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Thread: [Deck] The Gate

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    [Deck] The Gate

    T H E + G A T E

    Preview and Background

    After a few months of evaluating the format and tinkering with ideas, I sat back and decided I wanted to try something new. I noticed the format was following a disturbing (but typical) trend with decks consistently...time and time again... showing up in large numbers and subsequently placing in large events. In noticing this, I began outlining a new project with the goal in being able to compete, defeat, and place within these decks on a consistent basis. I needed a good starting point, so I decided to compile a list of cards in a singular colored deck that can create massive amounts of card advantage without having to overextend your resources.

    The hardest part was deciding what color(s) to play. Right off the bat, I really thought that black had so many good, underused things going for it. People just overlook it as being a crutch-color for decks that need combo protection or acceleration and really nothing more. I went back into the archives and decided that an "anti-establishment" approach to building this deck was the way to go with the vast amount of similar decks plaguing the format today. In doing so, I settled on black as a solitary color to begin the foundation of what would become a very efficient and consistent deck that steers away from stereotypical mono-colored builds and goes in a completely bold, new direction.

    Unquestionably, the deck generates card advantage and allows a clear opportunity to play unmatched threats while stockpiling cards, life, and creatures. By doing so, it becomes very difficult for an opponent to match this level of consistency when you repeatedly have answers for everything they try. By conducting this strategy, the deck opens itself up for so much more flexibility. Each card in the deck serves an important purpose.

    With that being said, I present to you "The Gate".


    After several drafts, the list I ultimately decided on proved to be most effective in testing and worked very smoothly. Here is a list of the creatures I run for reference:

    Abyssal Persecutor.
    Dark Confidant.
    Gatekeeper of Malakir.
    Vampire Nighthawk.
    Faerie Macabre.

    As you can see, this suite of creatures presents serious trouble for opponents not necessarily because of what they do during the attack step, but what they accomplish on their own merit. Let's take a closer look at what each does and why it is important to include them in the main deck list:

    Abyssal Persecutor
    This creature had an awful lot of hype in its recent release. For four mana, at the cost of two colorless and two black, we get a 6/6 flying trampler. Seems good. Seems really good. Unfortunately, people look upon the extra text in the card as a turn off:

    You can't win the game and your opponents can't lose the game.

    Okay, so, I beat an opponent until they're at negative twenty and they live? Well, what if I can kill it myself? There are so many dual-purpose ways of doing this it is no problem at all. This can put your opponent on a serious clock and places them in the precarious situation of having to stop you from killing your own creature, which is an extraordinarily difficult task with the other cards the deck uses. A devastating beater.

    Dark Confidant
    There isn't much that can be said about this creature except for the fact that he is one of the best creatures ever printed. He stagnantly places cards into your hand for the price of their cost while being able to beat. The very definition of card advantage. People have a tendency to write this creature off because of its fragile toughness value or immediate board presence by suggesting it will be removed immediately, effectively never seeing the light of its fruition. You'd be surprised how often this creature lives and goes active. And, if he does, he has already served his purpose by netting you an additional card and providing a body for which to either attack or block with.

    Gatekeeper of Malakir
    With the amount of powerful creatures in the format today, it's no wonder how good removal can really be. Especially when it is built into a creature, as a sacrifice, and even being able to target yourself killing a Dark Confidant to save life or kick Persecutor for the win. This is one of the best cards in the deck and for good reason: He generates card advantage and can attack. His sacrificial kicker can knock out Progenitus as well (assuming they had a green creature that lived). The same for Inkwell Leviathan and Nimble Mongoose.

    Vampire Nighthawk
    Gaining life is a very underrated ability in the format right now with Zoo variants all over the place. With cards like Confidant and Bitterblossom, gaining life never felt so good. It also has flying and deathtouch, an ability that lets it destroy anything it comes into contact with. This is good against anything and with Jitte is utterly devastating. A truly effective card that gives you everything you could ask for.

    Faerie Macabre
    People are starting to see why this is such a good creature to run, even in their main builds. It comes out of nowhere and is absolutely ridiculous against decks predicated on a more intentional use of the graveyard. One of the main reasons for its inclusion in the main build has to do with its uncounterable ability and added bonus of being a body to equip and attack with. It completely stuns the unknowing and hits so many decks unknowingly right off the bat so very hard that they simply cannot recover in time. At worst, he's a 2/2 flyer for three mana. Highly abusable and underused.

    Key Spells

    Cabal Therapy.
    Innocent Blood.

    Let's take a further look now at the key spells in the deck and see how they function in setting up a systematic board dominance process:

    Some questions arose as to why this card was selected over Thoughtseize. The reason is quite simple, really: The loss of life becomes cumulative over time with Bitterblossom and Dark Confidant and with the removal the deck plays creatures are absolutely never an issue. Duress is just as effective in eliminating early specialty counters like Daze and draw spells like Brainstorm. This can be crippling in some instances and on the play Duress is that much better. You essentially set your opponent up into going more aggressive after eliminating their defenses and let them walk right into your trap of destroying their creatures and beating in hard for the win.

    Cabal Therapy
    Cabal Therapy is just so good with Bitterblossom and Abyssal Persecutor. Following up a Duress, it is so absolutely savage if left resolved. On the play game one, it's never a bad idea to Therapy and name some moderately troublesome cards like Aether Vial or Daze, although both don't necessarily do anything to affect your primary goal which is to knock off their creatures with your own removal and cards like Nighthawk, Gatekeeper, etc. Therapy also gives you another way of nixing Bridge from Below if need be. Very multilateral.

