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Mavericks and Mystics


Playing Magic for roughly 20 years has introduced me to a great number of formats, but few have engaged me quite as much as Legacy. Despite the format's inaccessibility for many players, I was able to buy in with Affinity circa 2012. The list was much closer to Modern Affinity with artifact lands over Inkmoth Nexus and Blinkmoth Nexus than to today's version with City of Traitors and the like.

While the deck was fun to play, it wasn't perfect in a growing and expanding landscape and I began to pick up a variety of other affordable decks. I tried Burn, Izzet Delver (minus Volcanic Islands), and even a more silly deck in the form of Cheerios. I even took High Tide for a spin after being wowed by the deck's play when I ran into it on Magic Online, losing hard at events like the SCG Open in my hometown of Buffalo, NY.

At that Open I ran into a variety of decks, including a weird Mono-Black discard based deck with four, yes FOUR, Chains of Mephistopheles in the main deck. There was one deck that was making waves at the time I saw a bunch that weekend though that looked really sweet: Maverick. The gw deck focused on being a toolbox with a variety of hatebears and utility lands that could be found with ease with a number of finishers at its disposal. The deck was meant to be an answer to the metagame at the time, specifically rug Delver, thereby earning its name as being something different from everything else available at the time.

Already having a number of cards for the deck in my collection, I sold a large amount of bulk and Commander playables that I didn't need and bought into my favorite deck in Magic. At first it wasn't complete. Not having proper access to duals I ran Temple Gardens for a period of time. You'd actually be surprised how effective shock lands can be sometimes if you need a more budget option.

Noble Hierarch
Deathrite Shaman
Mother of Runes

I did have one dual from a Commander pickup however: a lone Bayou. I also didn't quite feel like Noble Hierarch was necessarily good enough for the deck and looked for other options. As others also began to do, I ended up testing out the new-at-the-time Deathrite Shaman in the list and it was immediately impactful. With numerous other tweaks, my deck came to look like this:

You can see at a glance that there's quite a lot happening in this deck. You have your weenies, your taxing cards like Thalia and Gaddock Teeg, and you have your haymakers like Knight of the Reliquary and the combo of Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull. There's even some silver bullets like Sigarda, Host of Herons in the mix.

For a long time, Maverick felt like it desperately needed something to help push through opponents' gameplans. Knight of the Reliquary is a fantastic beater in its own right, allowing you to attack for significant amounts of damage every turn. You could even tutor for a Maze of Ith to fuel your yard with lands, attack with Knight the following turn, and then untap it at the End of Combat Step using the Maze after it already dealt damage for additional fetching. The problem was an opponent could chump block it forever, causing you to get nowhere and struggle to win while your opponent continues to kill you.

Then a new card came onto the scene: Thespian's Stage. A few months later, Wizards of the Coast announced a change to the legendary rule. Back then, when a legendary permanent entered the battlefield, if another copy of that were on the field on either side of the field, they would both be immediately be sent to the graveyard. It wasn't uncommon for decks like Sneak and Show or Reanimator to cancel one another out by playing out opposing Griselbrands or Emrakuls off of a Show and Tell.

The new change allowed for what we know today. Both players can have legendary permanents with the same name on each side of the battlefield. More importantly, though, it made it so when you have two legendary permanents of the same name on your side of the field, you chose one to keep rather than lose both. This allowed for an absolutely insane combo involving these two cards:

Thespian's Stage
Dark Depths

Here's how the combo works: you play Dark Depths and put 10 ice counters on it. You next play Thespian's Stage and activate its second ability, turning it into a copy of Dark Depths. Because there's now two legendary permanents with the same name on them, you have to sacrifice one. You sacrifice the one with the counters on it and are left with the copy with no counters on it. Because the cloned Dark Depths has no counters on it, its ability triggers, causing you to sacrifice it and putting a 20/20 Marit Lage token into play.

What made this combo even more potent in the deck was the ability to tutor it up at an opponent's end step thanks to Knight of the Reliquary or even Crop Rotation out of the sideboard. It wasn't something that only showed up in Maverick either, and gave new life to decks like Lands and even birthed new decks such as the Golgari Turbo Depths lists.

