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Thread: [DTB] Czech Pile

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    [DTB] Czech Pile



    Czech Pile/4C Control



    Table of Contents:
    I. Introduction
    II. Card Choices
    III. Decklists
    IV. Sideboarding and Matchup Analysis
    V. Playing the Deck
    VI. References and Links
    VII. Closing Thoughts

    I. Introduction

    Overview
    Czech Pile/4C Control is a UB-based midrange control deck, splashing R and G for powerful card advantage, removal, and sideboard spells. It runs a notoriously high density of individually powerful cards, a pile of good stuff if you will. The deck is heavy on disruption for both permanents and spells, and held together by Legacy’s best cantrips, Deathrite Shaman, and card-advantages spells like Baleful Strix, Snapcaster Mage, and Kolaghan’s Command. It seeks to use these to out-grind the opponent, usually winning through a combination of small creature attacks or an inevitable Jace, the Mind Sculptor ultimate.

    Brief History
    Czech Pile is a fairly new face to the Legacy scene, beginning its existence towards the end of 2016 after the release of Conspiracy: Take the Crown, with the printing of Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Its origins can be traced back to either Tomas Mar (who is Czech) or MTGO user pellenik, though a few pros like Oliver Tiu and Noah Walker played it to relative success as early as GP Louisville in January 2017. While the build has evolved over time (from Tarmogoyfs and Young Pyromancers), the premise of the deck remains the same: to play all the best cards in Legacy. The best creatures in DRS and Snapcaster Mage. The best spells in Brainstorm, Thoughtseize, Abrupt Decay, and Lightning Bolt. The best win condition in Jace the Mind Sculptor. The best sideboard cards like Flusterstorm and Red Elemental Blast. It turns out, to play all of these cards, you want to be in 4 colors: U, B, R, and G. Its Czech origins plus essentially being a “pile” of strong legacy staples bestowed upon it the name Czech Pile.

    The deck can generate incredible card advantage and has answers for almost every situation. However, its weaknesses are its inability to end a game quickly and its color intensive, nonbasic-heavy manabase. The deck was originally overshadowed by Top-based Miracles as the premier control deck of the format but since Top’s banning in April 2017, times are a-changin. Miracles was gone for a while but is back in force, and the metagame has yet to stabilize, but Czech Pile is currently well positioned. This deck has game against most of the decks in the format; in fact one of the greatest strengths of being in 4 colors is that you have a very flexible maindeck and sideboard in that you can pull from a wider cardpool to adjust to specific metagames.

    Czech Pile really started to gain prominence after a top 8 performance by Jacob Haversat at GP Vegas in June 2017, who played a very traditional list of Czech Pile, but with Tasigur in the main. Since then, it has become very popular on the MTGO meta, with frequent 5-0’s. It will perhaps be less widely represented in paper due to it being one of the most expensive decks in Legacy, but time will tell when major paper tournaments kick back into gear. Curiously, GP Vegas coverage often called the deck 4C Leovold, and tcdecks.net calls it 4C Control, so any of these names might be used when referring to the deck (but please don’t use 4C Leovold, we are not savages).

    Why should I play Czech Pile?
    Czech Pile is the ultimate value deck. If you enjoy out-grinding your opponent and maximizing your value, this is your deck. It is slow and methodical but powerful. Players of the old Shardless BUG archetype will enjoy this playstyle, but Czech Pile is less clunky and has stronger sideboard options. Your typical gameplan revolves around trading removal spells/counters/discard for your opponents threats. Your card advantage will slowly pull you ahead as your opponent cannot trade favorably with you. As you stabilize, your superior board position and/or a Jace in the lategame will usually seal the deal. The deck will rarely hand you free wins like Sneak and Show or Delver's mana denial can; you'll have to carefully navigate your opponents threats to come out on top.

    Someone considering Czech Pile might also be considering one of the various other control decks in Legacy. The most common being Grixis Control, BUG Control (Reid Duke style), Shardless BUG, Stoneblade, and Miracles. Below is a comparison with each of these decks.

    Grixis Control – Grixis Control is the most similar to Czech Pile. It runs Kolaghan’s Command, Jace, and Snapcaster Mage, and a very similar removal suite. It eschews green so no Leovold, Abrupt Decay, and usually no DRS. It also typically cuts down on Baleful Strixes, though recent builds have been seen to include them. Instead it incorporates more proactive threats like Gurmag Angler, Young Pyromancer and True-Name Nemesis. This allows the deck to switch gears between aggro and control more easily, making it more flexible and better at racing. It also provides sturdier threats vs. Punishing Fire decks. Dropping green means it has a slightly stronger manabase, but is offset by the lack of DRS, which helps our mana considerably. The disadvantage is that it has 0 maindeck answers to enchantments, fewer answers to artifacts and other nonland threats. Leovold is also a very strong hatebear against a range of strategies. In addition to helping our manabase, DRS also provides MD graveyard hate, and some lifegain for sustain. In fact, many of the more recent Grixis Control lists are starting to look more and more like Czech Pile, replacing Leovold with Gurmag Angler-here the boundaries really begin to blur.

    BUG Control – Reid Duke famously won GP Louisville in January 2017 with this deck. It played 8 mana dorks and starred a playset of True Name Nemsis. This results in a much more proactive midrange strategy, running Dazes and fewer reactive/removal cards. It really is more of a midrange deck. It was certainly much better at racing and applying pressure but likely has trouble with the late-game since Daze and Noble Hierarch are both weak topdecks. We also tend to have stronger sideboard options.

    Shardless BUG – This deck has really fallen out of favor lately, but it still has a lot of raw power. Ancestral Vision is a very potent CA engine. It is also more aggressive due to Tarmogoyf and is able to support a light mana denial strategy in Wasteland. However it is simply too clunky nowadays having to set up so many of its draws. Snapcaster Mage is much stronger than Shardless Agent as a card. And the fact that we get to run cheap counterspells makes us stronger against combo and better at “controlling” the game. Again, being in 4C also means stronger sideboard options.

    Blade Control – There are various flavors of blue-based Stoneforge control, usually in Bant or Esper colors, sometimes splashing a fourth. These decks are strong against creature based strategies and solid against combo as well. They get to run Swords to Plowshares, which is a strict upgrade to our removal suite. They often also run Wasteland to deal with problem lands. Our greatest advantage over them is how much raw card advantage we have. We both have strong, but different sideboard options. We get Red Elemental Blast and strong sweepers in Marsh Casualties and Toxic Deluge (though Zealous Persecution is very good too) while they get hatebears such as Ethersworn Canonist and Containment Priest.

    Miracle Control – Lastly, we have Miracles. Once the boogeyman of the format, the new version has different strengths and weaknesses. They have a rock-solid manabase, the best removal suite of any deck in Swords + Terminus, and some builds can actually be quite proactive with a Mentor beatdown plan. However, if it doesn’t find Mentor (usually only a 2-of or sometimes 0), it is even worse than Czech Pile at ending games in a hurry. Additionally, the deck has a lot of do-nothing cards (often up to 16 cantrips), and many cards require some degree of setup, whereas our cards are more individually powerful. Us getting to play maindeck graveyard hate is also a strength that can’t be ignored.

    II. Card Choices

    The Core

    These cards pretty much never change. Keep reading for detailed analysis of each card.

    4 Deathrite Shaman
    2-4 Baleful Strix
    2-4 Snapcaster Mage
    1-2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest

    4 Brainstorm
    4 Ponder
    3-4 Force of Will
    0-2 Counterspell

    2 Fatal Push
    0-2 Lightning Bolt
    0-2 Abrupt Decay
    1-2 Kolaghan’s Command

    2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    20 lands

    This gives you somewhere between 5-10 cards that you can really tweak to suit your metagame and playstyle.

    Creatures

    Core Creatures

    Deathrite Shaman – The glue that holds this deck together. DRS is largely accepted as one of the best creatures in legacy, and here it really pulls its weight. Being in 4 colors, our manabase can be sketchy at times and DRS works overtime in helping produce the right colors in the right quantities. It protects us from Daze and mana-denial strategies. It can accelerate out our 3- and 4- mana threats. It is a clock, sustain, graveyard hate, and holds the ground against 1/1s all rolled up into one. The benefits of DRS really don't need to be stressed any further. Often our favorite turn 1 play. Run 4.

    Baleful Strix – Such a simple and elegant design. A straight-up, no-nonsense 2 for 1. Replaces itself when it comes into play and will usually require a removal spell or it will trade with one of your opponent’s creatures, from Delver to Griselbrand. Only a select few cards from your opponent can interact favorably with Strix (Forked Bolt, Thalia are examples). Strix plays a key role in the deck however. The rest of our removal suite is unable to handle any resolved threat that is larger than 3 toughness/4 CMC. Strix holds the ground (and the air) against Reanimator, Sneak and Show targets, as well as random things like Gurmag Angler and Eldrazi. It can also be a very slow clock if needed and of course, it pitches to Force. Most lists run at least 3.