    In the main, really? As of right now, the format is absolutely drenched in ridiculously overpowered green and white creatures. Here are some of the most prolific, to name a "few":

    Qasali Pridemage.
    Rhox War Monk.
    Noble Hierarch.
    Meddling Mage.
    Knight of the Reliquary.
    Wild Nacatl.
    Steppe Lynx.
    Dryad Arbor.
    Birds of Paradise.
    Gaddock Teeg.
    Jotun Grunt.
    Trygon Predator.
    Birds of Paradise.
    Quirion Ranger.
    Scryb Ranger.
    Figure of Destiny.
    Tireless Tribe.
    Blazing Archon.
    Llanowar Elves.
    Priest of Titania.
    Magus of the Tabernacle.
    Fauna Shaman.
    Eternal Witness.
    Kitchen Finks.
    Mother of Runes.
    Serra Avenger.
    Weathered Wayfarer.
    Stoneforge Mystic.
    Soldier Tokens.
    Angel Tokens.
    Sphinx of the Steel Wind.
    Mangara of Corondor.

    That list is loaded with some of (if not ALL of) the best creatures in Legacy. Deathmark is an outstanding choice in today's Legacy meta and is a more than fine call to run main. In fact, it is excellent. It is a simple yet effective removal spell that for its cost is an absolute bargain.

    Innocent Blood
    A very efficient one mana removal spell that forces an opponent to sacrifice a creature. Works wonders with Bitterblossom and allows you to sustain the first few turns with no threats facing you down. Knocks off "untargetable" creatures like Progenitus and Inkwell, too.

    I consider Wasteland an actual spell in the deck, as that is ultimately its sole purpose. With seventeen Swamps, four Wasteland are a fine compliment to cripple an opponents' mana supply at any point in the game while banking removal and playing threats. Very effective.

    Artifacts and Enchantments

    Umezawa's Jitte.

    Just maybe the heart and soul of the deck. It is just so annoying to deal with. You just continue to stockpile Faeries every turn and just beat an opponent down. With Jitte, it is purely sensational. The best thing about it is, as these tokens fly they are much harder to stop and therefore make Jitte ridiculously good.

    Umezawa's Jitte
    What makes the world go around. Being able to gain life, pump creatures, and kill creatures all for dealing combat damage is just so good.With Bitterblossom and Dark Confidant, it's almost an auto-include. It has won me big games and close games, and it just lets you draw cards with Bob and makes Faeries with Blossom.

    The List

    The Gate (as of 15SEPT10):

    [4x] Abyssal Persecutor
    [4x] Gatekeeper of Malakir
    [4x] Dark Confidant
    [4x] Vampire Nighthawk

    [4x] Duress
    [4x] Innocent Blood
    [3x] Deathmark
    [3x] Cabal Therapy
    [3x] Hymn to Tourach

    [3x] Umezawa's Jitte
    [3x] Bitterblossom

    [17x] Swamp
    [4x] Wasteland


    [3x] Spinning Darkness
    [3x] Faerie Macabre
    [3x] Extirpate
    [3x] Dystopia
    [3x] Thorn of Amethyst

    How the Deck Plays

    The deck essentially runs like aggro-control. You dictate the board state with removal and remove key spells with Duress and Cabal Therapy. Your opponent will be hard-pressed to match your intensity with the amount of removal you run. But again, it is all about card advantage and situational Magic. This application of thought is what made the deck work to begin with. You build cards with Bob, build creatures with Bitterblossom, two for one with Gatekeeper and Faerie, or beat down to hell with Persecutor and Nighthawk.

    The deck is so versatile and has such a good match against many of the formats' decks to beat. It has answers to almost everything while not depleting itself out, and that's the key. You get the biggest bang for your buck and maximize the potential of each card you play. This throws an opponent for a loop because you are systematically wiping out threat after threat while actually building threats of your own. It's a fun thing to do and it is quite effective. Remember, in Legacy the game can be decided as early as turn two or three. If you can sustain these turns by gaining a clear advantage at hand and board, then you allow yourself a great chance to win. This is a philosophy for which this deck predicates itself upon: To generate card advantage early enough in the game without trading tempo for consistency at an alarming rate.

    By playing basic lands, you are also just completely nullifying an opponents' Waste or Moon strategy. This again is a fantastic situation as you render cards like the following useless:

    Price of Progress.
    Magus/Blood Moon.

    Again, cards like Dark Confidant and Bitterblossom are stagnant builders that enable you to generate advantage at the cost of life. This is offset by Jitte and Nighthawk and provides a synergistic approach in how the game plays out for you. It'll almost make you feel like the Predator up in a tree counting Goyf skulls as trophies. Hard to argue with consistency.

    Against decks like Merfolk and Goblins, depending on if you're on the play, you can knock out key cards with Duress and go into removal mode from there. The trick is to nullify their early counter-magic and force them to just drop a creature and say go. You have enough firepower to match forces, as there is no Island-walking going on.


    As of right now, I am testing several different sideboards and seeing how they work. Here are a few for reference:

    //Sideboard [1]

    [4x] Spinning Darkness
    [3x] Faerie Macabre
    [3x] Soul Spike
    [3x] Dystopia
    [2x] Sword of Light and Shadow

    As you can see, this sideboard is predicated largely on focusing on gaining life and maintaining a solid grip on the Zoo match-up, while focusing a little bit on the combo match with Faerie Macabre and Soul Spike, respectively.

