The last few months I started playing more Legacy, for two reasons. First, I’ve had much less time to play Magic since the birth of my son, and keeping up with Standard has become impossible. Second, the tournaments I can still attend are mostly Legacy, because this is the format that European players care about most.
When I played my first Legacy tournament about a year ago, I chose to play Dredge because I wanted to minimize how much I had to interact with the experienced players. I still love Dredge, but now that I know the format better I feel that I’m ready for something more interactive.
Legacy is a format that rewards you most if you focus on a single deck, and if you know this deck and its match-ups inside-out. I have therefore spent the last months trying to figure out which deck is right for me. I considered combo decks such as Storm and MUD, and interactive aggro decks such as Aggro Loam and Death-and-Taxes. However, I believe that I have now found the deck I want to invest my time and money in.
Grixis Tezzerator can probably best be described as a control-combo deck, built around the planeswalker Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. Although I’m not a fan of the name, the deck itself seems to have everything I want:
- It’s a rogue deck. I would never be able to play Miracles or Shardless BUG; that’s simply not how I enjoy Magic.
- It’s pro-active and interactive. I like having the initiative, but interaction is what makes Magic fun; as long as it is on my terms.
- It is competitive. I know this from my matches on Magic Online, though it will take some time to figure out how competitive.
- It allows me to tinker. There are lots of directions I can take the deck, and lots of cards I can include, which means it will never be finished.
Here is my current deck list (though it is changing every day):
The main deck
There is a lot going on in this deck, so let’s start with the mana. All versions of this deck I have seen so far played fetch lands and Revised dual lands; but for now I want to try this budget version with artifact lands and Glimmervoids. The drawback is that I need all my color sources and cannot play for example Wasteland and Ancient Tomb. But there are also advantages; I can play Mox Opal, and cards like Thoughtcast and Cranial Plating become more powerful.
In addition to 16 lands I play 4 Mox Opals and 4 Chrome Moxes. The fast mana is essential, since I want my planeswalkers to hit the board quickly. Although Chrome Mox is strictly speaking card disadvantage, if it allows you to play Dack Fayden or Thoughtcast a turn early it’s worth it.
The way the deck wins is through Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas (either by making and attacking with 5/5s or by going for the easy-to-reach ultimate), through the Thopter Foundry / Sword of the Meek combo, or by combining Etched Champion (or Baleful Strix) with Cranial Plating.
To find the right win conditions and control elements, the deck has a variety of card draw and selection spells. This is also Dack Fayden‘s primary role, although you occasionally get to steal one of your opponent’s artifacts. Transmute Artifact is an awesome tutor that can be used in various ways; for example to find a Thopter Foundry by sacrificing a Sword of the Meek (and then returning the sword by making a thopter token), or to combine Etched Champion and Cranial Plating.
While the main deck is set up to combat bigger players in the metagame (such as Miracles, Delver and Shardless), the sideboard gives you some tools against various combo decks. Typically you take out the Foundry+Swords combo (relying on Tezzeret to win the match), and put in cards such as Grafdigger’s Cage, Pithing Needle, Spellskite and Mindbreak Trap. Batterskull and Zuran Orb are for against burn and fast aggro. Toxic Deluge and Ghirapur Aether Grid come in against creature decks.
There are a lot of one-ofs and two-ofs, but Transmute Artifact and my planeswalkers give me a way to search for them.
There are lots of cards I intend to test. Dack Fayden is awesome, but is the only reason for playing Red, so perhaps he’s replaceable, for example by Liliana of the Veil or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. This would make the deck most controlling, especially if I add some Counterspells as well.
Removing Red also simplifies my mana base, allowing me to play some colorless lands (for example Wasteland, Ancient Tomb or Inkmoth Nexus). Without Red I could also add White or Green, though I haven’t found a reason for this yet. White would give me Ethersworn Canonist, and Green allows me to play Glissa, the Traitor together with Executioner’s Capsule, but both cards are pretty narrow.
Another approach would be to add Arcbound Ravager and/or Hangarback Walker, to arrive at a version that is close to an Affinity aggro deck. Maybe even a Triskelion for an additional combo element (to combine with Ravager).
Finally, I could add Tangle Wire and/or Thorn of Amethyst to lock my opponent out of the game, and add a card like Trading Post to the mix. I can even see a version without Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, that is more aggressive and lower to the ground, and less reliant on tutors.
As I wrote earlier, I love a deck that allows me to Tinker. If only that card were legal in Legacy.