Like most ambitious Legacy brewers, I got a glimmer in my eye when I saw [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] spoiled. I wanted to make the best [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] deck possible, but at first I was too busy chasing other dreams, like [card]Past in Flames[/card]. I finally found the time, and here is the fruit of my efforts:
UB Snap[deck]1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 Verdant Catacombs
2 Scalding Tarn
4 Polluted Delta
4 Underground Sea
1 Chrome Mox
1 Vendilion Clique
4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Phyrexian Obliterator
4 Dark Confidant
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Diabolic Edict
4 Hymn to Tourach
2 Ghastly Demise
3 Spell Pierce
4 Force of Will
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Liliana of the Veil
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Ghastly Demise
3 Tormod’s Crypt
2 Pithing Needle[/deck] [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card] is a card I didn’t like until I tested it for myself. With a [card]Dark Confidant[/card] in play, [card]Thoughtseize[/card] was getting too painful to flash back with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], which meant it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. The Inquisitions turned out to be better for the most part, since the deck is already strong against [card]Natural Order[/card] and other planeswalker strategies, partly due to the inclusion of [card]Spell Pierce[/card]. The one mana soft counter has been clutch against combo and the aggro control mirror, but gets shuffled away, pitched to [card]Force of Will[/card], and then boarded out against most aggro. [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] has overperformed in testing, and much of the time the card is better than Jace for a mana less. Versus storm combo, for example, making them bin a card every turn is better than fatesealing because it keeps them from building up to a critical storm count. Also, an edict effect can save you where a bounce wouldn’t, say when facing down an [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card]. Liliana has a lot of synergy with the deck as well. [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] puts them into topdeck mode, and Liliana keeps them there. [card]Dark Confidant[/card] gives you piles of extra cards, and Liliana lets you trade your blanks for their live cards. Costing a mana less than Jace has made a huge difference as well, as [card]Wasteland[/card] battles are a common legacy occurrence. [card jace, the mind sculptor]Jace[/card] has dropped down to a one or two of in this type of deck, as the format has sped up and become more combo-heavy in the new post-[card]Mental Misstep[/card] meta game. There are fewer Jaces out there, so your own sticks more often, and you don’t need to run as many. Against decks where I don’t need Jace, drawing multiples can be fatal. Against decks where I do, [card]Dark Confidant[/card] can still fill the role admirably, and much sooner.
I love [card]Dark Confidant[/card] in [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] decks, as shredding the opponent’s hand with discard is a fantastic way to ensure his survival. Here he’s even better than usual, with a host of cheap and free counterspells to protect him as well. [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] providing a bear body is relevant with a Confidant on board, as doubling the clock roughly halves the chances of killing yourself with your own draw engine. Snapcaster’s ability to rebuy [card]Brainstorm[/card]s has a Top-like impact on the long game, increasing your chances of surviving with multiple Confidants in play.[card]Phyrexian Obliterator[/card] is underplayed, mostly due to his restrictive casting cost, but he’s reasonable in two color decks like this one, especially if there’s a suite of cantrips and [card]Dark Confidant[/card]s to ensure a steady flow of land drops when needed. In top deck wars, he can do the job like no other. In a deck full of threats, I like [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] as my topdeck of choice, because the planeswalker is most likely to blow out my opponent’s spell-based strategy against me. In a deck full of spells, however, I like [card]Phyrexian Obliterator[/card], as it’s best at blanking multiple creatures at once. Watching a hapless opponent try and deal with it is one of the more satisfying feelings in magic. [card]Vampire Nighthawk[/card] was added after I found myself dancing on the edge one time too many with a [card]Dark Confidant[/card] in play. Aside from padding one’s life, it races well, trades even better, and is a generally solid follow up to a pile of disruption. Still, perhaps a build with more threats would rather run [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card] for this effect.
I’m still not entirely happy with the removal suite. Sometimes [card]Dismember[/card] hurts too much, and [card]Diabolic Edict[/card] has the potential to be clunky or just downright useless in some board states. I would run more [card]Ghastly Demise[/card]s, but handling opposing [card]Dark Confidant[/card]s and [card]Tombstalker[/card]s is important, too.
