The Kitchen Table #342 – The Compendium of Alternate Formats #14: Legendary Magic

The StarCityGames.com Open Series comes to St. Louis!Thursday, June 17th – Legendary Magic is about the use and abuse of legendary creatures and other permanents. From their first introduction, Legends have been one of the most important parts of the Magic fabric. These cards are supposed to represent the big and the bad, the graceful and the awe-inspiring, the people of myth and lore. They inspire comics, books, and other cards besides themselves. These are the characters of our story, told through cards.

Bonjour! As always, I hope your day has been fabulous. Today I want to give you another entry in the growing Compendium of Alternate Formats for yet another way to build your deck. Today, let’s talk about Legendary Magic.

Legendary Magic is about the use and abuse of legendary creatures and other permanents. From their first introduction, Legends have been one of the most important parts of the Magic fabric. These cards are supposed to represent the big and the bad, the graceful and the awe-inspiring, the people of myth and lore. They inspire comics, books, and other cards besides themselves. These are the characters of our story, told through cards.

Legendary Magic, unlike many of the formats I espouse, is my own little concoction, although the three rules are quite simple, so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else hasn’t already created it for their kitchen table. If so, I don’t recall reading about it, but let me know in the forums. Here are the rules:

1) Legendary Magic is Highlander, which means you can only include one copy of each card other than Basics.
2) Legendary Magic requires that every permanent, other than Basics, must be Legendary *

3) Legendary Magic requires that at least 50% of your deck is Legendary
4) Karakas is banned

Simple, eh? Okay, let’s talk about the asterisked rule.

The first and last rules are obvious. However, the middle rule is going to be pulled out a bit, because a few cards meet the flavor requirements of Legends, but not the technical status, and I want to help them out a bit. Here are the exceptions that you can also run:

The Planeswalkers — They have a flavorful pseudo-legendary ability already, and they feel splashy and special. They can be played as well, but they do not add to your legendary 50% count. If in a 60 card deck you had 30 legendary permanents already, you could add Ajani Vengeant, but he cannot count in that number.

The “Bands with other Legends” Land Cycle — Adventurer’s Guildhouse and friends are so bad anyway, that I don’t mind if you find space for them in here. Like the Planeswalkers, they do not count as your half and half, but if you want to find space for one or three of them, you can.

Legendary Flips — The flip creatures that start as normal creatures, but become legendary after certain conditions are met, are also acceptable, but do not count towards the 50% rule.

Why is Karakas Banned and Not Other Hosers?

This guy taps to bounce every creature in the format. That’s pretty powerful. Who cares if you are even playing White at that point. There are few answers to it, and it can bounce opposing creatures or a player could also try and play legendary creatures that want to get bounced like Godo, Verdeloth, Dong Zhou, Wort the Raidmother, Sun Ce, Llawan, Maga, Venser or Kangee, or perhaps use the divinity counter from a Myojin and then reload.

Some hosers are already illegal, namely Arena of the Ancients and Willow Satyr. The other ones are fine, because they are singletons. Plus, stuff like Hero’s Demise is still just a Terminate in this format, nothing too broken. It’s only Karakas that is a problem, so it is banned.

Okay, so we have a format hammered out. However, that’s not enough, now let’s talk about the metagame.

Many players are going to want to play legendary lands in order to meet the 50% requirement with some lands, and free up deck space for spells. This makes a lot of sense, but understand that there are several hosers for this strategy, including some that are legendary themselves First of all, Livonya Silone and Ayumi, the Last Visitor both have legendary landwalk, and even one legendary land will allow them to walk through you for a lot of damage. Ayumi is especially a threat with a 7 power and just five mana required to play it. These cannot be underestimated in power.

Second, there is a nice hoser for legendary lands. Feast of Worms destroys a land, and if it was legendary, the controller sacrifices one too. That makes Feast of Worms a powerful double dip against legendary lands.

Finally, remember that you can play your own version and knock theirs down. This can regain you some balance at the table.

What are the power cards of Legendary Magic?

Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper — This land taps for two colorless mana for legendaries, and it’s legendary as well. You can play one, and then you can pay two for stuff like legendary artifacts, creatures and enchantments. This is a keeper.

Yomiji, Who Bars the Way — This bad boy returns every legendary permanent of yours that dies to your hand. Broken much? Yomiji is Yo-awesome.

Captain Sisay — Every turn she’ll tutor for at least half your deck. That’s a pretty powerful tap ability.

Dark Depths — They may be expensive, but come on now, if you have one, then you are playing it. It is pretty sexy cool after all. Everyone wants to beat with Marit Lage.

Day of Destiny — If you are playing White, and you are not playing this legendary enchantment, what are you playing? See also — Konda’s Banner.

Empress Galina — She can steal legendary creatures, and may be as annoying as Karakas in her own way. She is very vulnerable to removal though.

Reki, the History of Kamigawa — Because drawing a ton of cards is always fun!

How about some deck ideas?

The first idea that pops into my head is a powerful dragon based build. You have the powerful Zirilian of the Claw, and then stuff like Hellkite Overlord, Bladewing the Risen, Karrthus, Kokusho, and more. I think there would be some really nice chances to find and abuse a lot of dragons in a variety of ways.

Another option is to make a bunch of 1/1 tokens. A lot of players might try to avoid sweeping removal because they have a lot of creatures too, and instead focus on the great pinpoint removal available in their color(s). As such, the handful of legendary creatures that make tokens have some value. Some that I can think of include Rakka Mar; Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens; Wort the Raidmother; Rith, the Awakener; Oona, Queen of the Fae; Verdeloth the Ancient; Nemata, Grove Guardian; and Darien, King of Kjeldor. You can even try to pump them up with something like Tolsimir Wolfblood. I’m sure there are other token makers I couldn’t think of as well.

A third deck idea that jumps into my mind is a spiritcraft deck. You have some nice abilities like the Kirin; Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens; Hikari, Twilight Guardian; Kodama of the South Tree; Kyoki, Sanity’s Eclipse; and the cycle of five uncommon creatures that get Ki counters and flip into legendary creatures. You could also use and abuse soulshift, but there is not a lot of it — just He Who Hungers and Kodama of the Center Tree. The aspects of Iname can substitute or supplement that strategy.

There are several “Build Around Me” creatures that speak to power. Godo, Bandit Warlord is one such, retrieving various legendary equipment of power, especially the Kaldra pieces. If you can find a way to keep replaying Godo over and over again (Momentary Blink?) then you have a powerful little engine going.

Another card that suggests to be played around is Mirari. I’m sure you can come up with several ways to abuse it, and in this format, cards like Time of Need and Hero’s Demise are great options, in addition to old standbys like Lightning Bolt.

When you look at some of the legendary artifacts, there are several besides Mirari that have some power. Legacy Weapon; Predator, Flagship; Akroma’s Memorial; and Mindslaver all have game ending possibilities. In addition to that, Skyship Weatherlight might also have some strong value in this format. Remember you can play stuff like Academy Ruins too, since it is a legendary land.

Perhaps a Honden deck would appeal to you, but I doubt that, with just one copy of each in your deck, you could get too many out at the same time. That’s your challenge right there.

You could do a fun little snake theme deck with Seshiro and Sosuke pumping them, and then about five more from Kamigawa block plus Mistform Ultimus are about. Toss in mini-lords like Kaysa, Meng Huo and Tolsimir Wolfblood, (and Day of Destiny) and you could have some beefy snakes. Konda’s Banner is great on a snake too.

I think an interesting metagame decision might be to rock a bunch of cheap, aggressively priced creatures. For example, as a White Weenie deck, you have Isamaru, Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, Kataki, Gaddock Teeg, Kentaro, Pianna, Sensei Golden-Tail, Saffi, Jenara, Tividar, and Sygg, River Guide. You could easily rock the Glorious Anthem Kongming, Day of Destiny, and rock the four mana spot with stuff like Nagao, Rafiq, Hokori, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, Commander Eesha, Celestial Kirin, and Brion Stoutarm. There are definitely some opportunities to beat down an enemy.

This is the format of three color dragons, Akromas, Phage, Reya, Kamahl, Baron Sengir and Meloku. Autumn Willow, Sol’Kanar the Swamp King, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Spirit of the Night, Kokusho and Sliver Queen. Even Squee, Goblin Nabob is here. Some are better than others, but they are all here.

Legendary Magic 1.1

I also came up with an interesting spin. After playing around with Legendary magic a bit, what if you allowed Enchant World cards? They would not count towards your 30 legendary permanents, but you could allow them to give the format a bit more flavor. After all, they really feel like the precursors to legendary enchantments.

I hope you liked today’s little format. Enjoy!

Until later…

Abe Sargent