Partner Work Part 2: Legacy and Pauper
Legacy is not perfect and other formats can teach it some lessons. In part two of "partner work," CabalTherapy looks at how Pauper could influence on Legacy.
The World that Could Have Been
Legacy and Pauper appear vastly different on first sight, but trust me, they're not. Having access to most of Magic's inherently powerful mechanics, Pauper's game play looks similar to Legacy's in many ways. Due to a recent rise in the popularity of Pauper, we actually have enough data to compare the formats. Pauper certainly is not only for people who do not want to spend a couple of thousand Euros for a deck but first and foremost a standalone format with a dynamic meta and plenty of decks to choose from; unsurprisingly therefore, it is described as Legacy light sometimes. In other words, Pauper is a snapshot of what Legacy might look like, were some restrictions placed on it. The lack of Chalice of the Void and the absence of hardcore combo decks make Pauper a world of aggro and control strategies. Delver of Secrets reigns supreme in Pauper and paired with newly down-shifted Foil and Fire // Ice, it possesses the tools to utterly dominate the meta in the months to come. Apart from that, Gush and Gitaxian Probe are commonly used in blue-based decks that also run Ponder, Preordain, and to a lesser extent, Brainstorm – mostly due to the lack of proper fetch lands. The rest of the Pauper meta game consists of synergistic midrange and control decks that try to establish board presence by playing spells that have 2-for-1 effects, such as Battle Screech, Pulse of Murasa, and Thoughtcast.
One of the most recent success stories in Legacy is Accumulated Knowledge. Previously doomed by Deathrite Shaman, the cc 2 cantrip has proven itself to be a crucial part of the current Miracles draw engine; contesting Predict, Preordain, and Portent. In Pauper, Accumulated Knowledge has been widely used engine for a long time. Similar to Think Twice, its resilience and late game potential works well with Pauper powerhouse Forbidden Alchemy and constitutes the back bone of many control decks. Since there are no extremely fast combo decks – apart from Tireless Tribe and Izzet Blitz, which both need creatures to get the job done – midrange and control decks can rely on slower draw engines with huge benefits in the late game. One can only speculate what would happen to Legacy if no deck were able to win on turn one or two – and there is still a spot left for a blue-black control deck in Legacy; just imagine the grind fests fueled by Jace, the Mind Sculpor, Snapcaster Mage, Ghostly Flicker paired with Force of Will, Flusterstorm or Distant Melody and Ninja of the Deep Hours.
Legacy's UB Pauper Tribute Deck
|1Bloodstained Mire||3Gurmag Angler||4Accumulated Knowledge|
|2Flooded Strand||3Snapcaster Mage||4Brainstorm|
|3Island||2Tasigur, the Golden Fang||2Diabolic Edict|
|4Polluted Delta||2True-Name Nemesis||1Echoing Truth|
|2Scalding Tarn||2Fatal Push|
|4Underground Sea||4Force of Will|
|2Hymn to Tourach|
|2Jace, the Mind Sculptor|
|1Liliana of the Veil|
|1Liliana, the Last Hope|
|2Dread of Night||1Evincar's Justice||1Extirpate|
|2Flusterstorm||2Inquisition of Kozilek||1Nihil Spellbomb|
|2Spell Snare||2Surgical Extraction||1Toxic Deluge|
That is just one possibility and of course a completely untested one. Nonetheless, the value engine of such a deck is insane and there are certainly many more builds that could adapt Pauper's draw spells. Splashing green would allow for Abrupt Decay and Assassin's Trophy and adding white could bring some juice in form of one of the Elspeth or Gideon planeswalkers and Lingering Souls.
When assessing the value of certain cards, one always needs context. Brainstorm is great in Legacy because of the original fetch lands from Onslaught and Zendikar. Conflagrate profits from Modern dredge's environment and Gush is strong in Pauper because... – well, this might not be the best example. Either way, stripping a card from its natural habitat and placing it into a completely different terrain creates exciting situations. One card I'd like to see transplanted to Legacy and Modern from Pauper is Augur of Bolas. Certainly not the most powerful creature out there, but it provides a solid body for two mana and looks for an additional card. Compared to Snapcaster Mage, it lacks some versatility and there are for sure situations where failing to find an instant or sorcery in the top three cards will make the augur appear quite underwhelming. It is, however, possible to set it up with Ponder or Brainstorm and all the other common library manipulators; it is a walking Ponder, a Telling Time on feet, a beating Peer through Depths. Let's see what a Legacy deck with Augur would look like – and as before, this list is untested and merely the wild machinations of my Legacy brain's imagination:
Legacy's Mono U Pauper Value
|4Flooded Strand||4Augur of Bolas||4Accumulated Knowledge|
|4Polluted Delta||2Vendilion Clique||3Counterspell|
|2Wasteland||1Venser, Shaper Savant||2Echoing Truth|
|4Force of Will|
|3Jace, the Mind Sculptor|
|3Back to Basics||1Flusterstorm||3Hydroblast|
|2Surgical Extraction||2Swan Song||1Tormod's Crypt|
|2True-Name Nemesis||1Wipe Away|
Formats can, in fact, learn from each other. There are so many interesting strategies in Pauper, Modern, Vintage, and all the other formats that are kept alive by avid players. Let's not stay behind the curtain that is Legacy's somewhat fixed tier lists and traditions. We should pay attention when a format experiences a shake-up, as we can observe, take notes, and possible port that shake up to our own preferred home in the pantheon of Magic's varied play.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.