This week seemed as appropriate a time as any to do my usual Legacy/Modern review of cards in the soon-to-be-released set. Then, this happened:
How in the fuck can I not talk about this?! Dack Fayden is a powerhouse, and he inspires far more new and interesting ideas than anything to come out of Journey to Nyx. Oh, cool guys, we can replace our Cities with Mana Confluence and our Pyrostatic Pillars with Eidolon of the Great Revel. I’m just tickled pink with excitement. Oh, maybe Death and Taxes will add one-ofs of potential E-tutor targets, Dude of Sanctity and Dude of Law, to their sideboard. Sure, lovers of basic Plains, go ahead and do that. Yeah, that sounds like the most boring article ever, so I’m not sure I could even say in good conscience that I’ll give you all that, next week. Drew Levin has some cool ideas with Disciple of Deceit (beware: paywall ahead), but I’m not on board, yet, with pinning my hopes to a three-toughness creature that needs to survive two untap steps and an attack to do anything useful. Personally, I think Phenax’s Disciple is a rocker at heart, and she needs to play the drums—Springleaf Drums to be specific—but we’ll stew on that idea for a bit and maybe revisit it another day. Today is all about Dack!
Before we jump straight into the lists, let’s look at his abilities one by one and brainstorm various shells that they would be most effective in. Without any acceleration, Dack can hit the ground on turn three and tick up to four loyalty, putting himself safely out of Bolt range, or permanently swipe a key artifact from your opponent’s side of the board, while leaving behind a ‘walker that they still need to figure out a way to deal with. What does the +1 get us? A repeatable Careful Study that increases our Planeswalker’s loyalty. Let’s stop and think about this for a second. Jace, the Mind Sculptor Greatest Planeswalker of All Time can Brainstorm for zero loyalty and fateseal/scry for +2. While Brainstorm‘s use in conjunction with fetchlands is one of the greatest feelings in the game, each successive Brainstorm only actually digs you one card deeper if you have no other ways to manipulate the top of your library. Each Careful Study will dig you TWO cards deeper and you gain a loyalty, to boot! Now, I’m not trying to make the sacriligious statement that the Izzet ‘walker we all deserved (sorry Ral) is better than big papa Jace, but he does dig faster, while advancing his position (loyalty). Obviously, we have less synergy with the powerful miracle mechanic, since we don’t get to set things up on top of our library, and we don’t outright gain an extra card from every activation like we do with Jace.. or do we? If we can set it up so that the cards we are binning have a non-zero value in the graveyard, perhaps we can cobble together a whole card’s worth of value (or more, in some cases!) between the two cards we are discarding. If we pitch a pair of Punishing Fires while we have a Grove of the Burnwillows, are we going to weep for our lost cards? If we use Dack as an engine in a Dredge/Reanimator deck, we’re jumping for joy at all the value we’re getting. Other nice uses of Dack’s +1 could include binning anything from Bloodghast to Squee to various flashback spells.
Another interesting aspect of the +1 is that it specifies “target player.” Did a hellbent Miracles player just use their Top to Terminus away your board during combat? You can have the last laugh by forcing them to draw and discard their Top during the second main. That’s probably more of a corner case, but it’s something. What about if we can stick a Notion Thief on the board? In what disgusting universe would WotC give blue a three-mana ‘walker with a +1 that reads, “Draw two cards, target player discards two cards?” On Shard of Grixis, my Careful Study discards you! I guess this synergy also allows us to jam the new Master of the Feast into that shell, since he plays nicely with Notion Thief. As an aside, if this becomes a deck, I want a playset of Notion Thieves altered into characters from Inception (I also quickly Googled this and got nothing; I’m shocked that nobody else has already done this). To a lesser extent, the +1 has some synergy with Lab Spirit; upticking Dack with a Spirit on the board will force your opponent to draw one, discard two.. which, now that I think about it, is not super-exciting, since it also makes it unprofitable to +1 yourself (hey, I did say “lesser extent”). That “synergy” probably isn’t worth building around, but it gives you another option if your opponent plays their own Lab Spirit in play.

Now let’s have a look at Dack’s -2, which seems to be the elephant in the room, with regards to Legacy. Everyone seems to be saying that Dack is a ‘walker tailored specifically to Vintage. I haven’t had a whole lot of experience in that format, myself, but from what I understand, the three main pillars of the format are Dredge (powered by Bazaar), ‘Shops (powered by the namesake Mishra’s Workshop), and various decks that are powered by actual POWER. That said, something around two thirds of the meta have some dependence on artifact. A lot of Magic players have actually been writing Dack off as a pure Vintage-pushed ‘walker. I think that’s as far from the truth as we can get. Ok, not totally far from the truth. From what I understand, there are some important artifacts in Vintage; but I don’t play a whole lot of Vintage. So, I’m naturally going to be more interested in the Legacy applications of Mr. Fayden.

With all that out of the way, let’s get back to the -2. Buy all the Korean/Russian foil copies of Liquimetal Coating, now, while you still can. This is not a suggestion; this is common sense, if you think that Dack has a place in the Legacy metagame. The earlier ideas I suggested all take advantage of Dack’s +1. Now let’s think about Dack’s minus. I’ve seen some people on various forums talking about how you can use Dack to shut out Stoneforge Mystic. In some situations, you can jack a Jitte or Sword, but a Batterskull will usually prove difficult to commandeer, even with the aid of the greatest thief in the multiverse. Sure, there will be times that you blow out your Stoneblade opponent by stealing a key piece of equipment, but that’s not Dack’s main purpose, outside of Vintage. He can be great against MUD decks and Stoneblade pilots that run out their equipment without considering potential consequences. The truth is, though, that the -2 is actually pretty lackluster as a mainboard option against most Legacy decks. The -2 is mostly geared towards Vintage. Unless we go all-in on the -2 with the Liquimetal Coating idea that I initially suggested. While I think that Dack’s +1 will be his greatest asset in Legacy, I believe that a deck that goes all-in on Liquimetal Coating and his -2 will exist. Maybe that deck will be a Tezz deck. We have the options of going Grixis Tezz-Dack, or straight-up Izzet Dack with the OG Tezz. I would even consider splashing LMC in the Dack-based archetypes that take advantage of dropping your own cards in the graveyard, as you can play a RUG Lands deck where you bin LMC, only to get it back via Academy Ruins (and take over your opponent’s board). Dack opens plenty of options for creativity if you’re willing to see past the idea that he just exists to steal opposing Moxen.

Oh, I guess he also has an ultimate.. idk, play some Electrolyzes. I say that half-heartedly, but his ultimate might be something we need to think about, down the line. Lily is a three-drop ‘walker with a -6 ulti, and she gets to use it often. A lot of times, people evaluate Planeswalkers on everything but their ultimate, because they figure that the ultimate is rarely attainable, and when you get it, you win the game, but with Dack, the ultimate is very attainable, and very much something that we need to give at least a tiny bit of consideration if we want to use it to win the game. Ok, Bolts on creatures with four or greater toughness turn into permanent Control Magics.

We’re still barely a day into the era of Dack. You could also argue that we’re still a couple of months away from it, since he won’t be tournament legal for some time, but regardless, the Izzet guild has a real ‘walker coming to Legacy, and you’re going to have to find a way to exploit it or deal with it! Next week, I plan to propose a few hypothetical decklists featuring Dack. I also plan to give out some prizes based on the pseudo-contest that I spelled out when I did my BNG Legacy/Modern reviews. I’ll admit, the prizes won’t be amazeballs, but considering that it cost you nothing to guess against my predictions, and that I’m giving cards out from my personal collection, you shouldn’t complain! I’ll also offer some half-baked predictions on what #JOU cards might see play in Legacy and Modern and you can “bet” (it’s in quotes, because it’s not a real bet; you won’t lose anything if you’re wrong) against me for prizes.

Also, here’s one last bit of parting advice: do NOT preorder Dack (yet). Seriously. I LOVE him, but don’t preorder, (yet). Are you buying on eBay? Are you familiar with their buyer protection policies? If someone fails to deliver on a sale that you won, whether it be through auction, buy-it-now, or best offer, you have a fixed time period to file a complaint. I don’t know the exact time period off the top of my head, but it’s about a month (or 30 days? I guess that’s a month). Conspiracy is more than a month away. If you preorder now and your seller never delivers, too much time will have elapsed to file a complaint. As tempting as Dack is, stay away for another month or so, folks!

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