Positive EV – A Look at Legacy: Two Matchups Redux

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Friday, May 14th – Legacy is a format with a fan-base that’s expanding fast. Today, Manuel Bucher plays two Legacy matchups against playtest partner Antoine Ruel, throwing Survival Bant against Reanimator and Zoo against ANT. We’ve heard Antoine’s side of the story… now Manu has his say!

For today’s article I am playing Legacy against Antoine. We tried to cover the four most popular non-Dredge archetypes in the format, but since Bant Survival might be my favourite Legacy deck, I will play it over any other Tarmogoyf / Force of Will deck.

The list is a pretty standard Bant Survival list. My counterspell of choice from Daze, Spell Snare, and Spell Pierce is definitely Daze. The deck seems to tap out a lot, and without Noble Hierarch it seems very difficult to keep up mana for Spell Snare or Spell Pierce on turn 2.

As a reminder, Antoine’s decklist:

Preboard Games (5 wins, 7 losses)

The games before sideboarding are very high variance, and if you don’t have a Daze, Force of Will, or sometimes Spellstutter Sprite in the first two turns, you are pretty much drawing dead. There are some games you might be able to race a Reanimated guy, but you shouldn’t be able to do so with an Exhumed monster.

You almost never want to use your Noble Hierarch for attacking, since the damage only matters very, very rarely against a Reanimated guy, but running into a Daze (or two) can cost you the game much more often. Also, if you keep up your mana with Noble Hierarch, it gets tougher for your opponent to play around all the spells you might have.

If possible, you should try to keep up Spellstutter Sprite mana instead of building up early pressure. Your guys are rarely big enough to race a Reanimated guy (yes, even Tarmogoyf), but even if they are, you are probably better off just countering the Reanimate — and you won’t be able to race an Exhumed guy no matter what. Of course, if you are able to race later in the game, you should always play your guys over the Faerie.

Other than that, preboarded games are pretty simple, and you won’t face a lot of tough decisions.


+1 Llawan, Cephalid Empress

+1 Sower of Temptation

+2 Faerie Macabre

+2 Ethersworn Canonist

+3 Spell Pierce

-4 Swords to Plowshares

-1 Iona, Shield of Emeria

-1 Loyal Retainers

-2 Rhox War Monk

-1 Qasali Pridemage

Swords to Plowshares, Iona, and Loyal Retainers are pretty much blanks in the matchup, and thus they are easy cuts. Qasali Pridemage doesn’t have any targets, aside from a Pithing Needle your opponent might sideboard in, and it is too rare for that scenario to be relevant and you’re lucky enough to have the Pridemage. Rhox War Monk is merely the worst guy you have left in your deck, and all the cards you are boarding in are better suited in the matchup.

Llawan, Cephalid Empress is able to bounce any Reanimated guy. Sower of Temptation is able to steal some, but is definitely the worst card post-board.

Faerie Macabre and Spell Pierce are obviously the nuts in the matchup.

Ethersworn Canonist prevents your opponent from countering your countermagic, and makes their Force of Wills and Dazes pretty useless all by itself. It’s pretty similar to Vexing Shusher (which is better against Counterbalance, of course) without having the necessary mana requirement.

Postboard Games (10 wins, 2 losses)

Postboard games get a lot easier, and it is tough for your opponent to fight against all your hate. You are very unlikely to lose whenever you draw a Faerie Macabre, or when you get to use Survival even once. Remember that if you use Faerie Macabre against Exhume, you get back your 2/2 flyer, and that its creature type is Faerie so your Spellstutter Sprite will be more powerful.

Noble Hierarch should attack even less often than it did in preboard games, and you should always keep your mana up over casting guys. The first creature you want to be casting, aside from Noble Hierarch, will almost always be Ethersworn Canonist. Once you have the Canonist on the table with any hard counterspell in backup (which Spell Pierce will often be), you are in a position to win more often than not.

You should mulligan very aggressively so you are able to stop a turn 2 Reanimate or Exhume. Turn 3 Llawan should be a keep, both on the play and on the draw. However, the same can’t be said for Sower of Temptation.

