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This Week in Legacy: Let's Go to Space!


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we are diving into the set review for Unfinity and what it means for Legacy. There's a lot to unpack with this set, but surprisingly very few actual cards to talk about, but the long term conversation of what a set like this means for the format is very relevant. In addition to that we've got a solid set of Challenges including a Showcase Challenge to talk about and a 2K event from Dragon Master Games in NY a while back.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Unfinity Set Review

Another spoiler season is upon us right on the heels of Warhammer 40,000 and that is of course Unfinity. This set has proven to be one of the most polarizing sets in recent memory, due in part to the fact that a good number of the cards in this set are Eternal legal cards. To kind of analyze that for a little bit: Unfinity is split between cards that would typically reside in "silver border" land as designated by the acorn holostamp (or acorn non holo stamp on commons/uncommons) at the bottom of the card. Long story short, if there is no acorn at the bottom of the card, it is an Eternal legal Magic card in Legacy/Vintage/Pauper/Commander.

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Not Legal!

Because of this split in Eternal vs Acorn cards in this set, two of the set's key mechanics, Stickers and Attractions, are Eternal legal mechanics. We'll be talking about each of these in a separate section because now that we've seen the set, I can say that neither of these mechanics are really at all Legacy playable mechanics. In fact, a very small amount of the Eternal legal cards in this set are actually Legacy playable.

What makes this set polarizing is what essentially feels like a push of cards into Legacy that were actually intended for Commander play and the possibility that something would in a sense break the format open. The obvious thing here is that the definition of an Eternal format including every set that has Eternal legal cards in it, and how Commander as a whole plays into that definition. Because Wizards does not actually control the Commander format (the Commander Rules Committee does) the major way they print cards into that format is by making them Eternal legal. This is a conversation well and above what the scope of this set review is wanting to present, as the logistics of all of this present a much more further reaching dilemma that dives into the nature of Legacy as a format and how much Wizards thinks about Legacy when designing cards.

However, that being said, I do think Wizards is considering the impact supplemental products can have on older formats, as evidenced by a recent statement in Mark Rosewater's State of Design article series as well as the fact that many times over they have stated about Unfinity that they really aimed to make the cards not hit the power level bar of Legacy/Vintage.

So, let's take a look at some of the cards in Unfinity that are somewhat interesting enough to talk about.

Exchange of Words

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This is definitely an effect I didn't know could be done in black border Magic, but apparently it can. The biggest issue with this card is that beyond costing three mana with double blue pips is that being a permanent that can be hit with Pyroblast to turn it off is pretty rough. There are some cute shenanigans you can do with this if you can though, such as giving an opponent's creature the text rider of Death's Shadow getting -X/-X for their life total or taking the ability away from your opponent's Karnstructs that gives them +1/+1 for each artifact (in effect killing the Karnstruct at the same time because its base P/T is 0/0). As it stands though, I don't quite see this seeing much play at all.

Embiggen

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Oh, hey look a pump spell for Infect. This one is even more amusing since many of the creatures in Infect all got errata for their creature types to be Phyrexians. So while they get slightly worse against Plague Engineer it really works out in favor of this card, as your Glistener Elf and Blighted Agent both get +4/+4 each, and Inkmoth Nexus gets +5/+5 when animated.

I think this is a sweet card specifically for Infect, and that's fun. Being a common is nice too.

Pair o' Dice Lost

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This card does some amusing stuff but I think its cost and double green pips will probably hurt it a little bit. Since it gets back any number equal or less to the dice roll, getting back lands from the graveyard is pretty free. I could maybe see a copy of this in 8Mulch as it gets back milled copies of Exploration and Manabond plus any lands in the graveyard back to hand, but even then five mana is a lot. There's also some amusing things to do with zero mana value artifacts too, so I don't know if there's something there or not that is combo potential.

This could very easily just remain on the shelf, so we'll see what actually happens with it.

Comet, Stellar Pup

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This card is actually just very reasonable (and very adorable 10/10 good pupper) that really any of the modes this card has is very good. Plenty of players have done the math on this card, and it really seems like a very strong and interesting card. Dice rolling is nothing new here given we have cards like Maddening Hex, but having a randomized Planeswalker like this is highly amusing if anything. Some things to note about some of the modes. The -1 mode returns a card with mana value 2 or less, so it can get back cards like Swords to Plowshares, Brainstorm, even Expressive Iteration. The -2 mode is worded as such that you don't take 2 off until he deals the damage, so right off the bat if you hit this, he's dealing five damage to something, and that damage does not target so it can hit stuff like Kappa Cannoneer without triggering Ward.

