One of the most fulfilling parts of writing for StarCityGames.com is getting messages from people around the world who want to learn more about Legacy. This isn't to say that I'm necessarily the best person to ask about Legacy but being a high-profile ambassador for such an excellent format has put me in touch with tons of great people.
It dawned on me recently that I haven't gotten the chance to offer those people a forum for their questions. I put out a few calls on Twitter for questions and the Legacy community responded with their typical depth and breadth of interest.
To the Twitter mailbag!
@drewlevin implications of verdict and decay?— Jon Johnson (@jjflipped) October 8 2012
If we assume that Abrupt Decay and Supreme Verdict see play in Legacy it will be in decks that want to slow the game down. Tempo-driven decks don't want a two-color removal spell or a four-mana uncounterable Day of Judgment. Combo decks might but it's unlikely.
That means that if these cards are good it means that grindy attrition-driven control decks want them. That means games are slowing down. You could play a control deck that plays Decay or Verdict assuming they're good. But there's another option – I mean come on there's always another option in Legacy.
Historically slow formats provide a good spot for Goblins to thrive as Goblin Ringleader has always been one of the best draw engines in the format. Control decks have rarely been able to keep up with Goblin Matron and Goblin Ringleader and the recent addition of Cavern of Souls (supplementing Aether Vial at the counter hater's ball) isn't going to make it easier for them.
If you're not really into attacking you could play a slow combo deck. Whereas fast combo decks – Goblin Charbelcher various forms of Tendrils of Agony combo – are playable in fast formats slow combo decks packing a ton of resistance are better in slow formats. If you have time to assemble a perfect hand playing lots of countermagic is a viable way to defend your combo. You'll have time to piece your kill together while still protecting it from a strong hand from your opponent. You also have a viable defensive game against other combo decks – you're playing counterspells and they're not. High Tide is the best example of this deck but Show and Tell is likely just a better version of the slow-combo archetype nowadays.
TL;DR: Show and Tell's stock rises. As an aside I think that Show and Tell strategies are still very strong. They will probably continue to be strong until the card hits $100 at which point there will be multiple compelling arguments for a ban. Seriously though the card is bananas. If people are playing Abrupt Decay and Supreme Verdict – they will – then the number of Dazes and Spell Pierces in the metagame will go down. If and when that happens Show and Tell will only get better.
@drewlevin what mechanics / part of the color pie can WOTC expand upon to make Black a stronger color?— Jason Barnett (@juzamjedi) October 8 2012
This is an awesome question. Black has always been one of the two worst colors in Legacy tied with red. In the last few years red's stock has risen dramatically and black's has gotten even worse. Why is black so bad? Because its color identity incredibly narrow.
The reason why blue is great is that it does everything. It has multiple zero-mana cards that are Top 25 cards in the format it has multiple one-mana filtering cards that are Top 25 cards in the format it has the best one-drop in the format it has the best planeswalker in the history of the game it has one of the best three-drop creatures in the format and it has several tutors and combo pieces. No matter what kind of deck you want to play chances are good that you will find something you want in the color blue.
Green is the color of Green Sun's Zenith. That card singlehandedly gave the color a new lease on the format. Zenith's power level is through the roof precisely because the format is huge: there have been a lot of corner-case green creatures printed over the years. Don't believe me? Just the other day someone Green Sun's Zenithed for a Granger Guildmage against me on Magic Online. I was playing Mother of Runes. I lost that one handily.
Green Sun's Zenith is incredible because it amplifies the upside of what green is good at (creatures) while minimizing the downside of playing a lot of creatures (they aren't very interactive). Zenith pays you off for playing a number of situationally high-impact creatures – you're unlikely to draw too many of the wrong one in a given situation. Once you find your matchup-desirable creature with Green Sun's Zenith you can actually play Magic against the plethora of degenerate decks that litter the format's landscape.
