Welcome back!

I hope you are ready for a marathon of an article series.

Before we begin, I implore you to listen to this song (but skip it if you are of the opinion that country rock is the most odious thing on the planet):

Ahh, the Outlaws! I believe there is nothing like a good ten-minute song to prepare you for what is coming next! Today I want to go in-depth with what is probably my favorite deck of all time in ANY format:

HIGH TIDE!

This is the deck that got Frantic Search banned. Yes, that seemingly crappy common is banned in Legacy. It may seem to be Careful Study that untaps a couple of lands, but in this deck it cycles through worthless hand material mid-combo while making ridiculous amounts of mana. The combo turn also can last up to ten minutes. During this time, the opponent has to just F6 and sit there while you go about slowly killing them. The deck is not for the faint of heart; should you choose to take up the High Tide mantle, expect many maths in the future. But that ten minutes while the opponent cries at their computer screen while you math them to death… priceless. Have I piqued your interest?

This article (and others in the series) will be divided into four parts:

Part I: Overview and Archetypes
Part II: Spiral Tide, aka “Normal” High Tide
Part III: Solidarity
Part IV: My baby: Spring Tide

While those names may not make sense now, they will in just a minute.

Here in Part I, I will be discussing the four major archetypes for the High Tide deck, including basic principles, explanations, and some videos. Let’s begin, shall we?

Common Elements

As stated earlier there are four major types of High Tide deck, each with it’s own different pieces that make them work. The High Tide deck usually kills the opponent by generating a ridiculous amount of mana and storm count before milling them completely or by forcing them to draw their entire deck in one go. High Tide was considered the premier, best, and most consistent storm deck in Legacy starting in around 2006 until it began to fade in popularity with the advent of Ad-Nauseam Tendrils in 2010. There are a few key components that most High Tide decks employ to ensure consistency and power throughout:

A. High Tide: This is the namesake card of the deck. High Tide cannot function without High Tide… This is the card that starts the engine rollin’.

B. Cantrips: Nothing like a ton of ways to sculpt a beautiful hand to make the storm deck more consistent! Really, though, Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, and even Impulse all have their place in High Tide. High Tide is resilient because it attempts to “go off” as late as possible, and these cantrips increase the chances of flat out goldfishing an opponent even with certain death on the next turn.

C. Untap Effects: This is where the party starts. Turnabout and friends allow the pilot to generate upwards of 100 mana on the combo turn when combined with multiple High Tides. Each of the different archetypes has a tendency to abuse different powerful untappers, which gives each deck a different flair.

D. Draw effects: High Tide decks draw a lot of cards during the combo turn. This allows them to continue to storm and generate mana effectively. The most commonly used draw card is Meditate, which is highly efficient as an instant-speed draw spell. While Meditate is the most commonly used draw spell, Ideas Unbound is also very efficient and is used in my personal favorite variant.

E. Wishboard: Cunning Wish is an integral part of every High Tide deck. It’s an on-color instant that can find a massive toolbox of combo protection, re-stabilization, and usually the kill as well. This indispensable card is almost always used as a 3-of.

F. Protection: It’s a mono-blue combo deck. Why would there NOT be a countermagic suite?? Most High Tide variants use, at a bare minimum, Force of Will to stop those pesky disruption spells. More recently, Flusterstorm has become popular, as it stops all manner of problem cards for a mere while being very synergistic and resilient to countermagic. Defense Grid is also occasionally sideboarded to deal with the all-countermagic decks.

G. Kill cards: These cards are usually contained in the wishboard in order to preserve main deck space. The original kill of the deck was Brain Freeze, which allowed the opponent’s entire library to be milled without an “infinite” storm count. Unfortunately, with the dawn of cards like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Progenitus, milling isn’t always a reliable kill. Blue Sun’s Zenith is now the preferred kill as it forces the opponent to draw their entire deck in one shot, usually with 80+ mana. The Zenith is preferable to Stroke of Genius in that it is reusable, and can be used by the pilot to draw around 15-20 cards mid-combo to continue to fully go off and then found later with more draw or Merchant Scroll to kill the opponent.

