There are plenty of Cube, Commander, and Vintage powerhouses that we’re going to see, but I want to talk about one card that has been officially spoiled, and what I hope comes along with it.
With Sneak Attack being spoiled, and sadly they didn’t use the awesome original art, I am still holding out hope that they also put Show and Tell in Eternal Masters. These two cards are my jam and go together like peanut butter and bananas. If you can’t tell, I’m really into bananas right now.
Last weekend I got to sleeve up Sneak and Show to play in a local $1,000 event, and while I ended up getting knocked out in the Top 4, I learned quite a bit and wanted to share my findings for those of you who are planning on playing in any SCG Tour® Legacy Classics coming up, or if you happen to be going to Worcester for the Legacy Open or Columbus for the Legacy Grand Prix.
This was the list that I played, but it wasn’t just something that I picked up just for fun. I played something similar to this back at #GPSEATAC, where I had some success, and I prepared during the week that started with streaming the Omni-Tell deck from the Magic Online Championship.
I played the deck a bit on and off stream and had some pretty entertaining matches. I got to turn 2 quite a few people and even got to take advantage of Kozilek’s Return being colorless against a Death and Taxes player.
The problem that I had with the deck was that, while it felt more powerful than traditional Sneak and Show, it felt less consistent and I was unhappy with how clunky some of the cards felt, primarily Intuition and Cunning Wish.
I had a nice conversation with Jonathan Anghelescu, the deck’s pilot in the Magic Online Championship, and he did bring up some good points. Both Cunning Wish and Intuition are extremely versatile and give you outs and ways to interact with the opponent that the normal Sneak and Show deck doesn’t. This is absolutely true, and maybe there is a way to configure the deck so that it feels less clunky for me.
Sneak and Show has been in the Legacy metagame for a very long time, but it tends to wax and wane in popularity. Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise make Legacy pretty wonky for the entirety of their legality. During the Treasure Cruise days, there was just no way that you could justify trying to play a three-mana blue sorcery with so many copies of Pyroblast seeing maindeck play, and once Treasure Cruise bit it, there was no reason to play Sneak Attack because you could be a pure Dig Through Time deck that killed with Show and Tell and Omniscience.
Now, though, we are getting back to the time before delve draw spells broke Legacy, and in that time Sneak and Show was a powerhouse. I wrote an article listing out my experience with this particular build of the deck before, and while I still agree with a lot of the same things, the format has changed since then, and so we need to adapt.
I still believe in Preordain over Gitaxian Probe. This was a tough transition to make, but once I started down the path of no longer relying on Gitaxian Probe to sculpt my hand and turns, I found that it only became easier. Preordain does a very good job of helping us find just what we need in any given situation, and I honestly don’t even miss Gitaxian Probe at all. Most of the time, when we saw cards that we couldn’t beat or play around, it really didn’t matter and we likely had to just jam anyway and hope for the best. In those situations, I would much rather have Preordain to either sculpt a better hand before the action starts or try to rebuild after our first shot gets blocked.
There really are only a few slots in the deck that are up for debate. Omniscience and only having three copies of Sneak Attack are concessions to needing the right number of cantrips and soft permission along with our mana sources. I would like to have a fourth Sneak Attack, but I don’t believe that it’s 100% necessary. Omniscience, on the other hand, is awesome. There are a lot of games where you get to just Show and Tell an Omniscience onto the battlefield and the game is over, either from chaining draw spells into a monster or just flat-out taking an extra turn by casting an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn from your hand.
Omniscience was primarily an answer to Containment Priest, which was extremely popular around the time of #GPSEATAC. Now, though, there really aren’t all that many Containment Priests being played. I know that I mentioned that Omniscience was awesome, which it was, but is it really needed?
The other spot of contention is the option for a fourth piece of soft permission or something else entirely. At the GP we ended up on Misdirection, which was insane. There was so much Shardless Sultai being played that Misdirection was an all-star. We even had a second copy in our sideboard! Now, though, Shardless Sultai has kind of fallen to the wayside, and there is a much wider range of decks seeing play. This led me to try out a card that I have traditionally been unhappy with in the Sneak and Show deck: Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Jace was pretty meh, if I’m being honest. It did play a role in winning the match against my Enchantress opponent as I was able to fateseal him off of lands after I used Through the Breach to wipe his battlefield with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, but other than that, I was pretty unimpressed. This is likely because I didn’t play against many Miracles opponents.
The more I go over Niels’s maindeck, the more I start to like it. Having access to one copy of Jace, the Mind Sculptor is likely fine, especially if we go back up to five “Sol lands” (City of Traitors and Ancient Tomb). The fourth Spell Pierce is likely superfluous, but it’s not bad to have, and while I generally like playing fast and loose with my manabase, I definitely did miss having a basic Mountain in my deck with so many red cards in the sideboard.
If I had to recommend a maindeck to play in an upcoming Legacy Classic, Open or Grand Prix, this is the list I would say to start with. It will even get you started on playing Preordain over Gitaxian Probe.
I did have a revelation while playing last weekend, and it was a long time coming. I know a lot of you are going to disagree, but I truly believe that we are now to a point where Blood Moon out of the sideboard of Sneak and Show is complete trash.
I know it hurts to hear. The thoughts of slamming it on turn 1 against a Sultai opponent and watching them cry is just too great to let go of. Wanting to send a Lands player into oblivion by shutting off the namesake of their deck with a simple three-mana enchantment is too strong of a desire to ever get rid of.
Trust me. It does more harm than it’s worth.
Both of my losses in the event were to Sultai Delver. He had zero basic lands in his deck, and Blood Moon was still garbage. There are way too many variables with the card that make it inconsistent, clunky, and prohibitive to play.
To start, Deathrite Shaman is freaking everywhere. Sultai, Four-Color, Shardless, Jund (basically a bye, but still). This card can invalidate an early Blood Moon. They can still cast a Tarmogoyf, and unless you have an awesome hand (which is unlikely, since we spent our resources getting this Blood Moon onto the battlefield), we will just end up dying to Tarmogoyf-fueled beats.
This is all if they don’t have a Force of Will, Daze, or Spell Pierce, and if they do, there is a chance we don’t have a Force of Will or the like to fight back. Even if we do, if they already have a battlefield presence, we can just die to what they have on the battlefield after we “lock them out” of the game.
If we try to spend our time playing this game of getting a Blood Moon onto the battlefield, we give up time sculpting our hand properly and our opponent is likely able to develop their battlefield while interacting with us…you know, what their deck is designed to do. The build that we played at the GP didn’t have Blood Moon in the sideboard, and it was right. Gerry Thompson is really smart, and thin, and a great dancer, and caught onto the Blood Moon being bad well before I did.
I can get onboard with Niels’s maindeck but definitely want to change the sideboard. Blood Moon can go, and I definitely want at least one copy of Boseiju, Who Shelters All in there to go along with the Through the Breach. Pithing Needle can fill in perfectly for that Blood Moon by giving us game to fight Thespian’s Stage out of Lands, Sensei’s Divining Top out of Miracles, Karakas out of Death and Taxes, and any other troublesome card that we need to fight.
Streamlined and simple while keeping the deck extremely powerful and focused is a recipe for success.
Eternal Masters is going to have some awesome things in it, and while I know that the dual lands being on the Reserved List might be a hindrance for getting into Legacy, swapping Eternal staples that you can get from #MTGEMA for dual lands could be an easy way to trade yourself into a new and exciting Legacy deck!
Good luck this weekend to anyone who happens to be Sneaking or Showing, and I’ll see you all at #SCGATL in a couple of weeks.