Eternal Weekend is that one time of the year where the cream of the crop of the Legacy and Vintage communities battle for prizes and fame…and giant novelty versions of eternal staple cards like Mox Emerald and Tundra. It’s the one weekend each year that I take off from work to watch the stream in its entirety. This is my Super Bowl, my Stanley Cup finals, and my god was I in for a treat this year. Legacy has evolved substantially since the last Eternal Weekend, with Dig through Time ushering in a new era of Miracles and OmniTell taking up the majority of the metagame, but Eternal Weekend is usually a bastion for new and innovative decks. This year would be no different, and I spent most of my Saturday wondering “What new concoctions would get the spotlight this year?”
As the day progressed, it became clear that the top contenders at this event were pretty much what you would see at a regular tournament. Delver decks, OmniTell, and even Lands were at the top tables pretty much all day, and save for the occasional Harbinger of the Tides or an experimental Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, there wasn’t anything particularly exciting. However, that all changed when they announced the top 8, and a certain Modern staple had decided to jump ship and foray into the Legacy scene. If you’ve ever wondered what Modern combo decks would look like if they got to play with good cards, then look no further than Max Ansbro’s Top 8 list!
Max Ansbro Jeskai Twin
Can you believe it? Splinter Twin made Top 8 at Eternal Weekend! It is equal parts amazing and hilarious that a combo deck that has to wait until at least turn 4 to go off waded through a field of much faster combos and Delver decks packed with countermagic, and still made it to the top table. From what I had heard, this deck started 0-1, then rallied back to an X-1 finish leading into Top 8, making it all the more impressive.
On the surface, this deck plays exactly like the Modern Splinter Twin except for three main differences: better card draw, better counterspells, and a splash of White. This really shows the distance in power between Legacy and Modern, as the very existence of Force of Will gives the deck the ability to tap out for the combo on turn 4 and still have protection available against the inevitable Swords to Plowshares aimed at your combo creature.
As well, one of the more frustrating parts of playing Modern Splinter Twin is the lack of any real draw power. With only Serum Visions and, to a lesser extent, Sleight of Hand, the consistency of the Splinter Twin combo is improved vastly by the addition of Brainstorm, Ponder, Dig through Time, and even Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The ability to quickly and consistently sculpt your hand is integral to any combo deck in Legacy, and considering this deck only really needs two cards compared to the three for OmniTell (Show and Tell, Omniscience, Cunning Wish), or the five minimum needed for Storm to get going, this puts Splinter Twin at an advantage. Everything else at that point is a bonus, be it countermagic, removal, or even more draw spells to dig for more countermagic and removal.
Finally, what sets this apart is the White splash. Aside from the ability to put three counters on Engineered Explosives, there isn’t any reason to splash in the maindeck. However, once you look at the sideboard, you’ll see that that splash is set up to perfectly handle the bulk of the Legacy metagame. Wear // Tear is the first contender, as it gives the deck the flexibility to handle a variety of threats, from Batterskull to Counterbalance to even Omniscience. As well, Ethersworn Canonist is perfect for shutting down faster combo decks like Storm and even puts in work against Snapcaster Mages. The name of the game with this list is buying time, and using these cards to put up as many roadblocks as possible goes a long way for achieving your end game.
Speaking of the sideboard, there are also several notable inclusions that contributed to this deck’s success at Eternal Weekend. One of the biggest weaknesses of Splinter Twin combo is that Abrupt Decay can two-for-one you and there is little you can do against it. That is, until you bring in Misdirection and send that Abrupt Decay right back at their own Deathrite Shaman or Tarmogoyf. Misdirection is a “free” counterspell that affects cards that Force of Will typically can’t touch, making it the perfect answer for GBx decks that think they’re being smart holding up Abrupt Decay mana. Another awesome card for handling matchups that are typically bad for combo is Sulfur Elemental. This 3/2 for 2R is fairly unassuming, but giving your opponent’s White creatures a permanent +1/-1 is great for keeping pesky Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Flickerwisp, and Mother of Runes off the table. As well, thanks to Splinter Twin you can Twin up a Sulfur Elemental to give your opponent’s creatures +2/-2, which is typically a one-sided board wipe given how small the creature suite in Death & Taxes is. Finally, Grixis Pyromancer was one of the biggest contenders going into the tournament, and even eventually winning the Legacy event. The deck centres around playing cheap spells with Young Pyromancer to generate an overwhelming army. So how does Splinter Twin deal with that? Izzet Staticaster! This card is tailor made for eliminating hordes of X/1s at instant speed. Considering how popular X/1 creatures are in Legacy are right now, I would imagine that even going up to a second copy for consistency would be a way to improve the list going forward.
However, Splinter Twin wasn’t the only Modern deck to get a Legacy port. Going further down the line into the Top 32 we find an Affinity list that, save for a few lands, is entirely Modern legal. Traditionally, Legacy Affinity decks run cards like Stoneforge Mystic, Umezawa’s Jitte, or even Transmute Artifact to tutor up whatever they need. But in the case of 27th place Victoria Ezell, we’re eschewing all that fancy Legacy-only garbage for the tried and true Modern Affinity deck.
Victoria Ezell Affinity
This deck seeks to power out multiple evasive threats before the opponent has an opportunity to interact, and thanks to the spicy addition of Chalice of the Void and plenty of early mana acceleration, this deck can lock out all 1CMC cards as early as turn 1 to ensure it can’t be interacted with. Save for Springleaf Drum and Signal Pest, the deck has a convenient mana curve of 0-2-3 to play around its own Chalices, and with proper sequencing it can even play these cards and then a Chalice for maximum value. From that point on you simply play the biggest threat every turn and punch the opponent in the face until you win. It’s a fairly straightforward game plan, with all the same tricks of the trade that Modern Affinity employs to get around cards like Abrupt Decay and Pyroclasm.
What makes the deck even more interesting is that even with the broader card pool of Legacy, this sideboard stays Modern legal. However, this is no simple port of a Modern sideboard, as several cards indicate a clear understanding of how to punish the Legacy metagame. For example, one of the easiest ways to beat Affinity is to cheat out something like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Griselbrand, often through the graveyard. As such, the sideboard includes a whopping four graveyard hate cards or various names to help play around Pithing Needle. Also, for faster combo decks, the deck also employs three copies of Ethersworn Canonist to help keep decks like Storm under control. For slower Miracles decks, Pithing Needle and Phyrexian Revoker work to shut off their Sensei’s Divining Tops and Jace, the Mind Sculptors so they can’t dig their way out of your aggression by stacking a Terminus to the top of their deck. Also for the slower matches we have Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, who serves to both dig into the deck for answers and creatures post-Terminus, and to also provide pressure by animating Mox Opals and Chalice of the Voids into 5/5 beatsticks.
While the majority of Eternal Weekend was saturated by Legacy’s top tier archetypes, this year it was proven that it is still possible to think outside the box and succeed. These two decks are evidence that the metagame can be shaken up by looking to other formats, and for anyone on the fence about making the leap from Modern into Eternal formats, you can rest easy knowing that with a few modifications your Modern deck can make it in the Eternal leagues against the big dogs of the format.
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