    //Sideboard [2]

    [3x] Spinning Darkness
    [3x] Faerie Macabre
    [3x] Sadistic Sacrament
    [3x] Dystopia
    [2x] Pithing Needle
    [1x] Hymn to Tourach

    This sideboard I've been testing focuses more on the control match by adding in another Hymn to Tourach and a pair of Needles. Sadistic Sacrament is there in an attempt to cripple slower combo decks (like Sneak Attack) and even Survival of the Fittest. Dystopia more often than not does the trick against Survival, but Eternal Witness at times can be a pain.

    //Sideboard [3]

    [4x] Soul Spike
    [4x] Faerie Macabre
    [3x] Spinning Darkness
    [3x] Dystopia
    [1x] Hymn to Tourach

    I've looked at this sideboard as being more stringent and cut and dry towards specific match-ups against decks using the graveyard as a primary catalyst, while "gunning for blood" against Storm combo by adding a full set of Soul Spike in addition to Hymn to Tourach.

    As far as which sideboard I currently play, I have been running the first one since moving Faerie Macabre to the sideboard and freeing up space in the main build. It seems to be nicely balanced and rounded out. The second one, however, has some great appeal to me. I am interested in further testing the control match and seeing how that goes. Sadistic Sacrament (believe it or not) is actually really good against control. You're able to remove up to three copies of Jace, Standstill, etc., while crippling a specific function of their deck simultaneously.

    The Gate

    Match Analysis


    One of the most prolific and consistent decks in the format. The Gate's match-up against "Zoo" is quite solid. Game One is predicated largely on removal from both sides. By generating card advantage by knocking off our opponent's creatures with cards like Gatekeeper of Malakir, we will be able to at the very least limit their activity on the board by diminishing threats. Cards like Deathmark and Innocent Blood become so incredibly relevant, it is hard to dispute their productivity. With a large portion of The Gate dedicated to removal and generating card advantage, we have an excellent chance at blowing them out by systematically disrupting their clock and subsequently creating one of our own.

    The switch can be flipped, however; Zoo has the explosive capability of dishing out as much as it can take in. And in the case of the first game, it really can become a toss-up depending on how we draw against them and what they draw against us.

    Life gain is a huge asset in the second and third games. Cards like Spinning Darkness and Sword of Light and Shadow help supplement our life-gaining capability with cards like Vampire Nighthawk and Umezawa's Jitte. Dystopia is another huge problem for them as long as Pridemage doesn't stick (and usually doesn't). There are so many different ways of killing creatures and gaining life that it becomes harder for the Zoo player to keep up at times. Gaining life each turn is key, and with copious amounts of removal, we have little to worry about until we crush their hands and force them to top-deck better than us whenever we generate card advantage in some capacity. Persecutor is a beating, too.

    As long as we can knock off early threats and cripple their board, we have an excellent chance to pull either of these games out. The Gate is a removal-heavy deck, and there's no question it gets more ruthless post-board. Personally, I do not underestimate Zoo's capability to fight through hell and still win.



    Reanimator appears to be a complex, yet favorable match. Taking a look at the different types of creatures it runs, namely creatures with ďShroudĒ, The Gate really doesnít have too much of a problem dealing with these threats due to the copious amount of sacrificial, un-targeted removal the deck plays. When you are able to answer each of the deckís threats one at a time, the game typically tends to swing in your favor over the course of a few turns. At this point, Reanimator tends to deplete its resources faster than one would normally think in an effort to stick a large threat.

    The first game should generally favor The Gate due to a solid discard and removal suite - pending a (potentially) serious reactive opening start with the right tools by Reanimator. Otherwise, The Gate typically takes this match more often than it does not. Reanimator mulligans very aggressively and this opens them up to painful discard effects that can be staggering, to say the least.

    Games two and three are a little more of the same, as the main build already has a foundation woven on dealing with slower combo decks more reliant on larger creatures. Depending on the type of choices the Reanimator player is featuring, you can play it a little slower or more aggressive (without giving too much leeway). Bringing in cards like Faerie Macabre and or Extirpate give you shots at taking out their targets, and perhaps even giving you a creature when all is said and done (post-Exhume).

    Reanimator has always had difficulty dealing with blatant discard knocking out key spells in hand and leaving the player pinned with large creatures in hand and nothing more. The difference here is that Reanimator has a strong defensive package that can match your discard or invite it (depending on what they have in hand). This is where (inadvertently) Duress is better than Thoughtseize; you do not have to select a creature in their hand and giving them the benefit of a solid top-deck bringing it back. Make Iona irrelevant, and the match is ours.

    Any way you slice it, this match got a lot easier now that Mystical Tutor is history.



    Iíve found Merfolk to be a rather annoying match on the draw. Having to deal with Daze and Aether Vial can be a pain, but it certainly isnít a bad thing. The Gate picks up some tempo by forcing an opponent to return an Island back to their hand. Discard on the play is just utterly devastating; it completely changes the course of the game in that they must now play lands and hard-cast creatures each turn. This is a very favorable situation as it allows the deck to setup its threats by using removal and establishing an overpowering board position. It can be extraordinarily hard for the Merfolk player to gain any sort of creature-based advantage once their threats are dealt with and they go into top-deck mode.

    Iíve noticed some problems in this match with Deathmark in that it is hit or miss. If they are running a splash of green for Tarmogoyf, then Deathmark obviously isnít all together dead. This also opens them up for more Waste-hate, in addition to hitting their man-lands. Standstill can be rather annoying, but now that Hymn to Tourach has made its way back into the main, Standstill becomes a little less relevant at certain times.

    Games two and three are interesting. Spinning Darkness finds its way in to nail creatures that have been pumped up from ďLordĒ effects. This is actually quite easy with the number of cards hitting the graveyard each and every turn. The trick is focusing on removing (or trading) as many threats as possible while getting ready for an all-out assault with Abyssal Persecutors, equipped creatures, or whatever else you may have readily available for an alpha-strike. Sword of Light and Shadow (or Fire and Ice, depending on which you prefer) can help recur your threats or destroy theirs while netting you card advantage at the same time.

    Islandwalk here also doesnít matter, so the Merfolk player sneaking in with unblocked attackers (aside from miscellaneous activated abilities from other Merfolk) is never an issue.

    What it all boils down to in this match is Aether Vial versus discard; whoever wins the die-roll gets a serious advantage - depending on the opening hands of both players. The Gate runs removal; they run sneaky counter-magic. It really does come down to a coin-flip and thatís a testament to the strength of Merfolkís resolve by churning out threat after threat, much like Goblins.

    OVERALL: EVEN (50/50).


    Goblins are a little more difficult to deal with in game one on the draw. If The Gate player can open hand Innocent Blood for Lackey, then they have a great chance at stalling them out and battling in a war of attrition. It can be relatively difficult because players can replenish their hands using cards like Goblin Matron or chaining Goblin Ringleaders. While those cards are certainly the worst cards for The Gate, it also maintains a variety of cards which two for one and allow it to slow down any impending threats. Believe it or not, Hymn to Tourach is actually a key spell in this match because it can downsize their hand for a potential serious assault the following turn. Game one is essentially about who plays first and how strong their opening hand is.

    If you land some threats and offset theirs with removal, youíll be just fine the first game.

    Games two and three are still kind of hard to evaluate, because no matter what happens with the supplementary cards that come in from the sideboard, it still comes down to a dogfight between armies. Whoever goes first in the second game could have a slight edge nailing down the first land and either dropping that Lackey or Vial without having an answer turn one. On the flip-side, if The Gate plays first, the door is opened for the very real possibility of crippling their hand with a Hymn or discard spell before they can drop anything relevant.

    Sword of Fire and Ice, Spinning Darkness, Jitte, and removal also help the cause here. If you continue nailing threat after threat, you have a golden opportunity to establish board position and capitalize on their lack of productivity. Continue to stay aggressive and use your powerful creatures like Persecutor and Nighthawk to bury them.

    OVERALL: EVEN (50/50).

    Counter-Top Bant

    This is not a desirable match, but not lost by any means. This is where Deathmark truly shines. Bant has difficulty in getting going in the mid to late stages of the game as they continue to search desperately for creatures. In the first three turns, it is highly unlikely that any opposing creatures will stick because of the large amounts of removal The Gate plays. The sacrificial removal also allows for the death of Progenitus and effectively becomes a three for one in the sense they lose: A creature, the Natural Order, and the Progenitus Ė potentially due to a one mana removal spell. Deathmark gets really good in this match, as essentially all of their threats are either: Green, white, or a combination of both.

    Dealing with Counterbalance is something Iíve had to face head on Game One and with a great deal of success. If we can Duress, Therapy, or Hymn it out of their hand, weíre going to be all right. The trick is stopping Senseiís Divining Top. Even if the opponent still has Top out, they will be forced to use essential mana to search for answers. Forcing the opponent to play reactively is what we want to do, we just need to land as many threats down as possible and attempt to cripple their mana base (with Wasteland and nixing Hierarch) so they cannot play anything. Bant has a very fragile mana base, so hitting those early and hard can alone win us the game. Hymn to Tourach is also a thrashing in this match.

    Games two and three are a little better because of Dystopia and Sword (L/S or F/I). Pridemage rarely sticks with the obscene amount of removal, and if it does, it will have to be used immediately with these cards on the table. These are good supplements to an already punishing suite of creatures generating card advantage. Dystopia is very effective in this match, as it allows us to save removal for other potential candidates. As long as Counter-Top is not online, then we have a great opportunity to win the match as that is (really) all they can play that genuinely becomes immediately relevant.



    This is the match that is generally difficult to assess due in large part to the skill of the Ichorid player. It is very difficult for an Ichorid player to recover from an early Faerie Macabre (depending if you run them main still or not; it is considered a meta choice). In fact, it is essentially game-breaking. Cards like Innocent Blood and Cabal Therapy are capable of helping eliminate Bridge from Below, as are the other removal spells in the deck.

    One combination that truly shines in this match is Bitterblossom with Umezawaís Jitte. If this goes online, the game will be over. Being on the play helps to Duress out cards like Breakthrough and Careful Study. Also, stopping Iona as a Dread return target is important. Creating a clock for the Ichorid player is huge, and establishing board dominance is crucial.

    In the second and third games, we bring in Extirpate or more Faerie Macabre, which is obviously a big help. It can basically go down to a war of attrition, but the trick is to mulligan appropriately in the second and third games to hit a good hand capable of crippling them early. If we can do that, weíll be okay. Ichorid has about as good a top-deck as we do, so with more relevant hate in game one and more so subsequently in games two and three, we have a distinct edge here that should and has played out in our favor.


    Storm Combo

    Not exactly the best match in the whole world for The Gate. Iíll be the first to admit that the deck had a dire chance of pulling off a game one upset. That has changed some since the inclusion of Hymn to Tourach in the main. If we can slow them down enough where we can land Persecutor and other threats and whittle their life and hand down enough where they can no longer use Ad Nauseam, we can get it done. If they try the Ill- Gotten Gains loop, we do have Faerie Macabre to stun them. If we go on the play and open with a solid discard suite, we can also have a legitimate shot. Otherwise, itís lights out for The Gate.

    Games two and three get a little more interesting, albeit still a little painful. Now that we are aware of what they are playing, the mulligan prospect becomes unbelievably critical in finding the right set of cards to work with. Board hate can include Sadistic Sacrament to supplement discard, and it at the very least can give us an out to cripple their win conditions. Soul Spike is another cute trick that has won rounds of sanctioned tournament play. By surprising the unknowing and (potentially) killing them post-Nauseam, we give ourselves at least another out against a card we have no business responding to. It is very effective when it lands, and is completely unexpected.

    Itís not exactly the best match, but with more effective discard and Spike to help against Ad Nauseam, we at the very least have a fighting chance. The loss of Mystical Tutor gives us some confidence to force them to work harder finding Ad Nauseam. The real war is stopping Empty the Warrens, which is still a work in progress.


    Death and Taxes

    This is a match we really enjoy because of the vast number of white creatures we can nail. Even Mother of Runes cannot protect her friends from the sacrificial removal imposed on them. Deathmark is again outstanding and hits everything they have. Stoneforge Mystic is not really a problem, because we run discard to hit the equipment they find or just him in general. Either way, itís a win-win for us. If we can cripple their threats early and punish their hand, there is little chance they can come back.

    Jitte itself is also a removal spell - if need be.

    The Gate top-decks much better than this deck with the amount of two for ones the deck possesses. The trick is stopping Mother of Runes from becoming too much of a problem which she rarely is because she never survives. Keep the threats off the board like the deck is supposed to and the match will be greatly in our favor as the game draws out.

    After boarding in Spinning Darkness, Dystopia, and Sword (L/S or F/I), there is no reason to believe anything will remain on the table the first five to six turns that is relevant. These cards will assist the already punishing amount of removal and should be the clamp-down to win us the shootout. Equipment is no good if they canít attach it to a creature, and Mother of Runes cannot protect against sacrificial removal. We have Wasteland for Karakas shenanigans, too.

    The only card to worry about here is Aether Vial, which we bring in Pithing Needle for (like the aforementioned). Itís a very multilateral tool that hits so many relevant targets (Karakas, Vial, Mother, Mangara, etc.).



    A tricky, yet winnable match. There isnít a single creature that will stick on the board, first and foremost. With systematic discard paving the way for creatures like Vampire Nighthawk and Abyssal Persecutor, it is going to force them to expend burn on your creatures rather than yourself. This is where hand-depletion becomes key, as now we are able to drop threats (with a Jitte, perhaps) and beat-down unmercifully until the game is over. Burn players wash their hands out very fast and with discard to boot, they will be out of time in a hurry. A resolved and unattended Nighthawk is major trouble for them.

    There are some setbacks in the first game that could hurt us, however. Cards like Dark Confidant and Bitterblossom early can be problematic if enough damage is dealt. The trick is knowing when it is safe Game One to drop either of these cards before they become too dangerous to depend on. Of course, you canít win if you donít take risks, so sometimes it is all right to drop them and hold your breath.

    Spinning Darkness is magnificent in this match. Generally, the Burn player will churn out a few threats to compensate for no permanent sources of damage. Being able to gain even just three life (generally) negates one of their burn spells and allows us to establish board presence with creatures. If an opponent decides to hit our creatures, they will be mislead into having to deal with them and not me. This fuels Darknessís free cost.

    Jitte is unquestionably a back-breaker in this match. All in all, Burn will just stall out after two or three turns and go into top-deck mode. From there, itís easy pickings as threat after threat implodes their strategy and becomes just overwhelming. Sword of Light and Shadow is also a back-breaker that again forces a burn player to divert his or her attention to your threat as opposed to you.

    Most people donít give Burn the credit it deserves for doing what it does best, which I do. Burn is a tough match Ė no mistake Ė but there are too many relevant threats and cards that supplement our life total that it just gets too hard for them to overcome.


    Canadian Thresh

    The ďdream matchĒ if there ever was one. There are so many ways to disrupt Canadian Thresh, it isnít funny. Canadian Thresh really only runs eight or nine creatures and they are all green. Deathmark becomes awesome and sacrificial effects nail Nimble Mongoose. They gain hardly any tempo on the lack of non-basic lands we run and zero fetches that eat it to Stifle. There are few, if any ways, this deck can top The Gateís unstoppable amount of removal in addition to its ďunder the radarĒ approach dodging tempo-attacking decks.

    With an ultra-sensitive mana base, Wasteland becomes even more relevant against the Thresh player. Granted, they run Stifle, but consistency is what matters most and if they happen to have one, it may be preceded by Duress to stun them and perhaps even win us the game. There is just too much for them to deal with and they simply do not have the firepower to deal with it all.

    Sideboarding really doesnít even matter here. We could keep the deck as it is and the match will even stay just as good for us Games Two and Three as it does for us Game One. They have nothing relevant against mono-black decks that are built in this manner. The only cards that may give us a speck of trouble are Sower of Temptation and or Firespout. Even then, that just isnít simply enough when you consider the amount of hate we run.

    There isnít even a need to overextend our resources once we: Deplete their hand, force them to use counters to protect their hand, and subsequently cash-in with removal on their minimal threats.



    This is another one of those matches where Hymn to Tourach gets better and better. It is a very difficult match to be sure, but it can also very difficult for the Landstill player. They must sustain the first few turns of play or otherwise stare down a clock. They play a lot of removal, which can be bad for us. Fortunately, Wasteland is a big help against early Duals and Factories, and discard helps against a resolved Standstill by plucking what they need most at a given time.

    Games two and three are a little tricky because the deck is already using discard-control elements to work in every single game anyways. Dystopia is about the only card that would come in to help against enchantments like Humility and Moat (which even then isnít a huge problem because we run fliers all over the place with Nighthawk, Persecutor, and Bitterblossom), although Dystopia is actually much better in many other ways. Landing a Bitterblossom that sticks is very good, and if our opening hand is good enough, we can pull it off.

    Pithing Needle comes in to help save the day against Jace, the Mind Sculptor and the like. It is so useful in this match that it becomes almost a crime not to run a full set of four. Being able to shut down their most important cards for the rest of the game at such a low cost is certainly worth consideration, but a minimum of three should find their way into this match- no doubt.

    Still, this is a match we donít really want to see too often. If we can cripple them hard to start the game, we have a good shot at doing some damage. Landstill unfortunately is very resilient and we need to try and steal the first game to put the pressure on.


    Mono White Stax

    This is a match that on paper looks fairly un-winnable. Fortunately in play-testing, this is proven to be untrue. This is a surprisingly very favorable match. The biggest thing is being able to hit their best cards early and often with discard. Wasteland is obviously huge in slowing them down and knocking out cards like Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors. If we can get in there enough before a series of Ghostly Prisons emerge, we should - and probably will - win the game. Bitterblossom is just devastating in putting them on a clock as they now have to find a way to race my permanents with Smokestack. There is little chance one of their only creatures (Magus of the Tabernacle) will stick anyways, so maintaining a legitimate clock shouldnít be a problem.

    If weíre on the play, that can become very bad for them. Hymn is just devastating and Chalice really doesnít affect us all that much. We can still sacrifice Persecutor to satisfy the alternate cost of Therapy even with Chalice out to win the game.

    Sideboarding gets solid for us after game one. Gate to Phyrexia and Dystopia are just devastating and there really isnít anything they can do to stop it all together. What gives us the edge in this match are cards like that in the second and third games that are far more back-breaking than anything they can bring in to stop us, as these cards stop whatever they bring in for us too.

    Extirpate isnít that bad here either, as hitting those problematic cards once theyíve been dropped by discard becomes pretty effective.


    The Rock

    Rock variants over the years have gained notoriety for having solid match-ups against many competitive decks in the format.

    Thankfully, so do we.

    It is extraordinarily difficult for either deck to gain a distinct advantage over the other because both decks play similarly. It really depends on whose opening hand is stronger with discard and creatures than the other. The first game is a toss-up that comes down to a war of attrition and being able to stick a clock and roll with it.

    Sideboarding also depends on the variant we are playing against. Depending on who goes first, we board accordingly and go from there. There is enough discard and removal Game One to go around, and likewise for them. This is the definitive coin-flip match because both decks match firepower as it pertains to removal and threats. Both decks are predicated on crippling and sculpting the board in their own favor, and a clear-cut winner can ultimately be determined by skill of player and boarding correctly.

    Mulligan when necessary but be vigilant when deciding if itís the right choice when being on the play or on the draw.

    OVERALL: EVEN (50/50).

    Dream Halls

    This is a fairly expensive combo to get going. We have enough discard to slow them down and cripple their hand, while doing the same with key Wastelands. Assuming they even try to land a Progenitus off Show and Tell, there is no way in hell that is going to stay in play. If we can cripple them enough, weíll just go beat-down for the win. If they resolve Dream Halls with Conflux ready to go, it is over.

    Games two and three are a little better with cards like Nevinyrralís Disk potentially coming into the picture. Extirpate and or Sadistic Sacrament are other helpful cards that would reduce their combo to nothing.

    As long as we can knock out the relevant cards the following games, we can win. This isnít a fast combo deck, and the more the game goes along the more it favors us. If they canít win with Progenitus, theyíll have to win with Conflux.

    Good luck.


    43 Lands

    Lands are an iffy match but not entirely un-winnable. The trick is being able to hit Life from the Loam and hopefully knocking out key spells on the play turn one. If we can stall long enough, we can get the win. If not, it becomes harder and harder as the game wears on to stop their lands like Tabernacle and Maze of Ith.

    One good thing is that Extirpate can slow them down and can eliminate important spells or lands in their graveyard. Itís very hard to gain an edge in this match though because so much of the game is predicated on them building their board with lands that we simply cannot stop. Itís definitely not the match we want to see, depending on their start. Otherwise, weíll have to contend with an explosive start of Exploration and or Manabond.

    Paired with our sorcery-speed removal, this isnít exactly the ideal match-up and there is little we can do except go for the throat before things get out of hand. Tsaboís Web is a cute touch to help if need be.


    Thopter-Sword Combo

    Gauging this match is relatively easy because of how much the deck relies on this combo to win the game. The problem lies in its resiliency, which is unfortunately very strong. Depending on what kind of start we get, we can annihilate their hand and create a clock (depending on what variation they are playing and whether or not Counter-Top is active). If they cannot get this combo going Game One and we have a solid start, chances are good we can slow them down enough to get the win.

    Knock out Academy Ruins with Wasteland immediately and on sight. That card makes us work twice as hard and we don't need the headache.

    Games two and three are a little more fun with Dystopia, which knocks out Thopter. Extirpate is also relevant as it stops the combo right in its tracks Ė same with Faerie. Punish them with cards like Sword of Fire and Ice and cash-in on a clock by forcing them to distort their thinking. If we choose to play (and land) a Sacrament, that can truly be devastating. Pithing Needle is a more effective solution that can solve the problem (temporarily) and allow you to go for the throat.

    This match is a dog-fight but Iíve always found myself on the winning end of matches because by the time the combo goes online, they are already too low on cards or life that it just doesnít matter as they stare down an alpha-strike.


    *Matches are based on a scale of favorability as follows:

    Very Unfavorable (35/65)
    Unfavorable (40/60)
    Slightly Unfavorable (45/55)
    Even (50/50)
    Slightly Favorable (55/45)
    Favorable (60/40)
    Very Favorable (65/35)
    Last edited by Michael Keller; 03-27-2015 at 12:27 PM.

  2. #2
    mull to the skull
    badjuju's Avatar
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    Oct 2007



    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Very cool. I'm excited to see more development

  3. #3
    kicks_422's Avatar
    Join Date

    Feb 2006



    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Is 20 lands really enough, considering your curve? You've got a lot of 1cc spells, but 7 creatures with 3cc (counting Gatekeeper) and 4 with 4cc.
    The Source: Your Source for "The Source: Your Source for..." cliche.

  4. #4
    Legacy's Ronin

    Join Date

    Mar 2009

    Wooster, Ohio


    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    I like the Maindeck Macabre, very interesting..... I myself have been trying to figure a way to abuse Persecutor and you seem to have found a good shell for him to fit into, KUDOS.

    I would be VERY interested in seeing your matchups from the tourney it placed fourth in.

    Although, only seven ways of killing your Persecutors? And Chalice at one deletes that option.... Plus Deathmark? this is another reason I am curious about the tourney report.

    P.S.- I have always loved using Nighthawk/Jitte together.

  5. #5
    hungryLIKEALION's Avatar
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    May 2009

    Bethlehem, PA


    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    He has 11 ways to remove persecutor, 4 gatekeeper 4 innocent blood and 3 cabal therapy, and the therapy flashback is uncounterable because it's a cost, so he can still just cast the therapy, let chalice counter it, and then flash it back for victory.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bardo View Post
    Strangest convenience store I've yet seen: Kum & Go (somewhere in Nebraska). I remember thinking: "Huh, a drive-through bordello. Clever."

  6. #6
    _erbs_'s Avatar
    Join Date

    May 2006



    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Why no dark rituals ? it could powerout the persecutor as early as 2nd turn after 3 swings all you need is cabal theraphy or innocent blood. I know dark confidant is a great card drawer but having bitterblossom aswell and the chance of flipping a persecutor is kinda suicide. I know you have nighthawk and jitte for lifegain but its still very risky.

    If the deck really needs a card drawer maybe phyrexian arena is much better over dark confidant.

  7. #7
    Legacy's Ronin

    Join Date

    Mar 2009

    Wooster, Ohio


    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Quote Originally Posted by hungryLIKEALION View Post
    He has 11 ways to remove persecutor, 4 gatekeeper 4 innocent blood and 3 cabal therapy, and the therapy flashback is uncounterable because it's a cost, so he can still just cast the therapy, let chalice counter it, and then flash it back for victory.
    If I am not mistaken, Chalice can still counter it. Flashing it back means you are still playing a spell, and Chalice will check Therapy's CMC and then counter it again.

    ...and my bad, I forgot about Gatekeeper being able to KO Persecutor.

  8. #8
    Vacrix's Avatar
    Join Date

    Apr 2008


    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    This is great. I happen to have most of the deck so I'll give it a spin when I get my hands on a few more Confidants.

    Whats the board look like? I know you are still working on it, but a working board could at least help with the development of the deck. You should post it Hollywood.

  9. #9
    Good against CMC 2
    Sevryn's Avatar
    Join Date

    Sep 2009

    San Antonio


    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Sorry, I'm really not buying the Deathmarks main idea. Why not just Diabolic Edicts or something, with Deathmark in the board?
    "If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him.
    If he is in superior strength, evade him.
    If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him.
    Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
    If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.
    If his forces are united, separate them.
    Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected."

    -Sun Tzu

  10. #10
    sclabman's Avatar
    Join Date

    Jan 2010

    Davis, CA


    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    I too wasn't sold on Deathmarks, until I realized what creatures I was consistently matched up to and having trouble with. It's useless against Goblins and Merfolk though which I don't like. Smother is my go-to removal of choice for decks with black, so I'll definitely be testing both.

  11. #11

    Join Date

    Feb 2004

    Clifton Park, NY


    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Quote Originally Posted by LegacyDan View Post
    If I am not mistaken, Chalice can still counter it. Flashing it back means you are still playing a spell, and Chalice will check Therapy's CMC and then counter it again.

    ...and my bad, I forgot about Gatekeeper being able to KO Persecutor.
    If you don't have one in the grave, cast it and have it countered. Then flash it back. It doesn't matter if the flashback is countered or not, as the sacrifice is part of the flashback cost, so the other player is doomed.
    Team Albany: What's Legacy?

    You cannot know the sweetness of Victory, without first dwelling in the agony of Defeat.

  12. #12
    Amen, brotha.
    Nidd's Avatar
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    Aug 2009

    Bamberg / Franconia / Bavaria / Germany


    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Could you use Cardtags, please?

    Also, very, very nice list. once persecutor starts tod rop in price, I'll see whether I'm able to sleeve this baby up!

  13. #13
    Legacy Inept

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    Oct 2005



    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Quote Originally Posted by Sims View Post
    If you don't have one in the grave, cast it and have it countered. Then flash it back. It doesn't matter if the flashback is countered or not, as the sacrifice is part of the flashback cost, so the other player is doomed.
    Meddling Mage FTW or should I say FNL (for not losing) !

  14. #14

    Join Date

    Sep 2005



    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    I think this should be moved to N&D. The opening post is nice, but the list has no real tournament success so far and in my opinion the list is not good yet. 16 Swamps and 4 Wastelands without any Draw or search are by far too less Mana for a deck with 7 3-Drops, 4 4-Drops and Jitte. 23-24 lands are needed with this curve (I mean it, 22 lands would be not enough and 20 lands is a joke).

    Deathmark is questionable with Goblins and Merfolk in the format and other options like Doom Blade or Smother available. Also Faerie Macabre Maindeck is nothing that should be presented in an opening post because a card that is dead against Countertop, Merfolk, Goblins and prett ymuch dead against Zoo and ANT is clearly a Metagame choice.

  15. #15

    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Quote Originally Posted by Maveric78f View Post
    Meddling Mage FTW or should I say FNL (for not losing) !
    Innocent Blood / Deathmark FTW?
    Quote Originally Posted by Skeggi View Post
    Lol. You're my hero .
    Was this even a real Skeggi's hero?

  16. #16

    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Nice write up, but I agree with Tao that this should be moved to N&D. Established is for decks that have posted multiple results and multiple big tourneys. You might also take a look at this thread for a similar deck:

  17. #17
    Moduloc's Avatar
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    Dec 2009



    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    I really like your idea, how about using Phyrexian Tower for speed and to kill your Evil angel.

  18. #18

    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    I asked Nihil before posting the list and primer in here and he okay'ed it.

    There will be a lot of similar incarnations, but the fact is this variation placed well also in its first large tournament and it is important to try and build on it from here so we can develop it into a more efficient product. It doesn't matter to me where it goes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tao
    I think this should be moved to N&D. The opening post is nice, but the list has no real tournament success so far and in my opinion the list is not good yet. 16 Swamps and 4 Wastelands without any Draw or search are by far too less Mana for a deck with 7 3-Drops, 4 4-Drops and Jitte. 23-24 lands are needed with this curve (I mean it, 22 lands would be not enough and 20 lands is a joke).

    Deathmark is questionable with Goblins and Merfolk in the format and other options like Doom Blade or Smother available. Also Faerie Macabre Maindeck is nothing that should be presented in an opening post because a card that is dead against Countertop, Merfolk, Goblins and prett ymuch dead against Zoo and ANT is clearly a Metagame choice.
    1. It placed 4th out of 32 players in its first tournament with a flawed sideboard. Even pending improvements, that is a success in its own right.

    2. Dark Confidant is the deck's primary draw engine, but drawing isn't necessarily what makes the deck ultimately effective; it is generating card advantage that wins you games by depleting their resources while building your own.

    3. 23 to 24 lands in a mono-colored build is a relatively terrible idea. The cards that cost three or four to play are of no concern because of the setup due to the copious amounts of one-cost removal, board control, and discard. Fact is, your opponent should rarely have a creature out while you do. Calling twenty lands a joke is absurd; I only got mana screwed once against New Horizons in the tournament and I almost ended up pulling that game out because of the one-cost removal I play.

    4. Goblins does not define the Legacy format anymore and sees play once every so often. It is still a good deck, but again: I'm willing to play four Deathmark and take my chances (which are still phenomenal) on the format as a whole than utilize other relegated removal for a deck I can still lock horns with. It's like calling Red Elemental Blast bad in Imperial Painter, which it isn't, and then calling a card which is actually more useful by itself (in some ways) bad, when it really is far from.

    You haven't even seen a sideboard yet to make such a conclusive statement. That is being worked on.

    5. Faerie Macabre won me 75 to 80% of my matches; beating Reanimator and Ichorid, so obviously you have no clue what you're saying. At worst, he's a 2/2 flying creature that gets in there. He's a body for Therapy and Jitte. He's just...that good.

    Dead against Zoo? Since when is shrinking Goyf (which is very relevant when you play Nighthawk) or plowing through an opponents' creatures with removal then attacking a bad thing? I think you're just taking the good away and addressing the bad...without understanding how good the good is.

  19. #19
    Legacy Inept

    Join Date

    Oct 2005



    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Checking Honesty: how is your Enchantress MU?

    More seriously, are you sure you want to play wasteland ? Instead you could play more swamps and 2 strongholds (looks good with Faerie Macabre). Seeing your list, I'm quite sure you experience difficulties to kick Gatekeeper. I would also follow the advices concerning your mana base and fitting 1 or 2 more lands.

    About Deathmark, my concern is that you have no instant removal and this can be sometimes kind of a problem. Apart from that, it probably does the job you want it to do.

  20. #20
    mull to the skull
    badjuju's Avatar
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    Oct 2007



    Re: [Deck] The Gate

    Quote Originally Posted by Tao View Post
    Also Faerie Macabre Maindeck is nothing that should be presented in an opening post because a card that is dead against Countertop, Merfolk, Goblins and prett ymuch dead against Zoo and ANT is clearly a Metagame choice.
    Vs. ANT, it is likely they will opt to win with IGG if given the opportunity. Responding to it by pitching Faerie Macabre is a tech play, especially if they Orim's Chanted you already before going off. If they go off via AdN, well, there's nothing you can really do about that, but saying Faerie Macabre is "pretty much dead" vs ANT is false.

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