Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – What's in a Name?

Posted in NEWS on November 2, 2013

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

One of the biggest pieces of news coming into Eternal Weekend, especially for the Legacy Championships, was the November 1 release of Commander 2013. While geared primarily towards the casual Commander format, cards from Commander 2013, as with Commander before it, are legal for play in Eternal formats. We have seen in the past the effect that this can have, as Commander's Scavenging Ooze and Flusterstorm had a definite impact on the complexion of Legacy upon their release. Commander 2013 is no different, boasting a powerful new addition to the Legacy format: True-Name Nemesis.

True-Name Nemesis

Potentially a powerhouse, True-Name Nemesis is going to be one of the biggest question marks this tournament. It is extraordinarily resilient, susceptible to only global removal spells and sacrifice effects. From the moment it hits play, it is a virtual Lightning Bolt a turn, which is capable of quickly ending games. That said, it's also a creature, and one that costs three, to boot. In Legacy, when people tap three mana for a creature, it's usually Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Paying three mana for something that doesn't effectively end the game on the spot is a risky proposition, yet True-Name Nemesis still has people buzzing.

In the proper shell, the card can be absolutely devastating. So far this weekend, I have seen it in Stoneblade, Shardless BUG, and, of course, Merfolk. It serves as a wonderful clock for control decks, ending the game in short order once the game has been locked up. But it truly shines in Merfolk. In a deck that is already packing a number of ways to both aggress and be disruptive, True-Name Nemesis provides an extra boost, supplementing the already strong core of the deck. Merfolk has been somewhat out of favor in recent months, though, as it has appeared ill-prepared to deal with the bulk of the Legacy format despite its strength against the currently-dominant combo strategies. It will remain to be seen whether or not True-Name Nemesis is able to breathe a little life into this deck, carve a niche for itself in the shell of another deck, or simply remain a role-player in this star-studded Legacy field.

Another of the interesting Commander 2013 cards that will likely make a splash this weekend (perhaps a larger one than True-Name Nemesis) is Toxic Deluge. It's rare that a cad comes around with the ability to completely sweep the board, skirt even protections as strong as True-Name Nemesis, kills creatures both large and small, and does so for only three mana. When investigating the most sought-after cards of the weekend, True-Name Nemesis came up quite a bit, but only half as much as the black sorcery did.

 

It's easy to see why it's powerful, but let's look at what it does in the context of Legacy. Contrary to popular opinion, Legacy isn't just teeming with gigantic, nigh-unkillable monsters. Yes, Sneak and Show and Reanimator have been both very powerful and consistent recently. But the overwhelming majority of the decks in Legacy involve beating people up with cards like Delver of Secrets, Tarmogoyf, and Arcbound Ravager. As creature decks make up the majority of the field, idealized mass removal like Toxic Deluge is very important for any decks packing the mana to cast it. In addition to killing all of the little guys, Toxic Deluge even has the ability to kill the largest of monsters. Sure, it comes at great cost, but even Emrakul falls prey to the Deluge.

It will be interesting to see whether these cards have a noticeable impact on the fabric of Legacy, although it appears early on that they will.