1st at Grand Prix New Jersey Legacy on Nov. 16th 2014
It was a daily double last weekend with Treasure Cruise decks winning both this and the Modern GP in Madrid. Despite that though there was not an abundance of Treasure Cruise swarming the top 8 with a total of 10 copies between 4 decks, and they were each a distinct archetype. It wasn’t even the bogeyman UR Delver which won which was the other deck running the full 4 copies and there was an amazing diversity between all 8 decks.
Today I want to talk about some of the top creatures in magic the gathering as a whole, the most utilized and what makes them good; I’ll also try to pull some decks in and show just how good they are by their performance throughout the time since their printing. Some of the cards on this list are some of the most expensive cards in the game, while others are not quite as flashy. My requirement is that they are creatures and they have had some type of impact on the game at some point; while I will try my best to put the best creatures in the game on my list I am only human and as such make mistakes and I apologize if your favorite doesn’t make my list. As this is a type of card versus a specific card I figured I would drop them out in a top 6 list going from number 6 to number 1; I’ll also be pulling in some honorable mentions from throughout the years.
This card’s price correlates directly with the popularity of the Zoo deck archetype. This card costs only 1 to play, when it swings it gets 1/2 through its ability Exalted; this ability also makes anything else that swings alone grow bigger when it swings. The card is just an efficient mana producer that does a little bit more than just produce mana. This card acts as an outstanding piece of acceleration in general, accelerating both the amount of damage you’re able to get in and the amount of damage that you’re dealing each turn. While there are tons of decks that run this card, we’ll be looking into them a little bit later with a card later on our list. If you consider vanilla 1/1 elves that cost 1 and tap for 1 to be playable in any deck, you can see why this card just barely missed our list of most playable, but let’s keep the idea of mana producers going with the first cards on our list.
These two cards are some of the most powerful mana-producing creatures in the game, and they came out at about the same time as one another. The block that they came out in is called the Urza’s saga. It’s a saga about a war between 2 brothers and is filled with some of the most powerful mana producers in the entire game, it’s out of this set that you get such cards as Tolarian Academy, the Tron lands (Urza’s Mine, Tower, and Power Plant), and the two cards that we have here are the two best mana-producing creatures in the game. While Metalworker is a staple in Legacy and has seen some limited play in Vintage as well, with Rofellos being banned and restricted it does not have a deck it’s run in very heavily. As for why Rofellos is so good, it’s because the card essentially doubles your mana as soon as it comes down and it essentially doubles all the mana you play for the rest of the game. The card is so powerful that it almost warrants a kill spell the minute it hits play or the game quickly swings in the controller’s favor. The other card at number 6 is Metalworker and this card is so good that an entire deck archetype in legacy is based off of this card. The card is a powerful card coming out turn 2 in most cases and tapping for 6 to 8 mana if it survives to get to tap once. The card is run in Vintage stacks decks once in a while for its powerful mana acceleration turning the deck from a very gradual combo to set up into a much quicker set up for the lock. It’s run predominantly in the deck that carries its namesake, but it’s a powerful addition to any artifact deck. The style of this deck is as follows, this was a Metalworker that took 13th place in a Star City Games Invitational back in 2013.
The Metalworker deck is one of the most powerful decks in the entire game of Magic: The Gathering being able to stand on its own two feet in Legacy as well as Vintage and crushing decks in others formats easily. The deck works on the premise of getting expensive stuff out quickly and then cheating what’s too expensive to actually play. You typically want to get Metalworker out as quickly as possible with as many cards in hand as possible and then pump out a Lightning Greaves and a Kuldotha Forgemaster to try to get Blightsteel Colossus. You also try to pump up the cost for opponents to play spells through Lodestone Golem and Trinisphere. Additionally, cards like Steel Hellkite, Chalice of the Void, and Sundering Titan help to rip apart your opponents’ decks. Metalworker, Grim Monolith and Mox Diamond are your way to quickly pump up the Mana you need to wreck your opponents quickly. There are two combos that exist in the deck, the first is Staff of Domination, a card which can combo with Metalworker to give you an unlimited supply of card draw, mana, tapping, untapping and life; the second is Kuldotha Forgemaster, which lets you get out the most powerful cards in your deck in exchange for 3 artifacts. The card Lightning Greaves is a card which allows you to use creatures the first turn you play them both for using abilities and for attacking. The Goblin Welder is in your deck to deal with the mirror match and to also act as recursion for the deck. The Blightsteel Colossus acts as the win condition for the deck most of the time swinging in and winning the game usually at most by the second turn he comes out, but he is also the major beater for the deck. All of the lands in the deck serve as either a great mana producer or serve in a dual role doing something else on top of their original function. The Cavern of Souls acts not only as mana, but also to prevent your creatures from being countered. Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors strictly as a mana body, but in doing this they act as some of the best mana producers in the game. Darksteel Citadel and Great Furnace act not only as mana producers, but they are also artifacts meaning that they will add to Metalworker’s count and can be sacrificed for Kuldotha Forgemaster’s ability. Finally, I won’t get into Wasteland just yet (I have another article planned for that). The rest of the creatures, Myr Battlesphere and Wurmcoil Engine, are used as beaters with an edge. The edge for Myr Battlesphere is that he creates fodder for Kuldotha Forgemaster and both of the creatures help you to stabilize against typical agro strategies.
