Modern Shadows Part 2 - The Legacy Case
Rodrigo is here to continue his Death's Shadow series – this time, the article will be focused on the card's development inside the Legacy format. He reviews the PT25A innovations and, finally, how to tune your Modern Shadow deck into U/B Legacy Shadow.
Although my initial plan was to take over some other Modern incarnations such as Traverse Shadow, the Four Color build and Death's Shadow Zoo, today it's the perfect timing to move into Legacy, since the card is having a huge blast in the format after Pro Tour 25th Anniversary.
Shortly after Deathrite Shaman was banned, Delver strategies were trying to adapt to the new metagame and while some midrange mages chose to play the good old Canadian Threshold, others toyed with Bomat Courier. Ultimately, Team Channel Fireball found out the best build (straight blue black) adding the allmighty Shadows.
Before we break down the deck itself, let's take a look into the past to see were all started...
2016-2017: Rogue Shadows
5th Place at an MTGO Legacy Challenge - Death's Shadow by Danker
|4Misty Rainforest||4Death's Shadow||2Berserk|
|1Overgrown Tomb||4Deathrite Shaman||4Brainstorm|
|4Polluted Delta||4Gurmag Angler||4Daze|
|1Tropical Island||4Street Wraith||2Dismember|
|2Verdant Catacombs||4Force of Will|
|3Watery Grave||4Gitaxian Probe|
|2Dread of Night||3Fatal Push||2Liliana of the Veil|
|1Liliana, the Last Hope||3Spell Pierce||3Surgical Extraction|
Before 2018, there were a bunch of rouge decklists trying to use and/or abuse Shadow within blue-black shells, either Grixis or Sultai (also known as Team America). Most of these strategies were Delver decks that also played Deathrite Shaman and Gurmag Angler in conjunction with life loss spells in order to play the giant Avatar from turn two.
Gitaxian Probe and Street Wraith were mainstays in almost every build but there were also some additions like Dark Confidant and Dismember, as the life loss would play to your advantage, by enabling your Shadows or just making them larger.
The green splash in Danker's list is useful for three reasons: using Deathrite's third ability against graveyard based decks, having Sylvan Library ready to lower your life by up to 8 per turn by drawing extra cards and finally a couple of Berserks in order to attack for lethal.
2018: Gitaxian Probe and Deathrite Banning
Just one and a half months ago, Wizards decided to ban both Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe in Legacy.
Just like what happened in Modern a year before, the Probe got the axe and curiously, that fact made Shadow decks even more successful than before. However, the card remained underrated mainly because Deathrite was too powerful for its cost, warping the whole format around him.
Once the ban became official, the brewing contest begun, since every shaman deck had to adapt to the new environment. For starters, without its mana acceleration, 4-Color Leovold was no longer a viable deck; second, Young Pyromancer got much worse as he couldn't be played on turn two paired with Probe and it became a slower threat than before.
After a couple of weeks, the format was wide open and Delver decks had to innovate or mutate into some past incarnations like Canadian Threshold or Team America.
5th Place at a LPS Invitational - Grixis Death's Shadow by Max Goldstein
|1Blood Crypt||4Death's Shadow||4Brainstorm|
|1Bloodstained Mire||4Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration||4Daze|
|4Polluted Delta||3Gurmag Angler||2Dismember|
|4Scalding Tarn||4Street Wraith||4Force of Will|
|1Steam Vents||2Lightning Bolt|
|2Watery Grave||1Snuff Out|
|1Flusterstorm||1Grim Lavamancer||2Liliana, the Last Hope|
|2Pyroblast||1Stubborn Denial||2Surgical Extraction|
Moving onto the sideboard, there are some synergistic cards that fall into the life loss theme: Bitterblossom, plays a perfect role against sacrifice effects while pumping the Shadows and Toxic Deluge sweeps the board and increases the Shadow strength on demand.New and improved Grixis Delver emerged, including Death's Shadow. Combined with the shock-lands from Ravnica, Dismember and Street Wraith, the archetype started to resemble like his Modern counterpart while reducing the price of its mana base (we will talk about that later).
2018: Pro Tour 25th Anniversary
2nd Place at PT25A - U/B Death's Shadow by Josh Utter-Leyton
|2Bloodstained Mire||4Death's Shadow||4Brainstorm|
|1Flooded Strand||4Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration||4Daze|
|1Marsh Flats||2Gurmag Angler||2Fatal Push|
|1Misty Rainforest||4Street Wraith||4Force of Will|
|2Verdant Catacombs||2Snuff Out|
|1Diabolic Edict||3Dread of Night||1Engineered Explosives|
|2Hymn to Tourach||2Liliana, the Last Hope||1Nihil Spellbomb|
|3Surgical Extraction||2Throne of Geth|
Just three weeks ago, Pro Tour 25th Anniversary took place; probably the most anticipated tournament of the year, in that it celebrated the history of the game with three formats, bringing Legacy to the Pro Tour stage.
