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The Hoog: True-Name Nemesis & A Little Bit Of Ale

  • The legacy format is generally pretty stable in terms of what cards/types of decks consistently see play at the top tables of events. Every once in a while though Wizards prints card(s) with the legacy format specifically in mind and cracks it wide open. Some examples of this are the cards [[Deathrite Shaman]] and [[Abrupt Decay]] out of Return to Ravnica.

    The most recent example of Wizards breaking legacy open is this little guy:

    There is no doubting that [[True-Name Nemesis]] has successfully warped the format. In fact, I would go so far as to say you should be doing one of three things in legacy right now:

    - Beating True-Name Nemesis
    - Playing True-Name Nemesis
    - Ignoring True-Name Nemesis

    I am playing at the SCG Invitational in Las Vegas later this month, which is a split format event (Standard/Legacy). This event feels backwards to me from every other event I’ve prepared for this year, because I already know what I am playing in standard, but I have no idea what I want to be doing in legacy. Taking my three points above as truth, the following are three decks I’m considering playing.

    Beating True-Name Nemesis with a little bit of Ale

    Deadguy Ale is an older legacy arch type that hasn’t seem as much success in recent legacy events – but I feel like it is well-positioned with how the format is shaping up. Some people might not know this, but before I started loaming in legacy, my first SCG Legacy open top 8 was with the Deadguy Ale:

    Deadguy Ale by Jeff Hoogland
    5th place SCG Open on 7/15/2012

    4 [[Dark Confidant]]
    3 [[Stoneforge Mystic]]
    2 [[Tombstalker]]
    3 [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]]

    3 [[Liliana of the Veil]]

    1 [[Batterskull]]
    2 [[Chrome Mox]]
    2 [[Sensei's Divining Top]]
    4 [[Swords to Plowshares]]
    3 [[Zealous Persecution]]
    1 [[Umezawa's Jitte]]
    4 [[Hymn to Tourach]]
    3 [[Inquisition of Kozilek]]
    4 [[Lingering Souls]]

    2 Plains
    4 Swamp
    1 [[Arid Mesa]]
    4 [[Marsh Flats]]
    2 [[Scrubland]]
    4 [[Verdant Catacombs]]
    4 [[Wasteland]]

    1 [[Manriki-Gusari]]
    1 [[Nihil Spellbomb]]]
    1 [[Ethersworn Canonist]]
    2 [[Humility]]
    2 [[Enlightened Tutor]]
    2 [[Mindbreak Trap]]
    3 [[Surgical Extraction]]
    1 [[Umezawa's Jitte]]
    2 [[Perish]]

    As you can see from the above list, Deadguy Ale is essentially a BW Stoneblade deck. We utilize [[Dark Confidant]] and [[Lingering Souls]] to generate card advantage against other fair magic decks. When facing the more unfair things that always appear at legacy events we have a powerful disruption suite in the form of discard spells, [[Liliana of the Veil]], [[Wasteland]], and [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]].

    Why do I think this deck is well-positioned currently? To start, all of the Death and Taxes and True-Name Nemesis decks running around make Zealous Persecution insanely powerful right now. What happens if your opponent puts a sword or – gods forbid – a [[Batterskull]] on their [[True-Name Nemesis]]? Well – then we still have Liliana of the Veil to edict their fish monster away.

    Now, I would never recommend taking a desk list from over a year ago and sleeving it up verbatim for a large event. After some brewing and a lot of testing the following is my current Deadguy Ale list for this format:

    4 [[Dark Confidant]]
    2 [[Mother of Runes]]
    3 [[Phyrexian Revoker]]
    4 [[Stoneforge Mystic]]

    2 [[Liliana of the Veil]]

    1 [[Diabolic Edict]]
    3 [[Swords to Plowshares]]
    2 [[Zealous Persecution]]
    2 [[Oblivion Ring]]
    1 [[Batterskull]]
    1 [[Sensei's Divining Top]]
    1 [[Sword of Fire and Ice]]
    1 [[Umezawa's Jitte]]
    4 [[Cabal Therapy]]
    3 [[Lingering Souls]]
    4 [[Thoughtseize]]

