My Road to Regionals Begins With Legions

I’ve already heard some buzz about Seedborn Muse – and justifiably! A non-symmetrical Awakening that can swing? Sign me up! Unfortunately, all I’ve heard so far is adding him to an Opposition deck. While he certainly won’t detract from the deck, I don’t think he’s necessarily worth the slots. Sure, he combines well with Opposition but… Shouldn’t you already be winning if you’ve got an Opposition out?

One of the perks of writing for Scrye magazine is that I get my hands on upcoming spoilers about a month ahead of the general public. So I’ve been stewing in Legions-inspired ideas for a while now, just waiting for all of you to get your hands on Legions info too. What’s particularly exciting to me is that, historically, the second expansion in a block is where the really juicy tech comes for Regionals. While most Regionals decks look like evolved and polished versions of what worked for States and Chicago’s Masters, a few of the more powerful decks catch the field unaware by abusing the most recent – and least understood – mechanics and cards. For example, Madness has proven to be a cross-format powerhouse mechanic that really didn’t make much of a splash until last year’s Regionals came along. So as you and I scan over the spoiler list for Legions – and, eventually, have the actual cards in hand thanks to StarCity’s singles shopping cart – the question begs an answer: What cards and mechanics in Legions can we abuse to their fullest?

Breaking Cards

There are a few cards in Legions that really stand out as powerhouse contenders for the new Type II. What I’ve done here is to sketch out a few initial decklists in an attempt to see how they may work in the confines of the environment.

One quick aside though before I begin: as someone who loves graveyard-centric strategies, I have mixed emotions for the existence of Withered Wretch. Especially in light of the new Reanimator deck making waves online (and in the Masters Gateway tournament), I feel sad that things just got extremely rough for Reanimation strategies. Not only do you have to have plenty of”combo” pieces now – graveyard primer + reanimation tools – you’ve got to pack plenty of removal now, too. On the flip side of the coin, though, the Wretch seems to be a fantastic tool in blunting the power of both U/G madness (via removal of Wonder from the graveyard) and Tog (by disposing of Tog food with whatever extra mana you have handy while beating down with your 2/2).

Card #1 – Caller of the Claw

First up is a surprising little elf that really shores up what has typically been a major weakness in green – and that is its vulnerability to creature-sweeper spells. Green’s strength is mana acceleration, and that’s tied into the popular one-drop Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves. These lead to 3cc creatures cast on turn 2, and 4cc creatures cast on turn 3. You’ve got amazing pressure going and are really laying on the pressure. Your opponent then untaps and casts Wrath of God or Mutilate. Hopefully, you have another creature or two in your hand or a Call of the Herd in the graveyard to recover… But what if you keep drawing Birds and Elves after that? Not exactly applying the pressure now, are you?

Caller of the Claw gives you another option; so long as you keep three mana open during your opponent’s turn, you can keep casting creatures with impunity, secure in the knowledge that after they deal with your initial army, you can replace it at the end of their turn, untap and keep up the pressure.

That’s the easy first look at an amazing creature. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I want to really break this creature in half. I mean, Type 2 has got a rather large pool of good-to-decent cards now where your own creatures bite the dust. For last year’s states, one of the decks I was considering used instant sacrifice effects (Stronghold Assassin, Nantuko Husk) to abuse the Torment nightmare creatures. Add the flashback cost of Cabal Therapy to this, and you’ve got several of your own critters biting the bin.

Enter Caller of the Claw. Consider this scenario: You’ve got a Husk and a Stronghold Assassin in play, with a Faceless Butcher and Caller in your hand. It’s mid-game, your opponent has two blockers out. Drop the Butcher on their Mongrel; in response to its CIP effect, sac to the Assassin to kill off their Arrogant Wurm. Now, sac the Assassin to the Husk for +2/+2, then cast the Caller to get three 2/2 critters who can also be sacrificed off to make your Husk 10/10 (assuming your opponent is at nine or ten life). Any extra critters you have lying around adds +4/+4 to the equation.

Now, I may be wrong but this feels like it’s got lots of potential. Here’s a rough first pass for a decklist:

3x Cabal Therapy

4x Smother

2x Chainer’s Edict

3x Druid Lyrist

2x Withered Wretch

4x Mesmeric Fiend

4x Caller of the Claw

4x Nantuko Husk

3x Stronghold Assassin

4x Graveborn Muse

3x Faceless Butcher

4x Tainted Wood

6x Forest

14x Swamp

Note that I’ve got Graveborn Muse in this deck as a Phyrexian Arena that swings for three and can be sacrificed for various effects. The assumption is that I can deal more damage to my opponent than he can do to me (thus my heavy removal complement). Another possibility is using Braids for added disruption. I’m not sure which way I’m going to go yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Card #2 – Graveborn Muse

Speaking of Graveborn Muse, when doing my Legions review for Scrye, I picked this guy as the #1 card in the set. He’s just all good. He’s like a Necropotence on legs, and whether you Necro old-school style like the B/g deck above as just a tool for card advantage, or try and combo Necro in a Zombie deck, he’s chock full of potential. Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but between Odyssey block and Onslaught (and now with Legions), Wizards has been feeding us quality zombies. If a zombie deck has the tools to come together (and I think it might), Graveborn Muse will no doubt be in the center of things.

Here’s my first pass at a new Zombie deck:

3x Zombie Infestation

4x Smother

2x Chainer’s Edict

3x Corrupt

4x Gempalm Polluter

4x Withered Wretch

4x Crypt Creeper

4x Undead Gladiator

4x Graveborn Muse

4x Noxious Ghoul

3x Unholy Grotto

21x Swamp

Again, the assumption is that you’ll be dealing a lot more damage to your opponent than you’ll be taking from the Muse – but with this deck, both are taken to extremes. Gempalm Polluter makes sure your opponent is losing as much life as you do (though he doesn’t get the benefit of the cards) and combines quite wickedly with Unholy Grotto. I’m not sure about Noxious Ghoul, though with an Infestation on the board it could get silly.

Card #3 – Seedborn Muse

I’ve already heard some buzz about this guy – and justifiably! A non-symmetrical Awakening that can swing? Sign me up! Unfortunately, all I’ve heard so far is adding him to an Opposition deck. While he certainly won’t detract from the deck, I don’t think he’s necessarily worth the slots. Sure, he combines well with Opposition but… Shouldn’t you already be winning if you’ve got an Opposition out? And if Seedborn is out without an Opposition, he’s rather expensive and small for his body. Sure, he combines nicely with Squirrel Nest, but I don’t think it’s worth it. In Opposition, Seedborn Muse seems like a luxury.

There was another deck I worked on for States that utilized red’s burgeoning good stock of pingers that have gotten good again with the exit of Flametongue Kavu. The deck killed creatures left and right and seemed to be just a hair shy of Tier 1 status. Well, being able to ping on both your and their turn seems downright insane.

R/g Your Guy Dies.dec

2x Firebolt

4x Shock

4x Grim Lavamancer

4x Sparksmith

4x Goblin Sharpshooter

3x Caller of the Claw

4x Violent Eruption

3x Jeska, Warrior Adept

3x Chain of Acid

4x Seedborn Muse

2x Mossfire Valley

4x Karplusan Forest

7x Forest

12x Mountain

Seedborn Muse effectively takes away the Sharpshooter’s disability if there aren’t any creatures dying left and right for a turn or two. I’ve also included Caller of the Claw, since it goes a long way towards shoring up this deck’s weakness to mass-creature removal.

Anyway, there’s a few deck ideas based off cards in Legions that I think are potentially very powerful. Next week I plan on looking at a few more exciting cards in Legions, and then exploring some of the new mechanics introduced in the set for Regionals decks.