Home > Decklists, Spreading Cheese > Spreading Cheese – Nobody expects a Legacy article! Spanish Inquisition Part 1

Spreading Cheese – Nobody expects a Legacy article! Spanish Inquisition Part 1

Hey guys. This has been a boring week. Nothing new in Standard Magic really happened lately. And my good friends Joey and BigHeadJoe covered stuff that’s happened outside of the game, a.k.a. the WPN changes, in their podcast.. My last line of hope was Patrick Chapin. I was hoping he’d make a difficult to beat deck to make my life hard so I could respond with a deck, but he seems to be busy being awesome. So I guess no Standard Magic this week. Then what? Extended? I guess I shouldn’t really talk about Extended, since I really dislike the new format. It would just boil down to angry rambling. So I guess we should talk about Legacy! Woo!

So, Legacy. Legacy is at its best right now, with a diverse selection of decks Top8’ing tournaments everywhere, which means the format is healthy! No one is complaining about the format, right?

No?

Oh. Survival of the Fittest, yeah.

Unless you’ve been living in a B/W Painland, you’ve probably heard about Survival demolishing Legacy. I don’t want to explain why the deck is so good because it’s been said by many others, but I’ll link a few lists:

If I look at it this way, I’m still brewing to beat Chapin!

So, what to play? Well, Survival costs three mana (two to cast and one to activate), so why not kill the opponent before they even get to that mana (at most turn two)? Yes, I’m advocating a turn one kill on the play or the draw. It’s true that in Standard, I’ve been known to play annoying denial decks, but Legacy’s a whole different game. In Legacy, I play combo decks. Yes, combo decks used to be not so good because Merfolk—which has all kinds of counterspells—was the deck to beat a few months ago. Not a good environment for a combo deck.

Now that Survival is in the top spot, Combo might not be such a bad idea. Of course, in Legacy, when one says combo, the prime card that comes to one’s mind is Ad Nauseam. Personally, I hate that card. It costs too much to cast and is basically a gamble. You either get what you want and win, or just lose outright. You don’t get a second chance. The second most common option is Goblin Charbelcher in a deck with two, one, or even zero lands, but nowadays since everyone’s running Survival, that means everyone’s also running Krosan Grip or something like that in the board, so depending on an artifact doesn’t seem too wise.

So, I’ll introduce you guys to a lesser-known Legacy archetype that’s actually pretty good. It’s called ‘The Spanish Inquisition’. Why? Because nobody expects The Spanish Inquisition! Seriously though, at every large (30+ people) tournament I’ve been, either one or two people even knew the deck existed, let alone knew anything else about it or knew how to play against it. This is an advantage in Legacy, because games are quite complicated, so knowing your opponent’s deck is essential while boarding between games. Whenever I play this deck, most of my opponents misplay and/or misboard against me, either thinking I’m playing a different deck (Belcher or Ad Nauseam) or not countering the right spells. So, let’s get to it!

Be warned, this deck is really complicated to play, you need to memorize every single card in your deck down to the number and manage priorities well, in addition to keeping track of your life, your mana, your storm count, and the cards left in your deck. There are many other interactions to note, but I’ll get to them when the time comes. For now, let’s put on our complicated deck hats (and listen to some complicated metal: Spawn of Possession – Lash by Lash). (Almost) Every deck starts with a win condition. Ours will be Tendrils of Agony. Thus, we will be playing Storm Combo.

How this kind of deck generally works is, you somehow, either through recursion (Aluren+Cavern Harpy) or mana acceleration and card draw (more on that later) cast many spells, and then throw a Tendrils at your opponent, so that even if they counter it, there will still be many copies of Tendrils that will be lethal for your opponent. We’re going to go for the mana+draw route, which will be the key to this deck. Of course, in Legacy, there are a few staple mana accelerators: Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Elvish Spirit Guide, Chrome Mox, Mox Opal and Lotus Petal are the obvious players.

Now, since I’m playing the black rituals and the Spirit Guide (henceforth referred to as ESG), you might assume that we’re going to be playing a BG deck. I’ll say: “Not really”. This deck, in my opinion, goes beyond the boundaries of color. I’d like you guys to think of Magic this way too, colors aren’t a defining characteristic, they are the means to an end.

