Welcome to What We’d Play! With SCG Syracuse this weekend, many are unsure what they’d play in such a high-profile tournament. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this last-minute advice aids in your decision making! Be sure to vote for who you agree with in the poll at the end!
Tom Ross – Grixis Phoenix
Tommy Ashton went on a tear with Grixis Phoenix in the last Star City Games Team Constructed Open in Baltimore. Magic Online user MA7X has further refined the archetype and has a Legacy Challenge Top 8 to show for it. The goal here it to use Dark Ritual the “fair” way, which is to simply attack for nine as early as Turn 1.
Outside of the staple cards of Buried Alive and Arclight Phoenix, your deck is full of cheap cards, so Dark Confidant is rather appealing. It looks like the deck wants a delve creature, but that comes with a hefty risk with Dark Confidant flips. Grixis Phoenix looks like a blast to play and is a deck I’ve been wanting to give a try for a while.
Shaheen Soorani – Grixis Control
When it’s time to Legacy, it’s time to control. Many of you may accuse me of always choosing to control, and you would be right; however, Legacy gives us the power to Brainstorm. Don’t trust magicians that suggest decks without Brainstorm, because they clearly haven’t felt the immense power that resonates from one of the best draw spells of all time. This is the Brainstorm deck that has the most consistency in the format, giving control enthusiasts access to busted planeswalkers, devastating hand disruption, and a quick clock in the form of Gurmag Angler.
Legacy can be a very metagame-dependent format, but luckily the cards that are strong against combo apply to most archetypes in the deck genre. This rule applies to the aggro decks as well, as we Fatal Push, Lightning Bolt, and Diabolic Edict our way out of a jam in Game 1. The sideboard provides answers that are more specialized, yet still have applications across the vast Legacy metagame. All the spells in Grixis Control are fantastic, unlike my former obsession Esper StoneBlade. There’s no shortage of value here, assisted by Baleful Strix and Kolaghan’s Command.
Of all the decks of Legacy, Grixis Control brings a balance that rewards tight play with victory.
Todd Anderson – Grixis Phoenix
Legacy is a robust format full of tried and true archetypes. So what makes me want to play this deck? The sheer simplicity of Buried Alive combined with Arclight Phoenix is elegant, yet powerful. The disruption package is potent against combo strategies, giving you a way to pressure their hand while also applying pressure to their life total.
You’re more resilient to spot removal when you play Arclight Phoenix, though a bit more susceptible to graveyard hate than a normal Delver-style deck. However, with the majority of graveyard interaction being Surgical Extraction, you can often make them discard their interaction before going for it. But even when you start getting hit by Surgical Extraction, your Plan B is stout. Dark Confidant can run away with games, giving you plenty of fuel for Young Pyromancer to do the work. And if you’re playing against control of any sort, a Dark Confidant that sticks will push you insanely far ahead.
Previous iterations of this deck have used Tombstalker as a go-to threat, but I think the synergy with Dark Confidant is too powerful, as well as not needing the graveyard to run away with the game. With that said, we don’t have a ton of spot removal, so Dark Confidant could be a liability against an opposing Delver deck, but Arclight Phoenix can play defense quite well.
My gut tells me that this archetype still has a lot of exploration left. I’ve tried versions with Unmask and Entomb, and I wouldn’t mind going a bit harder on the fair gameplan featuring Lightning Bolt and other removal. It’s just hard to do that when you start filling your deck with the likes of Buried Alive and Dark Ritual!
Abraham Stein – Dimir Death’s Shadow
As we head into SCG Syracuse and my semi-annual foray back into Legacy to play with Daze, Wasteland, and Delver of Secrets, I’ve put my trust in the hands of the ever-capable Liz Lynn. Liz is a longtime friend of mine and her knowledge of Legacy is not something to scoff at, so when she sent me a list on Monday to mess with and make my own, I happily scrapped this together.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is something I still can’t quite get behind, so I’ve opted to replace them with Baleful Strix, which Liz has been really impressed by. The list I started with had no Dazes but I’m not the kind of person who can just let go of love so easily, so I’ve worked them back in as a plan for resolving your threats that matter most and fighting against unfair things like Blood Moon and Chalice of the Void.
Speaking of Blood Moon, this list is packing two basic lands – a feat unheard of in Legacy Tempo decks prior to this one. It’s possible that playing the additional basic means the deck should be playing more cards up the curve, but it’s hard to find the cards to cut, as the list is air-tight. Of course, if you do the responsible thing and start playing with the numbers of Dazes, Wastelands, and Reanimates, you can find room for more maindeck planeswalkers and the like, but with the way I like to play, this list is perfect.
Hopefully choosing not to register Delver of Secrets for the first time in years doesn’t come back to bite me, but I trust the experts. Dimir Death’s Shadow got it done in Baltimore. I’m counting on it getting it done in Syracuse as well.
Ari Lax – Grixis Phoenix
I’ve just told people to play Storm before. Then Tommy Ashton told me Grixis Phoenix is just less all-in Storm and I realized this deck is just the future.
There are very few decks the Arclight Phoenix endgame is worse against than Tendrils of Agony. Against fair blue decks, it seems like there’s no contest whether you want to commit one Buried Alive to comboing off or a bunch of fast mana. The same applies against Force of Will combo like Sneak and Show, where a multiple discard spell hand that stops their kill just needs one Buried Alive to go off and not more physical cardboard. Against all-in combo decks, you’re either still winning with discard spells breaking apart their Goblin Charbelcher kill or they have discard too, and having a win condition that works off fewer cards in hand is great. Against Chalice of the Void and other anti-spell lock decks, Arclight Phoenix is obviously better, as it actually still functions.
The main matchup where I would rather be playing traditional Storm is against anti-creature lock decks like Lands. The other matchup that concerns me relative to Storm is Elves, but sideboarding more creature kill to go with your fast clock is easy enough. The latest Eric Landon list from Magic Online has Izzet Staticaster and Forked Bolt.
So, unless your opponent owns a copy of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale and wants to actually play with it for fifteen rounds or is a maniac with Argothian Enchantress, Grixis Phoenix is just like playing Tendrils of Agony but better and easier.
Cedric Phillips – Golgari Depths
As cool as these Grixis Phoenix decks are and as much as I love Tommy Ashton, it’s very hard to pass up on making a 20/20 as fast as possible. Yes, there are ways to beat Marit Lage, but they’re few and far between. Further, with discard as protection and the ability shove as quickly as Turn 2, there’s just a lot to like about this deck (especially given my colleagues’ suggestions).
I will say that I think you have to play four copies of Surgical Extraction in Syracuse solely because I believe the popularity of Grixis Phoenix will be through the roof and you don’t care about the other aspects of the deck. Young Pyromancer and Dark Confidant may be powerful cards, but Marit Lage doesn’t care about either as it comes screaming across the red zone for the win.
Golgari Depths isn’t as flashy as Grixis Phoenix or Dimir Death’s Shadow, but I’ve never really been one to care about such things. I’m a much bigger fan of simply killing the opponent and moving on with my life – something this deck does incredibly well.