On Sunday March 8th, Kevin Place (MTGO User IslandsAreStillRad) played his first Legacy Challenge in 18 months and was able to take down the whole tournament with Green-white Maverick. I was able to get some quick answers off him after his victory and drill into his thoughts on Maverick in Legacy. If you’re looking for a more in-depth tournament report, you can find Kevin’s write up here on the Legacy subreddit.
Hey Kevin, a huge thank you for getting back to me so quickly. When did you start playing Legacy? How did you get into the format and what decks have you been known to pilot?
I didn’t start playing Legacy very actively until around 2016, when I renewed my interest in paper magic. Buying back in was… painful. I sold a set of 40 signed Duals to satisfy an $800 tax bill back in college from a miscategorised internship that listed me as an independent contractor. My Ebay history from the initial sellout was a wasteland of regret and shame, the likes of which is seldom seen outside a Cleveland Browns stadium.
I have technically been playing the format since its inception, but random tournaments I underprepared for don’t count. I am a big fan of fair midrange decks in general. There is truly something exhilarating psychologically about generating incremental value and grinding your way to a victory. I find it much more satisfying than simply blowing my hand on a key turn attempting a combo, or playing an extremely reactive deck with few win conditions. My most played Legacy decks are 4C Loam (although technically it is now 5 color), Delver variants (UR at the moment), and Reanimator. They fit my favourite play style best. Reanimator is mostly there to punish the shop when graveyard hate becomes too scarce or I think Force of Will isn’t showing up in enough numbers.
I don’t think there are any tiered decks I have yet to pilot besides Show and Tell, but these are definitely my most played three and the ones I am known for locally. We are very fortunate that we have a local team (Legacy Weapon) with around 8 guys, and between us, we have all of the Legacy decks. I suppose the same could be said for online because of Manatraders.
I have an extremely full schedule between my work as a banker and my family obligations, so the ability to jam reps with the Legacy Weapon guys and test sideboard configurations / matchups, etc. has been an absolute lifesaver for my time.
What’s your experience with Maverick in the past? Have you branched out and played the splash versions?
I fear you are in for a disappointment. I built the deck in paper and was able to play 4 rounds at an FNM going 3-1 the Friday before this event. I also had a 4-1 league result on Tuesday before the event with the same list with only the Sanctum Prelate in where the Tireless Tracker is now.
However, if you perform a thought experiment and take Bant Maverick (for Oko, Thief of Crowns), Punishing Maverick (for Grove of the Burnwillows/Punishing Fire package), and Abzan Maverick (for Abrupt Decay/Plague Engineer) and mash them together into a monstrosity in defiance of divine will… you would get 5C Loam. Just toss in a couple Chalice of the Void, Mox Diamond, and some outrageous greed and you are golden. If you consider my experiences playing Loam as transferable, I would have hundreds of matches playing a “Maverick” style deck (with admittedly more prison elements).
What were some of the big decision makers on playing straight GW?
The requirement that I had going into the tourney was that I wanted to be able to play a deck that had a solid matchup against Breach more than anything. Permanent-based threats are much harder for Breach to deal with than spells due to Silence / Orim’s Chant / discard / depending on the Breach config, and GW had permanent based hate in spades.
My team tried to talk me into playing Punishing Maverick, but I didn’t think the punishing version was very appealing in a meta that I predicted would largely be Delver of Secrets and Breach. Punishing Fire not killing Dreadhorde Arcanist is a real pain in the ass. Klothys, God of Destiny looks sweet, but wasn’t enough to draw me in on its own.
Being able to search out a basic without concern has serious upside as well, leaving you effectively immune to opposing Wasteland. The straight GW list looked real clean, and the Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in the main immediately stood out to me as being wrong. But after giving it a league, I had a strong change of heart. Turns out Gideon just slays Oko dead, and I love him for it.
How did you enjoy your tournament overall? Any matchups you found hard to navigate in general?
The matchups were very favorable overall I would say, since I got to play Breach 3 times.
I played Temur Delver 3 times as well. That is a tighter matchup but feels favourable as long as you aren’t immediately kept off deploying your threats. Delver slays Maverick in that matchup when they get to play on curve into an Oko, Thief of Crowns, so I kept hands that were fairly resilient to mana denial, and aggressively fetched basics. After Daze is turned off, you can just jam threats and they can’t force all of them. After the turning point of getting your mana established, you just feel like you turned the corner and get to start dunking on them with Green Sun’s Zenith for Questing Beast, and other assorted shenanigans.
The Turbo Depths matchup was difficult to navigate because Maverick’s defensive speed against the combo usually consists of having to play off curve to hold up a Wasteland. Having access to Maze of Ith, Wasteland, and Karakas really gives needle a lot to name, on top of often having to name Knight of the Reliquary. I enjoyed my tournament immensely, mostly because the hands were just so consistent and keepable. Green Sun’s Zenith in particular was just pure gasoline. I wanted it in my opener as an accelerant. I wanted it every draw step after as another copy of my best silver bullet.
