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Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / This Week in Legacy: The Rise of Zendikar - Part 1

This Week in Legacy: The Rise of Zendikar - Part 1

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're looking into our first part of our Zendikar Rising set review for Legacy! This set is incredibly interesting thus far, so it will be interesting to see what breaks out into the format. In addition we've got some information on PAX Online as well as data from our two Challenge events last weekend, and of course as always our Spice Corner.

Let's dive right into the thick of things!

Arise my Zendikari! It's Time to Conquer Earth!

Spoiler season is upon us yet again, and this time we're returning back to the plane of Zendikar for Zendikar Rising. There's a lot of interesting things going on in Zendikar this go around with two new mechanics (Party and Modal DFCs) and two returning mechanics (Landfall and Kicker). We're going to talk briefly about one of the new mechanics that might have some impact on Legacy.

Modal DFCs

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Modal DFCs represent an interesting concept for Magic as a game going forward. These cards have a normal card on the front face, and a land on the back face. The front face could be any other type of card from an Instant/Sorcery to a creature, but the back face is always a Land. When this card is in your hand, you can choose to either play the front face as it is, or you can play the back face as a Land (as long as you have a Land drop). When these cards are in any zone other than in play as a Land however, it is always the type of the front card face. For example, when Valakut Awakening is in your library, graveyard, or hand it is an Instant only. However, if you choose to put Valakut Stoneforge into play as a Land it is then a Land.

These are interesting cards because it allows decks to mitigate flooding in decks, but in Legacy it also means that some decks can tutor for Lands via alternative means such as utilizing cards like Mystic Sanctuary and Burning Wish/Cunning Wish (for Instants/Sorceries). It's best to evaluate these individually on what the front face is capable of doing but it is certainly an incredibly interesting mechanic.

Now let's dive into some individual cards that are interesting.

Angel of Destiny

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Alternate win conditions are always interesting, and I just expect someone to try to make this work just because it's an alternate win condition. This is likely not anything but a fringe card in that regards but it is cool.

Archon of Emeria

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card is essentially Thalia, Heretic Cathar except it only effects nonbasic lands on that effect, but also comes stapled with an Eidolon of Rhetoric effect. It also flies, so having evasion is pretty good as well. I don't know if this is playable, but it definitely is intriguing.

Bala Ged Recovery

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This is essentially Regrowth for one more mana, but on the flip side can also be a land drop. These Modal DFCs require a lot of interesting evaluation to them, but this effect could be interesting in decks that don't want to have a lot of land in them in the first place, but have the ability to play a land if need be.

Bloodchief's Thirst

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I don't believe this is better than Eliminate, especially at Sorcery speed, but the flexibility of being able to kill anything for four mana could be interesting if Legacy's threat base slows down a bit.

Cleansing Wildfire

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is a one mana less Geomancer's Gambit, except that two mana is most certainly a lot less than three and putting the land into play tapped is a big deal. This seems like an interesting card, and I do expect to see people trying this card out in a varying number of different strategies. What really sells me is the card draw aspect.

Confounding Conundrum

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card is super interesting as it both cantrips and shuts off fetch lands in a really interesting way. I don't know that this is truly playable or not, but it is a super interesting design of a card.

Emeria's Call

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Seven mana is a big ask, but it does create two 4/4 Angels as well as creates an indestructible effect for the board state. Where this card really is interesting is the flip side because the land can enter the battlefield untapped if you pay 3 life for it. This is a cool card for sure, but the others in this cycle are certainly interesting as well.

Feed the Swarm

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is unique for the very fact that it is targeted enchantment destruction in black. The real downside for this card in the fringe strategies that want it like Pox is that one of the best enchantments in the format right now is Klothys, God of Destiny which conveniently has indestructible, making Pharika's Libation a much more attractive option for dealing with that card in Mono Black.

Forsaken Monument

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Costing 5 mana is negligible in a card that basically increases colorless ramp by even more, given that decks that utilize Cloudpost exist. This also helps offset the damage from Ancient Tomb when casting colorless spells which can be intriguing. This also helps out any deck that plays Eldrazi Temple, but really the mana curve of those decks exists to make it easy to cast those spells. I will note that this is yet another card that causes Basalt Monolith to go infinite, so there is that.

Magmatic Channeler

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card actually seems incredibly powerful and even easier to turn on to make it a 4/4 in Legacy. The secondary ability is really powerful especially for a two mana creature. I expect to see some people playing around with this for sure.

