Cook’s Kitchen – A Forgotten Format (Pt. I)
Back before there was Modern or Legacy there was Type 1.5. Within this Magic format there was a very fun sub-format of Teams 1.5. This format continued after the list split in September 2004, which created Legacy from the separation of the Type 1.5 and Type 1 (Vintage) banned lists. People began quitting the format after the banned list changed. The loss of Mana Drain, Mishra’s Workshop, Bazaar of Baghdad, and Illusionary Mask really upset some players. Many feared that this new “Legacy” would just be a combo format due to all of the fast artifact mana that was unbanned. Many people even played main deck Nullrod. So the teams events drew fewer and fewer players at my local gaming store and they were eventually discontinued. But that’s not what this article is about – this article is about what was fun about the Teams format then and what would be great now!
I genuinely hope that after someone reads this, they put together a four person game of teams Legacy and have a great time. This format makes a person really reevaluate cards in a different way, kind of like the way someone would for Commander or Two-Headed Giant. Cards such as Accumulated Knowledge are ridiculously good where they are pretty much unplayable anywhere else. Things like this were why the format was so enjoyable.
Probably the most important thing about the format and my personal favorite is the synergies that happen when building off of each other’s decks. Two people with a similar strategy would usually beat out two separate decks or concepts (a combo deck and a control deck). The synergies were for the most part too strong for the awkward pair to handle. The concept behind having a combo deck and a control deck together would be one person to protect the combo and the other to win. This usually didn’t work because they would lose to a pair of control decks having more control and/or Counterspells than a single control player. Two combo decks would run over a single control deck since there are too many “Must counters” and a pair of aggro decks was usually too fast for the combo deck to handle. Leaving the control deck to fend for its self.
Prepared decks that were unified and worked together should win in a team format! Just think about it! It’s no different than any sports team that practices the same concepts. Before I continue describing the format, I should probably cover the unique rules of this format. After a quick Google search I found nothing on the rules, I’ll describe what I remember from my early teens.
• Legacy Banned List.
• Two teams of two.
• Each player has 20 life.
• Players take individual turns.
• No special rules for combat, a player can attack either enemy player.
(You cannot block for your teammate, etc. Individual magic with a teammate.)
• Your teammate is not an opponent. (Some cards specifically mention opponents.)
• Teammates sit diagonal from one another.
• No “Table talk” or sharing information.
(If this rule would exist today, I’m unsure. Back then it was a pretty strict rule that you couldn’t tell your partner if you were ready to combo out, to let a spell resolve or not, or to play certain spells. No sharing what was in player’s hands. That rule was difficult to enforce and often lead to players using some sort of sign.)
• Sixty minute rounds.
(Four people in a game makes games take a bit longer especially considering there’s more to pay attention to and additional life totals.)
In a format defined by effects that work on multiple players, opponents, and permanents swarming the board can be very difficult. The objective becomes dealing forty points of damage without seeing an effect that clears the board or just kills you. The traditional aggro decks of Teams Legacy were decks like Goblins, while a deck like Goblins is fine in Legacy, it doesn’t do a whole lot in a team sense. Goblin Lackey doesn’t allow both teammates to drop a creature, Warchief says “You control”, it’s a very singular deck. The playable “lords” don’t pump all Goblins, just your own. A deck like goblins would have to be completely redesigned to be successful in a Teams setting, unlike a deck such as Merfolk.
The fish have a creature that will pump all Merfolk, this creature is named Lord of Atlantis. An effect like this is very desirable in a multiplayer game. It’s actually the exact opposite of regular Legacy where the newly printed Master of the Pearl Trident is often better because it can’t increase your opponents’ creatures power and toughness. Aside from having eight Lords of Atlantis between two Merfolk decks in a team battle, Merfolk would be very powerful for another reason – they’re blue.
Being in a color that has access to stopping the broken combo decks of the format would be a huge benefit to the fishlike creatures. Cards such as Flusterstorm may actually be better than Spell Pierce in this format too! It pains me to say this since I have a general distaste for that card. Before I continue, let’s look at a sample deck list:
The deck looks pretty normal for the most part, that is besides the Flusterstorm I had mentioned prior. Standstill is back in the deck! That’s because if either opponent breaks the spell both you AND your teammate get to Ancestral recall! That’s a great way to ensure victory for the Merfolk deck! With six cards drawn off of the Standstill it’s very likely to be able to chain multiple Standstills throughout the course of a game!
When glancing down the deck list, you’ll notice the sideboard has some cards with a “mass” effect. By this I mean cards that will affect all of your opponents. This is still Legacy after all, meaning that there will be plenty of large and small green threats everywhere. It’s important to have a game ender for both players. Leyline of the Void is absolutely destructive in multiplayer. Being able to consistently remove all of your opponents’ graveyards is incredible, especially since a lot of the combo decks of this format are using the graveyard as a tool.