The last ability feels like utterly cheating if you manage to hit it multiple times in a row in a turn. There's been some meme quality about Barbarian Class and Comet, but honestly, it could be a very interesting and real card in a deck designed to maximize the power of this card.

This is probably the best card in the set from a Legacy power level standpoint.

Magar of the Magic Strings

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I've read some comparisons on this card to being close to Dreadhorde Arcanist, but this is nowhere near Arcanist's power level. This card is exceptionally slow over multiple turns it requires to set up to cast this card, use its ability, and then somehow make a connection to the opponent to cast a spell with the face down the creature. To really compare this, Arcanist costed 1R (one color) and only had to untap once and attack to reap value from it.

Magar has to come down at 1BR (two colors, so Wasteland can put you off of it), has to untap, has to pay another 1BR to make a creature that doesn't have haste (and the spell you're making into a creature is heavily telegraphed to the opponent at this point), and then untap again to attack with the creature and have it connect with combat damage as a 3/3. This is utterly slow and the latest you would be doing this without somehow cheating on mana is Turn 6 at the best to be attacking with a 3/3. That doesn't cut it in Legacy where we have cards like Murktide Regent coming down on Turn 3-4 as 7/7s to 8/8s.

Clown Car

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I'd really meme on this, but this is a pretty hilarious win condition for Auriok Salvagers Bomberman combo. I doubt it sees play, but if this ends up on MTGO I could see it just for the sheer meme factor.

Attractions

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Now we get to some real meat. Attractions are a new mechanic in Unfinity that functions much like how Contraptions did in Unstable. Attractions go in a separate deck and are "opened" by cards that Open an Attraction in the main deck.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the mechanic, let's talk first about how Attraction decks are built in Constructed formats. In formats like Legacy, etc. Attractions go in their separate deck and you must have a minimum of 10 cards in a deck and they must all have different names. That deck is shuffled randomly before starting a game.

Whenever you are instructed to "Open" an Attraction, you flip the top card of the Attraction deck and that Attraction enters the battlefield. It's just an Artifact on the battlefield at this point because it does nothing else when Opening it.

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Each Attraction has a series of lights on it in the lower right hand corner of the card numbered 1-6. Each Attraction has a variant or variants with different numbered lights lit up. Number 1 is never lit on these, and Number 6 is always lit.

The way this works is that at the beginning of your first main phase on each of your turns, you roll a d6 to see if you visit any of your attractions in play. If you hit the result lit up on the attraction, you do "visit" and do the triggered ability on the Attraction. Hitting a 6 always triggers all of them in play. In addition, some of these have Prizes involved, where if a condition is met you do an extra effect then sacrifice the Attraction to open another one. It is worth noting that there is only one of these that uses Prizes that is actually Eternal legal, which is Pick-a-Beeble.

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There were a few Eternal legal attraction cards we saw from this set that did pique some interest.

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However, because of the highly randomized nature of building an Attraction deck for these cards, the nature of flipping a random one off the top and maybe not getting the effect that you want and of course, the random nature of actually visiting an Attraction makes this mechanic not particularly attractive at all for Legacy play.

There's a number of Eternal legal Attraction enablers that open Attractions, but many of them are pretty aggressively costed for Limited play. Of these the ones that have some interesting potential are ones like "Lifetime" Pass Holder and The Most Dangerous Gamer (however with only one legal Prize attraction this card becomes much worse), and even those have some aggressive costs to them (Pass Holder needing to die, etb tapped. Gamer requiring BG mana, etc.)

In the end however, I think outside of the occasional meme pile a serious competitive deck playing Attractions is unlikely to stick. The enablers are all fairly aggressively costed for Limited and Commander play, and the inherent randomness of the mechanic makes it hard to want. While there are certainly some interesting effects in these Attractions, the actual likelihood of them being a real thing is incredibly low.

Stickers

Stickers are one of the most controversial and polarizing mechanics in this entire set. Attractions is amusing enough, but Stickers? Stickers gets people into heated arguments it seems. Stickers are sort of a fancy way of doing something like "Perpetual" from Alchemy as a fancy ability counter that persists through public zones.

