How To Get Into Legacy: The Sol Land Path

SCG Invitational Top 8 competitor Drew Levin continues his series on how to get into Legacy with a guide on how to build up to a collection through focusing on Sol land decks.

Today’s article goes out to everyone who loves to play Magic for ten turns after they’ve won. This is a step-by-step guide for all you griefers, you Johnny-Spikes who want to put people in hard locks. If you love drinking your opponent’s tears, eat your heart out.

This is a story about two lands. They both have the same mana ability, which they share with the eponymous Sol Ring.

Every deck that plays the Sol lands focuses on powering out game-changing artifacts or cards that cost two mana—the mana produced by a single Sol land and a colored mana source. At their best, Sol land decks are powerful. At their worst, they are inconsistent and clumsy.

The best Sol land decks tend to be proactive, aggressive, and linear. The worst Sol land decks try to be control decks without the filtering power of fetch lands and Brainstorm. An example of a weak Sol land deck:

As you can see, this deck wants to play a very long game, but it doesn’t consistently manage threats and shut out the opponent’s ability to cast their spells. A deck like this will have inconsistent draws and end up in all of the following positions:

  • Behind on board with four mana and Armageddon.
  • Incapable of answering something basic like a Tarmogoyf.
  • Dead to a single counter on their only relevant spell.
  • Drawing a string of diminishing-return lock pieces (Chalice of the Void, Trinisphere, Smokestack, Crucible of Worlds) while dying to literally anything.

That isn’t what you want to do. You want to accelerate into high-impact cards early and maintain your board advantage. Oftentimes these decks will play Wasteland, although it is far worse in a deck with five-drops than it is in a deck with one-drops.

 At their most proactive, this is what artifact-acceleration decks can do:

In case you want a recent tournament finish for proof of concept, here you go:

Ian astutely swapped Thoughtseize for Thoughtcast and Spell Pierce for Mindbreak Trap in California’s combo-heavy metagame. This change makes the deck worse against attrition-heavy midrange decks but a lot better against combo decks, Affinity’s worst matchup. For any of a number of potential reasons ranging from budget constraints to a desire for greater resilience, Ian also used the Tundra / Glimmervoid slot for an Academy Ruins.

For those of you who want a thorough explanation of the deck and specific card choices, my article is here, and my videos are here.

The deck comes in around $300 total. The expensive bits are fortunately also core elements of the Modern Affinity deck:

Beyond these you have sets of Ancient Tomb ($32); Chalice of the Void ($20); Ethersworn Canonist ($16); Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas ($10 per); and a lot of cards that occasionally crack the $5/set ceiling.

If you’re looking for a deck that doesn’t have color issues, plays a very fast game with a lot of acceleration, and allows you to get from Modern into Legacy at minimal cost, this is an excellent starting point.

If you read my last article, you’ll know that I recommend a budget of $400 + $150-200 per month to build up a Legacy collection. With the remaining $100 and your first month of money, I recommend buying a playset of City of Traitors, which can be found for around $200. During that time you’ll be playing a deck that can hold its own against a huge range of decks.

From there you get to a bit of a crossroads. You can either move toward Show and Tell decks:

Or explosive Metalworker decks:

Or any of a number of decent-but-not-great Ancient Tomb midrange decks that seek to exploit cards like Blood Moon; Thopter Foundry; and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas.

You may be wondering why I didn’t mention Painter’s Servant. There are two basic problems with trying to play Painter’s Servant and Grindstone in Legacy right now.

The first is this fifteen-mana creature.

The second is this three-mana creature.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn sees play in every single Show and Tell deck. It is a free and uncounterable Feldon’s Cane against Painter’s Servant decks, rendering their strategic approach nearly entirely ineffective. It’s really rough to invest all of your resources in resolving and activating Grindstone with Painter’s Servant in play only to end up shuffling your opponent’s deck.

Imperial Recruiter sees play in the Mono-Red Painter’s Servant deck. One copy of the judge foil costs $100. A playset costs more than the entire Affinity deck mentioned above. If you happen to be friends with a lot of judges who don’t like money, maybe a set of Imperial Recruiter is in your price range. If you don’t happen to have access to a set of Imperial Recruiter, playing with Painter’s Servant is less than ideal given that sets of Painter’s Servant and Grindstone together cost $120.

