Unlocking Legacy – Going Green: The Evolution of Suicide Black in Legacy Part 2

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Wednesday, September 10th – In Part 1, we left off with the basics of how to play Eva Green. In this part, we begin by applying those basics against the more successful decks in Legacy. We end the article with some changes that we’ve been testing, and discuss if any of these represent the next evolution of the deck. This article was a joint effort by Dan Signorini and Anwar Ahmad.

In Part 1, we left off with the basics of how to play Eva Green. In this part, we begin by applying those basics against the more successful decks in Legacy. We end the article with some changes that we’ve been testing, and discuss if any of these represent the next evolution of the deck.



This matchup will vary to a large degree depending on the build of your opponent’s deck. There are two main variations that we address here. The first is the Threshold decks that are playing Counterbalance in the main deck. The other variation is one that eschews Counterbalance for a more resource denial approach by playing both Stifle and Wasteland in the main deck. These decks vary enough that it is best to address Eva Green’s approach against them separately.

An early Counterbalance against Eva Green can be devastating. Threshold has enough cards that overlap with Eva Green’s curve to counter a majority of its spells. Eva Green has multiple ways to deal with Counterbalance. The first is Thoughtseize, which allows you to proactively take the card from your opponent’s hand before they can play it. This is not always a reliable strategy on the draw as a Threshold player can use Brainstorm to hide Counterbalance on top of their library and play it on the following turn. The second way is to play Seal of Primordium before your opponent has a chance to find and play Counterbalance. This also works better on the play because your opponent may play a turn 2 Counterbalance which can counter the Seal of Primordium that you are about to play on the draw. Do not be afraid to cast a Seal of Primordium into a Counterbalance that has not been set up. This is one of your best opportunities to try and resolve a Seal of Primordium, or any other spell for that matter.

It’s important to know that Threshold often takes time to set up both Counterbalance and Sensei’s Divining Top. Playing your spells before they are able to set up Counter/Top is another way to weaken its effectiveness against you. Use Dark Ritual to accelerate your spells into play whenever possible to race Counterbalance.

The final way to deal with Counterbalance is to play around it. Hypnotic Specter and Tombstalker are spells that Threshold cannot normally answer with Counterbalance. Having access to 8 of your 16 threats through a Counterbalance makes it possible to win the game just off these threats. Snuff Out also allows you to answer a Tarmogoyf while still avoiding Counterbalance. Some Counterbalance Threshold decks do play a couple of Mystic Enforcers which can counter Snuff Out.

This matchup does not completely revolve around Counterbalance. Land destruction can sometimes work against these decks, especially if they are playing four and five colors, because they need multiple lands in play to cast their spells. This strategy also prevents them from playing Mystic Enforcer (if they play it). This is crucial because Mystic Enforcer as a 6/6 pro-Black can almost completely stall your assault. He can take down all of your creatures except for a 6/7 Tarmogoyf and a pumped Shade (requires 6 free mana). Mystic Enforcer does not always mean the game is over for the Eva Green player, but you end up losing the vast majority of games where he enters play.

The difficulty in the matchup is getting a creature into play and keeping it there, for both sides. With Thoughtseize, Force of Will, Hymn to Tourach, Daze, Swords to Plowshares, and Snuff Out to answer creatures, it can be hard to keep one in play. The winner of this matchup inevitably wins the war of keeping a creature (or possibly two) in play long enough to deal lethal damage.

There are a few things an Eva Green player can do to win the creature war. The first is to use Thoughtseize to figure out your opponent’s options. Is he or she trying to set up an early Counterbalance? Or is he or she trying to play cantrips to find creatures and counter magic? Or is he or she looking to play early Tarmogoyfs and put you on the defensive? This type of information can help you play out your creatures and disruption. If your opponent doesn’t have any counter magic, then you probably want to play your creatures as soon as possible. With only 4 removal spells in most builds of Threshold, resolving creatures is an important way to win the matchup. If they are creature-heavy, you might want to use Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach to make them discard their creatures before they have a chance to put most of them in to play. If it is countermagic-heavy then you want to use your disruption to make sure your creatures resolve.

This matchup is very close, but again the specifics of your opponent’s deck are key in determining if you are ahead or behind in the matchup. In most cases you will want to board out either Snuff Out (as it only hits Tarmogoyf) or Seal of Primodium for Choke. Choke is a powerful tool out of the sideboard to enhance your land destruction strategy.

This matchup is very different from Five-Color Threshold. Thrash is similar to Eva Green in that it attempts to use resource denial as a way to defeat opponents. Eva Green utilizes Thoughtseize, Hymn to Tourach, Sinkhole, and Wasteland to disrupt an opponent. Thrash uses Stifle, Wasteland, Daze, Force of Will, and Spell Snare to stall an opponent in the early game and often leave them without the resources they need to implement their strategy.

