To add to the thread...
Matchups that get better with Stifle:
-Nic Fit (maybe)
-some aggro decks with Wasteland and other triggered abilities (Death and Taxes, other variants)
Matchups that get better with Spell Pierce:
-Non-storm combo (Reanimator, Show and Tell, Aluren, Enchantress, etc.)
-Burn (including UR Delver)
-Pox/MBC and variants
-Decks playing discard
-Decks playing random crap like Bitterblossom
-Counterbalance and/or Thopter Foundry variants
-Natural Order variants
-Control in general (just about anything using Jace maindeck)
-Most aggro matchups (Maverick, Affinity, Zoo, etc. -- if for no other reason than it counters removal)
Matchups where either card is about equal (equally good or equally bad/mediocre):
-Storm-based combo (ANT, TES, Belcher, other variants)
-Mirrors and close-to-mirrors (although I'd argue for an edge to Spell Pierce)
-Dredge (Stifle does kill dredged Narcomoebas and Coliseum triggers, but Pierce stops all their spells.. Both are pretty weak)
There are obviously many decks that I've missed here, but this is just a brief introductory comparison list. And maybe you disagree with my comparisons...In any case I would suggest you make a list of your own local metagame and weigh the cards against each other.
I got 4th place today in a small local tournament (16~ players) and lost to Mono Red Goblins (the eventual winner) in the quarter finals. I did beat him in the Swiss. I'd say the match is generally favored for RUG, however his list was pretty unconventional and ran stuff like maindeck Lightning Bolt, Pyrokinesis, and brought in a lot of hate from the SB like Chalice of the Void which completely screwed me in the game I couldn't counter it on one. This is definitely one matchup where Stifle is a huge bomb since their entire deck is reliant on triggers.
Aside from this matchup, there were no other decks in the entire room where I would have preferred to have Stifle. As another poster pointed out, Spell Pierce is invaluable for protecting your Delvers early on from removal.
MD Spell Pierce also frees up the slot in the SB if in case you guys have it in your SB.
The difference between lists with Stifle and those without is indeed that you are either trying to chop the opponent off of mana temporarily, to not let him build enough board presence to stop the continuous beats, or to ride a better protected creature-base to victory, mostly on the wings of Insectile Aberration and a tuned sb.
Both variants have some real (dis)advantages and both plans are likeley to fail depending on which deck is in front of you. I would be glad if we could close the curtain of that discussion at least a bit, if not completely and have a common-sense that both ways are totally legitimate and are a choice that is nuanced by the meta you estimate to step into and personal playstyle.
Sherwin Pu piloted a Stifle-powered version to 1st place at SCG Phoenix this weekend (link). I love the Library and Chains.
Fabian Moyschewitz placed 2nd both in the swiss and Top8 @ a/the win-a-lotus Legacy-Cup in germany. Even if his list is pretty standard, it is useful to see what the cream of the crop of Threshold pilots run.
Top 8 lists: link
Looking not only at lists, but also understanding the thought behind them and figuring out how other (better) players interpret the archetype right now, is dang helpful to take your game to the next level IMO.
Fabian Moyschewitz is unequivocally one of the best threshold players in the world. I'm very curious to know why he's on the stifle plan. If anyone reading this knows him (and I know a few of you sourcers do), I'd like to hear is opinion on the debate.
In a highly evolved, predictable metagame where every player is making a 'rational' deck choice, sure, you can argue for one card being unarguably superior over the other. But so much of Legacy is just composed of random junk that you have to beat in the Swiss on your way to facing 'real' tier 1/2 decks.
More people have disagreed with your list, but I also have to chime in. Your list is skewed for several reasons, but I just have to add: Stifle, simply for countering fetchlands, is extremely strong against any other blue-based Aggro-Control decks, I think it's one of the key spells to keep up with UR Delver. Stifling their first fetch and following up with Mongoose on turn two with U open is extremely strong against them.
Aside from that, Stifle is, to me, an extremely useful utility spell, countering stuff like triggered abilities on Stoneforge Mystic (nice Squire), and it can be used to combat Planeswalkers much in the same way as Spell Pierce. Granted, if you coutner a Jace bounce or a Liliana Edict, you have to spend a turn swinging with at least one creature to kill off the PW, so they get a conditional Fog out of their three-four mana spell, instead of just trading 1:1 with Spell Pierce.
I'd much rather have Spell Pierce than Stifle against most Storm combo decks, but I think it's worth mentioning that Belcher is one of the decks where Stifle can be a complete blow-out. Against TES/ANT, you'll be Duressed/Chanted to hell and back before they go off, and although I have played against RGb Belcher with Rituals and Duress, most builds seems to be RG, even though the deck is rare these days. Against them, Stifle can be a complete game-breaker, either countering the Storm trigger, or the Belcher activation, where Spell Pierce would do nothing. Spell Pierce can be used to stunt their mana building, but people have been blown out by Spirit Guides taking Belcher to 4 before, and they will in the future as well.
The two of them both have their merits, and I can see differente applications for both depending on your metagame or personal preference. Personall, I'd never leave home without my Stifles, at least not in Sweden where decks tend to play fetches and duals in abundance, while mono-coloured decks like DnT, Tribes etc. are rare. However, your list is completely skewed and tries to portray Spell Pierce as the clearly superior choice.
I'll be getting my last few pieces next month and give this deck a spin. However I'm thinking about dropping Snare in favor of Pierce instead of the either/or of Pierce and Stifle.
Pierce can hit 2cc spells. Burn can hit 2cc creatures. Meanwhile I won't lose the utility of Stifle. So I want to see how this disruption suite will fare:
3 Forked Bolt
2 Chain Lightning
All I know is that some of the best Threshold players in germany have a decent contact to eachother and discuss lists for the actual meta and share choices and ideas to optimize their decks.
In europe it is pretty much decided since years that the disruption of 4 Stifle and Waste is a necessity. Running completely without Stifle is somewhat unusual/fancy.
Besides that, the meta differs quite a bit in comparison to the U.S..
You could always just move FOW to the sideboard, or cut it, and run both.
My opinion in the Stifle vs. Spell Pierce debate is that in the present metagame, Stifle is overwhelmingly the better maindeck card. This comes from a pilot who maindecks Spell Pierces more often than most when I choose to play blue (and in fact, my preference is to play both Stifle and Spell Pierce, cutting some or all of the Spell Snare slots).
Below are a list of the most played decks last month according to TCDecks (in decreasing order), and my analysis on the merits of Stifle vs. Pierce in that particular matchup:
- Maverick. Overwhelmingly in favor of Stifle. Spell Pierce will rarely give you value, whereas Stifle can give you occasional blowout wins against their fetchlands and Wastelands. Even in the late game, it has marginal utility against Mother of Runes, Knight of the Reliquary, Maze of Ith, Stoneforge Mystic, etc.
- Stoneblade. In favor of Stifle. In addition to the usual fetchlands and Wastelands, Stoneforge Mystic, Snapcaster Mage, and equipment are good targets even in the mid-to-late game (in addition to occasionally useful but mostly desperate plays against planeswalker activations, Vendilion Clique, etc.). In contrast, Spell Pierce will rarely hit anything useful after a few turns, aside from Jace and the now rarely played Crucible of Worlds. However, I find Jace pretty underwhelming in this matchup unless the Stoneblade player has already stabilized, since they have to deal with your board presence and resolve it through Pierce, in addition to worrying about Bolts and possible REBs in the board.
- Canadian Threshold (mirror). Pierce is good, Stifle is great. Decks with Stifle have a decided edge in the mirror.
- Dredge. I'm not sure. Pierce is better if they're on the explode on you plan (with a turn 2 Careful Study/Breakthrough/Faithless Looting) with a dredger already in the yard, but only if you don't already have Force or Dazes already. Stifle is better if they're on the slow grind plan (which circumvents your other countermagic), since Stifling a Narcomoeba trigger or a Coliseum activation is awesome, while Stifling a Bridge or an Ichorid trigger isn't as nice, but is still useful. I'm calling this in favor of Pierce on the draw and in favor of Stifle on the play (since they're more likely to DDD and you've likely boarded out your Dazes).
