I’m sure many of you are aware that spoilers from Avacyn Restored have started! I love spoilers, every once in a while there’s something great for Legacy or Standard. But more importantly and more likely there’s something to slip into Commander. Well so far, there’s nothing for Kresh the Bloodbraided or Godo, Bandit Warlord but there are some potentially playable Legacy cards! A few of them have a new ability called “Miracle”:
Miracle [Mana cost] (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.)
This ability has the potential to be extremely powerful in a format with a lot of draw effects. Unfortunately, Modern pretty much only has Serum Visions and Standard currently has Ponder. That’s it. Meaning that these Miracle draws will likely happen more often in Legacy due to Brainstorm, Ponder, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. These cards all happen to be blue. Since spoilers have begun the most talked about card is, no surprise here, a blue card with Miracle. The card is a throwback to Time Walk!
[Source: Daily MTG: Making Magic]
At first glance this card is insanely broken – don’t worry, it’s not. A few people are probably nodding their head right now while the majority of you are ready to rage. That’s fine, but hear me out. It’s practically a mulligan if it’s in the original seven.
If a player open-hands Temporal Mastery it’s very difficult to cast at seven mana! Let’s stop for a second and create a list of playable cards in Legacy that cost seven… I’m coming up blank. That’s because there aren’t any cards this costly that see play. “But it’s really two mana” Realistically, players will be setting up Mastery with cards like Brainstorm and Ponder. Meaning that Mastery probably cost somewhere between three to four mana in a blue shell. Because of this mana cost it’s ideally cast around turn four.
The fundamental turns in legacy are turns two through four where a game can often be decided if one player can’t interact with what the opponent is doing. If Temporal Mastery is stuck in hand or even if it isn’t –it’s not interacting with Dark Ritual, Stoneforge Mystic, Reanimate, Faithless Looting, Show and Tell, or Knight of the Reliquary. It’s not tough to get the idea. It’s very probable that hands with Mastery in them become a mulligan because the card simply just doesn’t do anything until turn four or five AND that’s only if the hand has a card to set up the Mastery sitting in the hand. By turns three-through-five what are the chances the opponent has already gained an advantage that’s overwhelming that taking an extra turn is going to help? Even if the turn one was a Delver, the extra turn isn’t that impressive. There’s also situations where people playing Mastery won’t be able to set it up at all. Readers, I’m calling it now, you’re going to be hearing a lot of, “You only won because I got stuck with two Mastery in hand”
Decks draw more than one card per turn. It’s true. It’s completely possible to draw for turn, Ponder, shuffle and draw another or any other scenarios where a deck creates card advantage. The fact of the matter is that Temporal Mastery is slow and often requires too much setup. It has to be drawn, then placed on top, then cast. The other popular option players have been discussing is Personal Tutor. All I should have to say is “really?!?!” I’ll elaborate. This theoretical deck has anywhere between six to eight free slots to play cards such as Personal Tutor and Temporal Mastery? That deck had problems from the beginning. Personal Tutor isn’t exactly a fantastic card, it’s very easy to play around, it’s card disadvantage, and doesn’t have a strong enough package to be built around properly. Other than Temporal Mastery and Wrath of God the targets aren’t that appealing.
Lastly, what decks are looking to play Mastery? It doesn’t exactly fit into Canadian Threshold/RUG Tempo or UW Stoneblade. There aren’t any real flexible slots in either one of those two decks. I guess there’s two Chain Lightning/Forked Bolt in Canadian and UW Stoneblade has Vendilion Cliques and/or Lingering Souls. These cards interact with the opponent and also have the potential to break the game open just as much if not more than taking an additional turn. That makes these cards a better choice than Temporal Mastery in these two decks. There’s also building around Mastery which I briefly mentioned with Personal Tutor. The problem with building around Mastery is that the strategy has too many cards dedicated to taking the free turn that the benefits aren’t being utilized to their fullest potential. More than likely Mastery is going to be an explore for blue, except explore doesn’t require a set-up. The other Miracle card that has some speculation around it is:
[Source: PAX East]
Unlike Temporal Mastery, I believe Thunderous Wrath is somewhat playable even though it also has a high mana cost and requires set up. The main reason being that it’s going to be replacing a card that also has a restrictive cost. Fireblast. It’s pretty clear that the card is most optimal in a Blue Red variant, probably a UR Delver build that Doug McKay piloted. The reason it would replace Fireblast is that the deck doesn’t really want to risk sacrificing lands if the spell is countered. If Fireblast is countered the chances of success are much lower, it’s tough for a deck with eighteen to twenty lands recover after double Stone Rain. Fireblast is a “finisher” – a spell that ends the game. It’s usually not cast until the time is right on hopefully your opponents last turn (six to seven). By turn six or seven, it’s perfectly reasonable to be able to set up a spell that will win the game – after all, it’s literally a quarter of the opponents’ life total.
I know that I argued the fact that Mastery was bad because it doesn’t interact with Stoneforge Mystic, Knight of the Reliquary, Dark Confidant, etc. If you think about it, neither does Fireblast. Thunderous Wrath in UR Delver is essentially a better mid game finisher with a less devastating draw back. A perfectly acceptable card as a two-to-three-of in my opinion, well… Three may be a bit of a stretch. The card still has some of the same downsides as Mastery, but so does Fireblast. They’re both essentially a mulligan in some opening hands. Onto the next and final card for this week!
Unlike the other two, Griselbrand doesn’t have Miracle. However, it’s incredibly powerful. I could very easily see the card in Reanimator, Dredge, and Sneak & Show. It’s effectively a Yawgmoth’s Bargain that can be cheated into play to draw fourteen cards immediately. I say fourteen because the ability can only be activated twice in most instances before death. I can easily see Grinselbrand as a one or two of in Reanimator over one or two of the Jin-Gitaxis is most lists currently. The reasoning being that Jin has to worry about cards such as Pyroblast and Swords to Plowshares where Griselbrand can pay 7 life to draw into Force of Will and a blue card to protect itself. Jin-Gitaxis doesn’t have that added benefit, although, it is more powerful in the early game if it lasts until the end steps. Drawing seven and making the opponent discard their hand is often more important than the lifelink. I predict both creatures will remain in Reanimator, the configurations? I’m unsure. In Dredge, Griselbrand is a black creature to feed to Ichorid for its recursion on top of being a ridiculously good Dread Return target! It’s a must answer threat that happens to dredge the rest of the deck away at choice! A really nice fit, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Griselbrand as a one of there. The downside is, a lot of high placing lists recently have only been playing a one-of Dread Return target in Flame-Kin Zealot. Due to Faithless Looting’s ability to flashback with the mana from Lion’s Eye Diamond many lists have cut the Dread Return targets that draw/dredge cards from the library. This has me a bit skeptical, but I do believe that it could have a place in Dredge. Lastly, Sneak & Show, very similar to Reanimator with the added bonus of putting Griselbrand into play off of Sneak Attack to draw into an Emrakul or Progenitus to Sneak into play and win the game on the spot! Realistically, I’m unsure if Griselbrand is playable there.
All of this means that Griselbrand’s best application is in Reanimator with some possibilities of being in a few other decks. Which isn’t a bad thing. If one card from every new set made an impact on Legacy, that card did its job. Legacy is a tough place. It’s tough to find a niche for new cards. Brainstorm might become more acceptable to Counterspell in upcoming months due to Miracle and I wouldn’t get bent out of shape about Temporal Mastery. It’s not going to have a long-lasting impact. I’ll be the first person to eat my words if I’m wrong, but I’m certain I won’t be.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource