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Win by Strom in Legacy

2018/04/04 00:00 

    • Marc Tobiasch
    • Hareruya Pros Blog

Today I'd like to talk to you about what might be the best deck in Legacy.

This deck has been around for a long time, with significant upgrades along the way. It has some weaknesses, most of which come down to not playing 《Force of Will》, but can win any matchup due to its own power level and basically unbeatable hands.

Ad NauseamTendrils of Agony

The deck I'm talking about is Storm, or Ad Nauseam Tendrils. There is a decent amount of ways to build this deck with even more sideboard possibilities which makes for a very flexible strategy for the expected field.

While you can win on turn 1, this is not an all-in combo deck like "oops all spells", 《Goblin Charbelcher》 or B/R Reanimator that will just lose if it doesn't go off on turn 1. Usually you will win somewhere between turn 2 and 3 with a decent amount of disruption along the way.

The deck is especially strong against counterspell decks and slower decks, with harder matchups including 《Chalice of the Void》 decks (if you lose the diceroll) and 《Show and Tell》.

Infernal TutorTendrils of AgonyLion's Eye Diamond

The basic premise of the deck is to win by playing 9 spells in a turn followed by a 《Tendrils of Agony》 to drain your opponent's life total to 0. You only have 1 《Tendrils》, but the deck functions on the synergy between 《Infernal Tutor》 and 《Lion's Eye Diamond》 to essentially create 《Demonic Tutor》 and 《Black Lotus》 when combined, since you can cast 《Infernal Tutor》 and use 《Lion's Eye Diamond》 in response to get Hellbent and therefore be able to tutor for any card in the deck while getting the three mana of any one color to cast that card from the 《Lion's Eye Diamond》.

A typical game could look like this:

Turn 1:

Play a land, cast 《Ponder》.

Turn 2:

Tendrils of Agony

Which would put 《Tendrils》 on the stack with 9 copies draining the opponent for 20 life and winning the game through a 《Force of Will》 on turn 2.

There are other synergies in the deck, like 《Gitaxian Probe》 + 《Cabal Therapy》, 《Brainstorm》 + 《Lion's Eye Diamond》 (you can put an expensive card like 《Ad Nauseam》 back, cast another cantrip like 《Gitaxian Probe》 and in response use 《Lion's Eye Diamond》 to get the mana to cast that card), 《Past in Flames》 + 《Lion's Eye Diamond》 (you can effectively cast 《Past in Flames》 with 《Lion's Eye Diamond》, since you can flashback it with the mana you get.

A big strength of the deck is its speed of course, rendering large swaths of cards from the opponent useless, another is information. Between the discard spells and 《Gitaxian Probe》 you get to play with complete information most of the time while your opponent doesn't. This makes it very hard to play against, since it is hard to know whether to try and counter a manaproducing spell like 《Dark Ritual》 or 《Lion's Eye Diamond》 or wait and counter 《Infernal Tutor》. Depending on the hand that decision can mean victory or defeat and it is your job as the storm player to play in a way as to dissuade the opponent from countering the card you need to resolve.

The Core:

These spells are necessary whichever direction you go and should ever be cut:

Which discard spells you choose are dependent on the metagame. The most common are 3 《Cabal Therapy》 and 3 《Duress》.

Cabal TherapyDuress

Additionally, 14 lands are necessary, while 15 is more of the norm, which leaves between 5 and 6 cards which I would consider flex. The most common configuration for these slots are:

This is what I would call the base kit in a wide-open field. Giving you a consistent fast kill with a decent amount of disruption. The list I will advocate for the current metagame fills these slots with:

Making the list look like this:

This might change in the future, but as the metagame stands right now this is what I would recommend.

Ad Nauseam

《Ad Nauseam》 is the worst card in the deck since whenever possible you will want to go for a deterministic kill whereas anytime you cast 《Ad Nauseam》 you have a chance to either die or having to pass the turn at low life depending on the situation. The reason to play the card is that it lets you win faster with weaker hands a lot of the time.

For example a hand of 《Dark Ritual》, 2 《Lion's Eye Diamond》, Land and 《Infernal Tutor》 (maybe + a discard spell for protection) can go off on turn 1 with 《Ad Nauseam》 while you cannot generate enough mana to use either a Tutor chain (where you search up 《Infernal Tutor》 with 《Infernal Tutor》 to increase storm for 2 mana each) or have enough rituals or mana to use 《Past in Flames》 to win, since 《Lion's Eye Diamond》 cannot be flashed back.

Dark Petition

《Dark Petition》 is a weaker 5th copy of 《Infernal Tutor》 with the upside of not needing you to have no cards in hand but the significant drawback of being a tough fit with 《Ad Nauseam》 (costing 5 life when revealed) as well as requiring more starting mana. However, the most common dysfunctional hands lack a business spell which this is an additional copy and therefore worth the singleton inclusion.

Cabal TherapyThoughtseizeDuress

The 7th discard spell in metagames where resilience is more important than speed which is the case right now with 《Delver of Secrets》 decks as well as control decks making up a large portion of the metagame.

Night's Whisper

On the same note 《Night's Whisper》 let's you get ahead on cards for cheap which is a strong way to come back against cards like 《Hymn to Tourach》. Also having black carddraw makes 《Past in Flames》 better since you can cast more cantrips from the graveyard that way. The restricting factor in non-academic 《Past in Flames》 is usually blue mana since your rituals only produce black and you usually have a surplus of that color hence.

Past in Flames

This brings me to the second 《Past in Flames》 which is in my opinion a mistake not to run. 《Past in Flames》 is a business spell and a protection spell in one. Just recasting all your cantrips from the graveyard while generating storm is usually enough to find a way to win, while having 《Past in Flames》 in your hand is protection against 《Infernal Tutor》 getting countered which is often the way your opponent's try to disrupt you. If you cast 《Infernal Tutor》 with enough mana floating and use a 《Lion's Eye Diamond》 in response you will discard the 《Past in Flames》 and even if they counter the tutor you can flash it back and go off anyway.

WastelandStifle

The 15th land is not necessary for the deck and basically a nod towards 《Wasteland》. However, 《Wasteland》 sees less play then it used to as well as 《Stifle》 being practically absent so the 14 land setup is generally sufficient. Should the 《Stifle》/《Wasteland》 combination gain traction again the 15th land should return to the maindeck. Against 《Wasteland》 decks without 《Stifle》 it is trivial to fetch our basic 《Island》 and basic 《Swamp》 and not really care in any event.

ThoughtseizeDuress

Also as you may have noticed I run 《Thoughtseize》 over 《Duress》. The 2 life are a significant cost, since they cost you a full turn against a 《Deathrite Shaman》 or a 《Delver of Secrets》. However there are a decent amount of creatures in the format right now that are very good to discard. There is, for example little more annoying then casting a 《Duress》 before trying to go off only to see your opponent holding 《Snapcaster Mage》. Taking 《Deathrite Shaman》 on turn 1 or 《Delver of Secrets》 can buy a lot of time or taking away 《Griselbrand》 when your opponent is holding two 《Show and Tell》. Overall creatures play a very important role right now in Legacy and the 2 life are in my opinion worth the option of taking them.

Sideboard

The sideboard I'm currently running contains the 15th land for both a second green source as well as an additional land should it be necessary and looks like this:

Most of the cards should be self-explanatory.

ザンティッドの大群

The 《Xantid Swarm》 are mainly to keep controllish decks honest in keeping in removal and against 《Show and Tell》, since if they cast 《Show and Tell》 you can put in the 《Swarm》 and kill them on your turn no matter how many cards they draw with 《Griselbrand》. Otherwise an in play 《Griselbrand》 is tough to beat since you cannot take their counterspells with your discard if they are yet to draw them.

Surgical Extraction

《Surgical Extraction》 is a tool for the mirror match as well as against Reanimator which can otherwise race you.

Ground Seal

《Ground Seal》 is a nice piece of tech against 《Deathrite Shaman》/《Snapcaster Mage》 decks where games tend to go longer and this card shuts down their best threats/interaction as well as 《Surgical Extraction》 which they are likely to board in.

Night's Whisper

《Night's Whisper》 is your best grindy card, especially against 《Hymn to Tourach》 decks and 《Empty the Warrens》 fills a similar role as 《Ad Nauseam》 against decks that tend to be slower since it costs even less mana and 8-10 tokens on turn 1 will win a lot of games in the right matchup. Especially if you can then flashback 《Cabal Therapy》 to take a possible sweeper away.

Pithing Needle

《Pithing Needle》 is pretty good right now as a cheap interactive card against cards like 《Sneak Attack》 or 《Thespian's Stage》.

Build Your Sideboard

As I said the sideboard offers a lot of options, for example if you expect a decent amount of Death and Taxes 《Dread of Night》 shuts them down completely. 《Hurkyl's Recall》 wrecks the MUD decks and 《Chalice of the Void》 decks in general. 《Fatal Push》 is strong against all kinds of hatebears as well as buying time against 《Delver》 style decks.

Dread of NightHurkyl's RecallFatal PushDark Confidant

More 《Tendrils of Agony》 in the board is very strong against the counterspell decks since you can just go off with 8 cards in hand and natural 《Tendrils》. 《Dark Confidant》 is similar to 《Xantid Swarm》 in that it basically wins the game on its own if they boarded to low on removal spells. 《Massacre》 functions similar to 《Dread of Night》, and you can even play 《Chrome Mox》 in the board to play more of a turn 1 kill all-in deck in the right matchups. So, think carefully what metagame you expect to face in a given tournament and build your sideboard appropriately.

What Is the Best Advice?

The best advice on learning the deck is practice practice practice, but some tips might help:

Try to save a discard spell for the turn you are going off. Legacy is full of cantrips and just because they didn't have a counterspell last turn doesn't mean they can't have found one this turn.

Storm tends to get better the longer the game goes, since the amount of hard disruption most decks play is very limited. If you can blank 《Daze》 and 《Spell Pierce》 and even 《Flusterstorm》 a lot of decks will be utterly reliant on 《Force of Will》 to stop a combo attempt. So, if you don't need to go off don't play risky.

Ad Nauseam

If you can avoid 《Ad Nauseam》 do so, it will be good enough most of the time, but if you have a line that's good enough every time go for that one.

Be aware of how much time you have before your opponent can kill you and go off on the last turn possible unless you are sure you can win. This is a little tricky against discard spell decks and 《Lightning Bolt》 decks, so keep that in mind.

Abrupt Decay

Generally play out your 《Lion's Eye Diamond》 against discard spell decks since they let you win from basically nothing. Be aware of 《Abrupt Decay》 though. Don't turn on their otherwise dead cards.

Kolaghan's Command

Be aware of 《Kolaghan's Command》 taking away your 《Infernal Tutor》 in response to your last ritual. To combat this, play out the tutor with a ritual still in hand and respond to your own tutor with the ritual.

意志の力Cabal TherapyBrainstorm

When in doubt with 《Cabal Therapy》 name 《Force of Will》 if you can go off and 《Brainstorm》 if you can't.

Thank you for reading.

Marc Tobiasch

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