Feature Article – The Legacy of Scars

Hello everyone, it’s Tomoharu Saito. I am a huge fan of Legacy. Although I say this, I have recently only been playing Limited in preparation for Grands Prix, and have been entirely unable to play this format. Nevertheless, because I have become accustomed to playing with the new cards, I think that today I will consider how much of an effect Scars of Mirrodin as a set will have on Legacy. To begin with, please look at my thoughts below.

I have tried to classify each card from Scars of Mirrodin by the degree of influence I think it will have on the format. I omitted cards that I believe will have no effect, as there was no point in including them.

Cards that seem like they will have a large effect on the format (High possibility of play):


Cards that seem like they will have a medium effect on the format (Occasionally played):


Cards that seem like they could have a minor effect on the format (Most likely will not see play, but perhaps there is an off-chance):


Cards that will have no effect on the format (Weak cards and those that don’t have a chance in the current environment)

I have not recorded the remaining cards.

In my opinion, these are the distinctions concerning the playability of the new cards in Legacy. Now, I think I will explain the reasoning behind my decisions for the most important category of cards, those I think will have with a large effect on Legacy. Because there are only five, I’m going to try ranking them.

First – Leonin Arbiter
Leonin Arbiter Catastrophic!!!

Activating a fetchland with this card in play requires two additional mana. Using fetchlands to find dual lands is a fundamental part of play in Legacy, and it is likely that this card will have a powerful effect on the metagame. In the past, you could use fetchlands and dual lands without risks, but now there is the question of whether to build a deck with fetchlands and duals or forgo the fetches and play the Arbiter. Starting now, this card will always affect my choice of land for a deck. And, it is also strong against Ad Nauseam Tendrils’s Infernal Tutor and Elf Combo’s Summoner’s Pact, as well as the popular Survival of the Fittest decks. Because it only requires one white mana it is easy to play, and this is the one major thing it is necessary to look out for. Conversely, if you choose to play it in the early days of the new format, I have a feeling that you could easily be successful. Right now, this is without question the strongest contender for seeing Legacy play.
I digress, but if the percentage of decks using fetchlands and dual lands declines, it becomes much easier for players who currently do not play Legacy to start up in this format. And furthermore, because of the introduction of Leonin Arbiter, I feel that Legacy as a format will become deeper and more diverse.

Second – Mox Opal
Mox Opal

What a card! If you can simply meet its Metalcraft condition, isn’t it even stronger than the original Moxes because you can produce any color? Metalcraft might be somewhat of a stretch to achieve in Standard, but in Legacy this is not such a difficult thing. To begin with, there are the artifact lands like Seat of the Synod, as well as Legacy’s host of powerful, low mana cost artifacts like Mox Diamond, Chrome Mox, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, AEther Vial, and Sensei’s Divining Top. Among these, I think playing a deck that included the artifact lands would be the most secure way to achieve Metalcraft.

Speaking of the artifact lands, there is also Affinity. At this time Affinity cards have been printed only in Mirrodin block, but because other sets have provided numerous cards that work well with this mechanic, I think Affinity might now become a prominent contender in the metagame. Of course, there is also a sufficient possibility that Mox Opal will see play in other decks. Because Sensei’s Divining Top helps to achieve Mox Opal’s Metalcraft, and in turn Mox Opal helps with its activation cost, I think it might be good to include the two in a deck together.

Third – Nihil Spellbomb
Nihil Spellbomb

This is the definitive low mana cost graveyard hate spell! Frankly following the printing of this card, the state of Reanimator decks truly becomes poor. Assuming Leyline of the Void was not involved, when a Reanimator player played Pithing Needle early they used to have two choices: Tormod’s Crypt or Relic of Progenitus. This seems alright, but from here on they will have three potential targets.

When it comes to removing your opponent’s entire graveyard from the game, Nihil Spellbomb has the middle cost as far as playing and activation are concerned (one mana to play, zero mana to activate) when compared to Tormod’s Crypt (zero mana to play, zero mana to activate) and Relic of Progenitus (one mana to play, one mana to activate), but I think that Nihil Spellbomb is the strongest when compared with these two cards. Relic of Progenitus takes a toll on both your and your opponent’s decks and frequently feels slow. Because Tormod’s Crypt has no draw effect it is difficult for an opponent who plays only a little graveyard hate to use it. Until now, the choice was between the more expensive Relic of Progenitus and the less powerful Tormod’s Crypt, but Nihil Spellbomb is less expensive and a more powerful countermeasure against graveyard decks.

