Legacy Maverick on a Budget: 2021 Update

Maverick on a budget

Budget Maverick in 2021:

In the grand scheme of things Maverick is among the more budget-friendly decks in the entire legacy format (though Death & Taxes, Miracles, Dredge and Reanimator for common decks all are contenders here as well). That doesn’t, however, mean it’s cheap – the bar to entry for legacy is pretty high. As players spend time playing Magic they will often accumulate huge collections and grow tired of some of their former favorite decks and formats. Were you a GW Hatebears player in modern once upon a time? Perhaps you’ll have a home in legacy with Maverick or D&T.

Whatever your reason for deciding to play legacy might be, some folks will run into financial hurdles amassing a $2,000+ deck to play with (which is reasonable). Fear not, we’re here to help! This guide starts with a $500 build at the time of writing.(As a note, this guide focuses on the paper experience.)

GSZStore

The Maverick Basics:

First, before we start going into detail on how someone might go about putting together and upgrading a budget version of Maverick we need to establish a bit of a baseline on what Maverick does, as well as the methodology for our process. Maverick, at its core, does two things to win games: disrupt mana and play creatures to disrupt strategies. This means there are a few critical components to making a deck Maverick, which is perhaps a deeper list than most legacy “shells” you will find. Maverick is truly defined by these four cards: Knight of the Reliquary, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Wasteland, and Green Sun’s Zenith (or, alternatively, Once Upon A Time). The rest of the deck is largely an interchangeable pile of sub-packages and strategies, so we’ll start from there.

The must-haves and probably-should-haves:

Knight of the Reliquary thalia wasteland

As mentioned, any deck that wants to call itself Maverick needs to start with the following base:

4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Wasteland

Card NameBuy via TCG PlayerBuy via Cardhoarder
Knight of the ReliquaryCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
WastelandCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder

The bad news is that Wastelands are never going to be truly cheap, but the good news is that it means you can build a pretty functional Maverick build on a budget beyond that. From here, we can think about the next groupings of cards that are important to our general game plans: tutor targets and utility lands. First, let’s decide on our tutor package then some targets. In hyper budget builds Green Sun’s Zenith might cost too much for your budget, but you can play Once Upon A Time in its place. Generally it’s not advisable to leave GSZ at home, but sometimes your budget makes that call. From there, here’s a good package to work with:

 Gaddock Teeg Qasali Pridemage Scavenging Ooze

1-2 Gaddock Teeg
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Knight of Autumn
3-4 Mother of Runes
1 Ramunap Excavator
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Questing Beast
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Swords to Plowshares
1-2 Scryb Ranger
1 Dryad Arbor
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Windswept Heath

Card NameBuy via TCG PlayerBuy via Cardhoarder
Gaddock TeegCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Scavenging OozeCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Qasali PridemageCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Knight of Autumn Check Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Mother of RunesCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Ramunap ExcavatorCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Tireless Tracker Check Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Questing BeastCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Birds of ParadiseCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Swords to PlowsharesCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Scryb RangerCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Dryad ArborCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Wooded FoothillsCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Windswept HeathCheck Price via TCG Player Check Price via Cardhoarder

To explain some of the decision-making here, you need to go a bit deeper into how games of Maverick often play out. Frequently games are spent trying to use one of your Green Sun’s Zenith targets to keep your opponent off of one of their primary strategies while trying to amass a board state that can get your opponent dead (or locked out of the game completely). Mother of Runes helps you keep your threats and lock pieces alive; Qasali Pridemage and Gaddock Teeg are important answers to things like Terminus, Tendrils of Agony, Natural Order and most things out of Mono R Prison decks; Scryb Ranger makes your Mother of Runes and Knight of the Reliquary dramatically increase in effectiveness; Ramunap Excavator pairs with Wasteland and Thalia to lock a number of players out of games. You get the idea.




What waits for later:

There are a number of parts of Maverick that dedicated Maverick players will find it hard to agree to part with, but the point of this exercise is that we’re boiling Maverick down to the bare essentials to help players get their foot in the door and start playing, and to do that we have to make sacrifices. Hard ones. But it’s all going to feel better in the end where you can really appreciate the power of some of the secondary parts of Maverick and really start to abuse the deck’s versatility.