Playing against a graveyard deck? Get Scavenging Ooze. Playing against a bunch of fragile creatures? Get Granger Guildmage. Playing against a monoblue deck? Get Scryb Ranger. Playing against a monored deck? Get Spike Feeder or Kitchen Finks or Obstinate Baloth.
You get where this is going though – green has experienced a renaissance in Legacy because it can interact and do more things. Knight of the Reliquary lets green be the color of land-tutoring as well since Zenith gets Knight which gets any land you can name. More interaction. Interaction is good.
Now let's talk about black. Black does two things well: Dark Ritual and Hymn to Tourach. Broadly speaking if you're playing A Black Deck you're casting a lot of discard spells or you're playing something degenerate (or both). Let's name black's five best cards:
There's a pretty obvious pattern showing up here. Infernal Tutor and a bunch of one-mana discard spells could round out the bottom half of a top ten list but you all get the idea.
On another note Black can shred an opponent's hand nicely but it doesn't even have a good turn-one removal spell! Red has Lightning Bolt White has Swords to Plowshares and Blue has Daze and Force of Will. Black stumbles over itself trying to answer all of its opponent's threats while never actually locking the game up.
Where other colors have Stoneforge Mystic into Batterskull Tarmogoyf Delver of Secrets and Goblin Guide Black has Dark Confidant. This is not to knock The Great One but to point out that black has never gotten particularly good rates on its creatures. If you can't close a game out quickly after emptying their hand you'll keep drawing discard spells and they'll just keep casting theirs. Eventually you fall behind and lose because they're still playing Magic and your cards have incredibly diminished returns. Gerry tried to remedy this by playing Death's Shadow but that card is not quite good enough.
That leaves combo decks. Black is the color of Entomb and Dark Ritual both incredibly powerful cards. They leave something to be desired however as far as color identity goes. If you want to play black-the-color you're going to end up playing a combo deck a high percentage of the time. If you want to play green by contrast you have plenty of options. You could play a combo-beatdown deck with Glistener Elf Berserk Invigorate and pump spells. You could play a situational creature-based midrange deck tied together by Green Sun's Zenith (modeled more or less toward GW Maverick). You could play a rampier top-heavy midrange deck with Veteran Explorer and your favorite six-drop. You could even play a full combo deck with Glimpse of Nature and Heritage Druid. There are lots of different roles for a green mage. A black mage still lacks a wide spread of options.
This is not to say that things will always be this way – Sam Black has done a lot of good work putting his Zombies on the map for instance. Still so long as the best (and most popular) color in Legacy is the one that rearranges the top of your deck the power of discard spells will naturally be diminished relative to other strategies.
TL;DR: Black needs a better one-mana removal spell a more aggressive creature and a way to punish Brainstorm without hurting itself. I wouldn't mind a Chains of Mephistopheles reprint if only the card weren't the exact opposite of elegant.
What will it take for Merfolk to regain tier 1 status in legacy and can we hope for any of that in Simic in Gatecrash? @drewlevin— Corbin Hosler (@Chosler88) October 8 2012
Merfolk was good because people played do-nothing blue decks that could never ever beat an Aether Vial. Without Aether Vial the deck is horrendous. I mean it. It's truly an abomination. How proud can you possibly be to cast a Grey Ogre Lord in Legacy? Are you smiling when you tap an Island and put Cursecatcher on the table? Really?
Merfolk is the sort of deck that exists as a natural balancing mechanism against zillion-color do-nothing control decks that want to Intuition for Gigapede Life from the Loam and Cephalid Coliseum. If people ever stop caring about the board Merfolk will be there to remind them to check their life total from time to time. It doesn't actually play any good creatures besides Silvergill Adept and its one-color manabase somehow manages to have issues casting its two-drops on time.
