Today, in a steep departure from my ramblings on Vintage and the fundamentals of Magic, I'll be talking about Legacy for a bit. Please fasten your seatbelt and keep the chair in an upright and locked position at all times - this could get bumpy. While I was skimming the Ravinca spoiler earlier this week, I came across this potentially busted card.
Flame Fusillade 3R
Until end of turn, permanents you control gain "T: This permanent deals 1 damage to target creature or player."
At the time I didn't think of it too highly, because all the infinite tap/untap combos that could make this card into a machine gun were overly expensive in either mana cost or cards needed. One of my friends then pointed out to me that it was a "neat" card to use in conjunction with Time Vault. Since Time Vault has had errata a number of times, I actually had to check Gatherer on what it actually said. Here's the current text for reference sake.
Time Vault 2
Time Vault comes into play tapped.
Time Vault doesn't untap during your untap step.
Skip your next turn: Untap Time Vault and put a time counter on it.
T: Remove all time counters from Time Vault: Take an extra turn after this one. Play this ability if only there's a time counter on Time Vault.
For those of you who don't see the combo between the two cards, here's how it works.
Step 1: Play Time Vault; it comes into play tapped
Step 2: Play Flame Fusillade
Step 3: Activate the skip next turn ability* of Time Vault and untap it. Add a time counter to Time Vault.
Step 4: Tap Time Vault to deal one damage to the opponent with the ability Flame Fusillade gave it
Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the opponent is dead or until your hair is clean and rinsed.
*You can skip as many future turns as you want, because the opponent will be dead before he ever gets a chance to use them.
A judge on IRC, who had come across the combo himself, confirmed that the combo worked as worded (FYI: I consider Time Vault and Flame Fusillade a general discovery and am not crediting any one person with the find). It's in the same vein as the interaction between Lodestone Myr and Time Vault if you're familiar with that Vintage combo. A lot of people misread or misremember Time Vault at first glance and so others couldn't see the interaction. Look very closely at the current wording of Time Vault and you'll see it can accumulate as many time counters as you want without interfering with the combo.
Notable stats for Illusions Donate:
- 5UU to cast, 3U for Illusions of Grandeur and 2U for Donate
- Gives you 20 extra life when played
- Can only deal 20 life loss
- Illusions of Grandeur has an cumulative upkeep you must pay the following turn if not Donated immediately
- Does not kill immediately
- Is vulnerable to enchantment removal and anti-blue cards (Red Elemental Blast being most notable)
- Illusions of Grandeur can kill you if destroyed while life gain is on the stack
Notable stats for Flame Vault:
- 5R to cast, 2 for Time Vault and 3R for Flame Fusillade
- Can deal any amount of damage needed
- Time Vault has no upkeep drawbacks
- Wins immediately
- Is vulnerable to artifact removal and cards that shut off artifact activated abilities (Pithing Needle and Null Rod as the most prominent examples)
- At no time will the destruction of Time Vault cost you the game, the only time you need to start skipping turns is after Flame Fusillade has resolved. This means that any artifact destruction spell can be responded to by winning.
Personally I see a number of advantages in Flame Vault compared to Illusions Donate combo and that, at one time, was the standard for all two-card combos. Combined with the acceleration of current Legacy, Flame Vault is very capable of pulling off turn 3 wins and it's not uncommon to win on turn 2. Now that I've sold you on the combo itself, it's time to design a deck around it.
Here are some of the current draw engines I think have the most potential with the Flame Vault combo.
Brainstorm, Accumulated Knowledge, Intuition and Deep Analysis
This draw engine is one of the most robust in the format. The downside is that it takes up the most space and is the most expensive mana wise at the end of the day. The upside is you can outdraw any deck currently played in Legacy. Brainstorm combined with Fetchlands is simply best way to improve deck consistency that we've had in years. Intuition can fill one of two main roles:
1. Fetching combo pieces
2. Fetching AK or DA in the control match. The ability to fetch 3 Deep Analysis allows you to have multiple Blue Night's Whisper in your graveyard for use and one sorcery speed Opportunity in hand. Accumulated Knowledge sucks, but it's a necessary evil with Intuition when you realize in 40% of your matches you're spending seven mana to draw seven cards.