Nighthawk Scavenger

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Well, Vampire Nighthawk sure grew up in a big way, with a Tarmogoyf-like ability. This is likely not playable in the current metagame climate of creature threats. This would probably be a bit better if it had toughness keyed off of the card types as well.

Roiling Vortex

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This is like a Sulfuric Vortex type hate card, except it really punishes a lot of things, from Force of Will, Daze to cards like Lion's Eye Diamond and Lotus Petal. It's nice to see options for hate like this to exist, even if it seems completely niche. Sometimes niche cards are great to have because they can make for interesting sideboard options.

Ruin Crab

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

While this is not quite as good as good old Hedron Crab in that it does not promote the ability to self-mill like the old one does, but it does seem potentially interesting in an 8-Crab Mill deck. This could definitely be interesting when combined with cards like Glimpse the Unthinkable and I wouldn't be surprised to see someone try it.

Sea Gate Restoration

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card actually seems reasonably interesting in Omni-Tell variants as a bit of an Enter the Infinite-lite type card, but is also an untapped Land for 3 life if you need it. I like this because it can also pitch to Force of Will/Force of Negation if needed as well.

Shatterskull Smashing

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

There has been some talk about some of these Modal DFCs being used in Belcher shells since they can act as Lands that can be tutored via Burning Wish but also isn't a Land inside the library, such as Shatterskull Smashing. I have a feeling this is likely not worth the front face effect but I also wouldn't be surprised to see people trying it to see if it works.

Skyclave Apparition

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is another take on the Banisher Priest/Fiend Hunter type card, except this can hit any nonland, nontoken permanent and then the card does not come back when Skyclave Apparition leaves the battlefield. With the rider of only being able to exile something with converted mana cost 4 or less. This costing three also means that it could possibly see play in Aether Vial based decks. The only downside that is sure to catch people is that this is a Spirit creature without flying.

Thieving Skydiver

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 .

Being able to steal an Artifact/Equipment is intriguing but it's really the X or less rider that's interesting. While X can't be 0, for three mana you can steal a 0-1 CMC artifact, such as things like Mox Diamond. I doubt this is actually playable but the design space is pretty cool.

Turntimber Symbiosis

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

The fact that this gets any creature and only puts counters on if it's a creature with converted mana cost three or less is really what sells it for me. Costing seven is negligible in decks like Elves or Cloudpost that can easily ramp to this kind of mana. Granted, three of it is triple green but that's easy enough to pull if the deck really wants to do so. Being an untapped green source on the flip side is also great as well if need be.

Valakut Awakening

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card has some interesting applications since it is effectively an instant speed wheel effect, except it doesn't discard the cards. On the reverse side, this is just a red tap Land, but the front half is definitely super intriguing to consider what it could do.

Valakut Exploration

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card is certainly interesting especially with effects like Exploration that increase the number of lands you can play in a turn. The end step trigger is likely not doing so much, but it does let you essentially mill things into the graveyard that you want there if you can't play them and get an extra bit of damage out of them as well. This is a cool card and could definitely see play in a Lands strategy.

Wayward Guide-Beast

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I find this card intriguing and there's some question of whether it's good in aggressive burn type strategies and it is possible that this could be very good in those strategies. It just really depends on how bad the land tempo loss truly is really, especially in matchups where Burn wants to cast multiple spells a turn.

Yasharn, Implacable Earth

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I actually really like this card a lot. This shuts off a ton of things in the format from Force of Will to even shutting off cards like Lotus Petal and Lion's Eye Diamond and even fetch lands. The fact that this replaces the fact that you can't use your own fetchlands by getting you basics is pretty good. This can even be gotten with Green Sun's Zenith, which really sells it for me. Very cool card indeed.

Zareth San, the Trickster

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This card has a semi-Ninjutsu ability that only functions for Rogues, but the effect of Zareth connecting with combat damage is incredibly powerful being able to reanimate anything from an opponent's graveyard. One curious thing is that we also just got Thieves' Guild Enforcer as well as already having cards like Bitterblossom which can generate Rogues to flash Zareth in. The only big downside is that Zareth is Legendary and it only triggers when he connects with combat damage, making this a trigger that is hard to push through without the combat trick aspect given that Zareth himself doesn't inherently have evasion.

Community Legacy Update - 4Seasons Summer Series

In some actual paper event news, over in Italy where the pandemic has mostly dropped off, the 4Seasons Tournament series ran this past weekend. They had roughly 155 players for Legacy main event and from the pictures it looked like everyone was being safe and practicing appropriate measures. This is likely the first "big" Legacy event in paper since all of this started, so kudos to Italy for being able to hold the event safely and securely. You can check out all of the information about the 4Seasons Tournament Series over on their Facebook page here.

