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Brewing with Fate Reforged – Monastery Mentor

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Legacy

Fate Reforged is on its way, and that means potentially new cards for legacy! Ah, the wonderful time of spoiler season. Speaking of legacy playables, you’ve seen Monastery Mentor, right?

This card is pretty good, but how good? The most obvious card to compare it to is Young Pyromancer; a card that has been seeing a lot of play lately, as it works very well with all the cantrips people are playing to support Treasure Cruise (as well as Delver of Secrets and Monastery Swiftspear). I have been spending some time in the lab with Monastery Mentor, brewing up several lists, trying to make it work. That was back when I first started writing this article however – before the banned and restricted list update. While I don’t see Worldgorger Dragon changing much, the banning of Treasure Cruise certainly does. This matters not only because all the Monastery Mentor lists I put together included four copies of everyone’s favorite boat trip, but because there will be a shift in the metagame as a whole. Before we begin speculating about what the new metagame is going to look like though, I want to take a look at what I wrote on the mentor before the B/R announcement, as most of it is still valid. Monastery Mentor costs three mana as opposed to two. That is a real cost in legacy. The Mentor has one thing that the Pyromancer doesn’t have though; Prowess. More importantly, so do the tokens. When Young Pyromancer leaves a few elementals behind, that’s good value. A couple of Prowess Monks are more than that. They can get very scary very fast. The potential power level of Monastery Mentor is just so much higher, and the potential for really explosive turns gets me excited. Gerry Thompson wrote an excellent article about “false tempo” recently, where he talked about the value of making your opponents play scared. It’s pretty easy to be scared of a Monastery Mentor. They might just sit there, generating a few tokens here and there. But do you dare tap out? Monastery Mentor also triggers off of all noncreature spells, rather than just instants and sorceries, which is pretty convenient if you want to be playing with Umezawa’s Jitte, Opposition, or Jeskai Ascendancy. More importantly though, it means this card is absolutely nuts with double Sensei’s Divining Top. For this reason, and because it’s a solid card on its own, I really want to play top. I also really wanted to play Treasure Cruise, but that ship has sailed. There’s still Dig Through Time, which we may end up playing, but without Treasure Cruise I don’t think we want to be playing quite as many cantrips. I’m not exactly sure what the best version of this deck is supposed to look like. One way to approach it is as a control deck that uses the mentor as its victory condition, but then we may just end up with a worse version of Miracles. I think what we’re looking for is a list that is comfortable playing the long game, waiting it out, while at the same time being able to produce very explosive turns, putting pressure on our opponents early on. I generally prefer playing consistently powerful cards to getting cute with fringe playables, but we would be missing out if we weren’t prepared to explore new ideas. Let’s take a look at some ideas that just might be crazy enough to work. While searching for new ideas post-ban I discovered a new way to play Ancestral Recall in legacy that I wanted to share with you. Monastery Mentor makes a lot of tokens fairly easily, and Ancestral Recall is a very powerful card. My concern is this; do we really need a card that’s good only when we already have four creatures in play? I’m inclined to say no, but if you find a way to make it work, let me know. Opposition plays very well with Monastery Mentor. If you can tap down your opponent’s board every turn you just sit there until you have enough monks to run over your opponent in a single turn. I could definitely see playing an Opposition or two, especially if we choose to go the more controlling route, but I wouldn’t want to put too much emphasis on the card. It’s just that if I wanted to play a slower control deck, I’d be jamming Terminus and Counterbalance. Not exactly a crazy new idea for legacy, but I wanted to mention it because discard spells are going to be a lot better now that people aren’t refilling their hands with Treasure Cruise. Cabal Therapy also works well with all the tokens we’ll be making. It can be one of the most skill intensive cards to play, but while the floor of its power level is very low, the ceiling is also extremely high. I once had a game where I therapied my storm opponent for two Dark Rituals, and then hit two Ponders on the flashback – and that’s not even particularly unrealistic. With Cabal Therapy we either want to play a faster game, using it to disrupt our opponents, or go heavier on black with Lingering Souls and maybe Liliana of the Veil. Goblin Bombardment gives us another way to take advantage of all the tokens, and we may want to play red for Young Pyromancer anyway. Whether we want this or not is going to depend a lot on how we build the rest of the deck, as well as how many of the decks we expect to face will be packing Mother of Runes, Heritage Druid, Goblin Lackey etc. To make Goblin Bombardment really excel, we’d have to shape the rest of the deck around it, similarly to what Sam Black did with Zombardment/The Walking Dead. Recurring removal is pretty good by itself, and it’s even better when you get a prowess monk out of the deal every time you shock an opposing Squire. To me, the most obvious deck to play Monastery Mentor is a UW deck that packs all the best cards, maybe with a red splash for Young Pyromancer and Lightning Bolt, although that may not be as good now that we’re off the cruise plan, as we don’t want to play as many cantrips. If you’re tired of casting Young Pyromancer, we could go Esper. That way we get access to discard spells, Dark Confidant and Zealous Persecution.

This list doesn’t play Stoneforge Mystic, which might seem odd at first. But once you’re casting Umezawa’s Jitte, wouldn’t you rather have True-Name Nemesis than Monastery Mentor? All the cards in this list are proven good cards on their own, but I especially like how well they fit together here. Sensei’s Divining Top enables us to “go off” with the mentor and also helps set up Dark Confidant triggers. Darkblast is a reusable spell to go with Monastery Mentor, but it can also be used to clear the top of your library when we have top in play, and it fills up the graveyard for Snapcaster Mage.

This list focuses a lot more on the graveyard; taking advantage of several powerful flashback spells to get maximum value out of Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor. With Faithless Looting and Darkblast we can fill the graveyard very quickly, and while Snapcaster Mage may seem less exciting in a list where half of our spells have flashback already, it gets a lot better after sideboard, as we can sideboard several narrow but powerful instants and sorceries and then flash them back once we’ve dredged them into the graveyard with Darkblast.

This list aims to establish a soft lock, either through Counterbalance and Sensei’s Divining Top or Punishing Fire and Grove of the Burnwillows combo. My first version of this deck had four copies of Young Pyromancer as well, until I realized that wasn’t what the deck was trying to do. We aren’t looking to jam threats, but rather to have answers for our opponents’ cards and then lock them out of the game. Monastery Mentor gives us a victory condition, while also providing us with a second angle of attack by functioning as a must kill threat. If an opponent plays something we cannot deal with, such as a True-Name Nemesis, we can just put a Monastery Mentor into play and chain through our library with cantrips to quickly flood the board and run them over, if they find themselves in a position of being unable to answer the mentor. Monastery Mentor has potential, and there are multiple different directions it can be taken. I’m not yet sure exactly how it’s going to find its place in the format, but I look forward to finding that out! All we have to do is be a little creative. I’m Sandro Rajalin and you can find me on Facebook and Twitter, or email me at RajalinSandroMTG@gmail.com I’m always happy to hear what you have to say, so if you have any questions, hit me up in the comments and I’ll be sure to respond! Until next time, Sandro Rajalin

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