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By: Joe Fiorini, Joseph G Fiorini
Mar 05 2015 12:00pm
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Welcome back, to another installment of Legacy Lessons.

     Today, I want to talk about some of the fringe decks in the Legacy format, with a focus on decks that are easier to afford, and have what it takes to win in a Daily Event. For a very long time, I stood on the outside, looking in. That is to say, Legacy seemed like the coolest thing that I'd never experience. If you are reading this, and have felt that way yourself, I sincerely hope that this article can help you pick a deck and get started. Maybe one of these decks isn't your ideal deck, and that's understandable. If you have the time though, you could use one of these decks to grind out some packs to sell, and wind up with your dream deck.

     If you're an established player, maybe trying out one of these decks could be a break from your regular deck. It's always nice to have something different to play to avoid being burned out on your normal deck of choice.

     While compiling this list of decks, I came to realize that more than any other money card, Wasteland is responsible for making decks absurdly expensive. Yes, Rishadan Port, Misdirection, and now even Liliana of the Veil and Tarmogoyf are more expensive. However, Wasteland goes in more decks that all of those cards. Avoiding playing a Wasteland deck (or the few Port decks for that matter) can go a long way towards affording a good deck. You could get four of some dual lands and a Jace, the Mind Sculptor for what you'd pay for a Wasteland. There is a good chance that the price will continue to drop on Wasteland, due to Tempest Remastered coming out soon, but for now, it's not cheap. Wasteland did lose half of its value since I purchased them, but it's still a fifty ticket uncommon as of this writing. A 200 ticket play-set isn't something I consider cheap, especially for an uncommon land, that's a fixed version of Strip Mine (which is, ironically, a very cheap card). Keep in mind, a fair amount of decks use no basic lands at all, so Ghost Quarter can be surprisingly effective in Legacy, and it's extremely inexpensive.

 

     I'll start with the deck I previewed last week: Hex Depths (sometimes referred to as Turbo Depths).

 

 

 

     If you can't tell, this deck has one gameplan, and that is make a Marit Lage token as fast as possible. This isn't a lands deck featuring the Dark Depths combo, this is a pure combo deck, and one that is very likely to surprise your opponent. 

 "Dread Marit Lage lies dreaming, not dead"

     The combo involves cheating the ice counters off of Dark Depths in one turn, creating a 20/20, Flying, Indestructable creature. This is done with either Vampire Hexmage (the original combo enabler for Marit Lage) to strip away all counters on your  Dark Depths , or using Thespian's Stage. The Thespian's Stage combo is done by cloning the Depths, and using the Legend Rule to sacrifice the copy as a state-based action. Since the Stage was already in play when it turns into the Depths, it won't have the ice counters, and the act of sacrificing it will summon Big Daddy Lage (Marit Lage is actually a woman, according to what I've read). 

     Looking at the deck list, we see cards to speed out the combo, Crop Rotation, Expedition Map, Sensei's Divining Top, and a pet card of mine: Sylvan Library. Protecting the combo are four main-deck targeted discard spells, and a Sejiri Steppe that you can crop rotation for to give Marit Lage protection from a colored removal spell. Pithing Needle can stop Wasteland, which otherwise would give this deck fits.


  Vampire Hexmage     Dark Depths    Thespian's Stage


     Up next, we have the deck that everyone loves to hate...

 

Dredge
 

 

 

     Dredge is a dangerous deck that plays its own version of Magic. It's built to abuse the graveyard, and the Dredge mechanic, as its name obviously suggests. Card's like Ichorid, Narcomoeba, and Bridge from Below all combine to form what is essentially a combo deck, and one that is notoriously difficult to interact with. Dredge punishes those who don't respect it enough to pack adequate graveyard hate in their sideboard. 

 

     There is also a version of Drege called "Manaless Dredge" that, as its name suggests, doesn't play any lands. Manaless Dredge chooses to play second, and discard a creature with Dredge due to the maximum hand size rule. From then on, they just go to town dredging, flashing back Cabal Therapy by sacrificing either a Narcomoeba, Ichorid, or Nether Shadow to strip any countermeasures the opponent might have in hand. Then, the deck flashes back Dread Return returning a Balustrade Spy, which will mill the rest of the deck. Then, they can flashback another Dread Return to get back Flayer of the Hatebound, followed by another Dread Return on Golgari Grave-Troll. The Grave-Troll will be extremely large when it enters the battlefield, and with Flayer in play, the Troll will put a trigger on the stack that will deal a lethal amount of damage to the opponent.

 

 

Flayer of the Hatebound     Golgari Grave-Troll

 

Unless you have an answer, these two guys will be the last thing you see!

 

     

     The following deck is a trusty old Workhorse. This deck burned its way into the Magic: the Gathering history books when Shahar Shenhar played the modern version of this archetype at last year's world championship. Read up on the Adrian Sullivan's Theory of Fire, and get ready to light 'em up!

