Ixalan: Charting a Course to Eternal Weekend
Hey everyone, Jarvis Yu here again: Silver level Pro, and a member of Massdrop East.
I’m excited to chart my own course to Eternal Weekend in Pittsburgh in late October.
Eternal formats have been through some massive upheavals lately. The restriction of Monastery Mentor and Thorn of Amethyst have radically changed the landscape of Vintage. The release of Ixalan is going to have several impacts on Legacy. The ‘planeswalker rule’ as we know it changes to make Planeswalkers function very similarly to legends. For example, you are now allowed to have a copy of Jace Beleren and Jace, the Mind Sculptor in play simultaneously.
Another rules change is the fact that cards like Blood Moon now affect lands in a very different way. If Blood Moon is on the battlefield, and someone plays Dark Depths, it will now enter with zero ice counters. Similarly for Cavern of Souls, you will not be able to choose a creature type if there is a Blood Moon in play. Shock lands (such as Sacred Foundry) will come into play untapped without having to pay life.
Based on these rules change and the cards in Ixalan, I expect an uptick in midrange blue decks and tempo decks.
Here’s an example of a ‘Czech Pile’ (aka Four Color control) update: 4 Polluted Delta 1 Bloodstained Mire 1 Verdant Catacombs 2 Misty Rainforest 3 Underground Sea 2 Volcanic Island 1 Badlands 1 Tropical Island 1 Bayou 1 Island 1 Swamp 4 Deathrite Shaman 3 Snapcaster Mage 1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy 3 Baleful Strix 2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest 1 Gurmag Angler 1 Liliana, the Last Hope 1 Liliana of the Veil 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 2 Hymn to Tourach 2 Fatal Push 1 Lightning Bolt 2 Kolaghan’s Command 1 Abrupt Decay 4 Force of Will 4 Ponder 4 Brainstorm 1 Diabolic Edict 1 Maelstrom Pulse Sideboard 2 Hymn to Tourach 2 Flusterstorm 3 Surgical Extraction 2 Pyroblast 1 Marsh Casualties 1 Diabolic Edict 1 Ancient Grudge 1 Toxic Deluge 1 Nihil Spellbomb 1 Hydroblast The dream is to get all four planeswalkers out onto the field here (Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Jace, Telepath Unbound, Liliana of the Veil, and Liliana, the Last Hope). It’s mostly a pipe dream, but games do tend to drag out with this deck considering you don’t have that many pure finishers.
Liliana, the Last Hope, and Liliana of the Veil are both three mana planeswalkers that naturally curve well off a turn 1 Deathrite Shaman.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is an experiment that hasn’t really caught on. Previously, I didn’t see much reason to play this over Jace, the Mind Sculptor, because it was also vulnerable to Karakas from Death and Taxes. With the downswing of Death and Taxes, and the newly changed rule, I do think it’s worth giving ‘baby Jace’ the old college try.
The revival of Portent Miracles benefits from the updated Planeswalker rule. In particular, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Gideon of the Trials play well together.
4 Flooded Strand 4 Scalding Tarn 2 Arid Mesa 3 Tundra 2 Volcanic Island 5 Island 2 Plains 1 Mountain 2 Gideon of the Trials 2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 3 Portent 3 Predict 4 Ponder 4 Brainstorm 4 Swords to Plowshares 4 Terminus 2 Counterspell 4 Force of Will 1 Council’s Judgment 1 Engineered Explosives 3 Snapcaster Mage Sideboard 4 Monastery Mentor 2 Flusterstorm 3 Surgical Extraction 4 Pyroblast 1 Blood Moon 1 Disenchant Adding Gideon of the Trials to your maindeck also introduces another angle of attack versus combo decks (such as storm-based combo). They are forced to try to remove it to actually win the game versus you, and a fair number of the storm-based combo decks cannot remove it in game one. The versions with Burning Wish can get a Grapeshot to remove it, but then you only have to stop all of their Burning Wishes (and Ad Nauseam) to win the game.
Additionally, Gideon of the Trials and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar are importantly non-blue threats. I.e., in a game versus Grixis or Czech Pile variants, it’s easy to jam them into a singular Volcanic Island without much fear of Pyroblast (which is sometimes being maindecked).
Playing 1 Jace Vryn's Prodigy in the maindeck could also be great. It forces your opponent to commit another threat to get around the -2/-0 effect from Jace, Telepath Unbound, and also lets you filter through your deck if he is not flipped.
Most of the cards in Ixalan are focused on a tribe, and don’t provide enough of an efficient or unique effect to be considered in Eternal formats.
A major exception is Chart a Course. It breathes new life into iterations of tempo decks. One list that I’ve seen recently that caught my eye comes from Treasure Cruise innovator himself, Bob ‘Beatdown’ Huang:
Blue-Red Delver
4 Delver of Secrets 4 Monastery Swiftspear 4 Young Pyromancer 1 True-Name Nemesis 1 Island 1 Mountain 4 Misty Rainforest 4 Scalding Tarn 1 Underground Sea 4 Volcanic Island 4 Brainstorm 4 Daze 4 Force of Will 4 Lightning Bolt 4 Chart a Course 2 Forked Bolt 4 Gitaxian Probe 4 Ponder Sideboard 1 Grafdigger’s Cage 1 Pithing Needle 1 Grim Lavamancer 1 Izzet Staticaster 1 Dismember 1 Price of Progress 1 Pyroblast 2 Smash to Smithereeens 1 Surgical Extraction 2 Vapor Snag 3 Cabal Therapy
This looks similar to the lists that were played at Grand Prix New Jersey (featuring 4 Treasure Cruise), and that’s not a big surprise. Chart a Course incentivizes you to aggressively use your mana to build a board then a Chart a Course to reload. Aggressively using mana/cantrips also implies having the full boat of Young Pyromancer. This also allows the inclusion of high impact 1-ofs in the sideboard, since they're easy to find given the full boat of 1-mana cantrips and 4 Chart a Course.
