Missouri Legacy Regionals 5k Tournament Report: Esper Stoneblade

By Austin Baker

Back in June, I won a legacy win-a-mox with UW Stoneblade, a deck that honestly shouldn’t have even been one that was in contention. I did it in the most typical fashion as well; losing only one match, winning one match 2-0, and grinding through all the rest, winning 2-1. This deck has no good matchups, and not really any bad ones. Regardless, the little Kor and True Name Nemesis teamed up and did the dirty to players all day long, while all the powerful spells, planeswalkers, and sideboard cards stifled my opponents. Since then, I’ve done some messing around with a couple other decks, including Esper and four color Stoneblade, as well as BUG Delver. I had some success with all of them, which left me with a tough decision when it came to the upcoming legacy event. Ultimately, I settled on this list:

3 Baleful Strix

4 Stoneforge Mystic

2 Snapcaster Mage

3 True Name Nemesis

1 Vendilion Clique

4 Brainstorm

3 Ponder

4 Swords to Plowshares

2 Spell Pierce

1 Counterspell

1 Council’s Judgement

2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

1 Elspeth, Knight Errant

4 Force of Will

1 Batterskull

1 Umezawa’s Jitte

1 Sword of Fire and Ice

4 Flooded Strand

4 Polluted Delta

3 Tundra

2 Underground Sea

1 Scrubland

2 Island

2 Plains

1 Swamp

1 Karakas

2 Wasteland

Sideboard:

2 Surgical Extraction

1 Flusterstorm

2 Ethersworn Canonist

2 Meddling Mage

1 Engineered Explosives

1 Disenchant

2 Zealous Perseutioin

3 Thoughtseize

1 Rest In Peace

 

So, lets not kid ourselves, this is essentially UW Blade with a dash of black for certain effects that really help you in tough matchups. I’ll show where that comes up later. As far as the maindeck, it isn’t too fancy; it’s a lot of things you’d expect from a standard Stoneblade list. Spell pierce is insane, and often just a 1 mana Negate, and the 3/1 split of True Name Nemesis and Vendilion Clique is somewhat a concession to combo, but also Clique is just an insane card that lets you semi-Thoughtseize your opponent while also being a flash threat. It also carries equipment like a champ, so it’s definitely reasonable here.

The sideboard is mostly focused on beating combo, or just trying to hose unfair decks of many sorts. The main is very good against other fair/midrange decks (barring Czech Pile, if they have Kolaghan’s Command just pick up your cards), so the board is focused on beating other things that you likely lose to in game one, such as ANT/TES, Sneak and Show, Elves, Infect, etc. This build lets you really crush those decks in post board games. With that, lets see how it performed.

Keep in mind that I’m recalling these matches to the best of my ability, but not every detail may be perfect. I sideboard by feel and not by a sideboard guide, and most of these games were long so remembering every detail is difficult. Take these recaps as a general guide, and not gospel necessarily.

Match one actually had me as one of the feature matches, paired against Infect. My hand game one was fine, but she had three Inkmoth Nexuses (Nexi? who knows), which were really tough to grind through with my minimal removal in the main deck. After treading water for a while, I died and was compleated in the image of phyrexia. Most of my hand was good at fighting on the stack, and not killing things on the battlefield, which led to my ultimate demise. Post board though, things get much better, and these games were much more interesting. I brought in 2 Zealous Persecution, 3 Thoughtseize, a Flusterstorm, a Disenchant (for Inkmoth Nexus or Spellskite if she had it), and I think that’s all. Jace, Elspeth, Batterskull, Sword of Fire and Ice, Council’s Judgement, and one Stoneforge Mystic can get out of my deck please.

Game two I attempted to race to Stoneforge, which worked, kind of. I put the Jitte on a Mystic and swung, acquiring two counters, and killing a Blighted Agent with one of them. I thought, “yeah this game is just over”. Then she cast Nature’s Claim. What a tilt. Now, all my Stoneforge Mystics are dead draws as well. Should have foreseen this, but this game went from an easy win to one I’m going to have to work for. She eventually found a Glistener Elf, and I replied with True Name Nemesis. She had two Noble Heirarchs at this time, but found a Pendelhaven to make her Elf be able to live through attacking into a True Name. She attacked, and I was certain I was dead to trample damage with Berserk, but it never came. Instead she just passed. I didn’t find anything on my draw step, and she found another Elf, which complicated things a bit. I drew Ponder, which was just excellent for me. I found the best card possible: Zealous Persecution. She saved one elf with Pendelhaven, but looking at my merfolk, it couldn’t do much. A couple turns later I found removal for the nasty elf and we were quickly on to game three.

Game three saw me keep a hand of Scrubland, Wasteland, Plow, Zealous, Zealous, Thoughtseize, Disenchant. I guess I sideboard into Dead Guy Ale? Keep it. She plays a Trop into a Noble. I attempt a Thoughtseize, planning on it being Dazed, which of course it was. She then played Inkmoth into Elf, which was answered by Wasteland and Plow. Life was good here, and I felt good about where I was. She found another Noble, but I was able to answer the board with Zealous. From here I cobbled together a ragtag team of Strix, True Name, And a Stoneforge to kill her with a swing plus Zealous Persecution.

1-0

Round two was against fish. Standstill fish at that. Which was sweet, but ya know, at the end of the day it’s still fish, so it’s not that sweet. Game one he punked me with True Name Nemesis-es and a Lord, so that was fun. I bring in a couple Zealous to fight his True Names, a Disenchant for Vial or Jitte, and I think that is it. I cut the Spell Pierces and a Jace; I don’t want too much top end, and Spell Pierce doesn’t hit a lot. Cutting Spell Pierce is risky though because as long as it’s in your hand, you can’t lose the game, but I decided that it was too clunky to play over Zealous. Game two, I pondered a little, and was going into my own True Name plan. He played Chalice of the Void on one and Back to Basics on his turn two and three respectively, which I thought was funny as I stared at my basic lands in play. I put two True Names into play and then hardcast a Batterskull and we went to game three. Game three was weird in that he led on Wasteland, Vial. I think I just played a fetch and passed. He then played a Mutavault and passed. I jammed Stoneforge, and immediately grabbed Sword of Fire and Ice. He played an Island, Vial-ed in a Silvergill Adept, and passed. I played land and waited with this Sword in hand. He led on a Vendilion Clique on his turn, which prompted my activation of Stoneforge. He took a Plow, and then played a Phantasmal Image, copying a Silvergill. From here, I went to town. Suit up a Kor and swing was the game plan, hoping to dodge a True Name from him as long as possible. I pick off his board with my artifact, and eventually he is able to cobble together a small boardstate through Vial and casting cards. He then plays a Standstill. Oh buddy this isn’t going to end well for him, as I’m perfectly fine not casting another spell this game. After clearing his board again, he pops his Standstill. I go up to ten cards in hand, and get ready for the value train. I Council’s Judgement his vial, knowing that I don’t care about a True Name now, which is great. He’s left with just a couple islands and a wasteland, which he carries on with, but this game is over.

2-0

Round three was against Grixis Delver, which is a hard, but favorable matchup. His start involved a Young Pyromancer, which met my young Swords to Plowshares, but not before making a couple tokens. The game got to a point where I put a Jitte on a True Name, and I acquired a couple counters by attacking. The problem is that his early pressure had paid off, and he made an attack that left me dead to double bolt no matter how many dudes I picked off, or how much life I gained. I took a halfway line that involved gaining life and killing a token, which left me dead to two bolts, but not one. He had it, whatever, game two. In comes Zealous (this card is an all star isn’t it?), Flusterstorm, and Engineered Explosives. Game two wasn’t particularly interesting. Delver is a good matchup for Stoneforge decks, so I went straight to kicking his teeth in with a Kor and a True Name. Kill his men, play Nahiri, the creature, pick your poison, and go to town. I believe my choice was Jitte here, as it’s the equipment I care about least, and allowed me to surprise Batterskull when he attacked (had ‘skull in my hand the whole time, get rekt nerd). Game 3 was the swingiest, grindiest, most intricate game of magic I can recall in a long time. He goes on the delver plan, flipping ponder to Delver number one, before it got Plowed, and flipping Delver number two with Abrade (are you kidding me dude? Come on, just let me have my equipment. Abrade is insane though, if you’re in red you should play at least one almost certainly). Big fish then started the beatdown on me before I found a Snap to Plow thatdude. I found a Stoneforge, that found Batterskull, and could do nothing with it (Abrade still in hand), until…Counterspell came off the top. I’m ready baby, lets do this thing. I was at 7 or so, he swings in with a Peezy tokens that got left behind, I put a 4/4 lifelinker on the table, he abrades, I counterspell, I’m gaining life, he’s dying, life is great. He has a Deathrite as well, but my constant Plowing of his men had put him at something like 26 life. So this germ had a ways to go. I untapped with 5 mana though, so more artifact removal wasn’t too worrying (activate Stoneforge, hold priority, bounce Batterskull, reset the germ). The game then swung way in my favor, sending me back to 20 or so life, him to around 6, and then the grudge came. Stoneforge also bit the dust. I played a True Name, he found edict. Then he found a Pyromancer. Uh oh, how did this get away from me? He’s able to grind me down in turns to get me to 4 life. I know there’s a bolt in hand, but I’m turn 5 of turns. I rip Brainstorm, find Zealous and Stoneforge, play Zealous and Stoneforge, just to let him know where I’m at in this game, and then we draw. I think going longer, I take that game semi-easily, but it’s tough to say. Either way, it was fantastically played from both sides, and a really interesting match.

2-0-1 (still undefeated baby)

Round 4 was lands. Let me tell ya, there’s no crushing like a lands crushing. I got to a point in the game where I had a Strix to block the incoming Marit Lage, a True Name, and a Batterskull ready to get on a merfolk. If he can’t remove the Strix, he’s almost certainly dead. I’ve got a Force and 3 blue cards as well, including a Clique if he somehow finds a way to keep me from killing him in the next couple turns. This Force has nothing but Punishing Fire written on it. End step he cycles a Tranquil Thicket, and casts Crop Rotation. I have a lot of pause here, thinking about what he could get. Maze doesn’t do anything, nor does Karakas or anything spicy like that. So I said it resolved. He found Barbarian Ring. RIP me. Maybe should have been on my radar, but wasn’t one I was remotely considering. Game two I had a hell of a board. Meddling mage naming Punishing Fire, two True Name, a Strix, 2 Islands, a Underground Sea, a Plains, and a Scrubland. Then he cast Boil. Then Wasteland-ed my Scrub. Then Rotated For Tabernacle. Like what the actual hell bro, come on. I picked up my cards, I’m done here.

2-1-1

Round 5 was another grindfest vs Aluren. This one was kinda epic. Game one involved Plowing several Deathrites, and Wasteland-ing a couple times, to keep him off four mana. True Name was supplying the beats, but at one life he played Aluren, Parasitic Strix, and Cavern Harpy. I didn’t have the answer, and died. I brought in three Thoughtseize, two Canonist, and two Meddling Mage; out comes Elspeth, two Jace, Spell Pierces, a Clique, Batterskull, and I think that’s it. Clique could be excellent, but gets punked too easy by all his derp creatures. Game two was a typical Stoneforge kill ya game, where I put a Meddling mage on Aluren after exhausting him of some Abrupt Decays and a Skull on a True Name. Game ended quickly. Game three was an ass clencher. The grind started with Plowing some Deathrites, as it usually does, and I started Wasteland-ing as well. I was just on mana denial at this point, which is not something I do well, but it’s a plan…of sorts. I finally find a meddling mage, and make one of the gusty-est plays of my life. It’s my belief that you should always* take/name the card their deck is named after, but that just didn’t fit the narrative here. I named Abrupt Decay. Then Activated Stoneforge putting the Jitte on the table, equiped to a little owl, and attacked. He took one damage and Jitte had counters. I then clenched for Toxic Deluge, but it never came. He played an Aluren, and passed. I played a Canonist, and attacked, he flashed in Cavern Harpy, which resolved and then bounced itself to it’s trigger. Four counters on Jitte. He’s a long way from dead it seems, but I found a Stoneforge off the top with 7 lands in play. Play Stoneforge. Find Sword. Play Sword (is an equipment, gets around Canonist). Equip sword to hoot bot, swing for three, pump with Jitte (he’s at six) to make the owl a 5/5, damage happens, trigger sword, he takes two, I win the game. Unclench.

3-1-1

Round 6 was Miracles. Game one was him casting cantrips, me slamming a Stoneforge, him killing it, me end step Clique-ing him on turn 3, seeing a coast clear, and slamming a Jace. I tick up and win the game, you know how it goes. I cut three Forces and two Plows for two Cannonist and three Thoughtseize. Game two involved a counterbalance that I couldn’t answer, which is fine, but this guy blind flips like a god, it’s insane. I fell too far behind and eventually an Entreat countered a True Name and then there were angels so I picked up my cards. Game three was a grind, and there was a penultimate turn that involved him ticking up Jace on me (to put it to 11 or something), and bottoming. I drew Council’s Judgement. I just casted my card and prayed. He played Snap, which resolved and almost certainly was going to flashback Force, but he Brainstormed… then activated a fetch and activated Azcanta the Sunken Ruin, finding Brainstorm. Then Brainstormed. Which then led to him saying Council’s Judgement Resolved. I couldn’t believe it honestly. I exiled Jace just for another one to come down next turn, but he couldn’t close the game in time, so we drew. Maybe it would be correct to concede there, but I just don’t concede games if they naturally end in a draw. If you wanted me to lose, you should have killed me quicker, and we both played relatively quickly, so there’s no fault there. Also he could have killed me but didn’t so I wasn’t really in the mood to concede.