If I were to give these 2 creatures a specific type, it would probably be unique; these are creatures that while they lend themselves to 1 strategy or another, they do not commit themselves fully to a strategy and it’s not the strategy that they lend themselves to that allows them to make this list. For True-Name Nemesis’s part, this is a true beater card, and through its ability to gain protection from target player this means that not only will the card gain evasion from that player’s creatures but also gains protection from that player’s spells making the creature very hard to kill. With a creature that is exceedingly hard to kill and has exceptional evasion, making it a 3/1 on top of everything else makes the card cream of the crop. It puts your opponent on a long but realistic clock of 7 turns that he can’t block; additionally, when you equip him with a sword or jitte the card’s clock count becomes ridiculously low for such a hard to kill card and you can count on the abilities to activate each turn making it even better. There are tons of True-Name Nemesis decklist on Three Kings Loot. Another of these unique cards is Arcbound Ravager, another of those cards that has a whole deck built around them. This card is again another beater, but it’s so much more than that and while it doesn’t win the game by itself it can be extremely hard to deal with. Its power however comes from its 2 abilities and this is what makes the card unique as well. The abilities that the creature has are the abilities to sacrifice an artifact to put a +1/+1 counter on Arcbound Ravager allowing him to protect himself from dying to spells or in combat. Additionally, if he manages to make it through without any blockers, being able to cash out all of your artifacts for +1/+1 counters can win you the game. On top of everything else, his second Ability, Modular means that you can also trade him to pass all of his +1/+1 counters to a creature that got through and potentially win you the game.
Some more Affinity decklists here.
If you are a player who plays in competitive Modern Tournaments at all, then you’ve probably played against this deck before and know that if you don’t have a way to counter it, it will probably cost you the tournament. This is a fast deck that has survived the bannings of 7 cards that I can think of off the top of my head (5 Colored Artifact Lands, Skullclamp, and Disciple of the Vault); even with all of these bannings the deck still remains a serious contender in almost all of the tournaments it makes a splash in. Most of your lands serve a double function whether that be getting blue (Island), Tapping for any color (Glimmervoid), acting as both an artifact and a mana source (Darksteel Citadel, Blinkmoth Nexus, Inkmoth Nexus), or serving as an alternate or additional win condition (Blinkmoth Nexus, and Inkmoth Nexus). Almost all of your creatures exist to pump up your artifact count and get in for some damage; the exceptions are Etched Champion (Yes, its primary idea is to get in for damage, but it does so reliably and has protection), Signal Pest (Pumping up all of the other cards swinging in), Steel Overseer (Making all of your guys larger), Vault Skirge (Its lifelink makes you able to compete extremely well against most other aggro strategies), and of course Arcbound Ravager himself (see above description). The Cranial Plating in the deck is your primary win condition, as it pumps up whatever it’s equipped to up to epic levels, and with the ability to re-equip at instant speed, the card can almost consistently guarantee that the damage is going to get in. The Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum act as some pretty impressive mana acceleration and can win you a whole game almost without having to worry about drawing lands. The Thoughtcasts typically come down for 1 mana meaning that you get to draw two cards for next to nothing. This deck leads me up to our next honorable mention, however, and that is:
A completely broken card when it first came out; it earned itself a banning in both Standard and Modern for a time for its power. This is a 1/1 creature for 1 Black mana that makes an opponent lose life each time an artifact is put into the graveyard, when this card first came out in Mirrodin (a largely artifact block, it warped the game in Standard so heavily that everyone was playing a variant of this deck leading to this card’s banning). This card is still chosen as the card of choice in some Vintage Brews that brag about turn 0 victories (That is to say, winning the game before you take your first turn). While I would post some of these decks up here, they’re not exactly what I would call competitive deck lists and as such I’ll just run through the major strategy of the deck and you can build your own or look it up if you feel so inclined. The deck runs cards such as, Gemstone Caverns; this is a card that allows you to put it directly into play with a luck counter on it if it’s in your opening hand. On top of this it runs Protean Hulks and Flashes (Protean Hulk is a creature that says that when it is put into a graveyard from play you may search through your library for creatures with total converted mana cost 6 or less and put them into play). Finally, the deck runs Disciple of the Vaults and any number of Artifact creatures that enter play with a number of +1/+1 counters equal to the X that you spent to cast them (At least 5 of these). Now the strategy typically works like this, on your opponent’s upkeep, you get out Gemstone Caverns and 1 more mana in some way to cast flash on your opponent’s first turn, you cast flash putting out protean hulk and you let it die, allowing you to search through your deck for your 4 Disciple of the Vaults and all of your 0/0 artifact creatures (they become 0/0’s since they have no +1/+1 counters); all of these cards hit the field at the same time, then all of the 0/0’s die and are put into the graveyard resulting in your opponent losing 4 life for each one that does (because of the Disciple of the Vaults). The deck achieves what is considered impossible for most decks, but with the combo being very hard to establish and easily pulled apart by counters the deck is not very playable; still Disciple of the Vault plays into its spot as one of the most powerful combo creatures of all time.
