turn until they were dead.

One point of tension lay in [card]Intuition[/card]. Because I needed it to set up the eventual win, I could never burn it tutoring up disruption, which defeated the point. While the actual package of [card]Life from the Loam[/card], [card]Academy Ruins[/card], and the Thopter combo is resilient to just about anything, Intuition screams “I’m important!” and is impossible to resolve through countermagic. I tried upping the Intuition count, but it’s an awkward card to draw early.

I’d started realizing this weakness early on, but didn’t think of a solution until about halfway through the video set. Why not just jam a pile of Swords and Thopters and draw the combo naturally? All I really wanted to do was spit out a pile of efficient mana and combo people, so why not skip the middle man?

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It’s not like Extended Thopter-Sword only ran one of each of the combo pieces, even though it also had ways to tutor them up.

After another round of testing, I settled on this version:

Turbo Prison

[deck]Main Deck
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Ancient Den
2 Tree of Tales
2 Vault of Whispers
4 Glimmervoid
2 City of Brass
1 Karakas
1 Academy Ruins
1 Tower off the Magistrate
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Ensnaring Bridge
2 Humility
4 Supreme Verdict
2 Engineered Explosives
2 Chalice of the Void
4 Thopter Foundry
3 Sword of the Meek
4 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Thoughtcast
1 Talisman of Progress
3 Mox Diamond
4 Mox Opal
Sideboard
2 Chalice of the Void
2 Krosan Grip
2 Vendilion Clique
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Pithing Needle
3 Gaddock Teeg[/deck]

I like Chalice as a 2-of in the main. Since [card]Thopter Foundry[/card] costs two, extra copies are truly redundant, and it’s almost dead in some matchups. That said, it locks up the game against tempo and some control and combo matchups.

The Talisman adds another UW source for [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. It’s an accelerator, an artifact, and it doesn’t need other artifacts to function, adding a little stability to the mana. The only downside is that it costs life, but I think it’s worth it to be able to curve out with [card]Thoughtcast[/card]. So far, I’ve been happy with it as a miser, but I could see going to two or switching to [card]Azorius Signet[/card].

Overall, I love the changes and the list feels much tighter. The deck is competitive, fun, and boasts a variety of good matchups among the top decks, putting it on the short list I’d consider for a Grand Prix.

Looking forward, I intend to re-examine the mana base and make sure it’s as fluid as possible. At times, it feels like there should be four [card]Mox Diamond[/card]s, and other times three feels like the perfect number. [card]Mox Opal[/card] can be the same way. Sometimes, Supreme Verdict is stone uncastable due to all the off-color artifact lands, and other times you thank your lucky stars you topdecked a random artifact land because they make the deck work.

Tips and Tricks

• Discarded [card]Sword of the Meek[/card]s can be rebought later with [card]Thopter Foundry[/card], making it the perfect card for [card]Thirst for Knowledge[/card].

• If an opponent tries to break up the combo with single-use graveyard hate (like [card]Nihil Spellbomb[/card] or [card]Relic of Progenitus[/card]) just sacrifice a random artifact to re-trigger the Sword of the Meek and keep going. If they have a card like that in play, leave a mana up while comboing to keep this line open.

• You don’t need a Sword to use [card]Thopter Foundry[/card]! It’s a great way to gain value from your extra Mox Opals or respond to opposing Wastelands on your artifact lands. I’ve sacrificed my own Chalice to un-strand spells before. Scooping up some extra lands to make a mini [card]Spectral Procession[/card] wins a lot of games, especially after your opponent boards out their removal, and it’s a great tool for pressuring ‘walkers and racing.

• It’s good to hold an extra artifact for a topdecked [card]Thirst for Knowledge[/card], but keep [card]Thoughtcast[/card] in mind in the early game. Running out a redundant combo piece now can save you mana down the road.

• By pouring extra colorless or the same colored mana into [card]Engineered Explosives[/card], you can adjust the on-the-stack converted mana cost without influencing its sunburst. This matters when playing around opposing [card]Counterbalance[/card]s or your own Chalice of the Void.

• When paying for [ccProd]Thalia[/ccProd], you’re influencing your sunburst, and announcing one less for Explosives will effectively remove Thalia’s ability. So “EE for 1,” → pay a blue for EE and a white for Thalia, → get an EE for 2.

• When your opponent might have [card]Engineered Explosives[/card], it’s often correct to play your second [card]Chalice of the Void[/card] on 0. Against spot removal like [card]Abrupt Decay[/card], it’s better to play a redundant Chalice.

• [card]Gaddock Teeg[/card] bricks a lot of the deck, but fortunately it wins by itself in the matchups it’s meant for. If you have it + Chalice in your opener, you want to lead with the Chalice so it doesn’t get stranded.

• Remember that [card]Karakas[/card] combines with your sideboard legends and can establish a soft lock with the sideboard Cliques. I’ve bounced Teeg to drop Chalice before.

Sample Hands

[draft]Vault of Whispers
Darksteel Citadel
Glimmervoid
Thopter Foundry
Thirst for Knowledge
Supreme Verdict
Humility[/draft]

Often, it’s good to lead with [card]Darksteel Citadel[/card] because it can’t be Wasted and it protects [card]Glimmervoid[/card] from random crap. Here, it’s important to lead with Vault. It sets up the turn two [card]Thopter Foundry[/card], letting you capitalize on a topdecked [card]Sword of the Meek[/card]. If you don’t draw anything relevant, you want to cast [card]Thirst for Knowledge[/card] on three, and who knows when you’ll get a chance to cast the Foundry.

