Planar Chaos in Legacy
By CynicalSquirrel on February 7th, 2007 · Filed in Legacy (Type 1.5) · Comments not available just now
As far as competitive Legacy goes, Time Spiral was a major disappointment. Promising to bring back old mechanics and possibly return to some of the roots of the eternal formats, Time Spiral gave almost nothing to the Legacy format. Fortunately, along comes Planar Chaos, full of fun color pie shifting that is sure to shake things up one way or another, and a few powerful cards in between.
So, without further ado, I'll get into the card explanations. My number one pick for Planar Chaos in Legacy may really surprise you.
The Return of Black Control?
Okay, so it probably won't. The best card from Planar Chaos for Legacy is Damnation, and it wins by a fairly easy margin. Now, I know what you're thinking. "Wait, doesn't Legacy already have Mutilate? How is Damnation so much better?" The answer is, easily. Mutilate's home is, and always will be, in pure monoblack control. Monoblack isn't the deck benefiting from the printing of Damnation; the decks that will truly become strong are other possible control archetypes that have been one board sweeper shy of becoming competitive. Since the existence of Legacy, all control decks have had the same problem. They have the great board sweepers, strong draw, good finishers. The problem has always been beating the combo decks such as Solidarity or Iggy Pop. Damnation being in Black now means that the same color that has the best combo disruption in Duress and Cabal Therapy now also is in possession of the best board sweeper in the game.
So what decks could arise because of this? For one thing, many decks will undergo some changes. Look for all of those funky BGW control hybrids to drop white altogether and add Damnation, creating a more stable mana base, which in itself will make a big difference. However, for a deck that could really become powerful thanks to Damnation, look for an old favorite to make its dreaded return to the format.
This obviously isn't a finished version of the deck, but I think it's a decent backbone at least. With Edict and Damnation plus counters, controlling the board shouldn't be a huge issue. Duress and maybe Hymn to Tourach can come in from the sideboard to shore up the combo match-up. Skeletal Scrying also adds a lot to the deck, giving it a great card drawing engine that can't be ignored.
In case Black mages are still somehow disappointed, there are yet more goodies. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is another card that can make an impact in Legacy. While Damnation won't make a huge impact on monoblack, Urborg likely will. Combined with Cabal Coffers, the deck can go that much faster and gain control quicker. It's guaranteed to be at least a one-of in any monoblack deck.
The other great thing about Urborg that many overlook is how good it is with lands that normally don't produce mana. The normally unplayable drawbacks of powerful cards like Maze of Ith and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale suddenly don't look so bad anymore. There are also some cute tricks with it like Crusading Knight, or maybe even Karma, but those are probably best saved for the casual forum.
Completing the triangle of strong black cards is maybe the most hyped card in the set: Extirpate.
Now this may cause some controversy, but I don't find Extirpate to be anything unbelievable in Legacy. It's been getting a lot of attention, but it will most likely just be a strong sideboard card against Life from the Loam decks and Iggy Pop. The problem I have with the card though as far as people talking about maindecking it is that it has very little impact against the consensus top three decks: Goblins, Threshold, and Solidarity. Obviously removing every Goblin Piledriver from the game is nice against Goblins, but in order to do that, Piledriver has to be to the graveyard already, and might have already done its damage. Extirpate is decent against Goblins, but I don't think it will have enough to warrant playing four over something that would actually affect the board.
Against Threshold and Solidarity, Extirpate just isn't very good at all. Threshold can play around it fairly easily, as the whole deck is based off of not relying on any one card, but instead on the synergies each card has with each other. A skilled Solidarity player should be able to win through an Extirpate as well, although removing all their Resets will make it difficult for them. Extirpate should be a strong sideboard card against many decks, but I wouldn't advise maindecking it. In my opinion, the best maindeck use for it would be in a mana denial deck with Sinkhole, and using it to remove any destroyed non-basics, fetchlands, or Wastelands. Although that probably isn't all that useful.
WHAT Might Be Tier One?
One of the more overlooked cards in Planar Chaos could help boost one of the more overlooked decks in Legacy into a spot among the top decks in the format. What is it? This time you'll really be surprised. The card is Sinew Sliver, and the deck is none other than CounterSliver, an old favorite for many, I'm sure.
CounterSliver has quietly put up strong testing results against most of the top decks in the format, and that was when they had to splash Green for Muscle Sliver. Now with an on-color Muscle Sliver, CounterSliver can go to a UW build and have a more stable mana base, but still using the most powerful slivers such as Crystalline Sliver. The other option would be keeping Green, and simply playing eight Muscle Slivers. Either route seems like they'd be good.
So what kind of CounterSliver lists should you be looking for come February 20th? Here's one possible idea:
The deck is surprisingly efficient with the Sliver creature base, and plays a little like Threshold with the three colors. Don't be surprised if this becomes a strong deck after Planar Chaos, and I hope you all enjoy your CounterSliver mirror matches.
The following cards are potential strong Legacy cards that don't really fit into any current archetypes. Since so many new decks are appearing each day in the format however, I thought I'd give them a little attention and maybe stir up some of your deckbuilding senses.
Calciderm -- There's an obvious route with Calciderm: GW Beats. With Watchwolf, Exalted Angel, Loxodon Hierarch, and Troll Ascetic along with other powerful fatties in these colors, a GW beat down deck similar to the GW Goodstuff Extended deck could be possible. With all the life gain it could probably be strong against aggro, and could sideboard things against combo.
Sunlance -- Obviously it's far from being anything amazing, but can a deck really have too many answers to turn one Goblin Lackey? Obviously it's not the best solution, but White's answers to Lackey outside of Swords to Plowshares are rather slim. Sunlance might be your best bet if you're really struggling against them.
Magus of the Bazaar -- Right away, Magus of the Bazaar becomes one of the strongest discard outlets in Legacy. The problem is, decks that can really use the outlet like Friggorid or Madness often don't want to be spending turn two playing a fragile 0/1. It wouldn't surprise me of the Magus showed up in some kind of reanimator deck, however.
Lavacore Elemental -- Lavacore Elemental looks a bit like Jank City, USA, but I think it could be surprisingly good. We've already seen Zoo decks and other random beatdown decks run cards with big drawbacks such as Flesh Reaver. A 5/3 for 3 in a deck full of other efficient creatures is nothing to sneeze at, and your Kird Apes, Skyshroud Elites, and other guys should be able to keep it on the board for a decent amount of time.
Sulfur Elemental -- Sulfur Elemental is finally an answer for red decks to white decks running things like Silver Knight that can really give them problems. Obviously you need two to completely get rid of the Knights, but against a deck like Angel Stompy, having two Sulfur Elementals out at once pretty much nerfs them. Not to mention that it can also be used as a trick in combat with its flash ability. However, I don't think people will sideboard it over things like Anarchy. It could still possibly find a home in the right deck.
Blood Knight -- Blood Knight goes in the same category as a red card to try to answer decks like Angel Stompy. It could be a pretty strong card in a deck like Boros Deck Wins (Yes, it exists in Legacy too), or any RG Stompy deck that is having problems with white decks, or just Swords to Plowshares.
Reckless Wurm -- Reckless Wurm is one of the more interesting cards in the set because now madness decks have to ask themselves if it's worth it to cut a color and start playing red cards in madness. A green/red madness build with effectively eight Arrogant Wurms along with Fiery Temper and Violent Eruption is certainly tempting, but it might be a bit too fragile for Legacy.
Simian Spirit Guide -- Another card for red based aggro, Simian Spirit Guide could be useful in a low curve RG stompy deck, and could even see play in some Ancient Tomb-based aggro decks, since it allows you to play fat like Rakdos Pit Dragon one turn earlier, and sometimes even on turn one.
Essence Warden -- Nothing new, but replaces Soul Warden in any Aluren decks that were still playing with, which might make the deck a bit more consistent.
Gaea's Anthem -- ten-land stompy decks could theoretically use Gaea's Anthem, although the three mana cost could make things difficult. It still could be tried, and might actually be effective.
Groundbreaker -- Ball Lightning doesn't see a ton of play in Legacy, but Groundbreaker is in a color that needs it more and can use it more. An obvious idea is Eternal Witness, while another would be Unearth in a black/green aggro-control type deck. To add to the Unearth strategy, Groundbreaker also has excellent synergy with Cabal Therapy. The only question mark really is the triple green cost, which could be hard on your mana base.
Harmonize -- I play a medium green type deck in Legacy, and I'll be giving Harmonize a shot. I've noticed when I play my deck it often runs out of gas, but Harmonize fixes that and also can be recurred with Eternal Witness in the deck to really draw a lot. Then again, I might be the only one who cares about this.
Seal of Primordium -- Again, nothing really fancy here. Enchantress-style decks now can cut Seal of Cleansing and play a card in the main color, which makes it a bit easier, but likely won't make a huge difference.
Radha, Heir to Keld -- Radha, Heir to Keld is an interesting card, and one you need to build a deck around. Like a lot of cards in this set, the best place is a very low curve RG Stompy type deck, with a lot of instant speed burn. Swinging with Radha and playing a Price of Progress for free, plus the other burn and creatures you played that turn could be a surprisingly powerful and blazingly fast strategy, although it still shares the same weaknesses that other Stompy decks have.
Well, I hope I covered everything. This seems to be a very fun set for Legacy with all the color shifting, and could actually make a decent impact on the format with Damnation. I hope you enjoyed the article, and have fun playing with Planar Chaos.
By CynicalSquirrel on February 7th, 2007 · Filed in Legacy (Type 1.5) · Comments not available just now