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Against the Odds: Legacy Panharmonicon


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 156 of Against the Odds. It's Panharmonicon week. Unfortunately, everyone's favorite artifact is rotating from Standard, which means we need to figure out a way to keep doubling up our triggers. So today, we're going to try to play a Panharmonicon deck in Legacy! Our deck today is basically a twist on a Nic Fit shell, looking to ramp into Panharmonicon as early as Turn 2 and then finish the game off with some powerful enters-the-battlefield creatures. Since we are in Legacy, we get to try out some sweet new Panharmonicon creatures that we've never used before, including Bramble Sovereign, which is both a Panharmonicon and a Panharmonicon payoff; Baleful Strix as a way to draw a ton of cards; and Recurring Nightmare to loop our enters-the-battlefield creatures. Is it really possible to build a successful Panharmonicon deck in one of Magic's most powerful formats? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Legacy Panharmonicon

The Deck

The biggest challenge of making Panharmonicon work in Legacy is that four mana is a ton in a format with cards like Daze and Force of Will. Thankfully, we already have a shell that is perfect for ramping into expensive things: Nic Fit. The combination of Veteran Explorer and Cabal Therapy (to sacrifice Veteran Explorer) is basically the Legacy version of Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl, potentially getting us up to four mana as early as Turn 2. So, today's deck is basically a Panharmonicon-based version of Nic Fit, looking to ramp into Panharmonicon as quickly as possible and then use some interesting enters-the-battlefield creatures to close out the game.

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You should know what Panharmonicon does by now, considering we are most of the way through Panharmonicon week, but just in case: it double up our enters-the-battlefield triggers. While we might fall a bit behind by taking a turn off to cast the artifact, ideally we'll catch by up through enters-the-battlefield value in short order. One of the interesting aspects of playing Panharmonicon in Legacy is that we also have access to Bramble Sovereign, which is both an additional Panharmonicon (essentially doubling up an enters-the-battlefield trigger for two mana by copying the creature) and also a Panharmonicon payoff. While we mostly use Panharmonicon to double up enters-the-battlefield triggers, it technically doubles up any triggers that are generated by a creature (or artifact) entering the battlefield, which includes Bramble Sovereign, so things get our of control quickly if we have both Panharmonicon and Bramble Sovereign on the battlefield, with a single creature potentially being copied twice and generating a total of six enters-the-battlefield triggers!

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Baleful Strix is the only four-of creature in our deck, being fine on its own on Turn 2, offering a flying blocker for things like Delver of Secrets and also trading up for bigger creatures thanks to deathtouch but also being great in the late game with Panharmonicon, when its card-drawing enters-the-battlefield trigger doubles up. This keeps us drawing through our deck, hopefully finding more copies of Panharmonicon and more creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers to help put away the game.

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Kitesail Freebooter and Acidic Slime give us some defensive enters-the-battlefield value. Kitesail Freebooter is especially good against combo decks, which often don't play much removal, giving us a Duress on a body that is a double Duress if we live to the late game and have a Panharmonicon. Meanwhile, Acidic Slime doesn't have one specific target but offers a lot of flexibility. Unlike Modern, where equipment is basically unplayable, there are a lot of random Swords, Batterskulls, and Umezawa's Jittes floating around in Legacy thanks to Stoneforge Mystic. Acidic Slime answers them all, and if the opponent doesn't have a better target, taking down a land or two is never a bad thing.

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Eternal Witness is in our deck since it offers a lot of value with Panharmonicon, returning lands, creatures, or removal spells from our graveyard to our hand. While it doesn't really target any specific matchup, as a one-of, it's too powerful with Panharmonicon to pass up. Meanwhile, Thragtusk offers a ton of value in a Panharmonicon deck, gaining 10 life when it enters the battlefield to keep us out of range of burn spells and also giving us a Beast when it dies, helping us fight through our opponent's removal. While it might not seem like much, a 5/3 is actually a pretty reasonable clock, and this doesn't even include some of the sweet tricks we can do with cards like Recurring Nightmare, but more on this in a minute.

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When it comes to killing our opponent with Panharmonicon, we have two options. Titania, Protector of Argoth can offer up to 15 power for five mana if we have a Panharmonicon on the battlefield, since we can return two fetch lands from our graveyard when it enters the battlefield and immediately sacrifice them to make 5/3 Elementals to join Titania, Protector of Argoth herself, and then every future fetch land adds additional power to the battlefield. Along with making a huge board full of threats, getting lands back from our graveyard helps us ramp into our other big finisher: Hornet Queen. Hornet Queen is pretty simple: it makes eight flying, deathtouching 1/1s if we have a Panharmonicon, which is great for stabilizing the board against creature decks. Then eventually, we'll start attacking with our swarm of insects and hopefully kill our opponent in just a couple of attacks.

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You've probably noticed that we have a bunch of one-of creatures, Green Sun's Zenith is the card that makes this plan possible. While we only have one Hornet Queen (for example), we are usually able to find it when we need it thanks to Green Sun's Zenith tutoring. The same is true of cards like Thragtusk, Eternal Witness, and Acidic Slime. Plus, Green Sun's Zenith helps to make sure we have access to our ramp creature on Turn 1 or 2 as consistently as possible...

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While our deck is overloaded with sweet, fun enters-the-battlefield creatures, it's really the package of Veteran Explorer and Cabal Therapy that makes everything else possible. The idea is to play Veteran Explorer on Turn 1 (or Green Sun's Zenith for it on Turn 2) and then use Cabal Therapy to sacrifice it to tutor up two basic lands. While the land tutoring is symmetrical, we break the symmetry in two ways: first, we have seven basic lands, which is much more than most Legacy decks (which generally play three or less). Second, we actually have huge, expensive creatures in our deck (and the ability to draw a ton of cards with Panharmonicon), so even if our opponent does have basic lands to find, our deck is better suited to take advantage of the extra mana. Cabal Therapy also helps to keep us alive against some of the unfair combo decks in the format by naming key combo pieces and allows us to resolve our Panharmonicon by naming Force of Will. While it's Panharmonicon and all of the fun enters-the-battlefield cards that make our deck unique, it's the tried-and-true combo of Veteran Explorer and Cabal Therapy that makes the deck function.

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Beyond Panharmonicon itself, the most exciting card in our deck is Recurring Nightmare, which works insanely well with our enters-the-battlefield creatures and Panharmonicon itself as a repeatable sacrifice outlet and reanimation spell. For three mana, we can basically trade a creature in our graveyard for a creature on the battlefield, while also bouncing Recurring Nightmare back to our hand so we can immediately do it again if we have enough mana. This leads to some almost unbeatable loops with Panharmonicon on the battlefield. For example, if we have a Baleful Strix on the battlefield and in the graveyard, we can use Recurring Nightmare to loop them, drawing two cards each time one enters the battlefield. Replace a Baleful Strix for Acidic Slime, and we can quickly blow up all of our opponent's lands. Thragtusk makes a huge board full of tokens and gains us a ton of life, while Hornet Queen floods the board with Insects. Basically, Recurring Nightmare gives us a repeatable way to reuse the enters-the-battlefield triggers of all of our creatures, which generates an absurd amount of value, especially if we happen to have a Panharmonicon or two on the battlefield.

Other Stuff

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Outside of our Panharmonicon plan, we've got a handful of removal spells to help make sure we stay alive long enough to make Panharmonicon and our expensive creatures relevant, with Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse picking off annoying permanents one by one, and Toxic Deluge and Pernicious Deed sweeping away our opponent's board. We've also got two other one-of creatures in Scavenging Ooze (to gain life and help against graveyard decks) and Tireless Tracker (for more card draw). Even though these creatures don't really work with Panharmonicon proper, they are solid Green Sun's Zenith targets to help out in specific matchups.

The Matchups

While I don't feel like I play enough Legacy to really give an in-depth breakdown of various matchups, I will say that in general, Legacy Panharmonicon would rather play against fair decks than unfair decks. We don't have Force of Will and have limited ways of interacting with broken, fast combo decks like Belcher, Storm, or Oops! All Spells! On the other hand, if our opponent is looking to win a fair game with something like Death and Taxes or Delver, or play the control role, Legacy Panharmonicon can easily go over the top, slamming huge, recursive threats turn after turn until the opponent simply gives up. 

The Odds

We played a competitive Legacy league with Panharmonicon, and the results were great! We finished our league 4-1, giving us an 80% match win percentage, and just barely missed out on the 5-0 dream, losing to Lands in a three-game match in Round 5 after starting off 4-0! This makes Legacy Panharmonicon shockingly above average for an Against the Odds deck! More importantly, we actually did sweet things with Panharmonicon, generating tons of value and eventually using that value to win games. As weird as it sounds, Panharmonicon might actually be Legacy playable, at least based on our extremely small sample size, suggesting there is still hope for Panharmonicon (and Panharmonicon players) now that the artifact is rotating from Standard!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Normally, when it comes to doing something twice, it's Doubling Season that gets all of the hype, but there are some other janky ways of to Think Twice in Magic. Which of these doubling cards should we play in Modern next week as we wait for Guilds of Ravnica to be released? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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