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Researching Legacy Decks for Grand Prix New Jersey


In preparation for Grand Prix New Jersey, I have been diligently researching the top-performing Legacy decks and their strengths and weaknesses.

The biggest elephant in the room is U/R Delver.

Glenn Jones (soon to join Wizards R&D as an editor) managed to make Top 4 of StarCityGames Oakland with an interesting take on the archetype:

Making room for two Pyroblasts in the main gives him a leg up versus any blue deck. In addition, Glenn also figured out that the second basic Island isn’t that necessary, nor is the seventh removal spell, which is how he made space for two Pyroblasts in the main.

Pros: This deck is the best Treasure Cruise deck. You have six cheap removal spells, twelve cantrips, and eight free counters. This adds up to Monastery Swiftspear and Delver of Secrets teaming up to be a super-fast clock.

Cons: You are somewhat soft to combo decks since most of the combo decks are designed to beat a singular Force of Will. In addition, other fringe decks like MUD or U/B Tezzeret present huge problems given U/R Delver’s overreliance on 1-mana spells (Chalice of the Void on 1 locks out twenty-eight spells). Similarly, Counterbalance with Sensei's Divining Top presents a similar sort of problem.

Sultai Delver also made an appearance at SCG Oakland in the hands of Jimmy Dela Cruz.

The most notable things about this list are the inclusions of Dimir Charm in the main deck (a removal spell that can also turbo-charge a Treasure Cruise) and Chill in the sideboard (presumably to combat the uptick in U/R Delver and Burn strategies).

Pros: Tarmogoyf is still a very good creature, in spite of Treasure Cruise. It’s at least a 3/4 (in my experience) against U/R Delver, which forces those players to have two removal spells for it. Abrupt Decay is still amazing, and Deathrite Shaman can keep those players off Treasure Cruise.

Cons: You’re really soft to Rest in Peace, given that it shuts off Treasure Cruise, Deathrite Shaman, and Tarmogoyf. Stifle is a really weak card except against Miracles and bad players. In addition, this particular list gives up a lot of the free wins that you gain from casting Hymn to Tourach multiple times.

Joe Lossett continues to perform well with his version of Miracles:

Pros: Sensei's Divining Top with Counterbalance is a strong foil to all of the Delver decks running around, assuming you manage to stabilize the board state.

Cons: Sometimes, it takes a long time to finish a game with Miracles. If you’re inexperienced with the deck, getting a draw is likely and potentially tournament-destroying since you will face other slow decks in the draw bracket.

Other riffs on Miracles sometimes include Rest in Peace with Helm of Obedience—as a fast combo to finish the game once you have assumed control—or Stoneforge Mystic with Batterskull (with Counterbalance and Sensei's Divining Top providing protection from Swords to Plowshares and Lightning Bolt).

Jeskai Stoneblade (not to be confused with Jeskai Delver) won the SCG Open in Columbus yesterday in the hands of Rudy Briszka:

This harkens back to the days when Esper and W/U Stoneblade ran rampant in Legacy in 2012. Dig Through Time gives this archetype a much needed shot in the arm since a lot of your cards are good only in certain situations.

Pros: Stoneforge Mystic is strong against Delver decks since they must remove or counter it immediately—or else Batterskull will take over the game.

Cons: In games in which you don’t draw Brainstorm or Dig Through Time, your deck is very incoherent. In addition, the inclusion of cards such as Pyroblast in the main deck means you risk drawing dead cards against Maverick, Death and Taxes, or Elves.

Jeskai Delver was also a winner at SCG Minneapolis in the hands of Anthony Leen:

Again, Treasure Cruise rears its ugly head and shows how powerful it can be in any Delver shell. Stoneforge Mystic is also quite good in Delver mirrors.

Pros: Swords to Plowshares (still the best removal spell in Legacy) and Stoneforge Mystic are strong cards that give you a leg up in Delver mirrors. Elspeth, Knight-Errant in the sideboard is a great inclusion against decks like Miracles, against which games devolve into attrition wars.

Cons: Your curve is a lot higher in this Delver deck (especially compared to U/R or Temur Delver). This makes Daze a bit worse (but still quite good).

Kazu Negri managed to make the finals of SCG Columbus (before falling to Rudy) with Elves:

I am a huge fan of how streamlined this deck is. The six Birchlore Ranger and Heritage Druid slots indicate he is serious about trying to flood the board ASAP (either with Glimpse of Nature or in preparation for a Craterhoof Behemoth). Adding the fourth Natural Order to the main deck frees up a sideboard slot as well.

Pros: Elves has a lot of great matchups (including Death and Taxes, Delver decks that do not play Forked Bolt, and other slow, midrange decks like Maverick). In addition, you have the capability to nut-draw any given opponent on turn two or three even in bad matchups.

Cons: Decks like Miracles, U/R Delver, and Jeskai Delver are difficult matchups given how much removal they pack. Terminus is the most difficult card to play around given that they can miracle it on your turn consistently via Sensei's Divining Top.

In conclusion, I think any of the above decks are great choices for Grand Prix New Jersey, but there’s a bunch of other decks just under the radar that have great promise.

Treasure Cruise
G/W Enchantress with main-decked Rest in Peace and Helm of Obedience is a great foil to Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time alike.

Imperial Painter with all of its main-decked ’Blast and Blood Moon effects can put the hurt on the greedy Delver mana bases. In addition, it sports a combo kill in Painter's Servant and Grindstone, so no matchup is truly unwinnable.

The SCG Columbus Top 8 Moggcatcher deck also looks very interesting for similar reasons. Trinisphere, Blood Moon, and Chalice of the Void are all quite strong at the moment.

Sneak and Show is still reasonable, although it hasn’t gained very much recently. Dig Through Time is the biggest boon, but a lot of lists eschew it to try to “go under” Treasure Cruise and kill the opponent as quickly as possible.

There are still a plethora of decks that I haven’t covered—Legacy is such a massive format! You definitely can find something to fit your play style, and I wish everyone the best of luck preparing and playing in Grand Prix New Jersey.

Thanks for reading, and please leave any comments here or on Twitter @jkyu06.

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