Set releases are very odd these days. Between the sheer amount of products that are released and the bizarre passage of time, it can be hard to keep track of things. That being said, preview season for Strixhaven has finished so we finally get to see what Wizard of the Coast’s take on a wizard school looks like.
It’s a neat set with some cool flavor, but it doesn’t look like the most groundbreaking set. The power knobs have been tuned down quite a bit, which is great (honestly, I say this in every review – sets being weaker than a year ago is what Magic needs right now). There’s certainly some cool stuff going on in the cards and mechanics and some amount of it might break into Legacy.
A brief note on the learn mechanic before I get started: tutoring from your sideboard is historically very powerful. Upon first learning of this mechanic, I had some concerns that we’d be seeing another broken mechanic. With all of the cards previewed, it’s clear that isn’t the case and, in fact, I included zero of these cards in my review. Neither the cards with learn or the Lessons seem good enough to me, so I left them off completely.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the set!
This is the perfect card for any Jeskai sideboard, and it’s honestly probably reasonable in the main deck sometimes. It’ll certainly be a dead card some amount of the time, but it’s wide enough of a range that it’s probably going to have a target in most games. I love this card and I’m looking forward to playing it.
This is a Meddling Mage variant that still allows you to play the card freely and slightly punishes your opponents when they cast it. You could make the argument that it punishes the opponent more than slightly. In general though, the player playing Silencer is down a card, so to speak, because they already cast a 3/2 (which doesn’t generally have a substantial impact on a game of Legacy), so three life and a card isn’t a particularly steep cost to pay (especially when compared to Meddling Mage, which completely shuts down the chosen card). It’s a Human, so if Humans wants additional copies of a worse Meddling Mage, this isn’t too unreasonable.
This is an excellent card for black-white decks, as there are a fair amount of monocolored cards in Legacy. There is a cost to including too many of these though, as when this doesn’t answer a threat, it’s pretty costly to have this in hand. It’s very cool when there are costs and benefits to including a removal spell though, and I definitely think this will be an excellent card to have in the black-white removal arsenal going forward.
In any deck with black and white, this is just a better Disenchant. Hitting planeswalkers isn’t always relevant, but having the option of doing so is a pretty substantial boon for the card.
This cleanly combos with Chain of Smog. If that interaction is good enough, this will likely play a key role in it. I’m hesitant about this combo though, since going for it can be pretty risky (getting your creature killed in response to Chain sounds pretty rough) but it’ll be important to keep in mind.
This does a lot of small things and I don’t know if it’s enough for Legacy. I think each effect is just tuned slightly too far down to make this a relevant card, but in the right context it might have a chance to shine.
While this has a ridiculous set of stats, I don’t think large vanilla creatures for three or more mana ever really cut it in Legacy. In some decks, it’s downside might be an upside, so that could be interesting to build around, but when you compare this to something like Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, Daemogoth Titan begins to look relatively poor.
This card is never going to be played fairly and if it shows up, it’s because there’s an Omniscience combo deck that tutors this up with Cunning Wish from the sideboard. I have no idea why you’d rather have this than some of the other options, but I’ll leave that to the combo players.
This is certainly diverse enough to be interesting, but largely I think it’s less effective than Kolaghan’s Command, which doesn’t see too much play these days. Veil of Summer is still great against Prismari Command, as is Pyroblast, but being Izzet is quite a bit better than being Rakdos in Legacy, so it might show up.
This card looks really cool but too weak for Legacy. There are a fair amount of cheap spells that essentially draw two in Legacy right now (e.g. Of One Mind and Light Up the Stage). As with most things, this is just adding to the available options, which is never a bad thing, even if this mostly falls short.
Elemental Masterpiece / Magma Opus
I’m combining these cards because they’re kind of the same in my eyes. If there’s an effective way to cast spells from the graveyard for free, I could see either of these showing up as enabling themselves is pretty cool. I don’t know if there’s a good way to do that, but it’s worth keeping in mind as more cards get printed.
This feels like it combos with something in a reasonable way, but I don’t really know how. I know it combines with Kiki-Jiki, but that’s not really going to be a player in Legacy. This is a bit like Mystic Reflection from Kaldheim, where I can see a world where Double Major is a meaningful combo piece but I don’t really know how it fits in. It’s priced to move though, so I can picture this showing up.
Extus, Oriq Overlord // Awaken the Blood Avatar
You would only really consider this for the Blood Avatar half, and I think the costs of playing this are too high and the payoff is too low.
This is kind of a cool threat for decks with a lot of spells. Of course, it’s worse than Delver of Secrets, but adding onto the roster of potential threats those decks have access to is pretty interesting.
I think you need a lot of cantrips for this card to reliability connect for two every turn (perhaps too many to make your deck functional), but it isn’t too hard to picture a deck with four Delvers and four Symmetry Sages having some pretty potent starts (perhaps Mono-Blue Delver is the best place to start, although that deck tends to be more reactive, which doesn’t work with this card). It’s also vaguely interesting in the context of Ninjas, as it’s an evasive, cheap creature that might apply some pressure later.
Solve the Equation
This card looks a bit slow, and it probably is, but tutoring specific combo pieces in Legacy is no joke. In slower variants of Doomsday and Show and Tell, I could absolutely see this showing up in some quantity.
Test of Talents
This is a pretty sick counter for blue decks to gain access to. Invasive Surgery doesn’t show up too much these days, but also countering and exiling an instant is a potent effect. It’s a bit expensive for Legacy at two mana, so be wary about relying on it, but I definitely think this is going to be a decent choice for fair decks that want to battle against decks like Show and Tell.
Octavia, Living Thesis
At this point, it feels like there are a pretty decent number of cards that have similar cost-reduction abilities that fall a bit short. Ethereal Forager has been the best version of this effect lately, and I don’t think Octavia comes too close to that. The fact that this doesn’t exist on a gradient is a knock against it, as it’s eight or nothing, but once you get it into play, it should be easy mode from there. I don’t know if this is actually worth the effort it would require, but in a deck with enough Thought Scours, I could see it being good enough.
This is a really interesting card when combined with cards like Young Pyromancer, Monastery Mentor or Clarion Spirit. In general, making a few 1/1s is good enough in Legacy that they don’t often need to be augmented, but it’s not outside the range of possibility that this would be something you would be interested in.
This card feels kind of close for Legacy. Between being another piece of a Nivmagus Elemental deck or simply working as a combo piece with Chain of Smog, Clever Lumimancer has a lot of potential. I think it might be a bit too fragile for Legacy as it stands, but honestly it’s very close.
This is a decent white hatebear against things like Thassa’s Oracle, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this show up as a tutor target in certain decks. The fact that it’s symmetrical is offset by the ability to pay for it but, as a counterpoint, your opponents can pay for it as well, so it’s certainly not a permanent solution (which might just make it bad, unfortunately).
This is a pretty odd, but pretty cool, card. A weird hand disruption/taxing card hybrid, I could see a world where white disruptive decks might be in the market for this. I do think it’s a bit weak for Legacy overall, but it’s never a bad thing to have more options at your disposal.
White has always been in the market for a potent card draw spell, and it’s nice to see that Wizards of the Coast has finally delivered. Every color has access to some sort of effective card draw these days, and white is finally getting its time in the sun. It’s a little worse than Introduction to Prophecy, a three-mana colorless and Constructed unplayable Preordain from the same set, but being colorless is kind of a drawback because it gets countered by Ceremonious Rejection, so at least there’s that.
This is a black Young Pyromancer with a bit of upside and a substantial downside in costing an additional mana. The most interesting thing about this is that black decks that might want Young Pyromancer don’t have to play a second color to get this effect. It does pair well with Dark Ritual, which might make it interesting in Storm sideboards, and I could see a world where a fairer deck would want to Dark Ritual this out early and play cards like Cabal Therapy (perhaps also in conjunction with Young Pyromancer in a Grixis deck).
A two-mana exile effect is certainly pretty interesting, but giving your opponent a card is essentially never worth the relatively cheap cost this provides.
Blex, Vexing Pest // Search for Blex
I have seen some players talk about this as being a card draw spell that’s tutorable with Summoner’s Pact, which is actually really cool. There aren’t that many deck that would want to go down that route, but Spanish Inquisition is a deck that might be interested in combining Summoner’s Pact, Dark Ritual and card draw, so this could certainly be interesting in that context.
Flamescroll Celebrant // Revel in Silence
This is a pretty poor red hatebear and a pretty poor Silence, so I don’t think either really have a shot of showing up.
While this is a cool callback to Library of Alexandria, a card which is banned in Legacy, this ain’t Library. While I could actually see a slower control deck making use of this in some context, overall I think it’s quite a bit too slow and inconsistent to have an impact these days.
Rich is a Legacy lover from upstate New York who loves to cast Brainstorm, normally pairing it with Delver of Secrets. He has two SCG Open top 8s, with a win in Syracuse in 2019, and numerous high-level Magic Online results. He offers Legacy coaching and frequently posts about Delver decks on twitter @learntolove66.