Old School Eternal Sideboarding

Posted in GRAND PRIX PRAGUE 2016 on June 12, 2016

By Olle Rade

A big part of the Eternal formats' allure is that you get to play with all your old favorites. Force of Will, the original dual lands, and cards like Brainstorm or Dark Ritual ensure that the format evokes a distinct old school feeling. Although still a competitive format, the amount of nostalgia associated with Legacy never seizes to amaze. I browsed through some of the 1,477 decklists on a hunt for sweet sideboard cards. These are some of the gems I found hidden in the sideboards.

A player piloting Lands favored this over the funcional reprint Porphyry Nodes as an answer to cheap creatures. Drop of Honey was released in Arabian Nights all the way back in 1993 and whether it's a good sideboard card or not, the player sure scored extra points for this old-school choice.

Several Miracles players opted for Moat as a sideboard or even main deck card this weekend. The powerful enchantment was printed in Legends in 1994, and 22 years later it looks like the perfect answer against the Eldrazi deck, which has few or no ways to get rid of it. In 1994, Moat was combined with Serra Angel—the 2016 equivalent would be Entreat the Angels.

Old school players all over the world celebrated when Eternal Masters also included an errata on the card Winter Orb. The card was originally designed to work with cards like Icy Manipulator or Relic Barrier to tap it which, under the original rules of the game, disabled the effect for your own untap step, while still crippling your opponent's mana development. A combo that dates all the way back to Zak Dolan's deck that won the first World Championship in 1994.

For a long time it hasn't worked though, since tapped artifacts have their static abilities active. However, the reprint of Winter Orb in Eternal Masters came with the following new wording: "As long as Winter Orb is untapped, players can't untap more than one land during their untap steps."

Maybe not too relevant this weekend in Prague, however, as the players with Delver and Eldrazi decks have Winter Orb in their sideboards mainly as an answer to mana hungry decks like Miracles. Although we would love to see a Winter Orb tapped, maybe with the blue half of Fire // Ice?

Once again a card printed in Legends back in 1994. This card shows up in the sideboard of Jund decks in Legacy as an answer to card drawing in general and combo decks in particular. Plenty of judges rank Chains of Mephistopheles as their least favorite card due to it's somewhat complicated rules. Or as Dominick Riesland from Milwaukee, Wisconsin put it:

"Any card that requires a flow chart to understand is a nightmare."

Whether to run Blood Moon in the sideboard of Miracles or not is a hot topic among control players in Legacy. A new innovation is to abandon the enchantment anno 1994 for the slightly newer Ruination, printed in 1998. According to Italian Platinum pro Andrea Mengucci, the Stronghold sorcery was the way to go in the current state of Legacy.

"Ruination is better against Lands and Shardless Sultai. Lands has basic Forests and Mox Diamond to allow them to cast Krosan Grip under Blood Moon and Sultai players can fetch for Forest and Swamp and get rid of Blood Moon with Abrupt Decay. Ruination is a bit worse against Eldrazi, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make," he said.

Another excellent set from the mid nineties was Ice Age. Together with its more glamorous subset Alliances, famous for Force of Will, it made for one of the more memorable Block Constructed formats. Some Ice Age cards still see play in Legacy, like Glacial Chasm, Pox, Tinder Wall, and Zuran Orb. But the card to show up the most in sideboards here in Prague was Fire Covenant, as a good answer to swarm decks like Elves in black-red shells like Grixis Control or Grixis Delver.

At the end of the day, no matter how much you think you've seen it all, some cards keep popping up in Legacy that you thought would never return from the old school sets like Ice Age, Arabian Nights, or Legends.