The nightmare is that your opponent will [card]Daze[/card] or [card]Spell Pierce[/card] the Foundry before untapping and Wastelanding the Vault, killing the [card]Glimmervoid[/card] for free, but that’s just a risk you have to accept when taking the optimal line in this case.

[draft]Darksteel Citadel
Glimmervoid
Glimmervoid
Ancient Den
Seat of the Synod
Thirst for Knowledge
Supreme Verdict[/draft]

The trick with this hand is that it looks like a clear mulligan. The problem is that, with this deck, the cards all feed off of each other. [card]Mox Opal[/card] and [card]Thoughtcast[/card] need artifacts, Thopter needs Sword, [card]Mox Diamond[/card] needs lands, and all of that means that you never mulligan if your hand can cast things. This changes post-board when you know what you’re up against, but in the dark you have to keep some weak ones to avoid mulling to oblivion.

Most hands are relatively self-explanatory, even the more unique ones, and I won’t bore you guys with nutty turn one Humility or turn two Thopter combo draws.

General Matchup Advice

Tempo decks are favorable matchups. Between Chalice, a pile of uncounterable wraths, gobs of fast mana to brick soft counters, and an efficient combo that gains life while producing a steady stream of blockers, pretty much all of tempo’s strengths are negated here. Of the lot, Team America is the hardest because it runs discard and a pile of [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]s. Usually it’s correct to board out [card]Humility[/card] against tempo, but again Team America is different because they have [card]Tombstalker[/card] on top of [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] and lack burn to put you away.

Combo improves the more you test and get a feel for each matchup. This deck has a naturally strong game against Sneak and Show due to all of the maindeck hate ([card]Ensnaring Bridge[/card], [card]Humility[/card], [card]Karakas[/card]) combining with Needles, more Chalices, and Teeg post-board. With a Teeg/Needle in play, they have to go for Show and Tell which lets you drop a Humilty or [card]Ensnaring Bridge[/card] into play without exposing it to countermagic. Storm is almost unwinnable game one, but between the Leylines, Teegs, and Chalices post-board it turns into a strong matchup, as you can present the wall of hate that’s necessary.

In general, I prefer this deck vs. combo over most [card]Force of Will[/card] decks.

Control is one of the trickier archetypes to face because they tend to run generic disruption that’s good against a diverse field. Between cards like [card]Pithing Needle[/card], [card]Engineered Explosives[/card], and [card]Detention Sphere[/card], they’re rarely cold to the Thopter combo, and matches are decided with typical control factors like card advantage and inevitability.

That said, bumping [card]Thopter Foundry[/card] to a 4-of gives us more options. Not only is our inevitability more, uh, inevitable, it also turns random artifacts into a relevant clock and helps pressure opposing ‘walkers. Before, we were inherently weak to Jace. Now, we’re more likely to naturally have a Thopter Foundry in play, and the ability to spit out 1/1 flyers at instant speed makes it way more manageable.

While Teeg seems good against control because it shuts off Jace and Force, it also turns off important tools like [card]Thoughtcast[/card] and Chalice without presenting a relevant clock.

Bonus List

A number of people asked me for an updated UWR Twin list. Without [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], the Liliana decks take a hit, and Liliana was one of the deck’s biggest weaknesses. The return of [card]Wild Nacatl[/card] also buffs UWR Twin because [card]Wall of Omens[/card] improves drastically.

If I were playing in a tournament tomorrow, this is what I’d register:

UWR Twin

[deck]Main Deck
4 Wall of Omens
4 Splinter Twin
4 Remand
4 Deceiver Exarch
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Path to Exile
2 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Spellskite
1 Snapcaster Mage
3 Restoration Angel
2 Volcanic Fallout
3 Lightning Helix
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Arid Mesa
2 Steam Vents
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Sacred Foundry
2 Mountain
2 Island
1 Plains
2 Cascade Bluffs
1 Sulfur Falls
4 Celestial Colonnade
Sideboard:
3 Rest in Peace
1 Celestial Purge
3 Dispel
2 Negate
2 Vendilion Clique
1 Wear Tear
1 Volcanic Fallout
1 Spellskite
1 Ajani Vengeant[/deck]

I’m a fan of [card]Lightning Helix[/card]; the card is a two-mana [card]Cryptic Command[/card] in some matchups. Currently, it’s even better than usual with [card]Bitterblossom[/card] players to burn and Nacatl decks you want to 2-for-1.

For those looking to play UWR Twin in this metagame, I recommend testing the Faeries matchup as much as possible. Against a competent opponent, it’ll seem very hard at first, but at a certain point you’ll just start winning. Most games involve stalling long enough to hit a [card]Volcanic Fallout[/card], which in turn buys time to burn them out, assemble the combo, or get in with Resto and Colonnade. The hands you lose to involve [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] or back-to-back [card]Mistbind Clique[/card]s.

In the sideboard, [card]Rest in Peace[/card] seems more important than usual. Without the omnipresence of [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] in the format, graveyard strategies get a huge buff and people will definitely figure that out and gravitate toward them. Rest in Peace is the best graveyard hate card ever printed, and it’d be foolish not to play up that strength.

Good luck to everyone testing for the PT or playing in GP Paris. I will be watching jealously from afar.

Caleb Durward

Discussion

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