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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Feb 11 2014 1:00pm
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Here is part two. And now for #3!

***Since Legends was so exorbitantly large, I'll only be looking at excerpts, not every single card.  (Otherwise this would be 7 parts instead of 4!)  And besides, what would I compare Arboria to?

Green

Avoid Fate    

Avoid Fate

If it can be avoided, it wasn't fate.

Modern equivalent: Yeah! Green used to have its own (weaker) Turn Aside / Rebuff the Wicked!  Now all it can counter (without being a GU multicolored spell) are blue instants, as seen on Guttural Response.

Verdict: Colorshift and light power creep.

    Turn Aside
             
Cocoon    

Cocoon

To save you some eye strain, Cocoon works thusly: your creature is put out of commission for three (entire) turns, after which it receives (a measly) +1/+1 and flying.

Modern equivalent: The flying part is harder to manage, but green is sure better at giving +1/+1 counters nowadays.  Compare this to Forced Adaptation, for instance.  You can see this mechanic gradually improving if you look at Primal Cocoon from 2010 and then Momentum from 1999.

As said, the loss of flying is a factor, but it's hardly enough to keep Cocoon relevant. It's still much worse than Spider Umbra or Treetop Bracers.

Three turns of being tapped out....

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Forced Adaptation
             
Subdue    

Subdue

Melting someone's spear... this is the kind of thing Bugs Bunny would have done if he were a planeswalker.

Modern equivalent: Subdue had two uses: to Fog a single unblocked attacker (not worth one mana), and to maybe-regenerate your creature (not worth one mana).

You're better off with actual Fog or Mending Touch in nearly any situation.  Which of the three would you draft if they were all in the same pack?  It depends... but probably not Subdue.

Verdict: Medium power creep.

    Mending Touch
             
Winter Blast    

Winter Blast

Before blue was the color of ice, green was.

Modern equivalent: If not for Born of the Gods' Glimpse the Sun God, I really wouldn't have much to say here.  There haven't been any similar cards in a long time, and there still aren't within green.  Red has things like Wave of Indifference.

Windstorm looks similar but really serves a quite different purpose.  If you're in mono-green and want to get your big alpha strike through, a closer alternative might actually be Overrun.

Verdict: Colorshifted.

    Glimpse_the_Sun_God.jpg
             
Barbary Apes    

Barbary Apes

The card that turned "Grizzly Bears" from a card to a card type.

Modern equivalent: In the past two years, green has had fifteen 2/2s costing 1G.  One of them, Runeclaw Bear, was a functional reprint.

The other fourteen are all better than that, including cards at all rarities.  Scavenging Ooze is possibly the best of them, but there are a lot to pick from.  Skylasher and Leafcrown Dryad are also strong.

Verdict: Medium power creep (but is still relevant).

    Scavenging Ooze
             
Emerald Dragonfly    

Emerald Dragonfly

You are looking at
MtG's only haiku.
(Not here, on the card.)

Modern equivalent: If you want to attack with flier-like nimbleness, look no further than the one-mana Spire Tracer. If you want to block fliers, Deadly Recluse is quite good. With his deathtouch, he can usually even go unblocked himself.

If you want a 2-mana flier who gets better from mana spent... maybe Skinshifter is similar to the Dragonfly?

Of course, these creatures all lack first strike and are ill-equipped to tussle with a Wormfang Manta... but I think we'll be okay.

Verdict: Medium power creep.

    Deadly Recluse
             
Fire Sprites    

Syphon Soul

Sometimes even more interesting than old sets' odd templating choices were their typesetting choices.

Modern equivalent: Instead of just converting to off-color mana, how about outright producing it? Birds of Paradise were reprinted in M12, and we've had Manaweft Sliver and Sylvan Caryatid since then.

If you must-must-must deal damage to fliers while making mana, 2006's Silhana Starfletcher is the only other option.

Verdict: Medium power creep.

    Manaweft Sliver
             
Shelkin Brownie    

Shelkin Brownie

Look at that smug grin!

This guy knows how good he is!

Modern equivalent: What a powerhouse! Part of the infamous "Legends Triad," (along with Mana Drain and The Abyss), this guy was an absolute beast back in the day.  Decks were scared not to run four of him, usually in the maindeck, and often as a splash.

Bands With Other was poised to dominate the tournament scene with an intensity not again seen until Necropotence in the "black winter" days.  If not for Shelkin Brownie, that is—the only card to keep a broken format in check, like Force of Will in Vintage.

I still remember the t-shirts people printed to wear to tournaments—"The Cathedral of Serra is burning," they would say.  "Master of the Hunt? Master this!" "Go away, Seafarer's Quay."  "More like Mountain WEAKhold!"

They couldn't think of wordplay for Adventurer's Guildhouse I guess so they just airbrushed Shelkin Brownie stepping on it.

Verdict: Inimicable.

   

 

 

 

 

 

What could possibly?

             
Sylvan Library    

Sylvan Library

To read at the Sylvan Library you have to climb a ladder into a structure covered in mold.  This explains the loss of 4 life.

Modern equivalent: This card has a storied history.  First it was made to the less versatile Mirri's Guile. Then it was given to all colors as Sensei's Divining Top, one of the strongest cards in its format.  That was eventually banned (because it took too long—allegedly).  Then it was split up: the sifting half to blue and the life-for-drawing half to black (Dark Tutelage, Underworld Connections).

Interestingly, if you look at permanents in the last few years only, the only repeated sifters I saw were Etherwrought Page and Thassa, God of the Sea.

Verdict: Medium nerfing, colorshift.

    Dark Tutelage
             
Whirling Dervish    

Whirling Dervish

Sad but true: a delayed Desert activation would kill him before his delayed growth trigger.

Modern equivalent: This guy was given a whole cycle in Mirrodin, called the Slith.  Every color had one! But since those days, it's just become a red ability, as seen on all of those vampires.

Stromkirk Noble and Falkenrath Exterminator show you the current standards for this ability.

Verdict: Medium power creep.

    Stromkirk Noble
             
Cat Warriors    

Cat Warriors

The current oracle type is "cat warrior."  Just one letter different from their name.

Modern equivalent: Take off one mana. Easy breezy beautiful.

Verdict: Light power creep.

    Somberwald Dryad
             
Giant Turtle    

Giant Turtle

Hehehe I love to watch that guy easily outrun the giant turtle, even while wading through two feet of water.

Modern equivalent: Witchstalker, Great Sable Stag, Wolfir Avenger, Leatherback Baloth....

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Great Sable Stag
             
Hornet Cobra    

Hornet Cobra

Yep, Legends designers looked at Elvish Archers and felt the need to dial it back a mana.  (In The Dark, they would try to find a happy middle with Land Leeches—another failed experiment.)

Modern equivalent: The last few years have only seen green-red first strikes, not mono-green ones. See Disciple of the Old Ways and Ember Weaver.

If you don't consider Tenth Edition too long ago, Mirri, Cat Warrior was a bit better than Hornet Cobra.

Or you could just look at any of the three-mana creatures I mentioned in the Giant Turtle section. Who cares if you have first strike when you have three toughness, hexproof, protection, flash, and/or regeneration?

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Mirri, Cat Warrior
             
Ichneumon Druid    

Ichneumon Druid

The guy in that picture is too amazing to be a 1/1.

Modern equivalent: Dosan the Falling Leaf is a big upgrade, since Ichneumon lets one free instant through every turn.  But that was in 2004....  And Visions' City of Solitude was even longer ago.

2006 had Petrified Wood-Kin's "protection from instants." Dryad Militant hosed flashback and such. Then there are color-specific cards like Eyes of the Wisent. That's about it—unless I missed one?

Verdict: Stricken from the record.

    Dosan the Falling Leaf
             
Untamed Wilds    

Force Spike

A true artifact—Magic's first land ramp!

Modern equivalent: Land ramp has of course had an illustrious history since this card.  Every block has had its own iterations, often getting crazier and more complex.  We can now Expedition Map into a Cloudpost, Flooded Strand into a Steam Vents, and Primeval Titan into a Kessig Wolf Run.

Or if we want to just do what Untamed Wilds did exactly, we can get a 1-mana discount.

Verdict: Light power creep.

    Rampant Growth
             
Eureka    

Eureka

Einstein figured out this equation after years of careful thought and study. Meanwhile, on Dominaria, this wizard just casts a spell to make a naked sprite bring it to him!

Modern equivalent: Eureka lets you pay 2GG to win the game.

Broken Urza's block brought us Show and Tell, a smaller-but-still-big-enough version at only 2U.

There was the Time Spiral nod Hypergenesis.  It's still plenty powerful (thanks to cascade), because of which Wizards increased the costs even more.  All the way to 7UUU.

Verdict: Severe nerfing (off-color).

    Omniscience
             
Master of the Hunt    

Master of the Hunt

Yes, here is the very aim of Shelkin Brownie's abilities.  1/1 wolves that band only with each other.

Modern equivalent: Master of the Hunt...

Master of the WILD Hunt...

*weighs hands*

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Master of the Wild Hunt
             
Rabid Wombat    

Rabid Wombat

True fact: this guy got to stay a wombat during the grand creature type update.

There is not a single other (non-changeling) wombat in the game.

Modern equivalent: Kor Spiritdancer is waaaay better than the wombat, in white.  Green has the generally-better Gatherer of Graces.  Multicolored has the commander-specializing Uril, the Miststalker.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Gatherer of Graces
             
Radjan Spirit    

Radjan Spirit

Flavor department, exactly how is she doing that?  By spreading her wings and gesturing hypnotically?

Modern equivalent: Ugh!

If you use Radjan's ability, it can't block that turn!

Well this is the only green creature ever printed to make creatures lose flying, but I think I'm okay with a regular reach creature. Cloudcrown Oak, Kessig Recluse, Thrashing Mossdog, that sort of thing.

Verdict: Medium power creep.

    Kessig Recluse 
             
Wolverine Pack    

Wolverine Pack

Ha ha what red gets for 2RRR green gets for 2GG.

Modern equivalent: Yet it's still bad even at that price. Especially now that we have Polukranos, World Eater, Thrun, the Last Troll, and Vengevine.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Polukranos_World_Eater.jpg
             
Wood Elemental    

Wood Elemental

If you would like to pay 8 mana and sacrifice four lands for a vanilla 4/4, I give you...

Modern equivalent: ...Polukranos, World Eater.  I give you that, so you realize how misguided your wish was.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Polukranos_World_Eater.jpg
             
Durkwood Boars    

Durkwood Boars

One of those Magic cards with a bible verse on them. Consider handing these out at the next sporting even you're at.  They're not as entertaining as Jack Chick tracts, of course.

Modern equivalent: Kalonian Hydra is also a 4/4 for 5 mana.

With just a few other differences.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Kalonian Hydra
             
Elven Riders    

Elven Riders

He's slippery!  He's hard to block!  Whoosh whoosh!  (That's the sound of him slipping through the trees.)

Modern equivalent: Splat splat.  (That's the sound of him getting crushed by a Thornling).

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Vorapede
             
Moss Monster    

Moss Monster

"After the battle, an eerie silence gripped the forest."

What a strange coincidence.  Every time I cast this card I'm greeted with an eerie silence.

Modern equivalent: Well New Phyrexia gave us basically the same card in Rotted Hystrix, so Moss Monster isn't entirely irrelevant.  But if you look at some other five-mana creatures, you'll see some better alternatives.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Arbor_Colossus.jpg
             
Craw Giant    

Craw Giant

Craw Wurm cost 6.  This is a worse card than Craw Wurm.  It says a lot about the quality of rampage that adding it and trample isn't worth a single mana.

Modern equivalent: Can green do better than this with 7 mana?

AvengerofZendikarElderscaleWurmGaea'sRevengeGiant-AdephagePelakkaWurmChancelloroftheTangleEngulfing-SlagwurmGarruk'sHordeKalonianBehemothMoldgraf-MonstrosityPlatedSlagwurmProteanHulkSylvanPrimordial-DuskdaleWurmYES.

Yes it can.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Giant Adephage

 

One more category to do before we get to the gold cards next week—

Land

Seafarer's Quay    

The bands with other cycle

Not even the Time Spiral block was crazy enough to revisit this mechanic.

Modern equivalent: We still get cycles of lands that boost your creatures. Just in different ways than bands with other.  Sejiri Steppe gives a creature protection; Slayers' Stronghold gives it +2/+0, vigilance, and haste; and so on.

They take mana to activate... but they can also make mana, which the Legends land don't do.

Also in case you're saying "Slayers' Stronghold is for multicolored decks only," so too was Seafarer's Quay!  As we'll see next week, every legend in Legends was multicolored.  (Trivia: Can you name the first set to feature monocolored legends?  Scroll to the bottom of the article for the answer.)

Verdict: Light power creep.

    Slayers' Stronghold
             
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale    

The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

A tabernacle is a building for God to visit.  The card's flavor is that all creatures are forced into paying their respects.