    Snapcaster Mage – Tiago Chan’s invitational card finds itself very at home in this deck. This deck is all about value, and Snapcaster embodies that. With 23-25 instants and sorceries, Snapcaster often has a solid target in the graveyard. Snapcaster is so much more than a 2-for-1 in that it allows you to have a greater virtual density of the cards you need. Playing against combo? Double up on your Thoughtseizes and Counterspells. Playing against a creature deck? Well now you have up to 3 extra removal spells. In a pinch, it helps cantrip to dig for land or answers. In a really tight pinch, it can ambush an attacking creature. Combine this with Kolaghan’s Command for maximum value. However, it can be clunky in multiples and in the early game. Most lists run 3-4.

    Leovold, Emissary of Trest – Leovold is like a super hatebear. He has a heavy color requirement and costs 3, but completely shuts down your opponent’s ability to dig for answers and threats. It also shields all of our easy-to-remove creatures somewhat by drawing replacements and drawing initial removal spells towards himself. And when they finally do remove him, he still 2-for-1’s them. You might even draw into a counterspell to protect him. Extremely good against cantrips, Griselbrand, Elves. It interestingly also has favorable interactions against Punishing Fire (you will draw at least 2 cards if they try to kill Leovold and anything else they kill you get to replace) and Tendrils of Agony (storm for 10 means you draw 10 cards, greatly increasing the chance that you draw into a counter). He also is a 3/3, which holds the ground much better than your Deathrites and Snapcasters. 2 is a good number since multiples can get clunky.

    More fringe options

    True-Name Nemesis – Mini-Progenitus is great at stalling the ground and providing a fast, unblockable clock. It has no disruption or card advantage to it so it just plays the role of a beater. Good against decks where you need to race, and a sticky creature against removal-heavy decks, especially Punishing Fire. It’s also a good Planeswalker killer. Usually a 1/2-of if run at all.

    Vendilion Clique – Similar to TNN in manacost and P/T put trades survivability and some evasion for Flash and pseudo-Thoughtseize. An incredible card against combo decks and Stoneforge Mystic. Provides a clock, kills planeswalkers, disrupts gameplans, and can even filter the cards in your hand in a pinch. There are so many cool plays you can do with Clique. Flash in during draw step to nab that Natural Order or Show and Tell they just topdecked. Play it in response to Vial or Stoneforge activation to take their card and disrupt their plan. Flash in EOT to surprise kill a Jace that accidentally brainstormed, or even clear the way for your own Jace. Or just flash it in to ambush an attacker. Extremely versatile card. People rarely run more than 1 in the MD though.

    Tasigur, the Golden Fang – The GP Vegas T8 list ran 1 of these in the MD though it is not a common choice. It has the biggest butt of any creature we run and provides a great mana sink in the late-late game. I personally have never tried this card, but I imagine it to be great in grindy, midrange matchups where a repeated source of card advantage is useful, especially tacked on a large body. Wouldn’t run more than 1. Gurmag Angler can be a slightly larger, but dumber replacement.

    Instants and Sorceries

    The usual suspects

    Brainstorm – Legacy is known as the Brainstorm format. Illegal in Modern and restricted in Vintage, Legacy is unique in that a full playset of Brainstorm can be played. Brainstorm is so incredibly strong due to its famous interaction with fetchlands. For a single mana, you can add three cards to your hand and put the 2 least relevant cards back on top. If you need a removal spell that turn, you have it. If you need Force of Will to counter a key card, you have it. The rest of the cards you put back will still be there if you need them in the coming turns. If they are irrelevant, you can shuffle them away. This all may seem obvious to a Legacy veteran, but Brainstorm is such a critical piece of the deck it deserves some mention. It is especially potent in this deck for two reasons. First, we are in 4 colors and being able to access all of our colors to cast our spells is of utmost importance. Cantrips like Brainstorm enable that. Second, we are a reactive deck. Our goal is to handle each of our opponents threats as they come. Brainstorm allows us to dig and filter for our strong selection of removal and countermagic at the right time. Always run 4.

    Ponder – This deck is color-intensive and wants to find the right tools for the right situations. Just 4 cantrips is not enough to reliably get the cards we need so we run Ponder as well. It is far stronger than Preordain/Serum Visions since you can see more cards and stronger than Portent since you get the card this turn, and we don’t run any Miracle tricks. It even has an advantage over Brainstorm in allowing you to shuffle your deck, but you can only ever get 1 card from your deck via Ponder. Run 4 of these as well.

    Force of Will – Often said to be the glue of legacy that is preventing degenerate combo decks from running rampant. Probably mostly true, and we want it here as well. In addition to combo decks, Force can help stop threats that you are unable to immediately deal with. Aether Vial, TNN are all good examples. This deck also fairly easily hits 5+ mana in the late game so it is still a great draw at any stage of the game. Run 4, unless your name is Joe Lossett (who famously often runs only 3 Forces).

    Counterspell – Good old Counterspell. UU: Counter target spell. This deck needs a few more mid to late game catch-all cards. It still turns on as soon as turn 2 and getting double blue is fairly easy with this deck. Usually a 2-of.

    Fatal Push – Part of the removal suite trifecta of Push/Bolt/Decay. I would run somewhere between 5-7 of these 3 cards. Together, they deal with 95% of the most common threats in Legacy. Fatal Push, a fairly recent addition to Legacy, excels as dealing with small to medium creatures. Hits everything in the format short of Eldrazi, reanimator targets, and Gurmag Angler. Unfortunately it can be a dead card in many matchups, since it can’t go face like Bolt can. 2-3.

    Lightning Bolt – While it can’t hit larger creatures like Goyf, Lightning Bolt has an advantage over Fatal Push in that it is never completely dead. It can always go face, and when you find yourself in a race (against a TNN, for example), Bolt can help you pull ahead. Notably, it hits Mirran Crusder, which neither of the other 2 can, and hits planeswalkers. The fact that we play it will often force players to uptick Jace instead of brainstorming. And it still kills probably 70% of the creatures in Legacy. 0-3.

    Abrupt Decay – Abrupt Decay was once a format staple when Top-based Miracles was king. Hitting one of the most ubiquitous enchantments uncounterably, plus almost never being a dead card means it was a staple. Times have changed though. Miracles is no longer very permanent based, Gurmag Anglers and Eldrazi are more common, and 2 mana against low-to-the ground Delver decks is often negative tempo. Still, it is a great catch-all that hits everything from creatures to equipment to planeswalkers. Being uncounterable is just gravy. I would not run more than 2 MD since it can be a clunky draw.

    Kolaghan’s Command – One of the best card advantage spells in the deck. With 2 of 4 modes, the card is extremely versatile. Rarely will you have less than 2 good options. Instant-speed discard can nab sorcery-speed cards during their draw step. 2 damage still kills a huge variety of the format’s most common threats, from DRS to Delver, Flickerwisp to Dark Confidant. Plus it can nab planeswalkers that went a little too low on loyalty. Destroying artifacts is actually a surprisingly common mode. Aether Vial, Chalice of the Void, a random LED that stayed on the board, plus it can completely blow out an equipment-based attack by killing a creature plus an equipment, often resulting in more than a 2-for-1. Speaking of more than 2 for 1, being able to grab back Baleful Strix or Snapcaster, and then potentially flashing back KCommand (perhaps to get another Strix/Snap) is so much value out of 1 card it is incredible. That’s a potential 4 for 1 or even 5 for 1. Insane. Typically run as a 2 of, but some lists have gone up to 3 or down to 1.

    Thoughtseize – One of the most powerful discard spells ever printed. Discard paired with countermagic is what makes this deck so strong against Combo decks. They can usually beat one of them, but when you attack high-synergy decks from multiple angles, it makes life extremely difficult. I prefer these game one against unknown decks since it rarely ever misses, but arguments for Inquisition/Duress/Therapy could be made. Thoughtseize is probably stronger than Therapy in this deck since we don’t have Young Pyromancer to take advantage of flashback. If you suspect a combo deck, or lack Force of Will protection, Thoughtseize can often be the correct turn 1 play over DRS. Most lists run 2.

    Night’s Whisper/Painful Truths – Usually run as a 1-of in some decks, but not a guaranteed choice. It is a solid CA and digging spell in the mid-late game. Careful pairing these with too many Toxic Deluges and Thoughtseizes. Combined with fetchlands, the lifeloss can be difficult to manage. Although not run as often anymore, Painful Truths is a 3-mana version that can truly pull you ahead in the lategame. Unfortunately a 3-mana do-nothing (to the boardstate) is quite clunky.