If you play the postboard games very carefully, you should be in amazing shape, but your opponent can always randomly win since the decks in Legacy are so powerful that there are draws you are just unable to stop, or you may have to take too many mulligans in order to successfully fight a good draw.

In a best-of-three match, I would feel very confident with the list as posted. Since the card pool in the format is so big, and there are a ton of different matchups, you obviously want to adjust the deck to the metagame you are expecting. Even though it is easily possible to run a toolbox in such a deck, it doesn’t mean that you have to end up doing that, since if you are not sure what you are facing or you have the wrong tools for the metagame, it greatly hurts the performance of the deck.

Onto the next matchup!

I chose the main deck from Alejandro Delgado, who piloted the deck to a Top 8 finish at Grand Prix: Madrid. I like the Fireblasts in the deck, and I am an overall fan of the numbers and cards in the main deck for an unknown metagame. I am a bit unsure about Figure of Destiny, and I would probably prefer Kird Ape (or Steppe Lynx), but that’s the only thing I do not agree on for the main deck. I don’t think adding a couple of Gaddock Teegs will help you a lot against Storm or Dredge, since you can easily lose games where you draw one of them, but having it can really hurt in matchups where a Grizzly Bear just won’t be enough. Of course, I must point out that this is for an unknown metagame.

My only changes are 3 Mindbreak Trap in the sideboard instead of 2 Volcanic Fallouts and an Ethersworn Canonist. I think the Mindbreak Traps are necessary to have some chance against Storm, where Canonist and Gaddock Teeg are too slow, both on the play and on the draw. I also don’t really like the Volcanic Fallouts in the sideboard.

As a reminder, here is Antoine’s decklist:

Preboard Games (6 wins, 6 losses)

You are pretty much goldfishing, with your only interaction being a hope that your opponent will fall below 4 life with Ad Nauseam, which leaves you able to Fireblast him. It is absolutely necessary to have a one-drop opening hand in order to win games, but the matchup seems really difficult to win pre-board, and you have to rely a lot on your opponent revealing expensive cards with Ad Nauseam.

-1 Qasali Pridemage
-4 Path to Exile
-2 Sylvan Library
-1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
-2 Knight of the Reliquary
+3 Mindbreak Trap
+2 Gaddock Teeg
+2 Ethersworn Canonist
+3 Pyroblast

The only real question is if you want to have a Grim Lavamancer or a Qasali Pridemage in your postboard version. I prefer to have the one-mana 1/1, since it cheapens up your deck, an deck in which you are drawing Pyroblast.

Postboard Games (5 wins, 9 losses)

You should always try to counter the Ad Nauseam with Mindbreak Trap, and not wait for the Tendrils, since your opponent might reveal a discard effect with the card-flipping instant which will leave you without any disruption.

Pyroblast adds some more (or some) decisions to your game. Whenever I draw Gaddock Teeg or Ethersworn Canonist, I chose to not play any one-drops and instead keep Pyroblast up. This way I lower the chance of my opponent having a turn 1 / turn 2 kill, and I might actually have the time to play my guy. Once I have the guy on the table, I want to be able to keep up Pyroblast at any time — this way you prevent it from getting bounced. If you don’t have any of the disruptive Grizzly Bears, it is important to curve out. Pyroblast won’t be able to buy you more than one turn, and keeping the mana up to play it will give your opponent more than that time. On turn 2, you sometimes fall into situations where you have to do the math to see if the extra damage from a higher casting cost guy, or two one-mana guys, makes a difference in your clock, or if you are able to keep Pyroblast up.

Overall, the matchup is pretty boring to play, and you won’t have many decisions. After playing the games, I am not sure if you actually want to have the Mindbreak Traps and the Canonist in the sideboard, or if it is better to just give up against Storm (or hope they get really unlucky twice) and optimize in the other matchups.

Overall I am glad that the games between Survival and Reanimator ended up pretty interesting to play out, and I didn’t expect anything different in the ones between Zoo and Storm. Sadly, we chose the matchups randomly, and it might have turned out more interesting if Survival would have battled against Storm and Zoo against Reanimator.

Thanks for reading!

Manu B