NRG Legacy 5K: Evaluating GWx Depths Performance

NRGDepths

Last weekend was the NRG Series Legacy 5K – a competitive event of 140 players. 7 of these players piloted GWx Depths with 1 (Rodney Bedell) taking out the whole event. Depths was a great choice for the event in my opinion (no bias of course). I think it’s well positioned in the current metagame even with a high percentage of players ready and waiting for Depths strategies. In a competitive, tournament environment you’re most likely going to be up against more meta than off meta decks and that is where Depths shines.

If you’re unsure of what Legacy Naya Depths, check out my primer on the archetype!

Here are some findings after looking through all GWx Depths decklists and an evaluation of how the archetype faired overall.

Players and finishes:

Finish Name Archetype
1st Rodney Bedell Naya Depths
14th Ashlen Johnson Naya Depths
40th Jared Okun Abzan Depths
42nd Elijah Klein Naya Depths
82nd Gustav Linner Green-White Depths
100th Anthony Bailey Naya Depths
115th Chris Bergeson Naya Depths

The event metagame

NRGMetagame

The field is what you’d expect at a competitive, high level event – a ton of UR Delver and Death & Taxes.

UR Delver

Combo or Midrange plan? Midrange into combo

GWx Depths has a solid UR Delver matchup – in my opinion around a 60/40 win rate.

Lightning Bolt doesn’t line up well against your creatures however your white removal in Swords to Plowshares and Prismatic Ending are fantastic against theirs and allow you to control the board.

GW also has multiple ways of getting around UR’s main interaction with the combo via Wasteland and Brazen Borrower. Depths has Wasteland’s of their own, and instant speed protection in Sylvan Safekeeper and Sejiri Steppe.

Death & Taxes

Combo or Midrange plan? Midrange, sometimes into late-game combo

Death & Taxes is a little more troublesome due to the high amount of interaction they have with Marit Lage, but the midrange strategy of the deck is still a strong plan to rely on. Your creatures are generally bigger, and once in the mid-late game, can rely on Sylvan Safekeeper to get your Lage through (if you decide to go that route). Pilots are really tested in this matchup with their use of Swords and Prismatic Ending. They are finite resources so each one has to count.

8-Cast

Combo or Midrange plan? Combo

8-Cast is a decent matchup. You should target specific cards like Sai, Master Thopterist with removal and otherwise only have to worry about Otawara, Soaring City and Aether Spellbomb as removal. Also be wearing of Saga triggering to search as you don’t have time to respond if they find a Pithing Needle.

Post-board, the matchup gets even better with multiple copies of Force of Vigor, Tower of the Magistrate and Collector Ouphe to demolish their main strategy. You also have access to blast effects which help keep pressure off the table (largely Kappa Cannoneer).
Chalice on 1 can be a nuisance, however Prismatic Ending and GSZ for artifact removal can help remove that quickly.

Jeskai (UWRx) Control

Combo or Midrange plan? Midrange, sometimes into late-game combo

Jeskai can be a grind fest where resources are traded in the early game – this is another matchup where Sylvan Safekeeper shines against opposing Swords to Plowshares, Prismatic Ending and bounce effects via Planeswalkers.

Mono-Red Prison

Combo or Midrange plan? Combo

Mono-R Prison can be a mixed bag but generally we’re OK in this matchup. Magus of the Moon I’ve found is typically harder to deal with than Blood Moon, but Chalice for 1 and a quick clock can cause too much disruption and pressure at the same time.

You can get some free wins via Dark Depths, Blood Moon and Force of Vigor, (Playing Dark Depths when a Moon effect is in play means the Depths enters the battlefield with 0 counters, so when the Moon effect is removed – it triggers and creates Marit Lage) but that doesn’t happen as often as it used to. This matchup is very play / draw dependent as being able to get a Mox Diamond under Trinisphere, a fetch under Blood Moon or an Elvish Reclaimer on board before Chalice for 1 is crucial to getting a strong start.

Reanimator

Combo or Midrange plan? Combo

Reanimator CAN be tough with an early T1/2 creature, but often Endurance or an online Crop Rotation / creature acrtivation for Bojuka Bog can steal the win. Karakas and Swords also help this matchup greatly, as well as being able to build towards our own plan if the opponent doesn’t try and reanimate a creature during their turn.