I myself ran Maverick like this for some time, running over opponents with 20/20s until they could take no more. Eventually, however, the time came when I wasn't able to play as much and sold my beloved deck to help pay bills, with the hope that I might build it and play again. Now I finally have an opportunity to play Magic again and, with the help of playing formats such as Pauper, was able to rebuild Maverick once more, but this time with some new tweaks.

This list is actually a stock list I grabbed from a Discord server dedicated to the Maverick archetype. There's discussion on all manner of versions of the deck, including versions like Punishing Maverick, Bant Maverick, or even Four-Color Maverick. One of the most endearing things about the archetype is its ability to be completely customizable, after all. It wasn't uncommon for me to be trying fresh tech like Thrun, the Last Troll or Garruk Relentless on a regular basis.

By providing a more stock list, however, it allows players like who are newer or else returning, like myself, an opportunity to see how the deck looks in the current metagame and go from there. On its face, the list looks very similar to the one I played years ago. Some of the utility lands and creatures are changed, the Batterskull is long gone from the Stoneforge package, and the sideboard is completely upended. Even the Dark Depths combo has been taken out due to a prevalence of cards like Karakas, Swords to Plowshares, and Terminus.

In the whole list, two cards notably stand out strongly to me:

Tireless Tracker
Ramunap Excavator

When I sold my copy of the deck, it was in late 2015. As such, I ended up not having a chance to try out these two amazing cards until now. Crucible of Worlds and Life from the Loam were two cards that showed up in the 75 here and there, with the latter being used more often. Excavator gives us a Crucible that not only attacks and blocks, but can be tutored up by Green Sun's Zenith. This is huge, allowing us to Wasteland opponents out of the game at a constant pace. Even if you can't or don't want to utilize Wasteland, you can instead grab other lands like your fetches to continuously build your board state while thinning your deck.

Tireless Tracker works in conjunction with your land-based strategy as well, spitting out clues and generating huge amounts of card advantage that the deck was rarely able to provide in the past. Often times Maverick would get stuck flooding out with nothing to do, and the ability to sacrifice Clue tokens to draw more cards is a tremendous boon.

It even works well in conjunction with a card I once turned my nose at: Gaea's Cradle. The card was previously showing up in lists mostly to work in conjunction with Scavenging Ooze, a regular mainstay to hate out graveyard-based decks. When I played it, however, it often felt like it wasn't doing nearly enough. Indeed, today it still doesn't always feel the best, but between the old Scooze, a package of handy equipments, and most importantly the Clues of Tireless Tracker, it's better than ever in the deck.

A good eye might notice a handful of other sweet cards showing up in the mix. Scryb Ranger is one that would show up in the past but often failed to impress me. I've since gained a much greater appreciation for the subtleties of the Quirion Ranger untap ability and, along with the ability to carry equipment and the fact that it blocks Delvers effectively, I've gained a renewed amount of respect for the card.

Speaking of equipment, you'll likely notice, as I mentioned before, Batterskull is no longer in the list. I'm unsure exactly the reason for this, but even when I was playing actively in 2013 it would sometimes feel as though it wasn't the most incredible play. Now lists run Sword of Fire and Ice in its place instead. The reason for this is because of the prevalence of Delver decks, the fact that it allows you to punch through Young Pyromancer tokens, and makes your creature overall harder to kill.

Like many other things in Maverick, you can still choose to try different things in this slot. I even ran both Batterskull and the Sword alongside Umezawa's Jitte once upon a time. Other times I also tried out Sword of Feast and Famine and, even better, Sword of Light and Shadow to allow for additional recursion and life gain.

These days when we want another creature we have one last sweet piece of hot tech: Volrath's Stronghold. Tutorable and effective, this card allows you to repeatedly return creatures back from your graveyard. It's not uncommon to see one-ofs like your Ramunap Excavator, Tireless Tracker, or Gaddock Teeg killed off. This gives you a way to get them back, an ability not often seen in Maverick.

All in all I'm extremely happy to be playing with my favorite deck once more. Having played it a bit over the last few weeks, it feels like the deck is in a fairly solid place in the metagame currently. While it has a difficult time with some decks such as Miracles, it excels in a lot of the more fair matchups, of which there are currently many. I'm really looking forward to playing this deck at Magic Fest Niagara Falls in April, where I get to bring my play back home for a few days. Despite all of the issues surrounding the scheduling of the event, I do hope to see plenty of you there, and to see many hatebears and Mavericks along the way.

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