Magic: Mardu Mad Max Tuning and my introduction into Legacy


It was pointed out to me that I don’t really have a target audience for my Magic articles and that’s completely true. I don’t know if this is a mistake or not but I’m just going to talk about my week of Magic, or however long it’s been since I’ve last talked about Magic. This past week I’ve discovered Legacy and tuned my Mardu Mad Max deck some more. Here we go, vroom vroom.

I’m writing this before the Pro Tour so I don’t know what happened yet. After I’ve watched the Pro Tour, I’m sure I’ll write something about it. I started with the Mardu list I talked about here last week. I swapped Inventor’s Apprentice for Thraben Inspector to make the mana easier and run more white sources than red. While Thraben Inspector can’t crew Fleetwheel Cruiser, the only time that has been relevant was one time when I was playing while tired, cast Depala and used Depala to crew Copter while I had a Cruiser and my only other creature was Thraben Inspector. I apologized to my opponent when I realized my mistake, said I was too tired to be playing Magic and left the game.

Fiery Temper with Copter being my only discard outlet was not very good. I kept getting stuck in a position where I didn’t want to crew and attack with Copter or I didn’t have Copter and also didn’t have RR. So, most of the time, I held them in hand with my other removal until I felt like I could get the full mana use out of them. I never felt bad casting Fiery Temper with madness and hitting their face. Incendiary Flow was considered, but after attempting to destroy a Copter before attacks were declared, I realized, not only that it is not an instant, but also why the WR Vehicles deck won the SCG Open with Harnessed Lightning. I felt between four Unlicensed Disintegration and some number of Declaration in Stone that I didn’t need Harnessed Lightning in the deck, even though some fringe situations where I don’t use all of my energy and can use it on Aether Hub could come up.

I tried the configuration of 4 Copter, 3 Cruiser, 2 Skysovereign and that helped me use my mana sometimes, but I either could have cracked clues or brought back Scrapheap Scrounger and only lost one mana. Most of the time, I played against decks that aren’t creature decks because I’m playing on Cockatrice and everyone likes to play Aetherworks Marvel decks and cast Emrakul on turn 4. When I had Skysovereign in my deck and was playing against creature-based decks, it was quite good.

Selfless Spirit is a perfect fit for the deck. If I didn’t have black in the deck, Selfless Spirit would be at four copies and Scrounger would be Pia Nalaar. Team Card Hoarder did a good job tuning their deck and I agree with all of their decisions. Scrapheap Scrounger isn’t better than Spirit, it’s just easier on the mana which a three-color deck can have a hard time with. Even though there is an absurd amount of white mana in the deck, I never wanted to be stuck without a play, which is why I really like 4 Scrounger and 2 Selfless Spirit.

kolaghans-commandUnlicensed Disintegration feels a lot like Kolaghan’s Command in that it destroys something, then burns. While I do wish Disintegration made my opponent discard a card, the three points of burn while I control an artifact isn’t nothing. There was a game one against UG Aetherworks Marvel where I had a really aggressive start of Toolcraft Exemplar into Copter into Depala into Fleetwheel Cruiser and, after landing an Ulamog, I was able to just use Unlicensed Disintegration on Ulamog as a Fiery Temper. And, while I’ll admit that Kolaghan’s Command is, in general, a better card than Unlicensed Disintegration, they feel very similar and it doesn’t matter that Kolaghan’s Command is better because it’s not on the format. Also, Command can’t kill Gearhulks Ulamog Emrakul Ishkanah, Kalitas and Grim Flayer, whereas Disintegration can. Nobody doesn’t run Serum Visions in modern in Serum Visions decks because Ponder, Preordain and Brainstorm are better but aren’t legal. Declaration in Stone is a great card and I would run four if Mardu Vehicles wasn’t in black for Disintegration already. I side the other two for decks hoping to slam Emrakul, Ulamog, Ormendahl or token decks should I run into any of them. Two Fragmentize eventually made their way into the main deck to fight other Copters, Cruisers and all the new Kaladesh artifacts everywhere. In the worst case scenario, they don’t have an artifact and I have a dead card and can hope to discard it with Copter.

Onto the mana. I started with the same manabase that was in this article for Mardu Vehicles, but since I swapped out a red one-drop for a white, I was running four Plains and three Mountains. The only red cards in the deck now are three Depala, four Veteran Motorist and four Unlicensed Disintegration. I’m really glad the enemy fast lands line up so well with the mostly-white deck basically splashing for red and black. The mana is not fetch and dual level of good, but it’s pretty consistent for three-color decks between the KLD fast lands, SOI shadow lands and the BFZ have lands. The list I’m running also has eight colorless two-drops, four colorless four-drops, and Depala and Veteran Motorist are the only cards I’m looking to cast on curve that cost more than a single colored mana. At 23 lands, I’ve only been screwed once and with my curve ending at four with Thraben Inspector, Copter and Veteran Motorist, I have enough selection to find the lands I need. There have been a few times I’ve had to start with Needle Spires on turn one and not play a one-drop if I want to attack with Copter on turn three but those draws would have been the same if it was a 23-land deck that’s straight red and white.

Aether Hub is a good card but with no other way to generate energy, it’s just Tendo Ice Bridge, which is a playable card but incredibly underwhelming when it’s one of your early colored sources. The deck would benefit from cards that line-up with the Dwarf/Vehicle beatdown/midrange gameplan, and just so happen to give you energy, like Attune with Aether, but there aren’t any good ones. The modules don’t line up well. Live Fast doesn’t fit because it’s too slow. Die Young will usually want all of its own energy to kill something. Harnessed Lightning often takes three energy, sometimes even the Aether Hub energy to kill a Copter or Depala, the biggest threats. Hellion and basically all of the cards that give you energy want to use it for themselves, aren’t good or are green/blue. I don’t want to splash a fourth color to make my Aether Hubs have more energy. If the deck was already Naya, Abzan, or even Jund, I would strongly consider Attune with Aether or Longtusk Cub. Demon of Dark Schemes has too high a cost in both colored mana and just straight amount, otherwise, it’d be a fine one or two of at the top end. It isn’t even Legendary.

There are plenty of other cards I simply haven’t tried yet but in theory are worse than anything in the main 60. They may fit in my sideboard because that’s currently 14 cards. I say 14 because I don’t like Skysovereign in the sideboard.

Two Declaration in Stone, two Skywhaler’s Shot and four Galvanic Bombardment make up the sideboard removal to transition into a slower and more controlling deck. Gideon can come in anytime they aren’t super aggressive and I can ensure my planeswalker isn’t just going to die. Spending four mana on a card just to have it killed is the same as spending 2WW for a 2/2 Knight Ally and gain four life. Potentially good but not very. I really like Kalitas against other RW Vehicle decks and against GB graveyard themed decks. Kalitas does get walled by a delirious Grim Flayer but that’s why I have the Disintegrations in the deck. The upside of having Kalitas on four is worth sometimes not having double black to cast it, not to mention, I can aim to discard it with Copter and not feel so bad. I know the excuse of, ‘I can discard dead cards to Copter,’ isn’t a good one, but I can at least hope to loot those cards away as long as Copter is in standard.

Built to Smash and Built to Last seem like legitimate cards that would surprise a lot of people during the swiss rounds of a tournament. If it’s a locals, once I get someone with Built to Smash/Last, everyone will immediately know and be able to play around it. I’ve excluded it only because I don’t know what match-ups I even want a Giant Growth type of card against and don’t see a reason to actually include it over Skysovereign or Galvanic Bombardment, seemingly the worst cards in my Sideboard. Spark of Creativity is a similar card to both Built to Last/Smash and Galvanic Bombardment but is a sorcery. It may end up being great but I don’t want this card for now.

Authority of the Consuls and Thalia, Heretic Cathar both have my opponent’s creatures ETB tapped but I’m not sure that’s an effect I really want. Authority is a one-drop that just puts my opponent’s creatures behind a turn, only meaning they can’t block for a turn. Thalia at least slows down mana and attacks for 3 first strike damage. Turn three feels too slow for an effect like Thalia’s and is largely irrelevant against decks that are already slower than mine. I’ve yet to try either, just theory-oh. Like Demon of Dark Schemes, the Gearhulks are too high on the curve, even if I would like them. I feel like Combustible Gearhulk is the type of card I really want against control decks; it’s a 6/6 that burns for likely a small amount of damage. My curve is just too low for the burn to be effective. Painful Truths seems like the type of card I want against a control deck.