- Sneak Attack. Spell Pierce, by a lot. Not much to say here. Stifle is still good, but Pierce is one of the best cards you can see in this matchup.
- Nic Fit. The two cards most likely to wreck you are Veteran Explorer and Pernicious Deed, so Stifle is overwhelmingly the better card here. Even without those two cards, there is no end to the number of Stifle targets in this matchup (fetchlands, Liliana, Finks' life gain and persist triggers, Academy Rector, Recurring Nightmare, Titans, etc.), so it's even good in the late game.
- Ad Nauseam Storm. Spell Pierce, by a little. Both are amazing. Pierce is better against TES, since it deals with Chant/Silence, which is the most threatening card they have. Stifle is probably a little better against the rarely played Grinding Station deck.
- Elves. Both cards suck and should get boarded out. Glimpse and GSZ are the only targets for Pierce, but this deck has so much mana, it's rarely actually live. Stifle isn't great either, although these decks tend to run a lot of fetchlands to thin the deck, since they do in fact draw a lot of cards. Elvish Visionary is a decent Stifle target, although it's not great; hitting Regal Force is living the dream.
- Burn. Spell Pierce, by a huge margin. Not even close. All the Stifle targets suck pretty hard (Rift Bolt, Sulfuric Vortex, Barbarian Ring, Keldon Marauders, Hellspark Elemental).
- Team America. Just speculating here, but I expect Stifle to be better for the same reason that Stifle is better against the mirror.
- Reanimator. Stifle is good. Spell Pierce is amazing. Huge edge in favor of Pierce.
- Aggro Loam. Both cards are mediocre. Not a huge number of targets for Pierce. Plenty of targets for Stifle (fetchlands, Wastelands, cycling lands, Dark Confidant), but all of them are low impact. Push?
- Spiral Tide. Stifle is great if you can hit a fetchland, mediocre if you hit Candelabra, and dead otherwise. Spell Pierce is always awesome in this matchup. Big edge to Pierce.
- Zoo. Stifle. Blowing out their mana is your most realistic chance at winning this matchup.
- Merfolk. Both cards suck. Probably slight edge to Stifle for being able to hit Wasteland, Vial, Adept, and Reejery.
- Affinity. Both cards suck really hard, unless the deck runs Arcbound Ravager, in which case you'll get an occasional blowout. I'd hate having either card here though.
- Bant Aggro. This is really build dependent, but both cards have their uses. Stifle is probably better against the decks that resemble Maverick or Stoneblade, whereas Pierce is much better against the Natural Order builds.
- Painter. Not sure; probably Pierce.
- Thopters. Not sure, but I prefer Pierce.
- MUD. Depends. Stifle is better against Forgemaster combo, whereas Stifle is better against the lock-heavy builds running Chalices and Trinispheres.
- Pox. Pierce is much better.
- Deadguy. Stifle is better, since this deck runs fetchlands, Wastelands, and Stoneforges, with possibly other targets depending on build (Aether Vial, Dark Depths, Tidehollow Sculler, Gatekeeper, etc.).
- Hive Mind. Pierce is better against the Show and Tell->Fatty plan. Stifle is much better if you can kill their mana development, or if they're on the Hive Mind plan. Not only does it prevent them from winning, but it almost always kills them on their next upkeep, plus you don't even need to hold mana open when they're comboing off. Stifle overall.
- Belcher. Pierce.
- Goblins. Stifle.
- Death and Taxes. Stifle.
- Mono Black Aggro. I've never seen this deck before. Is this the Gate?
- Enchantress. Both are good, but Pierce is slightly better.
Since Stifle looks better (IMO) against the top 3 decks in the format, I will be including it in my Threshold decks for the forseeable future.
Very nice list. It is rare to see such useful posts here. I agree with most of your evaluations, if not with your conclusion that Stifle is 'overwhelmingly' better. I can see why you think Stifle is better based on what you percieve as top decks, but in my opinion a cards usefulness in the metagame isn't determined by top decks alone.
I also agree with this:
Thanks a lot lordofthepit! That should settles the discussion Pierce vs. Stifle.
Snare is currently better than Pierce IMO, since you will still face SFM & Snapcaster-Mage & Thalia very often.
No freaking idea...
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