Today I’m going to walk through the deck I used to top 8 the most recent legacy tournament at Manaleak. First off the complete deck list:
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Imperial Recruiter
4 Force of Will
4 Gifts Ungiven
2 Dream Stalker
1 Bone Shredder
1 Eternal Witness
1 Cavern Harpy
1 Parasitic Strix
4 Ancient Tomb
4 City of Traitors
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Tropical Island
1 Verdant Catacombs
First off this is one of the more unusual combo decks around, I first found out about it after seeing Gerry Thompson and Cedric Phillips give a deck tech for their version at the last GP. Me and my friend Andrew loved the idea but hated how they went about doing it so we discarded most of the deck and kept the combo and got to work testing different ideas.
Lets go through the combo pieces:
Now that may seem like a lot of cards that you need in your hand to win, and you would be right, however you only need the first two in order to get the rest. I’ll give you a moment to see if you can work it out yourself. Are you ready for this because it’s a long one.
First you need to cast and resolve Aluren. After that you can cast all your creatures in your hand for â€œfreeâ€, so you cast the Imperial Recruiter. This is the key creature in the deck (and also the most pricy card), with him you will go and find and play another Imperial Recruiter. Do this again and again until you play the last one finally finding a Dream Stalker, which will allow you to bounce a Recruiter back to your hand. Play the Imperial Recruiter that you just bounced back and find the Cavern Harpy. This creature when played will allow you to bounce the Dream Stalker back to your hand (for you to then cast bouncing a Imperial Recruiter again). Finally play the Imperial Recruiter one last time finding the Parasitic Strix, which when played will make your opponent lose 2 life and you gain 2 life. You can then use the Cavern Harpy’s bounce ability to â€œloopâ€ it and the Parasitic Strix as many times as needed.
Wow that’s a bit of a long combo (why can’t they all just be Black Lotus, Channel, Fireball), and that in itself is part of the reason why Aluren is a good deck. Not many people understand what you are trying to do even when you do finally kill them most people are still left scratching their heads wondering how they just died.
The next part is how do you assemble the combo in order to go off:
These are some of the most powerful â€œtutorâ€ effects in magic, using Intuition allows you to find ether of the 2 combo piece’s by merely choosing the same 3 cards, meaning your opponent has to give you what you want. Gifts Ungiven on the other hand requires a bit more work but allows you to get both pieces of the combo to your hand in one go. The most common Gifts Ungiven cards that I searched up were:
This way no matter what the opponent gives you, you will be able to get the combo to your hand, also allowing you to play mind games hoping they give you the Imperial Recruiter and Reclaim / Eternal Witness when you already have the Aluren. I had multiple people give me the wrong cards purely because they did not understand what they were up against. Playing a deck that is not on people’s radar can just give you free wins.
Finally the disruption package:
These are the cards that help ether keep you in the game or stop your opponent from stopping you. As Aluren is a 4 mana enchantment it is quite easy to counter in legacy so having a way to stop the opponent messing up your plans is necessary. The Bone Shredder is a useful kill spell that you can tutor up with Imperial Recruiter or cast off Aluren.
The mana base is the weak link of the deck (we only have 3 Tropical Island) but the basic idea is to be able to cast Gifts Ungiven or Intuition on turn 2 using Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch or ether of the lands that produce 2 mana (Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors). Most of the game 1 wins come on turn 3-4 (though I have won on turn 2 before), and as such most decks have not had a chance to get going. The other problem with the mana base is Wasteland, I lost round 2 just because my opponent had 2 wasteland in game 1 and 3 in game 2.
Here is how it got on at the 24 man event at Manaleak on the 21/11/2010
Round 1 mono red goblins
He starts with Goblin Lackey on turn one while I play Birds of Paradise on my turn and then hold mana up to cast Gifts Ungiven on his turn 2. He drops in Siege-Gang Commander off his attack and I cast Gifts Ungiven. I find the 4 cards shown earlier, and he makes the mistake of giving me the Eternal Witness and the Reclaim, before I draw I use the Reclaim to put the Aluren on top of my deck, drop another land and then play Aluren and cast everything else for free.
Game 2 he starts with an Aether Vial and doesn’t do much else while I go Birds of Paradise, land, land Aluren and win the game. It turns out he didn’t have much he could bring in out of the sideboard.
Your match-up vs. Goblins is very good game 1 as they have very few ways of stopping/interacting with you which means you have plenty of time and not much to worry about. Games 2 and 3 depend on how much combo hate they may have in their sideboard.
Round 2 vs. G/U Survival of the Fittest
Game 1 I am never able to get into the match as my opponent has drawn two Wasteland and I’m stuck on one mana while his deck goes nuts on turn 4 throwing Vengevine‘s at my face. I sideboard in some graveyard hate however he draws three Wasteland and I can never get started.
I have played against this deck a lot (its being piloted by a friend of mine) and I knew that game 1 was usually very close, however after board it seems I can never beat him. I know I am one of the many hoping that Survival of the Fittest gets banned, however if it doesn’t then I will need to work out a plan for beating it after sideboard.
Round 3 vs. Affinity
My opponent knows what I’m playing but doesn’t really knows how my deck works, I show him on turn 2 when I draw the nuts hand.
Game 2 I make plenty of mistakes that cost me the game, using my Harmonic Sliver on the wrong cards, allowing him to take the game just before I can combo off.
Game 3 starts off well for me and I manage to combo off on turn 3 however he uses Mindbreak Trap on my Parasitic Strix and remove’s it from the game. I have boarded in a Harmonic Sliver and use it and Cavern Harpy/Dream Stalker to destroy everything on his side of the board (smile at artifact lands). My opponent quickly sees he will never get another card to stay in play for more than 2 seconds and concedes to my small army of 1/1’s.
Again game 1 Affinity doesn’t have anything to stop you, however because they know they can’t ever beat any combo deck game one they always have a large sideboard for you, meaning both the side boarded games can be very tricky.
Round 4 vs. Enchantress
Game 1 my opponent keeps a slow hand and gives me a Gifts Ungiven pile that allows me to untap on turn three and play my combo.
Game 3 goes very long with the board being mostly clear after I cast an Engineered Explosives and blow up the world. However my opponent casts Replenish and ends up with Dovescape in play meaning I can no longer do my combo. He has also got a Rule of Law in play which means even though he is drawing more cards using Enchantress’s Presence he can still only play one per turn, I have a couple of counter spells which allow me to make more birds than him and kill him from his own card effect.
Enchantress is mainly built to stop aggressive decks game one so most of their cards do nothing against you but with a good sideboard plan the can make the games much harder for you. It’s not a very popular deck just like Aluren so understanding what you need to do to beat it is very important, I nearly lost game 3 because I countered a spell with Force of Will the turn before he played Replenish, but I got lucky and my deck gave me all spells to make birds.
All I had to do in round 5 was draw and I made top 8 (luckily I was paired against my team mate who could lose and still make it so we I’D and got some food.
Top 8 vs. Ooze Survival of the Fittest
The top 8 match was a bit of a let down for me after I won a quick game one I had two games where I drew nearly every land in my deck. I guess my luck had to run out at some point.
This deck can go in many directions, you can play black discard spells such as Thoughtseize or Duress instead of the blue cards, while white has Enlightened Tutor to find the Aluren and Silence effects to stop the opponent.
We would like your opinion on what kind of articles you would like to read about, so please post below in the comments section what you would like to see. I have already been asked to do a part 2 of the legacy primer showing more of the legacy decks you might see.
Thanks for reading,