Even More Underrated Cards for Legacy in 2020
- Robert Swiecki
Let us forget about companions for a second and dive into an aspect that has always made Legacy such a great format: the ability to unearth cards from across Magic's history, both recent and ancient, and find new applications. Here are some more cards that deserve another look!
If you haven't read Five Underrated Cards for Legacy in 2020 yet, you should check out that article too. In it, you'll find a powerful a burn spell, a game-changing artifact, an actual miracle, a value engine, and a planeswalker all of which somehow no one is playing, although maybe they should. The same is true for the following cards.
Archmage's Charm got slightly lost among the game-changing expansion that was Modern Horizons. Is it a reprint of Cryptic Command? Well, it possesses its flexibility but can only provide one effect instead of two. Does it mean that it is automatically worse? I would say no, but context is key once again.
Certainly, the all-blue charm costs 3 mana and could see play in some iteration of Superfriends — a control deck that mainly focuses on planeswalkers – or in Monoblue Delver. In a metagame where plenty of Marit Lages fly around, the charm can solve the problem on its own and if there is no target in sigh,t it can be simply cycled away for two cards; making its floor level extremely high.
Nivmagus Elemental/Blistercoil Weird
The original prowess guys have seen some play over the years in fringe blue-red aggro decks that ran Gitaxian Probe, Manamorphose, Flusterstorm main, a bunch of burn spells, and obviously Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration.
Such a deck can be extremely vulnerable to removal spells and over the course of the last couple of years, Wizards have released quite some incredible spells like Abrupt Decay, Assassin's Trophy, and Fatal Push. However, I do believe that there is a world where 1-mana prowess guys find their place in a metagame of the future. As things stand, Legacy is definitely undergoing some major changes and it will not stop in the foreseeable future. Just like Pauper's blue-red Blitz deck that features a similar line-up of creatures — only slightly more expensive ones in terms of mana costs — moves in and out of the metagame, a cheap prowess deck can not only be a good starting point for newer players but a fun distraction at local tournaments.
Abbot of Keral Keep
Time runs fast and Magic Origins is already five years old. One of the hottest cards back then was Abbot of Keral Keep and I thought that it would find its way into some Legacy deck based around prowess and heavy on burn spells. So far the card has not proven itself to be powerful enough to enter Legacy though. Now, it faces even more competition in Dreadhorde Arcanist, which provides significant card advantage. But the Abbot is one of a long line of impactful 2-mana creatures like Snapcaster Mage and may deserve another look.
I do not expect Abbot of Keral Keep to make big waves in Legacy anytime soon, but it is a proxy for many cards yet to come that need to be evaluated properly. Again, the Abbot has prowess, which makes it a real threat for opponents once there are enough spells to chain into. Maybe there is even a world for a monored pile with the duo of Abbot and Arcanist.
Alright, here comes the real deal. It is a card that dominated Standard and served us one of the best games of all time, the mirror between Gabriel Nassif and Patrick Chapin at Worlds 2007. However, Dragonstorm has never really made it in Legacy; one major downside being its high mana cost but especially the need to play Dragon creatures. In contrast to other storm spells such as Tendrils of Agony, Empty the Warrens, and Grapeshot, Dragonstorm does not win on its own. It demands the player to have a certain number of Bogardan Hellkites or some other combination of lethally attacking Dragons in the deck.
To minimize being stuck with Dragons in hand, See Beyond is a great tool to get rid of them and draw some extra cards. Overall, Dragonstorm in Legacy could play like a control deck in the early stages of a game and then combo off with fewer resources than other storm strategy. Casting three spells — maybe some kind of cantrip or a protection spell and Seething Song — and then having Dragonstorm on the stack could already be enough to win the game. Such a line strongly resembles ANT's natural Tendrils plays, which were extremely powerful during the Miracles era a couple of years ago. Not relying on a tutor is a big upside, though not having one in the deck can be quite tricky as well.
This one might not be underrated per se, but people tend to overrate Surgical Extraction. The biggest selling point of Extirpate is its split second ability that dodges almost all interaction — except for fringe stuff like morph and Counterbalance. Extirpate can totally mess with a deck's strategy and is powerful against combo and control by taking out opponents' Force of Will and ignoring other counterspells.
In contrast, Surgical Extraction is one of the easiest cards to play around because one always expect the opponent to have it in hand and play it at some point just to try and extract some card from the graveyard that might not even be that important. There are plenty of ways to cancel this effect: via Snapcaster Mage, an instant delve spell, or simply by countering it with a Flusterstorm.
Extirpate, on the other hand, can win matches against a plethora of strategies by grabbing opponents' key cards. Even in situations where Surgical Extraction fails to push through a counter war, split second can be that last crucial factor that swings the match in one's favor.
There are too many cards that deserve a spot on a list such as this one. Legacy is changing and is going to change again. It is time to dust off the old binders and grab some precious spells from the past and let them have their chance in 2020, a crazy year that will hopefully bring us new exciting decks for major table top events as well.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.