It's been a relatively quiet week for Magic. No banning announcements baffled the community, and no one was happier that Modern Masters 2017 came out on Magic Online than my dear friend, (The) Tannon Grace. A direct quote from him the other day was this: “If I could find a way to get paid to stream Modern Masters drafts and play Overwatch, I'd be the happiest human being alive.”
He's not wrong.
Modern Masters 2017 has been one of my favorite draft formats to draft and play, yes, actually play the games! I've had an array of three- and four-color decks with some of the most nostalgic cards in Magic, for me at least.
There are many amazing things to do in this format, and while it is early in the format and costs may limit the number of drafts people get to do as a whole, I wouldn't be surprised if this was my favorite draft format of all time. The title of “All-Time Favorite” has long been held by Ravnica/Guildpact/Dissension, but who knows if it can stand its ground! Maybe I just like Signets? If you haven't played Modern Masters 2017 draft, I highly suggest getting at least one under your belt while you can!
So why all this talk about Draft? Well, in case you don't know, there's a Grand Prix coming up this weekend and I'm actually going! Despite my long history with Magic and my strong desire to play at a highly competitive level, this will only be my sixth Grand Prix I've ever been to! Florida is a difficult place to travel from and to, making it not the most ideal place to hold an SCG Tour® stop or a Grand Prix, meaning we don't get all too many of them here. Only as of late have I decided to take the leap and travel to events, choosing the SCG Tour® as my primary focus. That being said, a local Grand Prix that I don't have to attempt to break a Constructed format for, where I can effectively just sit back, have fun, and let the cards fall where they may, sounds great.
I won't pretend I'll be putting a lot of time into Aether Revolt Limited because I'm just not going to. Most of my focus has been directed to Standard Constructed in preparation for the first couple Opens as well as the Regional Pro Tour Qualifier, which, I'll say, had gone quite well for me. Sometimes it's best to just take time and enjoy playing Magic for the game that it is, no stressing about playing perfectly or putting countless hours and mental energy into preparation, and that's just what I'm going to do.
With Pro Tour Amonkhet being a new Standard format and an entirely new Draft format, I'm left looking on the horizon for the next Open I'll be participating in! What's the format for SCG Worcester?
Oh. Legacy….crap baskets.
Well, if I'm not all too well-versed in Modern, I'm even less so in Legacy. My last successful Legacy outing was with a deck that I'm not sure has legs anymore.
While ANT, or “Ad Nauseam Tendrils” for those unfamiliar with the acronym, hasn't really changed much over the years and is still very capable of winning any given tournament with the right pilot and draws, one card in particular that has seen a significant uptick in popularity has me wary.
While I greatly enjoy playing with this card in my Sidisi, Undead Vizier Commander deck, the fact that many of the best players in the world have taken a liking to Reid Duke's Sultai control deck makes me think ANT isn't a great choice. Leovold, Emissary of Trest is everything I love about Magic. It's efficiently costed, protects you and itself with its built-in card advantage, and stops the degenerate blue card draw that Legacy offers. That all being said, I don't claim to be a Legacy master and any time spent in between now and SCG Worcester would likely not be enough for me to feel comfortable betting my comeback to the top of the Season One leaderboard, overtaking Todd Stevens (who will not be in attendance, unfortunately) and putting Jim Davis even further in the back seat.
Legacy is a format defined by a few insanely powerful cards. I believe that, if you ask many seasoned veterans of the format, few cards will stand out more than Brainstorm, Force of Will, and Wasteland.
Brainstorm is arguably the most powerful card in the format that is still legal for play. It literally is the reason many people love the format so much. It reduces variance by smoothing out draws, increases the impact of sideboard cards by letting a player see more cards while not gaining inherent card advantage, and allows people to set up combos more easily, all while only costing one mana and being an instant. If an outsider were looking in at the format with no context of decks that are played, I would imagine they would have no idea why the card isn't on the ban list.
By no means am I advocating that Brainstorm be banned; I'm just stating the fact that it is far and away the best card in Legacy and people love it, so let the format be about it!
If Brainstorm is the best card in Legacy, Force of Will is the most overrated card in Legacy. Again, I don't mean that it's a bad card, just that it's not a must-have for every blue deck. While it is necessary for many decks to play, I think it's one of the worst Game 2 and 3 cards people leave in their decks.
Think about it. Countering a card at the cost of another card and a life point isn't the best rate. With that in mind, the entire format of Legacy wouldn't be remotely playable without the card. To quote countless people before me, “Force of Will is the glue that holds Legacy together." Without Force of Will, we would have cards like Goblin Charbelcher run amok. We often don't see the impact that some cards have on a format, and Force of Will is that card for Legacy; without it, we would be lost.
The final pillar of Legacy that I believe exists is Wasteland. There are few more defining characteristics of Legacy other than its mana. With the fetchland/dual land manabase that is prevalent across the board, Wasteland is the only card keeping people in check. One of the first lessons in deckbuilding for Legacy is keeping your curve very low if you're heavily reliant on numerous dual lands because of the very existence of Wasteland; otherwise, you'll easily find Insectile Aberration and friends pressuring your resources and life total in a big way.
I've had a golden rule for Legacy since I first played it back in 2008 at one of the very early StarCityGames.com® $5,000 tournaments: I refuse to play decks without basic lands in them. While that does limit my options, since some decks play entirely with nonbasic lands to optimize their color consistency, I'd rather be on the side of basic lands against Wasteland than not being able to cast my spells.
I have a lot to cover over the next couple of weeks if I want to retake the overall lead in Season One. A deck I'm strongly considering and will be looking to learn the ins and outs of is a deck I've always seen do well but have never taken the time to learn.
Who doesn't want to end the game with a giant 20/20 creature spawning from the Dark Depths of Coldsnap?! I certainly wouldn't mind attacking with this monster of a creature over and over again in Worcester.
Let's look at the big draws to the deck. Four copies of both Wasteland and Ghost Quarter, the latter functioning as additional Wastelands against many of Legacy's most commonly played decks, are highlights. Attacking people's greedy manabases in the fair decks is a primary angle of victory for this deck to take, typically locking people out of the game from casting spells early on and then quickly ending the game with the aforementioned Marit Lage in grand fashion.
Lands are great! Lands that don't tap for mana are few and far between in modern-day Magic, but some of the old ones are among the most powerful and infuriating cards in existence. Maze of Ith just a nightmare for many decks trying to end the game with creatures, forcing them to commit to the battlefield even further, which runs straight into the Hail Mary of this deck, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. A long-forgotten card that is lights-out against decks with creatures and greedy manabases, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is a card few decks can utilize but is just the entire game against a decent enough portion of the field that I've hopped on the Lands train and can't wait to give it a try.
The major banes of this deck are the unfair decks of the format.
With no way to interact with an oppressive number of spell-based combos, this deck is all but naked in those matchups. The sideboard can bring some aid, but with a format as wide and diverse as Legacy, sometimes it better to abandon all hope in some matchups, just make sure you can beat a specific subset of decks, and roll the dice and hope for good pairings. I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty and bringing you all more of an analysis on Lands next week in preparation for SCG Worcester next week!
Overall I'm thrilled for this weekend and what I know will be an amazingly run Grand Prix brought to us by none other than StarCityGames.com®. Limited might not be my game, but the experience is really why I love Magic so much, and I'm looking to get plenty more with the best of the best! I hope to see you all there, so be sure and say hi. Good luck!