Legacy’s Allure – Mining Online Legacy For Tech

Grand Prix GP Columbus July 30-August 1, 2010
Tuesday, July 6th – Have you read every article on Legacy, checked and rechecked every forum you know for more tech, and are still left wanting more? Online Legacy is where to turn to, even if you don’t have a MTGO account! In this week’s article, find out where you can access deck information, understand how the online format differs from the one you are familiar with, and see how to use Online Legacy to improve your chances at Grand Prix: Columbus and other large Legacy events. Get a sense of where StarCityGames.com tournament winners get their newest Landstill and CounterTop Thopters lists, all in this week’s Legacy’s Allure!

Did you know that Legacy is on Magic Online? If you did, do you know how often it is played? Do you know where to find the decklists? On top of that, do you know how much online Legacy secretly influences the paper version of our favorite format? This week, we’ll be discussing online Legacy, the myths and facts, and how you, as a cardboard player with no interest in Digital Objects, can get the most benefit out of the online version.

The Basics

Online Legacy is composed of a huge cardpool, involving Dual Lands, Force of Will, Tarmogoyf, Counterbalances and more. It encompasses sets from Invasion to the current sets; it also includes Mirage Block and Tempest Block, along with two Master’s Edition Sets that include some of the “greatest hits” of Magic like Tropical Island and Sinkhole. With this cardpool, it is possible to build almost every deck in Legacy, from combolicious Storm decks to Goblins of all kinds.

Digital Legacy is played primarily in Daily Events (DEs) that include at least 16 players and often up to 32, dueling for packs and prizes. True to their name, Daily Events fire almost daily, showcasing a variety of decks that we also see in paper Legacy. There are also Legacy Premiere events, which have 33 minimum players. Since there are no splits in MTGO, the players stick out every round, meaning that the decks that rise to the top have truly earned their place. The lack of some of the older sets, as well as Urza’s Destiny and Masques Block, means that some decks are simply not available (yet). The convenience of MTGO means that we have a new crop of event results just about every day to mine through, and several MTGO-tested decks have showed up with great results at events of all sizes. I won’t go into the price differences between Legacy and MTGO Legacy; some cards are much more expensive, some are very cheap compared to the paper versions. It’s definitely a commitment to play both formats, but you don’t need to play MTGO to get benefits from it.

Admittedly, I do not play MTGO at all, and I am pretty clueless about where to find this information. I went to my teammate Steve O'Connell (LordHypno on Magic Online) and asked him to lead me through the ins and outs of the digital format. I wanted to know what players should know about interpreting Online Legacy results, how it stacks up to paper Magic and where to even find event coverage!

Me: What sort of decks do people play?

Steve: Lots of Merfolk and Zoo. Merfolk is very cheap to play- you get your Force of Wills (which are about $85 online currently) and then the rest of the deck is very cheap. There are lots of Zoo variants. Some people play Kird Ape, some play Loam Lion, and some run Steppe Lynx. A lot of people are trying out weird one-ofs — sometimes they are trying Price of Progress to see if they like it, for example, or just running them to throw people off. You also encounter a lot of Landstill and, thanks to LSV, Reanimator is really popular.

How does card availability influence what people play? I’m talking about not having some whole sets, not card affordability.

There are some decks that look a bit different; no Rishadan Port means that Goblins has to run other cards instead. Enchantress doesn’t have Replenish, so I don’t consider it a real deck. Once Urza’s Destiny comes out, we might see it have a fighting chance.

No Ports also means that people can’t play Lands very well. Some people try with things like Valakut and Scapeshift, but it isn’t that good. There is a MOCS (Magic Online Championship Series) coming up where qualified players get a promo Maze of Ith, so despite not having The Dark, we’ll have Mazes soon. That will put about five hundred in circulation, but I am sure it will also be printed in Master’s Edition IV. I consider Lands to be really the only deck that you cannot realistically play online.

What kind of competition do you face? I hear a lot that MTGO players are trashy and not good competition.

A lot of people love to play the format, so they are stiff competition. We had LSV and Sam Black play recently also, so you see good players. The advantage of playing daily helps in any format. A guy who drafts Rise of Eldrazi every day and then goes to FNM to draft it will do well because he has got a lot of experience with the cards. The good players in Online Legacy are very good competition.

If I don’t play MTGO, why should I look care about Online Legacy?

First, with the GP coming up, you can see what pros are playing around with. For about a day after an event occurs, you can watch replays, so you can see what LSV is playing and whether he got there. He was recently playing High Tide (and kept fizzling) so that might inform you about what to expect at Grand Prix: Columbus.

[switching over to me]

Steve also pointed out that a lot of online decks have showed up in StarCityGames.com Legacy Open Series events. For example, compare Josh Guibault’s First-place Countertop List from St. Louis:

… with Steve’s CounterTop list from MTGO, posted here. It has the same one Extirpate and one Underground Sea, the four Canonists and other noticeable similarities. Steve was very pleased to see Josh’s success with a deck that, in Steve’s words, were an improvement on his list. Josh clearly paid attention to what was doing well on MTGO and applied it to paper Magic for great results. A lot of players have been trying CounterTop Thopters and basically failing, and both Josh and Steve took a look at what worked and what was tested with actual tournament results.

How should I find out about results from Online Legacy? Where is it posted?

The Wizards’ Magic Online page updates very frequently, and you can see a lot of the results about a day after the events. It’s somewhat hard to navigate for looking at older events, but they do put up results all the time.

Classicquarter.com is another great utility. The guy who runs it tries to scrape the data from the Wizards site frequently and run it through Classic Quarter. The result is that you have a very searchable and useful database for finding all the information on the format. You can utilize their tournaments page to look further back into the archives, for example. Another really cool thing that the guy does is that the decks are categorized by popularity in the metagame; you can get a real sense of what folks are playing and what is winning. You can access those tables here (you might need to change it from Classic to Online Legacy).

Some decks are much more popular online than in real life, just due to card availability. Death and Taxes [Mono White Weenie with Karakas and Mangara of Corondor] is a significant, if irrelevant, part of the metagame just because it is very, very cheap to make. You almost never see it at paper tournaments, but you have to plan to face it here.

How can people use MTGO to prepare for the GP?

In addition to testing out decks that they want to play, people can see if other players are making decks that work. With Mystical Tutor being banned, you have a proving ground that will see, daily, if Reanimator can get by without it. Some guys have been “sleeving up” Storm Combo with Burning Wishes in lieu of Mystical Tutor, so if you want to play Storm, you should track that deck online and see the sorts of results that it is putting up.

What are you playing right now online?

I am playing Landstill with Pernicious Deed and Jace, The Mind Sculptor. My list is very close to what Charles Gordon ran at SCG: Seattle (for a 13th place finish!) Here’s the list:

Pernicious Deed is great because so many decks have cards that are affected by it. I don’t have to worry about countering a lot of cards because I can just Deed them away. Against Enchantress, I only worry about Karmic Justice; the rest, I’ll just catch with Pernicious Deed. Online, people started winning with Landstill a lot, so you saw other players packing stuff like Krosan Grip or Tormod’s Crypt on the sideboard to make their Landstill decks better against the mirror. You see that a little in the transition to paper, but Charles’s list looks really good for a regular tournament, it doesn’t have too much anti-Landstill tech to it.

[back to me again…]

One significant point about Digital Legacy is that you see players adopting trends faster. Look at the Jaces in the two decks above; people have been tinkering around with it in paper Legacy, but the infrequency of events means that the cards don’t really get a chance to “prove up” that quickly. In contrast, a lot of players started packing Jace right after Patrick Chapin and Evan Erwin told them how ridiculous it was in formats with Islands in them, so you see them pop up and succeed in Legacy too.

Putting MTGO to Work For You

Even without a MTGO account, you can still access tournament results with Classicquarter.com and the Wizards event coverage. It has good players duking it out nearly every day. I sometimes pop over to look at lists when I have read all I can find on Legacy for the moment and need more content- there are always more decklists to pore over! You’ll see that the online metagame closely follows the paper metagame; the experience you get against Zoo and Merfolk online will directly pay off when you face those decks in person. There are also a lot of interesting developments with the New Horizons deck online, taking it closer to Bant or slimming it to be even more aggressive. With the Grand Prix less than a month away, the resources you can access will be valuable for calculating what to play and how to tech out your sideboard.

If you play Online Legacy, I’d love to hear from you in the article feedback forum! What has been your experience with the format? Do you play it alongside paper Legacy? What are the greatest barriers to Online Legacy at the moment? You can also send me emails or find me on Twitter! Until next week,

Doug Linn

legacysallure at gmail dot com
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