When I make Legacy decks I like to see what sorts of cards used to be made that haven’t been made in a long time (and possibly will never be made again, so Legacy / Vintage is the only place they can live). One of these cards is Armageddon. They were making Armageddon variants right up till Time Spiral (with Boom // Bust) but I think they realised that its hard to put a price on destroying multiple lands and that a lot of casual groups (like mine) were banning mass LD because it’s not very fun to have a card that says “stop the game, then start it over again in five turns (except for the player who was prepared for this card to hit)”. One of the nice things about competitive formats like Legacy is that people can’t really complain about what cards you use as long as you’re ultimately trying to win (Shahrazad was banned in Vintage because people were just using it to prolong the games rather than win).
Anyway, Armageddons were a dollar each and I didn’t really know what else to use with it (I didn’t just want to try and budgetize Stax or White Weenie), so I looked at other options. Global Ruin seems cool but its buddy that makes it worth trying to get domain (Collective Restraint) was surprisingly expensive. I guess there are people playing 5 color Commander decks online… isn’t that meant to be a social format? Each to their own I guess.
Instead of just trying to destroy lands, then, why not destroy everything? I know white is usually the color of balance / fairness / trying too hard to purify things (look at the flavor text on Barren Glory), but when I write it out like that, destroying everything really feels red to me. And Wizards agrees, making cards like Worldfire, Decree of Annihilation, and also some that don’t cost a stupid amount of mana – Jokulhaups and Apocalypse, which are the key cards in this deck. Ok maybe Jokul doesn’t quite destroy ‘everything’, but as if anyone uses enchantments. And we’ve got plenty of creatures willing to play the Slash Panther role to deal with Jace (this was a serious tactic used in Vintage a little while ago).
The key to taking advantage of the Apocalypse is to have some creatures hiding in safe places like the suspend creatures waiting in the exile zone, ready to come out and mop up the opponent while they’re trying to rebuild. Since this is a creature deck, it can also ‘play fair’ without even blowing up the world and just see if anyone out there can deal with a 4/1 first striker.
This deck comes to $4. The most expensive card is the Birds at 30c each, but it’s the kind of card that you will probably use in other decks especially if it gets reprinted in Standard – I already had four of them. You can add more money to the deck with better lands and/or Greater Gargadon (which can eat up your permanents that were going to die to apocalypse anyway) but I figured this is the sort of deck that you want to keep as cheap as possible, just as a ‘fun’ deck.
The mana, surprisingly, works out here. Pinecrest Ridge was originally put in partly to fit in with the theme of using extremely janky cards, but in this deck I would rather have my land tapped on the second turn than on the first turn so then I can begin with my accelerator. You rearely need to tap it down a second time until you’re ready to destroy everything. Search for Tomorrow is also a good fixer as it brings in the land untapped even when hardcast so you can use it straight away to suspend something. (It doesn’t really matter when you suspend as long as it’s within four turns before you blow up… unless you’re trying to play fair instead, then you want to be suspending asap).
In my last Legacy deck I also used lands that sacrifice themselves for extra mana – if the spell you cast is going to win the game anyway, you don’t really need the land any more, or in this deck, you’re going to lose the land anyway when you blow up, so you may as well get something out of it. That deck used the depletion land and crystal vein because speed was more important and it also wanted to cast some three drops, whereas in this deck mana fixing is more important and there are no three drops. In this deck, sometimes you have the mana to blow up everything but you still wait because you want the opponent to put out more cards from their hand first. If they know what’s coming, they could keep a swamp and Reanimate in their hand while their creatures are safe in the graveyard.
The creatures were chosen mainly for being the only suspend creatures in their colors. Pardic Dragon could be good but sometimes gives mana / timing issues and could take forever to come out. I used to have Strangleroot Geist in place of the Dustwasp which allows this deck to fight better early on / fairly and still works with Jokulhaups but unfortunately it doesn’t work with Apocalypse since that exiles it. I don’t mind presenting my opponents with removal targets like birds and geist early on, since my ‘blow up everything’ spell doesn’t take out their hand so if they manage to draw a land, they can still use their removal in the post apocalyptic stage and kill the moppers.
I didn’t want to use too many copies of faithless looting in this deck since it sometimes takes all the cards in your hand to go off adequately so you end up just discarding what you drew. You don’t want multiples of destroy everything spells and there are already eight in the deck, so you don’t have to play fairly too often. The other utility here is Lightning bolt, mainly used for killing enemy creatures to buy you another turn alive, because I had the space for it, I hardly ever put removal in the decks in this blog and felt like a change.
My first game was against what appeared to be a mono black domain deck (using ravnica shocklands). They played some value creatures like kitchen finks and gatekeeper of malakir that got tangled up with the geists I used to have in the deck, then conceded when I cast Jokulhaups to blow up about six of their lands.
My second game was against an interesting combo – they used Buried Alive to search for Phyrexian Devourer, Triskelion and Necrotic Ooze, then reanimated the ooze (in this case, with Zombify). The ooze doesn’t have the devourer’s triggered ability of having to die when it gets to seven power, but even if it did, they could respond to the trigger by putting more counters on and then firing them at the opponent with the trisk ability. However, they decided to search up their eldrazi instead (they told me they wanted to see if they could win without their combo). I blew up all the lands before they could reanimate anything, but they managed to draw four more lands before my leftover creatures finished trying to kill them, and they would have won if it’d been the real combo.
They challenged me to a rematch, this time burying alive for the real combo. I was a turn later than I would have liked in getting the mana for Jokulhaups but they didn’t have a reanimate spell in hand and spent their next turn tutoring for it, so I got to blow everything up and they never drew enough lands to get back in the game. Afterwards we chatted more about crazy combos (isn’t it nice to make new Magic friends?) and then I was tired so I didn’t test the deck again that night.
Sometimes when you have the basic idea for a deck it takes a few tires to figure out exactly how you want to implement it, but it’s nice to see it running smoothly enough in the end.
Next week instead of a new deck I’ll go back over the decks I’ve made so far, except the Standard decks that aren’t legal anymore. Give them another go or two and see what we think of them in hindsight. Until then, enjoy the spoiler season and keep a lookout for the Gatecrash cards that you really want to see used in a deck.