Legacy’s Allure – What Worldwake Means For Us

Grand Prix: Oakland!

Monday, January 25th – Worldwake has a great number of Legacy-ready cards, from new draw spells to efficient attackers. Go through an abstract analysis of cards to see whether they fit well in Legacy and get a handle on the new manlands and engine cards. With roughly two-thirds of Worldwake spoiled already, the set looks fantastic for Legacy. Check out this week’s article for the Legacy hits in the newest set!

This week, it’s time to dig into the Worldwake spoilers for Legacy-ready cards. Now is a fine time to do this; sooner, and we’d only have a few cards to look at, and later, we’d give up time to play around with some really good cards. First, we have to realize that Worldwake wasn’t meant for us, the Eternal players. For example, the Ally mechanic is simply unworkable in Legacy, since we have much better creatures and synergies. Any card over say, four mana, must be insane-o good to be played. Any large creature has to be analyzed from a perspective of “is this good if I can I cheat this in with Reanimate or Natural Order?” Finding playable cards in new sets has historically been challenging, but Worldwake brings a host of cool cards that I think will see play. Let’s take a look…

Loam Lion

Loam Lion
Creature – Cat
Loam Lion gets +1/+2 as long as you control a Forest.

It’s a colorshifted Kird Ape. What decks play Kird Ape? Zoo! If we pack Loam Lion, we bring the Zoo mana requirements ever closer to White and further away from Red. This means a more consistent manabase, but cards like Fireblast get a bit weaker, since we may use fetchlands to get our Savannahs before we get our Plateaus. Competing in the one-drop White spot is Steppe Lynx, a powerful cat indeed. I don’t see Loam Lion straight-up replacing Kird Ape, but it is invulnerable to Hydroblasts and it does happen to play well alongside Kird Ape. I see it shifting the dialogue for a Zoo player, creating questions about the White and Red requirements in the deck.

Stoneforge Mystic
Creature – Kor Artificer
When Stoneforge Mystic enters the battlefield, you may search your library for an Equipment card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. If you do, shuffle your library.
1W, T: You may put an Equipment card from your hand onto the battlefield.
1/ 2

This is a case where reading cards from a simple to complex order is helpful. Let’s break it down; would you play a 1W 1/ 2 creature? By itself, that card is too far below Legacy standards (actually, below Constructed standards in general). However, what if it drew a card? We have Silvergill Adept, another weak creature for two mana that draws a card, played in Merfolk. The Adept isn’t an apt comparison, though, since it has flipped stats and has a beneficial creature type.

But what if we knew the card we’d draw would always be Umezawa’s Jitte? Now we’re looking at something that changes the calculations a lot. What if, on top of that, we could use the creature to put the equipment out whenever we wanted, under a wall of counterspells? With that combination of abilities, we’ve got something interesting. We can play cards like Jitte or Sword of Fire and Ice to bolster attacks or Mask of Memory to draw cards. We can run a little bit of a toolbox, though there aren’t any stellar toolbox Equipment cards, but there are expensive ones that we can cheat into play. The downside is that expensive equipment usually has an expensive mana cost attached to it. The Kaldra series is pretty good, especially the Sword of Kaldra, but the equip cost is mighty as well. The best equipment for this creature, if we’re just going to go hunting one down and cheating it into play, is Unscythe, Killer of Kings. It equips for only two mana and makes any creature you control into a monster for a reasonable cost.

I predict that strategies like Angel Stompy will consider this card, since the deck leans on its equipment so much. I don’t see Stoneforge Mystic spawning new archetypes, but an analysis of the card in a vacuum shows that it certainly has some punch to it. It’s also worth noting that this card hunts down and plays Tatsumasa, The Dragon’s Fang. It’ll grow in power with every new, expensive equipment card printed.

Ruin Ghost
Creature – Spirit
W,T: Exile target land you control, then return it to the battlefield under your control.

I bring up Ruin Ghost for two reasons: it can prevent a Wasteland from eating a land of yours, and it returns lands into play untapped. Thus, lands that can make multiple mana or those that have another good effect like Maze of Ith can be used twice.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Planeswalker – Jace
[+2]: Look at the top card of target player’s library. You may put that card on the bottom of that player’s library.
[0]: Draw three cards, then put two cards from your hand on top of your library in any order.
[-1]: Return target creature to its owner’s hand.
[-12]: Exile all cards from target player’s library, then that player shuffles his or her hand into his or her library.

Big Jace was one of the first spoiled cards and generated a lot of hype, especially for Legacy. For a mana more, you get a Planeswalker with significantly better abilities than Jace 1.0, but does that mean it’s going to be played? Jace Beleren sees play in some Planeswalker-centric decks and some Landstill decks, and 1UU is a fair price to pay for three cards in Legacy. Both new and old Jace die to a Lightning Bolt or basically any other attack, so they really get their punch in decks that can handle attackers. To really analyze Jace, The Mind Sculptor, we have to realize that we’re never going to use its first or last ability. That leaves us with a triple-Unsummon and an eternal Brainstorm. The former protects the Planeswalker and makes combat a little easier for you. The latter is, let’s be honest, the reason why we’re looking at this card to begin with. Combined with fetchlands, it’s one of the most powerful effects in Magic. However, the true beauty of Brainstorm was its casting cost. Would you play it if it was a 2UU Sorcery with Flashback 0? What mana cost is competitive for a card that lets us see three new cards per turn?

