Quick Hits: Legacy & Standard, Ahoy!

Mark reveals the Legacy deck you’ve chosen for him for the SCG Invitational, asks for your help with sideboarding, and shares some thoughts about Standard.


Last week I asked you to pick the Legacy deck that I would pilot at the SCG Invitational in Las Vegas, and you voted in droves for your favorites.

This week I’m going to cover a few topics, mostly revolving around Standard and Legacy. I figured the best way to do this is my old and trusty Quick Hits. That’s what you do when you want to cover a bunch of things, right?

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Quick Hit #1: You Taught Me How To Legacy

First and foremost, a huge "thank you!" to everyone that came out and threw out their pick. A lot of you took some time out of your day to give a detailed description of what you think I should be battling with along with why, and your input is extremely appreciated.

With that being said, it would appear that my weapon of choice will be . . .

*insert drumroll*

Shardless BUG!

It was an extremely close race, with Shardless BUG beating out Sneak and Show, Jund, and Esper Deathblade by a very narrow margin. I stated that I was almost sure that BUG would be the deck I’d have the most fun playing, and people seemed to respond most that I would do better with a deck that employed strategies I would love to learn along with enjoy playing. Some of you wanted me to play Jund because my name is Mark Nestico, and I respect that. Many of you also recommended Sneak and Show due to of the sheer power level that the deck presents. Bearing this in mind, I was pretty anxious about today considering I had placed my fate right in your hands.

Luckily you did not disappoint, and I’m currently sitting with a copy of Shardless BUG in my hands thanks to a friend of mine letting me borrow it until the Invitational is over. Thanks, Rusty!

The next part in our Choose Your Own Adventure is going to be deciding on the breakdown on the cards we afford to our sideboard. The maindeck is going to be essentially what I feel most comfortable with, but I will again look to your expertise to see what cards you think I should play with in my sideboard.

Reasonable inclusions are:

The list goes on, so if I missed something please feel free to include it.

I want to see your sideboards in the comments below, so don’t be afraid to post them!

Quick Hit #2: Legacy Sideboarding & Me . . . WTF?

This past week I spent a lot of time doing my homework: talking to various players about their respective pet decks. Their insights were invaluable, but one skill I am having a hard time mastering in Legacy is the art of sideboarding.

For me, Standard boarding procedures are very intuitive and easy to handle. Card A comes out and Card B comes in, but I’m told in Legacy it’s not even close to that black or white. Cite this conversation as an example:

Me: "So I want to cut all copies of Ancestral Vision against them?"

Friend: "Well, it’s really low impact, and chances are it won’t be relevant."

Me: "Alright. So I’m cutting all fou—"

Friend: "You should leave in at least two."

Me: "You just said it is low impact."

Friend: "Yes, but if you cascade into it, it’s really good."

Me: "It’s mostly in the deck to be cascaded into, isn’t it?"

Friend: "Right."

Me: "So if it’s really good to cascade into, shouldn’t I keep it in and take something else out?"

Friend: "It’s only situational. Most of the time you’ll want to hit something else."

Me: "Doesn’t it make sense to take all copies of it out then if 90% of the time I’ll want to hit a different card?"

Friend: "No."

Me: "What the fudge? So I want to shave the number of it down and hope to not hit it, but if I do hit it, it’s a good thing and I should be happy, although I am cutting several copies of it because it’s not really good enough, correct?"

Friend: "Pretty much, yes.

Mark, put down the noose."

But I don’t want to put down the noose!

So what I’ve figured out so far is the following:

  • You don’t want to cut all copies of a card most of the time because you draw a lot of cards in Legacy depending on your deck.
  • Maintaining the consistency of your deck is more important than trying to water it down with tons of spells for various matches.
  • You can’t sideboard for everything like you can in Standard because the format is too diverse.
  • Not only do you have to account for your sideboard, but you have to memorize a vast array of things your opponent could be boarding in and have to preserve your maindeck on that theory.

There is still so much that I don’t understand about this format, but I am learning! Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks, Drew Levin! I love your articles!

Quick Hit #3: Devoting Time To Standard

Put a smile on, devotion is a thing!

This past weekend at GP Breaking Bad, Mono-Blue and Mono-Black Devotion took up seven spots in the Top 8.

Take a moment to digest that.

Nightveil Specter was in seven of the top-performing decks in Albuquerque. From bulk zero to Standard hero, this card is fueling incredibly powerful and consistent strategies.

Let’s examine them.

For the second week in a row, Owen’s list feels flawless. Shrivel is a card in his board that has been making the rounds lately on Magic Online, but the truth is that now is a great time for the card. It heavily invalidates a resolved Master of Waves and is great for removing Elspeth, Sun’s Champion tokens, Cloudfin Raptors, Elvish Mystics, and multiple creatures in the W/R Aggro decks, which negates their Brave the Elements.

