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This Week in Legacy: Recruiter of the Guard and Sanctum Prelate

Welcome to This Week in Legacy! Today we have a bit of a change up… We’ll be focusing less on the decks of the moment, but instead look at decks of the future that might be homes for a few new format-defining new cards from Conspiracy 2, as well as some thorough analysis of what these cards will bring to the format. Expect also a full analysis of all the rest of the new Legacy-relevant Conspiracy cards once the whole set is spoiled! But for now let’s look at:

Recruiter of the Guard

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Conspiracy 2 has gifted Legacy with a card incredibly similar to Imperial Recruiter in many ways, though also different enough that it should give a shot in the arm to a few archetypes.

What is so different though, and why will it add something new and unseen to the Legacy format? First, the card is white, meaning that lists that previously splashed for Imperial Recruiter will now need to splash for a different color or not need to splash a color at all if already base white. Recruiter of the Guard also looks at toughness, rather than power like Imperial Recruiter. This means Imperial Painter, a deck who has Imperial Recruiter as one of its namesakes cannot utilize this new Recruiter, as it cannot fetch Painter's Servant. The other big difference is accessibility. In Paper, Imperial Recruiter is quite expensive due to its incredibly limited print run in Portal Three Kingdoms and as a Judge Promo. Recruiter of the Guard looks to be much cheaper, being a Rare from an unlimited print run set, and many decks which were previously restrictive due to cost are now a bit more accessible.

The first place to consider Recruiter of the Guard is a very obvious one, and it will likely overhaul the entire archetype of Death & Taxes. The deck, although incredibly powerful, sometimes suffered consistency problems due to its hate bears lining up incorrectly. An opening hand of Mother of Runes into Stoneforge looks excellent against a fair deck, until you get your face hit by a lethal Tendrils of Agony on turn three. Thalia is excellent… until you realize you’re playing against Elves. These problems often opted many players to look towards Imperial Recruiter as a consistency engine, causing the deck to splash red. Although this gave the deck new options with Magus of the Moon and other red cards, it also made the mana base much more fragile. It also biased the deck in a much more grindy direction, sacrificing the aggressive speed of creatures such as Serra Avenger. The curve also tended to bulge at the three-drop slot due to Recruiter and his targets.

Here’s a good example of an Imperial Taxes list from GP Prague:

No longer are Imperial Recruiter and Plateaus required. Mono-white can now look to a Recruiter effect that adds consistency and is superior to Imperial Recruiter in most scenarios. Most notable is its ability to find Flickerwisp, allowing over the course of a few turns a Squadron Hawk-esque army of fliers. Other interesting creatures like Stonecloaker are now a consideration as they’re tutorable and create value. Not to mention the typical suite of one-ofs such as Mangara of Corondor and Mirran Crusader are findable, as is the new Thalia, Heretic Cathar.

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So obviously Recruiter of the Guard is an excellent addition to Death & Taxes. It could be very easy to slot in Recruiter of the Guard the same way that Imperial Recruiter found its way into Imperial Taxes. However, one thing Death & Taxes players must take into consideration is the curve of the deck and how the deck will operate when it does not have Aether Vial. Death & Taxes, in some ways, will lose the aggressive draws that are sometimes available to it, and, like Imperial Taxes, will transition to a more grindy, value-driven game plan. This means a lot of opening hands will have to be mulliganed due to being filled with spicy three drops but no early removal or turn two plays. Recruiter also means playing a lot of silver bullets, which means cards like Thalia, Heretic Cathar will be less likely to be naturally curved into and lose a lot of their power. Fellow Death & Taxers, keep this in mind. A new consistency engine has been given to us, but don’t go crazy with all the insane value plays. The powerful core has served us well and not tweaking it too much may be the best logical step to go.

Does Recruiter of the Guard mean we should look towards transforming the whole deck? Should we look to Sol Lands to power out our new three drop, or even cards like Chrome Mox? Should we omit Aether Vial altogether for a higher curve? It feels in some ways a new world has opened up to those who are fans of white creatures. It shall be interesting to see how Recruiter of the Guard shakes out in the months ahead.

There’s one other place that really appreciates the much more available Recruiter of the GuardAluren.