    1 [[Arid Mesa]]
    1 [[Karakas]]
    4 [[Marsh Flats]]
    1 Plains
    4 [[Scrubland]]
    6 [[Swamp]]
    2 [[Verdant Catacombs]]
    4 [[Wasteland]]

    1 [[Duress]]
    2 [[Engineered Plague]]
    2 [[Ethersworn Canonist]]
    2 [[Humility]]
    1 [[Manriki-Gusari]]
    1 [[Diabolic Edict]]
    3 [[Surgical Extraction]]
    1 [[Swords to Plowshares]]
    2 [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]]

    My latest list takes a number of tricks that help make Death and Taxes successful and implements them. I’ve relegated Thalia, Gaurdian of Thraben to the sideboard in favor of [[Phyrexian Revoker]] in my main deck as well as slotting in a pair of [[Mother of Runes]].

    I’ve opted to cut the Chrome Moxes in favor of simply playing more lands. This gives me less explosive starts, but causes me less card disadvantage. I’ve upgraded [[Inquisition of Kozilek]] to [[Thoughtseize]] and traded out [[Hymn to Tourach]] in favor of [[Cabal Therapy]].

    The last change is that I’ve made a few main deck changes to improve the Sneak and Show match up. My second Plains has turned into a [[Karakas]] and I am playing a pair of [[Oblivion Rings]] in the main deck.

    Playing True-Name Nemesis in a Cunning way

    You know what they say – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. This next deck list is something one of my friends, Mike Kletz, has been working on. It in turn was taken from a list Caleb Durward was toying around with earlier this year – RUG Midrange:

    2 [[Snapcaster Mage]]
    4 [[Tarmogoyf]]
    4 [[True-Name Nemesis]]
    1 [[Vendilion Clique]]
    3 [[Young Pyromancer]]

    4 [[Brainstorm]]
    3 [[Cunning Wish]]
    3 [[Force of Will]]
    3 [[Lightning Bolt]]
    1 [[Misdirection]]
    1 [[Negate]]
    3 [[Punishing Fire]]
    3 [[Spell Pierce]]
    4 [[Gitaxian Probe]]

    1 [[Faerie Conclave]]
    4 [[Grove of the Burnwillows]]
    3 [[Misty Rainforest]]
    4 [[Scalding Tarn]]
    2 [[Tropical Island]]
    1 [[Underground Sea]]
    3 [[Volcanic Island]]
    3 [[Wasteland]]

    1 [[Ancient Grudge]]
    3 [[Cabal Therapy]]
    2 [[Flusterstorm]]
    1 [[Force of Will]]
    1 [[Golgari Charm]]
    1 [[Krosan Grip]]
    1 [[Phyrexian Revoker]]
    1 [[Punishing Fire]]
    1 [[Ravenous Trap]]
    2 [[Red Elemental Blast]]
    1 [[Surgical Extraction]]

    This deck has an insanely good fair deck match up. Between [[Punishing Fire]] and [[True-Name Nemesis]], this deck has been destroying everything that tries to play [[Stoneforge Mystic]] in this format.  Add in a healthy dose of counter magic and we have a fairly good shell to jam with.

    One thing I must admit I am a sucker for is the utility a card like [[Cunning Wish]] offers. Not only does it allow us to play six copies of [[Punishing Fire]], but being able to fetch cards like [[Surgical Extraction]] and [[Ravenous Trap]] in game one against graveyard based strategies is very powerful.  

    I also guess it is slightly misleading to call this simply a RUG deck – because as you can see there is [[Underground Sea]] in the main deck to allow us to cast a few black cards out of the sideboard. [[Golgari Charm]] adds an insane amount of flexibility in a single card for the wish package (like killing opposing [[True-Name Nemesis]]), while being able to board in [[Cabal Therapy]] in conjunction with our main deck [[Young Pyromancer]] and [[Gitaxian Probe]] offers us a valuable angle of attack against unfair strategies.

    The Grisly Truth – Who cares about True-Name Nemesis?

    Finally, a part of me thinks I should just break outside of my comfort zone and jam something completely unfair. Could I just laugh at my opponent trying to play a three mana 3/1 on turn two or three when I am getting a 7/7 flying and lifelink [[Necropotence]] into play on turn one or two?

