How Busted is Ledger Shredder in Legacy?

Reviewing cards is a difficult task. There are a lot of factors to consider and sometimes it’s difficult to picture the way a card fits into the format. To me, my most infamous miss was Expressive Iteration, as it looked too similar to cards we’ve seen before that haven’t dominated the format. This time around, that card is Ledger Shredder, but this time, I didn’t even review it! For me, I think that Modern Horizons-style design has influenced the way I view regular sets. The bar for power level gets set so high that it becomes challenging to picture how a relatively innocuous looking creature can compete with cards like Murktide Regent

None of this is meant to be an excuse, just an explanation (perhaps just for myself) but going forward, I’m going to make an effort to more critically examine cards like this in an effort to avoid missing gems. That being said, it feels appropriate to dedicate a whole article to the card, as it is actually poised to be among the most impactful cards from New Capenna (if not the most impactful). I don’t think this card is format-warping, but rather a good, solid creature that has the potential to fill gaps in midrange decks’ curves. Let’s take a look at what makes the card a consideration for Legacy.



Header - Why Is It So Good?

Ledger Shredder

On the surface, a 1/3 flyer for 1U is not the most impressive body. In conjunction with the connive ability, though, this has the possibility to quickly have a really impactful body. If you can immediately follow this up with a spell, such as a Mishra’s Bauble, creating a 2/4 flyer is incredibly meaningful. It effectively blanks Delver and blocks Dragon’s Rage Channelers, which is a feature not many other two-drops have. On top of that, flying has demonstrated itself to be one of the most potent abilities in Legacy, and being able to pressure players through ground defenses is quite powerful.

The natural play patterns of Legacy are a significant part of what makes this card potentially strong. If you don’t immediately have a second spell to cast to connive, if your opponent goes to Bolt it at the end of turn, you can Daze it to get a trigger, which will likely blank the Bolt, even if it doesn’t get countered. If your opponent has to cantrip into a removal spell, the timing of their removal spell becomes awkward because if they cast it on their main phase, it will trigger the connive ability (potentially blanking a Bolt), and if they wait until your upkeep, you’ll have the opportunity to cast two spells yourself. On top of that, it naturally provides a source of card filtering throughout the game against combo decks who frequently use their early turns to set up.

Beyond this, there are some Legacy-specific aspects and interactions that make Shredder effective. It combines well with cards like Expressive Iteration (but I suppose what cards don’t?). It dodges graveyard hate, which is quite effective against many of the Legacy threats these days. It pairs very nicely with cards that are already played, such as Daze (returning the land and then discarding it) and Mishra’s Bauble. Being blue is often an upside, since in matchups where it’s too slow, you can just pitch it to Force of Will (although opening itself up to Pyroblast is a downside, but more on that later).  All-in-all, Shredder looks like a very solid card with a lot of potential in the format. 


Header - Where Does It Shine?

As players like Matthew Vook have said on Twitter, Ledger Shredder has the potential to fill a gap in the two-drop slot, which has historically been a weaker point in Legacy. While cards like Baleful Strix, Stoneforge Mystic, Tarmogoyf and Young Pyromancer occupy that space currently, each of them requires an additional color. The fact that this is a blue two-drop means that decks looking to take advantage of an effective, two-drop threat no longer have to look towards what other colors have to offer.

Mishra's BaubleDazePredict

That being said, it’s relatively slow to apply pressure. This might make it a slightly underwhelming choice in Delver decks. If you don’t immediately pair it with a Mishra’s Bauble, relying on Shredder as your marquis threat may leave you unable to apply a sufficient amount of pressure. Still, just like Young Pyromancer, it does get quite a bit better the longer you wait since you can pair it with another spell more easily. Unlike Young Pyromancer, Shredder actually represents a potent defensive body in this current metagame (as an aside, while Young Pyromancer used to be great both defensively and offensively since it could stabilize the ground, but flying is too common these days, which is part of the reason it isn’t as common). This means that waiting on the Shredder until you can pair it with a Ponder isn’t that bad since it effectively holds back threats. 

For the most part, I think this all adds up to a card that’s better in midrange and control shells. The downside of this is that those decks are naturally less inclined to play cards like Daze and Mishra’s Bauble, although they are not completely restricted on playing those cards. However, the upside is fairly high in those decks since the looting ability is far more meaningful for a control deck than a more aggressive deck. There are plenty of situations where you have more narrow cards, such as removal spells, that do very little in certain matchups, so having the ability to loot them away is quite strong. It can be played relatively early which provides those decks with a form of early pressure, which is a nice upside. Since you really want to take advantage of Mishra’s Bauble, it may fit into a shell that involves cards like Predict, since that gives you some additional value out of your Baubles. 


Header - What Is the Cost?

Even the best cards in the format come at a cost, and Ledger Shredder is no different. If it ever remains a 1/3 for a full turn cycle, it certainly hasn’t earned its worth. That may happen for two reasons: no player cast two spells in the same turn or your hand couldn’t afford to discard a spell. The former case is more concerning to me, since opponents can play around it if they’re aware of it and you’re not always going to have a follow-up spell (in addition to the forced timing of your spell, since you have to cast it right away). The latter is a bit less of a concern since, while having a 1/3 is fairly impactful, looting away a land when you’re flooded is still a meaningful effect. 


Shredder also falls victim to the relative popularity of Pyroblast. In my personal experience, I have noted that threats which dodge Pyroblast (such as Stoneforge Mystic, which I talked about last week) are actually quite effective at the moment. Pyroblast is growing to be one of the more common removal spells. Shredder walks right into that, which is a knock against it. The flipside of this is that Shredder is fairly strong against Lightning Bolt, which is actually the most popular removal spell in the format, so that could go either way.

If Shredder is the type of card that can break into Delver shells, it is currently facing a lot of competition. It’s very possible that Legacy players won’t really see the impact of Ledger Shredder until a change occurs in the format. It is competing with two of the best creatures the format has ever seen (Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Murktide Regent) and there really isn’t any clean space for it in Delver-style decks at the moment. 


Header - Verdict?

I think Ledger Shredder is a solid card that will make a nice addition to the Legacy card pool. It positions itself firmly in the middle of an aggressive and defensive card, which honestly makes for a pretty decent creature. If it was always a 2/4, it would be a great card. With that in mind, when you build decks to take advantage of the Shredder, I would optimize for that and lean into Mishra’s Bauble as much as you can. If you only play a few copies of Shredder, you may be able to back off of that a bit and rely on it as a faux-three-drop, but it does sound quite a bit more clunky in that world. Either way, I think there’s space for Shredder to be a reasonable Legacy threat and I look forward to working with it in the future. 


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