For those of you in the community getting wind of the new legendary rule and beginning to take up arms, I would like to take this opportunity to put in my two cents. For those of you upset, hopefully you leave this article with a more calm, rational and less heavy heart.
The Dark Ages of Legend
Back when Legends were first introduced in 1994’s set “Legends”, the rules regarding these men and women of great status were well in favor of the player that first played them. Once a Legendary permanent was in play, no other copies of that Legend could be played. Period.
So if your opponent happened to be playing Lin-Sivvi (a known offender for much of the period prior to the legend changes) and you happened to be playing her as well, the game degenerated into a footrace to see who could play her first, turning the other player’s cards into conveniently sized blank pieces of cardboard for them to hold until they could figure out a way to get rid of the one in play.
“Doesn’t that make the game fun?”
No, no it does not. Think of how frustrating it is to see your opponent combo off with no remorse as you sit with cards you can do literally nothing with.
“But it’s not my fault I got my Legend into play first.”
No it certainly isn’t, but it also isn’t fair to have a portion of your deck become dead draws simply because your opponent happened to go first.
There Can Be Only None!
In 2004 we received an updated version of this Legend rule. Suddenly life was not so easy for those select few. Much like Dr. Emmett Brown’s theory in the “Back to the Future” series, we are given a world where if two of the same Legend inhabit space-time together and see each other, neither can withstand the immense shock of it all and are both placed into the graveyard due to state-based effects.
Does this make it a little more balanced as far as Legends go? Perhaps. It certainly plays to the “If I can’t have it, no one can” aspect that the game can sometimes devolve into. This essentially turns your own version of the Legend into a very limited kill-spell. Maybe not as effective as you wanted it to be, but hey, better no one have him then your opponent, right?
This also brings up the notion of Clone effects as removal, but we’ll get into that in a bit.
What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander
Moving into the not-so-distant future, we are shown a world of much different possibilities. Suddenly the battlefield is not limited to just one version of any particular legend (so long as they are on opposing sides).
“But how does this make sense? There can’t be two of you at once!”
Well in a world heavily influenced by magic, why can’t there be? Surely some mage somewhere has the power to create several copies of a being at once.
Nevertheless, we are given newer opportunities that in the past were impossible. As the DailyMTG article points out, if we have a Legend that has some sort of negative effect on it (in their article Teysa with a Pacify on her), rather than being stuck with her for the rest of the game and unusable, we can simply play a second copy of her. We can choose which copy we want to remain in play (my money is on the shiny new one), and are once again free to rain havoc on our opponent.
Also imagine a world in which you are playing Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and without thinking about it, your opponent plays their own copy. Under the current rules they have successfully set you both back a turn as far as lands are concerned. But under these new rules however, it’s business as usual for the both of you. No harm, no foul.
But Why Planeswalkers?
It seems pretty simple to me why they are also included in these new changes. Planeswalkers are in essence “Legendary” Legends. People with such immense power they themselves have broken out of the norm of being a “creature” and have attained superior status. With that being the case, why wouldn’t they change the rule to affect them. They had their own “legend rule” to begin with, so it seems only natural that their rule be changed with the actual Legend rule.
“But won’t having multiple Planeswalkers degenerate the game?”
In my opinion, no it won’t. Will it take some getting used to? Sure it will, but the game has survived every other rules change, and this is no exception. The game will come out stronger for it.
I’m You, Only Better
This brings us to Clone. Oh clone, how you hold a special place in many of our hearts.
The main intent of clone and subsequent “clone” effects were that we got to get a taste of the other side of life. You played a cool creature? “Share and share alike” Clone always says. Yet somewhere down the line this notion changed. Suddenly clone no longer had the lighthearted fun behind him. His only purpose became: 3U, destroy target legendary creature.
What happened to you clone? You used to be cool.
But fear not, dear readers, Clone has gotten his groove back thanks to these new rules changes. We once again get the joy of having a slice of our opponent’s pie with no one really offended by the transaction.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I think as a whole, these rules are going to make the atmosphere of the game a lot more enjoyable for everyone involved. No longer are you forced to sandbag a sweet creature just for fear of a clone effect ruining your day. Will your opponent get one? Maybe, but its a lot less risky letting them have a copy then not playing yours at all. The same goes for Planeswalkers. Could they have one too? Sure, but now it comes down to who can utilize it best.
I think we will look back on these changes years from now and wonder how the game could have existed without them. Though they seem strange and new now, I have a feeling they will become second nature before long.
– Chris K.