The original duals have always been a staple of legacy. Since the demise of the Miracles deck after Sensei’s Divining Top‘s banning this spring, this has become increasing more true and, as a result, we have seen the rise of three and four color decks. More and more decks are now playing little to no basic lands (the point being to try and leverage the best cards in every color to give you play in almost any situation) with very little downside. With this, I’d like to direct your attention to a three-mana enchantment that is poised to take advantage of this exploitable weakness…
Back to Basics is the centerpiece of my take on a familiar archetype of formats past, “Stoneblade”. This deck plays on a mix of prison and control elements and is designed to prey upon the other control decks and tempo decks that make up much of the current legacy metagame.
The backbone of this deck is the toolbox that is built around Stoneforge Mystic‘s ability to fetch powerful equipment spells from your deck. Let’s take a look at the pieces:
- Tutors for a specific piece of equipment ideal for THIS moment
- Puts equipment directly into play, bypassing opposing counter-magic
- General utility creature that shines in a format of maximum efficiency
This is one of the scariest pieces of equipment ever printed. It can come down as early as turn 3, bringing to the table a 4/4 vigilance with lifelink. This will require your opponent’s immediate attention or it will run away with the game.
Jitte is arguably one of the most powerful and versatile pieces of equipment that has ever been printed. Typically, once damage is dealt and charge counters are added to the Jitte, you’ll quickly begin to take control of just about any board state.
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Fire and Ice can be included in the main deck OR sideboard depending on your preference. I’ve included Sword in my sideboard due to the rise of 4-color decks making it a less viable option in the main. That being said, this tool is right up there with Batterskull and Umezawa’s Jitte in regards to what it can do.
The Stoneblade package allows for the introduction of a powerful finisher that has become almost as ubiquitous to legacy as Deathrite Shaman. True-Name Nemesis is a card originally designed for commander but quickly found a home in midrange and control decks as a strong unassailable finisher. Due to it’s resilience to removal and protection from opposing blockers, True-Name is the ideal creature to bear your equipment package.
Back to Basics might be one of the most punishing card in the legacy format. As I stated earlier, the format is filled with decks playing few to no basic lands. What makes this variant of stoneblade able to take advantage of this is the fact that this deck only plays two dual lands, 9 fetches, and 9 basics. Having a large portion of your mana base composed of basic lands allows you to effectively play magic while your opponent is either completely locked out of the game, struggling with a restricted manabase provided by Deathrite Shaman, or was lucky enough to find one of the one to two basics that are included in the average legacy deck.
Complementing the power of the Stoneforge Mystic package and the Back to Basics lock is the standard blue/white cantrip and control suite which includes the powerful finisher, Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Where this deck varies from a more control-oriented deck such as Miracles is the usage of a second planeswalker. Elspeth, Knight Errant has performed exceptionally well as she has the potential to greatly increases the closing speed of the deck by going over the top of most blockers. While others have had success with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar (both are reasonable choices and fill slightly different roles in the deck), Elspeth has proved to be more aggressive. Gideon, however, could provide a stalling power that is nearly unmatchable.
What makes “Basic Blade” distinctly different from more traditional Jeskai Stoneblade lists, and potentially a stronger metagame choice, is the combination of a resilient manabase and a more versatile sideboard that is tailorable to the predicted meta. This versatility has allowed me to turn a Storm match-up, which is traditionally a bad matchup for Stoneblade decks, into one that is highly winnable, if not favored, after sideboarding.
The fact that cards such as Meddling Mage and Ethersworn Canonist can be both on-color and pull double duty in many matchups beyond Storm makes them an easy inclusion in the sideboard. The flexibility of these cards while not weakening the overall game plan of the deck allows for a more robust and resilient deck. While there is nothing wrong with playing Red Elemental Blast, I’ve found that in the current format, being able to control the game and win at your own pace is a great spot to be in.