Elves

Combo or Midrange plan? Combo

Depths is typically a turn faster than Elves – a matchup I personally haven’t had much trouble with. I’d say this is another 65/35 matchup if not higher. Boseiju is their main piece of interaction, but it’s also a large cost for Elves to hold up. Some versions do have Karakas as a Reclaimer target, but coming in tapped typically means this plan isn’t as fast as they need it (and opens them up to Wasteland before it can even be used).





Depths results

Here’s a breakdown of how the 7 players went during the event against other archetypes.

Metagame

Overall the players went 23-16-2. Notably on the day GWx Depths had a 72% win rate vs Delver. Although a small sample size, I think that really shows the power of Depths right now and lines up with other results we’ve been seeing online. I found it interesting that players struggled against 8-Cast, a matchup I said above I believe is generally favoured. However that’s the cost of running a non-Brainstorm deck in Legacy, sometimes you just don’t draw the right half of your deck and are stuck with the cards you draw.


The GWx Depths Decklists

Of the 7 GWx Depths decklists;

– 5 were classic Naya builds
– 1 was an Abzan build with Grist, the Hunger Tide and Plague Engineer
– 1 was a straight GW build with a wider GSZ toolbox (Tireless Tracker, Questing Beast in the main deck, Voice of Resurgence and Scryb Ranger in the sideboard)

What’s considered the core of GWx Depths?

After analysing the 7 decklists I was able to pull a core list of cards that featured in every deck at the following ratios

4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Crop Rotation
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
4 Elvish Reclaimer
4 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Ramunap Excavator
1 Sylvan Safekeeper
4 Windswept Heath
3 Thespian’s Stage
3 Wasteland
2 Flagstones of Trokair
2 Savannah
2 Sejiri Steppe
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Karakas
1 Forest
1 Plains

This is 43 cards that all pilots on the day played, everything else was in different numbers (note the Abzan player was the only player to not run Mox Diamond – all other builds ran 3 copies).

For anyone wanting to build the deck but isn’t sure what is considered toolbox or a metacall, here’s a perfect list to start with before looking to tune for your local or online metagame.

GSZStore

Metagame calls

These are cards that stood out in decklists as a purposeful choice to combat the expected metagame. It’s no surprise that 4 of these 5 cards are lands as you have 12 ways (16 if you count GSZ over 2 turns) to fetch them at instant speed.

1 Blast Zone
1 Maze of Ith
1 Boseiju, Who Endures
1 Tower of the Magistrate
1 Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes

Blast Zone

Blast Zone

Blast Zone is flexible removal, as it can wipe a board of Elves, humans and Vials, Delver’s and DRC’s or annihilate that Enchantress player. Giving Knight of the Reliquary access to a removal piece only strengthens the deck BUT it comes at a cost. Notably it isn’t a coloured source and may take some of your own creatures and other permanents with it.

Note: Blast Zone does not deal with tokens or 0 mana artifacts like Moxen. However, if you copy Blast Zone with Thespian’s Stage, you now have a Blast Zone with 0 counters (as the copy did not enter the battlefield and receive any). This is now your answer to deal with a board of constructs or catch a combo player off guard who might have played out some free mana a turn too early. This can also be a really great way to deal with 1/1 thopter tokens (and an array of other artifacts) against 8-Cast.

Maze of Ith

Maze of Ith

Maze of Ith has been my 61st car for a while. I’m not typically a fan of playing more than 60, but in a list with 16+ tutor effects I feel the times Maze wins me games is much higher than the increase in deck size has cost me.

Maze is a great choice of ‘removal’ as it stops all of UR Delvers threats. It is open to Wasteland, but more often than not I am more than happy it’s one less Wasteland to deal with the Depths combo.

You can also use Maze on your own creatures, untapping them at the end of combat where your creature is still an ‘attacking’ creature. This is great if you want to pressure your opponent with a large Elf or Knight, but still have it open to fetch up lands during your 2nd main / opponents turn.

Boseiju, Who Endures

Boseiju, Who Endures

Boseiju, Who Endures was played in the main deck by 3 pilots. GWx Depths doesn’t have ways to put lands back into your hand in Life from the Loam or Expedition Map, so you need to naturally draw Boseiju to use it. This is why I tend to rely on Knight of Autumn or Outland Liberator to deal with troublesome artifacts or enchantments as I have 5 virtual copies to find thanks to Green Sun’s Zenith. However, the effect of Boseiju being uncounterable is a huge benefit and most likely why these pilots have tested it in their lists.

