Sneaking in Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow

Have You Met Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow yet?

Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow
from Commander 2018

If you’re saying to yourself anything from…

“Wait a minute… Wasn’t Shadowmage Infiltrator already a tournament quality card?”


“I really hope I flip over Force of Will… More than usual, I mean.”


“Baleful Strix is getting in unblocked for Ninjutsu most of the time, am I right?”

… You may have just read Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow.

This card is just one of the many “fan fictional” Commander tools that have muscled their way, all linking arms, into this sweet Legacy deck:

Have you read Retrofitter Foundry?

Retrofitter Foundry
also from Commander 2018

Pretty nice Kjeldoran Outpost, right?

You’re probably making 1/1 Servos most of the time; but don’t be surprised if you cash in an Ornithopter for a 4/4 — on turn one — some of the time. Ornithopter costs 0, the Foundry costs 1, the activation costs no mana to tap, etc. etc.

Speaking of Ornithopter…

Can you imagine playing that turn one, alongside Changeling Outcast maybe?

Changeling Countcast
from Modern Horizons

As a Changeling, Changeling Outcast is also a Ninja.

That means that if you play it and Ornithopter on turn one, you can swing with both on turn two, pick up the Ornithopter only, and hit with both the Outcast — again, a Ninja — and the Ninja you just played.

Which might be Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow; and might be Ingenious Infiltrator… Either way, you’re drawing two and smashing face.

So Many Sweet Decks…

  • A 5-0 Niv-Mizzet deck that sometimes just whiffs
  • Removal for days!
  • The return of Pteramander to Standard
  • … And new life breathed into a twenty-year-old two-card combo, at eighty cards!

Oh Yeah, Field of the Dead got banned again.

Hour of Promise
But at least we have Hour of Promise in Historic

Field of the Dead was probably too good anyway. The card has insane rate and represents inevitability against most midrange and control decks.

Hour of Promise might have just accelerated a ban in Historic. Either way, it happed this week.

More, much more in this week’s podcast!

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Underworld Breach Decks Break Modern AND Legacy!

Underworld Breach is already famous for its performance in Pioneer… But what it can do in Modern and especially Legacy is nothing short of format-snapping. Make that formats-snapping!

Underworld Breach + Grinding Station is a Hell of a “Plan A”

Here’s a version of the Underworld Breach / Grinding Station strategy by Patrick; based on a build advocated by Pascal Maynard:

You’ll notice that Maynard’s deck looks a lot like… “a real deck” with far less fancy than we might have looked at last week. The presence of cards like Teferi, Time Raveler can bounce hate cards like Leyline of the Void to help win through resistance.

Everything You’d Ever Wanted to Do with a Muddle the Mixture

One of the key additions of this build is Muddle the Mixture. 

Muddle the Mixture can get two mana spells like — you guessed it — Grinding Station OR Underworld Breach! This can help set up your combo… Or in a pinch, protect it.

But that’s not all!

Did you see the one-of Dance of the Manse?

Not just a Standard playmate to Doom Foretold any more, Dance of the Manse is a cool backup in this build. If your opponent has answered both your Grinding Station and Underworld Breach, searing up Dance of the Manse [with Muddle the Mixture] can get you back on track… All at once!

Some additional novel ways to win…

Breach, Galvanic Blast you three times… That’s twelve!

Cards like Galvanic Blast are cheap to re-buy with Underworld Breach (I guess, assuming you have enough red mana), and can kill the opponent the good old fashioned way, seemingly out of nowhere. How much did they Shock themselves with fetchlands? Don’t miss that angle of attack.

Hall of Heliod’s Generosity

Hall of Heliod’s Generosity is another weird way to win. More often you can force the opponent to have an answer to Underworld Breach over and over and over again… But in certain unusual games, you can deck the opponent if they don’t manage to kill you first. Again, make sure you know your ways to win! (Or in this case, kind of just not lose.)

