Legacy Deck Tech: Ooze on a RUG - A Conversation with Reed Hartman

Posted in Event Coverage on August 6, 2011

By Marc Calderaro

During Round 6, among the undefeated decks, you can find many archetypes. Most numerous are StoneBlade (or as BDM wishes it were called, "StandardStill" – you see, because it's all cards that are still in Standard and…you know what, nevermind), but right up there with the fightin' Squires are different RUG variants. One such player is Reed Hartman from Dekalb, Illinois. He's playing a tweaked version of NO RUG (that's Red, Blue and Green with Natural Order to search up Progenitus), and he's been running hot. I mean, I guess that's obvious since he's sitting at the undefeated tables after Round 6 of a nine-round tournament. But it's seems like it's all coming easily to him.

His changes to the Standard lists have been slight in number, but dramatic in effect. He cut Ponder for Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Seems like a reasonable change. He went to three Force of Will in the main (though kept the fourth in the side for match-ups like Hive Mind), and he added a card I don't know if I've seen yet. From the new Legacy-legal Commander set, he added one Scavenging Ooze. Hartman said, "It's like a Tarmogoyf. And against Tarmogoyf, it's simply a better Tarmogoyf…It's the real deal." And Hartman's deck was already prepared for the Future Sight green monster anyway. With cards like Fire//Ice and Lightning Bolt, his decks eats Mr. Undercosted for Full English Breakfast. He said the deck doesn't need more than one, because the card doesn't stack well in multiples, as there are only so many creatures in graveyards. But it consistently been a game-changer.

In the sideboard, he went up to three Ancient Grudge at the expense of Trygon Predator. "It was too slow and didn't do enough," he said. "And I love Surgical Extraction…I used it on a Polluted Delta not too long ago." He said the lack of card advantage in the Black Phyrexian spell is fine because, "RUG rarely wins through raw card advantage anyway."

Reed Hartman

He made all these tweaks because in the latest Legacy tournament in Pittsburgh, there were no RUG decks even in the Top 16. He knew that he would have to make some changes if it were to stay competitive. But luckily he had a good handle on what the deck would need because he plays the format constantly.

And why Legacy? Well, because it's the best of course.

"People say it's not as skill intensive as Standard – that there are decks that just win and just lose. But that's not true." Hartman continued that although those decks exist, there's plenty to be found within the win-lose spectrum, and since there are so many different decks you can play, the skill comes from knowing how to react and how to use cards differently that you might usually.

"The first few rounds of any Legacy tournament is a jungle. And getting out of that jungle is difficult. Literally any card can be thrown at you." And he's right. Unlike Standard, where sideboard cards are applied for a specific 75 cards you're competing against, sideboarding in Legacy has to be broader, so you can traverse the jungle. I think the best card for traversing jungles is Trusty Machete, but that's just me.

Hartman loves the health of the format, and even the presence of the Mental Misstep elephant. "It narrows down the field to the more honed decks," he said. Which is a funny thing considering I can rattle off about 25 decks that can win a tournament. But I agree, because that number "25" is lower than "just about infinite".

He continued, "Right now the format is less about diversity and more about innovation." I don't know if I'd go that far, Legacy is still a ways away in style from Standard, but it has certainly become more standardized recently, in more ways than one. Mental Misstep has narrowed the field for sure, but also the strong presence of good creatures and Planeswalkers show Legacy decks playing with more and more Standard-legal cards.

But don't worry, Hartman has shown us that with the release of Commander, there will still be new cards available that will never be played in a Standard decklist. Just wait, I'm sure there's a deck with The Mimeoplasm just waiting around the bend.

Ok, maybe not, but a man can dream, right?

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