In general, the manabase has been fine. I’ve been more than happy with the miser’s [card]Chrome Mox[/card], and every time I draw it I seem to drop a turn one [card]Dark Confidant[/card] and ride it to victory. Playing a planeswalker faster or being able to flash back a [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] on turn three is no joke, either. I’ve played the [card]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/card] in [card]Phyrexian Obliterator[/card] builds before, and the card has always performed well for me, allowing the basic Island and [card]Wasteland[/card]s to tap for [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] or drop an [card]Phyrexian Obliterator[/card] on turn four. Being able to tap sacklands for black mana against the aggressive decks can save valuable life points, too.[card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] has a whopping twenty-one spells to target in the maindeck, which is a bit above average. I don’t think the key to building around [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] is getting the most value out of it, like with [card]Riptide Laboratory[/card] builds, but rather by ensuring you always have the right type of spell in the yard when you want to cast the blue valuevore, requiring a variety of disruption. In this light, shaving a [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] for another type of spell, say a [card]Predict[/card] or a second [card]Counterspell[/card], might be correct simply for the sake of diversifying Snapcaster targets. Since Hymn works so well with the rest of the deck, and is great in the current metagame, I don’t think I’ll make this change anytime soon, but it’s something to consider. [card]Vendilion Clique[/card] started at three, then went to two, and now one. You never want to draw multiples, and now it’s competing with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] on the curve, which it never had to do before. I like the card, and it’s still solid against the current field, but it’s no longer needed every game.
The [card]Darkblast[/card] in the board has some synergy with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] by filling the yard with tasty targets. While it comes in against the [card]Dryad Arbor[/card] decks, its main purpose is to permanently win the [card]Dark Confidant[/card] war and to put a little hurt on [card]Goblin Lackey[/card]. If [card]Engineered Plague[/card]s were added to the board, it would go from a reasonable anti-goblin removal spell to the best.[card]Pithing Needle[/card]s were added to the board because I remembered how good they were against the [card]Aether Vial[/card] decks. Being able to name [card]Mutavault[/card], [card]Coralhelm Commander[/card], or [card]Gempalm Incinerator[/card] in the late game is nice, too.
The [card]Submerge[/card] and [card]Perish[/card] combination is amazing against any deck with green creatures, but the main purpose is the same as Saito’s when he top eighted GP Columbus: beating Zoo post board. Not packing it in to [card]Wild Nacatl[/card]s has been important for a while now, and will remain so. I usually like to have more [card]Submerge[/card]s than [card]Perish[/card]es, as [card]Submerge[/card] is the free spell that keeps you from dying while [card]Perish[/card] breaks parity, but here [card]Perish[/card] is the cheaper one to flashback, so running an even mixture makes sense.
At first glance, it seems like [card]Extirpate[/card] would have more synergy with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], and should be played over [card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card]. On second glance, I want to be able to beat a Dredge deck on occasion, and [card]Extirpate[/card] isn’t effective enough. Neither is three [card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card]s, to be fair, but it’s closer. If I was worried about the Snapcaster mirror, I’d probably play a pair of [card]Nihil Spellbomb[/card]s.
For a while, I had a miser’s [card]Damnation[/card] in the board, but the card cost too much mana for what I was looking for, especially since the rest of the deck was busy handling the opponent’s threats. By the time I got to four mana, the opponent only had one or two creatures anyway, and flashing back a removal spell with Snapcaster was more appealing.
What benefits does this deck have over BUG or Team America?
By not playing green, we keep the focus on the spells (not something green is known for) for [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. Also, cards like [card]Submerge[/card] don’t wreck us, and we gain access to [card]Perish[/card] in our own board.
What benefits does it have over the other UB Snapcaster decks?
When I first saw [card]Mental Note[/card] and [card]Unearth[/card] being played, I thought it was kinda sweet. Then I thought about it more, and playing [card]Mental Note[/card] is a lot like dredging back [card]Darkblast[/card], only it doesn’t actually do anything on its own. [card]Unearth[/card] is like a [card]Reanimate[/card] that doesn’t hit your opponent’s creatures, and in a deck that only runs eight to twelve targets itself. Sure it can cycle, but that’s not what I wanted to be doing with my mana.
My version has a lot of sweet spells to flash back, but it also doles out the aggression and keeps the durdling to a minimum.
What qualms, if any, do I have with the current build?
Twenty mana sources isn’t very many and, as with many Legacy decks, it’s possible to get [card]Wasteland[/card]ed out of the game. Some double [card]Wasteland[/card], [card]Phyrexian Obliterator[/card] draws are awkward, especially if the opponent only has basics in play, as you can’t even slow down the game long enough to draw more black sources. Shaving a [card]Wasteland[/card] for another colored source would be a step towards answering the problem.
