Monday, January 18, 2010

My Life in the Zoo: Legacy Pt.8 -Mercenary Style

I was able to line up sponsor ship for SciFi Genre's weekly Legacy event on the 17th. I am going to have to play the "B" team, since I won't have Goyfs for the event. I've been playing the list that way all week, so I can have a good feel for that mode, and I've been able to draw several conclusion in the process. First off, and please excuse this observation, but damn this list has gotten good, if I do say so myself. Secondly, the "B" team is pretty good in it's own right, and actually (slightly) improves one of my worst match ups, CounterTop-Goyf.

I also found that while I have no sideboard support, my unique build gives me a very strong mirror match up. It  even stands up well against other Zoo decks after boarding. I especially like Zoo players that use Lightning Helix against me, making Kavu bigger if it can survive the blast.. This mirror match up is going to continue to be of increasing importance as my list evolves. Zoo is an entry level deck for Legacy, being fairly inexpensive option to assemble from scratch, and remarkable forgiving to budget card adjustments. Nobody knows this better then me, it's exactly why I chose this deck. Zoo will continue to be over represented in a developing Legacy community for the foreseeable future. I'd only expect Zoo to show up as 3-10% of the field in a larger, well developed event pool, but I easily see it representing 15-25% of our local developing meta. I've already started giving some thought to making my maindeck mirror match better, but I have yet to think of any sideboard tech that would improve this important increasingly relevant match up.

Lastly, and most importantly for today's discussion, I really hate Terramorphic Expanse in this deck. I just feel like I have to go up to 21 lands in the list when I go from Goyf to Thoctars, but having this in your opening hand is almost worse then not having the land. When I need this to make my strategic 2nd or 3rd land drop, the tempo loss is crushing. Granted, this doesn't happen all that much, but when it does it is almost a given that it will cost me the game. I couldn't sleep Friday night, so I ran the numbers (all of them), and found that running a fetch land in this slot, and fetching in an untapped shock land (net loss of 3 life, basicly the worse case scenario), is still better for me then the current tempo loss. Now the interesting problem, and the reason I hadn't pursued this option previously, is that I'm already running all the optimal fetch lands which I own. That means I'm going to have to run one of the enemy paired fetches, with the knowledge that it can only go after one relevant land type for this deck. After a great deal of consideration, I've decided that the BG fetch is the best "bad" option available to me. I'm going to have to put some real thought into picking up a second Wooded Foothills, or Windswept Heath. Ideally, I'd like to pick up one each of these, and drop down to 3 Arid Mesa's for the time being. This would lower my exposure to Pithing Needling my fetch lands a great deal.

I also had a productive week of trading when it comes to my Legacy project. I managed to pick up Grim Lavamancer number 3, and 4. I also picked up an unexpected FTV Kird Ape, replacing my less then stellar white boardered revised Kird Ape. The Lavamancers allow me to run my current list with out the hassle of trying to borrow them on the fly. The Kird Ape really doesn't functionally improve the list, since it's a card for card swap, but the Foil version is pretty pimp, and pimp'n ain't easy! So without further introduction, I ran the following maindeck on Sunday.

Kavu Predator x4
Kird Ape x4
Woolly Thoctar x3
Qasali Pridemage x4
Wild Nacatl x4
Grim Lavamancer x4

Invigorate x3
Lightning Bolt x4
Sylvan Library x2
Swords to Plowshares x3
Punishing Fire x3
Umezawa's Jitte

Arid Mesa x4
Grove of the Burnwillows x4
Sacred Foundry x2
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Forest, Mountain, Plains 1 each.

Now on to the issue of sideboard options. I know for a fact that our resident Elf player is expected to be out of the country, and Eddie is not making the trip. In addition, I expect to see the following decks in the field (I'm really interested to see how close I get this).

Belcher ?
Dredge ?
Enchantress ?
Fish x2
Imperial Painter
Zoo x3

Based on this expected field, I've decided to go with the following board.

Pyroclasm x3 (Dredge)
Pithing Needle x4 (Wasteland, Top)
Gaea's Blessing
Red Elemental Blast x3 (Islands)
Relic of Progenitus x2 (Dredge)
Tormod's Crypt x2 (Dredge)

I feel like I pretty much nailed the meta. We had a few new people come out, and a couple of people I thought would be there, that stayed home for rain, but the mix was more or less what I expected.

With a last minute entry, we had 13 players, and were set for a four round stand off. Turns out I was more right then I expected when it came to Zoo. There were four Zoo builds in the field, making to just over 30% of the day's field, and it was going to be a big part of my day.

Round one I was paired against Mike, and his Dark Zoo build. Game was an absolute beating of back and forth removal. I was finally able to stich enough threats to make a stand, and Mike ended up scooping, hoping to have enough time for him to win 2 more games. Game 2 was over with the quickness, as the power of the Goyf beat my dome in so fast, I don't think we went 6 turns. Game 3 was another slug fest, with Mikes life total going into the thirties. I was able to stick a Kavu, and pump him into a threat just as the round ended and we went to turns. I was able to get there, but I was down to 2 life myself.

Round two, and whats this, another Zoo match up. Adam, jumped into Legacy with a Zoo list just this week, so he doesn't have much time in at all with the build. Game one, I was able to stick more threats. Game two, was all Adam, he was able to stick a couple of early threats, and was made of remocal, burning or pathing anything I dropped on the table. Game three I kept a Dual, a Fetch, Kitty, Kavu, and 3 Invigorates, and that was pretty much game.

Round three was a break, only in the sense that I wasn't facing another Zoo match up. I was paired against Crispy, who runs a very effective Fish build. Fish is supposed to be an easy match up for a Zoo deck, but I swear there is no such thing as an easy game with Crispy. He is such a solid player, and very difficult to read. Game one, I did what I do, and pushed some threats past the counterspells, and beat face to the end. We both boarded heavy, as this match up is prone to do. I brought in a full set of Needles, and 3 REBs. I pulled a hand of Needle, Grove, Kitty, Kavu, Fetch, something, something. (I really need to start writing these down). I dropped a turn one Needle of the Grove, nameing wasteland. I wasn't even sure Crispy was running them, but I figured it was a good bet. Turns out he does run them, because on turn 3 he bounced my Needle, and wasted my Grove. I have to admit, I really enjoy when players show a little respect to my goofy deck synergy. I was able to stick a Pridemage, and the Needle, and started swinging for the win. Crispy never saw any of his board tech, until it was nearly over.

Round four, I was paired against, you guess it, the other undefeated Zoo player. That's right, four matches, 3 opponents playing Zoo. As thrilled as I was with the prospect of another Zoo on Zoo slug fest, we opted to ID. My tie breakers improved based on the other results of round 4, and I slid into first.

I'm really please with the list I've developed, and found that the off color fetch did it's job well. My wish list is really down to Jitte, Goyfs, and Revised Duals, so I'll be on this list for a month or two at the least. Jitte has to be my next priority, since it is just so good in the mirror match. I intend to wait until I can pick up this years new Promo Jitte. It will just make such a cool addition to my collection.

My sanctioned game record now turns the corner to 25-21-1, and I've had 2 undefeated events. If Zoo gets any stronger in the local meta, I may have to consider getting some Forces, and building CounterTop!?!

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