Legacy GW Maverick with Dan Neeley

Legacy Maverick is no doubt a deck that rewards pilots who stick it out through thick and thin. Piloting a specific deck and grinding out hundreds of games is the best way to really understand the underlying purpose of a deck’s presence in a format like Legacy, and more importantly, its role against other decks.

Dan Neeley has been a GW Maverick aficionado for a few years now with a very impressive record sheet. He’s an Ohio local, a MTGO grinder (and a very successful one at that) and a big fan of fair magic. He was kind enough to find some time and answer some questions I and many other Maverick pilots had, so let’s get right into it.

Dan thanks again for your time. First off, a little bit about yourself. When did you get into Magic?

I first got into Magic in 2001, playing with my cousins and a few friends from school.

When did you get into Legacy? What decks have you piloted before Maverick and 4C Loam (if any)?

I first started playing Legacy I believe in 2012. During that time I’ve played a range of different Legacy decks, my first being Reset High Tide. I have a few results you won’t see under my MTGO name DNEELEY.

  • Star City Games (SCG) Open Legacy Top 8 with UG Cloudpost
  • A 7-1 finish with UG Cloudpost in the Legacy portion of an SCG Invitational
  • A finals split at the 2017 Eternal Weekends Legacy 5K with Bant Deathblade
  • MTGO Challenge win with Bant Deathblade
  • 2 additional MTGO Legacy Challenge wins and several top 8s
  • Several SCG Classic top 8s.

Here’s a link for some of the paper results (ignore Daniel – that isn’t me [Dan Neeley]). 

Do you play Legacy in paper and if so, is Maverick your go-to?

I typically only play paper magic a few times a year, exclusively Legacy as I am very busy in my sales career and with my family (wife and 3 little girls). My LGS is great (The Deck Factory in Lima, Ohio), however there is no Legacy, unfortunately. I tend to play 4 Colour Loam more in paper but with how it’s going on MTGO, I will probably play Maverick unless Wrenn and Six from Modern Horizons turns out to be busted in Loam.

You’ve been on GW Maverick for a long time with some breaks on 4C loam with which I know you’ve taken down a league at the end of 2018. How did Maverick grab your attention? Why go with such a fair deck in such an unfair format?

The reason I gravitated to Maverick was that I always liked playing fair. I was playing with Death and Taxes when Elves in Ohio/Indiana SCGs were everywhere and I wanted to be a turn faster, equipping and swinging with Umezawa’s Jitte. My friend Bob Conley always played it and I saw him play enough to be confident with the deck. My other friend Jj Garlock also started playing it and we became travelling partners and discussed the deck a lot, and we still do to this day. Shout out to you guys. I think the reason to play such a fair deck like Maverick is because of how consistent the deck is and the tool box Green Sun’s Zenith gives you to win almost any match up. 

Your results speak for themselves – what advice would you have to a new Legacy player wanting to pilot Maverick?

Play a lot of games with the deck. I think the best way to do this is MTGO, as the competition makes you better. You get to see game states that you get more familiar with, and the decisions become very clear. Don’t try random Green Sun’s Zenith bullets as 4 and 5CMC cards are hard to cast consistently. Don’t play the Dark Depths package – it takes the consistency of your manabase away. Watch video archives of SCGs, and search the name Thomas Herzog.

Why Traditional GW Maverick over the GWB or Punishing build?

I really switched to GW Maverick because of the card Palace Jailer. It is one of the strongest cards you can play in a fair deck like Maverick. Also, I realised the manabase is much more consistent and I strongly believe you will win more games because of it. The reason I believe Punishing Maverick is the worst version of Maverick is because you typically aren’t playing the best card in the the deck against combo, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. With that being said, I think the deck is much better positioned in paper than MTGO.

What are examples of subtle changes to the meta that would make you consider a switch from GW Maverick to another variant?

If combo becomes even more popular, I think the right version is GWB Maverick due to Thoughtseize being the best way to fight most of the combo decks. Also Zealous Persecution is amazing and deserves to see play – I still play black from time to time. If there are too many Miracles and Elves, I would choose to switch to 4 Colour Loam, but you can still do well with Maverick with the right configuration.

You’ve recently increased your Sylvan Library and Palace Jailer to multiples (x2). I assume this is so the chance of drawing both (as they aren’t tutorable) becomes more consistent? With the printing of Narset, Partner of Veils and drawing cards being more restricted, do you have any thoughts on moving back to one of each?

I think it’s your best way to get ahead playing these cards. Thankfully she is easier to kill and you don’t have to worry about her like you would a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. For now, I will continue to play both.

Speaking of Palace Jailer…

Maverick is well known for its consistency and mostly relies on that to grind out wins. The Crown can be a pretty swingy element of the game in a format of True-Name Nemesis and pesky flyers. How’d you come to playing Jailer over something like Tireless Tracker (not the greatest 1v1 but similar in providing card advantage)?

It was so powerful at the Pro Tour in Death and Taxes, I knew I had to try it out. If you’ve never played with Palace Jailer then you won’t understand how it can change the game state when you thought you were behind and all of a sudden you become heavily favoured. 

Have you had many moments where you’ve been hit hard by your opponent taking the crown and not had the resources to get it back?

Yes – especially by the True-Name Nemesis decks. If I think Stoneblade is going to be popular, I will play 1 Palace Jailer and 1 Tireless Tracker. I will also tend to side Palace Jailer out in this match up.

Why do you like Knight of Autumn over Qasali Pridemage in the maindeck? I had a Discord user ask if you rather Qasali with SOLAS, but I assume your reasoning might be the same as mine where if you’re connecting with the sword you’re most likely winning anyway and don’t need the extra Qasali ability?

I want as many “enter the battlefield triggers” as I can to help beat JPA aka the Show and Tell master of MTGO. I recently lost to him in the top 4 of the MTGO MCQ. Also I agree with you in that when you are able to connect with a sword, you are already ahead.

What are your thoughts on why you don’t see Batterskull in Maverick as consistently as D&T?

Batterskull is fine in Maverick, but the utility of the swords is more effective with all the creatures in the deck. Maverick already protects the ground well and doesn’t want to play 4 Stoneforge Mystic, where Batterskull is at its best. It could get hard to cast with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Gaddock Teeg on the battlefield.

What meta makes the Dark Depths combo worth playing in Maverick?

I don’t think this card is for Maverick. Also refer to above when I talk about advice for new players and making sure your manabase is strong. 

Are there any clear matchups where if you know what you’re playing against, you’d lead with a Mother of Runes over a Noble Hierarch? (I know this is very much a ‘it depends on the hand’ situation, but any insights would be great.)

If you are on the play vs Death & Taxes or Delver, I like to lead on Mother of Runes because I like Noble Hierarch to live when I need to develop my manabase, and would like them to wait a turn to play Aether Vial or Delver of Secrets. I think Noble is the strongest play the majority of the time. I haven’t thought a lot about this question but I think this could be a great discussion in the near future. 

You’ve been playing Chalice of the Void in the sideboard of your GW Maverick lists for some time now. What matchup(s) is this for? Do you bring it in against a deck like Reanimator or Delver where Chalice for 1 is a fine disruptive play but Swords to Plowshares is also a vital answer to opposing threats?

It’s for basically all the combo matchups and Miracles. I rarely will bring it in vs Delver because Swords to Plowshares is our best answer to a lot of their threats. Having a possible turn-one play against Storm and Reanimator is huge and allows you to play around those Chancellor triggers.

You’re about to go to a big Legacy event where you’re not too familiar with the meta. Are there any specific sideboard cards you would always have in your 75?

Choke, Choke and Choke! The card is great and goes so well when you are able to pressure your opponents’ life total. I basically always play 2 Ethersworn Canonist and 2 Surgical Extraction. I always have more cards than just Thalia, Guardian of Thraben against combo.

What do you believe are GW Maverick’s traditional best matchups?

I think Eldrazi is one of our best matchups. My favourite card of all time, Knight of the Reliquary is amazing against them. Also, Death Shadow seems to be my best win percentage within the spreadsheet I keep.

What do you believe are GW Maverick’s traditional worst matchups?