Mystic Sanctuary

The one copy of Mystic Sanctuary is a cool little wrinkle as well. Not only can you re-find your solo Dance of the Manse (and maybe in a situation where you can actually make a team of giant 4/4 creatures!) but buying back that sideboard Timely Reinforcements is sure to ruin Mike’s day [you know, if you happen to be playing against him.]

Underworld Breach is Even More Broken in Legacy!

Brain Freeze largely replaces Grinding Station in this strategy.

While this deck can honestly still be optimized (probably via the addition of black mana for Infernal Tutor), the concept is very strong. Brain Freeze itself can get the deck moving… And it’s important to note that any subsequent Brain Freezes you play out of your graveyard will fire off Storm copies.

The ability to buy back Lion’s Eye Diamond for essentially no mana (but three cards) makes the Brain Freeze pairing truly outstanding… And the de-emphasis of Grinding Station for a card that can also kill the opponent makes the deck itself more streamlined.

There are a lot of possibilities still for Legacy Underworld Breach decks! And Patrick’s description of what is right around the corner has Mike ready to hang up his Basic Mountains in that format.

Get ready to share all this week’s excitement (and gear up for Modern Regionals) right now!

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What Makes Bomberman Our Favorite Legacy Deck?

Modern Horizons in… Legacy?

Modern Horizons didn’t stop at just terraforming, you know, the Modern landscape with its Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis decks. Legacy is just staring to feel the impacts of this powerful new set.

Wrenn and Six is an amazing addition to Temur Delver. You thought Wrenn and Six plus Wooded Foothills was cute? Try Wrenn and Six plus Wasteland.


Wasteland puts itself into the graveyard, which is convenient for Wrenn and Six card advantage.

If you have these two cards working, the opponent will have to draw a land a turn just to keep pace. But of course an opponent who is drawing land every turn is kind of likely to fall behind, anyway. This new combo makes Temur Delver and Lands more powerful than ever.

What kind of world do we live in where there is an all-new Mono-Blue Urza, Lord High Artificer deck and it doesn’t come close to being our favorite.

Meet Bomberman.

Key Bomberman Combinations

Auriok Salvagers and Lion’s Eye Diamond make infinite mana.

With Auriok Salvagers on the battlefield you can play Lion’s Eye Diamond and sacrifice it for WWW.

1W of that WWW is used to retrieve the Lion’s Eye Diamond from the graveyard, netting the Bomberman one mana. You can do this over and over again, making any amount of mana.

So what do you do with all that white?

Walking Ballista
A Walking Ballista of literally any size is at Bomberman’s fingertips.
Monastery Mentor
How do you feel about any number of 1/1 Monk tokens… And any number of prowess triggers?

Bomberman can do this super quick, too!

Imagine this were your opening hand:

  1. City of Traitors
  2. Mox Opal
  3. Lotus Petal
  4. Lion’s Eye Diamond
  5. Auriok Salvagers
  6. [something]
  7. [something else]

You can play out City of Traitors, Mox Opal, Lotus Petal, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. The latter three cards (in total) give you metalcraft, allowing you to cast the Auriok Salvagers by sacrificing the Lotus Petal. So yeah, the Mox is “off” for at least a second, and Lotus Petal is gone to the graveyard.

But hey! You have an Auriok Salvagers. Now just sacrifice the Lion’s Eye Diamond and go off for infinite mana like we discussed, above. You’ll have to discard your last two cards, but if one is a Walking Ballista, no problem! You can get that back. Even a simple Mishra’s Bauble can draw you a lot of your deck, provided you piggyback off of the preceding infinite mana engine.

But yeah. First turn infinite mana. AND numerous backup plans.

Hear all about the recent developments in Legacy here:

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Izzet Phoenix in Modern… And Legacy?

Arclight Phoenix
Izzet Phoenix won a[nother] Modern Grand Prix, in Los Angeles

Izzet Phoenix in Modern

We saw Arclight Phoenix jump back into Top 8 action just last week… Standard’s Mythic Championship Cleveland was the stage. The player in question, none other than the legendary Luis Scott-Vargas.

But it’s not clear that Arclight Phoenix even belongs in the best Standard U/R deck! The same is not true of Izzet Phoenix in Modern. If anything, this is considered the strongest current deck in Modern… And it’s not hard to see why.

Izzet Phoenix has some stoopid stupid draws.

Here’s one:

  • Mountain, Fathless Looting; discard two copies of Arclight Phoenix.
  • Gut Shot you. Gut Shot you again!
  • That’s eight! Your go.
  • Is that the most common first turn? Obviously not. But it’s certainly an available one. Izzet Phoenix has a ton of perfectly fine regular draws that are super aggressive while remaining card advantageous.

    Cantrips, Cantrips, Everywhere

    Mike and Patrick discuss the various cheap card drawing spells in Modern.

    Most important might be Faithless Looting. Mike doesn’t think this one is long for the format. It’s certainly been a problem child in a variety of decks before!

    Patrick thinks that Manamorphose might be the most broken of the cheap card drawers; but Mike draws a distinction at the one-versus-two-casting cost line.

    This dovetails into Patrick wondering how Grixis players pick which cantips they play in Modern, and how many!

    Why isn’t Arclight Phoenix a Bigger Deal in Legacy?

    A different Izzet deck won last weekend’s Legacy Open — a Delver of Secrets deck!

    Izzet is a great strategy in Legacy, due to the strength of cards like Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain… and now Light Up the Stage! Light Up the Stage is very Treasure Cruise-ish, and easily catalyzed by Pteramander or Delver of Secrets on turn one.

    But look at those cantrips: They’re great, but they don’t put creatures into the graveyard! There are no Faithless Lootings or Thought Scours in the Legacy builds. Therefore getting the Phoenix into the graveyard (where it can work its proper mischief) is a little more challenging than in Modern.


    There are some emerging Grixis deck lists that are looking to solve the Arclight Phoenix problem. And because it’s Legacy… The solution is pretty a good one.

    Learn how they’re doing it in this week’s podcast:

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    Palace Jailer Wins the Pro Tour!

    Palace Jailer
    Palace Jailer made two of the Top 4 Legacy decks at the Pro Tour… including the winning Death & Taxes!

    Death & Taxes is a “High Tier One” Archetype in Legacy… Thanks to Palace Jailer

    New addition Palace Jailer helps to catapult this strategy to a legitimately defining deck in Legacy.

    Death & Taxes has performed for years… But largely as a metagame deck. For example, the presence of main-deck Karakas has helped the deck to foil Sneak and Show. Sneak and Show’s key creatures — Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn — are perfect targets for the Legendary Land.

    But with Palace Jailer and other toys from Conspiracy: Take the Crown, the power level and flexibility of this already-viable deck has increased substantially.

    Palace Jailer doesn’t quite work like Fiend Hunter

    Fiend HUnter
    Fiend Hunter

    “Um… How do I become the monarch?”

    “Well… Did you play with any cards that make you the monarch?”

    Patrick notes that the Jailer offers exactly the kind of edge Mike loves. While Palace Jailer looks like another take on the Fiend Hunter mechanic, it actually relies on a unique Conspiracy: Take the Crown mechanic. Many players just won’t read the card and will snap Lightning Bolt the Jailer hoping to get their creature back… not realizing that they aren’t the monarch.

    That makes Palace Jailer essentially a white Nekrataal that exiles creatures with no targeting restrictions. Not only can this card smash almost any creature in a 187 — permanently — it can work well with Flickerwisp and other old standbys of the Death & Taxes archetype.

    Casual Sets contribute heavily to Death & Taxes

    Containment Priest
    Containment Priest

    From Commander 2014
    This card is an absolute monster against Sneak Attack, Show and Tell, or reanimation strategies.

    Council's Judgment
    Council’s Judgment

    From Magic: The Gathering – Conspiracy
    Council’s Judgment is like a Vindicate or Maelstrom Pulse that does extra damage against folks who don’t read the card. Here’s a hint: When the opponent casts this, agree with them. Otherwise, you could lose more permanents!

