Monday, November 19, 2012

Homebrew vs Legacy

This past Sunday I went to my first actual competitive Legacy event, and I brought my cheap ass homebrew deck. Honestly, the entire deck cost less than a pair of dual lands. I went in expecting to get stomped and was pleasantly surprised with the results. Thirteen people showed up that night; I came out in sixth place. Arguably, I should have had fifth or higher, but I will get to that in a few minutes. First, this is the actual decklist I ran:
Dechs Mono-Black Clerics
2 Cavern of Souls
16 Swamp
2 Cabal Pit
4 Cabal Archon
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Rotlung Reanimator
3 Shepherd of Rot
4 Priest of Gix
4 Skirsdag High Priest
4 Dark Ritual
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Hymn to Tourach
3 Graveborn Muse
2 Umezawa's Jitte
SB: 3 Leyline of the Void
SB: 4 Surgical Extraction
SB: 4 Pithing Needle
SB: 4 Unearth
You will see a lot of synergies here, but the basic plan is to turn sideways enough to bring the opponent into range of an Archon kill. I have the Skirsdag High Priest to create flying creatures if that becomes relevant, but honestly he is often just a sacrificial creature. Rotlungs enable overrun with a bunch of smaller tokens too. "Turn sideways" also includes the ability on Shepherd of Rot, with the Jitte and Archon to keep me ahead of the death clock. I've received criticism that the deck has too many win conditions, but I think that's what I like about it the most. The idea is that I should not get hosed by any one deck out there.

My first opponent was a Forgemaster combo deck. I won the first game almost entirely to the merits of Hymn to Tourach. I used a turn one Inquisition, turn two and three Hymns. I wasn't really sure what to sideboard, so I just didn't. Game two became a long stalemate with a lot of draw-go. I had attacked with one of my demon tokens, and he responded with Forgemaster to get a Platinum Emperion. He attacked with that once, chump blocked and created a second demon. A few turns later, he fetched Silent Arbiter so I couldn't double block, but I was still creating tokens faster than he could kill them. His third fetch was for a Blightsteel Colossus to kill, at which point I scooped. For the third game, I pulled in my Pithing Needles, but it didn't matter. I had to mulligan down to a five card hand and was still without a Pithing Needle. I wiffed with my turn one Cabal Therapy (naming Forgemaster). He played an Ancient Tomb and Monolith. Turn two I had nothing to do and he followed up with City of Traitors and a Chalice of the Void for three. Well, there goes a third of my deck unless I draw a Cavern of Souls. I did not, and he followed with a Chalice for two, at which point I just gave up.

The second opponent I played was a Dredge deck. I had a very strong start on the play with a Ritual into Gix, Jitte, and Inquisition. I chose a Putrid Imp to be discarded, and from then the Jitte did not let any Narcomoebas survive. I put all the graveyard hate in for the second game. Out of the seven, I only drew two Surgical Extractions, but it was all I needed. The first one hit Life from the Loam and the second hit a Golgari Grave-Troll. He could not find any more dredge cards and I took another easy win.

Match three was against something I had not seen online before. My opponent built a red/white/black deck to combo around Blood Artist. Faithless Looting, Bloodghast, Lingering Souls, and three full sets of dual lands, plus the fetches to get them. The first game could have gone either way until he sealed his fate with a misplay. I had one Skirsdag High Priest and one Rotlung in play from the previous turn; he had two spirit tokens, a Bloodghast, and a Blood Artist. I attacked with the Rotlung hoping for a double block. It would give him three total Blood Artist triggers, but it would activate morbid, give me an untapped token and I could play the other Rotlung in my hand and make a big demon token, too. He let the Rotlung through, so I just played my second and passed the turn. On his turn he attacked with the Bloodghast. Of course, I blocked, got two untapped tokens, then made my demon token. Yes, it gave him his two triggers, but he was too far behind by then. For the second game, I was on the draw and decided to keep a hand with one land and two Dark Rituals. I made my second land drop, but nothing else. Between Tidehollow Sculler and a follow up Cabal Therapy, I had nothing I could do. I won the third game after I boarded in my graveyard hate again. Turn one was my Inquisition, choosing Tidehollow Sculler. He played Faithless Looting on his first turn and discarded one Lingering Souls. I used two Surgical Extractions on the Looting and the Souls and it was the best four life I've ever spent. Turn two I played a Dark Ritual, Priest of Gix, Jitte, and equipped it. The game snowballed from there and was over quickly.

My final match was played against Combo Elves. In the first game, I pulled Glimpse of Nature with an Inquisition, but he was able to bounce two Elvish Visionaries incredibly often. I tried to get some counters for Jitte to cull the herd, but that Wirewood Symbiote lets him block without getting the damage. He eventually played a Mirror Entity and then Crop Rotation for Gaea's Cradle. Lethal attack with a bunch of 11/11 creatures. The second game was very interesting. He dropped a turn two Elephant Grass, which I think hurt him. Rather than using his mana to combo off, he had to pay the cumulative upkeep. I had a Graveborn Muse turn two and a Shepherd of Rot by turn three, cranking the Shepherd every turn. When I sacrificed the Muse to Cabal Therapy (naming nothing relevant, his hand was empty) I was down to four life while he was still at ten, building an army of elves. I still had the one Shepherd, one Priest of Gix, two Rotlungs and an Archon, but only two free mana. He saw that as an opportunity to attack and threw all seven elves at me, but he had not noticed that the Archon could sacrifice any cleric. I tapped the Shepherd, bringing me down to one life and he gave me the oddest look. Then I sacrificed that and the Gix to my Archon, creating four more blockers and bringing my life up to five and his down to three. I took two damage from the attack and did not even risk blocking with the Archon. Next turn I won by sacrificing my remaining Rotlung and Archon. I would call what he did a misplay, but he had to win that turn or I was still able to siphon all his life once I untapped next turn anyway. Game three never actually ended because we ran out of time, but it really would have been my win. He said as much himself, but we were already on the "last five turns" by then. I had named Wirewood Symbiote with Pithing Needle and swung with a Jitte equipped Muse. He triple blocked with the Symbiotes and I killed off his two mana dorks with the counters. It was a dismally empty board that we finished with. He ended up in fifth place and I should have beat him.

So, what did I learn from all this?

First and foremost: I need to sideboard better. Had I thought to bring in Pithing Needle sooner, the Forgemaster match could have been mine.

Second: I learned not to keep a one land hand, even if it has two Dark Rituals. For real this time. Even if I am on the draw. Seriously, this is the absolute last time I will ever make this mistake.

Third: Never underestimate super secret tech. There were two serious misplays made by my opponents, one that cost him the game, and all because the cards I played were uncommon in the tournament scene.

Fourth: Card advantage is huge. I mean, I knew that before, but this event really impressed that on me. The games I did win almost always came on the back of a Graveborn Muse and some discard.

Finally, I learned that Legacy is a ton of fun, even if you only have $150 to throw down on a deck.

As always, thanks for reading,

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