Breaking into Legacy – Combolicious

Welcome back to Breaking into Legacy! This week, we’re going to cover the decks that Legacy is known for – combo. Sure, aggro is alive and well in Legacy, but apart from Vintage, it’s the one of the few formats where you can achieve the coveted turn 1 kill. Believe it or not, even turn 1 kills are cheap. Many decks sacrifice the consistency or protection in order to get the combo going as fast as possible, but that’s a factor of the deck itself, not your wallet. If you want to surprise your local tournament scene, especially one that lacks Force of Will, this is the article for you.


Creatures (12)
Elvish Spirit Guide
Simian Spirit Guide
Tinder Wall

Spells (47)
Burning Wish
Chrome Mox
Desperate Ritual
Empty the Warrens
Gitaxian Probe
Goblin Charbelcher
Land Grant
Lion’s Eye Diamond
Lotus Petal
Rite of Flame
Seething Song

Land (1)
Stomping Ground

Sideboard (15)
Empty the Warrens
Xantid Swarm

Avg. Price on as of 2/18/12: $358.51

Yes, Belcher is actually a somewhat budget deck. The great thing is that the downgrade from the Taiga to the Stomping Ground is almost nil, as there will be very little situations where you can’t pay the 2 life for the Stomping Ground.

How it Works

The deck Belcher abuses its namesake, Goblin Charbelcher, by running a dangerously low land count to maximize damage. Some decks run 2 land and splash black which overall speeds up the deck, since you get Dark Ritual and Infernal Tutor, but also makes it more likely to whiff and hit a land before you hit the 10 or 20 cards needed to kill your opponent. The alternate, but more common win condition is Empty the Warrens, either by getting the four mana to cast Empty the Warrens, or by using Burning Wish to grab the last copy in the sideboard.

The deck is a glass cannon and as such, Force of Will is very good against the deck. However, the deck is relatively resilient to Force of Will, as many players will keep hands with Force of Will but no clock just to beat you. From there, you can rebuild your hand to beat your opponent. Also, many players don’t know how to fight Belcher, so you can steal wins just by casting Empty the Warrens when they think they can stop you. Mindbreak Trap can be tough but you can beat Mindbreak Trap with Belcher just by casting two spells a turn.

Beyond Belcher

If you manage to get Belcher, there are a couple decks that branch off of it. The most expensive card in the deck is Lion’s Eye Diamond, which is used in other numerous storm decks such as The Epic Storm or ANT. These decks are also relatively cheap, minus the Lion’s Eyes (The only other expensive cards in these storm decks are the duals, of which they only run two or three anyway, and the fetchlands).

Chrome Mox opens you up to the possibility of Stompy decks such as Dragon Stompy, but you would still need the Ancient Tombs and such, so you’re still quite a ways from that.

LEDless Dredge

Creatures (27)
Golgari Grave-Troll
Golgari Thug
Putrid Imp
Stinkweed Imp
Tireless Tribe

Spells (18)
Bridge from Below
Cabal Therapy
Careful Study
Dread Return

Lands (15)
Cephalid Coliseum
City of Brass
Gemstone Mine
Tarnished Citadel

Avg. Price based on as of 2/19/12: $233.14

Dredge took a big hit with the release of Grafdigger’s Cage, but it is still theoretically viable. Nature’s Claim is the ideal sideboard against Cage. Of course, having Lion’s Eye Diamond and Faithless Looting is also great. A playset of Lion’s Eye Diamond adds about another $120-150 to the cost, which still makes it relatively budget.

How it Works

We’ll be covering this in a future article, but essentially the deck mills itself using the various Dredge cards. Once it gets enough Bridge from Belows into its graveyard, it uses its milled Narcomebas and Ichorids to fuel a zombie apocalypse. Cabal Therapy strips your opponent of answers and Dread Return gets you a ton of zombies. Some lists add a dedicated Dread Return target such as Sphinx of Lost Truths, Elesh Norn, or Iona, but the most extreme players don’t add them as they dilute the deck.

Fighting graveyard hate is difficult but not impossible. If you have a discard outlet, always make sure to have a dredger in your hand just in case someone blows your graveyard with Tormod’s Crypt or Relic of Progenitus. Sideboard options include Nature’s Claim, Chain of Vapor, Ancient Grudge, and various Dread Return targets to make your matchups a bit easier. For example, Terastadon vs Stax or Enchantress and Iona, Shield of Emeria versus combo. Some lists also have a fourth Ichorid in the sideboard to fight the control matchup.

Beyond Dredge

The next step after LEDless is upgrading to LED Dredge. Nowadays with Faithless Looting, there really isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t be running Lion’s Eye Diamond apart from your budget. LEDless Dredge is a whole turn faster (it can even win on turn 1!). With all of the hate running around, LED Dredge is the right way to go.

Spiral Tide

Creatures (3)
Cloud of Faeries

Spells (39)
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Cunning Wish
High Tide
Merchant Scroll
Pact of Negation
Time Spiral

Lands (18)
14 Island
Misty Rainforest
Sideboard (15)
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Brain Freeze
Hurkyl’s Recall
Pact of Negation
Ravenous Trap
Slaughter Pact
Spell Pierce
Surgical Extraction
Wipe Away

Avg. Price based on as of 2/19/12: $320.90

We’ve included the sideboard because the deck uses a Wishboard. One of the deck’s notable cards is Candelabra of Tawnos, but with Candelabras over $200 a pop, we’ve gone for the Cloud of Faeries/Snap engine instead. This engine still provides a fine way to ramp up mana, and also a way to answer maindeck Gaddock Teeg. Just because of Swords to Plowshares.

How it Works

Spiral Tide is a slower but more consistent combo deck than most. Once you get to the magical turn four, while hopefully hitting all of your land drops via the many cantrips in the deck, you can cast High Tide, then ramp up into a Time Spiral by using cantrips and untap effects to generate a ton of mana. Rinse and repeat until you have the lethal storm or mana count to kill your opponent via Brain Freeze or Blue Sun’s Zenith.

The deck will be a lot easier to protect once you get the Force of Wills. If Candelabras are within your reach, it isn’t a bad option, though we wouldn’t really recommend going out of your way to get them since they’re so expensive. For now, use Pacts and Counterspells wisely to protect your key spells. Snaps buy you time versus aggro decks without costing you tempo, so keep that in mind.

Beyond Spiral Tide

Once you have Spiral Tide complete, you will at least have the Force of Wills. Having a playset of a Legacy staple is never bad. If you don’t have any of the dual lands, however, you can still build Merfolk or Mono Blue Control.

Get Ready for This

So that covers this week’s decks. If you are an avid combo player, we hope this gave you your fix. Unfortunately, the main combo card, Lion’s Eye Diamond, is pretty expensive and without it, you limit your choices of combo decks. So if you want to delve into what Legacy combo offers you, be sure to invest in a playset of Lion’s Eye Diamond as soon as possible.

See you all next week!

Jason and Jeff