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Going Big in Legacy

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Gatecrash First Impression

Show and Tell
Hey there! Last week, I said I would most likely be talking about Gatecrash Limited. While I will be discussing a certain blue mythic from Gatecrash, I’m leaving Limited for this week and taking a look at some of the more ridiculous things you can be doing in Legacy. If you have played Legacy in the past, you most likely know that there are some very degenerate things that you can do—from running zero lands to killing your opponent on the first turn. Coincidentally, it is often the same deck that does these two things.

The strategy I will be covering this week does in fact run lands—in addition to a whole lot of powerful blue spells. I’ll be looking at the various flavors of Show and Tell decks, mainly concentrating on OmniShow and Sneak & Show. I’ll talk more in depth about these two decks and then compare them to see what their strengths and weaknesses are.

To Infinity and Beyond!

During the past few days, I have been busy on Magic Online drawing all of my deck with a single spell. I’m not normally one to become very excited and giddy about big spells and effects, but on some level, it feels very fun to resolve Enter the Infinite, draw all of your deck, and then proceed to go infinite. Here is the list I have been running.

Enter the Infinite
In case you are unfamiliar with the strategy, the general idea is to put an Omniscience into play with Show and Tell and then proceed to play Enter the Infinite. Once you have drawn your deck, you then play Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and take an extra turn. During the extra turn, you can then cast another Emrakul, causing the two to be shuffled into your library. After this, you can play the third Emrakul, the Aeons Torn along with another Enter the Infinite. You can then proceed to repeat this process as many times as you want. This means that you can easily win even if your opponent has infinite life. The kill can also be achieved with a Dream Halls instead of an Omniscience, with the only difference being that you need to cast an Omniscience once you have resolved Enter the Infinite. Otherwise, you will not be able to play Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

The deck is very solid, with twelve cantrips to find the combo pieces and a nice overlap of the different pieces. Dream Halls and Show and Tell are the two most important cards, even though I was able to cast Omniscience against a slow control deck once.

The one Cunning Wish enables you to beat any hate cards your opponents might have in the first game, such as Moat and Ensnaring Bridge. I’ve also included one Brain Freeze in the sideboard, as you can just mill your opponent out if needed. This is most likely not needed at all, but I thought I would just try it out since it only takes up one slot in the sideboard. It is worth noting that you can generate an arbitrarily large number of storm copies with the help of the two Sensei's Divining Tops you have in your deck. With Omniscience in play, you can play one Sensei's Divining Top, use it, and then play another one, using it to draw the first one again. Feel free to repeat this as many times as needed to generate a large number of storm copies.

Dream Halls
At first, I was not too sure about the Grim Monoliths. Sure, they help you cast Dream Halls a turn or two earlier, but other than that, they are not all too great. When I started playing the deck, I noticed they were really good against taxing counters such as Spell Pierce and Daze. I’ll have to play a few more games to see how they really perform, as sometimes, they are the worst cards you can draw. By cutting the Grim Monoliths, you could add a land and some more disruption.

The sideboard includes cards mainly against discard-based disruption and graveyard decks. I’m trying out a few Defense Grids, as countermagic is the best line of defense against this deck. I think Leyline of Sanctity is very good right now with all the black-based decks running around. You don’t care too much if the opponent has Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach if you are sitting behind a Leyline of Sanctity. The various one-of cards give you flexibility with Cunning Wish, and I often sideboard some of them in for appropriate matchups.

Sneaky Stuff

Sneak & Show is in a way a very similar deck, in that you have a base engine built around Show and Tell. For reference, here is the list I would play.

Sneak Attack
The engine here is comprised of the eight creatures, four Sneak Attacks, and four Show and Tells. The basic idea is just to put a huge monster into play and smash face. This can be done as early as turn one with the help of Lotus Petal, and turn-two Griselbrands are not uncommon at all. This core features eight cantrips, which I think is more or less standard. Some lists play fewer disruption spells and run one or two Preordains to go along with Brainstorm and Ponders.

The sideboard is similar to the OmniTell sideboard, as you have the same kinds of problems and challenges. Leyline of Sanctity and Grafdigger's Cage fill the exact same roles, so I won’t talk any more about those. Karakas is a way to fight opposing copies of the legendary land. Karakas is very problematic for this deck, as it means you need to put a Sneak Attack into play in order to fight it. If you have Sneak Attack and enough red mana, you will eventually get an attack in with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Your opponent needs to bounce the Emrakul with Karakas at the beginning of combat to avoid the annihilator trigger, but then, you can just put it into play again. Red Elemental Blast is there as just another way to fight decks that play a lot of counterspells. It is also good against the mirror and High Tide decks. Finally, Echoing Truth is there to get rid of any annoying Peacekeepers, Ensnaring Bridges, or copies of Humility you might encounter.

