Survival of the Format by Cyrus Bales

Survival of the Format by Cyrus Bales

The big news today is the announcement of the new banned list for Legacy. Only two changes, but they will make a big difference. Time Spiral is now unbanned, but of course, the thing everyone has been waiting for, Survival of the Fittest has been given it’s marching orders and is now banned.

Over recent months, the issue of Survival decks in legacy has been a major talking point. The reason for this banning is obvious, decks abusing it had become too powerful with the advent of Vengevine. The ability to attack for sixteen on turn three was too strong, especially since you could recur these threats, tutor for answers and dig out a combo if you needed to. Statistically speaking, Survival decks, whether they be UG, GW or BUG, they were making up a majority of the field in numbers, as well as posting average win percentages of 60% against non-survival decks. Obviously something like this is indeed a problem, as no one deck should be that dominant.

The last banning like this came with Mystical Tutor, which briefly enjoyed a time being legal in legacy, but unfortunately fuelled combo decks like Storm and Reanimator too much and had to go back to being banned.

So, what about Time Spiral? This card has had it’s uses over the years, notably in Spring Tide, a mono blue storm deck that won through Brain Freeze, generating mana using High Tide and ways to untap lands, such as Cloud of Faeries and Snap. Time Spiral gives it another way to generate this mana, but also draw itself a new hand, I expect this will be something we see a fair bit of, however I’m not entirely convinced it’s going to be the make or break card the deck needs.

As for me? I couldn’t write an article without a decklist, so here’s what I’m currently playing in Legacy:

The Bales Bomberman

4 Auriok Salvagers

4 Lion’s Eye Diamond
3 Pyrite Spellbomb
4 Lotus Petal
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Aether Spellbomb
4 Mox Opal
2 Chrome Mox

4 Artificer’s Intuition
1 Painter’s Servant
1 Grindstone

4 Thoughtcast
4 Duress
4 Infernal Tutor


4 Ancient Tomb
4 City of Brass
2 Tarnished Citadel
4 Seat of the Synod
1 Ancient Den
3 Vault of Whispers

4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Disenchant
4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Pithing Needle
1 Dispeller’s Capsule
1 Revoke Existence
1 Nihil Spellbomb

So what’s this deck all about? It’s a combo deck, that uses Auriok Salvagers and Lion’s Eye Diamond to generate infinite mana, then either Pyrite Spellbomb recurred infinitely to kill them, or assembling the Painter’s-Grindstone combo. The way in which this deck does so, is by generating mana quickly and finding the pieces though draw spells like Thoughtcast, and tutor’s like Artificer’s Intuition and Infernal Tutor. Artificer’s Intuition is the big breakthrough in this deck for me, I started with only two copies, but it soon became four, much like with Survival of the Fittest, this card lets me find almost anything in my deck. Even some of your lands can turn themselves into Moxen or Lion’s Eye Diamonds.

In terms of how the deck plays, it’s fast, very fast. Whilst turn one wins are indeed possible, the deck usually combo’s off on turn two or three, keeping ahead of aggro decks and matching pace with Storm decks. However the deck seems a lot more difficult to disrupt , it plays it’s own defence in terms of Duress, as well as Spellbombs which can deal with creatures or graveyards and Engineered Explosives as a great catch all. Being able to fetch up whatever you need in terms of zero or one cost artifacts is incredible, assembling two Lion’s Eye Diamonds is almost always a recipe for victory. Having ways to discard excess Mox Opals is fantastic, as it lets you play with a full play set without any problems, Chrome Mox allows you to empty your hand a bit if you need to get Hellbent for Infernal Tutor, I would like to fit in a tutor able Mox Diamond for the same reason.

As for the sideboard, we have a few tutor able answers for things, Dispeller’s Capsule, Pithing Needle(which was originally in the main deck) and another Nihil Spellbomb; these are all pretty self explanatory. Revoke Existence and Disenchant are just more answers to things like Chalice of the Void, Null Rod and Pernicious Deed type effects. Swords to Plowshares is a great way of dealing with problem creatures if you need to, the main talking point of the sideboard is Inquisition of Kozilek. This card is great, of course, bringing it in to proactively grab Pernicious Deed’s, Chalice of the Void’s, Krosan Grip‘s, your opponent’s discard or disruption spells. Whilst it doesn’t hit force of will, the deck does have the Duress for that, and the lifeloss from playing Thoughtseize is too much to bare with those Tarnished Citadel’s, City of Brass and Ancient Tomb’s flying around.

So there we are, Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.

Cyrus Bales

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