The Long And Winding Road – Legacy: It’s Like Having Tiger Blood

Thursday, March 10 – This article by Eternal expert Matt Elias has everything you need for this weekend’s Legacy Open in Memphis: Legacy cards you should be buying, Affinity decklists, a much-too-large sandwich, and more.

This article is all over the place and covers a wide range of topics relating primarily to Legacy, including some that I normally don’t touch
with a metaphorical ten-foot pole. I’m not going to bother to try to lay out what you’re about to read in a nice, tidy introductory

Financial Advice from Lenny Dykstra

First thing on today’s agenda: digging into Legacy’s card pool to look at cards that are going to increase in value, some sleepers out
there with potential to do so, and some cards that should see more play than they do.

This is not an article about trading. If you see me at an event, I don’t want to trade with you. Trading has been forever ruined by people who
are convinced they can turn Lifelace into a Nicholas Cage mansion purchased at auction by offering me pennies on the dollar as if I don’t know
any better. The only trading I do is exchanging currency for cards and exchanging them back again later for more currency than I started with.

So, here are some cards that are going to go up in value. Don’t get caught trading these for less than they’re going to be worth in the
near future.

Decks that do well in Legacy, or even those that have a buzz about them, have resulted in massive price spikes over the past eighteen months. This
applies to cards that are relatively inexpensive, such as Enlightened Tutor jumping from a few bucks to $10 plus. It applies to cards that are
moderately expensive, such as Entomb blowing up from $20 to $50 when Reanimator broke out. And, it applies to cards that are already expensive, such as
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Moat, and Imperial Recruiter.

Time Spiral was coming down from the price explosion that unfolded when the card was unbanned in Legacy, but you can expect that trend to stop, and
perhaps even reverse, now that the card finally had a breakout event. That should be patently obvious to anyone. If you want to invest intelligently,
pick up the supporting cards, like Meditate, Turnabout, Mind Over Matter, and Cunning Wish. People are slower to catch on to these, and you can get
what I call the Manabond effect. When 43 Lands heated up, cards like Exploration, Mox Diamond, Intuition, and Maze of Ith all saw immediate increases,
but Manabond could still be found for some time in many trade binders and even some store inventories for just a few dollars. Rishadan Port was
similarly underpriced for a long time, despite being a cornerstone of Goblins and seeing play in Lands.

Alix Hatfield’s winning deck
also played Candelabra of Tawnos. Not just one but the full set. Take a look:


As I mentioned, you can expect the support cards to slowly increase if this style of deck continues to do well. Candelabra itself is in danger of a
massive value jump. This is a card, like Moat or Imperial Recruiter, that is probably going to spike if it continues to see play, or even if buzz about
it continues. Besides seeing play in Alix’s deck, it’s also featured in an interesting Eldrazi deck, where the various “Posts” are
used to great effect. Take a look:

JR made the finals on 2/12 and followed that up with another finals appearance in a smaller event on 2/26. This deck hates Wastelands, but it’s very
good at finding Pithing Needle and is also rather good at racing many creature decks. It also has a boatload of unfamiliar interactions (Crop Rotation
with Posts and Eye of Ugin, for instance) and rarely played cards (All Is Dust), which can squeeze out a ton of value against unsuspecting opponents.

The other high-value card I’d watch besides Candelabra of Tawnos is Grim Tutor. This obscure gem was featured in Ari Lax’s Ad Nauseam
Tendrils deck, both at GP Columbus last year and again in his Top 4 appearance at the SCG Legacy Open in DC a few weekends back. The card has become a
mainstay online, where it’s at a rather different price point.

Clearly, it’s possible to build ANT and to succeed with it, without playing Grim Tutor. Philly Legacy ringer Mark Tocco muscled into a Top 8 with it last weekend, playing an extra Ad
Nauseam among other changes. I had the chance to test with Ari’s build last weekend, and every time I drew Grim Tutor, it was insane. It’s
particularly good at making the deck a better Ill-Gotten Gains deck, and in this metagame, that option is incredibly important.

Consider the metagame in which we find ourselves, wherein Counterbalance and Merfolk are clearly in recession, and various Junk decks and
“Taxes” strategies are having success. Against these decks, you don’t really want to ever win using Ad Nauseam. Sure, the card is
insane, but it opens you up to random chance. Ill-Gotten Gains is an easy win against non-blue decks that isn’t going to go wrong because it
isn’t random. Grim Tutor makes things much easier, as a setup card. Beyond that, it’s just another bomb card you can play with LEDs against
non-control opponents.

Here’s an example from testing.

I’m playing against a Dredge deck, having dumped two LEDs into play on turn 1 after playing Ponder. My opponent plays a first-turn Cabal Therapy
and blindly hits two Infernal Tutors, leaving me without much gas. I untap and draw Brainstorm. My opponent does his Dredge thing, doing stuff and
tossing some more Cabal Therapies my way. I use Brainstorm in response, leaving me with a hand of just a third land, with Grim Tutor on top.

On my turn, I play the third land, play Grim Tutor, break LEDs in response to grab Ill-Gotten Gains, and end with two mana floating after playing the
IGG. I pick up two Lion’s Eye Diamonds and an Infernal Tutor and replay the LEDs, using the two floating mana to play Infernal Tutor. Breaking in
response again, I’m able to play Ad Nauseam and while it’s close, that wins me the game.

Being able to go off like that with no Rituals at all, from essentially an empty hand, really blew me away. Obviously Infernal Tutor does the same
thing, but this increases your number of cards that can do so, and Grim is sometimes more flexible.

It seemed like every time Grim Tutor showed up, something insane happened that resulted in my winning. This card is really, really good, and given the
scarcity, should probably be more expensive than it is, I’m sorry to say. Once you play with it, you’ll wonder how you played without it.

Another card that should at least hold value, if not increase in value, is Mox Opal. This card is seeing play all over the place in Eternal decks.
After recently making a Top 8 in MUD, it was again in the Top 8 in NJ in Michael Eisenhauer’s Affinity deck. And, it was in the Top 16 in a
really interesting, artifact-heavy Thopters build as well. While
it has interesting design challenges, in any deck where it works, Mox Opal is immensely powerful. Unless Wizards stops printing artifacts, Mox Opal is
only going to get better. Support cards for decks that use Mox Opal are likely to increase, whether that means Arcbound Ravager, or Metalworker and
Goblin Welder. The lands that Drew Levin wrote about all week are also likely to continue their upward climb, specifically City of Traitors and Ancient

Here are some more cards with high potential:

Nether Void

While basically replaced with Trinisphere, which is also a legal four-of in Legacy, Nether Void is an immensely powerful card that simply doesn’t
have a home. If resolved in the first few turns of the game, most decks fold to it. As we’ve seen over and over, any time a Legends rare becomes
playable, the value explodes. Nether Void has a lot of breakout potential.

The Abyss

This is a card that may be too slow for today’s Legacy, but there are points of acceleration now that didn’t exist before. For instance, a
mostly artifact strategy similar to the MUD decks could use The Abyss to great effect. It’s easy on the second turn in a deck with Ancient Tombs, Grim
Monoliths, and Mox Opals, and the only change that would be required would be the removal of Goblin Welder (or, perhaps, a sideboard transition from
one to the other).

Diamond Valley

I don’t really see any application for the this card specifically, as there are already life combo decks that exist, but it’s here just as an
example of a card that has some potential, like Candelabra of Tawnos, to “break” out at some point due to a future printing.

Those are some fancy cards for fancy people, but Legacy’s card pool is out there, full of underutilized and undiscovered gems. Here are some
examples to expand your mind.

Enlightened Tutor

Does this card have room to move up beyond $10? I believe that it does. The number of strategies that want this card continues to increase. It’s seeing
play in Lands, Counter/Top, some combo decks… simply put, the card is exceptional and probably the best topdeck tutor in Legacy.


Speaking of Enlightened Tutor, consider Serenity. Perhaps one of the things keeping Enlightened Tutor down is that people haven’t thought of
enough targets for it. Serenity is one such option. As a one-of, this card breaks the spines of Affinity, MUD, and Enchantress.

Cursed Totem

I was excited to see this card show up in the Top 16. It shuts off Metalworker, Goblin Welder, Qasali Pridemage, Siege-Gang Commander, Goblin
Sharpshooter, the mana Elves, etc.

Null Rod

Hey, here’s another one! All Null Rod does is shut down Affinity, hose MUD, stop Candelabra, defeat Grindstone, harass ANT, and turn off
Sensei’s Divining Top…

Wrath of God / Damnation

While Wrath of God is probably never going to go up much in value, as there are approximately six billion in print (give or take), Damnation has much
more potential. Both cards are probably underplayed in this metagame, especially as sideboard considerations. While cards like Perish see play,
stepping up to the full-on Wrath is increasingly common. Decks like Junk that play Mox Diamond have the capability to play one on turn 3 to sweep a
board and take over the game in some matchups.

Llawan, Cephalid Empress

When I played Llawan at Grand Prix Chicago in 2009, it was a bulk rare that I dug out of a dollar bin. Besides being super-duper sick with
Painter’s Servant, Llawan beats up on Merfolk and bounces Progenitus, giving it nice versatility.

Pernicious Deed

Deed is a card that will likely never decrease in value, as it’s so good in EDH / Commander and casual play, but it has been seeing more play lately in
Legacy, and that may give it a bump. You can also find this card with…………… Enlightened Tutor!


See Pernicious Deed above, but remove the part about Enlightened Tutor.

Gaea’s Cradle

Cradle just keeps slowly creeping up in value, year after year; Elves decks, with and without Vengevine, are just short of being legitimate decks, and
if they ever get over the hump, this card is going to go nuts.

High Tide, Hymn to Tourach, Merchant Scroll, Cabal Ritual

Some cards to try to get thrown in on trades, for those of you who do that type of stuff.

Very briefly for Standard, Inferno Titan seems outrageously good right now, as does Summoning Trap. A card I expected to see play but never did was
Cyclops Gladiator, but that guy may actually be playable right now in something like RDW or Valakut, killing Cobras, Hawks, Mystics, and other things
that have two eyes and therefore make him jealous. Mortarpod is crazy good, but I think that tech is already out.

The Awesome Ways That People (Several of Which Are Me) Lose the Game!

Legacy, Mono-Blue Control against Reanimator. It is turn a million (turn count is approximate), and the MUC player has about twelve Islands in play.
Reanimator player plays Reanimate on an Iona in his graveyard, and it resolves. Game over, right? WRONG! MUC player untaps, plays Vedalken Shackles,
and takes the Iona. Shackle Trap!

Standard, Mono-White Quest against Tezzeret. Quest player attacks into Tezzeret player, who has three artifacts in play, a Phyrexian Crusader, three
cards in hand, and six mana available. The only attackers that can take Tezzeret below four loyalty are carrying Swords of Feast and Famine, so all the
attackers smash into the player, who discards down to one card. Tezzeret player untaps, plays Island, and casts Myr Battlesphere, and then uses the
ultimate on Tezzeret to put Quest player to four (going back up to nineteen life himself). Then, Crusader attacks, stealing Contested War Zone so the
Quest player can’t attack back for lethal. Battlesphere Trap!

Standard, Valakut against Caw-Blade. Valakut player ends a turn tapped out with two Valakuts in play and a Harrow and Terramorphic Expanse in hand,
threatening lethal in game one (so Caw-Blade has no hard counters and is looking at certain doom). Caw-Blade player casts Sword of Body and Mind (drawn
the hard way), connects, and mills ten cards out of thirty-nine remaining. There are five Mountains left in the Valakut deck, so Caw-Blade needs to
mill at least three to survive. The cards get milled out by the sword: blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, Mountain, Mountain, MOUNTAIN!
There Is No Justice Trap!

Legacy, Affinity against Merfolk. Affinity player gets way ahead on board, using Mox Opal on turn 1. On turn 3, Affinity plays Thoughtcast, drawing
Thoughtcast and Mox Opal (2). Second Thoughtcast draws Mox Opal (3) and Mox Opal (4). Merfolk plays Jitte and wins easily. You Suck At Shuffling Trap!