Community Legacy Update - PAX Online

PAX Online is upcoming and will include a plethora of Eternal format Magic events to play in on Magic Online. This event is again ran by Pastimes Events, and will go from September 12th - 20th. Furthermore, this is yet another event this year where Magic Online is partnering with Pastimes to provide stocked accounts to players entering into events. So for a mere $25 to enter a preliminary event, you gain access to every card on Magic Online for the entire duration of the event (which actually lasts until September 23rd). If you go 3-1 or 4-0 in a preliminary event, you can qualify for the Championship event which takes place on the Sunday final day of PAX. You can check out all information about all these events here.

In addition, it's worth noting that it was slightly confirmed recently that US Eternal Weekend Online would follow this same functionality of providing stocked accounts to participants. I would not be surprised if this was the norm for many online only events of this nature while we are doing them due to pandemic.

Legacy Challenge 9/5

Our first Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Saturday Challenge, so let's dive right into the Top 32!

There was quite a bit of RUG Delver in this event as well as a fair amount of Snow decks. There is definitely a night and day difference between the two weekly Challenges, but the big thing they share is that RUG Delver is still exceptionally popular. It is worth noting however that Hogaak has certainly risen up in the ranks as one of the best aggressive/combo graveyard decks in the format, and it definitely is worth keeping on the radar because it has put up some exceptional results.

Now let's take a look at the Top 8 of this event.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
G/B Depths 1st Sakuragi21722749
Hogaak 2nd Ryan100495
Snowko 3rd GobFTW
RUG Delver 4th Shivan84
Hogaak 5th Kuranari-Jackpa
Esper Vial 6th Koke_MTG
Death and Taxes 7th Yoshiwata
Sneak and Show 8th Slowmotion

Despite how popular RUG Delver was in this event, it only converted one pilot to the Top 8 overall. The rest of the Top 8 is pretty interesting however.

At the end of the day it was Depths that took it all down.

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This is much more of the Slow Depths variant that we've continued to see do quite well in recent months. Cards like Dark Confidant are incredibly strong in these kinds of shells where the maximum converted mana cost is two.

In Second Place we have Hogaak.

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I really like the BUG variants of this deck, and I especially like the singleton Darkblast in the main deck as a great way of cleaning up creatures as well as filling the graveyard. I also really like Silent Gravestone in the sideboard. That's a card typically seen in Dredge, but as decks rely more on targeted graveyard hate it gets better.

In Third Place we have Snowko.

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This is our typical BUG splashing White variant of Snowko, with a big hitter on a main deck Plague Engineer. We're also seeing some main deck Veil of Summer action in this list, and some Back to Basics in the sideboard.

In Fourth Place we have RUG Delver.

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This variant of RUG Delver is leaning more on Hooting Mandrills over Goyf for the mirror for sure, and I especially like the main deck Spell Pierce. Everyone's favorite God of Destiny also appears in the sideboard here.

In Fifth Place we have a second Hogaak list.

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This is the Jund version of the Gaak list, which eschews blue cards and things like Hedron Crab for cards like Faithless Looting, seeking to play a more controlling consistent game with card draw than the explosive nature of the BUG variants. Other than that there isn't much differences between the two variants these days, as their game plans are both relatively the same.

In Sixth Place we have Esper Vial.

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It is certainly great to see cards like Barrin, Tolarian Archmage find a home in Legacy, and Esper Vial is certainly a deck that allows for that card to be good. Some of the sideboard options here are super sweet too with Unearth and Eliminate.

In Seventh Place we have Death and Taxes.

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There are some interesting choices in mana base in this list, with two Ancient Tomb in the main deck construction. This is good at pushing out some threats earlier than normal and great for sideboard cards like Warping Wail. Interesting to see D&T given that results with the deck are sparse, but I still maintain that players can do well with it if they really work hard at it.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have Sneak and Show.

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The biggest thing about this list is the presence of four copies of Daze and no Cunning Wish shenanigans. This is as clean as it gets with Show and Tell.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event. Remember as always we're only looking at cards with 8 copies or more in the event.

