Eternal Europe: Innovation Spotlight

With #SCGNJ on the horizon in the US, Carsten Kotter showcases several innovative Legacy lists from Europe. Will one of them become the next big thing?

Innovation is at the heart of Legacy. With cards and decks as powerful and consistent as they are, it is very easy to just grow comfortable, lie back, and
run the old faithful tournament after tournament. Add the incredible number of already existing decks and you can keep yourself occupied and entertained
for a long time without ever needing to build anything from scratch or exploring anything unusual.

However, when everybody starts doing so and netdecking, the format has a tendency to become a little stale – very few new cards are powerful enough to
impact the card pool, after all. It is for this reason that I consider those individuals out there who constantly try to push the envelope and develop new
archetypes the true heroes of Legacy. They put
their tournament lives on the line to prove their creations’ worth, and in the end, they leave the format the richer for it. Once those strategies that
survive the trial by fire are recognized and start to gather at least some followers, things can then snowball into Legacy having yet another viable and
established deck.

The “rise” of Food Chain after its success at the Open Series in Los
Angeles is only the latest example of this principle in action. A very fringe archetype mostly unknown to the format’s player base, the deck has been
picking up steam lately and I’ve been seeing the Mercadian Masques enchantment that could turn up both locally and in worldwide tournament results with
increasing frequency.

And we should not leave Food Chain alone. To keep the format fresh and exciting, it is important that this process continue, so I’ve decided to chip in.
From now on I’m planning to dedicate one of my columns every month or two, not to theory or established archetypes or anything like that, but to scouring
decklists from events the world over and presenting you with a couple of decks that look – to my biased eyes – like they have the potential to possibly
make a splash, the idea being, obviously, that some of you like what they’re seeing and decide to pick up and help evolve those archetypes into metagame
fixtures. So much for the plan – if that sounds like a terrible idea to you, let me know and I’ll rethink this little project, all right?

Anyway, enough talk. Let’s get to the decks!

My Mind Is Playing Trix On Me

To understand the first deck that has caught my eye this time, we need to look back in time to when the now essentially defunct Extended format was still
awesome and this little combo left quite a mark:

Often considered the most powerful deck ever built, the original Trix deck dominated two full seasons of Extended play, only mildly slowed down by bannings
aimed firmly at it in between.

The original:

And the post-ban version:

When hitting the mana acceleration failed to rein the deck in, Wizards finally decided to give one of the most fun – and broken – cards ever the banhammer,
and Necropotence left the format for good. Everybody assumed that the once dominant Illusions-Donate combo would then fade away, deprived of the overly
powerful support of the black enchantment, but Kai Budde wasn’t content to let go. Instead of giving up and looking elsewhere, he innovated a completely
different shell to support the combo and kept winning in Extended by gifting his opponents his own Illusions of Grandeur:

Intuition for Accumulated Knowledge (AK) may not be Necropotence, but it apparently got the job done nonetheless.

Why am I talking about Extended decks from a decade ago when I said I wanted to talk about innovative archetypes that look to me like they could have
potential? Well, sometimes innovation means taking a good idea from way back when and running with it. Look what Alex Sáenz has come up with:

Fusing Kai’s Intuition-AK engine with the awesome power of Ancient Tomb and Chrome Mox to keep up with the speed of modern Legacy, Alex decided to take
advantage of the additional mana acceleration and busted out format hoser Chalice of the Void. The deck is clearly still a little rough around the edges –
Kai’s 22 lands suggest that you might want to have one or two more in this one, too. I’d love to see a couple more ways to get rid of a Turn 1 Delver of
Secrets, and not having even a single Merchant Scroll in an Intuition-AK deck seems a little suspect to me; however, the potential of a Chalice-fueled
combo deck instead of the traditional “beatdown with whatever random creatures fit the color I’ve chosen approach” makes my deckbuilder’s spider-sense

The synergy Chalice has with the deck is actually pretty awesome. Sapphire Medallion already incentivizes you to run more two-mana spells than you should
usually be comfortable with, so it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of the ability to keep others from utilizing the lowest point of the mana curve
(no, zero doesn’t count – zero mana is no mana). What really clinches it for me is that Chalice is particularly awesome in a combo deck.

Other than Force of Will, the main ways people fight back against combo decks are one-mana spells: Spell Pierce and targeted discard in particular, but
also the devastating Red Elemental Blasts (you can destroy Illusions with the lifegain trigger on the stack to instantly kill its controller). Once Chalice
is out, none of those do anything anymore, leaving Alex free to combo out at his leisure (no, Daze shouldn’t work to well against a deck with Ancient
Tombs, Chrome Moxes, and Sapphire Medallion).

Add a rock-solid twelve basic Islands to laugh at Wasteland and a draw-engine most Legacy decks can only dream of – Intuiton-AK, Snapcaster Mage and Thirst for Knowledge is significantly more card drawing than you can usually expect to find in any Legacy deck, especially at instant speed –
and you have something that definitely catches my attention.

Miracle Parfait

You know a card that is awesome but that nobody seems to have gotten to work so far? Land Tax! When I wrote an article a couple of years ago – I’ve been
doing this for a while now, haven’t I? – trying to figure out which cards could be unbanned and mentioned Land Tax as a safe candidate, a number of players
believed it would break the format. Clearly that was folly. Land Tax has been released from its prison for a while now and nobody seems to really have
gotten it to work. Juan Miguel Carrascosa, however, has taken a page out of the book of old-school Vintage and made Top 4 of a 67-player event with what
essentially seems to be a modernized version of Parfait (Mono-White Land Tax Control):

The deck creates an extremely permanent-hostile environment with an overload of removal and hate-permanents while setting up Land Tax plus Scroll Rack to
threaten overwhelming card advantage. Mox Diamond, Ancient Tomb and Terminus – which conveniently can be put back with Scroll Rack – allow him to defend
without committing many lands to the board at all. Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull forces some action in a more proactive fashion, and Rest in Peace plus
Helm of Obedience threatens to win the game outright if the opponent does nothing to avoid triggering your Land Tax.

