5 Tricky Legacy Interactions

One of the things that makes Legacy such an interesting format is the sheer depth of the interactions. Many of them are situations that can never or rarely exist in Standard. Sure, much of it stems from the mistakes of Magic’s past, but a lot of them are also interactions that simply go to show the depth of Magic. After all, the comprehensive rules are over a hundred pages long — and Legacy utilizes almost every single page of that.

Sometimes, people can get frustrated because Legacy contains so many interactions, some of them seem “cheap” or don’t make sense. Unfortunately, some of them really don’t make sense — you’ll see some in a minute. But one of the things about Magic is learning to deal with things that don’t quite seem fair, so Legacy is just another part of becoming a great Magic player!

Leyline of the Void and Bridge from Below

Leyline of the Void is a card commonly used in Dredge not only for the mirror match (where it downright wins the game if in the opening hand), but also used to protect Bridge from Below. Since Bridge from Below is exiled if an opponent’s creature dies, Leyline of the Void stops an opponent’s creatures from going to the graveyard at all; they are exiled and never hit the graveyard because of Leyline’s replacement effect.

Well, keep in mind that Leyline of the Void doesn’t protect Bridge from Below from everything! Look at the wording of Leyline of the Void. Since we already know the whole leyline part of it, I’ll just write the relevant portion here:

Let’s narrow it down, as you may not see the relevant part.


Not quite…

Almost there!

Yes. Card. Leyline of the Void literally means card. What isn’t a card? Yeah, you got it. Tokens.

So, tokens dying actually hit the graveyard even if a Leyline of the Void is out. So if your Dredge opponent just Leyline’d you to protect his Bridges, you can return that Batterskull of yours to your hand with its ability, then if the Germ token’s toughness is 0 or less, it’ll be placed into your graveyard — not exiled, because it’s not a card! Or, you can sacrifice a Goblin token to a Siege-Gang Commander or a Skirk Prospector… and the list goes on.

As you may have noticed from playing Magic, 99% of the time, cards do literally what they say — Forbidden Alchemy isn’t drawing cards, Show and Tell doesn’t cast Emrakul, and Leyline of the Void only exiles cards put into a graveyard.

Tarmogoyf and Lightning Bolt

If you are new to Legacy (or well experienced in it), there is a possibility you might be playing burn — and so thank the heavens that you are reading this article. If you play Legacy on a semi-regular basis, I have good money that you will probably run into this interaction at least once in the next several months. And unfortunately, this is one of those situations that seems unfair for the burn player. So let’s explain the situation so you don’t need to run into this at a big event.

The situation:

The RUG Delver player has a Tarmogoyf in play. It is a 2/3, thanks to a Ponder and a Misty Rainforest in the graveyard played the previous turn. Those are the only two cards in the graveyard. Then,  the burn player Lightning Bolts the Tarmogoyf! He’s dead, Jim. Well… not quite.

Tarmogoyf lives.

Wait, what? Yes, he does. He’s not quite dead yet.

That’s because of the way state based actions and spells resolving works. State-based actions are the things that destroy creatures when they have lethal damage on them, make a player lose the game when they are at 0 life, etc. They are only checked the moment before a player would receive priority. The thing is, no player receives priority during the resolution of a spell, and so state-based actions aren’t checked during this time. For example, you can Lightning Helix yourself when you are at 3 life, and you will not lose the game because state-based actions are only checked after the Helix resolves. At which point, you are above 0 life.

That’s important because as the last part of the resolution of Lightning Bolt, the card is placed in its owner’s graveyard — this is mere moments before state-based actions are checked, meaning that because there is now a land (Misty Rainforest), sorcery (Ponder), and instant (Lightning Bolt) in the graveyard, Tarmogoyf’s power and toughness are now a 3/4 when Lightning Bolt resolves! This means that he is now a 3/4 with 3 damage marked on him, and state-based actions don’t see a creature with lethal damage marked on him, and leave him alone.

Just a note, this is the same scenario if there is a land and instant in a graveyard, and Tarmogoyf is hit with a Chain Lightning.

Another note — if there is a land and sorcery, and Tarmogoyf is hit with a Swords to Plowshares, Tarmogoyf’s controller will gain 2, not 3 life. That’s because Tarmogoyf is exiled during the resolution of Swords to Plowshares (before the controller gains life, since you follow instructions in the order given), Swords to Plowshares isn’t in the graveyard yet; that happens AFTER everything on the card has already happened.


Tinder Wall and Chain Lightning

Here’s a funny trick that goes just in line with the above Tarmogoyf and Lightning Bolt scenario. If you are playing Belcher and have a Tinder Wall, and your opponent Chain Lightnings the Tinder Wall, you can actually sacrifice the Tinder Wall to bounce back the Chain Lightning to sometime else!

Immediately after Chain Lightning deals the damage to the Tinder Wall (this is all during the resolution of Chain Lightning), you, as the controller of that creature, have the opportunity to activate mana abilities to copy Chain Lightning. However, as you may know already, Tinder Wall isn’t dead yet, as state-based actions haven’t been checked yet since it is during the resolution of a spell. Then you’ll get to copy Chain Lightning and choose a new target!

HOWEVER! The timing can be extremely tricky. You HAVE to let the Chain Lightning resolve. If you sacrifice the Tinder Wall for mana in response to Chain Lightning, Chain Lightning will be countered on resolution, since its target is no longer there. So don’t say “in response, I’ll sacrifice my Tinder Wall”.


Thalia and Engineered Explosives

The thing about Sunburst with Engineered Explosives is that it just cares about the colors of mana paid for it, not just the colors used to pay for X. What this means is that if you have X = 1 and pay a blue mana for it, then pay a white mana to pay for Thalia’s tax of 1 mana, Engineered Explosives enters the battlefield with two sunburst counters, not one. However, this doesn’t apply to other X spells like Green Sun’s Zenith, as the card actually cares about what was paid for X, whereas Sunburst doesn’t.



Humility and Painter’s Servant

Oh… Humility. This has caused a lot of headaches for people. Layers can be extremely intimidating, so hopefully we will be able to cover this without confusing anyone. Just to let you know, we aren’t judges, but only two people who knows these interactions fairly well. So we’re not going to bother trying to explain it in great detail. Here is a good article that explains layers and how they work, in case you are interested: Click here!

Basically, there are six layers, and some of them have sublayers. Each layer are things like copy effects, effects that change control, effects that change text, adjust power and toughness, etc. There is a specific order for applying layers; you apply each effect from top to bottom, starting with layer 1 (copy effects) and ending with layer 7 (effects that modify power and toughness).

The key from the article is the following:

If a continuous effect has started applying in an earlier layer, it will continue to apply in later layers even if the ability that created that effect has been removed.

So, the thing is, effects that change color are applied BEFORE effects that remove or add abilities. This means that with Painter’s Servant, the color of everything is changed in Layer 5, and THEN Humility takes away Painter’s Servant ability in Layer 6. But, because of the quote above, Painter’s Servant ability continues to change the color of everything even though it doesn’t have any abilities.

Painter’s Servant has a blank textbox due to the Humility, but everything is still the color that was named; for example, Muraganda Petroglyphs will now make Painter’s Servant a 3/3.

Yes, it’s extremely counter intuitive, but that’s the way the rules work — read this, know this, and learn it before you get Grindstoned out of existence while still in disbelief of this interaction.

Are there any odd, quirky, and plausible interactions  that could happen in Legacy that you want covered in an article? Let us know in the comments! We know that there are thousands of weird interactions in Legacy, but we want to cover the ones that could possibly be seen.

Jason and Jeff

@mtgtwin1 and @mtgtwin2 on Twitter.