Leaving a Legacy

Posted in NEWS on June 27, 2014

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on DailyMTG.com, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

Whenever I look at a preview card for a new set it is always through the lens of whether or not it will add something to my Commander decks. Some of the more exciting "make the whole table groan when it resolves" cards have come out of core set releases. Lurking Predators, Thragtusk, and the whole cycle of Titans immediately leap to mind. It should be noted that with the exception of Lurking Predators, those cards have all made quite a dent in 60-card formats as well.

I already have a spot carved out for today's preview card in my Momir Vig deck, and I would not be at all surprised to see this card get some play in other Constructed formats as well. Before I start breaking down the card itself, I imagine you will want to take a gander at it...

The first thing that leaps out at me about Life's Legacy is the casting cost—just a measly two mana. We have seen variants of this card in the past, but the casting cost has always made it prohibitive for them to migrate from the land of Commander to Standard. Even Momentous Fall, which could be cast at instant speed, saw little to no serious play (although it is quite the backbreaker in a Commander game). Also costing four mana, you have to think of Greater Good when you see a card that lets you sacrifice a creature and draw cards.

Greater Good does come with a pretty steep cost that requires you to discard three cards, but that did not prevent it from being a key piece of a World Championship Top 8 deck—sacrificing Yosei, The Morning Star to draw into another Yosei, the Morning Star will carry you deep into a tournament. The fact that Greater Good was a permanent that remained in play and served as an engine for the deck makes it different than Life's Legacy, but it does give us a direction we want to go when looking for ways to play with this new card.

When Deadeye Navigator was first printed it quickly became one of my favorite Magic cards and I put it right into my Commander deck. It wasn't long before I was cutting cards from the deck because they were way too broken in concert with the Navigator. Even before Primeval Titan and Sylvan Primordial were banned in Commander, I had cut them from my Simic construct. I also ended up cutting a staple card in the Commander world that has not been banned—Woodfall Primus.

Well, the time has come for my foily Deadeye Navigator to go hang out with Primeval Titan and Sylvan Primordial. It is almost impossible for Deadeye Navigator to NOT be broken, especially in my deck, which is just chock full of enter-the-battlefield effects. I had a recent game at a Philadelphia PTQ that convinced me it was time to suspend the driver's license. I stole my opponent's Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind with a Gilded Drake. A turn later, Deadeye Navigator paired with my Prime Speaker Zegana, and I blinked her in and out of play—at the cost of just 1U each time—to draw nearly my entire deck, killing one player and wiping out the untapped creatures of the other thanks to Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind dealing a point of damage each time I drew a card. It was a thrilling victory in the moment, but afterwards I realized it was no different than pairing the Navigator with Mystic Snake or Acidic Slime.

You will notice that I did not mention Woodfall Primus above, because that card is coming right back into the deck and I am eagerly awaiting the first time I get to sacrifice it to Life's Legacy to draw six cards and destroy a permanent when it persists back into play.

Kitchen Finks is a more reasonable Constructed card to consider Life's Legacy being paired with in smaller decks. You get to draw three cards, gain a little life, and not lose your creature. In recent Modern practice, I was playing around with the green devotion deck that used Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to power out gaudy Genesis Waves that ultimately yield a Craterhoof Behemoth-led stampede. I am intrigued by the idea of adding Life's Legacy into that build to dig a little deeper off of my Kitchen Finks while not lowering my devotion count.

The key piece of that engine—Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx—is Standard legal, and I wonder if the printing of Genesis Hydra will allow it to become a contender for the Standard leg of Pro Tour Magic 2015. If it does, I would not be surprised if Life's Legacy became part of the starting 60 cards. I am also kind of excited to cash in lands with Nissa, Worldwaker for four fresh cards—you can even tap the land you are about to sacrifice to Life's Legacy to pay the casting cost.

Another card I have been playing around with in Standard and Modern is Strength from the Fallen. I have a really rough list in Modern that used Hedron Crabs and Thought Scours to fill the graveyard, allowing you to kill people with unblockable hexproof creatures like Invisible Stalker. There have been times where a game has dragged on and the board is empty of creatures able to attack that turn. I can easily imagine playing Courser of Kruphix and targeting it with Strength from the Fallen to draw double-digit cards with Life's Legacy. I am excited about playing these two cards in tandem.

Mostly I keep coming back to Commander, though. I have to admit I like the idea of sacrificing your own commander to draw cards—not terribly exciting with Momir Vig, but a Child of Alara?—and just moving it back to the command zone. One of the staple cards in my Commander decks is Ixidron—often a 10- or 12-power creature when it catches a particularly crowded board. I am excited to draw fistfuls of cards with Life's Legacy and, as you can see, there are plenty of paths that I will going down to do it.

Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame Notes

The Magic 2015 Prerelease will soon be upon us and, following in their wake, we will have Pro Tour Magic 2015. At that Pro Tour, we will be announcing the 2014 class of the Pro Tour Hall of Fame. Before we can make that announcement, there is the small matter of actually electing the members of that class. Ballots will be going out the Selection Committee during the week of June 30 and ballots will be due on July 23. The incoming class of the Hall of Fame will get the happy phone call from Scott Larabee on July 25 and the class will be announced to the public on Friday, August 1, from the Newsdesk at the Pro Tour. There have definitely been less impressive places to be inducted into the Hall of Fame than Honolulu, and members of this class will get their rings at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir in Hawaii.

This year is the first year players must have 150 lifetime Pro Points in order to be eligible for the ballot. We announced this change last year, and this year, the ballot will get pared down. Even with 150 points, players who fail to garner 10% or more of the votes for three consecutive years of eligibility will fall off the ballot. Those candidates can get back onto the next year's ballot by picking up 4 Pro Points during the season. As always, players on the ballot must have played on their first Pro Tour at least ten years before. The cutoff for this class will be the 2004–5 season, that concluded with Worlds in Yokohama.

A big change for this year, that had not been previously announced, will be the elimination of two separate voting committees. In the past, there was a collection of key Wizards of the Coast personnel, writers, judges, and tournament officials who made up the Selection Committee and players who crossed a lifetime Pro Point threshold who made up the Players Committee. The votes of the Player Committee were weighted differently than the Selection Committee and it was a convoluted system. Starting with this ballot, all Magic players with 150 lifetime Pro Points, regardless of when they began playing, will be added to what was previously the Selection Committee. All votes will be counted equally.

Look for more information about the Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame coming soon in this column, as we examine the players who join the ballot this year.