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This Week in Legacy: 11th KMC Invitational

It’s been quite some time since we’ve looked at Japan in TWiL, and so today I will be running through the events of the 11th Known Magician Clan (KMC) Legacy Invitational. This gathers some of the greatest players from across the KMC events and pits them head-on. The small size event (nineteen players) leads to some pretty incredible brews finding their way into the limelight. Many featured freshly minted cards from Dominaria and from Battlebond. Even some lesser played Amonkhet and Ixalan cards made their way.

Let’s get ready again for tons of new Japanese spice.

Top 8

Let’s start by looking at the Top 8 decks of the event:

Deck Player Placing
Miracles Sekimoto Tatsuo 1
Grixis Delver Fukudome Yuu 2
ANT Banba Taiki 3-4
Pox Adachi Ryosuke 3-4
Mono-Black Reanimator Hiroi Naoto 5-8
BUG Control Okawa Hiroshi 5-8
Esper Stoneblade Kagotani Naota 5-8
Aluren Shibata Masataka 5-8

The first-placing list was that of Sekimoto Tatsuo, who has plenty of wins under his belt already with Miracles – his specialty. His list did include some exotic choices.

I think the biggest statement of this deck is the triple Spell Pierce in the main, giving the deck a lot of game against combo and a better ability to tag cantrips and other big spells from some of the Blue tempo/control decks. I think Pierce also does a huge job at defending some of the critical haymakers this deck has – a Counterbalance on turn three is very, very scary when backed up with a simple Pierce for the opponent’s Force of Will and definitely is something many will not expect. I also like it as a card to effectively defend Monastery Mentor, even though the Monk is only featured as one-of here. Pierce is also effective at, in the early game, giving the Miracles deck “breathing room”  to really set up shop.

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In the sideboard, we have a pretty absurd giant, scary White Angel threat – and it’s not Baneslayer Angel, that occasionally found its way into old Joe Lossett lists. No, it’s Archangel Avacyn?!

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I think the main advantage this has is that it is essentially a flash Serra Angel which can stabilize the board against many a deck, particularly Delver. With Mentor likely coming in alongside her too, it’s likely that her flip mode is a probably occurrence – otherwise Mentor will be going nuts and you’ll be winning anyway! Of course, the only place that Avacyn is a huge liability is in a matchup like Death & Taxes, where Karakas makes her look a little bit silly.

In 3rd place we have a very interesting ANT list. What sticks out most notably are two cards: Spellseeker and a main deck Echoing Truth. I’ll address the bounce spell first – this isn’t the first time that main deck permanent removal has found its way into ANT. I recall during Miracles heyday with Top a few ANT players were experimenting with main deck Abrupt Decay as a hedge. I imagine Taiki, with the narrow Invitation field, expected many decks with permanent-based hate, from decks such as Miracles and Stompy. Bounce spells are also pretty strong against the surprising Reanimator presence at the tournament.

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Next, let’s look at Spellseeker. Here, it is being used over options such as Dark Petition or Grim Tutor to find, I imagine, Infernal Tutor for an inevitable Tendrils of Agony. The issue I find with this is that this is a pretty mana-intensive spell chain. Furthermore, many Past in Flames kills requiring looping a tutor twice to build Storm (or mana) and Spellseeker, being a creature, interacts very poorly with these. I think the most appealing part of Spellseeker is that it can fetch cards like a singleton Echoing Truth unconditionally (unlike Dark Petition, which requires a lot of mana, or Grim Tutor which requires some hefty life loss). It also is a tutor that gets under cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Thorn of Amethyst. But overall, I’m not really convinced.

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In the sideboard is something I do really like though – Liliana, the Last Hope in Storm?!

This sideboard card is an interesting cross-section of roles valuable for Storm in certain matchups. Firstly, Liliana as repetitive removal against decks like Death & Taxes can dismantle certain hate pieces (such as Thalia and Revoker) again, and again, and again. Against a deck like Pile, its ability to machine gun down all their threats (other than Leovold) and eventually ultimate gives the deck an alternative kill condition – one that is a particularly great top deck after Pile has ripped apart the Storm player's hand with Thoughtseize, Hymn and Snapcastering these again. This is also interesting as a threat against Miracles, as most planeswalker removal like Council’s Judgment should be boarded out. I think this definitely deserves some further testing. Imagine turn one Dark Ritual, Liliana, the Last Hope out of Storm.

Speaking of Ritualing out Lilianas, Pox surprisingly made a Top 4 appearance in hands of Pox specialist Adachi Ryosuke. It is pretty straightforward stuff, though Ifnir Deadlands is a nice bit of tech giving Pox’s land’s some utility. The sideboard also has two sweet deals of epic Black creatures – the Phyrexian Obliterator and Bloodline Keeper as the deck’s “army in a can” of choice. Bitterblossom’s continued popularity also now finds it in Pox’s sideboard.

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Find the full Top 4 here.

Mono-Black Reanimator has had a bit of downswing recently, but the Lake of the Dead-powered monstrosity is here again, reviving Griselbrands and hard casting Grave Titan. Like previous lists, this is more disruption heavy than typical Red-Black Reanimator lists, using Smallpox, Collective Brutality, Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach to deplete the opponent’s resources. Smallpox makes Exhume a non-viable option, notably.

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In the sideboard comes a new Reanimator option discussed a few weeks ago – Archon of Valor's Reach. This and Iona pack quite a wallop against combo decks. Iona can sometimes be not completely lights out for combo (multicoloured decks like Storm still have access to bounce spells to stop Iona on Black, for example), but with the Archon these can all be completely locked out.

Rounding out the Top 8 is a Recruiter of the Guard Aluren list, a Blue-White Stoneblade list very lightly splashing Black for main deck Thoughtseize + some sideboard cards, BUG Control and a not-spicy-at-all Grixis Delver.

Top 9-19

And now, let the spice flow! The rest of the Invitational entrants’ lists can be found here, but I’ll highlight a few very interesting pieces of technology that I’m sure many of us could be adopting moving forward.

Here is the genesis of a brand new variation of Eldrazi Stompy. Or is it the genesis of a new version of Dragon Stompy?! It’s as if Dragon Stompy and Eldrazi Stompy had some strange love child, and although the two look initially incompatible due to Blood Moon being a centrepiece of the deck, two cards tie these two apparently disparate sides of the deck together.

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Ash Barrens I have featured in the past being utilised in odd Blood Moon combo-stompy hybrids like Red-White Bomberman man and Twin Stompy, but here Ash Barrens works overtime to find a singleton Wastes, turning on all the Eldrazi monstrosities even under a Blood Moon. I feel like this shell truly shows the strength of a card overlooked concerning its Legacy applications at its initial printing. I certainly didn’t realize it would give birth to these multicoloured Blood Moon lists, but it makes sense as a pseudo-fetchland that doesn’t get hosed by Moon itself. Talisman of Indulgence is the other, secondary enabler, that can produce colourless or Red mana when desired.

As a result, you have the Blood Moon element of Dragon Stompy, remedying tough Eldrazi matchups like Lands, as well as powerful haymaker sweepers like Fiery Confluence and planeswalkers like Chandra, Torch of Defiance. The Eldrazi side of things addresses Dragon Stompy’s somewhat poor threat base, exchanging these with the brutal efficiency of Thought-Knot Seer (Seer, Chalice and Moon sounds like a pretty incredible combination of disruption) and our modern Thundermaw Hellkite equivalent, Reality Smasher. This looks like an absolute blast to pilot and I’m sure has much more play than initially apparent. Endbringer in the main also surprisingly gives this deck some game against Sneak & Show – as does Eldrazi Obligator!?

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There’s a few other ways to take this deck (13th place was a little less gutsy and replaced some, but not all, of the Blood Moons with the less risky Blood Sun) and I’d like to see this variant continue tinkering and tuning moving forward, as well as the potential of Ash Barrens being explored a bit more.

