Saturday, May 5, 2012

Team Legacy: Lessons Learned

So, I went to my second Team Legacy tournament recently. Of course, everything was in Japanese; the players pretty much only speak Japanese, most play Japanese cards, and all of the announcements are in Japanese. The one upside to not speaking Japanese is that everyone thinks you’re six years-old, so they let you get away with things, like untapping a forgotten land after you’ve drawn, etc.
And this is one of the reasons why I like geeks and nerds; they’re nice. Seriously. Perhaps one in three or four are jerks, but on the whole, they’re patient with you because they actually want you to learn to play well. They want you to be good so that they can beat you. They figure, “If this guy learns to play, I’ll have someone else to play with!” It really works to their advantage to be nice.
Now, before we even got to the tournament, Mike and I were practicing. He was using different decks, putting me through my paces. We got on the topic of really bad match-ups with Burn decks. The first thing we talked about was Leyline of Sanctity: four mana, two white enchantment. If it’s in your opening hand, you can put that on the board for free. Soon as that resolves, you can’t be the target of spells or abilities that your opponent controls. That means, when you’re playing against a Burn deck, you can’t get hit by over half their deck, since they rely on spells that do direct damage. That means, when you’re playing with a Burn deck, you say, “Good game!” and scoop. However, as you will see in the next post, that may not always be the case.
The second thing we talked about was the Dredge deck. This deck revolves around two things, the card Bridge from Below and the mechanic Dredge. If a creature gets put into your graveyard, and Bridge to Below is there as well, you can put a 2/2 Zombie token onto the battlefield.
Here’s the crazy part.
The mechanic Dredge basically allows you to play a creature from your graveyard if you put a certain amount of cards from the top of your Library into the graveyard (for example, if the card says Dredge 2, you put two cards from your Library into your graveyard. Dredge 3 means three cards and so on.) Now, I want you to understand this. You have Bridge to Below in your graveyard and a card with Dredge 6. You put six cards from your Library into your graveyard and, oh look! Three of those cards are creatures! Yaaay! That’s three freaking 2/2 Zombie tokens! And, oh look! All three of those creatures have Dredge! More free Zombie tokens! Hooray!
Just sick.
So, that’s what we talked about.
So, we made it to the card shop. People were milling about, drafting the new Avacyn Restored set, trading, playing, and basically geeking it up. Magic cards were spread out across tables, empty packs littered the floor and, in the center of it all, singles and packs of the new set.
I’ve been trying to keep abreast of all of the new cards coming out and, I have to say, I’m rather unimpressed. There are a few cards I like. Being a Burn player, I like quick spells, so Vexing Demon is one of my favorite cards of the new set. It’s a red mana 4/4 creature with an interesting quirk. As it resolves, your opponent gets to decide whether or not it gets to stay on the board. If they say “no,” Vexing Demon does 4 damage to your opponent and then goes into the graveyard. If they say “yes,” it gets to stick and starts hitting for four damage on turn two! That means, you get to either play a turn one kicked Burst Lightning or having a 4/4 creature punching your opponent in the face before they can lay down anything that really can block it. Sure, it can get Doom Bladed, Vapor Snagged, or whatever, but the point is this thing is a beater’s beater.
Almost everything else about the set is super slow or just… strange. Take Avacyn, Angel of Hope. Avacyn is supposed to be the protagonist of this set. She’s been released from the Helavault and is pushing back the forces of darkness that have descended upon Innistrad.
So, you’d expect Avacyn to be sick! However, that’s not the case. She’s an eight mana, three white flying angel. That means you’re only going to be really playing this in mono-white decks. That also means you’re playing that on turn eight. This isn’t unheard of in Standard, but it’s useless in Legacy. Legacy has decks with turn one wins. Perhaps if they had included a Miracle cost (which means that if this is the first card you draw in a turn, you get to play it for a lot cheaper) it might be worth putting in a deck, but it’s cost practically guarantees it will see zero play in Legacy. Maybe EDH, but I don’t know that format at all.
So, as if its cost wasn’t bad enough, when it resolves, all of your creatures are indestructible. “Oh, my gosh!” You say. “My creatures won’t die! Awesome!” Yeah, you’re little 1/1 will bounce off a 2/2 and visa-versa. Good job.
Again, if Avacyn had a Miracle cost, I would say, “Cool!” But, seriously, all of your creatures have indestructible on turn eight. Turn eight. If your opponent is saving anything for turn eight, it’ll be a Vapor Snag (in Standard) or a Swords to Plowshares (in Legacy), in which case, your big ole’ creature has indestructible for about three seconds. Yay.
However, the flavor of the card makes sense. Avacyn breaks through the clouds, holds up her staff, and all of the forces of light are invincible! This is an example of a card that has great flavor, but is ultimately useless.
Griselbrand, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite. It’s a 7/7 flying demon… with lifelink. Lifelink! Why would a demon be healing anything?! “I am Griselbrand, the doom of all mankind! Join me and I will make the boo-boo all better!”
Sorry. No.
However, it has another ability. You pay seven life and draw seven cards. If you’re playing Reanimate, this card should be wrinkly from all the drool dripping off your chin. Here’s how it ideally goes: turn one, you lay a Swamp and then play Entomb, which allows you to search your Library for a creature card and put it into the graveyard.
You will be putting Griselbrand there.
Your opponent will do something cute, like playing a 1/1 or a 2/2, maybe a burn, or whatever. Turn two; you lay a another Swamp and you play either Reanimate for one or Exhume for two. Bam! Griselbrand on turn two! You pay seven life then draw seven cards. You have five cards in your hand. You put five into your graveyard, since you can’t have more than seven cards in your hand at the end of the turn. Therefore, you put all of the creatures from your hand into your graveyard, keeping any Reanimates or Exhumes. Next time it’s your turn, you attack, gaining back that seven life (plus any life from damage you did while blocking on their turn). And, then, you do it all over again.
Insane and crazy!
This is the perfect example of a creature with terrible flavor, but a great ability, especially for Reanimate decks.
So, the meta-game (meta-game being the list of decks that are played within an environment) in the card shop has both Dredge, Reanimate, and decks that can run Leyline of Sanctities. That is what I was up against and I will tell you the results in the next installment.

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