Let’s break down our Show and Tell endgame first.

The expensive playsets in Sneak and Show are:

Needless to say, there’s some space between Affinity and Sneak and Show. Instead of trying to get from Mox Opal and Arcbound Ravager to Force of Will and Show and Tell, let’s take another approach. Let’s start from Show and Tell.

The best way to approach this problem is to play with Ancient Tombs, basic Islands, and only six fetch lands. Without any dual lands, you have flexibility in what blue fetch lands you need. If you or your friends own any at all, you’re already ahead in the game. Beyond that your game winners are much more affordable than Sneak and Show’s game winners.

If you play with only four Ancient Tombs and with Pact of Negations over Flusterstorms, here’s the cost breakdown for an Omniscience deck:

So far we’re at $710. The rest of the deck is stuff like Brainstorm ($10/set), Enter the Infinite ($8/set), and various sideboard cards like Trickbind and Sapphire Charm. All in all, the deck is around $1000 since blue fetch lands still cost bank. Since it’s unreasonable to go straight from "no collection" to "an entire Show and Tell deck," let’s try to reverse engineer this a bit.

If you ignore the cost of Force of Wills and blue fetch lands, you’re looking at around a $450 layout. Flusterstorm isn’t a great replacement for Force of Will at $30 a pop, but a set of Spell Pierces—while suboptimal—will let you play Magic in the meantime.

Unfortunately, there’s no real way around needing six copies split of $45 Scalding Tarns and Misty Rainforests. If you can borrow those and spend your first three months buying blue fetch lands and Force of Wills, you’ll own a complete Omni-Tell deck.

Here’s the best starting point I can offer you. No $15 Leyline of Sanctity, no Force of Will, the cheapest fetch lands available, and no City of Traitors. If you’re interested in sticking with the deck and building it up piece by piece, here is what I recommend building toward:

You’ll note that I don’t particularly like Leyline of Sanctity right now. That’s because Leyline was at its best against decks that were single minded in their anti-combo approach. When someone has Thoughtseize and Duress and Hymn to Tourach against you, Leyline of Sanctity shuts off their best twelve cards. When someone has Thoughtseize, Flusterstorm, Force of Will, Meddling Mage, and Liliana of the Veil against you, Leyline of Sanctity is often worth less than a card.

Flusterstorm and Swan Song, on the other hand, are excellent against other combo decks. Both cards allow Omni-Tell to fight Sneak and Show’s proactive plan of casting and protecting Sneak Attack, which older lists had a lot of trouble dealing with.

To recap our two options so far: we can build a complete Affinity deck week one with a lot of money left over or can borrow blue fetch lands and play without Force of Wills for a while and scrape together an Omni-Tell deck. The presence of Modern staples on either side of this equation changes our outlook pretty significantly, as having a set of Mox Opals or having a set of blue fetch lands is a Big Darn Deal early on.

If you’re going with Show and Tell, you’ll end up locked into a lot of your cards for a while, but the big upside is that you’re playing a Brainstorm / fetch land deck with the ability to eventually buy and play Force of Will. If we can assume ownership of two blue fetch land playsets as well as the ability to finance the budget laid out at the beginning of last article, you can play a tournament-winning Show and Tell deck by month three and run at 70% capacity on day one.

But let’s say you don’t want to play a straightforward attack deck and don’t want to play a fidgety blue combo deck. You want to play Lodestone Golems. Where can you go with a set of Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors?

It depends on which cards appeal to you. Let’s look at the prices of the staples of the artifact-heavy archetype in Legacy by playset:

If you’re interested in being The Artifact Guy or Gal at your local Legacy tournaments, there are a lot of angles that you can take. For starters, though, here’s a straightforward Prison style beatdown deck:

This is a straightforward artifact deck in Legacy: all of the formerly banned cards (Metalworker, Grim Monolith), all of the castable threats (Wurmcoil Engine, Steel Hellkite), all of the disruption that works at all of the stages of the game (Chalice of the Void, Tangle Wire, Lodestone Golem), and Phyrexian Metamorph to act as additional momentum behind whatever card they can’t beat. Since this is the season, I would be remiss to ignore the Magic Online 2013 Holiday Cube, which is another engaging and enjoyable format where Tangle Wire is completely unbeatable in a properly built deck.

