Budget Legacy Solidarity High Tide – Life’s a Beach
After taking a little break from Legacy, with some deviation to Standard in recent weeks, I’m back on the eternal bandwagon. I’ve got a deck for you today that will help shore up your game, leave your opponents high and dry as you freeze them out of cards. We’ll be playing the deck that runs the most copies of what is probably the best card in all of Magic the Gathering: Island.
Yes, today we’ll be looking at the instant speed menace that is Solidarity High Tide.
For those of you who don’t know the deck, you’re looking to make some land drops for the first few turns of the game, before eventually firing off a few copies of High Tide along with spells which untap your lands in order to allow you to draw more cards, create loads more mana and cast a bajillion spells to deck them out using Brain Freeze followed by Blue Sun’s Zenith. And the best part of this?
It can all be done with something lethal about to kill you!
Lands aside, every single piece of this combo deck’s engine can be played at instant speed, meaning that you can spend the early turns setting up your hand, sculpting your draws perfectly to combo off at the last possible moment. Let’s take a look at the list, which was, as usual, built for under £100 at Manaleak.
Now some of you will be wondering about the “Solidarity” part of the name. This is a hold over from back in the day, when really old lists actually did use the card Solidarity in order beat Nauseafrom opponents. Though the only explanations for this I can find for this are all a little hazy, small flash creatures that could be Snapped back to hand to generate mana were run in the list, and Solidarity helped protect them.
EDIT THANKS TO MULTIPLE SOURCES: the deck was in fact named after someone won a game using Solidarity as a piece of sideboard tech in a game of Core Set Limited. The deck designer said he would name his next deck after the card and the rest, as they say, is history. Thanks Rob Appleyard and Steve Moran
Anyway, enough of that aside, on to the deck!
Budget Solidarity High Tide by Christopher Cooper
3 High Tide
1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
3 Cunning Wish
1 Brain Freeze
1 Spell Pierce
1 Dig Through Time
4 Flood Plain
4 Bad River
1 Chain of Vapor
1 Wipe Away
1 Brain Freeze
1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
1 High Tide
1 Spell Pierce
2 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Echoing Truth
1 Blue Elemental Blast
1 Ravenous Trap
The Ritual Effect
High Tide. There is a reason that this card gives its name to the deck. Most of the other combo pieces are relatively interchangeable but there is no other card in Magic that can replace this one. Once you have cast this, it makes all Islands tap for an extra blue mana (yes, even your opponent’s Islands, and their Tropical Islands, Underground Seas and Steam Vents too. Even Moonring Island if your opponent happens to have one of these). Note that there are only three in the main deck, but also one in the sideboard. We’ll come to that one later.
These pieces help to find your engine cards. This includes Brainstorm, Opt, Peek, Blue Sun’s Zenith to an extent, Dig Through Time and Impulse. These cards will all help you to sculpt your hand in the early game and give you information about your opponent’s hand, as well as filtering past all the excess parts that you don’t need right now. Note that I haven’t included Meditate in this section as it is not so much an enabler as part of the card advantage engine when the deck is going off. Playing it before you try to go off can have some disastrous consequences for your chances of survival.
Those cards untap your lands. Snap, Reset and Turnabout. These are the cards that I had to struggle the most to try to fit into the deck. The Resets especially are not a very budget friendly card as such, and because of these I had to severely cut cards elsewhere. However, we are able to go off with what we have to work with here, so we’ll stick with it for now. The Reset are the big reason for us to be in the Solidarity version of the deck, as they mean that we always want to be going off on our opponents’ turns in order to be able to use them.
Having explained the above three card types, you should be starting to get an idea of how the deck operates. You want to fill your hand with cheap, efficient card draw, some untappers and a High Tide or two by burning through your cantrips in the first few turns to gain as much information as possible. You want to make sure you’re hitting your land drops, so if you can’t play a land in a turn, then it’s worth digging a little and trying to find one. Otherwise you want to wait until the end of your opponent’s turn to cast your cantrips and make sure you can be as mana efficient as possible.
Then, when you think the coast is clear, or you just can’t wait anymore, you go for it.
A High Tide or two helps boost your mana and make sure you’re going to have enough to go off. If you have 4 Islands out you’ve effectively just cast a Dark Ritual for blue mana. Except this Dark Ritual keeps on growing every time you cast one of The Engine’s cards: Snap, Turnabout, Reset. From here you can use all of this mana to keep casting spells until you cast enough to Brain Freeze with enough Storm count to get at least very close to milling out your opponent, from which point a Blue Sun’s Zenith will do the job.
Now comes the real beauty of the deck. Let’s say your opponent is playing some sort of effect that stops you from winning by milling… normally. An Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Progenitus, Blightsteel Colossus or some other such beefy thing. For the latter two this isn’t so much of an issue. You can simply force them to draw the rest of their deck with the Blue Sun’s Zenith to get around the perpetual shuffling in of these creatures. With the Eldrazi however things are a little more difficult. We have to keep going off over the top of the shuffle trigger.
In other words, once the trigger is on the stack from Emrakul you can just keep comboing off with the trigger still on the stack and win the game before the trigger resolves thanks to all the instants that we run.
One of the things that allows us to do this is one of the most flexible cards in the deck: Cunning Wish.
This tutor effect allows us access to anything we could ever wish for. We have graveyard hate, bounce, redundant copies of our most vital combo pieces (such as the High Tide I mentioned earlier) protection and even one of the most metagamed hate cards in the format. Well, seeing as Red Elemental Blast is seeing so much play, Blue Elemental Blast seems rather a poetic way to stop it. Knowing when to cast your Wish is certainly one of the finer points to learn with this deck, and is certainly one of them that I won’t claim to be anywhere near proficient in. However, there are merits to playing an early one before your combo turn to start assembling pieces in your hand (but only if you know it’s safe from discard!).
Unfortunately what this card does mean is that we have very little space in the sideboard for actual sideboard cards. A few Tormod’s Crypts can keep Dredge decks honest, but that’s really all we have room for. A creature kill spell or two might be nice, Dismember or a similar effect, but a lot of the creatures we’d want to use that on are too big for it to kill anyway. As it is, we at least have access to the vast majority of our hate cards in game one, so there shouldn’t be too many complaints.
This is one of those decks that can really surprise an unprepared metagame and really rewards constant goldfishing and fine tuning and adapting your deck to the local field. It can be very tricky to play against and can be improved on significantly from the list I’ve given you above.
One of the more obvious improvements is bumping some of the more expensive pieces up to the full playset (though possibly not Dig Through Time, that may warrant fewer due to its difficulty to cast, this definitely needs testing) and upgrading cards like Foil to Force of Will. Obviously this can happen slowly and at a later time, adding in card by card as you need to.
I hope you enjoy playing this deck as much as I did in finding out about it and reading up on it. It is very much a mathematician’s deck and rewards really knowing the deck inside out to know all of its obscure lines and ways of playing to your outs. And it can all be bought for just £98.69.