Ignite the Stoneforge!
„Activate Jace’s Ultimate…“ I said, trying to withhold my excitement. My opponent had no cards in hand but an Ensnaring Bridge on the board that wasn’t of any use in this situation. Then he took his deck, slammed it onto his Exile pile and extended his hand. This was the worthy ending of my last match at the seventh „Win A Dual“ that I just won again. With Esper Stoneblade.
It is no secret that I’m quite known as the Esperite, playing White-Blue-Black regardless of the format but of course I enjoy it the most in Legacy. I’m really dedicated to the combination of efficient removal, discard and card advantage engines. The high flexibility and consistency of the deck also convinces me that there are no devastating bad matchups for it. In addition I highly recommend everybody to choose one deck and stick to it if you’re not doing that already. Learning the edges of your deck and experiencing the different matchups and how to win them really pays off.
With this article I like to cover some aspects of the deck I love and the matches I played at the tournament. I will not describe every game in detail since I don’t remember all of them good enough.
Momentarily my deck runs two Supreme Verdicts maindeck and one in the sideboard since I’m dealing with fair, creature-based decks most of the time. I also moved the Sword of Fire and Ice to the sideboard for other Stoneblade lists, Miracles and tribal decks. In addition I reintroduced my third Jace, the Mind Sculptor back to the maindeck. He’s just better than all.
Taking a further glimpse at my deck some people might say „Why doesn’t he play the unkillable, unblockable swordfish named True-Name Nemesis?“. I already tested the card, played a while with it and gave it some thought but ultimately I must say: I just don’t like it and consider it to be a bit overrated. Sure, it shines in the fair matchups and accomplishes free wins against Death and Taxes in some cases but for a control player there are some card aspects being more important than attacking unhindered and blocking (nearly) everything that comes my way. Of course I talk about card advantage. So if I compare the Nemesis to Lingering Souls and Baleful Strix I indeed prefer the latter options which have incremental card advantage like the cornerstone of the deck, Stoneforge Mystic.
Lingering Souls make many players flinch considering the time they buy against fair aggro decks or when they win races with four or even more power spreaded through the air. Being recastable, Lingering Souls is not as prone as True-Name Nemesis to countermagic, a Liliana of the Veil or any removal that could deal with the merfolk rogue.
Baleful Strix is a threat that replaces itself while trading with almost everything, including
Insectile Aberrations and Tombstalkers. Besides, for some reason I just like the idea giving a sword to a bird and beat my opponent with it.
Speaking of opponents…
Round 1, Heiko Maurus, UW Stoneblade. 2:0
My first Thoughtseize revealed Mother of Runes, Daze, Counterspell, Azorius Guildmage and lands which brought me to the question: What am I playing against? Of course I took the Mother and was able to play around the countermagic. Some turns later I was able to win with Umezawa’s Jitte wielded by the Vendilion Clique.
The second game he answered my question from the first game: This is a Stoneblade list! …kind of. His Mystic fetched a Jitte but he missed the opportunity to bring it into play while I only had a Baleful Strix on the field. I thoughtseized the equipment and was able to summon my own Jitte some turns later which was devastating against his board. After that I also equipped my owl with a Sword of Fire and Ice and shot his board. O rly!
Round 2, Vuong Nyo, UR Delver. 2:0
This matchup is quite tough because the deck can be a lot faster than the most Delver decks. Otherwise there have been moments where I was quite happy with all the landcards I received from Vuong’s Goblin Guides.
The first game was quite exciting. He played some threats, stifled one of my fetchlands and got me down to 4 life while I was only chumpblocking with my spirits and casting Swords to Plowshares to remove some of his threats. Later on I was able to deal with a True-Name Nemesis, got Batterskull in play and left the dangerzone through enormous lifegain.
Vuong started game two with a hasty Goblin Guide… followed by another one. After I played a Baleful Strix which blocked one of them… he casted yet another Goblin Guide! These clueless creatures gave me three or more lands so I had to discard (!) at the end of one of my turns. While I was showered with landcards Vuong was quite mana screwed without having double blue mana for his Nemesis. He then played a Pithing Needle naming… Batterskull? I was fine with that. Later on my Stoneforge Mystic slammed a Batterskull into an attacking Goblin Guide. With that lifegain I jumped from 5 to 9 life and then to 13 on the next attack. I played a Meddling Mage naming True-Name Nemesis and secured victory.
Round 3, Alexander Dörr, Elves! 2:0
Alex had to mulligan to just five cards in the first game. Adding insult to injury I also thoughtseized him and saw three Glimpse of Nature and one Natural Order which I sent to his graveyard. In the course of the game there was no moment which I didn’t have under control. My Jitte ultimately won me the game.
From the sideboard came in the fourth Force of Will, Humility, Pithing Needle, two Meddling Mages and… one Zealous Persecution.
I saw the Zealous Persecution in my opening hand with just one land but also a Ponder, a
Brainstorm and a Force of Will and kept it. Of course that was risky but hey… no risk, no fun. And I had fun indeed.
Alex made a pretty good start but without a Deathrite Shaman. I pondered and found my second land. After just a few turns five Elves, including Heritage Druid, gathered on the other side of the table and attacked once. I took the opportunity to cast the Persecution in that combat phase and cleaned the board trading 5 for 1. Cheering from the control player!
Round 4, Adrian Dziuba, BUG Delver. 2:0
I made the decision to play Strix and Lingering Souls over True-Name Nemesis mainly because of this attrition matchup. Every threat Adrian plays is something I have to remove. Deathrite Shaman disturbs my Snapcasters, Dark Confidant gains card advantage which I can’t allow under any circumstances and Tarmogoyf and Delvers are of course excellent beaters. But also the noncreature cards like Hymn and Liliana are hard to deal with.
The first game went quite in my favor. I am able to remove the early threats with Swords to Plowshares and Snapcaster Mage. I also thoughtseized a troublemaker which was Liliana. I never went below 15 life and put a Batterskull into play in the lategame.
Again I could remove many early threats like a Dark Confidant but I had to discard to three Hymn to Tourachs and got my blue mana sources wasted. However, these Hymns didn’t get my Batterskull which I could get into play and then equipped it with Jitte that I hardcasted before. It attacked once into a 5/6 Tarmogoyf gaining 4 life and killing the Goyf in the process. After that Adrian and I were both in topdeck-mode. I had only two Plains in play but enough breathingroom with 32 life. Adrian casted a Vendilion Clique which only saw Brainstorm in my hand. He let me keep it knowing I had no blue mana… but I drew my blue source, then casted the Brainstorm finding Sword to Plowshares, removed the Clique, found another Stoneforge Mystic and built up my board presence. In the end I controlled the game without any problems because Adrian didn’t draw any answers or threats and never casted even one Abrupt Decay.
Round 5, Dominik Stützle, Merfolk, intentional draw, played 2:1
After some talk Dominik an I decided to draw since we were the only ones undefeated and in the final analysis that was the right decision. Nevertheless we played our games in a serious manner.
My main goal in this matchup was to keep every lord off the table and to put a Batterskull and/or a Jitte online. This is quite difficult since Dominik plays up to 14 lords in one or another way. And the interaction between Phantasmal Image and the lords or True-Name Nemesis is scary. In addition Æther Vial gives further tempo and interactions to play with. Even when I consider all these factors this is not a bad matchup for me. But a tough one from time to time.
The two Supreme Verdicts in the maindeck really did some work. It often comes to a situation where my opponent commits to much to the board and allows me to trade pretty well. After that it’s just great to put Jace, the Mind-Sculptor onto an empty board and start gaining the advantage. In this case I rarely use the fateseal-ability. Rather I want to outpace my opponent through the huge amount of card advantage Jace provides.
After the first game I board out all my countermagic and bring in the third Verdict, a Sword of Fire and Ice and a Disenchant for Vial and, more important, Jitte.
In the third game Lingering Souls proved how good it really is. I was able to make an army of six flyers and without a lord on the other side I applied more pressure than my opponent could while removing every threat he played.
Round 6, Michael Sommer, Mono Red Control. 2:1
What an interesting matchup. Michael plays quite the prison-deck with Blood Moon (occasionally with legs) which could screw even me with my five basic lands.
In the first game I just play a land and follow a reactive gameplan. Michael starts off with Ancient Tomb and Chalice of the Void and asks for the Spell Pierce which I present him without hesitation. The next turn I thoughtseize him, seeing Forcefield, Ensnaring Bridge and some other cards. I take the Bridge. After that I just remember a Koth of the Hammer I could deal with. The game ended with me pinging him with spirit-tokens and some other beaters.
I boarded in my remaining countermagic, Vendilion Clique, Disenchant and the Meddling Mages. Out went the Supreme Verdicts and some Thoughtseizes.
The second game was quite exciting… for my opponent who played a turn one Magus of the Moon followed by… a Magus of the Moon. I had an Island in play that got destroyed by Pillage while I was looking for a solution. Later on I lost to the two Magi.
In my very last game, Michael played a Koth whom I vindicated at once. When he was trying to build up his board with another one, I cast Snapcaster Mage and vindicated him again. Some turns later he cast an Ensnaring Bridge. But fear not, the game will be saved by Jace, the Mind Sculptor! I immediately started to fateseal my opponent but the only mentionable threat was a Bonfire of the Damned and I let him have another Koth of the Hammer. Since Michael had no cards in hand and his mountains could not attack Jace, activating my planeswalker’s last ability accomplished an instantaneous victory. As much as Michael hated it to get ‚jaced‘ I was really satisfied with that win and the overall
Right now I don’t plan any huge changes for my deck beside some spell-numbers and considerations regarding the sideboard.
I hope you enjoyed the read. Please use the opportunity to give me feedback or corrections to
See you at the next tournament!
– Daniel ‚Tani‘ Heyer