The biggest thing missing from the sideboard is Through the Breach. There are certain matchups in which resolving a Show and Tell can be dangerous business, and you would rather have some other way to put your monsters into play. These matchups include Belcher and the mirror match. Especially against Belcher, it is dangerous to give the opponent the opportunity to put Goblin Charbelcher into play, as that most often means you are just dead on the spot. I’ve decided not to include Through the Breach in the sideboard, as I feel there are not a lot of the troublesome decks running around. This might change at any moment, so if your local metagame is filled with these kinds of decks, I would suggest cutting two Red Elemental Blasts and one Defense Grid in favor of three Through the Breaches.

Comparison

Karakas
So, how are you supposed to know which of these two decks to choose? I’ll try going through the strengths and weaknesses of each deck and cover the aspects that make the decks different than each other.

OmniTell is very resilient to hate cards. There are not many cards played in Legacy that outright beat you. You don’t really care about Humility or Ensnaring Bridge, as you can just bounce them or kill the opponent with Brain Freeze. Karakas does nothing against you, as you just replay your monster and kill the opponent. Sneak & Show has more problems with pure hate cards, and a resolved Humility or Ensnaring Bridge in the first game means you just lose. Some of these can be answered via sideboard cards, but they still pose a big threat to you.

On the other hand, Sneak & Show packs more disruption, so it is easier to stop these hate cards from ever resolving. The problem here, of course, is that Show and Tell is a bit of a liability if your opponent has something like Humility in hand. The added disruption also helps immensely in combo matchups, in which OmniTell sometimes struggles. Combo decks that have a faster clock can be a problem if you are relying on just Force of Will, but when you add four or more additional counterspells, the situation becomes a whole lot better.

The good thing about OmniTell is that if you resolve your main combo, you just win. You don’t have to be afraid of Jace, the Mind Sculptor coming down to bounce your monster or Terminus sweeping it away. The exception here is if your opponent destroys your Omniscience or Dream Halls in response to the Enter the Infinite. In this case, you don’t win immediately, but unless you are dead on board, you will be able to kill the player the following turn. Drawing your deck also means you will be left with a bunch or counterspells, so not many things the opponent can do will stop you from winning.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
The main engine in Sneak & Show requires two cards fewer than the engine in OmniTell, which means you are able to play more spells that actually do something. Your combo is also always a two-card combo, whereas OmniTell often requires three cards in order to win. I would say that Sneak & Show is perhaps a bit more stable, but that is not to say that OmniTell is very volatile in any way. With both decks, you will end up losing some number of games to just drawing badly and being stuck with all the expensive spells in your hand. All the available filtering and cantrips help a lot with this, and during the testing games I did, there were very few situations in which I drew terribly.

I think the worst matchups for both decks are those with fast clocks backed by plenty of disruption. Just disruption is not enough to beat either of these decks, as the redundancy offered by the different combo pieces allow you to assemble one of your combos if you are just given enough time. I’ve played against a fair number of Deathrite Shaman decks online, and they are often just way too slow to stand a chance—even when the deck’s pilot plays two or three discard spells. Leyline of Sanctity really helps here, too, as sometime, the opponent just sits there with a hand full of discard spells after sideboarding and can’t actually disrupt you in any meaningful way. Combo decks like High Tide or Storm can be problematic, as they often pack enough disruption and have a clock that is usually a turn faster than yours.

Pick and Choose

Omniscience
As for my recommendation, I would say Sneak & Show is the more stable deck, but OmniTell is way more fun to play. If you expect a lot of targeted hate such as Humility, I would definitely rather play OmniTell. On the other hand, if you are expecting many other combo decks, Sneak & Show is the better choice. I’ll be trying both of these decks online during the near future, so perhaps I can give you some more insight into these later this spring.

I have not yet decided what I’ll talk about next week, so suggestions are very welcome! In the near future, I’ll at least talk about Gatecrash Team Limited, as Grand Prix: Utrecht is just a few weeks away, and I’m sure it’s going to be a massive event. I will be playing with former Finnish champion Mikko Airaksinen and former Pro Tour player Sami Tuomi. I hope we will have a chance to do some sweet Drafts during Day 2, unlike Grand Prix: San Jose, when my team fell a bit short of making it. As always, all questions, comments, and ideas are very welcome. The best ways to get in touch are Twitter and the comments section below. I don’t always have the chance to check all my old articles for comments, so if there is anything you would like to ask regarding something I wrote about a while ago, Twitter is the best choice.

Thanks for reading,

Max

@thebloom_ on Twitter

Maxx on Magic Online

You can find my music on: http://soundcloud.com/bloomlive

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