Less than one week to go. Are you prepared?
Let’s take a last look at the Legacy format, headed into Grand Prix Providence. Two final tournaments should inform your card choices. The Legacy
portion of Bazaar of Moxen V had over 600 players, making it virtually a mini Grand Prix. It suggested there is a wide-open, diverse format. Last
weekend’s StarCityGames.com Legacy Open in Louisville had far different results, strongly influenced by the surge of Mental Misstep in Orlando,
suggesting a format that may be dominated by a common from Fallen Empires.
Hymn to Tourach Decks
I’ll start with the more familiar of the Hymn decks: Team America.
Team America combines a good helping of disruption from Hymn to Tourach and Wasteland with a steady supply of alternate-cost counterspells and
efficient spot removal; then it adds two of the most aggressively costed beaters around, Tarmogoyf and Tombstalker. It’s also a deck that can make good
use of Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Current builds only play two, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see builds start to play more somewhere in their 75.
This is an older strategy, albeit one that has been updated with cards from new sets, including Mental Misstep, Phyrexian Revoker, and Go for the
Throat. However, a key weakness remains: the color requirements and specific land requirements of the deck—Hymn to Tourach, Jace, the Mind
Sculptor, Daze, Snuff Out, all played alongside Wasteland—mean that it has to run all dual lands.
When I originally started playing Thopters, Lands was a popular strategy, and I played Back to Basics main with a Blood Moon in the sideboard. Over
time, I moved away from both cards, but clearly in a format populated by decks like Team America, both cards are definitely worthy of consideration.
Our next deck is an update of Deadguy Ale, exactly the type of midrange, “Rock”-esque deck that has a history of strong performances at
Both decks are centered around cards that cost two mana and provide card advantage over opposing blue decks. Dark Confidant and Stoneforge Mystic are
two of the most powerful and influential creatures in Magic’s history. By adding these two advantage engines to a deck loaded with disruption,
especially the Misstep-proof Hymn to Tourach, Ale decks are a potential foil for the Mental Misstep decks flooding into the metagame.
Joe Bernal’s deck really overloads on disruption; he came packing Hymn to Tourach, Thoughtseize, Vindicate, and Cabal Therapy. Therapy in
particular is brutal in this deck, as Joe also came with Bitterblossom and Elspeth, Knight-Errant, cards that synergize with Therapy and provide
additional advantage to supplement Confidant and Stoneforge Mystic. He also included Chrome Mox for acceleration, and his maindeck Equipment package
has Batterskull, Umezawa’s Jitte, and Sword of Fire and Ice, supplemented by Sword of Feast and Famine in the sideboard.
Caleb Durward’s deck jettisons the Cabal Therapies completely, as well as the supplemental package of Bitterblossom and Elspeth, and replaces
them with Dark Rituals for extra speed. Those Dark Rituals also come in handy for powering out Phyrexian Obliterator, which is a savage defensive
weapon and basically unblockable. Caleb still included a miser’s Bitterblossom, with additional copies in the sideboard, as well as additional
Equipment to supplement his Sword of Fire and Ice and two copies of Umezawa’s Jitte. Those Bitterblossoms are pretty disgusting in decks that
struggle over resources in topdeck mode, as you get the leg up against other Equipment decks.
These B/W decks are deceptively deep and should be in your last-minute gauntlet, if not in consideration for play at the GP. However, if you want to
wield Mental Misstep and Hymn to Tourach together but don’t like playing zero basic lands, give this a try:
I think there’s a lot to like about this build. It’s got the spot removal and many of the counters of Team America, in a bit of a
streamlined shell. Without Tombstalker or Snuff Out, it’s free to play Dark Confidant for advantage, and Terravore adds a nice bit of muscle.
Note the extra Jace, the Mind Sculptor in the sideboard, as well as Leyline of the Void.
Standstill decks were a mainstay of the format for years, only to recede over the past eighteen months. With Mental Misstep pushing control back to the
forefront of the format, Standstill has come back with a vengeance.
Landstill won Bazaar of Moxen V, although it was a very different version from Gerry Thompson’s:
So, what’s going on with this deck? Well, again, it is packed with counters and cheap spot removal. One thing I like about it is the slightly
different use of Misstep compared to GT’s deck, which used Spell Snare and Misstep to bridge into Counterspell and Standstill. This build uses
Misstep and cheap removal to bridge into Counterspell and Standstill but is less worried about early creatures resolving due to the extra removal.
Pernicious Deed is really nasty against decks like Affinity or Elves, which might overwhelm Gerry’s build in the first few turns. Basically, this
build is more willing to let things resolve and then kill them.
Interestingly, the sideboard has a bit of a transform strategy; as this build normally runs no creatures, bringing in Dark Confidant and Goyf against
opponents who have removed all their removal is pretty dirty.
Contrast this to Gerry’s U/W version:
The decks certainly have a different feel. I’m inclined to consider the BUG version Matthias played as the more forgiving build, as Deed will
bail out a lot of mistakes, whereas Gerry’s deck rewards those with a keen eye for the format. Gerry’s deck is also playing far more basic
lands, so it can resist some strategies that attack mana.
Full-on control isn’t the only place to play Standstill, of course:
I was tempted to change the player name to Gordon Gekko. Twenty lands? Talk about greed!
In any case, this is an interesting build; Standstill seems like a great choice for a flex slot in Merfolk with Mental Misstep, although I would
strongly suggest playing some additional land, and for the Grand Prix, having answers to Llawan, Cephalid Empress is vital.
See my article from last week
for some thoughts on cards to use for this purpose.
While it didn’t place as highly, this is perhaps a build closer to what I would recommend, to the extent you’d ever see me recommend
An extra land, plus a nice black splash—although Snuff Out might be better served as Dismember. This seems like a solid build to me, although I
do like Sower of Temptation in Merfolk sideboards. There’s a good chance that four copies of Nature’s Ruin and Perish, combined, are far
too many for this Grand Prix.
Green Sun’s Zenith Decks
While much of the buzz remains on Mental Misstep, Green Sun’s Zenith is still an incredibly powerful card, and several GSZ decks did quite well
I actually think there’s a lot to like in this build, although I’d probably add one Mental Misstep. This deck should be consistent against
most of the format, and the Enlightened Tutor sideboard gives it some nasty options in post-board games.
However, if you want something more aggressive, try this:
This is a Zoo deck I could sink my teeth into. It isn’t quite as aggressive as the versions I used to play, but it’s still plenty fast. Green
Sun’s Zenith gives it consistency and flexibility, while Sylvan Library and Elspeth give it a powerful endgame for a Zoo deck. Additionally, this one
has a juicy sideboard that covers a lot of bases and uses Choke to go after those Mental Misstep decks. Choke, like Back to Basics, is a card you
should definitely consider playing at the Grand Prix.
I suppose that graveyard decks must be more popular in Europe than in the US; how else to explain the use of Leyline of the Void at BoM V? I
can’t say I’m surprised, as both Reanimator and Dredge are very good in unprepared formats, and both muscled to the top 4:
There are a number of odd things about this list. The red splash is different but understandable; Pyroclasm is a nice way to sweep the board before
establishing control of the game, and Red Elemental Blast is great against a huge chunk of the format; once in red, I’d probably have played more
than two, myself. Energy Flux is a killer card against Affinity and MUD, although Affinity is usually not a bad matchup for Reanimator, I don’t
think. Perhaps the most unique thing about this build is that it has literally zero cards from New Phyrexia; no Mental Misstep, even.
I like the maindeck of this Dredge deck quite a bit. The sideboard goes heavy on Dread Return targets, including Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, which is a
nasty one. Sadistic Hypnotist is brutal against most decks but especially against combo. This deck runs pretty much counter to the advice given by
Richard Feldman, for better or worse. It’s heavy on sideboard answers and heavy on Dread Return targets, and it plays Darkblast.
I honestly have no idea what the right way to go is, specifically, but the Dredge strategy still seems well-situated to me. This deck wasn’t
knocked out of the tournament until the twelfth round, so something to consider for those who say that Dredge can’t do well in longer events.
If you like your Zoo without GSZ, try this:
David Price has an interesting version of Zoo that might appeal to those looking for a faster build. I love this sideboard; Thrun is a card I mentioned
last week and on Twitter and is absolute hell on a number of decks in the format right now. Null Rod and Choke are similarly brutal for specific
subsets of the format. When you combine that type of disruptive power out of the board with the quick clock of Zoo—and the absence of
combo—you can do some nasty things.
There’s a lot to love in this deck, which honestly has not been high on my list in the past. For one thing, this deck largely ignores Mental
Misstep. It’s also playing Misdirection in the maindeck, which is absolutely brutal against Hymn to Tourach. In the sideboard, we find lots of Red
Elemental Blast / Pyroblast for the blue decks, along with Blood Moon and Trinisphere to ruin the dual-heavy decks and those loaded up on cantrips like
Ponder and Brainstorm. This is a nasty, nasty deck.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t briefly discuss this:
I’m pretty sure you don’t want to rush out and invest in Energy Fields, although the card is pretty neat in some metagames. Mono-Blue
Control is an oldie but goodie; for this field in particular, cards like Misdirection and Back to Basics are exceptional. This also seems like a
reasonable deck for Surgical Extraction, which I think is actually a better card than most people believe.
Still, it’s hard for me to suggest this deck over the Landstill decks; you gain so much by going into white.
Strangely absent from the metagame are Counterbalance and Affinity, and there haven’t been many true combo decks like High Tide or ANT (which
both just missed the Top 8 at BoM and the SCG Open, respectively); Aether Vial decks outside of Merfolk have disappeared almost completely. Aggro decks
with Mental Misstep continue their previous trend of non-existence. I see no reason why they should begin to exist at the Grand Prix. Like the
Sasquatch and the Loch Ness monster, they remain myths that get a certain set of people very excited but ultimately disappoint.
This is a wide-open Grand Prix. The format is developing in front of us week to week, and I can’t wait to see which decks perform in what is sure
to be a massive and spectacular tournament.
Headed into this Grand Prix, here are some powerful cards I advise you to consider, in terms of playing with them and considering how to beat them.
These cards have strongly shaped the format the past few weeks:
Expect Jace, the Mind Sculptor to see a lot of play; if your deck used to play two, play three. If you played three, play four. Divert is a spicy card
similar to Misdirection that can be even more brutal early in a game. You can also use Divert on Mental Misstep. If playing a blue deck, have outs to
Choke; if playing a ton of duals, have outs to Crucible and Wasteland as well as Back to Basics. Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast are exceptional in
this metagame. Deploying a ton of threats very quickly is a reasonable way to attack both Landstill (U/W in particular) and Merfolk. Many decks in the
US are still lacking graveyard hate. Remember that many of these control decks are still running a bunch of conditional hard counters that you can
attack not all that differently from how you attacked Counterbalance: just go over the top.
Good luck in Providence!
Voltron00x on SCG, TMD, The Source, and Twitter