When Randy Buehler wrote the article announcing the redesign of the MTGO Cube into the Legacy Cube, there was a small bit about red that many may have glossed over:
We also cut some of the one-dimensional red cards (like Ball Lightning) that make it hard to keep all red decks from turning into mono-red aggro decks (so splashing another color should make more sense now)…
And does splashing another color ever make sense now! Two red cards were added to the Legacy Cube that hadn’t appeared in any previous iterations on Magic Online. These cards add a powerful extra angle of attack for the color.
You may have guessed it already, but there are some new blue cards in the list as well.
When the Legacy Cube was first debuted, I was not a believer in this strategy and passed every Splinter Twin I saw. Now, only a few months later, I’m hooked. Most drafts these days, I’m looking to move into blue-red, and if I see any of these pieces I snap them right up.
The fact is, Counter-Burn has always appealed to me (I played this deck for quite a while when I was a kid), but adding this strategy to the mix makes it potentially the best deck in the format.
How Do I Draft It?
First of all, don’t pass any of the above cards. They used to wheel, but they almost never do at this point. Snap them off and don’t look back. Zealous Conscripts isn’t new to the format, but it also combos with Twin and Kiki-Jiki. Be aware of this in case Pestermite or Exarch aren’t showing up. It’s a powerful card in its own right, and stealing something massive with an attack trigger can win games without even comboing.
Other than that, the main thing you’re looking for is cheap spells to keep you in the game until you can combo off. Counterspells like Mana Leak, Remand, and Miscalculation are great to interact with your opponents’ big plays, and efficient burn like Lightning Bolt and Incinerate should handle mana dorks and aggressive creatures. Selection and draw spells, like Preordain, Fact or Fiction, and Compulsive Research, can also help you dig through your deck to find your combo.
One of the reasons I’m so in love with this deck right now is that you can mix other strategies into it with ease. There’s a lot of goblin token support in this build, and combining cards like Hordeling Outburst with Young Pyromancer and Talrand, Sky Summoner can make an Opposition strategy just take over. Vedalken Shackles is always powerful in blue-based control, but here we can combine it with Greater Gargadon to sacrifice everything our opponents play. A dedicated control deck that prolongs the game until it can combo off is very powerful.
At the same time, an aggressive red-blue deck including cards like Delver of Secrets, Goblin Guide, and lots of burn can force opponents to use all their resources dealing with early threats, only to get combo-killed a few turns later. Concentrate on the best fixing to ensure you don’t stumble on mana and this strategy can win a draft quickly.
And of course, picking up artifact ramp like Grim Monolith, Thran Dynamo, and Basalt Monolith makes the Upheaval strategy well worth it. Conveniently, Ral Zarek slots right into our color combo, and untapping any of those three artifacts can supercharge a big Upheaval turn.
Fatties like Frost Titan, Inferno Titan, Consecrated Sphinx, and Myr Battlesphere are all great alternate win conditions, especially if you haven’t finished putting together the combo during the draft. Keranos, God of Storms, is a slow-but-sure win condition that is very hard for most decks to deal with, and like most multicolored cards in the format, it’s pretty easy to pick up. As always, on-color planeswalkers are high picks inasmuch as you can protect them or they protect themselves.
Enjoying a Toolbox
There’s one card that at first I didn’t think was very good, but my estimation of it has gone way up in the past few weeks.
At first glance, a three-mana 1/1 that searches up another small creature is just not very good, but in non-aggressive builds, this card can be just what the deck needs. If you happened to pick up Opposition, Recruiter gets even better. Here’s a sampling of cards off the top of my head that can be searched up by Recruiter in a blue-red combo-control deck.
Imperial Recruiter Targets in UR
That’s a pretty sweet toolbox, including some cards that approach bomb territory, and it’s not even a comprehensive list. I recently was pretty flooded in a game, then drew Recruiter, searched up Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, copied Recruiter, searched up Deceiver Exarch, and won. The best part is that most red decks don’t even want Recruiter, so it will almost always wheel.
What has your experience with Twin combo been like in the Legacy Cube? Are you like me, prioritizing it above all other strategies, or do you only move in when it’s obviously open? Let me know what you think about the archetype below.