    Toxic Deluge – The only MD sweeper that is typically run in 4C Control. It can be giant reset button when you are falling too far behind on board-state and punishes players who overcommit. Helps greatly against decks that need to go wide, like Elves. An additional MD answer to TNN is also welcome. If you run your own TNN, it can be awkward, especially since our creatures our small and will almost surely die to your own Deluge. Usually a 1-of if run.

    Less common choices

    Hymn to Tourach – Some variants prefer a more proactive gameplan using Hymn to Tourachs in the main. A resolved Hymn in the early game can completely dispatch certain decks. It fits in line with the CA theme of the deck but it can be a weak draw in the late game. Another note is that this card greatly increases your commitment to black. You often have to get 2x Underground Sea or Sea + Badlands as your first 2 lands. [would appreciate more feedback here]

    Murderous Cut – A slightly more fringe removal spell. This card can help solve the deck’s inability to deal with large resolved threats. Careful running it with Gurmag Angler and Tasigur, as your graveyard is a limited resource also shared by DRS and Snapcaster. The other drawback is that it is not useful in the early game, where a fast Delver or DRS can apply a lot of pressure on you.

    Spell Snare/Flusterstorm/Spell Pierce - These are less often run in the maindeck since they are more narrow. Spell Snare has a few decks where it misses too often, though it is a great tempo card. Spell Pierce is great against combo decks but falls short against creature-based strategies and is a bad card in the late game. Flusterstorm is again great again combo and not as dead of a late draw, but is even more narrow than Spell Pierce.

    Diabolic Edict – Sometimes seen as a 1-of MD to help deal with large creatures and TNN and usually our only out in the MD. A solid removal spell but fairly expensive at 2 mana, especially when Legacy has so many 1-mana creatures. More commonly seen as a sideboard card since there are too many situations where it is a dead card.

    Planeswalkers

    Jace, the Mind Sculptor – What is a control deck without the (arguably) best planeswalker ever printed? Jace is particularly resilient as a card advantage engine in this deck due to the high density of removal spells, sticky creatures like Baleful Strix, and backup disruption. This card should generally be saved for once you have an advantage on the board and can keep Jace alive for a turn, at which point, you can simply ride out his card advantage to victory. His brainstorm ability is very potent in this deck due to the high individual card quality. Getting a KCommand or Baleful Strix gets you a lot of extra mileage. I also want to draw attention to his bounce ability, which is not only an additional out to a resolved Griselbrand or Emrakul, but can be used on your own Snapcasters and Strixes for value. When you have a solid control of the game, Fateseal can literally seal your opponent’s fate as you filter their draws of useful cards while Jace ticks up to his ultimate. While it does cost 4 mana, DRS helps out greatly in being able to cast him. Run 2.

    Liliana of the Veil – Sometimes run as a 1-of paired up with your Jaces. It usually fills one of the removal spell slots as a pseudo-Diabolic Edict. This can be quite handy as one of our few outs to TNN or a resolved Show and Tell/Reanimate. LotV is still a debated card. Some camps argue that due to our higher average quality, we will often win in a topdeck war. Additionally, many of our cards can be recurred from the graveyard using Snapcaster and Kcommand. Coming down as early as t2 off a DRS, LotV can also apply significant pressure to a combo deck. It even has merit against control decks who often lack strong Planeswalker removal, especially because LotV cannot be Red blasted. Another school of thought is that Liliana is simply a weaker 3 mana removal spell, and does not fit in well with the deck's reactive gameplan (we run almost all instants and a number of creatures with flash). The choice is up to you and I urge you to playtest with her to see if you like the playstyle.

    Liliana, the Last Hope – Another Liliana that has been seen in a few lists floating around. Is it particularly great against small creature decks, but we are already pretty solid against those. Unfortunately -2/-1 misses many important creatures in legacy so it is only a temporary effect. Ultimately, it does not really solve any of the problems of this deck and should generally be avoided. The ultimate is very fun, though, if you ever pull it off. [would appreciate feedback here]


    Manabase

    Fetchlands – These are the most important part of your manabase, even more so than the dual lands. They enable the best card in the deck, Brainstorm, in what has become the most important interaction in Legacy. Seeing three new cards and putting the 2 least relevant back, then potentially shuffling them away allows you to easily sculpt your hand for each situation. Additionally, fetchlands can actually access more colors than a dual land can. Polluted Delta, for example, can fetch every single dual and basic in the deck, giving you virtual access to every color. This distribution of fetchlands is based around what dual lands we run. The fetches that can access the most types of lands are present in higher numbers.

    4 Polluted Delta
    4 Scalding Tarn
    These fetch all of the duals in your deck, and Scalding Tarn only fails to find basic Swamp.
    Verdant Catacombs
    Misty Rainforest
    Usually 1-2 more fetches for a total of 9-10 is correct. Verdant catacombs cannot find Volcanic Island or Island, but can still get every color. Misty Rainforest fails to find Badlands and Swamp, but can again access every color if need be. Bloodstained Mire is worse in this case because it can never fetch a green source.

    Dual Lands – These make up most of the rest of the manabase. As mentioned before, when combined with fetchlands, they make color access close to a non-issue. The exact distribution is based around the colors we run and ones we want access to the most.

    3-4 Underground Sea
    2 Volcanic Island
    2 Tropical Island
    1 Badlands
    U and B are the main colors of the deck, followed by R. G is only used for Leovold, Decay, and DRS activations, but having 2 sources means you are less likely to be completely cutoff by a Wasteland. The higher number of duals combined with fetches actually makes for a surprisingly resilient manabase, even against mana denial. However, you are very weak to Price of Progress.

    Basics – We still want to be able to play around Wasteland, Blood Moon, and Price of Progress when we can. Having 2 basics allows us to do so.
    1 Island
    1 Swamp
    The two primary colors in the deck, you usually want access to at least U and B. If you get Blood Moon’d, this gives you 3 out of your 4 colors.

    Wasteland – Sometimes run as a 1-3-of to deal with problematic lands like Tabernacle, Cradle, Rishadan Port, Glacial Chasm, and various manlands. In fringe cases can also make yourself slightly better against Price of Progress, which is a big problem for this deck. However the deck is extremely color-intensive and the colorless mana from Wasteland strains your manabase. A high risk, high reward card. An issue of contention is the configuration of Wasteland and basic lands. A greedier deck would forgo basics for 2 Wasteland. This makes for a more inherently powerful deck with more answers but destabilizes your manabase. There will be lost games simply because you are unable to access the correct colors or getting blown out by opposing Wastelands. Another configuration is to run both Wasteland AND the basics, instead cutting down on duals and fetches. This is stronger against Wasteland but you now have a higher chance of color-screw. The choice is yours and somewhat meta dependent, but 2 basics and 0 Wasteland seems to be the most popular option.

    We typically do not run other non-basics since hitting our colored land drops is so important, and often make full use of our mana every turn.

    Sideboard

    Against graveyard:

    Surgical Extraction – Dredge is not often seen these days but Reanimator, both BR and UR are legitimate threats and Surgical is the best tool against them. Costing only 2 life, it is active on turn 0 and can also be used to nab reanimation spells to greatly reduce their threat density. Against other combo decks, boarding in Surgical is contentious but can be used similarly to remove threat density, pairing especially well with our countermagic and discard. For example, if you manage to Extract Show and Tell, you only ever have to worry about Sneak Attack for the rest of the game. It simply reduces the number of live draws your opponent has. Not as effective versus Storm decks that have more redundancy. Against Dredge, you have to pick your targets carefully. Hit them where they are weakest. If they only have 1 dredger, that should be your target. You can target Narcomeobas on the stack to mess up an otherwise good dredge. Bridge from Below is another option if they already have an established board but you can also use removal on your own creatures to remove Bridges.
    Another cool trick-if you see multiples copies of cards in their hand with a Thoughtseize, or see shared cards between their graveyard and hand, Surgical can get extra value. Playing after their draw step also slightly increases the chance of grabbing a card from their hand.

    Nihil Spellbomb – If Dredge is more common in your metagame, Nihil Spellbomb is better. We do not want Relic of Progenitus since we have interactions with our own graveyard (DRS, Snapcaster, Kcommand).

    Leyline of the Void – A much more fringe option, Leyline of the Void is a much more swingy graveyard hate card. In your opening hand, it can often just end games immediately; reanimator usually has no way to remove it but Dredge might board in Nature's Claim against you. But drawing into it on turn 4 is usually much to slow against the decks we want it for. Still, it is pretty easily castable in this deck with the heavy black manabase and DRS. Keep in mind it does not affect cards currently in the graveyard, so they might Entomb in response for example.

