November 5, 2015

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Going Rogue: Black Vise Burn

Hello and welcome back to another edition of Going Rogue, where winning isn't the goal but it often happens anyway.

Today we have something a little spicy for all you Legacy-lovers out there whose mouths began to salivate with the unbanning of Black Vise.

There are a few ways to abuse this card. Way back in the day, I used to have a casual deck with every Boomerang effect and draw effect in it, Reliquary Towers, and the Vises as the lone win-con.

It was about as janky as they came, but it would occasionally win on turn 3 with multiple Vises and a multi-bounce spell.

A tuned version of that concept could probably win the occasional game, but the reality is that the card disadvantage was too overwhelming, and unless you stuck an early Vise, things were going to go very sour. very fast.

So instead, today I want to take a look at the other way to keep cards in your opponent's hand: Kill them before they can play them.

Black Vise is an incredibly powerful turn 1 play, especially if you're going first. It's often going to be good for 5-6 damage without any synergy. That kind of firepower for a single mana is exactly what a burn deck wants - so where do we go with it next?

Powerful enough on its own, the real way the Vise shines in this deck is by enabling a trifecta of old school artifacts.

These three in tandem construct a very punishing situation for your opponent, where Winter Orb keeps spells in your opponent's hand for Black Vise damage, and the Ankh punishes them for playing new lands to fight their way out of it. Add Goblin Guide to the equation and things just get silly. Turns out downside can quickly become upside with the right mix of support.

Meanwhile, our artifact-based restrictions don't do much to hurt our 1-drop-stuffed list, and between nine fetchlands and three Mishra's Bauble, our odds of flooding out and dying to our own Ankh are slim to none.

Our creature suite is no different from Burn lists you'll see across formats, but they are powered-up slightly with some extra synergy. Mishra's Bauble adds some extra free muscle to the Monastery Swiftspears, as well as the Goblin Guide synergy with Black Vise.

As far as the spells go, we again stick with a fairly familiar burn mix. While it's already typical to run a full fourcopies of Price of Progress, it goes the extra mile in this deck to punish our opponents for making efficient land choices to play around Ankh of Mishra and Winter Orb. Fireblast also punches above its weight class against Daze and as a way to get around Counterbalance locks which can shut down our critical 1-drops. The only big difference here is our ability to reliably cast Shrapnel Blast. Trading in copies of Chain Lightning for two extra damage apiece is a pretty big deal.

Do all these little synergies add up to a viable deck? Let's take a quick look at the full list:

There's sure to be a bit of tuning to do here (especially as I can't claim to be any sort of authority on the Legacy meta), but in some early testing it's gotten the job done against some high tier decks:

  • Between 1-drops that stick around, 6-drops that cost zero, and Destructive Revelry and Pyroblast in the sideboard, Miracles is not a major concern.
  • Shardless BUG and other control builds are in pretty big trouble against a T1 Vise - although it becomes interesting that Force of Will's card disadvantage winds up saving them some damage.
  • Dredge is a problem, but Tormod's Crypt out of the sideboard does great work.

Despite performing relatively well, and being a total blast to play, at the end of the day I can't get around the truth in one critical question: Is this better than a regular burn list?

The answer to that is a pretty obvious no. It's a tiny bit slower, and has less redundancy in its spells, meaning mulligans and dead draws happen more than you'd want in an aggressive deck. It grinds a little bit better in the late game, and has some matches that are more favourable, but at the end of the day, the only reason to pick this deck over a regular burn list is for its fun factor.

But frankly, that reason is pretty consistently good enough for me.

If you already have the pieces for burn, moving over to this version will only run you about $30 in janky old artifacts. If you're curious, and always wanted to see what Black Vise could do, I suggest you give it a shot.

I hope you enjoyed this brief foray into the world of Legacy. Come back next week for more Modern shenanagins. Until then, have fun, and make the force be with brew.