ATS in Legacy (1.5)

By Belgareth

Table of Contents:

I. What is ATS?

II. The History of ATS

III. Why play ATS?

IV. The Deck ATS

A. The Decklist
B. Card Choices
C. The Sideboard

V. Conclusion

VI. Credits/Thanks.

I. What is ATS?

ATS stands for Angry Tradewind Survival, deriving its name from the three most powerful cards in the deck: Anger, Tradewind Rider, and Survival of the Fittest.
Why is this a strong choice in Legacy?
Well, its roots lie in the old Extended deck Tradewind-Survival) which devastated the format until the banning of Survival of the Fittest (SotF).
It functions through the use of multiple utility creatures in combination with SotF, allowing it to run a toolbox style maindeck with an answer for any situation.

Many people consider ATS to be a control deck due to its creature removal and “bounce” aspects. Others consider it to be combo because of the multiple inherent combos that lie within the deck. The truth of the matter is that the deck is, by nature, a lock deck. It likes to tie up the board until it can get a Tradewind Rider and a Seedborn Museinto play, after which it proceeds to return all the opponent's permanents to their hand and win the game at its leisure.

II. The History of ATS

ATS started life in Extended where it was designed as an answer to the top decks in the format. A decklist taken from this period:

Tradewind SurvivalMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Mana: 28
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Wall of Roots
6 Island
5 Forests
4 Tropical Island
1 Savannah
4 Land Grant

Creatures: 12
4 Tradewind Rider
2 Quirion Ranger
1 Gilded Drake
1 Spike Feeder
1 Deranged Hermit
1 Uktabi Orangutan
1 Spike Weaver
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob

Other Spells: 20
4 Survival of the Fittest
4 Brainstorm
4 Impulse
4 Force of Will
4 Counterspell

This decklist, despite being from Extended, used a similar principle as the list we will be looking at today.
It ramps up mana development while attempting to use Tradewind Rider and Quirion Ranger to control the game.
However, Tradewind Survival’s reign was short lived. The DCI recognized the power of Survival of the Fittest and banned it in Extended.
Many sets arrived since that day, bringing with them many of powerful additions to the deck. Two standouts include the decks namesake Anger and the powerful combo tool Seedborn Muse.

III. Why play ATS?

Why should you play ATS rather then any of the many other Tier 1 decks in 1.5?
The reasons are:
a) It’s extremely consistent, performing well on a regular basis and not relying on a perfect hand to win a game.

b) The rapid tutoring via Survival of the Fittest allows the deck to employ a vast array of tools and have an answer to whatever it may face.

IV. The Deck ATS

A. The Decklist

Obviously decklists change and there is no perfect list. The deck can change when the metagame changes.
The current decklist I use is Diablo's from

ATS by Di, 11/29/04Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Mana: 26
4 Windswept Heath
2 Wooded Foothills
4 Tropical Island
1 Taiga
2 Savannah
5 Forest
4 Birds of Paradise
3 Wall of Roots
1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary

Creatures: 18
4 Tradewind Rider
2 Quirion Ranger
2 Eternal Witness
1 Seedborn Muse
1 Gilded Drake
1 Mystic Snake
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Genesis
1 Anger
1 Masticore
1 Uktabi Orangutan
1 Elvish Lyrist
1 Spore Frog

Other Spells: 17
4 Survival of the Fittest
3 Enlightened Tutor
4 Brainstorm
4 Force of Will
2 Mana Leak

This is currently the decklist that I consider to be the best. The deck will have to adapt to any metagame changes that new sets and the unbanning/banning of cards will bring, of course.

B. Card Choices in ATS

A card-by-card analysis:


Fetchlands: They are all able to find the single Taiga this deck needs to use Anger as well as any other land in the deck. They also thin out the deck for better draws, and have great synergy with Brainstorm, allowing you to shuffle away unwanted draws.

Tropical Island: They add both the green and blue to the deck, necessary to cast the core constituents.

Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary: His Legendary status is not a drawback in this deck as you can safely run him as a 1-of without worrying about whether he will turn up when needed. Rofellos allows the deck to ramp its mana up to insane levels.
On his own he provides a nice accelerant, but throw a Quirion Ranger into the mix and you get what effectively amounts to rocket fuel, allowing 10-12 mana on turn 4.

Birds of Paradise: These are mana acceleration, pure and simple. They allow Survival to be activated as early as turn two. They also help under landscrew or off colour mana requirement.
When combined with Quirion Ranger, these produce healthy amounts of mana fast, and when Anger is in the graveyard, they are excellent.

Wall of Roots: The walls are possibly the best early mana producer that ATS have, not only producing mana but also blocking early aggro attempts with an impressive 5 toughness.
It should also be mentioned that it can be activated on both your and your opponents turn for twice the searching fun.


Survival of the Fittest: Without this card, the deck would not exist. It is described by most as the most powerful card in the format.
If your opponent lets this resolve, then you are in a strong position, able to tutor for everything you could possibly need at instant speed.

Force of Will: What can be said about this powerful counter that has not already been said?
Because of its free alternate casting cost it allows you to aggressively play the deck without having to leave mana open on your turn

Brainstorm: This card is not only very important for finding answers when you need them, but is also awesome when combined with Fetchlands for better use.
These can also protect key cards from discard such as Duress if necessary.


Tradewind Rider: This is the card that pulls the whole deck together. It bounces anything you want with the exception of untargetables like Blastoderm, and it works at instant speed. With a toughness of four, he’s not a bad blocker, either.
A large proportion of the combos involved in the deck require an active Rider.

Seedborn Muse: Tradewind and Muse combined means that the opponent will lose two permanents every turn. Not many decks can survive that.
The Muse also untaps your creatures for blocking duty and extra mana which can be used with Masticore.

Quirion Ranger: The importance of this creature should be apparent by the fact it is one of the few creatures to show up in a quantity larger than one. Ranger allows every creature in the deck to run double duty. When you're using powerful creatures such as Tradewind Rider and Rofellos, this is a BIG deal.
As a side note, this also allows double use of lands and protection from both land destruction and Tangle Wire.

Mystic Snake: Normally, this card would be far to slow for the format. When combined with Survival and Genesis, you get “infinite” counterspells that can be tutored for with ease .
This is a slight exaggeration, as you can only recur it once per turn, but wait! We have Tradewind Rider to allow even more reuse.

Masticore: One of the “bombs” of the deck. Acts as the deck’s primary beater as a 4/4, but his primary use is to kill an opponent’s army with ease due to high mana generated by this deck. It can be difficult keeping masticore on the table due to drawback , but that is where Squee shines.

Elvish Lyrist: A simple one-drop that destroys opposing Survivals (pretty much the only enchantment played these days). Good synergy with Genesis is just a bonus.

Uktabi Orangutan: Similar to Elvish Lyrist, but Sex Monkeys have excellent synergy with Tradewind Rider, which is important in removing any problematic artifacts.

Spore Frog: Frog is the best card you could wish for against Aggro. While Masticore takes time to set up,the Frog is capable of buying you the necessary time to clear the board. When combined with Genesis, it creates a solid lock that will have your opponent cursing. Yes there are ways out which include end of turn Swords to Plowshares etc. but it is still mighty impressive.

Squee, Goblin Nabob: This guy has so much card advantage packed into his tiny frame that it's unbelievable. When combined with Survival of the fittest, his card advantage is bordering on insane.
Not to mention he can act as an eternal blocker.

Genesis: The unsung hero of the deck, he lies in your graveyard unnoticed working his recursive magic. As mentioned, he creates an infinite “Fog” lock with Spore Frog. He can also return any creature that is needed for double duty, which helps you keep in control against control decks.

Anger: I will assume you read the rest of the article so you will know that this crazy card acts to speed you along by at least a turn.
This is 99% of the time the first card you should search for with survival.

C. The Sideboard

I will assume you read the article , so you will know ATS was designed to be able to deal with nearly everything that gets thrown at it .
However, metagames all vary and as such I cannot tell you what you should be sideboarding.
If you need any help sideboarding, I will be happy to make suggestions based on your expected metagame Smile
The sideboard of ATS can be very varied as you have Tutors maindeck to facillitate 1 of's in board.

The deck I use has the following Sideboard :

Vs Aggro

Against aggro , your main objective is to slow down the rush of cretures and buy yourself enough time to get you lock on.
Obvious choices against aggro include Worship, Propaganda, Silent Arbiter and Goblin Sharpshooter.

If your opponent is playing Goblins , you may also wish to bring in Chill.

Vs Control

Against decks like Landstill and BBS which are tougher matchups, it will depend largely on the build.
Back to Basics can be very difficult for Landstill to play around, while Choke will cause any blue deck problems.

Vs Combo

Not a great deal of combo has arisen due to the bannings already discussed in an earlier article by my colleague Qwerty .
Charbelcher decks were thought to be a powerhouse early in the season , but Null Rod caused all sorts of problems for them .
This resulted in them hardly showing up in todays scene.

V. Conclusion

ATS has been a strong contender throughout it's transition through the format, such that there has been complaints that Survival of the Fittest should be banned.
To these people I say .... Why ?
The Legacy format is one of the most stable and diverse of all of them, I hope that you enjoyed reading and will stop by the Legacy forums to discover this rich exciting format.

VI. Many thanks go out to Qwerty for his help throughout writing this, also to Many people at TheSource (Especially Diablos) for much helpful info.
Thanks to Goblinboy as Editor and a big thankyou to everyone who read the article.


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