3-1-2

Next round is Storm. ANT to be exact. I played a Island and a Ponder, he played an Underground Sea and did the same. I played a Stoneforge and got Batterskull (already having Sword of Fire and Ice in hand). Next turn he Brainstorms and casts Cabal Therapy, taking my Skull, and seeing my hand of crappy midrange cards. I untap, play land and pass. He just ponders some more, assuming no pressure. I put a Sword onto the table. I Equip and hit for 5, sending him to 13, and draw. I now have five cards in hand, and one of them is Brainstorm, so I may not be dead. He waits to go off one more turn and passes back to me. I Brainstorm on end step with a fetch in play and find a Spell Pierce and a Clique, which is just supreme value. I also got to ditch a couple Plows, so that was nice. I untapped and hit him again, he’s at 8. Perfect forĀ  a Stoneforge + Clique hit. He starts with Duress, I Spell Pierce (he has two untapped lands), he casts Dark Ritual, and chooses not to pay for Pierce. Storm 3. He casts a Lotus Petal and Cabal Therapy. I’m thinking, there’s zero chance he names Clique right? No chance at all. Maybe I let it resolve? Maybe I play Clique to check his three cards? I figured the only possible way I die is to let him blind name Clique, so I cast it. For the record, I think both this play and the Spell Pierce were wrong. I added to storm and mistimed these things, so that was fun. His hand is Cabal Ritual, Infernal Tutor, and Tendrils of Agony. After doing some math, he had two black floating, storm six, and a Lotus Petal and untapped Volcanic Island on Board, I decided that the only way I wasn’t dead was if I took the Tutor and hope he drew garbage off the top. He then Tendrils-ed me for 14, and passed. I was at 5, him 22. I had a ways to go but was miles ahead. He dies a couple turns later. Remember when I said this deck was great vs combo? Yeah I brought in 12 cards here. I cut the Plows, the Planeswalkers, the Jitte, three True Name Nemesis, and a Council’s Judgement for 2 Canonist, 2 Meddling Mage, 2 Surgical, 1 Rest in Peace, 1 Flusterstorm, 3 Thoughtseize, and 1 Zealous (concession to goblin tokens, although that plan is unlikely as I have Batterskull). Game 2 he started with Underground Sea, Ponder, Petal, Xantid Swarm. That thing ate a force of will so fast, as all the removal is out of my deck. Then I Thoughtseize him. Then turn two I play a second land and Thoughtseize him. then I played a Snapcaster Mage and cast Thoughtsieze. Then I played a Meddling Mage on Infernal Tutor and held up Counterspell. Then I found an Ethersworn Canonist and he picked up his cards. What a wonderful game of Magic: the Gathering.

4-1-2

Last round saw me face off vs Eldazi. He started with Temple, Mimic, and I Wasted that immediately. He then played Waste of his own and attacked for two. I played the most busted card in legacy, basic Island, and pondered. He played a second Wasteland and a second Mimic and attacked for two more. I played Plains, passed, and Plowed a Mimic in combat. Then I played Island and a True Name. Then got a Stoneforge and found Batterskull, with was going to be suited up to a True Name and he picked up his cards. Game two I only brought in Thoughtseize I think. I cut the Spell Pierces and a Jace. My whole deck is good against him otherwise. I kept a hand that basically folded to Chalice but decided it was good enough that if he didn’t have it, the upside was great. He led on mimic again, and I Thoughtseized a Thought-Knot Seer to leave him with just lands. Mimic went to work on my life total while he also played a ratchet bomb. Annoying but I found two True Names. I played one as bait, and he would not pop the bomb. Disciplined play from him for sure. I couldn’t really advance my board, and he got to Thought Knot my other True Name. Things not looking great. I cantripped into another True Name and a Clique and ended up Clique-ing him in the end of combat step to find a Thought Knot Seer waiting for second main phase. He popped the bomb too which was a relief. I played a final True Name, found a Batterskull, and the fish did the dirty work.

5-1-2

Overall the deck is great, if you love this style of deck. It challenges you and rewards you, but I won’t get into an argument about why it’s better than Grixis Delver as a meta call or whatever. This is just a sweet, old school, Stoneforge Mystic deck that will let you wreck some face and have fun doing it. I would say that many times, if you make a mistake, you’ll lose, but that’s true of many decks. This one involves a lot of knowledge of the format, and will reward you for your knowledge, and lets you beat up on some people. This deck was a blast, even if it causes constant clenching. Overall I finished 19th out of 156, and was pretty happy to make some cash. Missing top 8/16 was a little disappointing, but alas it is what it is. I was really pleased with not only the deck’s performance, but mine as well. All in all, legacy is great and Stoneblade is still alive and well.

 

Austin Baker

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