EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written before the full Eternal Masters spoiler was released.
With the spoiler season for Eternal Masters beginning, I figured that now would be a good time to discuss my thoughts on how the set will affect The Epic Storm. This won’t be an overly long article, as we are working with a lot of incomplete information and I am not a big fan of guessing at what entire chunks of a set will be. That being said, there are some pieces of missing information that are likely more clear than others, and I believe that we can also make some reasonable assumptions based on the information that we already have. The other thing to keep in mind is that opinions will probably differ on the exact effects of Eternal Masters on the Legacy format. I’m not a finance guru, but I have been playing Magic for enough years to have some experience with which to speak from. That being said, I fully accept that I may end up being wrong in the end.
The first big question is what Eternal Masters will do to Legacy as a whole. My opinion is that we will see a similar trend to Modern Masters. What Modern Masters did in my view was not actually lower the barrier to entry in Modern, but significantly increase the interest in Modern. People drafted the set because the lure of opening a Tarmogoyf was exciting and the draft format was cool. However, it still had a limited enough print run and if you combine that with the fact that more people than wanted to play the format, card prices rarely went down by much and sometimes even shot up in price.
What you find is that new entrants tend to be drawn towards decks that play with cards they open. If you opened a Mox Opal, you tended towards building Affinity. A Splinter Twin pushed you in that direction in Modern. I suspect a similar thing will occur with Eternal Masters. More people will want to play Legacy, but barrier to entry will not necessarily be much lower and ultimately, people will just end up playing decks with expensive cards that they open.
This tells us that the decks that will see the largest rise in numbers after release of EMA will be those that have the most expensive cards represented in the set, or have cards that are heavily archetypal in the set. For this article, I made a little table detailing what cards that meet these qualifications slot into existing decks. This is by no means comprehensive, but I think it gives a fairly good snapshot of what the relevant decks are gaining. Any card labels (Card Name) is a card not yet officially spoiled, but that I think could likely end up in the set. Two cards I left out are Wasteland and Force of Will because, even though I expect they may make it into the set, I want more confirmation. Additionally, the effects that those cards might have on storm is pretty clearly understood in my opinion. Force of Will causes a rise in all types of blue decks, and we need to as a result emphasize more heavily on cards like Xantid Swarm, Cabal Therapy, Duress, and Pyroblast. Wasteland means that we need to re-craft our mana base a little bit and either focus on being a little bit slower or a little bit faster to combat that. Without further ado, give this a look:
Death & Taxes
Mother of Runes
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Hymn to Tourach
(Past in Flames)
Price of Progress
Sneak & Show
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Hymn to Tourach
Maze of Ith
The other big thing to note is that Eternal Masters will likely drum up interest in Legacy even among people who don’t open much to use. This means that decks that are more easily able to be ported from Modern will see a jump as well. Death & Taxes, Delver, Storm, Burn, and Jund all have at least thematic ports from Modern that might draw people in that direction. I’m not really sure what will happen with Eldrazi/MUD, as the feelings towards that deck when it was in Modern were varied and it no longer ports from Modern, but it may give people something to use those old Eldrazi cards in. Additionally, with the new Bant Eldrazi deck doing well at the recent Modern weekend Grand Prix, we may see some people porting over Eldrazi.
To briefly touch on my predicted cards, Rishadan Port just feels like a natural inclusion to me. I wouldn’t be overly surprised if it doesn’t get printed, but it feels like just the sort of card they want to be pushing into circulation with this set. Past in Flames seems to be poking out to me when we see Burning Vengeance and Quiet Speculation, as well as a possible storm subtheme, making their way into the set.
There isn’t a clean way to easily categorize the decks to paint the most clear picture about what this ultimately means for storm, but I think we can start to form some general ideas or conclusions. Let’s start with the decks from the list most and least likely to rise in popularity.
Death & Taxes
Both seem, on the surface, relatively easy to play and are aggressive decks that people can jump into the format with. Burn also have the bonus of not being excessively expensive, while Death & Taxes plays a lot of cool creatures and has some mirror in the GW Hatebears deck in Modern.
