Bomberman has been a Legacy deck since Auriok Salvager’s release in Fifth Dawn. Combining the ability to generate infinite mana while playing a ton of cheap artifacts is a very appealing strategy. While this deck has never really broken into the mainstream of the Legacy metagame (save for a few months back in 2019 when War of the Spark released), it has always been an archetype that could show up and perform well in any event.
However, Magic Online user Kanican has been putting up a lot of impressive results with their Bomberman variants over the past few months and breathing new life into this archetype. While their general approach has been a UW variant, recently, with the release of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, they’ve shifted towards sporting a very cool looking WB version that plays a lot of cards which don’t usually see play in Legacy. This list is what they used to Top 8 a recent Legacy Challenge, so it seemed like as good of a time as any to take a look at the archetype and break down its relatively unique card choices.
Legacy BW Ingenious Bomberman by Kanican
This is an artifact-based Ancient Tomb deck that has a couple of different plans it can enact. The first is as a prison deck, using cards like Chalice of the Void and Karn, the Great Creator to quickly lock opponents out. Additionally, this deck has a combo element, and combining Auriok Salvagers with Lion’s Eye Diamond will generate infinite mana and allow you to create a huge Walking Ballista and end the game in a single shot. Finally, this deck can take the role of a “Stompy” deck, and can deploy creatures that can apply serious pressure to the board before opponents are ready to deal with them, such as Stonecoil Serpent and even its companion, Gyruda, Doom of Depths.
There’s a lot more going on in this deck, though, so let’s break down the individual card choices.
Before the companion rule changed, Gyruda was a bit of a plague in Legacy. The ability to cast it early with Lion’s Eye Diamond and create an unbeatable board (using clones) was far too much for the format. While the rule change all but killed that style of deck, Gyruda is still an extremely powerful creature to have access to in every game, assuming you can afford the companion cost. In an Ancient Tomb/Chalice deck, the cost of playing only even cards is pretty greatly diminished, seeing as you don’t have to skip turn one that often. Without Gyruda, I don’t think this deck would actually be built all too differently, so the opportunity cost is roughly as low as it can get.
The combo that inspires the whole deck, this combination of cards is extremely potent and resilient. With Cavern of Souls, countermagic isn’t really a concern. It’s a bit soft to removal (although, notably, it is resilient to Lightning Bolt), but with Chalice of the Void in the mix, you can mitigate some of that disadvantage. Once you generate infinite mana, this deck has a lot of different ways it can try to win. One of the really neat things about playing Gyruda is that not only is Gyruda a mana sink for the infinite mana, but it also might mill cards like Walking Ballista into the graveyard so let you win on the spot.
Karn has lost a little bit of its potency over the past year of Legacy as more decks have been playing creatures that can pressure it. However, it’s still one of the most effective cards in this deck. Playing it early threatens to lock the game out, either through Mycosynth Lattice or cards like Ensnaring Bridge. Additionally, it functions as a way to get missing combo pieces, such as Walking Ballista or Lion’s Eye Diamond, or even get a bullet like Ethersworn Canonist to lock storm players out.
Chalice of the Void has a history of supporting a wide-array of different strategies and it fits perfectly here. Not only does it have a real chance of preventing the opponent from doing anything meaningful, as it always does, but the fact that it can blank cards like Swords to Plowshares preemptively is really important since this deck relies on creatures pretty heavily. Be wary about putting this on zero or two, since this deck does run a fair amount of cards of those costs, but overall Chalice is just about the perfect card for this deck.
This is the exact place I expected Ingenious Smith to show up in Legacy when I wrote my set review. It’s cheap enough to be played early while generating a bit of value. Then, as the game goes on, it’s very likely to grow every turn throughout the midgame, at which point it becomes a pretty substantial threat. It’s certainly an innocuous card, but it fills the role that a deck like this really needed, as a bit of card advantage and board presence for a small amount of mana.
This is a card that has essentially seen zero play in Legacy but it’s an awesome inclusion here. There are a ton of small creatures in Legacy that this just straight up kills and even if it doesn’t wipe the board, it greatly impacts the amount of pressure you’ll be under. The fact that Kaervek can come along with Gyruda is pretty potent and, combined with Cavern of Souls, this will often have an immediate impact in a way that can’t really be disrupted. However, this is the major area I think that Gyruda’s companion cost impacts the deck, since this would otherwise be taken up by Plague Engineer. However, this deck doesn’t have a lot of smaller creatures anyway and the extra mana isn’t that difficult to find, so the downside isn’t too overbearing.
These are the mana sinks of the deck, which serve to fill out the curve where needed, provide use for excess mana if you draw a few too many mana sources and act as win conditions once you generate infinite mana. Stonecoil Serpent is pretty effective in Legacy, since it doesn’t take much mana for it to completely brick wall a Delver of Secrets. Walking Ballista is quite a bit less potent as a form of board presence, but there are plenty of decks that struggle against the threat of removal that Walking Ballista presents.
While Lotus Petal and Mox Opal are relatively traditional inclusions in artifact-based decks in Legacy, Signets don’t show up often. Since this deck does have to conform to the Gyruda restrictions, while also having some stringent mana concerns, it’s a reasonable direction to go. While Grim Monolith is a lot more common since the mana boost it provides is quite substantial, there is a risk in playing a two-color Ancient Tomb deck that you might not be able to cast all of your spells. Orzhov Signet helps shore that up and while it isn’t the most powerful mana rock in the format, the utility it provides is pretty key in this archetype.
As with so many decks I’ve reviewed since I have started writing deck guides here, these are truly the core of the deck. Lands that tap for two mana are so potent and effective, even in a format where Wasteland is one of the most played cards. Mana advantage is one of the most potent, if not the most potent, strategies in Magic and even though it’s possible to get punished for playing these lands, the advantage they provide can easily take over the game.
Not all Ancient Tomb/Chalice decks run Cavern, but it can really put opponents in a serious chokehold. With a Chalice of the Void in play, one of the key points of disruption that can be meaningful is countermagic. Cavern of Souls completely shuts that down and because Auriok Salvagers is so resilient once it’s in play (countering Lion’s Eye Diamond does little once you have some extra mana lying around), it’ll be pretty trivial to combo on opponents. There are enough brutal creatures in this deck that resolving any one of them can be completely game-changing.
This is a nod to the mana concerns this deck has. While it can be awkward in this deck, as it doesn’t help activate Auriok Salvagers, it works nicely as a dual land for both Salvagers and Kaervek. It does seem like having Scrubland might just be more effective though, so that’s a change I would be willing to make here.
Quickly becoming a card that needs little introduction, this is a deck where Urza’s Saga can really dominate the board. The tutor targets in this deck are a bit lacking (although finding Lion’s Eye Diamond can help you combo off), but really this is a way to produce two massive creatures that can’t effectively be disrupted except by Wasteland. I’ll probably say this every time, but this is going to keep invigorating archetypes while it’s legal, and I don’t think we’ll see the end of this card any time soon.
Having Vault of Whispers really helps enable Mox Opal, while also being recurrable with Auriok Salvagers. It’s a bit better to have Vault over Ancient Den since this deck is trying to support multiple double black spells (Kaervek and Gyruda).
These are the extra combo pieces that Karn can tutor up, depending on what you need. They both have some additional functionality, of course, but their primary purpose is to fill out the gap in your combo.
These are the pure Karn targets that you won’t often sideboard in. While there are situations that you could bring them in (such as Ethersworn Canonist against storm decks), for the most part, having the additional copies of these that using Karn to tutor them provides is more valuable.
Containment Priest is slower than a lot of the common graveyard hate, but it’s extremely potent while also impacting more than just the graveyard. Stopping Show and Tell and Natural Order goes a long way, which makes Priest a great choice.
Feed the Swarm doesn’t see a lot of play, but it does kill just about any creature or enchantment that might cause trouble, which notably includes Urza’s Saga, so it’s a valuable card to have access to.
Freebooter is a really potent disruptive tool against the unfair decks for the format. The fact that it can be cast off of Cavern as an uncounterable piece of disruption is really high impact against decks like Sneak and Show and it makes a lot of sense to see it show up in this sideboard.
- Auriok Salvagers can return artifacts like Stonecoil Serpent from the graveyard, even if you don’t have infinite mana, so remember to use it as a way of grinding opponents down.
- Ingenious Smith only triggers once each turn, so be mindful of how you pace your artifacts if you have a finite number of them.
- Lion’s Eye Diamond is still very effective at helping cast Gyruda, so if you don’t have anything else in hand, working towards that plan can be effective.
In: 2 Feed the Swarm
While Kaervek can be effective on certain board states, they do have a lot of creatures that survive it, so flooding on the effect can be costly. Additionally, it’s pretty common for them to bring in Null Rod, so relying on the combo can be difficult at times, especially since Lion’s Eye Diamond doesn’t do much by itself. Having more removal will hopefully buy you enough time to set up and leverage the advantage that Chalice provides.
Out: 2 Stonecoil Serpent
In: 2 Feed the Swarm
Killing Ragavan and Urza’s Saga is a valuable thing for a card to do, so Feed the Swarm fits perfectly here. Unlike against Delver, Kaervek kills both Ragavan and the tokens off of Retrofitter Foundry, so I think it has higher utility here. Stonecoil Serpent is a bit too easy to answer, with both Swords to Plowshares and Prismatic Ending in the mix, so I’d rather bring in some additional answers from the board.
In: 4 Kitesail Freebooter
This deck has a ton of potentially impactful permanents for this matchup, but as is always the case, Doomsday can battle through a lot. Try to slow them down as much as you can early and then apply as much pressure as possible. Cavern of Souls can help a lot here, as resolving an early Freebooter can really let you slow them down and disrupt their plan.
Death and Taxes
In: 2 Feed the Swarm
Death and Taxes has a ton of disruption, so I don’t think relying on the combo is safe here. Kaervek and Karn will pull a ton of weight in this matchup, so try to lean into hands that can get those online quickly. The printing of Kaldra Compleat has made Stoneforge Mystic way scarier, so try to answer that with Feed the Swarm as quickly as you can. I could see Freebooter being worth bringing in as well, since Stoneforge Mystic can be so problematic to deal with.