As you might already know, in that Team Constructed event, one of the greatest deck builders of all time, Josh Utter-Leyton, a.k.a. Wrapter and other pro players such as Ben Friedman and Alex Haynes surprised everyone by piloting a straight Dimir version of Death's Shadow in the Legacy portion, leaving the red splash to the side. Relying only on two colors has great upsides: a robust and more reliable mana base that can perfectly operate with two lands, being less vulnerable to Wasteland.
At this point I don't intend to explain how the deck works. I will, however, highlight the new technologies that did not exist in previous versions:
- Wrapter added a couple of Reanimates, which is basically busted in this shell, since you can cycle Wraith on turn 1 and then cheat it into the battlefield as a 3/4 body immune to Lightning Bolt or Fatal Push that cannot be blocked by black decks.
- What's more, against Reanimator strategies, if Griselbrand or Chancelor of Annex hit the graveyard via Entomb or discarded by our Thoughtseize, we can steal them to our side of the table, something that LSV did several times during the Pro Tour.
- The 3-1 Ponder and Preordain split is justified, according to the deck designers, because the deck does not have enough fetchlands in the late game, so it is more likely that we want to scry two bad cards to the bottom.
- In the sideboard, Throne of Geth is an innovation they found to fight against Chalice of the Void decks. This artifact from Scars of Mirrodin increases the number of chalice counters by one, allowing to play your one mana spells at the same time that nullifies their two mana spells (including future Chalices on one).
- Finally, three copies of Dread of Night may seem like a lot, but in fact, they expected a large number of Death and Taxes and it basically kills the key creatures of the deck: Mother of Runes, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Flickerwisp.
Is My Modern Shadow Deck "Legacyable"?
Normally, when I do these kinds of articles, I never talk about the MTG economy, but since this new deck shares many cards with the Modern Shadow variants, and that strategy is not actually one of the Tier Decks at the moment, it might be interesting to answer the following question:
What's the investment to build UB Shadow if I already have a Grixis Shadow in Modern?
First, we need to assume that all the staples are in check: Shadows obviously, Wraiths, Anglers, Delvers, fetch and shock-lands, Thoughtseize and Fatal Push. That alone is half of the deck plus some sideboard cards like Liliana, the Last Hope, Engineered Explosives and Surgical Extraction. Let's take a look at Cardmarket to see what's we need to buy:
Although it's not the most expensive card of the deck, Reanimate has faced a price increase because of the deck's performance at the Pro Tour, with Tempest versions of the card being the most affordable. Snuff Out is a common that had several reprints so it's a meager 2 € for the playset.
- Black cards price trend: 36,08€
Blue Cards (Cantrips & Permission spells)
Good news here! Both cantrips have been reprinted lately in Commander 2018, so that means a lot of copies spreading out in the second market.
- Cantrips trend price: 7,02€
Daze and Force are two of the most iconic cards in Legacy and not as expensive as I remebered, however you need to spend at least 200€ to purchase the "FOWs."
- Permission spells trend price: 196,56 + 5,56 = 202,12 €
Here comes the biggest financial outlay of the whole deck. Fortunately, it can operate with only two Underground Sea, and some players think it can operate without them all together, adding basics to help clean up the mana base against Blood Moon, Loam, and Lands.
On the other hand, Wasteland is more affordable thanks to its reprint in Eternal Masters and is another format defining card that is worth buying.
- Mana Base average price: 927,6 + 101 = 1028,6€
I won't go into much detail onto the sideboard since it changes depending on the meta-game expected but the most expensive cards are Modern staples, and the rest are simply good commons and uncommons all below 2€ each.
All in all, this is the average cost you will be paying to swap your Modern Shadow deck into the Legacy version:
- Black cards trend price: 36,08€
- Cantrips trend price: 7,02€
- Permission spells trend price: 202,12 €
- Mana Base trend price: 1028,6€
- Total: 1273,82€
Well, that's quite a lot of money obviously but considering that most multicolor decks in Legacy usually play between 4-6 dual lands, this upgrade is comparatively cheap, and if Friedman is to be believed, you can just play the decks without the Underground Seas if you'd like to, which would drop the price down to less than 400, which is a lot cheaper than buying a new Modern deck, most of the time.
Moving forward, I strongly believe this deck will have a lot of success in the upcoming months since it's kind of cheaper compared other archetypes in the format, it has room for some innovation, and what's more important, Death's Shadow is the face card of the deck.
As always, I hope you have enjoyed the content and please let me know your thoughts on the comments below. Until next time.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.