    Against specific colors:

    Red Elemental Blast/Pyroblast – Your best option against Blue-based control lists and one of the main reasons why we splash red. It also notably hits TNN before it comes into play, helps you win counter wars and can double as removal against common threats like Delver, Show and Tell, and Jace.

    Blue Elemental Blast/Hydroblast - Not as common of an option but it can be useful if your meta has a lot of Burn/Dragon Stompy/Sneak Attack decks.

    Against combo:

    Flusterstorm – Your strongest option against combo decks. Nigh uncounterable and just a single mana, Flusterstorm should always be in your board. It may also be better than Force against certain Delver decks since there is no card disadvantage.

    Thoughtseize/Duress – Double up on your maindeck disruption. Again, the combination of discard + countermagic is extremely strong against combo. Usually 1-2 copies in the board suffices.
    Therapy is less good here since we don’t have Young Pyromancer and Gitaxian Probe synergies and run few throwaway creatures to begin with.

    Invasive Surgery – An alternative to Flusterstorm. Really good against things like Show and Tell put misses on some key cards like Brainstorm, Dark Ritual, and opposing countermagic.

    Mindbreak Trap – A less often played card simply because it is much more narrow and difficult to hardcast. If storm is big your meta, it may be worth some thought. Flusterstorm is still better 90% of the time.

    Vendilion Clique – If not run in the MD, a singleton Clique in the board can help greatly in combo-matchups and matchups where you need to race.

    Removal:

    Against many matchups, you will need more removal, either for specific threats like TNN, large threats like Griselbrand, or wide strategies like elves. A removal suite of 5-6 cards in the sideboard is common. Here are the typical choices.

    Diabolic Edict – A very needed card against Reanimator and Sneak and Show style decks as well as Marit Lage from Lands. Our only way of getting rid of a resolved fatty short of them attacking into Baleful Strix. Also useful against opposing True-Name Nemesis and Gurmag Anglers that normally would be difficult to remove.

    Marsh Casualties – A great sideboard card against small creature-based decks. Elves, Death and Taxes, and Delver mostly. Being one-sided means it can just be a blowout, and it notably hits TNN. Double black is fairly easy to hit in this deck.

    Toxic Deluge – Alternative to Marsh Casualties that is better at killing larger creatures. However, it also kills your own creatures. More effective if you have a Planeswalker out or run some number of larger creatures (Tasigur, Gurmag Angler).

    Engineered Explosives – Another out to a resolved planeswalker or enchantment. It also is useful against tokens from Empty the Warrens, Entreat the Angels, and dredge. Notably, you can fairly easily generate 4 and even 5 colors of mana if needed.

    Forked Bolt – An amazing card against all the 1-toughness creatures in Legacy. Can easily 2-for-1 for just 1 mana against the right decks.

    Abrupt Decay – Additional copies of Abrupt Decay can sometimes be justified in the board if you are particularly worried against artifact and enchantment based strategies.

    Fatal Push – Additional copies of Fatal push may be warranted when you want more targeted creature removal.

    Grim Lavamancer – A less widely played sideboard card that is great versus creature-based strategies. The drawback is that is cannot get rid of a creature the turn it comes into play, is vulnerable to removal itself, and shares your graveyard with Snapcaster and Deathrite Shaman. If it stays on the board though, you will gain an insurmountable advantage against decks like Elves, Death and Taxes, and Delver.

    Engineered Plague/Dread of Night - If your meta is filled with Elves and/or Death and Taxes, these can be a great option. Naming Merfolk can also stop TNN, but is awkward if you run your own-they should be sideboarded out if you plan to run these for opposing TNN. Other options like Marsh Casualties might be stronger though.

    Izzet Staticaster – A less played option that is again great at dealing with lots of small creatures. Fairly expensive at 3 mana for 1 damage but it has Flash and will gain you incremental value over time. Misses a lot of important targets like DRS and Stoneforge Mystic, however.

    Golgari Charm – Another less played choice, but a flexible one. It is great against Elves and TNN and hits critical enchantments like Sneak Attack, Aluren, Leyline of Sanctity that Abrupt Decay misses. Unfortunately many of your creatures also have 1 toughness.

    Miscellaneous:

    Pithing Needle – A great catch-all against Sneak Attack, Griselbrand, Jace, Aether Vial, Equipment. You name it (literally).

    Blood Moon – It may seem counterintuitive to run Blood Moon in a deck with so many nonbasics, but you can easily fetch your 1/2 basics and then you still have access to at least three of your colors, more if you have DRS. It completely cripples the decks you would bring this in against (Lands, Eldrazi, BUG Delver), as it makes it extremely difficult for them to cast spells and is almost impossible to remove. Keep in mind your Brainstorms become immediately worse as you will no longer be able to shuffle away cards through fetching.

    Umezawa’s Jitte – Can be an option in grindy midrange matchups, Jitte breaks board stalls wide open. It can also be another source of lifegain against aggressive decks like Burn and UR Delver but 4 mana is a large commitment against these fast decks.

    III. Decklists

    Jacob Haversat, GP Vegas 2017, 7th Place/2656

    Creatures [14]

    1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
    2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
    3 Snapcaster Mage
    4 Baleful Strix
    4 Deathrite Shaman

    Instants [17]

    1 Lightning Bolt
    2 Abrupt Decay
    2 Counterspell
    2 Fatal Push
    2 Kolaghan's Command
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Force of Will

    Sorceries [7]

    1 Toxic Deluge
    2 Thoughtseize
    4 Ponder

    Planeswalkers [2]

    2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    Lands [20]

    1 Badlands
    1 Island
    1 Swamp
    1 Verdant Catacombs
    2 Volcanic Island
    3 Tropical Island
    3 Underground Sea
    4 Polluted Delta
    4 Scalding Tarn

    Sideboard [15]
    1 Thoughtseize
    3 Diabolic Edict
    1 Engineered Explosives
    2 Flusterstorm
    1 Grim Lavamancer
    1 Mindbreak Trap
    1 Pithing Needle
    1 Pyroblast
    1 Red Elemental Blast
    2 Surgical Extraction
    1 Vendilion Clique

    IV. Matchup Analysis and Sideboarding [Work in Progress]

    Please note that general the sideboard strategies below are based on my own list. Take these as a suggestion of what types of cards to remove and add. [Still in the progress of completing the matchup analyses and will occasionally update based on newfound experience and discussion. Any feedback is welcome and appreciated!]

    Czech Pile [even]

    The mirror is always interesting. And in this case, can be extremely grindy. You have to squeeze every last bit of value to out-grind your opponent. Having Deathrite advantage (more DRS so you can force your activations through) is very critical. These are must-kills. Leovold and Jace are likely the best cards in the matchups. If either stays on one side of the board for very long, that player will likely run away with the game. Jace can be especially threatening since our creatures are small thus making it difficult to remove. TNN builds will shine here. When you drop yours, make sure you can protect it through opposing counter magic and opposing creatures. Bolt is also a real card in the matchup, so upticking Jace at least once is often the correct play. Having a greater number of CA spells like Kcommand, Night’s Whisper, Hymn, and even Strix will allow you to pull ahead over time. Post board is very interesting as a lot of your hate cards stop your own threats as well. Pithing Needle, Toxic Deluge are not great, but might be necessary for when you are behind. Like most other mirrors, it really is the greatest test of skill. Especially so in a control mirror, where the game will often grind on for a long time-whoever can make the most efficient use of their resources will usually win.

    +2 Red Elemental Blast
    +1 Marsh Casualties
    +1 Forked Bolt
    +2 Flusterstorm
    -2 Force of Will
    -2 Thoughtseize
    -1 Vendilion Clique
    -1 Fatal Push

    Grixis Delver [slightly favored]

    Currently the most widely played deck in Legacy, this is one you will surely run into. You generally have enough removal to sustain yourself to the late game, but a fast Delver or two, or a Young Pyromancer and quickly get out of hand. You have few maindeck answers to a hoard of tokens, so these are all must-answer threats. TNN is also a problem card if they topdeck it lategame when your life total is getting low, since it forces a race, and that is the weakest aspect of this deck. Baleful Strix is an amazing card in this matchup since it kills Delver and Gurmag and almost always 2-for-1’s them. Watch out for Stifle and Wasteland on your manabase. Keep in mind that most decks usually run Therapy or Stifle but rarely both. Post board gets better as you have better removal and better answers to TNN.