His bases seem to all be covered, with hand disruption and card draw when playing against control, powerful creatures that demand answers against midrange, and removal and life gain when battling aggressive strategies. This deck doesn’t seem to have a visible weakness except for an early creature rush, and I’m sure the inherent power level is exactly why a great player like Owen would pick it up. Our very own Todd Anderson picked up a copy with a similar card breakdown in order to Top 4 the event, which qualified him for Valencia. Huge congrats to Todd, who has been pouring his heart into getting back to the Pro Tour. You’re an inspiration to grinders, mate!

Let’s check out the other monocolored nemesis:

Ba da ba ba ba—it’s Sam Black! Again. For like . . . the fourth time in a row. Can you fathom that? This man isn’t even human. If he can make it five premier events in a row, I will buy him a beer and then have him bless mine before I drink it, and I don’t even like beer.

Mono-Blue Devotion is an amazing example of a tempo deck that can attack from multiple angles and once it gets rolling is extremely difficult to stop. As an Esper Control player, I dread their quick starts, but when I "stabilize" the slew of planeswalkers backed by hard counters can seal up the game in an entirely different dimension. After battling with this deck a fair bit this week, I can honestly say there are games that it feels like your opponent shouldn’t have bothered shuffling and presenting because you have delivered such an unfair beating to them.

At the moment in Standard, there isn’t a deck that has a more explosive curve outside of dropping multiple Burning-Tree Emissarys into play. Cloudfin Raptor into Frostburn Weird / Tidebinder Mage into Thassa into Jace, Architect of Thought / Bident of Thassa is damn near unbeatable for any deck regardless of what their capabilities are.

Sam has showcased on multiple occasions how freakishly powerful this deck is, so it’s not really a surprise that it’s still tearing up the tournament scene. I haven’t even mentioned that four copies of it showed up in the last SCG Open in Providence, failing to take a trophy but still putting up one hell of a performance. It’s also interesting to note that not a single copy of Mono-Black Devotion was in that Top 8, but it still took up two Top 16 slots.

Quick Hit #4: What Am I Playing?

On Sunday morning I woke up to about fifteen Facebook messages of people congratulating me that Jund won a Standard Open in the hands of Matt Costa. I knew he made it to the Top 4, but I didn’t believe that my dream could possibly come true.

Low and behold, Matt did his best Miley Cyrus impression and used his wrecking ball of a deck to win an over 500-person tournament. This made me feel feelings I hadn’t felt since Thragtusk rotated out.

When the format was in its infancy, I wrote about Jund and how it could be a contender in the metagame, but I eventually let the mana scare me away. Turns out I was just making the mana base harder than it had to be.

For reference:

Everything about this deck speaks to my soul.

I love the spells.

I love the land base.

I love the creatures. Me + Stormbreath Dragon = <3

This is me:

Me As Kid

This is Rakdos’s Return:

We’re married.

Me & Rakdos

Get the picture?

In a little under two weeks, I’ll be attending Grand Prix Dallas along with a contingent of Florida players such as Florida’s Sexiest Magic Player of 2010 Steve Mann, Tiger Beat Cover Model Brennan DeCandio, and "A Bet’s A Bet" Scumbaggery Policeman Logan Mize. Along with them I’ll be grinding away at what deck I should battle with, but my list of decks that I’ll play is pretty short. In no specific order:

The last option is clearly the most attractive because sweet beard and newly acquired trophy.

In all seriousness, though, I’ve been putting everything except Jund through the ringer to prepare for this event, but now that I have a deck in the picture that I am very familiar with on how to pilot correctly, it might be right to play something firmly planted in my comfort zone. Now is an exceptional time to be playing a card like Rakdos’s Return. There really isn’t much any deck can do about it considering most decks are no longer equipped to deal with a card that can empty their hands. Counterspells are at an all-time low, and aside from Esper Control, a Rakdos’s Return for as little as two or three can be absurdly backbreaking to devotion decks that try to empty their hands against you.

This is also a fantastic time to be casting Anger the Gods, as it hits and kills almost everything that could overrun your Jund deck. It is awkward that you play cards like Sylvan Caryatid, but to be fair it’s either get killed by an onslaught of creatures or two-for-X yourself.

All of that being said, I have a lot of trust in the friends that I’m going with to figure out how best to break the format. If nothing else, Dallas will be a tremendous place to test for the Invitational.

. . .

. . .

. . .

One of the things I’m most proud of about today is that I was able to fit three McDonald’s references in, so I really hope my editor enjoys reading them as much as he did last week. [Editor’s Note: Dangerous game Mr. Nestico.]

Remember to give your input on what cards we should be focusing on boarding come the Invitational given the state of the metagame. So far your advice is putting me in the direction I most want to go.

I look forward to continuing this journey with you.

Catch ya on the flip-

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