Maverick is a fair creature deck? Why not just run Death & Taxes?
This is a pretty common question asked by players who know more of D&T as a powerful format all-star and less about the power of Maverick. Many players believe Death & Taxes is the best fair deck in the format, so why would you play a different fair deck in Maverick?
Green Sun’s Zenith is the big reason why. It’s one of the most powerful and yet one of the most under-utilised cards in the format. Compared to Aether Vial, Green Sun’s Zenith has a ton more flexibility and gets more powerful in the mid-late game, whereas Aether Vial may be the best turn 1 play for any Aether Vial deck but is rather lacklustre after the early game. You also have access to other mana acceleration in Noble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise which allow you to get your beatdown or mana denial strategy online much faster; mana produces in the early game and equipped beaters in the later. Even with the printing of Recruiter of the Guard, Maverick is by far one of the most fun and competitive toolbox decks in the format and the access to multiple colours allows you to fit powerful silver bullets into your 75.
Why not just play 4C Loam then?
The big reason is consistency. You could argue that Maverick is just a more consistent Knight of the Reliquary deck. Sure, you have better matchups with Chalice of the Void and the ability to play Chalice for 1 on turn 1, but by playing cards like Mox Diamond and Chalice you are losing some consistencies. These cards are great in opening 7s but aren’t as powerful later in the game.
You also have Planeswalkers in 4C Loam that you can rely on as your threat of choice but I’d argue it’s easier to take 4C loam off their threat than it is against a deck like Maverick. 4C Loam’s manabase is also quite unstable and without the Life from the Loam engine, can really suffer under pressure from mana denial effects like Wasteland and Rishadan Port. Maverick on the other hand has a much more stable manabase and access to mana-producing creatures to get you ahead of your opponent.
Chalice and Loam aren’t always the great lock pieces they are known to be in a certain meta either, which can really hurt the overall efficiency and power of 4C Loam. However Maverick’s consistency tends to favour its ability to win matches in the early, mid and late game.
How important is Birds of Paradise?
Birds of Paradise is great at what it does. A mana-producing flying creature that when paired with a Mother of Runes can protect your life total in the air. In a deck with equipment like Sword of Fire & Ice and multiple creatures with exalted, BoP can also be a small aerial threat. For pilots who run black, Birds of Paradise is key to having access to multiple sources of black mana. I really like a 4/1 split of Noble Hierarch / Birds of Paradise for GW versions and a 3/2 split for GWB.
Is Assassin’s Trophy better than Abrupt Decay?
The printing of Assassin’s Trophy gave GB players a small headache – the only cure being vigorous testing. Trophy has the ability to interact with format staples like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Gurmag Angler & Griselbrand and can even act as a Strip Mine against basic-less mana bases like that in RUG Delver. The downside of Trophy giving your opponent mana however can be significant. Sure, Maverick isn’t the mana-denial monster that Death & Taxes is, but it does have mana denial elements nevertheless.
Wastelanding your opponent and then giving them back a land doesn’t sound appealing. The same could be said for playing a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and then giving them the mana to ‘avoid’ the tax on a spell each turn. However if you’re casting a Trophy the upside is generally going to be better than the downside of your opponent having access to more mana.
Abrupt Decay however cannot be countered. That in itself is a huge reason why since its printing in Return to Ravnica it’s seen so much play in the Legacy format. It really comes down to your 75 and how you as a player pilot your deck. Do you feel in your local meta you need straight answers to the Jace’s and Gurmag’s of the format, or is Abrupt Decay going to deal with the hurdles in front of your road to victory?
Better is always going to be subjective, so you as a player need to decide if the un-counterability of Abrupt Decay is better than the versatility of Assassin’s Trophy. If you are looking to run Assassins’ Trophy, how about also looking into Council’s Judgment as a sideboard bullet that also answers True-Name Nemesis? In short, you need to ask yourself WHY are you wanting to play either of these? What are they most likely going to hit? Are they most likely coming in against decks with counter-magic? This is how you figure out which is best for your deck.
What are Maverick’s poor matchups?
