CottonRhetoric's picture
By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Mar 10 2014 11:00am
5
Login or register to post comments
3506 views


 Already reviewed: the five colors and artifacts.  What's left: the gold cards!  Legends' centerpiece.

The premise is to examine the design of these early cards and see what their concepts look like today.  Have they gotten stronger or weaker over time?  Have they stayed exactly the same or been stricken from the record entirely?  So far, only one single card, Remove Soul, has gone entirely untouched in nineteen years.

 

Adun Oakenshield    

Adun Oakenshield

Right off the bat, we notice that the concept of Legends needing to cost three mana or more has been power crept over the years.

Modern equivalent: But this particular design is actually overpowered by today's standards.  Yes, it's true.  The only creatures under six mana in the last five years that can repeatedly get creatures out of the grave are tribe-specific, like Wort, Boggart Auntie or Lord of the Undead.

It's been a long time since Oversold Cemetery.

Verdict: Medium nerfing.

    Lord of the Undead
             
Angus Mackenzie    

Angus Mackenzie

"Battles no longer served a purpose in Karakas."  This guy lived in Karakas!  Can you imagine what a grindy place that must be.  I bet Millstones sell really high at the market.

Modern equivalent: Surprise! The first two Legends legends are both overpowered!  When we think of this set we think of Tobias Andrion but they weren't all like that.  Some were Spike Weaver with infinite counters.

The only fogging creatures we have today are for very finite activations, like Knight-Captain of Eos. Blame limited for that.

As for those one-mana fog creatures we used to have, the most recent one was Kami of False Hope from 2005!  Blame Turbo Fog and Snow White decks for that.

Verdict: Severe nerfing.

    Knight-Captain of Eos
             
Lady Evangela    

(Lady Evangelia)

"No, I said candid."

Modern equivalent: If you read Part 2 of 4, you'll remember that Horn of Deafening was completely redacted.  A similar fate befell the Horn of Deafening with legs.  The closest I could find that's recent is Guard Gomazoa.  Maybe Silvergill Douser?  Neither is that close.   

Verdict: Medium nerfing.  (This article really isn't going where I expected it to!  Eh, just wait until the higher cmc's.)

    Guard Gomazoa
             
Ragnar    

Ragnar

Look at that background.  This is the glossy he had made for his Thundercats audition.

Modern equivalent: Very few creatures were ever made that can repeatedly regenerate things.  Most are really old, like Rushwood Herbalist from Masques block.  Some are really expensive, like Deathless Angel.  The only new and cheap ones are Suture Spirit and Poultice Sliver.  And there's the five-mana enchantment Asceticism.

Let's stick with Suture Spirit (for obvious reasons). Her activation is slightly easier to pay than Ragnar's.  Her stats are comparable, or perhaps a slight improvement due to her mana cost.

Verdict: Light power creep.

    Suture Spirit
             
Tetsuo Umezawa    

Tetsuo Umezawa

Three abilities.  Zero correlation.  If this was designed more recently it would have been a Predator, Flagship type of thing.

Modern equivalent: Really all we've got is Royal Assassin for the one half.  And... nothing for the other half.  Maybe Silent Assassin if it wasn't so long ago.

It's hard to give this a grade since nothing like it exists, and yet the half that does is severely improved.  So... I won't.

Verdict: Inconclusive.

    Royal Assassin
             
Xira Arien    

Xira Arien

"She appears in a new costume every hour."  But are the wings part of her costume or part of her body? Same question about the insect face.  She was eventually given the Insect creature type—but look at those hands.

Modern equivalent: Blue gets these creatures now.  Green, red, and/or black only have ones with other costs attached.  Pay life, discard a card, and so on.  They can't just straight up draw things.  They get Underworld Connections and Rummaging Goblin.

Verdict: Light power creep (off-color).

    Azure Mage
             
Ayesha Tanaka    

Ayesha Tanaka

Another milestone—Magic's first geisha.

Modern equivalent: This looks pretty absurd and unmatchable at first.  But then you realize, Azorius Guildmage.

I'll call the newer one superior, although not strictly.

Verdict: Medium power creep.

    Azorius Guildmage
             
Gwendlyn Di Corci    

Gwendlyn Di Corci

She lives in Urborg, the flavor text tells us.  (This explains her lack of first strike.)

Modern equivalent: Creature-based discard is still in the game, but now it's mostly one-shot effects.  Black Cat, Sanity Gnawers, Drainpipe Vermin. The only repeatably ones work on combat damage, like Sedraxis Specter. The closest we have might be Rakdos Augermage?

Verdict: Light nerfing.

    Rakdos Augermage
             
Halfdane    

Halfdane

Hail from Tolaria the ever changing 'Dane.
Will he be an 8/8? Or yet bigger still?
Our mana was wasted, our hopes were in vain:
The giant he became was one from a Hill.

Modern equivalent: If you want to want to Clone something, you can do better than this guy.  Like Evil Twin.  Or actual Clone.

Alternately, if you just want a big doofy vanilla creature (which, let's be honest, is all 'Dane can ever be), you can still do better than this guy.  Wouldn't you rather just cast a Tower Gargoyle?

Verdict: Medium power creep.

    Evil Twin
             
Jacques le Vert    

Jacques le Vert

Gwendlyn di Corci is Italian.  This guy is French.  What ever happened to this game's multiculturalism?

Modern equivalent: Lorwyn's Liege cycle makes Jacques look pretty weak.  Boartusk Liege is the most direct comparison, since he has the same stats as Jacques (don't forget Jacques pumps himself to a 3/4).

This ability has gotten a lot stronger since the Kaysa days.

Verdict: Medium power creep.

    Boartusk Liege
             
Kei Takahashi    

Kei Takahasi

And now someone from Japan.  This set is like playing Street Fighter.  Or Punch Out!.

Modern equivalent: This ability got stronger for a while.  Just look at Aven Redeemer or Loxodon Anchorite.  But we're looking at new cards only, and there are barely any damage preventers anymore.  Possibly due to the way they gum up limited games.  Abuna Acolyte and Security Blockade prevent 1 at a time.  Oriss, Samite Guardian is already six years old.

Verdict: Light power creep, then light nerfing.

    Security Blockade
             
Tuknir Deathlock    

Tuknir Deathlock

Legendary Creature—Human Head

Modern equivalent: As for what the pump ability looks like today, see Elder of Laurels.  Although if we're just looking at Tuknir as a 4-mana GR slot, I think I'd just prefer Huntmaster of the Fells in my deck.

Verdict: Medium power creep (or severe power creep, depending on what you're looking for).

    Elder of Laurels
             
Boris Devilboon    

Boris Devilboon

Has anyone seen what a Minor Demon token looks like?

Will anyone ever?

It is funny to think that because of this guy, Mistform Ultimus is a minor.  So don't serve him alcohol.

Modern equivalent: Bloodline Keeper.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Bloodline Keeper
             
Jasmine Boreal    

Jasmine Boreal

I miss Richard Kane-Ferguson.  Nobody paints like him.

Modern equivalent: As pathetic as Jasmine looks, keep in mind that Armored Wolf-Rider was just printed, and with no changes greater than +0/+1.  Now that is some light power creep.

However, Sigarda, Host of Herons was also just printed so what do you know.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Sigarda, Host of Herons
             
Nebuchadnezzar    

Nebuchadnezzar

See what I mean about this guy?  ♥♥♥

Modern equivalent: They used to make creatures like this all the time. Cat Burglar, Rag Man, Wall of Distortion... but now if you want a creature to repeatedly force a discard, you need to deal some combat damage, as mentioned during Gwendlyn. Needle Specter, Guul Draz Specter, Liliana's Reaver....

These cards (especially the last mentioned) are overall stronger than Nebuchadnetc. but aren't exactly a replacement. Probably Scepter of Fugue does more of his job.

Verdict: Medium power creep.

    Liliana's Reaver
             
Rubinia Soulsinger    

Rubinia Soulsinger

I owned this card and played with it for years before noticing she has wings.

Modern equivalent: Simic Manipulator and Beguiler of Wills are the recent ones, and it's hard to call them better than Rubinia, even if they have the potential to grab multiple targets at once.  If we go back to the Lorwyn block, Sower of Temptation is certainly stronger.

Verdict: Light power creep.

    Beguiler of Wills
             
Sol'kanar the Swamp King    

Sol'kanar the Swamp King

Would Sol'kanar have become as beloved with the RKF art?

Modern equivalent: I was relieved (and surprised tbh) that there are no multicolored 5-cmc creatures who are just flat out upgrades to Sol'Kanar.  Of course, there are creatures who are generally better than him, like Underworld Cerberus, Havengul Lich, and Hypersonic Dragon.

Verdict: Light power creep.

    Underworld_Cerberus.jpg
             
Sunastian Falconer    

Sunastian Falconer

We should set this guy up on a blind date with Soraya the Falconer.  (Or should we?  They have nothing in common beyond their hobby.)

Modern equivalent: He has an ability, but do you want to use it? Don't you want to just attack with your 4/4?  (There are even worse examples of this phenomenon lower on the list.)  That in mind, I think I'd prefer a beefy 5-drop to him.  Even Streetbreaker Wurm is better.  Or certain 4-drops, like Polis Crusher.

Zhur-Taa Ancient is way bigger for the same mana, and provides way more ramp, but is also much riskier.

Verdict: Medium power creep.

    Rosheen Meanderer
             
Tor Wauki    

Tor Wauki

After careful study, I do not believe that is a shirt. I believe it is body paint.

Modern equivalent: This is a white ability now, and only for 1 damage at a time, at that. Red/black creatures can deal damage to anybody, not just attackers... but also for one at a time.  See Blood Cultist and Rakdos Ickspitter.

Olivia Voldaren can deal 2 damage, if you have the mana.

So although the "T: deal 2" ability is no longer around, Olivia's sheer power is making me call this for creep anyway.

Verdict: Medium power creep.

    Blood Cultist
             
Bartel Runeaxe    

Bartel Runeaxe

Look at Tetsuo Umezawa and this guy. With just a few more like them, WotC was possibly on the verge of keywording "cannot be the target of enchant creature spells."

Modern equivalent: Vigilance and (semi)-shroud have gone elsewhere in the color pie. But when you think about the 3BRG Prossh, Skyraider of Kher and Broodmate Dragon, the choice is clear. Six mana simply gets you more these days.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Broodmate Dragon
             
Dakkon Blackblade    

Dakkon Blackblade

But his blade is the same color as the rest of him.

Modern equivalent: If you want to have a creature growing with your lands, have you considered the 3-mana Dauntless Dourbark? Who also gets a free +1/+1 and hexproof?

If you aren't playing green, and just want a big beater in WUB, may I suggest Sharuum the Hegemon? Or cut a color out and go with Isperia, Supreme Judge.  (Or cut two colors and go with the titan of your choice!  Six mana is a simple slot.)

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Sharuum the Hegemon
             
Hunding Gjornersen    

Hunding Gjornersen

Those glowing yellow orbs represent his Rampage: 1.  An additional one appears for every extra creature that blocks him.

Modern equivalent: I mentioned Isperia, Supreme Judge during the last card and the comparison still holds up. There's also Bruna, Light of Alabaster, Medomai the Ageless, and Sovereigns of Lost Alara to make Hunding look obsolete.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

See also: Kasimir, the Lone Wolf

    Sovereigns of Lost Alara
             
Jerrard of the Closed Fist    

Jerrard of the Closed Fist

I eventually figured out that the shape on the bottom-right is an armored horse's neck.  I'm still not sure if the fist on his shield is painted (why's in unaffected by the diagonal line?) or an actual fist (where's it coming from?).

Modern equivalent: Six mana is now worth a free +1/+1, as seen on the common Ruination Wurm.  At higher rarities, we have even better creatures, such as Ruric Thar, the Unbowed or Dragonlair Spider.

Verdict: Medium power creep.

See also: Livonya Silone, Marhault Elsdragon, Stangg, The Lady of the Mountain

    Ruination Wurm
             
Johan    

Johan

Do you want a six-mana Serra's Blessing or an overcosted 5/4?  You can't have both in the same turn.

Modern equivalent: There aren't too many creatures to grant vigilance to everyone, unless you count the tribe-specific Sentinel Sliver, the unreliable Gate Hound, the limited Maze Sentinel, or the highly conditional Village Survivors.

Heliod, God of the Sun is a strong one but isn't always a creature.  But then again, neither is Johan if you want to use the vigilance ability.  I'm counting it.

Other cards to consider are Gahiji, Honored One and Meglonoth.  Yikes.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Meglonoth
             
Lord Magnus    

Lord Magnus

Another anti-plainswalking card.

Take that, Righteous Avengers.  And... nobody else.

Modern equivalent: This anti-walking ability isn't around anymore, so let's just look at other green-white six drops and see what we find.

The first two, alphabetically, are Armada Wurm and Enlisted Wurm.  I don't even really need to scroll down, or bother weighing the pros and cons of losing the -walking prevention.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

See also: Sir Shandlar of Eberyn, Torsten Von Ursus

    Armada Wurm
             
Pavel Maliki    

Pavel Maliki

Andi Rusu is another artist I miss, and the hole in my heart will never be filled.

Modern equivalent: Hmmmmm, a six-mana red creature with firebreathing.  Can we find one....

When this came out, it was already (significantly) worse than Shivan Dragon.  It would later become worse than Mana-Charged Dragon, Moonveil Dragon, Mordant Dragon, Two-Headed Dragon, and a lot of others.

It's even worse than the creatures who are worse than those creatures, like Pardic Dragon!

Verdict: Severe power creep.

See also: Rohgahh of Kher Keep

    Mana-Charged Dragon
             
Princess Lucrezia    

Princess Lucrezia

Now you can ramp from 6 to 8!  Your seventh turn is going to be explosive.

Modern equivalent: Oona, Queen of the Fae, Vela the Night-Clad, Wrexial, the Risen Deep... I'm just naming random creatures here.  And they're all better than Lucrezia.

As a princess, she's still young though.  Maybe when she becomes the queen she'll have more might.  It worked for Oona.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

See also: Ramirez DePietro, Ramses Overdark

    Oona, Queen of the Fae
             
Rasputin Dreamweaver    

Rasputin Dreamweaver

Now this is what mana ramp looks like!

Princess Lucrezia's eyes pop out of her head.  While she's ramping to eight mana on turn 7, Rasputin is ramping to fourteen. Then he's spinning a Momentary Blink on his finger before slam dunking it onto Lucrezia's face.

Modern equivalent: Are there any cards that give you seven mana at once anymore?  Not in blue-white, certainly.  Green has Mana Reflection at six mana.  There's Shrine of Boundless Growth, if you're patient.

Verdict: Severe nerfing.

    Shrine of Boundless Growth
             
Barktooth Warbeard    

Barktooth Warbeard

"Beware the Warbeard, for this brute bites as well as he barks!"

Yeah he sure bites alright.

Modern equivalent: Kaervek the Merciless suffers -1/-1 to gain a quite substantial boost.

Alternately, remember those six-mana mono-red creatures I mentioned who were superior to the six-mana Pavel Maliki?  They're also superior to this seven-mana guy.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

See also: Lady Orca

    Kaervek the Merciless
             
Gabriel Angelfire    

Gabriel Angelfire

I could see wanting to choose rampage: 3.  Like if my opponent is at 4 life, has a ton of creature tokens, who also all have flying.  And there's a Lure on Gabriel.

Modern equivalent: While you're debating whether to fly over your opponent's creatures, trample over them, first strike through them, or do nothing to them with rampage, Novablast Wurm is just straight up killing them.  All of them.  Every turn, and with a free +3/+3.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

See also: Lady Caleria

    Novablast Wurm
             
Gosta Dirk    

Gosta Dirk

The flavor is he magics the sun into being red, so it produces this magic red light to cover the islands with, so opposing creatures don't know how to navigate them properly.

Modern equivalent: Archon of the Triumvirate stops two creatures from attacking (or doing anything else) whether they had islandwalk first or not.  He also has better stats and an easier color cost.

Drogskol Reaver has nothing in common abilitywise but he is a vastly better deal for your seven mana.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

See also: Jedit Ojanen

    (pic=Archon of the Triumverate)
             
Hazezon Tamar    

Hazezon Tamar

Isn't it disorienting to look at a Legends legend who actually does something?

Modern equivalent: If you want tokens, we can get them much cheaper today.  Increasing Devotion, Army of the Damned, Cloudgoat Ranger, Conqueror's Pledge, Elspeth, Sun's Champion, Evangel of Heliod, Captain of the Watch....

I think the fittest comparison is Avenger of Zendikar, who you will notice has a few advantages.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

     Avenger of Zendikar
             
Riven Turnbull    

Riven Turnbull

And you thought Lady Caleria was a ridiculous concept—this guy costs even more!

Modern equivalent: Although they cannot help me (slightly) ramp, I would still take Quicksilver Gargantuan, Windreader Sphinx, Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet, Lord of the Void, or Sheoldred, Whispering One as my seven-drop.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

See also: Sivitri Scarzam, Ur-Drago

    Sheoldred, Whispering One
             
Axelrod Gunnarson    

Axelrod Gunnarson

8 mana for a 5/5 trample who sometimes maybe drains for 1???

Arrrrgghhhh!!!!

Modern equivalent: How about those six-mana red creatures I mentioned.  They're still way better.

Or if you want an 8-mana creature, did you know that Griselbrand costs 8? How about Baleful Force, Pestilence Demon, Bogardan Hellkite, Magmatic Force, Scourge of Kher Ridges, Utvara Hellkite, or basically any eight-mana creature who's ever been printed?

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Utvara Hellkite
             
Arcades Sabboth    

Arcades Sabboth

Few creatures have ever been cooler than the elder dragons, and although my job requires me to insult their power levels, I mean the cards no disrespect.  I myself played with them frequently after opening them in Chronicles boosters back in the day.  My love for them and devotion to them is undying.

Except Chromium.  I hate him.

Modern equivalent: Empyrial Archangel at 8 does more for your defense than Arcades.

In monowhite, there's also Avacyn, Angel of Hope.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Empyrial Archangel
             
Chromium    

Chromium

>:O

Modern equivalent: Get out of here, Chromium!  Nobody wants you!

Verdict: A loser and a failure.

    Scornful Egotist
             
Nicol Bolas    

Nicol Bolas

He's reading a book before his fight!  I love it!  He's like a flying Gene Tunney.

Modern equivalent: Thraximundar is a bit better creature than Nicol and for one mana less. Prince of Thralls is possibly a better deal at 8, although he doesn't have the Sneak Attack combo.

If we look at monocolored creeatures, Griselbrand still costs 8 so....

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Thraximundar
             
Palladia-Mors    

Palladia-Mors

While all of those Lord of the Pit players were paying BB a turn for their Breeding Pit, Palladia-Mors players were paying WGR a turn... without spending an additional card.  Same 7/7 flying trample in the end.

Modern equivalent: Godsire is also 8 mana.  Or we could fall back on Avacyn, Angel of Hope again.

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Godsire
             
Vaevictis Asmadi    

Vaevictis Asmadi

What weird templating.

Modern equivalent: I'm sorry to say it, but I'd still rather play with any of those six-mana mono-red guys than Vaevictis.

At 7 we have Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund. At 8 is the mighty Hellkite Overlord.

Oof!

Verdict: Severe power creep.

    Hellkite Overlord
             

 

And that's the end of Legends!  After a short break I shall examine the next old set: The Dark.

4 Comments

Aww, nothing on Rohgaah of by AJ_Impy at Mon, 03/10/2014 - 15:54
AJ_Impy's picture
5

Aww, nothing on Rohgaah of Kher Keep? Have you never given him to an opponent them cast Mirrorweave at a Kobolds of Kher Keep with his trigger on the stack? Is that just me?

Removal Soul = Essence by Paul Leicht at Mon, 03/10/2014 - 17:46
Paul Leicht's picture

Removal Soul = Essence Scatter...

That was Cotton's point, no? by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 03/11/2014 - 06:57
Kumagoro42's picture

That was Cotton's point, no? Remove Soul is still around untouched because they still functional reprint it.

I doubt Gwendlyn di Corci is by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 03/11/2014 - 06:56
Kumagoro42's picture
5

I doubt Gwendlyn di Corci is Italian, with a first name like "Gwendlyn". Maybe she's Swiss.
I see you didn't comment on what's notoriously happening in Gwendlyn's art. Because this is a family site. I still don't get how they approved that one. That guy's even a priest!

Minor isn't a creature type. Oracle ruling established it's just the "name" of the token. It's just a demon called "Minor". Friends call it "Minnie".

"the 3-mana Dauntless Dourbark": that would be Dungrove Elder.