So, let’s get to the real meat of the deck: the card draw. Here is what separates the deck from the rest: This deck is partially about sculpting your hand over and over, accumulating resources until you get the right tools to go off. You need to realize that, if you’re aiming for a really early kill, your life total is completely irrelevant, as long as you can go off again if you are somehow disrupted. The most important resource you have is cards, the second most important resource you have is mana, and the only other resource you care about is storm count. So, we talked a bit about mana, let’s talk about cards. The best card draw spell you can have in this deck seems to be Infernal Contract. Ok, it’s tied for the best slot with Cruel Bargain. So you run both (Some versions also run Meditate). You basically accelerate mana and cast Contract to draw 4 cards, accelerate off of those, and then draw 4 again, until you have enough storm for a Tendrils.

Of course, it’s not that simple. Doing the math, you should realize that you are likely to draw many lands in your Draw 4 spells (henceforth referred to as D4). Oh, wait, did I mention you play only two/one/zero lands, mostly Bayous (depending on the build, some builds even run Charbelcher as an alternative win condition)? Now that makes more sense. You always draw business. How do you play spells without having any land? Yes, free mana artifacts are helpful, but they don’t always get you there. First of all, here comes my favorite card in Legacy: Land Grant. This card is just so good. Running only 1 or 2 lands ensures that you will almost never have a second land in hand, and if you do, you don’t need to cast Land Grant (henceforth referred to as LG) anyway! So it’s always good in a deck like this.

Now, most of the times you cast a D4, you’ll either have exhausted everything else in your hand, or there will be little else in your hand that you can actually use. We have the perfect mana provider for this situation: Lion’s Eye Diamond (LED). This card is just insane in this deck, and enables many of the plays here. It’s also one of the factors that makes the deck difficult to play. We’ll talk about that later.

Let me share a card that’s really good with LED: Infernal Tutor (IT). It’s great if you have nothing in hand, but it’s also great if you have some random filler in hand: you cast IT and sac the LED in response, obtaining 3 mana to cast the D4/Tendrils you fetch with the IT. Starting to see how the deck works? In order to cash in more on the LED, usually a single copy of Eternal Witness and Ill-Gotten Gains (IGG) is played. IGG is fetched with IT, while the Witness is fetched otherwise (I’ll get to that). The amazing thing about IGG is that, you’ll probably have a Ritual in your yard, and when you cast it with a LED crack in response, you bring back the Rituals and card draw, basically resetting your mana and card resources. Similarly with Witness, crack LED in response to its ETB trigger. Finally, an awesome one-of trick is Slithermuse. Especially if you pull it off on turn one/two. You basically get to draw 7 cards!

We’ve covered the resources of card and mana, but we haven’t covered storm. We basically need a bunch of free spells. Usually, free artifact creatures are played in the form of Phyrexian Walker and Shield Sphere. These free creatures are usually referred to as Tallmen. Why no Memnite? If all goes well, you won’t need to attack with it, so might as well have some extra toughness in case of a random burn spell/chump blocking. Also, many other creatures are played as random one-ofs, take your pick from Dryad Arbor (fetchable with LG!), Wild Cantor (basically free), Vine Dryad (literally free). Why so many random green creatures? Ah, I forgot. You run Summoner’s Pact. Yep, you might lose next turn, but if you’re confident you will win this turn, then it’s no big deal. You use trap to fetch ESG, Cantor, Dryad and Witness. What good does fetching random 1-ofs do to us? Is running a bunch of random creatures just for storm count a good idea? It is if you cash in on them. How? Culling the Weak (CtW) and Diabolic Intent. Now we’re talking. It all comes full circle with cards, mana and storm. Other potential free/value spells include Manamorphose, Simian Spirit Guide, Burning Wish.

I’ll give you three lists to play around.

Spanish Inquisition with Metalcraft Tallmen and Landless Belcher list:
4x Infernal Contract
4x Cruel Bargain
4x Lion’s Eye Diamond
4x Diabolic Intent
4x Elvish Spirit Guide
4x Dark Ritual
4x Cabal Ritual
4x Lotus Petal
4x Shield Sphere
4x Mox Opal
4x Chrome Mox
4x Summoner’s Pact
4x Culling the Weak
3x Phyrexian Walker
1x Wild Cantor
1x Vine Dryad
1x Tendrils of Agony
1x Eternal Witness
1x Goblin Charbelcher

No Tutor Belcher Inquisition:
4x Infernal Contract
4x Cruel Bargain
4x Meditate
4x Lion’s Eye Diamond
4x Elvish Spirit Guide
4x Dark Ritual
4x Cabal Ritual
4x Culling the Weak
4x Lotus Petal
4x Shield Sphere
4x Mox Opal
4x Chrome Mox
3x Wild Cantor
3x Simian Spirit Guide
3x Tendrils of Agony
3x Goblin Charbelcher

My own All-in Pact with Belcher list:
1x Bayou
1x Dryad Arbor
4x Elvish Spirit Guide
1x Eternal Witness
1x Odious Trow (CtW/Chrome Mox fodder)
4x Cabal Ritual
4x Chrome Mox
4x Cruel bargain
4x Culling the Weak
4x Dark Ritual
4x Infernal Contract
4x Infernal Tutor
4x Lion’s Eye Diamond
4x Lotus Petal
4x Summoner’s Pact
3x Tendrils of Agony
4x Land Grant
2x Goblin Charbelcher
1x Ill-Gotten Gains
2x Manamorphose

Many SI (Spanish Inquisition) lists sideboard pretty much the same way: 4x Carpet of Flowers against blue decks (resolving one usually means a win), Xantid Swarm against blue decks (yeah, you kinda play a slow game against blue decks), Unmask (did I mention we REALLY don’t like blue decks?), 3x Nature’s Claim against Survival and Blue decks.

My own D7 Wish brew (super hard to play):
4x Burning Wish
4x Simian Spirit Guide
4x Land Grant
4x Manamorphose
4x Infernal Contract
4x Lion’s Eye Diamond
4x Summoner’s Pact
4x Infernal Tutor
4x Elvish Spirit Guide
4x Dark Ritual
4x Cabal Ritual
4x Lotus Petal
3x Culling the Weak
3x Cruel Bargain
1x Tendrils of Agony
1x Dryad Arbor
1x Bayou
1x Eternal Witness
1x Wild Cantor
1x Slithermuse
Sideboard Package:
1x Tendrils of Agony
1x Diminishing Returns
1x Balance of Power
1x Recurring Insight
1x Empty the Warrens
1x Simplify
1x Cruel Bargain
4x Xantid Swarm
4x Carpet of Flowers

If you gave one of these decks a try, you will think that it really, really sucks. That’s fine. You’re probably doing it wrong. I was doing it wrong at first too. How to play this deck properly is the topic of an entire article in itself, which is what I will be discussing next week, along with a few other variants of this deck. But, before I go, I will give you some pointers so you’re not totally lost.

  • Never keep hands without mana or draw. You really need both.
  • Try not to gamble with the D4’s if possible. Always leave at least one (most likely black), preferably three mana open when you cast a D4, so you can go off with what you draw off of it.
  • ALWAYS know what’s left in your deck and what you are likely to draw into. This will help you decide what color of mana you will add to your pool before you go in blind with a D4.
  • TAKE IT SLOWLY. I once waited and calculated for 8 minutes during a single turn, then passed by doing nothing, and won the next turn.
  • Don’t play your free spells if you don’t think you can go off this turn. Wait until the last possible moment, unless you fear counterspells or discard. The free spells give you storm count, you know.
  • Sometimes it is best to get rid of the good card in your hand to get something better with IT, don’t be afraid to LED it away.
  • Always think of every possible outcome of your next action, so you don’t walk into an unescapable situation.
  • You can mull down to 4 and still win turn 1 with most lists, think about it.
  • When you have enough storm count, mana and a Tendrils in hand, think about it. You can either cast some other free spells to boost your storm count in case you get countered, but if you somehow get Mindbreak Trapped or something, you won’t be able to go off again. You might want to save the free spells for trying to go off again next turn.
  • You might be in a situation where you can take a risk and go off right now with a risk of D4ing into junk cards, or wait one more turn and secure victory. It’s up to you and the situation you are in/your opponent. It’s a very hard decision.
  • If you are playing the muse, always tutor for that if you have the mana, instead of a D4. 7 > 4.
  • Have fun, and be careful. Keep playing and analyzing your mistakes. Take notes.
  • Come back next week for more SI lists, sample hands, more tech and sample games.
  • Follow me on twitter @nayon7.
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  1. November 23, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Although I can always get behind not rushing through a turn, an eight-minute turn is unreasonably long. I’d have called a judge on you at the two-minute mark, and that’s a fairly non-aggressive stance to take on calling judges on Slow Play.

    I’m assuming a player who can grasp an Aluren deck can handle this one just fine without taking excessive time to evaluate plays, but I think it’s best to be careful about slow play when running a complex deck.

    • Noyan
      November 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm

      I asked for permission from my opponent, and he let me. That’s why I took all the time to figure everything out. Otherwise I would have gone through with what seemed best at the moment (which turned out to be the wrong play).

      That was just one extreme instance where the situation was very complicated (against CounterTop post board, which is not too easy for me).

      I haven’t played Aluren in a while, so I can’t comment on the similarity.

  1. November 30, 2010 at 9:08 am

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