The Cutting Room Floor: Unlucky ’13?
2012 was an incredibly successful year for me, from my honorable service in the Navy coming to an end to reestablishing myself within the competitive Legacy and Jupiter community again. I was able to pull down some big finishes all throughout the National Capital Region, and even a top sixteen finish at Star City’s Invitational Weekend earlier this past year in Baltimore. It’s been a wild ride, but things are about to get even wilder. We’re now at the twentieth anniversary of Magic: the Gathering. What a fitting way to usher in such a big anniversary than to have fun predicting what dreams may come for Legacy players all over the world!
Something tells me at the beginning of last year that no one predicted a card like Helm of Obedience, or Energy Field from Urza’s Saga, would find their way into a competitive control shell that would win games. After the printing of Rest in Peace, people double-checked the card to verify that it did in fact have a Replacement Effect, which it did. This enabled a combination with Helm of Obedience as a win, much like Helm did with its ancestor-in-combo, Leyline of the Void. Except in this case, Rest can be cast much easier and doesn’t necessitate having it in your opening hand to be playable.
One of the great things that helps make a deck like this playable is the use of Enlightened Tutor to fetch up any piece of the combo at any particular time in a given game. Most variations of this deck also use Counterbalance in conjunction with Sensei’s Divining Top, another effective way of locking an opponent down. Just recently, Joey Manner a regular of Jupiter Games managed to nail down a big finish at the most recent NELC with a variation of this deck.
New archetypes are an incredibly rare facet of Eternal Magic. I think this is because in large part there are fewer playable cards printed in newer sets. Now I’m not suggesting that there aren’t new cards being printed that help benefit formats like Legacy, because as we all know cards like Deathrite Shaman, Griselbrand and Abrupt Decay have certainly made their mark on the overall meta. We’ve also seen a trend of older cards skyrocketing in price with these new printings; cards such as Grindstone when Painter’s Servant was printed and Scroll Rack when Land Tax saw the light of day again jumped in value exponentially.
Who knows? You may have a card sitting in your junk binder waiting for that new card to be printed that will hike it up in value; just something to consider. But new cards will mean new archetypes, which is incredibly good for a healthy Legacy.
An Injection of Strength
As we all know, blue as a color is head and shoulders the class of Magic. Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with it as I absolutely love crushing blue decks, but respect its power. With that being said, I think it’s incredibly important to address the future of Legacy in 2013 as it pertains to the strength of colors. I like how Abrupt Decay and Deathrite Shaman gave green and black a bit of a boost and are in turn bringing decks like The Rock, Junk and BUG variants back to the forefront. Decay’s incredible power against RUG has kind of shoved it aside, although the deck is still very good.
White is a color that I feel just needs some serious attention, and black to an additional extent. Wouldn’t it be great to have a deck like White Weenie make its way back into the competitive scene? Perhaps printing an additional lock component for Stax? There are just a lot of different ways I can see white as a color gaining some serious ground trying to catch up to its counterparts aside from Plowing creatures. It’s amazing that a card printed twenty years ago to this day is still the best spot-removal ever printed.
On the other side, I think black is a color that, while really good in the utility department, seems to be missing something that makes the color viable on its own again. As someone with a strong love of the color, I would like to see something viable printed that benefits the color’s biggest issues, namely artifacts and enchantments. I’m sure this won’t happen anytime soon, but to be honest it’s quite tiresome for some folks that enjoy the color on its own, to have additional ways of removing worrisome permanents.
Wishful thinking methinks.
Unban More Cards
There has been a huge debate on multiple Legacy message boards about whether or not certain cards are safe to come off the banned list. You see, there are currently a great deal of cards that have were banned during an era of Magic where the landscape was completely different. In today’s game, there are loads more weapons to combine these banned cards with that could make them potentially dangerous.
The question is: Are these cards safe enough to take off the list?
I honestly cannot answer that question. Right now, Legacy is anyone’s ballgame. There are so many different archetypes available that to pinpoint an exact deck where a specifically and currently banned card would make an impact would be ignorant, because we just don’t know. We can, however, make an educated assumption based on our knowledge and understanding of how some of these cards work.
Take Mind Twist for example. This is a card that has never been legal in Legacy, let alone its predecessor format of “1.5.” If a card like this were to be unbanned, would it make a difference… probably not. It’s an investment that requires it to be effective, and honestly Legacy right now could care less if a player can juice up a discard spell that early. The random factor is nice and all, but I see it being reasonably fair at this point.
Black Vise is another card I was looking at, and I’m not so sure that card deserves to see the light of day again. It’s straight-up cheap damage that just damns control decks before they even have a chance to play anything. You could potentially chop out a portion of your offensive threats and supplant those spots for multiple Black Vises. This would create a scenario where the opponent is softened over the course of several turns and opening the door for a few cheap burn spells (or creatures; that is still a viable strategy) to finish them off.
Some people would disagree, and that’s cool. I just think Black Vise is a very powerful card for what it costs and should stay where it is among its peers in the Banned List.
One more card that I’d like to talk about is Survival of the Fittest. As a permanent tutor, it’s incredibly powerful. A few years back, we saw first-hand how powerful Vengevine in conjunction with Survival could be, to the point where the deck had positive win percentages against the format’s most prolific decks. Scarily enough this also included Storm. It’s been a while since Survival has seen competitive play, but I think if it were to come back it would face a whole new world of hate.
Consider what has been printed since Survival made its exit from the format:
- Surgical Extraction
- Rest in Peace
- Deathrite Shaman
Just to name a few. The bigger issue with Survival is its ability to find answers even in the face of hate. This is what made it so hard to stop before, in addition to the innocuous combination of Necrotic Ooze, Triskelion and Phyrexian Devourer.
Would Survival be safe in today’s format? I think so, I really do. But it really doesn’t matter what I think or how I feel about it, because it probably isn’t going anywhere.
I want to wish everyone a very happy New Year. It’s been a privilege to write for all of you and for Jupiter Games. I look forward to an exciting 2013 and hope that we get lots of new toys and trinkets to play with. Who knows, maybe we’ll see a new card printed that will jack the price up of some random Legends card. Maybe there’s a Weatherlight card sitting on your desk that will someday find a home in an ultra-competitive deck.
It’s anyone’s guess in what looks to be an unpredictable and incredibly fun 2013 in Eternal Legacy.