These 2 cards come off as incredibly powerful combo creatures… well at least one of them does and depending on your point of view so does the other. Stoneforge Mystic is the card that is left in question when it comes to combo creatures sitting at this number, and while it does indeed contribute itself to other things I like to think of it as a combo card in itself as much as Tooth and Nail could be considered a combo card. Just like the card Tooth and Nail, Stoneforge Mystic will search through your library for you and pull potentially one of the best cards in the entire game from it and add it to your hand, then for an additional cost it offers to put that card onto the field; the kicker to the whole thing is that the card lets you keep effectively “cheating” an equipment into play meaning that the card combos nicely with Batterskull. This card has been a true contender ever since its first appearance earning it a banning in both Modern and at its time Standard. Stoneforge Mystic stills rules the tournament scene however making a powerful appearance in Legacy tournaments. Check out Three Kings Loot for some of the latest Stoneforge Mystic decklist. The other side of this creature combo type is Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, who sits atop every Timmy’s dream of infinite creatures. This card or its mirror in Splinter Twin coupled with enter the battlefield abilities makes this card one of the most combo-able and powerful creatures ever created. The card just screams win and has proved this point through the many prestigious tournaments it has under its belt. Recently there has been a decklist based around this card that has caught my eye, Kiki Angel:
This deck looks really cool and powerful and feels a little bit different from your usual Splinter Twin deck (More powerful? Probably not, but it’s fun to get out there and try new things every once in a while). There are a whole bunch of variations out there and if you’ve got a little bit of extra time and cash you could try putting one together and see how it feels. The lands in this deck pretty much do what there suppose to do, generating mana or searching for other lands. This deck has two combos centered around Kiki-Jiki, the first involves putting him into play then getting Restoration Angel online and using each new copy to blink Kiki-Jiki allowing him to create infinite copies of Restoration Angel. The second involves playing Kiki-Jiki, then Deceiver Exarch and using Kiki-Jiki to create infinite copies of Deceiver Exarch through his enter the battlefield ability. Snapcaster Mage allows you to gain extra resources by giving an instant or sorcery in your graveyard flashback. Finally, Geist of Saint Traft (Actually the weakest card in the deck, it just doesn’t work well with the strategy) just basically acts as a distraction and a beater running in and trying to deal some damage each turn. The instants in the deck fall into 1 of 2 categories, you have the first half which deal with creature destruction giving you more time against more aggro decks and mirror or similar decks (Path to Exile, Izzet Charm, Lightning Bolt, and Lightning Helix), and you have the counter spells to give your combo some protection (Mana Leak, Izzet Charm, and Remand).
In this Article we’ve gone and talked about creatures numbers 6 through 4 and some decks that they exist in that done fairly well in over the years. To give a little review, at number 6 we had our super mana-producing creatures (Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary and Metalworker) and the deck was a powerful and fast deck, Metalworker (MUD). Sitting at number 5 we went over our unique creatures (Arcbound Ravager and True-Name Nemesis) and the uniquely difficult decks that they exist in. Finally, sitting at number 4 is our combo creatures (Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Stoneforge Mystic) and the powerful creation in Kiki Angel (My name for it… I think) also known as Kiki Control a variation of UWR control in Modern. In the next article, we’ll hit numbers 3 through 1 and try to find out what the best creature in the game is… well the best one in my opinion anyway.
