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This Week in Legacy: Turn One Combo and 12Post

Hello once again and welcome to This Week in Legacy! This week we’ll continue an investigation of the format and the variety of decks that populate it. This week we’ll highlight some of the ultra-fast combo decks in the format, and investigate the much-requested 12Post decks of the format!

Turn One Combo Decks

A few decks we haven’t covered are the “turn one” combo decks of the format. The primary goal of these decks is to kill before the opponent has even taken a game action, and they are able to do this with a surprising amount of consistency. Although these decks give some people the perception that Legacy is a format where one can die on turn one, these decks have extreme difficulties beating a single piece of countermagic (such as Force of Will), and hence are very unpopular, but can really crush all of the non-blue decks of the format by killing them before they’ve been able to deploy hate pieces like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Chalice of the Void. As such, with Eldrazi and Death & Taxes on the rise with recent printings, now might be an excellent time to remind those players that playing without Force of Will can lead to some bad times…

The first deck we’ll look at is traditionally just known as Belcher, as one of its primary (and immediate game-ending) win conditions is Goblin Charbelcher.

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As such, the deck is constructed with only one land in the deck, and extra “virtual lands” are included in the form of Land Grant. The deck also includes other fast mana pieces such as:

The deck’s secondary win condition is Goblins doing some silly things again… The deck can Ritual into a hardcast Empty the Warrens, but can also use Burning Wish as additional Empty the Warrens copies if required. The deck has eleven ways to essentially “win” on turn one.

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The rest of the deck is filled with cards which essentially “thin” the deck, such as Gitaxian Probe and Manamorphose, but these also have a variety of uses in checking whether the coast is clear or filtering mana into the correct colors.

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Most Belcher decks have little room in the sideboard for anything interesting. Some have run some spicy Burning Wish targets (I love me a Goblin War Strike for lethal!) and some run some anti-counter tech like Pyroblast, Xantid Swarm, and Guttural Response—though diluting the deck is something to worry about. Sometimes just making your opponent “have it” is the best way to go about things.

As mentioned, I feel Belcher is quite well-placed due to the current influx of non-blue fair decks. Two lists found their way into SCG’s recent Classic in Baltimore. There’s not much difference within the lists except the sideboard choices, which are pretty niche anyway.

Hilariously, these two players have chosen to utilize Stomping Ground over the obviously superior Taiga as their only lands in the deck. Although a budget choice certainly, there is little downside to including the shock land.

The other ultra-fast combo deck is commonly known as “Oops, All Spells," and despite it’s silly-sounding moniker, is essentially what Hermit Druid combo decks are in Legacy (with the Druid himself banned). The two Hermit Druids being Balustrade Spy and Undercity Informer.

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The deck aims to get to four mana as fast as possible via the usual fast mana and black Rituals (Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual) and mill its whole deck over. After this, killing the opponent is pretty elementary: Narcomoebas get flipped over and then they get sacrificed to Dread Return to revive either:

The deck has a few advantages over Belcher:

  • Has a lower amount of mana required to instant win (four mana vs. seven).
  • Can run main deck disruption such as Pact of Negation and Cabal Therapy due to requiring a lower density of mana.
  • All of its eight win conditions win the game on the spot, compared to Belcher’s backup plan of Empty the Warrens, which can fold to sweepers.
  • It’s cheaper (money wise) because the main deck lacks Lion's Eye Diamond!

But has some disadvantages:

  • Often has colored mana problems. Eight of the deck’s starting mana sources do not produce black mana for the Rituals used.
  • Has a clunky package of Narcomoebas, Bridge from Belows, and Underworld Cerberus/Angel of Glory's Rise for the kill condition, which becomes problematic if drawn in the opening hand and makes the deck lose to graveyard hate.
  • Loses out on the wishboard and general sideboard utility that Belcher has.

Speaking of losing out on sideboard utility… BelerenBlue16 5-0ed a League with Oops, All Spells with no sideboard. Interestingly the main deck was packed with more disruption with Chancellor of the Annex (which is certainly finding a lot of play between Manaless Dredge and BR Reanimator recently!).

However, the common sideboard of Oops, All Spells is to sideboard into Belcher with a package of:

4 Lion's Eye Diamond
4 Goblin Charbelcher
4 Spoils of the Vault

Primarily to sidestep graveyard hate.

Nonetheless, if you’re feeling brave and feel that your metagame is getting a bit too fair… Put the fear of god back into them with Belcher or Oops, All Spells! and make them remember that these decks are incredibly powerful at making the opponent “have it”.

On Cloud 12

This week I’d also like to feature prominently 12Post, after a reader contacted me with an excellent list that a lot of people can access Online! 

12Post, as its name suggests, is a deck that features all of the Locus lands. Cloudpost and Glimmerpost allow for explosive amounts of mana, and Vesuva is able to copy Cloudpost to act as additional copies or copy a variety of the utility lands. For Modern players out there, 12Post can be considered analogous to Tron decks, in that it uses a combination of lands (and cards that tutor for these lands) to produce an absurd amount of mana to reach an end game that is unbeatable for most of the decks in Legacy. Candelabra of Tawnos is also included in 12Post to generate explosive amounts of mana with the Post lands and makes the deck somewhat restrictive to play in Paper due to Candel’s price.

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In Legacy, 12Post has to fight against a few different enemies. Wasteland in particular is frustrating as it dismantles the Post engine and is commonly played in many Legacy decks. However, 12Post almost always features Crop Rotation to sacrifice lands in response to Wasteland, and often includes main deck Pithing Needle as a proactive answer, so the deck is much less prone to Wasteland. Crop Rotation also gives the deck access to some powerful silver bullet lands, such as The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Bojuka Bog and Karakas.

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The creature suite features, most prominently, Primeval Titan, who not only assembles an absurd amount of mana (and life, if he finds Glimmerpost) when he enters the battlefield, but also allows the toolbox lands to be searched for. Primeval Titan typically segues into the endgame of Eldrazi, thanks to Eye of Ugin, where Emrakul or any of her brethren can be cast to finish the opponent off. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon can be cast to sweep the board and take control of the game.

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A common addition to the deck is, unsurprisingly, blue, for the card filtration that Brainstorm (and Ponder) provides but also Show and Tell, which allows for the deck to have draws very similar to Sneak & Show, putting an Eldrazi titan into play on turn three. Despite this, Show and Tell is primarily used as a super-powered ramp spell by accelerating Primeval Titan into play on turn three.

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The bane of the deck is also combo, as the deck is quite slow to reach its end game, but there have been recent additions to the deck to assist. Warping Wail does a lot for 12Post, being a deck that truly appreciates all the modes of the card. Killing troublesome creatures is excellent, countering sorceries is very relevant against combo, and the mana ramp of the Scion is great at reaching the critical six mana for Primeval TitanThought-Knot Seer has also found his way into 12Post as a piece of disruption against all decks, but appreciated in particular against combo. Blue also gives access to, if desired, Force of Will (though this is generally relegated to the sideboard, as the main deck blue count is quite low) or Flusterstorm as additional ways to fight combo.

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The local player in my city of Melbourne, Graham King, has placed well with his take on UG 12Post, featuring many of the newer Eldrazi titans:

Reader Joel Michael also informed me of a MonoGreen 12Post variant popularized by @TheBoozeCube that is now possible thanks to a few of the new additions (such as Warping Wail), which allows the deck to go into the late game, even against combo, due to having colourless disruption. Four Candels really emphasizes this list’s desire to make an explosive amount of mana quickly, and certainly makes the deck pricey in Paper, but Online this deck comes in at a very slim $190, so it’s certainly an option for budget Legacy players there.

I also really love the addition of Ancient Stirrings, as the huge density of colorless cards in the deck makes it, in my opinion, better than its blue counterparts.

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The list looks very clean and streamlined, though I might want to add some Thought-Knot Seers as additional disruption, and perhaps diversifying the Eldrazi titans may be good. Kozilek, the Great Distortion is actually quite excellent at further remedying unfair matchups if he can be put into play, and Emrakul, the Promised End has proven himself to be quite strong too.

What I’m Playing This Week

White Stompy continues to impress, and has a few pieces discovered recently that I didn’t mention last week.

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Foremost, Palace Jailer has proven himself to be excellent as an uncounterable removal spell on a body. Once the number of white sources in the deck is tweaked, he becomes quite castable, and since he is a card to cast in the midgame, it is likely the deck has developed its colored mana sources. Also, Jailer is interesting in grindy matches, such as Miracles, who do not quickly pressure one’s life total. In these matches he is a risky, but high upside, one-sided Howling Mine effect. Oh, it’s also a machine-gun with Eldrazi Displacer.

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Vryn Wingmare also found itself as an addition in a list that was featured at the MKM event in London, as a further Thorn effect with Thalia. Its body is quite weak, but the deck notoriously has problems with evasion, and Wingmare helps.

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Leonin Arbiter has also been alerted to me as a crippling turn one play off a Mox Diamond, just like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. He certainly sounds interesting, but his lack of synergy with Caverns and topdeck prowess in the late game makes me quite wary of adding him. 

The list I’d be bringing would look something like this:

The main deck certainly has power against fair decks now thanks to Jailer, max Displacers, and some Smashers to go over the top, though our ability to fight against combo has suffered a little bit. Chalice, Seer, and Thalia should still be quite enough to beat them though.

The Spice Corner

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Madcap Experiment has gotten some love recently as a way to cheat fatties into play. Slotting the card into the shell of MonoRed Sneak Attack has proven to be an interesting proposition for many on The Source, though it requires the cutting of Chalice of the Void. I’ll reference the list proposed by Captain Hammer on The Source to give this new, exciting deck idea some more exposure! It certainly looks very interesting and powerful. You can go turn one Sandstone Needle into turn two Sol Land into Experiment for a turn two fatty. Combustible Gearhulk also makes an appearance here as another new addition. Some have proposed Platinum Emperion as a way to ensure that you don’t shoot yourself in the foot with Experiment, though the density of artifact creatures makes that look unnecessary.

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