Food Chain is a deck that’s existed on the fringes of Legacy since the printing of Misthollow Griffin in Avacyn Restored. While it’s relatively resilient and able to generate a lot of value, as well as have a quick infinite kill, it can be a bit slow and clunky in Legacy. However, with the bannings back in March and some printings over the past few years, Food Chain appears to be performing very well in Legacy as of late.
Recently, Magic Online player Musasabi came in second place in a Legacy Challenge with a Temur variant of the archetype (losing to Aluren in the finals, another very cool archetype, but more on that in a future deck guide). This list looks extremely cool and has a lot going on, so let’s take a look at the list:
Legacy Food Chain by Musasabi
At its core, Food Chain is a creature-based combo deck. The primary plan is to combine its namesake card Food Chain with Misthollow Griffin and generate infinite mana. Then, you can use Walking Ballista to finish off your opponent or Hydroid Krasis to draw your deck (which finds Walking Ballista).
The advantage of being a creature-based combo deck is that the deck has a natural backup plan of using creatures like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Imperial Recruiter to generate value and kill your opponent when you’re struggling to assemble the combo. This provides the Food Chain player with the ability to play a relatively fair game before it combos (to force opponents to interact on board) or after it combos (to rebuild after its disrupted).
Combo decks with built in fair game plans have a long pedigree of success in Magic. This particular deck has access to a lot of different options, so let’s take a look at the individual card choices and see why Musasabi made the choices they did.
The combo element of the deck, these cards make up the core engine of the deck. You can use Food Chain to exile Misthollow Griffin, which generates five mana, which can then be used to recast the Griffin. Rinse and repeat, and you’ll have infinite mana.
One of the benefits that Food Chain provides is the ability to net mana from creatures that were already on board, which is why this deck tends to play a lot of creatures as a part of its engine. If you have already resolved an Imperial Recruiter to tutor a Walking Ballista, then even if you only have three lands, you can cast Food Chain, exile the Recruiter for four mana, cast Misthollow Griffin and start the loop.
Despite this deck’s combo nature, it only plays three copies of Misthollow Griffin and one Squee, the Immortal. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that Griffin’s a bit clunky to draw when the combo isn’t online. It can do some solid work in a game, especially when facing down a Swords to Plowshares deck (you can keep casting the Griffin from exile), but a four-mana 3/3 is a bit underwhelming. Another reason is that Manipulate Fate can simply tutor all three copies to exile, meaning that you’ll always have access to these as combo pieces, as well as a steady stream of 3/3 flying creatures (which is a lot less awkward when you don’t have to draw them to have access to them).
Building on that, Squee is also tutorable by Imperial Recruiter, increasing the chances of finding the single copy. The final reason not to play more than four is that this deck doesn’t need to combo in order to win. Playing fair creatures and trading cards with opponents might be enough to take over a game, especially when those cards are Uro or Ice-Fang Coatl.
These are the payoff cards for the combo. Both of them have functions in the game if you’re unable to set up the combo and Walking Ballista even has the ability of being used as a combo piece.
You do have to be a bit careful, as if both of these cards are put into the graveyard, there aren’t any backup win conditions for infinite mana. Since both of these are tutorable with Imperial Recruiter, you do have a functional four copies of each, so this should make comboing relatively straightforward.
One of the most potent tutors this deck can play, Recruiter does everything from assembling combos to answering the board. The fact that it works so well with Food Chain is icing on the cake, and it really brings the room together.
The single copy of Scavenging Ooze acts as a tutor target for Recruiter and I love it in this deck. There are a lot of decks in Legacy that Ooze is just naturally good against, so playing it might just take over the game by itself. In addition, it has the ability to exile Misthollow Griffins that have died, which will let you recast the Griffins as you pump up the Ooze.
Birds of Paradise has been a staple mana creature since 1993 and it still gets the job done. It provides key acceleration in this deck, which has a bit of a high curve. It’s better than Noble Hierarch here because actually tapping for red mana is pretty important. Since it doesn’t really do too much later in the game, you don’t want to flood on this effect, so three copies should be pretty effective.
It won’t be long before Uro is just like Oko, Thief of Crowns in these deck guides, as the things it adds to decks is essentially always the same. It’s a potent one-card engine that lets you generate value as it keeps you alive. It is a bit clunky at three mana, and this deck isn’t full of ways to get cards in its graveyard, so playing too many of them could be a bit costly. However, at two copies, it’ll give this deck a potent mid-game engine that functions in the absence of the combo.
Creature interaction is pretty important in Legacy these days, and this is a pretty robust core to play. This is one of the major reasons this deck functions like a fair deck, as this is essentially the core removal suite of a decent number of Temur decks. Ice-Fang is particularly impactful here as it can be tutored with Recruiter and generates mana off of Food Chain.
Free interaction is pretty important in Legacy, and Force of Will both protects you from other player’s spells and protects your combo.
The four Brainstorms don’t really need an introduction, but not too many decks play only three Ponders these days. It makes sense here, as there’s already a fair amount of cantripping going on in the deck already, like Imperial Recruiter, so you can’t spend too much time spinning your wheels.
This is a pretty straightforward manabase, centered around basic lands. The snow basics are key to running Ice-Fang Coatl, and should protect you from Wasteland pretty nicely.
This is a nice hedge towards flood, which might happen in a deck with so many cantrip effects. It can be costly in some games, but it still helps you cast your spells and gives you some extra access to cards later on.
Carpet of Flowers has been rapidly moving up in the Legacy world as the premier anti-Delver sideboard card. Part of that is because green has become a more viable color for blue decks to play, and a lot of Delver decks have been shifting towards plans that require a decent amount of mana in play to execute (such as Uro and Klothys, God of Destiny). Carpet is extremely effective here, as this deck is trying to cast some expensive, sorcery speed spells.
These are effective artifact hate cards that can be tutored off of Imperial Recruiter, and each serve a different purpose. Collector Ouphe is really potent against decks with Lion’s Eye Diamond and Reclamation Sage just cleanly answers a lot of different cards in the format.
Graveyard hate is key in Legacy, and this is a pretty effective suite of free hate. Faerie Macabre is pretty tough for decks to interact with early and it can be tutored with Imperial Recruiter. Surgical Extraction isn’t always the highest impact card against graveyard decks, but it almost always does something meaningful and free is important in Legacy.
One of the nice things about playing a combo deck with an effective, fair backup plan is that you don’t need your sideboard cards to exclusively protect your combo. Force of Negation is an extremely effective anti-combo card and this deck is happy to bring it in, even if it doesn’t help protect its own combo.
This is a somewhat diverse suite of Recruiter targets that help in a range of situations. Izzet Staticaster isn’t the most popular card these days, but it’s still very effective against decks that try to go wide. Blood Moon effects are sometimes one-card combos against certain Legacy decks, so being able to tutor it up can really provide a clear game plan. Toski, Bearer of Secrets is a newcomer to the format, but in this deck which can definitely clog up the board (and take to the skies with Ice-Fang), it can make things pretty difficult for interactive decks to deal with.
Both of these cards are excellent ways of interacting with opponents in Legacy. If you expect your opponents to rely on countermagic or blue permanents, Pyroblast will always be the best card in the format to board in. If they have discard spells, Abrupt Decay or even countermagic, Veil of Summer can be a devastating card to protect your resources.
- If you have a Food Chain in play and you’re just missing a single piece, you can use Uro as a cantrip that nets a mana by exiling it with the sacrifice trigger on the stack.
- You can use Force of Will to exile a Misthollow Griffin and then cast it later.
- The curve of turn one Birds, turn two Food Chain will yield infinite mana on turn two if you have Imperial Recruiter (to tutor Squee).
Playing the role of a fair deck is an effective strategy here. You don’t need to overboard, as there’s already a fair amount of good cards in the main deck. It might be better to leave in all of the Food Chains and not bring in the Magus, especially since Magus can be killed with Bolt. However, if they don’t have a Bolt, Magus might just end the game, so I think it’s worthwhile.
Having the combo is nice, but since one of their key interactive spells is Swords to Plowshares, Misthollow Griffin will really provide an effective late-game recursive threat. I don’t think it’s important to rely on the combo to win the game, but it’s certainly nice to have access to. I like trimming a Birds or two because Carpet will provide quite a bit more mana without exposing you to Terminus. It’s also possible that Force of Will is better than Veil depending on what their disruptive suite looks like, but you’ll have to feel that out throughout the match.
For the most part, this matchup is going to play out like most fair blue decks facing down Doomsday. The addition of a combo kill in Food Chain is extremely beneficial here though as they have to both stop you from killing them as they protect themselves.
Since I think the combo element is the best way to end the game, I think Uro is quite a bit too slow. It might be better to board out some Ice-Fang Coatls though, as they don’t have much impact beyond being a cantrip. While Uro is slow, it does provide a clear game plan, while Coatl won’t be doing much.