Priemer’s Primers: Innovations from SeaTac Part 1

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

Priemer’s Primers:  Innovations from SeaTac Part 1

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

With Grand Prix SeaTac on the books, we can all take a breather from one of the more interesting Legacy Grand Prixs in quite some time. Taken down by Jarvis Yu’s Lands deck, Grand Prix SeaTac was a massive celebration of the Legacy format, with everything from Delver to Miracles, Storm to Reanimator, and everything in between. Of course, for an event of this magnitude and a format this punishing, you have to think a couple steps ahead of your opponent to stay at the top of your game. Innovation is key, since sticking to just the stock lists can inadvertently give your opponent information they can use to predict how you’re going to play. There were several new innovations to existing archetypes, over the next two articles we’re going to be discussing four of the more interesting decks that came out of the weekend.

While on the surface this looks like a fairly stock Lands deck, there are some card choices that are seriously game changing and show a great deal of predictions as far as to what the metagame would look like. First and foremost, Jarvis has elected to forego the typical Karakas and Bojuka Bog in the maindeck, which indicates that he wasn’t all that concerned about Sneak & Show and Reanimator decks making an appearance, as those are two of the biggest “cheat Griselbrand into play” deterrents available to Lands. Instead, he opted for cards like Riftstone Portal to do what regular Lands can’t: tap Dark Depths for mana. While this seems inconsequential, it allows for some very explosive starts, such as playing Mox Diamond, discarding Riftstone Portal, playing Dark Depths casting Punishing Fire on their Delver of Secrets. Without Riftstone Portal, regular Lands decks have to wait to until turn 3 with their nut draws, and the ability to use Maze of Ith as a deterrent to attacking creatures while also being able to tap it for mana should they decline to swing gives the deck a lot more flexibility.

Factoring in an expectation for a lot of Delver decks also explains the inclusion of Molten Vortex, which can pick off X/2s over and over again throughout the game, just on the off chance he couldn’t assemble Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows early enough, and this extra source of repeatable damage can also help close out longer games, and it can even act as a fifth Punishing Fire for picking off Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Liliana of the Veil. These subtle changes from the stock list helped propel Jarvis to the top tables, and eventually secured him the win.

Reanimator hasn’t exactly retained its spot in the metagame since Dig Through Time’s banning. What was once a powerhouse has fallen out of favor, which worked to Chase Hansen’s advantage since the graveyard hate just wasn’t there over the weekend. But in addition to the favorable meta call, Chase’s Reanimator build has some unique elements that allow it to play with far more inevitability than previous incarnations. First and foremost, we have Izzet Charm. This little Red splash lets the deck loot at instant speed, Spell Pierce, or Shock a Deathrite Shaman, all for just UR. It’s pretty much everything the Reanimator deck needed to stay competitive in a wave of Delver decks, and Chase took full advantage of Izzet Charm to a 4th place finish. As well, this version of Reanimator has a whopping 10 reanimation spells in lieu of the typical 4 Reanimate, 3 Exhume, 3 Show and Tell package of yesteryear. This all-in approach adds a lot of speed to the deck that can catch certain opponents off guard.

But no Reanimator deck is worth playing without an arsenal of huge, powerful creatures, and this deck is no slouch in the threat department. While the time honored tradition of Griselbrand, Elesh Norn, and Iona has stayed intact, Chase opted for a card that hasn’t seen play since Theros Limited: Archetype of Endurance. This is a card that actually made me do a double take as I was watching the GP stream. Traditionally, when Reanimator wants a big untargetable beatstick it runs Inkwell Leviathan, but with Archetype of Endurance it trades off Islandwalk and a larger body for the ability to give all of your creatures hexproof. The main issue I see with running Archetype over Inkwell is that Archetype can be chump blocked over and over while the opponent swarms around you, whereas Inkwell Leviathan just swings three times and they’re dead. However, the format has shifted in such a way that relying on a single creature isn’t always a guarantee that you’ll win. Sticking Elesh Norn against a Monastery Mentor deck would normally spell game over, but with token-oriented decks packing the removal and disruption necessary to keep lockouts like that from happening, you have to be proactive. This is where Archetype of Endurance really shines, as it can run interference on the opponent’s removal spells by protecting your other creatures. One other prominent example of Archetype’s power is how you can stick an Iona on White against Miracles, which would normally protect against Swords to Plowshares and Terminus, but they can still play Jace and bounce her. With Archetype in play it’s a hardlock once more by keeping Iona safe through what little options they have left.

I hope these two decks have inspired you to think outside the box when it comes to tuning your decks. Stay tuned next time when I break down two of the craziest decks from outside the Top 8, Eric Froehlich’s Storm and Jacob Kory’s Dragon Prison!

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