Teach Me How To Legacy

Mark has to learn how to play Legacy before the SCG Invitational in Las Vegas and needs your help! Tell him which deck he should play and why in the comments!

Either teach me how to Legacy or teach me how to Dougie.

I feel Dougieing would be easier.

Dearest readers, I have a confession to make. I don’t know jack about Legacy. I’ve playtested some games in my dining room before . . . that one night . . . like two years ago . . .

I’ve played in exactly one Legacy tournament in my entire life, and it was several years ago; I’m thinking around the beginning of 2010. My buddy and GP Hoth Champ Bronson Magnan wanted a traveling partner to the SCG Open Series in Orlando that year, so I obliged him by going along. It worked out really well in that he handed me a Zoo deck that had three dual lands in it and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing with it.

"Attack people and burn them until they are dead," Bronson told me.

Seemed simple enough. I was under the impression that Legacy was a very skill-intensive format, and boy howdy was I right about that assumption. Despite being a layman, I was able to start the tournament off 4-1. I followed Bronson’s advice to a tee: turn things sideways until they picked up their cards and gave me a disgusted look. The first few rounds saw me dispatching of a few Merfolk decks, Burn, and the mirror. My loss came to Lands, which I was told is very difficult to begin with unless your name is Pat Cox; I’m Mark Nestico, so that loophole closed rather quickly.

In round 6 I was paired against a very nice fellow piloting Storm. I was able to eke out a very close game 1 where I had the nuts and he mulliganed to four. So. Close. Game 2 saw the roles reversed, and I took a trip to Paris a few times before he was able to combo me out with relative ease.

As I shuffled up for the third game, I felt good about my chances since my deck included multiple copies of cards like Ethersworn Canonist and Gaddock Teeg. As I drew my seven, I honestly could not have sculpted a better hand! It was two lands, Teeg, Canonist, Wild Nacatl, Noble Hierarch, and Lightning Bolt. I led off with a fetch into a Taiga, played my Hierarch, and passed the turn. I felt great about untapping and playing one of my hosers, preferably the Canonist.

My opponent drew, looked at his land, and started to laugh.

"Well, that was a lucky draw . . . "

I watched as he went off on turn 1, killing me before I could even untap with the ol’ perfects. At the time I didn’t really understand what was happening, but I knew that I hated it. This guy seriously killed me on turn 1? Really? Is that what’s up? Is that what’s hot in the streets right now? Killing your opponent on turn 1? Maaaaaaaaaan.

I ended the event at X-2-1, which was kind of neat, but that loss left a sour taste in my mouth (mostly because I was a rage-addicted idiot man-child)—but still! I was trying to do fair things like attack with one mana 3/3s, and here he was just outright blowing my brains out before the game even started.

It was then that I decided I was going to just focus on Standard and Limited and leave Legacy alone.

But then Shawn French happened.

I love Shawn French, and Shawn French loves me. We’re total bros. Shawn’s wheelhouse has always been Legacy, and he’s a very good player when it comes to Brainstorms. Aside from introducing U/W Miracles to the world back at the SCG Open in Orlando last year, he’s also posted some very respectable Legacy Grand Prix results, with at least a Top 16 that I can identify and a few other great finishes.

Shawn wanted me to play Legacy too, so being the trading master that I was I started picking up everything I could for the format.

And then my collection was . . . well . . . you know . . .

Losing everything can put a damper on just about everything when it comes to Magic. Luckily I still had a deck for Standard, but everything else was gone. The Jaces, the Forces, the duals, and Goyfs . . . dust in the wind.

That’s two strikes, Legacy. One more and you’re out.

I was content to stay the hell away from a format that apparently had it out for me—that is until . . .

Shawn French: "Vegas. We are going to Vegas."

Me: "For . . . ?"

Shawn French: "Invitational."

Me: "I don’t know how to Legacy."

Shawn French: "Long hair, don’t care."

Crap. He had invoked the sacred rites of long hair, don’t care. Now I had to go.

It was then that I resigned myself to learning everything I could about the format because if I’m going to spend that kind of money on a plane ticket, hotel, delicious food, alcohol, clubs, gambling, more alcohol . . . wait . . . what the hell was I talking about again?

Sorry, I had to scroll up to regain my train of thought. Choo choo!

To make a long story short, I began my crash course in Legacy, and so far the results feel promising. I’ve created a list of decks that I think would be very good for me given my strengths and weaknesses along with the kinds of decks I’m trying to avoid.

This is where you come in!

Pretend this is a perfect world and I have access to any deck in the format that I want to play (trick question: I do) and can put together anything. Understanding what kind of player I am, I am actually going to leave this decision up to my readers as to what I am going to battle with at the Invitational in December.

No, I am not kidding. I put my fate in your hands.

I will give you multiple decks that I feel I could do well with, and you will all vote on what you think the best course of action would be. I will then commence immediate testing with it (as of next week) and will learn the ins and outs of it with several of my more experienced Legacy friends, battling against everything they have to offer.

Without further ado, it’s . . .

Mark’s Legacy Fate Is In Your Hands, So Don’t Screw This S*** Up

Before we begin, I think I should outline what I feel my strengths as a player are along with my glaring weaknesses in Legacy.

My Strengths: I feel very comfortable with aggressive, midrange, and control decks. I learn through repetition; I am good at memorizing game states and can use past experiences to build on what plays are the most optimal, so playing hundreds of games over the course of a month is very helpful. I also don’t tilt anymore, so playing against more experienced players won’t cause me to think I’m outmatched and I’ll be able to stick to my game plan. I have excellent teachers.

My Weaknesses: Most glaringly, I have almost no experience in this field. My format of expertise is Standard, so this is mostly foreign to me. Despite reading everything I can on Legacy, talking to better players, and watching every bit of coverage, I’m a novice. Aside from that, I need to learn how to Brainstorm better since it’s an integral part of playing most decks well. Against combo decks I have to learn what to counter and when to let certain spells resolve. Lastly, I know the skeletons of most decks but not the meat of all of them enough to feel confident when my opponent starts playing spells (i.e. what to play around, what they could/couldn’t possibly have, etc.).

Bearing these things in mind, these are the decks I am most inclined to want to play:

This deck is easily number one on my radar, not because it won the latest Legacy Grand Prix but because it fits my play style very well. I love tempo-oriented decks backed by card draw and permission, and any deck that that can punish your opponent for a greedy keep is the kind I can get behind. It also plays to my strengths in that it’s a deck I can learn through repetition, learning how to cull my weaknesses and how to Brainstorm and Force of Will better.

It feels well equipped to deal with multiple strategies, and that kind of versatility might be exactly what I need to do well given a diverse field.

Next up we have an obvious inclusion.

This deck must be McDonald’s because I’m lovin’ it. [Editor’s Note: Aren’t we better than a McDonald’s pun Mark?]

Easily one of the most powerful and consistent strategies in all of Legacy, Sneak and Show would give me the benefit of both live play and lots of goldfishing in between to learn the best lines of how to assemble the combo. Being able to play cards like Blood Moon and Pyroclasm out of the board makes me feel like you can deal with almost any deck, be it control, aggro, or a deck like Elves. This deck just does everything so well and with amazing redundancy. Sometimes free wins are good, and being able to cast the rare turn 1 Show and Tell for one of your fatties might be too good a prospect to pass up.

If attacked, the deck has the ability to rebuild due to tons of cantrips, and that might help me given my inexperience.

Another deck that seems like a tantalizing option is this bad boy!

I’m lucky that Jimmy Bishop is my friend because I don’t think there is a better RUG Delver player than him in the States. For those of you that don’t know Jimmy, he has this deck down to a freakish science. When it’s good, Jimmy is playing it. When it’s awful, Jimmy is playing it. When it’s the worst deck in the format, Jimmy is playing it. Get the picture? I know if you decide that this is the deck I should play I’ll have an absolute master to teach me everything about this deck, so I’m not remotely afraid if this is my fate. Aside from the bravado, I like drawing lots of cards and dropping reasonable threats backed by counters and burn. It’s a great all-purpose deck, so I’d be happy to battle with something that does everything reasonably well.

Would it be a Mark Nestico article without some Jund? Probably not . . .

If you pick this deck, I wouldn’t fault you. You all know how much I love this shard, and I’m actually quite experienced with playing every card in Jund with relative ease. This deck would be the safest call since it would give me a "security blanket" of sorts if you so wish. It’s powerful, consistent, and has plenty of answers to everything in the format. It does just about everything I want to do except Brainstorm, and I love me some Liliana of the Veil.

My one gripe with this choice is that it’s too obligatory for me. I wouldn’t fault anyone for picking this deck, so don’t let this deter you.

Bringing up the rear are two decks I would absolutely relish the opportunity to battle with:

Now, in the case of Shardless BUG, the truth is that I want to play it because it looks like an absolute blast to play. Basically it plays all of my favorite cards and strategies, and I would almost certainly have the most fun with it out of every deck I’ve posted.

Esper Stoneblade looks extremely attractive to me as well. The spell suite is absolutely beautiful, and Snapcaster Mage rebuying all those amazing spells seems too powerful to pass up. The sideboard really makes me happy because it provides tones of ways to deal with problematic cards, including Detention Sphere for the Sneak and Show matchup which is brilliant.

Both of these entries might be on the bottom of my list, but they are pretty much interchangeable with everything except U/W/R Delver.

Decks I Have No Chance In Hell Of Playing

I had to deliberate quite carefully when selecting the decks I would almost certainly not pick up, and they pretty much all fall under the combo category. Simply put, I don’t feel like I’m good enough to play them at this point in my Legacy crash course. These decks include:

  • Dredge – My name isn’t Dave Thomas or Justin Martin.
  • Elves – My name isn’t Luis Scott-Vargas.
  • Storm – I am not Adam Prosak.
  • Tin Fins – I have no idea what that deck even does most of the time.
  • Death and Taxes – Too vanilla. *rim shot* It literally doesn’t appeal to me on any level.
  • Reanimator – Not a fan.
  • Spanish Inquisition – I’d get lost just looking at my opening hand.
  • Lands – I’d fall asleep just looking at my opening hand.
  • Goblins – My name isn’t Max, and I don’t play the guitar.
  • Merfolk – I was attacked by a fish when I was seven.

Do I sound neurotic enough?

If one of the decks I didn’t pick is something you absolutely 100% feel I must play, feel free to state your case as to why, and if enough people agree with you maybe, I will end up giving it a shot.

This is your mission, people. Pick the deck, and next week I’ll reveal what I’m going to battle with.

. . .

. . .

. . .

I’m pretty much begging you not to screw me on this one since I’m putting all my trust in your hands.

I hope a mass trolling doesn’t occur and I don’t get stuck playing Metalworker or something like that, but such is life when I leave the choice up to you.

Please make sure to not only provide the deck you want me to play but also a good reason since that will certainly tip the scales more than "PLAY ESPER BECAUSE I LIKE HAM."

Do be gentle with me . . .

Catch ya on the flip-

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