The Legacy format: Non-rotating, but ever changing
What if I told you 5 years ago that Legacy Delver was (for a period of time) no longer playing Delver of Secrets? That UWx Miracles pilots had moved away from announcing miracle spells, and that many builds of Elves no longer ran Nettle Sentinel or Heritage Druid? What about a world where Death & Taxes was not only playing an additional 20 maindeck cards, but no longer supported the sacred 4th copy of Flickerwisp? What if in the same breath, I said Gaddock Teeg was no longer the hatebear Maverick needed in the Legacy format? You’d most likely laugh it off and say something along the lines of this type of change doesn’t happen in eternal formats like Legacy, that some sacred cows can never be slaughtered no matter how hungry players become…but here we are.
In 2020 I reviewed the role of Gaddock Teeg in Legacy Maverick and came to the conclusion that even though there had been a number of powerful cards printed since the kithkin’s debut in October 2007, Teeg had a place in the format. Looking back, I think this was incorrect and even then, I should have considered Teeg to be more of a fringe silver bullet than I concluded. You can view that article here:
Maverick is a unique deck as any 1 copy of a green creature has 5 virtual copies thanks to Green Sun’s Zenith. This means you can run a variety of ‘silver-bullet’ creatures such as Gaddock Teeg without having to run multiple copies. This is perfect for a tool-box style archetype as you have much more space to play around with, be creative and really target the metagame you’re wanting to beat. But just because you can have access to 5 copies of Teeg, doesn’t mean it’s needed.
What’s Gaddock Teeg role in Legacy right now?
When you think of Gaddock’s role, you typically have 2 lines of thought;
- Stop your combo opponent from winning the game (Tendrils of Agony, Empty the Warrens, Natural Order etc.)
- Stop your control / midrange opponent from sweeping your board (Terminus, Supreme Verdict, Engineered Explosives etc.)
But the question must be asked, how many combo decks are currently winning through 4CMC spells? How many boardwipes are we currently seeing in the format? How long have neither of the above roles been relevant to Legacy? Some would argue Gaddock Teeg lost a fair amount of points when Sensei’s Divining Top was banned from Legacy in 2017 and I do agree. I think Teeg has been given a little too much game-time over the past few years due to his status as a sacred cow of the archetype.
So, where to now? Let’s take a dive into the current Legacy metagame and identify the spells and strategies Gaddock Teeg is currently hindering that Maverick cares about. I say this because I want to acknowledge not all 4CMC+ non-creature spells are cards Maverick cares about. As an example, I’m not going to be keeping Gaddock Teeg in the maindeck against a deck just because they may have Force of Will post-board.
1. What strategies does Teeg currently disrupt?
Let’s address the elephant in the room – Gaddock Teeg does at times disrupt its own Maverick pilot. Green Sun’s Zenith has been Maverick’s engine for over a decade and the recent printing of Prismatic Ending has been seeing more and more play in Legacy Maverick. This means there are times where Teeg can be awkward to cast, turns where he has entered play then you’ve drawn into back-to-back Zenith’s or Prismatic Ending’s. You do sometimes have the option to use Karakas to return Teeg to your hand to turn these online, but it’s not an ideal situation.
Looking at the top 16 decks from the last 4 Challenges (64 in total), only 18 of them are archetypes I’d consider playing Teeg against and only 8 of those I’d consider Teeg to be more than an average speedbump.
Current Top Archetypes in Legacy: February 2022
Using MTGGoldFish’s metagame breakdown, let’s look at the top 12 archetypes (as of February 21st, 2022) and how many Teeg is currently relevant against (archetype, meta-share, impact):
- UR Delver (17.6%) – N/A
- Reanimator (8%) – N/A
- Death & Taxes (6.8%) – N/A
- Doomsday (5.8%) – N/A (Can stop Temporal Mastery stacks but your opponent is not going for these with Teeg in play)
- Jeskai Control (5.2%) – N/A (Many versions aren’t playing Jace, Terminus, Supreme Verdict or Engineered Explosives. Most versions also play Karakas / Dress Down)
- 4C Control (5.0%) – N/A (see above)
- Elves (4.6%) – Yes (Hurrah!)
