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This Week in Legacy: Battlebond


Welcome to another This Week in Legacy. Battlebond has come, and per usual with any set non-legal in Modern and Standard, there’s a few cards ready-made for Legacy relevance (along with some relevant reprints) that are worth investigating. I’ll also look at some niche possible playables. Let’s dive in.

White

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Arena Rector is one of the cards that pops out most obviously as relevant to Legacy. Academy Rector has always been fringe playable, particular in Nic Fit, and recent Nyx Fit lists utilizing Evolutionary Leap along with Rector have been imprisoning opponents with Dovescape, Overwhelming Splendor and Curse of Death’s Hold (you can see Seth jamming it in this Much Abrew here). It must be noted, however, that both Rectors have issues with Deathrite Shaman fizzling the triggered ability.

I think Arena Rector is most interesting because unlike Nyx Fit, which uses a very specialized “combo” with Rector + Leap + enchantments, a simplified Nic Fit deck able to quickly throw a Jace, Karn or Nicol Bolas at the opponent via Rector but also just ramp into planeswalkers ala Veteran Walkers of old (see a list from 2014 here) is quite viable. Close friend of mine from Melbourne Steven Capovilla has been tinkering with exactly this, coming to the deck list below:

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The only truly “clunky” card in this list facilitated by Arena Rector is Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh and maybe this should honestly just become an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or another Karn. What I like about this list, however, is that it can just play a typical “fair” game plan with discard (having access to Probe + Therapy unlike other Nic Fit lists is neat) and ramping into Liliana and Jace ahead of schedule – it doesn’t need to lean entirely on Arena Rector to enact its game plan. The White splash, although making the mana a little more unstable, also adds some helpful sideboard hate in the form of cards like Ethersworn Canonist; other hatebears like Containment Priest are also reasonable inclusions. The sideboard certainly looks to really hedge against combo, typical of decks like this that have a plan that goes over the top of many other fair decks but has little interaction with combo other than some lucky Therapy hits.

Of course, I’m sure there are many other ways to take Arena Rector – I’m sure a Junk shell would also do the trick, since Explorer and Therapy are basically pre-requisites in a deck with Rector, but this of course passes up playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor who is a natural fit. I hear the selection cantrips afforded are pretty good too.

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Brightling is a very interesting option, particularly for a deck like Death & Taxes or even a White-based Stompy deck (Eldrazi & Taxes or Angel Stompy come to mind). It competes with other three-drops in Death & Taxes such as Mirran Crusader and importantly cannot be found with Recruiter of the Guard. Its bounce effect is neat with Aether Vial. I think it deserves testing, but how mana-intensive it is for all its ability may cause it to fall a little short. I think Stompy shells will also find it difficult to cast (1WW is a pretty difficult casting cost, especially when many lists run Caverns set to Human or Eldrazi – not Shapeshifter!) and may find White mana scarce to pump into it.

With Brightling a cheaper successor to Morphling, is there a place for it in control shells like where its older Superman brethren found itself? Only Miracles or something like Blue-White Landstill really come to mind, and Miracles has found the optimal win con for its cantrip laden shell in Monastery Mentor these days. It’s also typically tough to have enough White sources ready to both cast this creature and protect it. So perhaps not.

Blue

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Arcane Artisan is a very interesting card, and although too slow and unreliable compared to another spell that cheats huge creatures into play for 2U, I think this is a very exciting sideboard option for Show and Tell players. Acting as not only a card selection engine but also additional Show and Tells on a stick in post-board games where removal has been boarded out is very powerful. It can also be readily accelerated out on turn two via sol lands too. Be even warier against Sneak & Show now – there’s another way to get punked out by Griselbrand and his friends.

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Fumble is a nice little addition to the pantheon of cards like Vapor Snag and friends. The extra mana, although two is hefty mana cost for a simple bounce spell, does provide some upside in matchups like Death & Taxes in particular. Bounce and Germ and attach the Batterskull to my Tarmogoyf? Neat. I do think it is a little ambitious as a card to cast in a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben matchup though. Stealing enchantments seems unlikely in Legacy, however.

