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5 Decks You'll Play This Weekend


While the Louisville Legacy sounds like an indoor hockey team — not to be confused with the MLB Louisville Eclipse that existed in the 1880s — it's an apt moniker for this week's games, as Grand Prix Louisville kicks off 2017 with some of the oldest-school (old-schoolest?) Magic around. And now that Magic Online leagues are in full swing, the Legacy metagame has far more data than the other years in which I've written this column. So this is good a look at Legacy as I've gotten to do. It is as luxurious as it sounds.

Terminus Is Tuck-y . . . Ken-tucky!

Here are the listed 5-0 decks from Legacy leagues from December 21, 2016 to January 3, 2017:

Miracles 17
Four-Color Delver 12
Sneak and Show 11
Sultai Delver 11
Punishing Abzan 9
Ad Nauseam Tendrils 7
Reanimator 6
Shardless Sultai 6
Death and Taxes 5
Elves 5
Eldrazi 4
Esper Stoneblade 4
Sultai Aluren 3
The Rest 24

Archetypes being as fine-tuned as they are, it's clear that Delver of Secrets is having a party these days. Everyone's favorite Human Wizard who looks like he's making a tribute video to "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" would take the top spot in these rankings if its players could decide once and for all whether to keep things Sultai or more of a Grixis Young Pyromancer build that also has Green for Ancient Grudge's flashback and Deathrite Shaman's Green activation. Regardless, he's a force to be reckoned with:

Still playing the tempo-counter game better than anyone, the shell, and particularly sideboard, are customizable to the metagame. There's quite a bit here to stop reanimation (Grafdigger's Cage, Surgical Extraction), some cheap removal for other Delver decks, and Dread of Night for the recent adaptations of Miracles (discussed in a moment). Some versions, apparently ones that don't have access to the more expensive cards in the sideboard, are running Diabolic Edict against reanimation decks and Invasive Surgery for all manner of sorceries. As always, when there's an low-cost instant or sorcery that answers something in Legacy, it's got a chance of showing up in a Delver 75.

Repping the high-cost instants and sorceries is the deck that, with apologies to Delver, sets the tone of the format:

Monastery Mentor
While I chose an unusual build of Miracles to discuss, what isn't unusual these days is the presence of Monastery Mentor (hence the Dread of Night in the Delver lists). The Counterbalance-Sensei's Divining Top lock that gives this deck raison d'etre happens to be good in the Confrontation mimoir, so getting value against it by creating a Moine avec la prouesse . . . sorry to my non-French readership; got carried away. What I'm saying is that Monastery Mentor gives 1/1 Monk tokens even if the soft lock counters the spell in the Miracles mirror match. Also, having a clock that wins games before the match goes to a draw is critical to winning a tournament as opposed to not losing it.

Where this particular deck goes off script — and they're enough of experiments that the same player 5-0'd with a different Miracles version in this article's timeframe — is with Emrakul, the Promised End and Set Adrift. Set Adrift is not anyone's idea of an amazing effect, but it can be cast cheaply due to delve, and in the mirror match it's an additional way to counter Terminus via Counterbalance. Just like the miracle spells that give the deck its name, the cost-reduction aspect of delve spells makes almost all of them playable just by the nature of cost-reduction effects. Keep that in mind when discussing Aether Revolt mechanics.

For that matter, keep it in mind when discussing Sneak and Show:

The upswing of Reanimator has been kind to Sneak and Show, in that it's much easier to hate on the former with specificity than the latter. Grafdigger's Cage and Surgical Extraction don't do anything about Sneak and Show's plans, leaving it a spot in the metagame. Figuring out what sideboard cards to bring is tough in any Eternal format, and one of the biggest decisions that could be highly rewarded this weekend is how much hate to bring versus both Reanimator and Sneak and Show. Does the hate get aimed just at Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, which are hard cards to hate on but at least are common to both decks? Whoever gets the best metagame read on the divide can go far in Louisville.

Speaking of metagame reads, seemingly a million and five decks are working with Leovold, Emissary of Trest, including an old archetype:

Aluren is a tournament rarity: the combo card so good that, even though there isn't another card remotely similar to it, people still work with it. Birthing Pod had Chord of Calling; Aluren just has Legacy's suite of card draw, including Ponder and Brainstorm, and other Sultai treats.

Brainstorm and Ponder are important to notice here, because Leovold, Emissary of Trest is a three-of in this deck. Leovold gives value when your creatures are targeted, but the big deal is that it shuts down opposing Brainstorms, Ponders, and other card draw. Leovold's good enough to show up here, in some Delver lists, and occasionally in Elves (had you even noticed it's an Elf? I hadn't). In Aluren, it's even trickier, since Leovold can be cast for free at instant speed with the deck namesake's enchantment out, becoming an instant-speed counter to card draw.

That buys enough time for Aluren to assemble its various combos; the final kill ideally is casting Parasitic Strix for life drain of two points, casting Cavern Harpy to bounce Parasitic Strix, then paying one life to bounce Cavern Harpy. Glint-Nest Crane helps tie the deck together, finding Baleful Strix, Parasitic Strix, and Shardless Agent to keep the combo pieces going. (From the sideboard, Glint-Nest Crane can find Grafdigger's Cage and Umezawa's Jitte; that's pretty nifty.) It's unclear how well that will work in Louisville, but it is the deck best poised to take advantage of Leovold — in a metagame increasingly filled with him — and sometimes that's enough.

Perhaps to fight Leovold — a card that asks opponents to fight fair with card draw — the archetype with the most listings in just the last week is another oldie:

This deck's running a number of the "let's all play fair, everybody!" synergies of Legacy, like Mox Diamond into a first-turn Chalice of the Void or the Death and Taxes package of Gaddock Teeg and Ethersworn Canonist (and sometimes Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in the sideboard). The clearest game plan, however, is using Knight of the Reliquary to find Grove of the Burnwillows, enabling a Punishing Fire loop of removal and eventually burn to the opponent's face.

As with any Knight of the Reliquary deck, there are a lot of great lands to find — many of them part of the Lands deck that's also part of Legacy (as discussed previously in this column, I'm a sucker for decks with lands in the sideboard, and this one's got both Ghost Quarter and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale). In a field of all sorts of decks, maybe it's the deck with a bunch of combos that work well against a bunch of different decks does the trick. It seems unlikely from my perspective, but its results have been so good in the last week that it might be on to something.


More so than I can remember in a long time — maybe it's the extra data talking — Legacy has a lot of deck types that are intriguing choices to win Louisville. Miracles, Delver of Secrets, and Leovold, Emissary of Trest are dictating a lot of what's playable right now, but within that there are a lot of ways to get the job done. Who knows what will happen this weekend? I don't. But that's what makes it fun.

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