Legacy Eternal #1
A format 20 years in the making.
Posted on: 3/2/2013 12:43 AM By RoarMaster
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Here we are with the first edition of Legacy Eternal! A new blog I will be writting each month. These blogs will vary from the competitive to the casual, but I will do my damndest to keep them fun and informative for you all. This is also not to say that I wont be making any other blogs, I will, simply that they will probably take a back seat for awhile. I will work on them when I have the time and inclination. I really enjoyed writting my BIFNB blogs, and hope to continue to make them.
Like almost all of the decks I put in my Blogs, it is a deck that I actually own in Real Life(other than some of the duals are rav shocklands). I would not try and write a book on the african wilderbeast, because I know very little about them(I think they are an ox or cow?), and even if I did research them, I would not have ever actually seen one first hand and observed it in its natural habitat, and thus probably be missing out on a lot of depth of understanding. And so I try not to write blogs about decks that I have not already played extensively. And this deck has definately been played a lot. It is the second oldest still assembled deck that I own. That is, I still have my original Sliver deck from the 90's(Hugely altered from its original incarnation obviously), this deck Im about to show you(she turned 9 this year), and my enchantress deck who was born a year or so after this.
Id like to start off with a little history of my deck. Feel free to skip past this part if you are only interested in the technical aspects of this blog. As Im sure many of you have noticed, I am a bit wordy for no apparent reason, tending to fill my blogs with a lot of half-off-topic randomness.
This deck I call Therapy Thoptometry. I have been playing versions of this deck since the original Mirroden block came out back in 2004. It has obviously gone through a lot of changes since its first conception. From the name to color, right on down to the win condition, things have come and gone, but the feel and play of the deck have remained the same.
A Deck a Long Time in the Making
It all started with Isochron Scepter... Im sure many of you know and love/hate this card. Jike all John's(not the trick kind), I saw it and wanted to break it. At that time I still played Standard(unfortunately), and since Standard really sucked through the Mirroden block, I diversified into other formats, Extended and Legacy(although they were not called this at the time). There were a few Scepter decks sprouting up at the time, oh so creatively labeled "Scepter Control", and generally these abused Fire // Ice on the stick. I was going through a friend of mines card collection one day and found a playset of Orim's Chants that he never used and I quickly traded them off him for far below their $30 apeice price tag( Sorry BJ ;), nowadays they have halved in price since Silence was printed. The first version of this Scepter/Chant was pretty weezy Ill be the first to admit, based simply off of locking down my opponent with Sceppter/Chant and then combo out with some crappy articats in like a 4-5 card combo. Honestly I dont know what I was thinking back then, so lets skip past that time in my life...
Fast forward a year or two and I started playing more competitively, played a lot more in sanctioned events than with buddies which is odd for me. At the time the local store ran Legacy tournaments every week, and there was a good following for it in my area. This was of course when Legacy was much more popular. The competitive meta at the time was hugely combo based, and when I heard that a big convention was comming to a city close by, I was hell bent on going, and taking them for all they were worth ;P I tailored the deck specifically to combat the current top decks, oddly enough it was a form of mill. Since Scepter/Chant has very few cards required to work, and it works against almost every deck, I had a lot of room to play around with. I ended up with a heavy control W/U/B deck that used cards like Lobotomy and Cranial Extraction to deny key combo pieces from my opponent. My main Win Con being Scalpelexis(he can work wonders if you are removing playsets at a time) and Szadeck, Lord of secrets. I ended up getting horribly horribly ill before the big day(Pneumonia is a bitch), but I went anyway. I was kicking ass and taking names for the first couple of hours, with a nearly flawless record. But I was dying sick and could not continue, still a great regret to this day. Not much I could do about it, I passed out in the bathroom there from lack of oxygen due to coughing. Shitty day all all around, other than the fact that my deck was working great. This was the first deck to be dubbed "Therapy", both because of the names of cards in it, and because my friends said they felt like they needed therapy after playin against the it.