Burn

 

Burn 134.48
MoonTimeDweller (4 - 0) Legacy Daily #7929997 on 2015-01-31
Creatures
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Goblin Guide
4 Grim Lavamancer
12 cards

Other Spells
4 Chain Lightning
4 Lava Spike
4 Rift Bolt
4 Fireblast
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Price of Progress
2 Searing Blaze
1 Searing Blood
3 Sulfuric Vortex
29 cards
Lands
1 Barbarian Ring
4 Bloodstained Mire
12 Mountain
2 Wooded Foothills
19 cards

Price of Progress

 

     There isn't a whole ton of strategic advice I can give for this deck. Basically, it's just point and shoot! Really, burn the other guy's face off. Don't sacrifice two Mountains to cast Fireblast until it's lethal (that should be pretty self-explanatory though).

     All joking aside, as my Facebook comrade Justin Alderman would put it, there is a big difference in being a good burn player, and just casting Lava Spikes. I've won a lot of games against Burn that I had no business winning, simply because the Burn player failed to sequence their cards correctly. Entire articles have been written on the subject, so do yourself a favor and read them. This will help you whether you're playing with the deck, or just playing against it. 

     This list doesn't play Skullcrack, but in Legacy, players have access to Sulfuric Vortex which also has an anti-lifegain clause. Maybe adding Skullcrack to the sideboard isn't a bad idea, but Legacy doesn't have all the Kitchen FInks and Thragtusks running around that Modern does. In Legacy, two mana can buy you a Flame Rift or Boros Charm, or even Tyrant's Choice. So, main-decking a two-mana, three-damage spell isn't where you want to be. The Sulfuric Vortex also provides a clock that's hard for some decks to deal with, which pretty much cements it's superiority to Skullcrack in this format.

     Burn is a deck that I would recommend to a new player. This isn't because it's always an easy deck to play. In Legacy, you're opponent isn't paying three life every time that they fetch a dual land, like they have to in Modern with their shock land mana base. So, you're probably going to have to deal more damage to someone in a Legacy match. The reason I'm recommending Burn is that it is very consistent, and for the monetary investment, has a good chance of earning you more tickets than you spent on it.

     I'm not a Burn player myself, but I do love casting Lightning Bolt, and I ran my U/R Delver deck with four Bolts as well as four Chain Lightnings. The turn three kills I got playing against decks like Miracles had nothing to do with Treasure Cruise, it was from a nut draw with Monastery Swiftspear, Gitaxian Probe, and several Lightning Bolts and/or Chain Lightnings. The point is, it's very feasible to beat someone extremely fast with a Legacy Burn deck, and there is a great feeling that comes from destroying a big money deck with your mono-Lightning Bolt deck. Besides, Killing a player at ten life with two Bolts and a Fireblast has to feel fantastic!

  

 

     Up next is a deck that brings back memories of the tail end of combo winter, which started with the first set of the Urza's block, Urza's Saga.

 

Enchantress Combo

 

 

     Here's a little bit of history for you: During the Mirage block era, a pro player named Mike Long pioneered a deck he called "Wishing Well", better known to everyone else as "Pros Bloom". That deck won Pro Tour: Paris, and showed everyone that a combo deck could be a lot more than a gimmicky thing that a little kid would take to an FNM. With a combo deck winning a Pro Tour, people took them seriously. When the next block was released, deck brewers were primed to look at the spoiler lists to find cards that could be broken inside of combo decks. 

     One of the first cards that stood out, was Tolarian Academy. Tolarian Academy was part of a cycle of legendary lands, three of which made extra mana equal to a number of certain permanents controlled by the land's controller. Academy worked with artifacts, Gaea's Cradle counted creatures, and the last one, Serra's Sanctumcounted enchantments. 

     During combo winter, the broken decks based around Tolarian Academy would be banned out of existence. Gaea's Cradle had some Elf-Ball decks built around it, but they weren't as powerful as today's Elves! decks are. Needing a new broken deck, ingenious brewers came up with a deck built around abusing the untargetable Argothian Enchantress, Earthcraft, Serra's Sanctum, and other enchantments and enchantment synergies to come up with another insane combo deck. The deck used cards like Cloud of Faeries as well, which untapped lands when it was played, and eventually won with a massive Stroke of Genius

     This Enchantress deck has many similarities. Instead of a lethal Stroke of Genius, however, the deck will usually win with hard-casting (Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn), a bunch of angel tokens from Sigil of the Empty Throne, or the combination of Helm of Obedience and Rest in Peace, which results in an instant milling of the opponent's entire library.

     I haven't played with or against Enchantress, but I have had a casual deck with Enchantresses in the past, and I can tell you, it is always fun drawing a ton of extra cards. The deck went 3-1, and there isn't a lot of enchantment hate in people's sideboards, so this deck might be a great rogue strategy for you to try out.

Helm of Obedience Rest in Peace

Two-card instant win condition.

 

 

 

     The last deck that I'm showcasing is relatively new, as far as I can tell. Here we have the wonderfully named...

Sylvan Plug

 

 

 

     I first saw this deck during the heyday of Treasure Cruise-fueled U/R Delver. It's a "Stompy"-style deck with pieces that lock the opponent out of casting any spells. If you've ever tried playing against an active Trinisphere, you understand the miserable experience that it is. Choke also hurts a ton of decks in Legacy, because practically everyone is at least partly in blue. I'm sure that there were even more Islands floating around just a few short weeks ago. So, if you like casting spells while your opponent sits by in anguish, this deck is right up your alley.

     On the subject of the sideboard, has Kalonian Hydra ever appeared anywhere in a 4-0 deck list before? It's cute, but I imaging you could probably win with just about any creature of comparable size once your opponent is locked under a (Trinishpere) or Choke. The pilot went undefeated in a Daily Event that occurred this month, so this deck still must have some gas in the tank, even with a metagame that isn't warped by Treasure Cruise anymore. A lot of the cards in the list are good in other decks, too, so you can feel comfortable that you're investing in cards with potential to be playable elsewhere.

      That picture is just a little visual non sequitur to segue into the end of this article. I was mindlessly browsing the web one day, and I found that card. I remember cracking Fallen Empires packs and opening things like that. The art is great, but not the kind of thing you'd see in today's Magic: the Gathering releases.

     I suppose that with a title like "The Lunatic Fringe", a random rambling and strange picture seems like it belongs. Anyway, before I go, I'd like to take the time to thank everyone that's reached to me out on social media. It really does drive me to keep on writing. I can't thank you all enough. 

     As for the decks featured, they aren't all exactly fringe decks. Burn is somewhat mainstream, as is Dredge. There have been times where decks like that are even widely played, and sometimes considered the decks to beat. In Modern, Burn has been a powerhouse for a while, and only gotten the respect it deserves since Shahar Shenhar played it, as far as I'm concerned. 

     There are a great deal of decks that I thought about featuring, and I very likely will feature them in the future. There was a deck called "Werewolf Stompy" that won a tournament before, Sam Black wrote about it in a Daily MTG article. There are Goblin Stompy decks, all manner of bizarre combo decks as well. The main goal I had was to showcase some decks that were a bit odd-ball, and cheaper than the $1,000+ decks that litter the top of the Daily Event deck listings. 

     There were also a few non-Wasteland decks that are both near the top of the charts for percentage of appearance, such as Grixis control, that aren't too pricey, relatively speaking. If you've got your heart set on a top-tier deck, and don't want to spend Shardless Sultai money, try these decks: U/R Delver with Dig Through Time, one of the cheaper lists of Miracles, or like I mentioned, Grixis control. All those decks are sweet in their own right, but for this article, I focused on the rogue element. 

Until next time...

Thanks for reading!

Joe Fiorini

Islandswamp on MTGO, and The Source.

Follow me on Twitter twitter.com/josephfiorinijr

6 Comments

That blue guy is a prisoner by Paul Leicht at Thu, 03/05/2015 - 16:39
Paul Leicht's picture

That blue guy is a prisoner of the Rabbit and the demon. The Spy vs Spy guy is the Praetor.

I love fallen empires. If by Joe Fiorini at Thu, 03/05/2015 - 18:39
Joe Fiorini's picture

I love fallen empires. If they revisited the flavor of all those old sets, but used modern set construction methods, they could make some awesome stuff. Revisiting Ulgrotha (Homelands) is something that they have thought about apparently.

Fallen Empires... by Fred1160 at Thu, 03/05/2015 - 21:21
Fred1160's picture

I saw some place online selling boxes of Fallen Empires for $130 a box.
I can remember that stuff selling for $25 bucks a box...and they STILL couldn't sell 'em! The way card prices had blown up on the older sets a lot of stores and speculators loaded up on Fallen Empires expecting big-money cards. Oh boy, they were disappointed!
I knew one guy who bought ten cases of Fallen Empires expecting to get rich.

By the way, Homelands was the most recent set out when I started playing and despite all the hate that Homelands receives I still remember it fondly.

I have very fond memories of by Joe Fiorini at Fri, 03/06/2015 - 11:08
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I have very fond memories of fallen empires and homelands. Homelands was the first new set to be released when I started playing.

I thought baron sengir was the best card ever. I once triple dark ritualed out a Baron turn one. I thought that was insanely good.

I've always loved the flavor by Misterpid at Fri, 03/06/2015 - 10:25
Misterpid's picture

I've always loved the flavor text from Fallen Empires. It does a great job of telling the back story of the set.

I tried to like this comment, by JXClaytor at Fri, 03/06/2015 - 10:31
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I tried to like this comment, but then remembered it was not facebook :/