Feature Article – Welcome to Legacy!

Visit the StarCityGames.com booth at Grand Prix Houston!
Thursday, March 25th – Welcome to Legacy, the most diverse and balanced format in Magic. Legacy is by far the most exciting format to play, and if that was not enough… There are no Jund decks in Legacy!

Welcome to Legacy, the most diverse and balanced format in Magic. Legacy is by far the most exciting format to play, and if that was not enough… There are no Jund decks in Legacy!

There are never enough Legacy tournaments. As luck would have it, StarCityGames.com is running a huge Legacy series throughout the United States this year. Otherwise there would have been a noticeable lack of Legacy tournaments. This makes me extremely happy, since Legacy is by far my favorite format. Using all the awesome older cards without the fear of falling behind due to your opponent drawing more Moxen than you is very appealing.

This past weekend, my roommate Matt Gargiulo (AKA Dr. Googs) and I traveled to the StarCityGames.com Open tournament to play against Jund decks on Saturday, and then actually have fun playing Magic on Sunday. Our other roommate Ken Adams was away in Italy, which is a shame because he is by far the best deckbuilder in our house. We decided to run Naya with Thornlings against Jund, and Day of Judgment out of the board for the mirror and Bant. Needless to say, we were not victorious in the Standard event.

I played in the days of Flametongue Kavu (a.k.a. FTK ) while he was in Standard, and that was not fun at all. Bloodbraid Elf is about five times better than the FTK ever was, and Standard is not fun right now at all. Out of the 669 players that brought decks to battle this weekend, how many total Bloodbraids were played in decks? I don’t care to count, but I would guess well over 1,000 copies of the game-stealing tempo creature were in attendance. Talk about a dull format! I only mention this because things like this just do not happen in Legacy. If you ask any Pro what format they dislike the most, you always hear “Legacy.” This is because the format is so diverse, and it is very difficult to have a deck that is good against the entire field. I agree with them though; it is hard to have a deck that can compete with 20 different decks at the same time. There is one deck in Standard (Jund) and another that is almost identical and has the same game plan (Naya). Some people play U/W Control, which historically has a good matchup against aggressive decks, though now they would love to even get a 51% match against Jund.

Every old strategy you played in years past is probably viable in Legacy. You can put a new spin on things, or just add some new cards to your favorite decks of the past. Survival of the Fittest is my favorite card, and I cannot wait to play a Survival deck in Legacy. I just need to wait until the deck is positioned well. Over the last few Legacy events I have attended, I have seen at least 30 distinctly different decks, and to me that is such a breath of clean air. In a way, it keeps you on your toes, since it is almost impossible to figure out every opponent’s strategy, let alone the cards within their deck. If you think creatively, it will pay dividends.

I have played in 3 Legacy Open events to date; I have always played a Life from the Loam land deck. I have yet to fail to make the Top 8 with this powerhouse of an archetype. I have so much fun playing the deck, I just kept making small adjustments. I cannot remember the last time I had so much fun playing Magic. These are the versions I played:

Other than metagame sideboard choices, the main difference between the decks is the addition of Blue. After losing the finals due to playing Gamble for Manabond and my opponent picking Manabond, I realized that, though powerful, I could not afford to lose a game in that fashion, even if the percentages were in my favor. Intuition was always amazing, so going up to 4 copies was an easy decision. Tolaria West gave the deck the extra search it was missing due to the loss of Gamble. Though Intuition is amazing, the deck needs more than 4 search spells since you often want to open up with one in your hand. I do not count the ability of dredge as search, though it absolutely helps you find the cards you are looking for when seeing 3, 6, or 9 cards a turn.

Sometimes winning can take some time, as using Barbarian Ring 10 turns in a row is not the most effective way to end a game. On the other hand, casting Mindslaver every turn is the best way to win in Magic, and the most fun! One of my Survival opponents ran a Yosei, the Morning Star lock! You can figure out how that story ended! Intuition is all you need to set up the lock (Loam, Mindslaver, Academy Ruins) with the addition of 13 available mana, including one Blue source. Though it is silly to point out, this deck has so many lands available to it. Given Ideal hands, no other deck can produce so many reusable lands so quickly. Your lands are not Urza’s Towers either, they kill creatures, they are creatures, they are also tutors!

The Land deck is a control deck, with the majority of your spells being uncounterable due to the lands acting like spells. Tarmogoyf just looks silly when Maze of Ith is in play, especially if they are already paying an upkeep cost due to Tabernacle. Using Rishadan Port and Wasteland to control your opponent’s resources, you slowly begin your route to victory. Using life from the loam as your engine, on top of playing anywhere from 2 — 12 lands a turn, this control deck packs a heavy punch.

I wanted to go over some of the cards in the deck to explain why they are there and also why they are so powerful.

