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This Week in Legacy: SCG Baltimore and Guilds of Ravnica


Welcome to another This Week in Legacy! This week I’ll be looking at two recent events along with a host of new cards being played from Guilds of Ravnica. We’re in for a big one this week, so strap yourself in for boatload of information.

SCG Baltimore

StarCityGames Baltimore went by, a Legacy Open, on the 22nd of September. Let’s take a look at the Top 8 and then a few interesting lists that popped up throughout the tournament. Find the Top 8 here.

Most prominent is the success of 4c Loam. Touted a fair bit recently by higher-profile players like Bob Huang, it has always seen a steady amount of success, but nothing as recently high-profile as not only an Open win, but another finding its way into the Top 8! Let’s take a look at the two Top 8'ing lists side-by-side:

Matthew Vook, the winner, operated a pretty straightforward Loam list, with a main deck Vindicate as the only particularly spicy piece of technology in his list. The sideboard does have some big hits with Ajani Vengeant and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, but these aren’t technology particularly recent.

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Will Pulliam, on the other hand, added Queen Marchesa to his deck!

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The Queen has a very interesting effect and is something incredibly unique, especially since her wedge is the very uncommon Mardu colors. Notably, she cannot be tutored for, but her Monarch ability makes her very similar to a planeswalker style card that can grind out the opponent, except she can attack (and very effectively too, thanks to haste) and block (again very effectively, thanks to deathtouch). Even if the Monarchy is stolen from you, if Marchesa is still on the battlefield, an advantage still can be accrued thanks to the tokens she will create, who inevitably will take back the Monarchy due to having deathtouch themselves. I’m quite a fan of the Monarch cards (Palace Jailer has already proven their worth) and an additional source of top-end card advantage in Loam is more than appreciated. A shame she can’t be tutored for via Zenith, however!

I’d also like to point out Loam’s (and Marchesa’s continued success) in the 1st-placing Loam list of Ovino13 in Milan, one of Italy’s premier Legacy events!

A guy I’m happy to see back on the block is this guy:

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Painter's Servant appears to be back in a big way, with two variants placing excellently in the event. The first we’ll look at is Mono-Blue Painter, albeit a little different to the Chalice of the Void versions we’ve seen in the past:

This list takes advantage of two cards from recent sets in a big way:

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Firstly Sai, Master Thopterist gives this deck an incredible plan B beatdown plan, especially with all the one and two-mana artifacts this deck plays. His ability to trade useless artifacts for more cards also has to be respected and can run away with a game.

The other big addition is The Antiquities War. For artifact decks this is not only a source of card advantage which can find either the game-winning combo, but it can also kill the opponent in one fell swoop with its “ultimate”.

What I like the most about this list too is its heavy focus on using Trinket Mage. In Chalice versions of the deck, Trinket Mage’s utility was severely hampered due to conflicting with Chalice, and only a narrow set of zero mana artifacts were usable. In this non-Chalice version, Mage acts as an effective tutor for Grindstone as well as a host of zero and one-mana answer spells. I particularly like Aether Spellbomb as an out to pesky creatures that can simply cycle if drawn when useless. Walking Ballista is also, as always, an excellent creature to tutor. This list also makes reasonable use of Engineered Explosives by adding a fastland, Darkslick Shores, which in addition to the Mox Opals makes Sunburst on 2 very achievable.

I think there’s a great future ahead for these Blue-heavy versions of Painter with new technology like Sai and The Antiquities War available. I’m surprised this list didn’t make use of Back to Basics, even in the sideboard, and perhaps that is another way forward. I think deciding on a filtration method is also a consideration – is Preordain actually the optimal choice, or is the usual suite of Brainstorm, Ponder and fetchlands something to consider?

Next we look to Jack Kitchen’s Shortcake revival!

For some amount of time the Blood Mooning and Top-spinning version of Painter was the default, but not so much in the post-Top world. Many people have tried to recalibrate the deck to little success, utilizing clunky cards like Faithless Looting. Turns out Kitchen’s more heavily White version may be the way forward, with his success on MtGO and Baltimore certainly justifying it.

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Probably the most important new engine card is Smuggler's Copter. This, in co-operation with small creatures like Welder and Painter, can replicate the card filtration that Top once provided while also being both a sizable attacker and blocker. Delver is a problem no more with Copter in tow! Note that Copter’s loot effect is also highly synergistic with Welder and is especially powerful now that Deathrite Shaman is out of the format.

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Four-of Ethersworn Canonist is also a huge boon to both defend the combo (making your Pyroblast in response to Force of Will on Painter or Grindstone essentially uncounterable is great) and can destroy a certain subset of combo decks, particularly the Storm matchup which was once incredibly tough. Canonist being an artifact is also incredibly helpful, as is it increasing the creature density to ensure Copter always has a crew member.

