[Feel free to edit my question, English is not my primary language]

Legacy is a format with a pretty high number of cards available. It is arguably the format with the most possible different strategies possible. Being an eternal format with very low card renewing, I think it is fair to say that decks with names like Canadian Treshold, Reanimator, Jund, StoneBlade(any) or Burn are not subject to drastic, heavy changes or stop being played anymore in the next years. That is why I feel secure posting a question which will contain specific deck names, assuming their strategies will never change. A discard will always be a discard, land destruction won't radically change from what it is now and so on.

What brings me here is this: How to handle massive proactive control (discard, land-destruction and creature killing (mostly by eddict effect)). Yes, I'm talking about Pox (or SmallPox, if you prefer).

As a distruption-based aggro deck, if I don't run counter-Magic at all because I'm purely creature based, how should I handle the adventure of the game? Somewhat playing as Maverick would be relevant.

I know the importance of a sideboard. I know cards like Loxodon smiter and Sigarda, Host of Herons exists. I know the mechanics my decks can use to disrupt my opponent (activating knight Knight of the reliquary in response to a Wasteland targeting my Savannah and so on).

I want to know how to counter the goal of proactive control deck, which is to get me out of fuel and making me unable to come back from it. Should I keep my cards in my hand, creating a card advantage, should I try to go "all-in" and play as much creature as possible, trying to race his life points before he's able to completely shutdown my battlefield with his many warth effects and eddict effects. Maybe it would be preferable to do the smart plays, playing just the cards that respond to his moves, hoping each turns he will not rip my hand, leaving me unable to keep advantage on the game.

Mostly by my own, little experience, I tend to rush him, overwhelm his board, making him unable to deal with the number of creatures I'm able to put into play. Sometimes it works, sometimes he warth and I have no other choices than wait for my slow and painfull death, unable to comeback. That is not a strategy, it is trying to overrun the problem.

I want to know how to deal with the problem.
Thanks in advance.

  • Just to make sure I get it: you're asking how to play a Maverick-style deck against Pox, right?
    – Alex P
    Mar 25, 2014 at 18:41
  • Actually, and out of any un-natural, pesky, egocentric ways, Yes. But, asking it like this would have probably been very badly welcomed. I tried to my best to protect the integrity of the, in my opinion, fair, legitimate and good question it was. Mar 25, 2014 at 18:45
  • 1
    "Kill him before he can take away my resources" is a fine strategy, I do not know why you are dismissing it. Mar 25, 2014 at 19:22
  • FWIW, this question was deemed legit by the site and got some decent answers. So I think this is a totally reasonable question.
    – Alex P
    Mar 25, 2014 at 19:38
  • It works, of course. But I don't like the fact that it comes to a point where it relies on chance. I am not winning because I made the right decisions in the appropriate time nether does my opponent. In the world of strategies and possibilities that is Magic, there must be a way to do the smart thing. In fact, there must be a smart thing to do. Mar 25, 2014 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


So, we know you are looking more for a heuristic for how to play your deck as is (or with minimal changes) against an attrition based opponent playing a pox/gate like deck.

The aim of your opponent's deck is to slow the game down as much as possible, so it can abuse its central cards to gain an incremental advantage (usually though the difference in how the values of your respective resources at the time Pox is cast are rounded). To beat this kind of strategy, you either need to come in underneath it, by killing it before it can accrue enough advantage, or go over the top of it, by negating the advantage it is trying to accrue (investing in resources it cant/doesnt interact with, such as artifacts/enchantments) or preventing it from gaining that advantage at all, such as with countermagic.

The most obvious answer (for your deck) is to mulligan aggressively to aggressive hands with lots of efficient, aggressive creatures, and try to overwhelm them before they can lock you out. Creatures that you can discard to the battlefield (some of which you have mentioned) augment this strategy.

Pox decks tend to rely heavily on buying back from their graveyards,finding a way to limit that (such as Deathrite Shaman or Scavenging ooze removing Bloodghast) should help make that strategy harder. On the subject, scavenging ooze provides a good way to rebuild following a wrath effect.

Similarly, as they attack against the axis of lands and creatures, combating that by playing artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers that make their strategy problematic is useful. Elspeth, Knight Errant is a very good planeswalker to consider for your deck, and the various swords (particularly Sword of feast and famine) will work well with her tokens to let you stay in the game with resources your opponent can't easily control.

If land destruction is going to be an issue, fetchlands for basics for the first few turns may well be the best way to mitigate that. Pox/Smallpox wont be affected, but at least wasteland will have less impact.

Silence in your opponent's upkeep or drawstep could give you a valuable Time Walk against them, allowing you to further establish yourself. Lingering souls will give you enough to work with to protect your bigger creatures from a few edict effects, particularly if you have black mana to flash it back.

There isn't any way, as a deck built around a board presence of a small number of highly effective creatures, for you to overcome a deck like this in terms of attrition. As is, your only option is to be aggressive and cross your fingers. This IS a strategy, and one that you can try to maximize. You know which of your cards are the most aggressive, and you can mulligan to try and get a hand that will kill your opponent quickly. A Mother of Runes, Knight of the Reliquary reliant hand will probably struggle, but other hands with more aggressive creatures would do better.

With the possibility of making some changes, the above options should be plenty of food for thought, it is worth bearing in mind though that every advantage gained here is potentially (I would say almost certainly) a loss in another match-up. The minimal impact would probably be some Silences, or to consider Lingering souls and/or an Elspeth, Knight Errant or 2, with Swords to back up your tokens. I can't tell you the best combination, but these are all the options I can think of for ways to combat this strategy. It's not for a tournament, so you have plenty of room for experimentation and finding what works best for you.

  • This may well be far from the answer you were looking for, but as I wrote another comment on the question it ended up feeling more like an answer.
    – Patters
    Mar 27, 2014 at 14:34
  • I'll give you the accepted answer with a +1 for giving me general commands on the match-up. It actually does help. I'll also consider the card choices you gave me. Thanks. Mar 27, 2014 at 16:00

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