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Legacy Weapon – M15 Spoilers and Lessons from Chicago

Magic 2015

ajani

Hard to evaluate, but at first glance it’s around the same power level as Ajani Goldmane. While ticking up to 5 loyalty is nice on a four-mana planeswalker, the abilities seem a little below average, which is probably why Steadfast only costs a single colored mana.

On the other hand, it:

• Helps Jace, Architect of Thought downtick two turns in a row without dying.

• Buffs Elspeth tokens while buffing Elspeth.

• Speeds up the already-fast Kiora ultimate.

• Can come down to surprise tick up a ‘walker when the opponent least expects it, ruining their plans with the ultimate blowout.

The success of Bident of Thassa makes me think this card will see play. While it’s less powerful than Bident, providing fewer devotion and lacking the activated ability, I like that your creatures don’t have to connect to trigger it. It should be a better card when you’re behind on board, and less win-more when you’re ahead.

An Unsummon that can bounce planeswalkers and Oblivion Rings? Nice.

Modern Merfolk plays Vapor Snag sometimes, and might be interested in a card that hits opposing Aether Vials, equipment, Oblivion Stones, and Birthing Pods.

I remember when Lorescale Coatl was first spoiled, and fantasyland scenarios involving Brainstorm flowed through my head. At the time, I was convinced that it would be the new blue finisher, the new Psychatog that everyone wanted.

Then I, you know, cast the card in Legacy and was sorely disappointed. For coming down on turn three, a 2/2 body is not very large, and it’s incredibly weak to Lightning Bolt. Meanwhile, sandbagging a Brainstorm to make my 3-drop creature relevant wasn’t an ideal game plan when it could just eat a Swords to Plowshares anyway. In the dark ages of Legacy, Coatl might’ve been competition for Mystic Enforcer, but it wasn’t close to playable with Tarmogoyf in the format.

Chasm Skulker still costs three, and features an even smaller starting body.

The death clause does make it more attractive for Standard, however. Maybe in some Supreme Verdict deck that wants a cheap body? It does combine well with Sphinx’s Revelation.

I’m not holding my breath.

Nice, a fresh take on Polymorph. Polymorph was an interesting card to build around because, in order to be consistent, you had to resort to token producers and manlands as targets so you didn’t hit the creature you wanted. In game, you were at a serious risk of getting 2-for-1’d by a removal spell. Imagine a more restrictive Splinter Twin combo that didn’t win the turn it resolved.

Jalira is very different, and while she’s weak to removal at least you won’t get 2-for-1’d.

Instead of caring about creatures in general, Jalira cares about non-legendary creatures. We’re still going to want cards like Mutavault and Elspeth to fill the body count, but we’re free to run lower-cost legendary creatures that are good on their own like Brimaz and Polukranos. On the flip side, we need large non-legendary bodies to tutor up. Currently, Ashen Rider and Worldspine Wurm look like the best options.

Cons:

• Unlike Proteus Staff, Jalira doesn’t let you stack your deck if you don’t hit.

• Unlike Polymorph, she can’t serve as a weird removal spell.

Bant Jalira, or

What Jalira’n At?

 

Competitively speaking, this deck is terrible. But it is a fun one for FNM, and who knows what tools the next set will bring.

10 life and a creature?!

Thank you, Brad Muir, for making me laugh uncontrollably.

I’m not sure how I’m going to get this in play early enough to stop Birthing Pod shenanigans, but I’m sure as heck going to try.

Note that both Ghost Quarter and Path to Exile are Modern staples.

Yes! I love how Wizards prints cards that fill voids in existing decks. It’s like they’re playing the same game as us and feel the same frustrations.

Specifically, this card gives Elves a tutorable answer to enchantments. While Green Sun’s Zenith for Viridian Zealot was an out to Counterbalance, it didn’t answer Engineered Plague and lacked synergy with Wirewood Symbiote.

There are a few benefits for casual players as well. Since it’s a may, you don’t have to blow up your own permanents if you’re the only one with an artifact or enchantment. Also, the single toughness makes it more attractive for Skullclamp decks.