Legacy, Zoo against MUD. MUD appears to have the game under control, with a Wurmcoil Engine just resolved, Chalice on one, and Goblin Welder in play.
Zoo has a Wild Nacatl and Qasali Pridemage on the board. Wild Nacatl attacks, exalted trigger on the stack; Pridemage destroys Chalice = 1; the
Lightning Bolt kills Goblin Welder; then Path to Exile removes the Wurmcoil Engine. This-doesn’t-seem-that-bad-oh-God-I’m-ruined Trap!

Legacy, Affinity against Deedstill. Deedstill player plays Deed on turn 4. Affinity’s board is Frogmite, Frogmite, Myr Enforcer, Arcbound
Ravager, and some creatures. Deedstill is attacked to thirteen, then untaps with four mana, not finding land five on top of the deck. Deed gets blown
for three, leaving Frogmites and Enforcer. Affinity sacrifices all the permanents that get destroyed by Deed and moves them to a Frogmite, which dies
to Ghastly Demise. Affinty untaps, plays Memnite, and attacks for six. Deedstill draws, passes, and dies.

Mistakes Were Made!

Sunday night, a group of us went to Harold’s in Edison, NJ, to drown our sorrows in deli meat and milkshakes. Yes, it was as pathetic as it
sounds, but it was also delicious.

Jimmy Hangley, a man of no small appetite for a great many things, decided it would be a good idea to take on a Harold’s XL Roast Beef
“sandwich” with Bacon and a Root Beer. The result looked like this. Some animals were harmed in the making of this “sandwich”:


I have sandwich in quotes because when you deliver a pound of roast beef, one hundred strips of bacon, a two-inch thick layer of cheese, all skewered
together a foot high with a loaf of sliced bread on the side, sandwich does not seem like the appropriate term.

We tried to convince Jimmy that the XL was too much for him to handle, but he insisted.

As he said, “Mistakes were made.”

Legacy Prognostication

For some reason, when many perfectly reasonable people discuss Legacy, the part of their brains that contains the concept of a rotating, functional
metagame shuts off. The best way to fix this is to add the phrase “right now” to the end of what 90% of people say about Legacy. Here,

“You can’t win Legacy tournaments attacking with Wild Nacatl (right now)!”

“Merfolk is a terrible deck (right now)!”

Counterbalance is garbage (right now)!”

“Combo is the best strategy in the metagame (right now)!”

All of these statements are out there now, or were out there recently, just like people said Time Spiral and Grim Monolith weren’t very good (and
I include myself as an ex-doubter of Time Spiral / High Tide as a strategy). Many are actually recycled from various points in the past few years,
where they were pretty much debunked but have come around again.

Why? Because the metagame is rotating and rotating quickly. Right now, it’s like the wild, wild west out there in Legacy-land. The format has
been all over the map for the past twelve months. Survival more or less dominated the conversation for six months, and with that out of the way, and no
Mystical Tutor, we have to learn everything we know about Legacy all over again, apparently.

When people are designing in a vacuum, the result is a shift towards decks that win on sheer power or decks that attack the format broadly. Thus, we
see Junk decks and combo decks doing well, and Counterbalance (and control in general) is struggling to function, as it will until the clear top-tier
decks shake out. Once they do – and they will – the control decks will have a target and roar back. When combo decks struggle, the aggro
and tribal decks become functional again.

When Legacy is working correctly, no deck should be able to dominate, and no strategy should be able to dominate for months on end. The format is so
broad, and so full of fantastic strategies, that when large events are firing often, as they are now, the metagame is going to change dramatically from
month to month.

Of course it’s sometimes awful to play Wild Nacatl, or Goblin Lackey, or Cursecatcher, and sometimes it’s awful to play Counterbalance. Is
it really that hard to think of metagames where it’s awful to play Dark Ritual? Where it’s awful to play High Tide?

I like to think about it in terms of a first-person shooter. Weapons in those games are rarely “the best” in a vacuum. Context matters. In
close-combat fighting, you want one weapon; in open spaces, you want another; on levels with certain terrain features, another. Legacy functions in
much the same way.

