I don't know about you guys, but I enjoyed my time casting Treasure Cruise in Legacy. That era is now behind us, so it's time to look toward the future. I'm definitely a little sad, since I think I finally figured out how to break the Treasure Cruise mirrors, but it's for the best.
While Wizards of the Coast gave Treasure Cruise the axe, they were kind enough to leave us with Dig Through Time. In Modern, Dig Though Time probably had to go because it could slot right in where Treasure Cruise used to be, but that isn't so simple in Legacy. Things are going to change radically.
How To Beat Blue Mirrors
This was Step 1:
I used this to finish in the Top 8 of a local tournament in Seattle. It was the culmination of stealing various ideas -- Brad Nelson's Mental Note engine from his Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck and Patrick Chapin's insistence that Modern U/R Delver could go harder on Thought Scours and Snapcaster Mages.
The engine is:
You mill yourself harder and faster than any other blue deck in the format. In doing so, you're more likely to find copies of Treasure Cruise to play with thanks to Snapcaster Mage. While U/R Delver often struggled in certain matchups if it couldn't find Treasure Cruise, it's very unlikely that this deck suffers from the same issues.
Your opponents will be trying desperately to stop you from resolving a Treasure Cruise, but that's incredibly difficult when you're casting three or four per game. Once the first one resolves, it often creates a snowball effect. You'll draw more spells, which will draw more cards, which will find you additional Treasure Cruises. The engine is very similar to casting Accumulated Knowledge for three and then four -- your opponents just can't keep up.
Ponder is noticeably absent. It just didn't do enough for one mana, at least compared to everything else that was going on in the deck. You'd rather have a Mental Note to put you one step closer to resolving Treasure Cruise, and Ponder was just tying up my mana in the meantime. When you're digging for something specific, like a Treasure Cruise in your U/R Delver deck, then Ponder is great. In this deck, we effectively have seven Treasure Cruises, so it's not that difficult to just end up with one in your hand. Because of that, the card selection from Ponder wasn't necessary.
Gitaxian Probe isn't a necessary part of the engine, but it's good with Young Pyromancer and aggressive Snapcaster Mages. If you don't play Young Pyromancer or Cabal Therapy, you don't need Gitaxian Probe. I would consider a third Mental Note in its place.
This engine makes your blue deck more consistent than everyone else's. Since you're more consistent and you're firing off more Treasure Cruises, you're more powerful. If you're looking for a way to beat blue mirrors, using this engine certainly helps.
Honestly, the rest of the deck is incidental. You can basically play whatever win condition you want, including something like Thopter Foundry! I thought this was Step 2:
Drew Levin did a few videos of this deck a couple weeks ago. During the tournament with the Jeskai Control deck, I brewed up that deck because I was a little unhappy with how flimsy my win condition was. It didn't provide inevitability, and there were times where I was scared that I'd mill over the threats I had left.
Honestly, it wasn't that bad. When I had twenty-ish cards left in my deck and a full graveyard, it meant I should probably start Thought Scouring my opponents. I won those games easily, but I still wanted to find a win condition that was a little more solid, one that truly locked up the game.
So I went back to my old friend Thopter Foundry.
The single thing I dislike about Thopter Foundry is that it doesn't play offense or defense until you're all set up. Something like Young Pyromancer can hold off a Tarmogoyf for a while, but Thopter Foundry generally can't do that. There are also the games where you can slip in a Young Pyromancer before any fireworks happen and run away with the game while also stopping what your opponent is doing. With Thopter Foundry, it just sits there. Overall, those things aren't a huge deal, but it certainly takes some percentage points away. So I'm probably going to go back to the Young Pyromancer version.
I think the above deck, regardless of your win condition, is still going to be potent because Dig Through Time isn't much worse than Treasure Cruise in that sort of deck. You're mostly playing the control role, so while you'd rather have Treasure Cruise just giving you raw resources, you don't mind paying a little more upfront for only two new resources. Even if Dig is "just" a cheap Divination, it's what the deck wants. Ancestral Recall was what we had, but it was mostly overkill.
Dig Through Time won't slot in for Treasure Cruise in decks like U/R Delver, but there will be decks that want to use Dig Through Time. However, I think we are likely going to see more diversity in the format as opposed to Blue Treasure Cruise Deck A versus Blue Treasure Cruise Deck B every round. Because of that, I'm glad that Treasure Cruise is gone, and I'm glad we still have Dig Through Time to experiment with.
Black Is Back!
Thoughtseize, Hymn to Tourach, and Liliana of the Veil were quite bad against Treasure Cruise, but those cards are just fine against Dig Through Time. On top of that, the proliferation of decks that have delve card drawers is going to drop significantly, which should allow black to make a comeback.
Personally, I'm fine if I get to pick this one back up again:
I've said plenty about this deck in the past and not much has changed. I like a lot of the stuff that James is doing with the deck, but then again, we talk about the deck a reasonable amount, so it's no surprise we're basically on the same page. If I return to Shardless Sultai anytime soon, I'll be starting with the template James has so graciously laid out for us.
Shardless has a little difficultly fighting through Treasure Cruises, but Dig Through Time is a little easier. It certainly helps that the decks that will likely play Dig Through Time are weak to Shardless' superior endgame. Even with Dig Through Time, decks like Miracles and Stoneblade can't exactly keep pace.
Of course, there are decks where Dig Through Time is actually scary, but we'll get to those later.
I featured this deck in the Daily Digest, and I actually think it has legs in the format. Jund is certainly playable again, but this deck has a few advantages over it. Stoneforge Mystic and Lingering Souls give this Jund-style deck a lot of lategame power. While I would personally be more willing to play something with Brainstorm, I wouldn't fault anyone for picking up a deck like this.
This deck has been skirting the line of Tier 1 for a while now. With Treasure Cruise out of the picture, I imagine that a lot of the tough matchups are going to disappear. Decks like U/R Delver cut a lot of disruptive elements from their decks in order to fit in Treasure Cruise, so they aren't the worst matchups, but they are fast. If U/R Delver ends up being replaced by Stoneblade, Deathblade, and Shardless Sultai, then Omni-Tell might have a field day.
The first list put three copies into the Top 64 and is the closest thing to a proven version of the archetype. The second has been doing consistently well in Magic Online Daily Events. Both decklists have a lot in common and are likely the correct direction to go if you're looking into the archetype.
However, the reduction of Lotus Petals and Ancient Tombs might prove fatal if Temur Delver returns. Cards like Daze and Spell Pierce are difficult to play around, and shaving on mana acceleration is probably not going to end well. I do appreciate the rationale for it, as hands without a blue mana source are often unkeepable, so going up to sixteen Turn 1 blue sources makes sense. I'm just not sure it's something you can reliably do anymore.
The biggest breakthrough is that the deck is no longer a three-card combo. Instead of needing Show and Tell plus Omniscience plus Enter the Infinite, now you only need Show and Tell plus Omniscience plus any random card drawer. Dig Through Time is perfect here because it allows you to cut Enter the Infinite, which is strictly a combo piece, for a card that's actually useful. With enough cantrips and Dig Through Times, you should be able to find an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Burning Wish / Cunning Wish to win the game.
One of the downsides is that you can't utilize Pact of Negation because all of the kills require you to untap, which means you'd have to actually pay for the Pact trigger. That could potentially be avoided by adding a win condition to the sideboard, like Spiraling Embers in the Burning Wish version, but sometimes you have to put Omniscience into play and pass the turn. Sometimes you can "only" find an Emrakul and not the Wish. Overall, Pact of Negation will probably lose you more games than it would win for you.
That's not a deal breaker, but Pact of Negation was definitely one of the reasons why I was interested in the archetype in the first place. Not having access to it stinks, but in exchange, you get to play a deck with less dead cards. Overall, I think it's a win.
Without Treasure Cruise, there's no reason for Temur Delver to play without Nimble Mongoose, so Kird Ape can likely return to your "unplayables" box. Kird Ape is so inelegant, so I'm glad to see it go. If I were in their shoes, I think I would have been happier trying to splash Wild Nacatl.
I'm not exactly upset about this. Storm has been kicking my ass lately, mostly in the hands of Greg Mitchell. My lifetime record against Storm is quite good, but lately I'm something like 1-6. Obviously that has a lot to do with my deck selection, but I've always tried to prepare for this matchup more than most.
If the format mostly returns to how it was pre-Cruise, things don't look great for Storm. Sultai is a difficult matchup, and these Omni-Tell decks with Flusterstorm don't appear to be byes either. Classic Temur Delver is no walk in the park either. This is still a deck you should prepare for. If people are going to start doing the work for me and I never get paired against it, even better.
I really hope people start playing those decks. Oh, and I hope Ross goes back to playing Elves.
The Health Of Legacy
Overall, I think we're doing just fine. We have Dig Through Time to brew with, which is nice considering there's no longer Treasure Cruise to overshadow it. We have things like Worldgorger Dragon coming off the banlist, and slowly but surely the ban list will be exactly where it should be.