So long, Viridian Shaman. You weren’t as entertaining as monkeys gratuitously having sex, but you did save many an Elf player over the years.

Those are some nice abilities, and I look forward to casting the new Nissa. I especially like how the abilities work together, letting you give your 4/4s pseudo-vigilance.

Cons:

• Doesn’t untap Nykthos.

• Unlike Garruk, Primal Hunter, she doesn’t draw a pile of cards. In fact, nothing this card does is better than drawing a pile of cards, so she’ll see less play even with an easier casting cost.

• Potentially having four Forests to untap is restrictive in its own right.

• This card combines with Mutavault to provide the grindiest of win conditions.

• As with Cavern of Souls, Sliver Hive works with Reflecting Pool.

• For a brief period, this combined with Mutavault, Manaweft Sliver, and Mana Confluence might make five-color slivers a thing in Standard. Get while the getting is good.

Oh, and Legacy and Modern Slivers were missing another gold land. And unlike Ancient Ziggurat, this one even taps for Aether Vial. Thanks, Wizards!

5c Sliver Aggro (Legacy)

Cavern of Souls into Crystalline Sliver never looked better.

In truth, we could use one more gold land to cut the rest of those dual lands (Reflecting Pool is a no-go with Mutavault and Aether Vial), but I’m happy with this.

It’s too bad Ziggurat can’t tap for Sliver Hive. Hmm.

M15 Limited

This looks like one of the better core sets to draft of all time. The bombs are reasonable, with cards like Overwhelm instead of Overrun, and there’s already a ton of splashable, common removal spoiled.

There’s even some playable maindeck enchantment/artifact removal in the form of Solemn Offering. I usually don’t like Naturalize effects in core set because even if the opponent has a target, it’s not always worth killing, but incidental life gain is strong in Limited.

Midnight Guard is a sweet reprint. People always forget about the untap ability, which you can trigger on your second main to get a sort of vigilance or maybe it just holds off an opponent’s haste creature. Currently, it only combos with Burning Anger, but it’s possible an uncommon pinging equipment/Aura gets spoiled.

I like the Paragon cycle. Not only do they have a powerful static ability to make up for their weaker bodies, but the tap abilities make them more dynamic, adding decisions and activity where they’d otherwise be shockable enchantments.

GP Chicago

At first I liked Ru Devotion for GP Chicago. The deck felt competitive, but that was it. I was favored vs. the black decks, splitting games against other creature strategies, and losing to Burn hard. And with Burn sweeping everything the week previous, that wasn’t the boat I wanted to be in.

With only a few nights to find something different, I started testing various Eidolon of Blossoms brews, as that was the other deck I had some experience with. Bant had the most potential:

Bant Blossom

This version of Eidolon.dec mixes what I like about the Devotion lists and the grindy GB decks. It has plenty of fast mana to get the engine online, but isn’t dependent on resolving one big spell and avoids situational chaff like Burning-Tree Emissary and Mana Bloom.

When I first started brewing with Eidolon, I thought Bloom could be a solid role-player, but it’s an awful early play. You’d rather be developing your board, and if you use Bloom to ramp into Eidolon you’re probably losing. Later on, you might as well play a card that does something on its own.

Similarly, I thought cantripping spot removal (Pacifism) would be amazing, but I found myself losing to cards like Ghor-Clan Rampager, which is why slower Gb versions splash for Abrupt Decay and Hero’s Downfall. Here, that role is covered by Cyclonic Rift and Setessan Tactics.

The pile of 1-ofs seem a little random at first, but when you’re consistently churning through your deck you’re allowed to run more specific cards, cards that are good in certain situations but that you don’t necessarily want multiples of every match.

Take the miser’s Banishing Light. Most of the time, I’d prefer Detention Sphere to blow out multiple copies of a card, especially with Pack Rat in the format. D-Sphere is the one I want on turn three, so that’s the card I run three of. Banishing Light is there to target opposing Detention Spheres, and in those matchups I have time to draw into my singleton. The upside of getting back a ‘walker or multiple Eidolons is worth the small risk of drawing Banishing Light when I need a Sphere.

Note that the tokens from Fated Intervention are enchantments. That’s some Joey Mispagel tech.

Overall, I felt good about Bant Eidolon, and I was winning with it, but I set it aside for a variety of reasons. Games took too long to get enough testing in, and I wasn’t sure what my bad matchups were or how to fix them. This lead to an unfocused sideboard (note the split between Skylasher and Mistcutter).

Another effect of not having enough games was that I wasn’t confident in my mana base. It worked, but I couldn’t tell if that was because I was leaning on Sylvan Caryatid and Mana Confluence or if I actually had a solid mana base. Also, I couldn’t decide between three or four Nykthos.

Finally, I was taking some longer tanks, and didn’t want to deal with that in the middle of a GP.

In retrospect, that was bad reasoning. Most engine decks take some time to figure out when you first start piloting them, but the way you work through that is by actively playing the deck. I wasn’t proficient with Puresteel Paladin when I first picked it up, nor did I have a polished list, but the deck posed some real problems for the top tier and that carried me long enough to work out the kinks. It ended up being my most profitable deck ever, and this Eidolon brew has similar potential.

I settled on a BW Humans list, mostly because the test games went fast and I got a lot more games in. That, combined with my experience with Suicide Black, gave me confidence in my position in the metagame.

BW Humans

This deck is based on the efforts of Natahlia Zaring, who Top 16’d an Open with a similar list. I moved it more toward an Athreos shell, cutting spells altogether in favor of more cards that grant devotion. Cartel Aristocrat is pretty good when the opponent has to pay 3 life every time you sacrifice a random guy, and Athreos is a fine attacker if you can turn him on consistently.

The combination of Athreos, Xathrid, bestow creatures, and Obzedat is incredibly good at grinding out Sphinx’s Revelation and Underworld Connections decks. The incidental life gain from Coinsmith, combined with some Gift of Orzhova‘s out of the sb, matches up well against Burn. The sideboard had a pile of removal for Master of Waves, the main problem vs. Blue, and overall that matchup felt solid as well.

The one matchup I didn’t have time to test was Courser of Kruphix.dec, and I knew from my experience with Suicide Black that 2/1s are weak to 0/3s and 2/4s. Still, I didn’t expect those decks to do well, and it’s not unreasonable to have a bad matchup. Besides, Hero of Iroas gave me a few draws that Suicide Black didn’t have, opening up the game by bashing through blockers.

After facing four rounds in a row of Courser decks, I realized a few things:

1) 2/1s still suck against 0/3s and 2/4s, and Hero is only good enough if he lives.
2) Coinsmith is the most amazing, underplayed duder ever, and frequently drains for 5-7 to close out a game.
3) All of my creatures are enchantments, and I should be playing Ethereal Armor and Eidolon of Countless Battles to plow through blockers.

Here’s the deck I wish I’d played. I’ve been tearing up MTGO with it, though I had to stop playing two-mans after I realized the Journey packs were worth less than the two-ticket entry.

caleb1

WB Ethereal

By moving away from Athreos, we can run a pile of discard main, clearing the way for our Auras. Thoughtseize into Hero of Iroas might be stronger than Thoughtseize into Pack Rat since Ethereal Armor is harder to race and the bestow creatures are resilient to sweepers.

Without the Human theme, Mutavault makes less sense, and cutting them lets us shave some number of Mana Confluence. With fewer one-drops, we can up the Temple count as well, increasing consistency.

The most important thing about all these changes is that Ethereal Armor, Eidolon of Countless Battles, Thoughtseize, and Gift of Orzhova all join Hero of Iroas as ways to not care about Courser of Kruphix, flipping the green midrange matchup on its head.

Just when I was thinking I’d broken Standard and didn’t have any bad matchups, I started facing GW aggro a lot. I’m not sure how real that deck is, but between its fast nut draw and multiple answers for Gift of Orzhova (Banishing Light, Selesnya Charm) I have yet to beat it.

Perhaps some number of Xathrid Necromancers or Keening Apparitions could be cut from the sideboard for a good blocker like Alms Beast or Soldier of the Pantheon.

Caleb Durward

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