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Five Decks You'll Play This Weekend

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Welcome to Gathering Magic's weekly quintet of Magic Online you should be aware of this weekend, whether you're playing a major online event, going to a Grand Prix, or hitting Friday Night Magic. In an era of big data, Magic Online provides some of the biggest data, so even a quick-and-dirty snapshot of recent activity gets you ahead of the competition. This week, with Grand Prix Lille being Legacy, I'll delve into its crevices, taking a peek at Pauper.

Lille Rascals

As Legacy Dailies haven't been huge, and as Wizards of the Coast has had difficulty putting up results this week, I've expanded my look to 3–1 decks as well as the normal 4–0s. Here's what showed up at least twice this week (Bold = won a Daily):

  • Four-Color Delver: 8 (2 wins)
  • Jeskai Miracles: 8
  • Grixis Delver: 4
  • Grixis Pyromancer: 3
  • Temur Delver: 3
  • Shardless Sultai: 3
  • Dark Depths: 2
  • Show and Tell: 2
  • Infect: 2
  • Jeskai Stoneblade: 2
  • Stax won a Daily in its only 4-0/3-1 appearance.

The most popular Delver deck at the moment has a mana base that holds together in a way only an Eternal player could love. Friday's winner:

All your favorite instant- and sorcery-lovers are here, caring about them in different zones, from the library (Delver of Secrets) to the stack (Young Pyromancer) to the graveyard (Deathrite Shaman). From that starting point, it's chock full of the format's most efficient spells, whether they are virtually free, cost 1 mana, or cost nearly 1 mana thanks to delve. The last few cards vary a bit; the other decks had Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Dack Fayden, Bitterblossom, Sulfuric Vortex, Engineered Explosives, Nihil Spellbomb, Null Rod, Marsh Casualties, Abrupt Decay, Diabolic Edict, Dispel, Electrickery, Fire Covenant (!), Rakdos Charm, Smash to Smithereens, and Surgical Extraction. But the core remains intact; if instants and sorceries could have a tribal deck, this is it.

With so many 1-mana spells in the deck, Counterbalance is a real card. And what goes with Counterbalance?

Using Sensei's Divining Top to turn the top of the library into a permission spell with Counterbalance, to cheat out win conditions and sweepers in Entreat the Angels and Terminus, and to make the opponent long for a Burning-Tree Shaman, Jeskai Miracles is probably the "purest" successful control deck in Legacy right now. It even has two Counterspells, letting you go even more '90s than Uncle Ezra Ray.1 It's a straightforward concept that's yielded good results for quite some time.

Various versions of archetypes are players in the metagame that, because the versions are different colors, don't show up in the table as well as they ought. Stoneforge Mystic decks and reanimator decks are viable; it's just a matter of what type you want. Show and Tell is in a similar spot:

As a Show and Tell deck, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is hanging around, but the Omni-Tell variant uses Omniscience as another plan, either to find Emrakul to cast for free or to put Emrakul on top of the library, use Cunning Wish to find Release the Ants, and cast it endlessly because Emrakul on top wins every clash (unless, as is 0% likely, the opponent has Autochthon Wurm or Draco on top).

Because of the oddity of what Omni-Tell is trying to do, and because of Cunning Wish, the sideboard is wonky, focused on combo protection (Flusterstorm, Red Elemental Blast, Trickbind) and surefire answers (the split second crew of Sudden Shock, Wipe Away, and Trickbind again). Having theoretical access to seventy-three cards in your sixty-card deck (Engineered Explosives and Grafdigger's Cage can't be Cunning Wished for) is a unique advantage, a way to cheat basic Magic rules in a deck already designed to cheat other ones, such as paying mana for spells. If you like breaking rules, Omni-Tell (and Show and Tell in general) is for you.

One Spicy Metaball

This deck does one thing, and does it very well:

The win condition is the 20/20 flying indestructible Marit Lage, produced from either Dark Depths losing all its counters to Vampire Hexmage or from Thespian's Stage becoming a Dark Depths with no ice counters on it. Crop Rotation, Expedition Map, and Sylvan Scrying are all in the deck to find either Dark Depths or Thespian's Stage as appropriate, Mox Diamond combos with the twenty-nine lands to speed up the deck, and Thoughtseize and Duress make it harder to stop a plan that is already hard to stop thanks to mostly involving lands. The old turn-two Marit Lage is available by curving Dark Depths and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth into Vampire Hexmage, so turn-three kills are possible, and turn-four is relatively easy. Granted, if the opponent has an answer to Marit Lage, reassembling the combo is the only option. But what a combo it is. I assume Grand Prix Lille will be broadcast; if so, I hope this deck gets a feature match just to see Marit Lage rock the house before the opponent's had a chance to set up.

In Accordance with the Paup-hecy

Invigorate is one of Pauper's eight banned cards, but, as our own Alex Ullman discussed elsewhere a year ago, that doesn't make Infect unplayable, as this 3–1 deck shows:

With virtually free +4/+4 pumps gone, +3/+3 and trample looks pretty attractive, making Predator's Strike and Llanowar Augur great options. Viridian Longbow is occasionally in green sideboards already, and with infect, it's more than twice as good since it can weaken large creatures if need be. And I wasn't aware that Hornet Sting was a card that saw any play, but it's in Alex's lists from 2014, so it's not new tech, even as it's amusing tech. In a deck that breaks the fundamental rule of life totals in Magic, it makes sense that one of the biggest color pie violators is here to help.

Conclusion

If there were occasions when nonblue decks were viable in Legacy, that seems to have passed for now. Dig Through Time and the advantages of Brainstorm are likely to paint Lille cerulean this weekend. That's not to say there's an obvious best deck though; Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer certainly rule the format, but Miracles and various combos can deal with 3/2 flyers and 1/1 Elementals. Will the known quantity of so many Delver decks tilt the metagame toward the other decks? Will there be some anti-blue deck that next-levels its way to fame and fortune? It should be good viewing this weekend as the world finds out.




1 I realize Uncle Kracker isn't '90s, but Better than Ezra and Sugar Ray more than compensate. I suppose if you want to go fuller '90s in supergroupland, The Thorns, made of Shawn Mullins, Matthew Sweet, and Pete Droge and produced by Brendan O'Brien, might be more on-point.


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