Ultimately, I don’t see Jace going into existing decks, or at least, maindecks. It has the punch to blow out opponents who are playing more controlling decks, so much like Jace sometimes pops up on sideboards, I’d expect to see New Jace there too.

Thada Adel, Acquisitor
Legendary Creature – Merfolk Rogue
Whenever Thada Adel, Acquisitor deals combat damage to a player, search that player’s library for an artifact card and exile it. Then that player shuffles his or her library. Until end of turn, you may play that card.

This looks to be strictly a sideboard card for Merfolk mirror matches. Notice that it doesn’t mention that you can play the card without paying its casting cost, which downsizes its power a bit. Reminiscent of Rootwater Thief, Thada Adel is most potent because Merfolk can use it to take Umezawa’s Jitte from an opponent. The equipment is the most powerful card in the Merfolk mirror match, and Thada gives the Merfolk deck running it a huge edge over the decks that bring in Jitte. It also subs in against other decks like Zoo that demolish Merfolk, maybe giving the deck an edge by hopefully taking a Jitte there.

Treasure Hunt
Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a nonland card, then put all cards revealed this way into your hand.

Treasure Hunt is one of the most exciting cards in Worldwake for me. The 1U draw spell slot is weird in Legacy; you have Accumulated Knowledge, Standstill, Impulse and… well, nothing else amazing. Those cards are all conditional, which is a bummer because they sit at one of the best mana costs in Legacy. Treasure Hunt has the potential to be an incredible draw spell. Let’s look at how it ranks, considering how many cards you can potentially draw:

One card: on par with the first Accumulated Knowledge. Bad.
Two cards: Land and a spell, you have card advantage and it’s looking better.
Three cards: More powerful than any other draw spell near Treasure Hunt’s mana cost
Four or more cards: lol wut

The greatest downside is that it’s uncertain how many cards you’ll draw. Further, it’s a sorcery and only draws one business spell for you. What if you run lands that act like business spells, though? You have Wasteland, Kor Haven, Maze of Ith, Riptide Laboratory, Mishra’s Factory and more. Those cards act like spells and can make Treasure Hunt more potent.

There’s also an application for it in 43 Lands, where the card reads: “Draw cards until you draw a Treasure Hunt, Life from the Loam, Manabond or Exploration.” That’s pretty solid, considering that you want to see any of those cards and Treasure Hunt is busted with Manabond. However, you also have to consider how often Mulch will just be better (which is a fair bit of the time) and realize that Mulch hasn’t been played in the deck forever. I could see Treasure Hunt taking the place of Gamble or Burning Wish, but I’m not entirely sure whether we’ll see it in 43 Lands.

There are also corner applications that, through stacking the top of your deck, give you better odds of juice with Treasure Hunt. Beyond the obvious Sensei’s Divining Top, there’s also Ancestral Knowledge, getting you all the lands you want and your best card in the top 10 of your library. Even more powerful in terms of sheer drawing power is Scouting Trek, though it only grabs basic lands. The best we can do with a fist full of basics is rattle off a Lightning Storm or Seismic Assault, both of which are off-color. The other alternative is something like Wild Mongrel, but that seems too fragile for competitive Legacy. In any case, I expect to see a lot of Treasure Hunts being cast in the future.

Dragonmaster Outcast
Creature – Human Shaman
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control six or more lands, put a 5/5 red Dragon creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

The two ways to get some value out of this guy are to play decks that can consistently make it to six mana safely and ones that can ramp up to six mana quickly. The latter doesn’t exist in Legacy at the moment, but the former exists in the form of monowhite and monoblue decks. Both have the tools to outwit and outlast an opponent until they get to the Big Mana zone. I could see a W/R board control deck running Lightning Helix and this guy, but monoblue looks more appealing. The Outcast comes down when you have six lands, requires no tap-out turn to play a threat and can be protected reasonably well. One activation is good, two is crazy. Running a Volcanic Island or a Mountain with Scalding Tarn to work around Back to Basics is fine, and the Outcast can quickly get out of hand. I like this guy a lot, though I don’t really know what to put him in aside from control.

Arbor Elf
Creature – Elf Druid
T: Untap target Forest.

Arbor Elf is relevant because it’s nearly totally superior to Llanowar Elves in Legacy. This is because it can untap a dual land Forest like Tropical Island and technically make blue or green mana. It also plays well with Savannah and Wild Growth effects. The place I see mana elves played most is in Bant Survival and Natural Order Threshold, usually in the form of Noble Hierarch. While the Hierarch is better in both of those decks for the first four mana critters, I think Arbor Elf gets the nod over Birds of Paradise because it can usually generate the same colors of mana and can attack on its own. While Bant can certainly Exalt a Birds of Paradise for an attack, an Arbor Elf can get through without needing any help. This is a strangely powerful card compared to Llanowar Elves.

Joraga Warcaller
Creature – Elf Warrior
Multikicker 1G
Joraga Warcaller enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it for each time it was kicked.
Other Elf creatures you control get +1/+1 for each +1/+1 counter on Joraga Warcaller.

Joraga can fit well into an Elf deck that looks to combo out. By now, you’ve probably seen how Elf decks use Nettle Sentinels and Heritage Druid to make a huge pile of mana, using Glimpse of Nature along the way. The issue is that there’s little that you can use green mana on if you’ve consigned yourself to playing monogreen. Joraga is a great outlet for that, being a Lord and a huge pumper. Elves often starts its combination turn with an elf or two in play. Getting those elves up to 24 power or so with Joraga means you don’t have to wait around to attack the next turn. Joraga also has an edge over cards like Demonfire (castable with Birchlore Rangers) because it plays well with Glimpse of Nature and Summoner’s Pact. Aside from a combo turn, Joraga is still impressive if you can land him with two kicks, making any elf into an elephant.

Amulet of Vigor
Whenever a permanent enters the battlefield tapped and under your control, untap it.

Amulet of Vigor is a card I look at and figure that it’s powerful, though I can’t say why. The mana cost is fantastic and makes it imminently playable in Legacy if it’s decent. The card creates a trigger on all cards, so two Amulets means that you have two triggers to utilize. It plays very well with Root Maze and cards like Nevinyrral’s Disk or Azorius Chancery. I really want to use it with Krosan Verge, for example.

Basilisk Collar
Artifact – Equipment
Equipped creature has deathtouch and lifelink.
Equip 2

Another one-cost artifact, the Collar is fetchable with Trinket Mage. We can compare it to the other Mage-fetchable cards like Sigil of Distinction and Trusty Machete. The Collar gets the nod over those two, as they just make a creature a little bigger. What we’re looking for is something that can eliminate huge fatties, and Basilisk Collar gives a deck that opportunity. Because it’s an equipment, you can swap it around on your turn. That lets you attack with a creature, gaining some life and maybe trading it for another beastie, and then give it to a friend post-combat to make an imposing blocker. I’ve long had this dream of playing a UWB Wizard deck with Trinket Mages and Patron Wizard, and this is exactly the kind of equipment that can help puny wizards defeat much larger opposing creatures.

Bojuka Bog
Bojuka Bog enters the battlefield tapped.
T: Add B to your mana pool.
When Bojuka Bog enters the battlefield, exile all cards from target player’s graveyard.

Bojuka Bog is fantastic and will be played in many decks, if it works as spoiled. Graveyards are incredibly important in Legacy, and the Bog presents a significant threat to them because it is uncounterable and stays in play, generating value. It can nerf a Knight of the Reliquary or peel out a Life from the Loam or stop a Dredge player dead in their tracks. It can be fetched at instant speed with Crop Rotation and recurred with Crucible of Worlds. I see every deck that fears a graveyard and that can play black using the Bog, while some decks without any other black might run it maindeck as a singleton just for a Tormod’s Crypt that sticks around. Though cards like Relic of Progenitus and Tormod’s Crypt will still definitely have their place, Bojuka Bog is a new and efficient addition to the graveyard-hate suite.

Creeping Tar Pits
Creeping Tar Pits enters the battlefield tapped.
T: Add U or B to your mana pool.
1UB: Until end of turn, Creeping Tar Pits becomes a 3/2 blue and black Elemental creature and is unblockable. It’s still a land.

Creeping Tar Pits is probably the best of the Super Coastal Towers and is most comparable to Faerie Conclave in Legacy. It’s an evasive manland that generates great colors. I envision this card in a Tog-style deck, something that might run The Abyss or Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale and use the Tar Pits to cheat around those cards. I rate it so highly because three mana for an activation is fair, and you know that whenever you use it, the opponent will be taking three damage if they can’t kill the Tar Pits. This is a great card and, if we can stand lands that enter the battlefield tapped, then Creeping Tar Pits will see a lot of play. I don’t see myself attacking with it every turn, just as Faeries would avoid playing spells or activating Riptide Laboratory in Extended so it could hold up counterspells forever. It’s good to know that this can let you cast Counterspell on the second turn and then start attacking now and then on the tenth turn to put things away.

We’ll see about fifty more Worldwake cards in the next few weeks and, if they’re anywhere as good as these ones, we’ll have even more new tools for Legacy! I’m excited about Worldwake because it gives us cards that make us think and are more like archetype-spawners than cards for existing decks. It’s a Johnny player’s dream set.

Until next week…

Doug Linn
legacysallure at gmail dot com