Cook’s Kitchen – A Forgotten Format (Pt. III)
The final part of the three part series on Teams Legacy! The last few weeks I’ve covered aggro, control, and prison. This week we’re going to go a bit more in depth about my favorite arch-type – combo! I’ve always been a combo player, which is fantastic because combo is just degenerate in this format!
Let’s begin with the High Tide combo decks.There’s two options “Spiral Tide” which is a sorcery speed version of the ‘Tide variant’ or “Solidarity” the instant speed version that aims to win on the opponents turn. That’s the defining thing between the two decks otherwise they look and play somewhat similar. The sorcery speed version is much more independent and doesn’t really rely on the teammate to win compared to the instant speed version. The Spiral deck seems a bit less resilient mid-combo due to refilling the opponents’ hands full of potential counter magic and other hate spells. Where the instant speed version of the deck is more teammate friendly considering that it can Turnabout each others’ lands or build up the number of Accumulated Knowledge for each other.
One of the big benefits to being a sorcery speed version of High Tide is the set-up spells – Ponder and Merchant Scroll. These spells are really going to enable those consistent turn three to four kills. These spells find key components to combo out while Ponder can also find necessary land drops if need be. Merchant Scroll is basically a Demonic Tutor for High Tide or if the mana situation is already taken care of it finds a great draw spell in Accumulated Knowledge. Another benefit to being Sorcery speed is Candelabra of Tawnos, you can untap your lands AND your teammates’ lands! The Instant speed version of the deck does something similar with Turnabout but can only target yours or your teammates’ lands – not both.
The differences in the instant speed list to begin is Vision Skeins! Back when Solidarity was a huge contender the deck ran something similar called Words of Wisdom! In teams Legacy Vision Skeins is better because it may allow your teammate to be able to combo off if they weren’t already due to the additional cards in hand. Perhaps if they couldn’t they could always untap your lands with a Turnabout! Although, sadly, Reset only works on your own lands. Reset isn’t quite the same as Time Spiral in the Sorcery speed version but it does untap your own lands for a measly two mana. I wouldn’t worry about the lack of the card draw from the card, you’ll be up to your necks in cards with eight Accumulated Knowledges!
There’s also Snapcaster Mage to give those card draw spells flashback, the wizard’s role varies in the situation, but in a deck like Solidarity during the mid-game combo it’s a more powerful Merchant Scroll acting like a Demonic Tutor from the graveyard. A Yawgmoth’s Will Tutor?
If I had to choose between the two High Tide variants for this team format, I would be playing Solidarity. I’m all about synergy in this format and the ability to play off of your teammate is just too powerful. I’m sure David Gearhart where ever he may be is screaming, “What a beating!” while shaking his head in agreement.
T.E.S. – The EPIC Storm
A deck I know a few things about! Don’t act shocked, we all knew it would be in here somewhere – but it’s actually a competitor in Team’s Legacy. You see, Silence is absolutely ridiculous in teams. It says “Opponents'” and not “Target player” like the former protection spell Orim’s Chant. When I first thought of this concept I immediately thought of four main deck Silence paired with four Xantid Swarm. I could’ve sworn Xantid read similarly to Silence where it was all opponents, but sadly it’s “Defending player” because of this it didn’t make the cut. What did however was Defense Grid!
Expect to see this card in a few other lists as this article continues, it’s insanely good in this format at protecting the key spells that need to resolve. Most importantly, it’s colorless which makes it an easy fit into practically any deck. I opted to add it in to the T.E.S. list over Duress for this format because it’s effect will have a much larger effect with the downside of costing an additional mana.
Those who read my articles regularly know that I’ve been a huge proponent of cutting the main deck Tendrils of Agony in recent weeks. It’s back in for the moment in this list. In teams, there are just too many board sweepers for Goblin tokens to get the job done. Not to mention, those tokens need to live long enough for them to kill both players.
One cool synergy within this deck is that Rite of Flame reads, “Add RR to your mana pool, then add R to your mana pool for each card named Rite of Flame in each graveyard.” The storm players can build off one another, not quite to the same level as Solidarity but enough.
One huge benefit to this deck in teams is only one player needs to “go off” in order to win the game. That cool trick I sometimes do to be a jerk while playing, you know, the one where I Grapeshot for close to sixty? It’s actually sometimes relevant in this!
In order to kill with Tendrils of Agony a player will need a storm count of Twenty. Sometimes in order to achieve this, the storm pilot must Tendrils one of the opponents away. Then Burning Wish for Past in Flames, flashback Ad Nauseam, draw the remainder of the Library, play more spells, and flashback Tendrils of Agony to kill the last victim.
It seems like it could be overkill, but at least the option is there!
The Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy package doesn’t cut it for multiplayer, because of this I opted for some number of Misdirections and a pair of Flusterstorms. In a deck like this it’s better to have reactive disruption if your proactive disruption only targets a single opponent.
