Abzan Mentor in Legacy

Last Saturday I was spending an enjoyable day with my family, we went over to my brother’s house for dinner and so the kids could play. It was by far the best part of the weekend, there is nothing more important than family and nothing makes me happier than seeing the three cousins having fun together.

As we were relaxing and having a cup of coffee my wife turned to me and said “honey since you are going to Face to Face anyways tomorrow, why don’t you play in whatever tournament they have?” Yes, my wife is the best! So I look up on what event is going on the next day; and it’s a Legacy Showdown. There’s one little problem, I don’t own a Legacy deck or enough cards to piece one together.

I do what half of Toronto does when they need a Legacy deck, I messaged Andrew Oyen. First I asked if he could come with, and of course he could not because he’s a better dad than me and never leaves his kids! So I asked if he could build me a wacky deck without blue for the Legacy Showdown, and of course he had already been working on something with Jonny T earlier in the week. His description of the deck was this “Abzan with Mentors, and a low land count with Land Grant and Tithe” sounds like a saucy plan so I reply “If there’s disruption then I’m in”. We come up with a quick sideboard and I’m all set for the next morning to pick the deck up on my way to Face to Face.

Abzan Mentor by Matt Mealing

[deck]
[Lands]
2 Bayou
1 Forest
3 Marsh Flats
1 Plains
2 Savannah
2 Scrubland
1 Swamp
4 Verdant Catacombs
[/Lands]
[Spells]
3 Abrupt Decay
3 Cabal Therapy
1 Council’s Judgment
3 Green Sun’s Zenith
2 Hymn to Tourach
3 Land Grant
3 Liliana of the Veil
1 Painful Truths
4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Sylvan Library
3 Thoughtseize
3 Tithe
[/Spells]
[Creatures]
4 Deathrite Shaman
1 Dryad Arbor
3 Monastery Mentor
1 Qasali Pridemage
4 Tarmogoyf
[/Creatures]
[Sideboard]
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Abrupt Decay
2 Path to Exile
2 Dark Confidant
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 Null Rod
1 Pithing Needle
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Zealous Persecution
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

I arrive at the Legacy Showdown with a deck that is untested, for a format that I have played 4 rounds of in the last 5 years. To say my expectations were low is an understatement. I had planned to do a VS. video with Chef Tony later that day, but since I was there already we planned to do “between round” content for the stream once I got knocked out of top 8 contention.

Tony and I sat down to sleeve and register my deck, laughing at some card choices along the way; once we were done I played 3 games vs his Eldrazi deck. I won 2 of the games pretty easily while losing one of the games to his nut draw, the deck felt like a Rock deck that didn’t flood out and had the ability to go wide with Mentor. We talked a little bit about card choices and how to play against certain match ups, but that’s all the testing I could get in before the event started. Since I was playing a unique deck, and wasn’t expected to get very far in the tournament they decided to put my match on stream for round one. I will get into a round by round report, unfortunately I didn’t take any notes as I didn’t expect to do well so I don’t have opponent names and some games might have vague details.

Round 1 vs Aluren

I was lucky enough to get paired against a really nice guy round 1, I’m pretty sure his name was Conner. Like me he was just happy to be there and he was very excited to get to play on stream.

Game 1:
We spend the first few turns maneuvering around each Other. He played a first turn Deathrite Shaman and I followed that up with a first turn Thoughtseize. He revealed a hand of 2 Brainstorm, 1 Shardless Agent, 1 Baleful Strix, 1 land. I decided to take the Balefull Strix hoping he would tap out for the Shardless Agent and I could grab the Brainstorm’s with a Cabal Therapy the next turn. Unfortunately, we drew another Balefull Strix and left up Brainstorm mana for the next few turns. So we go on grinding each other out for many turns, with me thinking he was on Shardless Bug. Then late in the game he casts Aluren and I can’t beat it.

Game 2:
After he played around my discard I decided I’m not skilled enough yet to play so much discard versus Brainstorm so I boarded most of it out for all the removal I could bring in. In this game, all I remember is killing almost everything he played and killing him with big Tarmoygoyfs.

Game 3:
Conner mulled down to 5 on the play, but was able to stay in the game with enough card advantage and card selection. In the end I was able to wear him out of cards and have a couple Tarmoygoyfs and a Jitte to end the game. We did go to turns and with it being obvious that I would win if we had 1 more turn, he conceded. This I appreciated as neither of us played slow and it would of hurt both of us to have a round 1 draw and end up in the Miracles bracket.