Maverick has pretty poor matches against hard control such as Miracles and, to an extent, Grixis Control. Maverick also has a hard time against combo such as Sneak & Show and Elves and as a fair deck, really any other fast-combo archetype. However that doesn’t mean we don’t have the tools to beat such decks. If your local meta or the online meta is infested with these archetypes it’s a matter of adjusting the 75 to cater towards beating them. I’ve found the black splash and access to hand disruption like Thoughtseize and removal like Assassin’s Trophy has allowed me to deal with nearly everything a deck can throw at me either before they get a chance to cast it or before it’s made an impact on the game.
What are Maverick’s good matchups?
As a Maverick pilot you’re going to have a great time against the other fair decks of the format. You have game against Death & Taxes where the access to equipment killers like Qasali Pridemage or Knight of Autumn in the maindeck are huge. Knight of the Reliquary also laughs in the face of Wasteland, however sometimes you can get trumped by aerial attacks. Knight and Wasteland are also a house against Eldrazi and land-based decks like GB Depths and Lands. If you’re playing against a deck that plays on the stack, you’re most likely unfavoured. If you’re playing against a deck that builds its advantage through a slow-building board presence, you’re most likely favoured.
When is it worth it to splash black?
Most players can agree the black splash is for 1 or 2 specific cards. Zealous Persecution is the big winner while Thoughtseize also adds an element to Maverick’s game plan that it traditionally doesn’t have access to in hand disruption. You could also say Assassin’s Trophy and Abrupt Decay are great sideboard cards that the splash gives you access to but I don’t believe they are as important as the former. I believe it’s first worth it to splash black when you realise you’re losing to decks that go wide (Elves, UR Pyro, D&T), can’t answer TNN or want some turn 1 interaction against combo and control decks. I don’t believe Maverick has an un-winnable matchup against fast combo, but we have a saturation of hate in the 2CMC slot. One of the reasons Thoughtseize is so good for us is it allows us to have turn 1 interaction and then follow that up most likely with a turn 2 bear (Gaddock, Ethersworn, Canonist, Containment Priest etc.).
When it is worth it to splash red?
Punishing Maverick has access to two big red cards in Punishing Fire and Pyroblast. Punishing Fire is huge game against fair creature decks, it’s a great win condition (although slow) and also a great way to grind down Planeswalkers. Traditionally Punishing Maverick is weaker than the other versions against combo decks in game 1 due to Thalia being moved to the sideboard. But if your local field is predominantly fair decks, Punishing Maverick could be a great way to take advantage of that.
When would you run the Dark Depths Combo?
The Dark Depths combo is by no means a staple in Maverick. The combo (Thespian’s Stage & Dark Depths) can be a great way to ‘get a win out of nowhere’ but also puts pressure on your mana base. Although Dark Depths should never be considered a part of your mana base and should be considered a spell, having either of these cards in your opening hand can be a little awkward from a mana perspective. However if you’re also running any amount of Crop Rotation, having 1 piece online early can find you wins out of nowhere.
My local meta has a huge amount of Karakas, Swords to Plowshares, Baleful Strix and Diabolic Edict type effects so I haven’t been on the Dark Depths plan for a while but can see it being played in a GW-based deck. I believe it’s a little greedy to play the combo within a 3-colour version of the deck but I have seen success with it before.
Ancient Tomb vs. Gaea’s Cradle
Ancient Tomb has been a recent talking point as a ‘replacement’ for Gaea’s Cradle (a land that can produce more than 1 mana). Many players have been finding Tomb to be an interesting inclusion, allowing for turn-2 3CMC players like Ramunap Excavator, Thalia, Heretic Cathar or Tireless Tracker , or even just allowing the ability to play around Daze while staying on curve. Tomb can also allow you to equip faster than most other Stoneforge Mystic decks however with 1-drop mana creatures it doesn’t really change the math.
Neither land does anything for Maverick on turn 1. Cradle of course has the downside of doing nothing with no creatures on board, a reason why most Maverick players tend to side out Cradle against decks like Miracles. Tomb doesn’t have that issue, but in a deck without Aether Vial or Phyrexian Revoker you don’t have any turn 1 plays in Maverick with a start of Ancient Tomb.
