Legacy Weapon – Previews, A Legacy Card, and Jund Depths

karametragodofharvesphenaxgodofdeceptionxenagosgodofrevels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karametra, God of the Harvest; Phenax, God of Deception; Xenagos, God of Revels

Last week, I declared both Mogis and Ephara more powerful than they looked on paper. These all cost five, making them clunkier and (seemingly) less playable.

Karametra in particular falls flat, and R&D made it cost five because it’s more likely to be a creature when it comes down. After all, filling the board with dudes is GW’s thing. Karametra’s land-tutoring ability, while valuable, is not worth that much. At three mana, it might be the backbone of a degenerate engine. At four mana, it’s a bit clunky, but the chance to have a giant creature would put it over the top. At five mana, it doesn’t seem playable. We don’t even have [ccProd]Rude Awakening[/ccProd]!

I know exactly the type of player that they printed Phenax, God of Deception for, and I can already see him milling people out behind an army of [ccProd]Wall of Frost[/ccProd]s.

Of the three 5-mana gods, Xenagos looks to bloody the opponent in the most direct and no-nonsense way, immediately buffing creatures and getting in damage. It’s similar to how [ccProd]Elspeth, Knight Errant[/ccProd] jumps a guy but without the (useful) flying ability and with the (much worse) haste ability instead. Fortunately, giant tramplers are kind of Gruul’s thing, making flat bonuses to power/toughness appealing, and I’m talking [ccProd]Wolfir Silverheart[/ccProd] soulbonding with [ccProd]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/ccProd] sorts of appealing.

After you untap with Xenagos, he starts to do some impressive things, firing off random topdecked dudes into the enemy. Dropping more guys means you’ll eventually make your God a 6/5, creating tons of attacking power out of nowhere.

spitefulreturned

Spiteful Returned

Believe it or not, this card is Constructed playable. Remember that black is not the color of [ccProd]Watchwolf[/ccProd]. When black gets a two-drop that attacks for 3, it typically features a steep drawback like, “if this card would be relevant, lose 3 life instead,” or, “if your opponent plays a spell, sacrifice this card.” Here, the drawback is that it’s unimpressive in combat. Fortunately, this downside is mitigated by being in the color of removal and having a reasonable bestow cost.

Imagine going turn two [ccProd]Thrill-Kill Assassin[/ccProd], turn three [ccProd]Lifebane Zombie[/ccProd], turn four bestow this thing onto whatever, and go to town. Black has a critical mass of aggressively-costed creatures that are hard to block, meaning the conditions are right for a cheap bestow card, especially one that can clock an opponent on its own.

Of course, just because the card is playable doesn’t mean it’s the best card for its slot. It could be there just isn’t room for it, but I’m guessing it’ll see some play. It’s like the [ccProd]Pulse Tracker[/ccProd] of this set: underwhelming until it’s whelming.

tormentsherald

Torment’s Herald

I absolutely love this card. Not only is it another three-drop evasive creature for Spiteful Returned, it’s also an aggressive three-drop that doesn’t suck in the Mono-Black mirror. Currently, my biggest problem with Mono-Black is that the main deck is slow to apply pressure in some matchups, especially Mono-Blue. The easiest way I found to change that was to add [ccProd]Lifebane Zombie[/ccProd]s to the main, but you absolutely cannot afford to draw a blank 3/1 in the Mono-Black mirror.

Torment’s Herald drains you a bit too, so it might not be quite as good against Mono-Blue, but it makes up for that by being so much better in the mirror. The main ways to win a mirror being [ccProd]Pack Rat[/ccProd], [ccProd]Nightveil Specter[/ccProd], or [ccProd]Underworld Connections[/ccProd]. This card can brick a [ccProd]Nightveil Specter[/ccProd] or pressure [ccProd]Underworld Connections[/ccProd]. Every once in a while, it’ll jump a random dude for the win, and that’s worth something too.

[ccDeck]19 Swamp
2 Temple of Deceit
4 Mutavault
4 Pack Rat
4 Thrill-Kill Assasin
2 Spiteful Returned
4 Nightveil Specter
4 Torment’s Herald
4 Desecration Demon
4 Thoughtseize
4 Hero’s Downfall
2 Bile Blight
2 Ultimate Price
1 Wring Flesh[/ccDeck]

This version of the deck eschews the [ccProd]Underworld Connections[/ccProd] into [ccProd]Gray Merchant[/ccProd] plan for a higher density of efficient threats, meaning that it loses some inevitability for tempo. The big plus is fewer dead cards against Mono-Blue and other decks you want to race. Since you’re pressuring the opponent’s life total more, their [ccProd]Underworld Connections[/ccProd] will be worse.

[ccProd]Thrill-Kill[/ccProd] fills in as a removal spell for ground-pounders, answering hard-to-remove threats like [ccProd]Frostburn Weird[/ccProd].

[ccProd]Wring Flesh[/ccProd] looks funny on paper, but I’ve been happy with a miser. Against Mono-Blue, it gives you a way to maintain tempo by killing one of the 8 one-drops and also hits [ccProd]Master of Waves[/ccProd]. In the mirror it’s less dead than it looks, sniping [ccProd]Pack Rat[/ccProd] and making [ccProd]Nightveil[/ccProd]/[ccProd]Mutavault[/ccProd] bounces turn into blowouts. If you [ccProd]Pharika’s Cure[/ccProd] a one-drop on the draw you’re taking an attack from it, spending more mana while going even on life and cards. If you get to [ccProd]Wring Flesh[/ccProd] a one-drop instead, you’re at the same life as [ccProd]Pharika’s Cure[/ccProd] only you get to untap and play a two-drop, which is awesome.

brimazkingoforeskos

Brimaz, King of Oreskos

This card fills everyone’s “ding!” o-meter and I’m not even going to speculate on its place in Standard.

In Modern, Brimaz fits into the white token decks with [ccProd]Windbrisk Heights[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Honor of the Pure[/ccProd]. Unfortunately, both [ccProd]Lingering Souls[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Spectral Procession[/ccProd] crowd the three slot. Still, you might be able to squeeze in a copy or two.

This Cat looks Legacy playable, but then again I feel the same about [ccProd]Hero of Bladehold[/ccProd]. On the plus side, Brimaz comes down on turn two off of a mana guy, carries [ccProd]Umezawa’s Jitte[/ccProd] like a pro, and fits in the top end of a Vial curve. On the other hand, costing four gives Hero a lot of strange advantages like protection from [ccProd]Inquisition of Kozilek[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Abrupt Decay[/ccProd]. And don’t count out battle cry. Attacking alone, Hero chunks in 7-11-15 point swings while Brimaz clocks in at 4-5-6, and Hero only gets better with other creatures.

As a legend, you can bounce Brimaz with [ccProd]Karakas[/ccProd]. This means that if your opponent only has one blocker, say a 5/6 [ccProd]Tarmogoyf[/ccProd], you can send in Brimaz without fear. If they block your 3/4, just bounce it after blockers and enjoy your new token. If they eat the token, then hurray you forced through damage.

spiritofthelabyrinth

Spirit of the Labyrinth

Behold our designated Legacy card! Not that I’m complaining. I like that we get a playable or two in each set, and I like that Wizards can shake up Legacy without destroying Standard. However, knowing that it’s coming takes the excitement out of it. It’s like a Where’s Waldo? book with only one page and it’s a portrait.

Death and Taxes is the best home for this one. While there are other decks with [ccProd]Mother of Runes[/ccProd] to protect it and equipment to turn it into a real threat, Death and Taxes has all that plus [ccProd]Aether Vial[/ccProd]. The ideal scenario involves Vialing it in in response to a [ccProd]Brainstorm[/ccProd], forcing the opponent to put two cards back without any benefit.

Even if a deck doesn’t have room for Spirit in the main, it might consider it for the board since it’s so good against decks like Omnitell, Elves, and Shardless. As an enchantment, it’ll sneak into a ton of [ccProd]Enlightened Tutor[/ccProd] packages, though that also means that [ccProd]Nature’s Claim[/ccProd] hits it. Most combo decks run [ccProd]Abrupt Decay[/ccProd] anyway, but still.

One thing about [ccProd]Thalia[/ccProd] is that it restricts your deck, forcing a critical mass of creatures. Spirit gets along with spells fine so long as they don’t draw cards, allowing fair decks to be built in new ways. Odds are that you’ll want both Thalia and Spirit if you want one or the other, but a heavy burn deck doesn’t want Thalia and it might want Spirit.

New Depths

It isn’t every day that a new Legacy deck proves competitive. The format is diverse, the competition powerful. However, the tools are also there, and brewers have all of Magic’s history, banned list aside, at their disposal. When a new deck begins to make its mark, the Legacy Weapon is the perfect column to showcase it.

Jund Depths, by Kennen Haas

[deck]Main Deck
1 Badlands
2 Bayou
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Bojuka Bog
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Maze of Ith
1 Taiga
3 Thespian’s Stage
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Wasteland
2 Wooded Foothills
1 Karakas
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 Dark Depths
4 Mox Diamond
1 Nether Spirit
2 Crop Rotation
4 Entomb
1 Punishing Fire
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
4 Liliana of the Veil
4 Faithless Looting
4 Life from the Loam
1 Raven’s Crime
4 Smallpox
Sideboard
3 Pithing Needle
1 Sphere of Resistance
1 Phyrexian Ingester
1 Exploration
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Coffin Purge
1 Crop Rotation
1 Punishing Fire
1 Ray of Revelation
2 Innocent Blood
1 Maze of Ith
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale[/deck]

This deck takes a few brilliant ideas—ideas that were hidden in the shadows, in 3-1 Daily lists and forgotten message boards—and developed them.

At its core, it’s a [ccProd]Life from the Loam[/ccProd] prison deck with the ability to combo off with [ccProd]Dark Depths[/ccProd] into [ccProd]Thespian’s Stage[/ccProd]. Most of the removal suite is geared around edict effects, which are great at answering [ccProd]Nimble Mongoose[/ccProd] and [ccProd]True-Name Nemesis[/ccProd], though it still runs the [ccProd]Punishing Fire[/ccProd] combo due to Loam synergies and because it’s so good at doing what it does.

The genius of Jund Depths doesn’t lie in its removal suite or win condition, but in the composition, in how the [ccProd]Entomb[/ccProd] package holds it all together. Of course [ccProd]Entomb[/ccProd] tutors up Loam or the [ccProd]Raven’s Crime[/ccProd], it has done that before. Combining it with Loam to make it a direct tutor for specific lands, say the [ccProd]Dark Depths[/ccProd] combo, is also nothing new. Grabbing [ccProd]Nether Spirit[/ccProd] as a backup win condition, or Squee as a card advantage engine with [ccProd]Faithless Looting[/ccProd] or Liliana is stranger, but not unheard of. Combining all of these elements with just the right mixture of card advantage, filtering, disruption, and win conditions is the real trick that’s been performed in the above list.

While Jund Depths sports strong matchups among the fair decks, it has its weaknesses. Fast combo crushes it. [ccProd]Rest in Peace[/ccProd] looks like an impossible card to beat. There’s a [ccProd]Ray of Revelation[/ccProd] in the board, but you can’t tutor for it if the RIP is already in play. If you can catch it on the stack, you can respond with Entomb for Ray, flashing it back when RIP’s comes into play ability passes priority.

The sideboard is mostly self-explanatory, if a bit random. The [ccProd]Phyrexian Ingester[/ccProd] took me a second. As a card to put into play off of [ccProd]Show and Tell[/ccProd], it’s worse than other options. Against Omnitell it does nothing, and against Sneak and Show they win if they’re putting in [ccProd]Sneak Attack[/ccProd], making it worse than [ccProd]Humility[/ccProd]. What I was missing is that most of the board is an [ccProd]Entomb[/ccProd] toolbox, including this one in response to an [ccProd]Exhume[/ccProd]. I’m still not sure the slot is high impact enough, especially since there’s already [ccProd]Coffin Purge[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Bojuka Bog[/ccProd] against Reanimator, but it does have its uses against the Show and Tell plan.

This deck won a tournament on the fifth of this month, making it a new entity and difficult to judge. A tournament win means something, for sure, but there’s always a chance that the stars aligned, that bad matchups got dodged, that anomalies happened.

The week after, Ryan Steiner got 19th with a similar list, swapping out the [ccProd]Faithless Looting[/ccProd] package for some creatures and a different angle of attack:

Jund Depths, by Ryan Steiner

[deck]Main Deck
1 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Badlands
2 Barren Moor
2 Bayou
2 Bloodstained Mire
3 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Maze of Ith
1 Taiga
2 Thespian’s Stage
2 Verdant Catacombs
3 Wasteland
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 Dark Depths
4 Mox Diamond
2 Tombstalker
3 Vampire Hexmage
1 Sylvan Library
2 Abrupt Decay
2 Crop Rotation
2 Entomb
2 Punishing Fire
2 Liliana of the Veil
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Life from the Loam
3 Living Wish
1 Raven’s Crime
3 Smallpox
Sideboard
4 Chalice of the Void
1 Vampire Hexmage
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Darkblast
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Golgari Charm
1 Perish
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Glacial Chasm
1 Wasteland
1 Dark Depths[/deck]

Ryan made some interesting adjustments, squeezing in some [ccProd]Tombstalker[/ccProd]s, [ccProd]Hymn to Tourach[/ccProd]s, and more combo pieces. While he didn’t murder the deck, and some of his ideas have merit, overall this version is weaker than Kennen’s. One reason the Dark Depths combo works so well as a win condition is that the initial list has quad-Liliana. After your opponent is hellbent, you know they don’t have a removal spell, making your 20/20 good. [ccProd]Hymn to Tourach[/ccProd] is a fine disruptive card, and it works well here, but it doesn’t keep the opponent locked out of removal until you find your combo pieces.

Most of Ryan’s changes make it less of a dedicated Loam deck and more combo-y, which plays away from its strengths. [ccProd]Living Wish[/ccProd] is a clunker of a card, and with it he moved [ccProd]Wasteland[/ccProd] to the sideboard as a bullet target. Now, I can’t say for certain how often you’ll want to [ccProd]Living Wish[/ccProd] for [ccProd]Wasteland[/ccProd], but I can guess that it’ll be less often than you want to draw your fourth [ccProd]Wasteland[/ccProd] naturally and without spending two mana.

With the shift away from red, the mana base can afford the addition of a few basics. The Forest allows a [ccProd]Wasteland[/ccProd]-proof way to cast [ccProd]Life from the Loam[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Crop Rotation[/ccProd], which can be important, and the Swamp combines with a [ccProd]Mox Diamond[/ccProd] to cast all of the black cards through [ccProd]Blood Moon[/ccProd] or Waste-lock.

So we had two different versions of Jund Depths performing well in two different events, but I wasn’t convinced until this last weekend when Edward Pfender cracked a Top 8 with the Kennen Haas original list minus a Tabernacle from the sideboard. While the deck has its weaknesses, it’s consistent, powerful, strong against [ccProd]True-Name Nemesis[/ccProd], and a viable fair-deck option for those crazies who don’t play [ccProd]Brainstorm[/ccProd] (I’m looking at you, Jeff Hoogland).

Caleb Durward

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