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    [Deck] Esper Deathblade

    Hi, I'm Neo. I'm a Esper Deathblade player from Germany who reached Top 8s and Top 16s at big Legacy event and this is my primer for my favorite deck:
    Esper Deathblade



    I.Overview

    II.History

    III.Decklists

    IV.Card Choices

    a.)Manabase

    b.)Creatures

    c.)Spells

    V.Deathblade as a Stoneblade subtype

    a.)Esper Stoneblade

    b.)UW Stoneblade

    c.)UWR Stoneblade

    VI. Decks and Cards we don't like



    I. Overview

    Deathblade is a fair deck which uses powerful cards such as Stoneforge Mystic and Deathrite Shaman, from which it derives its name. As a subtype of the Stoneblade deck, Deathblade utilizes the natural combination of Stoneforge Mystic and powerful equipments, like Batterskull, Umezawa's Jitte, and sometimes a Sword of X and Y (a popular choice is Sword of Fire and Ice). Many decks have trouble dealing with these equipments, especially Batterskull which creates a 4/4 Vigilance Lifelink creature when it enters the battlefield. Deathbalde also employs other threats such as Snapcaster Mage, Vendilion Clique, True-Name Nemesis and sometimes even Baleful Strix. In addition to these powerful creatures, Deathblade also uses the best removal in the game in Swords to Plowshares, Abrupt Decay, and Council's Judgment; the best counters in Force of Will and Spell Pierce; and the best disruption with Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize. These cards are supported by the strongest planeswalkers: Jace, the Mind Sculptor, who can win the game by his own, and Liliana of the Veil.

    To find what you need, Deathblade plays the best cantrips in Legacy: Brainstorm, Ponder. Some lists even include Sylvan Library to get even more card selection and advantage.

    There is no "BEST LIST". Deathblade lists, especially those that use 4 colors, are flexible and different lists each come with their own advantages and disadvantages. The main goal of the deck is to exhaust the opponents resources and attack him with strong spells. See more under point IV. Card Choices.


    II. History

    Stoneblade decks first appeared in 2010 with Worldwake which gave us Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic. The synergy of the both cards made it the Deck to Beat in Standard: Caw-Blade.

    Players used this synergy in Legacy with powerful Legacy staples, such as Force of Will and Swords to Plowshares.

    The deck quickly restructed itself quickly after the Return to Ravnica (October 2012) expansion’s creation of Deathrite Shaman and Abrupt Decay, resulting in today's skeleton of Deathblade. Older builds of the deck included Geist of Saint Traft but in Commander 2013, a new creature appeared: True-Name Nemesis. This creature turned out to be the perfect creature for the deck; immune to spot removal, unblockable, and even stronger with any of the powerful equipments the deck runs attached to it.

    For a more comprehensive reading on the more traditional Stoneblade decks, check out the UWx Stoneblade primer here


    III. Decklists


    1st Lauren Nolen, Star City Open: Nashville; 5/19/2013

    4 Dark Confidant
    4 Deathrite Shaman
    1 Notion Thief
    2 Snapcaster Mage
    4 Stoneforge Mystic
    1 Vendilion Clique

    3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    1 Island
    1 Plains
    1 Swamp
    4 Flooded Strand
    1 Marsh Flats
    2 Misty Rainforest
    1 Polluted Delta
    3 Scalding Tarn
    1 Scrubland
    1 Tropical Island
    2 Tundra
    3 Underground Sea
    2 Wasteland

    1 Batterskull
    4 Brainstorm
    3 Force of Will
    4 Swords to Plowshares
    1 Umezawa's Jitte
    2 Inquisition of Kozilek
    3 Thoughtseize


    An older list from 2013, this list is still playable right now, but over the time stronger cards hit the floor. For more decks and ideas about various decklists there are various sites like tcdecks, mtgtop8 or mtgpulse. You can check my most recent list here.

    IV. Card Choices

    a.) Manabase - Deathblade’s mana base can be incredibly greedy and building and managing it is the hardest part about this deck. Fetching incorrectly or an opponent's Wasteland hitting an important land and you'll quickly find yourself unable to cast any spells. Deathblade lists traditionally use up to 4 colors: White, Black, Blue and a bit Green.

    Most lists run about 21-23 lands with 8-10 being fetchlands, 2-3 wastelands, a few utility lands and sometimes up to 3 basics.

    Deathrite Shaman helps the deck stabalize and ramps to play strong 3-drops on turn 2 or to allow a turn 2 wasteland into Stoneforge Mystic.


    For utility lands, many lists often run Karakas. It produces white mana and has the unique ability to bounce a legendary creature like our own Vendilion Clique. In some lists you will find Academy Ruins, which is often used to bring back equipments or Baleful Strix.

    Creeping Tar Pit is also a common choice which is safe against sorcery speed removal and is an unblockable creature.


    b.) Creatures – Over the years the typical configuration of creatures has changed. Also every player has a different playstyle and may employ different creatures. Below are the typical core creatures, and other strong choices to slot in at your own discretion.

    Core Creatures:

    Deathrite Shaman: A playset Deathrite Shaman is the heart of Deathblade. He does everything in Legacy. He can provide a clock, manaramp, heal, and control graveyards. It's very common for him to eat removal due to how strong he is by himself.

    Stoneforge Mystic: The second core part in Deathblade. 3-4 copies are typical. Many decks can't handle the Batterskull or Umezawa's Jitte that she finds. While she is a core creature, 3 copies is typically the amount you want to run as after you find Batterskull and Jitte, she's just a 1/2.

    True-Name Nemesis: The main beater in the deck. Deathrite shaman allows him to come down on turn 2 and equipping him with either Jitte or Batterskull is usually game over.

    Other creatures:

    Baleful Strix: An amazing creature in creature matchups. Does everything for us. Replaces himself as soon as he resolves, can hold equipment, and can be pitched for Force of Will, not to mention he almost always trades up.

    Snapcaster Mage: Another form of card advantage, allows you to use whatever spell you just need more of. Lists usually run 1-3 copies depending on how many instants and sorceries you end up running.

    Vendilion Clique: A 3/1 flyer at instant speed that allows you to control the hand of the opponent and to get important information. Very strong with Karakas - Attacking on your turn and then bouncing and replaying him on your opponent's turn allows you to have a clock and control what answers they could have.

    Leovold, Emissary of Trest: This new guy comes in with a 3/3 body and a great ability. He blocks card draw like Spirit of the Labyrinth but only for the opponent. Besides that he lets us draw a card everytime a permenant or us becomes target of a spell or ability.

    Fatties: Many different cards fit the role here including Gurmag Angler, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and Tombstalker. Typical in Abzan lists, each of these cards here do essentially the same thing which is just beat the opponent. Delve allows them to be dropped very quickly and typically for only 1-3 mana.

    Dark Confidant: A good creature, he was played a long time ago as a core creature. However, things have changed. He provides card advantage and can be great in a control meta, but be careful: revealing a Force of Will, Jace, or Batterskull will hurt. Not to mention that a lot of lists run a decent amount of 3 cmc cards, and the damage can add up. He is still pretty common in Abzan lists though.

    Venser, Shaper Savant: He is pure control. With a Karakas out, you can lock your opponent out. Also he has a decent body with 2/2.

    Monastery Mentor: A very uncommon and rare pick for the deck. In the right set up he can drive crazy and produces many big tokens.

    c.) Spells – Deathblade is a flexible all-rounder. Your spells allows you to switch roles. From control to aggro and from control to aggro. Below are the typical core spells explained, and other spells you might want to have.
    Draw and Manipulation
    Brainstorm: This is the most important cantrip. It can find answers at instant speed. With a fetchland becomes Brainstorm a powerful tool to manipulate the quality of your hand and future draws by shuffling your library.

    Ponder: Just like Brainstorm a cantrip. Ponder is a sorcery and the big difference is that it just looks at the top 3 cards.

    Jace, the Mind Sculptor: The Brainstorm machine. This dude draws cards after cards and can even kill the opponent with his -12 ultimate. On his way for the kill, he keeps your opponent away from important spells.

    Painful Truths: Black and card draw ? Yes, sure ! like an upgraded Night's Whisper we are able to control the amount of cards we want. And with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben we are able to spend 4 colors of mana on it ;)

    Disruption
    Thoughtseize: It trades their best card for 2 life. With Batterskull or Umezawa's Jitte not a big deal. Besides that it offers you information. Information about your opponent. Which deck they play and how they going to react to your spells.
    Inquisition of Kozilek: The same as Thoughtseize with the difference that you don't lose life but restricted on spells with a total manacost of 3 or less.

