Walk The Talk

CVM talks about the U/B Tezzeret deck he played at #GPDC and highly recommends you give it a shot this weekend at SCG Legacy Open: Providence.

Last week I wrote about why I thought that U/B Tezzeret was well positioned for the Legacy Grand Prix in Washington DC.

Caleb Durward also wrote about how he had Tezzeret as his #1 pick for deck to play at DC.

Great minds think alike, yeah?

Leading up to the Grand Prix, I was torn between U/B Tezzeret and Sneak and Show. Testing continued to show us that Sneak and Show was weak to Death and Taxes and games against RUG Delver could go either way, and we thought that along with Sneak and Show those were going to be the three most popular decks.

U/B Tezzeret has a rough game 1 against Death and Taxes but has favorable matchups versus Sneak and Show and RUG Delver, which ultimately led Brian Braun-Duin to choosing the Tezzeret deck and talking me into sticking with it.

We knew what the key cards were that we wanted to play, but we ended up taking some ideas from Caleb’s list and tweaking our maindeck and sideboard for the popular decks that we expected to face. Since Legacy is such a wide-open format, when building a sideboard you want to make sure that your cards are high impact and as flexible as possible. I feel like we did a pretty good job with our sideboard, as I used almost every sideboard card at least once over the course of the tournament.

Check it out!

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the deck, the ideal angle of attack is to accelerate into an early Chalice of the Void where X=1, which locks out most spells in the Legacy format. Secondary is the ability to cast powerful planeswalkers like Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas as early as turn 2. Lastly, we are able to generate a lot of tokens with Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek and sit behind an Ensnaring Bridge so they can’t kill us but we can still attack with all of our 1/1s.

The reason that this deck was so well positioned this past weekend was that the majority of the popular decks were weak to most if not all of the strategies employed by U/B Tezzeret; in fact, most Sneak and Show lists can’t actually beat an Ensnaring Bridge in game 1.

We opted to play two Damnations in the maindeck to give us a chance against Death and Taxes game 1, but it is also good against RUG Delver, Elves, Merfolk, and Bant. We felt that True-Name Nemesis was going to be a crux of the format, and Damnation is also one of the few ways to answer the slippery Rogue.

RUG Delver

Playing against RUG Delver can be a nightmare and takes quite a bit of practice to determine what the important cards are and when to make your move. RUG is jam packed with disruptive cards like Daze, Stifle, and Spell Pierce, which can all be played around, and knowing when to move in and start jamming your spells can be tricky.

Winning the die roll is a huge bonus since being able to play Chalice of the Void with X=1 before they have a chance to Daze or Spell Pierce it means that we can put a lock on the game as early as turn 1. Realistically, if we are able to land a Chalice of the Void on turn 1 in game 1, they have almost zero chance of winning.

If we aren’t able to land the Chalice or we lose the die roll, then it becomes a back and forth game of playing around their answers and trying to take control of the game before they are able to assemble twenty points of damage. Most RUG Delver decks lack an answer to Ensnaring Bridge or the Thopter Foundry / Sword of the Meek combo game 1, so that is our goal. Transmute Artifact is huge here since there is zero downside to casting the spell because the sacrifice happens upon resolution. Jace, the Mind Sculptor’s -1 ability is very good here at resetting Delver of Secrets and bouncing Tarmogoyfs. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is also very good here since his +1 helps us find our lock and combo pieces; the 5/5 produced by his -1 is very good too since most RUG Delver decks don’t even have an answer for a 5/5.

Post-board the matchup becomes much more interactive, but we are still in good shape since we get more Ensnaring Bridges and Damnations. Most RUG decks have access to one or two Ancient Grudges and possibly a Krosan Grip.

Chalice of the Void on one is still very good post-board, but we don’t have nearly as much time to get the combo into place or kill them after sideboarding since they have some artifact destruction now. Post-board games are all about jamming our spells until one of them sticks since all of them are going to be extremely potent against their strategy.

It is important to note that Baleful Strix is very good against them since we get to draw a card and it can trade with every creature in their deck. It’s possible that our RUG opponent might even board out their Lightning Bolts, which makes Baleful Strix even more reliable as a removal spell.

I played against RUG Delver three times in the tournament and ended up 2-1 overall against the deck. My one loss to it was to Daryl Ayers, who ended up 13-2 and qualified for Pro Tour Valencia but missed Top 8 on breakers. He had exactly one Ancient Grudge and one Krosan Grip in his deck post-board and drew them both.

Here is how I sideboarded against RUG Delver at the GP:

+2 Ensnaring Bridge
+1 Damnation
+1 Meekstone

-1 Sword of the Meek
-1 Phyrexian Revoker
-1 Nihil Spellbomb
-1 Thirst for Knowledge

It might be strange to sideboard out a graveyard-hate card against a deck with Tarmogoyfs and Nimble Mongooses; however, since our plan is to Damnation them away or lock them up with Ensnaring Bridge, we don’t really care if they have a stocked graveyard. Plus, we want to have Chalice of the Void on one against them, which will lock out our Nihil Spellbomb in the late game.