Pithing Needle is interesting because it can shut down multiple strategies for a single colorless mana. Team Sneak Show now just comes Team Show, they’re a lot less impressive when this happens. You get the idea, for very little cost, Needle is a strategy hoser that can simply lock opponents out of the game.
The last aggro tribe I’ll discuss is Elves! The woodland creatures are good for a few reasons, the first being that they’re great in multiples, the next is that they’re very synergistic, and the last is that they’re very dangerous. If you haven’t noticed, the text on Priest of Titania reads “Each Elf in play!” as does Ezuri, Renegade Leader! While these effects are indeed fantastic, a couple of things not to overlook are that Wirewood Symbiote and Quirion Ranger both say “Untap target creature” and not “Creature you control”. Meaning it’s very possible to untap your teammates Priest of Titania for additional mana mid-combo!
You’ll notice that there’s a maximum number of Priest of Titania in the main deck because it’s effect is best with another Elf deck beside it. Because Priest’s ability is very powerful I opted for two Cavern of Souls, with a potential eight Force of Will between your opponents’ two decks – you need Cavern to make Priest resolve.
I’ve decided to put this deck under the aggro category, I understand that it’s essentially a combo deck. However, it wins by putting tons of little dudes into play and attacking with them. That says aggro to me. Part of the reason Elves is viable as an arch-type other than being very synergistic is that the deck is faster than most other aggro decks and is just as fast as some of the combo decks in the format while being extremely resilient.
One of the downsides to running a tribal deck such as Goblins, Merfolk, and Elves are that cards like Engineered Plague now become game breaking! Plague back when this format was played was a huge sideboard card and certainly would be now. Being able to shut down both opponents by allowing them to never play a creature again will end games. If a player decides to run one of these decks I’d be prepared for Enchantment based hate.
As for non-tribal based decks, I’d expect Maverick to be the top dog as it is in Legacy. The reason being is that it can still interact with control and combo decks while withering away the opponent.
This list has some serious hate. Thalia, Mindsensor, Gaddock Teeg, AND AEthersworn Cannonist with Phyrexian Revoker out of the sideboard! This aggro deck is going to interact with the big bad combo decks of the format as well as the control decks. The increase in hate bears is because there will be a lot more degenerate things happening with this format. I almost included a second Gaddock Teeg over a Mother of Runes, speaking of which…
I almost cut Mother of Runes from the deck list, before everyone freaks out, just listen. In a multiplayer format there’s much more mass removal than spot removal making a card like Mother of Runes slightly worse. Because of this her numbers were reduced to three. On the brightside, some of this mass removal may be red. Meaning Mother of Runes may be able to prevent red damage and keep a Thalia alive.
Terravore! Seriously. This card is phenomenal in multiplayer, it’s even better when it’s in two decks that run Knight of the Reliquary too. This creature is going to get big and fast. It’s actually one of the few reasons I wanted to keep any Mother of Runes in the deck. Her main goal is to keep Terravore alive long enough to get the job done. An option for the sideboard is to run a Tsunami instead of Choke to really increase the strength of Terravore. Choke has a longer effect over a game but Tsunami shows immediate results. The choice is yours.
The entire reason to run Burn in a multiplayer format is for Price of Progess. It’s a lot tougher to deal 40 points of damage to two players than 20 damage to one. The goal now becomes take one player out and grind out the other later. Completely ignore the non-targeted player until target A is removed.
This list has some spicy multiplayer cards in it! Flame Rift for example! While it does damage you, it’s eight points of opposing damage for a measly two mana. Sizzle is slightly worse in my opinion, but it’s still an effective card for multiplayer. If this card doesn’t suit your taste it’s easily cut-able for a more traditional burn spell. Main deck Sulfuric Vortex fills a few roles.
• It hits both players
• Stops life gain
• It’s recurring
Compared to newer burn decks this has less creatures. That’s because of the five main deck board sweepers that happen to hit players too! Flamebreak and Volcanic Fallout are going to give the deck game against aggro decks while keeping the clock on the opponent.
The sideboard has a sweet gem in it called Pyrostatic Pillar! It shuts a lot of combo decks down cold when they try to combo out. Paired with a teammate increasing their clock it’s going to be difficult to resolve spells before they kill themselves with Pillar. Quite enjoyable. Grafdiggers Cage over Leyline of the Void was a judgement call, this deck isn’t ever going to hard cast Leyline and isn’t trying to use the graveyard at all. This made the Cage seem like a perfect fit.
Other aggro decks to try out would be Affinity with Disciple of the Vault’s ability triggering on all artifacts. Perhaps this makes Ravager playable again? Or possibly a pair of mono-black disruption decks. This is very fun format where new doors open for old favorites.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week where I’ll be discussing the Control and Prison arch-types of Teams Legacy! Until then, keep storming!
Bryant Cook on MTG the Source