On Monday Wrenn and Six got banned in Legacy with the reasoning that Temur Delver had too high of a win percentage and that various toughness one creatures were getting pushed out of the format. Personally, I liked the Wrenn and Six era, but you better believe I’m looking forward to not having to worry about it anymore as well. That brings me to why we are here today. After the announcement I quickly went and modified my Grixis control deck and built Sultai as well. The decks have a lot of cards in common, but most importantly they both play Hymn to Tourach which will be a lot better in the new world of Legacy. After all, hymning away lands in the midgame because the opponent has an active Wrenn and Six isn’t all that exciting. Let’s take a look at my two builds and compare the pros and cons of the red and green splash.
Why play Blue-Black-X control?Snapcaster Mage and Jace, the Mind Sculptor are everything you ever wanted since they let you find your effecient answers and replay them while pulling ahead on cards. No matter the color combination, they are a great place to start with your Legacy control deck. Gurmag Angler is great vs. any non-Swords to Plowshares deck because it’s so hard to deal with. Ever since adding the second copy back in the Deathrite Shaman era, I’ve loved how it lets my control deck switch gears and suddenly attack lifetotals rather than just prolonging the game. Drown in the Loch is a versatile answer that doubles as creature removal and counterspell in various matchups. When I’m trying to explain players how good that card is, I usually tell them that dealing with resolved Tarmogoyf and Sneak Attack on the stack in the same card while also pitching to Force of Will is worth some slots in their non-combo Legacy deck with blue and black mana. Here are the two lists in question.
Grixis Control by Andreas Petersen
Sultai Control by Andreas Petersen
Kolaghan’s Command vs. Abrupt Decay
The Command lets you grind better in control matchups where looping Snapcaster Mage is powerful, can kill Batterskull and sometimes even come up super clutch by killing two pesky cards at the same time like Chalice of the Void and Goblin Rabblemaster. Abrupt Decay will kill Blood Moon, Sylvan Library, Monastery Mentor; Oko, Thief of Crowns, Counterbalance, Knight of the Reliquary and Tarmogoyf without asking questions, but will never be card advantage.
Pyroblast vs. Veil of Summer
Having an actual hard counter for Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Snapcaster Mage, Counterbalance and Show and Tell can’t be underestimated, but Veil of Summer is the best we can do within the Sultai colors. Veil will shine against discard spells and in counter wars, but is less reliable. Going to Sultai, losing Pyroblast is the biggest concern for me personally.
More Upsides of Red
Bolt has great flexibility as it gets rid of small creatures like Delver of Secrets, Stoneforge Mystic and Mother of Runes as efficiently as Fatal Push, but being able to close out opponents and target planeswalkers are the big advantages. Being red means fetching a dual more often to cast it which is a minor downside.
Having a way to deal with Marit Lage decks using a card that has utility in other matchups is mandatory for my Legacy control decks. I used to play Submerge because it was a great upgrade against Temur Delver as well, but I suspect not many are going to play that color combination of Delver moving forward. Instead I went back to good old Blood Moon which will also come in handy against nasty Eldrazi decks that want to cheat on mana and activate Eye of Ugin in the lategame. Make sure to proactively fetch your basics and be aware that it might tip the opponent off that Blood Moon might be coming.
More Upsides of Green
Now we are getting to the points where Sultai will show its strengths compared to Grixis. Oko finds its way to the main deck because of its flexibility in tons of situations. It deals with troublesome creatures, it protects your lifetotal and it makes Baleful Strix hit hard with “haste” against opposing planeswalkers. Oko also just takes a lot of ressources to be dealt with, which can buy you the time you need to take over the game. Leovold comes out of the sideboard to help against combo and control where cantrips and one-for-one trades play a huge role.
I’m super excited about including this package as it solves so many problems for the classic Dimir-shell control deck. Marit Lage is a huge problem and all of a sudden Sultai has effectively three copies of Karakas to deal with it, two of which are instant speed and might surprise the opponent. The matchup will not be perfect, but playable is okay for me. Bojuka Bog and the Grafdigger’s Cages will team up and provide a playable matchup against nonsense like Dredge and Hogaak while Reanimator becomes quite favorable after sideboard. The graveyard hate will also come in against Storm, so now we have three axis of attack – discard, counter magic and graveyard hate.
I’m very excited about the future of Legacy and can’t wait to play even more with various Hymn to Tourach-powered variants. As always, the metagame dictates the direction of control decks, and only time will tell if I favor Grixis or Sultai before my next event!