Snapshot Of Legacy

Ari Lax knows Grand Prix New Jersey is right around the corner! The whole nation will turn its eyes on Magic’s classic format. Read Ari’s analysis of the format and use it to conquer #SCGATL!

With Eternal Championships in just over a month and Grand Prix New Jersey coming up quickly after that, it’s about time for me to start looking at the
Legacy format. A lot has changed since this time last year when I won Legacy Champs
and subsequently bricked out of Grand Prix DC, and the
only thing that remains the same is that I don’t want to play Storm.

Well, I want to, but I don’t really want to.

The Reigning Kings:

Miracles has been on a tear lately, making it tothe Invitational finals in the hands of Reid Duke andwinning threeof the last four Legacy Opens.

The way Miracles wins matches isn’t really the traditional control gameplan of outlast your opponent and have some source of inevitability, though it might
have a couple in certain matchups. Miracles really revolves around the concept that one of its answers is too good for your deck to handle. Playing combo?
Good luck beating Counterbalance + Sensei’s Divining Top. Even if it doesn’t cover your combo, it will cover your interaction while the Miracles player’s
Force of Wills and Counterspells handle the rest. Playing creatures? Terminus is quite unreasonable to beat. Some bizarre linear deck? Blue, White, and Red
have insanely powerful sideboard cards, including Rest in Peace, Blood Moon, Moat, Humility, and… Keranos, God of Storms? Notice how all of these are
enchantments and can be found with Enlightened Tutor if you want to go down that road.

The problems Miracles has come when it doesn’t have an effective lock piece. There are a number of fair decks that have cost diverse threats to avoid
Counterbalance, value creatures, or single card threats that make Terminus and Swords to Plowshares ineffective. Miracles lacks in ways to pull back from
getting X-for-one’d over and over in these matchups and has to play the aggressor when it isn’t extremely well equipped to do so. You either have to move
all in on a quick, unopposed Jace and ride the card advantage to victory or keep the board half stabilized until you can slam an Entreat the Angels for
multiple tokens and race.

Of course, at the moment these decks tend to be full of nonbasics and die to Blood Moon, but it’s very reasonable for someone to build one that isn’t or
for the fair deck play to just win the fight over Blood Moon.

Delver is as Delver has been for the full three years since the card was printed, and more reasonably, as Canadian Threshold has been for nearly the entire
time Legacy has been a format. You land some threat, play a bunch of Stone Rains and Counterspells to generate a bunch of virtual Time Walks, and
eventually they die before they do anything relevant.

The big draw to Delver decks is that contrary to the other “fair” blue decks, they are one of the best enforcers in the format. If you play a Stoneforge
Mystic or Shardless Agent deck and your opponent starts Veteran Explorering and casting Karn Liberated, there’s only so much you can do before being buried
in cards that you had no idea you had to handle. If you play Counterbalance + Sensei’s Divining Top and your opponent taps four Cloudposts and casts the
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn that they found off Eye of Ugin, you really aren’t going to have a lot of options.

Delver does a good job of ignoring all of that garbage and more. Kept a bad hand? Stifle your fetch, you don’t get to play spells. Delvered. Played too
many nonbasics in your deck? Wasteland, Brainstorm into another Wasteland, you don’t play spells and die. Delvered. Play a cool expensive card? Daze it.

Of course, very similar to the other great enforcer of the format (Storm), people eventually start playing enough high quality cards that are good against
your archetype that your high end success becomes limited.

Of the Delver decks, we’ve seen BUG Delver out performing RUG and U/W/R Delver, which is probably the most telling thing about the deck’s place in the

See, RUG Delver is inherently the best Delver deck at Delvering people, and for a long time that was all that mattered.

Then Deathrite Shaman was printed and fair decks gained some more Wasteland resilience. Delver still kept on Delvering because A) Deathrite Shaman died to
Lightning Bolt, B) the Deathrite Shaman decks still lost to Wasteland more than enough of the time, and C) the Deathrite Shaman decks had real issues with
Sneak Attack and Show and Tell. Delver was also one of the best decks against Show and Tell strategies that were crushing the format at the time as you
free rolled about half your games by preventing them from casting or resolving a spell.

Then people figured out how to beat Show and Tell with other decks (read: Karakas and Phyrexian Revoker) and Delver still won because preventing your
opponent from resolving a spell for six turns was still a good thing.

Then True-Name Nemesis was printed and things got bad for Delver.

Obviously by True-Name Nemesis I’m referring to the combination of it plus equipment via Stoneforge Mystic. Previously, Stoneforge Mystic was certainly a
way to beat Delver, but it was easy for the tempo player to dance around the card. Beyond Stifling the Stoneforge Mystic trigger or just countering the
creature, you could manage the equipment very well. If they found Umezawa’s Jitte, you could Lightning Bolt the target. If they found Batterskull you could
just kill the Stoneforge Mystic and the rest of your deck would stop them from casting a five-drop.

True-Name Nemesis changed that last part. You couldn’t really dance around equipping a True-Name Nemesis because that’s what the card does. You can’t do
anything about it, and that’s that. It also stalls Tarmogoyfs exceptionally well, allowing your opponent to reach a point of the game where they cast more
spells. Incidentally, that is the part of the game where you die if you’re playing Delver.

U/W/R Delver is not a deck I’m surprised to see fall away given this. It had a lot of success as the level two Delver deck that happened to be kind of
Delvery while breaking the mirror with Stoneforge Mystic plus True-Name Nemesis, but once people adapted to True-Name the deck fell in the middle of having
all of Delver’s problems plus having all of the Stoneblade problems. Long story short, trying to play slower threats and higher cost creatures does not
mesh well with also trying to be the tempo deck.

BUG Delver, on the other hand, solves the problem in a way that keeps up the tempo. Abrupt Decay isn’t the most Delverish card because it doesn’t cost one
mana, draw cards, deal damage, or destroy a land, but it helps out against a few of the biggest issues the deck currently has.

The first is the above equipped True-Name Nemesis issue. If you can just Abrupt Decay the Umezawa’s Jitte or Germ token whenever you want, things get a lot
easier. There are certainly reasonable artifact removal options in Red but none that you can reasonably maindeck in Legacy. If you’re playing creatures and
want to stop Stoneblade decks from trumping you, Abrupt Decay is really the best option.

The second issue is Tarmogoyf. There are certainly ways the fair, non-Nemesis decks are able to handle Delver, and a lot of that has to do with the fact
that stopping a two mana spell from resolving can be a bit difficult. When you have absolutely no ways to remove that two mana creature from play and it
outraces your clock or blocks all your non-Delver creatures, you have a genuine issue. Playing Black instead of Red gives you a very good answer to
Tarmogoyf, and while that isn’t necessary, the fact that it is a bonus add to a card you want for other purposes really makes the decision clear.

Recently, by Legacy terms at least, there has been a big shift as to how combo functions in the format.

The older combo decks like Storm, Sneak and Show, and Reanimator all play classic showdown Magic. There’s a few turns of setup where you engineer a winning
position, you deploy your combo, and if it resolves you win; and if you lose you are out a very significant number of resources.

This was problematic as decks have evolved to include more and more disruption. Sideboards became more and more streamlined, Snapcaster Mage and Shardless
Agent increased the density of those answers in each deck, and threats just got better at giving combo less time to win. Less interactive decks skimp on
creatures and play answers instead.

So combo evolved with them. Instead of playing showdown Magic, combo started playing a lot of individual threats. If you lost the fight over one, the next
one would just come down. Eventually, you would wear down the generic answers the interactive decks had and go broken.

The first deck to adopt this new approach was Elves. Elves always existed in the format, but until Craterhoof Behemoth was printed it was a little bit
behind the rest of the combo options in power level, with a few choice finishes in the hands of Chris Andersen when the format allowed for it. With the
Craterhoof Behemoth + Natural Order package Matt Nass played at Grand Prix Denver 2013, Elves got a little more firepower.
The legend rule change last summer only added more ways for the deck to present lethal threats exceptionally early. Green Sun’s Zenith, Natural Order,
Glimpse of Nature, and Craterhoof Behemoth are all castable cards that easily win the game on the spot, and odds are you present more of these threats than
your opponent can answer in a given game. Add the beatdown plan B and the Elvish Visionary + Wirewood Symbiote engine and you can see why one-for-one
answers tend to fail against Elves.

Burn was the second deck on this plan to get a huge boost, largely thanks to Eidolon of the Great Revel. While there is a bit more set up required to get
your opponent into the must counter range, the deck does a really good job of playing the next threat because, well, every card is the same thing. After
the first five or six burn spells resolve you have to stop every draw step.

Infect is the next in line of this style of combo deck.

People have adapted to Elves with sweepers and other ways to attack the fact that Elves needs multiple one-drop creatures to survive. Those same answers
don’t apply to Infect. Infect is also a bit quicker to snowball than Elves. Letting a single Elf live usually gives you a turn or two to set up a bigger
play or figure out what matters. If Infect plays Glistener Elf on turn 1 there are a number of ways you can just be dead on turn 2. Of course, if you kill
that Glistener Elf they can just follow up with an Inkmoth Nexus or Blighted Agent and just keep going. Sure, the deck has Force of Will, Spell Pierce, and
Daze to protect its threats, but the big thing here is that it doesn’t have to fight over the threats it plays. Each Infect creature is effectively a
Duress if your opponent wants to fight over it, and each turn you hang around with one in play reduces the amount you have to commit to go for lethal.

The other big thing about Infect is the speed at which it kills. It isn’t quite Storm fast, but it certainly has the edge on speed compared to Show and
Tell or Elves. In addition to coming out ahead in the combo mirror race, this means you come out under a bunch of other weird things and interaction. While
Delvering them and attacking their mana is one way to stop your opponent from playing scary spells, you can also just kill them. Hard to make mana once you
sign the match slip.

Of course, Infect is good now, but as with most combo decks in Legacy there are definitely ways to adapt to it. Infect in Legacy is very similar to Infect
in Modern. If you just make a bunch of blockers and play a bunch of cheap removal, they will struggle to kill you. The decks that beat Infect in this
format are going to look a lot like Jund does in Modern, and that kind of deck had been pushed from the metagame as it had real issues dealing with the
single card power that something like Sneak and Show represented.

Infect has been slowly creeping up as a playable deck, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the second Invitational win in a row was enough to put it into the
realm of solid contenders.

The next step:

This deck is a garbagey Rock-ish midrange pile that given the choice I would never even consider playing.

And Gerry Thompson is 100% correct. Shardless BUG is very good in current Legacy.

While your lands are all non-basics and fetches, opening you up to Wasteland and Stifle, you have the tools to fight Delver if you play your lands in a
smart way. Abrupt Decay their threats, stall out the game, and use the inevitability of Ancestral Visions to win.

You have all the things that give Miracles fits. Abrupt Decay to bust up their “lock”, diverse mana costs to fight straight through it, two-for-ones, and
Ancestral Visions.

You are the Jund deck that Infect doesn’t want to see. You have a reasonable clock and discard to manage Burn, and you can board a lot of things that make
Elves unhappy.

If those are the big bases to cover, you have them all on lock.

Where to go From Here?

If you are willing to ignore the random portion of the metagame, there are ways to go deeper on the midrange front than Shardless BUG. Punishing Jund loses
some of the resiliency to random garbage that Force of Will offers, but Punishing Fire is a real game changer against a lot of the top tier decks.

Blood Moon is exceptionally well-positioned right now. Delver, Shardless BUG, and Infect all have issues with the card. People have been too focused on the
card in fragile shells (Goblin Prison and its predecessors) or in
shells that are weak to Abrupt Decay (Painted Stone). I want to see the card played in a shell closer to Miracles, where Blood Moon is just a thing in an
otherwise functional deck. Blood Moon as your main gameplan isn’t nearly as good as Moon as your other gameplan.

I also really like the pseudo-degenerate decks, but it’s a lot of work to have the right one on the right weekend and get the right matchups. If you want
to play Life from the Loam or Cloudpost, you really have to hope none of your opponents are the guy playing Lotus Petals. If you want to play one of these
Veteran Explorer decks, you better know exactly what you are doing first.

Khans of Tarkir Notes

I would be remiss to not mention something about the ongoing spoilers this week. While nothing quite as exciting as the PAX fetchland reveal occurred,
there are certainly a few noteworthy ones that have been revealed since last weekend.

End Hostilities might be the single most important card spoiled so far. At Pro Tour Journey into Nyx Extinguish all Hope was the best card in my sideboard
by miles. The fact that this effect just didn’t exist is one of the reasons you had to play Courser of Kruphix and Sylvan Caryatid, as otherwise there
wasn’t a reasonable way to stop a Mono-Black Aggro start that also interacted with the Polukranos plus Stormbreath Dragon decks.

Wingmate Roc is really interesting. If there are enough creatures that you can play that don’t start suicide attacking by turn 5 the card will be
exceptional, but those cards just didn’t exist in Block.

I’m very cold on Clever Impersonator. Comparing it to Phyrexian Metamorph isn’t remotely close, as that card was a three-drop that you could play in any

Empty the Pits is a card I’ll just have to try casting. It’s either unbelievable and makes me glad Agent of Erebos exists or just worse than the other

The fact that all the red creatures in the format look like idiots compared to Courser of Kruphix is really frustrating to me. Just give me a Pyreheart
Wolf instead of a 3/2 that has duplicate text of “This can’t be blocked by Sylvan Caryatid.” (War-Name Aspirant.)

As for the multicolored cards, most of the ones I like are 4/4s for three mana with multiple abilities (and maybe a 3/3 in Mantis Rider). Typically these
sets make it real easy to figure out which cards are good, and it’s just an issue of finding which three color combination gives you the support cards that
make them worth playing.