Maindeck planeswalkers has been a trend recently. How did you find having access to Gideon in your Game 1s?
Gideon was fantastic; he was a very busy boy last week. He was a reverse Plague Engineer, an Oko exterminator, and just a general nightmare for control decks and sweepers. He was very, very good at closing the door firmly shut on Delver for me, and I would recommend him for lists with ready access to WW. As far as a trend? Well… Oko is a super messed up Magic card. I understand why people would want to run Bant Maverick just for him.
If they stop printing absurd planeswalkers that just do everything, people will stop including them in their decks. But until then, people are probably going to continue to bend over backwards to play them.
How’d you find Gilded Goose? I’ve always been concerned about not having the mana available when I need it and the time it can take to set up another food to sac.
The answer to this is slightly less inspired. I simply never tested Birds of Paradise over Gilded Goose. I liked Goose as an inclusion in the list because I was more concerned about his first activation than any subsequent activations, just because it would mean I was curving out. The additional utility on Goose was what kept it in the deck, though.
With two Sylvan Library, the shiny Goose represented a potential extra card draw every turn. And the additional life points proved to be very relevant in more than one situation over the course of the challenge, allowing me to win two games I would have otherwise lost. The lack of ability to activate the bird on consecutive turns did not punish me.
Dryad Militant is pretty great at fizzling Archanist, but you took it out against RUG Delver. Is this because Dryad has to be in your opening 1 or 2 plays for it to really be effective and isn’t that great there after?
I am extremely unlikely to tutor Militant against Delver decks on the off chance it may assist in shutting down a Dreadhorde. And I didn’t see it being the type of threat I needed to beat Delver down. As a UR Delver player myself, I am always surprised at the extent players will go to in order to turn off Dreadhorde, sometimes going so far as to play Grafdiggers Cages or Leyline of the Void. Yes, those – and Militant for that matter – do answer the back half of one of my threats, but paying a card up front for the potential back half on one of my threats is a steep price to pay against a Delver deck that wants to trade its resources as efficiently as possible.
Landing a threat they can potentially ignore by not having Arcanist as their threat is a recipe for disaster, or at least a significant loss in equity (14% of the cards in your opener). Militant is in the same vein, and even more worrisome considering that some lists run Forked Bolt, and Young Pyromancer is common as well. I could be persuaded it should have stayed, but not necessarily by the argument that it could defeat Arcanist. There could have perhaps been a better card to cut.
Interesting that you brought in Chalice against Post – I assume this was to try and shut down their 1 drops in Crop Rotation, Candelabra, Pithing Needle & Expedition Map?
Yep, you nailed it. Gameplan A was to waste them into oblivion. Crop Rotation and Pithing Needle help them beat that gameplan and were the cards I was most concerned about. I was less concerned about Candelabra since if they made any meaningful amount of mana off of it at any point in the game, there was an incredibly high chance I was dead.
Would you change anything if you ran this back through a Challenge (if Breach was still around?)
I would run it back in a heartbeat if Breach was still around. The Shifting Ceratops was a little less exciting than I hoped, but only because Questing Beast is every Maverick player’s best friend. Did you know you can Maze your own creatures after they are blocked and kill opposing creatures with your boy Questie out? It feels like cheating, but opponents keep blocking my creatures, and far be it from me to stop them.
Gaddock Teeg was somewhat unexciting, but only because I faded matchups where he would have shined. Maybe I diversify the Verdant Catacombs into a Misty Rainforest and a Wooded Foothills as well just to reduce the efficacy of a stray duress into Pithing Needle? Very little requires change based on that criteria.
How do you think you’d change this list in a Breach-less meta?
I would probably make many, many revisions to this list in a Breach-less meta. I anticipate the meta unfolding into Bant Miracles and Delver, with Eldrazi poised to be a relatively straightforward foil. In that anticipated meta, I would cut Militant (obviously) and Ouphe, but I am not qualified to say what I would do so far as changing the core of the deck. Without Ouphe, it may be reasonable to bring back the awkward 2 Stoneforge Mystic package with the equipment.
A huge thank you to Kevin for his time, taking out a Challenge with Maverick is a true feat in a format like Legacy. It’s not often you see a non-blue deck win a Challenge, so this is one victory I’m sure most Maverick fans will be proud of.
With Breach now gone, it’s going to be interesting to see where the meta shifts. I believe Maverick is going to be in a good position, so I would stress to pilots not to change up their deck too much. The odd shift away from Dryad is fine, but I wouldn’t be dropping your combo hate from the board just yet. The next few weeks are going to be very interesting for Legacy as a format.