A fringe deck that saw very little play due to, again, Imperial Recruiter’s high price tag, is essentially a value-driven semi-unfair deck. It blends a powerful fair gameplan similar to Shardless BUG, featuring Deathrite Shaman, Shardless Agent and Baleful Strix, with a two card combo in Aluren + Imperial Recruiter. With an Aluren in play, Recruiter can chain into three other Recruiters into Dream Stalker into Cavern Harpy, bouncing Dream Stalker and recasting to again tutor for the kill condition, Parasitic Strix. Strix can be recast again and again to drain the opponent from twenty to zero. This combo is replaceable with Recruiter of the Guard, except Dream Stalker must be replaced by Artic Merfolk, which has a much more fragile body. The white splash, however, opens up a huge door for Aluren players for sideboard options. Meddling Mage, Ethersworn Canonist, Containment Priest, and more can now be accessed.

You also get to save a ton of cash, by the way.

So perhaps Aluren will now find itself a bunch of new players, due to those previously priced out now having the deck as an option.

There is one last home that Recruiter of the Guard can also find itself. This deck is even more niche than Aluren. Soldier Stompy got a huge boon with the printing of Thalia, Heretic Cathar, another great Soldier to accelerate off Sol Lands, to partner with a cost-reducing Soldier (Daru Warchief) and Soldier Ringleader, Enlistment Officer. Now, just like Goblins, Soldiers has a card which is just like Goblin Matron! Not to mention that Recruiter of the Guard also can tutor for a bunch of non-Soldier cards too. Unfortunately, Recruiter can’t find Enlistment Officer to create raw card advantage. 

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That’s enough about Recruiter of the Guard. It’s not the only incredibly powerful white creature that is soon to find its way into Legacy.

Sanctum Prelate

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Chalice of the Void on legs, so she has been called. Revealed the day after Recruiter of the Guard, Prelate just proved to Death & Taxes players everywhere that someone in R&D really, really loves them. Unlike Chalice, you can’t slip up and miss your trigger—the cards actually cannot be cast. This wording is also a big deal against Abrupt Decay, since choosing two causes Decay to be locked out no matter how uncounterable it is. Furthermore, Prelate has important synergies with Aether Vial. Just like Revoker, Prelate’s ability cannot be responded to once it is in play, making a Vial on three even more powerful and threatening once tapped.

Unlike Chalice though, Prelate suffers from being quite slow. It can’t come down on turn one as Chalice has commonly done. Instead I see Prelate as simply another powerful tool against combo, control, and tempo in the midgame. It’s similar to Revoker in that matchup knowledge and reading the current boardstate is important to inform the number chosen. Just like Revoker, the card can also end up being mediocre due to it not hosing the opponent at all, such as in the Death & Taxes mirror or against other creature-heavy decks like Eldrazi Stompy or Maverick.

Here’s a brief guide to what should be chosen against a variety of top-tier decks.

Delver variants:
1 for cantrips or Lightning Bolt against red-based Delver variants.
2 for Delver variants packing Abrupt Decay.

6 to prevent Terminus. This is especially potent with Mother of Runes.
1 for Top, cantrips, and Swords to Plowshares.

4 for Tendrils of Agony and Empty the Warrens. This is essentially a lock game 1. This is also very powerful game two because it cuts off common hate cards like Massacre.
2 cutting off Infernal Tutor and post-board Abrupt Decay.

2 cuts off all the important spells within their deck: Punishing Fire and Life from the Loam.

3 to stop Invigorate.
1 to stop cantrips, Berserk, and Crop Rotation.

A matchup where she's not as effctive. Name 4 for Natural Order or 1 for Glimpse of Nature.

How many do we want to run?

Prior to Recruiter of the Guard, I would’ve seen Prelate as an excellent addition to the three-drop slot of the deck, edging out pure beatsticks like Crusader or Serra Avenger. Perhaps we’d run two or three. But now with Recruiter, Prelate is perhaps best as just another silver bullet within Death & Tax’s Recruiter package. A final, tutorable knock-out punch to lock out the opponent’s last chance at victory. But without Vial, Prelate does look a bit clunky. The opponent will know she’s coming and thus will try to cast the cards of the chosen mana cost pre-emptively. Again, we come to the problem of Prelate being an excellent card to naturally curve into, but with not enough room in the main deck to run multiples. The House of Thalia is getting damn crowded!

