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Looking at Legacy

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Hey there! This previous weekend, I had the chance to play in the largest Legacy event of the year here in Finland, the yearly Legacy Nationals. Sadly, I didn’t do too well, and I ended up dropping after five rounds to play some Cube. I played the exact list of W/U/b Miracles that I wrote about last week, so if you are interested in reading my thoughts about the deck, be sure to check out the article. Even though my record wasn’t spectacular, I still feel the deck was a good choice for the tournament. The matchups I played were all fine, but I ran into a few too many mana problems along the way and lost to R/U/G Delver twice.

This week, I thought I would take a general look at Legacy from my local point of view by looking at the Top 8 lists from the previous weekend. I’d like to thank the guys at Poromagia for organizing the event and typing up the top-performing decks. I’ll be listing the Top 8 decks in this article, but you can find them along with a bunch of 5–2 decks here.

Chalice of the Void
AggroLoam is perhaps not a deck you are accustomed to seeing in the top ranks in Legacy, but it took down the whole tournament this year. Chalice of the Void is a card I like very much if your deck has the ability to play it on the first turn, but few of the really good decks have the possibility to do it. Playing Chalice of the Void for 1 can be brutal against many decks, but naturally, you have to make compromises for yourself and not run very many spells that cost 1 mana. This deck does just that, choosing to instead load up on 2- and 3-mana spells that are more powerful in the midgame. I can see that this deck might have problems with combo decks, but most fair decks should be good or at least even matchups. This deck certainly has the ability to keep up with the card advantage generated by the various control decks, but cards such as Entreat the Angels still cause problems. I’m no expert on this strategy, but I would like to see one copy of Worm Harvest somewhere in the seventy-five to really have a late-game threat against control.

The sideboard devotes a few slots to fighting combo, but it feels as though Storm would still be quite a rough matchup. Pyroblast helps against combo decks such as High Tide and various Show and Tell concoctions, but against Storm, its uses are limited to just disrupting the cantrips. Overall, I think this looks like a good deck in a metagame with a low concentration of combo. I will probably try to put the cards together for this and try it out on Magic Online sometime soon to see how it performs.

Deathrite Shaman
The Esper control deck played by Oehman is an innovative take on the traditional EsperBlade strategy that has been around for a while now in Legacy. Deathrite Shaman is among the hottest new cards in Legacy, and it pulls its weight in this deck as well, helping to cast your powerful cards a turn earlier than the other control decks are capable of. The Equipment make it even better, as they serve as both mana sinks later in game and as tools to make the Deathrite Shaman an effective threat on the offense. It’s also fine to just sit behind it and ping your opponent for 2 each turn. Other than the Deathrite Shaman, this is pretty much your standard EsperBlade, with the one Augur of Bolas added for some more card selection in place of the fourth Snapcaster Mage. Riptide Laboratory works especially well with the Augur of Bolas to help you dig deeper each turn.

The fourth Force of Will has been moved to the sideboard, something I am a fan of. Force of Will is one of the first cards you sideboard out in most of the fair matchups, so having the fourth copy already pre-sideboarded out is a good call. It’s still the card you would most like to see against most combo decks, so having access to the fourth one is important. I’m not quite sold on the Abrupt Decay, and I might play something that you can play more reliably, but it is probably the best answer to Counterbalance, a card that might otherwise cause this deck some headaches.

Supreme Verdict
This is a more traditional take on the EsperBlade archetype, featuring most of the cards you would have come to expect. As with the previous deck, here too, the fourth Force of Will has been relegated to sideboard duty, which as I already stated, I think is a good idea. The sideboard is also quite standard, with not many unusual cards showing up. I talked to Joona a bit about the deck, and he said the Supreme Verdict really makes the deck much better, so perhaps you could even consider playing a third copy of it.

I have played similar decks for a long time even though I prefer the Miracle approach when it comes to W/U/x control strategies. However, I think that the current versions of EsperBlade are becoming further away from being a pure control strategy, so you should not regard the two as competing strategies, but as two totally separate ones. This might feel obvious to some of you reading this, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Burning Wish
Storm comes in many different flavors, from just two colors to different Doomsday versions to this five-color concoction. Playing all five colors give you access to some of the best cards from each color. Once you are playing four colors, you basically have the fifth one for free since you still need to play some number of the rainbow lands such as City of Brass and Gemstone Mine. I like the main deck a lot—perhaps the only surprising thing was not seeing Tendrils of Agony, but maybe it’s not really needed and you are able to Burning Wish most of the time anyway.

When it comes to the sideboard, I have to say I am not a big fan of Diminishing Returns even if it has its uses. When I have played Storm, draw-seven effects have almost never been good for me, and the times when you Burning Wish for it are quite few and far between. It does have some merit against discard-heavy decks, though, so I guess it’s okay to dedicate one sideboard slot to it. Karakas is a card that one of my friends playing Storm was also playing, as it’s one of the best answers to Gaddock Teeg, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Iona, Shield of Emeria. These are all cards that this deck has to deal with before it can win, so having access to a single card that answers all three even through cards such as Mother of Runes is really nice. Abrupt Decay is another card that I like in the Storm sideboard, as it helps against the above-mentioned 2-drops as well as against cards such as Trinisphere, Rule of Law, Counterbalance, and Chalice of the Void. This deck has the ability to sideboard into multiple Empty the Warrens, giving it the ability to go over the top of certain decks that might otherwise disrupt the main game plan of Tendrils of Agony for 20.

Batterskull
Ahh, now we get to my personal favorite, W/U Miracles. First of all, I have to say that I don’t like playing Stoneforge Mystic in Miracles, especially if this means you are not running Entreat the Angels. The whole Stoneforge Mystic package usually takes up between five and seven slots, and I don’t feel that it’s all that amazing. There are certain matchups, such as against tribal decks such as Goblins and Merfolk, where the turn-three Batterskull plan is very solid, but against many other decks, I feel that this strategy is just lackluster. Especially against something such as R/U/G Delver, I really don’t like it, as after sideboard, R/U/G has many ways to get rid of your Equipment, and then you are left with a Squire. That said, I’m sure Vladimir had good reasons to choose this version of the deck over the more Miracle-oriented version that I suggested last week.

I like the sideboard Back to Basics, as they can give you a real edge against many of the three-color decks running around these days. I also like the one Enlightened Tutor, and I feel that I should have played one in my deck. Especially if you have the ability to fetch matchup-specific bombs such as Counterbalance, Rest in Peace, Luminarch Ascension, Moat, or Back to Basics, the card becomes very good. Against some of the other control decks, it’s rough to give up the card advantage you lose from the Enlightened Tutor, but if that means you are able to find something really powerful, it’s probably worth it.

I decided to group all the R/U/G Delver decks into one, as the decks were very similar, as is to be expected. Schalin and Nikolaev were running one Scavenging Ooze over the one Spell Snare that Niemelae played. Otherwise, the main decks were basically identical between these three players. The sideboards differed a bit, with some of common themes between the three.

Schalin SB Nikolaev SB Niemelae SB
4 Submerge 4 Submerge 3 Submerge
2 Rough // Tumble 2 Krosan Grip 2 Pyroblast
1 Scavenging Ooze 2 Pyroblast 1 Red Elemental Blast
2 Sulfur Elemental 2 Red Elemental Blast 3 Tormod's Crypt
2 Pyroblast 1 Sulfur Elemental 1 Envelop
1 Ancient Grudge 3 Surgical Extraction 1 Rough // Tumble
1 Grafdigger's Cage 1 Sulfuric Vortex 2 Ancient Grudge
1 Sulfuric Vortex
1 Flusterstorm

Submerge
As we can see, all three valued Submerge highly, and Pyroblast or Red Elemental Blast was also present in all lists. R/U/G Delver is one of those decks for which sideboards are almost always quite similar, in that you play a certain number of anti-creature cards, a certain number of graveyard-hate cards, and then a few cards that help in various matchups. It’s quite common to see no cards in particular aimed at combo matchups, as those should be quite okay with just the main deck. I’m not a fan of R/U/G Delver, as it feels that every time I play it, it just doesn’t do anything. I know that many people share my feelings about this, but I guess it’s just one of those decks for which you either like it or not just based on personal experience. The deck is good, of course, as many people have demonstrated. Getting three people to the Top 8 should also prove it, especially since the deck was only played by eight players at the tournament.

Legacy Weapon

Lion's Eye Diamond
So, you are probably wondering what deck you should be playing at this point. My preference would probably always be to just jam some Miracles, but as I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, here are some other suggestions. If you are looking to beat fair decks, the AggroLoam deck that won the tournament would be a good place to start. It has tools to defeat most of the popular decks, and by tuning the list, you make it even better for your own local metagame. If you want to beat up combo, R/U/G Delver is most likely the deck to play, but remember to try it out a bit, as playing it correctly takes some skill. The deck is full of small effects, so getting the most out of every card is important. And finally, for those of you wanting to be the bad guy, invest in some Lion's Eye Diamonds and try to kill your opponent on the second turn by picking up the Storm list. It’s also a deck that is difficult to play optimally, so having previous experience with combo decks is sure to help.

Questions, comments, suggestions, or other things you would like to say? I’d love to hear what you have in mind, so be sure to tell me in either the comments section below or directly via Twitter @thebloom_). Topics I have planned for the near future include a look at various Legacy combo decks and another look at the Magic Online Holiday Cube. If you have other suggestions or things you would like me to write about, let me know—all ideas are welcome.

Thanks for reading,

Max

@thebloom_ on Twitter

Maxx on Magic Online

You can find my music on: http://soundcloud.com/bloomlive

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