Anything Pro – Going Against The Grain: Team Italia

If you’re looking for a unique deck that’s off the beaten path for this weekend’s SCG Legacy Open: Orlando, try Gerard’s Team Italia, a deck with powerful cards like Dark Confidant, Hymn to Tourach, and Grim Lavamancer.

Sometimes you do things because no one else does. Batman didn’t just one day decide he was going to protect Gotham City; he witnessed all the
scum running over the city while all the other schmucks just watched (Commissioner Gordon tried, but let’s be real).

Week after week, we see Caw-Blade win every tournament. Why? Well there are a few reasons: 1.) It’s a great deck—consistent, powerful, and
has a lot of play in matches—and 2.) The best players in the tournament play it, which influences the results with the deck.

Now, for me, I’ve never been one to conform and go with the standard view; some would say I play by my own rules. Does this hurt my chances of winning?
I would say no. I try to come up with creative decks. In Paris, I played my own version of Caw-Blade; in Dallas for the GP a few weeks back, I played
my own version of Caw-Blade with green; back at Nationals last year, I was one of the first U/W Control players to play Preordain, cutting all the Wall
of Omens for it; and at the StarCityGames.com Open in Boston, I played Team Italia in Legacy.

It seemed as though most Legacy decks weren’t even good and very easily hated, yet no one did anything about it. Prices of Legacy cards keep
going up and up because everyone just conforms and plays the same decks. Then they lose and say something along the lines of “Yep, lost to the mirror;
he drew three of card X.”

If you think about it, observing the metagame and reading the articles from the players who try to create new decks, instead of only reading and
listening to articles on matchup analysis, might improve your game. Don’t get me wrong; there have been many times when I played my own deck and
did terrible with it, so there isn’t a clear-cut right or wrong way to view this.

Regardless, I wanted to innovate a deck that used discard spells combined with card advantage creatures, such as Dark Confidant and Stoneforge Mystic,
but was different from Junk and Team America. Take a look at my Team Italia; see whether you like it, and see whether it plays well for you. If it
does, play it at the next StarCityGames.com Open or GP Providence.

Team America is a pretty good deck, but a lot of things about it didn’t make sense to me.

Force of Will, in my opinion, is not a very good card. It is either a five-mana counterspell or a 1-for-2. I feel like people who play Force of Will
are scared of other people’s nut draws. News flash: no deck is as good as it seems. Every time you hear someone say their deck wins on turn X, add two
to that number. It also happens 75% fewer times then they say it does. (Trust me; I did the math.)

Stifle is another card I don’t like. In la la land, for every round, you play against Conley Woods, and on turn one, he goes LAND, CRACK, FECTH!
And you have the Stifle, but Magic doesn’t work like that, and most of the time, you’ll be pitching that useless Stifle to Force of Will
(comical, I know).

Brainstorm is good, but a card like Sensei’s Divining Top or Dark Confidant can replace that draw engine.

Now, I’m not taking away any credit from the designers of Team America, and I approve of the innovation, but it wasn’t the deck for me.

The lack of one-mana discard spells and Dark Confidant also bothered me. You can’t fit Dark Confidant into the deck because of all the
high-casting-cost spells, but Tombstalker isn’t even that good and lacks synergy with Tarmogoyf.

So I decided to change the colors and came up with Team Italia.


I went with:

1 Gerrard’s Verdict– For the obvious reasons plus the fact that this works as a fifth Hymn and provides life gain. You can always Verdict yourself as
well, pitching extra lands, so think about that before just playing your lands out in the late game.

4 Hymn to Tourach– One of the best cards ever printed in my opinion. Anyone can win with Hymn if you hit the right cards, so it seems good to play it.

1 Inquisition of Kozilek– I went with one of these over the fourth Thoughtseize because of the two life you have to pay. In Legacy, most important
cards cost 1-3 mana, so I don’t mind playing one Inquisition; although I think Thoughtseize is better.

3 Thoughtseize– The best one-drop discard spell in Legacy. Above, I listed the reason why I only play three, and I’m really surprised this card
doesn’t see more play. It’s a great disruption spell and gives you information on what you should Vindicate or Lightning Bolt.


4 Dark Confidant– It fits the play style of this deck. Do everything you can to cut off your opponent’s resources through Wastelands, Hymns, and
Vindicates, then gain card advantage back from Dark Confidant. It’s also nice that your most expensive card is four mana, so you shouldn’t be
taking much damage from him. If you are, you have a decent amount of life gain between the maindeck and sideboard.

3 Figure of Destiny– He is probably the best one-drop that doesn’t see play anymore. Maybe people think he is too mana hungry, but in a deck like
this, when your opponent is out of resources, Figure is a major threat.

4 Grim Lavamancer– One of the reasons why you should be playing this deck. Lavamancer owns so many decks and also can keep Tarmogoyfs in check. With
Collar, the Lavamancer can take out almost any creature (including Emrakul).

1 Ranger of Eos– When you’re trading resources back and forth, a 3-for-1 is pretty nice, especially when you’re fetching up two Figures late game.
Ranger is a card you might want a second of. The four-drop slot can probably go up to two or three cards total. Other options are Elspeth,
Knight-Errant or Ajani Vengeant.

4 Stoneforge Mystic– Another amazing creature that nets you card advantage and fits perfectly in this deck. You currently have three maindeck targets
and another one in the sideboard, Which leads us into the Equipment.


1 Umezawa’s Jitte– Against any deck that isn’t blue, you want to be fetching this early game. Sometimes against red, you want this as well due to
the life gain, but it pretty much all depends. A basic example of when you wouldn’t get this is when you have a 2/1 as your only creature, and
they have a 1/1, since the creatures would just trade.

1 Basilisk Collar– Combos well with Lavamancer and overall an important card to the deck with the life gain. In some matchups, such as High Tide, you’d
board this out.

1 Sword of Fire and Ice– I think this is the most powerful sword for this deck, which is the main reason I started this. In the board, you have a Sword
of Feast and Famine you can switch it out for, or you can have both for games two and three.


4 Lightning Bolt– I started Lightning Bolt over Swords to Plowshares because you don’t want useless cards in your deck against combo, and even
though Bolt isn’t great against them, it does more than plow.

4 VindicateVindicate picks off the stuff Bolt can’t kill or the stuff they manage to draw off the top after your discard spells.

You are then left with 23 lands and 1 Sensei’s Divining Top.


3 Arid Mesa
4 Badlands
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Marsh Flats
1 Plateau
3 Scrubland
4 Wasteland

I thought about putting in a few basic lands to help against Blood Moon, Wasteland, or Price of Progress, but I don’t think you need it. The
benefit you would get is not worth the loss of consistent mana.

My sideboard was pretty good for me; the only cards I never boarded in were the three Burrenton Forge-Tenders.


2 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
2 Ethersworn Canonist
3 Burrenton Forge-Tender
3 Pyroblast
4 Swords to Plowshares

As I said, everything was put to good use except for the Forge-Tenders, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be in there.

I have some ideas on changes for the maindeck and sideboard.

Surgical Extraction seems like it would be a nice addition to the board. Hide / Seek is another option that could work out nicely.

For the maindeck, I’d add another Sensei’s Divining Top and another Ranger of Eos, cutting a Figure of Destiny and a Vindicate.

Last week, I did SCGLive coverage, and I want to say thanks to everyone who watched and showed their support by tweeting awesome comments. Cracking the
Jace with Calcano and the Battle of Wits kill on turn 4 were both awesome, but it was just fun doing it overall.

Earlier, I mentioned how not many people were innovating. However, I want to give credit to Lewis Laskin and AJ Sacher for bringing innovative decks to
North Carolina. Lewis played his own version of BUG in Standard, and AJ brought his U/R Control deck, which he did well with at the StarCityGames.com
Open in Boston. For reference, both decks can be seen below.

Both decks are very good and should be looked into more with New Phyrexia.

Again I left out some stories in favor of a few more videos I shot over the Boston Open Weekend.


Where Everyone’s a Winner, Season 2

Will The Real Zack Hall Please Sit Down

AJ Sacher and Ben Lundquist