Sneak and Show

Prior to this weekend, BBD and I had long been proponents of Sneak and Show as the best deck in the format. I still think that Sneak and Show is absurd, but if you are willing to play the right cards, you can beat the deck. Ensnaring Bridge is such a good card against Sneak and Show since many lists only play one or two answers to the card in the sideboard and zero answers in the maindeck.

I had a match against Sneak and Show where I was able to resolve a Transmute Artifact and turn a Dimir Signet into an Ensnaring Bridge and my opponent just conceded. Game 1 is all about getting your Ensnaring Bridge into play, so be cautious but aware they can just kill you out of nowhere.

Post-board matches are a bit more dynamic since we can’t just sit on an Ensnaring Bridge forever, but the good news is that most Sneak and Show lists only play one or two answers to an Ensnaring Bridge. Between Thoughtseize, Vendilion Clique, and Force of Will, we should be able to find an Ensnaring Bridge and protect it while we kill them with Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas or the Thopter Foundry / Sword of the Meek combo.

Unfortunately, I only played against Sneak and Show once during the tournament. We had decided to play this deck for a few reasons, and one of the big ones was its favorable Sneak and Show matchup.

Here is how I sideboarded against Sneak and Show:

+2 Thoughtseize
+2 Vendilion Clique
+2 Ensnaring Bridge

-1 Sword of the Meek
-1 Nihil Spellbomb
-1 Ratchet Bomb
-1 Damnation
-2 Chalice of the Void

Chalice of the Void isn’t particularly good here; however, we still want a few in case they are using Chain of Vapor as their answer to Ensnaring Bridge. It also shuts off Spell Pierce, which helps us to resolve an Ensnaring Bridge, and if we have it unimpeded on turn 1, we can shut off their Brainstorms and Ponders.

Death and Taxes

Game 1 can be a little rough versus Death and Taxes since they have Flickerwisp to flicker our Ensnaring Bridge and kill us. Phyrexian Revoker also gives them an answer to the Thopter Foundry / Sword of the Meek combo.

Thankfully, Damnation is very good against them, and with two in our maindeck and an additional copy in the sideboard, we are ready to sweep up a bunch of little white dudes.

We expected there to be a fair amount of Death and Taxes, which led us to play two copies of Dread of Night and a copy of Engineered Plague in the sideboard. Plague serves as a third copy of Dread of Night that is also good against Elves and can be used to kill True-Name Nemesis if needed.

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is very important here for a pretty unique reason. One of the cards that can beat us under an Ensnaring Bridge lock if they can’t find a Flickerwisp is Umezawa’s Jitte. They can put the Jitte on a Mirran Crusader and make it a 1/1 to attack through an Ensnaring Bridge if you have one card in hand. With Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas’ -1 ability, we can turn Umezawa’s Jitte into a 5/5 creature, and since creatures can’t equip other creatures, they can no longer equip the Jitte onto anything.

I played against Death and Taxes twice and went 1-1. I picked up my second loss in round 11 when I mulliganed and kept a one-land hand with Dread of Night and Thoughtseize and died before I got to three mana.

Here is how I sideboarded against Death and Taxes:

+2 Thoughtseize
+2 Dread of Night
+1 Engineered Plague
+1 Damnation
+2 Ensnaring Bridge

-4 Chalice of the Void
-1 Sword of the Meek
-1 Thopter Foundry
-1 Nihil Spellbomb
-1 Force of Will

I cut the Chalice of the Voids here because they really only shut off Aether Vial on the play and Sword to Plowshares, plus I would much rather be able to Thoughtseize a Flickerwisp out of their hand once we get into the mid and late game.

I like cutting one of each of the combo pieces since they will be bringing in Rest in Peace to break it up. We get to bring in a lot of removal with our Damnations, Dread of Nights, and Engineered Plague.

I ended the tournament at 11-3-1 after drawing with child-friend Justin Uppal in the last round when we shouldn’t have, which was good enough to put us both into the Top 64. We were both under the impression that we weren’t a lock for Top 64 with a loss and would likely miss Top 16 with a win so we drew, which was totally wrong. We were indeed a lock for Top 64 with a loss and would have at least placed in the Top 32 with a win and should have just played it out.

That’s what I get for listening to little kids. HMPH!

I loved the deck and would run it back next week if I were going to the SCG Open Series in Providence. I was pretty unhappy with the Cursed Totem in the sideboard and the Ratchet Bomb in the maindeck and would probably swap those out for sure. I would have liked another Phyrexian Revoker in the sideboard and either the fourth Underground Sea or third Thirst for Knowledge. Cursed Totem just isn’t needed against Elves since we have Engineered Plague, Grafdigger’s Cage, Chalice of the Void, and lots of Damnations, and the Ratchet Bomb was pretty bad all day.

I highly recommend this deck for anyone who is looking for something different to play in Legacy!

I had multiple people this weekend tell me they were surprised that I actually played the Tezzeret deck after recommending it last week in my article since they believed most writers would use things like that as a means of misdirection. That is definitely not me; if I tell everyone that a deck is good or that I would recommend it for a particular tournament, that means I’m usually considering it for the same event. I write because I love to talk about Magic and the awesome things that I get to experience from it.

This weekend I will be working at the SCG Classic Series in Virginia Beach buying cards for StarCityGames.com, so make sure you come sell me all your cards!

<3 CVM

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