It's another Friday, and you know what that means! Another amazing article by yours truly! The weekend is nice too I guess, but we all know this is what you're looking forward to every week! Jokes aside, today's article is going to be a unique one. I don't normally write Legacy articles, but with Grand Prix Richmond happening next week, I've been exploring the format. I was looking for a "ramp" deck in Legacy, but they don't really exist. In fact, the best ramp card in Legacy is probably Veteran Explorer. So, I set my sights on the card and began digging for decklists. Sadly, I didn't find much of anything. Nothing seemed very tuned and all the lists were doing different things. I guess the draw to this deck is it can be built many different ways, but that is also its drawback since nobody knows what the best list looks like. So, I started doing what I do best and that's brewing around the card. Buckle in ladies and gentlemen, today we are talking about Sultai Veteran Explorer in Legacy!
After I figured out what card I wanted to build around, I looked at some decklists to get inspiration and ideas. The next step was to look at the most played decks in the format or at least the top five most played decks so I could build my deck accordingly. What I found people playing the most was, in order, Grixis, Death and Taxes, Death's Shadow, Sneak and Show, Miracles, Eldrazi Stompy, and Reanimator. For the most part, it was a lot of fair decks, in fact only Sneak and Show and Reanimator where the only unfair ones. I am happy to play fair Magic with Veteran Explorer. A lot of decks play Blue, so I knew I wanted to play Leovold, Emissary of Trest. This put me in Sultai colors, a color combination I'm very familiar with and happy to play. It also meant I got to play Baleful Strix, one of the best fair creatures in Magic, and I got to play Pernicious Deed which is a fantastic card against fair strategies.
By playing Pernicious Deed, it also meant I could play Planeswalkers. I love walkers and they're very powerful in Legacy. I thought about Green Sun's Zenith, but Dryad Arbor is a nonbo with Pernicious Deed, and so are creatures. Thus, I opted to not play Green Sun's Zenith. However, I noticed I had artifacts and enchantments in my deck thanks to Baleful Strix and Pernicious Deed. This meant I could turn on delirium easily, and since I am ramping, what better delirium creature to play than Emrakul, the Promised End?
I was super excited, and this is the list I conjured up with the top decks in mind.
Sultai Explorer | Legacy | Ali Aintrazi
- Creatures (11)
- 1 Emrakul, the Promised End
- 2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
- 4 Baleful Strix
- 4 Veteran Explorer
- Planeswalkers (8)
- 1 Liliana of the Veil
- 2 Liliana, the Last Hope
- 2 Nissa, Vital Force
- 3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
- Enchantments (4)
- 4 Pernicious Deed
- Lands (22)
- 2 Forest
- 2 Island
- 2 Swamp
- 1 Phyrexian Tower
- 2 Bayou
- 2 Tropical Island
- 2 Underground Sea
- 2 Verdant Catacombs
- 3 Misty Rainforest
- 4 Polluted Delta
This is the list I came up with and will be testing until Grand Prix Richmond. I went with a lot of sacrifice cards like Innocent Blood, Diabolic Edict, and Liliana of the Veil because I don't want to target opposing Leovolds. I also want to be able to kill True-Name Nemesis and have a shot at killing Marit Lage if that happens to pop up. Sacrifice affects also gets around protection like Mother of Runes. Sacrifice affects don't care how big the creature is, like Abrupt Decay and Fatal Push. This matters against Eldrazi, Gurmag Angler, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and other big creatures. I can usually clear out all the small things with Pernicious Deed and have a sacrifice card like Innocent Blood take care of the rest.
I went with the Planeswalker theme again because of Pernicious Deed. The idea was to land a planeswalker and wipe the rest of the battlefield with Deed so that the planeswalker(s) would take over. I originally had a Nissa, Vital Force and Vraska the Unseen split. Vraska was to deal with opposing Planeswalkers like Jace, the Mind Sculptor or a Liliana. However, after she killed a planeswalker or any other permanent, she really didn't do much. I found that Nissa, Vital Force can kill planeswalkers just as easy and her ultimate is game over against fair decks. Regrowing other planeswalkers or Pernicious Deeds with her minus ability is also relevant. So, I've just decided to play two Nissa, Vital Force.
One thing I'm not 100% sure about is Thoughtseize or Hymn to Tourach. I currently have Hymn over Thoughtseize because it's more powerful if you can cast it consistently, but Hymn can look silly if your opponent is able to deploy a threat like Delver of Secrets or Nimble Mongoose and you can't answer the creatures. Thoughtseize doesn't help much in that situation either but it helps get those early creatures if you're on the play.
This deck plays very well against every fair matchup in Legacy. Decks like Grixis Control/Delver, Death and Taxes, and Death's Shadow are all enjoyable to play against. The decks hardest matchups are combo-based decks, especially ones that combo without creatures. The sideboard has a lot of slots dedicated to combo or graveyard-based decks. Against the non-creature combo decks you get to board out all our Innocent Bloods and Pernicious Deeds for Force of Wills and Flusterstorms. I wouldn't board out any Blue cards when bringing in Force of Will as we are already low on Blue cards to pitch to. I went with an array of different graveyard hate cards instead of just four Leyline of the Void. I don't like to mulligan into Leyline, I'd rather just have good cards against graveyard-based strategies. A neat trick you can do with Faerie Macabre is buy it back with Liliana, the Last Hope's minus ability. The trick to a lot of these combo decks is to just buy enough time with discard, countermagic, and sometimes removal spells until you can lock them out with Jace, the Mind Sculptor or make them kill themselves with their own combo thanks to Emrakul, the Promised End.
There are a lot of different ways to go about building this deck. Traverse the Ulvenwald is a good strategy if you want to be more creature oriented. People are also playing Arena Rector in Abzan lists to tutor up Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and other big planeswalkers. I've even seen Abzan lists that are super grindy but seem to have an unwinnable matchup against combo decks. Sultai Veteran Explorer isn't as explosive as these Abzan lists, especially if they run Green Sun's Zenith, but Sultai is more consistent and I feel like it's better against the overall field. I believe it's wrong not to play Brainstorm in Legacy unless you're playing something completely degenerate and linear like Lands or Dredge. Brainstorm is just too good in the format.
I'll be working on this deck and I'll also be testing the Arena Rector and Academy Rector versions too. I'll be streaming my matches with the deck so make sure to follow my Twitch channel to keep up with all the action! I'm going to be streaming more going forward. I am also down to play your decks on stream. You can find more information about on that my Twitch Channel. If you have a fun deck or a brew in Standard, Modern, or Legacy, I'd love to try them out. I'm obviously a huge fan of brews and wacky decks. It's what makes Magic enjoyable to me.
Well, that's all I have for you today boys and girls. As always, thank you so much for reading!
I'll see you all next Friday,
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