Modern Legacy: An Introduction
First, a bit about myself:
I’ve been playing Magic: The Gathering since 2001, around the time that Planeshift and Apocalypse was released. I started playing frequently in tournaments in the Mirrodin era. Yeah, I survived Raffinty. I got in the Legacy format maybe 2 years ago, and it was love upon first sight. Why? I fell in love with the sheer number of viable decks. Standard often has only like 3 or 4 decks that are good. In Legacy, there are 30 or 40 decks that can win. I play Legacy as much as I can.
Now that Wizards has announced the new format on the block, Modern, I became very interested in it. There’s nothing like the thrill of discovering new decks in a new format, really. In this column, I’ll write about Legacy and Modern (I’m hoping it becomes an actual format), once a week, on Tuesdays.
First, a refresher on what Modern is:
It is a new “eternal” format, possibly meant to replace Extended. In other words, with enough support, this will be the new Overextended. The starting point is from 8th edition and Mirrodin, to the most recent set. Wizards of the Coast’s reasoning behind the 8th edition starting point is because it provides a “visual” marker, with the new frames. An interesting reason, really, but as good as any other to me.
The banned list consists of:
The reasoning behind most of these bans I can understand. The 5 artifact lands, I will go in depth about in another article eventually. The Chrome Mox ban I do not like, but I can respect it, because I can see the logic behind not wanting the format to be too fast. Dark Depths and Sword of the Meek are part of two extremely annoying combos that require you to be able to answer it or lose. That ban is pretty decent.
The Top ban is a byproduct of making tournaments run smoothly on MTGO. The Top can eat up huge chunks of time. Skullclamp is a no-brainer. The card is broken in almost every format. The Umezawa’s Jitte ban is not a good ban. What is the Jitte good in? Two types of decks: Stoneforge Mystic decks and weenie aggro decks. What is it good against? Aggro decks and burn. Now, is that too powerful? I think not. I know that the Jitte is an amazing card, but I believe firmly that it is an entirely fair card.
The ban of Golgari Grave-Troll does not truly make sense. If Wizards wanted to nerf Dredge, the correct card to ban would be Bridge from Below. Without Bridge, Dredge becomes a simple reanimator deck, of which there are a lot of answers (read: removal) to reanimated fatties. Dredge’s true strength lies in the potential to win out of nowhere with a horde of hasty zombies. The Grave-Troll ban to me reads as though Wizards is trying to modulate the power level of the deck, not nerf it totally.
However, there is one amazingly glaring omission from the banlist.
In Modern, there is no Force of Will to stop degenerate combo strategies. This means that the modern metagame, if made a format without any additional bannings, would warp around Hypergenesis and decks that can beat Hypergenesis. Of the latter, there isn’t much. You could probably try to jam in 4 of each Eldrazi, 4 Urabrask, and 4 Blazing Archon, in an effort to beat the deck. At that point you might as well be playing a Hypergenesis deck yourself. Another remote possibility is a heavy blue-black control deck with a ton of discard, counterspells, and removal. All Hypergenesis is doing is stagnating the metagame.
Let me show you a decklist. This deck goes off on turn 2 or 3 pretty often, and becomes even more deadly after sideboarding.
HypergenesisAccelerators: 8 4 Chancellor of the Tangle 4 Simian Spirit Guide Hypergenesis Fatties: 18 2 Urabrask the Hidden 3 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn 3 Iona, Shield of Emeria 4 Angel of Despair 3 Progenitus 3 Oblivion Ring Cascade Spells: 14 4 Ardent Plea 4 Violent Outburst 2 Demonic Dread 4 Hypergenesis Lands: 20 4 Gemstone Mine 4 Tendo Ice Bridge 4 City of Brass 4 Forbidden Orchard 4 Mirrodin’s Core Sideboard: 15 4 Gemstone Caverns 4 Chancellor of the Annex 4 Ingot Chewer 1 Oblivion Ring 2 Terastodon
The accelerators (Chancellor of the Tangle and Simian Spirit Guide) allow you to go off on the first turn a surprising amount of times. The sideboard is configured so that when you’re on the draw (Because you won the first game) your turn one win percentage is upped quite a bit thanks to Gemstone Caverns. The Chancellor of the Annex might look strange, but it is perfect to answer a Spell Pierce when you’re trying to win on the first turn. The Ingot Chewers are to answer any Chalice of the Voids that your opponent might bring in against Hypergenesis. What else is left to fight Hypergenesis? Not much. That’s where the extra O-Ring in the side and the Terastodon come in, to be answers to random things.
