In my last column, I examined several decks built around Chalice of the Void. Perhaps the strangest was a GBw Stax deck by Magic Online player Lejay, featuring maindeck Chokes, Trinispheres, and a bunch of big green dudes. I dug around the Legacy forums a bit and discovered that Lejay and a few others had been developing this deck for a couple of months.
They had dubbed the deck “Sylvan Plug”, but since I try to keep this column mostly PG-13, I’ll let you find out why on your own if you really insist. There were several iterations of the deck, but it turns out that Lejay had finished 4-0 in a Daily Event — and split the finals in a couple other events — with this updated version of the list:
Sylvan Plug by Lejay
At its heart, the deck is an attempt to take the Stompy archetype (Chalice of the Void + big dumb finishers) and minimize the archetype’s trademark weakness: inconsistency. Often, games with these decks play out in a similar fashion. Perhaps you get a lock piece or two down, then spend several turns trying to find some action to close the game, giving your opponent a chance to draw out of trouble. Or maybe your early lock piece is countered, your opponent gets down a threat or neutralizes your first threat, and you draw land and redundant 3-Ball’s for several turns. Over the years, deckbuilders have often tried to shoehorn some sort of card advantage or card-selection engine into these decks to alleviate this problem.
So here we have a full set of Green Sun’s Zenith, and a full set of Sylvan Library which does a nice Brainstorm impression in conjunction with the deck’s eight fetchlands. The lifegain from Deathrite Shaman and Obstinate Baloth translates directly into more cards off the Library. Courser of Kruphix helps with this plan too, both by gaining life and by letting you set up the top of your library to burn through the chaff and find more gas in the mid-game. This is the first deck I’ve encountered in Legacy that plans to fully exploit Sylvan Library as a centerpiece of the deck.
In this week’s videos, you’ll see me face a Dredge deck, a UWR Delver deck, and finally an Eggs variant.
The deck felt competitive, except against Dredge where the hate seemed both insufficient and too slow. But that’s not a very popular matchup to worry about these days. The Delver matchup is what you really need to be prepared for. I played against UR Delver in the practice room before recording in the queues, and against UR you have so many must-counter spells that you feel like you should be unstoppable. Theoretically, that matchup should be one of the main reasons to play a Chalice-based deck. But sometimes the blue mage’s card draw and filtering is just so good that they manage to counter every dang one of those must-counter spells, reload with a Treasure Cruise and finish you off while you topdeck lands. As you saw in the UWR video, that deck’s access to Swords to Plowshares gives it a distinct advantage against you, whereas your team of mostly x/4′s is pretty nice against decks reliant exclusively on Lightning Bolt and friends as a removal suite.
One idea which has been floated in online discussions is to add red to this deck to support Punishing Fire. It’s possible that would help grind out wins against Delver, and give you a way to keep interacting during those stretches when the deck is desperately digging for action. Another option is to give the deck a combo finish with Natural Order or Dark Depths. I don’t think an optimal version of this deck has been discovered yet, and it will be interesting to see if the deck has any legs moving forward.