1-0

Round 2 vs Sneak and Show

This was a super-fast but fun match! Game 1 I was able to wear out his hand while pressuring his life total. He had a Sneak Attack on board and no hand while on a 2 turn clock. His first draw was an Emrakul that had to attack Liliana of the Veil at 6 loyalties. I was left with enough creatures to bring him down to 2 life. The next turn he draws a Griselbrand! Lucky enough for me he wasn’t able to find enough off of the attack and draw so I won game 1. Unfortunately, I got combo’d out very fast game 2 and 3.

1-1

Rounds 3 and 4 vs Death and Taxes

Not knowing until after the matches but this seems to be our best match up by far. We answer everything they do, and because of Land Grant and Tithe they can’t mana screw us. I very easily went 4-0 in games.

3-1

At this point Chef Tony and I are chuckling and shaking our heads that I’m doing so well, our plan of scrubbing out and doing “between round” content is not working out so well.

Round 5 vs Pox Loam

Game 1:
So you would think that a 17 land deck vs a deck with Sinkhole, Small Pox, Wasteland with Crucible of Worlds will have a hard time winning like I did. Well I truly underestimated the power of Land Grant and Tithe once again! Game one he cast 2 Wastelands and 2 Small Pox thinking he would run me out of lands, but with him having 2 lands in play and me having 1 with no lands in hand I cast Land Grant for free and then Tithe finding 2 lands. I didn’t miss a land drop while he missed 3 and I was able to close the game with Monastery Mentor.

Game 2:
My first and only 2 creatures die and I only draw land and spells that find land.

Game 3:
He keeps a land light hand and I hit 2 of them with a turn 2 Hymn to Tourach locking up the game.

4-1

At this point I figure I must have used up all my luck and that I couldn’t win 2 more rounds to make top 8, then the judge announces that standings are going up before the 6th and final round pairings… I thought there were 65 players and there were only 55!

Round 6 vs 4 Colour Delver

This was the least fun match of the day, up until this point all my opponents had been great. My opponent was salty and rude, and felt he had to call the judge about everything. As I found out by the end of the day, if my opponent is playing fair then I have a pretty favorable match up. I think we spent more time on judge calls and un-fun banter then it took me to win 2-0.

5-1

Quarterfinals vs Nic Fit

Game 1:
I was 3rd seed going into the playoffs which meant I was on the play for game 1. I was able to land a turn 2 Monastery Mentor while my opponent only had played a Green’s Sun Zenith for a Veteran Explorer on his turn 2. I untapped for turn 3 with Mentor in play and went nuts! I played a Cabal Therapy and missed on the blind call, but revealed that my opponent had 3 Knight of the Reliquary in hand: which I discarded with a flashbacked Therapy by sacrificing a Monk I had made. I cast 2 more spells that turn and with my opponent unable to play anything relevant on his next turn I was able to kill him with my 4 prowess creatures the next turn.

Game 2:
Unfortunately my opponent was unable to find any white sources this game as I Swords to Plowshare his Veteran Explorer, and he was stuck with a hand full of white cards at the end of the game.

2-0

Semifinals vs Grixis Delver

Game 1:
I was able to kill his first 2 creatures and then wore away his hand with a Cabal Therapy and a Liliana of the Veil, then followed up with a Sylvan Library. I was able to fix my draws and pay 8 life to get ahead on cards to close out the game while my opponent was drawing conditional counterspells when I had 6 land in play.

Game 2:
This game was similar to the first where I spent the first half of the game working on tearing his hand apart and killing Insects, but I stabilized at very low life. Fortunately, I found a Swords to Plowshares to kill my own Dark Confidant before I died to it and closed out the game with Tarmogoyf.

2-0

Finals vs Jeskai Stoneblade

Lucky for me the player who was willing to split the finals won in the other semifinals! We were both happy to call it a day and walk away with $300 credit each. Unfortunately, the guy running the stream had to leave so Chef Tony and I couldn’t shoot our versus video.

Wrap-Up

After a very surprising win, I was able to decompress what the deck was all about on the drive home. I had a lot of experience with Rock style deck in Modern so I think that’s the game play I gravitated towards the first few rounds. It makes a lot of sense as you have 11 discard spells, lots of card advantage and great game-ending creatures.

Once I got enough games in though I found this other side of the deck. The other part of it is so explosive it felt almost combo like. If I cleared the way to play a Monastery Mentor and was able to play 3 to 4 spells on the same turn, then I would most likely win if I untapped with it all in play. So it was a matter of accessing what my role was in the matchup and sequencing my plays accordingly. So by the end of the tournament I went from playing the deck like a typical Rock deck to pivoting and changing roles according to how the game or matchup was going.

I’m going to test on Magic Online for the next couple of weeks and come back to you with a tuned list and strategy guide. Until then if you have any questions or ideas about the deck please let me know in the comments bellow!

Matt Mealing
@monkeymealing