Through the Looking Glass: Sneak & Show with Jerry Mee

Special Guest

A few words on Jerry Mee

Jerry Mee is a Boston, Massachuetts-based legacy player who has been playing the format since it was called Type 1.5. His competitive Legacy finishes include SCG Top 8 and Top 8 at GP Niagara. Jerry’s main focus is on building the Legacy community, and has been a co-host of the Leaving a Legacy podcast since its inception in 2014.
Which role does Sneak & Show prefer to take against The EPIC Storm?

In an ideal game, the Sneak & Show player will want to race The EPIC Storm (TES) to the finish line. TES has no countermagic and almost no relevant permanents that they can put into play off of [[Show and Tell]]. That adds up to Sneak & Show players being able to confidently jam a turn 1-2 [[Show and Tell]] without much to worry about. The lack of discard in modern builds of TES also means the Sneak & Show player can aggressively use their cantrips to sculpt the perfect hand rather than save them to use defensively.

How aggressively do you mulligan for a combo-piece compared to a protection spell?

I will always mulligan for combo-pieces over a protection spell as the Sneak & Show player. TES is a very powerful deck and [[Veil of Summer]] is one of the best answers to counter effect through a Storm combo. Trying to play defensive in this matchup is a losing line of play in my experience.

What sort of interaction does Sneak & Show deck have in game one? What should The EPIC Storm be on the lookout for?

Besides the ever-present playset of [[Force of Will]], most Sneak & Show pilots will run some number of [[Flusterstorm]] and [[Spell Pierce]]. Depending on the build it can be anywhere from 2-4 copies and the mix is personal preference. Personally I like to run two [[Flusterstorm]] and two [[Spell Pierce]] for the even split. Some players like to trim these counters to fit copies of [[Simian Spirit Guide]], so if you see a [[Simian Spirit Guide]] from your opponent, that’s a clue that they are light on copies of [[Flusterstorm]] and [[Spell Pierce]] in their deck.

Another trend with the deck that I am not a fan of is running [[Daze]] instead of [[Spell Pierce]] or [[Flusterstorm]]. This trend goes in and out of fashion with [[Daze]] showing up in lists some weeks and then disappearing in other weeks. I don’t really like it as [[Daze]] is useless when jamming [[Show and Tell]] on turn one off an [[Ancient Tomb]] and [[Lotus Petal]], but there are still plenty of pilots who choose to go this route. Usually [[Daze]] is paired with the [[Simian Spirit Guide]] version of the deck for max speed. If you see [[Simian Spirit Guide]], I would be on the lookout for [[Daze]] and be less worried about other types of counters like [[Flusterstorm]].

There is also the version of the deck that splashes green for [[Veil of Summer]]. This can be hard to tell as the Sneak & Show player can play [[Veil of Summer]] off [[Lotus Petal]] without tipping their hand by fetching for a [[Tropical Island]]. Recently though, [[Veil of Summer]] has fallen out of favor and only shows up in sideboards, if it is in the list at all. In the current meta, I would not be too worried about [[Veil of Summer]].

Recent builds of Sneak & Show have cut [[Daze]] from the deck. How do you think this choice impacts the The EPIC Storm Matchup?

I was glad to see [[Daze]] fall out of favor recently, but JPA93 just placed 17th in the weekly challenge rocking four copies of [[Daze]], so I won’t be surprised if [[Daze]] makes another comeback. JPA just won’t let the [[Daze]] trend die haha! [[Daze]] coming back is probably a good thing for TES players as I really don’t like [[Daze]] in this matchup. Sneak & Show players are usually cutting [[Spell Pierce]] and [[Flusterstorm]] to fit [[Daze]], and I would much rather have those than the super soft counter that is [[Daze]]. Cutting [[Flusterstorm]] is especially a big hit to the matchup in order to fit [[Daze]] into the list.