For now, though, you probably don’t want to play a deck that’s defenseless for the first two turns of the game; at the very least, your
sideboard needs to have immediate answers.

And, yes, Merfolk does not seem like a particularly good choice (right now).

For those who insist on battling with creatures, I update you!

First, let’s take a look at Zoo. Here’s the aggressive Zoo build I played in NJ:

The decklist felt great. I opened up the tournament winning 2-0 against Thopters and 2-0 against Natural Order CB/Top. This deck is as good at beating
CB/Top as it ever was. I then got paired up against Dredge.

Let me tell you what I think about Dredge in Legacy: it isn’t very good. I understand why people play it; it’s relatively cheap and
reasonably powerful, plus many people have essentially or literally no graveyard hate. The thing is that the fact people don’t pack graveyard
hate doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good choice. I don’t run any hate for Astral Slide or Dwarf Aggro, either. Why? Because
they’re not good decks in Legacy, much like Dredge.

Obviously, I ran the no-hate option myself and took a 1-2 loss in round three. While Dredge did make the Top 8, the deck seemed rather popular at the
tournament and still only put one into the Top 16. It just. Isn’t. Good. These Legacy events have been running for nearly two years, and the deck
has a long history of failure after failure, much like my personal tournament results the past four months.

You know how I know your deck isn’t good? When my 100% beatdown deck beats your graveyard combo deck, without any hate, simply by playing Wild
Nacatl into Gaddock Teeg into a bunch of bolts.

I then beat Enchantress 2-0 before getting knocked out 1-2 in a close match against MUD. I mulled the first two games and should’ve mulled the
third game also; games two and three were extremely close. My sideboard on the day was really geared against combo and blue decks. I went back and
forth on the third Pyroblast and a third Krosan Grip. As things turned out, Grip would’ve been a great choice, but Pyroblast is rather good
against ANT. Most people are playing lists similar to Ari’s and therefore are trying to deal with Teeg by bouncing him with blue cards. Pyroblast
can help push back against this strategy.

Price of Progress is sort of an interesting card right now. A ton of decks in the format are hardly playing any basics, despite decks like Junk
punishing nonbasic mana bases; most decks have just enough basics to function against Wastelands, but they aren’t fetching basics against Zoo
because no one plays Price of Progress. However, there’s also the issue of decks just killing you before you even reach two mana. I’d
probably cut a Price or Chain Lightning for a Sylvan Library. I’d also consider stealing some Extended tech and playing one Duergar Hedge-Mage in
the sideboard as a three-drop removal spell that can hit Chalice as well as annoying enchantments.

If you’re willing to load up your sideboard with anti-combo cards, there’s a lot of merit to playing a “Big Zoo” strategy with
Green Sun’s Zenith. Take a look at Stan Smith’s build, which got him back-to-back Top 16s:

Zenith is really brutal to play against when you’re using a creature strategy yourself. It summons an endless string of giant green monsters and
gives you built-in resistance to both Counterbalance and Chalice of the Void. I did like the singleton Terravore in Kemper Pogue’s similar Top 8
list from DC, as that’s a monster that will break open a creature stalemate in a hurry. This list has a lot of ways to play a quick Gaddock Teeg but
also the annoying asymmetry of not being able to play any more Zeniths once Teeg is in play, although I guess that beats the alternative of
“losing the game immediately.”


Affinity has two Top 8s in 2011, which are probably two more than a lot of people thought it would have. Like Dredge, however, the deck has been
popular, and a build like Mike Eisenhauer’s is exceptionally budget-friendly. Here’s what I played in the Legacy Challenge and Legacy Open
in DC:

In the Legacy Challenge, I beat Green & Taxes 2-1, Deedstill 2-1, and Time Spiral Combo 2-0, and lost to Junk 1-2. In the actual event, I beat New
Horizons 2-0, lost 1-2 to Junk (due to an epic, unforgivable punt in game three on my part), beat mono-black 2-1, and lost to Merfolk 1-2.

The Engineered Plagues didn’t seem very good, as there aren’t enough decks where you want them. I lost several games to Jitte, some to
being hit by Wasteland and not finding another mana source, and some to failing to draw enough threats. Still, had I not punted the one round,
I’d have gone 6-2 with the deck across eight rounds, which isn’t completely miserable.

