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This week I wanted to talk about the Cascade Aggro deck from a few weeks ago that I have brewed and tuned. I have been grinding through some games with it, and just wanted to share some thoughts and observations. For those of you that may be unfamiliar with the list, here is the iteration from the last article and the one that I have been using:

Legacy CascAggro V2

Creatures (27)
Baleful Strix
Bloodbraid Elf
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
True-Name Nemesis
Shardless Agent
Tarmogoyf
Dryad Arbor
Scavenging Ooze
Vexing Shusher

Non-Creature Spells (11)
Ancestral Vision
Abrupt Decay
Sylvan Library
Green Sun’s Zenith
Vindicate

Land (22)
Verdant Catacombs
Polluted Delta
Misty Rainforest
Tropical Island
Bayou
Underground Sea
Taiga
Savannah
Volcanic Island
Scrubland
Badlands
Ancient Ziggurat
Sideboard (15)
Grafdigger’s Cage
Nihil Spellbomb
Sower of Temptation
Thoughtseize
Engineered Plague
Gilded Drake
Mana Maze
Qasali Pridemage
Wurmcoil Engine
Meddling Mage
Vexing Shusher
Gaddock Teeg

Ahh yes. There is nothing quite like playing a TON of value creatures that get more value creatures to beat down the opponent. Cascade was, obviously, the optimal mechanic, and the list is fairly successful. My current ratio is 57%. While this is not overwhelming, I can at least account for the majority of my losses. It all comes down to one word:

Combo.

Is it not obvious?

It is totally obvious. Decks like this have absolutely nightmarish combo matchups. I am fairly non-interactive, and no matter how value-based or fast I am with my creatures, any opponent playing a broken game is going to win. This is partially why the main deck includes four copies of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Thalia is pretty good in some combo matchups, namely Ad Nauseam Tendrils and High Tide (among others), but is next-to-worthless against others.

I had originally thought that the worst “other” matchup was Dredge, and this was largely true. Unless I could beat Dredge before they went off, which was nigh impossible if they had a nut draw, their deck is too redundant. The one maindeck Scavenging Ooze was designed to help mitigate this with the Green Sun’s Zenith package to help me find him, but one Ooze does very little in a deck that has a ton of ways to spill relevant cards into the graveyard. Dredge is a terrible matchup for this deck, and unfortunately fairly common due to the budget nature of Dredge.

On top of all of that, there is one deck that will literally always win the first game and in most cases win the second that I did not take into account when building this latest main deck: Elves. Oh my goodness, is this matchup from hell. My two instant-speed removal spells, while they do manage to deal with most of Elves’ creatures, are not dense enough to make any significant impact. Thalia is a dead card completely. The usefulness of my GSZ toolbox is reduced to a Dryad Arbor fetch which, by the way, the Elves deck is also playing.

On top of all of this, my sideboard is actual (insert expletive here). When testing this time around, I did not think to change the sideboard; I wanted to see how something diverse would work. Here’s the answer: it doesn’t. Even though I am strongly against polluting your maindeck plan with barely-relevant sideboard cards, this deck’s bad matchups are so bad that I want more than two stinking answers in the ‘board. My maindeck can deal with most fair decks; my sideboard needed some SERIOUS change.

Let’s run it down: two pieces of graveyard hate, one of which doesn’t work against some decks, one way to stop some combo and control strategies, two answers to Show and Tell strategies, one of which is nice against Zoo, some artifact hate, a way to stop counterspells, a big artifact Wurm thing for control decks, a general catch-all that meddles with the opponent (har har), a singleton anti-High Tide / ANT enchantment, only two ways to help stop Elves in spite of Abrupt Decay, and two pieces of targeted discard.

A motley crew of a board if I have ever seen one is right there. That may be too diverse. I think I was trying to cover too many matchups, some of which I have not even played against yet. I think the maindeck needs tweaks to be more interactive. While a value plan is decent, I want to be able to contend in more matchups and have lines of play that are less linear. Complexity does not always make a deck better, but most of the time adding interaction does.

If I were to improve the sideboard in a very general manner, I believe it would look something like this:

1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Gilded Drake
1 Sower of Temptation
2 Qasali Pridemage
2 Rest in Peace
2 Thoughtseize
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Engineered Plague

All of these numbers are off the top of my head. They are likely subject to change.

I want to take a much closer look at the main deck to see what should be shaved and what should be added. I think that I may want to cut a color; playing five might be too ambitious. At the very least, it’s back to testing. While it’s possible that a creature-based value deck like this could excel in certain metagames, some will just eat the deck alive no matter how much work is put into it.

That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading! Hope to see y’all next week for more Legacy action!

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