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Last week I wrote about how the double-faced cards in Ixalan excited me by doing a great job of capturing the flavor of exploring the new world, and as the previews continue to roll in, I'm only more excited about them. On Twitter last week, Sam Stoddard asked players what their favorite part of Ixalan was so far:
I think they got it wrong. Dinosaurs? I mean, sure those are cool. Everyone loves Dinosaurs, and I think the colorful art on them makes the set look great, but at the end of the day are they really any different from "Beasts" in other sets?
It feels strange to me to think the answer is clearly "DFCs," since they still feel so gimmicky, but these are just so well done. This is such a good implementation of the quest storyline told on a card, and the idea that a bunch of spells are going to be becoming extra lands in the mid-game just gives you a completely different idea about what an end-game of Magic might look like.
Okay, maybe I'm getting carried away--people probably aren't going to flip two of these per game or anything, but I love the intersection of flavor and mechanics on these, and more recently, they've come all the way to the complete package by really pushing the power level.
Legion's Landing may be among the best cards in the set. Its legendary status is a real drawback, but that's a trivial issue with a card this powerful. I can imagine someone convincing themselves that attacking with three creatures is some kind of Magical Christmas Land scenario, but it's really not. Windbrisk Heights is a fantastic card that people regularly trigger, and that's a land that sets back your development of creatures rather than a one-mana 1/1 that makes it easier to get three creatures onto the battlefield.
Perhaps more importantly, you can cast this immediately before attacking with three creatures and flip it right away, while in order to activate Windbrisk Heights, you always had to let your opponent know that was your plan at least a turn in advance.
As someone who loves Doomed Travelers of all shapes and sizes, this may be the best ever: a 1/1 lifelinking creature that leaves behind an enchantment that threatens to become an extremely powerful land. If you cast this on turn 1 and Servo Exhibition on turn 2, your opponent is in a spot where they have to consider using removal on a 1/1 token that cost you at most half a card or let you have four mana on turn 3 and possibly the best token-making land ever for the long game. Even if they do use removal, you'll probably just threaten to flip it again on the next turn.
And that's only if they're lucky enough that you had to cast this on turn 1 instead of Toolcraft Exemplar. If you cast Toolcraft Exemplar on turn 1 and Servo Exhibition on turn 2, you attack for three, and now you're threatening to attack for five, but not only that, if you have Legion's Landing in your hand, you get to cast it, attack, flip it immediately, and still have three more mana to use on your third turn. If they have the removal spell for your Toolcraft Exemplar, you might still flip Legion's Landing if you have it and something like a Bomat Courier.
Beyond its power itself, this functions like an even more consistent Knight of the White Orchid in that it lets you build your deck differently. You can play fewer lands than you normally would, or a higher curve than you normally would, counting on this to function as extra lands in a reasonable timeframe.
The implications for super-low-curve decks are obvious: you can get away with playing eighteen to twenty lands in a deck that would usually play twenty or 22, but where this is even better is in midrange white aggressive decks like the deck I played at Worlds 2015:
- 3 Hangarback Walker
- 4 Archangel of Tithes
- 4 Knight of the White Orchid
- 4 Soldier of the Pantheon
- 4 Wingmate Roc
- 1 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
- 3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
- 2 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
The largest benefactor of this card? Crested Sunmare. I think it's very reasonable to expect to flip Legion's Landing by your second main phase of turn 4, and it even gives you a lifelink creature to make sure you get to gain your one life for the turn when you cast Crested Sunmare.
If you don't have faith in the Horse, you could always stick with Angel of Sanctions or Angel of Invention. Really, it's going to be hard to build a Legion's Landing deck where any of the three aren't fantastic.
So what does a Legion's Landing deck look like?
For now, I think opting for a super-low-curve approach is a mistake. This style of deck is generally looking to play a large number of cheap creatures and then something to make all of them bigger, but Standard is sorely lacking in reasonable ways to make them all bigger without Gideon, Ally of Zendikar; Reckless Bushwhacker; or Always Watching (which obviously wouldn't work well with a lot of tokens anyway). There's Trial of Solidarity, which is great, but I'd want something else and I'm not seeing it.
So where does this leave us?