Taking the Crown: Legacy


Recruiter of the Guard and Sanctum Prelate’s Potential Impact in Legacy

Spoilers are out for Conspiracy 2. In addition to a bunch of reprints, WOTC created some new cards which are only legal in Eternal formats. This is great since they don’t have to worry about how the new cards could impact Standard or Modern. I’m going to be talking about 2 new cards in particular, which are probably going to be seeing Legacy play: Recruiter of the Guard and Sanctum Prelate. I’ll dive into what decks I think they could see play in and their impact on the meta.

Recruiter of the GuardSanctum Prelate

Recruiter of the Guard is cmc W2 for a 1/1 creature that tutors up another creature with toughness 2 or less and puts that in your hand. A reverse Imperial Recruiter. Both creatures can tutor most of the same creatures. The most notable exceptions that Recruiter of the Guard can’t get are Painter’s Servant and Dream Stalker.

Creature tutors do see play. Imperial Recruiter, Stoneforge Mystic, Kuldotha Forgemaster, and Trinket Mage make appearances in a wide range of decks. For Legacy, I can see the new Recruiter joining Death and Taxes, Aluren, and possibly Soldier Stompy. Some versions of Death and Taxes splash red for Magus of the Moon and Imperial Recruiter. The red versions would have the option to run the white or red version. The white version is better since you can also get Flickerwisp. I can see the Mono White versions running a couple Recruiters of the Guard. However, I don’t really see them running playsets of Recruiter and Sanctum Prelate, that’s a lot of 3 drops to add to the deck. For people thinking you can cut Flickerwisp entirely, you shouldn’t. With an active Aether Vial at 3 Flickerwisp is quite annoying to play against.

Imperial Recruiter
Brother from another Mother.

Imperial Recruiter also sees play in Aluren, a creature based combo deck that usually spams Cavern Harpy and Parasitic Strix to kill opponents with Aluren out. There is already talk on the internet of having Recruiter of the Guard in place of Imperial Recruiter. The issue is that Dream Stalker, an important card in the deck, is a 1/5 creature. This innocuous creature is there to bounce a permanent (Recruiter or an Eternal Witness for example) or if Aluren is out, respond to removal and save a creature, land, or even the Aluren itself. Enter Arctic Merfolk. A creature that has a kicker cost of bouncing a creature. If you do, Arctic Merfolk gets a +1/+1 counter on it and it’s now a 2/2. If you are taking out the Red in Aluren then you lose Imperial Recruiter and Pyroblasts (I have seen Bloodbraid in sideboards on occasion). Substitute white for Recruiter of the Guard and you gain access to the lovely hate bears white has to offer. The difference between Dream Stalker and Arctic Merfolk isn’t monumental, but it is there. A 1/5 creature is surprisingly annoying to attack into, at times buying the Aluren pilot enough time to combo.

Lastly, there’s Soldier Stompy. A mono white prison deck that uses Chalices, Suppression Field, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Thalia, Heretic Cathar to lock your opponent out of the game. I’m not so sure Recruiter can find a home here, despite the fact that it’s a soldier. There are quite a few creatures that you can’t actually tutor up, Captain of the Watch, Brimaz, King of Oreskos, and Enlistment Officer. Enlistment Officer is a creature who’s in the same cycle as Goblin Ringleader. He allows you to reveal the top 4 cards of your library and put any soldiers among them into your hand. This is great card advantage. Unfortunately, since he’s a 2/3 creature, Recruiter of the Guard can’t find him. You can still get either Thalia, Preeminent Captain, etc, so perhaps that’s still good enough.

Now onto Sanctum Prelate. It seems that lately Wizards likes to make effects on non-creature permanents and decide “Hey we could put something like this on a creature”. See Eidolon of the Great Revel or Eidolon of Rhetoric. For instance, we even have an Underworld Dreams on a creature in the form of Fate Unraveler. Now, with Sanctum Prelate, we have something that’s a cross between Chalice of the Void and Meddling Mage.

