Decks of tournaments past: BitterStalker

Bitterblossom banner

In the fall of 2010, I was already knee-deep in Legacy and playing mostly Canadian Threshold (later: RUG Delver). This was before the printing of Delver of Secrets himself, meaning that the blue-based tempo decks at the time actually had to go to their splash colours to find creatures to play. Meanwhile, Standard was being dominated by blue-white control decks featuring Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic, but this was before New Phyrexia – meaning Batterskull was still almost a year away, meaning Stoneforge Mystic had yet to make a splash in Legacy. I had a playset of her and played a couple in a deck that was at the time known as UW Tempo, where she was more or less just extra copies of Umezawa’s Jitte. However, the previous Standard season had been dominated by Faeries, specifically blue-black Faeries, and many Legacy pilots tried to port the deck to Legacy. One of the takes was Blue-Black-Red Faeries, nicknamed “BitterStalker” after its primary threats – Bitterblossom and Tombstalker. In fact, the only faeries the deck played was Spellstutter Sprite and Vendilion Clique, and Bitterblossom if you count non-creatures with the creature type.

Here’s my take on the list: Link to the list on

BitterStalker, fall of 2010

4 Polluted Deltabitterblossom.hq
3 Scalding Tarn
3 Underground Sea
3 Volcanic Island
1 Badlands
4 Wasteland
1 Island
1 Swamp

4 Spellstutter Sprite
2 Vendilion Clique
3 Tombstalker
3 Bitterblossom

4 Brainstorm
3 Ponder
4 Stifle
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Firespout
1 Smother
1 Terminate

3 Spell Pierce
3 Submerge
3 Pyroblast
1 Perish
1 Firespout
2 Extirpate
1 Ravenous Trap
1 Tormod’s Crypt

vengevine.hqSeveral things are very archaic when you look at the list. First of all, one needs to consider a few things about Legacy at the time, fall of 2010. First of all, Zoo was a very popular deck, and aside Tarmogoyf and Knight of the Reliquary, the entire deck died to Firespout, which is why I chose to play three in my 75, two of them in the main deck (!). Secondly, Rise of the Eldrazi had come out the spring before, and with Vengevine in the format, Survival of the Fittest decks were everywhere. The straight UG Survival was easily the best deck in the format (with a rather disgusting win rate against an open metagame), but it lost against GW and Bant Survival more often than not, and since those decks had a number of positive match-ups in an open field as well, those were common choices too. Thus, I chose to play no less than four graveyard hate cards in the sideboard, along with Submerge, Perish and a spare copy of Firespout – all effective at dealing with green creatures, all coincidentally killing Vengevine as well. Also consider that this was before New Phyrexia, so Surgical Extraction didn’t exist yet, unfortunately.

Otherwise the list is a fairly standard tempo deck, what I liked most about it was that I got to play Terminate in Legacy, plus Bitterblossom doesn’t require any mana investment after the initial two, meaning one can keep up mana for reactive spells very easily. The fact that Tombstalker is huge, shrinks Tarmogoyf, and has evasion, made him a premier threat in the format at the time, and the rest of the creatures had flash! What’s not to like?

So, how did I do with the deck? Well, not great. I played it in a couple of tournaments that fall, actually never making a Top 8 with it. In hindsight, playing only three Ponder is a blatant mistake, something I tended to do at the time. The mana-base of the deck is quite horrid too, playing basic lands over more fetchlands to power out earlier Tombstalkers seems just wrong and quite paranoid. I remember I had loads of fun with the deck, however, and maybe that’s what really counts?

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  1. The best of times | Goyf Wars

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