The woes of tiny metagames

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Playing in small Legacy communities is always a fun and exciting experience. This stems from the fact that everything you need to know and need to do to prepare for a big Legacy event, and everything you though you knew about your deck, your sideboard plans against most common match-ups, everything all those hours spent running through the gauntlet – it all goes out the window. I spent sunday afternoon playing in a tiny Legacy tournament, just 8 people strong, and what usually happens in these tiny groups is that people are more likely to bring pet decks and rogue builds. Here’s the metagame breakdown for the eight players in today’s tournament:

2 Elves
1 UR Delver (Bob Huang’s list)
1 BW Blade / Deadguy Ale
1 Dredge
1 Enchantress
1 Aluren
1 Team America (me)

My build of Team America for the day was a more tempo-shell than usual, no Hymn to Tourachs, no Thoughtseizes, only 19 lands, and Stifle in the maindeck. The list is very unfinished, but it did rather well. I’m having some issues with the manabase, but once that’s ironed out, the deck is good to go.

elephantgrass.hqRound 1 – Enchantress: I won the roll and got going early with two 5/6 Tarmogoyf. He dropped an Elephant Grass which stunted me for a couple of turns, since I couldn’t both cast cantrips to power up my Treasure Cruise and swing with both creatures. It was a short-lived nuisance, however, and my Tarmogoyfs quickly won.

I boarded out Stifle and boarded in more cards that could interact with his enchantments – Krosan Grip, Maelstrom Pulse, Thoughtseize etc. In the second game, he is on the play and keeps a greedy one-lander with only a Utopia Sprawl as another mana source. Despite casting a turn two Argothian Enchantress and drawing a few cards off of her, he never saw a second land. I eventually force him to chump block a Tarmogoyf with the Enchantress, and to pour salt in the wound, I Abrupt Decay his Utopia Sprawl.

1-0 (2-0)

Enchantress is one of those weird decks that could quite easily dominate a local metagame if left unchecked. It’s slow, sure, but contains some very powerful lock pieces and win-cons that will steamroll anyone if it gets going. Luckily, Team America has lots of ways to interact with the deck, contrary to decks lacking Abrupt Decay. 

craterhoofbehemoth.hqRound 2 – Elves: In game one, he miscalculates the mana he has available to Green Sun’s Zenith for Craterhoof Behemoth which would have been lethal. The mistake allows me to draw some more cards with Brainstorm and Ponder and finish him off before he can cast his huge green spells, holding a Force of Will just in case.

I have lots of things in my sideboard for the match-up, Daze and Stifle is out for Disfigure, Golgari Charm, Submerge, really anything that can interact with him at instant speed. Game two has me opening a strange hand – Polluted Delta, Deathrite Shaman, Ponder, Dimir Charm and 3 (!) Abrupt Decay. I decide to keep for laughs, if he has a quick combo hand, I’m out (although Dimir Charm is insurance to early Natural Orders), but if he doesn’t, I have all the removal in the world. He has a slow, grindy hand, and I win a slow, grindy game.

2-0 (4-0)

Elves is probably one of the deck’s toughest match-ups before sideboarding, and it’s only slightly better, around 50/50 after sideboarding, which is why I have lots of cards to bring in against it. I seem to lose more games to it when it keeps grinding me down with card advantage through some of its ridiculous engines (Wirewood Symbiote + Elvish Visionary for example), than games to its powerful combo engines. 

aluren.hqRound 3 – Aluren: He wins the roll and starts to rip apart my hand from turn one and I can’t do anything to prevent him from reaching four mana and casting Aluren. Such a strange deck.

I board in Krosan Grip, Golgari Charm etc., anything to stop his Enchantment. I board out Abrupt Decay, since I don’t fear the “Aluren beatz!” plan very much, and they can’t really do much against him netting full value from most of his creatures, since they have either Cascade or broken Enters the Battlefield-triggers.

Game two has me coming out of the gates quite quickly, and through some well-timed soft counters and mana-denial, he can’t keep up with the Delver beats. Game three is more or less a repeat of game one, however, and I’m never really in the game.

