New innovations are rarely a giant leap forward—they’re often rather incremental tweaks to existing templates. This is the basis for academic research, technological development, and even deck building in Magic. In the modern era this optimization happens quickly due to the popularity of the game, the creativity of players, and the use of Magic Online as a massive testing sandbox.
But what happens when you are trying to innovate in a high power format like Legacy that has a smaller audience and there are even cards that are not available on the Magic Online client? Well, luckily for me, at least, ChannelFireball has provided me a platform to project my ridiculous brews onto what I assume is a readership of trillions of Magic players who can collectively iterate at their local game stores and we can cooperatively innovate incrementally.
What are we creating today? Well I’ve had some time to ponder porting everyone’s favorite Modern deck, Lantern Control, into Legacy. If you are not familiar with the strategy, its goal is to assemble Lantern of Insight and mill effects like Codex Shredder to remove all of the relevant cards from your opponent’s deck and eventually the game ends by 1) forcing your opponent to draw on an empty library, 2) your opponent concedes due to exhausting all routes to victory, or 3) waiting on the potential heat death of the universe—whichever comes first. So let’s brainstorm together and think about how we might play this shell in Legacy. Even if you are not interested in building the deck along with the rest of us, perhaps this article will act as an example of the process of deck building.
Well the obvious reason is because Field of Dreams provides additional copies of Lantern of Insight, the most important card in the Modern version of the deck. These extra copies of the most important effect in your deck provide additional consistency.
Legacy is a completely different environment to Modern, and even though the artifact hate is better through cards like Null Rod and card selection like Brainstorm, almost no one plays hate targeted toward enchantments, and since Sensei’s Divining Top left the format, the artifact hate has narrowed down to a couple of Abrupt Decays out of Sultai Delver and some Kolaghan’s Commands from 4-color Leovold, Emissary of Trest builds. Attacking your opponents from a different axis can be successful when they’re unprepared.
Another benefit is that Field of Dreams is a blue card and can be pitched to Force of Will or shuffled away with Brainstorm. Fast combo decks reign in Legacy and the free counterspell will allow you to compete as a combo control deck.
First, I think we should look at similar decks that have had success and explore them as templates for this new brew. The Modern Lantern Control deck is as good a place as any to start.
The key components of the Modern version are Ensnaring Bridge, Mox Opal, and Ancient Stirrings/Whir of Invention. Ensnaring Bridge would allow you to take your time setting up the combo of Lantern of Insight and Codex Shredder, but it is less effective in Legacy where many decks have a way to play through it. Between Deathrite Shaman draining you out, Flickerwisp removing your Ensnaring Bridge, Storm, Charbelcher, Punishing Fire, Life from the Loam recurring Ghost Quarter until you cannot play your cards, or Jace, the Mind Sculptor removing your library, maybe this is not the right approach for a Legacy version.
Fast mana is pervasive in Legacy and other decks are already choosing to play Lotus Petal and Mox Diamond, so Mox Opal seems like it will probably make the cut in this version if we can find enough cheap artifacts to play. Luckily, artifact lands like Ancient Den and Vault of Whispers are legal.
Ancient Stirrings is great in the Modern version because it is often considered the format’s equivalent of Ponder in a format where colorless permanents are so widely played, but Field of Dreams is not colorless, and we have access to actual Ponder.
Whir of Invention is a newer addition to the Modern version, but tutoring is strong in Legacy all by itself, not to mention that it is a shuffle effect for Brainstorm and a blue card for Force of Will. Not only that, but playing heavy blue provides some safety from Wasteland and Blood Moon, potentially allowing you to play your own hateful permanents like Back to Basics. Past versions of Legacy Lantern Control preceded the printing of Whir of Invention, so this aspect is novel in our attempt.
Now that we have decided that we want our build to involve Whir of Invention and Mox Opal, we should find other cards that pair well with them and perhaps find an alternate win condition since we won’t have Ensnaring Bridge to hide behind. This is where Legacy’s extensive card pool can come to the rescue with the blast-from-the-past Painter’s Servant/Grindstone combo to mill out your opponent on the spot. Mox Opal helps accelerate out the combo while Whir of Invention and Codex Shredder both help to find the missing piece.
Past Painter’s Servant Combo decks that had success have usually been mono-red, mono-blue, or blue-red, letting them use cards like Blood Moon or Back to Basics to gain an advantage. They’ve also taken advantage of either Pyroblast or Hydroblast to exploit the Painter’s Servant ability to turn them into a 1-mana Vindicate or Counterspell.
Older versions also have used Transmute Artifact to convert superfluous artifacts into the combo. We can try to dabble in this strategy as well.
The Rough Draft
Taking all of the above into consideration, here is where I would start:
This is meant to just be a very rough starting point because I have not played any games with the deck, so I am not confident in how the matches will play out. The strategy here is to have a tutor package with Whir of Invention for Pithing Needle versus Deathrite Shaman or Dark Depths, Witchbane Orb versus Storm and Burn, Meekstone versus Grixis Delver, and Tormod’s Crypt/Relic of Progenitus versus Dredge and Reanimator. You can also play Predict if you anticipate that these matchups will be a grind and you need some card advantage. You should almost always know the top card of each players’ library thanks to Lantern effects or Brainstorm/Ponder. Lastly, you can play Echoing Truth to answer troublesome permanents like Pithing Needle naming Grindstone or Chalice of the Void.
So where do you think the deck should go from here? What would you like to see the next time I discuss some wacky, original, online brews? Go forth and test, and let me know your suggestions or how your experimentation goes in the comments or on Twitter (@esotericMoyer)!
If you are still skeptical of this crowdsourced Field of Dreams idea and wonder who in their right mind will test this deck at their local events, just remember: if we build it, they will come.
[Editor’s note: This article originally stated that Field of Dreams was not available on Magic Online. It is available through Treasure Chests.]