My testing process after the ban of Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe for the legacy portion of Pro Tour 25th Anniversary was amazing. I never really played many Deathrite Shaman decks, so the ban seemed to improve my position.
The only downside was that my favorite deck in legacy was Turbo Depths. In the past few years I have done well with Turbo Depths with a 12-2-1 record in Grand Prix Las Vegas 2017 and a 11-4 record in Grand Prix Seattle this year. The huge problem with these bans for Turbo Depths was that Death & Taxes became one of the best three decks in the format. Turbo Depths has a horrible matchup against Death and Taxes. After 2-3’ing and 3-2’ing a few leagues with Turbo Depths I had to set the mysterious Marit Lage deck down and move onto new things! For reference if you want to try an updated Turbo Depths list here is a list I would go with.
3 Abrupt Decay
1 Krosan Grip
2 Rite of Consumption
2 Sphere of Resistance
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Sylvan Library
2 Thorn of Amethyst
My next step was to test one of my other favorite decks: Jeskai Miracles. I really enjoy the way Miracles plays out and Monastery Mentor is one of the most broken cards to ever be printed. With the rise of Eldrazi Aggro and Temur Delver I felt that you could capitalize on a deck with lots of basic lands to be able to play Back to Basics.
Back to Basics overperformed by a large margin and was almost an auto win against most matchups. I did not like how weak the deck was to Chalice of the Void and against decks like Grixis Control that also play a decent amount of basics and a variety of 2 for 1’s. Here is the list I tested up until the PT which I did have a lot of success with:
1 Arid Mesa
2 Back to Basics
1 Council's Judgment
4 Flooded Strand
4 Force of Will
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
3 Monastery Mentor
3 Polluted Delta
3 Snapcaster Mage
4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Volcanic Island
The format was shaping up to be what I perceived as a Chalice of the Void metagame. What I mean by this is that so many decks just fold to turn one Chalice of the Void for one.
I started to try all the Chalice of the Void decks and even dabbled in brewing up my own trying to abuse Sai, Master Thopterist and The Antiquities War. I felt Sai had the potential to be just as broken as Monastery Mentor. Sai allows you to go very wide versus control decks and in addition, lines up very well versus Delver and Death and Taxes. The various versions of these Chalice-based blue decks felt great but they also fell apart quite quickly. Sideboard games become a huge struggle and cards like Pyroblast and Wear/Tear were hard to play around unless I drew a Karn, Scion of Urza or a Force of Will. The rest of the team tried it (and in fact, Rob Pisano wrote an article about this precise deck (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/9017/the-antiquities-war-in-legacy).
We were having a lot of success against Delver, Death and Taxes, but were experiencing problems against combo decks like Reanimator and Sneak and Show. If we had more time to fix the glaring holes we might have had an awesome brew for the Pro Tour. If you’re looking to try out something cool and unique, I would 100% give this deck run at your local Legacy tournaments or on Magic Online.
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Chalice of the Void
3 City of Traitors
4 Force of Will
4 Jeweled Amulet
4 Karn, Scion of Urza
3 Metallic Rebuke
2 Mishra's Bauble
4 Mox Opal
3 Sai, Master Thopterist
4 Seat of the Synod
4 The Antiquities War
4 Urza's Bauble
The next Chalice of the Void deck I tested and ended up running at the Pro Tour was Steel Stompy. This is a deck that is mostly trying to deny your opponent by taxing their resources with cards like Thorn of Amethyst and Lodestone Golem. Along with Chalice of the Void and Wastelands you can get most Legacy decks under a lock pretty quickly. The other reason why I was drawn to this deck is that it had multiple great turn one plays. Steel Overseer against decks like Death and Taxes or Delver is almost a game over card if they let the little robot stick around. The Overseer creates so much value so quickly that its ability can spiral games out of control by giving Walking Ballista or Ravager free counters. Of course the other great turn one plays are Chalice of the Void for one and Thorn of Amethyst. I was winning so many games in testing by my opponents keeping a land light hand because of cards like Brainstorm or Ponder and never getting to cast those spells and winning very easily. We found out pretty early on in testing that Lotus Petal was just a way better Mox Opal. It is very hard to turn on Metacraft and it was mainly great to cast two spells on turn 2 or power out an early Lodestone Golem. I honestly feel like the only truly bad matchup Steel Stompy has is Lands. Reanimator and Sneak and Show can be very close match ups but with 4 Phyrexian Revokers main deck you have a lot of game against these decks and more often than not a turn one Chalice is usually game over game one.
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Chalice of the Void
4 City of Traitors
2 Darksteel Citadel
2 Ghost Quarter
1 Hangarback Walker
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
4 Lodestone Golem
4 Lotus Petal
4 Mishra's Factory
2 Mox Opal
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Steel Overseer
4 Thorn of Amethyst
3 Vault Skirge
4 Walking Ballista
3 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Faerie Macabre
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
1 Umezawa's Jitte
2 Warping Wail
Since the Legacy format is such a swingy format I was pretty pleased with playing cards like Chalice of the Void and Thorn of Amethyst. I know Grixis Control was the most played deck at the Pro Tour and my match up against that deck was so good. Let’s go through some of the most played decks and go through a sideboard guide to see how Steel Stompy (Affinity is what Pro Tour coverage labeled our deck as) shaped up against the field. My other teammates that played and tested with myself that ended up on the deck were Chris Pikula and Matt Linde.
Grixis Control: I would say this is a pretty decent match up. I played against multiple Grixis opponents at the Pro Tour and by far they were one of my easiest matchups throughout the tournament. We do not have a lot of horrible cards against them. The Vault Skirges and Phyrexian Revokers are by far the worst cards to have. We still want to keep some amount of Revokers in to deal with cards like Engineered Explosives or Liliana, the Last Hope. We are extremely weak to True-Name Nemesis but hopefully with our disruption they will be to far behind to cast this slippery merfolk.