On the other hand, if they do trigger it, Scroll Rack and Sensei’s Divining Top go into overdrive. One particularly neat synergy in the deck is the fact
that Entreat the Angels helps to make all those extra lands you get into a threat all by itself, even if your library manipulation is stopped. Once Land
Tax has triggered twice, you aren’t going to miss any land drops any more (unless you want to, that is), meaning Entreat will very likely just end the game
should it ever happen to hop from the top of your library.

As awesome as all this is, there are clearly flaws. If you ever run into Storm or High Tide, I can’t imagine you’re getting out alive, given that your
options to interact with them are about as limited as those of a Zoo deck – and Zoo can at least try to race; however, against fair decks that want to win
with creatures and play lands, the deck’s gameplan looks very powerful indeed and Karakas, Oblivion Ring, and Humility give you at least a fighting chance
against Sneak and Show.

I especially like that Juan Miguel is taking advantage of Unexpectedly Absent, another goody from last year’s Commander set that has been lost in the
shuffle due to True-Name Nemesis receiving all the hype. With all the fetchlands being cracked in Legacy, it isn’t too hard to turn Unexpectedly Absent
into a quasi-Vindicate for WW at instant speed, giving the deck some much-needed interaction with non-creature permanents. Choke and Cataclysm also both
look like extremely powerful sideboard options in this deck, messing with the supposedly-superior blue based control decks. Setting people back on mana has
to be pretty good when you’re the one having Land Tax in play.

Overall this deck looks like it would grind incredibly well between silver bullets, library manipulation, a card-advantage engine that forces your opponent
to limit their resources, and a powerful finisher package up to and including constant bouncing and recasting of Batterskull – there are two of them, after
all! With strong tools to control the board and a multitude of angles of attack to surprise the opponent with, I wouldn’t be surprised if this deck could
deserve more attention than it is currently getting (essentially zero).

Why Study Carefully?

The last deck I want to talk about for today recommends itself because I’ve seen it do well in more than one incarnation (admittedly in events with fewer
than 30 players):

I’ve talked about adding Burning Wish and Lion’s Eye Diamond (LED) to Reanimator with a local player looking for a budget build of the deck before ((no
Underground Sea), so imagine my delight when I stumbled upon these sweet little beasts.

I suspect the two Danieles know each other, given the similar maindecks and the fact that both run a Sire of Insanity. If so, their collaboration to
incorporate Legacy’s resident Black Lotus into Reanimator has produced a deck that looks not only sweet but also exceedingly brutal. There are no blue
cantrips but so many angles. Here’s how you get to Turn 1 or 2 reanimate something:

1) The traditonal Entomb into Exhume plan (cast Entomb on 1, Exhume on 2).

2) Put Exhume on the stack and sacrifice LED to discard your hand, including your fattie.

3) Draw a fattie, a land, an LED, and an Unburial Rites (play the land, crack LED for white, and Flashback the Rites).

4) Draw a fattie, a LED, two mana sources, and a Burning Wish (cast Burning Wish, sacrifice LED in response, and find either Reanimate or the exceedingly
cute Stitch Together).

5) Fatty plus Burning Wish (for Stronghold Gambit; cast it against creatureless decks/opponents who you know don’t have creatures in hand thanks to your

6) If you can’t find a fatty, cast some mana acceleration and Wish for Empty the Warrens to just beat down with Goblin tokens a la Storm.

7) Grind through countermagic by hardcasting Unburtial Rites (likely with the help of Dark Ritual), then flashing it back.

Those are the main lines that are immediately obvious to me and I’m sure there are other nifty tricks I haven’t figured out yet. Note also that Burning
Wish means you have outs to most things opponents could be fighting you with, and that being able to Wish for Tendrils will often allow you to win on the
spot when Griselbrand hits, similar to how Tin Fins goes about things.

Of the two lists provided, I like the looks of Daniele Terra’s list better, simply because Gamble should be quite solid in this deck (the Unburial Rites
plan is easy to set up and the only thing you mind discarding would be the LED, which you can probably cast before casting Gamble unless that’s what you’re
looking for), and boarding in Empty the Warrens seems like a stronger postboard switch than having Sneak Attacks, as they circumvent any form of fatty

Just from the looks of the list, this B/R Reanimator deck looks brutally fast and surprisingly consistent, given that it eschews the best card quality
color in the format. It’s definitely something to try out if you’re sick of Brainstorming, don’t want to shell out for blue dual lands, or just enjoy doing
things a little differently.

Three Done, Hundreds More To Go

And this concludes my bout of spotlighting for today. Remember, I don’t guarantee any of these is the next big thing, but to my somewhat experienced eye,
each of these ideas looks like it might be worth investing some time and tuning. I’ll freely admit they’re further from the beaten path than what I usually
talk about and I haven’t done any real testing with them (yet), but they have delivered minor results so far – and that means it’s time for all of us to
build on those! Elves, Lands and even Death and Taxes were all just minor blips on the radar at some point, after all.

Finally, a friendly reminder: I’m planning to write this kind of spotlight article semi-regularly from now on because I think it shows off one of the
defining characteristics and beauties of Legacy particularly well – the depth of the card pool – so if you thought this was boring and don’t want me to do
it ever again, make sure to sound off. Also, feel free to share lists you’ve been developing with me. I can’t guarantee I’ll have much time to comment, but
if something catches my fancy, you might find your name in a future Innovation Spotlight!