There are 48 sticker sheets in all, and each sticker sheet has the following characteristics:

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  • Three name stickers
  • Three art stickers
  • Two ability stickers (that always cost Tickets)
  • Two Power/Toughness stickers (that always cost Tickets)

Tickets are a resource granted by other cards, sort of like Energy was from Kaladesh. In order to place a sticker when instructed to, you must pay the cost in Tickets for the sticker. Name stickers and art stickers are always free.

The sticker mechanic is polarizing because of the lack of information on how the mechanic actually works, in my opinion. The stickers can only be placed on non-land permanents you own (never your opponent's cards so the fears of having an opponent put a sticker on a dual land are absolutely unfounded). Stickers only persist in public zones (Graveyard, Battlefield, Exile) but come off when the card moves to a Hidden zone (Hand, Library). The stickers themselves are sort of like a post-it note type sticker glue and are designed to go on and come off. However, Wizards has acknowledged several times that you don't actually have to use the stickers and can use slips of paper for these things instead.

The biggest aspect of this mechanic is how it works in Constructed gameplay. Much like Attractions, Sticker sheets in Constructed gameplay must have at least 10 individually different sheets. However, unlike Attractions, at the beginning of a game you randomly select three from the 10 (Wizards has also confirmed that if you're not using the actual sticker sheets, a tool would be made available to select a random three online). This randomness makes it very difficult to actually build around Stickers as a mechanic, not to mention the fact that many of the cards that actually enable Stickers themselves are fairly costly and ability stickers and P/T stickers cost tickets.

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The biggest possible usage we've discussed before comes from utilizing Name stickers to change names of permanents in play to get around cards like Pithing Needle or to slightly circumvent the Legendary rule, but that is an exceptionally niche usage and many of the sticker enablers in this regard are pretty awful cards on their own when not doing this specific thing, that just having a card that destroys the Needle would end up being a million times better.

However that being said... there is one actual card that utilizes Stickers that could actually be playable in Legacy.

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As has been pointed out by xJCloud on Twitter, the usage of this card as a mana generation ability might actually be very good. Despite the fact that the Sticker sheets are random, you do get to pick 10 sheets and then pick a random three outside of that. Here are all the sticker sheets that turn this little Goblin into a mana positive card that could see play in a form of Turbo Muxus-esque Goblins.

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In looking at these, you get one 6-vowel, two 5-vowels, six 4-vowels and then can tack on any one that has three vowels. The biggest upside here with this card is utilizing it with Aether Vial to create situations where you have enough mana to hard cast a Muxus, Goblin Grandee. This being a Goblin too means it has perfectly good synergies against certain countermagic like Force of Negation and also works well with Cavern of Souls. The other upside here is that despite having to choose three random sticker sheets at the beginning of each game, you will know up front the stickers you use in that game and will thus know how much mana the Goblin will generate upon ETB.

The major downsides of this card is that after the first one, the others become much worse in turn as each name sticker that is used means that sticker is off the sticker sheet, so it can't be used again unless the card moves to a hidden zone and the sticker falls off. We also don't firmly know yet what happens to a card that gets destroyed in response to the trigger, as Stickers are supposed to persist across public zones. I expect the answer there is nothing happens because the triggered ability has to put it onto the permanent on the battlefield, but we won't fully know that until some form of judge intervention from Wizards or Release Notes for Unfinity.

I do suspect this is probably the only Sticker enabler that could see play in Legacy, but the mechanic does set something of a dangerous precedent in that future cards could possibly interact with it in some form that makes other cards that use it good. As it stands, this one is solely a niche card in a niche archetype at this point.

At the End of It All

At the end of it all, this spoiler season for Unfinity could have actually gone much worse. The format could have been compounded with tons of potential Eternal legal playable cards, like a Modern Horizons-esque type set, but what we have instead gotten here is a set really made for other formats and just kind of there for other Eternal formats. There are tons of cards that are legal in Legacy that aren't playable, and many of these cards won't be either. While I suspect that Comet (and possibly the Goblin) will be interesting, that's honestly the only card I really saw out of this set that shines, and if that's the case, I'm really okay with that. It seems like Wizards did very much consider the impact a set like this could have on Legacy/Vintage, and they really made sure to not break these formats.

It's still very awkward though that this set has so many weird designs that years down the line we may find a card that breaks something from this set, much like we keep running into cards that break Devoted Druid. Whether any of these will be good enough for Legacy is unknown at this time.

We still don't fully know what this set will look like on MTGO, and how that will look. Granted, we also don't know this yet about the Warhammer 40,000 cards either and considering both sets come out on October 7th, that is something that we should hope to know soon.

