If you tuned into coverage of Grand Prix Seattle, you may have noticed an unexpected sight. Soldiers put together quite a run in the Legacy event and may be a force to be reckoned with. A mix of Death and Taxes with some of the strengths that made tribal Goblin decks so strong for so long, Soldiers has what it takes to be a Legacy player.
It starts with fast mana. When you’re playing a fair deck, you need to get on the board fast. Chrome Mox lets you play a lower land count while still casting your spells ahead of schedule. Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors provide additional acceleration.
Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors are excellent cards, but we’re playing a deck where almost all of the cards require white mana. Chrome Mox helps a lot to make sure that you can cast 3-drops on turn 1, but even more important is the fact that these mana sources can cast Chalice of the Void. Chalice on 1 is enough to shut down a huge portion of the Legacy metagame as both aggro, combo, and control decks can all struggle mightily against this. Stopping Delver, Deathrite, Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, Dark Ritual, Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push, Swords to Plowshares, and tons of other spells is a game-changer. This also means that you can’t really play 1-mana spells in your own deck, but the fast mana helps mitigate that cost.
The Thalias do a great job of taxing your opponent. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben punishes the low land counts of Legacy and makes sure that your opponents can’t chain 1-mana card draw spells. Making sweepers, removal, and just about everything in combo decks also cost an additional 1 is truly painful. Thalia, Heretic Cathar doesn’t get much praise, but she can slow the opponent to an absolute crawl. Look at a Delver mana base against a turn-1 Heretic Cathar off of Mox plus Ancient Tomb. Turn-1 fetchland enters the battlefield tapped. Turn 2 it untaps and can find a tapped dual. Turn 3 you can fetch and get another tapped dual and play a tapped Deathrite. The amount of time she will buy is absurd in a format with almost no basics to be found.
Preeminent Captain is a bit more expensive than a Goblin Lackey, but putting a Soldier onto the battlefield attacking can lead to some serious blowouts and damage. A 1-drop would be better, but this lets you get maximum rewards from your Sol lands, Moxes, and Chalice on 1 to make the deck work.
To make sure that you’re always stocked up with threats to play and deploy with your Captains, Enlistment Officer is the Goblin Ringleader of Soldiers. A 2/3 first strike for 4 doesn’t pass the vanilla test, but it will draw two quality spells on average (and sometimes more), and works with your Soldier synergies. Your deck also has a ton of first strike, which means that it can present some walls of defense nothing can get through.
Daru Warchief is a pretty nice Lord. Giving your creatures +1/+2 can make some real big Thalias.
You also have removal spells on a stick. Fairgrounds Warden can exile an opposing threat, and Palace Jailer will take out a threat while drawing you extra cards. You’re going to have to play some defense to make sure you remain the Monarch, but the extra cards help quite a bit especially after the Jailer takes out your opponent’s biggest threat.
Recruiter of the Guard gives you some flexibility to find your most powerful threats. It’s interesting that you actually have a handful of creatures this can’t find, like Aerial Responder, Fairgrounds Warden, or Enlistment Officer for more card advantage, but getting a Thalia, Palace Jailer for removal, or a Warchief to pump the team is pretty amazing.
Suppression Field is an unusual Magic card. It impacts almost nothing in your main deck outside of Karakas but can have an incredible ability to disrupt the opponent. This can shut down Deathrite Shaman, Wasteland, and fetchlands from being activated thanks to the 2 mana tax, completely invalidating a handful of decks in the format.
Soldiers looks like an underpowered aggro deck that isn’t even that aggressive, but the pieces work well together to create a nice deck more than capable of taking down your next Legacy event!