Sneak and Show: This match can be quite dicey. An early Show & Tell can be game over pretty quickly but if that does not happen, you have a ton of game to somewhat lock them out. I have won quite a few games where my opponent had both Griselbrand and Emrakul in play post board. Phyrexian Revokers alongside an Ensnaring Bridge or a Karakas can usually lock them out quite easily. Just be careful for multiple Abrades or Echoing Truth, I really love that you can sacrifice your Ensnaring Bridge in response to an Echoing Truth.
Eldrazi Stompy: In testing we had mixed results on this matchup. I believe we are pretty favored especially post board. In the dark your Eldrazi opponent is more than likely going to lead on a Chalice for 1 game one. Eldrazi Stompy is usually 100% cold to a Ensnaring Bridge + a Sorcerous Spyglass naming Ratchet Bomb in post board games. They are also extremely weak to Steel Overseer, which left uncontested will just win the game by itself. The sideboard is pretty straightforward here: Chalice of the Void and Thorn are extremely bad (considering they often run Chalice themselves).
+3 Ensnaring Bridge +2 Sorcerous Spyglass +1 Umezawa’s Jitte +1 Karn, Scion of Urza +1 Warping Wail
-4 Chalice of the Void -4 Thorn of the Amethyst
Death and Taxes: This is a nailbiter of a match up. I would say this is more of a 50/50 match up. Your best way to attack D&T is to overload them with a Steel Overseer which hopefully can live for a few turns. If that plan fails, you also have Walking Ballista which is a great card against them but can easily be shut down by Phyrexian Revokers. Most of the match ups were all close and at the Pro Tour I went 1-1 against D&T losing a close game three and also winning a close game three as well. Things to watch out for are Flickerwisp on your Chalice of the Void resetting it to zero and Aether Vial activations on two, you want to make sure you use your Steel Overseers ability or Walking Ballista before the Aether Vial ability resolves just incase they put a Phyrexian Revoker into play to stop those activations.
+2 Sorcerous Spyglass +2 Warping Wail +1 Umezawa’s Jitte
-4 Thorn of Amethyst -1 Karn, Scion of Urza
I had a great time testing for the Pro Tour and it was quite a unique experience getting to play Legacy at such a high level. My Massdrop teammates were great and I can’t express how lucky I was to get to play alongside Timothy Wu and Tommy Ashton. I hope going forward if Wizards of the Coast will do more team tournaments like this, that they make it a unified format. It would be a blast to play and test for.
If any of you have any recommendations about any of the decks I posted I would love to hear your feedback.
· Meet the Massdrop Teams: http://dro.ps/mtg-team-announce
· *2nd* at Pro Tour Ixalan: http://dro.ps/ixalan
· Unclaimed Creature Types: http://dro.ps/ari-creatures
· Why I Never Drop From Tournaments: http://dro.ps/eric-nevergiveup
· The Art of Sideboard Construction - Sultai Energy: http://dro.ps/jon-sideboard
· A Commoner’s View on Pauper: http://dro.ps/mark-pauper
· Blue Moon Beach Control: http://dro.ps/scott-bluemoon
· Top 5 Modern Decks: http://dro.ps/pascal-modern
· Storm in Vintage Cube: http://dro.ps/ben-storm
· An Early Look at Rivals for Standard: http://dro.ps/shaun-rivals
· A Standard Approach to Evaluating New Cards: http://dro.ps/rob-newcards
· Drafting Rivals of Ixalan: http://dro.ps/tim-ixalan
· Team Sealed Secrets: http://dro.ps/eric-secrets
· Steal My Standard Ideas: http://dro.ps/tommy-secrets
· Vexing Devil. Any Questions?: http://dro.ps/jon-devil
· Team Massdrop Rivals of Ixalan Limited Primer: http://dro.ps/ari-primer
· Gestation of RG Eldrazi: http://dro.ps/ben-gestation
· Top Tim Tournament Training Tips: http://dro.ps/tim-tips
· What Makes Someone Bogle?: http://dro.ps/tommy-bogle
· A Pauper Adventure: http://dro.ps/pascal-pauper
· Blue Moon at GP Phoenix: http://dro.ps/rob-bluemoon
· Brawling into Dominaria: http://dro.ps/scott-brawling
· Looking at The Current Lands(cape) of Legacy http://dro.ps/jarvis-land
· Deconstructing Dominaria Limited: http://dro.ps/jon-dominaria
· Diving into Dominaria Standard: http://dro.ps/mark-dominaria
· What are your.. drives?: http://dro.ps/tommy-drives
· Top 10 Cards for Dominaria Modern: http://dro.ps/rob-dominaria
· Brewing Standard with Dominaria: http://dro.ps/pascal-dominaria
· Dominaria Team Sealed: A Case Study: http://dro.ps/tim-dominaria
· Battlebonding in Vintage and Legacy: http://dro.ps/jarvis-battlebond
· Decks I Almost Played at PT Dominaria: http://dro.ps/ben-dominaria
· RB Chainwhirler for the Non-Aggressive Player: http://dro.ps/jon-chainwhirler
· Top 4 at GP Vegas: http://dro.ps/mark-top4vegas
· Return to Core Set Limited: http://dro.ps/eric-core
· Drafting Rares with Core Set 2019: http://dro.ps/ari-core
· Tuning Jeskai Control in Modern: http://dro.ps/shaun-jeskai
· Secrets of Sealed - http://dro.ps/eric-sealed
· A Spike's 1v1 Commander Notes, Parentheticals, and Asides - http://dro.ps/tommy-spikes
· Gang Green - http://dro.ps/tim-ganggreen