September 15, 2017

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Czech Pile: The Adventures of Snapcaster Finn

Scene: The Ottawa Valley
Time: Seven to eight days ago

You don't know about Czech Pile, without you have read an article by the name of The Little Czech Pile: Legacy Control; but that ain't no matter. That article was made by Mr. Mike Gouthro, and he told the truth, mainly. There was some plays which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but bluffed one time or another, without it was representing a card, or leaving mana untapped, or maybe feigning an attack. The Mage - Snapcaster Mage, that is - and Leovold, and Deathrite Shaman is all told about in that article, which is mostly true, with some stretchers, as I said before.


This is one of my favourite things about Czech Pile. Many of the best cards in Legacy are all piled into a single deck, and while some of them may not be applicable in one matchup, the rest of them are. Having so many different threats and answers makes the game play out differently every time you shuffle up and draw.

Being a four colour control deck, you really need to consider your game plan from the very beginning. From my previous article about sequencing, ensuring that you can curve out and play all your spells is very important. Having the correct fetchland in play to get the basic land you want can be very important as well. If you know your opponent plays Blood Moon, pay even more attention to your land drops.

Czech Pile has two main colours and two splash colours. Blue and black are your main colours, and the majority of the cards in the deck reflect that. Most of the time you can easily operate off these two colours. Between the main deck and the sideboard, there are generally around ten cards that require an additional colour.

The two splash colours are red and green. My current iteration of Czech Pile is running three cards for each splash, but the number can vary depending on the build and metagame considerations. Red cards are usually based around some type of removal.

The idea of cycles in a set was started in Magic's first set of Alpha. The first cycle was boons which cost a single mana and had an effect revolving around the number three. While my personal favourite is the blue one, Ancestral Recall, it's only played in Vintage and Old School these days. The red boon, Lightning Bolt, has seen far more play and in many more formats.

While I'm talking up such a great card in Lightning Bolt, you might wonder why I'm only running one in Czech Pile. After all, it can remove a pesky creature, hit a Planeswalker directly, or finish off an opponent. For all that, it can be the wrong answer at the wrong time.

My metagame is skewed a little heavily towards Chalice of the Void decks. I play several of those decks myself so I can't complain when people have seen how effective they can be. Diversifying removal and ensuring that you aren't locked out by a Chalice is important.

Another removal spell with multiple modes is just the kind of card that Czech Pile wants to splash for. Not only that, it can handle pesky artifacts like the aforementioned Chalice of the Void. It's versatile in that if there isn't another worthy artifact like Aether Vial or an equipment to get rid of, it can also be used as discard.

To abruptly change course and talk about the green splash, a really good card is Abrupt Decay. It's usefulness has faded somewhat with Miracles moving away from Counterbalance, but it's still a clean answer to many permanents. However, it's sorely lacking when faced with True-Name Nemesis, Gurmag Angler, and Griselbrand.

The other green card is one of the best cards versus blue decks. It shuts down draw spells and demands an answer immediately. Since it will draw you at least one card out of it, it's a great two-for-one deal. It really feels like a far superior version of Shardless Agent and is likely one reason why Shardless Bug sees less play these days.

It is important to note that Deathrite Shaman can use green mana as well. Removing creatures from the graveyard is an important ability to have, especially against Reanimator and Dredge. It can also be used effectively to manage the size of an opponent's graveyard, which is important when facing Delve creatures.

The last time I wrote about Czech Pile, my tournament report unfortunately had three matches versus red decks in a row. It may have not been the most entertaining read because of that. I'm here this week to rectify that!

But first, let's talk about a few minor changes I've made for my local metagame. Liliana, the Last Hope became Liliana of the Veil as removal seems straight up better. It also puts more pressure on combo decks.

Facing red decks with either Price of Progress or Blood Moon on a regular basis made me also want a basic Forest. The answers I have to Blood Moon are green, and not being able to fetch out a green source sometimes stranded those cards in my hand. As such, I changed up some of the fetchlands to be able to get all my basics.

Let's see if this was just an overreaction, or if some of the changes helped out!

Round One vs 4C Aggro: Fight!

Game One:

My first opponent was one of those guys where you just never know what deck he's going to be running that day. Turns out, it was a real mana hungry deck as only Bloodbraid Elf decks can be. The early game was about who could stick a Deathrite Shaman and after trading removal, one stayed on my side. I took a hit from Bloodbraid Elf before I landed a Baleful Strix. Then Deathrite Shaman went to work, both gaining life and draining my opponent. Gurmag Angler came along to seal the deal before my opponent could find an out.

Sideboarding: -4 Force of Will, +1 Abrupt Decay, +2 Thoughtseize, +1 Engineered Explosives

Game Two:

I started off early with a Thoughtseize to see that my opponent was colour-screwed. The plan was to never let a Deathrite Shaman survive on his side of the table, while one survived on my side. It enabled a turn three Jace, the Mind Sculptor. With ensuring that he never drew his colour, my opponent packed it up.

