It’s over. This morning I awoke to the news that I and many, many other players have been waiting for.
Arcum’s Astrolabe is banned.
Dreadhorde Arcanist is banned.
Oko, Thief of Crowns is banned.
We’ve spoken about these cards in the past and the effect they’ve had on the Legacy format, but I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about what’s next for Maverick. Let’s quickly go over some of the reasons these cards had an impact on Maverick’s position in the metagame and then dive into what the future looks like.
Why were these cards good against Maverick?
Wasteland is a tool Maverick uses to disrupt the manabase of opposing foes. Being able to take your opponent off a colour is huge when trying to buy time against some of the more powerful and unfair decks in the format. Astrolabe allowed control and midrange decks to play with an almost full wasteland-proof manabase that made you look like a fool for playing a full playset.
The ability to no longer Wasteland your opponent meant they were most likely making their land drops each turn and casting spells on curve. Archetypes like Maverick thrive when multiple disruptive elements come together, like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben & Wasteland or Mother of Runes & Gaddock Teeg. Maverick’s strategy is based around the idea that the total effectiveness of its creatures interacting with one another is greater than when they’re acting in isolation.
With Wasteland not having an impact on these matchups, it led to Thalia’s taxing effect not being as strong as it could be. Wasteland is there to trip up opponents who are playing a 4/5c manabase, and when it doesn’t have an impact, you know something is wrong.
is was a kill-on-sight type of threat. Your chance to win a game after an opposing Arcanist has attacked even just once severely depreciates. Maverick doesn’t have the luxury of cantrips and card selection outside of Sylvan Library, so you need to make sure every single one of your removal spells counts.
Players had to be more patient with a T1 Delver of Secrets as we started to understand just how important it was to make sure you have the removal spell when Arcanist hits the field. In a matchup like RUG Delver where I used to hit the first threat that came onto the board, Arcanist demands so much respect that I’d let a Delver hit me 3-4 times before I even thought about removing it from the field.
The body of Arcanist was also a hinderance. Your disruptive creatures need to also apply pressure. If they aren’t able to do one of these, you’re not in a good position. A 1/3 body was hell for Thalia players as it was not only a huge threat in attack, but it also stopped any sort of pressure from an early Thalia. Thankfully, Maverick has access to exalted to help threats get damage through – but most of the time, Thalia might as well have been a Thorn of Amethyst.
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Where to start? Oko was just miserable to play against, especially when you’re most likely only hitting it for 1 each turn (hit for 3, tick up 2). In my eyes, Oko was a 1-sided Shahrazad, creating a sub-game for Maverick players that once dealt with it, and then faced a boardstate that was not beatable. It gave opponents so much time that, in the end, I really don’t think any Oko players cared their Oko finally succumb to combat damage.
Most Oko decks don’t care about any specific creatures we deploy, but if they did, Oko was a pretty easy way to manage their effect on a boardstate. You played a Knight of the Reliquary but my manabase is basics? That’s fine. I have a few duals out and don’t want to be Wastelanded? Sure – it’s a 3/3. I’m all for a challenge, but Oko was just not a fun card to play against.
What gets better with these new bans?
Wasteland & Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Wasteland is the first card that should be addressed here. No longer do control / midrange decks have the luxury of a basic-heavy manabase and have to be ready for a Wasteland onslaught. With Wasteland having a bigger impact, I suspect Thalia is going to shine. When partnered together, it can only take an onboard Thalia and Wasteland to holt your opponent from casting anything in their hand.
With blue opponents no longer being able to lean on Astrolabe for blue mana, I believe Choke also becomes another solid sideboard card to pressure the mana these decks have at their disposal.
I know some players weren’t big on Ramunap Excavator when Wasteland wasn’t attractive, but I think we’ll see it become a mainstay in Maverick’s 75 for months to come. The ability to now have a Wasteland-lock from the graveyard, an extra card each turn thanks to Horizon Canopy or ever-blocking Dryad Arbor is just too good to give up.
Collector Ouphe wasn’t in the deck to fight against Astrolabe, but it was a really nice overlap. Ouphe was exactly what you wanted against Astrolabe as you didn’t have to commit a removal spell to it, but your opponent had to spend a card to deal with Ouphe. I think these bans will cause Aether Vial and Stoneforge Mystic to make a resurgence as well as Chalice of the Void decks that play acceleration in Mox Diamond (Loam) and Chrome Mox (Mono-R Prison). This is where I see multiple strategies Ouphe will be great to fight against.
With Arcanist and Oko out of the format, I could see Punishing Fire come back into the mix as the average toughness of creatures is most likely going to be more towards 2. It’s great against fair decks, which I think these bannings will unchain and let loose on the format over the coming weeks.
Removal slots in general
With Arcanist gone, I could see some Maverick decks reducing any additional maindeck removal like the 2-3 Abrupt Decay we saw in GWB builds, Lightning Bolts in GWR and some maindeck Path to Exile in GW Maverick. Skyclave Apparition is a great choice if you want to keep some extra removal on top of 4 Swords to Plowshares without diluting the overall creature count.
Maze of Ith
With Arcanist’s trigger occurring on attack and not when damage is dealt, it diminished any changes of Maze of Ith seeing play in Legacy Maverick. The same goes for Uro at the moment, but that’s for a whole other article.
Oko, Thief of Crowns
It’s nice that I can finally write a sentence that states Oko, Thief of Crowns is banned in Legacy. To be fair, I had some real success with BANT Maverick running 3 Oko, but the pain it caused shadowed any joy this card brought me.
All your creatures
No, seriously. Oko was a great way for opponents to deal with creatures and the ability they had on a match. This means opponents are going to need to have more removal at the ready for creatures like Knight of the Reliquary and hate-bears like Thalia and Ouphe.
Oko not only stops your Stoneforge Mystic from being able to deploy an early Batterskull, it also ‘answered’ all equipment you could search for. With Oko no longer around, decks are going to need other ways to deal with Stoneforge Mystic. If Delver players go back to the basics of UR to figure out where they want to go from there, Stoneforge can have a huge impact against a deck that may only have an Abrade or Brazen Borrower to answer Batterskull.
Klothys, God of Destiny
Klothys, God of Destiny is one of the best Green Sun’s Zenith targets ever printed. It gave Maverick a huge boost in fighting against control decks and is a very hard-to-deal-with permanent once on the field. However, Oko gave opponents the ability to stabilise somewhat with incremental life gain and the ability to create threats that could outrace Klothys. With Oko gone, Klothys is going to be much harder for any midrange / control deck to race.
This is an interesting one and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Hexdrinker is fantastic when you play a little patient and make sure it can become a 4/4 without disruption from your opponent, but Oko was always a way for your opponent to deal with it before it got to its final form. Opponents are likely going to be running more instant-speed removal for creatures, so I’m not sure if the drop of Oko is going to be more beneficial than the increase in spell-based removal.
Although players will be looking for new alternative 2 and 3 drops for their decks, Teeg is going to have a big role in the new metagame. A huge bomb against Mono-R Prison and Urza / Karn decks, I think there’s reason to be maindecking Teeg over Ouphe if you’re playing a Stoneforge Mystic package. Terminus, Supreme Verdict and Jace, the Mind Sculptor will also likely be making a comeback from Miracles players.
This is one I’ll have to think about, but now that many decks don’t have a way to regain value from cards going to the graveyard, I could see a resurgence in Thoughtseize to fight against combo and control / midrange. Thoughtseize is great when you can take the sole threat your opponent kept but in the DA/Oko meta that was usually an unlikely scenario. Will that change? Time will tell.
Veil of Summer
If Delver moves toward Grixis then Veil of Summer may be the key to Maverick keeping up with their removal and disruption (IoK, Hymn, Fatal Push, Drown in the Loch, K-Command). In my experience, Maverick isn’t a deck that has the spare mana each turn to hold up, but I know there are some players who really like it as a way to fight on the stack.
What should Maverick players be looking out for?
Chalice of the Void
Although Chalice is only a sideboard card that sometimes sees play in Maverick, it’ll be something you’ll have to make sure you’re ready for yourself in the new meta. Maverick isn’t a deck that’s hit too hard by Chalice and has multiple ways of dealing with it. It can catch you off guard. I’ve lost many matches against Mono-R Prison where T1 Chalice into T2 Blood Moon has crippled my ability to build out my mana early through mana dorks and get in front of Blood Moon.
