Legacy’s Allure – Rise of the Eldrazi Review

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Tuesday, April 20th – Rise of the Eldrazi has provided some truly potent monsters to cheat into play, and this week, Doug reviews the best ways to get use out of these pounders. Find out what black sorcery looks like Time Walk and how levelers will influence aggressive strategies in the format. What decks can best utilize cards like Vengevine? How do we get Emrakul, The Aeons Torn, onto the battlefield for annihilation? Find out in this week’s Legacy’s Allure!

Rise of the Eldrazi is finally out, lending huge monsters and interesting spells to Legacy. The biggest excitement in ROE has been the Eldrazi themselves; these positively huge monsters stand a good chance of seeing play in Legacy, and I don’t think anyone is going to pay retail to get them into play. The set also has some interesting roleplayers for existing decks. While there are no cards that outright spawn new decks, there are many that can push marginal strategies to the forefront. Let’s take a look at some of the themes and cards in the set.

Eldrazi: The Boys Who Eat Progenitus For Lunch

While players in other formats are playing around with Summoning Trap and Polymorph to trick out one of these ancient monstrosities, Legacy has much more potent tools. For example, I mentioned Jhoira in a previous article, since she triggers the “casting” bonuses on a lot of the larger legends. There are also plenty of other ways to get them out immediately. If you’re playing Green, then Eureka will put any number of these beasts into play (or if you want to build more narrowly, then Cascade-Hypergenesis will do it too). We also have access to Sneak Attack, which is, in my opinion, the best way to get Eldrazi into play. It can come out when you have the mana for it instead of sitting in your hand until you get an Eldrazi; it can be accelerated by Seething Song or Rite of Flame; and it beats cards like Karakas that will haunt legendary Eldrazi.

Another method for getting the largest Eldrazi into play is to use instant-speed reanimation to respond to the reshuffling trigger. Essentially, you discard Emrakul, the Aeons Torn with a Putrid Imp and then hit it with a Shallow Grave, Corpse Dance or Goryo’s Vengeance. Ideally, you’ll then get a hasted monster to attack with. I don’t think this is a great way to get them into play, but it’s certainly an interesting option. It is in Dark Ritual colors, so it can be quite easy to get the whole thing going early.

What I like most about the Eldrazi is that Annihilator can overwhelm opponents, even when they have had a rest period while you are getting the card combinations set up. Emrakul is more potent on the fourth turn than the first, since he (it?) will annihilate more cards, frustrating an opponent. In this way, I think cards like Eureka will prove better than instant-speed reanimation strategies, since it’s easier to actually cast and the downside of a slower spell is outweighed by the Annihilator mechanic. Traditional Reanimator with Entomb and Exhume might get a lot of use out of Pathrazer of Ulamog, which has the greatest Annihilator number of the nonlegendary Eldrazi and is likely to go unblocked against opponents.

White Spells And Creatures

Gideon Jura: This planeswalker has a lot to overcome to be playable in Legacy. Five mana is one more than Moat and on par with Ad Nauseam, so the card has to be powerful to see play. Further frustrating Gideon is Elspeth, who provides a good planeswalker for one less mana. Gideon does have a few edges on Elspeth, though. It can immediately kill a creature when it comes into play, which is analogous to the token ability of Elspeth that lets one protect the planeswalker immediately. Gideon plays well with creatures, since he can force opponents to attack into your blockers and then kill any remaining ones. After that, as a 6/6, he can storm in to finish the job. While Elspeth can make a token and then “jump” it over the opposing creatures, Gideon just taunts them, mashes them when they attack and attacks afterward. Gideon is best in decks with other creatures; I’d be inclined to put it in Bant decks. Like Elspeth, it also has plenty of uses in the UW Planeswalker Control decks, being able to survive a Wrath of God and then charge through. It even remains a 6/6 through Humility, thanks to timestamp orders akin to those with Mishra’s Factory. I am very excited about trying out Gideon in Legacy.

Student of Warfare: The obvious analogy here is Figure of Destiny in Zoo, which has not caught on. However, Figure needs all that mana at once to move forward, while Student can clear up spare White mana along the way. Now that Zoo has two more great white creatures in Steppe Lynx and Loam Lion, the deck might become substantially more white with Student of Warfare. The student is not only a cheap 3/3, it has first strike, which plays very well with the burn in Zoo. Imagine swinging in with a 3/3 Student; does the opponent block it with Tarmogoyf, knowing that you might have a Lightning Bolt to cash in and spare your Student? If they don’t deal with the Student, then it can continue to consume more mana and grow larger. Much like Figure, Student of Warfare can create fits on its own, since on its own, it can force an opponent with board sweepers to blow them as 1-for-1s. An opponent cashing in their Engineered Explosives on a Student means that the Zoo player can then follow up with a Wild Nacatl and Steppe Lynx from their hand, keeping the pain coming. It even passes the “would I want to topdeck this on an empty hand?” test for Zoo, which works against creatures like Steppe Lynx. The downside of Student is that it requires white mana, so every Taiga in play is useless in leveling it up.

Blue Beaters and Draw

Coralhelm Commander: Players are looking at this as a Merfolk Lord, and that’s not quite the way I’ve framed it. Instead, I see it as a 2/2 for UU, a reasonable creature for Merfolk. Four mana later, it becomes a giant Lord. Is this a good replacement for Silvergill Adept? The Adept draws a card, which is nice in a deck that has a hard time seeing additional cards. While the Coralhem Commander won’t net a replacement card, it can quickly become a tremendous asset to any other Merfolk on the board; in this way, the ability is similar to the cantrip on the Adept. A point against the Commander is that he is hard to cast in a deck with eight colorless lands. That said, I’d much rather draw a Commander in the lategame off the top of my deck than a Silvergill Adept that I might not be able to cheat into play. I see Coralhelm Commander seeing a decent to substantial amount of play in Merfolk.

See Beyond: In this card, we have a sorcery-speed replacement for Lat-Nam’s Legacy. It gives us a shuffle, making Sensei’s Divining Top and Brainstorm better, and it can get rid of dead cards like Swords to Plowshares against control or drawn Entomb targets in Reanimator. In the latter deck, I see a possible home for See Beyond as a replacement or supplement for Careful Study. It especially shines in the marginal NecromancyProtean Hulk decks, which do not want to draw any of their combination creatures.

Training Grounds: This Johnny-tastic card has sold an incredible number of copies on this site already, and it certainly enables a lot of poor combos that are too slow for Legacy. One that has drawn my interest as being potentially devastating is how well Training Grounds works with Izzet Guildmage. Now, the Guildmage is poor on its own and Training Grounds does nothing spectacular either; when combined, though, you have a very cheap Xerox machine on your side of the board. Lightning Bolt can be cloned for U as many times as you want; Ponder makes extras for a single red mana. If you copy Manamorphose, you have an infinite-mana, infinite-draw combination that can eventually feed a Grapeshot or Brain Freeze. If there is a Training Grounds deck, then it will probably play Izzet Guildmage as a central component.

Dangerous Black Sorceries

Inquisition of Kozilek: this is another good discard spell for the right price. Unfortunately, it cannot remove Force of Will; Moat; Elspeth, Knight-Errant; Natural Order or many other devastating Legacy cards. It has stiff competition against Duress and Thoughtseize, though. The latter’s life cost is usually irrelevant in Legacy and those tricky faeries don’t need any special conditions to rip away a card from an opponent. Duress, while more limited, will snag all of the dangerous cards I listed. In a combo deck, Duress beats Inquisition all day because it can rip out Force of Will. However, Inquisition might have a home in a deck that wants discard beyond just four Thoughtseize. BG Suicide decks can run Inquisition as a card that will usually generate mana value, taking out an opposing threat for only one Black mana. I don’t see Inquisition seeing a lot of play, but I would not be surprised to see it here and there.

Consuming Vapors: Potentially a big life swing and 2-for-1, Consuming Vapors looks great on paper. We have to evaluate whether it would be good to cast, even if we are only facing down one creature. 3B is below the curve for Edict-style removal in Legacy, so it’s poor in that regard. However, even when played against an opponent with only one creature, the threat of Rebound means that they are unlikely to summon another creature on their turn. Thus, Consuming Vapors is a Time Walk of sorts. It would shine against opponents who play big creatures, like Bant decks. Against Merfolk, I see it eating a Cursecatcher and a Silvergill Adept, which is just not worth it for the mana cost. It is a very reasonable sideboard card and doesn’t require heavy colored mana. I’m not sure that there is currently a Legacy deck that can afford to play this, but it is certainly powerful for the mana.

More Green Meanies

Realms Uncharted: First off, what an amazing piece of art! Second, this has to compete with Gifts Ungiven and Intuition for searching. It does generate card advantage cheaply and it plays well with Petrified Field. It can pull up cycling lands or manlands and it is in Life from the Loam’s colors. Realms Uncharted does not have a home right now, since the blue counterparts are generally just better in existing decks (yes, even in Lands). That said, a deck that wants to draw cards, but does not want to play blue spells, might get some play out of Realms.

Vengevine: Since I just mentioned Intuition, I might as well bring it up with Vengevine; specifically, it is great with this card. You can throw in a Gigapede with those two Vengevines too, making for even more frustrating recursion. In a deck with Survival of the Fittest, you can discard a Vengevine for another one and then discard that to get a Basking Rootwalla. By discarding the Rootwalla and then casting it with Madness and finding yet another Rootwalla to do the same trick with, the Survival player triggers Vengevine and has four monsters on the board. Though Vengevine’s mana cost and stats are below what we would expect for that cost in this format, its haste and recursion make it fascinating. Bringing Vengevine back in a deck like Elves or RG Zoo is as simple as sandbagging one creature in hand until you draw another. Vengevine will need twelve or more other creatures to really support its recursion, so it is limited in that regard. I expect to see Vengevine pop up in Legacy decks, and I am especially interested in trying it out in Elf combo deck sideboards as an alternate win strategy.

Quick Hits On Marginal Cards

Lone Missionary reminds me of Temple Acolyte; four life is a good amount for 1W and it will Fog or go on the attack if you need it.

Oust can be fetched with Burning Wish, which makes it one of the cheapest creature removal sorceries in the game. Burning Wish has been very limited in its removal capabilities before, so Oust is playable in decks that can Wish for it and want it.

Ancient Stirrings wants a deck like Richard Feldman GB Elves deck with Chalice of the Void and other devastating artifacts.

Wrapping It Up

While Rise of the Eldrazi was obviously not designed for Legacy, it has some cool cards that will probably see play in this format. I am especially excited about sneaking monstrous Eldrazi into play, but I also want to level up Soldier of Warfare or charge Coralhelm Commander to pull myself back into the game with Merfolk. Most of all, I want to take someone down with Gideon Jura, who will decorate his sword with the blood of Nacatls along the way. Got Rise of the Eldrazi cards that I missed? Do you have an opinion on Consuming Vapors? Post in the forums or shoot me an email!

Until next week…

Doug Linn

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