“I could see it being playable in Nic Fit”
Cards make it in legacy for different reasons. A card like Treasure Cruise fits perfectly into the format, as it is both powerful and efficient. Painter’s Servant is a combo enabler, and Containment Priest does an excellent job of targeting weaknesses of existing decks.
When it comes to spoiler season, legacy is a ruthless format. Lots of new cards are added every set and people experiment with different cards in legacy. But only the best of the best, the very elite of cards ever make their presence in the format permanent. After all, they have to compete with Brainstorm and Dark Ritual.
Legacy is a format defined by efficiency. A lot of cards that have been dominating standard never made it to legacy, and for good reason. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion may be a great card in a format like standard. When it hits the battlefield it can take over the game. In legacy, that strategy isn’t going to work. It’s simply too easy to Force of Will your six-drops, if you’re lucky enough to survive that long.
Thankfully, we have Nic Fit. Rather than playing the most efficient threats or answers, it uses some of the most efficient mana ramp. That way it can afford playing powerful threats that might not have seen play otherwise, due to their prohibitive mana costs.
Took only pure-blood wizards
Of great cunning just like him.
And only those of sharpest mind
Were taught by Ravenclaw
While the bravest and the boldest
Went to daring Gryffindor.
Good Hufflepuff, she took the rest
And taught them all she knew.”
Nic Fit is the Hufflepuff of legacy. Nic Fit has Veteran Explorer, which means casting Thragtusk on time is a lot more realistic. This is the reason you so often hear the phrase “I could see it being playable in Nic Fit”. Fate Reforged brings us yet another five-drop candidate for Nic Fit.
Whisperwood Elemental is a powerful card (and it has amazing artwork!). For those of you who are familiar with Hearthstone, Whisperwood Elemental is a five mana Hogger with two upsides. A 4/4 that puts a 2/2 into play every turn is certainly powerful, and while it’s possible that Whisperwood Elemental works best as just another solid Nic Fit playable, I’m not here to write about a Nic Fit list that simply replaces Titania (or some other card) with Whisperwood Elemental. Instead, I’m asking myself; What if there was a way to use it to its full potential – a way to abuse it?
Whisperwood Elemental has two potentially powerful abilities; let’s see what we’ve got to work with, shall we?
At the beginning of your end step, manifest the top card of your library. (Put it onto the battlefield facedown as a 2/2 creature. Turn it face up any time for its mana cost if it’s a creature card.)
A 2/2 per turn is nice, and being able to upgrade it for its mana cost is certainly nothing to scoff at, but we’re here to abuse it, remember? Enter Restoration Angel.
Here’s how it works. When Restoration Angel enters the battlefield, you flicker one of your face down manifest creatures. When it’s returned to the battlefield, it’s no longer face down, and you have an Emrakul, or a Grave Titan, or whatever. This works very much like the Akroma, Angel of Fury and Restoration Angel combo that has seen some play in modern, only at a much lower cost, since the cards you play are much better on their own. That sounds pretty good, but let’s take a look at that second ability before we start brewing.
Sacrifice Whisperwood Elemental: Until end of turn, face-up nontoken creatures you control gain “When this creature dies, manifest the top card of your library.”
I have to admit something here. I spent a lot of time brewing with this card thinking that it said “until end of turn, whenever a face-up nontoken creature you control dies…” meaning you could do all sorts of shenanigans with cards like Gravecrawler. It wasn’t until a friend of mine pointed out to me that I had misinterpreted the card that I actually reread it. Lesson learned: read the card.
With this new information in mind, the second ability seems a lot less breakable. Still, it’s a neat upside that can provide us with some extra value versus a Supreme Verdict. The good thing is that since both abilities generate manifest creatures, you don’t actually need to abuse the creatures dying part, as the deck will already be built with the idea of getting the most out of your manifest creatures in mind.
We want to be doing powerful things with Restoration Angel and manifest creatures without ending up with a bunch of uncastable eldrazis in hand. We want our cards to be live even when we don’t have the “combo” of Whisperwood Elemental and Restoration Angel. I can see several ways of going about this. We could use a little library manipulation to avoid drawing dead cards while simultaneously setting up our manifest triggers. We also have the option of playing more mana ramp in order to enable casting even more expensive spells. I want to try doing a bit of both. Nic Fit already plays Veteran Explorer and Deathrite Shaman and if we want to, we can use Primeval Titan and Restoration Angel to help us reach enough mana to cast even our most expensive spells. I have something else in mind though, a neat tech, courtesy of my friend Dan.
Gaea’s Cradle doesn’t see much play outside of Elves! But if you’ve ever seen that deck in action, you know how much that card is really capable of. Gaea’s Cradle works great with Lingering Souls, quickly getting out of hand. It’s also really difficult to deal with when you’re also playing Stoneforge Mystic, a card I happen to be a big fan of in Nic Fit, as it enables us to attack on a different axis, giving us a proactive threat when we don’t have access to Veteran Explorer to ramp our mana.
As for what we want to be ramping into, there are a few options, and while which options you choose to go with comes down do personal preference and what metagame you’re expecting, these are my thoughts on some of them.