Vampire Whitehawk Aerial Responder is a good card but Copter blocks it profitably and it costs double white. Servo Exhibition could be a real role-player if I wanted to go wider and be more aggressive with 1/1s and Toolcraft Exemplar. I just don’t like that literally everything blocks 1/1s and they’re not very good unless you have a thousand 1/1s.

Lost Legacy may be an option for the Aetherworks Marvel decks if I call Emrakul. Ulamog can be dealt with and chumped. Even if I have to block Ulamog with everything as he devours my library, I’m willing to trade three creatures for a Titan if it means I don’t lose the game. And if we’re in game 2 already, I have four Declaration in Stone for it. Most Aetherworks Marvel decks are blue and have access to Coax. Then I thought about it some more, and then thought about it again, and Aetherworks decks do not want to cast Emrakul from their hand, which is where Coax puts it. Neither Brainstorm nor Jace, the Mind Sculptor are in standard to put Emrakul on top of their deck from their hand, otherwise, I’d think that Aetherworks is the best deck. Lost Legacy would be a good way to beat Emrakul, except I need to cast it on turn three if I’m on the draw, or turn four on the play and double black isn’t too easy to get to. I only have eight untapped sources by turn three and sometimes Shambling Vent to cast it. Lost Legacy would be a good fit if the deck was heavier black and had more black mana.

Kambal, Consul of Allocation is another really cool card that seems like it would be good against Aetherflux Reservoir decks but I don’t think it would be enough to stop them from doing their thing because it’s a three-drop that I would want on turn three but isn’t the type of card I want to side more than one or two of. This may be a tendency in deck-building leftover from Yugioh. Yugioh is such a fast game, most games ending turn one, two or three and you need your side deck cards to have an impact very early in the game and side multiples or be so extremely powerful that you basically auto-win the game, in which case you probably want as many as you can fit because you want to see them as early as possible.


4 Toolcraft Exemplar
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
2 Selfless Spirit
4 Veteran Motorist
3 Depala, Pilot Exemplar


4 Smuggler’s Copter
4 Fleetwheel Cruiser


2 Fragmentize
2 Declaration in Stone
4 Unlicensed Disintegration


4 Plains
2 Mountain
4 Aether Hub
4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Concealed Courtyard
3 Needle Spires
2 Shambling Vent


4 Galvanic Bombardment
2 Declaration in Stone
2 Skywhaler’s Shot
1 Painful Truths
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship

I’ve put in a ton of games with Mardu Vehicles, slowly tuning it and I’m currently on this list. It’s been testing pretty well where my only bad match-up is against Aetherworks Marvel when they can turn four Emrakul. I have game against everything else. Decks playing a bunch of fliers, like UW/Jeskai Spirits isn’t exactly 50/50 but it’s certainly possible to win that race, especially with Skysovereign forcing them to chump and have Selfless Spirit, Rattlechains or Avacyn to keep their dudes alive. Weaver of Lightning and/or Vampire Envoy may be the answer. Part of me feels bad for coming to the same conclusion that Team Card Hoarder came to, but if we both came to the same conclusion, that’s encouraging that I’m on the correct path. Galvanic Bombardment isn’t something that’s super exciting and could be cut for some number of more aggressive cards or a 4 toughness reach/flying creature.

That’s it for standard. Onto Legacy. I’m subscribed to a Magic podcasts feed and one was a Legacy podcast. I didn’t know anything about Legacy so I figured I’d give it a listen and learn what I can learn. They were talking about Miracles and the different builds of the deck. I searched around for some other lists and was just playing against myself on Cockatrice with Miracles, Elves, Shardless BUG, Delver decks, Eldrazi and GW hatebearish decks. I don’t know why the Legacy hatebears deck is called Maverick but it’s just a Legacy-powered GW hatebears deck. I don’t understand why neither deck (Legacy Maverick and Modern hatebears) don’t play Life from the Loam main deck to recur Wasteland, Ghost Quarter and Horizon Canopy. And that’s before their opponent’s land destruction (if any) gets involved. I don’t even see a single copy. I guess I’m too inexperienced in the format to understand why this seemingly powerful interaction of draw your Loam whenever you want and draw three lands that either draw cards or destroy other lands isn’t good. Maybe it’s just too slow.