The important part of this matchup is to survive the early disruption. Both sides will be trying to disrupt the other. Try and play around Stifle and Wasteland whenever possible. Be wary of Daze, as it can be a devastating hard counter in the early game. Spell Snare is especially powerful against you, answering some of your best spells. Thoughtseize can protect your other spells by taking the next disruption spell your Thrash opponent was planning to cast. Sinkhole and Wasteland can be a good way to destabilize your opponent’s manabase as Thrash plays three colors, Wasteland, and no basic lands. With so much disruption on both sides it’s possible for one side to get completely blown out with no lands or no relevant spells left to play.

If you survive the early game, your creatures are better in the late game. Creatures like Tombstalker and Nantuko Shade can be difficult for the Thrash player to answer the longer the game goes.

Post-board, you will want to cut Seal of Primordium for Choke. Again, it provides some additional mana denial to your strategy.


The builds of Landstill vary in their creature removal and specific card choices. These variations do matter, but they do not substantially change the strategy that Eva Green should employ to defeat Landstill.

Eva Green’s strategy in this matchup is to apply heavy disruption followed by efficient threats to finish off a struggling Landstill opponent. Land destruction prevents Landstill from playing its more expensive spells. Whether those spells are Pernicious Deed, Wrath of God, Humility, or Fact or Fiction is not particularly important. It is important to stop Landstill from getting to the point where it can cast these spells. Hand disruption can often be more effective as it can leave your opponent with very few options to answer your threats.

After applying some disruption then play out your creatures. It is important not to over-commit too many creatures to the board, especially when your opponent has the ability to play a sweeper. If they are unable to play a sweeper, or do not have one in hand, then it may make sense to play multiple creatures in an attempt to win before your opponent can find an answer. Each threat in Eva Green is more than sufficient to deal lethal damage by itself. Hypnotic Specter might be the best threat at the smallest size, as it creates a soft lock where an opponent must draw cards that they are able to play immediately.

The biggest pitfall in this matchup is Standstill. Its ability to give a Landstill player card advantage at the cost of 1U alters the rest of the game. It makes your disruption weaker and your creatures less threatening because they are more likely to have answers to them. Answering Standstill should be one of the priorities, especially early in the game. It should be the target of an early Thoughtseize. Seal of Primordium shines here as playing it before a Standstill strands that card in your opponent’s hand.

Seal of Primordium is a powerhouse in this matchup. It can answer things like Humility, Engineered Explosives, Pernicious Deed, Crucible of Worlds, Standstill, and other cards as well. While a Landstill player can play Engineered Explosives and Pernicious Deed, it is rare that they will have the mana to activate them on the same turn. Seal of Primordium stalls these spells and makes them even more expensive.

This matchup is in your favor. You will generally want to take out Snuff Out for Choke. Even if your Landstill opponent plays Tarmogoyf or other creatures, Choke is more likely to limit the resources of your opponent than Snuff Out.

Aggro Loam

Aggro Loam’s massive creatures and land recursion make it a challenging matchup for Eva Green. Terravore and Countryside Crusher can outgrow anything that Eva Green plays. Its land recursion via Life from the Loam makes the land destruction strategy less than ideal.

Despite all these factors, Eva Green does have a fighting chance. The best strategy is to exploit the early game especially via Dark Ritual. Getting multiple creatures into play can overwhelm Aggro Loam in the early game. Use Snuff Out to steal tempo by taking down a creature that your opponent spent his whole turn playing. Land destruction, while not ideal, can work especially if your opponent does not draw Life from the Loam or Burning Wish. Sinkhole, Wasteland, and Seal of Primordium (hitting Mox Diamond) can leave the Aggro Loam player short on mana to effectively execute its game plan.

Post-board, use Leyline of the Void to control the size of your opponent’s creatures and prevent Life from the Loam recursion. Jitte can accelerate your clock and act as additional removal in addition to Snuff Out. A difficult matchup, but more than winnable given the right strategy and the right sideboard.


This is the matchup that you want to see. While Red Death versus Goblins was a close matchup, this one is in favor of the Eva Green player. Phyrexian Negator and Rotting Giant have been upgraded to Tombstalker and Tarmogoyf. Goblins has Warren Weirding to answer these creatures, but its susceptibility to large creatures in the early game is still a major problem. Eva Green is able to exploit that weakness even more than Red Death.

While you have fewer ways to answer a turn 1 Goblin Lackey on the draw, you have more ways to deal with Aether Vial. Being able to Thoughtseize it on the play or to Seal it on the draw makes the land destruction much more powerful. Sinkhole, Wasteland, and Seal of Primordium can leave Goblins without enough mana to cast its more powerful Goblins. Thoughtseize by itself changes the matchup by having a card just like Duress, but instead of being virtually dead it takes the best Goblin in their hand.

The post-board games are heavily in the favor of Eva Green. Both Engineered Plague and Jitte are difficult for Goblins to answer. This in addition to the creatures and disruption prove to be too much for Goblins to handle.


If Goblins is the matchup you want to see when playing Eva Green, then Ichorid is the exact opposite. Ichorid is practically impossible to beat game 1. Nothing is more frustrating than getting an extremely powerful opening hand with Dark Ritual into multiple disruption spells only to find that your Hymn to Tourach just put Golgari-Grave Troll into your opponent’s graveyard for him. Ichorid can still have bad luck while dredging, and a turn 1 Thoughtseize is actually quite good at stalling them (hitting Breakthrough or Lion’s Eye Diamond, for instance). Try to play creatures as soon as possible in an attempt to race them if you can.

Otherwise you’ll have to steal games 2 and 3 on the back of Leyline of the Void. While Engineered Plague and Jitte are decent against Ichorid, neither will win you this matchup on its own. The best option is to mulligan aggressively for Leyline and answer their Chain of Vapor with Thoughtseize if you can. Ichorid still has to board in answers to your hate and this slows them down and dilutes their dredges. You have a much better chance of racing them games 2 and 3 for this reason, and with Dark Ritual you may actually have the chance to replay a bounced Leyline if they do not have the Cabal Therapy to strip it from your hand.

Engineered Plague should be naming either horror or zombie, depending on the situation. Remember that Putrid Imp is a zombie. and keeping them off of a discard outlet can sometimes buy you enough time to win the game, especially if you can Ritual into a Plague in the early game. Plague on Zombie also allows each Jitte counter to take down a zombie token. It is a frustrating matchup to say the least, but you do have some sideboard options against them which give you a fighting chance.


Most of our experience with Survival has been with RGBSA. Your best bet is attacking their manabase and winning on the back of an early game tempo boost, or riding a Tombstalker to victory. Sinkhole and Wasteland are great here, and don’t be afraid to use Snuff Out on first turn Birds of Paradise to deny them mana. If you fail in your effort to deny them resources in the early game by the mid to late game you will find that they have control of the game. At some point in the game they will get Survival of the Fittest and the game usually ends shortly after that.

One of your highest priorities in the game has to be to prevent Survival of the Fittest from entering play. Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach can help here. Use land destruction to stall your opponent’s efforts to cast Survival of the Fittest. If your opponent does resolve it then try to answer it with Seal of Primodium as soon as possible. If your opponent has Survival out for a few turns with enough mana to use it your chances of winning greatly diminish. They will simply find whatever creature they need to answer your creature. You will run out of threats and they will still have Survival.

Deciding what to board against Survival is an open question. Our initial attempt to board against the deck was to take out Seal of Primordium for Umezawa’s Jitte. While Seal of Primordium was our only answer to resolved Survival it was also a narrow card since it only hit Survival. Jitte makes your creatures more dangerous in the early game and ends the game sooner. This matchup is still a difficult one but not overwhelmingly so. The efforts to both improve this matchup along with its other weaker matchups lead us to try and improve the deck.

Recent Changes and Possible Evolution

In an effort to improve the Ichorid, Aggro Loam, and to a lesser degree Survival matchup, Seal of Primodium was replaced with Leyline of the Void in the main. The idea behind this was that not only it would give us a chance in the Ichorid matchup, but it would limit the size of Aggro Loam’s creatures, not to mention its land recursion with Life from the Loam. It would also help against Survival as it would neutralize cards like Genesis, Squee, Anger, and Eternal Witness. Since there were only 3 Seal of Primordium in the deck, a single Nantuko Shade was cut to make room for the 4th Leyline of the Void.

With no enchantment or artifact removal in the main deck, Krosan Grip was added to the sideboard in the Leyline of the Void spot. The problem with this build became apparent after playing it a few times. If you do not know what your opponent is playing it is impossible to know whether to mulligan for Leyline of the Void. Against Ichorid you need in the opening hand, and drawing it later against Aggro Loam or Survival can be too little too late.

The next idea was to replace Seal of Primordium with Pithing Needle. Needle doesn’t do anything to help with the Ichorid or Aggro Loam, but it does help against Survival. The card is also versatile enough to include in the main deck with less chance of it being dead against any given deck. It can hit fetchlands or even creatures with activated abilities. It also stops many of the artifacts and enchantments that are of concern like Pernicious Deed, Sensei’s Divining Top, Survival of the Fittest, and Aether Vial. This version of the deck was played to a 13th place finish by Matt Kadilak at the $1000 dollar Tournament in Syracuse, NY on July 19, 2008. This is our latest list of the deck.


Eva Green’s proactive disruption and deadly threats make it a force in modern Legacy. Its disruption is relevant against almost all archetypes and its creatures are some of the best in the format. Its advantages against control decks like Landstill and aggressive decks like Goblins are some of the best reasons to play the deck. Its game against other decks like Survival, Aggro Loam, and Threshold are weaker by comparison and in some cases unfavorable. Every deck has weaknesses, and Ichorid is one of them for Eva Green.

The evolution of this deck will continue with the printing of new cards and the changing Legacy metagame. This article and the previous one should provide a blueprint for anyone looking to develop the deck further.

This article was a joint effort by Dan Signorini and Anwar Ahmad.

Dan Signorini
nitewolf9 on The Source and StarCityGames Forums

Anwar Ahmad
AnwarA101 on The Source and StarCityGames Forums