It is really odd to review another set so close to the release of Dominaria United, but the Warhammer 40k Commander decks are going to be legal in Legacy and contain a fair amount of cards that could see play. It seems appropriate to address some of the cards that I think could have an impact on the format, even with the previous release being so recent. I liked the Top 8 approach and it fits this set even better since I think there are fewer Legacy playables than in DMU, so we’re going to continue that trend for now.
With these Universes Beyond cards, I think the flavor will be something that I’ll comment on in the future. While it clearly doesn’t impact the playability of a card, it’s still fun and exciting, so I think it’s definitely worth bringing up. In general, I think Universes Beyond is pretty cool. It’s a bit of an adjustment and it’s certainly weird to play against characters from other intellectual properties, but at the end of the day, it’s still the best game in my favorite format. That being said, I have no connection to the Warhammer 40k universe, so I don’t have any insight about how exciting it is to have their lore introduced into Magic.
There’s no honorable mention in this set, so let’s jump right into the Top 8!
8. Tomb Fortress
While I think the cost of an ETB tapped land is very high, this is still a way to reanimate a creature at a somewhat low opportunity cost. I think if this was any other format than Legacy, this would probably be higher on the list, but with Wasteland in the format (and considering the relative speed of the format), I think this is going to struggle a bit. Still, it’s a strong effect to have on a land and I could easily see a deck like Mono-Black Reanimator playing this in some quantity to get some redundancy out of its mana base.
7. Chaos Defiler
Thanks to recent successes by Callum Smith, Goblin Welder decks have become a lot more popular. While I generally think this is a bit too expensive for the deck in general, if you ever get this online, you will quickly be able to lock them out. If nothing else, it’s a great card against Show and Tell decks, which is valuable in certain metagames. I don’t think this is going to be a slam-dunk inclusion, but I do think it’s a solid option that will be fun to build around, if nothing else.
6. The First Tyrannic War
While this is way more expensive than Show and Tell, it is one-sided and gets to abuse that effect twice. I think the inclusion of this card here is more indicative of this card being another redundant piece that may be better than something like Through the Breach in certain contexts, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if this showed up in small numbers going forward.
As an Equipment, this doesn’t really hold up when compared to Umezawa’s Jitte or Kaldra Compleat. However, as a Stoneforge target, this card is very unique and has the potential to be pretty devastating. Turning Stoneforge Mystic into a faux-removal spell is really sick and in a deck like Death and Taxes, the notion of blinking this is awesome. The Equipment side of it isn’t irrelevant either, but it’s not the most exciting. The biggest cost is that this is likely uncastable in decks that play it, so you’re really reliant on Stoneforge Mystic to get it in play. However, that’s mostly (not completely) true of Kaldra too, and the fact that this answers Murktide or even a card like Griselbrand makes it somewhat appealing to me.
4. Triumph of Saint Katherine
Having the miracle mechanic tied to a single creature is pretty cool and this is a fairly strong one. Against Delver, getting this down early will make it really difficult for them to race you while acting as a pretty mean threat by itself. However, I think the Delver context is the only one where this really excels and even in that context, it doesn’t block their flying threats and can get answered by Unholy Heat or Brazen Borrower. Still, I think it will be a solid option for white decks since this type of card can be pretty effective in those type of matchups, but I don’t think this will be a dominant or defining card.
While this card is expensive, it actually does a lot of different things which I think makes it a fairly strong option for Green Sun’s Zenith decks. This is an excellent hate card against a deck like Lands, since they have difficulties removing X/4s and this all but completely shuts down their deck. While that’s good enough on its face, in a deck like Elves this can answer cards like The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale (as I saw Sam Pardee suggest earlier this week) and act as a hate-piece by itself, which I think makes it a great option for that deck. On top of that, a 2/4 reach, deathtouch lines up really well against Delver since it can profitably block all of their creatures and trades cleanly with Murktide Regent. I think the combination of being good against Lands and a solid option against Delver makes it a good inclusion in the sideboard of decks like Elves (and I could even see metagaming it in certain metagames). It is worth noting that both of those decks are great at attacking mana bases, so getting to four (five with Zenith) may prove to be a bit much. Overall, I think it’s a great addition to the format.
I first saw Matthew Vook talk about this card on Twitter and it didn’t take much convincing for me to think this would be one of the most impactful cards in the set. As always, cards that can be found with Green Sun’s Zenith tend to be higher on lists like these since they’re more likely to show up and I think this begins to address a lot of problems that Green Sun decks have. Answering small creatures and keeping a body on board is a really nice option to have with your tutor package and even in some worse scenarios this can still be a three-mana (off of Zenith) one-for-one with cards like transformed Delver of Secrets. I think having the ability to actually cast this for mana is probably important to some degree, which a deck like Elves can do with Birchlore Rangers (or just by playing a Taiga). Either way, I think this is a solid inclusion and one I expect to play against a fair amount in the future.
I’m having difficulty imagining a world where this doesn’t see Legacy play. It works incredibly well with Cabal Therapy, Dread Return and Hogaak, and whether it’s Dredge or the Hogaak deck, that style of deck always wants extra recursive threats. In addition, Dredge runs cards like Faithless Looting and Otherworldly Gaze which get cast from the graveyard somewhat frequently. Unlike cards like Narcomoeba or Ichorid, this is a somewhat impactful card to cast from your hand, since a 3/1 deathtouch can actually help stabilize certain boards. The only thing holding this back is that the weaknesses of Dredge aren’t usually that they’re lacking in recursive threats, but rather that the hate can be too much for them to overcome. To that end, Poxwalkers doesn’t directly solve some of their larger issues. Still, it’s a great, easy to return threat that I expect graveyard decks to take advantage of for quite some time.