Insider: Touch of the Eternal — Scanning for Oddballs #1

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Welcome all to another edition of Touch of the Eternal. As I'm still trying to figure out what types of articles you (the readers) prefer, I'll keep bouncing around topic-wise. Sorry to the ADD crowd who expected another delve into Tier 2 Legacy strategies.

The good news is that this article will be somewhat similar in that we will look for cards not typically seen in Legacy decklists (specifically lists that have done well recently). These cards often fall into two categories.

1) A good card but also a "flash in the pan." Opponents didn't expect it and the pilot choose it to solve a specific matchup they were concerned about, but it is not powerful enough to break Legacy. This is the more common category.

2) A card that is in fact broken, attacks from a different angle and/or solves a major flaw in the deck archetype. A good example is the addition of Lingering Souls to Jund by Josh Utter-Leyton (while I'm not crediting him as the first, he did bring the strategy into the spotlight.) Jund previously had an issue with decks like Affinity running them over, and Souls provided the chump blockers necessary to buy time and develop the board.

Let's look at a few decks that have recently performed well at various SCG Legacy Events.

Junk (by Mark Hendrickson)

Bitterblossom -- a card powerful enough to be preemptively banned in Modern, it rarely sees play in Legacy (It's occasionally seen in The Gate, a mono-black control deck). This card generates lots of value, providing a steady stream of blockers/attackers at a reasonable cost.

The fact that it was banned in Modern also guarantees no printing in Modern Masters, and since it creates faeries (a tribe from a specific block for the most part) it probably would only be reprinted in a "Return to Lorwyn" set. Its power is another strong indicator that it won't be reprinted in a Standard-legal set.

So there's little chance of a reprint outside of a special deck. It's still around 15 dollars and sees virtually no play in Legacy and the banning implies that it's only buoyed by price memory and the EDH crowd (though in EDH it's not that powerful), so any breakout could easily spike it to $20-30. The current price is stable and unlikely to drop.

Runed Halo -- this card can be surprisingly effective against strategies that rely on specific win conditions, such as Tendrils of Agony, Goblin tokens or Zombie tokens. It's currently in the dollar range, and while I don't foresee this jumping drastically it's certainly one to aim for when "throw-ins" are needed in trades. It has a possible price range of $0.50-6.00 or so.

Merfolk (by Scott Barrentine)

Sygg, River Cutthroat -- The importance of Silvergill Adept to the merfolk deck is often overlooked, as the little blue men have no way to gain actual card advantage. The addition of Sygg is quite clever and can provide Merfolk a bit of card advantage, which is something it desperately needs. He acts like Silvergill Adept #5 for the most part, but it's also important to note that if you hit your opponent with any two-power creature and they fetch at EOT (like many are prone to do), you get to draw a card. This is another card I'd target as a "throw-in" during larger trades, but I certainly wouldn't turn them down at $0.50 or so.

Sneak and Show (by Will Craddock)

Defense Grid -- A beloved card for all the non-blue players. This card is decent in EDH (EDH players really hate having stuff countered), but it's a great sideboard for combo players as it acts like a slightly better, infinite Spell Pierce.

Esper Stoneblade (by Jason Starnes)

Sword of War and Peace -- This sword is an excellent call for the mirror match, as Stoneblade players will often lean heavily on Lingering Souls tokens as chump blockers and the mirror is very "grindy." Being able to punch someone in the face for a 12-14-point life swing can really turn a game around.

Painted Stone (by Drew Feder)

Jaya Ballard, Task Mage -- This is quite a clever choice, turning any card in your hand into Vindicate. The fact that she can still burn out troublesome creatures without a Painter's Servant is gravy.

Omni-Tell (by Peter Johnson)

Army of the Damned -- This isn't a card you expect to see in Legacy, but it's quite clever in that it allows you to play around Mindbreak Trap (which some decks use as their sole anti-storm card.) Simply cast Burning Wish for Army the turn after you cast Omniscience, thus never getting your spell count past two and winning on the following turn. Sadly, you won't be able to flash it back, but you really shouldn't have to.

Esper Stoneblade (by JD Nir)

Meddling Mage -- This card is used to stop combo decks from going off, acting like a preemptive counterspell. They have to find an answer to Meddling Mage before going off, which allows the Stoneblade player to position himself to combat the critical turn and/or grind them out. It doesn't hurt that you can equip it with a sword, Batterskull or [card Umezawas Jitte]Jitte[/card] and just go to town.

All Spells (by Unknown)

Summoner's Pact -- This card is not really an oddball, as it's quite necessary for a deck like this. But the deck itself is a new idea, and if it breaks out Pact is the card likely to jump the highest percentage of its current value (although Chrome Mox would probably be the most expensive card in the deck.) It's also important to mention that while Adam Prosak did indeed make this deck very public (prior to SCG Atlanta) he is not the creator. Since several people have been credited and since I am not sure which rumor is correct, I'll keep it this way.

4 thoughts on “Insider: Touch of the Eternal — Scanning for Oddballs #1

  1. You’re incorrect about the 2 damage + EOT fetch with Sygg. Sygg triggers “at the beginning of the end step,” meaning your opponent would have to fetch no later than the end of your main phase to trigger Sygg. They don’t get priority to fetch during the end step until Sygg has already triggered…or not triggered, as the case may be.

    Now, if they fetch during combat for some reason, or fetch in response to some spell you’re casting on the second main phase, then you’re in business.

  2. Another minor nitpick: You have to name a card with Runed Halo so you won’t be able to gain protection from most tokens (Goblin, Zombie, etc) unless there happens to be a card with the same name as them.

    1. Correct. I had to look up/verify that ruling. However, fun side note, if you name a card and it creates a token copy (see Giant Adephage) you WOULD have protection from the token copies as well.

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