    Recruiter of the Guard
    Recruiter of the Guard

    From Conspiracy: Take the Crown
    This tutor helps search up cards like today’s Palace Jailer. Simply awesome in a deck with cards like Stoneforge Mystic, Containment Priest, and Aether Vial. Recruiter of the Guard can get you the right tool for the right matchup at the right time.

    There was lots more to the Pro Tour than Death & Taxes and Palace Jailer. Check all the tech out here:

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    Top Legacy Podcast

    Brainstorm is the most popular spell in Legacy

    Legacy will return to the Pro Tour in 2018

    For the first time in a decade, Legacy will return, as a format, to the Pro Tour.

    This time, it will represent 1/3 of the formats in the upcoming Team events (alongside Standard and Modern). With 2017 winding down, Patrick and Michael thought it a great time to showcase the most popular cards and strategies of the Legacy format.

    Legacy and “the Brainstorm Experience”

    As stated above, Brainstorm is the most popular spell in Legacy. Part of that is that, unlike some other formats, you can actually play four copies of Brainstorm!

    If you are in the market for a Brainstorm, there are many similar options. Ponder is the second most popular spell, for instance. Unlike Brainstorm, Ponder allows you to shuffle your library without an additional card.

    That said, Brainstorm has a couple of things going for it beyond some of the competition. Most importantly is Brainstorm’s synergy with fetchlands. Instead of just fixing your next draw, Brainstorm can actually correct your draw! Rip a creature removal spell against a combo deck? Brainstorm can potentially fix your hand by shuffling away the errant removal spell.

    If you’re super into Brainstorm, beyond even the first four copies, you can select from Preordain, Serum Visions, Thought Scour, and many more.

    Legacy is the Home to Very — Very — Cheap Spells

    1. Brainstorm – Brainstorm, the most popular spell in Legacy, not only costs a single blue mana, it potentially digs you to additional lands.
    2. Ponder – Whatever we just said about Brainstorm’s casting cost goes for Ponder early game as well.
    3. Force of Will – While Force of Will claims to be five mana, it is in fact played for zero mana more than half the time.
    4. Deathrite Shaman – The most popular creature in Legacy costs only one mana (whether it is black or green); further, Deathrite Shaman is itself a mana source.
    5. Surgical Extraction –
    6. Swords to Plowshares – Swords to Plowshares has not ceased costing a single white mana since Alpha.
    7. Flusterstorm – Flusterstorm is a powerful, largely Legacy-centric permission spell. Part Force Spike, generally much better than a Spell Pierce, Flusterstorm boasts the best of both cards… The single blue mana in their collective top-right corners.
    8. Gitaxian Probe – <
      Similar to Surgical Extraction, Gitaxian Probe is super cheap at only one Phyrexian blue mana… And like Surgical Extraction, Gitaxian Probe will be played for even less than one mana — zero — a high percentage of the time. This will especially be true in combo decks looking to drive through their libraries and / or play multiple spells in a single turn.
    9. Snapcaster Mage – The second-most popular creature in Legacy is a bit of an oddball. The only two casting cost card in the Legacy Top 10, Snapcaster Mage nonetheless lets you re-cast one of the other super cheap / hyper efficient spells on this list.
    10. Daze – Like Snapcaster Mage, Daze has 1U in its upper right; unlike Snapcaster Mage, you will very rarely pay any actual mana to play it. Not only that, playing Daze on your own turn will sometimes set you up to re-play the same land, untapped.

    The extraordinarily low casting costs of this format’s spells depict many fast, hyper-efficient early game, decks; some of which play fewer than 20 lands due to their low curves and ability to see more than one card per turn.

    Where will Patrick and Michael Start in Legacy?

    You can probably guess.

    But they still tell you.

    To find out, check out this week’s podcast right here!

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    Probably Playing Karakas

    Double topics this week… We start on Standard, but then uncover why Patrick is probably playing Karakas in Legacy.

