G/W Maverick in Legacy

Maverick, the non-blue Legacy deck

by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos

I remember a few years back, during the beginnings of the Legacy ‘boom’. Force of Will and Brainstorms were everywhere and in that respect, not much has changed. As a player that prefers decks that are more ‘fair’, I abhorred the idea of Free Counters and card filtering. It seemed kinda lame that it was a strictly blue ability and more or less forced you to play the color or just lose ( General Assumption, but more or less true). I shelled out my then Type 2 cards and some cash in order to obtain these Legacy staples at the then ‘ridiculous’ price of 25-30$. I had somewhat of an idea that these cards would maintain or gain value seeing that the format was a nice break from the Type 2 format which was dominated by Fairie decks at the time, which many people, including myself despised.

At the time, I became more familiar with a site called mtgthesource.com. I frequented the forums during slower periods at tech support job (they were few and far in between). I fell upon what I thought was a pretty awesome deck called Death and Taxes. I am sure most of you are familiar with it. For those who are not, you can probably Google it and read the primers. One of the main ‘tricks’ the deck does is activate Mangara of Corondor then in response to his ability bounce him back to your hand with Karakas, Stonecloaker or a Aether Vial’ed in Flickerwisp. The deck relies on little tricks such as this to slowly gain an advantage over the opponent and beat him down with creatures like Serra Avenger (which can be vialed in as soon as turn 3 instead of cast on turn 4). I played the deck endlessly and became known as the White Weenie guy. I didn’t really like that term because the deck wasn’t entirely a White Weenie deck, but it was the existant archetype that it most identified to. I like to think of it more as a Tricked Out Creature deck.

Fast forward a few years to the point where Alara block is now Standard. The release of Alara Reborn produces perhaps the most pivotal creature in the Maverick deck or at least one of the main reasons for the then Mono-White deck to splash green. I had often considered such a deck with Green for the Tarmogoyf splash (of course) and Krosan Grips in the sideboard. There was still a hole to fill. In comes … Qasali Pridemage! How awesome is this guy? I remember the initial spoiler did not even include the fact that he had exalted and I still thought he was awesome. Rarity was not officially spoiled either and I was obviously thinking Rare,right? Nope. Just wow!

This dude allowed the deck to get to the ‘next level’ but of course, the deck still had a long way to go. I won’t go over all the long and boring-ish details about how all the other cards for it fell into place to produce this Legacy Staple. I will however mention that Scavenging Ooze and Green Sun’s Zenith were pretty key.

Onto the decklist :

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Updated Maverick

1 x Aven Mindcensor

1 x Loyal Retainers

2 x Qasali Pridemage

2 x Scavenging Ooze

3 x Fauna Shaman

4 x Knight of the Reliquary

4 x Mother of Runes

4 x Noble Hierarch

1 x Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

1 x Gaddock Teeg

1 x Iona, Shield of Emeria

2 x Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Spells (10)

4 x Swords to Plowshares

4 x Green Sun’s Zenith

2 x Umezawa’s Jitte

1 x Elspeth, Knight Errant

Lands (23)

1 x Plains

2 x Forest

1 x Dryad Arbor

1 x Horizon Canopy

2 x Cavern of Souls

2 x Misty Rainforest

4 x Savannah

4 x Wasteland

4 x Windswept Heath

2 x Karakas

Sideboard (15)

2 x Gideon Jura

2 x Linvala, Keeper of Silence

1 x Ethersworn Canonist

1 x Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

2 x Purify the Grave

1 x Phyrexian Metamorph

1 x Spike Feeder

3 x Choke

1 x Harmonic Sliver

1 x Bojuka Bog

1 x Maze of Ith

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For starters, it should be noted that this list always goes through certain modifications to combat a lot of the other Legacy deck types that are becoming more and more popular (in this case, Reanimator).

We will go over some of the card choices and see how and why they are useful and chosen over other possible candidates.

Lands

Karakas

Previous versions only played one copy, however with the emergence of more Reanimator and the rise of the Show and Tell / Sneak Attack deck popularity, this card is becoming even more of a necessity. It can also be used to bounce and save your legendary creatures from the likes of cards like Swords to Plowshares . Also, there is the off-chance that a dredge deck Dread Returns an Iona of their own (usually they won’t do that if you have Karakas already in play). It will allow you to then bounce it to continue to play your white spells (usually the dredge player will name white, usually). Against Reanimator, it will bounce their Griselbrand which will keep them off the lifelink plan after they have drawn 7 and paid 7 life thus allowing you to win via your smaller creature beatdown.