Dragon Master Games 2K 9/10

In paper event news from recentness, our good friend CJ Hiller reached out and provided us with some lists for a recent Dragon Master Games 2K event in Binghamton, NY. You can find the lists from this event over here.

Legacy Challenge 9/24

The first Challenge event of this weekend was a regular event and was the early morning Saturday event. This event had 53 players in it thanks to the efforts of the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

UR Delver was the most represented deck here with an even road win rate of 50%. Outside of Delver, Reanimator did pretty well as did Oops.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UR Delver 1st Cwoj
Aluren 2nd otaba
Reanimator 3rd otakkun
UR Delver 4th 2plus2isfive
UR Delver 5th JPA93
4C Control 6th trunks132
Delver Blade 7th davy2892
Jeskai Control 8th duke12

A lot of Delver in this Top 8, and it was also the winner of the event as well.

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Pretty stock looking list here. Unlicensed Hearse in the sideboard is quite interesting.

The Second Place list was on Aluren.

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This is a highly value oriented Aluren list with none of the typical win con cards we see in these decks, like Acererak or Ukkima. Instead new card Aether Channeler is here as a win con making Birds. Pretty cool list!

Also in this Top 8 we've got Reanimator.

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Pretty solid list overall here. Dauthi Voidwalker in the sideboard here is pretty cool.

Further down the Top 8 we've got an interesting take on Jeskai Control.

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The light splash for Minsc & Boo is pretty sweet. I like this list a lot. It seems very strong.

Legacy Showcase Challenge 9/25

This past weekend was another Showcase Challenge, which is a feeder event into the Showcase Qualifier for Season Three of MTGO's premier play. The Top 8 of these events qualify for the Showcase Qualifier. This particular event had 212 players overall for the event thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

UR Delver had a massive amount of representation here (almost 30%), but the performance of the deck was pretty sub par at around 48.21% non-mirror win rate. Red Stompy did insanely well, as did GW Depths and below the cutoff Doomsday.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Doomsday 1st Maxtortion
GW Depths 2nd mmapson125
Red Stompy 3rd SoulStrong
Black Stompy 4th Cherryxman
Red Stompy 5th xJCloud
4C Control 6th Nammersquats
UR Delver 7th Leviathan102
8Cast 8th Griselpuff

A lot of Stompy decks in this Top 8, with only one UR Delver and some Control/8Cast. This is a highly stacked Top 8 at that with folks represented across the Legacy spectrum from Bob Huang to John Ryan Hamilton. At the end of the event though it was our good friend Max Gilmore on Doomsday that won it all.

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The main deck here is pretty solid, but the real spice here is in the sideboard with two copies of Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. As a big threat that is very hard for decks like Delver to beat as its a card that can't be hit by Pyroblast and very solidly makes the life total game very aggressive. Definitely super cool.

In Second Place we've got another friend of the column in Michael Mapson on GW Depths!

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I know that Michael said on Twitter that some deckbuilding aspects of this list felt off, but even in this scenario Michael has the right chops to push through and do well. Stupendous finish by a very powerful Depths player.

We did have some showings by Red Stompy, let's take a look at the Third Place list.

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A reasonable enough list here, the only card I would likely replace here is Hazoret the Fervent as that card has often looked quite lackluster in Red Stompy. The deck is very compressed around the 2R mana cost and Hazoret combined with Fable's card draw makes it difficult to justify the card for me personally.

Also in this Top 8 we had a showing by a really sick Mono Black Helm Leyline deck featuring a card we already talked about earlier here in Sheoldred, the Apocalypse.

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Sheoldred is definitely a lot better than initially estimated, as these decks that can cheat on mana to get it into play can do so and really ride the card to great lengths. Once someone described it as a black version of Maddening Hex I definitely felt a lot more on board with it. The card seems very powerful and this shell looks like a great place for it.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 deck lists over here.

Divining Witch + Thassa's Oracle is pretty sweet.

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Red Initiative Stompy!

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Mono White Stax is some big energy.

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Hive Mind combo is super duper sweet.

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Spicy list with Sheoldred, the Apocalypse in it here.

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When you read this list, remember that five players lost to Slither Blade in Legacy. This wins the Internet for at least a month.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next week as we continue our journey into Legacy!

As always you can reach me at all my associated links via my Link Tree! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGLegacy Discord Server.

Until next time!



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