    G/W had another big week (especially with Number One Seth Manfield taking down Grand Prix Costa Rica) but the coolest new technology appeared in the hands of Tom “the Boss” Ross:

    R/W Humans by Tom Ross

    2 Anointer of Champions
    2 Consul’s Lieutenant
    4 Dragon Hunter
    4 Expedition Envoy
    4 Knight of the White Orchid
    4 Thalia’s Lieutenant
    4 Thraben Inspector
    4 Town Gossipmonger
    3 Kytheon, Hero of Akros

    4 Always Watching
    3 Gryff’s Boon
    4 Declaration in Stone

    14 Plains
    4 Battlefield Forge

    3 Hanweir Militia Captain
    4 Reckless Bushwhacker
    1 Gryff’s Boon
    1 Silkwrap
    2 Stasis Snare
    4 Needle Spires

    To the surprise of no one, Tom Ross hit #SCGATL with “eighteen Plains” … or rather, fourteen Plains and four copies of Battlefield Forge. Those Battlefield Forges do act as (painful) Plains main deck, but don’t have much immediate reason to tap for red.

    After sideboarding, Tom brings in four copies of Needle Spires. This is nothing new… The post-sideboard version of R/W Humans wants to go up to twenty-two lands as it increases costs. Battlefield Forge and Needle Spires get along well, of course, with one powering up the other.

    But why go up to twenty-two lands to begin with? So many of these white Humans decks side in Gideon (which is much more expensive than anything in Tom’s main)… But Tom didn’t play Gideon at all!

    If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. The B/W Control deck has plenty of cards like Ruinous Path and Anguished Unmaking to handle Gideon; Tom figured out to attack the format at a different angle. Instead of Gideon he brought in an actual red card, Reckless Bushwhacker.

    Basically, Tom comes in swinging as hard as possible to begin with. Bam bam bam one drops et cetera. The opponent is expected to hit a sweeper…

    And then Tom waits.

    And waits.

    And waits as he fills his hand.

    After sufficient resource repair, Tom can send up a massive turn based on dropping all the power in his hand and finishing with Reckless Bushwhacker. Probably for lethal.

    Further in the Standard section…

    • Updates to Saito’s flying deck
    • Why would you ever want to play Invocation of St. Traft?
    • How to exploit a metagame where there are two fewer removal cards per deck?
    • How to increase the mana consistency of U/R Eldrazi

    We then switch gears to do a little Legacy brewing for this week’s upcoming Grand Prix.

    Will Patrick play a deck with Jace, the Mind Sculptor or one with Cavern of Souls? One thing is sure: His deck will be able to return a legendary creature to its owners hand!

    Listen to “Probably Playing Karakas” to find out:

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    Eternal Masters Exclusive Preview: Toxic Deluge

    Toxic Deluge
    Toxic Deluge is our exclusive Eternal Masters preview card!

    “Toxic Deluge. Two and a black. OWN your opponent.”
    -Patrick Chapin

    Toxic Deluge is a card that has never been legal in regular packs for regular [Standard] play. This is a card that was originally printed in the 2013 Commander product; but like Scavenging Ooze and True-Name Nemesis has found multiple homes in multiple competitive Constructed decks. Doing one better than even the storied Scavenging Ooze, Toxic Deluge has seen heavy play in both Legacy and Vintage, often as a sideboard bullet.

    Toxic Deluge can go wide or tall. It is one mana cheaper than Languish when you need a Languish… and in fact one black mana cheaper than a Languish. It is a sweeper that can go way over Languish’s -4/-4. It is good against Mother of Runes, and in fact Mother of Runes-based strategies that can tax a defender’s speed.

    It can go not just tall, but very, very tall. Facing down Emrakul, the Aeon’s Torn? If the opponent isn’t somehow smashing you with a Time Walk or a hasty attack (i.e. from a Show and Tell) Toxic Deluge can kill even a 15/15 creature! Do you have to pay fifteen life? Sure; but you would have had to pay fifteen life anyway, right?

    Toxic Deluge can kill indestructible creatures! Blightsteel Colossus — or in some cases even a Marit Lage token — can be flooded out by this sorcery.

    Toxic Deluge can kill lots of creatures… But can work with your own creatures sometimes! Give everyone -1/-1 and you can kill the opponent’s Snapcaster Mage and True-Name Nemesis… But leave your Tarmogoyf and Knight of the Reliquary!

    Because it costs exactly three mana — and is a black card — Toxic Deluge is a good match to the popular Dark Petition… And especially perfect as a one-of for a strategy full of “Tutor” cards.

    This is a card of great flexibility that has made a mark on both Vintage and Legacy. Top Level Podcast is proud to present it for Eternal Masters in this short bonus episode:

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    The Painful Truths about Monastery Mentor

    Painful Truths
    Painful Truths

    “Why would you put Shardless Agent in your deck and hope for incredible luck to hit Ancestral Visions when you can just play Painful Truths?”
    -Owen Turtenwald

    Patrick made a new Esper Control deck in Legacy featuring Painful Truths and four copies of Monastery Mentor!

    This episode of Top Level Podcast largely focuses on Patrick’s deck and card choices:

    Monastery Mentor
    Monastery Mentor

    Monastery Mentor is a weird sleeper card… It’s been legal for about a year, but has not yet broken out to the degree that is probably worthy. Patrick talks about the massive amounts of damage that Monastery Mentor is capable of doing in a short period of time.

    “Monastery Mentor is not the same as Young Pyromancer” says Patrick. The 1/1 Monk tokens are substantially better than their Young Pyromancer cousins; when given the chance to kill a 1/1 Monk or a Deathrite Shaman, it is often correct to let the Deathrite Shaman live!

    Esper Control by Patrick Chapin

    2 Cabal Therapy
    2 Painful Truths
    1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang

    4 Brainstorm
    4 Force of Will
    3 Gitaxian Probe
    3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    4 Ponder
    2 Snapcaster Mage
    2 Spell Pierce

    4 Deathrite Shaman

    1 Council’s Judgment
    4 Monastery Mentor
    4 Swords to Plowshares

    1 Marsh Flats
    1 Misty Rainforest
    4 Polluted Delta
    4 Flooded Strand
    1 Karakas
    2 Island
    1 Plains
    1 Scrubland
    1 Swamp
    1 Tropical Island
    2 Tundra
    1 Underground Sea

    1 Engineered Explosives
    1 Cabal Therapy
    1 Painful Truths
    1 Surgical Extraction
    1 Flusterstorm
    1 Vendilion Clique
    3 Abrupt Decay
    1 Misdirection
    1 Notion Thief
    1 Supreme Verdict
    1 Zealous Persecution
    1 Containment Priest
    1 Council’s Judgment

    For a huge discussion on this great new Legacy deck (aka basically just Patrick’s Standard Esper deck from last week) check out “The Painful Truths about Monastery Mentor”

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    The Rise of Dig Through Time in Legacy

    Dig Through Time
    Legacy lost Treasure Cruise but kept Dig Through Time.
    Dig Through Time is just starting to take the place of “the broken blue delve card” of the format.

    Thank God there are not Legacy Pro Tours any more!

    The absence of Legacy Pro Tours allows the format to largely avoid bannings and evolve on its own. The recent removal of Treasure Cruise from Legacy has yielded immediate diversity.

    Patrick Chapin (from the Pantheon house on the road) joins Michael J Flores for a first look at the Legacy format, post Treasure Cruise banning.

    … Starting of course with a Delver of Secrets-free Grixis Control deck featuring Dig Through Time!

    “My only sadness is that he is not playing Cruel Ultimatum.”
    -Patrick Chapin

    Come hear the Legacy chats about Dig Through Time in Grixis + seven other decks in…

    “The Rise of Dig Through Time in Legacy”

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    Your hosts

    Patrick Chapin – @thepchapin
    Michael J Flores – @fivewithflores

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    Love our podcast? Check out these Magic: The Gathering books by Patrick and Michael:

    Patrick’s Magic: The Gathering Books

    Michael’s Magic: The Gathering Books