View Poll Results: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

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Thread: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

  1. #1
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    Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    With High Tide taking another win this weekend in Atlanta, it seems the Legacy metagame is beginning to solidify into something less open than we initially thought. As the dust settles, we can begin to see the tiers of the format, and King Combo is poised firmly at the top. Is this sudden resurgence due to a lack of adequate hate being played in players' sideboards or is there a deeper problem? Can the recent uprising of combo decks be explained by any particular banning or unbanning, or is this the result of a soft field with too little experience?

    I personally feel like the sheer amount of different combo decks is having a negative impact. You can prepare for the aggro and control decks that you know you will face at big events, but you almost have to blindly pick a combo deck to hate and hope you don't face the rest of them, as many have completely different weaknesses from one another.

    Thoughts? Is it time to play combo or go home, or do you think the format will regulate itself?

    Edit: Can one of you mods add a poll to this thread? I'd be interested in seeing something quantifiable.
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  2. #2

    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    We are seeing an issue with matchup percentages keeping combo doing well right now.

    The decks that beat Combo typically have very weak G/x aggro matchups. Things like the various GSZ decks, Elves, Bant Aggro will curb stomp your 2 mana enchantments or misc artifacts far before you find your way into the 3-0/4-0 bracket where you start seeing the unfair decks you impose a much fairer gameplan on. This leaves Combo players who get to walk through extremely low hate (e.g. the bant aggro deck from this past weekend's scg top8) or no hate. The green aggro decks still do well because they see various CB, mirrors, and other decks they just dominate far more often than they run into combo. When it comes to top8, you see 4-6 wolves (dredge, spiral tide, tendrils, painter) with sheep trying to cast sorceries that fetch up dryad arbor.

    If you play something like Dreadstill, and see your very good matchups (which are typically an extremely low portion of the field) before your round 3 you find yourself in a bracket where each round you get to play against something you'll probably crush or some midrange green thing that plays 40ish threats and 20 lands.

    It boils down to beating unfair decks and fair decks at the same time is a pretty hard thing to do, unless of course you just try to be more unfair than your opponent.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    That Bant deck in the T8 had just 4 Force, 3 Cliques MD to deal with combo. It punishes aggro and counterbalance but it's going to be difficult to take down combo with such a slow clock and just 7 cards that interact with the opponent. I think GSZ really pushed counterbalance off the legacy map and Combo is benefiting greatly from it. Personally, as someone who has played blue for a long time, I would not play Counterbalance right now, because even if I do well in the T8, I might not get there against all that tribal and aggro. I agree with emidln, basically there needs to be a new counterbalance build that can beat GSZ/Tribal. That's not easy as you need to deal with Swarms (Goblins/Folk/Elves) or Bigs (GSZ-> KOTR/Goyf) AND Spells (Natural Order/Equipment). You can't splash too many colours and still be ok against wasteland. The aggro meta is so diverse that it's hard to find the perfect combination to "control" them.

    What's the best strategy? I'd just play a resilient combo deck that craps on aggro and has a fairly ok MU against blue. And since that's literally every viable combo deck, we are seeing those results in the SCG T8s.

    Another option is a return to the traditional sweeper (Wrath/Damnation). Aggro has peeled back speed for power and a better mid range game against the mirror. Is this the time to sleeve up your ancient 4 mana sweepers? Traditional Sweepers solve Swarms, Bigs AND Progenitus/Emrakul. So why not play them? Perhaps a UW countertop-walker shell with Traditional Sweepers would do well right now. Lots of basics paired with STP, Path, Sweepers and Counterbalance could be viable.

  4. #4
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    A traditional UWx CounterTop Thopters list placed 14th at SCG Open Atlanta. It runs lots of basics, StP, Sweepers, and Counterbalance. Coincidence?

  5. #5
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    The deck runs 2 EE and 1 Wrath of god + 7 basics. Good choice, I like. Thopthers is somewhat of a mini combo in itself and if assembled early, can really kick aggro in the balls.