This should look very familiar to players of Modern – though Unclaimed Territory’s uses have found little consequence in Legacy until now. The big additions here are Mother of Runes (over Champion of the Parish, seemingly), who is a pretty scary combo with Kitesail Freebooter. Interestingly, no toolbox shenanigans made possible by Recruiter of the Guard have been looked at here, understandably: one of Human’s greatest strengths has been its aggression, and I’m sure that’s no different here in Legacy.

Mikoto’s new iteration of Bomberman (or as he calls it, Dominaria Salvagers) looks less and less like more typical Bomberman decks I’ve been tinkering with and certainly isn’t keen on the power of Mentor. Rather, this list is playing a much more controlling game plan centered on Karn, Scion of Urza and The Antiquities War.

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These cards can certainly accrue card advantage, and filtration options Impulse and Forbidden Alchemy (which works excellently with LED or any of the kill conditions Walking Ballista or Lodestone Bauble) assemble the combo through Chalice. My primary issue with this list is that it is a little too light on threats that put the opponent on the back foot early. Without the early pressure of Mentor the deck can fall behind to a Delver or Pyromancer, and only three Ballistas cannot deal with those in time. Sure, Karn and The Antiquities War can definitely create dangerous threats (especially The Antiquities War’s ultimate, which should be instant lights out with all the lands and trinkets), but a card like Ensnaring Bridge may be necessary to further this controlling game plan best. I’m also unsure why Llawan is in the sideboard – surely Merfolk isn’t that much of a threat?!

Nonetheless, overall it’s great to see new ideas being explored with the archetype.

Now this is a home I can appreciate for Spellseeker, as rather than be a dissynergistic tutor as I mentioned in ANT, Spellseeker has a lot of synergy in a Reanimator shell. Seeker can find both sides of the combo – a discard outlet (in Brutality or Therapy), Entomb or any of the reanimation spells. Seeker is also a great reanimation target herself if she gets discarded for some reason, turning excess reanimation spells into cantrips or otherwise. I also like her synergy with Cabal Therapy in particular – I can imagine fetching a Therapy with her, casting it to remove countermagic from the opponent’s hand and then flashing it back using Spellseeker to discard a fatty and then reanimate it.


That finishes us up for This Week in Legacy. Hopefully the spiciness of this week gave you some inspiration for brews moving forward, or hot tech to relatively established archetypes. As always, before I leave, some links from around the net:

  • Bryant Cook talks TES and goes through a Challenge here.
  • The Goblin hero of Britain Marcelo Scatena talk Goblins in 2018 on The Library at Pendrell Vale. Love it. Find that here.
  • Mengucci plays some Death & Taxes! Find that here.

‘Til next time.

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I’m Playing This Week

Sorry, we’re on the Bomberman train again. This time with a list promoted by Rationalist, but with a few alterations by yours truly:

Well, that’s a hell of a sideboard Sean, really capitalizing on the plethora of tutors available to this list. That really is the boon of this list – playing a “Human” colored mana base to take advantage of Dark Confidant as an early card advantage engine and also have Trinket Mage and Imperial Recruiter as tutor options, getting both halves of the combo along with a variety of answers required in post-board games. These lists certainly have a bit more consistency compared to my mono-White lists in terms of their ability to combo out game one, but trade this for a significantly fragile mana base.

You can read Rationalist’s thoughts on The Source here.

The Spice Corner

The spice does not end. I have saved the best for last. Blue-Red Wizards, like you’ve never seen before from the KMC 11th Invitational side event, taking first place.

Rather than previous lists which have aimed to capitalize on Patron Wizard, this new list looks to Naban, Dean of Iteration to make Dualcaster Mage and the new Spellseeker’s effects multiplied. If you thought Bolt, Snap, Bolt was crazy, wait until you get shot down from nine thanks to a Bolt being double Forked by Dualcaster Mage and Naban. Spellseeker’s effect multiplied also can lead to a big anthem thanks to Adeliz, the Cinder Wind + casting a couple of cantrips. This craziness all gets enabled by Aether Vial, of course, but I imagine the deck can do a strong Blue-Red tempo impression otherwise. This certainly looks like a potentially powerful shell.

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