Prelate is a 1WW for a 2/2 creature. As it comes into play you name a number. Non-creatures with CMC equal to the number you named can’t be cast. Wow. At least with Chalice you actually needed double the amount of mana to set to the number you want. So usually that would mean Chalice would be set at 0, 1 or 2. Yes, I have set it at 6 before to not die from Fireblast, but that’s super rare. Also of note, like Meddling Mage, the wording is “it can’t be cast”. At least with Chalice of the Void, you could get around it with cards such as Abrupt Decay, Cavern of Souls, or Boseju, Who Shelters All.

Prelate has the potential to be game breaking in certain matchups.

Abrupt DecayPunishing FireLife from the loam
No Spells For you

Against Lands and Aggro Loam you could name 2 and shut down Life from the Loam, Punishing Fire, and Abrupt Decay. It should be noted that since naming of the number is as it comes into play and not when it comes into play, you can’t respond to it. So when the Prelate enters the battlefield, you are going to have to wait for them to name a number if they say 2 then no Abrupt Decay for you.

Other Cards to Name in Specific Matches
Storm. If you live long enough, you would name 2. No Burning Wish, Infernal Tutor, Abrupt Decay or Pyroclasm.

Miracles. Hard to say since it’s board dependent, and they will have answers at different converted mana costs. I would say if there’s no Sensei’s Top in play I would say 1 since it also shuts down Swords to Plowshares, Brainstorm and Ponder in addition to Top. If you are playing Death and Taxes and have an active Mom, I would name 6 for Terminus. Also if you have a bunch of creatures already in play, 6 is also fine to name.

Delver decks. I wouldn’t board Prelates in this matchup as it’s a bit slow for the impact. But if you do play it, again it’s dependent on board state. I might name 1 to stop Lightning Bolt, Brainstorm and Ponder but keep in mind it also shuts down your Swords to Plowshares.

Shardless Bug. You could name 2 to stop Abrupt Decay and Golgari Charm. I like naming 0 here to stop Ancestral Visions. It’s how I lose most of my games to Shardless.

Sneak and Show. Pretty obvious here. 3 or 4. If you think they have Omniscience lean towards 3. They could have Through the Breach which is a 5 CMC, but it’s unlikely they will have a playset in their 75. Also of note, they could have Kozilek’s Return, especially if they are on the Ominscience plan so it gives you a bit more incentive to name 3.

Prelate is an excellent card, but where does it fit in and at what numbers? Death and Taxes is an obvious choice. Due to the 3cmc you can only really fit in 2 in the 75. It certainly gives you some game vs Lands and Aggro Loam, but isn’t the best option vs a deck such as Storm. Yes, I did mention if you live long enough naming 2 is huge. But I’m sure Storm players are more worried about cards like Thalia 1.0 or Ethersworn Canonist, hate bears that come down a turn earlier than Sanctum Prelate. Prelate is something you’d probably board in vs Elves (probably naming 4 to stop Natural Order), but you have a better option in Containment Priest. A card that not only stops Natural Order, but Green Sun’s Zenith and Dryad Arbor.

Prelate could appear in decks like Maverick, Junk, Dead Guy, or Bant. Decks with mana dorks that could cast Sanctum Prelate on turn 2 is the likely landing zone for this new card.

Another deck that could be created is a deck somewhat similar to Soldier Stompy and Death and Taxes. A mono white prison deck with a manabase of Ancient Tombs, Mox (either Chrome or Mox Diamond), and City of Traitors to power out both Thalias, Chalice of the Void and Sanctum Prelate. This deck would probably go for Wastelands instead of Supression Field, and since Suppression Field isn’t there you could play Stoneforge Mystic. Recruiter of the Guard could also see play here, allowing you to get the relevant hate bear.

Now onto to the meta. Since people in Legacy tend to stick to their pet deck, most people will just adjust their deck accordingly if need be. I don’t think decks really need to change that much for Recruiter of the Guard, but I do think some decks need to adjust to combat Sanctum Prelate. Here is what I think is going to happen in terms of adjustments, aside from people trying out the new creatures out in Death and Taxes, Aluren etc.

