This deck started from an idea. What is the best thing to cascade into from Shardless Agent? Obvious answer, Smallpox…

I honestly can’t remember why Callum and I brewed this deck, I think red wine was involved and a tournament was the next day, but after a quick look at what was already out there we realised we could do something possibly better, certainly fun.

Pox has never quite made tier 1, even when the meta was perfect for it. Reid Duke’s one good tournament result a few years ago is the standout showing for this kind of archetype. The major problem occurs when you have ground away their hand and lands, and are both topdecking, but the majority of the format does that far, far better than a Pox deck. The addition of Shardless Agent changes this. Now we can play Brainstorm and Ancestral Vision and hopefully always have answers in hand.

People have tried Smallpox in the Waterfalls deck (Bloodbraid, Shardless, Visions etc) before but the mana for that is shocking. Other lists have gone down a BUG route but never quite maximised the reasons we are playing this deck, playing things like Tarmagoyf or Tombstalker to finish games off and badly thought-out inclusions like Mox Diamond. Sure, turn two Sinkhole is cool but cascading into a Mox Diamond is going to be the most depressing thing ever.

So, there are two constraints imposed by Shardless Agent and Smallpox. The first is the nature of our two build around cards. We don’t want to play creatures that we have to sacrifice to Smallpox, luckily cascading into Smallpox means Agent is still on the stack and can’t be sacrificed. We also always want to hit impactful spells off the cascade trigger. The second constraint is on the mana. This deck wants to be black based, we want to cast Smallpox on turn two all of the time.

The Deck

Hymn to Tourach and Sinkhole seem like obvious inclusions when we are running the double black for Smallpox and they both work very well with the card. The two drops are the meat of this deck.

We are playing Blue and fetches so we will play Brainstorm. It can also set up our cascades. Shardless Agent cascades into all of the value cards in our deck and Ancestral Visions gives us enough cards to get to the late game where we can grind the opponent out.

Our turn one disruption of Thoughtseize and Duress will hopefully allow us to get to turn two against combo decks as we don’t have Force of Will, even in the board because of our low Blue count. If we get to turn two we will often be fine as any of our 12 disruptive two drops are good against combo. If we can follow a Hymn to Tourach with Liliana of the Veil we would be in a great position against almost any deck as we discard their hand. Liliana also works as removal and is another source of card advantage in a deck brim full of it.

Spot and mass removal comes in the form of Abrupt Decay and Toxic Deluge. Deluge is another reason to play as few creatures as possible.

Our win condition has to be resilient and not die to our sacrifice effects so we are playing Creeping Tarpit. This also means we get/have to play Life from the Loam which is very synergistic with our deck. We can discard it to Smallpox and Liliana or get back lands we have lost to either of those cards. It also gives us inevitability with our Creeping Tarpits and we can recur Wasteland to give us more than 12 land destruction spells.

Because we are base Black we can play some swamps and nearly every fetch and dual taps for black.

Our list

Main  3 Tarpit
3 Thoughtseize 4 Wasteland
4 Brainstorm 4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Ancestral Vision 4 Polluted Delta
4 Smallpox Side
4 Hymn to Tourach 1 Null Rod
4 Sinkhole 1 Pernicious Deed
2 Life from the Loam 1 Pithing Needle
4 Shardless Agent 3 Leyline of the Void
3 Abrupt Decay 1 Helm of Obedience
3 Liliana of the Veil 1 The Abyss
2 Toxic Deluge 1 Krosan Grip
2 Underground Sea 1 Notion Thief
2 Duress 2 Vendillion Clique
2 Swamp 1 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Bayou 1 Abrupt Decay
 2 Tropical Island 1 Bitterblossom

The sideboard is reasonably self explanatory. When Smallpox or Sinkhole have to come out we have enough of mix of generally good cards to answer their hate or stop their plan entirely. I also take the opinion that if the card is cool or foil I should probably put it in my sideboard (looking at you Notion Thief and Deed)

I ran this deck a month or two ago and went 3-1 in our local weekly legacy event at Darksphere. Last week I tried again…

Round 1 vs Lorenzo on Miracles

This was Lorenzo’s first time playing Legacy in real life, having been given a large part of the deck by a friend and playing on Cocatrice. He was a really enthusiastic opponent and was happy to hear some advice and tips on Miracles and how to best maximise his fetchlands especially. He also wasn’t afraid to run some Hallowed Fountains in his list which I always think is great. You only loose a few % points not playing an optimal list and he will certainly gain much more by playing IRL Legacy instead of worrying about not having the ‘correct’ cards.

Game one I Hymn and Smallpox on the second and third turn. He didn’t get above 2 lands and never found a Top all game. Agent and Carpet did short work.

  • +1 Abrupt Decay
  • +1 Krosan Grip
  • +1 Pithing Needle
  • +1 Null Rod
  • -4 Sinkhole

This game Lorenzo made a turn one Top and had plentiful mana throughout. I however kept my Abrupt Decays in hand and dealt with Counterbalanace whenever he found one. In this way I resolved some Hymns, Liliana and Ancestral Vision and once I had complete control swiftly beat down.

Round 2 vs Dominik on Sneak and Show

Dominik was another new face for me and also another really friendly opponent! He is just getting back into Legacy after taking a few years off so I gave him a really quick update on the new Mulligan rules.

Game one I mulled to six with Bayou and Wasteland as my lands. I didn’t find another black source and promptly lost to Dominik’s turn 2 Griselbrand. Even with a timely second black source there would have been a very slim chance of resolving the Smallpox in hand once he had drawn seven extra cards.

  • +1 Krosan Grip
  • +1 Pithing Needle
  • +1 The Abyss
  • +2 Vendillion Clique
  • +1 Notion Thief
  • -3 Abrupt Decay
  • -1 Life From the Loam
  • -2 Toxic Deluge

Game two I had a much better hand and managed to resolve Pithing Needle naming Sneak Attack. Discard and Liliana made short work of his hand and Dominik was running on two cards max most of the time. I probably misplayed, when, towards the end of the game I Cliqued in his draw step and didn’t take his Show and Tell. I thought that if he did draw a creature I would be able to put my Abyss into play off his Show and Tell and so kill his creature on upkeep. Certainly a sweet play but not optimal, he was however on a low enough life that it didn’t matter.

Game three my bad sideboarding/deckbuiding choices reared up and bit me. A couple of Spell Pierces from Domink on my early discard and he then resolved Bloodmoon on turn four. Having taken out the Decays I was dead to this unless I drew my two Swamps, resolved a Liliana and then finally ultimated. Obviously this didn’t happen and I died in short order to Emrakul. I don’t know if this deck can afford to hold up Decay mana in the early turns against Sneak and Show, it has no counters and our disruption is all sorcery speed. We also don’t have a basic forest and I’m not sure the mana can support it either.

Round 3 vs Tomaso on B/W Pox

The dreaded almost mirror in both name and deck! Tomaso and I always have great games of Magic and he is also a big fan, like me, of Smallpox, running variants of it every week since his Delvers always refuses to flip.

Game one I led on a Thoughtseize seeing a hand of Dark Ritual, Thoughtseize, Liliana and four lands. I took the Thoughseize because I had Abrupt Decay in hand to deal with Lili. Unfortunately he ripped another TS off the top. After emptying each others hands and killing his Liliana with my Creeping Tarpit, I lost to Tomaso’s Bloodghast and Tombstalker. I had resolved an Ancient Vision and thought that it would be the deciding factor in such a grindy match, but I didn’t have enough mana in the crucial turn to Decay his Bloodghast and then cast my own Lili to edict his Tombstalker.

  • +1 Helm of Obedience
  • +4 Leyline of the Void
  • +1 The Abyss
  • +1 Pithing Needle
  • +1 Bitterblossom
  • -4 Smallpox
  • -4 Sinkhole

Game two we yet again destroyed one another’s hands. I however landed a Leyline on turn four to stop his graveyard advantage. Tomaso had Bloodghast, Lingering Souls and Tombstalker to utilise the graveyard in his deck. The next turn I played Helm and when he didn’t draw a Vindicate he conceded.

Game three was unfortunately a draw. I had a turn zero Leyline and we followed by Hymning and Thoughtseizing each others hands. The critical turn came when I lost the Helm of Obedience I had been keeping to a Thoughtseize but had The Abyss in hand as well. Tomaso had to take the Helm so as not to loose but The Abyss dealt with his main method left of winning, Lingering Souls and Bitterblossom. He managed to Pithing Needle my two Creeping Tarpit so the game finished with him at 6 life, taking one a turn because of Bitterblossom, me unable to attack into the new token equipped every turn with Jitte and both of us looking for Vindicate or Decay to deal with Needle or The Abyss.

Round 4 vs Callum on NIC Fit Storm

Callum had brewed another beautiful deck monstrosity. I won’t spoil his list here in the hope he writes another deck tech but in game one he miscounted and Tendrils of Agony storm five hit me on turn one. With his resources depleted my Hymns became a lot worse and after a few fetches and a Thoughtseize my life total was precariously low. Callum found a Top and a Deathrite Shaman and my ponderously slow method of winning became a real liability. I managed to Sinkhole his black source, a lone swamp; and Creeping Tarpit managed to squeak through before he found anything relevant with Top.

  • +1 Pithing Needle
  • +1 Null Rod
  • +1 Pernicious Deed
  • +2 Vendilion Clique
  • -2 Life from the Loam
  • -3 Sinkhole

(The sideboarding is probably very wrong but I have no idea what his deck contains)

Game two Callum made a turn one Top into turn three Grave Titan. Incredibly luckily the turn before Sensing some kind of trickery along those lines, I had cast Brainstorm and put back a Decay and Toxic Deluge. After paying six life and three mana to wipe the board I cast a Clique and beat down before he could find another land to play the second Grave Titan he had been floating on the top of his library. After the game Callum told me if he had had the Cabal Therapy he would have named Deulge on the critical turn.


The deck is great. I blame pilot error entirely for not winning every round…

In all seriousness the deck is really fun, has lots of lines of play and is possibly quite good; with a bit of tweaking. The weakness to Blood Moon is a serious problem, so it might not be very good as the meta moves towards a Lands vs Miracles vs Eldrazi space in the UK. We also really should consider playing Mox Diamond. It is certainly a horrible cascade but the increase in speed of our big two mana plays, combined with being a source of colour under Moon, might be enough upsides to counter the nonbo with Shardless Agent.

Please email me or comment if you play the deck, like it or have any suggestions.

Tom Kellock



Tom Kellock
Tom has played Magic since Alara block. He became quickly enamoured with Legacy after being strangled by a Pox and 43 Lands deck in 2011 while piloting Affinity. This experience also started a love of Prison strategies in a manner typical of Stockholm Syndrome sufferers. He now only really plays Legacy, with Top8’s in Europe at BoM and here in the UK.
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