ManabondExplorationLife from the Loam

These are the obvious additions when constructing a land based deck, they allow you to play multiple lands a turn and pull far ahead of your opponents in card draw and resources. One note is that Manabond is a “May” ability. Many of my opponents were surprised that I did not immediately dump my hand; I think this is a mistake a lot of players fall for. Discarding loam is sweet… losing Intuition not so much. I am not in a rush to expend all my cards, especially after sideboard. Tranquil Thicket protects your Life from the Loam from cards like Tormod’s Crypt and Relic of Progenitus. If you use Manabond right away, you risk putting your Thicket’s into play as well as losing your Loam to graveyard hate. Often I wait a turn to cycle Thicket, and specifically do not target it with my Loam so it remains in my graveyard. This gives your opponent a window of opportunity, but if you have a sufficient advantage, even Tormod’s Crypt normally leaves you with a board position of Mishra’s Factory, Rishadan Port, and a Maze of Ith. If they do not remove your graveyard, then you go back to drawing 5 cards a turn, simple as that.


This card is absolutely amazing. You can set up great 3-card selections, and if you already have your Life from the Loam, you are able to get 3 lands that will be useful immediately, which makes it even more powerful. You can get an anti creature package of Tabernacle, Factory, and Maze of Ith or strong anti control package of Port, Wasteland, Factory. You can mix it up with a Tolaria West so you can search for Explosives or Tormod’s Crypt. After you sideboard, you are able to search for even more artifacts, or a Academy Ruins, Life from the Loam, and any Artifact (Ensnaring Bridge, Smokestack, Tormod’s Crypt Lock, or Mindslaver lock). You can pick up enchantment and artifact removal as well or just 3 Tormod’s Crypts or Chalice of the Void to have an immediate answer to combo. Intuition is the best legal card in Legacy at the moment, and almost all of my decks will start with an Intuition engine.

Tolaria West

This “land” allows you to search for a large amount of lands or spells. The versatility this card offers is amazing not even considering searching every turn via Life from the Loam!

Tormod’s Crypt
Engineered Explosives
Academy Ruins
Maze of Ith
The Tabernacle of Pendrell Vale
Mishra’s Factory
Tranquil Thicket
Glacial Chasm
Zuran Orb

That is a pretty sweet selection of cards to snag. There are many other targets in the deck, and also many more uses for other targets as the deck develops.

Ensnaring Bridge

This is a great answer to Reanimator decks; it essentially stops every creature from attacking you. Since their threats do not kill you in a single attack, you can recast the bridge if they bounce it, or use Academy Ruins to bring it back if it is destroyed. This card was actually amazing, I used it against Zoo, Merfolk, Progenitus/Natural Order, and any other creature based strategy. Loam, Ruins, Bridge is a great Intuition batch.


This deck has a lot of permanents! You have more than any other deck in the format. This replaced Ghost Quarter to destroy basic lands. Smokestack can also get you out of tough situations like Blood Moon, Leyline of the Void, or Back to Basics. You can leave the counters on 1, or just bump it higher to eat your opponent’s board. When people are sacrificing Sensei’s Divining Top, you know you are in a good position. Smokestack was a great addition from Dr. Googs and it came in against every control deck as well as most aggressive decks when you are on the play. This deck is the ultimate grind you out deck!


This was another Reanimator hate card. Iona can never kill you, but not being able to cast Life from the Loam is a problem. Tolaria West can quickly find Karakas, and if you have a Maze of Ith, you have all the time in the world to find one of your “4” Karakas. Iona is also played in Dredge and Survival decks, so it is quite a popular Legacy card.

The only chink in the armor was the lack of Krosan Grip. This was a mistake, having to cast Intuition for Ray of Revelation, Engineered Explosives, and Smokestack is not the quickest way to deal with Leyline of the Void.

Changes to the Deck

-1 Bayou, +1 Tropical Island / Ghost Quarter
SB : -3 Extirpate, +3 Krosan Grip

I knew the Reanimator match was favorable, but I did not know how much until I tested it. The Extirpates were overkill, but I can see the format evolving to include Extirpate again, but for this specific tournament they were not needed. I Extirpated a Thoughtseize (My opponent cast Thoughtseize Turn 1 and Turn 2) I wrote down my opponents reanimation targets, but other than that I never used Extirpate, or felt the need to have one. Every other card was great all day, and I only missed having a Ghost Quarter.

I am very excited about Legacy, and this deck in particular. I have a bunch of ideas for new Legacy decks that I plan to share in the future. I have decided to change my travel plans so I can attend the SCG Open event next weekend in Orlando FL. There is a 100% chance that I will play this deck! I plan to see Leyline and Extirpate all day long, but that does not scare me at all. The deck is insanely powerful; I cannot see playing any other Legacy deck at this time.

If you enjoy Legacy but are prohibited or wary due to the cost of some of the cards, I have some bad news. Unfortunately, Wizards has announced they will no longer reprint cards from the reserved list. This will make certain Legacy staples continue to rise in price, which will I feel will hurt the health and interest in the format. Some players feel they will need a significant investment to feel competitive, though that is not entirely true; I plan to build some powerful “budget” decks in the future. The problem is that dual lands will sky rocket in price, along with many other cards, and prohibit players from being creative overall. Legacy is on the rise, so I do not understand this policy change from WotC. It does not make any sense to me that they would support a format, create an “Eternal” rating, and have some of the largest Grand Prix tournaments in history take place due to Legacy fans swarming from everywhere to attend a Legacy GP. I do not feel it is in the best interest of the format. That being said, I will still continue to play and support Legacy, since my roommates and I agree it is by far the most beautiful format in Magic.

Thanks for reading!