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Initial Technology – Building Your Legacy (Online)

 

Normally, being at a Grand Prix would delay my article, but not this time! Luckily, I have plenty of time, due to my quick exit from competition. I played almost the exact list of Elves Matt Nass used to win GP Oakland, and it didn’t serve me very well. Elves turned out to be a pretty bad choice, and both Matt and I dropped at 3-3, after facing a plethora of Chalices and Ethersworn Canonists. I guess it wasn’t as under the radar as I though, although the more likely culprit is Hypergenesis, as both those cards are probably intended to beat Cascade decks, and their utility against Elves is just a bonus. In any case, here I am, writing away while the rest of my room sleeps in preparation for Day 2.

I have chronicled some of my forays into Legacy recently, and now I suspect I will be playing a lot more of it. With the release of Urza’s Saga, Legacy became a supported format on Magic Online, which reduces most of the barriers that would normally keep me from battling Legacy on a consistent basis. Due to my affinity for off-beat draft formats, I have managed to collect almost all the dual lands I need from doing Master’s Edition II and III draft queus.

*Aside on ME3 Draft*

I still like this format, and it won’t be around for very much longer, so I recommend trying it out if you haven’t. I really only draft two decks, and both are quite good. The first I already wrote about here. It basically is U/X control, usually B or R, although sometimes W makes an appearance. It revolves around Brilliant Plan and expensive Legends, and is about what you would expect for the format. The pick orders I wrote about in that article hold up pretty well, and you basically just want to take a bunch of Plans, removal, and finishers. The second deck is pretty sick, and definitely off the beaten path. I feel like I have mentioned it before, but in any case I will rehash:

Step 1: Take Jungle Lions, Scryb Sprites, and Fire Sprites, in that order.

Step 2: Take Red or Black removal spells (Chain Lightning, Immolation, Ghostly Visit). The removal is important, but you want to stick to as close to Mono-Green as possible.

Step 3: Fill out the deck with pump spells and more expensive creatures (Giant Growth, Bloodlust, Desperate Charge).

It may seem silly, but Scryb and Fire Sprites are actually just unblockable, since nothing else has flying except Fire Drake, and Jungle Lions often does 6-8 damage before they even play a guy. I almost never lose when I draft this deck, although having 7+ one-drops is crucial, and a good number of burn spells really takes it over the edge (counting the pump spells as burn of course). The inherent slowness of the format makes this deck awesome, and the unblockable 1/1 Sprites really do always manage to get there. A point or two of Sprite damage a turn does the last 10 damage faster than it would seem. This deck actually crushes most iterations of the U/x control deck I like, so I tend to draft it pretty often. If someone else is cutting the 1-drops, you end up in a pretty miserable spot, so beware.

That is all you need to know to draft ME3, so go crack some duals!

*End Aside*

The price on cardboard Legacy staples has skyrocketed in the last few months, and I would expect the same to hold (somewhat) true on MTGO. While I am not really the person to ask about what cards to invest in, it seems impossible that the hard-to-find Legacy cards won’t go up, especially since Tempest draft queus are no longer available (boo!) and Master’s Edition 3 will soon be out of print. Legacy is the most popular live format behind Standard, and it stands to reason that the same popularity will bolster its presence on Magic Online. As I have said before, it is a great format, and now that it is available online, it is much more accessible to many people who previously would have been unable to play it.

There are a few differences between paper Legacy and online Legacy. It reminds me of when there was “online Extended” and “real Extended” a few years back; the missing sets online changed the format immensely, and it wasn’t until Tempest through Masques got rotated out of Extended that the two formats synced up. Online and paper Legacy aren’t nearly as disparate as the Extended formats where, but there are still a few missing pieces. Urza’s Legacy, Urza’s Destiny, and the entirety of Masques Block aren’t online, and neither are all the cards from Portal: Three Kingdoms and various other Portal sets (although the Master’s Edition sets reprinted almost all the relevant Portal cards).

The only really relevant card in Masques is Rishadan Port; without Port, 43lands.dec cannot exist, at least not in anything resembling its current paper incarnation. Likewise, there isn’t much in Legacy or Destiny that is really necessary. I suppose that without Mother of Runes, UW Tempo or whatever isn’t a deck, but I didn’t really think it was a real deck to begin with. Enchantress loses Replenish, but that is far from a killing blow, and again, not the deck you really want to be playing (a lesson I wish learned before GP Madrid).

A perusal of the successful decks in the first batch of Daily Events shows a good mix of competitive decks; Goblins, Bant-Natural Order-Counterbalance, Zoo, Dredge, some Enchantress, and the deck I want to mention today, Reanimator.

 

After battling against it with Counterbalance, I was impressed with how fast and disruptive Reanimator can be. Even when I had multiple counters, they were often able to successfully reanimate some monster, although that was far from a guaranteed win. If I was able to set up Counterbalance and Top, they had a tough time doing anything, but between Daze, Force of Will, and Thoughtseize, that combo was often too slow to stop their first reanimation spell.

For reference, here is a pretty optimal looking list that 4-0ed a recent DE:

I don’t foresee actually getting a reanimate off being the problem; under most circumstances, this deck gets a giant monster into play around turn three. You don’t always have the choice, if your outlet is Careful Study, but more often than not you will be Entombing. Ideally, you have a selection of boom-booms that beat all the major decks, or at least do so most of the time.

Here is the current selection:

Iona, Shield of Emeria

There is a reason Iona is the creature of choice in most Dredge decks in Extended, and Oath decks in Vintage; the vast majority of decks fold once a color is eliminated. Iona effectively has shroud against most decks, since it is rare to find removal in multiple colors, but she doesn’t just trump every deck. If they have too many guys out, she won’t get the job done, but in the early turns she hinders most every deck greatly. It is kind of awkward that against Counterbalance you usually have to name White to stop Swords, which lets them cast all their Blue and Green spells still, but Iona still cuts them off of their only removal, which gives any later monsters you summon psuedo-Shroud as well. Against combo, Iona is by far the best bet; name Black, even if Ad Nauseam has some bounce spells as outs.

 

Empyrial Archangel 

The Archangel’s biggest flaw is its slow kill time. It does have Shroud, and unlike Iona or Inkwell Leviathan, can ignore an opposing Tarmogoyf in a race, but if they land double Goyf they can just kill it by bashing. This is mainly against decks with removal that try and race you, and usually only when they have not very much power on the board. Once the board gets too cluttered, you have to give up on Shroud and enlist the services of the next monster on the list”¦

 

Sphinx of the Steel Wind 

Sphinx has protection from some removal, but most notably dies to Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile. The upside is that Sphinx is impossible to race. Vigilance + Lifelink + First Strike is a pretty absurd combination, and I have yet to see a board that can realistically put up a race against it (well, Siege-Gang to sac whatever gets blocked does a pretty good job, but I haven’t actually seen that yet). Steel Wind is the most brutal target against aggro, as long as you reconcile yourself to the fact that sometimes he just goes farming.

 

Blazing Archon 

Small and lacking Shroud, Archon is for when you are terribly outmatched, and need to completely stop them. Necessary because some decks (*Dredge*) are almost just kold to it, Archon is not the most common target in the majority of matches.

The selection of spells in the deck doesn’t vary much, and I wouldn’t change the above configuration. The only additional target I would consider is Inkwell Leviathan. It primarily is for the Counterbalance matchup, since the Shroud plus unblockable plus seven power makes it an Iona that can’t be chumped by Trygon Predator or Vendilion Clique, which is definitely relevant.

Unmolested, the deck operates very efficiently, but every opponent will have some sort of hate. How to deal with hate is always tricky with combo, but this sideboard is why I really like this list:

 

The main angle that most opponents will take is to attack your graveyard. After all, it is called Reanimator! This sideboard offers two ways around that:

1) Killing all their Tormod’s Crypts and Relics with Nature’s Claim. This is valid, and even deals with Leyline of the Void. Nature’s Claim is very efficient, and answers the vast majority of cards people add against you (the most common being a couple Tormod’s Crypts).

2) Ignoring the graveyard and bringing an Iona to Show and Tell. Not only a fun school activity, Show and Tell neatly sidesteps almost every hate card and only requires you to have a boom-boom in hand (hence the third Iona in the sideboard).

This is where I am going to start my foray into Legacy, although it is going to be pretty awkward buying Sphinx of the Steel Wind. That card is inordinately expensive, and I hate forking over tickets for cards I consider “bad”. The combination of power and consistency in this deck is really too good to pass up, and even though Legacy is very diverse, playing a powerful combo deck is a very good way to attack the format. Like Paulo is fond of saying: If he doesn’t plan on winning turn two, he is going to play a deck that can stop his opponent from doing so. This deck does both, and that makes it very dangerous.

Legacy is in its infancy online, and if you take anything away from this article (besides the awesome tips for drafting Masters Edition, of course), I hope it is that now is the time to get into Legacy! If I stumble across anything particularly awesome, I will likely update everyone accordingly, and that starts with Reanimator. Now I need to get at least a little sleep before I try to win some matches this weekend, albeit in the Vintage side event.

LSV

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