The truth is that Legacy doesn't need Merfolk anymore. We will always have to care about Delver of Secrets and Nimble Mongoose and Mother of Runes. We will always have to put more than just four one-mana removal spells in our decks if we want to play a control deck. Our combo decks are more streamlined nowadays. Our control decks have better sweepers nowadays.
Merfolk won a lot of its games by not playing real Magic – it would play an Aether Vial Wasteland your dual-heavy deck twice and that would be that. If you could actually trade all of your cards for theirs and you had a way to beat Silvergill Adept and Mutavault's innate capacity to increase Merfolk's threat density you were fine.
TL;DR: It needs to stop playing embarrassing cards like Mon's Merfolk Hatchling and Grey Ogre Lord realize that Wizards is printing real creatures and play some of those instead.
@drewlevin Have you written about the "Modern threat?" If so where? If not that would be a great analysis. Is there an inflection point?— Justin D-Z (@justin_dz) October 12 2012
This deserves its own article at some point. To summarize Justin's concerns:
@drewlevin your thoughts on how Wizards' strong support of Modern will impact the popularity of Legacy— Dan O'Dea (@dan_odea) October 12 2012
@drewlevin how about your ideas to make legacy more accessible.— Jordan Kopf(@JordanKopf) October 12 2012
and to put it in starker terms:
Legacy has a natural upper bound. It will never be as popular as Standard because it can never be as popular as Standard on a logistical level. The reserve list will not stop existing Wizards of the Coast has reiterated that many times and that's something we all have to live with.
Magic is a social game though. People want to play the same format as their friends. When people who left in Tempest come back to the game they don't insist on playing Tempest Block. No one is playing Tempest Block. They play Standard and Sealed and draft the new set because that's what people do. How do we as a community create the norm of this is how it is done? It's pretty simple: we vote with our feet.
That's why bans have to happen sometimes – people stop playing because they aren't having fun. If they don't have fun they stop showing up. Right now Legacy is fun. For the foreseeable future Legacy will be fun. Here's why: it has the best PR team in the business.
I'm not talking about Caleb and me. I'm talking about Brainstorm and “black-bordered dual lands” and Force of Will and all the other things that make peoples' eyes light up when they talk about the format. It's a trove of emotion – the rare look of joy in Ari Lax's black beady little eyes when he talks about Lion's Eye Diamond and Tendrils of Agony is unmistakeable. The discussions among trade grinders and with older players about Beta English dual lands – and the status that they confer – don't exist in Modern. Deceiver Exarch doesn't really get people going. It's hard to get excited about Blood Crypt.
But people will find ways to fall in love. It will take a while to build mystique in Modern but it will happen. If I were Wizards I might have considered reprinting the Shocklands with white borders. I mean sure I get that everything gets a black border nowadays but how are you going to sell people on your format if there isn't a VIP section with bottle service? You have to sell people status somehow. They need to give people something to feel proud of to hold onto. That will happen over time. The ban list is still very much in flux. The format's identity is constantly shifting. No one can fall in love with such a shapeshifter.
But when people do fall in love with Modern – when not if – Legacy will be in mortal peril. Fortunately for everyone who loves Brainstorm that won't happen for some time.
TL;DR: Modern will overtake Legacy someday but that won't happen in the next few years.
@drewlevin how to figure out if you are over preparing for a specific matchup when only using theory to prepare.— Brad Nelson (@fffreakmtg) October 12 2012
This is a complicated question. Brad's asking two things at once. First “how do you use theory to prepare for a matchup?” and second “Within that how do you know when you're unacceptably changing your deck to beat a specific matchup?
The first question is easier to answer than the second. In general it is an awful idea to only use theory to prepare for a matchup. Some people can theorycraft a deck and have it turn out decently but unless you've played a lot of games or understand Magic very very well you're probably missing something. The best way to see if a deck succeeds in games is to just play some games.