    +1 Marsh Casualities
    +1 Forked Bolt
    +2 Red Elemental Blast
    +1 Diabolic Edict
    +1 Flusterstorm
    -2 Force of Will
    -1 Vendilion Clique
    -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    -2 Thoughtseize

    UR Delver [unfavored]

    A hyper aggressive deck that is backed up by countermagic. Similar to burn, this deck can come blazing out of the gates with its prowess triggers and rush down your life total in a hurry. Game 1 is slightly better since they usually only run 2 Price of Progress in the main. Post board gets a little better since you shave your high cost cards and become much more low to the ground, but they also get 2 more Price of Progress. [anything else to add here? Would be appreciated.]

    +1 Forked Bolt
    +1 Engineered Explosives
    +1 Toxic Deluge
    +2 Red Elemental Blast
    +2 Flusterstorm
    -2 Thoughtseize
    -2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    -2 Kolaghan’s Command
    -1 Vendilion Clique

    BUG Delver [slightly favored]

    BUG Delver is similar to Grixis Delver in terms of matchup but slightly easier in my opinion. They are not as low to the ground-they run more expensive removal spells and can't burn you or your Planeswalkers out. Your Strixes and removal suite lines up better with their threats (Goyf, Tombstalker instead of Young Pyro). If they are on the TNN version, your life is slightly more difficult. If you know your counter shields are down against an potential TNN, make sure you are in a position to race. The other scary card to watch out for is Hymn to Tourach. An early Hymn can leave you in a tough spot, so make sure you keep some number of Counterspells vs them. The boarding plan is pretty similar for both versions as their threats are answered the same way. Note that -1/-1 effects are much weaker against them compared to Grixis. Keep their creatures at bay and a Jace will be very hard for them to beat.

    +1 Diabolic Edict
    +2 Flusterstorm
    +1 Red Elemental Blast
    -1 Thoughtseize
    -1 Force of Will
    -1 Vendilion Clique
    -1 Kolaghan’s Command

    Grixis Control [even]

    This matchup is kind of like a combination between the mirror and Grixis Delver. They can't kill you as quickly due to lack of Delver but they can overwhelm you with powerful threats like Young Pyromancer, Gurmag Angler, and TNN. Your CA is generally better than theirs though so you will have a stronger late game as long as you can deal with TNN. Bring in cards that are good against hordes of 1 toughness creatures and your Edicts and you should be fine.

    +1 Marsh Casualties
    +2 Red Elemental Blast
    +2 Diabolic Edict
    -2 Force of Will
    -2 Thoughtseize
    -1 Vendilion Clique

    Death and Taxes [favored]

    This matchup is not too challenging. You run a huge amount of cheap removal for their creatures and can easily out-CA them in the lategame. Having at least 4 maindeck answers to their equipment is also very handy, and a single well-timed Kcommand can often just blow them out. The only things to be wary of are land-light hands, where you can get Wasted/Ported/Thalia’d out of the game. Prioritize your land drops, and you should easily stay alive until the late game where you have the advantage. Make sure you save a Lightning Bolt or Jace for Mirran Crusder though. Post board gets even better. You board in a metric ton of additional removal and it is almost impossible for them to keep anything on the board.

    +1 Forked Bolt
    +1 Pithing Needle
    +1 Marsh Casualties
    +1 Toxic Deluge
    +1 Engineered Explosives
    +2 Diabolic Edict
    -4 Force of Will
    -2 Counterspell
    -2 Thoughtseize

    Blade Control [slightly favored]

    Control mirrors are always interesting. Against Blade Control we have the right tools to remove their equipment and small creatures and can usually outpace them in card advantage. The only problematic card is TNN so always be wary, as a resolved one forces you to race, and we all know how great this deck is at racing (it can be done, just challenging). Bring in cards to deal with TNN and the postboard should become easier.

    +1 Engineered Explosives
    +1 Marsh Casualties
    +2 Diabolic Edict
    -2 Force of Will
    -1 Thoughtseize
    -1 Lightning Bolt

    Miracles [even]

    With Miracle's growing resurgence, this is a matchup we have to learn how to play again. Their deck is very slow and they will spend the first few turns playing cantrip after cantrip. We are slightly stronger CA wise-Strix+Kcommand is slightly stronger than their Predict engine. You only have to make sure you don't get more than 2-for-1'd by Terminus. Having Clique, Leovold, or TNN out really increases the pressure on them and forces them to find a Terminus. Our removal is mostly dead against them, but make sure you save a removal spell, preferably Fatal Push or Abrupt Decay for a potential Monastery Mentor. Their greatest threats are Jace, and Entreat the Angels. Always keep in mind if you are prepared to deal with either of them on their next turn. Vendilion Clique on their draw step if you are worried about a Jace. Dig for a counterspell if you are not prepared for Entreat. Keep these threats from resolving and you are in very good shape. Post board we get more removal spells and an additional out or 2 to a resolved Entreat. Gameplan is the same: counter their main threats and you will find that Miracles is actually a very threat-light deck.

    +2 Red Elemental Blast
    +1 Engineered Explosives
    +1 Vendilion Clique
    -1 Fatal Push
    -1 Lightning Bolt
    -1 Kolaghan’s Command
    -1 Baleful Strix

    Sneak and Show [favored]

    Sneak and Show is a relatively favored matchup. Discard, countermagic, Leovold, and Baleful Strix all team up together to make life rough for your opponent. Sometimes they have the nuts and you simply don’t have enough countermagic, but once you survive the initial attempt or two, you should easily ride your CA to victory. Post board, you bring in a wide variety of hate and drop all the dead cards, making the matchup very in your favor. Surgical extraction is debatable, but if you can nab Show and Tell, or one of their 2 creatures, their threat density lowers dramatically and Leovold or Jace will easily slow their digging down to a crawl. Pithing Needle after you’ve extracted their SnTs is often just game over. Most lists now run Defense Grid, Blood Moon, or Leyline of Sanctity in the board. If you expect first 2, Abrupt Decay should be kept in. We don’t really have an answer to Leyline short of EE for 4, so there’s an argument for not bringing in the extra Thoughtseizes.

    +2 Red Elemental Blast
    +2 Thoughtseize
    +2 Flusterstorm
    +2 Diabolic Edict
    +1 Surgical Extraction
    +1 Pithing Needle
    -2 Lightning Bolt
    -2 Fatal Push
    -2 Abrupt Decay (keepable if you suspect Defense Grid/Blood Moon, in which case -1 Ponder, -1 Thoughtseize)
    -2 Kolaghan’s Command
    -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    -1 Baleful Strix

    Reanimator [favored]

    Like Sneak-and-Show, these 1+2 combo decks are good matchups. Your discard + countermagic in the maindeck attacks them from multiple angles so it is difficult for them to assemble their combo. In addition, Leovold can stop Griselbrand from drawing cards, and if you stick a DRS, it becomes very very hard for them to win. Baleful Strix is also often a problem for them to attack into. Your sideboard was practically made to decimate this deck, as you board in a whopping 9 or more cards, basically removing any dead cards in your main. A different to point out is BU version vs BR. You a bit stronger vs BU, since BR is about half a turn to a turn faster and can sometimes get under your protection, especially with Chancellor of the Annex. In general you want to counter the enabler - Entomb, rather than the reanimation spell.

    +2 Flusterstorm
    +2 Surgical Extraction
    +1 Thoughtseize
    +1 Vendilion Clique
    +2 Diabolic Edict
    +1 Pithing Needle
    -2 Lightning Bolt
    -2 Fatal Push
    -2 Abrupt Decay
    -2 Kolaghan’s Command

    Storm [even]

    (User FZA on The Source) I've found that despite the amount of disruption it plays, Czech Pile can struggle with storm because of its inability to shut the door quickly. In game 1 a good storm player will often be able to sculpt a hand that can go off through your disruption. Leovold is extremely key in this matchup, if you are able to stick one early you have a very good chance to win otherwise it is going to be tough. Post board things improve with more disruption coming in for your dead removal spells. I like to bring in answers to Empty the Warrens even against ANT, as the vast majority of ANT lists are playing it for this type of matchup some even main deck.

    +2 Flusterstorm
    +1 Thoughtseize
    +1 Vendilion Clique
    +1 Engineered Explosives
    +1 Surgical Extraction
    -2 Kolaghan’s Command
    -2 Fatal Push
    -2 Abrupt Decay

    Belcher [favored]

    Like most Belcher matchups, if you have Force of Will, you are already doing better than average. In addition, we typically run 2 Counterspell + 2 Thoughtseize in the main. This makes for a fairly strong gameplan. However, one of the biggest strengths of Belcher is not knowing whether or not you are playing against it. Sometimes you will keep strong hands without Force and they will just combo out turn 1/2. It is generally not worth mulling away a strong 7 card hand just to get Force of Will against an unknown opponent, so you have to play proactively. If your hand can in no way beat a turn 1/2 combo, simply assume they are not on it. If you have a sweeper and a few cantrips to potentially dig, be prepared to do so. T1 Thoughtseize is also often the correct play over DRS against an unknown deck. If you do have Force, it is important to know which spell to counter. If they begin to combo off, think about if they are more likely to win with Belcher, Empty the Warrens, or Burning Wish. Belcher and Wish can be Forced but if they seem to be building storm for Empty the Warrens, you need to stop the ritual that gets them enough mana. Unlike storm combo, it is fairly difficult for Belcher to rebuild and sculpt their hand, so once you survive the initial onslaught, they are usually done. If you happen to get combo'd out game 1, no worries. Bring in your Flusterstorms, extra discard, Pithing Needle and cheap sweepers and you should comfortably have enough answers. I would still keep in some of your removal for Xantid Swarm, as that is their only real way to interact with you.

    +2 Flusterstorm
    +2 Thoughtseize
    +1 Pithing Needle
    +1 Engineered Explosives
    +1 Marsh Casualties
    +1 Toxic Deluge
    +1 Forked Bolt
    -2 Fatal Push
    -2 Abrupt Decay
    -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    -1 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
    -3 Baleful Strix

    Elves [slightly unfavored]

    Elves is a tricky matchup. They can sometimes just combo off turn 3 and kill you but can also play a longer, grindy game. Your removal doesn’t match up as greatly since all their threats are so cheap, and using Visionary + Symbiote, they can generate a lot of card advantage as well. Symbiote usually needs to be your #1 target for removal since it gives them favorable attacks in addition to card advantage. Pendelhaven and Cradle are especially annoying since we do not have Wasteland. Watch out for Symbiote + Reclamation Sage tricks on your Baleful Strix. Post board things get a bit better since you now have mass removal which can blow them out. Overall, it is a winnable matchup with tight play.

    +1 Forked Bolt
    +1 Marsh Casualties
    +1 Toxic Deluge
    +1 Engineered Explosives
    -2 Kolaghan’s Command
    -1 Vendilion Clique
    -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    Eldrazi [slightly favored]

    (User ashent on The Source) I feel the Eldrazi matchup is slightly favored, mostly off the back of 3-4 Baleful Strix in most decklists. Some people that have moved down to 2 Strix mainboard may find their results are not as good against this deck, because the Owl is our best card in the matchup. Czech Pile with 2 Abrupt Decay, 2 KCommand, and multiple Snaps is very well suited to beat up on Eldrazi by living through Chalice due to built-in artifact destruction and once you establish a Strix blocking for a Jace you can put the game away quickly. Watch out for Walking Ballistas, which they sometimes run in the main or the board. It kills most of your threats pretty easily and can surprise a Jace.

    +2 Diabolic Edict
    +1 Toxic Deluge
    +1 Pithing Needle
    -1 Force of Will
    -1 Counterspell
    -2 Lightning Bolt

    Burn [heavily unfavored]

    Probably your worst matchup. They are so fast out of the gates that is it difficult for you to keep up and they can more or less ignore your CA. Price of Progress is a huge beating against you and Eidolon punishes you hard. Your creatures also match up very poorly to theirs in combat. The only way to win is to get an early DRS, keep it alive long enough to use its lifegain once or twice, and save a counterspell for that Price of Progress/Fireblast. Post board doesn’t get much better, since you have very little to board in. If this deck is widely prevalent in your meta, sideboard aggressively using cards like Umezawa’s Jitte, or play a different deck. In general though, we can simply accept one bad matchup and move on.

    +2 Flusterstorm
    +1 Forked Bolt
    -2 Thoughtseize
    -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    Infect [slighty favored]

    You run quite a bit of removal, which is always good against Infect. Strix is great at blocking their creatures, including Inkmoth Nexus. Just make sure you watch out for Berserk. We don't run Wasteland so Inkmoth Nexus is slightly harder to deal with (remember Abrupt Decay cannot hit it). Try to focus aggressively and removing their creatures with your discard and countermagic. Otherwise you are forced to react to every pump spell they play. You have quite a number of strong removal cards to board in, often even netting you 2-for-1s but don't be afraid to use them even if they only have 1 creature.

    +1 Forked Bolt
    +1 Marsh Casualties
    +2 Flusterstorm
    -1 Vendilion Clique
    -1 Kolaghan’s Command
    -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    Aggro Loam [slightly unfavored]

    One of the rare decks where you will be playing the role of aggro. You need to kill them or disrupt them before they can assemble Punishing Fire + Grove. You are especially weak to this since we typically do not run Wasteland and 2 damage kills nearly all of our creatures. Your best way is to use Thoughtseize or countermagic + DRS or Vendilion Clique to nab it from their hand while they are tapped out. The timing is often tricky and a good player will not let their guard down since it is their best card against us. Their threats are not particularly scary as they are all easily hit by our removal suite. We also have 4 main deck answers to Chalice of the Void, which is great. Their mana denial plan is very detrimental in the long game though, as almost our entire mana base is nonbasic. Another reason to finish them sooner rather than later. Post board gets a little better since you can Surgical their Punishing Fires. They often bring in Choke, so Abrupt Decay will be useful to keep.

    +2 Surgical Extraction
    +2 Diabolic Edict
    -1 Kolaghan’s Command
    -1 Lightning Bolt
    -2 Force of Will

    Lands [unfavored]

    (User FZA on The Source) Lands is one of the toughest matchups due to the insane amount of value generated by Life from the Loam ("Landcestrall Recall") and the lack of Wasteland making it very tough to interact with the Dark Depths combo. This is another matchup where Leovold is key, making Punishing Fire, Wasteland, Port and Ghost Quarter way worse. Often once you have a Leovold on the board they will have to shift game plans and try to go for the combo as quick as possible, as grinding you down is no longer an option. Sometimes you can also steal wins by eating important lands or Life from the Loam with Deathrite Shaman, or countering their Punishing Fire targeting Deathrite Shaman and then eating it. Don't count on this working most of the time, though, because the Lands player will usually be able to play around DRS activations. If you want to hedge against this matchup a bit, True Name Nemesis is great as it provides a much-needed clock and is difficult for Lands to deal with. Post board things get a little better with graveyard hate for Loam and Edicts to deal with Marit Lage. Surgical Extraction targeting Loam can be game-winning, but if they have G up watch out for a Tranquil Thicket cycling + dredge in response, which will counter your Surgical. Surgical targeting Thespian's Stage or Dark Depths can also be good if you have a Leovold or TNN in play, or know you can drop one soon. Otherwise this isn't a great play as you'll end up with no mana, no creatures and will die slowly to Punishing Fire or 30 mana worth of Dark Depths activations.

    +2 Surgical Extraction
    +2 Diabolic Edict
    +2 Surgical Extraction
    -1 Lightning Bolt
    -2 Fatal Push
    -2 Kolaghan’s Command
    -1 Baleful Strix


    Dragon Stompy [???]

    Food Chain [???]

    Dredge [???]
    Last edited by supachai; 08-04-2017 at 03:03 AM.

  2. #2

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    V. Playing the Deck

    Aggro or control – One of the most important skills of playing Legacy is figuring out whether you are the aggro or the control in each matchup and situation. Which deck has inevitability? That deck is usually the control. With great card advantage, you can usually outgrind most matchups. Lucky for us because Czech Pile is not great at playing aggressively. When playing control, your goal is to use your variety of answers to fight off your opponent’s threats, whether they be creatures or combo pieces. Survive and use your card advantage spells to gain incremental advantages over your opponent. Eventually, if you do not die first, they will run out of threats and you can lock them out with your card advantage. Against decks like Aggro Loam and Lands, you are oddly playing the aggro deck. They have inevitability in cards like Punishing Fire and Loam + Dark Depths. You cannot answer those combos indefinitely so you must kill them before they get online or disrupt them until you can.

    Mana Sequencing – One of the most important aspects of playing a 4 color deck such as this is sequencing your mana properly. Like everything, it depends on a number of factors. Keep in mind if your opponent is likely to have Wasteland or Port to potentially shut you off a color of mana. Do you have Deathrite Shaman in hand? Do you have cantrips to help you dig for more mana if you need it? What spells in your hand are you most likely to need to cast in the next turn or 2? Can the lands in my hand eventually produce a combination of colors so that everything in my hand is cast-able? If you decide to fetch for basics, having 1 basic + 1 dual in the face of Wasteland is actually worse than just having 2 duals, so keep that in mind as well.

    Sequencing Ponders and Brainstorm – Ponder and Brainstorm form the backbone of the deck, and you will often have both in hand. If you do not have a fetchland, the correct order to play them depends on the situation. If you Ponder first and then Brainstorm, you can potentially see up to 7 new cards (3 from Ponder + shuffle and draw + 3 from Brainstorm). Brainstorm first, and you will see a maximum of 5 (3 from Brainstorm, 1 new from Ponder + shuffle and draw). So when digging for a specific answer, Ponder first. If you have many dead cards in hand, Brainstorm then Ponder is a great way to shuffle them away if you do not have a fetchland.

    The best answer for the job – This deck runs a diverse list of removal spells, and each are slightly better in a certain situations. When you have multiple in your hand, you should consider what removal spells to spend and what to save. For example, when playing against Death and Taxes, Fatal Push cannot hit Mirran Crusader while Lightning Bolt cannot hit a creature with Sword of Fire and Ice. Might you need to save that Abrupt Decay for a future equipment instead of the Thalia on the board now? Against decks with planeswalkers, consider if you might need to save Lightning Bolt for Jace, the Mind Sculptor rather than killing that Snapcaster Mage. Another consideration is mana. If you have 2 mana that is not being used and your removal spells are otherwise interchangeable, maybe Abrupt Decay is better used now so when you Fatal Push a turn later, you have extra mana to potentially cast other spells.

    Turn 1 plays – DRS, Ponder, Brainstorm, Thoughtseize. These are all very potent cards, but which is the best T1 play? 90% of the time, DRS is correct. It allows you access to 3 mana on T2, meaning you can play your other 1 drop and still hold up mana for Counterspell or Strix, and offers better protection against Daze. However, in certain situations, DRS may not be ideal. If you lack FoW protection and you are afraid your opponent may be combo, Thoughtseize is usually correct over DRS. If you only have 1 land and it is not a fetch, Ponder is potentially stronger than DRS, especially on the draw. If they remove your DRS and have Wasteland, you are in a dangerous situation. Guaranteeing the second land drop is likely more important.

    VI. References and Links

    Since 4C Control is a relatively new deck, there is not much literature on the topic. Here is a small compilation of resources.

    TCdecks.net:
    http://www.tcdecks.net/archetype.php...&format=Legacy

    Ondrej Strasky article:
    https://www.channelfireball.com/arti...om-the-master/

    Andrea Mengucci article:
    https://www.channelfireball.com/arti...rol-in-legacy/

    Mengucci also has a video series where he plays the deck on MTGO but it is an outdated list from before the banning of Top. In addition, there are several misplays so watch at your own risk.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWso2two0_k

    VII. Closing Thoughts

    Czech Pile is a great option in Legacy if you are looking for the ultimate value deck. It exists as the result of an interesting experiment to play all the best cards in the format, using whatever colors necessary (maybe we should try splashing white for Swords to Plowshares?). It has few truly terrible matchups and is consistent in its performance. It is often down to player skill to earn its wins.

    Thanks to everyone who helped and contributed in creating this Primer! It wouldn’t be in its current form without all the great feedback I received. Until next time, may your Kolaghan’s Commands bring you many 4 for 1’s.
    Last edited by supachai; 08-01-2017 at 05:12 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Great primer!
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  4. #4

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    I'm very happy we finally have a primer this deck deserves and it's a very good one.

    Great work man!

  5. #5
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    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Fantastic primer, nice job!
    Quote Originally Posted by CutthroatCasual View Post
    Storm was killed by Leovold
    Quote Originally Posted by LegacyIsAnEternalFormat View Post
    The power of blue is overrated...I personally play Jund and I consistently top 4 FNMs with it.

  6. #6
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    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Well done.

    I'm continuing to play this deck pretty regularly and refine my list (slightly different paper/modo lists though) and as in the last thread in Developmental, will share my tournament reports, my tuning and testing results, and plug my youtube channel when I make uploads. I will run Czech through a few leagues soon when I'm done traveling and hopefully upload a 4-1 or two soon.

  7. #7

  8. #8

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Thank you for all the kind words :)

    I will do my best to continue work on the matchups section and make adjustments to the descriptions as the deck evolves. If anyone is experienced in any of the remaining matchups and would like to send me a short analysis, I will gladly add it to the primer and credit you properly.

  9. #9

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Can you discuss Belcher as a match up?

  10. #10
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    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    I run into Belcher playing this deck and many like it on xMage (never in paper, and infrequently on MODO) pretty often and always feel generally favored. Like all Blue vs Belcher matches, it is helpful to understand how to mulligan properly and also what spell(s) to counter and what to let resolve. It also helps to be a cautious player that understands the importance of keeping a blind hand with Force that may not look all that impressive against an unknown opponent because they could possibly be on some nonsense like Belcher.

    Czech Pile runs 4 Force and (usually) 2 Counterspell main. I also tend to run 2 Thoughtseize main, giving my version a little more turn 1 interaction on the play and some nice help against all-in combo decks. Keeping a hand with Force and then killing the Belcher player with a single Snapcaster or Leovold is plan A. Plan B is to lose game 1 quickly because you kept an unprepared hand game 1 and then bring in your Flusterstorm, any Deluge or Marsh Casualties you have, taking out the slower nonblue cards in your deck, and then mulling to Force and killing them easily.

  11. #11

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Quote Originally Posted by ashent View Post
    I run into Belcher playing this deck and many like it on xMage (never in paper, and infrequently on MODO) pretty often and always feel generally favored. Like all Blue vs Belcher matches, it is helpful to understand how to mulligan properly and also what spell(s) to counter and what to let resolve. It also helps to be a cautious player that understands the importance of keeping a blind hand with Force that may not look all that impressive against an unknown opponent because they could possibly be on some nonsense like Belcher.

    Czech Pile runs 4 Force and (usually) 2 Counterspell main. I also tend to run 2 Thoughtseize main, giving my version a little more turn 1 interaction on the play and some nice help against all-in combo decks. Keeping a hand with Force and then killing the Belcher player with a single Snapcaster or Leovold is plan A. Plan B is to lose game 1 quickly because you kept an unprepared hand game 1 and then bring in your Flusterstorm, any Deluge or Marsh Casualties you have, taking out the slower nonblue cards in your deck, and then mulling to Force and killing them easily.
    Thanks for the reply! I also just added a section about Belcher in the Primer. Can't believe I forgot about that deck haha. My analysis is pretty similar to yours. Post board games you should just crush them. Only thing to add would be that they often bring in Xantid Swarm so it is wise to keep some cheap removal in the deck.

  12. #12

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Quote Originally Posted by ashent View Post
    I run into Belcher playing this deck and many like it on xMage (never in paper, and infrequently on MODO) pretty often and always feel generally favored. Like all Blue vs Belcher matches, it is helpful to understand how to mulligan properly and also what spell(s) to counter and what to let resolve. It also helps to be a cautious player that understands the importance of keeping a blind hand with Force that may not look all that impressive against an unknown opponent because they could possibly be on some nonsense like Belcher.

    Czech Pile runs 4 Force and (usually) 2 Counterspell main. I also tend to run 2 Thoughtseize main, giving my version a little more turn 1 interaction on the play and some nice help against all-in combo decks. Keeping a hand with Force and then killing the Belcher player with a single Snapcaster or Leovold is plan A. Plan B is to lose game 1 quickly because you kept an unprepared hand game 1 and then bring in your Flusterstorm, any Deluge or Marsh Casualties you have, taking out the slower nonblue cards in your deck, and then mulling to Force and killing them easily.
    Thank you this is great. Mind posting your version of the list?

  13. #13

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Quote Originally Posted by supachai View Post
    Thanks for the reply! I also just added a section about Belcher in the Primer. Can't believe I forgot about that deck haha. My analysis is pretty similar to yours. Post board games you should just crush them. Only thing to add would be that they often bring in Xantid Swarm so it is wise to keep some cheap removal in the deck.
    What do you think about TNN + Jitte? Reminds me of the old Troll Ascetic + Jitte days. Can it win games often enough to be MB? Or is it too slow for this deck and only useful as SB vs burn?

  14. #14

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Quote Originally Posted by Ascension1223 View Post
    Thank you this is great. Mind posting your version of the list?
    Sure, this is what I'm currently running. It's pretty stock, notably with Vendilion Clique in my flex creature slot. Gives me some sort of clock mainboard but mostly just because it's one of my favorite creatures to play :)

    EDIT: oops, totally thought that was towards me. Well here's my list anyway haha.

    //Creatures [14]
    4 Deathrite Shaman
    4 Baleful Strix
    3 Snapcaster Mage
    2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
    1 Vendilion Clique

    //Instants [18]
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Force of Will
    2 Abrupt Decay
    2 Fatal Push
    2 Counterspell
    2 Kolaghan's Command
    2 Lightning Bolt

    //Sorceries [6]
    4 Ponder
    2 Thoughtseize

    //Planeswalkers [2]
    2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    //Lands [20]
    4 Polluted Delta
    4 Scalding Tarn
    1 Misty Rainforest
    1 Verdant Catacombs
    3 Underground Sea
    2 Volcanic Island
    2 Tropical Island
    1 Badlands
    1 Island
    1 Swamp

    //Sideboard [15]
    SB: 2 Flusterstorm
    SB: 2 Diabolic Edict
    SB: 2 Surgical Extraction
    SB: 2 Red Elemental Blast
    SB: 1 Thoughtseize
    SB: 1 Vendilion Clique
    SB: 1 Forked Bolt
    SB: 1 Pithing Needle
    SB: 1 Toxic Deluge
    SB: 1 Marsh Casualties
    SB: 1 Engineered Explosives

    As for TNN, I personally am not a fan. I like playing Czech Pile as reactively and controlling as possible, I think that is where it shines. Even if we run TNN + Jitte, they are usually a 1-2 of. Since we don't run Stoneforge, being on that game plan is not super reliable, strong as it is.

    I think if you really want to run TNN, -1 Strix, -1 Clique from my list for +2 TNN is solid. You trade some disruption and CA for sturdier threats and a faster clock.
    Last edited by supachai; 08-03-2017 at 06:35 AM.

  15. #15

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Quote Originally Posted by supachai View Post
    Sure, this is what I'm currently running. It's pretty stock, notably with Vendilion Clique in my flex creature slot. Gives me some sort of clock mainboard but mostly just because it's one of my favorite creatures to play :)

    EDIT: oops, totally thought that was towards me. Well here's my list anyway haha.

    //Creatures [14]
    4 Deathrite Shaman
    4 Baleful Strix
    3 Snapcaster Mage
    2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
    1 Vendilion Clique

    //Instants [18]
    4 Brainstorm
    4 Force of Will
    2 Abrupt Decay
    2 Fatal Push
    2 Counterspell
    2 Kolaghan's Command
    2 Lightning Bolt

    //Sorceries [6]
    4 Ponder
    2 Thoughtseize

    //Planeswalkers [2]
    2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    //Lands
    4 Polluted Delta
    4 Scalding Tarn
    1 Misty Rainforest
    1 Verdant Catacombs
    3 Underground Sea
    2 Volcanic Island
    2 Tropical Island
    1 Badlands
    1 Island
    1 Swamp

    //Sideboard
    SB: 2 Flusterstorm
    SB: 2 Diabolic Edict
    SB: 2 Surgical Extraction
    SB: 2 Red Elemental Blast
    SB: 2 Thoughtseize
    SB: 1 Forked Bolt
    SB: 1 Pithing Needle
    SB: 1 Toxic Deluge
    SB: 1 Marsh Casualties
    SB: 1 Engineered Explosives

    As for TNN, I personally am not a fan. I like playing Czech Pile as reactively and controlling as possible, I think that is where it shines. Even if we run TNN + Jitte, they are usually a 1-2 of. Since we don't run Stoneforge, being on that game plan is not super reliable, strong as it is.

    I think if you really want to run TNN, -1 Strix, -1 Clique from my list for +2 TNN is solid. You trade some disruption and CA for sturdier threats and a faster clock.
    20 lands for the double lightning? I would worry about my mana reliability. Looks good though.

  16. #16

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Quote Originally Posted by Ascension1223 View Post
    20 lands for the double lightning? I would worry about my mana reliability. Looks good though.
    Oops, yeah. Forgot to write the total, but 20 lands is fairly standard. I have not had any issues with the manabase so far. It has been surprisingly stable even in the face of Wasteland/Port/Stifle. Occasionally I have to wait a turn/decide if I want to cast Bolt or Push this turn vs next. Having three red sources is pretty important for all your red sideboard cards.

    The only tweaks would be Verdant Catacombs vs Misty Rainforest, and potentially tweaking the dual lands. Instead of Badlands, you could run Bayou + third Volcanic, dropping a fetch. Haversat opted for a third Tropical. I personally prefer having the 10th fetch to make DRS more reliable and Brainstorms marginally better. Haven't been wasted off green mana yet :)

  17. #17

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Quote Originally Posted by supachai View Post
    Oops, yeah. Forgot to write the total, but 20 lands is fairly standard. I have not had any issues with the manabase so far. It has been surprisingly stable even in the face of Wasteland/Port/Stifle. Occasionally I have to wait a turn/decide if I want to cast Bolt or Push this turn vs next. Having three red sources is pretty important for all your red sideboard cards.

    The only tweaks would be Verdant Catacombs vs Misty Rainforest, and potentially tweaking the dual lands. Instead of Badlands, you could run Bayou + third Volcanic, dropping a fetch. Haversat opted for a third Tropical. I personally prefer having the 10th fetch to make DRS more reliable and Brainstorms marginally better. Haven't been wasted off green mana yet :)
    That's a great point. I may add another fetch in lieu of one of my dual lands.

  18. #18
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    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Quote Originally Posted by Ascension1223 View Post
    Thank you this is great. Mind posting your version of the list?
    Hey Ascension, here's my current list. I've been doing a little something different because I wanted to be more aggressive than normal and am back to playing True Names. I typically like a more pure control role, but I'm a bit more proactive recently and I also made a few shaves in order to get 2 Bolts (along with 2 Pushes, to hit 4 pieces of 1 mana removal) in the main. I made the shaves by removing one of the two Counterspells, and moving down to 3 Ponder. This configuration is still in testing. If you don't need TNN in your meta then I would remove him, I just find him a necessary evil at the moment. Also note that this is my online only sideboard where I struggle with a smaller overall collection. Normally in paper I have more 1 of's and definitely DEFINITELY 2 Dread of Night.

    20 Lands

    1 Island
    1 Swamp
    3 Underground Sea
    3 Tropical Island
    2 Volcanic Island
    1 Badlands
    4 Polluted Delta
    2 Scalding Tarn
    3 Misty Rainforest

    15 Creatures

    4 Deathrite Shaman
    4 Baleful Strix
    3 Snapcaster Mage
    2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
    2 True-Name Nemesis

    23 Instants/Sorceries

    4 Brainstorm
    3 Ponder
    2 Thoughtseize
    2 Lightning Bolt
    2 Fatal Push
    1 Counterspell
    1 Night's Whisper
    2 Abrupt Decay
    2 Kolaghan's Command
    4 Force of Will

    2 Other

    2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

    SIDEBOARD

    2 Flusterstorm
    3 Surgical Extraction
    2 Diabolic Edict
    2 Toxic Deluge
    2 Pyroblast
    1 Ancient Grudge
    1 Abrupt Decay
    2 Umezawa's Jitte

  19. #19

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Love this deck, best legacy deck feeling in many years while playing it
    history wise annotation:
    I belive the deck first build should be credited to online user Pellenik,
    He was in the miracle era the online pioneer of the 4 snaps 4 deathrite 4 strix grixis control build.
    Mar had a different approach running tarmogoyf and hymns rather than counterspell.
    The deck both blend with devay first and some leovold then, and the current core was born.


    That said I'm still switching between the primer list, and the straight grixis list ( no leovold but angler, no decay more bolt/push) just because of how nuts blood moon is in the board vs certain match up.

    Collective brutality also seems a solid card to consider:
    It can discard combo and kill their confidant/swarms at the same time or drain then, while vs control you can strip of their countermeasures while dealing with their critters
    Definitely a strong option that may need some test even if the deck has already great flexibility, it's still nice because can turn dead cards or extra lands in more value.

  20. #20

    Re: [Primer] Czech Pile

    Quote Originally Posted by NegatorITA View Post
    Love this deck, best legacy deck feeling in many years while playing it
    history wise annotation:
    I belive the deck first build should be credited to online user Pellenik,
    He was in the miracle era the online pioneer of the 4 snaps 4 deathrite 4 strix grixis control build.
    Mar had a different approach running tarmogoyf and hymns rather than counterspell.
    The deck both blend with devay first and some leovold then, and the current core was born.


    That said I'm still switching between the primer list, and the straight grixis list ( no leovold but angler, no decay more bolt/push) just because of how nuts blood moon is in the board vs certain match up.

    Collective brutality also seems a solid card to consider:
    It can discard combo and kill their confidant/swarms at the same time or drain then, while vs control you can strip of their countermeasures while dealing with their critters
    Definitely a strong option that may need some test even if the deck has already great flexibility, it's still nice because can turn dead cards or extra lands in more value.
    Oh interesting! I did not know that. I'll update the history.

    Hmm...Collective Brutality is interesting. I've really liked it in Tin Fins but not sure how well it fits here, since our card quality is high. What would you cut for it? Lightning Bolt maybe? I like having 4 1-mana removal spells though. I also wouldn't cut actual Thoughtseize since having that extra turn 1 interaction against Combo is critical.

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