  6. #6
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    Counterbalance is no less diminished by GSZ than Counterbalance is diminished by Qasali Pridemage. GSZ is far worse at sneaking threats through a Counterbalance than AEther Vial. GSZ is a 4-of, often less than that, and grabbing a Goyf with a GSZ for 3 mana, or even a Knight of the Reliquary for 4 mana, doesn't ensure you're dodging Counterbalance anymore.

    I'd say the ressurgence of combo is heavily due to the amount of Vial Aggro and other various aggro decks that popped up at the beginning of this year and started dominating Top 8's. In response to such an aggro heavy metagame, combo is the clear metagame choice. Less players are playing Counterbalance right now because it's subpar against all the various aggro decks designed to beat it. Once combo asserts itself back into the top tier of the metagame, expect to see a ressurgence of Counterbalance. At that point, aggro pops back up, and we get a constant metagame shift every so many months. That's how the cookie crumbles.

    Once players shy away from aggro/control Counterbalance variants and start designing Counterbalance decks that actually beat all the random aggro and Vial Aggro, you'll see a Counterbalance deck that's capable of staying a metagame presence. CounterTop Thopters is more than capable of doing that, as well as my own CounterTop Walker. Supreme Blue, when built correctly, can also do very well against aggro. Players need to realize that when building a Counterbalance deck, they cannot rely on Counterbalance to win them every matchup, and have to have other cards in their deck to handle things. The biggest problem Counterbalance has is AEther Vial, and most Counterbalance decks are cold to it preboard and postboard. Once Control decks fix their Vial Aggro matchup, you'll see a huge ressurgence of control decks in the format.
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    @ Hanni, I agree with your description of the matchup wheel, but Combo has been dominating the SCGs for some time. And a solution still has not been found for all those Vial/GSZ decks. The last 2 T8s were Combo dominated so I'm guessing the next SCG will be the bounce back for Control. Team America was on top for 2 SCGs, so combo probably won't last longer up there too.

    Care to share your current countertop list? I'll drop by the counter-top walker thread and have a look.

  8. #8
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    Care to share your current countertop list? I'll drop by the counter-top walker thread and have a look.
    My current list is on the last page of the CounterTop Walker thread right now, and I started working on a primer today that I will hopefully have finished by the end of the week.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    To elaborate. David got 4th place with Combo Elves. He went straight up undefeated for a while too. Ran 2 mindbreak traps in the board and I think five Leylines. Those are all good cards. Good cards beat bad cards. A trap resolved is just as busted as that double Lion's Eye Diamond->Ritual Infernal Tutor hand that gives you a win unmolested.Trap is good against Spiral Tide too. Leyline works as well.

    I think countertop is still one of the most dominant archtypes in Legacys history. Ever since Countertop decks have evolved the metagame has never came back from the near death experience. Tribal spawned because.. well Tribal is a step up on the corporate ladder of Legacy bad guys. The worst offenders are those wolves emidln posted on.

  10. #10
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    Hmmmm...

    Heavy combo and aggro presence makes me think some sort of Mono-Black deck might be something worth trying out.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    In before Wizards announces 20 card sideboards to combat the "Legacy combo problem." /sarcasm

  12. #12

    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    When the not-combo players (as a group, not individually) figure out that discard doesn't actually beat combo, or really do very much at all unless you open with discard-discard-discard-confidant, the meta will become bluer and more stable. I mean, with that kind of grip you could've just been running relevant cards (counterspells) in the first place and not still lose to a topdecked Time Spiral/Show & Tell/Breakthrough/whatever. Drew Levin mentioned in some article recently that CBtop will probably be good again come Providence, which I suspect is true only because Spiral Tide will probably win it, not because it solves the problem of Ux combo and Gx aggro simultaneously.

    Counterbalance is no less diminished by GSZ than Counterbalance is diminished by Qasali Pridemage. GSZ is far worse at sneaking threats through a Counterbalance than AEther Vial. GSZ is a 4-of, often less than that, and grabbing a Goyf with a GSZ for 3 mana, or even a Knight of the Reliquary for 4 mana, doesn't ensure you're dodging Counterbalance anymore.
    This really isn't true at all. I'm going to try to ballpark a realistic estimate here rather than use hyperbole, so GSZ is about one billion times more detrimental to Counterbalance than QPM. Its cost is much more flexible, fetches a toolbox full of answers, isn't automatically hit by another 2-to-4-of in the cb deck (Spell Snare) and on top of that, gets to be curved into naturally after making your 1-drop, 2-drop rather than having to stall on pressure because you need to sneak a pridemage through before top gets online too. Aether Vial precludes comparison because its inclusion forces some design restrictions on the deck (must have enough creatures, said creatures must be similar in cost) that GSZ decks don't face. CBtop can't be the answer to resilient combo decks in a meta full of crappy midrange, or if it is, it needs some work so it loses to neither at least half of the time.
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  13. #13

    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    Quote Originally Posted by RaNDoMxGeSTuReS View Post
    In before Wizards announces 20 card sideboards to combat the "Legacy combo problem." /sarcasm
    I would LOVE for there to be 20 card sideboards.

    Legacy is an enormously diverse field, more so than any format has ever been in the history of magic. There are literally hundreds of tier 1.5 decks that have a shot of top 8ing in a tournament if they face the right matchups. It's impossible to gear your sideboard to deal with all of your possible bad matchups with just 15 slots in the board.

  14. #14

    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Kant View Post
    I would LOVE for there to be 20 card sideboards.

    Legacy is an enormously diverse field, more so than any format has ever been in the history of magic. There are literally hundreds of tier 1.5 decks that have a shot of top 8ing in a tournament if they face the right matchups. It's impossible to gear your sideboard to deal with all of your possible bad matchups with just 15 slots in the board.
    +1.

    Also, all the sideboards I test are usually 20-25 cards, so I can get a sense of what pulls its weight and what doesn't feel like including. I think some of my MWS opponents kinda hate me.
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  15. #15
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    Counterbalance will be back. Look at how much combo is going rampage style at all the SCGs lately. Not enough people playing CB/Top is all. It's perfectly fine at the moment just needs to be boarded with properly to handle the midrange decks.
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  16. #16

    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    Aether Vial and Green Sun's Zenith turned Counterbalance and Spellsnare into shit over night, and contrary to popular belief Spell Pierce and Wasteland do not stop Storm combo. I doubt we'll see a resurgance of Counter/Top, but I bet we'll see Enlightened Tutor SBs, Gaddock Teeg, Mind Break Trap, Vendilion Clique and Meddling Mage in force in G/w/x decks.

    Give people a bit of time to adjust to combo having an advantage vs. blue game 1 for a change and people will start SBing the necessary hate.

  17. #17
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    This really isn't true at all. I'm going to try to ballpark a realistic estimate here rather than use hyperbole, so GSZ is about one billion times more detrimental to Counterbalance than QPM. Its cost is much more flexible, fetches a toolbox full of answers, isn't automatically hit by another 2-to-4-of in the cb deck (Spell Snare) and on top of that, gets to be curved into naturally after making your 1-drop, 2-drop rather than having to stall on pressure because you need to sneak a pridemage through before top gets online too. Aether Vial precludes comparison because its inclusion forces some design restrictions on the deck (must have enough creatures, said creatures must be similar in cost) that GSZ decks don't face. CBtop can't be the answer to resilient combo decks in a meta full of crappy midrange, or if it is, it needs some work so it loses to neither at least half of the time.
    When I made the comparison to Qasali Pridemage, I meant that GSZ is more comparable to it than to Vial (vs Counterbalance), not that GSZ isn't better than Qasali (vs Counterbalance). GSZ is a one-time effect, whereas once Vial is down, every single threat sneaks past Counterbalance. GSZ only sneaks a creature through when you cast it. It's possible to use GSZ more than once, but it's not comparable to shutting out Counterbalance in the way that AEther Vial does.

    GSZ is also not full proof either. If you have the mana to seriously dodge Counterbalance (paying larger amounts of mana), you're inefficiently playing your curve. Decks that are built without relying on Counterbalance, which was what I was referring to, should be able to handle whatever creature you're overpaying for without their Counterbalance... whether that be with Swords to Plowshares, Vedalken Shackles, or whatever. Even if you overpay for your guy, Counterbalance decks these days are extending their cc ranges. The 3 cc spot has become extremely important to cover lately, and Counterbalance decks are shoring up that range. Many decks with Counterbalance are running Jace now, so that's additions to the 4cc range, and in my Countertop Walker specifically, I'm at 4 Planeswalkers. Then you figure in the 4 Force of Will's, and you literally need to cast GSZ for at least 6 before you're guarunteed to sneak your guy through. AEther Vial doesn't have this issue.

    GSZ being toolboxy has nothing to do with making Counterbalance weaker in the metagame. Also, more and more Counterbalance decks are running Counterspells in addition to their Counterbalances rather than Spell Snare. I'm not trying to discredit GSZ as being a good card because it is a good card, but GSZ has nothing to do with Counterbalances decline; AEther Vial does. If decks were only running GSZ and no AEther Vial, Counterbalance would still dominate the metagame like it did a few years back, and the Counterbalance decks would be running GSZ themselves to have an advantage in the mirror.

    Counterbalance is most definitely the answer to resilient combo decks because Counterbalance is capable of dealing with every single combo deck; it's a very versatile answer that's not limited to one specific card or strategy. Why run Gaddock Teeg or Ethersworn Cannonist, which do nothing against Show and Tell or, oh I don't know, straight burn? My point is, Counterbalance is the best answer against combo decks after Force of Will.

    A properly built control deck literally smashes midrange aggro decks, so I fail to see how a control deck with Counterbalance gets shut out by midrange aggro. Unless of course you are talking about midrange Vial Aggro, in which case I'm inclined to agree, but only until the Counterbalance control decks learn how to deal with Vial decks. The only midrange threat that comes to mind that would scare a control deck right now is Thrun, and there are still sideboard answers for the guy like Moat.

    Aether Vial and Green Sun's Zenith turned Counterbalance and Spellsnare into shit over night
    AEther Vial has been a presence for a very long time, and Counterbalance has still performed well because of the decks that enter the meta to prey on the Vial Aggro decks (like what combo is doing right now). This wasn't a meta shift over night, and the inclusion of GSZ isn't doing nearly what Vial already has to the Counterbalance strategy. Spell Snare... meh. Never really was a fan of the card.

    Plus, both Vial and GSZ only make aggro get around Counterbalance. That doesn't include any of the other noncreature spells you want to cast. If you're running the type of threat density to make this irrelevant, you'd be running Vial instead of GSZ anyway.
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  18. #18

    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    Spell Snare was the "best, worst" counter vs TES and co., now that TES can play around that counter with LED in play it's a lot harder for tempo decks to come up with actual answers to a threat instead of a tax. Bant and Merfolk are not putting up the numbers they should be game 1 vs. combo because they're completely relying on soft counters after Force of Will IMO.

  19. #19

    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    What else are they suppose to rely on? What hard counter do you suggest that is playable in those decks?

    The way high tide is performing is pretty scary. Force of will, mass mana/card draw and tutor for win conditions seems pretty strong

  20. #20
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    Re: Are there too many different combo decks in Legacy?

    Okay,

    Instead of having blue as combo hate, why not run other colors? Black for Hand Disruption and White for Board Disruption. Both colors also has a lot of tools against the mentioned aggro decks above.

    That said, you don't need blue to beat combo. Eli's Junk deck is a great example.

    Besides, you can also run a plethora of non blue combo-hate cards from Chalice of the Void to Null Rod.
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