If you can’t afford two playsets of Imperial Recruiters, that’s fine, it’s entirely possible to change the creature base to not play them. Additional copies of cards like Cavern Harpy and Parasitic Strix are a must though. An option then would be to run Raven Familiar and to just keep bouncing it with Cavern Harpy and paying life until all of the combo pieces have been met. Doing this will also change the mana base a bit freeing you from needing red mana.
This is the deck everyone is out to beat, the reason? It’s too consistent. It’s fairly easy for both players to put creatures in the graveyard between Careful Study and Entomb, then only one of these two players needs to cast Exhume. That card is the culprit. It’s also possible for teammate A to play a turn one Careful Study ditching Griselbrand and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite then for teammate B to cast Reanimate on their turn one. A turn one Griselbrand, really? Earlier I mentioned how proactive discard spells normally don’t cut it in this format, Reanimator is an exception. Thoughtseize’s ability to target the player casting the card to discard their own creature is huge. In this deck it’s all about setting up the turn two Exhume for each other. Reanimator is the reason almost every decklist is packing tons of graveyard removal, usually Leyline of the Void.
Leyline is a proactive measure to stop Reanimator. The beautiful thing about Leylines in multiplayer is one of the two players needs a single Leyline. There isn’t as much mulliganing into the answer as there is in traditional Legacy. Leyline of the Void is effective at stopping both players and is a continuous effect unlike Relic of Progenitus or Tormod’s Crypt. It’s a must answer for Reanimator if it would like to win, the only other alternative is Show and Tell. Which is the next group of four decks, but the problem with Show and Tell in multiplayer is everyone gets to put something into play. There are that many more answers to the threats that are being dropped into play. Because of this, the sideboard for Reanimator is playing bounce spells to answer Leyline of the Void.
The core of creatures has changed slightly for this multiplayer Legacy format. The first thing to change was Terrastodon over Angel of Despair. Players are looking to beat Reanimator, they will be backing all sorts of hate. Terrastodon can take care of multiple permanent based hate cards such as Karakas, Moat, Ensaring Bridge, or even Glacial Chasm. Blazing Archon just shuts down aggro strategies cold and forces them to deal with a 5/5 flier before it kills them. Elesh Norn fills a similar role except it is susceptible to Karakas bouncing it, although, it does kill small creatures such as Thalia in the process. The big difference is there are two Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur over two Griselbrand, being able to discard both of your opponents hands as early as turn one can be game breaking. While it doesn’t have lifelink or the ability to draw fourteen cards immediately its discard ability is well worth the two slots.
The Karakas in the deck act as Wastelands for opposing Karakas that can act as ways to save your creatures from removal spells. They’re also in other lists with huge creatures that are put into play.
For the most part, these decks have a very similar game plan and would actually make a decent team. In order to accomplish this the Hypergenesis deck would have to switch out its own Griselbrand and Emrakuls for different threats. Most likely for Terrastodon and Elesh Norn taking some advice from Reanimator.
The Sneak Show list actually didn’t change at all from its original traditional Legacy list. That deck is coincidently pre-built for multiplayer! Hypergenesis added the Defense Grids that were mentioned earlier to the main deck over the Spell Pierce/ Misdirection slot. In a deck that doesn’t want to interact with anything it only makes sense that these cards move to the main deck. Defense Grid’s resting spot for Sneak Show remains in the sideboard for specific match-ups.
Briefly touched upon earlier was how Show and Tell isn’t as effective in multiplayer, this is still true, but to a lesser extent when both players of the team are dropping threats such as Emrakul and Progenitus. The better cards in this format are actually their counterparts – Sneak Attack and Hypergensis. While Sneak Attack really only helps the one deck, if it’s in play your team is usually winning. Hypergensis happens to help both teammates as well as the opponents. The bright side to this card is that with Maelstrom Wanderer there won’t be any passing of the turn. If Wanderer and the team only have enough power to kill one player, it’s usually best to kill the opponent sitting between you and your teammate. That way your teammate can attack the other opponent on their turn. Essentially a team “Time Walk” since you’re getting an additional turn for every one turn that they’re receiving.
Show and Tell
So many Show and Tell decks, am I right? Don’t worry, these are the last of ’em! I’m sick of these types of decks too, but the fact of the matter is – they’re good. Like the last pair of Show and Tell decks, these decks are very close to being the same. Drop an enchantment into play and win the game! Each has their own strengths and weaknesses though, Omniscience allows opponents to interact much more easily than Hivemind. With Hivemind either teammate can just play a Pact of “Insert Here” and win the game since most of the time the opponents won’t have the mana requirements to pay. With Omniscience either opponent can interact with Burning Wish or Petals of Insight. However, it’s completely possible to drop Griselbrand draw fourteen cards and put Emrakul into play. There isn’t much else to say that hasn’t previously been said about the other Show and Tell decks.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next! Until then, keep storming!
Bryant Cook on MTG the Source