Note: With some players starting to play Chalice of the Void in their sideboards as combo and Miracles hate – That does open the possibility of Ancient Tomb allowing a turn 1 Chalice for 1.
Qasali Pridemage vs. Knight of Autumn
This has been a small area of debate since the printing of Knight of Autumn. Also known as Swiss Army Knight, KoA gives Maverick a new silver bullet to play around with. Need a beater that dodges -1/-1 and -2/-2 hate? Need an artifact or enchantment destroyed? Need to gain some life and time? Knight of Autumn is great for a variety of scenarios where as Qasali is a little more limited for its potential and doesn’t stick around after.
Exalted has always been a hidden feature of Maverick and, when assembled together with a beater, can turn a clock into a 2 or 3 turn killer. But which is better than the other? Is one better than the other? That’s a tough one to answer as with Magic it’s always a case of ‘it depends’.
Qasali Pridemage can be cast and give you a small advantage in exalted and also act as an earlier beater. The issue with Knight is you may want to keep it in your hand for a specific target but then be caught with no creature to beatdown with. This is an issue in G1 where you may not know if the Knight is going to be relevant. Would you cast it T3 if it was the only 3 drop you could play early? Qasali has a huge advantage here as it’s still a beatstick and can assist with getting through damage with other creatures.
EX1: Hitting Equipment
Your opponent has played a turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic and fetched up an equipment. If your opponent puts the equipment into play through Stoneforge Mystic in an end step, it’s likely your Knight of Autumn won’t have a chance to take it down before your opponent gets some level of value out of it (they get to work at instant speed which plays around your sorcery speed Knight).
Qasali on the other hand can be on the field and open to hit their equipment during all phases in both your turn and their turn. This is a key reason why I believe Qasali and Knight work well side by side, muting the case of one being better than the other.
This also applies for cards like Inkmoth Nexus which cannot be disrupted by Knight but is checked by Qasali Pridemage.
EX2: Show & Tell
Your opponent casts Show & Tell and you have either of the bullets to put in. They put in Omniscience, you put in Knight – Trigger – Target Omniscience. Now without instant speed effects like Cunning Wish your Emrkaul holding opponent is going to have a hard time.
However you may not be so lucky with Qasali. If you put in Qasali, when do you blow the Omniscience? You don’t have priority to destroy it before they cast a creature like Emrakul or Griselbrand – but if they pass turn, do you play around an instant-speed kill through Cunning Wish? Knight looks to be the winner in this case.
As you can see, both cards have some relevant advantages and disadvantages which I believe point to both being great side by side. Qasali has its margins over Knight but that’s always going to be decided by the play style of the pilot.
What other Maverick content and resources are out there?
Here’s a list I’ve complied of pieces of Maverick content:
- Mavericks and Mystics by Kendra Smith (Feb, 2019)
- Bringing Maverick Back by Ross Merriam (July, 2018)
- A bunch of thoughts about Maverick by Miranda Keith (Oct,2018)
- Scrub’s Land: Being a Maverick and Serving the Beats by /u/Lorkac (June,2018)
- TES Matchup Battles: Maverick by Alex Poling (May, 2018)
- Becoming the Maverick by Karim Badrudin (April,2018)
- The Call of the Maverick Player – Spike Feed Podcast (Oct, 2017)
- Punishing Maverick – Leaving a Legacy Podcast (April, 2017)
- Maverick with Tom Herzog – Legacy’s Allure Podcast (July, 2016)
- Primer: Introduction to Legacy GWx Maverick – with Budget Tips by Seraphix (April, 2016)
- A Legacy Interview about Maverick, SCG Open Top 4 by the Brainstorm Brewery (May, 2014)
- No Brainstorm? Maverick With Punishing Fire by Gerry Thompson (Dec, 2011)
- Maverick Primer – MTG The Source
- Maverick Primer – MTG Salvation
- Maverick Discord