As many of you will recall, in my previous installment of Priemer’s Primers I discussed what kind of impact the more powerful cards in Magic Origins would have on the Legacy format. With the StarCityGames Chicago Open Series wrapped up, I think it’s time to break down just how many of my predictions were accurate, and which ones were way off. Because this was the first week of getting to play with these cards, I’ll be looking at what decks made the Top 16. It’s worth noting that the Top 16 for this event featured a whopping twelve distinct archetypes, with Elves and OmniTell each featuring multiple copies. Whether or not Magic Origins has opened the format up a little bit is up for speculation, but for now, this was a welcome change.
First and foremost we have Day’s Undoing, the poster child for potentially broken cards in Magic Origins. As a worse version of Timetwister, I expected some daring soul to attempt it in a combo deck. Thankfully, the 8th place OmniTell list had a pair. The logic behind this is that OmniTell is fairly susceptible to discard such as Liliana of the Veil and Hymn to Tourach, and Day’s Undoing can shuffle back all of your discarded action while drawing you a brand new hand to work with. While it’s a bit of a non-bo with Dig Through Time, it does wonders for digging into your combo pieces and restocking a worn out hand.
Another use for Day’s Undoing that I 100% called was in Affinity. The 6th place Affinity list ran three copies in the maindeck as a means to reload their hand after dumping their cards on the table. One of the easiest ways to beat Affinity in Legacy is by letting them drop their hand, then sweep it away with a Pyroclasm effect. However, with Day’s Undoing Affinity is able to get seven new cards while messing with the opponent’s hand, which can often preemptively get rid of their Pyroclasm effect to begin with. This gives the deck the capacity to play a longer game should the opponent attempt to interact, as well as a method of disrupting combo by shuffling away their carefully sculpted hand while you clock them.
Next we have one of my favourite cards in the set, Dark Petition. This card was a shoo-in for the card most likely to have an impact in Storm. I had the opportunity to play against this in paper shortly after the Magic Origins prerelease, and the power of this card was just crazy. With a 15th place showing and two maindeck copies, Dark Petition’s ability to continue chaining spells together is nothing short of monstrous. It’s worth noting that Caleb Scherer’s build of Storm also ran a maindeck copy of Empty the Warrens, a rarity for non-Burning Wish Storm decks. The reasoning behind this is that with Ad Nauseum out of the picture, the deck is able to run more expensive spells without being horribly punished for it, and the mana generated from Dark Petition helps cast Empty the Warrens for an incredibly fast clock for those games where you can only generate 6-8 storm. Whether or not the reliability of Dark Petition outright replaces the explosiveness of Ad Nauseum is still to be seen, but for now it’s very reassuring to see that such a powerful card is seeing play.
Finally, of all the cards that I predicted to excel in Legacy, I was surprised that Shaman of the Pack had placed so high in the tournament. There were three Elves decks in the Top 16, but only the list with Shaman of the Pack made it to the Top 8, and subsequently winning the event. While the winning list only had a single copy of Shaman of the Pack, the deck really only needs one thanks to Green Sun’s Zenith, and with a full set of Wirewood Symbiote you can potentially float a ton of mana with Gaea’s Cradle, then continuously cast and bounce Shaman of the Pack to drain the opponent to death. What’s also great is that even hitting a Shaman for say, 4-6 life is often enough to pressure the opponent with your hordes of creatures. Considering Elves’ toolbox potential, I think it’s fairly safe to say that Shaman of the Pack has a home in Legacy.
While those cards knocked it out of the park, some of my other predictions have yet to really get their foot in the door. For instance, Orbs of Warding was a huge hit in Standard with the new Turbo Fog deck, but the decks that it would be at its best, MUD and Cloudpost, didn’t really show up at the Chicago Open. While I’m still adamant that at least one copy of Orbs of Warding should be played in these decks, the card still needs a decent placing before it really has an opportunity to showcase its abilities.
Another disappointing turnout was Magmatic Insight in Lands. While a Lands deck did place 10th, it was far closer to the stock list of spells, save for a small Blue splash with Tropical Island and Academy Ruins to recur Engineered Explosives. I think the reasoning for why Magmatic Insight didn’t see play was that Gamble is situationally better as it can tutor for whatever card you need with a slight chance at discarding it. Depending on what card you want and what cards are also in your hand to potentially discard, this can be a higher reward than drawing two cards for one Red.
While I was hinging on the fringe playability of Talent of the Telepath and Sphinx’s Tutelage, neither saw any play in the decks I figured they would work. They sounded amazing on paper in OmntiTell and Miracles, but from the looks of things these cards may be too narrow in effect to really have the impact I was hoping for. While unfortunate, I still have hope that these cards can see play in specific metagames, but for now it appears that they are stuck in Standard.
Two cards from Magic Origins that had surprised me were Harbinger of the Tides in the sideboard of the 4th place Merfolk deck and Disciple of the Ring in the 20th place Reanimator sideboard. I initially judged Harbinger of the Tides as too slow and narrow to have a place in Merfolk, since its ability only affects tapped creatures, and to cast it at instant speed you need four mana. Of course, you can use Aether Vial set on two counters to cheat it in, but I felt like that was far too many steps to make the card playable. Since the Legacy portion of the event wasn’t televised, I can only speculate that Harbinger of the Tides wasn’t good often in a field heavy with OmniTell, Storm, and Elves, but when it was good it was pretty damn good.
Disciple of the Ring is one of those cards that you need to read a couple of times to really get a feel for just what it can do. By exiling an instant or sorcery from your graveyard, you can use Disciple to counter spells, Twiddle creatures, or just beat face. While the 3/4 body for 3UU is hardly the most imposing thing Reanimator can do, in a grindier matchup like Deathblade or even the Reanimator mirror, keeping opposing creatures tapped down can buy you enough time to push through a win. The anti-control aspect of the first option essentially turns every instant and sorcery in your graveyard into Spell Pierce, which gives the deck even greater disrupting power.
Magic Origins has had the greatest impact on Legacy of any core set, with multiple cards powering up a variety of different archetypes. With the first week of brewing on the books, it’s safe to say that this is only the beginning for Origins. There are still plenty of opportunities for other cards to get their time in the spotlight, and depending on the metagame I have high hopes for some of my other predictions to shine. It’s only been a week with the new format, so who knows what might come out of the woodwork in the weeks to come? I, for one, am eager to see how this new set shakes up Legacy.
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