Tag: legacy

From the Vault: What We Leave Behind

Still recovering from my recent travels – in a way, it feels like I’m shaking off the vestiges of sleep and wondering if it was a dream. Anyway, here’s a dip into the past while I work on catching up.


Courtesy Neil Gaiman

Nothing lasts forever.

It’s a narrative thread woven through many, many stories we tell. Ozymandias talks of great constructs of man all but obliterated by time. A lot of tales are set in times long after the collapse of expansive civilizations. We preserve what we can, but it is impossible to escape what comes for each and every one of us in time.

Death has been personified in many ways. We want to put a face to the inevitability of our end. We struggle to comprehend the finality of it. That there is nothing more in this world for us. No matter what may come after, if there’s more to existence than these mere dimensions we perceive or if there is nothing but silence and oblivion, our hands do no more work, our mouths never make audible sounds again, our eyes fail to see another wonder or another tragedy.

And yet, our stories do not end when we do.

Time will have her way with what we build and the lines we draw between one another. Our imaginations, however, are much more difficult to destroy. In those imaginations, we remember those who’ve left us behind, we tell their stories, we wonder and question and laugh and cry. And when we latch onto something, like the arguments made by the likes of Plato or Aristotle, the teachings of pilgrims from Nazareth or visionaries from Mecca, a tale about fairies or the faux history of the epic struggle of noble houses, the creator of the work lasts even longer in our imaginations. In rare cases, we’re given more than just entertainment and escapism. We are given hope.

I don’t necessarily mean hope for an afterlife or immortality or anything like that. In a general sense, we find hope for a better tomorrow. We know the world will keep turning even if someone we admire or love dies. And if the sun does indeed rise on a new day, maybe we can find, in ourselves and in what we and our loved ones leave behind, whatever it takes to make this day better than the one before.

Making Magic More Metal

Courtesy Wizards of the Coast

It’s been a few months since I’ve even considered looking for more than a few minutes at truly competitive gameplay. There’s been a lot going on, and I haven’t really taken the time to consider how that could be helpful to me. Things like constructing a deck in Magic and building efficiently in a RTS game are good structural exercises for my mind. Taking those skills into a competitive environment keep my attention sharp and teach me how to be a more gracious loser. Because I know I won’t always win. But that doesn’t mean I won’t try, dammit.

For the better part of a year, I haven’t seriously tackled the Magic: The Gathering format of Legacy. I was considering a few potential decks a while ago, but most of those plans fell by the wayside. After the release of the Modern Masters set, and some prompting from a friend, I’ve come back to the notion of putting a deck together to take with me to official events and the occasional Saturday night at my friendly local gaming store.

Legacy isn’t the only format out there, though. Between it and the ever-changing Standard is a format known as Modern. There are a few decks out there that have cards that span both formats. The one that appeals to me the most is called ‘Affinity’. I’ve liked artifacts for a long time, because they’re not dependant on colors and can get around a lot of obstacles if played correctly.

I tried putting together a list that didn’t subscribe to most common color combinations for the deck. However, a few suggestions and lists introduced me to [mtg_card]Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas[/mtg_card]. An ambitious and cunning artificer, Tezzeret has always been friendly to metal decks. As an agent of resident big bad dragon daddy Nicol Bolas, he’s slightly more insidious. The deck takes some of the basics of other Affinity decks in terms of creatures and mana sources, which gives me a few options.

[mtg_deck title=”Tezzeret’s Affinity”]
// Creatures
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Ornithopter
4 Memnite
4 Vault Skirge
3 Etched Champion
3 Steel Overseer

// Spells
4 Thoughtcast

// Planeswalkers
4 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

// Artifacts
4 Chalice of the Void
4 Mox Opal
4 Cranial Plating
3 Springleaf Drum

// Lands
4 Vault of Whispers
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Ancient Tomb
3 Glimmervoid

// Sideboard
3 Oblivion Ring
3 Perish
3 Ethersworn Canonist
3 Whipflare
3 Tormod’s Crypt
[/mtg_deck]

The deck can push damage past defenders with the [mtg_card]Etched Champion[/mtg_card] or fly over them with [mtg_card]Ornithopter[/mtg_card] or [mtg_card]Vault Skirge[/mtg_card], any one of them benefiting from carrying [mtg_card]Cranial Plating[/mtg_card]. However, the deck also has a win condition that has nothing to do with creatures. Tezzeret can drop very early in the game, and his ultimate ability syncs well with artifact lands, 0-cost cards, and other low-cost options. Remember, X is twice the number of artifacts. So, if I have 5 artifacts in play, I gain 10 life and my opponent loses 10 life. That’s a 20-point swing, which can be difficult to overcome.

