Orcish Bowmasters is good for the format, actually to

April 1, 2024

5 minute read

Minhajul Hoq
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Lord of the Rings cards have spread across Legacy drastically since it the set was released, but one card stands atop them all, .

The card is extremely ubiquitous in Legacy, finding homes in Control, Tempo, Combo, Midrange, literally every sort of strategy you can think of.

Today, we're going to highlight why this card is actually an incredible positive addition to the format, and some examples of how its used across these various macro-archetypes.

Why is actually good for Legacy?

Over the years, Legacy has experimented with "punisher" mechanism heavily, with cards like seeing a fair amount of play over the years, but Bowmasters is a somewhat different take on the concept since it technically doesn't actually prevent the specific card draw. It does, however, pressure your life total, which alone puts an added cost to one of the most powerful things you can be doing in Legacy... .

It uniquely places pressure on players that choose to cast cantrips instead of affecting the board, while still enabling them to full power of these cards. It just narrows the window of their usability drastically, but in, my opinion, a perfectly healthy way.

It forces cantrip users to contort their play patterns a more strictly now. Whenever an opponent passes with 1B up, you are forced to consider the timing of your cantrips and answers a lot more drastically.

vs the Format

Looking at the format holistically, Bowmasters has done quite a lot that's extremely obvious (like push out cards like and ) but also has created a sort of "arms race" dynamic where decks are simply playing their own copies of Bowmaster in hopes of shooting down opposing ones in order to draw cards in peace.

One excellent example of this is from MTGO user ecobaronen, who took down the most recent Legacy Showcase Qualifier with this decklist: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/6290119#paper

Ecobaronen Decklist 4c Control

Ecobaronen breaks down his card choices and does a walkthrough of his event win, which you can find here:

Within this video, he explicitly states "Bowmasters for opposing Bowmasters" and moves on, but in that tiny statement, a lot can be read.

In fact, it's pretty clear that if you intend to draw cards, you need to have a plan for opposing Bowmasters. It turns out, the best answer is often your own Bowmasters. You also must respect the card from a deck construction standpoint, so making sure you don't play creatures that die to the 1 damage ping.

If you intend to play a control deck still, the best way to do this if you don't necessarily want to play your own bowmasters, in my opinion, is do something similar to what Jarvis Yu did in playing a port of a strategy from Modern, and :

Jarvis Yu Leyline Scion Legacy

You can learn more about Jarvis's specific deck in this extremely informative video here:

Jarvis's list really intrigues me personally, and I've been trying it a fair bit myself. If nothing else, out-sizing smaller creatures with 2 mana 4 and 5 toughness creatures does a really solid job against opposing bowmasters.

Ignoring ?

There's not really any true "ignoring" the card, but a few decks try to go either "over" or "under" the card.

Going Under

The first deck that comes to mind in this category is everyone's favorite... Delver! Delver has seemingly stuck to two different iterations in Legacy today, Grixis and Temur. Grixis plays its own Bowmasters, but Temur certainly doesn't.

Temur Delver by JUJUBEAN_2004

Temur Delver by JUJUBEAN_2004

Looking at this decklist, it might seem somewhat odd in how it could "get under" Bowmasters because it just plays a lot of 1 toughness creatures. The secret is that you just always play the creatures as if your opponent has Bowmasters up at any given moment, and slip by them with sequencing when you can. E.g. playing when you've got a guaranteed way to give it delirium, only playing on turns that you sus out no Bowmasters, only playing 's creature side when you can generate enough spells to pull it out of range. Even so, it's often wise to simply board out your only easy-to-kill creature, in a lot of those matchups, in hopes of generally ignoring Bowmaster blowouts.

Going Over the Top

Once again, some decks choose to combo kill, others choose to play long grindy games that don't involve drawing cards, such as Lands. Still others simply out punch Bowmasters on its own, such as Turbo Muxus Goblins. Still others play midrange blow-for-blow with their own Bowmasters, but have a "go over you" plan with Atraxa, such as ReSCAMinator.

The last of these, ReSCAMinator, has become the de-facto "current best deck" in the format, dethroning Delver for the first time in many years, simply because of just how good all of the cards within it are, and how the microsynergies ( + + + + ) all create individually powerful scenarios that just out muscle a lot of the Legacy is trying to do.

If I weren't currently enamored with based control decks, I'd definitely be working on ReSCAMinator for my next legacy event, the deck is excellently positioned and extremely difficult to hate out. Plus, it plays ! What's not to love?

Meat's Back on the Menu, Boys!

is the latest in the series of attempts at controlling the ubiquity of the powerful cantrips in Legacy, and I think it's the most well-designed one yet. No more can you sit back, relax, and play draw go, using your cantrips at your leisure. You'll be put under pressure any moment you try to draw a card with an open colorless and black source staring back at you, and you'll have to ...

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