Tower of the Magistrate

towermagistrate

Tower of the Magistrate in the main deck is a huge metagame as it’s much more specific in its targets than the 2 lands above. I wouldn’t main deck this card, but I can understand the reasoning for it when you’d expect a good amount of Death & Taxes and 8-Cast in a competitive field (especially an event like this).

For those unaware, Tower is great tech to get through flying thopter tokens or a lone Baleful Strix, and can ‘de-equip’ creatures including germs on Kaldra and Batterskull (killing them instantly). Tower also saves your creatures from Aether Spellbomb but of course doesn’t save them from an un-targeted removal piece like Ratchet Bomb.

Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes

minsc

Minsc and Boo was in the winning list, but from what I’ve heard it didn’t get much game time throughout the event. It’s always tough when you’re running a 1 of card that isn’t a land or creature that can be tutored for on a regular basis.

I think Minsc and Boo would have much more hype (some would say it’s already got high praise from the Legacy community) if it was legal on MTGO but sadly that’s still no the case.

Minsc allows you to quickly pressure Planeswalkers, opponents life totals and keeps threats on the board (as it brings a Boo onto the field every upkeep if you don’t have a copy)

Note that is is NOT a way to play around Karakas or instant speed removal like Swords to Plowshares (Like Fling or Right of Consumption) as sacrificing the creature is not part of the cost.

If you make your 20/20, then activate Boo’s -2 ability, your opponent now has priority to remove the Lage and even worse, force you to sacrifice a different creature once the ability has resolved (as it’s not a may ability).


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Other notes

  • I found it really surprising to see 0 copies of Knight of Autumn in all 7 main decks. There were 3 copies of Outland Liberator (and 6 pilots opted for 2 Prismatic Endings as additional removal), but the flexibility of Knight cannot be matched. I often find the upside of Outland Liberator to be hard to achieve in a deck that does a fair amount at sorcery speed, and the 4 life of Knight gives you some value vs non-artifact decks like UR Delver. There’s also some other niche advantages like against Painter where Pithing Needle off an Urza’s Saga can turn off Liberator (note it doesn’t hit the other side) and allow them to keep an Ensnaring Bridge or other lock / combo piece on board.
  • Players moved between 2 and 3 copies of Sylvan Library. 3 tends to be the stock amount but if you expect a large amount of UR Delver, I’ve been moving towards 2 Libraries to find space for a 3rd Prismatic Ending
  • 5 pilots played with 3 Dark Depths while the others played 2 copies. I’ve been playing with 2 copies for a while now to make space for an additional fetchland in Wooded Foothills and haven’t found it to be an issue. The want for a 5th fetchland is to increase the chances of Elvish Reclaimer being online asap which is key vs Lightning Bolt decks. This also increases the chances  (small, I’ll admit) of having a fetch before Blood Moon comes into play
  • 5 players had a single copy of Endurance in their main deck, while the other two had 2 and 3 copies. Endurance is just a very strong card that although doesn’t have a direct effect on our main goal, it’s strong across a large range of matchups (especially the format’s tier S deck, UR Delver). Note you can Endurance yourself to put specific lands back into your deck to fetch out against with crop effects
  • I would say 2 copies of Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth has been stock for a while; however, 2 players opted for 3 copies. This gives you a small increase in your chance of a turn 3 natural combo of Depths, Stage and Yavimaya.
  • The Abzan take is pretty sweet, but I feel the matchups where Plague Engineer are relevant the deck is already quite strong against. Blast is evidently very strong right now seeing the amount in maindecks, so you need some really strong reasoning to go against the grain and not play Naya from a competitive standpoint. I love the innovation though and hopefully Abzan puts some results up to spark more interest in the variant.

Key takeaways

GWx (mostly Naya) is great in the online metagame and a fantastic choice for any fans of fair magic with a small drop of unfair. The core of the deck is now well established, but your maindeck can be well tuned for a known metagame. It’s a deck where you can play the combo aggressively or sit back and dive into the midrange plan – it can shift for your playstyle! A huge congratulations to Rodney for taking out the event, going 11-0-0 is a massive achievement with a non-blue deck in Legacy these days.

In part two, I’ll be breaking down the sideboards and looking at where the weak points of the deck are. Make sure you keep an eye out on Twitter, Patreon and the Zenith Discord for that content!

If you’re looking for Depths content, make sure you’re subbed to my YouTube channel!

Lastly, but most importantly a HUGE shout out to my Patrons! This content is thanks to your support and I’m so appreciative of that.

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Until then,

Play fair, take care

Douges




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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