The deck is, of course, not invulnerable. It has no counter means save for Chalice of the Void, creatures can trample over the Champion no matter how much protection he has, and faster decks like burn can probably beat me to the punch or take wind out of my sails. Still, I think it has a lot of potential, and that potential doesn’t stop with Legacy. In Modern, the Chalice goes to the sideboard and illegal cards like Perish and Tormod’s Crypt have to go. Still, the play of the deck will be largely unchanged. I’m looking forward to putting it together and seeing how it plays.

Building a Legacy

Courtesy Wizards of the Coast
Art by Mike Bierek

Now that I have played an official Legacy event of Magic: the Gathering, I find myself even more interested in this robust format. Specifically, I’m curious about a number of the decks in the format. I saw quite a few at the event, running all sorts of strategies from naked flat-out aggression to well-paced control to insane combinations. I’m not sure which setup is best for me, and I’m looking into a few archtypes to try and determine what will be the most fun for me to play, as well as providing wins.

By no means does this mean I’m done with Light Up The Night. As a low-cost entry into this format, I think it’s still got teeth. It does an obscene amount of damage in a very short amount of time. It may remain my go-to aggro deck for a while, possibly growing into something like Delver or Storm. What follows are some of the other decks I’m looking into; you can click on their titles to read more from the MTG Salvation forums, one of the best resources for deck-building ideas out there.

Remember when I used to disparage net decks? Good times…

Death & Taxes

This is a control deck that I think would throw a lot of people. It’s a mono-white deck that lacks some of the punch of top-tier multi-colored decks, but what it does is rather insidious. It’s various means of battlefield and deck disruption mean it’s incredibly versatile against a great deal of opposing wizards’ tricks. The drawback, other than the obscene price of the Karakas land, is that you need to know both your deck and that of your opponent inside and out, anticipating incoming plays and being prepared for a variety of answers. As I’m still new to the format, it will take a while before I’m at that level of play.

Enchantress

I like decks that don’t necessarily rely on doing a ton of damage out of the gate. Like Death & Taxes, Enchantress seems indicative of versatility. Behind the card-drawing of the two main cards that give the deck its name ([mtg_card]Argothian Enchantress[/mtg_card] & [mtg_card]Enchantress’s Presence[/mtg_card]), any number of enchants can drop to manage the battleground. [mtg_card]Moat[/mtg_card] is the go-to long-term one, but it is expensive. It makes Karakas look like something from a yard sale. However, that may be the biggest hurdle to putting this one together, eventually. I really like the notion of building up a “wall” of shrouded enchantments (meaning my opponents cannot target them), rousing an army of angels thanks to [mtg_card]Sigil of the Empty Throne[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Luminarch Ascension[/mtg_card], and offering my opponent an honorable surrender before calling down the avenging wrath of the heavens.

Or something like that.

Stoneblade

This deck combines two things I really like: tokens and equipment. Tokens may not be the crux of the deck, but [mtg_card]Lingering Souls[/mtg_card] is one of my favorite cards. What I like about equipment cards is that they add my beloved versatility to any creature that wields them. Regardless of their role, be it a seeker of cards ([mtg_card]Stoneforge Mystic[/mtg_card]) or the shady voice in your ear ([mtg_card]Dark Confidant[/mtg_card]), they can become a powerhouse with the right equipment. With cards for discarding, enemy deck control, and even the support of the lovely but dangerous [mtg_card]Liliana of the Veil[/mtg_card], this deck gives me the flexibility, interesting plays, and flavor I’m looking for, and no one card is in excess of $100. Bonus!

If you play Legacy, I want to hear from you. What deck do you play? What’s your most difficult matchup? What would you recommend for a newbie like myself?

The Legacy of Magic

Courtesy Wizards of the Coast
Art by Greg Staples

I’ve been playing Magic: the Gathering off and on since I was introduced to it in high school almost 20 years ago. Quite a few things have changed in the game since then, but nothing in the game has changed so dramatically that the old cards are strictly unplayable. In fact, there are some formats of Magic where incorporating older cards is encouraged. And rather than restrict myself to Standard and Limited for sanctioned play, I’ve decided to branch out into those formats.

This decision is based mostly on the potential for building new and interesting decks. With the entire length and breadth of Magic to choose from, the possibilities are astounding. I mean, sure, not every deck is going to be viable – there’s only so much one can do with, say, Lifelaces and banding creatures – but the potential is there. Unfortunately, to make the most of the format, some investments will have to be made, as many older cards are rather pricey. Dual lands, staples of the games early editions, are often priced at a hundred dollars or more per card.

Thankfully, not every deck requires these powerful cards. Sometimes, when you find yourself on a budget, the simplest ideas are the best.

[mtg_deck title=”Legacy Monored Burn”]
// Creatures
4 Goblin Guide
4 Keldon Marauders
2 Grim Lavamancer

// Spells
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Rift Bolt
4 Fireblast
4 Lava Spike
4 Magma Jet
4 Price of Progress
4 Chain Lightning
2 Sulfuric Vortex

// Lands
3 Arid Mesa
3 Scalding Tarn
14 Mountain

// Sideboard
3 Smash to Smithereens
2 Vexing Shusher
2 Pyrostatic Pillar
2 Pyroblast
2 Anarchy
2 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Ravenous Trap
1 Faerie Macabre
[/mtg_deck]

The deck is fairly straightforward: dishing out as much damage as possible in a short amount of time. However, ‘straightforward’ does not mean ‘simple’. You can’t simply cast all the spells in your hand as quickly as possible and be assured of a win. A key example of this is [mtg_card]Fireblast[/mtg_card]. Canny players wait until after other spells have been cast to play this powerful blow to the enemy’s face with its sacrifice cost. And doing so puts more cards in the graveyard for [mtg_card]Grim Lavamancer[/mtg_card] to use.

I’ve played the deck in one event so far, and it’s not only fun to play but viable against other Legacy decks. Its potential caught me somewhat off-guard, considering I was up against decks like Countertop and Affinity. It’s not perfect, though, as Maverick found ways to slow me down enough to secure a win. Hence the [mtg_card]Anarchy[/mtg_card] in the sideboard – that will take care of pesky Circles of Protection!

In addition to Legacy, the format called Modern provides similar opportunities but with a narrower range of cards to choose from. I had to poke around a bit, but I found a deck list that feels right up my alley, and utilizes some of my favorite cards from both the current and the previous Standard rotation.

[mtg_deck title=”Modern Tokens”]
// Creatures
4 Hero of Bladehold
4 Tidehollow Sculler

// Spells
4 Intangible Virtue
4 Lingering Souls
4 Honor of the Pure
4 Path to Exile
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Zealous Persecution
3 Spectral Procession
3 Midnight Haunting

// Land
4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Marsh Flats
1 Mutavault
6 Plains
1 Swamp
3 Windbrisk Heights

// Sideboard
2 Disenchant
2 Kataki, War’s Wage
2 Kor Firewalker
2 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
2 Slaughter Pact
1 Stony Silence
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Torpor Orb
[/mtg_deck]

Which am I more excited to play? Token decks are always fun to play, but the straightforwardness of the burn deck is also appealing. The deck is somewhat underestimated and isn’t as flashy as decks with dual lands, [mtg_card]Force of Will[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Tarmogoyf[/mtg_card], or [mtg_card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/mtg_card], but it has definitely proved itself and, I feel, will continue to do so.

This doesn’t mean I’m done with more casual formats, though. Especially if there’s drinking involved…

What We Leave Behind

Courtesy Neil Gaiman

Nothing lasts forever.

It’s a narrative thread woven through many, many stories we tell. Ozymandias talks of great constructs of man all but obliterated by time. A lot of tales are set in times long after the collapse of expansive civilizations. We preserve what we can, but it is impossible to escape what comes for each and every one of us in time.

Death has been personified in many ways. We want to put a face to the inevitability of our end. We struggle to comprehend the finality of it. That there is nothing more in this world for us. No matter what may come after, if there’s more to existence than these mere dimensions we perceive or if there is nothing but silence and oblivion, our hands do no more work, our mouths never make audible sounds again, our eyes fail to see another wonder or another tragedy.

And yet, our stories do not end when we do.

Time will have her way with what we build and the lines we draw between one another. Our imaginations, however, are much more difficult to destroy. In those imaginations, we remember those who’ve left us behind, we tell their stories, we wonder and question and laugh and cry. And when we latch onto something, like the arguments made by the likes of Plato or Aristotle, the teachings of pilgrims from Nazareth or visionaries from Mecca, a tale about fairies or the faux history of the epic struggle of noble houses, the creator of the work lasts even longer in our imaginations. In rare cases, we’re given more than just entertainment and escapism. We are given hope.

I don’t necessarily mean hope for an afterlife or immortality or anything like that. In a general sense, we find hope for a better tomorrow. We know the world will keep turning even if someone we admire or love dies. And if the sun does indeed rise on a new day, maybe we can find, in ourselves and in what we and our loved ones leave behind, whatever it takes to make this day better than the one before.

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