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A Confluence of Ideas

Written by Tyler Priemer on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Legacy

A Confluence of Ideas

Tyler Priemer

Tyler has been playing TCGs for nearly 20 years. A long brewer with a knack for Legacy, there's nothing he loves more than making crazy decks a reality

Let’s be honest, aside from the reprint of Thoughtseize and a couple of decent Death & Taxes cards in Spirit of the Labyrinth and Brimaz, King of Oreskos, there was very little reason for Legacy players to really care about Theros block. However, thanks to Journey into Nyx, all that has changed. Holy crap has it changed, and it’s all thanks to this card:

Mana Confluence is possibly the most important printing for Legacy combo players since Griselbrand. I’m not speaking lightly when I say that. This seemingly innocuous piece of cardboard opens up a myriad of possibilities for the Legacy format, from updating established archetypes to making long-forgotten decks viable again.

The first thing to note when judging Mana Confluence is how it stacks up to the most common 5-colour lands, City of Brass and Gemstone Mine. City of Brass is the most notable parallel, in that they’re almost the same card, there are some huge differences. The life loss from Mana Confluence is part of activating it, whereas City of Brass is a trigger. What this means is that if you’re at 1 life you can cast a Lightning Bolt in response to City of Brass’s trigger, which you can’t do with Confluence. On the other hand, Mana Confluence doesn’t hurt you if it gets tapped with Rishadan Port or Tangle Wire, which is one of the more frustrating aspects of City of Brass, especially against Death & Taxes. While most people have expected that these slight differences might be enough for Mana Confluence to completely replace City of Brass, it’s my belief that the land that it should replace in Legacy manabases is Gemstone Mine.

Gemstone Mine has long been a Legacy staple because it produces any colour of mana, but you can only use it three times before you have to sacrifice it. While it does wonders for preserving your life total, I’ve always found that if a game is going long, having to worry about “budgeting” your Mine counters can be a headache at best and game-losing at worst. In comparison to Mana Confluence, you’re trading a point of life for the capability to use your land for more than three turns. As the format slows down and fairer, Deathrite Shaman and Stoneforge Mystic-centric decks become more common, the ability to play the long game while not having to worry about unnecessarily losing resources is a boon. Take, for example, my updated Dredge list:

Here, the only change I’ve made to the deck is replacing Gemstone Mine with Mana Confluence, and I have to say that it has made a world of difference in my sideboarded games. One of the biggest issues Dredge faces in games 2 and 3 is that your opponent bringing in graveyard hate makes the game go longer, and when you’re using Gemstone Mine having to take those extra turns is a nightmare. Having to budget your Mine counters adds a subgame that Dredge really doesn’t want to play. With Mana Confluence there is no subgame, only perfect colour fixing.

Another thing Mana Confluence does in Legacy is it bolsters archetypes that have previously fallen out of favour. For example, one of my favourite non-Dredge combo decks in the format is Hypergenesis, which sadly hasn’t been a viable option for quite some time. For a while there was a RUG build that ran Shardless Agent, Force of Will, Show and Tell, and a manabase of fetches and duals, but you know what the problem with that is? All those things cost an obscene amount of money. Surely there has to be a more affordable way to drop a handful of giant monsters into play, right?

With this version of Hypergenesis, you can fire off a Cascade spell as early as turn 1, allowing you to cascade into Hypergenesis and drop your hand. One of the failings of previous RUG incarnations is that more often than not the cards your opponent puts into play from Hypergenesis would overwhelm your cards, especially given how common Sneak & Show is right now. With this build I’ve opted to run full sets of Ashen Rider and Angel of Despair to kill off whatever the opponent puts into play. As well, this is possibly the most fun you can have with Omniscience, as once you get it into play, you can draw your deck with Griselbrand and swarm the board with colossal monsters, and even chain multiple turns with Emrakuls. Aside from the Emrakuls and Griselbrands, no spell in the deck costs more than $12, and the entire manabase can be built for about the price of a single Scalding Tarn, making this version of the deck an excellent and fun way to get into the Legacy format.

Another unique and relatively inexpensive Legacy archetype is Death’s Shadow. With this style of deck you want to drop your life total as low as possible to make Death’s Shadow enormous. It pops up from time to time at SCG Opens when someone is brave and/or crazy enough to sleeve it up, and I think that with Mana Confluence and City of Brass we have the right lands to really go insane with the deck.

With this I’ve managed to mash three archetypes (Death’s Shadow, Nivmagus Elemental, and Delver of Secrets) together into one zany pile of spells. Here, each archetype feeds into the other thanks to the abundance of Phyrexian mana spells. The 30 instants and sorceries help to flip Delver of Secrets. Paying life for the Phyrexian mana spells grow your Death’s Shadow, and with Nivmagus Elemental in play you can exile the spells to give it counters. Thanks to the manabase of 4 City of Brass, 4 Mana Confluence, you have more control over your life total as you can either choose to pay 2 life for your Mutagenic Growth or 1 life with Mana Confluence. Most importantly, this manabase offers the ability to run insane spells from all five colours. Lightning Bolt, Dismember, Apostle’s Blessing, Brainstorm, and Berserk all in the same deck is the definition of greed, but in a format where people are firing off Tendrils of Agony and dropping Emrakul into play, greed is good.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The 4 City of Brass, 4 Mana Confluence manabase opens up unlimited possibilities in Legacy. There are no more limitations to what spells you can cast. Combo decks have perfect mana. Budget decks have better options. The addition of Mana Confluence to the Legacy format is a blessing in disguise, and only time will tell just how far we go down this degenerate rabbit hole.

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