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This Week in Legacy: Core Set 2019 So Far


Welcome to another This Week in Legacy. This week I will be running through the Legacy-relevant Core Set 2019 spoilers so far – there’s quite a few that are already raising eyebrows!

I’ll go through this alphabetically and via color wheel. So let’s start with all the relevant White cards, then Blue, then so on. First up, the new Ajani:

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Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants unfortunately is a little lackluster as a four-mana planeswalker bomb in White when compared to the current gold standard of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar (and Elspeth, Knight-Errant, although she has fallen out of favor). His plus ability, unlike the two token producers, does nothing on an empty board but his minus ability certainly can, and I imagine that as a role player against a control deck like Czech Pile in Death & Taxes he could be useful. However, having a card that can only grind against decks with death-based removal (unlike, say, Miracles, which tucks and exiles) is a bit too narrow. I expect Ajani to unfortunately see little play in Legacy, though Maverick and even 4c DeathBlade, with a wealth of mana dorks sitting around to become threats, could be another consideration for him.

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Remorseful Cleric is the card that has me most excited. Death & Taxes has continued to get a wealth of excellent three drop creatures, but many have called for a “two-mana Rest in Peace on a stick” to really push the deck over the edge. This isn’t quite that, but it’s certainly close, and I expect this to find reasonable main deck play. Although Serra Avenger is an excellent card, its main strength was the ability to trade with Delvers and hold equipment in the sky to race True-Name Nemesis. Its disruptive abilities were naught. Remorseful Cleric, although certainly mediocre in combat, can still trade with Delver and continues to add to the critical density of flying Jitte-wielders. And the ability obviously has incredible applications against a wide swathe of decks, be it fair decks like Czech Pile (“countering” half a Kolaghan's Command or the entirety of a Snapcaster is delightful) or its obvious applications against Reanimator and Dredge. Knowing when to “counter” a Gurmag Angler is also certain to be a fun bit of mind games in the Grixis Delver matchup. Oh, also this guy gets tutored by Recruiter of the Guard for main deck late-game grave hate. There’s a lot to love here.

How good is Rest in Peace now that we have main deckable graveyard hate? Honestly, probably still pretty good, because it ruins a lot of random fair matchups, and Death & Taxes still has a bit of a hole in that it doesn’t have good “fast” graveyard hate, though this can be remedied by playing [[Surgical Extraction] in the sideboard. In fact, maybe that can remedy the package of gravehate enough – have Cleric cover the mid-to-late game and Surgical cover the busted turn one Reanimates? There’s a bit of thinking to be done on how Cleric fits in the main and how the sideboard needs to morph to take advantage of the additional equity he’s provided us, thanks to being main deckable graveyard hate.

Alright, on to the next White card…

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Militia Bugler I don’t think is going to find his way into a deck like Maverick or Death & Taxes – it’s a little too low impact, and misses a reasonable amount – but where I do think this guy could see some play is in Soldier Stompy. Although one of the best Soldiers ever printed (Recruiter of the Guard) got printed relatively recently, it cannot do the old “Matron for Ringleader” line that gave Goblins its insane grind ability. Bugler comes close, in that it can dig for Enlistment Officer, at least, and you can chain them into each other. Sounds pretty handy with Thalia's Lieutenant, actually…

This list is basically just throwing ideas on to the wall, but here we are eschewing the ability of Recruiter of the Guard’s tutoring to instead “chain” Soldiers into each other. With a cost reducer and Thalia's Lieutenant in play, Bugler can chain into either Officer or another Bugler to keep the idiot beatdown going. They ideally never end, and your opponent will eventually die to a sea of Soldiers. This looks like… Actually a vaguely promising build of the deck. Sadly, we do end up with a whiff in the form of Thalia, Heretic Cathar in terms of creatures.

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Sai, Master Thopterist gets me incredibly excited because, well, this is another card that can be very effective in artifact-dense shells. It’s unboltable body is certainly useful. Tezzerator comes to mind… As does a new version of Bomberman:

With essentially seven Mentors, three of which win the game on the spot when comboing there is greater access to the busted turn one (or two) explosive token army draws. I think this list has a lot of potential, but loses a lot of percentages against Death & Taxes due to the reduced number of Ballistas and one of our threats being very prone to Karakas (but also, neatly, protectable by Karakas when we are using it ourselves). One other thing I love about Sai is how powerful he is with Mox Opal – his trigger means that artifact lands are less required because he fuels Opal’s Metalcraft on his own. There’s a lot to love here.

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Mistcaller is a tight little package of hate that is similar in some ways to Containment Priest, except the opponent can see it coming. I think it’s useful if Blue decks are looking for a way to fight Show and Tell or Reanimator strategies via permanent-based hate, and a fair Blue deck without access to Deathrite Shaman (for whatever crazy reason, eg. RUG Delver) may be in the market for this. This card also has very obvious applications as a flex addition to Merfolk, due to at least becoming a 2/2 or 3/3 islandwalker in that deck.

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Plague Mare adds to the pantheon of cards like Orzhov Pontiff and Minister of Pain that can sweep the board. It’s especially potent against Death & Taxes because of its unblockability too. Anything that was in the market for this kind of effect (Aluren, in particular, whose bouncing this with Cavern Harpy is basically a lock vs. Death &Taxes) will likely move the Mare as option numero uno.

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Infernal Reckoning is a pretty fun sideboard hate card for fighting Eldrazi (or robots, with the growing Steel Stompy a new threat). Unfortunately, being one mana is a bit of a downside for a card like this because of its unfortunate interaction with Chalice of the Void, and cards like Diabolic Edict or any other two mana removal is probably a little more worthwhile.