If you don't have the resources to play games – whether you lack time friends or cards – then theorycrafting becomes a lot more appealing. When you start talking through the specifics of a matchup make sure you're having a conversation with someone. If you already know which side of the matchup you'll be on it's very easy to persuade yourself that it's a favorable pairing for you. You're already biased by a desire to win. Having a friend reality-check you is important.
You'll need a basic understanding of how each deck plays out in typical games. What are some common sequences what can a hand with an average power level do that sort of thing. If you think that your UW Miracles opponent isn't able to cast Terminus by turn four off four basic lands for instance you'll probably convince yourself that you don't need Envelops in your RUG Delver deck. This leads directly into the next important discussion…
You need to identify what are the most important cards in the matchup. These are almost always the cards with which your opponent is least able to interact. In the RUG Delver vs. UWx Miracles matchup for instance the most important cards for Miracles are Sensei's Divining Top Terminus Entreat the Angels and Counterbalance in that order. The most important cards for RUG are Nimble Mongoose Stifle and Spell Pierce. Here's why:
If you look at RUG Delver you see a game plan that aims to get an opponent dead while countering important spells. It has three different creatures – Nimble Mongoose Delver of Secrets and Tarmogoyf. These creatures' power levels vary across matchups. Which one is the best? We can find that out by looking at UW Miracles.
The UW Miracles deck has a set of Swords to Plowshares a few Snapcaster Mages some Jace the Mind Sculptors and some counters. It has a weaker early game but should have enough removal to stabilize in the midgame and close out with a Miracle or two in the late game. So how do RUG's creatures stack up?
Delver of Secrets is going to be good for seven to nine points but our entomologist-turned-aberration will inevitably learn to love the pastoral life. Same with Tarmogoyf with the added caveat that sometimes it will get Spell Snared. In addition Jace can bounce either one to great effect.
Nimble Mongoose can't get Plowed can't get Jaced and (if you play correctly) won't trade with a Snapcaster Mage. This makes it our best threat. Our game plan then is to protect Nimble Mongoose from their other cards. Back to Miracles for a second.
Miracles can play anything from Engineered Explosives to Relic of Progenitus in order to weaken the power of the Goose. It will also always play Terminus and Entreat the Angels both of which effectively answer our 3/3 shroud. All of these cards however require an activated or triggered ability which is why Stifle is RUG's second-best card in the matchup.
RUG is clearly the aggressor and UW is clearly the control so it makes sense that the best cards for the control deck are the ones that line up against the aggressive deck's best threat. Sensei's Divining Top feels like a bogus answer (after all Brainstorm is arguably the best card for both decks) but it really is the best card for UW Miracles because it can find miracles and float them on top of the deck until the time is right. After that the two miracles – both of which defeat Nimble Mongoose – are the most important cards. Counterbalance is excellent because it locks out all of RUG's interaction almost all of which costs one mana. Spell Pierce then is good from RUG because it can defend against the aforementioned spells if the Miracles player gets too hasty. It's easy to play around Daze but playing around Spell Pierce is often too arduous and RUG Delver can often cast the card to actually counter a key spell.
For the record I've played this matchup three times in my life. These are all just things that you can figure out by reading decklists.
Once you've identified key cards you want to figure out sideboarding. What can RUG Delver do to beat UW Miracles' key cards? Since the two cards that beat RUG are both Sorceries Envelop comes to mind immediately. Since the other two cards are an artifact and an enchantment it's possible that Annul is a reasonable choice as well especially since strong sideboard choices from UW Miracles include Moat Humility Rest in Peace Engineered Explosives and Relic of Progenitus. Remember you have to sideboard against their sideboarded deck not their maindeck. This is part of why Red Elemental Blast is fine but not great against UW Miracles – Jace is a mediocre card against RUG and many people cut the card from their deck after game one relying on the combination of Entreat the Angels and Moat (or Rest in Peace) to beat RUG in games two and three.