Most of the areas you can skimp on costs is in the manabase, which we’re doing. You’ll definitely take a hit here, and it’s one of the earlier places to upgrade parts, but here are some cards we’re going to omit at the start:

1 Karakas
1 Sylvan Library
1-2 Horizon Canopy
0-1 Maze of Ith
1-2 Umezawa’s Jitte
0-1 Gaea’s Cradle
0-3 Stoneforge Mystic
0-1 Sword of Fire and Ice

Card NameBuy from TCGPlayerBuy from CardHoarder
KarakasCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Sylvan LibraryCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Horizon CanopyCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Maze of IthCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Umezawas JitteCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Gaea's CradleCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Stoneforge Mystic Check Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Sword of Fire & IceCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder

You’ll note two things here, which are that:

a) many of these things are one-ofs, and
b) that these are incredibly powerful effects.

Why are we cutting them? We’re simply holding off on including them because they are marginal gains on average, but for this deck they come at a pretty penny in terms of real dollars. Those marginal gains add up pretty quickly, and you should absolutely start upgrading when you can.

The list coming together

Ok, so we’ve covered some of the top level groupings of cards, but let’s see a full example list ripe for upgrading. Here’s the main deck:

2 Llanowar Elves
3 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
1 Sylvan Safekeeper
1 Hexdrinker
4 Giver of Runes
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Matsu-Tribe Sniper
1 Qasali Pridemage
2 Skyclave Apparition
1 Collector Ouphe
4 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Knight of Autumn
1 Ramunap Excavator
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Palace Jailer
1 Questing Beast
1 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
1 Blessed Alliance
4 Once Upon a Time
4 Swords to Plowshares
1 Dryad Arbor
2 Nurturing Peatland
3 Temple Garden
3 Forest
2 Plains
4 Wasteland
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

For anyone who has played a Maverick deck before, there are some glaring weirdnesses, for instance there are no Noble Hierarchs in this list. They’re incredibly powerful, and often can decide games, but they’re also pricey. Since we’re on two colors a smattering of cheap mana dorks do fine in the interim. As far as this list goes, a huge chunk of the value is in Thalia, Green Sun’s Zenith, Wasteland, and the 8 fetch lands. It’s not really doable to skimp on that stuff and still have a real Maverick deck.

A sideboard might look something like this, though this is definitely something you can experiment with a lot based on your local meta:

Deafening Silence choke Councils Judgment

3 Deafening Silence
2 Choke
1 Council’s Judgment
2 Court of Grace
1 Gaddock Teeg
2 Veil of Summer
3 Faerie Macabre
1 Felidar Retreat

Card NameBuy via TCG PlayerBuy via Cardhoarder
Deafening SilenceCheck Price via TCG Player
Check Price via Cardhoarder
ChokeCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Council’s JudgmentCheck Price via TCG Player Check Price via Cardhoarder
Court of GraceCheck Price via TCG Player Check Price via Cardhoarder
Gaddock TeegCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Veil of Summer Check Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Faerie MacabreCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Felidar RetreatCheck Price via TCG Player Check Price via Cardhoarder

Flexible, simple, cheap, and robust. We’ll go over some more flex/sideboard options later.

MaverickPatreon

Starting to upgrade:

Ok, so you’ve got your list, you’re playing with it, and you notice that it’s just missing something. What should you start doing to upgrade? First, we start with one of the most critical omissions: Karakas. Let’s junk that extra removal/utility spell that was just to fill out our deck in a convenient way, but Karakas can save our bacon in a lot of games against Reanimator, Show & Tell, etc. It even saves some of our most critical creatures from untimely demise.

1 Blessed Alliance -> 1 Karakas

Next, you have also likely noticed that closing games just feels like it doesn’t happen fast enough. This is where you’re noticing the lack of exalted triggers from Noble Hierarch. It may seem silly, but those triggers can really add up. First you can upgrade to a Birds of Paradise as a flying blocker and more flexible option for mana, or just make the leap to get the pinnacle that is Noble Hierarch.

4 Dorks -> 4 Birds of Paradise -> 4 Noble Hierarch

Next we want to consider our tutor package, and how many Green Sun’s Zenith we want in the list. Personally I recommend the full set based on the one-of nature of our deck, but you can add them incrementally to either replace or supplement your Once Upon A Time, depending on where you ultimately want to land. 4-8 total of these cards is a great place to be.
4 Once Upon A Time -> 4 Green Sun’s Zenith (optionally removing some extraneous creatures for some OUAT).

Now we’re getting to the “perfection” piece of upgrading where our deck really is resembling a fully functional Maverick deck. The last non-obvious upgrade: Sylvan Library. For anyone who has not had the pleasure of playing with a Sylvan Library, it feels a lot like getting to have your cake and eat it too. With the amount of fetching and shuffling we can do to our deck, Sylvan Library often helps us see an unreasonable number of cards in a game.

1 Palace Jailer -> 1 Sylvan Library

Lastly, we need to upgrade those Temple Gardens, ideally at least two of them, to: Savannah. Maverick has a lot of games that are tight and needing to shock in a pinch can truly be untenable down the road. Fortunately Savannah is one of the cheaper dual lands you can acquire.

3 Temple Garden -> 3 Savannah

One more thing: you can also spring for a Gaea’s Cradle in place of a land, but that card totals more than the entirety of our starting decklist and is far from necessary, even if it can be responsible for some of the most powerful lines of play available to a Maverick deck.




Other possible packages:

Traditional Maverick lists typically ran a distinct Stoneforge Mystic package that consisted of, typically:

2-3 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 Batterskull
1 Sword of Fire and Ice

It’s no longer an automatic include as Maverick has continued to gain more and more cards that feel like auto-includes (like Questing Beast, Hexdrinker, and Ramunap Excavator).

Blast Zone

For spice and budget lists you can run things like a Crop Rotation package with utility lands, in which case I’d recommend something like this:

2-3 Crop Rotation
1 Thespian’s Stage + 1 Dark Depths
1 Maze of Ith
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Field of the Dead
1 Blast Zone

Card NameBuy via TCG Player Buy via Cardhoarder
Crop RotationCheck Price via TCG Player
Check Price via Cardhoarder
Thespian's StageCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Dark DepthsCheck Price via TCG Player
Check Price via Cardhoarder
Maze of IthCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Bojuka BogCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Blast ZoneCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Field of the Dead
Check Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder

But what about the spice?

One of the best parts about being a Maverick player is having the ability to flex on people by way of spicy fun-ofs in your list, or wacky sideboard cards you can tutor with Knight of the Reliquary, Green Sun’s Zenith, or Stoneforge Mystic. Your one-of cards can truly feel like all-stars. Here are some cards that weren’t mentioned above as a part of the list that are worth considering:

1-2 Sanctum Prelate
1 Prowling Serpopard
1 Sigarda, Host of Herons
1 Sigarda, Heron’s Grace
0-2 Tomik, Distinguished Advokist
0-3 Elvish Reclaimer
1 Shifting Ceratops
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Renegade Rallier
0-2 Vivien, Champion of the Wilds
1 Nissa, Who Shakes the World

There are a ton more cards you can consider. Generally my checks are “is it a green creature” and “does it seem sweet” and if so, give it a try.

Splashes and different routes

Commonly cited as the best version of Maverick, most lists feature a black splash which offers some powerful cards to help us gain ground in some of our toughest matchups. Specifically, here are the most common cards included as a result of the splash:

Kunoros, Hound of Athreos Abrupt Decay

2-3 Thoughtsieze (SB)
0-3 Zealous Persecution (SB)
0-3 Abrupt Decay
0-2 Assassin’s Trophy
0-2 Kaya, Ghost Assassin
0-2 Kaya, Orzhov Usurper
0-3 Plague Engineer
0-2 Kunoros, Hound of Athreos

Card NameBuy via TCG PlayerBuy via Cardhoarder
ThoughtseizeCheck Price via TCG Player Check Price via Cardhoarder
Zealous PersecutionCheck Price via TCG Player Check Price via Cardhoarder
Abrupt DecayCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Assassin's TrophyCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Kaya, Ghost AssassinCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Kaya, Orzhov UsurperCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Plague EngineerCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Vraska, Golgari QueenCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Kunoros, Hound of AthreosCheck Price via TCG Player Check Price via Cardhoarder
Kambal, Consul of Allocation Check Price via TCG Player Check Price via Cardhoarder
ScrublandCheck Price via TCG Player Check Price via Cardhoarder
BayouCheck Price via TCG Player Check Price via Cardhoarder

Most notably, these cards help us against Death & Taxes, Storm, True-Name Nemesis, Elves, Miracles, and other go-wide strategies. These are some of our toughest matchups, and even with limited experience in them it will become clear how useful this splash can be.

A less popular variant of Maverick these days, but still a strong deck in its own right, is the red splash Punishing version of Maverick. The basic idea is adding the following cards:

Klothys, God of Destiny Punishing Fire

3 Grove of the Burnwillows
3 Punishing Fire
1-2 Klothys, God of Destiny
1-2 Taiga
1 Plateau
1-3 Pyroblast (SB)
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben (moved to SB)
0-2 Cindervines (SB)

CardBuy via TCG PlayerBuy via Cardhoarder
Grove of the BurnwillowsCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Punishing FireCheck Price via TCG Player Check Price via Cardhoarder
Klothys, God of DestinyCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
PyroblastCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Taiga Check Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
Red Elemental BlastCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
CindervinesCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder
PlateauCheck Price via TCG PlayerCheck Price via Cardhoarder

This version may come to thrive again in the future if 4c Control decks or other value-based decks become dominant, being able to recur both lands and Punishing Fire is a powerful strategy against decks trying to play fair and win by grinding games out.

Bringing it all together

At the beginning of this article I went over what the core aspects of a Maverick deck are, and how you can build around them on a budget–then take them to the next level. There are a ton of options here, and even some that come before building something recognizable as Maverick. You could pass on fetch lands and Wastelands and start with a disruption package including Aven Mindcensor and/or Leonin Arbiter. Perhaps you’ve already got some of the expensive pieces here and have to skimp elsewhere.

Whatever the case, I hope this guide has helped you get your footing with a plan to playing Maverick in legacy.

Helpful resources:




A HUGE thank you to Jordan Munson for putting this piece of content together. I know many players who have reached out for a guide like this and I believe it can really assist in getting those who can’t purchase the whole deck at once. Feel free to reach out to Jordan for any further queries or comment below.

If you enjoy this content you should check out CBRMTG’s Budget to tiered series where they do the same for other decks in Legacy.

About Douges

Hey! Douges here - Founder of the GreenSunsZenith. I've been playing Magic since 2013 and Legacy since 2014. I'm a Death & Taxes pilot turned Maverick fan who created the GreenSunsZenith as a resource for both beginners and experts of the Legacy Maverick archetype. You can reach out to me through my social links below. I stream via Twitch on Thursday nights (7:30pm AEST) & Sunday mornings (10:00am AEST). Please let me know if you don't find anything on the site that you'd like to see. If you'd like to support the GreenSunsZenith, I have a Patreon account you can support the platform through :)

2 thoughts on “Legacy Maverick on a Budget: 2021 Update

  1. Would you think it is worth it to play a splashing (UG/WB/GB/RW) Horizon land instead of Riftstone portal? If so, which one? They seem better in the grind+save quite a penny when compared to Canopy.

    1. Hey Plamenaks, apologies for the delayed response.

      You sure could, depending on the splash in your deck (if any) the draw ability of these lands really help if you get flooded in the mid game. Riftstone Portal really has to be in your graveyard to get the full value of the card which isn’t always easy to do, so I could see someone will a little bit more of a budget shifting towards the draw lands.

      The WB one allows you to pay for Surgical Extraction, a small buff but worth noting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *