Welcome back to the second edition of the Maverick Monthly! In last month’s review, we went over some new adaptations of GWx variants including the new GW “Maverick” Depths, which many high-profile players have been opting to pilot at large events over traditional Maverick. We talked about some silver bullets seeing play – such as Obelisk Spider, Shifting Ceratops and Rishadan Port – and how some of these might be settling into the deck for a little longer.
Let’s look at some of the top-performing Maverick lists in September’s MTGO tournaments and big paper events.
Top Finishes for GW Maverick
Date: 15th, September 2019
Event: MTGO Legacy PTQ Finals
Finish: Top 32 (31st / 171 Players)
Maindeck Standouts: 2 Scavenging Ooze, and Sword of Feast & Famine
Sideboard Standouts: 2 Reclamation Sage, 1 Sunlance, 4 Choke
BalenciagaNBoba is becoming quite a well-known MTGO player for Maverick. The double-up on Scavenging Ooze is a great call if you’re expecting a meta of graveyard interaction and grindy matchups. Scavenging Ooze is fantastic at applying pressure while also having an incremental effect on graveyards (devastating when you have access to Gaea’s Cradle). I believe it’s a great move right now to be running 2 Scooze in your 60.
The inclusion of Sword of Feast & Famine is really interesting; a piece of equipment that has taken Modern by storm with the unbanning of Stoneforge Mystic – but it’s not a sword you typically see as part of the package in Legacy. As this gives protection from format staple threats such as Tarmogoyf, Death’s Shadow, Gurmag Angler, Knight of the Reliquary and all of Depths defences as well as removal like Fatal Push, Abrupt Decay, Assassin’s Trophy and Dismember, there is merit to running this in most local and online metas. The ability to untap your lands and cast more spells in your second main phase or untap a Wasteland that’s been used for mana is a nice advantage as well.
Reclamation Sage in the sideboard over Qasali Pridemage or Knight of Autumn is most likely a concession to Blood Moon as it’s much easier to cast off a single Forest or mana dork.
Sunlance is sorcery-speed removal for the majority of creatures currently in the format. However, it doesn’t deal with some of the threats Path to Exile can send to exile such as Gurmag Angler, Thought-Knot Seer and Marit Liege. I assume the cost of an additional, non-Wastelandable mana source for your opponent just isn’t something Boba wants to give their opponent. Lastly, the full playset of Choke is a real statement. Sorry opponent, but your Disenchants, Council’s Judgment’s, and Cindervines are not going to get through all of these (surely). Having the playset also means a 39.9% chance of having Choke in your opening hand, which is brutal as a turn 2 play off a manadork turn 1.
Date: 23th, September 2019
Event: MTGO Legacy Challenge
Finish: 27th / 105 players
Maindeck Standouts: 2 Palace Jailer, 4 Elvish Reclaimer, 1 Sejiri Steppe and 1 Bojuka Bog
Sideboard Standouts: 2 Vivien, Champion of the Wilds, 2 Chalice of the Void
Dan Neeley (DNEELY) is a longtime Maverick player with some really impressive finishes on MTGO. The two maindeck Palace Jailer is a huge engine of card advantage in a deck that otherwise isn’t really well known for its ability to stay on par with some of the more grindy decks of the format. With less go-wide decks in the format right now due to the prevalence Wrenn & Six and Plague Engineer, Jailer is arguably in its best spot in the format right now. However, with Elvish Reclaimer taking the spot of Noble Hierarch, this take on GW Maverick doesn’t have the ability to cast a turn 3 Jailer without the use of Gaea’s Cradle.
The maindeck Steppe and Bog are most likely due to having more instant-speed access to lands, not just through Knight of the Reliquary but also through Reclaimer. But this build isn’t running the Dark Depths combo which has been popping up more and more over the past few months, especially in builds running Elvish Reclaimer. The Dark Depths combo is one that isn’t really needed in a deck like Maverick with an already great beat-down strategy and, for many players, is considered unnecessary and a win-more tactic.
Chalice of the Void is a fine sideboard card not only as early interaction for combo decks but also a piece of disruption against Brainstorm decks like Miracles and Delver. It does hit some of your own cards but most of the time Chalice is having a much bigger impact on your opponent than you. Deafening Silence is a new card on the block for turn 1 interaction, but I believe Chalice is just a better piece of T1 interaction with a wider spread when it comes to the number of matchups it comes in against. Sure, Silence is great against Storm and other combo decks like Bomberman or Dark Ritual decks, but Chalice for 0 (or 1 if you’re lucky enough to be running Ancient Tomb and have it in your opening) is going to be just as good most of the time.
Vivien, Champion of the Wilds has always been an interesting one and a card Dan looks to swear by. On paper, it looks perfect for Maverick. Instant-speed creatures, Knight of the Reliquarys that can attack and defend (both land and air) and then still use its ability in the same turn is scary stuff. Vivien is also a form of card advantage with her ability to exile creatures which can be later cast. However, in testing I found her to just be a little too awkward at times, not accomplishing enough before she was removed from the field. I’m very happy that Dan’s obviously found a role for her in his 75.
What’s the Play?
Here’s an interesting scenario. We’re on GW Maverick against Belcher in game 1. Before you read below, have a think about what you would do for turn.
— DougesOnTwitch🎥 (@DougesOnTwitch) October 1, 2019
We draw into Sanctum Prelate, which is a really nice play for the the turn – but what do we name? If our opponent had a Lion’s Eye Diamond, I’m sure they would have played it on their turn to win the game on the spot, so we can assume a LED is not in their hand. Our opponent has already used two Desperate Rituals, leaving 2 more in the deck. I was also under the impression Belcher ran a playset of Pyretic Ritual, but since then have found out that might be old tech/some spice the local player has played. So, Prelate for 2 (hitting rituals) or 0 (hitting LED) seem to be the best number to name as it was the more populated CMC. Did you come to a different conclusion? Let me know in the comments section below.
Player: Tyrik Strachan
Date: 20th, September 2019
Event: MagicFest Atlanta 2019 – Last Chance Trial
Finish: 2nd Place [4-0]
Maindeck Standouts: 1 Tarmogoyf, 1 Vivien, Champion of the Wilds, Marsh Flats and Blast Zone
Sideboard Standouts: 2 Lingering Souls, 1 Crop Rotation
Tyrik went undefeated through a GP Atlanta LCT with this very cool build of Maverick. Taking advantage of the black splash, he’s also playing some spice with maindeck Tarmogoyf, Vivien, and Blast Zone. Goyf has seen play in Maverick before, more when it was popular is 2013-14 – however, as a 2-drop beater, Goyf is sometimes exactly what Maverick wants. I actually reached out to Tyrik in our Maverick groupchat and he was happy to explain some of his deck choices.
Blast Zone is a utility land I haven’t had much experience with but seems like a great answer to G1 True-Name Nemesis or planeswalkers like Wrenn & Six or Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
“I’ve always felt it was a very good wrath effect against tempo decks and those that revolve around the same CMC. Delver, Hex Depths, Chalice decks, tribal decks like Elves and on occasion, 4C Loam. Blast Zone also gives us an out to TNN and Wrenn & Six when we aren’t able to get creatures on the field. There was a game against Depths where my opponent went Sylvan Safekeeper, Pithing Needle naming Wasteland – go and I was able to use Blast Zone to wipe their board.”
“Vivien…I’m not sure how I feel about Vivien. I wanted a non-creature spell that provided some form of card advantage that wasn’t Sylvan Library because everyone is running f**king Spell Snare. There is also the bonus with Vivien that you can do some pretty cute interactions with it. Ultimately I’ve cut her, I just don’t think planeswalkers are they good right now.”
Lingering Souls in the board is really interesting – a brave choice in a format currently dominated by boogeymen Wrenn & Six and Plague Engineer.
“I used to be an avid Deathblade player and Lingering Souls was really good against the Delver decks. One thing about Lingering Souls is also really good against Control where now they are only running Supreme Verdict and Plague Engineer. If they waste either on these souls, that’s a Verdict or Engineer that’s not hitting the rest of my creatures and I see that as a win.”
Now on Tarmogoyf, Karim Badrudin was kind enough to explain how he convinced Tyrik to run it.
“I was looking for a way to pressure Wrenn and Six after my 1 drops die, so I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to run a big stated creature, Goyf was the best bang for my buck. it puts pressure on Wrenn super well, and wins Goyf wars from rug with the help of exalted. You usually don’t need to work to grow it because all the other decks do it for you anyways.“
Player: Kawada Hideto
Date: 21th, September 2019
Event: Tokai King Cup @ Hareruya (Japan)
Finish: 3rd out of 58 Players
Maindeck Standouts: 1 Plague Engineer, 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, 1 Garruk Relentless, 1 Blast Zone, Dark Depths package
Sideboard Standouts: 1 Leyline of the Void, huge variety of 1-ofs.
Maindeck Planeswalkers. Something I’ve always wanted to try but have never found the right list. I’m a big fan of what Kawada has done with the list, stretching his arsenal of spells wide and playing a multitude of 1-ofs, relying on Green Sun’s Zenith and Sylvan Library to find them consistency.
Plague Engineer in the maindeck is a great G1 answer to TNN but also any go-wide strategies like Goblins or Young Pyromancer decks. It’s also a huge hedge in the fair mirrors against Death & Taxes and Maverick. It’s something I’ve been wanting to try out, moving my 2 maindeck Sanctum Prelates to the board for the 2 Plague Engineers.
The 1-of Leyline of the Void is a standout for sure, a card you typically see as a 3/4-of or a none-of. Kawada has gone wide with their answers in the board, having some sort of disruption for almost every deck you’d expect at an event but also choosing wisely to make sure these specific cards are coming in for multiple matchups. Of course the downside of not running cards in multiples is that you’re less likely to see them, especially in a deck without manipulation like Ponder and Brainstorm, so you’re going to be relying on Sylvan Library in many of your games to find these as early as possible (especially due to your creature answers not being fetchable with Green Suns Zenith).
Date: 23rd, September 2019
Event: MTGO Legacy Challenge
Finish: 21st out of 105 players
If this is where Punishing Maverick is heading, I am all for it. We haven’t really seen too much Punishing Maverick around the top-8 lists since Wrenn was printed, and sadly, I believe it’s because traditional Punishing Maverick with Wrenn unfortunately became the worst Wrenn deck. Phil has replaced mana dorks outside of Dryad Arbor with Mox Diamond accompanied by a playset of Elvish Reclaimer. This is a great move in a format of Wrenn & Plague, Mox also allowing you to power out 2CMC spells like Thalia or Gaddock Teeg on T1.
However, one creature I really like having as a GSZ target in a Mox Diamond deck is Ramunap Excavator. The ability to get back the lands you pitched, the Dark Depths combo for another go or just making sure you’re hitting your land drops is a great addition to this deck, however, it seems like a role Wrenn & Six has been happy to pick up. There are some neat interactions in the deck like Flagstones of Trokair with Elvish Reclaimer, and also the addition of Ancient Tomb allowing you to combo out with just 1 mana source open and a Crop Rotation in hand.
This 75 is a little unique as it does rely on some number of 1 CMC spells. Lightning Bolt for removal, Giver of Runes for protection and Reclaimer & Crop Rotation to help your beatdown strategy while also bluffing the combo. I really like the look of this deck and feel it would be a hell of a lot of fun to pilot.
Last week, I published a write-up on Questing Beast in Maverick and how and if it fits into the deck. I’ve been testing it on stream and have been impressed during specific moments, but overall am still unsure if it’s just overkill. As good as some of the situations below were, Questing Beast’s text is just irrelevant against too many decks where it may as well be a vanilla 4CMC 4/4.
I also put out the first What’s the Play article with a head-scratcher against Sneak & Show. I’m a big fan of this type of content and hearing back from not only Maverick players but just fans of Magic who may see a line you didn’t on first glance.
Lastly, here’s Lorkac’s epic GP Atlanta tournament report Scrub’s Land, a really nice in-depth analysis of their games, matchups and overall experience with the deck.
— DougesOnTwitch🎥 (@DougesOnTwitch) October 1, 2019
— DougesOnTwitch🎥 (@DougesOnTwitch) October 3, 2019
— DougesOnTwitch🎥 (@DougesOnTwitch) October 3, 2019
Last but not least, a special shout-out to 生牌ボーイ [@red_wingp2 on Twitter] for this impressive piece of Maverick artwork.
— 生牌ボーイ (@red_wingp2) September 19, 2019
Although Maverick lists are known to be unique to each other, there have been some trends I’ve noticed happen across the board over the past few months.
Stoneforge Mystic is getting dropped from lists more often. In a deck that doesn’t need Batterskull like an archetype like Death & Taxes might, Stoneforge is more than an equipment tutor than an actual threat. More players have been dropping their Mystics and going for either a double-up on Umezawa’s Jitte or a combination of Jitte and a sword of their choice, and have also ticked up the number of Sylvan Library in their deck.
Depths may not be needed in Maverick, but that’s not going to stop players who love winning games out of nowhere with a 20/20. I’ve been seeing Depths combo pop up more and more in the top finishing lists in both paper tournaments and MTGO tournament. As Depths‘ popularity has increased and I’m not a fan of running lands that don’t tap for mana, I’ve been tempted to try out a 1-of Thespian’s Stage in Maverick as a hedge against those Dark Depths players. I know it seems like a lost opportunity running only half the combo, but if you’re expecting to run into a fair amount of Dark Depths opponents, it would be an interesting experiment.
Giver of Runes:
Mother of Runes has company and her recipe for protection is no longer #1. Giver has the huge upside of being able to protect your legendary creatures from Karakas, drive damage through a wall of colourless creatures and, of course, survive through Wrenn & Six and Plague Engineer.
Maverick is actually in a pretty tough spot right now, with many decks being able to 1-for-1 and Wasteland US out of the game. I don’t think we’re in as bad of a spot as some other fair decks but I wouldn’t say Maverick is a go-to for competitive tournaments right now for players with another competitive deck in their reach.
In saying that I’ve been really enjoy seeing new lists pop up in top 8’s because it just pushes the notion that no two Maverick decks are ever alike.To those sticking with the deck through this tough time I really respect that, keep trying to find new ways to adapt to the format and just enjoying the magic you’re playing.