StoneBlade Primer Pt. 1

Hi everyone! It’s been a while! It seemed like every time I sat down to write an article I would either lose motivation, or my content would become obsolete due to tournament results or metagame shifts. But now I’m back to talk about what has started to become my favorite format, Legacy! More specifically I am going to be talking about an old favorite of mine, UW Stoneblade. Here is the list I ran at the CMT Summer Series Championship.

[deck title=UW StoneBlade]
4 Stoneforge Mystic
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Vendilion Clique
1 Batterskull
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Engineered Explosives
4 Brainstorm
2 Ponder
4 Force of Will
2 Spell Pierce
2 Spell Snare
1 Counterspell
4 Island
1 Plains
4 Flooded Strand
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Tundra
1 Underground Sea
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Academy Ruins
1 Riptide Laboratory
1 Moorland Haunt
1 Karakas
3 Path to Exile
1 Disenchant
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Sword of War and Peace
1 Spell Pierce
2 Geist of Saint Traft
3 Meddling Mage
3 Surgical Extraction

Why play this over Esper Blade or UW Miracles? This is a question I have been asked numerous times so I want to spend some discussing why I think straight UW is better than the previously mentioned decks.

The main reason why I don’t like Esper is that I feel advantaged against most matchups and against most players and the only way I found myself losing was to getting [card]Wasteland[/card]ed out of the game. UW has a much more resilient mana base while being less reliant on its coloured sources and lets you play more utility lands that you can’t afford to play in Esper.

Another reason I prefer UW is that I am better at playing a reactive game with counterspells at instant speed while Esper plays more proactively with sorcery speed discard in the form [card]Thoughtseize[/card] and [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card].  I find it is easier to win when you can sit back and force your opponent to make mistakes and play around counters instead of trying to disrupt them on your turn and letting them have free reign to do whatever they want on their turn.

UW Miracles is just not a good deck. There I said it. The only thing going for it is that sometimes you can get free wins with [card]Counterbalance[/card] and [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card]. [card]Terminus[/card] and [card]Entreat the Angels[/card] can be good but are completely unnecessary and otherwise clunky. I’ve been playing a lot of Legacy lately and even against most aggressive decks [card]Terminus[/card] was just a redundant removal spell.

Also there are too few win conditions. I can’t count the number of games I’ve seen where the Miracle deck just activates Top turn after turn looking for a way to win and just losing games they had complete control over. Some games don’t go as planned and you need to start attacking with your value creatures and Stoneblade is much better at this because it runs a lot more creatures and if you get into a situation where you need to beatdown having less creatures will make their removal spells a lot better than they would normally be.

Please don’t try and jam Miracles/CounterTop into Stoneblade you are just going to make your deck worse.

Alright now that those questions have been dealt with I want to do into detail about my decklist and breakdown my card choices as while some are obvious inclusions while others might seem weird to those who aren’t familiar with Stoneblade or Legacy in general.

4 [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]

The namesake card of the deck. It is hard to lose a game after untapping with Stoneforge and is our main win condition. Anyone who has played Magic over the last two years knows how powerful this creature is. Being able to tutor for any equipment is already really good but being able to put them into play uncounterable for just two mana is absurd. The printing of [card]Batterskull[/card] cemented this Squire as the best two drop in the game and got banned in multiple formats for being too broken.

4 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]

In Legacy you have access to the cheapest and most powerful instant and sorceries through Magic’s history which in turn means that Snapcaster is at his best in this format. He is especially powerful in this deck whether you are drawing cards, countering spells, sending creatures farming or even pitching it to [card]Force of Will[/card], Snapcaster is always putting in work and you should play the full four copies.

3 [card]Vendilion Clique[/card]

While I do not like having discard spells you still do need a way to disrupt their hand and that’s where Clique comes in. This is the perfect card for this deck as most of the time you want to sit back and react to what they are doing and Clique having flash fills the role perfectly, though it can be difficult to know when the optimal time to cast it can change at any moment.

1 [card]Batterskull[/card]
1 [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card]

This is the standard equipment package for Stoneblade these days and for good reason as they are the two best equipment in the game. [card]Batterskull[/card] is usually the first to be searched up as it is the fastest clock the deck has against combo or control decks and the lifegain will usually be enough to beat most aggro decks.

Jitte is there mostly to legend rule other Jittes but it also helps when the board gets clogged up with creatures as it can single handedly break a stalemate.

While Swords have seen a ton of play in Stoneblade decks in the past they have recently been demoted to sideboard duty due to not being as versatile as the aforementioned two, though they are still necessary as it is good to be able to sideboard in a Sword when you want to board out your Jitte or when you just want another piece of Equipment.

3 [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card]


4 [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card]
2 [card]Engineered Explosives[/card]

[card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] is the best removal spell in the format and probably ever printed and it only gets better with Snapcaster so it should be no surprise to see it in the deck.

How good Explosives is always depends on what the metagame looks like and right now Explosives is amazing. It is an All-Star versus Maverick and RUG Delver as it can kill problematic creatures like [card]Mother of Runes[/card] and [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card] that dodge most other removal spells, as well as killing almost every other creature in either deck. It also your main way to beat UW Miracles in conjunction with [card]Academy Ruins[/card] it can deal with every win condition in their deck.

4 [card]Brainstorm[/card]
2 [card]Ponder[/card]

These are the two best one mana draw spells in the game and some consider [card]Brainstorm[/card] to be the best card in Legacy. [card]Ponder[/card] may seem a bit weird but when I was only running [card]Brainstorm[/card] I found myself not drawing enough gas in most games and would run out of steam and lose so I added a [card]Ponder[/card] was impressed on how high impact an extra cantrip was and added a second one. Snapcaster plays a big role in needing more draw spells as sometimes you don`t have much action but have a Snapcaster and just need to use it to dig deeper into your deck. Being a blue card to pitch to [card]Force of Will[/card] helps too.

Going forward I would consider trying out a single [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card] over one of the [card]Ponder[/card]s as most games go super late and Top is better in those games as you will have a constant flow of cards instead of just a one shot [card]Ponder[/card] though I would still like access to at least one.

4 [card]Force of Will[/card]
2 [card]Spell Pierce[/card]
2 [card]Spell Snare[/card]
1 [card]Counterspell[/card]

Without the Black splash we need some way to interact with our opponents and this extensive counter suite is our way to do this.

While some people like only having three [card]Force of Will[/card]s maindeck due to the fact that you board it out a lot (something most “Legacy” players don’t do), I think in this deck you should always play four because even though it is bad if you are not facing Combo sometimes all you need to win is protect a Jace or Stoneforge and Force is the best card at doing that.

[card]Spell Pierce[/card] has taken over [card]Spell Snare[/card] as the go to counter for blue decks nowadays but I still like having access to some number of [card]Spell Snare[/card]s. This deck goes to the late game almost all the time which makes [card]Spell Pierce[/card] become very ineffective and I have liked being able to Snare mid-late game spells that could be dangerous when they try to play around [card]Spell Pierce[/card] like [card]Counterbalance[/card] or creatures that just outright dodge Pierce like [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] and [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. I can see an argument for cutting the Snares but I would keep at least one copy as it has been amazing for me.

The lone actual Counterspell is there for no reason in particular but it is never bad to have a hard counter especially when everyone is playing around [card]Spell Pierce[/card] and [card]Daze[/card]. It can really catch them off guard.

The manabase for the deck is fairly straight forward though it does have a few questionable inclusions.

The five basics are there primarily to combat [card]Wasteland[/card], though they do help against less common things like [card]Price of Progress[/card], [card]Blood Moon[/card] and [card]Back to Basics[/card]. There is only one Plains because there is no spell that costs WW in this version of Stoneblade. I could see cutting an Island for a different land if you want but I would not go further than that as there are times when you get [card]Wasteland[/card] locked so you need all the basics you can get.

The fetchlands are pretty standard, though you can play any blue fetch over the [card]Scalding Tarn[/card] those are just the ones I had, though you can use them to bluff [card]Red Elemental Blast[/card]…sort of. I always consider cutting one of them for an extra white fetch though it never comes up enough to matter it could be something to think about.

Four [card]Tundra[/card]s might seem like a lot but ironically one of the best ways to combat [card]Wasteland[/card] is actually just to have non-basics! It may seem weird to say that but if you think about it will make sense. If you have an Island, a Plains and a [card]Tundra[/card], if they Wasteland your Tundra they will cut you off from double blue and double white. But if you have three [card]Tundra[/card]s in play they can’t really colour screw you with [card]Wasteland[/card] anymore. This is a rare example but you should always be aware of when you can afford to fetch up duals or if you need to get basics.

The [card]Underground Sea[/card] is there for three reasons. The first is just in case you don’t want to pay life for the sideboard [card]Surgical Extraction[/card]s. The second is to be able to destroy permanents that cost three with [card]Engineered Explosives[/card]. It may not come up often but the times it does you will be happy to have access to an extra colour. The third reason may seem ridiculous but it happens all the time and I have started using it to my advantage.

The third reason for the Underground is to bait out a [card]Wasteland[/card] activation. It may seem annoying to have a land in your hand that you want to play (like [card]Riptide Laboratory[/card] or [card]Academy Ruins[/card]) but they have a [card]Wasteland[/card] sitting in play and you don’t want them to kill it and you have to either sit with it in your hand until the perfect moment, play it and use it as a one-time effect or just let it die. A solution to this problem I uncovered when playing is to just fetch up the Underground when you don’t actually need it. The sudden appearance of black mana from your UW deck will confuse them, and they will think since you specifically fetched out [card]Underground Sea[/card] that you must need the black mana for something and they will more often than not use their [card]Wasteland[/card] on it for fear of the unknown. Little do they know that it was a ruse and now the coast is clear for you to play whichever land you were holding.

The [card]Glacial Fortress[/card] is there to give you access to another dual land but more importantly it is a blue source that untaps under [card]Choke[/card]. One match my Maverick opponent actually boarded out his [card]Choke[/card]s for Game three because I drew both my Glacials early in Game two and he thought I was running more of them. If you expect a lot of [card]Choke[/card]s I highly recommend adding a second one to the deck.

[card]Academy Ruins[/card] is there only because of how good [card]Engineered Explosives[/card] is and just assembling this combo can beat most Aggro decks and being able to return Equipment is just a bonus.

[card]Riptide Laboratory[/card] and [card]Moorland Haunt[/card] are in the same camp. They are very situational and both are a little bit of win-more cards. Though their abilities don’t come up that often and I’ve thought about cutting them there will always be a game that I would have lost if not for either card.

[card]Karakas[/card] is pretty standard nowadays as it is an uncounterable answer to [card]Griselbrand[/card] along with other Legendary Creatures and being able to lock them out with [card]Vendilion Clique[/card] is extremely powerful.

If I expected a lot of Maverick I would consider adding a [card]Wasteland[/card] to deal with [card]Maze of Ith[/card]. Though not necessary, it will help in games that you would win with just a [card]Batterskull[/card] or a Jitte.

Moving on to the sideboard we have another [card]Engineered Explosives[/card] and [card]Path to Exile[/card] to supplement our removal spells after board against decks like RUG Delver and Maverick.

[card]Spell Pierce[/card] is to help vs Combo and Control decks.

[card]Disenchant[/card] is mainly to deal with [card]Choke[/card] but helps against other Stoneforge decks but can also deal with random things like [card]Vedalken Shackles[/card]. It interacts nicely with Snapcaster as well.

[card]Meddling Mage[/card] is to deal with [card]Show and Tell[/card] decks because there are so many different things they can put into play that not having the right answer will make you lose so the best way is just to prevent the [card]Show and Tell[/card] from being played as this gets around cards like Overmaster that have been popping up.

[card]Surgical Extraction[/card] is there for Graveyard based decks like Reanimator or Dredge and works well with Snapcaster. I have found a big decline in graveyard based decks so it is possible you should cut these but they are always good to have just in case you do go up against those decks.

The [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card], I think, is the best Equipment to swap in and out. I wasn’t super happy with Feast and Famine, though it was fine. I think you want a way to attack past [card]Lingering Souls[/card] and [card]Entreat the Angels[/card] tokens from Esper and Miracles respectively. It also helps vs Maverick as most of their creatures are white. War and Peace is also way better against most combo decks than Jitte as it puts them on a fast clock.

[card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card] is the last card I want to talk about as it is the best card in the sideboard and the card that gets boarded in the most. At first I noticed myself wanting to bring it in all the time even when it seemed like it would be bad but I brushed off that idea and told myself I was only thinking like that because of how much Standard Delver I was playing. But after more testing I realized that the way sideboard games play out that Geist is actually really good as there are almost no answers to it and it can close out a game very quickly which is something I wanted to be able to do.

When playing an Aggro deck like Maverick your main plan after board is to kill all their creatures and win the game with your more powerful cards, but most of the time the games dragged out too long because they had so many efficient ways to deal with your threats that it became a long grind until you can ultimate a Jace. With access to Geist your plan of killing all their creatures becomes much better as it clears a path and they have no real way to deal with a hexproof creature and there is nothing stopping you from just attacking with it until they die.

Geist is also good against other Control decks as, outside of [card]Terminus[/card], they have no way to kill it and some games you can’t win if they go late so you need to kill them before they can set up shop with Top and [card]Counterbalance[/card].

Stoneblade took a seat on the backburner while everyone was trying to see who could put [card]Griselbrand[/card] into play the fastest but now that the format has settled back down I think Stoneblade is a great choice going forward and highly recommend you give it a try!

Post in the forums if you have any questions and tune in to my next article where I talk about sideboarding for the more popular matchups. Thanks for reading!