I’m also interested in a straight Grixis version (not just splashing Cabal Therapy) as follows: Grixis Delver
2 Flooded Strand 2 Misty Rainforest 2 Scalding Tarn 2 Polluted Delta 3 Underground Sea 3 Volcanic Island 1 Tropical Island 4 Wasteland 4 Deathrite Shaman 4 Delver of Secrets 3 Young Pyromancer 1 True-Name Nemesis 1 Gurmag Angler 4 Lightning Bolt 3 Chart a Course 4 Brainstorm 4 Ponder 4 Daze 4 Force of Will 4 Gitaxian Probe 1 Cabal Therapy Sideboard 3 Cabal Therapy 1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang 3 Pyroblast 2 Surgical Extraction 1 Flusterstorm 1 Winter Orb 1 Null Rod 1 Ancient Grudge 1 Izzet Staticaster
My own personal previous iterations of Grixis Delver involved playing some number of Snapcaster Mage and Tombstalker, but I now believe this is unnecessary. Chart a Course is the superior attrition card, since Snapcaster Mage was awkward for the mana curve by costing an effective three mana to flashback the cheapest spells.
Similarly to Bob's postboard plans, Chart a Course also allows you to play more situationally good cards (Null Rod, Winter Orb, and the like), since it’s a) easier to find them, b) easy to dump them if they’re bad. In addition, delve creatures also play well with Chart a Course on the off chance you don’t get to ‘raid’ the spell.
Chart a Course will make a splash in Vintage.
Here’s a first sketch at ‘Blue-Red Charting Delver’:
4 Scalding Tarn 2 Polluted Delta 1 Flooded Strand 3 Volcanic Island 2 Island 1 Tropical Island 1 Strip Mine 1 Black Lotus 1 Mox Sapphire 1 Mox Ruby 4 Delver of Secrets 4 Young Pyromancer 2 Snapcaster Mage 3 Chart a Course 4 Preordain 4 Mental Misstep 4 Force of Will 4 Lightning Bolt 1 Dig Through Time 1 Treasure Cruise 1 Mindbreak Trap 1 Ancient Grudge 1 Gush 1 Ancestral Recall 1 Time Walk 1 Brainstorm 1 Ponder 1 Gitaxian Probe 2 Pyroblast 1 Pieces of the Puzzle 1 Spell Pierce I’m still slowly learning a lot about Vintage, but the above seems like a reasonable shell to me. This was mostly based off Rich Shay’s Blue-Red Delver (circa Treasure Cruise era). Chart a Course again plays well with Young Pyromancer and delve cards here. Again, Chart a Course allows you to start some conditionally good cards like (Ancient Grudge, Mindbreak Trap, Spell Pierce).
The other card that is likely to have a huge impact is Sorcerous Spyglass. The natural place for this is in the eponymous Workshops decks:
4 Mishra’s Workshop 4 Ancient Tomb 4 Wasteland 1 Strip Mine 3 Ghost Quarter 1 Tolarian Academy 1 Sol Ring 1 Mox Sapphire 1 Mox Ruby 1 Mox Pearl 1 Mox Jet 1 Mox Emerald 1 Mana Crypt 1 Black Lotus 1 Chalice of the Void 4 Sphere of Resistance 1 Thorn of Amethyst 1 Trinisphere 4 Sorcerous Spyglass 4 Walking Ballista 4 Hangarback Walker 4 Arcbound Ravager 4 Phyrexian Revoker 4 Foundry Inspector 1 Lodestone Golem 3 Precursor Golem
The theory behind this list is that Sorcerous Spyglass lets you aggressively attack their mana preemptively (without giving them any use), and also powers up your Phyrexian Revokers as well (to give even more information what to Revoke). Sorcerous Spyglass isn’t completely dead in the mirror as well: it insulates you from opposing Walking Ballistas (if you don’t have your own), and also gives you information about how to best navigate the game.
Tuning the sideboard for both Vintage decks is beyond my comfort zone at the moment, but I welcome readers to give it a shot and chime in with what they think! I do think some number of cards that are good in the mirror match and versus Dredge are necessary (see Crucible of Worlds, Wurmcoil Engine, Grafdigger’s Cage, and perhaps Tormod’s Crypt or Relic of Progenitus).
I'd like to thank Rich Shay and Mike Noble for their quick input on the above lists.
Other top decks for Legacy to chart a course to Victory with if the above didn’t float your boat:
1) Red-Green Lands (I may be a bit biased here… and I would recommend 4 Krosan Grip)
2) The Epic Storm (Rite of Flame/Burning Wish Storm)
3) Death and Taxes splashing Red (featuring Magus of the Moon)
4) Food Chain
Similarly for Vintage: 1) Paradoxical Outcome Storm
2) Pitch Dredge with Unmask / Mental Misstep / Mindbreak Trap (the boogeyman never dies)
3) Jeskai 'Mentor' (mostly a control deck that happens to have 1 Monastery Mentor in it)

I look forward to seeing how other people chart their own ways to victory in upcoming Eternal Events. I will personally be in attendance at Grand Prix Providence this weekend (hopefully with Chart a Course in my limited deck)!


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