The basic sideboard plan is:
If you win G1, against anything:
Against any deck running blue,
This is your basic plan, of course, adjust to fit the particular deck you are playing against. In testing, I have won every game except for two, in one, I mulligianed to the point where my Hypergenesis became very mediocre, and in the other I misread Demonic Dread, causing me to keep a hand that could win on the first turn with any other cascade spell, but took too much time to fire off normally.
A little trick that you want to be aware for is to cast Violent Outburst during your opponent’s end step, having the Hypergenesis get countered, for the purpose of tapping him out, so you can cascade again in your own turn. Also, if he taps out in your end step to cast his own things, grab that chance to have a uncounterable cascade. Another one is tapping Forbidden Orchard, to give your opponent a token, which you can then target with Demonic Dread.
Mark my words, Hypergenesis will be banned if Modern becomes a format.
After Hypergenesis, the next best card in the format would have to be:
Gifts Ungiven is an amazingly powerful card, when in the correct deck. The reason for this is because it is able to give you piles in which it can ensure an inevitable win. An example: Mindslaver–Life from the Loam– Academy Ruins– Random card. This allows you to Mindslaver lock your opponent out of the game, when you have enough mana. How do we ensure that we have enough mana? Enter the 12Post engine:
Before we talk any further, I’ll give you the decklist I’m working on at the moment.
12Post GiftSlaverLands: 25 4 Glimmerpost 4 Cloudpost 3 Breeding Pool 4 Vesuva 4 Misty Rainforest 1 Academy Ruins 1 Forest 1 Island 1 Eye of Ugin 2 Tolaria West Artifact: 7 1 Engineered Explosives 1 Mindslaver 1 Crucible of Worlds 4 Simic Signet Spells: 22 4 Gifts Ungiven 1 Life from the Loam 2 Spell Burst 3 Condescend 3 Repeal 1 Echoing Truth 1 Summoner’s Pact 3 Mana Leak 4 Explore Creatures: 6 4 Primeval Titan 2 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn Sideboard: 15 4 Negate 4 Chalice of the Void 1 Stomping Ground 3 Firespout 3 Krosan Grip
In this deck, the 12Post engine enables very strong things, like the Mindslaver lock and even the supreme Eldrazi. A hidden gem in this deck is Spell Burst. Spell Burst is incredibly easy to buyback in this deck, giving you infinite counterspells. Against aggressive decks, Primeval Titan is impossible to beat, because he can fetch Glimmerpost, quickly sending your life in the stratosphere. Engineered Explosives and Summoner’s Pact might seem out of place as singletons, but they are tutorable by Tolaria West. Another tutorable card is Eye of Ugin, which leads you to your Eldrazi. Simic Signet may seem like an odd choice also, but they are important, because Blood Moon exists in the format. Signets allow us to operate under a Blood Moon.
In the sideboard, we have answers to a few problems for us. Against Hypergenesis, we have some tools maindeck (Spell Burst, X=0 counters Hypergenesis) to help us, but of course it’s not enough. We can bring in Negate and Chalice of the Void to help us skew the matchup in our favor a bit more. Against truly aggressive decks (such as Elves), we bring in the Stomping Ground and the Firespouts, to sweep your opponent’s army. By doing that, we also can get Engineered Explosives up to 3 counters, which is where all the Elves lords are at. Against Blood Moons, we bring in Krosan Grips.
Unsurprisingly, there are some people who claim that a version of this deck is the best in the format, even with Hypergenesis around. The speed of the deck is impressive, actually.
Join me next week, when I talk about Legacy, in preparation for the upcoming StarCityGames open in Baltimore.
Comments would be always appreciated.