    The deck “Tin Fins” (or to the more boring people of the world – Girselbrand Reanimator) in a more fringe combo deck that is fairly capable of drawing infinite cards and killing its opponent on the first turn. My friend, Martin Schank, has been championing this archetype for a few of the last couple of months now. He finished in the Top-16 of SCG Cincinnati with it earlier this year and later won a 40-plus person mox event with it. I asked him for his latest deck list and he shipped me the following:

    2 [[Children of Korlis]]
    1 [[Emrakul, the Aeons Torn]]
    4 [[Griselbrand]]

    4 [[Lotus Petal]]
    4 [[Brainstorm]]
    4 [[Careful Study]]
    4 [[Dark Ritual]]
    4 [[Entomb]]
    2 [[Goryo's Vengeance]]
    4 [[Shallow Grave]]
    3 [[Cabal Therapy]]
    3 [[Ponder]]
    1 [[Thoughtseize]]
    1 [[Burning Wish]]
    4 [[Force of Will]]

    1 Island
    1 Swamp
    1 [[Misty Rainforest]]
    4 [[Polluted Delta]]
    4 [[Flooded Strand]]
    1 [[Tundra]]
    2 [[Underground Sea]]
    1 [[Volcanic Island]]

    2 [[Pithing Needle]]
    1 [[Chain of Vapor]]
    1 [[Echoing Truth]]
    3 [[Massacre]]
    1 [[Cabal Therapy]]
    4 [[Show and Tell]]
    1 [[Emrakul, The Aeons Torn]]
    1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
    1 [[Exhume]]

    For those unfamiliar with this archetype, it utilizes Entomb and Careful Study to dump either [[Griselbrand]] or Emrakul into its graveyard. Then it uses [[Shallow Grave]] or [[Goryo’s Vengeance]] to cheat this creature into play and attack. With [[Dark Ritual]] and [[Lotus Petal]] this is able to happen as early as turn one, but often by turn two. If [[Grislebrand]] is the fatty you are cheating out you can then draw 14-21 cards.

    What do you do with all of these wonderful cards? In a perfect world, you use a [[Lotus Petal]] to play this guy:

    You sacrifice him to gain back your 21 life and pick up 21 more cards. Then you play a second child (or reanimate the first one) and use it to gain 42 life. At this point you’ve drawn your whole deck and generated a good amount of mana with Lotus Petals and Dark Rituals.

    If have haven’t attacked yet, you then put an [[Emrakul, the Aeons Torn]] into play and attack for 22 – killing them.

    If you had to attack with [[Griselbrand]] to draw more cards – don’t worry, we can still kill them this turn. Discard your Emrakul with a [[Cabal Therapy]] targeting yourself and shuffle all of your mana producing cards back into your library. Re-draw them and produce a bunch more mana with rituals/petals and gain a bunch more life with [[Children of Korlis]]. Once you have enough mana and enough storm count, cast your [[Burning Wish]] and kill them with a [[Tendrils of Agony]].

    Pretty fun, right?

    Wrapping Up

    All in all, I am pretty torn on what exactly I want to be playing in Vegas in a week and a half. I am naturally inclined to play a fair magic deck, but part of me really wants to break out of this and play giant creatures for a weekend.

    Which of these three decks do you think is the best choice? If you are/were playing in a large legacy event in the next two weeks – what would you be playing?

    Bonus – Standard Deck

    For the curious – this is the standard deck I’ve settled on for the invitational:

    4 [[Ash Zealot]]
    4 [[Boros Reckoner]]
    4 [[Chandra's Phoenix]]
    4 [[Firedrinker Satyr]]
    4 [[Rakdos Cackler]]
    4 [[Stormbreath Dragon]]

    2 [[Chandra, Pyromaster]]

    2 [[Chained to the Rocks]]
    3 [[Boros Charm]]
    4 [[Lightning Strike]]

    2 [[Assemble the Legion]]
    1 [[Boros Charm]]
    2 [[Burning Earth]]
    2 [[Chained to the Rocks]]
    4 [[Mizzium Mortars]]
    1 [[Ratchet Bomb]]
    2 [[Shock]]
    1 [[Wear-Tear]]

    13 Mountain
    4 [[Mutavault]]
    4 [[Sacred Foundry]]
    4 [[Temple of Triumph]]

    ~Jeff Hoogland

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