  1. You are playing a deck that doesn’t care about either card. That probably means you are too fast for them to care. Such as Belcher or Tin Fins. Or you are a deck that is mostly creatures. Such as Death and Taxes or Eldrazi.
  2. You are going to be making some adjustments to your removal package. I see Lands players playing with cards like Molten Vortex and/or Barbarian Ring. Aggro Loam has access to cards such as Massacre, Toxic Deluge, as well as Barbarian Ring. I have 2 crazy suggestions. Shriekmaw is one. My pet creature doesn’t care what number Sanctum Prelate names. Another is cycling Decree of Pain. When you cycle it for BB3 all creatures get -2/-2 and you draw a card. Cycling isn’t casting and isn’t affected by Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Gaddock Teeg. I think you can Revoker it, but who in the world is going to name Decree of Pain? BB3 is a bit expensive to run and probably not viable, but it would be funny to see it happen. I could see a deck like Miracles starting to run Kozilek’s Return and/or Pyroclasm as a way to get rid of pesky creatures.
  3. You run a deck that is going to prey on decks that are running Prelate and/or Recruiter. A Dragon Stompy deck with Sulfur Elementals, Sudden Demise, and Sudden Shock main perhaps? I could see Eldrazi Stompy and/or Infect be on the rise since I think the former is going bigger and is mostly creature based. The latter is fast with non-creature CMC pump spells spread across various CMCs. It doesn’t hurt that both those decks are good vs Miracles, a deck that will continue to do well.
Sudden DemiseSulfur ElementalSudden Shock
What I envision a nightmare for a Death and Taxes player must be.

So what do I think is going to happen after these 2 new cards are legal in Legacy and what do I suggest?

– An uptick in Death and Taxes. Players may start seeing Prelate in the sideboard of Maverick, Junk, Dead Guy, and Bant decks.

– A continued rise in Eldrazi. Legacy players are fairly slow in changing decks. But is on the increase and it’s a deck that doesn’t really care about Prelate too much. Furthermore it’s good vs Miracles. Speaking of which…

– Since Miracles has creature removal at various CMC they will be fine. They may add some lower cost red removal as insurance though.

– I would suggest against playing Sneak and Show for now. I feel there are going to be more white decks in the format and therefore more Karakas than usual. I think Omniscience is a must if you insist on playing the deck. Vary the removal and consider adding a Kozilek’s Return to the board to Cunning Wish for. Plan on boarding in Sudden Shock or Pyroclasm. I would suggest against classic Reanimator for that reason (Karakas and other Hate Bears). Again, it’s not really about the Sanctum Prelate or the Recruiter, but all the other hate cards that go in the same deck. If you are still going to run Reanimator I would definitely say a Helm of Obedience or 2 should be in the sideboard to use against a possible a Rest in Peace.

– Another deck I like with the changes would be Infect. A deck that is good vs Miracles and against Death and Taxes. It should be better if they are playing Sanctum Prelate, as it’s pretty slow. I’m not sure what number to name in this matchup either. I would say 3 to stop Invigorate. Become Immense is scary, but it’s not a playset. 1 stops Berserk and Vines of Vastwood, but also stops your Swords to Plowshares.

– Expect decks to play different removal than before. No, not Decree of Pain. But you should see Barbarian Ring, Massacre, and maybe even Sudden Demise.

– I think some people are going to be trying Recruiter of the Guard in Aluren with Arctic Merfolk taking the Dream Stalker spot. No idea though if it makes the deck better. But you better be prepared to face that deck.

– Maybe someone is going to try the 8 Chalice (4 Chalice of the Void and 4 Sanctum Prelate), 8 Thalia deck. I don’t expect many people to. I like Stompy decks a lot, but the inconsistency can be rage inducing.

Overall I don’t expect an insane amount of change. It’s kind of like when True-Name Nemesis was printed just before Grand Prix Washington 2014. There was a huge spike initially in the number of people playing with True-Name Nemesis, but eventually things settled down. Much like I think Prelate will be, some decks either didn’t care about Nemesis or made some adjustments like board wipes or sacrifice effects.

-Wilkin Chau