Modern equivalent: Noooo waaaayyyyy.  We do not get this effect for free anymore.  It's rare that we even get to pay for it!

It's been a long time since Pendrell Mists, or even Vile Consumption. In the last two years, Soul Tithe has been the single only effect to make somebody pay to keep their creature.  And it's a little different than the Tabernacle.

Verdict: Severe nerfing.

    Soul Tithe
             
Tolaria    

Tolaria

Tolaria West is strong.  Tolarian Academy is strong.  But the entire Tolaria is weak (even though it presumably includes the west region and its academy).

...Even just the ruins of Tolaria's academy are stronger than Tolaria itself!

Modern equivalent: Without looking at multicolored lands, the recent U-lands-with-bonuses have been Halimar Depths and Soaring Seacliff.  They enter tapped, although their abilities each have the potential to actually be of use.

Verdict: Light power creep.

    Halimar Depths
             
Urborg    

Urborg

Is Urborg the same place as Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth?  The non-restrictive clause would imply that it is, and yet nothing else about the card does.

Modern equivalent: I'll rank this as better than Piranha Marsh but (usually) worse than Bojuka Bog.

Well, I'd rather use Urborg in a draft against a random opponent, but Bojuka Bog still has more applications (and which would you rather have in your sideboard?).

Verdict: Light power creep.

    Bojuka Bog
             
Karakas    

Karakas

Whooaaaaa the power level of this cycle is not even!!!

Modern equivalent: You can't infinitely get rid of that opposing bomb anymore... but you can gain 2 life, once.

Verdict: Severe nerfing.

    Kabira Crossroads
             
Hammerheim    

Hammerheim

Wizards was very concerned about landwalking back then.  I imagine them sitting at their conference table and talking about it in lowered voices, the way adults today talk about cyberbullying and texting while driving.

Modern equivalent: It's weird to think of red lands playing the defensive role, since we now have Smoldering Spires and Teetering Peaks.

If red ever gets to do this sort of thing again, it will be a long time in the future.  But that suits the color fine, since these newer lands much better synergize with the rest of the color's strategy.

Verdict: Light power creep.

    Smoldering Spires
Pendelhaven    

Pendelhaven

Magic's first treehouse, I think?  It was certainly before Elven Fortress at least.

Modern equivalent: Unless you have a weird (bad?) deck, you will likely activate Pendelhaven fewer times than Oran-Rief, the Vastwood.  And get less out of each activation, at that.

Verdict: Light power creep.

    Oran-Rief, the Vastwood

 

We're gettin' close.  Just one more article to go, and it's an extra-long one!

P.S. The answer to the trivia question on Seafarer's Quay: Homelands.  With 14 of 'em.

3 Comments

Mishra's Factory by mindlesslemming at Tue, 02/11/2014 - 14:04
mindlesslemming's picture

Nice article. Always good to see a wombat! Mishra's Factory was the first four tree houses, right? (via Antiquities) So Pendlehaven would come in at least 5th.. Is Keebler Elves a card yet?

Green can actually counter by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 02/11/2014 - 21:21
Kumagoro42's picture
5

Green can actually counter any blue counter/bounce/steal and black removal, if you use Autumn's Veil correctly.

Wood Elemental might be the single worst creature design ever. It could cost 0 and still wouldn't be playable. It could have Akroma's abilities and still wouldn't be playable! It's sort of impressive.

I'll be honest, I can't remember what's the difference between banding and band with others (a.k.a. the mechanic with the clumsiest name ever). I'm not sure I ever played with either in my entire career as a Magic player. (Maybe the first time I opened a Revised starter deck and there was Benalish Hero, but I'm pretty sure I just chump blocked with her).
Anyway, even a land that just produces 1 colorless mana qualifies as severe power creep over the band with others land cycle. Seriously, whoever designed that cycle needs professional help (although even modern medicine has its limits.)

The Tabernacle's flavor is that all creatures are forced into paying their respects AND they ask their daddy planeswalker for some money to make an offer.

Wolfbriar Elemental seems by Misterpid at Wed, 02/12/2014 - 00:31
Misterpid's picture

Wolfbriar Elemental seems like it would be the best card to compare to Wood Elemental - although pretty much any card looks amazing when compared to Wood Elemental.

Also, Ice Age had 2 monocolored legends - General Jarkeld and Marton Stromgald.