This last year has been a long and very interesting one for Magic: The Gathering as a game, and we at Cards Realm have started our season of retrospectives, where we remember important moments of Magic this year and also evaluate the impact that 2022 will leave for the competitive formats.
Today, we're going to evaluate the ten most impactful cards released this year for Legacy!
10 - Comet, Stellar Pup
Loved by some players and hated by many others, the best word to describe Comet, Stellar Pup is controversial. The Dog Planeswalker came out in an Un-Set that, until Unfinity, were never legal in Legacy, he resorts to a mechanic players naturally dislike - rolling dice - and his biggest advantage is summarized in the fact that any number its controller rolls grants some advantage.
Comet's great potential is due to its unpredictability, its controller will play it and, when activating its ability, anything can happen: create two tokens, resort to a card from the graveyard, remove a problematic creature from the board or, if you're lucky, repeat the dice roll two more times on the turn, setting up a swift snowball effect.
9 - Triumph of Saint Katherine
Another card released in a special product, Triumph of Saint Katherine is part of the Universes Beyond series, which brought four Warhammer 40,000 series Commander decks, and found its way into several Control versions such as a threat that takes the early game pressure with a 5/5 body with Lifelink that can be cast for cheap with a simple setup to perform on a list withBrainstorm, Ponder and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
The creature, however, did not become an instant staple of these decks and only appears in a few lists, so it cannot find a better placement in this Top 10.
8 - The Wandering Emperor
The Wandering Emperor, considered the best white Planeswalker ever released, had its period and time to shine in Legacy after the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty came out. Her skills complement each other well between a proactive and reactive stance and although four mana is a relatively high value by format standards, the fact she has Flash allows players to cast it at an opportune moment in the game and avoid suffering a Time Walk because the opponent responded with a Daze on their End Step.
Today, the Wanderer appears occasionally in a small variety of strategies: Control, Stoneblade, Maverick, and Mono White Initiative all have variants which run the Planeswalker with about one or two copies in the maindeck and/or sideboard.
7 - Ledger Shredder
Anyone who's played Legacy for the past two years recognizes Izzet Delver as the format's best deck, to the point many consider the archetype to be taking over the Metagame.
Ledger Shredder was the best maindeck addition that Izzet Delver and other Turbo Xerox strategies received in 2022, and the bird was present in the archetype for a few months until the Metagame got back to the point where Delver of Secrets is needed as four copies again.
But this creature is just another in a long history of potential additions to Izzet Aggro as the Metagame opens up space for more attrition-oriented games, where the hand filtering afforded by Ledger Shredder is better than the opportunity to pressure the Tempo with Delver.
6 - Kappa Cannoneer
8-Cast has been around in Legacy since Thought Monitor and Urza's Saga came out in Modern Horizons II and significantly increased the consistency with which artifact interactions were able to win the game on their own, which added to lock elements like Chalice of the Void and the recursion of Emry, Lurker of the Loch, established a solid enough Prison strategy.
What Kappa Cannoneer offered the archetype was something it still lacked: the ability to close games quickly with a single threat that, in addition to offering a three or four turn clock alongside the deck's other themes, it also protected itself incredibly well.
As a result, 8-Cast was leveraged to the top of the format for a while until players learned how to adapt to this new Stompy stance that Neon Dynasty's Turtle provided, and today the deck is among one of the best on the competitive scene.
5 - Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes
Four-cost Planeswalkers have always been on a strange line when it comes to Legacy: either they are completely useless, or they are so strong to the point they pay off in a very short time the high mana investment and risks involved in the goal of casting them - Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes is the perfect example of the second case.
As with many cards featured in this list, players will look at Minsc and his adorable Hamster and think "that's a Commander card". And they're right, they were definitely designed for a Multiplayer format and that's why their value in a two player match is so high, Pauper players are used to it since Monarch came to the format, and Legacy itself has had its fair share of such events over the years with True-Name Nemesis, Scavenging Ooze, and Council's Judgment.
However, the power level of Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate was much higher than the standard for 1v1 formats, and Minsc & Boo are proof of this: the fact that Minsc already comes into play creating a token who can protect him and will probably be a 4/4, not counting the obligation to respond to the Planeswalker and/or the creature to prevent the opponent from sacrificing Boo on the next turn to deal four damage and draw four cards, and we can never forget the possibility of using Minsc to Fling a powerful threat, like a Knight of the Reliquary or, even worse, a Marit Lage Token.
