Blade-Town

Hello, my name is David King and I am a new Legacy content writer here at Strictly Average. I have played Magic off and on since 1995, and really got back into the game with Return to Ravnica. After boring of Standard, I found Legacy and have not looked back.

For my first article, I decided to focus on a deck I have played almost exclusively in Legacy, U/W Stoneblade. Stoneblade is really a fair deck by Legacy standards. Its main win condition is to stick an unfair piece of equipment, such as Umezawa’s Jitte or Batterskull, attach to a creature like True-Name Nemesis, and start the beats. It does, however, play Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which is another reliable way to make your opponent scoop. The following is a typical U/W Stoneblade list:

 

U/W Stoneblade
Creatures (10)
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Stoneforge Mystic
2 True-Name NemesisPlaneswalkers (3)
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Spells(22)
4 Brainstorm
4 Ponder
2 Spell Pierce
4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Counterspell
2 Council’s Judgment
4 Force of Will

Artifacts (2)
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 BatterskullEnchantments (2)
2 Back to Basics

Lands (21)
4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
5 Island
3 Plains
4 Tundra
1 Karakas

Sideboard (15)
2 Flusterstorm
2 Containment Priest
3 Surgical Extraction
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Disenchant
1 Pithing Needle
2 Rest in Peace

Now, obviously, if you focus on Friday Night Magic (FNM), then one’s sideboard can vary along with the meta-game of one’s local gaming store (LGS). The list above is a good starting point with some flexibility. For example, I personally cut 1 Ponder and the Back to Basics for a Supreme Verdict, an additional True-Name, and a Vendilion Clique. For the purists, I don’t run BtB because I don’t own them, although I do believe it is correct to run them because of how the Legacy-meta has changed post Deathrite Shaman (DRS) ban.

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Speaking of the DRS ban:

I like, many folks, felt U/W Blade would emerge as one of the biggest winners with the demise of the little elf planeswalker as certain decks, like 4c Czech-pile, became unplayable. Many theorized that Grixis-Delver would also die a horrible death but it did not and actually spawned the rise of Grixis-Control that, unfortunately, lines up very well against Blade.

Using MtgGoldfish data the current Legacy meta looks like: Miracles (9.8%), Grixis Control (8.81%), Eldrazi Post (6.10%), Sneak and Show (5.08%), ANT (4.41%), Grixis-Delver (4.07%), Dredge (4.07%), Reanimator (3.73%), U/B Death’s Shadow (3.39%), with Blade tied with 4c Loam at 2.37% apiece – Eldrazi Stompy, Sultai Control, RUG Delver and Blue-Red Wizards round out the rest. Basically, Blade is 10th on the list of most played decks in the Legacy-meta and the current list is actually a very different version of the deck I posted above. Let us take a look:

Azorius Stoneblade
Creatures (12)
4 Delver of Secrets
2 Snapcaster Mage
4 Stoneforge Mystic
2 True-Name NemesisPlaneswalkers (2)
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Spells (24)
4 Brainstorm
4 Ponder
4 Spell Pierce
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Daze
4 Force of Will

Artifacts (2)
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 BatterskullLands(20)
4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
3 Island
1 Plains
4 Tundra
4 Wasteland
Sideboard (15)
1 Flusterstorm
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Hydroblast
3 Surgical Extraction
2 Containment Priest
2 Disenchant
2 Council’s Judgment
1 Vendilion Clique
2 Rest in Peace

Azorius Stoneblade approaches the new meta-game differently than the traditional build. Instead of a methodical ‘protect the queen’ approach, Azorius can pressure opponents very early with easy to flip Delvers. It also has game with Daze to stop devastating early Hymns, and Kolaghan’s Commands. Wasteland provides another angle of attack to possibly keep opponents off of a third color, or stop instant win situations from any Depths-based decks. It basically increases the amount of early counter-magic that U/W traditionally held while also forcing an opponent to interact with early creatures, creating more room for haymakers such as True-Name.

It is obvious that the original U/W Blade needed to change as the meta changed. Grixis-Control is an absolute nightmare to play against; not only do they have the typical anti-control cards such as Hymn, K-command is an absolute beating. Forcing these decks to interact early with a creature such as Delver does increase the odds of other creatures sticking. I would say it is still a poor match-up – they have heavy creature removal and discard – but I think this version has a better chance at taking games.

Overall, my rundown on the most popular deck match-ups goes likes this: Grixis Control: unfavorable – they have more answers than you have threats. Miracles, unfavorable – the longer the game goes the less likely you are to win, as Monastery Mentor can win almost on the spot. Eldrazi: unfavorable – you need to stop Chalice of the Void! Sneak and Show: even – your sole job is to stop Show and Tell and Sneak Attack. Reanimator: even – graveyard hate is vital. ANT/Storm: unfavorable – our beats are just not fast enough. Grixis-Delver: even, take a breath, stabilize after their early threats; beat their face. Dredge: unfavorable, unlike Reanimator, they can rip your hand apart and their recurrent threats are just better. U/B Death’s Shadow: even – honestly, Swords to Plowshares and TNN. 4c Loam: unfavorable, Chalice, Teeg, Dark Depths, it is not a free roll for them, but it is an uphill battle for you.

The deck is slightly under 50% in the favorable column for the above meta, which is actually pretty decent for a ‘fair’ deck in an unfair world. Match-ups also improve the more you play them and understand what your role is and how to leverage your spells to either weather the storm (like Delver decks) or remove the vital keys to their strategies (like Sneak and Show). Practice makes perfect.

Personally, I will sleeve up this newer version this Friday and see how it fares. I like some of the angles the new Azorius version can take. With Miracles, Grixis-Control, and 4c Loam all showing up locally, FNM will serve as a good gauntlet for the list.

David starting playing Magic: The Gathering in 1995, opened a Lord of the Pit, and became primarily a Black player ever since. As with most older players, he has played the game on and off through the years, fully returning to the game during Return to Ravnica. He found Legacy a couple of years later and never looked back. When David is not slinging broken spells across the table, he can be found either playing video games with his kids, endlessly scrolling through TV shows with his wife, or reading and writing papers for his PhD.

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