- 8-Cast (3.8%) – Worth considering against the Karn builds. I don’t think Thoughtcast is enough to consider Teeg turning off our own Endings, GSZ and Force of Vigor
- Sneak & Show (3.6%) – Can be awkward turning off Force of Vigor / GSZ. Does hit hardcast Sneak Attack, Firemind’s Foresight and Shared Summons
- Stoneblade (3.2%) – N/A
- Painter (3.0%) – Can be a great way to keep Karn and Fiery Confluence off the stack, otherwise turns off too much of our own spells just like the 8-cast matchup
- Lands (2.8%) – N/A
As you can see from the list above, Teeg isn’t in a great spot right now. He has some solid game against Elves, but you do have to be mindful of how that deck can with through Allosaurus Shepherd.
Alright, let’s dig a little deeper.
Legacy Combo Decks
Green Sun’s Zenith | Natural Order
Gaddock Teeg is still a nice, disruptive element to have against Elves, but recent printings in Elvish Reclaimer and more importantly Allosaurus Shepherd has given Elves a midrange / beatdown strategy you need to respect. The builds by Elves enthusiast like HelloNewton (a member of the Sylvan Syndicate) have been more midrange than combo decks which also Assassin’s Trophy out of the board is typically how Teeg is going to leave the field, but also look out for Karakas in Elvish Reclaimer builds. If you do expect Elves to be in the metagame you play, then Teeg is still the best 2CMC green creature to have as a Zenith target.
If you haven’t already, you should 110% check out Newton on Twitch. He streams Legacy Elves, provides insight and reasoning into his plays and is an all round great player & person.
This is the main archetype I see in the top share of the current metagame where Gaddock Teeg does have a notable level of disruption. Is Teeg turning off our own Green Sun’s Zenith and Prismatic Ending worth it though? I think that’s going to differ from player to player and how they approach the matchup.
Archetype: Oops all Spells
Dread Return | Force of Vigor
Oops all Spells hasn’t been seeing too much play, but if Teeg gets into play against Oops, they are going to have a real hard time winning the game. That’s a big if though, as it’s the first 1-2 turns you need to control before you have the chance to put Teeg on the stack. Most of the time if you’re getting to this stage, you’re going to be fine anyway, but it’s nice to still have a ‘lights-out’ moment with Teeg.
Archetype: ANT / TES
Past in Flames | Tendrils of Agony | Empty the Warrens | Ad Nauseam | Peer into the Abyss | Massacre
We’ve seen a move towards Doomsday as the combo deck of choice, so right now I wouldn’t be thinking about TES or ANT too much (but I still think it’s worth reviewing). Gone are the days where Teeg was next to an auto-win in G1 against storm variants. Teeg is still a great hatebear to have against ANT & TES, but a fair amount of the time I’m more likely to move towards Collector Ouphe (especially if I can’t GSZ for Ophe once Teeg is in the field). With Mother of Runes online, these decks can have a tough time dealing with your creatures but recent movements towards Dress Down really negates the impact of any hatebears on-board.
Aeve, Progenitor Ooze is also a nice piece of tech to get around an online Gaddock Teeg which the man himself Cyrus has been running recently in his 2022 build of ANT.
Karn, the Great Creator | Pyrokinesis | Fiery Confluence | Mycosynth Lattice | Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
I’m on the fence with Teeg against Painter decks. On one side, you’re stifling your opponents ability to take advantage of the Karn gameplan, but you’re also turning off your ability to build out your board with Zenith and control your opponents board with Ending / Force of Vigor post-board. I think he’s reasonable here, but would not be surprised to see pilots not rely on Teeg in this matchup. You most likely want to play Teeg in the mid-late game rather than tutor for him as soon as you get 3 mana.
Archetype: Sneak & Show / OmniTell
Sneak Attack | Shared Summons | Sublime Epiphany | Firemind’s Foresight
Against Sneak, I don’t think Teeg does enough. It doesn’t stop Show & Tell into creature and can be backbreaking in play when you want to Force of Vigor an Omniscience. With Abrade and sweepers also coming in for Maverick, keeping Teeg alive can be a tough battle without Mother of Runes (especially if your opponent is playing Kozilek’s Return). This is a really tough matchup for Maverick, so it is most likely a case of take any advantage you can, but splashing red for blast effects is most likely your best way to deal with Show & Tell.
Legacy Midrange Decks
Archetype: Mono-B Curses
Leyline / Chalice of the Void | Curse of Death’s Hold / Misfortunes / Fool’s Wisdom | Cruel Reality | Overwhelming Splendour | Karn, the Great Creator | Helm of Obedience | Mycosynth Lattice
Working my way through a stock Mono-B Curses list, it’s actually surprising how good Gaddock Teeg is against Curses. If you can get him down under a Curse of Misfortunes, you’re going to be in a great spot. Again, this is a big if as Curses has a few ways to power out their enchantments and Karn. I’ve run into Curses a few times over the last couple of months, but I wouldn’t say this archetype is a reason you should currently be playing Teeg. Shout out to Reeplcheep and all their hardwork put into this deck.
Archetype: Mono-R Stompy
Chalice of the Void | Shatterskull Smashing | Fiery Confluence | Karn, the Great Creator | Mycosynth Lattice | Chandra, Torch of Defiance | Chandra, Awakened Inferno
Many red prison builds have been moving away from the planeswalker suite and moved into more aggressive shells with Fireflux Squad. Fury and Bonecrusher Giant have become great ways to deal with small creatures like Gaddock Teeg so the once powerful (soft) lockpiece is now a shadow of his former self.
Mono-R Stompy isn’t seeing too much play at the moment, but when it is I often find myself a little confused when to move him out of the matchup (as Green Suns Zenith, Ending and Force of Vigor tend to be great). I find the creature-heavy builds to be harder to get around than the ‘walker builds. Chalice isn’t typically a card that’s great against Maverick, but when it’s shutting off removal on their creatures, you need to find a way to remove it ASAP before you’re facing lethal with removal stuck in hand.
Archetype: BANT / Jeskai / 4C Control
Prismatic Ending | Jace, the Mind Sculptor | Supreme Verdict | Terminus | Engineered Explosives
Without Swords to Plowshares, Gaddock Teeg can turn off a fair amount of removal from the current UWx control / midrange decks of the format. However the increase in Dress Down and Karakas means he’s not as safe on the board as you may think. This is a matchup where you could potentially be keeping a boardwipe off the stack, but turning off your own Green Sun’s Zenith and Prismatic Endings is just too big of a downside in my opinion for this matchup. I will admit these decks are playing a much lower count of sweepers than a few years ago, with many only playing a single copy of Terminus or Supreme Verdict in their 75 or a couple of Engineered Explosives.
The printing of Collector Ouphe also gave Maverick players a classic hatebear that not only hated on combo, but also other artifact and stoneblade decks. As a GW deck in Legacy, you need to make sure all your cards have some impact on a game and Ouphe is a great example of that. Who would have thought you could have a creature that’s not only great against Stoneforge Mystic decks but also combo and artifact-based archetypes? A fair amount of the time against the decks above, I’m GSZing for Ouphe before thinking of Teeg, and I think that’s become a community-wide mindset.
Dress Down has also hit Teeg’s ability to lock out opponents, especially storm variants and High Tide. There’s no worse feeling than landing Teeg, only for your opponent to flash in an end step Dress Down, untap and cast a Jace, bouncing Teeg back to your hand. For me, Dress Down was the true last straw that did it for me.
Gaddock Teeg right now is more of a meta-call creature than a Maverick staple. As a huge fan of Teeg, that’s hard to accept, but that additional slot for removal or a more impactful green creature is huge for Maverick players. He doesn’t win games like he used to, and Ouphe has taken his maindeck slot in the majority of top-performing lists. You need to ask yourself, would I be happy against this deck to have Teeg on the field and GSZ and/or Ending in hand? If the answer is no, then Teeg is most likely going to be more detrimental to your own plan that your opponents.
Have a different view? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time…
Play well, play fair.