Legacy High Tide – Deck Guide

While Legacy has mostly been defined by Modern Horizons 2 cards as of late, the format has a deep roster of cards to pull from. Among these cards is one of Magic’s best mana engines, High Tide, which allows decks built around Islands to generate absurd amounts of mana. The deck, named after the card, is one of Legacy’s oldest archetypes and it hasn’t changed much over the years, even in the face of pushed 2021 Magic design.

One of the stalwart’s of the archetype (and a skilled combo player overall), Marcus Ewaldh (iwouldliketorespond on MTGO) has been performing extremely well on Magic Online with the archetype recently. With two Legacy Challenge Top 8s in the past month and, most recently, a 21st place finish in the Legacy Showcase Challenge this past weekend, he has been demonstrating that you can be successful with archetypes that only have a handful of cards printed in the past 10 years (he also chatted with me about this deck a bit while I was writing this, so big shout out to Marcus!).

I think there’s a lot of reasons that this deck has found some success lately. The format has become more homogenous than previous iterations of Legacy, with most decks leaning into cards that answer the board and shifting away from non-Force of Will forms of countermagic. On top of that, cards like Thoughtseize and Chalice of the Void are at an all-time low, which makes for a good environment for a deck like this to flourish.

Let’s take a look at the deck list he has been using.




Legacy High Tide by Marcus Ewaldh


Header - The Game Plan

High Tide is a very resilient combo deck that’s seeking to combine its namesake card with Time Spiral to function as both a mana and card engine. Once you resolve Time Spiral and have access to a fresh new grip with a ton of blue mana, you can then sift through as many cards as you can with cantrips, generate additional mana with Turnabout and eventually use Cunning Wish to find a card like Brain Freeze to mill out your opponent.

This deck is pretty unique in Legacy since, unlike other combo decks, it wants to play as long of a game as possible, only needing to go off on the last possible turn. This is facilitated by a solid mana base and cards like Predict which let you generate a lot of card advantage and allow you to assume a controlling role in many matchups. Finally, the deck has a ton of blue countermagic to make sure its combo works when you need it to.

Let’s take a look at the individual cards that make this deck function.


Header - Card Choices

High Tide

This card makes the deck work. High Tide is a cheap, innocuous card that generates an absurd amount of mana. The fact that it costs a single mana makes it really difficult to stop with soft permission and once it resolves, those cards largely lose their function. Also, it’s so cheap that you can put it on the stack, let it get interacted with and then either cast another or use a card like Flusterstorm to protect it and still go off. In combination with Time Spiral, you have both a draw and mana engine that will give you more than enough resources to finish off your opponent. There are multiple ways to search for it in the deck and once you find it, it’s generally not that hard to put together enough card draw to find Time Spiral and really get your engine rolling.


Time Spiral

A card that was banned in Legacy until 2010, this is the payoff for playing High Tide. Time Spiral is an incredibly powerful card that functions as a free Timetwister at worst and, in most normal cases, a Timetwister that generates two or more mana. So many of the cards it draws you into continue to churn through your deck, but now you get to do that with a High Tide active, which makes the process easy. There’s a chance of missing completely, so the combo of this deck is not 100 percent guaranteed, but it’s not hard to put together a win after seeing so many fresh cards.



In conjunction with High Tide, Turnabout provides a powerful boost of mana. In the past, these decks leaned into this a bit more by playing Candelabra of Tawnos to generate really absurd amounts of mana, but there’s a couple of reasons to move away from that. Generally, this deck isn’t gated on mana generation, but rather on resolving a payoff. Committing a couple of cards to generating mana makes cards like Force of Will more potent against you.

In addition, shifting towards using Predict (more on that later) means that you can simply generate more resources and hit more land drops than older versions of this deck. This makes it so that you don’t need an extra card to generate more mana, since your land drops will assume some of that function. Nevertheless, Turnabout still helps provide a substantial boost of mana both pre- and post-Time Spiral and is a key card in making cards like Cunning Wish far easier to cast (and also allows you to use Blue Sun’s Zenith as a win condition).


Merchant ScrollCunning WishIntuition

Since this deck relies pretty heavily on two individual cards, running a number of tutor effects helps you assemble your combo far more consistently. Merchant Scroll gives you access to eight copies of High Tide, but also allows you to search up permission. This is a really impactful divide for your tutor to have and it makes for a very versatile card. Cunning Wish doesn’t get High Tide (at least not until you side out a copy), but it can get a card that’s effective in just about any circumstance.

Importantly, it also functions as your win condition, since this deck doesn’t play any other way to win in the main deck. Intuition can get anything you need, since you can search up three copies of the same card which is great, but it’s slow and really exposes this deck to Surgical Extraction while also being poor in multiples.



While cantrips aren’t unique to any particular combo deck, this deck needs to hit some specific cards. Since your mana base is very rarely under attack, you have plenty of mana to spend early to develop and find the missing pieces you need. After Time Spiral resolves, these let you keep digging towards cards like Cunning Wish that will allow you to win the game. Make sure you know what you’re looking for when you cast them, since this deck is often just trying to put together a couple of different pieces.



A natural pair with cantrips, Predict serves a couple of roles in this deck. It helps you generate enough resources before you cast High Tide so you can push through the combo and provides access to extra cards and selection post-combo in order to find your key cards, such as Cunning Wish. Drawing extra cards early is particularly impactful here, since this deck wants to wait as long as possible to combo off while hitting its land drops.

The set up cost in this deck is pretty low overall since this deck already plays a ton of cantrips. Predict is far preferable to cards like Meditate, which this deck used to play in larger numbers to get this kind of effect, since you can actually cast it early in the game. Meditate has a pretty substantial cost to cast if you ever need to set up before you combo, which resigns it to only working when you have High Tide active, which is a tough ask these days.


Force of WillFlusterstormPact of Negation

This is a really effective disruptive suite at protecting your combo. Since most of the relevant interaction occurs on the stack, Flusterstorm will make it pretty challenging for opponents to stop you from comboing. Pact of Negation primarily functions as a tutor target for Merchant Scroll and it’s really clutch when it comes to beating Force of Will. And then of course Force of Will is perfect for this deck. Not only does this deck generate enough cards to offset the cost, but it’s the only catch all answer in the deck. There are permanents that can be problematic to deal with, such as Narset, Parter of Veils and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, so having the ability to keep those cards in check and win counter wars is huge.


Island (#268)Flooded StrandMisty RainforestPolluted DeltaScalding TarnPrismatic Vista

One of the cleanest mana bases in Legacy, this is a serious advantage to playing High Tide in the Wasteland format. The fetch split might look random, but Pithing Needle has become far more common with Urza’s Saga being around, so splitting up the fetches definitely helps.


Header - The Sideboard

Blue Sun's ZenithBrain Freeze


These are the win conditions of the deck. Blue Sun’s Zenith has the advantage of doubling as a way to draw a couple of cards in games that go really long, which is a nice option to have. Brain Freeze is far easier to set up, but doesn’t work against some decks (like those with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn) so having both available is essential.


Echoing TruthSnap

Sometimes you need to answer problematic permanents and having these as Cunning Wish targets essentially means that it’s pretty difficult to catch this deck completely off-guard. Snap is especially nice, since you can use it with High Tide active to generate mana. There are a fair amount of options here depending on what you need to answer, so you can swap out these slots as you need.


Dress DownTeferi's Realm

Dress Down is a huge pickup for this deck, since it’s effective against hate bears that would have otherwise caused issues for the deck. Teferi’s Realm is a weird one, but it functions pretty similarly since you can just name creature on your upkeep and proceed to go off. Realm has the advantage of potentially naming other types if there are cards like Chalice of the Void that are posing a problem.


Grafdigger's Cage

While cards like Surgical Extraction are especially effective in this deck because of Cunning Wish, Grafdigger’s Cage is a hammer in the graveyard matchups and, as I always say, graveyard decks need to be respected in Legacy.


Pact of NegationForce of Negation

Sometimes you’re going to have to battle through a lot of counterspells and Pact of Negation let’s you do that very smoothly. Force of Negation is not a particularly effective card to have for this deck in general (since your combo is primarily at sorcery speed), but having access to that effect can be really devastating against certain archetypes, so it’s a solid Cunning Wish target that you can occasionally board in.



Turnabout is a very potent way to generate mana, so having an extra copy to tutor with Cunning Wish can be exactly what you need.


Header - Tips and Tricks

  • It’s better to combo off with more lands in play rather than fewer, so waiting as long as you can before you’re ready to go off is best (this is not a turn two or three combo deck).
  • Turnabout can target your opponent to act as a Fog/Silence split card, if you need to survive/play through cards like Pyroblast.
  • You can High Tide on your upkeep if you need to generate enough mana to pay for Pact of Negation.


Header - Sideboard Guide

Again, huge shout out to Marcus for his help here!


Izzet Delver

Izzet Delver

Out: 1 High Tide, 1 Intuition, 2 Turnabout

In: 3 Pact of Negation, 1 Snap


These decks don’t really play a lot of soft permission these days, so it’s a lot easier to grind them down with Predict than it used to be. Surgical Extraction is a pretty common card for opponent’s to bring in, so trying to minimize its effect can be important. Bringing in the Pacts means that it will be difficult for opponent’s to keep up with your protection, as you can just use Predict to build up a ton of resources and then fire them off to ensure your Time Spiral resolves with no card disadvantage to yourself. I like bringing in the Snap, especially with the prevalence of Murktide Regent, as Cunning Wish can be a bit slow so having a Snap to tutor off of Merchant Scroll is quite nice.



Bant Control

Bant Control

Out: 1 High Tide, 1 Intuition, 2 Turnabout

In: 3 Pact of Negation, 1 Force of Negation


While the sideboarding is pretty similar to the Delver matchup, there are certainly some different concerns here. Namely, this is the archetype that will have a combination of different cards to play through (namely countermagic and permanent hate pieces). Cards like Ethersworn Canonist, Meddling Mage and Narset can be challenging to play through, especially when your opponent can back it up with a Force of Will. Fortunately, these decks play a lot of slower cards, like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, that don’t really pose a threat to High Tide’s game plan (as opposed to control decks of the past which might have Counterbalance), so you should have plenty of time to set up with Predict and assemble a fair amount of protection.



Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes

Out: 3 Flusterstorm, 1 Pact of Negation

In: 2 Dress Down, 2 Teferi’s Realm 


This is where Dress Down truly shines, as it can turn off the abilities of every hatebear on the battlefield. Pre-board, they actually have the potential to lock High Tide out from winning by getting a Sanctum Prelate down on three. Being mindful of that is important and you might need to cast Cunning Wishes to get a win condition a bit earlier. Post-board, the combination of Dress Down/Realm will go a long way towards making sure these cards aren’t as problematic and it should be a lot easier to navigate the matchup at that point.





Out: 1 High Tide, 2 Turnabout, 1 Pact of Negation

In: 1 Force of Negation, 2 Dress Down, 1 Brain Freeze


High Tide is actually pretty well-equipped to fight against Doomsday. With a plethora of disruption backed up with Predict to stay ahead on cards (and plenty of lands to help play around Daze), I think this deck should be able to stay alive against Doomsday in the early game. They do have a combination of discard and countermagic which might make it a little challenging to assemble a quicker combo but I don’t think that’s the best approach anyway since this deck isn’t generally looking to combo off quickly.

Not much changes post-board, but Dress Down adds an extra element of disruption for their combo which can be quite difficult for them to play through. I also like bringing in the Brain Freeze since Cunning Wish is very slow so being able to tutor it off of Merchant Scroll is a lot smoother. Brain Freeze gives you a way to finish the game against them at any point that they resolve a Doomsday, so that can be a route to a quick victory.




Scroll to Top