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A Complete Review of Legions

Legions managed to take me by surprise. I thought I still had a month or two to get used to the Onslaught cards when suddenly the Legions spoiler was available!

What's different about Legions? Well, the first thing I noticed is that Legions has two cards more than previous small expansions: 145 instead of 143. It's not a huge difference, but it could be a good sign if the design team ended up with too many cards that were just too good and interesting to axe and that made them decide to break with the tradition of 143. It could also be a bad sign. Maybe they just added two bad rares to make the good rares a little bit rarer, forcing people to buy more packs to get the cards they want.

A much bigger difference is that Legions has only creatures. That should be interesting, although I'll miss the subtlety of instants. By my count, the stand-alone set Odyssey had 147 creatures, so Legions only has two less.

Legions also introduces three new keyword abilities:

Provoke: When this creature attacks, you may have target creature defending player controls untap and block it if able.

Provoke is similar to the green Stronghold card with the same name, but there are some important differences. Provoke was a cantrip and it didn't force the targeted creature to block a specific creature, just block in general. I've never managed to put the card Provoke to good use, but as a creature ability it could be a useful extra. It depends on how much mana the ability adds to the casting cost of a creature. It's tempting to look at Provoke as potential removal, but often the utility creature you really want to target with it will just use their ability after the provoke resolves, so they'll be tapped and unable to block.

Double strike: This creature deals both first-strike and regular combat damage.

Thematically a very nice ability. It's easy to picture men-at-arms with a sword in each hand. Double Strike is roughly equivalent to a doubling of a creature's power, so expect any creature with double strike to have low power to make up for that.

Amplify X: As this card comes into play, put X +1/+1 counters on it for each card that shares a creature type with this card that you reveal in your hand.

Amplify continues Onslaught's trend of encouraging themed creature decks. I think most creatures with amplify will turn out to only be playable in such theme decks, because they will almost have to be a lot more expensive than regular creatures. For instance, if there is a 1/1 goblin with Amplify 1 for R in Legions, you could easily have a 4/4 or 5/5 in play on your first turn. To prevent that, Amplify 1 would have to add at least 2 mana to the casting cost, making it a bad choice for a red weenie deck.

As always, the spoiler is curtesy and I will give every card a rating of 1 to 5 stars, depending on how much potential I think it has for casual play.


Let's look at some statistics first:
  • 1 star: 5 cards
  • 2 stars: 22 cards
  • 3 stars: 48 cards
  • 4 stars: 53 cards
  • 5 stars: 17 cards
The pattern is similar to Onslaught, except that there are relatively few 1 star cards. What makes the difference isn't that Onslaught had worse cards, but that Legions only has creatures. It takes a lot more to make a creature completely useless than some other card types. Where an instant can be dull and unplayable, a creature can still attack and block, even if its abilities are otherwise useless and its overcosted.

Although it sounded interesting at first, after looking at Legions, I'm not too crazy about the only-creatures gimmick. Opening a box of Legions isn't going to be a very varied experience if every card is a creature. There are a few instant in the set, masquerading as creatures with useful cycling abilities. And there are a bunch of interesting morph abilities that somewhat mimic sorceries, but other than that Legions looks pretty straightforward with not too many surprises.

I'm also worried about how a set like Legions is going to fit in a playing environment where every set is legal. AEther Flash would kill any morphing strategies and ordinary mass creature removal like Earthquake, Massacre or Wrath of God would play havoc on most creature strategies. It doesn't help that discard and counterspells are nowhere near as strong as they used to be, so it'll be hard to protect creature decks from mass removal.

Still, Legions contains plenty of cards I'm excited about, so I'll be getting a box.

Have fun!
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Onslaught continues the story of Kamahl, who struggles to cope with what it means to be a druid. At the same time, he has to help his sister, Jeska, who has been transformed into Phage, a being that can kill with a mere touch. At the same time Ixidor, an illusionist with the ability to shape reality is out to kill Phage for killing his one true love. Who will find her first?

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