One thing I’d like to try involves cutting two Atogs for two Goblin Welders and possibly even finding room for one more. Welder gives us a
reasonable way to deal with extra Mox Opals and to recur threats like Cranial Plating and Ravager when they get countered. It could be a nice addition
to the deck. Atog is okay at racing combo, but Welder seems better in a varied field. Additionally, Phyrexian Revoker is definitely worth another look.
It should probably be in the sideboard. Remember that you can hit mana abilities with it, so Lion’s Eye Diamond is a legal target.

The other build that I came up with involves white instead of red and looks like this:

This build amps up the anti-combo weaponry in the sideboard and packs an extra land main and in the sideboard, as it’s more spell intensive. The white
splash lets the deck run additional threats like Thopter Foundry, which gives us more incentive to play Master of Etherium. Tezzeret is a massive
blowout against decks like CB/Top that actually want to play Magic. Stoneforge Mystic is a spicy meatball in this deck, letting you find Jitte and
Cranial Plating, as well as sneak them into play past counterspells. We’ve considered playing a single Sword of the Meek but haven’t tried
it. Too janky? Not sure.

You’ll note that neither of these builds runs Signal Pest. That card is fine and lends itself to some really insane nut-draws, but it also
exemplifies my concern with Affinity, which is that these builds tend to be really light on actual threats. It’s really easy for a deck to
counter one or two spells and just leave you with a ton of do-nothing cards and terrible topdecks. I’m curious to see if Welder can help address
this in the red version.

The next Legacy tournament I play for fun, I’m definitely playing this:

I got to play a lot of game on Saturday night with this build, and the main is pretty insane. It murders the majority of other creature decks in game
one situations. What really impresses me about it is the way it can win. This deck is not a one-trick pony.

Sometimes you’re going off with Glimpse on turn 2, but the deck can do so much more than that. I was able to hard-cast Emrakul on turn 3 in one
game. I was able to swing for lethal thanks to Warcaller on turn 3 or 4 pretty regularly if I wanted to, and the opportunity was there. Sometimes,
simply playing back-to-back Archdruids gives you a beatdown team sufficient to race. Sometimes, you just play Genesis Wave for fourteen on turn 4 and
hit thirteen permanents, which lets you win the game.

The sideboard is not tested, but I think you want access to the Natural Order option for opponents that have a lot of combo hate. Viridian Shaman,
Krosan Grip, and Reverent Silence should be sufficient to get you past cards that don’t actually stop you from comboing, like Solitary
Confinement or Ensnaring Bridge. Having played this deck with Elvish Archdruids, I’m not sure how I ever got by without them.

I’m still tinkering around with the Cradle count. The miser’s is kind of nice, and it’s in a spell slot, as I used to play fourteen
lands. Finishing out the set of Symbiote or Birchlore might be better, and I’ve also really liked having either Eternal Witness or a second Regal
Force; otherwise, a Crop Rotation and second Cradle might make sense. That certainly makes it easier to power into Genesis Wave or Emrakul.

Dear Chicken Little…

Quiz Time!

Question: How many blue dual lands were in the Edison Top 8, and how many decks were running them?

Answer: Eight total, in two decks.

Question: How many total duals in the Top 8, in how many decks?

Answer: Twenty-four total, in five decks.

There’s this persistent myth that you must own duals to play Legacy. Some have said that Underground Sea being $100 is like Island being
$100 in Standard. Then, there’s another persistent concept that duals in Legacy = Power in Vintage and that the formats are on the same track due
to this similarly. I’m not going to try to do your thinking for you, or change your mind if it’s already made, but there’s
significant stretching of the truth going on in a lot of places.

Legacy = Winning

There’s a reason Legacy is the second-most popular tournament format. The format is just full of win. Win here, win there, win everywhere. If
you’re not playing it because some talking head has convinced you it’s too expensive, or overrun with combo decks, I implore you to give it
another shot. It’s criminal to know that people are being dissuaded from having this much fun.

Matt Elias

[email protected]

Voltron00x on SCG, TMD, and The Source