2-1 (5-2)

Aluren is one of those strange decks that’s really, really had to interact with, since it’s far from intuitive in many of its interactions, especially if you’re new to the Legacy scene and haven’t played much against it. I was playing both with and against it back in the days when the card was legal in Extended, meaning I have at least a bit of an understanding about most of the deck, but even then – it’s pretty resilient. It’s far from the best combo deck in the format, since it’s so slow, but it’s very cool when it goes off and does its thing. 

bloodghast.hqRound 4 – Dredge: I always play against this particular Dredge player at this event, and I always have too few graveyard hate cards in the sideboard, so I’m pretty bummed out about probably missing out on T4 after starting 2-0. The first game goes a lot better than expected however. After countering his first two discard outlets, the game slows down a bit, which gives me time to drop a huge Tarmogoyf (6/7) and a Deathrite Shaman. His triple-City of Brass draw is also speeding up the beats quite a bit, but after some dredging, he brings back all four Bloodghasts in his deck, and along with two Zombie tokens, he has quite the presence on the board. He hits me for eight, and I go to two, while he is at six. He left only one Zombie token against my then 5/6 Tarmogoyf and my Deathrite Shaman, however, so if I draw an Abrupt Decay, I win. I don’t draw Abrupt Decay – I draw Dimir Charm.

I board in the two graveyard hate pieces I have, along with some more disruption in Thoughtseize, Vendilion Clique and so on. I board out my Abrupt Decays and a Treasure Cruise, since I intend to try and stop his combo, not spot-removing his 2/2’s.

In game two, he mulligans to three, and despite drawing a pretty good three-card hand (Lion’s Eye Diamond, Stinkweed Imp, Bridge from Below), there’s not really a game to be found there.

3-1 (7-2)

I really don’t fancy playing against Dredge. It’s again one of those strange decks that’s a bit difficult to interact with, and at the same time, it’s a lot faster than Aluren. I always seem to run into this player at the tournaments we both attend, and I never have enough hate. This time the mulligan goddess came through for me instead, which was nice, but probably an anomaly. 

The Aluren guy is the only one on 4-0, and I’m the only one on 3-1, so after four rounds, we cut to T4 with two people on 2-2 there. This left me seeded against the Dredge player again.

Semifinals – Dredge: I don’t recall much about these games, I know I cast a Dimir Charm to pump my Tarmogoyf and leave a land on top of his deck at one point. It was fun. Somehow, I managed to win this one as well, not sure how. I was a bit tired and very hungry by now, which might have impaired my memory.

4-1 (9-2)

Finals – Aluren: Revenge time against Aluren! I lose the roll, and mulligan, and he wins before I can do much about stopping him from resolving Aluren, or find a quick clock.

I board the same way as in the swiss, I don’t think it’s optimal, but then again – who plays Aluren these days? I mulligan again, if I recall correctly, but this time I have a great hand with a quick clock, and two counterspells. He fails to find enough discard to push through an Aluren before he dies to Delver beats.

Game three sees him mulligan to five, followed by some hiccups with his mana. I win quite easily, although there was one point in the match where he could’ve stabilized the board quite easily, since I had difficulties finding more threats. Had he had just a single Abrupt Decay for my lone Delver of Secrets, he might have bought enough time for himself. Alas, it didn’t happen, and I could walk away with the win.

5-1 (11-3)

I had a blast playing the tiny Legacy event today. Aside from spending an evening with friends and a bunch of 100-card singleton decks, playing a Legacy event is just about the best thing one can do on a Sunday, even if it’s only eight players strong. The tournament is part of a league, and right now, it looks like I’ll qualify to play the end-of-the-year finals tournament, even if I missed a few of these monthly deals over the summer. It’ll be a round-robin Legacy extravaganza, and if I get to play there, I’ll definitely put up a report here.

For some reason, the play group I played with today seem to have missed the fact that Legacy is a format where you can play a 3/2 flier, with no drawbacks, for just a single blue mana. I have to respect the choice to go rogue or pet deck, however. If you want to play Aluren – allegedly the player in question had played over a thousand games with the deck on MTGO alone, meaning he probably knows his shit – go right ahead. If you make it to the finals, even in a small local tourney, more power to you. As for myself, I’m lucky enough to have Uxx Delver as my pet deck.

Leave a comment


  1. randomName#359

     /  October 27, 2014

    3/2 flyer even.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Grim Lavamancer

     /  October 27, 2014

    Ah, yes. To go rogue or not to go rogue, that’s the question. The thing about an unconventional deck list is that it can easily throw a wrench in the best laid plans of any meta gamer, but the top decks are top decks for a reason. A rogue deck can easily surprise a lot of players, snatching you an easy win in the first duel, but once your opponent has seen what makes your deck tick, what’s creatures to blast and which spells to counter it quickly becomes an uphill battle in the (most likely) two next duels.

    Oh, and congrats on the win. Although I’ve not played legacy for a long time it was quite an enjoyable read.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Fringe decks: Aluren | Goyf Wars
  2. Digging for gold in local tournament | Goyf Wars
  3. The woes of tiny metagames, pt. 2 | Goyf Wars

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