One notable change in the deck is a lower reliance on Blood Moon, with only one used in the main as an Enlightened Tutor target. The same can be said for Ensnaring Bridge. Rather, the deck is more of a synergistic idiot beatdown combo deck full of silver bullets that can be fetched with Recruiter or Enlightened Tutor.

Essential reading is Kitchen’s always excellent and always humorous tournament report which you can find on The Source here. For all you Painters out there, even though Top is gone, new and creative ways have been found to make the 1/3 Scarecrow into a star once more!

Next, let’s look to… Grixis Reanimator?!

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Red-Black has basically become the “standard” Reanimator of choice, but Blue cards such as Force of Will, Brainstorm and Careful Study always have merit, and give the deck a bit more resilience instead of the “glass cannon” feel that Red-Black has. The additional Red splash is for the incredibly flexible Izzet Charm that acts as both counterspell, Looting spell and kill spell! Seems like a great reason to splash, but I feel that Collective Brutality has given Izzet Charm a run for its money in recent times, being similarly both a kill spell and piece of disruption that can bin fatties but not requiring dipping into Red. Stronghold Gambit and Abrade are further great uses of the Red splash, however. I’m also curious about the usage of the one-of Chancellor of the Annex. Chancellor is great in multiples to provide early disruption but I don’t know how I feel about just a miser one-of…

An even odder Grixis Reanimator also made an appearance here:

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This is really Grixis Worldgorger Dragon Reanimator control, and I think this is very cool, essentially mashing a Grixis Control shell with the Worldgorger Dragon combo finish. Necromancy and Animate Dead targeting a Dragon in the graveyard create an infinite loop which either ends the game in a draw or, with a Desolate Lighthouse in play, let’s the Dragon player filter through their whole deck, generate infinite mana and Stroke of Genius the opponent out of the game. However, it seems this deck can just play a pretty normal Snapcaster and Baleful Strix grind-out plan, especially since the reanimation spells targeting dead Snapcasters and Strix are pretty neat way to give them further utility. Desolate Lighthouse is also a criminally underplayed card in Legacy. Despite being very expensive to activate, it can make a deck such as this really hum if it gets going, filtering away clunky cards like Entomb that are only situationally good. Excitingly, in the sideboard are a host of typical Grixis Control cards which let the deck sideboard out the combo if needed and just go full control!

Guilds of Ravnica

Next let’s dive into the new cards making waves from Guilds of Ravnica. We’ll save our best for last and go from least likely to see play to most likely!

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Unmoored Ego is going to be a useful replacement for decks that were looking for a Lost Legacy style effect, because this is a strict upgrade, being able to target both lands and artifacts. Of course, it is restricted to Blue-Black, so any deck like Grixis Control, BUG Control, BUG Nic Fit or even Blue-Black-based combo decks can take advantage of this.

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Mission Briefing is basically a Snapcaster that replaces a 2/1 body with Surveil 2. I don’t think that’s really a reasonable replacement and expect to see Snapcaster being the standard choice, at least in fair decks. The colour restriction of UU is also frustrating. However, there is one deck that does appreciate this considerably:

Reset High Tide, affectionately known as Solidarity, wants a critical density of instant-speed spells and also ways to generate more and more mana by flashing back High Tides. Snapcaster’s body is irrelevant in this deck, since you don’t want to trade creatures or attack, typically, and the additional filtration of Mission Briefing is much appreciated.

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Ral, Izzet Viceroy, like most five-mana Blue planeswalkers, competes with Jace, and I think Teferi, Hero of Dominaria will always get the choice as secondary choice in a Jeskai deck such as Miracles or Blade. A home for Ral is perhaps in some kind of UR Control deck…

Ral’s filtration ability is actually quite effective and can situationally be even stronger than Jace’s Brainstorm with Snapcaster and co. in the mix. His minus, although -3 loyalty is quite hefty price, also can deal with giant creatures moving into the late game. And his ultimate, of course, creates an insurmountable advantage that takes over the game.

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Knight of Autumn is a great replacement to Reclamation Sage for decks like 4c Loam or Maverick, being strictly better due to its flexibility of being just a hefty beatstick or lifegain if there’s nothing to destroy. In Elves, of course, the Elf synergies are appreciated, especially Wirewood Symbiote tricks.

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Legion Warboss is incredibly similar in design to Goblin Rabblemaster, and similar to Rabblemaster it creates a huge damage output. His mana cost of 2R also makes him a great choice in Dragon Stompy decks and so we get to… Eight Rabble Dragon Stompy.

There’s a huge amount of haste damage, burn and the usual prison pieces in this list, and these Dragon Stompy lists are actually now looking like a really fearsome pile of cards, rather than some random Red cards tied to together with prison pieces. I like how the two Goblins, due to their huge damage output, provide a way to kill combo without any artifacts in play. Just play one after the other and watch the huge amount of damage pile up. You can find an excellent write-up of this new version of Dragon Stompy here.

Next we have Goblin Cratermaker.

