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Priemer’s Primers: Tech Savvy

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

Priemer’s Primers:  Tech Savvy

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

Legacy is a format of bombastic spells, matchup knowledge, and trying to outsmart your opponent through clever plays. As a brewer, there is no greater feeling than when you pluck a random card from the obscure depths of Gatherer and trounce an opponent with it. These can be anything from a unique sideboard card for a specific matchup, or something maindeck to catch a metagame off guard, but the effects can often be devastating when used properly. With the MtG Twitter community going crazy over the past few months with their Top 8 Cards, I thought this would be a good opportunity to go over some of my favourite pieces of tech over the course of my Legacy career.

To be included on the list, each of these cards have to have at least decisively won me a minimum of five matches in an actual Legacy tournament. No kitchen table Legacy is allowed for this article, only cards that have put up results. As well, the cards I’ve chosen each have stories of just utterly ruining an opponent’s day, which in my opinion is the ultimate goal for tech cards. For an added bonus, each of these cards has made several opponents have to pick up the card and read what it does, which is a hallmark of super secret tech cards. So without further ado, these are my Top 8 Tech Cards of All Time.

#8: Divert (OmniTell)

Divert is, on paper, a seemingly worse version of Spell Pierce. It can’t affect cards without targets like Brainstorm and it can’t counter noncreature spells like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, so why on Earth would anyone run it over something as flexible as Spell Pierce? Back in late 2013 when I first built OmniTell, I was really hyped on the interaction of Enter the Infinite, Cunning Wish, and Release the Ants. The only downside was at the time, Shardless BUG and Jund were the decks to beat, as they not only had the removal to handle Delver but the disruption for combo as well. Thoughtseize into Hymn to Tourach was a nightmare for OmniTell, as they could quickly strip your hand down to nothing, and using Force of Will against either card just felt abysmal. With a little searching, I figured that by using Divert, I would be able to send Hymn to Tourachs back at my opponent without having to spend two cards like I would with Misdirection. Once I cast this effective 3-for-1, the majority of my GB/x opponents would think twice about running out a Hymn to Tourach when I had untapped mana, which often bought me enough time to dig for my combo pieces to win the game. The reason Divert is so far down on the list is because while certainly powerful at the time, the card took a bit of a nosedive in usefulness once Treasure Cruise took over the format, and even since Treasure Cruise’s banning the popularity of Hymn to Tourach hasn’t really recovered.

#7: Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Four Horsemen)

I’ve written about this piece of tech extensively in the past in my Four Horsemen article, and it makes the list simply by virtue of making what was once an illegal archetype into something tournament-playable. Sometimes all it takes is a single card to make a difference in a deck, and Sidisi’s ability to generate infinite zombie tokens in Four Horsemen let me troll not only my opponents but my local judges as well. If that doesn’t warrant a slot, I don’t know what does.

#6: Angel’s Grace (Burn)

This one takes me back to when I first started playing Legacy in 2010. I, like many new Legacy players, gravitated toward Burn due to its relative inexpensiveness and the fact that at the time Zoo was the dominant creature deck, which made Price of Progress just insane to play. However, that all changed when someone put two and two together and realized that Hive Mind combined with the Pact cycle from Future Sight could kill with minimal effort. This was the Show and Tell deck to beat back in the day, and it attacked on an angle that the majority of the format couldn’t really handle. Burn was especially at a disadvantage since, due to Hive Mind’s abundance of free countermagic, your single Pyroblast on their Hive Mind was almost guaranteed to be countered with no repercussions. After losing to the deck enough times, I decided to think outside the box and I figured out that I wasn’t going to beat them in a race or by trying to fight them on their combo turn. By splashing a Plateau, I would be able to cast Angel’s Grace, an uncounterable card that prevented me from losing the game that turn. I would be able to put the Pact trigger on the stack, play Angel’s Grace, and go about my turn as usual. At that point the onus would be on my opponent to pay for their own Pact, which given the accelerant-heavy nature of Hive Mind, they wouldn’t be able to do. This little bit of sneakiness was what helped cement my love of Legacy as well as the idea that every deck can be beaten with the right strategy, and that’s why Angel’s Grace makes the list.

#5: Altar of the Brood (Worldgorger Combo)

Altar of the Brood is another card I’ve written about in the past because it helped solve my dilemma of the most enjoyable way to abuse the Worldgorger Dragon engine. With Altar, I would be able to loop Worldgorger over and over with Animate Dead and mill my opponent’s entire deck. Of all the opening plays I’ve made over the years, turn 1 Altar of the Brood is easily the most innocuous, and even without comboing, the incremental value of messing with my opponent’s Brainstorms and Jace activations just made the card fun to play. The fact that I was able to win a couple local weekly Legacy events with the card is just icing on the cake. Altar of the Brood is proof that sometimes the best piece of tech is sitting in your junk rare binders.

#4: Leyline of Anticipation (Oops, All Spells)

Back in the early days of Gatecrash, when Oops, All Spells was just taking off as an archetype, the general consensus was that the optimal sideboard was to transform into a janky Goblin Charbelcher deck, siding in four copies of Lion’s Eye Diamond and the Belcher itself. I felt that this made the deck far too clunky, so instead I tuned my sideboard to take notes from both traditional Belcher decks and ANT decks, but I felt as if something was missing. The inherent cheapness of the deck to build and the high turn 1 kill percentage made it catch on quickly in my local meta, so if I was going to play the deck as well I would need an edge. This is where Leyline of Anticipation came into play, since starting the game with all of my spells having flash meant I was able to combo off during my opponent’s first upkeep before they could cast any of their own spells. This would often tear through metagames light on Force of Wills, and the look on an opponent’s face when I kill them on their first turn was always priceless. This was about as degenerate a combo deck could get back then, and just thinking about it makes me long for a time when Force of Will will die down in popularity, but for now Leyline of Anticipation will have to settle for being number 4 on the list.

#3: Wispmare (Dredge)

Now we have a card from my heart soul, my pet deck above all other decks: Dredge. This sideboard card was a direct reaction to the ineffectiveness of Nature’s Claim against Miracles. I was finding that if I was unable to kill them before they could assemble Rest in Peace, Counterbalance, and Sensei’s Divining Top, I couldn’t win the game at all. Whenever I tried to cast a Nature’s Claim to get rid of Rest in Peace, they could simply activate their Top and put it on top of their deck to counter it. This brought my thought process to the Vintage tech of Dredge players running Ingot Chewer to beat Grafdigger’s Cage. Wispmare was the anti-enchantment counterpart to Ingot Chewer, and barring something like finding a Vendilion Clique on top of their deck, Wispmare was essentially CounterTop-proof. This led me to start getting fancy with Wispmare, trying to figure out the best ways to eke out value while picking off my opponent’s sideboard cards.

The best was in the Top 4 of a GPT last year, when my opponent mulled aggressively and ran out a Rest in Peace with one card in hand. I had just a Putrid Imp and a Mana Confluence in play with Wispmare, Golgari Grave-Troll, and a pair of Bridge from Below in hand. Banking on my opponent not having countermagic, I evoked the Wispmare to destroy the Rest in Peace, stacking the enter the battlefield trigger and the evoke trigger so that the enchantment would be destroyed, then I would sacrifice my creature. Once Rest in Peace was in the graveyard, with the evoke trigger still on the stack, I activated my Imp to put my Bridge from Belows in the graveyard which netted me two zombies when Wispmare died. I then proceeded to overwhelm my opponent from that turn on. Turning my opponent’s smug grin of “He doesn’t get a graveyard any more, I win” to “Wait, how does he have zombies and why am I taking 6 a turn?” is ever so satisfying, and that interaction alone cemented Wispmare’s slot in my mind. I’ve won countless matches on the sole reason that it wasn’t a Nature’s Claim, turning Wispmare from clever tech to a sideboard staple for me.

#2: Sire of Insanity (Reanimator)

Last year I went on something of a Reanimator kick after picking up my set of Underground Seas. Just the thought of dropping a giant creature on turn 1 made me giddy, but after facing plenty of fair decks like Death & Taxes that were set up to fighting the traditional Griselbrand/Iona, Shield of Emeria/Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite package, I found myself looking elsewhere for answers. After discussing with a couple of friends, I soon found solace in Sire of Insanity, a mainstay from my old Standard Jund days. This was a card that could wipe away my opponent’s entire hand on turn 1 if left unanswered, and the 6/4 Craw Wurm body could end games rather quickly. More importantly, the opponent would need a perfect sequence of draws to handle Sire, while I could pick up any random reanimation spell and grab something else while my opponent is hellbent. Sire of Insanity was also just an auto-win against combo decks like ANT, which gave it just a little bit of extra value in faster matchups. There was a special frustration I created by wiping away my opponent’s entire hand on the first or second turn which took me back to my youth casting Mind Twist for 5+ cards. This bit of tech let me sweep through my meta for weeks until I inevitably tired of the deck and moved on to my number choice of tech…

#1: Omen Machine (MUD, Cloudpost)

I have been utterly obsessed with this card ever since I brewed up a Standard Eldrazi deck with it back in 2011. Admittedly, due to its unwieldy mana cost, its Legacy applications relegate it to only a few decks like MUD and Cloudpost which can generate tons of early mana, but in those decks Omen Machine can be backbreaking. What makes Omen Machine so strong in Legacy is that it cripples Brainstorm, arguably the most powerful card in the format. With Omen Machine in play, players can’t draw cards, and at the beginning of each player’s upkeep they exile and cast the top card of their deck. What makes this so strong against opposing Blue decks is that players are forced to cast it regardless of whether they want to or not. That Force of Will they exiled? Well that was their spell for the turn. That Brainstorm they flipped? It now reads: “Put two cards from your hand on top of your deck”.

This card has been responsible for two of my favourite wins of all time. The first was as a sideboard card in my MUD deck. I had both Omen Machine and Staff of Nin in play, and I was hinging heavily on the Machine to find me a threat. Meanwhile, my opponent had a Jace in play and was constantly fatesealing my deck until he was finally able to use the ultimate. However, because I couldn’t draw cards, despite having no deck I was unable to deck out, giving me plenty of opportunity to ping him to death with Staff of Nin. The second was in Cloudpost, where the interaction of Sensei’s Divining Top and Omen Machine basically let me control every one of my Omen Machine triggers until I eventually found Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Because Omen Machine casts the card, this gave me a free Emrakul trigger which locked up the game in my favour. These two matches were prime examples of when my desire to break a tech card actually catches on to something, and I find a broadsword that cleaves through a pillar of the format.

I hope that this article has helped inspire others to search out their own tech, be they pet cards or metagame calls. Finding new and unique cards and interactions is one of the most fun parts about Legacy, and the sheer potential for creativity adds this new layer to the game that forces players to adapt to each others deviations from stock lists. Coming up with tech makes an already fun format into something even more enjoyable, and I wholeheartedly encourage you all to come up with your own tech cards for your Legacy decks and metagames.

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