New Expansion, New Additions, New Surprises

Posted in Event Coverage on November 26, 2016

By Chapman Sim

A lot has happened since the last pair of concurrent Legacy events, Grand Prix Columbus and Grand Prix Prague. In the last six months, we've seen the introduction of Eldritch Moon and Kaladesh which have both made splashes in Standard and Modern. As a matter of fact, some cards were even powerful enough to see play in Legacy. As always, with new expansions comes the possibility of new additions for new surprises!

For example, Thalia, Heretic Cathar has been added to Death and Taxes to doubly annoy alongside Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. It is not funny when your fetch lands and duals lands are forced to enter the battlefield tapped. Collective Brutality is seeing play in Reanimator strategies where it is not only good against players with removal and countermagic, but also an excellent discard outlet to get Griselbrand out of your hand and into the graveyard where it should rightfully be!

Bedlam Reveler is also being christened "the new Treasure Cruise" and Blue-Red Delver attempts to make a resurgence. Used wisely, the 3/4 prowess body that draws you three cards should almost always cost you two mana. Last but not least, Emrakul, the Promised End is also seeing play in some Miracles decks as a trump against slower midrange decks as well as the mirror! In a deck containing instants, sorceries, creatures, enchantments, artifacts, lands and even planeswalkers, the possibility of an affordable Emrakul is real!

However, that's not even the most exciting part about Legacy because we'd like to take a close look at two special releases that are not legal for Standard or Modern. I'm referring to Conspiracy: Take the Crown as well as Commander 2016. Both these expansions were designed for the less competitive crowd and offer great cards to enhance Commander decks, Cubes and casual decks. However, did you know that some of these cards have potential in Legacy as well?

Death and Taxes probably got the biggest luxury of choice. According to six-time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor Valentin Mackl, "Death and Taxes was always a Tier 1 deck and the addition of these cards keeps it that way. I think to accommodate all the new stuff, the deck has become more powerful but also becomes slower".

Sanctum Prelate contests Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Recruiter of the Guard and also Flickerwisp for the three-drop slots and this means that Death and Taxes players will need to make some tough choices.

In addition, there is also some talk about Palace Jailer being a possible option. In a world where nobody can ever destroy The Monarch—since it isn't a permanent—the only way to steal it is to counterattack. Well, good luck trying to get past Death and Taxes though. Hall of Famer Kenji Tsumura said that "Palace Jailer is real and I believe many people are playing with it today. You can just play one copy and search it out with Recruiter of the Guard."

If it's "real" like what Tsumura describes, then why is it that we haven't been seeing it in the virtual world? Well, that's because Palace Jailer is a Conspiracy: Take the Crown uncommon and it is not available on Magic Online. However, certain rares can be found in Treasure Chests, such as...

Yes, Leovold, Emissary of Trest is real and it is seeing play in some Aluren decks as well as Sultai decks. According to Miracles Master Joe Lossett, it is actually a pretty good card against slow decks, such as Miracles.

"It's quite annoying actually. If I don't counter it and choose to Swords to Plowshares it, my opponent draws a card and that's card advantage right there. Also, targeting my opponent with Vendilion Clique or trying to bounce Leovold with Karakas also draws him a card! Worst of all, I can't cast Brainstorm! It's very, very slow and not impactful against fast decks or combo decks, but it is a good tool for a grindy deck such as Shardless Sultai."

When asked if other Conspiracy: Take the Crown cards have potential, he singles out a certain planeswalker. Rogue tinkerers such as Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast have found ways to use him in Legacy, particularly in Grixis Tezzeret decks.

"I'm not sure if it will see play but it is very good in the decks that can support it. For example, you can just sacrifice some artifacts lying around to kill Tarmogoyf, but the most important thing is that it can also kill troublesome cards such as Pithing Needle and Null Rod. It's also a Planeswalker for three mana and that is always worth another look."

A lesser-known secret is that Legacy enthusiasts often scour Commander releases for potential playables. For example, Flusterstorm and Scavenging Ooze was first released in Commander, True-Name Nemesis, Toxic Deluge and From the Ashes were found in Commander 2013, and Containment Priest was the key staple from Commander 2014. There wasn't anything much impactful in Commander 2015 for Legacy and it looked like Commander 2016 would follow suit. While most players were happy to see a bunch of Commander staples such as Chromatic Lantern and Solemn Simulacrum being reprinted, someone else was hard at work trying to "break it" in Legacy!

The "partner" mechanic doesn't work in Legacy because we don't play with a Commander, much less two Commanders. However, Vial Smasher the Fierce is good enough to play on his own, as displayed by Yozo, who went 5-0 at a Competitive Legacy Constructed League on Magic Online just yesterday evening!

Yozo's Grixis Delver

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Since the Goblin Berserker only cares about what the card's converted mana cost is and not how much mana you actually paid for it, this actually means that you're dealing 5 damage to your opponent for casting manaless Force of Wills, 7 damage to your opponent for delving out Gurmag Anglers and doling out 10 damage with a single Fireblast!

Now, those are some truly insane interactions and the addition of Vial Smasher the Fierce has warped the traditional Grixis Delver's deck construction. It became more proactive, more aggressive and more burn-based than before. Rather than just Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning and Fireblast are also thrown in, which is fine because they're all great cards that work well with Young Pyromancer, Monastery Swiftspear and Gurmag Angler anyway!

So yea, who's ready to smash some vials?

I sure am!

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