In all seriousness, though, if you want to beat True-Name Nemesis, Tangle Wire is your card. Once you have your opening, you want to beat them down as hard as possible, thus the Mutavaults and Mishra’s Factorys. Alternatively, you could Metamorph their Nemesis and threaten to race them. It turns out that it’s pretty hard to race a Wurmcoil Engine, so they’ll probably lose.

Your path to the above deck will involve building it piecemeal, so here’s how I would plan it out:

With your initial investment, buy the twelve two-mana lands for ~$235.

Buy the Wurmcoil Engines for $50.

Buy the Metalworkers for $50.

Buy the Chalice of the Voids for $20.

Buy the Tangle Wires for $12.

Buy the Phyrexian Metamorphs for $10. Don’t put them into play off of Show and Tell unless they can copy something already in play.

Buy Phyrexian Revokers for $6.

Buy the Lodestone Golems for $5.

Buy the Lightning Greaves for $5.

Buy the Steel Hellkites for $5.

Buy the Kuldotha Forgemasters for $5.

Buy sets of Darksteel Citadel and any two colors of artifact land (Seat of the Synod, Great Furnace, Tree of Tales, Ancient Den, Vault of Whispers) that you want.

Play the Kuldotha Forgemasters in the Grim Monolith slots. The Crucible of Worlds slot can be filled by anything from Phyrexian Revoker, Sphere of Resistance, Thorn of Amethyst ($3/per), or Slash Panther ($0.15 per) to some random high-cost cards like Sundering Titan ($2), Myr Battlesphere ($1), or Spine of Ish Sah ($0.50) to get with Forgemaster.

After your first few weeks, buy Grim Monoliths. If you really like Kuldotha Forgemaster, cut Phyrexian Metamorph for Grim Monolith. If you want to play a deck with more creature lands, you’ll end up cutting Forgemaster eventually. While you have twelve artifact lands, though, Forgemaster is quite good.

Having Grim Monolith will really let the deck take off. Play around with various configurations once you have Monoliths. Figure out your curve. Figure out whether you’re the sort of person who wants to use Grim Monolith as a Desperate Ritual or the sort of person who wants to pass the turn and cast Steel Hellkite or Wurmcoil Engine on turn 2 or 3.

Play around with Metalworker. Figure out how many artifacts you want in your deck. If you want to, cut some random colored artifact lands for Cavern of Souls so that you can resolve your Metalworkers and Kuldotha Forgemasters through Dazes and Force of Wills. Learn the joy of casting Lightning Greaves on turn 1, playing Cavern of Souls on Construct, casting and activating Metalworker, and attacking with a 5/5 or 6/6 on turn 2. Enjoy those moments. That’s what you’re supposed to bask in.

Even though it seems like every MUD style artifact Prison deck plays Wastelands, don’t worry too much about finding the $240 to buy them. Metalworker decks are better with more artifacts, and while Wasteland is certainly a good card, you’ll be cutting artifacts to fit them in. Figure out how many you want to cut. Maybe your mana base ends up looking more like this:

4 Ancient Tomb
4 City of Traitors
4 Crystal Vein
4 Darksteel Citadel
3 Cavern of Souls
4 Great Furnace
1 Wasteland

Eventually, you will want some number of Crucible of Worlds even if you don’t play Wasteland. Rebuying Crystal Vein and City of Traitors is important. Having a card that lets you rebuild from getting Wastelanded is important.

No matter where you end up taking the deck—maybe you want to draw your deck with Metalworker and Staff of Domination—focus on maximizing the strengths of your mana base and minimizing the weaknesses. You’re playing a deck that breaks the rule of "play one land per turn." Over time you’ll learn what that gives you and what that costs you.

Enjoy the ride.