To answer Brad's question though – you can tell you're overpreparing when you show up to the tournament play the matchup get to sideboarding and realize that you have twelve cards to bring in and six cards to cut. It's a basic tenet of sideboard planning – don't put more cards in your sideboard for a given matchup than you have to take out of your maindeck. You don't need 4 Envelop 3 Annul 2 Red Elemental Blast and a Sylvan Library if you're just cutting your five or six burn spells.
TL;DR: You don't have an actual sideboard plan with numbers that line up. Hopefully your sideboard cards still line up well against the matchup's relevant cards and you win anyway but make sure that you still have a sideboard for the rest of the tournament.
Life from the Loam is truly majestic. I'm not one to advocate for decks with four Life from the Loam but I think I've registered exactly one Life from the Loam in more than half a dozen tournaments at this point. Having a way to “outdraw” people in a format with Brainstorm and fetchlands is great Dredge as a way to clear the top of your deck is great Brainstorm as a way to protect Life from the Loam from graveyard hate is great and recurring Wastelands is great.
TL;DR: Life from the Loam is excellent and you should feel excellent for playing it. Just don't make your deck about casting it over and over because people got enough of that back when Seismic Assault was playable in Extended. Have some class.
@drewlevin Your views on how new cards effect legacy good or bad.— Adapt (@acadapt) October 12 2012
I like looking at sets for Legacy far more than Standard. A typical set doesn't change Legacy by more than one or two cards but finding those cards is always exciting. Finding ways that new cards synergize with older cards in unexpected ways is one of the best parts of playing this format – who expected Progenitus to spike the price of a 2GG Sorcery that finds the best green creature in your deck? Or that Emrakul the Aeons Torn would make a Legendary Plains not only playable but an eighty-dollar card? This format may be old but as the game changes new sets give us things to discover both in the booster box and the long box.
TL;DR: When you have 19 years of Magic history new cards let you discover more connections that span more time and evoke more nostalgia. They may not always shake up the format but old dogs can definitely learn new tricks in Legacy.
@drewlevin playing around hate (so probably also combo generally and the nature of cards targeted at linear strategies)— CJ (@hephaestus5) October 12 2012
This is also worth an article but I'll give you the gist of it here. There are two types of hate – hate that matters and hate that doesn't. If you're playing Dredge and their hate is Surgical Extraction and Tormod's Crypt for instance you shouldn't be sideboarding in Memory's Journey and Nature's Claim. Those cards don't advance your game plan of “get them dead.” You should be sideboarding in more Ichorids and Bloodghasts and grinding them out through their pieces of interaction. Put another way you can build your deck differently to make sure that those cards don't matter. You don't need to change your strategy in any meaningful way.
If they're playing something that does actually matter – Leyline of the Void or Rest in Peace against your Dredge deck for instance – then you will have to adjust your strategy. Some people – Jason Bulkowski mostly – adopted a Painter's Servant/Grindstone/Enlightened Tutor transitional sideboard to sidestep graveyard hate. Others – Gerry Thompson among them – have decided to put Nature's Claim and Chain of Vapor in their sideboard not bring them in game two and bring them in game three if their opponent Leylines them in game two. Both are acceptable.
A lot of your options for strategic maneuvering depend on how your deck is built. You need to make sure that your method of beating hate cards still works with your deck. While Dredge would love to have a transitional sideboard plan most people have rejected the notion because there are more than fifteen cards that do nothing in a non-graveyard deck. By contrast Reanimator is a very viable Show and Tell transition deck because the cantrips land count and big creatures all cross over well to a Show and Tell strategy. Show and Tell has the added benefit of blanking every type of graveyard hate making it very effective as a sideboard card.
TL;DR: It mostly depends but you should build your deck to plow through annoying hate and have a way to sidestep more devastating hate.
When I first got into Legacy I was infatuated with Ancient Tomb/City of Traitors decks. Several of my mentors would joke about them to me. The two-line joke went something like this:
@drewlevin How are the ramp decks in Legacy?MUD/Nic Fit/12post.Is it a difficulty thing? Some people win w/them a lot but they get no attn.— Kevin A. McKee (@ArianrhodDragon) October 12 2012
“I dunno what?”