Savannah

We are playing Green and White, in a Legacy format. If you feel these are somewhat expensive, then by all means, you can opt for the cheaper dual Temple Garden.

Dryad Arbor

The seemingly useless land from Planar Chaos, now one of the key cards in the deck. This card allows us to do quite a few interesting things:

Ramp – yes, a turn 1 Green Sun’s Zenith for 0 will in fact allow us to put this land into play thus giving us a potential access of 3 mana on turn 2 assuming we play a land on turn 2. This then allows us to play our ‘fatties’ like Knight of the Reliquary.

Potential Infinite Blocker – I say Potential here because some versions play Scryb Ranger or Quirion Ranger that will allow us to bounce our Forest / creature back to our hand after blocking opposing creatures. This in turn can avoid things such as opposing Umezawa’s Jitte’s from getting charge counters put onto them since combat damage will not be done.

Potential post board-whipe Jitte carrier – So you’ve overcommited or just lost all your dudes to a Terminus courtesy of the Miracles deck or a Pernicious Deed. Luckily, you’ve ‘brilliantly’ foreseen this or simply played well by leaving an uncracked fetchland open. At the end of your opponent’s turn you proceed to fetch for a ‘forest’ which turns out to be Dryad Arbor . On your turn, you equip your awesome critter with the Jitte and go to town.

That’s quite some high expectations from this little guy eh? It should be ok, as long as you don’t draw him in your opening hand. 🙂

Wasteland

This IS Legacy we’re talking about. Why would you not play this land? Everyone is running non-basics and you get the upside of being able to search for these with your awesome Knight of the Reliquary. It is not uncommon to ‘Waste’ your opponent’s subsequent landrops by simply playing Forests or Plains and turning them into Wastelands with your Knight. Unless your opponent can draw basics or play fetches to get basics into the battlefield … they are in pretty big trouble.

Fetchlands

Effectively thin your deck and pump your knight by putting more lands into the graveyard and some basics or duals into play. These are also key to defensively pumping your knight of the reliquary when he is blocking by increasing his power/toughness by 2. You sac a Forest/Plains then you go grab a fetchland to crack it and fetch for a land again. 2 lands would have gone to your graveyard this turn and your knight will have grown. Again, better players will see this option so it’s not exactly a trick really.

It does, however become a trick if you are playing Scryb Ranger and flash it in so you can untap your knight and repeat the process. This is a +4/+4 play, much much more effective usually as it will maybe be killing something pretty large and surviving to tell the story.

Cavern of Souls

What? I thought this was Legacy! Odd … or is it?

Take a look, 16 of the creatures have a common creature type. In fact, you too, fellow reader share this creature type: Human. Yeah, ok kinda lame, I know.

Let’s take a look at why this might be useful.

There is still the combination Sensei’s Divining Top / Counterbalance running around in Legacy. This effectively counters all your one drops (and you run quite a few) as well as whatever else is in their top 3 cards (provided they have that extra mana open to change the order). It can be quite frustrating for this deck to get locked by this and thusly, Cavern of Souls gets the nod.

Elves might be the other creature type named with the Cavern, if you then want to start fetching other dudes with Fauna Shaman and simply need him to stick. You can also go get this land with Knight of the Reliquary which can be key in doing things like naming wizard to flash an end of turn Aven Mindcensor or simply get a Qasali Pridemage into play to then pop him and destroy say, a Counterbalance.

Of course, you can always just name ‘Praetor’ and drop an Elesh Norn for some real backbreaking action! But I digress …

Spells 

Swords to Plowshares

The creature removal choice in Legacy since 199x. I mean seriously, you are playing white and need to sometimes get rid of their dudes. What ELSE would you play? If you were more aggro, you could opt for maybe Path to Exile. In this deck however, you are also running some mana denial and can’t really afford to have them go get lands. The life gain is ‘usually’ negligible. Even if you are using it on a Griselbrand. The dude will still gain 7 life if he gets to swing, so just do it!

Green Sun’s Zenith

This is probably the card that makes it all possible. You pretty much tutor for most creatures in your deck. You just need to make sure not to cast Thalia or Gaddock Teeg because that will cause some problems when you want to cast this spell. It can easily happen if you don’t plan out ahead and need to cast Gaddock Teeg in order to prevent a deck from casting things like Jace the Mindsculptor or a combo deck from casting Ad Nauseam. (in the later case, it’s not THAT bad)

Umezawa’s Jitte

What doesn’t this equipment do? It’s pretty much your removal against aggro, your lifegain vs. Burn decks and your clock vs. more control-oriented decks. I am sure after reading the card you will not need to understand why it’s legendary and why it’s worth over 20$. It’s that good. You will notice the absence of Stoneforge Mystic in this deck as an equipment fetcher. This is because we are rather equipment-light, the Jitte being the only search target. Also, Stoneforge is not something you can fetch with Green Sun’s Zenith.

However, a case can be made for including one copy seeing as how we run multiple Fauna Shamans. Feel free to experiment and gauge for yourself at its efficiency in the deck.

Elspeth, Knight Errant

This is here for when your creatures fail to get the job done. Excellent vs. control decks especially the ones that are old school and run Humility (the rest of the deck does pretty much nothing against that card). But those are OOOOOOLD school. You never know though, they might make a comeback. Also, she acts as an equipment for when you can equip your guys and do extra damage and end the game. Post board-whipe she is awesome. Also works well with the Dryad Arbor plan fetching at the end of your opponent’s turn. This card has been praised to no end in almost all formats. No need to repeat what’s already been said except to say that some decks opt not to run her in favor or an extra Fauna Shaman.

Creatures

This is what it’s all about. Interact with your opponent’s board through creatures and provide the beatdown. First off, we have the 1-drops:

Noble Hierarch

Similar to Birds of Paradise in Standard, this little girl provides us with the acceleration we need to drop accelerated threats in play ( such as Knight of the Reliquary) and potentially turn 3 Elspeth. Contrary to the Birds, this creature can properly attack with an Umezawa’s Jitte. It’s rather embarassing to equip a Jitte and then try to attack with the flying 0/1 and expect to do damage. However, the ‘Exalted’ keyword (something M13 brought back) rectifies this with the Hierarch.

Mother of Runes

Seemingly inoffensive until you see what it can do. I remember playing against this when me and my friend started playing back in the summer of 2001 and we didn’t fully understand the awesomeness of they protection keyword. It does a lot of neat stuff in your deck (again, even more ridiculous when paired with Scryb Ranger as it can double up on the effect).

It can single-handedly stop opposing ground creatures from hitting you and triggering their equipment or allow your guys to get past opposing defenses. A lot of times it will force your opponent to have a second removal card in hand as it efectively negates one on its own. Even when summoning sick, the opponent will be likely to Swords to Plowshares it or Lightning Bolt it in fear of having those cards be less effective vs your other threats later on.

I for one, would love an alternate art reprint. The artwork is ok, but seems dated by today’s MTG card art standards.

Let’s continue with the Legendary Creatures (aka. guys you can reanimate with Loyal Retainers)

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Realistically, this deck would not have played such a creature. However, the combination of Fauna Shaman and Loyal Retainers makes it rather potent. Add to that the fact that you can actually amass enough mana via a Gaea’s Cradle to actually cast it instead of simply reanimating it. She probably will give you the upper hand in some kind of mirror match or vs. something like merfolk (despite their infinite Lords). Against Dredge, it will not leave them with many options either. Also, if your opponent would have a removal saved up for her, you can protect her via Mother of Runes or Karakas as well.

Gaddock Teeg

The little Kithkin with a infinite wisdom (or at least that’s what the flavor text implies). He stops Soooo many cards that they are just numerous to list. Eventhough Legacy revolves more around 1-3 drops, there are still a lot of cards at 4 or more that greatly impact a game.

If you can manage to play him or search him out with Green Sun’s Zenith (after a turn 1 zenith getting Dryad Arbor) against Ad Nauseam Combo, you have a great chance of clinching the game. It also stops Sneak Attack from being cast as well.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

An almost strictly better version of Glowrider aside from the fact that she’s legendary. However in this deck the legendary ‘drawback’ is not so bad and is oftentimes an advantage.

A little note of interest:

She can be bounced to hand after first strike damage with Karakas. This is only really relevant if she had a jitte equipped and you wanted to get counters on it without having her die to the opposing creature. Granted, you can always add jitte counters to have her survive or finish off the bigger creatures. There are times where the opponent’s creature will be too big for the jitte counters to kill it, so just pointing out that option.

This creature will greatly slow down any kind of control deck especially if you can Wasteland their third land drop afterwards and keep them off mana for awhile. She also can be reanimated with Loyal Retainers, although this rarely happens. I guess against some decks it might be relevant though. Maybe even simply for the fact that drawing a late game Loyal Retainers with her as your only target is still better than just keeping a Loyal Retainers in play. Then again, you would just wait for something more relevant to go to the graveyard.

You can kill quite a few annoying creatures in Legacy with the first strike ability, such as random goblins and Scavenging Oozes with no creatures in graveyard.

Iona, Shield of Emeria

The big white angel makes its appearance in a deck not featuring Dredge shenanigans. More often than not this is definitely getting discarded to Fauna Shaman (obviously better if you are running a version with 4 Fauna Shamans.

If she can be reanimated early enough, she will completely shut down an opposing color and oftentimes an entire deck. I’m not really a big fan of its inclusion in the deck but I can see it being an awesome silver bullet and an additional way of providing this deck some reach.

As an aside, she does great things like trade with a Griselbrand. She can also be pitched with Fauna Shaman and then reanimated when your Reanimator opponent cast Exhume. Again, this may or may not happen depending on if your opponent thinks this card is in your deck. If you name black against Reanimator, it may pretty much be game at that point. Against a lot of other white-based aggro or control decks, naming white will automatically make her immune to Swords to Plowshares.

Other random fact is that putting her into play and declaring a color named by painter’s servant will completely lock your opponent if he is playing the Painter’s Servant / Grindstone deck.

I know right? O_o

The other guys

Aven Mindcensor

a 4$ uncommon from a set that’s not super old has to be good right? I personally would try hard to fit in a second one as deck searching is super common in Legacy. A lot of times he will act like a Stone Rain by having your opponent fail to find one of his lands in his top 4 cards after flashing him in response to him cracking a fetchland. Sometimes he will simply render a stoneforge less useful. Really awesome card in the mirror match!

Loyal Retainers

I think I have covered this card enough in the previous paragraphs. If you don’t have it, you can always just play a version of the deck that is lighter on legends and pack more utility guys (like an extra Qasali Pridemage).

Its 120+ dollar price is somewhat out of reach of most players. Barring a reprint he should maintain or gain value as it is obviously also a great card in EDH.

Qasali Pridemage

The greatest little common that could! This cat packs a mean punch and allows this deck to aggro more and of course gives the deck access to naturalize/ disenchant effect. Dropping him on turn 2 allows your turn 1 Noble Hierarch to attack for 2 and then of course on turn 3 your Qasali Pridemage can attack for 4 damage!

Be sure to use him conservatively as you only have so many in your deck and make sure to activate him at the best possible time and not simply play him and do something like pop an equipment right away. The longer he can stay in play, the better. Force your opponent to force you to use him. Make him have to pay 2 mana to equip his sword/jitte/whatever and then sac him. Get some value! That is the message that should be getting accross.

Again, as mentionned earlier, he is a wizard so you can make him and Aven Mindcensor uncounterable with Cavern of Souls. A bonus to not be overlooked.

Scavenging Ooze

A peculiar little guy that appeared in the Commander decks. Initially, it didn’t make a big splash. In fact the commander deck it came in was the lowest priced one in almost all retail locations. Currently, I believe the Counterpunch Commander deck is the priciest one. Of course this is due to the fact that Scavenging Ooze is valued at about the 40$ mark.

Even more impressive is that it has replaced Tarmogoyf in this deck. It shrinks opposing Tarmogoyf and really does a number on Reanimator decks. Sometimes even, it can gain you enough life to keep you alive against Burn decks. Add to the fact that it gets +1/+1 counters and it’s almost like a reverse-Goyf. This and  Knight of the Reliquary are your most likely targets with a Green Sun’s Zenith as they can really control the board with their effects.

Recently, there has been a Red-White-Black Zombies deck featuring Goblin Bombardment. Scavenging Ooze single-handedly kills that deck. It removes Gravecrawlers for good as well as Bloodghasts and Lingering Souls. It really does whipe the table with that deck provided you have the mana to activate it as it is in play. Otherwise, don’t be too hasty and just hold off on it until you can activate the slime 2-3 times. Seeing as how the Bombardment Zombies deck is essentially a sort of Burn deck, the slime also provides you with enough life to survive.

I recommend to at least trade for a couple if you plan on playing Legacy in the future as it does not really show signs of slowing down. If you can maybe find the random lesser frequented hobby shops or some random store that usually has only sealed product and not singles, you might be lucky enough to still obtain the Counterpunch Commander deck.

Knight of the Reliquary

THE definitive Green – White creature! What doesn’t it do? From getting Karakas to bounce some legendary creature to fetching Gaea’s Cradle to get a huge amount of mana and drop Elesh Norn or fetching a Bojuka Bog from the Sideboard to whipe an opposing graveyard. In some builds, it can even fetch a Tower of the Magistrate and unequip a creature at instant speed thus throwing a wrench in your opponent’s plans (especially if it was a pro green or pro white sword that was equipped). Knight just feeds itself to get bigger and is thus an self-sufficient creature. Sometimes you can Bojuka Bog your opponent’s graveyard so that your Knight kills his.