With The EPIC Storm returning to the four-color version, [[Defense Grid]] has made a comeback. How does this card influence your decisions, if at all? Do you sideboard with the card in mind?

I actually run [[Defense Grid]] in my sideboard as well. Sneak & Show has the advantage of having a lot of mana that we don’t use unless we are actively winning the game. I have cast [[Force of Will]] through [[Defense Grid]] many times thanks to [[Ancient Tomb]] and [[City of Traitors]]. I run [[Abrade]] in my sideboard, but I honestly would not bring it in because [[Defense Grid]] is just not that big of a deal.

After putting a [[Griselbrand]] onto the battlefield, how often do you draw seven cards immediately? Does this answer change for post-board games?

Unless drawing seven puts me dead on board I will draw with [[Griselbrand]] against every deck other than burn. I would much rather try and find a [[Flusterstorm]] or [[Force of Will]] than hope that extra seven life is what I need to stay alive vs. a [[Tendrils of Agony]]. I will draw seven even if I already have seven cards in hand because looting for seven is still worth it to sculpt the perfect hand. If I put [[Griselbrand]] in play, it means I am winning, and I want to press that advantage as hard as possible.

One exception to this is if I am tapped out having already made my land drop, and I know I don’t have any copies of [[Lotus Petal]] left in my deck. If that is the case, I will pass the turn and then draw seven in my opponent’s upkeep to avoid having to discard the hand size at the end of the turn.

How do you think The EPIC Storm matchup compares to other [[Dark Ritual]] combo decks such as [[Ad Nauseam]] Tendrils or [[Doomsday]] against Sneak & Show?

I would say TES is a bit easier than ANT or [[Doomsday]] because of the lack of discard and countermagic in TES. Discard is one of the biggest enemies of Sneak & Show because unless you get very good draws, you are spending most of your resources sculpting a perfect hand. [[Duress]] and [[Thoughtseize]] really slow us down and make us play much more defensively. TES does not run discard anymore, so the matchup is much more a game of chicken to see who will combo off first. [[Doomsday]] is probably the worst of the three since it backs up its discard with [[Force of Will]] which is also a problem.

How effective do you think [[Empty the Warrens]] is against Sneak & Show? Is it a card that you generally worry about coming from The EPIC Storm?

I have lost some hilarious games to [[Empty the Warrens]]. I have snuck in an [[Emrakul, the Aeons Torn]], put my opponent on three life and then lost the game to a single pair of [[Goblin Token]] because I never drew another creature. I have also had my TES opponent sacrifice six [[Goblin Token]]s to [[Emrakul, the Aeons Torn]]’s Annihilator trigger in order to preserve their mana and then combo off in my face. I generally don’t worry about [[Empty the Warrens]] as there is not much I can do about it. Sneak & Show has no removal and almost no blockers, so even an [[Empty the Warrens]] for 2-3 Storm is enough to kill me if the game stalls out and both players are drawing dead off the top. If that happens I don’t get too upset, it’s just a trade off with the deck we have to accept.

How do you value cards such [[Surgical Extraction]], [[Grafdigger’s Cage]] or any additional graveyard hate against The EPIC Storm? Do you play any of them?

Graveyard hate can really be a trap because depending on how game one goes it can be hard to tell if you are playing against TES or ANT or even another UB-based combo deck. I generally will not bring in graveyard hate unless I see a [[Past in Flames]] as I don’t think [[Echo of Eons]] is enough of a threat on its own now that [[Galvanic Relay]] is seeing play. At its worst, [[Surgical Extraction]] can be used as a pseudo [[Gitaxian Probe]] to check to see if it is safe to dig for combo pieces, so I tend to lean on [[Surgical Extraction]] a bit harder in my sideboard choices if I am looking for some graveyard hate.

What is your sideboard plan against The EPIC Storm entail? How does it affect your play decisions postboard?

My sideboard is pretty light against TES I bring in [[Vendilion Clique]] as it is a great way to slow down my opponents combo while also giving me an alternate win condition if the game stalls out. If I am running the green version, I will also bring in [[Veil of Summer]], but I am off that build currently. If I need to fill spots, [[Goblin Cratermaker]] is surprisingly useful in the matchup. It can blow up copies of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and various moxen, it can chip away the last few points of damage after [[Sneak Attack]]-[[Emrakul, the Aeons Torn]], and it can pick off [[Xantid Swarm]]s when those see play.

The game plan post board is pretty much business as usual; try to jam our combo as fast as possible while trying to slow down the Storm player. I have seen some lists run [[Malevolent Hermit]] which seems cool for this matchup. It fills a similar role as [[Vendilion Clique]], but I have not had a chance to try it out yet.

A recent trend for Sneak & Show decks is to include green for [[Veil of Summer]]. How do you feel about the green splash and what’re your thoughts about how it impacts the matchup?

I would say this is really more of a stale trend as [[Veil of Summer]] has fallen out of fashion lately with Sneak & Show. Against Storm style decks [[Veil of Summer]] is great, but that’s pretty much where it ends (Reanimator is such a terrible matchup [[Veil of Summer]] hardly matters). Discard and black in general is in a real slump in the current legacy meta. Most [[Dark Depths]] decks have cut black and are focusing on the green/white builds, BUG Delver is pretty much extinct and Grixis Control is absent.

Splashing green for [[Veil of Summer]] weakens our mana base against fast [[Wasteland]] decks like UR Delver. The trade off of a worse mana base in order to protect against such a small part of the current meta is just not worth it in my opinion. If black and discard makes a comeback, I will be the first to sleeve up my copies of [[Tropical Island]] and [[Veil of Summer]]. I have to justify spending so much on a copy of [[Eureka]] somehow! If that happens, TES will be in a bit of trouble as it forces them to go for the [[Empty the Warrens]] win which is a few turns slower.

[[Galvanic Relay]] is a card that continues to overperform in The EPIC Storm and can be one of the tools for the TES pilot in the match up. How does Sneak & Show interact with [[Galvanic Relay]] to try to beat it?

[[Galvanic Relay]] is kind of like the “it’s on” moment of the match. There is not much we can do to stop it other than a [[Flusterstorm]], and that would probably be better spent on the actual win condition from TES. The one saving grace is that [[Galvanic Relay]] still gives the Sneak & Show player a turn to win. I will go all in and try and combo off first because I know I am probably losing the game if I pass. If I know there is no way I will combo off in time, I will dig desperately for any protection I can get. Even though I don’t like playing defensively in this matchup it can be our one hail mary in the face of [[Galvanic Relay]].

What is the biggest mistake you see Sneak & Show players make against The EPIC Storm? What is the biggest mistake you see TES players make against Sneak & Show?

I have mentioned it a few times, but it bears repeating. The biggest mistake Sneak & Show players make in this matchup is playing too defensively. Mulliganing good hands looking for counterspells, spending cantrips digging for answers instead of combos and worst of all is not comboing because you want to leave mana up for [[Flusterstorm]]. Playing on the backfoot is just such a huge disadvantage for Sneak & Show pilots in this matchup.

The TES perspective is not as relevant anymore since they have cut their discard spells, but when they did run discard, a big mistake I would see is stripping counterspells instead of combo pieces. I promise you TES is a resilient deck. You have more ways to win the game than I have answers to stop you. Your best course of action is to prevent me from winning the game first. Taking a counterspell instead of a combo piece will just give me a chance to top deck exactly what I need and win the game on the spot.

Any final thoughts or comments you would like to make? Any plugs or shoutouts?

I would just close it out by saying that this matchup is very enjoyable for those of us who like high stress situations. Every time I play this matchup, I am on the edge of my seat as either of us could win with one good top deck. It leads to some very memorable matches and fun moments.

I would be remiss if I did not plug the Leaving a Legacy Podcast, new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts!