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MTG Legacy Hammer Time – Deck Guide

Every now and then, there’s a format-defining deck in another format that has a high enough power that players decide it’s worth porting over to Legacy. Historically, one of the most iconic examples of this is Caw-Blade, a Standard deck with a threat so effective that it would become one of Legacy’s most defining decks for years to come. We have seen this a bit more recently with a deck like Temur Rhinos, which has put up some results over the past year or two. However, today I want to explore another Modern port that looks like it has some promise in Legacy: Hammer Time. Magic Online player CrusherBotBG came in 11th place in a Legacy Challenge with their version of this deck which looks quite powerful.

I’m generally a fan of this happening. It puts the deck into a new context and allows players to work on ways to optimize it for the Legacy field. Let’s jump right in and see how this deck works and why you might want to port your Modern deck over to Legacy.

 

 

 

Legacy Hammer Time by CrusherBotBG

 

Header - The Game Plan

This deck is an aggro-combo deck that shares some similarities to a deck like Infect. The plan is fairly straightforward: put a Colossus Hammer on a creature as soon as possible and quickly kill your opponent. To do this, this deck has eight ways to find a Hammer (Steelshaper’s Gift and Stoneforge Mystic; 12 if you count Urza’s Saga) and eight ways to get it onto a creature (Puresteel Paladin and Sigarda’s Aid). If your opponents are able to successfully defend against this, this deck has a decent amount of built-in resilience that allows it to play a longer game between the power of Stoneforge Mystic and Urza’s Saga. Overall, it’s a fairly resilient, brutally fast deck that can keep up with opponents in grindy games, which are promising signs for the deck.

 

Header - Card Choices

Colossus Hammer

This is the core piece of the deck, and the whole deck is built to take advantage of it. The printed equip cost is a red herring, as this deck is full of ways to get the Equipment onto a creature for free. Once this is on a creature, the game is probably not going to last too much longer since cracking in for 10+ damage is going to end the game in short order. In order to fully support this strategy, you do need to commit a fair amount of deck building space to it, but the payoff is worth it since the strategy isn’t just powerful, it’s also fairly cheap. It’s possible to set up a turn two kill in some situations and even if that’s a bit out of reach, you can at least put opponents to the test really early and force them to have the right answers.

Puresteel PaladinSigarda's Aid

These are the ways to get a Hammer onto a creature. Sigarda’s Aid is the most powerful and efficient of these effects, allowing you to not only set up very quick Hammers, but also allowing all of your Equipment to act as combat tricks. I think the fact that Aid and Hammer both cost one-mana is a big reason this deck can be ported from Modern into Legacy. It’s not only a fairly simple and easy to assemble combination, the mana cost makes it somewhat trivial to play through soft permission like Daze.

Puresteel Paladin is the clunkier of the two, but still works roughly as well at initially getting a Hammer on a creature. It’s especially important if your opponents can answer the equipped creature, thus stranding your Hammer in play. Being able to re-equip is an important part of the deck. It also has some additional late-game value of allowing you to start drawing cards off of all of your Equipment, which is some nice upside. It’s important to note that you won’t always have metalcraft, so make sure you keep that in mind.

Stoneforge MysticSteelshaper's Gift

These are the primary ways to find a Hammer. Stoneforge Mystic needs little introduction, seeing as this has been one of the best creatures in Legacy since its printing. This may be the best possible deck for it, since it not only helps you assemble your combo, but this deck is playing a huge package for the card, which allows you to get just the right card for almost any situation.

Gift is mostly worse than Stoneforge Mystic, except that it’s another one-mana card. Since you’re primarily tutoring a Hammer, it certainly gives Mystic a run for its money. If your goal is exclusively to set up your combo, Gift is actually better, which is important to keep in mind in matchups where the only thing that matters is racing your opponent.

Cranial Plating (Timeshifted)Lion SashShadowspearSword of Fire and IceUmezawa's JitteNettlecyst

This is one of the most sizable Stoneforge packages you’ll see in Legacy. Cranial Plating is a worse Hammer when you have Aid or Paladin going, but it’s a lot better if you need to equip for a low amount of mana. Lion Sash is both a threat and a graveyard hate creature and at this point, it has certainly proven its worth. Shadowspear is also a Saga target and it’s a crucial one against both decks that can chump block you forever or against decks that can effectively race you. Sword of Fire and Ice used to be very common, but has fallen off a bit since True-Name Nemesis has somewhat left the format. It’s still great at helping you get through Murktide Regents though, and is overall a very powerful piece of Equipment. Umezawa’s Jitte is, and always will be, one of the best Equipment ever printed, so being able to take advantage of that is a big upside from the Modern to the Legacy version. Finally, Nettlecyst is a combination Cranial Plating/big threat, which can be exactly what you need sometimes.

Esper SentinelOrnithopter

These are the cheap creatures that you can put a Hammer on. Esper Sentinel is a really annoying card to play against if you’re tripping up at all early on. It also works beautifully with a Hammer, making it so that you are all but guaranteed to draw a card, so Sentinel is the perfect fit for this deck. Ornithopter is much less impactful by itself, but it wears a Hammer perfectly and facilitates some of this deck’s most powerful starts. Additionally, being a flying creature is important because it will wear almost any Equipment (read: not Jitte) very well.

Mox Opal

Another big difference between the Modern and Legacy versions, Mox Opal greatly increases the speed of the archetype, which gives it the capability to keep up with the power and speed of other Legacy decks.

Paradise MantleRetrofitter Foundry

These are the dedicated Urza’s Saga targets. Mantle is mostly worse than Mox Opal except when you don’t have enough artifacts for metalcraft, so it is probably worth a slot (although I’m not actually sure about that). Retrofitter Foundry is one of the best ways to grind against slower decks and I’m still convinced this is one of the best Saga targets in the format, so it’s a great inclusion here.

The Mana Base

Snow-Covered Plains (276)

Plains cast spells, and you need to consistently have access to white mana so not too much to say here.

Ancient Den

Ancient Den is mostly a free-roll, seeing as it helps turn on metalcraft really well. It may be collateral damage against cards like Meltdown and Null Rod, but the upside is worth the risk.

Inkmoth Nexus

Since this deck does really need white mana, you can’t play too many colorless sources. Nexus is a somewhat important card though, since it provides you extra threats at a very low cost (and enables you most effective turn two kills).

Karakas

Like Death and Taxes, Karakas is largely a free-roll here and it provides a lot of insurance against random legends. Unlike Death and Taxes though, it doesn’t protect your own legends, so you don’t need to run the risk of running too many of them.

Urza's Saga

Like all deck’s with Urza’s Saga, this is really the glue that holds it together. There’s no limit to what this card does for the deck, as it provides two threats, access to your combo piece, the ability to accelerate your mana and so much more.

 

Header - The Sideboard

Citizen's Crowbar

Manriki-Gusari was never a very good sideboard card, primarily because it was so narrow (although it was certainly necessary at times). Crowbar is much better, since it has the ability to answer any artifact or enchantment, which is huge for a card that can be tutored. 

Ethersworn Canonist

Canonist is always a great card to have against most combo decks and when it comes to sideboard hatebears, it doesn’t really get too much more impactful than this.

Leyline of Sanctity

Leyline is a strong card against discard spells, combo decks like Storm and the occasional Hurkyl’s Recall, so I think it’s a reasonable inclusion here.

Mana Tithe

Mana Tithe is a funny card to see, but it’s honestly a card that opponents will probably not expect. I’m not certain this is the best option, but until it becomes more common in the public eye, I like seeing it here.

Pithing Needle

The most catch-all card in Legacy happens to be a great Saga target, so board it in if you need it (Sneak Attack, Thespian’s Stage, etc…)

Swords to Plowshares

Creatures still dominate this format and Swords is the best way to answer them, so a pair here will keep Murktide at bay to some degree.

 

Header - Tips and Tricks

  • Cards like Meltdown can be completely devastating if you’re not prepared, so if you expect that, be sure to plan around getting more resilient cards like Nettlecyst over extra Hammers.
  • You can activate Inkmoth Nexus again after it’s equipped with a Hammer to have it regain flying, which is a key interaction to note.
  • Umezawa’s Jitte is a solid way to power through an Ensnaring Bridge (if it has counters, you can use Ornithopter to attack and pump after attacks or give your Stoneforge Mystic -1/-1, allowing it to attack and then pump after you attack).

 

Header - Sideboard Guide

Izzet Delver

Izzet Delver

Out: 1 Paradise Mantle, 1 Cranial Plating

In: 2 Swords to Plowshares

Honestly, most of the cards in the deck are fairly well-suited for this matchup so there’s not too much to bring out. I like cutting Mantle and Plating because of Meltdown, and overcommitting into that can be an easy way to lose a post-board game.

For the most part, this will be a match of choosing your moment. Occasionally it will be right to just go for it ASAP before they can defend effectively, and other times it will be right to wait a bit longer and find a way to play through their interaction.

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Jeskai Control

Jeskai Control

Out: 1 Umezawa’s Jitte, 1 Shadowspear, 1 Paradise Mantle

In: 3 Mana Tithe

As the game goes on, it will be really difficult to keep up with their removal. I think the best approach is to try to go for it as quickly as you can and force them to have an answer. If they do, you can still rebuild with Urza’s Saga, but playing a long game against Jeskai is not a winning proposition most of the time. I like Mana Tithe since it can both help you set up an early kill and counter an annoying three-drop in the midgame.

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Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes

Out: 1 Sword of Fire and Ice, 1 Retrofitter Foundry, 1 Lion Sash, 1 Nettlecyst

In: 2 Swords to Plowshares, 1 Pithing Needle, 1 Citizen’s Crowbar

It’s not completely safe to go for a kill early because of Solitude, but since they play 80 cards, it’s arguably better to do it sooner rather than later. I don’t think Foundry is an important piece of the puzzle here since Death and Taxes is not a deck you can realistically grind against. For the most part, I like trying to make a move sooner rather than later and my sideboard options all fall in line with that, since the cards you’re cutting are your slower, more resilient pieces.

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Doomsday

Doomsday

Out: 1 Lion Sash, 1 Umezawa’s Jitte, 1 Retrofitter Foundry, 1 Sword of Fire and Ice, 1 Nettlecyst, 1 Shadowspear, 1 Paradise Mantle

In: 3 Mana Tithe, 4 Ethersworn Canonist

While you don’t really have much disruption or interaction for this deck, you can race extremely well so this is probably a fairly close matchup. Try to move as quickly as you can and, if possible, try to have a backup plan if they can disrupt you. The cards you’re bringing in won’t stop them by any means, but hopefully you can slow them down long enough to get them to zero.

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1 thought on “MTG Legacy Hammer Time – Deck Guide”

  1. Imran Najam-Noveno

    I top 8’d (FKA) ChannelFireball Game Center’s Legacy 1.5k yesterday with Hammertime 🙂 I played Crushers list with some changes.
    I highly think the deck should be playing at least 1 Enlightened Tutor, I cut 1 Gift for it.
    And then Cut 2 Gifts for 2 Ingenious Smith to have some resilience against Meltdown decks.

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