Flash forward a couple more years and I was playing in less competitive circuits again, and the deck was no longer mill based, instead it itself being combo/control shutting down the opponent with the tried-and-true Scepter/Chant lock while setting up for a 3 card infinite combo win. This was the longest running incarnation of the deck Ive had, and through the many years of playing it, it has very rarely let me down.
And then came the Shards of Alara block, and unleashed a whole new kind of evil upon the world: The Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo. Now I have always wondered if they planned that one, Future Sight was all bout that sort of thing for starters, and is Sword of the Meek really uncommon worthy by itself? Its seems to be made to fit a VERY specific niche, and outside of that it is useless. I had a buch of them sitting around from back in the day, and when I saw them for sale for $2 I thought why the hell is this worth $2? It definately wasnt worth that before. After a little research I discovered why. It combos with Thopter Foundry. Since the then I have replaced my previous combo in Therapy with SotM/Foundry. And with wonderful results.
I attended Gottacon last month, kinda like Comicon. There was a MTG tournament scheduled, and so of course I decided to attend. I brought Fish for Modern(they took me to 3rd last year), Zur for EDH/Commander, and Therapy Thoptometry for Legacy. I was a bit rushed leaving town to get there, and I completely forgot my sideboard at home. I attended anyway, obviously not doing too well. Let me just say this, you cannot play tournament Magic without a SB. I almost always ended up taking the first game, but would then get ravaged on game 2-3. Still finished 2oth out of 46, and thats not bad I think, all things considered. Also, the nerdfest stays open for 56 hours straight, and I was there with some firends so we did not sleep the night before, just gamed on various things all night long, so we were pretty sleep deprived by the time Legacy started up. I was forgetting to play land on my turn, staring off into space as my opponent was casting stuff I should have been countering and so on and so forth.
In case you are unfamiliar with the combo, I will explain it below, and why it is one of my favorite combos of all time.
How the combo works is like this: You pay (1) to sacrifice your Sword of the Meek to your Thopter Foundry in order to create a 1/1 flying Thopter artifact, and gain 1 life. As the cost to activate an ability is paid before an ability resolves, your Sword of the Meek is put into the grave before the 1/1 is created. This will trigger your Swords 'Return to Battlefield' ability, and it will enter attached to your newly created Thoper. This is incedible efficiency, you are paying (1) for 1 life and a 1/1 flyer(Actually a 2/3 because its equiped with the Sword). You may then repeat this process as long as you have the mana for it. Repeatable effects have always been very powerful in Magic, and this is is probably one of the best non-infinite repeatable abilities out there.
Why is it my favorite combo of all time? 1) Its a 2 card combo, this greatly increases the chances of drawing the combo. And since it is also only 2 cards it requires less of an investment of card slots in the deck. In a 3 card combo, you are much more likely to have a 'dead draw' of a combo piece that you already have, and it also lowers the number of non-combo cards you can add to your deck that help it survive long enough to 'go off'. 2) Its cheap to get out, each piece only costing 2. This means that if you draw it in your first 8-9 cards(including starting hand), you can and probably will have it in play by 3rd turn. Not just that but you can also 'cheat' Sword of the Meek into play from your graveyard, so really, you can play your combo for 2 whole mana(in the odd case). 3) Its cheap to buy, each card is from $1-2. Im a deck collector so I do appreciate a good cheap deck concept(as you may know if you have read any of my previous budget building blogs), and spending about $10 on a solid deck core is right down my alley. 4) It is not by itself an infinite combo, it simply gives you a huge advantage. I personally love infinite combo but I know a lot of people out there despise them, and that makes this combo playable to a larger number of people and in different playgroup settings because of it. 5) It can easily go infinite. There are quite a few cards that you can add to the deck that allows you turn this non-infinite combo infinite. Since the combo works wonderfully enough by itself, the infinite combo is more of a finisher than anything else. Also, combo pieces like Time Sieve and Ashnods Altar are also cheap to cast, allowing you to either get them out quickly in the early game, or keep mana open for counters and the like in the late. 6) Its easy to find. Both cards being artifacts, and 2 cmc, this opens up a number of good tutor options, from everyones favorite Enlightened Tutor, Fabricate, Beseech the Queen or for the budget builders; Muddle the Mixture. 7) It is a very versitile combo, both giving you needed life against aggro matches, flying chump blockers at instant speed, and an endless supply of of evasive attackers as a win condition. Its kinda like a planeswalker like that.
So now that we are done with the history of the deck, lets get on to the technical details.
Isochron Scepter - I really should not have to say much about this card, but I will anyway. It is incredibly powerful and versitile, and has been an integral part of many tournament decks in the past, usually in conjunction with Fire // Ice. There are a number of cards that you can imprint onto the Scepter in this deck, but by far the most broken of these is Orim's Chant. Scepter/Chant is a horrible(y good) lock-down, allowing you to pay (2) to stop your opponent casting non-instants on their turn, or (2)(W) to stop them attacking and casting. Probably the next best card to slap under your scepter is Remand, a powerful tempo tool of-and-by itself, but when you are using it as a re-usable draw engine as well, it really shines. Hard Counterspells and Swords to Plowshares are also good imprints against different match-ups. Generally Counterspell when facing Control or Combo, and StP against more aggresive decks.
Orim's Chant - Even without the broken combination of Isochron Scepter to back this card up, it is no slouch by itself either. I see OC much more along the lines of an extra turn card than a fog effect. In most games it seems like the text of the card reads "Your opponent may draw a card and put a land into play from their hand, take an extra turn after this one". Its not exactly a Timewalk, but for 2 mana Its probably the closest we are going to get. At worst its a Fog by itself, but if played smartly it can do much more, including breaking combo chains or shutting down reanimators first turn Dark Ritual into-NOTHING beacause you just got chanted. There are many cool plays with this card, and in conjunction with Scepter it is an amazing soft-lock.
Swords to Plowshares - The eminent removal spell of the format, super cheap and incredibly effective. The life-gain your opponent may recieve is inconsequential most of the time. Its having an early Swords in hand that allows this deck to keep pace against quick aggresive decks like goblins, infect, and affinity. I run 4x of them mostly because I would rather have removal and not need it, than need it and not have it. You never know what you will be facing in your first match and its better to be prepared, most decks run creatures after all.
Remand - I choose to run 4x remand instead of 4x counterspells mostly due to two factors; one being that Remand works so well on an Isochron Scepter, and also because its (1)(U) cost is less color restrictive and thus more reliable in the early game. Also, since you will generally be casting it on your opponents turn, it allows for an 'Extra' chance to topdeck Terminus for a miricale cast.
Thopter Foundry - Although a great card in many different artifact decks, the Foundry is almost exclusivly used as a combo piece here. Other than the SotM, the artifact lands make for good emergency sacrifice fodder if needed.
Sword of the Meek - All around it is the worst stand alone card in the deck, outside of a combo piece it has no real use.
Time Sieve / Ashnod's Altar - These are the two infinite combo pices that I run with the deck. Ashnod's Altar allows me to sacrifice my Thopters to create more mana than it cost to create them, thus giving me an infinite number of Thopters, and an Infinite life total. The drawbacks to the Alar being that it is relatively expensive at 3 mana, and the fact that it is slightly more fragile of a win condition then Time Sieve. Time Sieve allows you to sacrifice five Thopters to take an extra turn. This meaning that if you have 5 mana available, you can create enough artifact thopters to sacrifice to the Sieve each turn, effectively granting you infinite turns. The only downside being that you need the 5 mana in order to get the infinite ball rolling. Hence why I run one of each; if I have 3 mana I can tutor up an Altar, but if I have already reached 5 mana, I can go with the safer rout of the Time Sieve.
Enlightened Tutor - This card plays a very important role in the deck, it is not just a combo enabler, but a toolbox as well. Since every combo card outside of Orim's Chant is an artifact, this tutor can find me almost any piece I need at instant speed. Not just that, but because I am running 4 of them, I can also run a number of tutorable '1-off' control and defense artifacts and enchantments both in main board and side, while still keeping the odds up of getting them into hand when needed. It also acts as half-assed mana ramp/smoothing, allowing me to tutor up an artifact land if I am getting mana screwed, or a Shield Sphere for a blocker if needed in game 2.
Energy Field - This is a bit of a leftover from a previous pre-alara build of the deck, but it has proved itself time and again. You might be surprised how often people do not have an answer to this card, and it allows you to stall out most aggro decks for at least a few needed turns early game until you can get yourself set up. It is fairly fragile, but the lack of creatures helps to make this card a little more reliable than it otherwise might be.
Detention Sphere - The newest classic. If you were not aware, this is one of the new classic cards that you will see across formats. It has replaced Vindicates in the deck for a couple of reasons, one of which being that it is searchable with Enlightened Tutor, but also because Lingering Souls is making a bit of a splash in the format at the moment and is seeing a fair amount of play.
Brainstorm - This is one of the best(and only) forms of protection from early targeted discard, something that tears this and other combo based decks a new asshole. Even with a godly starting hand, a first turn Thoughtsieze or the like can, and probably will, ruin your day. Brainstorm allows you to "Hide" important cards from your hand on the top of your library in response to the person targeting you with the discard spell. I playtested Ponder in Brainstorms place for awhile since it effectivly "Digs" deeper to find the combo pieces, but the instant speed of Brainstorm allowed me to also keep needed mana open for counterspells early on, while still providing me with the top-deck manipulation I required. And the icing on the cake was the ability to set a Terminus on top of my library, or just another 'Extra' chance to Miracle it on your opponents turn.
Pithing Needle - You will usually find this card in the side board of most decks. Ive found through a lot of playing though, that it is worth running a copy main since I have the tutors to find it if I need it. This card is extreemly powerful against many cards that get played frequently in the format, from Cranial Plating to Jace the Butt Fucker. And at worst it acts as sacrifice fodder to Thopter Foundry.
Terminus - This is the most recent addition to the deck, subbing out a Supreme Verdict. Ive been generally happy with the way its played in the games Ive had while its been in. Against very quick aggro decks it has been very good, the ability to set up a 2nd turn Terminus against decks like Affinity, Goblins, and even Reanimator(Heh, to the bottom sucker) has proven its worth. If I was not running Brainstorm, I probably would not be running Terminus either.
Counterspell - This guy is pretty self explanatory. Hard counters are good, especially against combo and control decks.
The Side Board:
Shield Sphere - This is one of my go-to cards when playing against RDW and other weenie decks. It can block decent sized creatures for a short time, or small stuff for a long time. Its easily tutorable, and acts as Thopter Foundry fodder if needed.
Detention Sphere - I was originally running Vindicate, but once again, the Enlghtened Tutor allows me to seach it up when needed.
Supreme Verdict - Since the more Miracle cards you run ups the chances of you actually having to hard cast them, I choose to leave 2 Supreme Verdicts in the SB instead of using Terminus like I did main. There is not a lot of regeneration in the format, so I am not too worried about the lack of 'Non-Regen'. The counterspell protection is great too, since the last thing you want is to tap out to fry your opponents board, only to have your Wrath countered and them swing for lethal on the next attack.
Inquisition of Kozilek - I could probably run this main, but I prefer t sub it in second in order to remove any artifact/grave hate they may have sided in. Otherwise if my opponent is playing Blue or Black I will be trying to remove their own targeted discard, or problematic counterspells such as Force of Will. And they always have the use of breaking other peoples combos too.
Grafdiggers Cage - ReaniHate that does not effect my deck. Subbed in Vs Reanimate and some Dredge decks.
Sun Titan - Another relatively new addition to the deck, Ive found Sun Titan to work beautifuly here. It acts as an alternate win con if needed, and returns both combo parts and control cards from your grave. Very nice against control if you can get him to resolve.
Hanna's Custody - A bit expensive at 3cmc, but it protects my combo, and thats what matters. Generally sided in only if my opponent is running green or white.