Of course, the former two are superior in the sense that they do not require colored mana for their full effect, but if you are playing black it seems that you should essentially choose the Spellbomb. At Grand Prix Columbus I played Merfolk with a splash of black and used Tormod’s Crypt in my sideboard, but if Nihil Spellbomb had existed at that time I have no doubt I would have chosen to play it instead. I think playing graveyard-based decks is going to become much more difficult.

Fourth – Vedalken Certarch


Vedalken Certarch 

I have ranked this card in spite of the fact that it would be used exclusively in Affinity. If played in a properly constructed deck, I think there would be almost no circumstances in which metalcraft could not be achieved, and playing it on turn one and then tapping down their land would be consistent and powerful. You could also tap Tarmogoyf and Knight of the Reliquary as well as even the strongest of all, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. I think that in an Affinity deck, you would definitely include four copies of this card. Furthermore, in order to pay the blue cost of Force of Will it looks like the construction of the Affinity deck itself will change.

Fifth – Memnite

A 1/1 for zero mana: I never thought this day would come. Until now, all zero mana creatures have had zero power as well. There might be people who think that this is just Ornithopter losing its flying ability and changing one point of toughness to power, but a non-wall 0/2 becoming a 1/1 has a large significance. First of all I think that like Mox Opal, this card is most suited to an Affinity deck. Springleaf Drum greatly increased Affinity’s power, making it easier to play all kinds of Affinity creatures earlier in the game. And, this card might contribute to a resurgence of Glimpse of Nature combo decks which play zero mana creature after zero mana creature.

To those of you who have read this far: What do you think? I have talked a lot about Affinity. This article’s title is “The Legacy of Scars.” Of course I think Scars of Mirrodin will have a variety of effects, but among my ideas, the most significant one concerns Mirrodin Block’s Affinity decks and how they get a serious boost from the power of the new Scars of Mirrodin cards.

I have now covered my top five, but what cards might belong in Affinity decks? I wrote this and was truly astonished. I am still excited about this idea. My interest is such that I immediately forgot everything else and wanted to run this build in a Legacy tournament.

I have not tested this yet, but here is a sample core Affinity deck list.


I am going to adjust this deck after practice and observation of the metagame.

With the new strength of Affinity and the increased risks associated with search mechanics and graveyard-based decks, it is likely that the Legacy environment will change significantly. I think that compared with last year’s large set Zendikar, Scars of Mirrodin is a set that will have a much more extensive influence. When a format changes significantly, there are many things to consider and test. Times like these are my favorite.

I love Legacy, and because many fewer articles are written on the subject compared with Standard and Draft, I think that I will begin to write Legacy articles more frequently from now on. I hope you enjoy this change.

By the way, at this time playing Standard and Draft is also really fun. I think that Magic might be at its most popular after the release of a big set each year. I hope you also have an enjoyable time following the set release.

And so, see you in two weeks!

From Tomoharu Saito, to Magic players throughout the world.

36 thoughts on “Feature Article – The Legacy of Scars”

  1. I don’t know about the 4 moxes, being legendary and all. I think if you ran arcbound ravager it would be much better as you would have something to do with multiples.

  2. Great insight! Yup, the first thing I did when seeing Memnite spoiled was fire up the Glimpse deck. With Memnite, it puts the deck at 24 0-cost creatures that can attack. With Gaea’s Cradle, Crop rotation, Garruk, Elvish Spirit Guide, Sprout Swarm, Khalani Garden, and Beastmaster Ascension, it goldfishes out at turn 3 about 95% of the time, even with a little disruption. Best of all, it plays very well against the new Survival builds… Can’t wait to try it out the 13th in Vestal, NY!

  3. The question is, how much better is Arbiter than something like Aven Mindcensor, which still allows you to get the most out of your fetchlands, while severely hosing the opponents (as well as essentially turning off cards like Survival)? Mindcensor costs 1 more and has a theoretically less durable body, but being one-sided is pretty huge.

  4. I would always play 4 ornithopter above 4 memnite as it has evasion which is essential for cranial plating. I also don’t understand the lack of ravager as it is one of the best, if not the best card in the deck.

  5. I think a more aggressive build of Affinity is probably more effective, probably utilizing Glimpse of Nature and possibly Glint Hawk or Galvanic Blast. Vedalken Certarch is amazing though, so I can understand why you might want to go the more controlling route. Force of Will is no longer as necessary in the format as it used to be though. I also think you’re totally right about Leonin Arbiter – at least in the current American metagame full of Survival decks, he seems really effective.

    Thanks for the Legacy article. It’s a great format and I always enjoy reading about it.

  6. It would be really cool to see some legacy mtgo play videos with you testing these decks, to get a feel on how they play against the typical field (or typical mtgo field).

    Thanks for the article, interesting read, a nice break from all the standard and limited.

  7. With Galvanic Blast and Shrapnel Blast, wouldn’t that be a lot of efficient burn? Why run the Certarch at all in that case.

  8. What’s up with the Somber Hoverguard? It does nothing for the deck except provide a 3-power flying body, which is nothing to write home about. Just a straight up swap for Ravagers would make the deck more powerful.

  9. If you swap out Hoverguards you DEFINITELY have to get rid of the forces. Maybe they shouldn’t be in there regardless.

  10. The addition of Force of Will to the Affinity deck seems poor, not because of the power level of the card itself but because of the compromise(s) necessary to support it. What this change seems to accomplish is turn this deck into a mediocre fish deck. It gives the deck a bit of an identity crisis, in that it wants to accelerate into an overwhelming board presence with Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum, but it also wants to pitch cards for counterspells. It wants to control the board with Certarch, but it doesn’t play cards that give the deck inevitability against most known archetypes.

    On the flipside, counterbalance HATES you. That alone might make space for the deck in the meta.

  11. “What a card! If you can simply meet its Metalcraft condition, isn’t it even stronger than the original Moxes”

    no, it’s legendary

    also, what about the ooze – the only card from the set to have proven results so far in the format

  12. I second Wobbles. No mention of Necrotic Ooze? Fail! The boss Ooze is already seeing play in Survival builds. Also in reanimator strategies the Ooze and it’s BFF’s Phyrexian Devourer and Triskillion are making waves. Personally, I think the Ooze will become a mainstay of several decks.

  13. thanks for taking the time to write about the legacy format. i would appreciate to see more articles like this one!

  14. Yeah that’s weird that THE OOOOOOZE is’nt even onthe “probably played” list when that’s one of the few actual cards in winning legacy events, or at least placing I mean (referring to the few open series legacy results there are anyways). Just an over-Saito I’m sure (sry, couldnt resist). But,for the love of all that is magical, PLEASE do some videos about anything. EDH for all I care. We all promise to learn Japanese. How hard can that be?jk btw.about the Japanese language, not the videos.Those should be done.Seriously.

  15. “Because Tormod’s Crypt has no draw effect it is difficult for an opponent who plays only a little graveyard hate to use it.”

    What do u mean?

  16. “Because Tormod’s Crypt has no draw effect it is difficult for an opponent who plays only a little graveyard hate to use it.”

    What does thieamn?

  17. tormod’s crypt is a dead card vs decks that don’t care about their graveyard. nihil spellbomb and relic of progenitus at least cycle.
    original moxes are banned in legacy, therefore mox opal is better in legacy.

  18. The Affinity list seems no good to me. Certarch, Hoverguard, and FoW, this is just worse than the standard and block constructed versions of Affinity. Not to mention Memnite and Springleaf Drum, which are fine cards, but combined with the other three, this deck is looking like “empty my hand and have nothing but a 1/1 to show for it.” If your deck contains Disciple and Ravager, Disciple effectively deals about 9 damage to the opponent, which is VERY substantial.

    Also, I thought if Affinity were built differently, it could feature both Shrapnel Blast and Galvanic Blast. 5 damage for 2 mana and 4 damage for 1 mana is pretty sick. With the addition of Mox Opal and Memnite, it seems like there is the potential for a very fast, very aggressive version of Affinity.

  19. ?? so this mox is worse then the other mox’s because it is legendary?? this makes no since because while Mox Opal is legendary so are P9 mox’s you can only play one in any deck so that is like saying they are legendary.

  20. Keeping a really strong hand consisting of a mox opal and only 1 land? Seems alright, until your opponent drops his opal on his t1, effectively turning your awesome start into a stall. Kinda wish that was a mox jet now huh? Besides, this topic is for legacy, so showing up with some p9 sleeved up may not work out too well for ya.

  21. Finally, someone else that agrees powerful nonbasic hate helps for the diversity of a format. That needs to be told a lot until Wizards listens and may print a good card without an in-built clause for ignoring it.

  22. to all you nitpicking the decklist, its just a sample and I don’t think he spent more than 5 minutes making that up, its probably just meant to showcase how powerful the new cards are and how they could be used together.

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  24. Affinity doesn’t excite me at all. Scars supports that archetype more than any other, but I still find it lacking. Maybe after the full block is out, Affinity will have the tools to re-enter the Legacy metagame in a significant way, but right now, it still sucks.

    Also, re: Leonin Arbiter vs Aven Mindcensor: the one mana is huge. To get max value, you need to drop your disruption guy before your opponent gets to search (either with fetchlands or something else). Leonin Arbiter is currently the best way to do that (I don’t see anyone trying Shadow of Doubt). Aven Mindcensor has been around for awhile, and has seen almost no play because it comes down so late. After I’ve made three land drops, I am probably topping out my curve in Legacy (unless wasteland is involved, of course!). Too bad that to get max value from arbiter, you should be running both wasteland and path to exile, which are antisynergistic without the arbiter (and almost no one is on the “no basic land” plan). Still, stopping the first and second fetch is usually the most important, which is why wasteland + stifle rule the mana denial landscape. Now, if you added Arbiter to THAT package, maybe you’d be on to something (but don’t be lazy and just slap it into UW Tempo, that deck loves to be low on mana and use weathered wayfarer… leonin arbiter is the last thing it wants to see).

  25. Having played Aven mindcensor before, I agree that Arbiter >>> Mindcensor.

    @Tomoharu: Please, keep the Legacy articles coming!!

  26. All-in Affinity:

    4 Ancient Den
    4 Darksteel Citadel
    4 Seat of the Synod
    4 Vault of Whispers
    1 Glimmervoid
    3 Mox Opal
    4 Memnite
    4 Frogmite
    4 Glaze Fiend
    4 Master of Etherium
    4 Tidehollow Sculler
    4 Myr Enforcer
    4 Springleaf Drum
    4 Chromatic Star
    4 Cranial Plating
    4 Thoughtcast

    This list packs a bit of disruption, a bit of evasion and several ways to make huge guys: Cranial Plating, Glaze Fiend and Master of Etherium. To make them effective, this deck plays as much artifacts as possible. Ravager and Disciple got cut because a big Ravager means small Platings and Masters.

  27. Backward thinking re: Ravager and Disciple. If you are making a big Ravager, you are killing someone, so who cares if the Plating gets smaller? The modular means you are basically putting the same power onto whatever creature didn’t get blocked – so what is the problem, exactly? You don’t like cards that say “I win” by providing extreme reach?

  28. i see the potentional here. what you guys arent understanding is the current meta for legacy. arcbound ravager is no longer powerful enough. look at it. you need to sac an artifact. you need to then have an artifact creature that gets through to put the counters on. which in legacy is easily taken care of. Cranial Plating is for artifacts in play, and can be equipped at instant speed mana permitting. so, if the target is destroyed, you can reattach it to something else without having lost but 1 thing.
    Force of Will here is a great card for the meta. Look at all the decks hitting the meta now. for example, survival. survival is vicious now. force of will = a “free” counter on turn 1 with nothing out. going against survival (which by the way is making a huge presence) you need to counter that survival of the fittest as soon as it comes out while not holding back any spells. if you can’t, you might as well go home.
    the basic design of this affinity is fast creatures, and beat your opponents face in with a novelty baseball bat. but you need control without taking away from your face pummeling.
    Having said that, a card i really believe is being under-looked here is etched champion. yeahs its got a 3 cmc, however in this deck, if you can easily drop it turn 1 WITH its metalcraft in affect. 2/2 pro all colors swinging on turn 2? yes please! Maybe a stronger sideboard card, however that depends on the meta of your area. but also, play testing will prove his pros and cons.

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