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Spellseeker is an interesting addition to the suite of potential Legacy tutors, though at three mana it is quite expensive and this premium is not particularly rewarded with a robust body. I think there are quite a few superior options in Legacy, and only in a shell that can perhaps blink/resurrect Spellseeker is the card worthwhile. In Vintage, where many tutors are restricted, I think Spellseeker will certainly find a place to find that Ancestral Recall desired.

Black

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Virtus's Manuever is an exciting addition to BUG-based Leovold decks, giving them a Kolaghan's Command-esque card. I don’t think it quite cuts the mustard (Kommand’s insane versatility and instant speed really cannot be understated) but in terms of three-mana Edicts (we’ve seen To the Slaughter recently played) I think this is a fine option. Sorcery speed sucks a little bit, but it isn’t the end of the world, except against Marit Lage.

Red

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Bonus Round could see potential play in a Storm deck, in particular mono-Red “Ruby Storm” that aims to capitalize on cost reduction artifacts, sol lands and Red Storm engine cards ala Hazoret’s Undying Fury, Reforge the Soul and, of course, Past in Flames. Forking stuff is pretty powerful, especially a chain of Red rituals, but cards like this don’t really solve the initial bottleneck of mana.

Nonetheless, here’s a list from The Source utilizing Bonus Round:

There’s also some interesting exploration of using Bonus Round and just some Lightning Bolts to kill someone. That’s also pretty exciting.

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Cheering Fanatic is – a Goblin! New Goblins?! Unfortunately, I don’t think the Fanatic will be pushing the Goblins deck over the edge any time soon. Its cost reducing ability being conditional on attacking means this guy is no Goblin Warchief and granting no other abilities makes him lackluster. The Fanatic’s 2/2 body, although not getting blocked by Deathrite Shaman like the rest of the deck also doesn’t brawl that well. I’m not convinced. The same can be said for Stadium Vendors – a nice effect, but a prohibitive mana cost.

Green

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In a long line of random Nic Fit creatures, Bramble Sovereign stands out as pretty exciting. I think this fits best in a Birthing Pod-style version, as these lists are known for playing a lot of interesting enters-the-battlefield creatures (who get even more value with the sovereign). The random tokens can also be podded away (only into one drops, but still). Seems reasonable to me, though there’s certainly tonnes of Green four drops to choose from otherwise.

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Also shout-outs to Grothama, All-Devouring. Exciting flavor, huge power but… Man that is quite the downside.

Multicolor and Artifacts

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Archon of Valor's Reach is a pretty fun card, and can certainly lock out a variety of decks, though most have looked to Iona, Shield of Emeria for this kind of effect in the past. I like Archon’s body more than that of Iona, however, and the vigilance can swing a race somewhat. I doubt it’ll see play moving forward, but it is certainly an option to add to many a Reanimator player’s toolbox.

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Sentinel Tower is like a backwards Tendrils of Agony, but it does give spell-chain-based combo decks an ability to shoot down creatures along the way if needed. I’m not convinced, but maybe there is some kind of applicability – a deck like Ruby Storm once again comes to mind.

Conclusion

That wraps up for this week – let me know if I’ve missed anything particularly playable from Battlebond! Otherwise, check out some more content from around the web:

‘Til next time.

Sean Brown

Email: sean_brown156@hotmail.com
Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I’m Playing This Week

We’re Boarding the Weatherlight with my new Bomberman list:

I like this sideboard a lot more, even though it’s left me a little bit softer to Sneak & Show and Reanimator without Containment Priest. Having Wail does assist in these somewhat though, as does finding room for an Ensnaring Bridge. I think this list is also still a little bit soft to combo decks though Sanctum Prelate does help.

How good is Board? I’m not really convinced yet but it is a fine two-of that keep the filtration going.

The Spice Corner

We all know I love some busted Mentor action. Here’s some more with Mentor’s friend Erayo, similar to trial lists in the past by ItIsUnfair. I like the addition of Back to Basics in this shell to further lock out the opponent (Petals also make it particularly savage to accelerate out). I’m a bit speculative of Snapcaster’s utility though, as he is quite a slow card. Nonetheless, I’m sure there’s lots of way to investigate Mentor that still need investigation… Perhaps we can get my favorite zero mana slowtrips the Baubles in here…


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