I’ve peeked at other decks, namely burn and affinity, and they both have similar decks in Modern and appear to play about the same. Everything just functions on a higher power level because there are more powerful cards in the format. Other than the card power level being higher, the biggest difference between Modern and Legacy is how mana functions. In Modern, it’s perfectly fine to fetch at the end of your opponent’s turn and have your shock land enter tapped to avoid the damage. In Legacy, you just have less lands in your deck already, thinning is irrelevant with the card draw, selection and power in the format, and the duals don’t deal you damage, making it typically incorrect unless you need the mana or want to shuffle your library. It’s notable that Miracles and Burn both function on fetches and basics because their color requirements are not too varied and Boil, Choke, Back to Basics and Blood Moon hurt a lot.

Miracles is a deck I’ve been enjoying to practice the motions with. I haven’t put in any real games yet because I want to know mostly what I’m doing and give my opponent the respect of being competent before I play. Remembering the top couple cards of my library is not something I’m used to doing. I vaguely remember what I scry to the bottom in other formats, but Brainstorm, Ponder, Jace and Top are another level entirely. I’m about at my ceiling for goldfishing and I just have to jump into some games because that’s how people learn things. Of course, I’m going to make mistakes with Top, Jace and all the other cards, but that’s part of learning the format. I really like this list from Joe Lossett at an SCG event. I feel like a fourth Force of Will and a copy of Counterspell in the main would be worthy additions, I just don’t know what to cut because I’m inexperienced with both the format and the deck. Cavern of Souls naming Wizard is neat but I don’t know how often that will come up and be relevant. It’s also a non-bo with Back to Basics. Monastery Mentor is a threat but conflicts with Terminus and forces me to use my mana on my turn. It seems unnecessary, especially considering that I’ve seen lists that only have Entreat the Angels and a Jace ultimate to win the game.

Shardless BUG or Sultai is the other deck that interests me the most. Perhaps more than Miracles. The deck just seems full of good cards and appears to be the Jund/Junk of Legacy, replacing Lightning Bolts and Terminates with Force of Will. I never understood why so many Magic players love blue so much and that’s because I’ve only played Standard and Modern where it’s less powerful because R&D thinks that countering things and drawing an insane amount of cards isn’t fun. Competitive players think it’s lots of fun and like when both players are doing it. Brainstorming, with actual Brainstorm or Jace and then playing Shardless Agent into Ancestral Vision, Deathrite Shaman or even Tarmogoyf is crazy. I didn’t play when Deathrite Shaman was legal in Modern but it’s clear that it’s super good. I’ve played a couple commander games with it in my Gitrog Monster deck and it’s good there, but again, Legacy is on another level. This is also the only deck I’ve seen that plays a creature land. Creeping Tar Pit looks perfect for attacking Jace. This is a deck that would lose to non-basic land hate but you take the good with the bad and I legitimately don’t know how the general meta is and how hateful it is.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor is a good card. I’ve known how to play Magic for years and some Magic player at locals pulled a Jace, the Mind Sculptor out of a pack when I was at locals for Yugioh. He obviously got really excited and I was interested in what card could be so good that he would get as excited as he did. I asked to see the card and after he sleeved it, I looked at Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I had no idea how planeswalkers worked, so he explained you cast them like any other spell and that they go up and down in loyalty. I saw an option to go up in health to scry, an option to just draw a card for no health, an option to bounce a creature at the cost of health and an unattainable option to win the game. It obviously had good effects but wasn’t worth four mana, two of which had to be blue. Oh boy did I not understand. I’ve watched Legacy games and a four mana Brainstorm every turn with the options to bounce or scry for either player is really, really, really good. Jace can be exiled for Force of Will and you don’t have to play it until you get a chance to play it. Not to mention he can come down and bounce obnoxious creatures before starting to Brainstorm every turn. I read this article and watched the match Gerry Thompson was talking about and now I understand how good Jace is and is definitely worth 2UU, which perfectly escapes Abrupt Decay.

Now that I understand how good Jace and the color blue is, I really like Legacy. I need to jam some games, make mistakes, live and learn. That was my week of Magic. I want to talk Magic but I’m not playing in high-level tournaments or grinding Grand Prix and the SCG tour. Let me know what you want to hear. There isn’t a place I’m afraid to go. I’ll delve into all the degenerate stuff if that’s what you want to hear.

Tell me what you want on…

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