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Much Abrew: Esper Brought Back (Legacy)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. It's been a while since we've played some Legacy, but a few days ago, a Legacy list came across my Twitter feed that looked like so much fun that I just had to try it out: Esper Brought Back! The list might be one of the fairest-looking Legacy decks I've ever seen, with the plan being to use the reanimating power of Brought Back to grind out value with everything from fetch lands to Grief to Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw before eventually overwhelming the opponent with value. No combos. No Force of Will. No super-fast aggro kills. Just super-value Magic, the way Garfield intended. Is it really possible that blinking and reanimating Mulldrifters and Shriekmaws is a legitimate plan in a format as powerful as Legacy? Let's get to the video and find out on this week's Much Abrew About Nothing

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Much Abrew: Esper Brought Back

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  • Record-wise, we ended up 3-2 with Esper Brought Back but played some absurd matches along the way. Outside of our hilarious blowout of Storm in game one, every one of our matches went the full three games, and most were super close. We came super close to picking up a fourth win in our last match against Omni-Tell but fell just short by not finding a black card to evoke Grief (and blink it with Ephemerate) in order to take our opponent's combo pieces before it was too late. 
  • The deck itself is an absolute blast to play. It reminds me of a Panharmonicon deck—overflowing with enters-the-battlefield triggers and value—just with Brought Back instead of Panharmonicon. There's really nothing in Magic like evoking a Mulldrifter and then blinking it with Ephemerate (or reanimating it with Brought Back)!
  • Across our matches, we got to see both the good and the bad of the deck. Apart from being super fun, the good news about the deck is that it felt really powerful and like it was competitive against pretty much anything the Legacy meta can throw at us. We've got good answers, and if we can stabilize in the early game, we should be able to out-value basically any deck in the format. We also have some weird free-win potential. Sometimes, we Grief and blink it with Ephemerate on Turn 1, and our opponent doesn't do much of anything. Other times, we use Brought Back as a double ramp spell with fetch lands on Turn 2 and pull so far ahead on mana that it's really difficult for most opponents to keep up. The combination of having the potential for free wins with a solid fair game plan is pretty deadly, giving us a shot against everything from fast combo to aggro and fair midrange or control decks.
  • The bad news about the deck is that it does sometimes get some really clunky hands full of expensive evoke Elementals. We saw this in our last match, where we mulliganed; ended up with a Grief and an Ephemerate but no black card to evoke Grief; and pretty much did nothing for the first few turns of the game, which gave our opponent time to stick a Teferi, Time Raveler and eventually win with Show and Tell. Having some clunky draws isn't a deal-breaker by any means, but if you do decide to pick up the deck, make sure to be fairly aggressive with your mulligans. Cards like Brought Back, Ephemerate, Baleful Strix, and Mulldrifter are good at refilling our hand. Having five or six of the right cards is a lot better than having seven of the wrong ones with Esper Brought Back. 
  • As for our namesake Brought Back, it does a ton of different things in the deck. It ramps with the help of fetch lands. With Wasteland, it gives us a ton of land destruction. It works really well with our evoke Elementals (Grief, Solitude, Shriekmaw, and Mulldrifter). It synergizes with Cabal Therapy (which allows us to sacrifice things like Baleful Strix and Recruiter of the Guard and then reanimate them to reuse their enters-the-battlefield triggers) and even offers removal and wrath protection. With so many different synergies in the deck, it's really rare for Brought Back to be bad. We pretty much always managed to get value out of it in one way or another.
  • We also played a surprisingly diverse set of matches. There's been a lot of complaining about Delver decks in Legacy lately, to the point where many people want a banning of some kind, but we didn't play against Delver a single time, and we played against five very different decks across our five matchups. Heading into our league, I was a little worried that we'd just play against Izzet Delver on repeat, but that wasn't even close to the case. Of course, this doesn't mean that Delver is safe or that Legacy couldn't be improved with bannings—we probably got a bit lucky to dodge the monster of the format—but overall, it was a really interesting, fun, and diverse league. 
  • Also, quick complaint about the Reserved List: If it weren't for the absurd cost of dual lands, Esper Brought Back would basically be the same price as a Modern deck. All in all, the deck is $5,200, but the eight original duals in the deck make up almost $4,200 of that price tag, which means even with fetch lands, Solitude, and such, the non–dual land part of the deck is right around $1,000: not cheap but right around the cost of top-tier Modern decks. Thankfully, those same eight dual lands cost less than $30 on Magic Online, but every time I play Legacy, I end up feeling a little bit sad that one cycle of cards on the Reserved List basically makes the entire format inaccessible to most players in paper.
  • So, should you play Esper Brought Back in Legacy? I think the answer is a clear yes! If you like value-y blink decks, Esper Brought Back is an absolute blast to play and seemed surprisingly competitive. Even our losses were close, and with a bit better luck (or maybe better play?), the deck could easily go 5-0. Plus, who doesn't love seeing cards like Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw compete in one of Magic's most powerful formats?


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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