Card Name Number of Copies
Oko, Thief of Crowns 45
Dreadhorde Arcanist 32
Force of Negation 32
Force of Vigor 23
Veil of Summer 22
Arcum's Astrolabe 20
Ice-Fang Coatl 20
Plague Engineer 15
Prismatic Vista 15
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 15
Once Upon a Time 12

Oko was certainly the king of the crop in this event, with tons of copies of the card in just the Top 32. Is this a cause for alarm or is this simply the nature of the time slot of this event being early in the morning so there are fewwer US players to filter into the results? Relatively unsure, but it is interesting to keep track of.

Legacy Challenge 9/6

Our second Challenge of the weekend was the normal Sunday Legacy Challenge, so let's take a look at the Top 32 metagame!

Snow really kicked up a notch this past weekend in both Challenges, and even RUG Delver took a dip compared to past numbers. There was a really great array of decks in this event, however, and the breakdown really showed that.

Now let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
RUG Delver 1st Silviawataru
Elves 2nd KanonenFutter
Snowko 3rd Jankyb
RUG Delver 4th Theo_Jung
Cloudpost 5th Leviathan102
Karn Echo 6th RenatoAraujo
Hogaak 7th LuisMJ
Snowko 8th AndySCWilson

RUG Delver and Snow both did very well in this Top 8, putting two copies each in the Top 8 overall. However at the end of the event it was indeed RUG that took it all down.

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This is much like the list in the other event, with a sweet piece of sideboard tech in Mind Harness being able to steal things like Uro and the like. Very interesting tech indeed.

In Second Place we have Elves.

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This is more of the Elvish Reclaimer variant of Elves that had been popularized by folks like Newton Hang and the like over the past year. The Elves variants have been driven into two distinct variants now with Reclaimer being one and the Nettle Sentinel variants being another.

In Third Place we have Snowko.

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This is pretty similar to the other Snowko list, but there is a Garruk, Primal Hunter in this sideboard.

Since Fourth Place was also RUG Delver, let's move down to Fifth Place with Cloudpost.

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Allosaurus Shepherd isn't just for Elves it seems, as Cloudpost based green ramp decks have adopted the card as well since it works really well with things like Crop Rotation, Green Sun's Zenith, and Once Upon a Time.

In Sixth Place we have Karn Echo.

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This variant adds an additional layer of power to its list by playing cards like Sai and Urza as a way to generate mana and creatures to attack with. In addition, Narset + Echo is simply super powerful as well at making it hard for the opponent to play the game.

In Seventh Place we have Hogaak.

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This list is pretty close to the Top 8 list in the other event, but with a much more streamlined sideboard. Suffice to say, the BUG version of this deck is popular and powerful.

As the last list of the event was another BUG Snowko list, we won't be diving into it. However, further down in the Top 32 we have a sweet Painter list.

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Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event.

Card Name Number of Copies
Ice-Fang Coatl 32
Oko, Thief of Crowns 32
Arcum's Astrolabe 31
Veil of Summer 31
Plague Engineer 29
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 25
Force of Negation 24
Prismatic Vista 22
Force of Vigor 18
Once Upon a Time 16
Dreadhorde Arcanist 15

All of our usual suspects are here that we've come to know and love from 2019-2020, and they really have influenced the course of Legacy overall. It will be curious to look ahead to Zendikar Rising and see if there is anything truly on the level of the rest of these cards.

Ban Watch

We had another set of Challenges so that means we had another round of data on the Legacy Bannable cards that we continue to talk about via this column that are on the minds of a lot of players right now. So let's take a look at the chart.

Things continue to be heavily in flux on these cards, and the numbers on Oko / Veil especially flip flop back and forth relatively week to week. Astrolabe as well has been excessively up and down, with only this past weekend having a huge influx in copies of the card.

I am looking forward to working on another Legacy Round Table event to talk about these cards and get a good idea where the format currently sits with these cards. As has been noted a few times, expect that follow-up article soon.

Around the Web

  • Tolarian Community College posted an interesting video about The Reserved List, which is well worth a watch if you love Legacy. Check that out here.
  • 90sMTG continues the hits with a Mono Blue Omni-Tell matchup vs U/R Delver (w/ Stormwing Entity) featuring Phil Blechman and Roland Chang. Check that out here.
  • Legacy Sharkstill has a Discord now, which you can check out here.

The Spice Corner

D&T taking the black splash for Dark Confidant and Plague Engineer!

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Lands 2019-2020 Design Mistakes.deck

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Jeskai Delverblade!

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This is a unique take on a BUG Control variant.

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What I'm Playing This Week

I'm still hot on Ninjas this week. Deck is incredibly fun and interesting for sure.

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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 on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the /r/MTGLegacy Discord Server and subreddit.

Until next time!

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