    Hymn to Tourarch: Let your opponent discard 2 cards and he doesn't have the choice. With the right follow up you are able to take a big advantage.

    Liliana of the Veil: The second Planeswalker on our list. She brings control by her disruption and her -6 ultimate isn't deadly directly but for sure it will have its inpact.

    Cabal Therapy: Another discard spell which requires a lot of knowlendge about other decks, but can hit multiple copies at he same time.

    Removal
    Swords to Plowshares: It's the point removal of choice. One mana and every creature is gone. The life is most of the times not a big deal since Batterskull will close the game rather quickly.
    Path to Exile: Like the brother Swords to Plowshares it gives the opponent a land instead of life. Mostly a sideboard choice as additional point removal.

    Abrupt Decay: 2 Mana, Uncounterable, destroy target with manacost 3 or less. This is the reason for a green splash.

    Fatal Push: One black and hits every important creature in the meta.

    Tokens
    Bitterblossom: An enchantment which produces a lots of tokens. Unanswered it will close the game. Or you use it to stop attackers; 4/5 Tarmogoy, 20/20 Marit Large ? Your damage is decreased to 1.

    Lingering Souls: An aggressive sorcery. Also great to discard into Liliana of the Veil and flashback it. Pure value.

    Planeswalker: There are lots of Planeswalker producing tokens. Everyone prefers another. Here are some ideas: Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Garruk Relentless, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, Elspeth, Knight Errant, Nahiri the Lithomancer

    Counters
    Force of Will: This is our #1 counterspell. Counter everything without paying any mana. We need it but depending on your build you could have to less blue cards to pitch something. Keep this in mind while you build your deck.

    Spell Pierce/Spell Snare: Cheap and does the job. Great addition to Force of Will. While Spell Snare is a hard counter for 2 mana spells, we have Spell Pierce as a tax counter for non creature spells.

    V.Deathblade as a Stoneblade subtype
    The Stoneblade archetypes splits up in 4 subtypes: Esperblade, UW Stoneblade, Jeskai Stoneblade and Deathblade. Here are brief information about the other ones:

    a.)Esperblade - A pure esper deck without green and [cards]Deathrite Shaman[cards]. Mostly with Lingering Souls as an aggressive card and Dark Confidant as cardadvantage.

    b.)UW Stoneblade - This is the ancestor of all blade decks. A UW control deck using Jace, the Mind Sculptor followed up by Batterskull as a finisher. Many counters, many cantrips, much control.

    c.)Jeskai Stoneblade - UWr Stoneblade is like an upgraded version of UW Stoneblade. By splashing red it uses Lightning Bolt as an additional removal and Pyroblast against other blue decks. With their many basics you will find Blood Moon in the Sideboard quite often.

    VI. Decks and Cards we don't like

    Here is a short overview how other decks can hit us.
    Punishing Fire: Punishing Fire kills our best creatures and Planeswalker and comes back. Very annoying and in the best case you are able to get it hit by Surgical Extraction. Common Decks with Punishing Fire are: Aggro Loam,Punishing Maverick, Punishing NicFit, Lands
    Wasteland: Wasteland can hit our greedy manabase pretty good and will make us cry. Common Decks with Wasteland are: Aggro Loam, Lands, Death and Taxes, Goblins, Delver decks.
    Kolaghan's Command: With the upcoming 4c Control we have a new enemy. Command hits our equipment, hand and creatures. With Leovold we can get in serious trouble.

    You see; Lands and Aggro Loam are big enemies and tough opponents. We can win by stopping their Life from the Loam, Dark Depths and removal. Usually they are using the graveyard. Rest in Peace and other hate can slow them down.
    Another strong opponent is 4c control. This deck just outvalue us with their [cards]Kolaghan's Command[cards]. Force of Will is bad because it trades 2for1 and this is what Czech Pile wants to do. We need advantage on our side. Sword of Fire and Ice is great. It pressures the opponent and draws a card.
    Last edited by Neo900; 01-11-2018 at 09:30 AM. Reason: fitting more the meta; some shortening
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