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Welcome to every Goblin player’s dream. A viable two mana Shatter Goblin has been a long time coming, but Wizards have really delivered with this one, with it not only being able to destroy artifacts like Umezawa's Jitte, but it can also kill Eldrazi and just shoot random two toughness creatures. It’s useless in an unfair matchup, of course, an is a little mana intensive, but the flexibility this card offers is right up Goblins’ ally. With this, Trashmaster, Chainwhirler and other small additions, Goblins may be a force in Legacy yet again. It’s already putting up some great results too:

I think that Cratermaker is not only a great addition to Goblins, but also any other Red deck looking for a flexible Shatter creature. Manic Vandal had its place in decks utilizing Imperial Recruiter for a tutorable Shatter effect, and I’m sure that Cratermaker will replace that card. It also fulfils a role similar to Abrade in any Red fair deck, except there’s a body attached too! This card is going to most definitely be a cross-format all-star. I’m excited to see where this Cratermaking Goblin ends up.

Lastly, the big one.

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Assassin's Trophy is set to be a new force in the Legacy metagame, able to go after any permanent, even lands! Its downside of giving the opponent a basic land is definitely a liability for some decks wanting to play the card, however. For example, BUG Delver may not want this card because ramping the opponent is not where a Daze/Wasteland deck wants to be. However, for a BUG Control deck, attacking on a card advantage axis, the flexibility that Trophy provides is really absurd. BUG decks have struggled for answers to cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor for an incredibly long time, but that is an issue no longer. The interesting question for these decks is what mix of Abrupt Decay, Fatal Push and Assassin’s Trophy is best moving forward. All of these spells have pros and cons, and I think the playability of Trophy will be based on how useful hitting four plus mana permanents is against the uncounterability of Decay. A first blush attempt with these cards is the following list from a recent MtGO Challenge!

I like where this list is going, basically porting Reid Duke’s True-Name BUG to the new world. I would clean this list up a bit to remove the Stifles however, and maybe even the Dazes are unnecessary (especially since Trophy makes them a little awkward).

I think a really incredible space for this card is for combo decks, however. Decks like Red-Black Reanimator have had to decide, for a long time, whether to splash White or Green for Wear // Tear or Abrupt Decay respectively. The Wear side is critical for destroying Leyline of the Void and co., but Decay is a little more flexible in that it can kill creatures too. With Trophy now, there’s not even a question to be had. Splash Green, get the best of everything. Combo decks can also happily ignore the mana ramp ability that Trophy provides.

I’m curious about the trend towards main deck Cabal Therapy, but I think that nonetheless this list shows the strength of four sideboard Assassin's Trophy. You can find ewlandon piloting his new Trophy-touting list here too. I also expect a deck like Dredge to similarly love Trophy!

Another great place for it is Elves, as Julian has already shown:

This is a really sexy Chaos Elves list, that can grind out the opponent incredibly effectively thanks to Elves usual raw card advantage. Trophy complements this plan excellent by killing anything that is a pain for Elves. And of course, the mana ramp ability is again little of an edge for the opponent  – Elves is already operating way ahead of the mana curve to be concerned with one extra land. Find Julian jamming some Elves with Trophy here at itsJulian.com. Other decks which are sure to love Trophy are Aluren and Food Chain.

In summary, Guilds of Ravnica is looking to make a big impact on the format moving forward. Trophy will likely push BUG Control into a little more popularity, and I expect the return of the pesky Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Combo decks dipping into Green will now have the choice between Decay and Trophy, and although I expect a deck like ANT, concerned with a card like Counterbalance, to favor Decay. Trophy will likely find a place in combo decks that are worried about four mana plus enchantments (such as, for example, Leyline of the Void). Cratermaker is probably going to be the second-most played cards from Guilds being an excellent Red role player and a big boon for Goblins!

Conclusion

That’s all we have time for now. Join me next week as we Delve further into the post-Guilds of Ravnica metagame. Until then, some content:

Til next time!

Sean Brown

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

What I’m Playing This Week

Probably I’m just too keen to play Goblin Cratermaker alongside Imperial Recruiter but…

This is a very rough sketch and the sideboard is a bit of a mess. But this basically aims to replicate the strength that old Imperial Painter had, along with utilise technology of Ash Barrens that I’ve seen in Japanese lists in the past (Red Eldrazi, etc.). Note that this is much less “artifacty” than my previous Bomberman lists and play simply like an idiot beatdown Chalice-Blood Moon deck with a random combo finish. I really do like a full four Recruiters alongside Lion’s Eye Diamond to really create some busted mana acceleration.

The Spice Corner

Ever wanted to play twelve Lightning Bolts? Well, with some Wizards, you can do exactly that.

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This is incredibly low to the ground for UR Delver, and I like how Wizard's Lightning really makes the curve incredibly lean. I do worry about the situational aspect of the card, however, and maybe including Lavamancer over Swiftspear may help to have it always turned “on”. Delver flipping can also awkwardly be a bad thing in this deck!


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