Back to Basics & Blood Moon
Back to Basics and Blood Moon are cards Maverick players are going to have to be wary of. Both can cause huge blowouts when you have a dual-based manabase, and can sometimes flip a game on its head. There’s no worse feeling than losing a match where you have an un-castable Abrupt Decay in hand, so be alert. I’ll most likely be playing Force of Vigor in my 75 over the coming weeks so hopefully it will keep me pretty safe from these.
Be ready for this one. I know a fair amount of players have dropped Council’s Judgment for Skyclave Apparitions so without Plague Engineer, you’re going to be pretty open to TNN. Many Stoneblade and Delver players will be looking at the merfolk for an easy passage to win, so be sure you have a way to either fight against or deal with TNNs.
What build of Maverick should I be playing?
Here’s a quick rundown on the advantages of each version.
Green-White Maverick (no splash)
- You can run 4-5 basics and not have to worry about opposing Wastelands.
- Your consistent manabase means you’re going to be able to cast your Skyclave Apparitions without too much trouble (double WW can be tricky at times).
Negative: You don’t have a great answer to go-wide strategies. Elves and Goblins are going to be really tough without an early bear (Teeg, Canonist, Spirit, Priest) and decks running Young Pyromancer can get out of hand really quickly.
- Plague Engineer is a great tool to fight against other fair / tribal decks. It also gives you a clean out to TNN and allows you to deal with Baleful Strix / Ice-Fang Coatl (if it still sees play) without using removal.
- Abrupt Decay will still be great, versatile removal. You’re able to deal with anything from Mother of Runes to Umezawa’s Jitte to Back to Basics.
- Thoughtseize may be a solid choice against combo / control and midrange like Stoneblade. It’s tough as it fights for a similar spot against Deafening Silence and Chalice of the Void.
Negative: You’re opening yourself up to Wasteland in games where the black splash can really matter (Death & Taxes, Loam, Goblins, mirror).
Green-White-Red (Punishing Maverick)
- Punishing Fire could be back on the menu and is a great way to keep your opponent from going wide.
- Klothys is still going to be a really solid choice for a threat against blue decks. Be on the lookout for Skyclave Apparition!
- Blast effects in the board are always going to be great against blue decks. Countering a TNN on the stack never felt so good.
Negative: You’re opening yourself up to Wasteland with an already clunky manabase.
Green-White-Blue (BANT) Maverick
- The outlook is not great. One of the huge appeals of BANT Maverick was the ability to play an Oko on T2 even when you’re on the draw. You still have some powerful effects in Uro, Meddling Mage and counter-magic like Flusterstorm, but I don’t think the positives outweigh those of another shell. If you want to run BANT, I’d move towards BANT Stoneblade with True-Name Nemesis, counter-magic and Jace the Mindsculptor.
Negative: Without Oko, there isn’t a great reason to run this over a BANT Stoneblade deck.
- I know there are a few fans of 4C – usually a mix of GW base with high impact splash cards (Plague Engineer, Leovold, Meddling Mage, Blast effects). Being cautious with your manabase is key here as you are going to lose some games to Wasteland.
Negative: The manabase is going to give you more frustrations than you’d like. Sometimes a team of champions doesn’t make a champion team.
Here’s my thoughts on what stock 75’s will look like in the new meta for each Maverick archetype.
Had a few ask for my thoughts on Maverick so here’s my draft 75’s for:
💪 BANT (Hull>3ef)
🔥 Punishing Mav.
— DougesOnTwitch🎥 (@DougesOnTwitch) February 17, 2021
Maverick is most likely in a good position, but first we need to figure out the meta to make sure the 75 is running the right disruption. I feel like the bannings have unlocked a fair amount of Maverick’s tools to really have an impact on the new Legacy format. Have a thought about the deck I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments below!
Play fair, play well.
I’ve got new content coming out on my YouTube channel this week and will make sure I have a league of each Maverick build to see how they progress.
I’m also on the last mile to 1k YouTube SUBS so if you sub while you’re there, I’d very much appreciate it!