The other deck that I’d look towards Sanctum Prelate finding her way into is a bit of a newcomer in the Legacy format. A creature-based Stax variant, piloted by romariovidal twice to 5-0 success in Magic Online Leagues, looks like a perfect home. Basically the baby of Death & Taxes and Eldrazi Stompy (but without signature cards Eye of Ugin or Aether Vial), this deck has the potential to accelerate out devastating plays like turn one Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, turn one Chalice of the Void, turn one Thalia, Heretic Cathar, and then follow these up with Thought-Knot Seer

And Now… Some Death & Taxes Lists

I’ll be focusing on Death & Taxes, of course, as it is the love of my life, and we’ll have a look at my starting point for Recruiter of the Guard and Sanctum Prelate.

This deck resembles very closely the Imperial Taxes lists of the past. Three Recruiters have always felt like the sweet spot, as more leads to slow, clunky draws. The core cards of the deck—Mother of Runes, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Stoneforge Mystic have remained as four-ofs, though I am partial to trimming a Stoneforge Mystic now that she is tutorable in the late-game. Revoker has also had a slot trimmed now that its effect is tutorable. However, due to curve considerations, I have opted to keep the Revoker number quite high. Despite how mediocre it can be in certain matchups, Revoker is pretty great as a blanket answer and fills the two-drop slot. Flickerwisp also could have a slot trimmed, though its synergies with Recruiter are incredibly powerful. It's the card you want to draw the most at many points within a game.

The rest of the creature suite is a smattering of silver bullets. The main deck ones I have chosen are:

  • Mirran Crusader, incredibly powerful in BUG matchups and as a generally powerful creature to close out the game. He’s proven himself time and time again.
  • The classic Mangara of Corondor is now even better than before. In midrange-control matchups, we now have essentially four Mangaras to start the Mangara lock going with Karakas. Although many people see Mangara as much too cute and situational, I have won quite a few matchups that I wouldn’t of otherwise, and now it is even more accessible
  • Sanctum Prelate, as we’ve discussed, will often be the Recruiter target for when we want to shut out the opponent from the key spell that would let them crawl back into the game.
  • Thalia, Heretic Cathar, as I’ve mentioned, is best when naturally curved into, but she is also a pretty strong target to Recruit for, especially with a Vial active. In certain situations, she will shut the door on mana development further, stop that Craterhoof from being lethal, or just be an excellent 3/2 first striking body. That being said, I could see Heretic Cathar being one of the weaker Recruiter targets in this list, and to maximize her power I think we should either increase the chances of naturally curving into her or simply cut her.

The mana base has only one change—upping the number of Cavern of Souls to two. I could see this number increase to three. With Recruiter, chaining into Humans looks very powerful.

The sideboard is the usual smattering of Rest in Peace et al from my previous list, but I’ve now incorporated a package of tutorable creatures too. Priest is now a silver bullet, and Relic-Warder and Banisher Priests are powerful catch-all targets. That being said, more niche targets such as Veteran Armorer (in preparation for Dread of Nights) and incidental graveyard hate such as Stonecloaker are interesting options. Canonist is still a three-of though since we want to naturally draw her and slam her on turn two against Storm-based combo.

One thing that people haven’t focused on is the splash versions. White Green Death & Taxes with Recruiterable Pridemage and Gaddock Teeg sounds super enticing. White Black with tutorable Orzhov Pontiff sounds sweet. White Red still looks like a valid combination (especially with surprisingly powerful bombs such as Pia and Kiran Nalaar). Maverick mana-dorking out Recruiter now makes its Stoneforges and Thalias tutorable too. Although Death & Taxes gets the most obvious benefits (and Aluren), there might be a lot of new and old archetypes created and reinvigorated, thanks to these new cards.

I’d also like to thank all the redditors (especially the thread by u/xJCloud on Santum Prelate naming) and those on the Death & Taxes threads on MTGSalvation and The Source. There are many more reputable players out there (such as Medea, who has an excellent site dedicated to D&T) who have all contributed to the discussion on these new tools.

Anyway, the times ahead look incredibly interesting!

‘Til next time,

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I’m Playing This Week

This week, I’m keen on smashing some realities.

As boring as it is, I finally got all the cards together for Eldrazi Stompy in Legacy, so I’ll likely be giving this a run through. What I’m actually more interested in is changing this list up into the list by romariovidal, with a bunch of Thalia and friends. Expect some version of that from me soon, though the MTGTheSource thread for the developmental “Thalia Stompy” deck is probably the best place to look for now.

The Spice Corner

Spell Queller has made a 5-0 in the Bant lists that have been going around! Turn two Queller off a mana dork seems sweet, and Queller certainly holds a Jitte well!


Also Glissa, the Traitor is in to deathtouch down Reality Smasher and… Revive broken Swords… Maybe?

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