Taking into account the speed at which Mono White Control and Landstill actually kill you, you can see it's a very anti-control setup. Against these decks it's not uncommon to have extra life and time, which allows you to fully use the setup.
Mystical Tutor, Intuition and Thirst for Knowledge
This set-up is strictly for use with Goblin Welder or Trash for Treasure. Intuition suddenly has the ability to power up Goblin Welder, which makes it even stronger than just fetching combo pieces and AK. Thirst for Knowledge is nearly as good as Brainstorm when you have a significant amount of artifacts in the maindeck. It comes at a cheap price and can create some card advantage without all the struggles of the Intuition/AK engine. Mystical Tutor on the other hand is here purely to fetch Flame Fusillade or answers to threats. For one mana it's surprisingly flexible and in combo-esque builds the card loss can be overlooked.
Burning Wish and Grim Tutor
Ah, the wonderful tutor plan. This set-up is used so you can effectively play 11 Flame Fusillade and 8 Time Vault. The obvious downside is they create no form of card advantage, so they lend themselves to a "Win ASAP" strategy. The plus-sides are how little room these cards take up in the maindeck, the cheap mana investments and the certainty of fetching what you need. So Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Seething Song and Lion's Eye Diamond are all wonderful for powering the tutors, as well as the set-up pieces.
These are the main two draw/search engines I could think of, so feel free to mix and match until you find one that's optimal for the deck.
The most notable attribute I see for this combo is the number of variations you can use when building a deck around it. The earlier comparison to Trix can easily be taken literally and you can modify a Trix deck with this new combo. Take the Trix list Stephen Menendian posted, replace the Trix combo with the Flame Vault combo and voila! The deck is pretty much superior for the reasons I listed above.
Another path is to abuse some of the mana accelerators were given access to and simply speed up the deck, while keeping a back-up plan in place. Here's a concept version I've been working on that tries to do just that.
3 Chrome Mox
4 Lotus Petal
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Great Furnace
4 Volcanic Island
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Shivan Reef
1 Echoing Truth
3 Defense Grid
3 Mystical Tutor
4 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Flame Fusillade
4 Time Vault
4 Goblin Welder
1 Razormane Masticore
1 Sundering Titan
You can see how the deck shifts away from the slower and more methodical approach and goes for a quicker kill with the change in cards. Ancient Tomb, Chrome Mox and Lotus Petal allow the deck to have a reasonable turn 3 / 4 goldfish while allowing for at least some outs in case of problem cards. Here are a few example starts:
Turn 1: Ancient Tomb, Defense Grid
Turn 2: Seat of the Synod, Time Vault
Turn 3: Volcanic Island, Flame Fusillade
Turn 1: Shivan Reef, Goblin Welder
Turn 2: Great Furnace, Lotus Petal and Intuition (2 Time Vault and an artifact guy or just all 3 artifact creatures). Activating Goblin Welder is optional at this point
Turn 3: Land, Thirst for Knowledge
Turn 4: Land , Flame Fusillade
I'm using these hands as examples of what this unrefined version can do in a normal game. As you can see, it can beat some of the expected game 1 disruption that would normally hurt the combo without crippling its kill turn. Again, these examples are to showcase would a combo deck like this could do. There are even more options that could be explored for a deck like this. Earlier in the article I mentioned that Lodestone Myr has a similar interaction with Time Vault. It wouldn't be unheard of to see a version running Flame Vault with Lodestone Myr as an alternate win condition that further abuses Intuition and Goblin Welder.
In no way do I mean to say that the Flame Vault combo is the end-all be-all of combo in Legacy. What I am saying is that it's a very potent option that people should be looking into. I hope bringing attention to it and some potential card choices for the deck will spark some innovation towards making this combo a viable choice in Legacy. Best of luck to you who try to break this!
Joshua Silvestri (Team Reflection)
Email me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom