Levelling Up – My First Legacy Article (Worlds Day 2)

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With Day 2 of Worlds concentrating on the Legacy format, it was a chance for the pro community to flex their Eternal muscles. While Tiago Chan was out of contention for Top 8 glory by the time Legacy rolled around, his deck decision process and testing is worthy of our attention. Today he talks us through his Legacy preparation before moving onto the tournament proper. Enjoy!

Legacy, Legacy, Legacy… Worlds, Worlds, Worlds…

Perhaps I should start with a question asked not so long ago: What do you guys think about playing Legacy at Worlds? I have mixed feelings about it. I liked playing Legacy, as I found the games to be interesting, the decks challenging, and the possibilities endless. It’s an unexplored format, at least in its true potential, and everyone can find something fun which was lost in the constant rotations. I applaud the format, both those who love it, and those who support it.

The down side? Legacy at Worlds. I believe Worlds was not the right place or time to promote Legacy, despite being the biggest stage of Pro competition. The first reason is the multiple formats regular Pro Players already had to test during this past season. This was an atypical Constructed season, which demanded a lot of focus on Constructed play. After a tiring year, very few people still had gas in their tanks to properly playtest Legacy, especially right after PT: Valencia Extended. Secondly, Worlds is played over two different Constructed formats. This time it was Standard and Legacy, between which players had to divide their attention. Finally, but still relevant, is the fact that Legacy was the last few rounds at Worlds, which meant it could be irrelevant to some players, such as those that had dropped or those not in contention for anything. Furthermore, this year’s reduction of rounds meant that there would only be five rounds of Legacy. Add all these elements together, and how much effort do you think it’s worth the average pro putting into testing Legacy? I know that my test partners opted to focus more on Standard.

My suggestion would be to have a Legacy Pro Tour replacing the next Extended Pro Tour. It’s a little different to Extended, but at the same time it’s so much more. This way, we would have some of the World’s best players fully dedicating themselves to the Legacy format, since the rewards would be much greater than testing for the last five rounds of a sixteen-round tournament. Having a Legacy PTQ season was something I would also be receptive to, but I guess finding cards could be a problem for some. However, it would be much better to have a full PTQ season with weekly tournaments, and some Grands Prix. Then we’d see the metagame evolving and shifting, rather than appearing and disappearing at one shot tournament once in awhile.

With the limited time and resources I had available, I figured the best way to start would be to build some decks and take them with me to Grand Prix: Daytona Beach, a journey that consumed six days prior to Worlds. The obvious deck to build was (of course) Threshold, and I was lucky to find the decklist played by Masashiro Kuroda in a Legacy tournament that he won.

3 Flooded Strand
1 Forest
2 Island
3 Polluted Delta
2 Savannah
3 Tropical Island
2 Tundra
2 Windswept Heath

4 Meddling Mage
2 Mystic Enforcer
3 Nimble Mongoose
2 Quirion Dryad
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
4 Ponder
2 Rushing River
3 Spell Snare
2 Stifle
4 Swords to Plowshares

1 Armadillo Cloak
2 Misdirection
2 Naturalize
2 Pithing Needle
3 Threads of Disloyalty
3 Tormod’s Crypt
2 Umezawa’s Jitte

I built this deck and declared it as my sample Threshold deck for playtesting, because it was playing with many probable cards. Threshold is a deck that can be built in many ways, so you never exactly know what to expect. While I would probably not run this list at Worlds with 2 Stiffle, 2 Rushing River, 2 Quirion Dryad, and 2 Mystic Enforcer, it’s quite good for testing since it allows you to play around or against a larger diversity of cards, and see plenty of cards in action to gain a better perception of their utility.

Of course, none of the Americans had a Legacy deck built at GP: Daytona Beach. Luckily, some friends offered to proxy some decks so that we could battle, and I also managed to play some games against the Japanese.

Meanwhile, Manuel Bucher, one of the few people on our testing team who cared about Legacy as much as Standard, was playing with White Stax, and won the Swiss Legacy Championship with this exact list.

4 Magus of the Tabernacle
4 Armageddon
4 Ghostly Prison
4 Chalice of the Void
4 Crucible of Worlds
4 Mox Diamond
3 Powder Keg
4 Smokestack
4 Trinisphere

4 Ancient Tomb
4 City of Traitors
2 Crystal Vein
4 Flagstones of Trokair
7 Plains
4 Wasteland

3 Suppression Field
2 Seal of Cleansing
4 Defense Grid
3 Sphere of Law
3 Rule of Law

At some point, Rasmus Sibast was also advocating this deck. I tried it, and despite being explosive, it had a few things I wasn’t too comfortable with: it became a lot worse on the draw, it was very dependant on Crucible of Worlds, and despite all the cards being hateful to numerous decks in the main deck, most of the time you needed a combination of two of them to actually be disruptive, though there were many potential combos you could pull off.

While still at Daytona Beach, I considered playing Aluren, but there was a problem: getting Imperial Recruiter. They were selling the card at the tournament site, but before making such an investment I needed to make sure that running Aluren was a realistic possibility. Everyone I talked to told me I should be asking Patrick Chapin about it, and so I did. I asked him how many Imperial Recruiters I’d need to buy. His honest answer? Zero. The deck was probably not a good choice, because of Thoughtseize, and other cards people were playing to fight other decks that also happened to hurt Aluren. He shared some of his insights and opinions on the Threshold deck, playing the Black that he would later play at Worlds. As a reference, I’m going to list the deck played by Raphael Levy, given to him by Patrick Chapin at Worlds.

4 Flooded Strand
1 Island
4 Polluted Delta
4 Tropical Island
2 Tundra
3 Underground Sea

4 Dark Confidant
4 Nimble Mongoose
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Brainstorm
3 Counterbalance
4 Daze
1 Engineered Explosives
4 Force of Will
4 Ponder
3 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Stifle
4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Thoughtseize

4 Engineered Plague
2 Krosan Grip
2 Serenity
2 Stifle
2 Threads of Disloyalty
3 Tormod’s Crypt

In Daytona Beach, Calosso Fuentes put together a very similar list for me, but only with three colors – Ghastly Demise replaced Swords to Plowshares, and the one of’s in this deck were replaced by more copies of Thoughtseize.

I spent very little time looking at Goblins. I asked one of my friends, Frederico Bastos, to build it up. He was not qualified for Worlds, but he was coming anyway, and he playing the Legacy format Car Qualifier at Worlds, so he had some interest in helping me. I quickly put together a Goblins decklist, including Thorn of Amethyst, and sent it his way. Some people build decklists on MTGO, others on Apprentice or Workstation. I just wanted a sample Goblins deck to play against, so I wrote it on Notepad. Obviously I miscounted, and it had 62 cards. I just told him to cut any two cards he wanted. Even though I think Goblins is a good deck, I knew I wouldn’t be playing them, so I lost little time on them. I suppose it’s not very interesting, showing you my 62-card Goblins deck… besides, all Goblins deck look very similar.

After feling unsatisfied with all the decks so far, I decided to settle on Landstill. It was more a matter of faith than a racional decision. It was by far my favorite deck in the format to play. A deck with Force of Will, Swords to Plowshares, Counterspell, Standstill, and (at the time) Wrath of God… it seemed too good to be true, and I couldn’t pass on the chance. Everyone kept telling me the deck was awful, and it lost to everything, which delayed my final decision. Until the point where I realize that the people telling me this knew even less about Legacy than me.

Before Worlds, I had two Legacy decklists in my possession. One was more traditional with controlish elements, and the other was much fancier.

I don’t know the origins or the creators of the more traditional one with Black and Green, but I do know that Thomas Enevoldsen, one of Rasmus Sibast friends, won a tournament in Denmark just before Worlds with this list.

2 Exalted Angel
3 Brainstorm
4 Counterspell
3 Fact or Fiction
4 Force of Will
3 Stifle
4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Innocent Blood
4 Pernicious Deed
4 Standstill
2 Crucible of Worlds

2 Flooded Strand
4 Mishra’s Factory
2 Nantuko Monastery
4 Polluted Delta
3 Tropical Island
4 Tundra
3 Underground Sea
3 Wasteland

4 Duress
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Engineered Plague
3 Red Elemental Blast

After playing some games, I added a fourth Brainstorm for a Counterspell, and one Wasteland and one Underground Sea for the Nantuko Monasteries. This was the deck I was settled on playing at Worlds, but I was a little unsure about the win conditions. Exalted Angel didn’t seem good enough. The solution was to add the 4 Tarmogoyfs to the main deck, replacing the Angels and the Innocent Bloods.

There was a doubt I had for several days, fast forwarding to Day 2 of Worlds… there I was with my W/G Kithkin deck from Draft 2 (featuring four Oblivion Ring), and after Round 2 I was looking for people playing Landstill to get their advice regarding the win conditions. The only person I found to be playing Landstill was the soon-to-be World Champion Uri Peleg. He’s friends with a friend of mine, so when he knew we were both playing Landstill, but were both still unsure on some cards, he hooked us up. We shared lists, but we still weren’t convinced. As I was wandering around the site, waiting for the third round to start, Calosso Fuentes once again looked at my Legacy decklist and claimed it wasn’t good. One of his friends had a Survival deck with which he had made Top 2 at the two previoues events he’d played, so he loaned it to me, complete, just in case I decided to switch and play it.

In the final round of the draft I played against Donaldo Portugal from Panama, a person I’ve always been curious to meet. In Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage or invite lists, I always run a word search on “Portugal” to know who’s attending and to see how they do, and many times the search would find Donaldo Portugal.

After the match, I had roughly 20 minutes to make up my mind, and I decided out of nowhere to switch to the Survival deck, which I’d never even seen played before. My current record of 5-5-1 had me out of contention for pretty much anything relevant. I don’t really know why I made the switch, but when I see people making decisions like this without a real reason, I tend to believe they’re afraid.

This is what I played at the Legacy portion of Worlds:

The sideboard had 4 Engineered Plague, and many sorceries because of Burning Wish. I can’t remember them all, nor even the names of some of those cards. I’m sorry.

Round 12: Counter Slivers

Game 1 I played turn 1 Birds. Turn 2 I could play a devastating Magus of the Moon, but I could afford to play around Daze at this time. I had another land in hand, so I figured it was worth it. I played Tarmogoyf instead, and he Force of Willed it, and next turn Magus of the Moon resolved. To deal with the Slivers in play I had Shriekmaw and Eternal Witness, and he conceded since all his lands were Mountains.

Game 2 I resolved a Survival of the Fittest. He Stifled the Survival ability three times, but I managed to get the engine going, hold his offensive, and then overwhelm him.

6 – 5 – 1

Round 13: Mario Pascoli, playing Counterbalance Goyf

Game 1 he locked me with Counterbalance / Sensei’s Divining Top. Game 2 I managed to force Magus of the Moon down after some discard and Eternal Witness plays. Game 3 he kept a one-lander with Sensei’s Divining Top, and he never saw a second land, although it took me a lot of time to kill him.

7 – 5 – 1

So far, 2-0 felt great. I’d won more games just by dropping a Magus of the Moon than by actually playing a Survival of the Fittest. Next round that plan did not work, because it was against Blue/Green and Red Threshold: they have Lightning Bolt and Fire/Ice to kill it.

Round 14: Threshold with Red

The games were quite frustrating. He won the die roll and played Sensei’s Divining Top. I played Cabal Therapy on Counterbalance and missed. He drew and played Counterbalance, locking me. Game 2 I played turn 1 Thoughtseize, seeing no pieces of the lock, and forcing him to discard Brainstorm. Turn 2 I played another Thoughtseize, saw that he drew nothing, and forced him to discarded his turn 2 play. On his turn 2 he drew and passed. At the end of my turn he played Brainstorm, and on his turn he played Top and Balance, locking me again.

7 – 6 – 1

Round 15: Aras Senyuz, playing Stompy

Game 1 I was on the draw and he killed me on turn 4 thanks to two Rancor and some pump.

Game 2 I was on the play and managed to avoid being killed on turn 4 again, taking control of the game.

Game 3, unfortunately, I was on the draw, and he killed me on turn 5, again with double Rancor.

7 – 7 – 1

Round 16: UGBW Top Balance

Both games were quite exciting due to multiple Dark Confidant flips. Luckily I won game 1 without drawing any Survival of the Fittest, so he did not board enchantment removal, and I won game 2 abusing Survival.

8 – 7 – 1 (3-2 for Legacy)

For your Legacy, and Constructed tournaments in general, I wouldn’t advise you to change decks at the last minute. I still owe it to myself to play Landstill at the next Legacy tournament… who knows, maybe with Denying Channel!

The only thing I disliked about the metagame was, just like in Extended, the combo of Sensei’s Divining Top and Counterbalance. Wizards seems to be really careful about cards that ruin the fun of the game, like powerful countermagic, cheap land destruction spells, or efficient removal. Cheap and easy locks aren’t fun either. I don’t know if it’s too powerful… it probably isn’t, but it certainly isn’t fun to play against. With this I conclude my second day at Worlds, and my first (and probably last) artilcle on Legacy.

Thank you for reading!