Double Or Nothing: Legions, Day One

Well, Legions is Standard-legal and things are going to change… or are they? Last Saturday, I ran a Legions-legal Standard tournament where the usually-strong Welsh contingent showed, as well as a handful of one-off Pro Tour attendees… So what decks showed up, and what changed?

Well, Legions is Standard-legal and things are going to change… or are they? Sure, there are a few creatures that stand out, like Withered Wretch and there are a few creatures that people want to try out like Seedborn Muse, Keeper of the Nine Gales, and Graveborn Muse… But will they really make all that much difference?

Whenever a new set comes in you can be sure of three things:

  • A lot of people will play tried and tested decks, not even changing a card.

  • Someone will make a new deck, claim it’s broken, and get hammered.

  • Someone will make a new deck and do much better than expected.

Last Saturday on the first day of March, I ran a Standard tournament in Bath, England. Legions was Standard-legal and I expected to see some new decks. Given the lack of information available yet, I thought you could all do with a look at what was played, what new cards got used, and some of the new decks that showed up.

Thirty-seven people showed up, and here’s the breakdown of the decks:

  • 7 U/G Madness

  • 5 R/G Beats

  • 5 MBC

  • 4 R/W Slide

  • 2 Psychatog

  • 2 Sligh

  • 2 Zombies

  • 2 Elves

  • 1 White Lifegain

  • 1 R/B Zombie

  • 1 W/U Birds

  • 1 U/W/G Control

  • 1 Wizards

  • 1 Opposition/Muse

  • 1 Burning Bridges

  • 1 U/G Beats

As you can see the expected decks made over half of the field with rogue decks making up the rest played by everyone from experienced players to first timers. The top eight was as follows:

1 Sligh

2 R/G Beats

3 Elves


5 R/W Slide


7 U/G Madness

8 Burning Bridge

The field was weaker than a usual Bath Standard event, as many of the stronger players had travelled to London for the last shot Regional Qualifier. On the other hand, the usually strong Welsh contingent showed, as well as a hand full of one-off Pro Tour attendees.

So of the top eight decks, what Legions cards were played?

The winning Sligh deck, played by Roy Williams, played four each of Skirk Marauder and Goblin Grappler. I watched a few of the matches and the Grappler seemed to work well, both as an extra Goblin for Goblin Piledriver’s sake, and as a simple way of killing annoying 1/1s (like Merfolk Looter) without burn spells. Apart from that, Roy’s deck was pretty standard.

In second place, Seb Dolling added two Grapplers of his own to his R/G Beats deck, as well as two Branchsnap Lorians. It looks like he was trying them out and they seemed okay over the course of the day – although the traditional creatures that Kai has in his R/G version look better overall.

Third place was a real surprise – and not just to me. William Clark put an Elf deck together and won four matches of six (he had a second-round bye). Here’s his listing:

William Clark’s Elven Hordes

Creatures (36):

1x Wirewood Hivemaster

3x Heedless One

4x Llanowar Elves

4x Elvish Pioneer

4x Wirewood Herald

4x Taunting Elf

4x Wellwisher

4x Birchlore Rangers

4x Elvish Warrior

4x Timberwatch Elf

Other Spells (6)

2x Overrun

2x Piper’s Melody

2x Wirewood Pride

Land (18):

4x Wirewood Lodge

14x Forest

Sideboard (15):

2x Circle of Protection: Red (cast using the Birchlore Rangers)

2x Elvish Champion

2x Krosan Reclamation

3x Naturalize

2x Phantom Centaur

1x Piper’s Melody

1x Silklash Spider

2x Verdant Succession

William played against Sligh, got a bye, beat U/G Madness, Opposition Muse, U/G Madness, and Burning Bridge before losing the last round to Slide. Sligh killed his early critters (especially the Wellwisher) and piled on the pressure. Slide’s mass removal is just too good against Elves, and William was a little lucky against the Burning Bridges deck.

Even so, he comprehensively trashed both U/G madness decks and Opposition because of Wellwisher. He gained far too much life – and with no creature removal, they couldn’t kill them and then work on bringing the life total down. With 62 cards in his deck he did get a number of wins by decking too and, in one game, he got up to over 1500 life. That’s right, 1500.

What’s also notable about this deck is how cheap it is to build and how easy it translates to Onslaught Block Constructed. On the downside Astral Slide is by far the most popular deck in OnBC at the moment and it hands this deck its ass. Some of the card choices (Birchlore Rangers, playing four Taunting Elves) could certainly use a little work. William could also add cycling lands easily, as well as looking into Living Wish.

To find the next Legions cards, we have to skip fourth and fifth place and look at sixth. Shane Silk-Reeves played MBC and tried out some of the new cards. Here’s his build.

MBC by Shane Silk-Reeves

Creatures (9):

2x Withered Wretch

2x Undead Gladiator

3x Graveborn Muse

1x Visara the Dreadful

1x Nantuko Shade

Other Spells (26):

4x Smother

3x Tainted Pact

4x Chainer’s Edict

2x Mutilate

3x Corrupt

1x Mind Sludge

1x Haunting Echoes

4x Duress

4x Diabolic Tutor

Land (25):

23x Swamp

2x Cabal Coffers

Sideboard (15):

2x Eastern Paladin

2x Mutilate

1x Withered Wretch

1x Mind Sludge

2x Haunting Echoes

1x Corrupt

2x Engineered Plague

3x Coffin Purge

1x Riptide Replicator

I disagree with many of the numbers in this deck (only two Coffers? only two Mutilates?) but it’s got most of the spells you expect to see apart from Innocent Blood. The creature count, especially the extra early critters, makes the Bloods much worse than in a traditional”three-creature” MBC.

Shane wasn’t the only player to use Withered Wretch, either; a few of the other MBC players had it in their sideboard and all of the Zombie players, whether playing Red or not, played four of them. A 2/2 creature for BB that makes Circular Logic a lot worse is not to be sniffed at. Almost all of them were using any spare mana they had to eat away players’ graveyards – and in Shane’s case, it paid off. The Wretch won’t stop the Logic that counters a turn 4 Mutilate, but it will kill their ability to stop big spells later on in the game.

Three other decks caught my eye during the day.

Black Ops by Tim Pinder.

Creatures (23):

4x Dark Supplicant

4x Withered Wretch

3x Boneknitter

3x Shepherd of Rot

4x Rotlung Reanimator

4x Cabal Archon

1x Scion of Darkness

Other Spells (14):

3x Duress

3x Mutilate

4x Smother

4x Chainer’s Edict

Land (23):

23x Swamp

Sideboard (15):

3x Oversold Cemetery

3x Engineered Plague

3x Megrim

1x Mortivore

1x Duress

1x Mutilate

2x Bane of the Living

1x Ensnaring Bridge

Tim’s deck is pretty focused on playing out critters, killing blockers and attacking. Even so it has a few elements that will cause surprises for the unwary. Casting Mutilate in the mid-game with a Rotlung Reanimator in play will often put him well ahead of his opponent, and the chance of an early Scion is not to be overlooked… But it shares a weakness with the Elf decks in that it’s vulnerable to Sligh and Slide – and a burn-heavy, fast R/G Beats deck should also give it problems. It can be moved into Block quite easily as well, but again Slide is prevalent there and I wouldn’t want to play this deck in that environment. Tim came 11th on the day with a 4-3 record.

The next deck is a version of one that everyone has been thinking of:

U/G Opposition Muse by Jake Warren.

Creatures (21):

4x Llanowar Elves

4x Birds of Paradise

2x Seedborn Muse

2x Phantom Centaur

4x Wild Mongrel

3x Basking Rootwalla

2x Wonder

Other Spells (18):

3x Roar of the Wurm

3x Static Orb

3x Opposition

3x Call of the Herd

3x Circular Logic

3x Squirrel Nest

Land (21):

3x Grand Coliseum

2x Wooded Foothills

8x Island

8x Forest

Sideboard (15):

1x Nimble Mongoose

2x Spellbane Centaur

2x Naturalize

2x Envelop

1x Circular Logic

1x Vexing Beetle

1x Words of Wilding

1x Krosan Reclamation

1x Compost

1x Biorhythm

1x Wonder

1x Silklash Spider

The first thing that’s obvious about that deck is that it really needs to be tightened up. There are too many”three-of” cards, which leads to it being a little unfocussed and probably one reason Jake came twelfth. The deck does look like it started out as a U/G Madness deck that evolved into an Opposition lock – and as such, has had to drop spells and land to fit in the Oppositions, Muses, Orbs and Nests.

The land count is very low for an Opposition deck – I wouldn’t want to play with less than twenty-three if I could help it – but Jake didn’t seem to have too much of a problem. I’d seriously question the Coliseums in a deck with Static Orb in, though.

Two Muses seems right on the money. You don’t want to see them until after you’ve cast a Nest, since there are only three of those, and you really don’t want to see them until after you’ve cast Opposition too.

On the other hand, as many people have questioned: If you have a Nest, some critters and Opposition in play haven’t you already won? If so, why do you need to spend two slots on such a win-more card?

I’m sure we’ll see tighter versions of this deck over the nest few months and, after Odyssey vanishes it might become more powerful…

Finally I’ll finish with a favourite of mine, although it came in 26th on the day. I’ve been trying to get a build of U/W Birds with Keeper of the Nine Gales working for a few weeks now but it keeps dying to Sligh and R/G Beats… Which is a real pity, given the fact that both of those decks are Tier One decks in Standard at the moment.

Flightmage’s Council Part II by Rollo Strickland

Creatures (22):

4x Keeper of the Nine Gales

4x Soulcatcher

3x Lieutenant Kirtar

3x Aven Envoy

4x Suntail Hawk

2x Commander Eesha

2x Thieving Magpie

Other Spells (16):

4x Aether Burst

4x Battle Screech

4x Boomerang

4x Soulcatcher’s Aerie

Land (22):

7x Plains

7x Island

4x Adarkar Wastes

2x Skycloud Expanse

2x Seaside Haven

Sideboard (15):

3x Morningtide

2x Worship

2x Mystic Enforcer

3x Crown of Awe

2x Hibernation

3x Disenchant

Having looked into the Keeper in some depth, I gave up working on U/G and started on a U/W deck myself. Mine is based more around the Team Punisher U/W Quiet Speculation deck from Odyssey Block but, as Rollo found out today, suffers the same problems: It doesn’t work.

Sure, occasionally, you get a bird, a bird, a Keeper, and a couple more birds and your opponent has no burn and you start to gain control – but all too often, they’ve dropped Mongrel and Arrogant Wurm, and are beating your head in. And unlike Tradewind Rider, Keeper of the Nine Gales is too small to block and then tap to bounce something. Almost every aggressive creature kills it, as does every removal spell being played in Standard right now.

I’d love Keeper to work but I think its only real chance is in a G/U/W deck picking the best Birds from White and Battle Screech, a few counters, the Keeper and Mistform Walls from Blue and some ground defence and fat from green.

Legions is out and people are playing with it. The decks we expected to remain strong are still strong at the moment… But none of the really respected deck builders have written much about Legions yet and there have yet to be any really high profile tournaments to show off any new tech anyone has come up with. We might have to wait until Nationals to find out what people are planning – and if so the English Nationals, home to some of the most innovative deck builders in the world, starts on the 19th of April so we don’t have to wait too long.

Cheers, Jim.

Team PhatBeats.