I’ll be honest. There haven’t been too many times when a core set had me excited for Legacy. Aside from the odd Titan or planeswalker, the core sets have typically been reserved for Standard and Modern cards. However, with Magic Origins we have a swath of possibly broken cards for Legacy where their true potential can be exploited. From cards that can open up new archetypes to cards that already fit into existing strategies, this week I’m going to be discussing the cards that stick out in my mind as cards to watch in Legacy.
Note: For the purposes of this article, I will only be talking about new cards. Reprints such as Goblin Piledriver, while exciting, have already shown their potential in Legacy.
Starting things off we have probably the most exciting card from the early spoiler season: Day’s Undoing. This Timetwister with a drawback is basically the engine a lot of Storm-style decks have been asking for. The only issue is that you have to jump through a few hoops to negate the “End your turn” clause. However, cards like Quicken and Leyline of Anticipation allow you to play your spells at instant-speed, allowing you to play Timetwister with no downside. While the Leyline is trickier to manage, Quicken seems right at home in decks like Reset High Tide, which combos off at instant-speed as is. The only thing the deck was really missing was a means of refilling their hand the way Time Spiral does in regular High Tide. By splashing Quicken, you can cast Day’s Undoing on the opponent’s turn to really mess with their hand and graveyard while filling your hand with cantrips and Resets.
Another option is to run 1-2 copies in aggressive decks like Affinity or Merfolk as a means of restocking your hand after flooding the battlefield with bodies. Simply swing for the fences, play Day’s Undoing, and reload your hand with creatures. Having to end your turn means little in these decks, and Merfolk even has the advantage of running Aether Vial to cheat your new creatures into play on the opponent’s turn. Miracles can also use this after spending their resources keeping the opponent’s board clear. Since Miracles rarely does things on its own turn, spending three mana in the late game to get seven fresh cards should often turn the tide in otherwise bad scenarios. Printing a “strictly worse” version of a Power card is always risky, such as Lion’s Eye Diamond, but there are plenty of ways to abuse such a powerful effect.
Dark Petition is one of those cards that would simply be okay were it not for Spell Mastery. Five mana is a little pricy for a tutor effect in Constructed, but Spell Mastery netting you three mana hopes to offset this downside by letting you cast whatever you searched for. Something tells me they only tested this card in formats without Dark Ritual, because in my opinion this card opens up a whole new style of Storm decks. Five mana is a lot for Legacy, but decks like ANT can already cast Ad Nauseum, so this isn’t much of an issue. All you need to cast Dark Petition with Spell Mastery is a pair of Dark Rituals, and that’s excluding any artifact mana like Lotus Petal or Lion’s Eye Diamond. This card is basically Demonic Tutor with a ritual attached, which helps keep the deck going once it starts to combo off. The easiest way for ANT to lose is to whiff on a needed card or to run out of mana, and Dark Petition helps with both, making for what I anticipate to be a much smoother combo deck.
As anyone will tell you, I’m a sucker for big, colourless spells. MUD and Titan Post are two of my favourite Legacy decks, and I always check spoilers for big artifacts that I can potentially fit into them. This brings me to Orbs of Warding, also known as Witchbane Orb’s bigger brother. While both give you hexproof, a necessity against decks like Storm and Burn, for one mana more Orbs of Warding prevents 1 damage whenever a creature would deal damage to you. This renders formerly fearsome cards like Young Pyromancer inert as it blanks the tokens it produces. As well, unlike Witchbane Orb, this card actually does something in multiples, making even more types of creatures useless. When you can simply play a card and blank most of the opponent’s deck, you know you’re on to something interesting, especially in archetypes like MUD which can often have trouble getting swarmed by tokens.
On the other end of the spectrum, a card that certainly looks to power up one of the more aggressive creature decks is Shaman of the Pack. There are already musings of it in Modern and Standard, but what really makes it a powerhouse in Legacy is that you can do so much more with it thanks to some of the core cards in Legacy Elves. For example, as a Green creature, you can tutor for Shaman of the Pack with Green Sun’s Zenith, putting it directly onto the battlefield, something the Modern Collected Company Elves player has to hope is in their top six cards. As well, thanks to Wirewood Symbiote you can bounce Shaman of the Pack to untap an Elf and recast the Shaman all over again for even more life loss! This is a card that I have very high hopes for, and I think it might be what helps take Elves back to the top tables.
There is no denying that right now Lands is one of the strongest decks in the format. It attacks on an angle that most decks aren’t prepared to fight on, and is very difficult to stop once it gets going. The biggest downside is that it hasn’t really had much in the ways of card advantage the way other control decks like Miracles have. With Magmatic Insight, however, Lands now has a way to draw cards at the expense of a land from their hand. Since Life from the Loam and graveyard recursion is the core of the deck, this basically reads “R: discard a card you’ll get back next turn, draw two cards”. There’s no downside to this card, and I believe Magmatic Insight will fit right in to any Lands deck.
Finally, I’m going to discuss two cards that, while I don’t think will be seeing much maindeck play, should definitely have a home as sideboard cards. Talent of the Telepath and Sphinx’s Tutelage are both incredibly unique effects that have the potential to be extremely powerful in Legacy due to the nature of most decks. Talent of the Telepath is essentially a mirror breaking card for decks like OmniTell, Miracles, and even Storm. Casting the best 1-2 instants or sorceries from the opponent’s top seven cards can net incredibly powerful results. For example, say you’re playing an OmniTell mirror. You have the necessary Omniscience in hand, but you’re missing that critical Show and Tell to get it into play. If you wait for the opponent to cast one, you’ll be dead on the spot, so you cast Talent of the Telepath to try to steal a Show and Tell from them. You can get their Show and Tell, or even cantrips like Brainstorm or Dig Through Time to help find your own, all while denying the opponent their own cards since Talent puts whatever you don’t cast into their graveyard. In the mirror against Storm, you can cast this to take the opponent’s only copy of Tendrils of Agony to keep them from ever winning, or even just getting a Dark Ritual and an Infernal Tutor to keep your own combo going. The sky’s the limit, and since Legacy is so spell-heavy, it will be rare that Talent of the Telepath will whiff.
Sphinx’s Tutelage is a card that is either incredibly broken or incredibly durdly. Grindstone is already a format staple for its ability to mill through the opponent’s deck when Painter’s Servant is in play. The fact that this triggers whenever you draw a card means that even something as simple as Brainstorm will let you trigger it three times for just one Blue mana. With Painter’s Servant in play, the only restriction is that both cards have to be nonland in order to repeat the process, but given the land-light nature of Legacy, this can be handled fairly easily. While I’m not saying Sphinx’s Tutelage will outright replace Grindstone, it would make a great backup to Grindstone which may even revert the deck back to the older Blue/Red builds from a few years ago.
Well, there we have it. Magic Origins is shaping up to be one of the more exciting core sets in years, and I would be surprised if Legacy wasn’t at least a little shaken up by these new additions. It feels as if this being the last official core set made someone at WotC turn the power up to 11 on what is typically reserved for middle of the road, introductory level cards. For the first time since the Titans I’m eager to play core set cards, and I can’t wait to see just how Legacy shapes up in the wake of Magic Origins.
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