M21 Overview for Nic Fit
It’s always fun to put a prediction to paper before a set is released and try to name the best cards. This prediction for the upcoming M21 release is no different. Predicting the power level of a card in a vacuum before anyone has played with it is very hard and error prone. Few people had Oko, Thief of Crowns pinned as the Legacy powerhouse it has become before release. New cards sometimes allow entirely new decks or a completely fresh take on an old deck that takes time to develop. I could be very wrong about my predictions here and it’s always great to look back on these in six months and see what actually happened. Without further delay, here’s the cards that I think are most relevant to Legacy Nic Fit from M21.
Village Rites is a great printing for Nic Fit overall. It fits directly into our game plan without also helping other decks in the format like BUG Zenith. This card has a ton of relevant uses. In addition to the obvious of being another sac outlet for Veteran Explorer, it can be used to two for one a removal spell, sacrifice a Vet in response to an attempt to exile it, or just turn late game Vets or tokens into card advantage. It can even be used to sacrifice Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath with his sacrifice trigger on the stack. Unlike Cabal Therapy it can be used in the opponent’s end step to give you the first full main phase with two extra lands in addition to all your other mana. Also unlike Therapy, it doesn’t feel as bad if the opponent has Veil of Summer.
As a one mana instant, this card does a lot of relevant things to help Nic Fit’s game plan. It’s also worth mentioning that since sacrificing a creature is part of the cost of the spell, even counter magic can’t stop the creature from going to the graveyard. Overall, I expect this to be used as a 1-2 of in many Nic Fit decks. Rector decks may want additional copies as it has even more synergy with their game plan.
Necromentia seems like a pretty clear upgrade over Lost Legacy. The ability to name lands like Dark Depths or Thespian’s Stage without having to splash blue for Unmoored Ego in addition to being able to hit any relevant artifacts seems like a big win. In the matchups where you want this kind of effect, mostly against combo, giving the opponent a 2/2 or two is usually less of a downside than drawing extra cards as well. While this kind of card has seen fewer sideboard slots recently due to the presence of Veil of Summer, getting an upgrade out of M21 is definitely welcome.
Close but not quite
Boy does Elder Gargaroth have a lot of text. A few years ago, this may have been the kind of card that Nic Fit pilots were looking for. It generates recurring card advantage, locks down Delver decks, stabilizes your life total, and helps you go wide if needed. However, in a world with Oko, Thief of Crowns, it’s just an elk without some other way to get some value on the turn it comes down. Unless some other cards get printed to help the Gargaroth out, I don’t think it replaces the existing top-end threats. More than any other card in this set, I’d love to be wrong about this one.
Radha, Heart of Keld is a new take on Courser of Kruphix which sees occasional play in some Nic Fit decks due to its synergy with other cards like Sylvan Library, a decent body, and the life gain being occasionally relevant. While Nic Fit is the kind of deck where having a late game mana sink could matter, being Legendary and therefore a Karakas target in addition to dying to Bolt seem like pretty big downsides in comparison. Because of these reasons, I think Nic Fit decks that want this kind of effect will stick with Courser.
For a deck already running green, Eliminate is almost always worse than Abrupt Decay and I don’t think you want more than 4 Decay effects (unless you count Vraska). While I think Eliminate is a very interesting card for a few different decks like Esper Hatebears and Ninjas, I expect Nic Fit will be sticking with existing answers. The upside in Decay of hitting more types of permanents and being uncounterable overwhelms the small color advantage and the ability to hit land-creatures. This card will definitely see some play in Legacy, but just probably not in Nic Fit.
Run Afoul looks like a narrow sideboard card that is useful against Delver decks, Marit Lage decks, and possibly Show & Tell. It nicely dodges the protection those decks have like Sylvan Safekeeper, Not of This World, and Veil of Summer. While I wouldn’t be too surprised to see this show up in a sideboard here and there, I think this isn’t good in enough matchups to outweigh the flexibility of cards like Liliana’s Triumph or Kaya’s Guile which are useful against far more decks.
None of the M21 planeswalkers appear to be better than the existing options for Nic Fit. At 4 mana, I’d rather have Vraska, Golgari Queen or Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Basri seems more useful in an aggro shell. The three major features of the most powerful planeswalkers are defending itself, generating meaningful card advantage, and the ability to close out the game. These planeswalkers come close but don’t quite hit the trifecta in the same way as Oko, Vraska, or Jace. I expect them to be pretty strong in less powerful formats than Legacy.
Not quite a fit
Making Brainstorm and Ponder generate a 2/2 on top of their other effects is pretty huge. Even if you ignore the final ability on Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse, it seems pretty powerful with some Legacy green cards like Ice-Fang Coatl and Sylvan Library. The deck building space for this card seems worth exploring but I don’t think it quite slots into BUG Fit. It’s not like Nic Fit was super eager to run Young Pyromancer and BUG Fit doesn’t typically run the full set of Legacy cantrips or four Ice-Fangs which seems necessary to get the full value out of Jolrael. This card might be a better fit for some sort of UGx midrange shell or Yorion deck.
This card is very powerful on paper, but the cost of discarding a card even if the spell is countered is simply too high. Sparkhunter Masticore may find a home in Legacy but it is probably in a deck running Aether Vial and that means something other than the current incarnations of Nic Fit.
A potential 3/2 for a single mana should never be counted out. However, most of the text on Thieves’ Guild Enforcer has no synergy with Nic Fit’s control game plan. If this card does see play in Legacy, it’s probably in some sort of aggro deck where the milling is relevant and the deck has more control over the opponent’s graveyard.
For Legacy Nic Fit, Village Rites looks to be one of the better printings in a few years. By itself, it won’t make Nic Fit into a tier one deck, but it’s a very playable card that generates card advantage for the deck while not helping other decks in the format. It does a lot of things but isn’t the kind of card that takes over a format by itself. There are a few other cards that I expect to see play in Legacy in this set, but outside of the occasional Necromentia in a sideboard I don’t think there’s too much else for Legacy Nic Fit.