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RUG Battles XI

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I don’t know if it’s fair to call my approach to Legacy “testing”. I play tournaments and on occasion I’ll help somebody else play a new deck with them against whatever they like. I know that it’s not fair for me to confirm that TNN isn’t that big a deal against RUG just yet, but after this weekend I’m 2-0 against decks playing the card in matches. This would be laughable preparation for a Standard tournament, but that’s the beautiful thing about Legacy- things change gradually if at all. This new universe in which TNN exists is pretty darn close to the old one in which it didn’t.

The aforementioned matches were played at the Monster Den’s monthly “Big Legacy” tournament in Minneapolis, at which I played this 75:

The big changes for me are playing the fourth Daze (though this has been “stock” for some time) and the sideboard Vendilion Clique (which is also quite popular). I’m 40% convinced to switch the maindeck Dismember out for a second Fire/Ice or a Forked Bolt to combat Death and Taxes, but Dismember has always been good to me. It just offers something that no other card could offer RUG. The burn spell and/or blue card are obviously good, but Dismember adds a dimension that must be played to be believed. I board it out plenty, but that would be true of any card that I replaced it with as well.

I’m rambling (what’s new?). Let’s talk about battles.

Round 1 vs. Troy Thompson on Sneak and Show

I hate being paired against the heroes in round 1, and local heartthrob/beard aficionado Troy Thompson is mostly certainly heroic.

Troy has been on Show and Tell for a while, which is more than reasonable. I believe that the matchup is favorable, but the de facto best combo deck can easily dispatch blue decks with its best draws.

Troy did not have such draws. After Gitaxian Probe-ing me in game one he chuckled.

“Your hand is a lot better than mine.”

That was more or less the story of the match. I drew better than Troy did and won 2-0. There were some interesting plays though.

At one point Troy controlled a basic and a fetch to my dual, fetch and Delver. He knew that I had Stifle in my hand from Probing me but he had to play the fetchland since then. My hand was already good against him and I had a Brainstorm. Usually I would save the Brainstorm to fix bad draws I might encounter later, but I decided to fire it off to see if he would fetch in response. I had a good hand and pressure, so I didn’t think I’d end up missing the Brainstorm.

Troy ended up fetching in response, to which I responded by fetching and casting Stifle. Troy played Force of Will, I countered back, and Troy cast a second Force of Will. While he won the battle for his fetch, this ended up leaving him without a counter when I countered his Show and Tell.

Anyhow, the play that I wanted to highlight there was Brainstorming in the hopes of forcing an error. Being able to fetch after the resolution of a Brainstorm is powerful, but it wouldn’t be nearly as good for me as the above line of plays turned out to be.

Round 2 vs. Budget Sneak Attack

The only enjoyable element of this match is that it was short. I guess I won the die roll, too. So that was sweet.

I led with a turn one Delver and my opponent led with City of Traitors, Lotus Petal, Seething Song, Sneak Attack... Worldspine Wurm. Clearly less good than Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Clearly still more than good enough to kill me.

Game two my opponent played an early Chalice of the Void for one, which my Brainstorm failed to find an answer for. I want to say I countered a Blood Moon or something before this happened as I can’t imagine keeping a hand without counters, but at the same time I’ve certainly made worse punts.

Anyway, a little later down the road my opponent had been doing a good amount of nothing and I Vendilion Cliqued him on his draw step. I was quite happy to see a hand of steaming garbage, Through the Breach and Inferno Titan. Wheeling the Titan was a no-brainer and my opponent spent the rest of his turn Through the Breaching in Griselbrand. I assumed he’d be able to figure out the play of “do literal anything with this Griselbrand” and I conceded.

Caleb Durward tells me that Monored Sneak Attack is a pretty bad matchup for me. I think having the Blue Elemental Blasts on board makes it around 50/50. It’s one of those decks that has a good number of “unbeatable” spells but is quite vulnerable to counterspells. Though you do have to draw them.

Round 3 vs. Mike Hawthorne on BUG Good Cards

Mike has been messing around with True Name Nemesis BUG and I think his deck is pretty good. The list he was playing had Deathrite Shaman, Daze, Stifle, Force of Will, Abrupt Decay, Baleful Strix on the board… You know. Good cards.

The matchup is very close and developing/denying proper mana is the primary goal of both players. True Name Nemesis is a better “late” game than anything RUG is doing, but RUG plays on much less mana. All three games we played were close and I ended up taking it in three. There weren’t any super interesting plays that I recall, but one thing to keep in mind while battling Deathrite Shaman is that while you can’t always kill it, sometimes you can keep them off of green or black mana to mitigate its relevance.

One line that I took that’s worth discussing was running a Tarmogoyf into an obvious Daze. I don’t remember the exact board state, but I made the play because either my Goyf would resolve or casting the Daze would push a potential True Name Nemesis back a turn. Depending on the situation, I think that purposefully playing into Daze (assuming they’re not hardcasting it) is worth losing a card.

Round 4 vs. UR Nemesis

I pretty well dominated game one to the point where I was uncertain if my opponent was UR or UWR. Normally I wouldn’t pay much mind to which fetchland I Stifled, but my opponent’s unresolved Flooded Strand got to me. If my opponent were UWR I’d want Ancient Grudge post-board, but I decided to instead bring in a Vendilion Clique to hedge against Stoneforge Mystic even though it’s a card I really wouldn’t want in either matchup. Looking back, leaving both on the board was probably the right call.

Game two I was in a position where I needed to Daze a Young Pyromancer and I fell victim to two True Name Nemesis shortly after. Game three I was back on the play was able to keep my opponent off of the problematic three-drop and won pretty handily again.

The UR Nemesis deck is at least one dimension more shallow than the UWR deck, and is a significantly easier matchup by my estimation. Swords to Plowshares and Stoneforge Mystic pack a heavy punch against fair decks, and when your opponent doesn’t have them your Tarmogoyfs are dramatically better.

Round 5 ID into top 8

It was a five round tournament with somewhere around 28 players and the top four tables were all able to safely draw into top 8. Mise.

Quarterfinals vs. RB Goblins

When my opponent played a Chrome Mox and imprinted an Earwig Squad I raised an eyebrow. I thought that Monored and WR Goblins were the only played flavors currently.

I feel like I played a little loosely in this matchup, but Goblins is generally favorable assuming you use your Stifles properly. Interestingly enough, when Goblins boards in Relic of Progenitus they kind of overload your Stifles. Depending on how much your game plan revolves around your green creatures, Relic is something you need to be mindful of when casting Stifle. There are a lot of powerful triggers in the deck, but there are game states where Stifling a Goblin Matron/Goblin Ringleader will give your opponent the opportunity to win the game and draw a card for two mana.

At any rate, I won 2-0 and was on to the semis.

Semifinals Vs. Dragon Stompy

In the semis I played against a local guy who a reputation for the strange. I had overheard him complaining about some outcome of a Chaos Warp earlier, so I knew he was on something red and weird.

Game one he resolved an early Blood Moon to my flipped Delver and I ultimately lost the race to the threats he dropped by two life when I failed to ever draw a Lightning Bolt.

Stompy has a lot of overlap with Monored Sneak Attack, and I’ll admit that I boarded incorrectly. I ended up winning game two off the back of triple Lightning Bolt but I ended up losing game three more or less on the spot when my opponent’s second Blood Moon effect resolved. So it goes.

Closing Thoughts

Despite losing to two Blood Moon decks, I feel that the matchup is close/favorable and there’s not much more I can do as I’m already packing the fourth Daze.

On that note, I felt pretty satisfied with the Daze. I definitely don’t think the card is especially good against Sneak and Show, which can usually pay for multiple Dazes, but I think that this is the best the card has ever been in fair matchups.

The only thing that I don’t feel good about is the sideboard Vendilion Clique. Flash creatures are great against combo, but it’s pretty incoherent with the rest of the deck. I would prefer to have another counterspell. Basically everything that I think is playable has an unfortunate restriction. Currently I’m torn between another Blue Elemental Blast and a Swan Song. Beating Blood Moon is pretty relevant, but beating Show and Tell is likely moreso. The blast is pretty narrow, and not countering Artifacts/ giving away a 2/2 kind of sucks.

There’s another local Legacy tournament this Saturday and I’ll be jamming one of them in place of the Clique in preparation for Vegas. At this point, I’m feeling like my points from last week were pretty accurate. Just need to jam more games and figure out Standard. Oh, and get lucky.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf

10 thoughts on “RUG Battles XI

  1. I always enjoy reading about legacy, but I have to disagree with your statement from Round 2 “Clearly less good than Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.” I’ve built the mono-red sneak attack deck and Worldspine is honestly just as good as Emrakul..in fact it’s even better on turn 1 than Emrakul….with Emrakul he hits you to 15 life and destroys your land…with Worldspine he hits you to 15 life and then has 3x 5/5 trampling creatures from which to kill you on your next turn, whereas Emrakul can only one shot you if you’re at 15 life or less…Worldspine provides the backup to finish the job…and he does so with 3 guys (thus one removal spell not named Maelstrom Pulse/Detention Sphere/Terminus will not save you).

    1. Additionally, my opponent told me after the match that he just didn’t have Emrakuls. Wurm is clearly powerful to Sneak in, but just as good as Emrakul sounds like an exaggeration to me.

      1. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but after playing with it…there are plenty of times I’d rather have the wurm over Emrakul…knocking them to 3-5 (depending on what turn and if they fetches) and geddoning them is awesome…but in mono-red you have very little (or more often no) deck manipulation so your opponent can recover from it within a few turns. Worldspine makes sure they don’t get the time and forces them to have Swords the turn you play it (which given your deck runs 4x Chalice of the Void and some number of Trinisphere’s) usually means you can make StP a moot point.

  2. I believe the reason to play it is that you sometimes get free wins from your lock pieces. It’s definitely under the radar compared to Sneak and Show, which might count for something.

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