Saturday 5:45 - Playing "Fair"

Posted in NEWS on November 2, 2013

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

Legacy is synonymous with big plays and overpowered cards. I mean, one of the biggest decks coming into this weekend is a deck capable of paying three mana to put a 15/15 creature with protection from more or less everything. Yet despite the obvious power in this format, the most-played decks in this format are centered around creatures. Decks like the various Delver decks, Jund, Shardless BUG...they all seem to want to play...well...fair.

"I mean, I wouldn't call this deck fair," Ari Lax said about his Death and Taxes deck. Based around an army of white creatures that all have some sort of ability that is detrimental to opponents, Lax's deck is a perfect foil for the various powerful combo decks in Legacy. Between Ethersworn Canonist and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, it's very difficult for decks like Storm and High Tide to get any traction. Mangara of Corondor and Fiend Hunter are great answers to Sneak and Show decks. Phyrexian Revoker is ideal against the myriad of Planeswalkers throwing their clout around, as well.

Ari Lax

"It's just not fair," Lax laughed. "You just make your opponent not play Magic, then you somehow kill them. They just sit there and say, "Man, none of my cards did anything." And you get to ask them why they didn't build their decks better. I mean, I'm playing creatures with powers and toughness."

Creatures with power and toughness less than three, even! The smallest creatures seem to go in Legacy is the 3/2 Insectile Aberration, so seing Lax doing so well (he's 7-0) with a deck filled with two-powered creatures is such a wakeup call. Yet despite the fact that he's just playing stupid little creatures and attacking with them, he contends that his deck isn't playing fair.

"Your game plan is to get a Sphere of Resistance into play and then just destroy their lands with Wasteland and Mangara," he explained. "The difference is that your Sphere of Resistance gets to attack them. You want to negate your opponent's strategy, but not like a control deck does, where you are looking to have all of the right answers. Here, you want to have all of the right threats to make their cards effectively do nothing. That's why it's not fair. They don't get to play Magic."

Another player "playing fair" this weekend is Pro Tour champion Osyp Lebedowicz. His deck of choice for the Legacy Championship was a strictly UR version of Delver. Unlike most versions of the deck, which tend to dip into three colors, Lebedowicz's version of the deck is less vulnerable to two of the most powerful disruptive spells in the format: Wasteland and Blood Moon.

"Being able to fetch out a first-turn basic Island is so good in many of the matchups here," Lebedowicz said. "Especially against the other Delver decks, having Stifle up and not being vulnerable to Wasteland makes a big difference."

Osyp Lebedowicz

Perhaps the coolest aspect that separates this version of Delver is the addition of Young Pyromancer.

"Pyromancer has been a very good card," he told me. "It's basically taking the place of Tarmogoyf in this deck. Against the decks that are trying to play fair, like other Delver decks or BUG, it can just kill them in three turns if they don't deal with it. Against the unfair decks like Sneak and Show, Tarmogoyf isn't going to get any bigger than two-power anyway, so the Pyromancer actually packs more punch. Being able to cast it with Force of Will and Daze in hand, getting you four power on the second turn, is so powerful."

Lebedowicz also tested out the newest addition to Legacy: True-Name Nemesis. It has been quite a divisive topic thus far this weekend, as it seems just a touch too slow in many matchups to really shine. It has been taking the place of two-drops for much of the weekend, which has led to more than one lost match. As Hall-of-Famer Randy Buehler said during his commentary, "If you aren't impacting the board on turn two, it's really hard to win in Legacy."

"One of the biggest reasons I wanted to play this deck here was that Chris Pikula wanted me to test out True-Name Nemesis before Grand Prix DC," Lebedowicz laughed. "So far it's actually been pretty good. Again, it's really good against the fair decks, where they have to have an answer soon or it just kills them. It's a bit worse against the combo decks, but it isn't completely useless. If nothing else, you can always pitch it to Force of Will."