“Their other fifty-two cards lolololololololol.”
Over time I came to realize that they were basically right – ramp decks in Legacy are capable of producing incredibly powerful opening sequences but absent their key turn one cards they're quite underpowered. Sure Ancient Tomb into Mox Diamond into Trinisphere on turn one is great but you can imagine how McKayla Maroney would look at you when you cast your first Trinisphere on turn three.
Think about it this way: you're playing a format where a deck that has 4 Empty the Warrens and 4 Goblin Charbelcher is 80%+ to win a game if it draws an opening seven with one of those eight cards. How likely are you to win a game when you draw one of your best eight cards (which by the way are Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors not close)? If it's less than 80% why not just play Belcher?
The same basic tenet goes for Nic Fit – if you don't draw Veteran Explorer early you're still playing a deck with a bunch of four five and six-drops. I was watching a GBW Academy Rector deck play against a Delver deck on SCGLive this past weekend and it was painful to watch the Delver player tap out for something and then alt-cast a Daze to counter a Thragtusk. That in a nutshell is another part of what's wrong with ramp decks – you're building your deck to give up early tempo. If you don't have a very consistent way to get it back you'll probably lose to more consistent decks.
On top of all of that Wasteland is a card that is very powerful against several of the aforementioned decks. Since they generally don't play Brainstorm they will have the classic ramp issue of “all action too little mana” and “all ramp no action” but now the blue decks have ways to exacerbate both of those situations by digging to more counters or more mana denial.
TL;DR: If you're going to build a deck as inconsistent as a ramp deck why not ramp into something that wins the game more and gives them less time? I'm talking about Empty the Warrens and Goblin Charbelcher in case you couldn't tell.
There are three basic paradigms in which you can view Deathrite Shaman:
1. A black Birds of Paradise. Sam Black talked about this a few weeks ago when he was writing about Zombies. I'm not the expert on that deck so I'll refrain from comment and instead just direct you to read his article as he's going to have better insight on that angle than I do.
2. A Birds of Paradise that retains value in a late game. This kind of deck is probably more controlling as Noble Hierarch is a Birds of Paradise that retains value in a late game in a more aggressive shell. As a result this type of deck is going to be more controlling and probably wants to cast an early Jace the Mind Sculptor and use Deathrite Shaman's other two abilities to stave off death and defend against Life from the Loam Snapcaster Mage Dredge Reanimator and others.
3. A Zenithable utility creature. It's a weird Birds/Ooze/Lavamancer hybrid that's worse than each version but it could be useful enough as a combination of the three that it sees play. Alternatively it could be a fifth or sixth Birds of Paradise in a deck that doesn't want Noble Hierarch – that is doesn't care about damage.
TL;DR: A control deck or an aggressive black deck.
@drewlevin Given the recent hybrids where on the Sneak <-> Omni spectrum should that deck fall?— Ari Lax (@armlx) October 12 2012
There are a lot of enchantments that you can put into play with Show and Tell. Sneak Attack Hive Mind and Omniscience are the three major contenders although Hive Mind has really fallen off the map as of late. There's also the Saito Hypergenesis deck that showed up for a bit:
…but mostly it's between the following two decks:
TL;DR: Did you even READ that last sentence?
@drewlevin With a threat scale ranging from "Cavern Lackey" to "Gemstone LED Breakthrough" to "Tomb Petal Show/Tell" is control dead?— Ben Feingersh (@feingersh) October 12 2012
Absolutely not. Legacy does have a stunning range of powerful turn one plays but Force of Will and one-mana removal is a great equalizer. I think it's hard to envision a deck that can win a tournament plans on playing Magic past turn five and doesn't have Force of Will and a one-mana removal spell though. Whether that removal spell is Innocent Blood or Lightning Bolt or Swords to Plowshares it's important to be able to kill a wide range of Legacy's creatures early and without losing a ton of tempo. Taking your second turn to answer their first-turn play is clumsy and you'll keep playing Magic after that you'll find yourself on the back foot for quite a while as a result.