I do apologize to my fellow and senior writer on this site for borrowing the name of his column (Bruce Gray), but it was just such a brilliant name that I couldn’t pass it up for this sub-article. A lot of times I have ideas for articles that are definitely on the shorter side so I’ve decided to write these articles in a sub-article of my articles called Tip of the Spuzzem. In this article I just want to talk about a problem I see with a lot of players and sort of give my perspective on how to fix the problem. The problem I’m talking about is how a lot of players put the game on a pedestal especially in the lower upper echelon of play and treat it as something more than what it is; that is to say more than a game. Once you reach a certain level of play (or your cards reach a certain value, I should say) it stops becoming a game to some player and becomes something else entirely, I’m not sure quite what… but not a game that’s for sure. This is a bad trend that players need to avoid for a lot of reasons, but the most prominent is the fact that most of these players become really unaccepting of newer players and shun them from real play for one reason or another. You see this all the time, players rushing new players in play or groaning when they make a mistake. You see it when a player loses and blames their loss on luck or bad draws versus throwing up their hands and saying, you know what maybe I screwed up on that last play I should do it this way instead next time, or refusing to look or talk to you after you beat them. Well it comes out as a bit more rambling than I had intended, but yeah it’s a serious problem and it can have a serious impact on driving new players from the game.
The solution to this problem is a really easy one; simply turn the game into a game again, and this isn’t an especially hard feat. It comes with taking the game a little less seriously, playing some tabletop games with your friends every once in a while, but most importantly, designing and playing with a casual deck. Now casual doesn’t mean bad, you can design a pretty powerful casual deck, just make the deck do wacky things that you think are fun (but not necessarily good); for me, my casual deck is a Green Defender deck that gets insane amounts of mana and then goes off and puts most of the cards in my deck into play through Genesis Wave. The deck is powerful, but the choice of cards in the deck makes it illegal for tournament play without a lot of changes and honestly I don’t want to make those changes, I like the deck the way it is. Another solution is avoiding other players/friends with “toxic” personalities; these are the players that get easily fed up when someone doesn’t understand the rules when playing for fun. This also refers to players that would much rather sulk following a loss in a match versus picking back up and shuffling up. To make a long story short, just remember Magic is a game and if you’re using it for any other reason than to have fun, you’re probably doing it wrong, and when you stop doing Magic right typically it’s not too long before you get out of the game altogether.By Daniel Clayton – the Will of the Floral Spuzzem @Dc4Vp On twitter
Very soon now Magic fans, we will exist in a world without Return to Ravnica and what a different world it’s going to be; the old script of decks and tournament play will be scrapped and we’ll return to the primordial ooze of deck construction. Return to Ravnica was a powerful format and it is responsible for staples spread out throughout standard right now; you’ve got power houses such as Sphinx’s Revelation, Desecration Demon, and Pack Rats (You can probably tell which decks I played and hated based on this list). Now, let me begin by prefacing that I really don’t like this format, and I don’t presume to call myself an expert on it, so I won’t begin to tell you about decks that are going to either become dominant or stay dominant until the end of the tournament season. I have, however been playing in tournaments (Not gigantic tournaments, but mostly local events, a few larger) long enough to notice certain trends. One example of these trends is control typically taking hold or seeing more play towards the end of the first or second set in a block. Another trend you typically notice is at the beginning of a new block is a shift to one of the most powerful decks in the most powerful color. The deck is of course Red Deck Wins (RDW) and it can be seen to some extent in almost every single block in one form or another; today I’m going to talk a little bit about the ideas behind this deck both from a flavor and an actual game play perspective, and then I’m going to examine some of the decks played by various players played throughout Standard, Modern, Legacy, and Vintage and try to apply some of the principles behind each of these cards.
This is the decidedly nerdy part of the column, so if you’re just looking for deck construction or points about RDW you can skip ahead to the next section. What is a red mage? A red mage is an individual usually of innate talent, who while not unintelligent, is often motivated and powered by their very tempestuous emotions. They do not act based on what may be considered pure or intellectual, but act based on their own personal code of ethics, personality, and mindset at that time. Red mages may be considered individuals who can be quick to anger, quick to appease, and overall very mercurial in their range of emotions; this isn’t to say that they aren’t loyal. Their loyalty belongs to individuals over organizations and they treasure the bonds to those that they are close to over the traditional organizational bonds that people typically give value to. As their power and their actions are based off of their emotions, these individuals are the most likely to “burn” themselves when it comes to their power, often times losing themselves in the throes of their power and succumbing to anger, fear or hatred. As a side note, it is not often that a red mage would tend to spend time in books studying or honing their skill, but tend to just fall back on their natural talent and strong emotion to win the day for them. All of these characteristics are reflected heavily in the game. The very concept of a red mage is fire and just like a fire, if you play red there’s a very good chance that you’re going to burn yourself out of tournament play. If you think about the various resources you have available to you in the game (I’ll explain all of these in greater detail in a later article), but red typically seems to draw its power from your current state of mind (your hand) and thinking about this from a flavor perspective, your emotional state begins by flaring up and giving you a large swathe of power, but you begin to tire quickly from expending too much mental energy from such emotions and your power begins to wane quickly. (burning out) Even the depth of cards in red lends itself to the flavor of the red mage in a very strong way; red mages typically have one or two strategies for solving problems, burn it or break it, and a red mage is not typically going to spend time examining the depths of their power meaning that the depth of things you can do in red is also pretty limited. Even all the way down to how well the decks place in tournaments is very conducive of the flavor or the red element; a very powerful contender, but not a winner over the hard work and diligence of another color except with a few very talented red mages.
I may be wrong and I may be biased, but I truly believe this to be the most powerful color in the entire game of Magic. I will say fair enough that decks of this color typically tend to fall flat on their face, but there’s a reason for that; the decks don’t have consistency. The printing of cards for this color is really only missing one thing and that’s the ability to draw or at least order your deck. There are exceptions, but for the most part those are either bad for one reason or another (Faithless Looting or Magma Jet), or they have a ridiculously high mana cost. (Past in flames) Even those these cards are either very expensive to play or have large downsides to them, I’m sure you’ve seen them run in plenty of decks and the reason for that is that they just make red so much better that you can’t not use them. Now let’s all address the 35-ton gorilla in the room, surely even with consistency problems why don’t the decks win more, I mean if they’re that good. Well, consistency is half of the equation, and probably a larger problem than you give it credit for (It’s what gives you games where all you do is draw mana, a death sentence in red), but the other half of the equation is that almost every deck has built in side board options just to deal with red. Red is the reason that Kitchen Finks is run for the most part; siding against RDW is even run in some RDW that runs white. If you don’t believe me then put together one of the decks that I’ve got listed below and run it against one of your own decks and see how you fair without your side board. I know there are special exceptions, decks that just run faster (Tron, Metalworker, Affinity, Monoblack Devotion, etc.) but by and large the basic shell of RDW is equipped to deal with most decks in a straight fight.
Let’s just make this point clear, yes RDW is extremely easy to run and yes it is used by people who are just getting into the game for reasons we’ll get into in just a second, but that doesn’t mean that it takes no skill to win with one; if you lose to it, it means there was some flaw or error in your play or deck that allowed you to be overrun by the red deck; they exist out there and if as opposed to coming up with a game plan and a side board, you just spend your time whining about how you lost to the deck, then you’ll never overcome your flaws when it comes to playing against red. Now that that’s said, choosing to play red is a very difficult choice, it is a color that will screw you eventually and refuse to play for you some games, just out of the blue. The other thing that you have to understand about red is that it is a mathematician’s deck; while white may have rule-makers, blue may have strategists, green may have conquerors and black may have tyrants, it is actually red that has the mathematicians. The red deck is designed to do more with less and work around a single number, the number 3. This is a deck that revolves around somewhere between 3 to 4 turn wins as consistently as possible by running cards that typically cost 1 to 3 mana, and deal about 3 damage. But why is this 3 so important? Well you might as well call it the Magic number in Magic; with most of the powerful stabilizing spells sitting at 4 to 5 mana, and decks typically taking the same amount of time to stabilize (begin to fight back against aggro strategies) this is the amount of time decks straight aggro decks have to pump in their hits consistently. Now, you’re probably asking yourself why 3 damage or 3 mana? In a typical hand over the course of 4 turns you will see 10 cards; that is the latest average time a straight aggro deck has to win a game, before stabilization can really begin. Taking into account that you want to play 1 mana until you have about 3 mana on field, that leaves you with 7 cards, or 6 if you played 1 mana every turn for 4 turns. In these 4 turns with 7 cards you have to deal 20 damage, meaning that you have to deal 3 damage with 6 cards, at least and 2 damage with your last card to take out the minimum amount of life. Alternatively, if you have 6 cards in hand, you have to deal 3 damage with 4 cards and 4 damage with 2 cards in order to take out the minimum amount of life. Did you know that this is one of the healthiest decks in the game of Magic? With most of your games lasting somewhere between 4 and 5 turns either way, decks like this allow you to do other things while competing in tournaments and can help you keep healthy by giving you time to go get something to eat or hang out with friends between rounds. Not to mention, your typical red burn runs with much cheaper cards than other decks in the same format, allowing newer players a chance to get more accustomed to the basic rules of the game before purchasing an expansive complicated deck that they may not understand.
There are a few archetypes of RDW that are run, and I will now attempt to explain each one:
First in our example of decks is a deck which took 4th in a Legacy open in Worchester on 06 July 2014.
The decklist is as follows:
As you can probably tell by looking, this is a deck that is designed to knock opponents off their feet and then keep them there, Goblin Guide, a powerhouse in almost every format in Red allows you to almost always get in 4 damage before he’s stopped. Grim Lavamancer acts as extra damage for all of the used up cards in your graveyard. Eidilon of the Great Revel works to punish players for playing cards with some of the most common mana costs in the whole format. One thing you’ll notice about the mana base of almost all red decks is the fact that they don’t run many lands compared to the whole of the deck, and they use fetch lands to try to thin the amount of lands that you will draw throughout the course of your game. Sulfuric Vortex not only deals damage to your opponent each turn, but it also stops your opponent from being able to gain life a powerful advantage over your opponent. Fireblast is a ridiculous spell that at the cost of 2 mountains deals 4 damage to something of your choice, which can mean the end of the game for your opponent in a lot of situations. Price of progress punishes players for playing the best and most commonly run type of lands in the format. Searing Blaze not only acts as outstanding creature removal, clearing a path for your creatures to swing and dealing 3 damage to your opponent at the same time. The rest of the cards main deck are typically used to just get in 3 damage the face to your opponent and push you one step closer to victory. As for the side board, you have Vexing Shusher (Stop your opponent from stopping you), Satyr Firedancer (Damage a creature each time you deal damage to a player), Mindbreak Trap (No more searching), Red Elemental Blast (Blue is a pain), and Smash to Smithereens (Metalworker ends games). Overall, this is a very powerful deck that places very well typically despite its consistency and hate issues, the one change I would issue would be to try to include 4 Vexing Devils in the deck, but I’m not sure where I would squeeze them in.
This is a goblin deck of my own creation, because Goblins have apparently fallen out of flavor with the game, I still love the deck and it still is competitive with the right side board. This deck like most of the decks of the same type tries to leverage the damage-dealing ability of its creatures to get in for enough damage to win the game before the opponent has the chance to get back on their feet. Ember Hauler is a powerful card, allowing you to swing in for 2 with the option to pop him and deal 2 extra damage to target creature or player. The Goblin Bushwacker appears with the ability to pump up all your red creatures, give them haste and pump up their power by 1. Goblin Chieftain allows you to get in there for as much damage as possible, by giving all your goblins haste and +1/+1. Goblin Guide, Searing Blaze and Lightning Bolt are strong for reasons previously mentioned. Spikeshot Elder is one of those rare hidden gems, being able to deal his power to target creature or player and being able to be used as many times as you want per turn, he has the ability to burn down opposing creatures and players, making him almost always a great play and also giving you a sink for all your extra mana. Legion loyalist further pumps all of your creatures and gives them first strike and trample, stopping your opponent from being able to just chump block and trade for all of your goblins. Then, you have Goblin Rabblemaster which will not only generate board presence for you, but will also swing in for a powerful hit when surrounded by other goblins. After that you have Goblin Grenade, at 5 damage for a goblin and 1 red mana, this card doesn’t really need any more explaining than that. You want to avoid drawing lands in this type of deck and that accounts for the lack of lands in the deck and the filterability of Arid Mesa mixed with the fact previously stated accounts for why there are so few lands in the deck. The last card in the deck, the Teetering Peaks allow you to burst your creatures quickly without having to lose a land spot and the 2 extra damage is a big help; can also boost Spikeshot Elder for a powerful ability enhancer. The sideboard of my deck deals with most of the difficulty that my deck typically ran into; affinity is a huge problem in Modern, so by running Shattering Spree, we attempt to slow them down long enough for us to take the win. Blood Moon or Sowing Salt is my way to deal with Tron and most other decks that are based around non-basic lands. Surgical Extraction is my way to deal with all of the combo decks that I don’t have another plan against yet, such as second sunrise back in the day; the card also helps against decks that base themselves around the graveyard and is a handy tool against Tarmogoyf. Dismember is really my only defense against creatures with protection from red as well as large creatures that goblins can’t really deal with. Finally, Pyrewild Shaman is my one card combo against Control, pumping what needs pumping and being uncounterable and instant speed, being a creature when I need another creature, returning to my hand to do things more than once every time I deal damage to an opponent, and being a goblin forever; working into the overall strategy of my deck. The only card that I left out which warrants inclusion in the main board of the deck is Arc Trail, just a value card with the ability to be heroic in the mirror match as well as a great solution to most of your infect decks.
By the Will of the Floral Spuzzem @DC4VP on Twitter
It is truly bizarre how the recent successes of Red decks in Standard seems to be porting over to Legacy. While this is very far from a new deck and also not unheard of to win in Legacy, it is not one of the dominant strategies. What it is though is a strategy which has been the identity of Red decks over the last twenty years through the history of magic. It is simple in design but requires the skill of a practiced mage in order to bring it to victory. But the framework of Legacy Burn is often the same as it uses only the very best of the best that Red has to offer.
While the Legacy Burn has more then twice as many instant or sorceries spells then non-land permanents there are some very deadly ones that are showcased here. The first is what has been dubbed as the best red creature printed with Goblin Guide as not only a source of hasty beats but also provides some valuable information about what’s coming up for the opponent. We also find Grim Lavamancer which with a mass of cheap spells and some fetchlands will often find the fuel for its fire from the graveyard to close out the opponent very quickly. The other creature in the deck is relative newcomer Eidolon of the Great Revel which is so deadly given the spells in the format generally all fall under three mana and therefore even to try and remove him is going to cause the opponent to feel the burn in the process. There is also a pair of Sulfuric Vortex which are most especially needed against lifegain otherwise you’d be entirely blown out by a simple Batterskull and the extra damage each turn is gravy. Then we get into the spells which fall into one of three categories: Burn, Burn or Burn !!! You have all the three points for one mana all-stars with the classic Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Rift Bolt and Lava Spike. Against any decks running creatures it’s not hard to trigger Landfall on Searing Blaze to not only blast the creature but also dome the player for an additional three. With so many decks running dual lands and other non-basics Price of Progress can easily count for anywhere between four to eight damage which will end games very quickly. And as a very efficient finishing move you’re able to sacrifice some Mountains instead of paying for Fireblast to burn up those last remaining points of life and fry up your opponent.
The best part of Legacy Burn is that you’re able to pull it together so affordably as the only real cost comes from the fetchlands which are certainly not the same as loading up on dual lands. While it may not be storming out a combo or cheating out a fattie, it is still a fun and efficient deck that is very useful as an entry point into Legacy. I would highly recommend this deck if you are looking to dip your toe into the Legacy pool for a taste as you’ll be spending a fraction of what the other decks cost. And definitely have a good time with this deck and use it as a way to learn what you like about the formats other decks.
The Legacy format is filled with cheap and efficient cards as it has access to the best ever printed over the entire history of the game. This deck is one of those that takes full advantage of that fact to pull together a cast of the top choices creating a highly disruptive killing machine. It pulls together permission, removal and draw to quickly dispatch all enemies that stand in its way. It’s no surprise whenever a deck of this style takes down a tournament.
Quite possibly the best Blue one drop ever printed, and quite aggressively out of Blue flavor, we have Delver of Secrets supported by an almost 50/50 split on spells which will be able to blind flip it turn two so you’re able to commence with the beatdown plan. Follow that up with True-Name Nemesis which demands the opponent to find an answer to it or they will definitely die to that unchecked clock. Both of them are supported by Stoneforge Mystic who is able to either search up an Umezawa’s Jitte to equip one of your attackers or find you a Batterskull to commit further to your beatdown plan. Next we speed up the deck with an abundance of card draw starting with the perennial Brainstorm, coupled with Ponder and Phyrexian freebie Gitaxian Probe which also provides you a sneak peek at the opponents plans. The deck also packs a very robust permission package centering around another format staple and free spell Force of Will, backed up by also free Daze and cheap but disruptive Spell Pierce. Then we round out the deck with top quality removal with the main reason this deck dips into Red with Lightning Bolt and also the classic Swords to Plowshares which will convienently exile most any creatures which are presenting you with certain doom.
We start off with the namesake of the deck or what I like to call The Flying Lightning Bolt in Delver of Secrets which is supported by 28 ways to flip, and should always be close to 50/50 on a blind flip if deployed on turn one to really lay down the beats. That is coupled with beatdown king Goblin Guide as a second option for a great first turn play to start laying down the beats. Given the plethora of instants and sorceries in the deck we also have Snapcaster Mage to rebuy a key spell that you’ve already used and then work on laying down the beats. As you can see this deck is truly a weapon of mass destruction. Support player Grim Lavamancer can either help clear the way for your army or throw additional fire in their face and will often find the graveyard stocked with any of the many spells or fetchlands. The deck has a stockade of burn with full sets both of Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning which at one Red mana for three damage are amazing, and easily reused by a Snapcaster. There is also a one of Forked Bolt which can clear two defenders or a dude and to the dome, and a pair of Price of Progress which in Legacy will mostly net either six or eight damage quite often sealing the deal. The counter suite is modest but necessary including format staple Force of Will to keep combo decks in check and Spell Pierce. We round it out with some draw power from Brainstorm, Ponder and Gitaxian Probe to ensure a steady stream of low cost threats continue flowing to your hand.
The Bazaar of Moxen is a four day Eternal Magic event in Europe featuring Vintage, Legacy and Modern tournaments. Every year a devoted crowd makes a pilgrimage to compete for amazing prizes and have a great time. We’ve already featured the Modern Main Event winners decklist for you and here we present the Legacy. It is based around the interaction of Life from the Loam with the toolbox of lands and the creatures which interact favorably with that design. At its core we have a Junk deck, the combination of White, Black and Green, with a splash of Red to gain a little extra reach. It has heavy elements of disruption but also a formidable creature package capable of finishing the match in short order.
The title of the deck comes from the decks engine card Life from the Loam which is able to return lands from your graveyard to your hand and has the added benefit of Dredge to pull itself back from the grave to continue the cycle. This is invaluable to the deck as you have a lot of interaction involving sacrificing or discarding lands to advance your plan starting right with the decks fast mana source in Mox Diamond. There is also a slew of lands in your manabase which will naturally find their way to the grave starting with the disruption staple Wasteland which is an absolute blowout when recured every turn to shut down the opponents mana, the decks fetchland Verdant Catacombs, and the trio of card draw in Horizon Canopy, Barren Moor and Tranquil Thicket. There is also the creature land Dryad Arbor which can find itself used turn after turn as a chump blocker if the need so arises. Speaking of creatures we then get to those beatdown creatures which will lock down the game for you with Tarmogoyf, Scavenging Ooze which also does double duty to brutalize opponents graveyards if they are using it as a resources, and the Knight of the Reliquary which can balloon to epic proportions while searching up the decks toolbox of lands. And in the Knights toolbox we find Maze of Ith to nullify large creature based aggro strategy, Karakas which is absolutely necessary to fight against decks like Sneak and Show cheating legendary fatties into play way ahead of curve, and also Grove of the Burnwillows which combos with Punishing Fire to pick off pesky creatures at a very reasonable price. Adding to the draw from the land package there is also Dark Confidant which with an average converted mana cost over the sixty cards at less then one will pay off in spades and the powerful card selection tool Sylvan Library. There is pseudo-card draw from Green Sun’s Zenith which will search up your most relevant Green creature including the Arbor if that’s what you need. For the disruption we have some extremely powerful tools starting with Chalice of the Void to work against specific decks strongest cards at that cost, there is Gaddock Teeg to nullify high cost non-creature spells especially Force of Will, and Liliana of the Veil where you’ll be able to swing the discard disadvantage back towards your favor while working to control the battlefield. The final piece of our puzzle comes with pinpoint destruction from Abrupt Decay which in Legacy is such a power piece of removal and is able to hit such a variety of targets.
So while this is not a new strategy for Legacy it is a very strong deck that in the right metagame makeup is able to find its way to success. We certainly will see this strategy continue to thrive and grow as it gets stronger every time a new utility land is printed that it can find use for. We will see if it continues to show itself at the top tables or if players find answers to hedge against its power.
Here is another great victory for a deck which has been coming and going with success over the past year. It is a very strong package of disruption which comes in the form of aggro beatdown allowing the deck to operate on a very powerful axis. For those of you unfamiliar with Death and Taxes it is at its core The White Weenie deck. It has evolved from a deck which worked to exile the opponents permanents for value into a mash up of hate bears and resource oppression. It has a pile of the best white creatures ever printed.
The journey up the mana curve is very important for this deck as it relies heavily upon Æther Vial to ‘cheat out’ it’s creatures around counter magic and as disruption. The ideal turn one play involves either Æther Vial or Mother of Runes to let the games begin. Once ‘mom’ is out it becomes increasingly more difficult for your opponent to use spot removal on your creatures. A great turn two play would be a follow up of either Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to actively disrupt the opponents plans or even Stoneforge Mystic to start building offensive to bring the beats. And while Thalia will affect your spells as well it is a minor cost as the spells we cast are one cost and the equipment is going to be cheated in with the Mystic. Speaking of equipment the Stoneforge package in the deck is rather robust including not only a Batterskull and an Umezawa’s Jitte but also a Sword of Fire and Ice, all of which are efficient tools to boost any of your creatures into lean and mean fighting machines. As for some straight-up beatsticks the deck packs a Brimaz, King of Oreskos for value and a trio of Serra Avenger which are able to skirt the turn it can be played restriction with an Æther Vial activation. Then for disruption we find a variety of answers with Phyrexian Revoker to shut down a pesky permanent especially in response to casting a planeswalker, Spirit of the Labyrinth which absolutely ruins players hands in response to a Brainstorm, and Aven Mindcensor that can come in response to a fetchland or Stoneforge trigger to try and force the opponent to whiff. The final creature in the deck is a trio of Flickerwisp which can be vialed into play in response to removal to save a permanent or used to reset a Revoker, rebuy a Mystic and even regerm a Batterskull, not to mention suit up with a Sword or Jitte to bring the beats. There is a heavy resource denial package within the manabase with not only a full set of Wasteland but also a full set of Rishadan Port to lockdown any hope of the opponent to have a fighting chance. Also, for spot removal we find Swords to Plowshares to rid the board of any nuisance creatures trying to stand in the way.
And there we have it the first Legacy winner is a deck that is rapidly becoming a staple deck at the top tables. Of course as Legacy is a huge wide open field there is always a brick wall that every deck will run into eventually, but this deck look not only to be resilient but also a great deal of fun. I would be not only happy but confident as well to sleeve up this deck for the next Legacy tournament.