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Priemer’s Primers: In the Beginning

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

Priemer’s Primers: In the Beginning

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

Hypergenesis. Just saying the name out loud is enough to make Extended veterans recoil in horror. When it was first printed back in Time Spiral, Hypergenesis decks were something of a novelty, with players suspending it on turn three in the hopes that they could survive long enough to resolve it and put something such as Akroma, Angel of Wrath into play. That all changed with the advent of Alara Reborn and the cascade mechanic. This allowed Hypergenesis players to cast their Violent Outbursts and Demonic Dreads and always hit their namesake spell. This dramatic boost in power as well as heavy hitting creatures like Progenitus and Sphinx of the Steel Wind made the deck into something actually competitive. Occasionally popping up in Extended tournaments, Hypergenesis finally hit its tier 1 status with the printing of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Everyone’s favourite flying spaghetti monster gave the deck exactly the kind of non-interactable, game ending beatstick it needed, and it remained at the forefront of Extended until the format was replaced with Modern. In fact, the deck was so powerful that WotC preemptively banned Hypergenesis out of fear that the deck would take over the format.

Now that the card has been relegated to Legacy, Hypergenesis has become a far different animal. For example, gaining access to free countermagic like Force of Will and Misdirection makes it far easier to protect your combo, and as such, the deck has adjusted the kinds of cards it runs accordingly. There are now more Blue cards in the maindeck than the old Extended builds to accommodate these counterspells, and they just so happen to be some of the best enablers in the deck. Shardless Agent is one of the only playable Blue cascade cards that conveniently adds a body to the battlefield, while Show and Tell gives the deck an alternative means of putting a monster into play.

As well, the deck has adapted to this Blue shift by changing some of the permanents it puts into play. Omniscience is hands down the most broken card in Magic once it’s on the battlefield. Casting everything for free is incredibly powerful, as anyone who has ever played OmniTell will tell you, but in this deck Omniscience serves a far more sinister purpose since you can play it and other bombs like Griselbrand at the same time via Hypergenesis. With both in play, you can draw cards with Griselbrand and cast them all for free with Omniscience, essentially throwing your entire deck at your opponent. Another Blue addition to the deck is Maelstrom Wanderer which, while the double cascade is a fun novelty, is primarily to give all of your creatures haste, effectively ending the game on the spot after a Hypergenesis. In the past, Hypergenesis would run cards like Akroma’s Memorial or Madrush Cyclops for this kind of effect, but with Maelstrom Wanderer, you not only get a 7/5 hasty body, you also have a Blue card to pitch to Force of Will, putting it ahead of both alternatives.

Rounding out the fatty suite are Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Griselbrand, and Progenitus. Emrakul and Griselbrandare a staple of Show and Tell decks from recent years. They are, simply put, the baddest dudes you can play these days, and are both utterly backbreaking when played in the early game. Progenitus has certainly seen better days, as its title of “Biggest Monster” has been stolen from it time and time again. Right now its biggest selling point is that in addition to being a 10/10 with protection from everything, it’s also Blue for Force of Will. This gives Progenitus a distinct advantage over other fatties when it’s in your hand, but overall it’s just “gigantic evasive monster #9-10”.


The sideboard for Hypergenesis is unique in that it can’t run any spells that cost  less than three mana in order to avoid cascading into anything other than Hypergenesis. This means any removal spells have to cost 3+ mana, but because Legacy is so fast, this seems bad on paper. However, there are plenty of cards that have a converted mana cost over 3, but can be cast for less. For example, Dismember can kill any creature with less than 5 toughness for 1 mana and 4 life due to the Phyrexian mana mechanic. This is great for keeping cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Tarmogoyf off the table before they can get out of hand. For artifacts like Ensnaring Bridge and Chalice of the Void, there’s Ingot Chewer. This normally unassuming 3/3 is a Vintage staple because for the price of one Red mana you can evoke Ingot Chewer to kill any artifact. This gives us an inexpensive means of destroying problematic artifacts that could otherwise interfere with our game plans.

The sideboard is also notable for packing hate for Show and Tell mirrors in Ashen Rider and Blazing Archon. Ashen Rider can exile any permanent when it enters the battlefield or dies, and is especially powerful when played off of Show and Tell, since the opponent will only be cheating one card into play. Blazing Archon, on the other hand, keeps the opponent from attacking you. This effectively shuts down Sneak Attack strategies while simultaneously stopping any kind of aggro deck from doing anything. Alternatively, Blazing Archon could be any large, obtrusive creature like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Iona, Shield of Emeria, or Sphinx of the Steel Wind that throws a roadblock in front of aggressive decks.

Finally, the sideboard also includes Blood Moon, Ricochet Trap, and additional copies of Misdirection to help combat fairer decks like Delver and Shardless BUG. Blood Moon, especially a turn 1 Blood Moon, is virtually an automatic game over against most tri-colour decks by virtue of them having no actual basic lands. Entire archetypes have been devoted to powering out a Blood Moon as quickly as possible, and with Hypergenesis’s eight Spirit Guides it can do just the same. Ricochet Trap and Misdirection help the deck take on opposing countermagic-heavy decks. These redirection effects are some of the cheapest means of changing the targets of opposing counterspells that can’t be cascaded into with Violent Outburst, so they can trump a counter war with minimal mana invested.


Typically Hypergenesis’s matchups depend on whether or not Force of Will is a factor. The deck can combo off faster than most other combo decks, so decks like Storm aren’t all that threatening. As well, Hypergenesis has an advantage over opposing Show and Tell decks, provided that it actually gets past the opponent’s countermagic. There are just so many different threats that the deck can cheat into play that it can easily overwhelm the opponent. Additionally, the deck can outmanoeuvre Show and Tell decks by using the opponent’s Show and Tell against them by putting an Omniscience or Emrakul into play and killing them on the following turn. Delver decks can pose a bit of a problem if they have a tempo-heavy hand, but resolving a single Hypergenesis or Show and Tell is often enough to out-muscle them with a fatty.

Creature-based decks like Death & Taxes and Elves can be problematic, but for different reasons. Death & Taxes often employs several anti-cheating cards like Containment Priest and Thalia that can slow you down, as well as maindeck Karakas which can trump your Show and Tells if you’re on the Emrakul or Griselbrand plan. Elves, on the other hand, can not only use your Hypergenesis to build up enough of a board to swarm around you and set up for a lethal Craterhoof Behemoth, it often runs a singular Emrakul of their own to trump your Show and Tells. Blazing Archon is at its best here, as it shuts off any and all hopes of Elves winning through combat.


You should build Hypergenesis if you enjoy playing Show and Tell decks, but hate having to wait until turn 3 to combo off. Hypergenesis is easily the fastest Emrakul deck with an engine that essentially reads “throw your hand on the table and win”. You get to play with the largest creatures in the game all at the same time, with the ability to do so on the first turn, and if that doesn’t scream fun times then you’re probably doing Legacy wrong. So if you enjoy cheating monsters into play at a blistering pace, you can’t get any better than Hypergenesis!

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