Those of you who have little to no exposure to Vintage may look at this deck and initially say “How does it win?” The answer is, of course, Pyrite Spellbomb!
With Auriok Salvagers on the battlefield, you can sacrifice a Lion's Eye Diamond for WWW, use WW to return it, and recast it for a net gain of W. Rinse, lather, repeat, and you have as much white mana as you want. Now you can continue the loop, making RRR each time, at which point you start recurring Pyrite Spellbomb and shocking your opponent until their neck is topped by a smoking crater where their head used to be.
It was a popular combo deck in Vintage for a while, often using Black Lotus instead of Lion's Eye Diamond but the beauty of the deck was that it was not all-in on the combo. It could function as a mediocre aggro deck or a mediocre control deck if the situation called for it, attacking with some mopey 2/2s or recurring other toolbox artifacts that you find with Trinket Mage. These elements are once again present in this Legacy update of the deck, making it more akin to the Vintage list than the obscure Gamekeeper-fueled combo-centric deck from the early days of Legacy.
The key here is Sensei's Divining Top, which acts as your primary way to dig for the combo, and which you can conveniently find with Trinket Mage. Top lets you find whatever action you need to interact early and then eventually assemble what would otherwise be too slow of a combo to race most Legacy decks. Top here is a four-of rather than a singleton because it plays into the primary aggressive gameplan of the deck, which is Monastery Mentor. Mentor in combination with Top is an incredibly fast clock, and a second Top will often end the game on the spot or, failing that, on your next turn.
Honestly, Mentor is so powerful that I do not think you need other creatures to create a robust aggro plan. However, Mother of Runes, Meddling Mage, and Ethersworn Canonist do more than beat down. They all serve to protect the combo in ways that you can proactively play so that, when you initiate the loop with Lion's Eye Diamond, your opponent isn't free to disrupt you now that your hand is empty. The latter two also afford you necessary protection against fast combo decks. You have some built-in protection against opposing counterspells with Cavern of Souls, since each of your creatures is a Human, and once your Salvagers is on the battlefield, countering the Lion's Eye Diamond doesn't solve the problem for long.
I would like to see a few copies of Counterbalance as an added angle, along with an extra land or two since your curve is a bit high for a Legacy deck, but those are minor quibbles with what is a well-conceived and well-executed list. I like how lean the toolbox for Trinket Mage is, with a few answers to key cards and not a lot of fluff.
I am surprised not to see any copies of Relic of Progenitus, even if you are presumably a graveyard combo deck. If you are worried enough about that, you could play an Underground Sea and a Nihil Spellbomb, but having access to that effect with Trinket Mage is quite valuable, and being able to loop a cantrip artifact gives you a strong engine in attrition games.
There are few things I love more than versatile combo decks and attacking for the win with mopey creatures as my opponent wonders how such a cruel fate befell them, and this deck offers both. That's a win-win in my book.
- 2 Ethersworn Canonist
- 3 Auriok Salvagers
- 2 Meddling Mage
- 2 Monastery Mentor
- 4 Mother of Runes
- 3 Trinket Mage
- 1 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy