Legacy’s Allure – The Legacy Stock Report

Read Doug Linn every week... at StarCityGames.com!
Tuesday, May 12th – What cards are getting hotter in the Legacy metagame? How have some cooled down? Doug goes over the impact that Lorescale Coatl will have on the format and what cards might get a second (or first!) life in the maindecks and sideboards of decks all around the format. Check out if Threads of Disloyalty is still as strong as ever or if we should be looking at different enchantments instead. Check out Doug’s “stock evaluations” for the newest Legacy tech!

Welcome to a thrilling edition of the Legacy Stock Report, where we evaluate which cards have become more useful and which ones are past their time! The market has been buzzing lately with the release of Alara Reborn and its Legacy poster child, Lorescale Coatl. While the actual effect of the card in the format is still unmeasured, we’ll certainly see some speculation with it in the near future, so it’s worth evaluating what cards are going to get better because of it. When I’m looking at cards, I’m measuring their stock not in dollars (that’s Ben Bleiweiss‘ job!) but their general utility. Follow along as I go over the buy, sell, and hold orders for some standards in Legacy!

The Coatl effect, as I see it, is this: there’s a new, very strong creature that goes into a deck that’s already pretty good, which means that the format is going to react to it quite strongly. For the person piloting the deck, they have a fast threat. The person facing it needs better answers to the card, faster ones that can stop something like Brainstorm from acting like Lightning Bolt. The upshot about facing Coatl is that if you can turn the threat against the player, it’s a very potent strategy. It’s like when the B-Movie scientists make the huge mutant beast that ends up breaking out of its cage and rampaging across town. Get control of their creatures, be it Tarmogoyf or Coatl or something like it, and you can kill them with their own toys. Next-Level Blue decks in Extended based their strategy on this towards the end of the season and I think it’s worth considering for Legacy as well if Coatl gets big, so a lot of this article will look at how to turn the other side’s weapons against them.

First, let’s look at the cards that are guaranteed to go up in use in the next month or so. These are ones I highly suggest running if you can get hold of them and expect your metagame to try Coatl out.

Let’s start with the biggest: Mind Harness. What is it with random Mirage cards becoming relevant in Legacy? Long a dark-horse sideboard card, I see Mind Harness becoming even more playable because it now has another good target alongside Tarmogoyf. We’re dealing with creatures that have a minimum of five power when we jack them, so we can reliably kill the opponent or greatly harass them before the upkeep becomes an issue. I wouldn’t maindeck it at this point, but I’d love to see four in a sideboard of mine.

Next, we’ll revisit Submerge. I’ve been talking about it a lot recently in this column, so I’ll keep my thoughts on it short. If you’re playing a deck that is tempo-oriented, this is your card. Let me expand on that; if your deck can steamroll past the baby Coatl when it gets replayed or can leap forward when the Snake is off the table for a turn or two, seize this card. It also works superbly when you would rather put your mana into other things, like animating manlands, keeping a Counterbalance lock up or tapping out for other threats. I do not see it being that good in a deck that would rather get a Swords to Plowshares; Landstill and Blue control decks come to mind. In that case, stalling for a turn or two is inefficient compared to something that could actually remove (or steal) the threat. I’d go so far as to say that Submerge is maindeckable; it also has applications when the opponent goes Bayou, Dark Ritual, Hypnotic Specter

Those are my two “strong bets,” but there are several cards that are decently playable that might become more valuable to have in your deck. I’ll start with Sylvan Library. Okay, I’m not totally sold on it being the right play with Coatl, mostly because two Sensei’s Divining Tops make your Snake much bigger. That said, it feeds you into other cantrips in your deck, so you can conceivably chain up Ponder and Brainstorm for a Jennifer-Lopez-In-Anaconda-scale snake, all in one turn. I wouldn’t run it just because of Coatl, but the Green Necro is historically fine on its own. If you’ve maxed out on Tops in your deck already, run several of these alongside as well.

Cunning Wish might get a second life in Legacy for general utility and the Psychatog-style power boost from grabbing a Berserk. If I’m in a match where my opponent and I are both running Coatls in our U/G/x decks, Cunning Wish gets me a Submerge to stop their threats or a Berserk to win the game outright. It also gets perennial hits like Krosan Grip and Hydroblast. If you’re looking at the Wish, consider running it with a normal sideboard, bereft of one-ofs save Berserk, and see how it works. I don’t think you need to mangle your board to accommodate Cunning Wish in the maindeck.

Also, isn’t Choke going to get that much better? Not only for the value of launching Rick James quotes, playing Choke can be a game-over against a sickening number of decks. When we were testing Enchantress for GP: Chicago, my team found that any blue Threshold-style deck could not beat a resolved Choke. With more decks adopting Blue or more players picking up Tropical Island, Choke gets better. The main problem is it cuts you off from running Islands in your own deck, which may put you at a disadvantage. It’s not a sure market mover, but a good Magic player’s portfolio will definitely include this Enchantment.

What about that big, expensive, maybe-useful stopper card? Costs 1B, Enchantment… no, not Dystopia, Chains of Mephistopheles! A set of these cards requires a second mortgage, but the thought of in play against any deck with Brainstorms makes me giddy. Every cantrip becomes absurdly painful to use, and against a deck packing 12+ draw spells, that’s pretty serious. It takes the teeth out of Standstill as well. I don’t see Chains getting too popular, mainly because of the price tag, but if you already have a set, it can be worth pressing them into use.

While we’ve seen several cards that may improve very soon, some have lost some of their power. The big one, to me, is Threads of Disloyalty. Stealing a Tarmogoyf doesn’t have as much punch when you are staring down Coatl. It’s certainly still useful, but I’d like to see something else get a chance. Sower of Temptation is still hot, and maybe Control Magic would jump in too. If Coatl is as powerful as I’m making it out to be, then Vedalken Shackles might not have a chance to snag it before it becomes too big to take. I don’t think Shackles or Threads are bad at this point, but I’m considering upping Sower counts or playing around with other cards instead. Knight of the Reliquary, Terravore, and Countryside Crusher also make me consider that line.

Then there are the penny stocks, the cards that aren’t played much at all right now, but have a potential to be really stellar in the upcoming metagame. I’ll be presenting the card, along with deck ideas for it. I’m not sure they’re any good, but they’re all at least plausible and can be good angles to start from.

First, and most plausible, is Spectral Lynx. Protection from Green is getting more and more relevant, and what it can’t outright avoid with protection, it can probably stand in front of and regenerate. The White River Boa sneaks in early and is stellar with equipment alongside it. Last year, I wrote an article about a Junk deck I made, running all the greatest hits in Green, White, and Black. It ended up being unimpressive for me at the time, but it got me thinking that maybe a G/W/B deck designed by someone who was better than me would be good. Spectral Lynx would be at the forefront; I often found that in aggro or aggro-control decks, the opponent could find Tarmogoyf or another significantly big dude and just sit behind it while establishing a better board position and undoing my earlier disruption. Lynx walks past most of the big guys in the format and is amazing off the top against any deck supporting creatures. I’m glad I have a set of them and you should consider picking them up as well. The biggest obstacle in the way of the kitty is that B/W isn’t a very good color combo at the moment without a little help from other colors as well.

Next on the list is Dream Tides. Take a moment to look it up, there’s no shame in it. It’s like a Blue Elephant Grass, making sure that Green creatures never get an untap. It stops Shrouded beasts like Nimble Mongoose and fliers like Trygon Predator. I see it mainly being used in a blue Stax sort of deck, with something else to punish the opponent for the mana they have to spend on Dream Tides to attack. It may be as good as, or better than, the Armageddon/Magus of the Tabernacle lock that many White Stax decks run, and it’d be a good start for enterprising deckbuilders. In some ways, it’s a more limited Propaganda, but I can see it frustrating many players when accompanied by Winter Orb or Tangle Wire. Blue Stax has been marginally played already, and with some of its cards being better, it’s worth another look.

Want sillier? How about Kaervek’s Purge? For 2RB, you smash the Tarmogoyf controller for 5 damage while wrecking his toy. Lorescale Coatl becomes a big liability and hitting a Phyrexian Dreadnought with it is clearly Living The Dream. Unfortunately, the Sorcery speed means you’re not going to be hitting many manlands for it, and it’ll never tear something like Tombstalker from the sky. In a deck that can reliably hit 5 mana though, I think it’s a good card to think about. Unfortunately, much like the Lynx, B/R is a lousy color combination without support, especially when it wants to play a controllish card like Purge. I’m trying it out in my Gifts Rock deck (alongside Exile Into Darkness, if you can believe that!) but that thing is such a monstrosity at this point that I don’t want to use it as a justification for why a card might be playable. The card came to mind as one of many possible cards that punishes the opponent for playing big, dumb, strong creatures, so I think it’s better to use Purge as a way of framing our answers to the Coatl Effect instead of using it as an outright answer.

In the next few weeks, I’ll hopefully have some event data to share with you about whether this snake thing is worth adjusting to. If you have early experience with or against Lorescale Coatl, please post in the forums about it or send me an email if you’re more comfortable with that. Also, let me know if you think these cards are on the up and up or if my stock predictions are way off!

Until next week…

Doug Linn

Email at legacysallure [at] gmail dawt com

PS: If I made a Twitter for this column, would you subscribe? I don’t know much about tweeting (don’t have a personal account (Facebook me instead, baby!)) and need to know whether I should learn new technologies.