Pondering—If at First You Don’t Succeed, Bang Your Head Against the Wall Again

I went back. I wanted to die last time, and I knew fully well that I’d taste that feeling again, but I went back.

In some twisted way, I almost enjoy being miserable in Legacy. I want to do a Honda-esque headbutt and launch myself cranium-first into a concrete wall every time I die to a non-interactive deck in the format (which happens all the time at the store), but at the same time, it gives me great pleasure to rage and say things I don’t mean when the reasonable thing to do is to just suck it up and soldier on.

With the recent announcement that Twenty Sided Store will now be open on Mondays for EDH, old set draft, and Legacy, I felt compelled to give Sunday Legacy another shot before it’s gone forever. Tristan was around, and still as eager as ever to get me to enjoy the format he so dearly loves, so we set about building me a deck. Luis was able to convince Tristan that I’m only good at playing decks that, a) are blue and white, and b) have Delvers in them. So, despite wanting to play a degenerate combo deck to try and prove my point, I was stuck playing a fair deck again.

That’s not to say that I disliked what I ended up with. It’s the same deck that first got me to seriously consider investing in Legacy, even though I eventually decided against it (I whined about it enough last time).

Deck: Legacy UWR

Counts : 60 main / 15 sideboard

Creatures:11
4 Delver of Secrets
3 Grim Lavamancer
3 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Vendilion Clique

Spells:29
4 Brainstorm
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Ponder
3 Spell Pierce
4 Stifle
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Daze
3 Force of Will

Lands:20
3 Flooded Strand
1 Island
1 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Tundra
4 Volcanic Island
4 Wasteland

Sideboard:15
1 Engineered Explosives
2 Flusterstorm
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Spell Pierce
2 Disenchant
2 Rest in Peace
1 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Force of Will
2 Submerge

The sideboard was not ideal, but I worked with what was given to me. I ended up going 2-2, beating Dustin’s MUD deck and a newcomer piloting the old Scepter/Chant combo. My losses were against Tony’s ANT deck and Jonathan piloting Modern Affinity (also belonging to Tony, and it wasn’t even Ravager Affinity!).

I made a silly mistake against Affinity that I’m still pretty disappointed about. I was staring down three Blinkmoth Nexi (and enough mana to activate all of them) and a Steel Overseer. The Blinkmoths were 1/1, 2/2, and 3/3, and the Overseer was 3/3. I was at six life with no blockers, had a Stifle in hand with open blue mana, and a Wasteland in play. I had quickly glanced at the board before my attack on the last turn and figured that I had answers to every possible threat, so that I could at least see another draw step—and pretty much proceeded to F6 through my turn and die as a result. I okayed all of Jonathan’s Nexus activations when I very obviously should have Stifled the activation on the 3/3. This way, I’d live regardless of how Jonathan attacked, whether it was with everyone, or with just the two Blinkmoths and activating Overseer.

Instead, I opened myself up for an alpha-strike for exactsies even after Wasting the biggest Nexus. What an amateurish mistake, and it stung even worse that I had already figured out the solution only to absentmindedly throw it away.

The other loss, the one against ANT, was also on me for keeping a greedy hand. I kept for Geist and Stifle, but when Tony ripped out the Stifle with Duress, I was pretty much done for. My Brainstorms kept finding more Brainstorms and Lightning Bolts when I had no red sources, and I died to Tendrils from a full 20 life with Tony at just two.

So I suppose there was less reason this time around to hate the format, being that my losses came from pretty major fuck-ups on my part. It did make me more hopeful about one day doing well at one of these events, though. When I’ll actually get to play with those cards again is another story, however.

In slightly related news, after getting stuck with another blue/white deck and not getting to play combo this weekend, I’ve decided to go with Scapeshift for TNM. Little known fact: UW is not my favorite color combination in Magic (gasp!); it’s actually RUG. My first Constructed deck ever was UG Madness, and I spent a good portion of the last Standard season banging my head against the wall trying to get the RUG Project to take off. Turns out, I’m not a big fan of white, I just happen to play it a lot since it’s the utility color and is the best supporting color. Also, Geist and Resto, but that’s the Spike in me wanting to play with ridiculously good cards.

But the Johnny in me wants to play combo for a change, hence the decision to run Scapeshift:

Deck: Scapeshift

Counts : 60 main / 15 sideboard

Creatures:6
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
2 Snapcaster Mage

Spells:29
3 Lightning Bolt
4 Farseek
2 Izzet Charm
4 Peer Through Depths
4 Remand
2 Firespout
3 Search for Tomorrow
3 Cryptic Command
4 Scapeshift

Lands:25
3 Breeding Pool
3 Forest
3 Island
3 Misty Rainforest
3 Mountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Stomping Ground
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

Sideboard:15
1 Dispel
3 Nature's Claim
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Negate
1 Counterflux
4 Obstinate Baloth
1 Inferno Titan
2 Wurmcoil Engine

When I was reading up on the archetype, I spent a good amount of time deciding whether to play the Primeval Titan version. After some testing, it became immediately obvious that, while Prime Time provides an alternate win-con, the concessions that the deck has to make to accommodate four copies (along with two copies of Prismatic Omen) really dilutes the actual Scapeshift combo. The deck essentially tries to do too many things at once, and lacks the dig and protection provided by Peer Through Depths and Cryptic Command, respectively. Dropping the amount of blue sources also means you absolutely have to find Omen, since you could very easily end up putting too many Mountains into play before you find your Scapeshift.

The version listed above gives up the alternate win-con for a more consistent kill on turns four and five. Undisrupted, the fastest hand can suspend Search for Tomorrow on turn one (one land at end of turn), cast a two-mana ramp spell (Farseek or Steve) on turn two (three lands at EoT), resolve the suspended Search, then two-mana ramp twice more on turn three (six lands at EoT), and go off the following turn with Remand backup. I also play one Mountain more than most rather than the fourth fetchland. It came in handy in a few test games against Affinity where I had to Scapeshift to wipe my opponent’s board in order to live (18 damage to the dome would not have been enough thanks to Vault Skirge and the fact that Affinity does not run fetches). The extra Mountain left over in the deck allowed me to Scapeshift again the next turn for the kill.

***

At TNM, I threw in two Ancient Grudges and two Combusts into the side as I was short one Wurmcoil and didn’t have the Nature’s Claims. I ended up with a paltry 2-2, but if my draws were a little better, I might have won the two matches I lost to Jess’ Titan UW and Lirek’s American Twin. The thing I noticed is that I often didn’t want to board at all, as it just diluted the combo and made things really awkward. That said, when you’re up against blue decks, you gotta do what you gotta do. Combust was amazing all night, especially against American Twin, as Bolt is just dead against a bunch of X/4s.

I’m going to make a couple of edits and give this list another go next week. In the meantime, I am contemplating doing the Standard PTQ this weekend, though I’ll need to find a deck, preferably one without Thragtusks.

Until then.

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