Although I won’t run through them too thoroughly, there is also a lot of Zombie support that is growing in this set (with the new Liliana certainly pushing this even further) and maybe some Zombie Stompy kind of deck is a possibility. A card like Graveyard Marshal for example is certainly impressive as a self-contained Zombie army.

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Sarkhan, Fireblood is a very cheap and efficient Red planeswalker that is useful in a deck like Dragon Stompy certainly. And I mean real Dragon Stompy – we’re going to have to include some Thunderbreak Regents and Thundermaw Hellkites to truly abuse Sarkhan’s second ability. Of course, this means reconfiguring the current Blood Moon prison deck significantly, eschewing cards like Fiery Confluence and Chandra, Torch of Defiance just to abuse Sarkhan’s ramp ability. Unfortunately, despite how efficient Sarkhan is, doing this is probably not in the bets interest of the archetype’s evolution.

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Alpine Moon is very interesting as a land hosing effect, but I think a card like Pithing Needle is a little more preferable due to it not being as narrow. Along with hosing Maze of Ith and Thespian’s Stage, it can also be brought against planeswalker and other problem abilities. Of course, Alpine Moon can hose Post lands and cards like The Tabernacle at the Pendrell Vale, but this is quite narrow as a sideboard option.

Goblins got inklings of support cards, with the deck now able to play eight Mogg War Marshal with Goblin Instigator in the mix, and Goblin Motivator able to do… Something.

These are, of course, a bit too low impact. But Goblin Trashmaster is certainly something that could be useful.

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Previous lists not splashing for Tin Street Hooligan (which works poorly with cost reducers) have had to play Tuktuk Scrapper as an artifact destruction Goblin of choice and he’s quite lackluster. Trashmaster, although having mana cost issues (four mana is still quite a bit) does something even against decks with no relevant artifacts by buffing the team and being a reasonably large body. The fact that his artifact destruction ability is repeatable is also incredible in matchups like Death & Taxes or other Blade matchups, as making the tough decision whether to blow up Jitte or SoFI is no longer a problem. Just sac those Mogg War Marshals and clean up everything. I don’t think this is going to push Goblins any further than its current place as a fringe contender in Legacy, but any improvements are welcome at this stage.

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Vivien Reid is a planeswalker that competes with cards like Garruk Relentless and Nissa, Vital Force, and although her first ability is excellent to grind with, and her second ability can interestingly Naturalize (which is somewhat unseen on playable Green planeswalkers), her second ability can only sometimes defend herself. Although shooting down Delvers, Counterbalances and Chalice of the Voids is pretty neat, I think other options aren’t going to outrank her for now.

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Runic Armasaur is a neat package that can make a great deal of the opponent cracking fetchlands, activating Deathrite Shamans and using other activated abilities. I expect this card to go the way of Harsh Mentor, however. A little too slow to get on the board, and in a world without Sensei’s Divining Top the applications of this card moving in the mid-to-late game start to become limited. I think its 2/5 body is something notable, however, and maybe in a deck like Maverick or the Green Stompy variant full of hate pieces like Choke, this could find a place.

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Nicol Bolas, the Ravager is a somewhat useful beater for a deck like four-color control or Grixis Control, with his unboltable body and ETB effect a reasonable rate. The big payoff, of course, is when he transforms into his planeswalker form, which is basically absurd at drawing cards and killing things. I think getting to the requisite seven mana is a bit ambitious though, and cards like the usual suspect Jace or even Kess, Dissident Mage crowd this slot out.

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Lastly, Amulet of Safekeeping is quite the narrow Storm hoser, hitting both Tendrils of Agony and Empty the Warrens kills. However, like Damping Sphere, Thorns, Spheres, Chalices and any other hate pieces, this is just another random artifact that needs to be bounced or destroyed before going off. I expect this one to not see much Legacy play either, because it is a bit too narrow compared to other options.

Conclusion

That wraps up TWiL this week, as always, check out the rest of the content from around the web:

  • Eternal Durdles checks out Stompy decks in their recent episode.
  • The Brits on Legacy Breakfast… Also check out Stompy shells on their recent episode!
  • Friend Steven Stamopoulos outlines his run at Australian Legacy Masters with his innovative 4c Delver at The Salt Mine site.
  • CBR MTG also outline some Stompy stuff, with some streams of Sylvan Plug also underway! Find that here.
  • Mengucci plays MUD and the spicy Bedlam Reveler list at CFB.
  • Humans of Magic’s James Hsu interview pro player Ari Lax. Find that here.

‘Til next time.

Sean Brown

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

What I’m Playing This Week

Rather than look to spicy Mentor lists again this week, I’m going to pursue a deck I’ve wanted to get to work on tuning for some. I am perhaps the biggest fan of Stubborn Denial on the planet and Death’s Shadow is one of the best shells for that.

I like everything going on in this list, especially the two Berserks similar to Modern Shadow lists that give the deck a combo element when the deck needs to go as fast as possible. I like that traditionally awful matchups like Death & Taxes with all of its Swords to Plowshares can get a bit easier thanks to a giant trampling Shadow killing them.

The Spice Corner

This is an exciting style of Burn, utilizing twelve one-drop haste creatures in Monastery Swiftspear, Goblin Guide and Ghitu Lavarunner?! With Probe and Land Grant making sure Lavarunner is always at full power, this version looks like an interesting avenue to pursue with the deck. The unstable mana base is something to worry about, however, especially when trying to support Fireblast consistently.

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