In this series, I am covering a portion of the major High Tide archetypes that can be seen on a not-so-regular basis in Legacy. High Tide is not a common archetype, but it is a powerful mono-blue deck that comes with built-in inevitability. Check out the article here (Part 1) for a basic description of each of the four major High Tide variants.
This week, the archetype is Solidarity. Solidarity attempts to abuse the untap power of Reset by winning on the opponent’s turn at instant speed. All the pros and cons of Solidarity revolve around the instant-speed necessity of the deck, but in general the nature of the deck is a bonus rather than a hindrance.
Reset is cheap. Mana-wise, that is, although money-wise, it is still fairly inexpensive on MTGO (> 1 tix). This does not hold true for paper magic; sadly the card costs upwards of $15 US in near-mint condition. The ability to untap all lands for a mere is truly potent when compared to a standard land untapper, namely Turnabout and Time Spiral. The cheap mana cost also means that it is possible to win with fewer lands. If you control two islands and are about to lose to ANT, you can attempt to win with only a High Tide and a Reset. As unlikely as it may seem, that less than 10% chance of winning with so little mana exists.
Turnabout still holds its place in Solidarity, because it is an instant. Similarly, many of the key High Tide components, such as fetches, Cunning Wish, Brain Freeze, etc. are still totally viable in Solidarity. The mighty Brainstorm still holds court as an exceedingly powerful cantrip, and Force of Will is, as always, and ever-present piece of protection for the blue combo deck.
Solidarity is also built to take advantage of some modern staples; the deck’s creator David Gearhart found applications for both Cryptic Command and Remand in his list. Normally Cryptic stalls and/or protects while cantripping, which is very useful for gaining more time to sculpt the hand. Remand has a variety of uses, from stalling the opponent to bouncing a Brain Freeze. The latter allows for a mill-out with a lower storm count.
Last, and almost certainly not least, is the nature of the deck itself. Solidarity pilots can pick up lots of free wins, metagame dependent. The deck often just takes opponents by surprise, especially if they often have not planned for you to attempt to win on their turn since most players think of High Tide as being a sorcery-speed deck. This also gives the pilot a distinct advantage against players not using counterspells.
All of Solidarity’s cons stem from one main point – instant speed. Cards like Merchant Scroll can no longer be used to find combo pieces. Candelabra of Tawnos and Time Spiral are both sorceries. Technically, Candelabra could work, but only if cast before the combo turn. It is still unused because it is absolutely a dead draw mid-combo off of a Meditate or other draw spell. Ponder and Preordain cannot be used to sculpt amazing hands for little mana investment.
However, Solidarity deals with each of these issues in its own way. Lack of tutors is made up for with cards like Flash of Insight. Reset is an incredibly powerful untap effect. Cards like Impulse and Opt, while not as powerful as Ponder and friends, are suitable replacements alongside Brainstorm.
Those are the basics of what makes Solidarity unique. As with most High Tide variants, it has a wishboard, which will be covered after this list:
Solidarity by David Gearhart, circa 2009
3 Flooded Strand
3 Polluted Delta
2 Brain Freeze
2 Cryptic Command
3 Cunning Wish
2 Flash of Insight
4 Force of Will
4 High Tide
2 Echoing Truth
2 Wipe Away
1 Brain Freeze
1 Stroke of Genius
This was the preferred Legacy combo deck circa 2006, since it was consistent and very powerful. It has since waned greatly with the dawn of Ad Nauseam Tendrils in 2009.
Solidarity, like all High Tide variants, uses Cunning Wish as a powerful tutor and stabilizer for the deck. This wishboard is perfectly suited for Solidarity. Most standard elements are there; Disrupt is the only card that is boarded in against control-heavy decks that are vulnerable to it. There is a heavy array of bounce spells, including the indispensably uncounterable Wipe Away, to deal with permanent threats that counterspells have not already stopped. Defense Grid is sometimes employed by Spiral Tide as further sideboard protection against counterspell decks, but it is the absolute bane of this deck. Same with Dosan the Falling Leaf, Grand Abolisher and friends. The deck cannot bounce them on the combo turn, since it is the opponent’s turn, and often times the opponent will just re-cast them at the next opportunity. Sometimes this mandates temporarily forgoing Reset and attempting to win without it on your turn.
Some seemingly odd choices for the ‘board are Twincast and Stroke of Genius. Everything else fills a set role, except for these two. Well, except for Twincast. SoG was the original Blue Sun’s Zenith before that card’s printing, which was after this deck’s golden age. With no way to re-tutor BSZ directly, only via draw spells, and no way to re-cast Stroke of Genius at all once its been cast, Blue Sun’s Zenith is marginally better than Stroke of Genius. Ergo I would make that change for an updated list.
Twincast deserves a paragraph of its own. I have never been a big fan of this card for High Tide. Not even as a wish target. Many might think that a copy spell is absolutely perfect for the deck. This theory is just that – a theory. In my experience, Twincast is not worth maindeck slots. It is WAY too situational, and too often dead, even in the sideboard when I might rather have something like a Pact of Negation in that slot. When it works, it performs admirably. Copying a Reset and tapping lands in between the two leads to insane mana production, but also deep knowledge of timing rules. Copying Cunning Wish might be a little strange since in this list it is a wish target… But heck if I know! It may be prudent to do so at some undefinable situation in the game’s best and craziest format! While I tend to shy away from this “miracle” card, you might try it out and see if it works for you.
Modo user Chemfy shows off a version of Solidarity in this playlist. He doesn’t have the winningest of records, but he does play the deck fairly well. My guess is that he found or perhaps tweaked a list, and then launched right into a few games without a ton of practice. High Tide is a very difficult archetype to learn and master, and each sub-deck has its own small nuances that make it complex and different.
I love that he threw a Hunting Pack into the ‘board as an alternate win condition when facing down Leyline of Sanctity or something else that can’t be bounced due to mana constraint, etc. The Pack also allows for potential wins when storm or mana isn’t high enough to cast a lethal Brain Freeze. Innovation is always welcome to decks like this that may be a touch antiquated or rigid.
Well, that’s all for this week!
Stay tuned next week for my personal favorite variation on High Tide, Spring Tide.
Thanks for reading!