The Knight used to be somewhat harder to get but was reprinted in the Knights vs. Dragons Duel Deck and is still somewhat available for purchase at some retailers I believe.

Also, the Knight is a staple for both modern and Legacy. Getting a playset of this girl is probably essential if you are planning on competing in those formats and would like to try out various deck instead of jsut using the same one. Of course, it’s also an EDH staple because it does waht EDH decks like to do most: it searches.

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          Sideboard – Sideboard – Sideboard – Sideboard – Sideboard – Sideboard – Sideboard –

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I won’t waste too much time on this aspect as it’s oftentimes a huge metagame call but again, since Reanimator is a dominant deck, you can clearly see the hate for it in this sideboard.

Gideon Jura

I can’t help but be fascinated by Gideon Jura in this sideboard. It seems really awesome actually. I have not had the chance to use it, but I can definitely see it being rather good. You can waste a Wasteland to target a land like Savannah on your opponent’s side of the field. In response he will tap his Knight of the Reliquary to sac the land (because he can, LOL)

I have to take a brief break from this to mention to you that this is what causes soooo many mistakes in this wonderful game of Magic: the Gathering. The more options that will become available to a player, the most likely he is to choose the wrong one/ play badly.

So here, we are presenting our opponent with a choice:

A) let your land die and keep the knight as a potential blocker

B) Sac your land and go get whatever land you think you need at the moment so you don’t just freely lose a land for nothing

Now, to be fair, most people will not be expecting a Gideon from the sideboard. Heck, I was surprised when I saw 2 of them in there. But if your seemingly skilled opponent is wasting his time to bust your land knowing you can sac it to replace it, he is probably baiting you.

Most likely. Especially if he has nothing great to mount an offense with. So what you expect to happen occurs and you then play your Gideon Jura and -2 his Knight of the Reliquary. Almost as if by Magic!

Linvala, Keeper of Silence

An absolute beast in the mirror match and vs. Elves. She is also legendary so all the benefits of being a legend I listed above for this deck apply.

Ethersworn Canonist

Hope to draw it early post-side versus storm or Elves. You can hope to tutor for it on turn 3 with Fauna Shaman and play it. It does what it’s supposed to do very well but you only run 1 copy (Again, adjust to your metagame if playing these Legacy decks locally)

Thalia

More Thalia to slow down the slow decks and also very effective against Storm as well.

                

Purify the Grave

I know what you are thinking: Why?

This card barely sees play in Standard. Why Legacy? Reanimator, right?

Yes… I think that is evident. But why not just Surgical Extraction ?

Well…. those decks play counters of course. Do they have 2 counters for your Purify the Grave ? They better! Then again, will you have 2 white mana available when the time comes? Let’s hope!

Phyrexian Metamorph

For when your opponent plays Show and Tell ? Check. Do you have an active Fauna Shaman in play? ditch whatever irrelevant creature you have in hand and go get this guy. He will just clone Emrakul, Griselbrand, Progenitus,whatever. Legend Killer!

Also probably the only out to decks that still play Natural Order > Progenitus.

At worst can also bust an opposing Jitte.

Choke

I think this one is obvious. Just mayyyyybe don’t play against merfolk? Still not 100% on that though. At least not the Aether Vial versions, which i think is in ALL Merfolk decks.

Harmonic Sliver

For when your opponent has negated your ability to activate Qasali Pridemage with a Pithing Needle.

Bojuka Bog

We went through this one, right?

Maze of Ith

A nice little way to deal with creatures that need to attack. Also, a somewhat shrouded trick is to activate the Maze at end of combat after damage has been dealt but while your creature is still considered an attacker. Works wonders with Knight of the Reliquary in this respect as it gives her pseudo-vigilance. Against opponents who are not aware of this ruling, it can get a few free point of damage in as they will think that your Knight is now tapped for when they want to attack.

Clearly this article has gone on for some time now and you are probably getting sleepy. I invite you to give this deck a try if your budget permits or if you want to test it out with proxies before commiting to the real deal.

Cheers!

3 thoughts on “G/W Maverick in Legacy

  1. Pingback: Gatecrash Preview: Aetherize « Carte Blanche Hobbies Blogspot

  2. Pingback: Certain Things in Life |

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