Force of Will is necessary because there are cards – Dark Ritual Breakthrough Rite of Flame Glimpse of Nature and so on – that can just kill you on the first or second turn of the game. Mental Misstep handled those cards rather nicely for a while but there's a reason that that card got banned – it was wildly oppressive. Force of Will is an important tool to have access to and I would need a good reason to leave home without four.
@drewlevin Why some players are better in legacy than standard or is it a myth— ben cottee (@carboreeta) October 12 2012
There are a number of people that are very good at Legacy that hardly ever play Standard. For some it's a matter of taste – they know what they like so why would they spend time on something less enjoyable? Why have Chinese carryout if you can always have a steak? For others it's a matter of time – they can only really learn how to play one format proficiently and they don't want to have to constantly update their collection and format understanding every few months. They want to play Magic a few times a year and still come back to a recognizable set of matches.
The truth of the matter is that almost every Legacy aficionado isn't fundamentally better than a professional Magic player. Often they understand matchups and how to pilot a specific deck better than pros but their technical play is – broadly speaking – worse. This mattered more a few years ago when Legacy was a niche format that had yet to be really popularized by the StarCityGames.com Open Series. Nowadays it's trivial to read the coverage and decklists from the last few weekends and get a basic appreciation for what the most powerful decks are and how they're built. The playing field has been leveled and so skill matters more.
TL;DR: If you study anything long enough you're going to get better at it. Specialized skill doesn't always carry over formats although Caleb Durward is a compelling case that “Legacy specialists” can succeed outside Eternal formats.
@drewlevin Combo aggro tempo midrange control are all viable what could be released/unbanned that could actually improve the format?— Naveen Vemuri (@DrStreetmention) October 12 2012
I think there are four reasonable unbans.
I would unban Black Vise first as I think a high-variance aggressive card that punishes ponderous combo and control decks is in line with modern design and gameplay philosophy. People can beat Black Vise by playing more Magic and putting more cards in play which not a ton of Legacy decks do. It weakens Brainstorm by punishing holding cards in your hand which is also a virtuous goal. There are definitely Black Vise nut draws but the way that the format would react to this card would be to skew toward more Wild Nacatls and Mother of Runes. No complaints about seeing more one-drops.
I would unban Mind Twist next. Same basic reason – it would punish Brainstorm it would be bad against aggressive strategies and it's not particularly better than any existing option. At two mana it's worse than any one-mana discard spell. At three mana it's worse than Hymn to Tourach. At four mana you could be playing a planeswalker instead of making them discard three. Also you're spending four mana not affecting the board at all. That's a very reasonable card.
The only thing I'd be worried about is a combo deck that uses Grim Monolith to accelerate into a turn three Mind Twist to clear out resistance and kills on turn four or five. At the end of the day though how much better is that Mind Twist than a Duress or Thoughtseize or Cabal Therapy or Persecute on blue?
I would unban Earthcraft because I would love to see people try to complain about losing to infinite Squirrel tokens on turn four when there's a deck that can produce 10 1/1s on turn one. Sure it can ratchet up the power on your Elf combo deck but I'm also not worried about that deck taking over the format. Again the format would accommodate that shift by playing more removal and ways of interacting with the board. As I understand it that's the direction that R&D have been trying to move the game so it doesn't seem antithetical to what Magic is about. It certainly wouldn't dominate tournaments any more than the current crop of combo decks have been doing.
I would unban Memory Jar because there are cards that are legal and better than it. Ad Nauseam draws fifteen cards for five mana and can't be Stifled. Past in Flames effectively draws a lot of cards and can be played from your graveyard. Tinker isn't legal. Spell Pierce and Daze are legal. Null Rod exists if you want to go there. Unlike absurd cards like Mind's Desire Yawgmoth's Will Necropotence Wheel of Fortune and Windfall Memory Jar costs a lot of mana and can be completely neutralized by a wide range of cards. It's certainly powerful – don't get me wrong – but it wouldn't herald a combo-dominated Legacy format. How much play does Ad Nauseam see again?
@drewlevin what is in your opinion the best legacy deck involving kobolds?— joecorruccini (@joecorruccini) October 12 2012
- 4 Memnite
- 4 Ornithopter
- 4 Phyrexian Walker
- 4 Signal Pest
- 4 Crimson Kobolds
- 4 Crookshank Kobolds
- 4 Elvish Spirit Guide
- 4 Kobolds of Kher Keep
That's the best I've got right now. Patrick Chapin sent me some hot Retract technology but I don't know how good they are without Frogmites. I think I'd rather be able to Crop Rotation than Retract as I think mana is a key restraint whereas having a creature probably isn't.
@drewlevin A very specific primer on U/W Miracles would be amazing. Also noting pros/cons to playing Stoneblade over Miracles.— Justin Uppal (@MoxUppal) October 12 2012
Given how popular my Maverick primer ended up being I promise it's only a matter of time.
@drewlevin I'd like to see a history of the legacy metagame. When did you lose in legacy due to misplays? (give some examples)— Will Anderson (@fistsofthor) October 12 2012
There's no better man to chronicle a history of Legacy than Adam Barnello. It starts with Geocentrism with the next four or five scattered through his archive. I loved them and they're well worth taking the time to scroll through his catalogue.
For a history of my misplays feel free to watch any of my feature matches.
TL;DR: Adam Barnello is the Legacy historian and I'm bad at Magic.
@drewlevin the most powerful cards in legacy that aren't being played.— Naveen Vemuri (@DrStreetmention) October 13 2012
I'm not sure how to answer this question. What defines “doesn't see play”? Do Aether Vial and Goblin Lackey see play? I dunno maybe. They can certainly be played in a deck. That deck hasn't won any tournaments lately. The thing is a lot of people play a lot of decks that don't win tournaments and we never learn about them because that's the nature of media – it shines a lot of light on a very small percentage of the field.
If you're looking for inspiration I've written about a good number of off-the-wall decks in the past. In general though there's a reason why powerful cards stop seeing play. To take a few examples – Painter's Servant/Grindstone sees no play nowadays because the best combo deck plays multiple Emrakuls so activating Grindstone with Painter in play does not equal a win. Resolving Natural Order for Progenitus can get trumped (or raced) by either Emrakul or Griselbrand not to mention getting Spell Pierced by RUG Delver.
@drewlevin deep space physics— Stu Somers (@ssomers55) October 12 2012
I'm no scientist but string theory is worth reading up on.
@drewlevin Honestly Im never expecting anything.. and then you deliver a good read. Legacy is kinda stale right now prove me wrong?— Casey Hupke (@hackeyesup) October 12 2012
Might have to write an article about this one.
@drewlevin Dating advice obv— Ian (@Kirblar024) October 12 2012
First learn what makes you happy. Second find someone who you're happy around and who is happy around you. Third learn that being right is never as important as understanding why they're saying what they're saying. Fourth make sure that you both prioritize each other roughly equally – being on either side of an attraction imbalance can be an awful experience. Fifth know that you will have to make compromises and sacrifices. If you aren't willing to do that for them you probably don't want to be in a relationship you just want to have someone to have sex with which is fine but different.
Also I'm 22 and have a lot to learn. You're however-old-you-are and also have a lot to learn. I guess I should add that sixth never assume you know everything you need to know about a situation.
That's all I've got. Thanks for the questions! I'd love to do this again soon.
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