April 24th Legacy Challenge: Top 4 Tournament Report with Abzan Maverick
Before the event:
I was listening to an Everyday Eternal podcast with Douges as a guest, and Julian said something that really clicked for me. It was his point about getting lucky. Building your sideboard to give yourself an opportunity to get lucky, and to have more polarized matchups.
I went into this tournament with one goal in mind: Beat Delver. Every time. I accepted the fact I am going to lose to combo decks like Food Chain, Aluren, and Omni-Tell.
In preparation the last few weeks I have been going back and forth between Stone-less Maverick and its alternative with the Stoneforge Mystic package, I came to the realization that Stoneforge Mystic in Maverick is better when you don’t know the meta, while Stone-less might be better if you go to a local meta and you can fix your arsenal of hatebears to combat your local meta.
The morning of the event I made two last minute changes. The first was, I only want Stoneforge Mystic in two scenarios. The first, is my opening hand to apply early pressure on my opponent. The second, in the late game to close out a game. I don’t ever want to draw this card in the mid-game. It’s clunky and we have better mid-game creatures that are looking to dismantle the opponent.
With this in mind, I went from 2 Stoneforge Mystic to 1. This still feels correct to me. The second last minute change, was dropping Zealous Persecution from my sideboard for Armageddon. It is one of my pet cards, it pairs perfectly with 4 Leyline of the Void when facing Lands, it pairs great with Knight of the Reliquary, and can completely shut out an unsuspecting Uro / Bant / Miracle / Control style deck.
This was a mistake. My first loss in Round 3 we’re going to have to revisit this swap.
Decklist: Abzan Maverick
Round 1 – 2-1 Curses
I only knew about this deck from watching a particular Strassdaddy stream. In the stream I learned that this deck is not to be taken lightly and can steal games from unsuspecting opponents. One of the sneaky cards in this deck is Opposition Agent, so I knew to play around it. If it wasn’t for watching that stream about a week or so prior, I would have likely lost this matchup.
Round 2 – 2-1 Smog Delver
Out of all the Delver variants, this is the one I am least worried about. They don’t apply as much pressure as the other Delver variants, and holding back a single Swords to Plowshares is often enough. Wait for your opponent to discard their entire hand to their smog combo, and then use Swords on the Apprentice Mage.
In this matchup, I actually found bringing Thoughtseize in is very correct. Traditionally you wouldn’t normally side this in, because your life total matters in the Delver matchup, but again, I found this matchup to not be too aggressive.
Round 3 – 0-2 Death and Taxes
My opponent played very well, and tempo’ed me out game one. It was a beating. When sideboarding, I looked at my board and realized, I don’t have much for this. In fact, I am really wishing I didn’t just swap out my Zealous Persecution for an Armageddon. I had more options to take out then put in, so I thought to myself, If I can land Collector Ouphe, and then an Armagageddon maybe we will get there? Feels completely wrong, but let’s try it.
My opening hand is Verdant Catacombs, Windswept Heath, Scrubland, Wasteland, Wasteland, Birds of Paradise, Plague Engineer. A rather slow hand that does not do much, but I am banking on my opponent flooding the board and maybe this Plague Engineer will get me back in the game. I’ll keep it. Land, Bird, pass. I re-watched this game to make sure this was reality. I literally drew only lands. It was turn 7, my field is currently 1 Dryad Arbor, 1 Noble Hierarch, Scrubland, Forest, Plains. My hand is, Savannah, Bayou, Gaea’s Cradle, and Karakas. I’m bluffing, trying to buy time, tapping mana, playing a little bit of thinking time. My opponent is taking it slow, he is convinced I must have something.
Turn 9 is when I finally draw a card that isn’t a land. Can you guess what it is? Poetic justice, I draw Armageddon. I message my opponent, that I literally have nothing, except this one card that I will cast and then concede. If this situation couldn’t get any more comedic, he messages. “I thought you’d have a Zealous Persecution or something.” I laugh to myself, because it in fact would have been a Zealous Persecution if I didn’t make this awful change last minute. Oh well, I wish my opponent a good game and move on. Later I saw my opponent in Top 8, so I was glad to see that as well.
Round 4 – 2-1 UR Delver
Out of all the Delver variants, this is the one that I fear the most. I remind myself a few key elements that I’ve learned from watching Achilles27 streams. Keep a hand with lands and one drops. Don’t make Daze a card. Don’t play into their tempo, we want the long game. Our cards are better than theirs. They cannot kill a 4/4 Knight of the Reliquary. It was a tough matchup that came down to the wire. My opponent played very well, but ultimately I let out a huge breath after closing the win. Second Delver deck down.
Round 5 – 2-0 Temur Delver
Out of all the Delver variants, I find this one to be more difficult than Smog Delver, but way easier than UR Delver. This Delver deck wants the mid-game, and Maverick mid-game is better than theirs. I got lucky and had Hexdrinker in my opening hand both games. From what I learned from watching DougesOnTwitch Streams is patience. I knew that they cannot beat a Hexdrinker once leveled. Hold it off until the late game, exhaust their answers, and then slam it.