That covers the general stuff that almost every High Tide variant uses. But enough of that, let’s talk archetypes.

The Big Four

Spiral Tide, aka “Normal” High Tide

TSpiral Candelabra

Solidarity

Reset Impulse

Permanent Waves

MoM Ideas Unb

Spring Tide

Cloud of Faeries Snap

Those pictures represent some of the more unique aspects of the Big Four, most namely for mana production. Each is powerful in its own way, as you will see in the breakdown here!

Break it Down Now!

Spiral Tide

When people think “High Tide” this is usually the archetype about which they think. This is the archetype with the most tournament success, in part due to the insane untapping/recycling effect of Time Spiral, which makes the deck tick. Spiral Tide attempts to sculpt a “good enough” hand to the point where the deck can cast a High Tide, make some mana, perhaps draw a few cards, then recycle every thing with a Time Spiral and draw a new 7 to continue to go off.

These decks can accelerate mana production even further through the use of Candelabra of Tawnos, which is broken to no extent. Keep in mind that these are a 1-shot deal during the combo turn. Other than these two distinct elements, Spiral Tide decks often use a few Sensei’s Divining Top to sculpt more draws in conjunction with fetchlands. Spiral Tide, like most High Tide variants, uses fetches despite being mono- to improve Brainstorm, the Top, and thin the deck. Here is a sample Spiral Tide list:

Spiral Tide by Feline Longmore, Top 8 SCG Providence June 2014

Artifacts (8)
Candelabra of Tawnos
Sensei’s Divining Top

Instants (19)
High Tide
Flusterstorm
Brainstorm
Turnabout
Force of Will
Cunning Wish

Sorceries (15)
Merchant Scroll
Time Spiral
Ponder
Preordain
Lands (18)
12 Island
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta

Sideboard (15)
Counterbalance
Snap
Pact of Negation
Flusterstorm
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Wipe Away
Surgical Extraction
Rebuild
Intuition
Brain Freeze
Turnabout

Feline likes her SDTops, and even has Counterbalance in the board to complement them!

Check out this video of Feline playing against CVM with this deck in June:

Unfortunately, she lost this game but still made Top 8 in this Legacy Open.

Solidarity

This variation has one key aspect that leads to many surprised opponents: the entire deck operates and attempts to win at instant speed on the opponent’s turn. As crazy as that may sound, the deck revolves around one of the most powerful land untap effects in the game: Reset. Oh thanks, Legends, just try to give the card a minor setback and let us abuse it. The instant speed is often a huge boon, as a 2 mana Turnabout is way over powered, especially when cast in conjunction with a High Tide in response to some form of disruption. The best part is that the opponent just has to sit there, during their turn, with their Thoughtseize on the stack, while they lose.

Due to the instant speed nature of the deck, “good” cantrips like Ponder must be forsaken. In lieu of these, Impulse is used. Good ol’ Brainstorm still fits perfectly. Rather than using Merchant Scroll to find the combo pieces, this deck must use Mystical Tutor to find mana and protection. This is usually combined with Meditate/some other draw spell or cantrip to move the target into the hand. Overall, the deck has a tendency to just take people by surprise, which can lead to free wins. Check out a sample list:

Solidarity by David Gearhart, circa 2009

Lands (18)
12 Island
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta

Instants (42)
Brain Freeze
Brainstorm
Cryptic Command
Cunning Wish
Flash of Insight
Force of Will
High Tide
Impulse
Meditate
Opt
Peek
Remand
Reset
Turnabout
Sideboard (15)
Disrupt
Echoing Truth
Twincast
Wipe Away
Hydroblast
Meditate
Brain Freeze
Rebuild
Stroke of Genius
Turnabout

Gearhart developed the deck around 2006 – 2007, and it was tier 1 for quite a while. This deck is less common than Spiral Tide, but still quite powerful in the proper metagame.

This is a playlist of MTGO user Chemfy playing a few matches with his Solidarity deck. Check it out not to see wins, but to get a basic idea of how the deck plays.

Permanent Waves

This section is going to be decidedly bare. The developer of Permanent Waves (which is named after the awesome Rush album), Anwar Ahmad, has written several articles on StarCityGames.com about his deck. I will provide some background, but I highly suggest that you follow the links below to some of his articles about the deck, especially since there is not a fifth part to this series about the archetype.

This deck employs Mind over Matter as a 2-of as its unique mana engine. The powerful enchantment is cast in the middle of the combo turn to enormous effect; superfluous lands that accumulate in the hand mid combo can be pitched to untap islands that are in play already. As a fun fact, it can also tap down an opposing Trinisphere if you survive long enough to hard cast it. It is nigh impossible to win with an unopposed Trinisphere on the opponent’s side of the field. MUD can be a rough matchup for High Tide in general with all of those Lodestone Golems and Chalices of the Void. Here are a couple of Ahmad’s articles, including iterations of his deck as they evolved:

http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/legacy/22961_A_Unique_Approach_To_Legacy_High_Tide.html

http://www.starcitygames.com/article/17760_Practical-Legacy—Tuning–Playing–and-Listening-to-Permanent-Waves.html

My Favorite: Spring Tide

Spring Tide is also a lesser-known High Tide variant. If you have heard of the deck, it was probably in some kind of budget Legacy forum of some kind. That’s because this is generally considered the cheapest High Tide variant. This is generally true; Spring Tide is not a massive investment despite the high number of niche cards. The deck is cheaper because it uses cards like Cloud of Faeries and Snap to generate mana rather than the expensive Time Spiral. Cheaper is not always worse, though; this is my favorite High Tide variant because it is more flexible and is better at simply goldfishing the opponent than Spiral Tide.

Time Spiral is a gamble that leaves the pilot with mana and a totally random new hand. If there’s nothing but crap in that hand, then GG. The Spring Tide pilot, on the other hand, can chain together Ideas Unbound, Meditate, and Blue Sun’s Zenith to have a massive hand of options that often exceeds 20 or more cards after the initial Zenith. Spring Tide is also more flexible because the two mana untappers require less mana to use. It is possible, albeit unlikely, for this deck to win on turn 2. I have done it once, and it is incredibly risky. Like all other High Tide decks, it is best to wait as long as possible to try to go off. More mana can be dumped into Zenith to draw more cards without trying to “save” four mana for a Turnabout or six for a Time Spiral. Just leave two and pray for one of the aforementioned cmc-2 untappers to be somewhere in the 20 cards that were just drawn. It will happen about 98% percent of the time. Snap is at its best targeting a Cloud of Faeries for more mana and storm, but it can just as easily bounce Ethersworn Canonist or Thalia.

This ~$45 list is easy to get on modo:

Creatures (4)
Cloud of Faeries

Spells (40)
Brainstorm
Cunning Wish
High Tide
Ideas Unbound
Meditate
Merchant Scroll
Ponder
Snap
Spell Pierce
Turnabout
Preordain
Lands (16)
16 Island

Sideboard (15)
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Brain Freeze
Capsize
Chain of Vapor
Disrupt
Meditate
Pact of Negation
Rebuild
Snap
Turnabout
Wipe Away

The wishboard is pretty standard. Wait for part four of the series to have everything fully explained to you in detail!

This deck is also easily portable into something much more competitive. Adding 6 blue fetchlands in lieu of 6 Islands and replacing Spell Pierce with Force of Will would turn this into a PRE-worthy deck. If you are a Legacy fan and already own the aforementioned money cards, this deck is a pittance if you want to try out High Tide without expensive Candelabras.

That’s all for this week! I hope that I have whetted you appetite for devilish and evil combos in the best format ever. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a breakdown of almost all of these decks in detail.

Cheers!

/Peyton

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