4 - Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
Considered the most powerful card released for Standard in 2022, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker has found its way into every competitive format, including Legacy, where enchantment is now core to Mono Red Prison and is also present in Sneak and Show and Boros Initiative.
The biggest quality of this saga in the format is that it does a little bit of everything in a game: it creates a body who offers extra value, speeds up mana, helps filter your hand in strategies who normally suffer from having multiple copies of the same cards and, of course, still increases the board pressure by creating copies of impactful threats.
3 - Boseiju, Who Endures
The Channel Lands cycle are other Neon Dynasty cards present in virtually every competitive format. However, the risk of its use in Legacy is higher due to the existence of Wasteland as one of the mainstays of the format, making its effects less useful here than in other Metagames where non-basic lands can be played without this ubiquitous menace.
Therefore, its space ends up limited to monocolored strategies who manage to capitalize on its effects without being so punished by Legacy's most famous land, as in Mono Red Prison or in 8-Cast. However, one of the members of this cycle manages to stand out even in multicolored strategies by offering an efficient answer against a significant portion of the Metagame: Boseiju, Who Endures.
The green land handles a variety of problematic situations in Legacy for the mere cost of two mana, and allows several decks to deal with important hate pieces in their respective strategies, such as dealing with a Pithing Needle or Ensnaring Bridge in Dark Depths, or resolving that artifact or enchantment which prevents you from sequencing a Storm, or forcing the activation of Engineered Explosives at an inopportune moment, and even destroying non-basic lands like Karakas or Mystic Sanctuary are valid options when having Boseiju, Who Endures in your maindeck.
2 - Unlicensed Hearse
As with Pioneer and Modern, Unlicensed Hearse stands out in Legacy as it has become one of the format's top graveyard hate options by blending in an efficient and useful answer against archetypes where its effect really matters, while also becoming a win condition on its own as the game progresses.
Also, the fact that Murktide Regent and Dragon's Rage Channeler are the main threats in Izzet Delver today makes Unlicensed Hearse one of the best hate pieces to play against the format's best deck, securing its space on the Sideboard of several lists in Legacy today, from Izzet Delver itself to Prison decks and even in tribals like Goblins, you can find some number of this vehicle on the Sideboard.
1 - The Initiative
At the top of our list is not a card specifically, but a mechanic: The Initiative arrived at Magic Online not long ago, and since then, strategies aimed at traversing The Undercity as quickly as possible have become Legacy's newest competitor, with two main variants: Mono White Initiative and Boros Initiative.
Functioning practically like a Stompy, these decks follow a theme similar to what we saw in Pauper, where you cast a creature who allows you to venture into the Undercity usually guarantees you enough value on its own for you to win the game. Added to the fact Legacy can count on the Sol Lands (Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors), as well as free mana resources such as Chrome Mox and Lotus Petal, means that its controller manages to carry out a very efficient beatdown plan while also just hitting the free-win button if they come up with the right setup in the first turns.
The Initiative became so pervasive in Legacy in a short time that we saw, for example, Delver lists resorting to Unchained Berserker on the Sideboard during Eternal Weekend to combat this threat. And at the time this article is coming out, the format still doesn't seem to have resolved the deck to the point where it has fallen in popularity, which has been causing controversy on social media regarding the issues of a mechanic and cards aimed at Commander are causing to Legacy.
A notable point of this Top 10 is the way in which a significant portion of the cards mentioned in it are part of products aimed exclusively at Commander at a frequency never seen before. While we've indeed had several multiplayer product items make their way into Legacy and even become staples for quite some time, we've never had such a large amount of these products affect the format in a year, and the question that remains is whether this event is just one anomaly or whether it will become the standard for the format going forward.
In 2023, in addition to Commander products, we will also have the release of Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth, a set which will be Modern-legal and might follow the same logic as Horizons sets, making it legal on Legacy. In this case, it is important to highlight the high-power level that the two Modern-oriented releases had and how much they left a permanent mark on both formats.
So be prepared, since Legacy's journey in 2023, while fascinating and promising, could also become turbulent if we have yet another Modern Horizons effect in the future.
Thanks for reading!
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