Legacy Griffins: Food Chain, Manipulate Fate and Fun

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So, I have to be honest: Tier 1 decks bore the hell out of me in Legacy.

I have sleeved up Sneak & Show, Reanimator, RUG Delver and even Stoneblade-whatever and brought them to tournaments. In addition to typically being very linear (here's looking at you, Sneak & Show), there's something unsettling about your opponent being able to map out your decision tree based off of your first fetch.

While all of those are solid decks that can easily win their share of matches, for me they are void of that little serotonin burst accompanied by doing something that I think is awesome.

What do I think is awesome? Well, here's one of my favorite plays. Ever.

I played that in BUG Control until the wheels fell off. Even if I had the Jace in hand, I didn't feel satisfied until I did close to nothing turn after turn except strip my opponent's hand and make stupid Worms.

After Team America turned bad and my manabase evolved into said BUG Control, which I rode for a couple months until Stoneforge started making 4/4 Invincible Germs, I sort of let go of the Artificer's Intuition dream. Then the metagame shifted, as it always does, and I started playing whatever deck sounded remotely fun from Forrest Ryan's Legacy gauntlet.

But then something happened. A new card being printed actually caught my attention:


So I ordered me some Food Chains at $1.50 apiece and picked up a playset of these birdies for $2 a pop at a local gaming store (Monster's Den in Minneapolis, Minnesota), since it seemed no one wanted to touch this poor blue card.

Just to be clear, the following two cards produce infinite mana that can be used to cast creatures:

The Food Chain nets X+1. Since the Griffin can be cast from exile, you can just keep recasting it. If you need another color, just make two or three billion blue mana, then spend some of it to keep recasting the Griffin producing the new color of mana.

While at Monster's Den, I also picked up a playset of Manipulate Fates.

What's that? You have to read the card? Well, let me summarize it for you: A blue and a colorless, draw four.

(Obviously that's not true. I just like to pretend.)

Thus began the evolution of my current pet deck:

I brewed this in my living room while watching Psych on Netflix, which is a decent show to have running in the background. Only weeks later did I hop online to see what others were doing with it, discovering that people were trying to make Coiling Oracle and more creatures work, which I tested and fully disagree with.

For the record: Coiling Oracle rarely does what you want it to. It's either a bad Elvish Visionary or a weak Wall of Blossoms. I, instead, opted for Wall of Roots, which, as I'll get to later, can Chain into a Griffin immediately.

So I've been playing it for around two months now, tweaking it from week to week. It started out with Show and Tells, which I eventually cut because they weren't terribly fun to cast. Even though they stole some games, they also weren't very good against certain matchups and required more Emrakuls than I really wanted.

So what does this deck do well?

  • Well, it wins games. I have played in 7 Legacy tournaments in the past two months, most averaging between 16 and 30 players, Top 4ing six of the seven. A lot of this may have to do with other factors outside of the deck's control, such as my opponent's decks, the parity of my and my opponent's play skill and my love of winning on the backs of stupid bird things.
  • It has a solid matchup against Maverick and, it seems, RUG Delver. If there were a kryptonite for this deck, I would say it's Bant/New Horizons, but that's just from my play experience.
  • It's also elusively impressive, as no one counters the Manipulate Fates unless they have seen you play before, which is sort of what happens after a while. Or read an article about it, I guess. But still. Manipulate Fate? Really?
  • It can blow up out of nowhere. Evoking with Food Chain on board nets 3 mana with Form of the Mulldrifter and 4 mana with Aethersnipe, which can let you just blow up with a mere Noble Hierarch on field.
  • It beats Karakas and Magus of the Moat.
  • It also has some nut draws, which I can get to later.
  • It meets my criteria for being both fun to play and actually competitive. I started off believing it was around Tier 5, but each win and refinement has slowly crept my opinion of the deck up to being in that ambiguous zone of "good enough". Whatever that means.

So what does this deck do badly?

  • Win against a resolved Humility, since your Aethersnipe no longer does anything.
  • Mulligan, I guess.
  • Convince your friends it isn't terrible.

Cool things.

Turn two kill

When your opponent has no T1 disruption or permission and you're on the play.

Turn three kill

You may be wondering, "What's up with that Disciple of Griselbrand? That costs four black! And you're not cheating nerds in with Show and Tell, Sneak Attack or Reanimate! You're stupid!"

And you'd be right on all accounts. But the thing is this series of plays:

Turn 1: Play Tropical Island; Ignoble Hierarch. Say go.

Turn 2: Play Ancient Tomb; Food Chain. Say go.

Turn 3: Play Fierce Empath. Fetch Aethersnipe

Chain away the Ignoble Hierarch, evoking the Aethersnipe. Sacrifice trigger on the stack, target the Fierce Empath, remove the Aethersnipe to the Food Chain for 7 green mana.

Recast the Fierce Empath, get a Disciple of Griselbrand, remove the Fierce Empath for black, cast the Disciple of Griselbrand. Then you can either draw a bunch of cards, getting a Misthollow Griffin and another Empath or an Emrakul. Win. Or say go.

Ramp with evoke

It's not a secret, and I mentioned it earlier, but with a Food Chain on board, you can evoke a Form of the Mulldrifter and respond to the sacrifice trigger by removing it from the game with Food Chain. This little interaction nets you three more mana than you had before. You can evoke an Aethersnipe and do the same thing, netting four mana.

This can actually be really helpful when you need just that little boost. It's also really fun to drift into another Form of the Mulldrifter, which you can then hard cast and go to town with 2/2 flyer beats.

Set the clock with expensive birdies:

There's more I'd like to say

But this just about does it for me. I really enjoy playing this deck. It's competitive enough that the funness of doing cool things isn't crushed by 0-X records. While I don't expect it to dethrone Delver, as that deck is bonkers, I wouldn't be so quick as to write it off as all out trash.

I know that SCG has done a few deck techs with builds trying to do similar things, but I feel that this list is superior to other builds in many ways. Maybe that's just, like, my opinion, man, but there's a reason I play it week in and week out.

I also wouldn't sleeve up my list, as it's my baby and I don't want you taking my baby.

10 thoughts on “Legacy Griffins: Food Chain, Manipulate Fate and Fun

    1. Mike,

      Unfortunately tribal Griffins isn't very viable, since the majority of Griffins CMC is around 4, which is too slow for Legacy. Even with Griffin Canyon.

      Add to that, do you know many green Griffins? I don't!

      It's a nice idea. 😛

  1. I'd say great minds think alike, but I don't think I have a great mind, nor do I think that multiple people did not stumble on the same essential core cards for this deck. Still, we've got a thread on the Mana Drain where some folks have been brewing essentially this deck in Vintage for awhile before this article.

    Tune in and help us brew!

  2. I still advocate running at least 1 Maga, Traitor to Mortals. Even better than ramping to Emrakul is just KOing them with a black fireball. Maybe running caverns to make him uncounterable is too cute, but still, being able to use food chain mana on a fireball effect seems strong. I think there is room to jam a 1-of, if only in the board.

      1. Hey, this is nevilshute from mtgthesource. Just couldn't help but add a comment here, vis-a-vis what we''ve been discussing at length about maga or no maga.

        The argument that Maga can be countered whereas Emrakul can't, while being true, isn't that decisive imo. The reason is that if they are sitting on counter magic and you aren't, what will get countered 9/10 times is your first Griffin which will stop both Emrakul and Maga in their tracks. The only reason to not run maga (imo) is that he can't be fetched up with Empath.

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