Terminus decks – aka Miracles. You need lots of Chokes and Chalice of the Void! Make sure you don’t overextend, and be sure to use resources like Karakas and equipment to save your creatures from removal. Fast combo decks like BR Reanimator, Storm, Belcher and Show and Tell can be tough. You have the tools to beat these decks, have a plan to beat them with cards like Thoughtseize, Chalice of the Void, Surgical Extraction and many others.

What do you believe GW is better against than GWB or GWR? Where does GW run short?

I think GW is better in an open meta because of the consistency of the manabase. I strongly believe the more consistent you make your mana and deck, the more it will win you games. I know this sounds like common sense, sorry! I think in a heavy combo meta, the black splash is your best option, Thoughtseize is our best way to deal with them. I think Punishing Maverick is best vs Delver and fair metagames. Being able to kill Planeswalkers with the Punishing Fire & Grove of the Burnwillows combo is a huge advantage and may be better vs decks like Miracles. 

What is your sideboard strategy against Miracles?

I bring in:

+3 Choke

+2 Chalice of the Void

+2 Council’s Judgment

+1 Knight of Autumn

I take out:

-3 Knight of the Reliquary

-1 Mother of Runes

-1 Noble Hierarch

-1 Ramunap Excavator

-1 Swords to Plowshares

-1 Green Sun’s Zenith

What do you feel your role is in game 1 and how does that change for 2 and 3?

I feel like your role in game 1 is to protect a creature like Thalia and Gaddock Teeg with either equipment, Mother of Runes or Karakas. Utilise Dryad Arbor with equipment as best as you can due to its ability to play around Terminus with fetchlands. Game 2 and 3 turns into trying to overload their resources with the same type of game plan and trying to resolve hay-makers like Chalice, Choke and Jailer. Try to be patient and resolve Choke with their mana tapped.

What do you believe are the biggest cards in the mirror match (GW for the purpose of this question)?

Umezawa’s Jitte is the card that decides a lot of mirrors.  Scryb Ranger is the card that can also decide a lot of games alongside Mother and your equipment suite. Jailer is the other card in the mirror that will pull you further ahead of your opponent.

How have you liked spoilers so far from a testing perspective in GW Maverick?

I haven’t tried too many new cards due to the 80% win rate I have had this last month, but I think Vivien, Champion of the Wilds may be a great inclusion. Send me your list to give me ideas!

What are your thoughts on Giver of Runes, the two spoiled Swords and Collector Ouphe (Null Rod 2/2)?

I think Giver of Runes has no place because it doesn’t make your opponent use 2 resources to kill a creature, and I don’t think protection from colourless is too relevant. I think the sword that gives protection from blue and white is what we are looking for and I will definitely test. I will miss protection from Death Shadow and Gurmag Angler. The other sword just isn’t the right colours I am interested in. I think Collector Ouphe is a great option and also deserves to be tested, especially because of all the Post decks with all the mana-producing artifacts.

Do you have a favourite silver bullet that you enjoy playing with but might not be considered that competitive?

I like Sigarda, Host of Herons every once in a while but I feel she isn’t very competitive because of the mana cost. Also, I think people question Sword of Light and Shadow at times but secretly it has been one of the best equipment.

Dan a huge thank you for your time and answering these questions to give readers a little more insight into Legacy GW Maverick. You’ve got a real understanding of the deck and your record online is far beyond impressive. Here’s to only improving on it in the near future.

Thanks for having me here. I take a lot of pride in Maverick and believe it is a great deck. I think if better players picked the deck up you would see more results at the bigger events. I plan to come out with a sideboard guide in the near future so be on the lookout! Thank you for all you do for the Maverick and MTG Community.

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 aficionado who created the GreenSunsZenith as a resource for both beginners & experts of the Legacy Maverick archetype. I've been fortunate enough to be a guest on several Eternal & Legacy podcasts including Everyday Eternal, Deep Analysis with Brian Coval & Phil Gallagher, The Canadian Threshold, Archetype Influencers and the Dark Depths Podcast You can reach out to me through my social links below. I stream via Twitch on Thursday nights (7:30pm AEST) & Sunday mornings (10:30am 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 :)

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