1-0, 2-0

Round Two vs Jund: Fight!

Game One:

This is somewhat of a tough matchup. Both decks are very grindy but Jund tops out with Bloodbraid Elf. It's similar to Czech Pile but packs more discard, removal, and creatures. The early turns of the game were about who could beat who with removal and it was about four turns in when my opponent resolved his first Bloodbraid Elf. Another one came down the following turn, and I couldn't find my own two-for-ones to block.

Sideboarding: -4 Force of Will, +1 Abrupt Decay, +2 Thoughtseize, +1 Engineered Explosives

Game Two:

I got off to a much better start, but a Thoughtseize showed me how much work I had in front of me. Luckily, my opponent only had one coloured source of mana and some Deathrite Shamans. I handled those and resolved a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I took the same line as the previous match and tried to bottom any lands I saw. However, he drew running lands and the Bloodbraid Elf and his clone joined the party once again. The end came quickly.

1-1, 2-2

Round Three vs Burn: Fight!

Game One:

My opponent was on the play and mulliganed to six. That was extremely fortunate for me as I was facing Burn with a lot of non-basic lands. Several burn spells hit right out of the gate and then I got a Leovold, Emissary of Trest on the table. It drew me a few cards and I landed several Deathrite Shamans. They did the job of both gaining life and draining my opponent to zero.

Sideboarding: -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, -1 Toxic Deluge, -2 Kolaghan's Command, +2 Flusterstorm, +2 Chill

Game Two:

Same start for my opponent. Burn was firing off, and this time, the first Deathrite Shaman ate a removal spell. I couldn't really find much pressure and I did have another Deathrite Shaman gain some life for me. The key moment in the game was when I tapped out to play a Jace, the Mind Sculptor when I had a Flusterstorm in hand. My opponent was on zero cards and drew a Price of Progress for lethal.

Game Three:

This time I went first. The key spell I resolved for the entire game was a copy of Chill. It managed to slow the deployment of the burn spells and give me time to find and play three Deathrite Shaman as well as having discard and counterspells to protect them. I gained a lot of life and found a beater in Leovold, Emissary of Trest to close out the game faster.

2-1, 4-3

Round Four vs Turbo Depths: Fight!

Game One:

I can't say I knew what was going on early in this match. There was such a jumble of cards played - Intuition, Liliana of the Veil, and Maelstrom Pulse to name a few. Baleful Strix also made an appearance on the other side of the table. However, my Deathrite Shaman went to town on the graveyards, draining my opponent of life. I finished off with the classic Lightning Bolt, then Snapcaster Mage flashing back the Lightning Bolt for the final six points of life.

Sideboarding: -1 Kolaghan's Command, -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, -1 Toxic Deluge, -2 Hymn to Tourach, +2 Thoughtseize, +2 Surgical Extraction, +1 Flusterstorm

Game Two:

After a land drop from my opponent, I started on a Thoughtseize. I grabbed the Liliana of the Veil, as it's a real pain, but left a Thoughtseize. I felt like this game was in solid control and even drew my two Diabolic Edict. He managed to find both Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage to make a big guy, but I handled the first one through a Force of Will because I had two removal spells. It was all for naught though, because I couldn't prevent him from doing it again.

Game Three:

There was no real drama in this game. My opponent had cast Thoughtseize and knew I only had a Flusterstorm to interact. I managed to get early beats though and try to manage his graveyard with Deathrite Shaman. Huge moment of the game was when I attacked and he cast Crop Rotation for his missing combo piece. The Flusterstorm from the beginning of the game caused him to tap too low to combo. He took the damage to four life, and had to pass the turn where the Deathrite Shaman was waiting to drain at end of turn and the following turn.

3-1, 6-4


Let's review the changes. I did face Wasteland this time, and the Forest was useful to ensure I could keep lands on the table. While my numbers on the fetches were unproven, I had no issues sequencing my lands at all. Liliana of the Veil was decent when it landed. It was far more of an impact than the other Liliana would have been. Unfortunately, I didn't face a regular combo deck.

Of the matches I played, there was far more variety this time. While two of the decks played Bloodbraid Elf, they were different other than that. I still hit a Burn deck, although it was a completely different player than last time. It's a solid deck for a beginner, so it's generally played by a lot of different players in town.

As for Czech Pile, it's still a fun deck to play. I might streamline it a bit more for my local metagame and change the numbers of some of the cards. Also, I have yet to try the reactive cards like Counterspell, and that might make for a fun experiment.

I hope you enjoyed my parody of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. His books are great reads and I highly recommend them!

Until next time, remember all your Leovold triggers! (Too many bolts, too few cards drawn!)