Round 6 – 2-1 ANT
Game 1 my opponent casts Thoughtseize on me turn 1 and takes Gaddock Teeg right out of my opening hand. I immediately know what I am up against, and I also know my game 1 answer is now in the graveyard. Luckily I cast Thalia, turn 2, my opponent tries to combo through it, but falls flat.
We get to game 3, Leyline of the Void turn 0. Collector Ouphe is keeping their Lotus Pedals, LED, and Wishclaw Talisman on lock. I have a Plague Engineer in my hand, that I don’t plan on casting unless my opponent goes for Empty the Warrens. They combo off, cast an Empty the Warrens. I clear the board with the Plague Engineer, and follow it up with a Thalia. My opponent has 0 cards in hand, and the game is over.
Round 7 -2-1 UR Delver
My younger brother who is also a UR Delver player I have been texting this entire Challenge. I tell him how my heart is racing for this win-and-in, he tells me it’s just another game, just play. He also says he thinks I am locked regardless, the game begins. I got very lucky. Turn 2 I have a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in play. They tap Island and Wasteland to Ponder, followed by an opt to shuffle. That stumble was the game. I followed up the turn with Wasteland on their own, and rode the Thalia to victory.
I found being on the draw in Game 2 is usually a loss for me, it’s difficult to turn around the tempo. I stumbled, through a Forked Bolt and a Wasteland, and the writing was on the wall. An early, yet correct concession from myself. Off to game three.
This was a close game. My opponent had me down to 1 life. Swords of Fire and Ice on a late game Knight of the Reliquary swung for a total of 13 damage in one swing.
Round 8 -2-1 4-Colour Maverick
My opponent was on a sweet deck that ran Noble Hierarch, Teferi, Time Raveler, Elvish Reclaimer, and a new Strixhaven hatebear, Elite Spellbinder. It was a sans black version of Maverick. I didn’t know what I was up against but I know how precious the curve for Maverick players are, and keeping them off that curve is crucial to stopping their gameplan. I was aggressive with my Wastelands, Swords to Plowshares on their Dryad Arbor, Green Sun’s Zenith into a Questing Beast, knocking them down six life (from exalted) trigger QB to take out the Teferi. I closed the win, off to Game 2.
I bring in Path to Exile, and an Armageddon, for a hey you never know. That was a mistake. You know what would have been better in my opening hand game two instead of the Armageddon? Zealous Persecution. Off to Game 3.
This one came down to the wire. Very tight match, we both landed our own Sylvan Libraries Turn 2. However, Sword of Fire and Ice on Knight of the Reliquary in the late game is just a massive amount of damage. The game ended with my opponent only having two minutes left on their clock.
A note on Elite Spellbinder, it has flying, which matters a lot. Also every card snatched, the two mana tax was enough for me to never play the card from exile. They snatched Umezawa’s Jitte game 1, and casting it from exile for 4 mana was way too difficult to ever get it down.
Legacy Challenge Top 4
Game 1, was a close match, Knight of the Reliquary with a Sword of Fire and Ice attached to it, plus a Questing Beast hitting for a total of 14 damage in one swing was still not enough by the life gained accompanied by the likes of Uro and Field of the Dead triggering to flood the board.
Game 2 was a disaster. I mulligan to 5, they cast Swords to Plowshares on my one Noble Hierarch, and Wasteland my only land. The game is over before it even began. I wish my opponent good luck in the final round, and I conceded.
I sincerely don’t believe I could have done this well in the Challenge without the Maverick community. From DougesOnTwitch and the GreenSunsZenith, ItsJulian podcasts, Achilles27 Delver insights, and Strassdaddy streams helping me out with Curses game 1, it all came together. The Maverick discord is very active and there are so many great discussions and players in there who are willing to discuss tech, tricks, and theory. Maverick is in a good position right now, and I plan to keep jamming it.
One thing I am changing to my list is dropping Armageddon for Zealous Persecution. There were so many times in this tournament, the Armageddon in my hand would have stolen the game if it was a ZP. Additionally, this challenge confirmed for me I prefer Sword of Fire and Ice to Batterskull. Batterskull puts too much reliance on Stoneforge Mystic. It’s also clunky in the hand when you draw it, and I want to end the game not prolong it. If I want lifegain, I’ll just go for the Jitte. Sword of Fire and Ice on a late game Knight of the Reliquary is devastating. This tournament I swung for over 10 damage each time.
A huge thank you to Alec for taking the time to write up a tournament report on his dominate finish in the Legacy Challenge. If you’d like to host your tournament report on the site, reach out and we can organise something.
Alec is a High School English Teacher in and Poet in New York. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 2010. His favorite format is Casual EDH, Cube and Legacy. He is a proud owner of a tripod cat named Caulfield. Find him here on his Instagram and Twitter at @AlecInTheInk