Hello everyone! Tom asked if I was interested in writing some more articles, so.. here I am. Surprisingly I want to talk about miracles. I’d like for this to be kind of a series where we all learn from each other. If you are interested in playing miracles, we can improve our prowess with the deck together. If you’re just tired of getting beaten by miracles maybe you can learn how to combat the deck. Let’s start with examining the different ways to build miracles and I’ll tell you which one I favor.

The basic shell of the Main Deck

No matter what build you play something will stay the same. The basic shell looks something like this:

4 Sensei’s Divining Top –This is the most powerful card in the deck it is the one card you never ever board out, and you always wanna play 4 no matter what. The option to turn every draw step into a Ponder is very powerful, the option to “hide” a counterspell on top vs a deck like storm is good, and there is of course the soft-lock with counterbalance that can and will downright win you some games. The interaction with the miracles mechanic makes the deck really tick

3+ Counterbalance – Depending on specific builds and meta calls it is not unheard of cutting the 4th Counterbalance, but as a starting point you want to play 4 – This also applies to Swords to Plowshares and Terminus. You will often see fewer counterbalance when midrange-y BUG decks or Eldrazi decks are everywhere as counterbalance ranges from medium- to downright embarrassing in those match-ups.

3+ Swords to Plowshares – I have never played less than 4 it is the best removal spell ever printed and we are a control deck after all. However sometimes people shave one to run more stack interaction maindeck (Counterspell, Pyroblast, Spell Snare, sometimes even Flusterstorm).

3+ Terminus – The stock number is 4, but if you have a lot of Monastery Mentors shaving one is very acceptable as the 4th one is rarely needed. Having access to one or more Engineered Explosives in the main deck is also an excuse to shave one as they can also act as a sweeper.

4 Force of Will – The glue that holds legacy together. Often needed against fast combo decks. Once in a blue moon you see a list with 3 Forces, but I would never recommend going below 4 in the Main Deck. However, don’t be married to them in sideboarding, they are often worth cutting in non-combo, non-mirror match-ups.

4 Brainstorm – Best cantrip ever, the interaction with both Counterbalance and the Miracle mechanic is just insane, so never cut it. Many articles could be written to discuss how and when to play your Brainstorms, I often hang on to them a bit too long, but the best advice is practice, and lots of it.

X Ponder – I’d recommend 4 as it is just insane and allows you to cheat on lands in your deck, but less than 4 has been seen before. Fun fact: Before Dig Trough Time, Ponder was a contested card, and as a general rule Americans preferred more lands and fewer Ponders, whereas Europeans preferred more Ponders in place of some lands. Then we all “had” to play Ponder to fuel delve for Dig Trough Time. Dig was banned and the Americans had discovered how good Ponder was and it is being more and more adopted by the colony 😉

X Snapcaster Mage – This is possibly the best deck in the format at utilizing Tiago Chan’s invitational card. (Editor’s note: I would suggest Landstill is better… ) The exact number in lists varies, I’d never go below 2. I think the card is insane, but it can sometimes prove a bit too clunky. If the format is grindy with a lot of 3-drops you’d want more, but if people just want to kill you dead in the first few turns of the game, you’d want less. Never be too embarrassed to just snap back a Ponder.

Predict? – Predict went from being an experiment to being more and more adopted by Miracles pilots, and personally, I’m a fan of the card. The usual number is 2, but more or less are seen. I know MTGO user AnziD is a huge proponent of a 4 Predict build, but he is a bit of a madman. It is a 2-mana card that doesn’t play to the board. It is, however, insanely good against slower BUG decks as well as the mirror, so keep this in mind when choosing your numbers.

Options

There is a bunch of 1-2-offs that people run, it might be helpful quickly going over them. You might call them the seasoning of the meal that is our miracles deck.

Pyroblast – If you look at Miracles list from a few years back you’ll notice they run 1-2 copies of Pyroblast or its twin Red Elemental Blast. Back then, there was a lot of Monoblue (or mostly monoblue) Omni-tell decks which Red-blast effects were great against, as well as a lot of Miracles decks. The ability to steal game 1 by Main Decking sideboard-cards was very powerful in a slow match-up as the Miracles mirror. Today, with Eldrazi and Monowhite Control putting up numbers most Miracle players leave these in the sideboard.

Spell Snare – For one mana you get to handle a lot of problems; Chalice of the Void, Sylvan Library, Hymn to Tourach etc. which makes this a powerful option that some Miracles players choose to employ.

Counterspell – The old reliable. Sometimes a bit too slow, but it does what it says on the tin. You can safely leave these in your binder if Nimble Mongoose is the name of the game, otherwise you’ll see 1-2 most of the time.

Spell Pierce – Like Spell Snare this is a one mana counterspell. It has the upside of being able to answer planeswalkers like Lilliana of the Veil and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but the downside of quickly losing value after the first few turns of the game.

Engineered Explosives/Councils’ Judgement – I’m putting these as one effect as they tend to serve similar purposes: Answer something you can’t counter/swords to plowshares your way out of. This could be a Planeswalker, a bunch of elves, a Chalice of the Void sometimes even True-name Nemesis. Sometimes EE is better, other times CJ is better. As a rule of thump, the faster the format the more likely you are to use EE over CJ

Mana

The number of lands people run will also differ. For a 4 Ponder, Entreat build 21 lands seems to be very normal. And any deviation from this should be justified. Mostly your land count will depend on 2 things: The number of cantrips/cheap card draw you have, and the number of 4+ drops (This includes Entreat the Angels) you have. More cheap library manipulation allows you to cheat on lands. and naturally the fewer 4+drops the less lands you’ll need to operate. Also the amount you rely on Red cards out of the board will effect the number of Volcanic Islands you play in the main, although two seems to be the standard right now.

With that out of the way; let’s look at the first decklist.

Entreat Miracles

Entreat Miracles

Spells (26)
Swords to Plowshares
Brainstorm
Ponder
Force of Will
Terminus
Spell Snare
Predict
Counterspell
Entreat the Angels

Artifacts (4)
Sensei's Divining Top

Creatures (3)
Snapcaster Mage

Enchantments (4)
Counterbalance

Planeswalkers (2)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Lands (21)
Arid Mesa
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Island
Plains
Mountain
Tundra
Volcanic Island

Side Board (15)
Monastery Mentor
Council's Judgement
Flusterstorm
Back to Basics
Surgical Extraction
Pyroblast
Red Elemental Blast
Wear//Tear
Engineered Explosives

 

This list was piloted by MTGO User Truckis to a 5-2 record for a 12th place finish in the Febuary Legacy Challenge on Magic Online.

The deck aims to grind the opponent out with counterbalance and/or Jace before ending the game with a big Entreat the Angels. Preferably in one or two attacks. It fell out of favor when Monastery Mentor was adopted, but is starting to come back. Its ability to go over the top of especially Leovold, Emissary of Trest and True-Name Nemesis while making Abrupt Decay a dead card after sideboarding makes it an attractive option since the printing of Leovold. Out of the lists I’m showing you today Entreat Miracles is the one that’s closest to a “true” control/draw-go deck.

When “Who grinds the hardest” is the question asked by the format, Entreat Miracles is my preferred answer.

Legends Miracles

Legends Miracles

Creatures (7)
Snapcaster Mage
Vendilion Clique
Venser, Shaper Savant

Planeswalkers (2)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Spells (21)
Brainstorm
Ponder
Spell Snare
Swords to Plowshares
Counterspell
Entreat the Angels
Force of Will
Terminus

Artifacts (4)
Sensei’s Divining Top

Enchantments (4)
Counterbalance
Lands (22)
Arid Mesa
Cavern of Souls
Flooded Strand
Island
Karakas
Plains
Scalding Tarn
Tundra
Volcanic Island

Side Board (15)
Engineered Explosives
Wear // Tear
Flusterstorm
Pyroblast
Red Elemental Blast
Surgical Extraction
Disenchant
Rest in Peace
Blood Moon
Entreat the Angels
Kozilek’s Return
Humility
Moat

This specific list was piloted by Whiskiy1 to a 5-0 finish in a competitive Legacy league, but the build was made famous by Joe Lossett. The main pull to it is getting an edge in the mirror with Cavern of Souls and Karakas together with Vendillion Clique and Venser, Shaper Savant to have unanswerable, disruptive threats, hence the ‘Legend’ moniker. It often incorporates a small amount of either Entreat or Mentor as a huge beater. It is an attractive option if you expect a lot of mirror and/or combo matches. This is the more midrange-y/battlecruiser magic of the Miracles decks, and will more often than other builds lose to a well-timed Wasteland. I don’t have much experience with this build but in my opinion it’s too clunky and the mana base is a bit…. ambitious.

Ed. After speaking to Joe about the various merits of his version of Miracles he believes that this version is objectively the most powerful but also the hardest to play. 

Let’s look at the next contender!

Mentor Miracles

Here I’m humble enough to use my own list that I piloted to a 5-2 record for a 9th place (on breakers!!) finish in the Febuary Legacy Challenge

Mentor Miracles

Spells (25)
Council’s Judgment
Swords to Plowshares
Terminus
Predict
Counterspell
Ponder
Brainstorm
Force of Will

Artifacts (4)
Sensei’s Divining Top

Enchantments (4)
Counterbalance

Creatures (6)
Monastery Mentor
Snapcaster Mage

Planeswalkers (1)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Lands (20)
Tundra
Volcanic Island
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Arid Mesa
Island
Plains

Side Board (15)
Surgical Extraction
Red Elemental Blast
Pyroblast
Flusterstorm
Wear/Tear
Mountain
Kozilek’s Return
Ruination
Entreat the Angels
Vendilion Clique

Sometimes half-jokingly named “Monk Stompy” the Mentor build is better in an open field where if you face a rough matchup or situation you can just say “Meh” and Monk’em. It’s easier to answer than a huge Entreat, however, unanswered it steals the game very very fast, and it doesn’t require any set up. I’ve won games I had no business even being in by just going “Eff it” and just jamming monks. In paper I’m undefeated against my local 12-post player just by having monks and counterspells! This deck has the “weakness” of not being able to blank Decay and it is hard to have a Mentor “steal” a game against Decay decks. That being said, I’m a fan of making them have it. A strength of having 3 Mentors is that you can easily just run the first one into their answer without being too sad when they have it.

You’ll notice I’m running 3 Counterspells. for those of you who have some experience with the deck, this is a high amount. It is mainly a meta-call. Since Leovold, Emissary of Trest got printed and especially since Reid Duke won the latest Legacy GP with a 3-drop heavy list, it feels a lot like everyone wants to slam 3-drops. In that world, I’m happy jamming Counterspells! Partly I have to admit I just really favor generic answers like Counterspell over more powerful, but narrow answers like Spell Snare.

I also only run 20 lands. this is a bit on the low side of things. However between 8 cantrips, 4 Tops and 2 Divination err… I mean Predict, hitting our land drops is not usually an issue with this list. Take into account that I only run one 4 drop in the Main Deck (Jace) and I have the option to go up to 21 lands when I board in Entreat the Angels

Final Thoughts

Personally, I prefer the mentor build for its ability to just say “Eff it” and make an overwhelming amount of monks and win from unfavorable positions. It is also the build I feel most comfortable with which in my opinion counts for a lot. Against a lot of grindy BUG decks the Entreat version will have an edge, but for the latest Legacy Challenge I went with a build I felt comfortable with. In the future I’m likely to see if I can reignite my old love for Entreat. With all these Decays running around it seems like a good choice

I haven’t really played the Legends build, but as I noted earlier it will have some edges in the mirror, however I think it is too clunky in general and I wouldn’t play it unless I had a very good reason. (Ed. I’m going to persuade him to test it)

Where do we go from here?

So, as the title says this is “Part 1” that kinda suggests that there will be at least a “Part 2” and that is true, here is what I’ve planned out so far:

Part 2: Stick ’em with the pointy end: In part 2 we will educate ourselves in how to wield this powerful weapon; how to defeat our opponents with it, and maybe even how to defeat ourselves if we are not careful.

Part 3: The hate: Now that we know how we win, let’s examine what our opponents are doing to stop it, and what countermeasures to employ

Part 4: Game 2? So we’ve seen how we win, we’ve seen what hate our opponents will bring and how to hate their hate. Don’t you think we know enough to build a sideboard by now? Let’s try!

I hope this piece sparked an interest to play miracles. I’ve started streaming my adventures with Sensei’s Divining Top you can follow me on Twitter @Thiesenmagic for further updates in that regard.

<3 Thiesen

You can also follow Anders on Twitch

Anders Thiesen
Anders is a Legacy enthusiast who Top 8’d the Legacy portion of EU Eternal Weekend 2016 and came 2nd in 2017! He mainly writes about Miracles, and you can find him as Alakazimdk in the mtgo legacy leagues. You can follow him at https://www.twitch.tv/alakazimdk
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