Esper Stoneblade Primer (Sideboard)

by Zen Takahashi on 01 August 2018, Wednesday

Zen Takahashi

 

Esper Stoneblade Primer (Sideboard)


Hello everybody! 

 

Deathrite Shaman Gitaxian Probe


A few weeks ago, Wizards decided to shake up Legacy by banning Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe. Although Grixis Delver and 4c Czech Pile have been my go-to Legacy decks for the past year, I was stoked about the announcement, as it meant I now had the opportunity to play my favorite deck again – Esper Stoneblade!

In my previous article, which you can find here, I went over my history with the deck and broke down in detail all the main deck choices. Today, I will be finishing off this primer by going over the sideboard, as I discuss all my sideboard choices and how to sideboard against the top decks in the format. 

For reference, here was my list from the previous article – which is my starting list in this post-ban world, and what I played at a local event a few weekends ago: 

 

 

 
Sideboard Choices

As you can see from above, the deck's interactive spells are somewhat divided between cards that are good against creature decks (removal spells) and cards that are good against combo decks (Counterspells/discard). This makes Esper Stoneblade a fairly bad pre-board deck, as you can often draw the wrong side of your deck in a given matchup and lose.

However, come sideboard time, you have access to some of the best sideboard cards you can play in Legacy outside of Pyroblast. You essentially get to replace the dead half of your deck with great sideboard cards – leaving you with a well-oiled machine of strong threats, cantrip spells, a suite of interactive spells and a rock solid mana base. This makes the deck well positioned against almost any matchup in post-board games. 


Therefore, in a similar fashion to how the spells in the main deck are split into anti-creature cards and anti-combo cards, the sideboard is built in the same way so that you can essentially interchange them directly. However, it is not quite one-for-one, as there are some cards that can overlap the two camps depending on the matchup. 

 



Anti-Creature Package

2 Fatal Push 
2 Supreme Verdict 
1 Engineered Explosives

 

Fatal Push Supreme Verdict Engineered Explosives


Supreme Verdict is obviously great against creature decks, but they are clunky, and so I do not think you can play a full playset of them. Fatal Push is a much needed one-mana removal spell that we did not have pre-Deathrite Shaman, and I am glad to have now.

Engineered Explosives can be clunky, but it is an answer to problematic creatures such as Mother of Runes , Nimble Mongoose and True-Name Nemesis, while also having utility against other decks as it deals with Chalice of the Void and Empty the Warrens


Notable omissions

Zealous Persecution. I liked this when I had Lingering Souls, but without it, it is not nearly as powerful. It is also not good against many creature decks, such as Eldrazi and RUG Delver. I prefer Engineered Explosives as an answer to small creatures and True-Name Nemesis as it also has broader applications. 


Path to Exile. Path to Exile versus Fatal Push is really close. A lot of the creature decks also play Wasteland, which makes Fatal Push much more awkward, especially on turn one. However, giving a deck such as Elves or Death and Taxes an additional land on turn one is also massively detrimental. Ultimately, this is a close call that is largely metagame dependant, but for now, I prefer Fatal Push.

Perish. It is too narrow when Death and Taxes is one of the most popular creature decks. While we are going back to a metagame that is resemblant of a few years ago, we are not going quite far back enough to a time where Maverick was the key Mother of Runes deck of the format. 



Anti-Combo Package

3 Surgical Extraction
2 Spell Pierce
2 Thoughtseize
2 Rest in Peace 
1 Containment Priest  

 

Surgical Extraction Spell Pierce Thoughtseize Rest in Peace Containment Priest


Since we play more anti-creature cards in the main deck than we do of anti-combo cards, we have to make up for it in the sideboard. Currently, the main combo decks in the format are Lands, B/R Reanimator and Sneak and Show. Graveyard hate is good against Lands and B/R Reanimator, while discard spells, Counterspells and Containment Priest are good against B/R Reanimator and Sneak and Show. Though this does make B/R Reanimator seem to be the most susceptible to hate, it is also the one that is the most brutally powerful, and hence we can never have enough cards for the matchup. 

Before B/R Reanimator existed, I always relied on Rest in Peace as being my graveyard hate, as it is usually lights out against any graveyard deck and is also good against RUG Delver. However, Rest in Peace is often too slow against Reanimator – which is now why I am also playing three Surgical Extraction, as that is the best card against them. It also works well with Snapcaster Mage and other discard spells. It is also great against Lands, where Rest in Peace can be dealt with by Krosan Grip.

In addition to the three Surgical Extraction, I am also still playing two copies of Rest in Peace. The graveyard-based combo decks in Legacy now are so powerful that you have to pay a lot of respect to them, and Rest in Peace is also good against RUG Delver. 

Against the more traditional combo decks such as Storm and Sneak and Show, your best bet is to overload on cheap discard spells and Counterspells, and then follow that up with pressure and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. This is where having Spell Pierce and more copies of Thoughtseize shines. These cards also have used against other matchups, with the former being good against Miracles, while the latter is good against Eldrazi.

I also like playing one copy of Containment Priest in the sideboard. Although it is fairly narrow as it is not good against many combo decks such as Lands and Storm, it helps keep your creature count high when you board out True-Name Nemesis against these combo decks, while also having a big surprise factor against Aether Vial decks such as Death and Taxes and Goblins. 

Notable omissions

Flusterstorm . Spell Pierce versus Flusterstorm is close, but ultimately with Miracles being a popular deck and Storm not being as played as it used to be, I prefer the one that can counter Jace, the Mind Sculptor. This can very much change though, especially if we see combo decks gravitate towards more Counterspells in general – as Fluterstorm is also great at winning any Counterspell battle. 


Cabal Therapy. I never liked Cabal Therapy in the sideboard, as while it does interact well with Lingering Souls, I do not want any Lingering Souls in my deck against combo decks in post-board games anyway. 

Tsabo's Web. If Lands ends up becoming popular, then this is worth considering. As it stands, I am happy with the three Surgical Extraction and two Rest in Peace I have against them. 

Meddling Mage. I like Meddling Mage a lot against Sneak and Show, but it is rather poor against B/R Reanimator and its diverse spell choices, and Lands with its Punishing Fire and Molten Vortex

Other Omissions

Various Swords. If Sultai becomes popular, I can see playing a Sword of Feast and Famine – though it is still vulnerable to Abrupt Decay. I generally dislike the Swords in this deck as I have always found them to be too clunky. 

Disenchant. Ideally, I would want to play one copy of Disenchant, but I currently do not have space for it. Hopefully, once the metagame becomes more established, I can readjust my sideboard and make room for it. In the meantime, I am hoping the two Engineered Explosives, and one Council's Judgment is enough ways to answer Chalice of the Void

Blue Elemental Blast. Similar to Disenchant, I would be happy to play one in the sideboard if I can fit it in – but I currently do not have space for it. If Mono Red Prison or Burn becomes popular, I will look to add one. 

Notion Thief. The card is extremely clunky and easy to play around if your opponent is aware of it. 



Sideboard Guide

In a format such as Legacy, people can often come with some weird sideboard configurations or cards you were not expecting, so the following is merely a guideline and not set in stone – and be willing to deviate from it when necessary. 

B/R Reanimator
+3 Surgical Extraction
+2 Spell Pierce
+2 Thoughtseize
+2 Rest in Peace
+1 Containment Priest 
-4 Swords to Plowshares 
-1 Council's Judgment 
-1 Supreme Verdict 
-1 Engineered Explosives
-1 Umezawa's Jitte 
-1 True-Name Nemesis 
-1 Swamp

RUG Delver
+2 Fatal Push
+2 Rest in Peace 
+2 Supreme Verdict
+1 Engineered Explosives
-4 Force of Will (two on the draw)
-2 Thoughtseize
-1 Counterspell 
-2 Inquisition of Kozilek (on the draw)

Death and Taxes
+2 Fatal Push
+2 Supreme Verdict
+1 Containment Priest 
+1 Engineered Explosives
-4 Force of Will
-1 Thoughtseize 
-1 Counterspell

Lands
+3 Surgical Extraction
+2 Spell Pierce 
+2 Rest in Peace 
+1 Thoughtseize (on the play)
-3 Swords to Plowshares (two on the draw) 
-1 Council's Judgment
-1 Supreme Verdict
-1 Engineered Explosives 
-1 Umezawa's Jitte 
-1 Counterspell 

Sneak and Show
+3 Surgical Extraction
+2 Spell Pierce
+2 Thoughtseize
+1 Containment Priest 
-4 Swords to Plowshares 
-1 Supreme Verdict 
-1 Engineered Explosives
-1 Umezawa's Jitte 
-1 True-Name Nemesis 

Eldrazi
+2 Fatal Push
+2 Thoughtseize
+2 Supreme Verdict
+1 Engineered Explosives
-3 Force of Will
-2 Inquisition of Kozilek
-1 Counterspell 
-1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 

Mirror
+2 Spell Pierce 
+2 Thoughtseize
+1 Engineered Explosives
-4 Swords to Plowshares
-1 Supreme Verdict

Storm
+3 Surgical Extraction
+2 Spell Pierce
+2 Thoughtseize
+2 Rest in Peace
+1 Engineered Explosives 
-4 Swords to Plowshares 
-1 Diabolic Edict 
-1 Council's Judgment 
-1 Supreme Verdict 
-1 Umezawa's Jitte 
-1 True-Name Nemesis 
-1 Swamp

I hope you enjoyed these two articles as I broke down in detail my favorite deck in Legacy – Esper Stoneblade! I cannot wait to work on this deck some more, and I am excited for the upcoming Pro Tour as we will get to watch the best Constructed format being played at the Pro Tour for the first time!

Until next time!

Zen Takahashi
@mtgzen on Twitter 
 




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