Sneak & Show
These decks don’t have great ports from Modern, aren’t the most exciting to play outside of certain subsets of people, and are likely to still be incredibly expensive even if you get lucky with some cards you open in EMA packs. Miracles also has a very high learning curve to really do well with that might shy newer players away.
Everything else falls somewhere in the middle. If we look at what the Most Likely and middle likelihood decks encompass though, it includes a lot of decks that require us to increase our speed a little bit. Dredge, Reanimator, Storm Variants, Death & Taxes, Burn, Belcher, and certain Delver Variants all ask that we figure out how to speed up a little bit in a lot of games. Of course, we have the ability to play a slightly longer game against Delver decks, Reanimator, and combo mirrors using discard while making land drops, you don’t always have that luxury when your disruption is mostly sorcery speed and they can present fast clocks that are difficult to deal with. Additionally, the Eldrazi decks can often be tough to beat with a slower draw, so if those rise in popularity (especially if we see Chalice of the Void or Trinisphere or something similar in EMA), then that will require us to speed up as well.
Of course, speed does not always mean we eschew discard. In fact, sometimes it means the opposite. We would rather be able to play a single discard spell as quickly as possible than have to dig for it and wait to sculpt our hand. Additionally, discard can buy us extra turns against Combo in most cases. It does mean that we eschew a land or two, and make sure we are on 3 Chrome Mox in order to combo quicker and make an early Ad Nauseam even better. In our sideboard, we want to emphasize something like Massacre or Pyroclasm to fight Death & Taxes and also potential Goblin tokens out of Belcher or Storm. On that note, I expect that Empty the Warrens may lose some stock in a lot of these match-ups as well.
With that in mind, and also realizing that a lot might change between now and the end of spoiler season, here is a sample of what I think a list might look like for the first tournament after EMA release assuming nothing radically different happens.
- 4 Burning Wish
- 4 Infernal Tutor
- 4 Brainstorm
- 4 Ponder
- 4 Gitaxian Probe
- 4 Cabal Therapy
- 3 Duress
- 1 Empty the Warrens
- 1 Ad Nauseam
You may notice that this list really isn’t that much different from what is currently posted by Bryant on this very website. The two changes I made were to cut a Bloodstained for a Duress and in the sideboard an Abrupt Decay for a Telemin Performance. The reason for the former change is that we won’t always want to play as long of a game that involves aggressively sculpting our Brainstorms and Ponders. Instead we want a slightly higher life total for our early to mid-game Ad Nauseams, and we want to be a little bit more Stifle proof. The other reason that I cut a fetch is that all of the other lands (namely Badlands and Swamp, the two potential other cuts) play an important role in the games where we are trying to win on turn two. It’s possible that a fetch is still better than one or the other, but I definitely want a bit more time to really think about it.
The reason for the shift in the sideboard is that we are trying to be a bit more proactive in our role now where Abrupt Decay might suffer, and instead have additional win conditions against decks like Reanimator and Storm. Realistically, this deck isn’t much different from the list on the site because the decks that will get more popular are the decks that are already reasonable popular in the current metagame. Ultimately, if you look at current metagame snapshots and compare that to what I’ve said in this article, you’ll see that things won’t be much different. Maybe a bit more Burn and Reanimator than usual, for which we might want something like Chain of Vapor for the former and Surgical Extraction or the 2nd Thoughtseize back for the latter, but not much else different. That being said, cutting a land for a Duress is a fairly big change in my opinion, and one that I think matches up with the subtle changes that the metagame might experience.
As I said though, we need a little bit more time and a few more spoilers to really see how things will pan out. I hope though that this article was useful to you as an introduction to understanding how EMA might affect Legacy as a whole and what it could potentially do to The Epic Storm.
Thank you for reading, and I look forward to writing more on this subject as spoiler season continues! As always, feel free to let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.