That said, I ran twenty one in my last [card]Phyrexian Obliterator[/card] deck, which also featured a generally higher curve than this one and zero cantrips.
I’ve played a few mirrors, not too extensively, but enough to get a feel. The maindeck [card]Spell Pierce[/card]s are a house, and [card]Dark Confidant[/card] can run away with a game with little prodding. Some of them aren’t even running [card]Wasteland[/card]s or [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card]s, which I feel is a mistake.
This is a tough matchup. Their [card]Wasteland[/card]s are much better, their counters more timely, and casting [card]Dismember[/card] for one hurts a lot. It’s far from unwinnable, and I daresay it could be favorable with some tweaks. Mostly, [card]Gatekeeper of Malakir[/card], [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card], and another basic Swamp are what’s keeping this matchup from being all it can be.[card]Kira, Great Glass Spinner[/card] in particular causes problems by deading multiple cards at once. [card]Silvergill Adept[/card] has been Merfolk’s best card for a while now, and a multiple Silvergill draw has the potential to shrug off disruption like no other.
Post board, replacing the almost dead [card]Spell Pierce[/card]s for removal and [card]Pithing Needle[/card]s makes a big difference, and they don’t have much to improve with. We are, after all, supposedly their best matchup.
Legacy is flush with powerful combo decks, some of which can fight through multiple pieces of disruption. Many draws out of this build can simply bury the combo opponent, however. Shredding their hand, [card]Force of Will[/card]ing the right spell, and soft locking them out with [card liliana of the veil]Liliana[/card] or a stream of disruption from [card]Dark Confidant[/card] are the keys to winning this matchup.
Noble Hierarch Decks[card]Natural Order[/card], if they run it, is never a problem. It gets countered, or discarded, or the creature is handled in some other way. Meanwhile, the green deck’s mana dorks bite it to removal spells in the early game, slowing both decks down to a one spell per turn rhythm. Eventually, [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]s start rebuying kill spells, and the game is over. [card liliana of the veil]Liliana[/card] is particularly effective if she can be protected.
Perhaps my test games went through a bit of variance, but both Bant and RUG felt close to unlosable.
Another match where [card]Dismember[/card] hurts more than it should. Zoo has typically preyed on blue aggro control decks that run a pile of wimpy, [card grim lavamancer]Grim-Lavamancerable[/card] critters, but it isn’t as bad as it seems. A [card]Ghastly Demise[/card] plus [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] draw has good odds of winning against them, and post board the number of winning hands increases tenfold as [card]Perish[/card] and [card]Submerge[/card] are added to the mix.
Recently, Aaron Forsythe tweeted that we’re going to have a Modern PTQ format coming up in January. I’m thrilled. The player in me is jumping at the chance to grind a fresh format while the brewer has already checked into tech coma island.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the new format develops. Did Wizards ban enough cards? Did they over ban? Will the new format favor combo, aggro, or control? Will new archetypes spring up, or will new versions of old decks reign supreme?
Friend of the column Schwamberth Vicente’s 4-0 Belcher list was featured on the mothership some weeks ago, but recently he came to me with his newest tech. Take a look:
Zero Land Belcher[deck]4 Goblin Charbelcher
4 Empty the Warrens
4 Lotus Bloom
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Chancellor of the Tangle
4 Seething Song
4 Desperate Ritual
4 Pyretic Ritual
4 Infernal Plunge
4 Wild Cantor
4 Serum Powder
4 Mox Opal
4 Springleaf Drum
4 Leyline of Sanctity
4 Leylne of the Void
4 Echoing Truth
3 Pact of Negation[/deck]
Apparently, the most common card to board out is [card]Wild Cantor[/card], as it mostly builds storm count or preserves [card]Chancellor of the Tangle[/card] mana for use on a later turn.
This deck reminds me a lot of the old Spanish Inquisition legacy deck, as it also utilizes a host of free creatures to turn on mana. Now, [card]Infernal Plunge[/card] takes the role of the old [card]Culling the Weak[/card]. By taking advantage of the fast mana, SI boasted a high turn one kill count. Historically, SI has been a fine deck for blowing out creature-infested metagames, but has a rough time beating a [card]Force of Will[/card]. The above deck appears to have similar strengths, but luckily exists in a format where [card]Force of Will[/card] doesn’t.
Interesting. Don’t put away your [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card]s just yet, kids.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!