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Much Abrew: Black Lake (Legacy)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. We had a bit of a surprise last week during our Instant Deck Techs, with our Legacy option Black Lake coming out on top! As such, we are heading to Legacy this week—a format we don't play very often—to see if a budget-friendly deck built around Lake of the Dead can compete with all of the powerful decks in the format. The idea of the deck is pretty simple: we sacrifice a bunch of Swamps to Lake of the Dead, which gives us enough mana to cast a Grave Titan, Wurmcoil Engine, or Massacre Wurm on Turn 3. Then, we hope that our big threat is enough to win the game, since we just sacrificed all of our lands. Is there any chance this high-risk / high-reward plan can actually work? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Black Lake (Legacy)


  • First off, the record. We finished our league 2-3, although in all fairness, our Eldrazi and Taxes opponent had one of the most absurd draws I've ever seen (Turn 1 make an Eldrazi Scion, Turn 2 Thought-Knot Seer with the Scion to protect against our edict, Turn 3 Reality Smasher, Turn 4 Angel of Sanction our blocker) to steal the match and keep us from posting a winning record. 
  • During our initial Instant Deck Tech, one of our concerns was running out of Swamps, but Black Lake's plan makes much more sense after playing the deck. We aren't really trying to cast big things repeatedly; we're trying to play one big threat, hopefully on Turn 3, and trusting that this one big threat will win the game. Sometimes, the plan works; other times, we get hit by Force of Will or Daze and everything falls apart, but that's the primary idea of the deck.
  • One thing we learned during our matches is that Force of Will and Daze are especially punishing. Ideally, we'll have Thoughtseize or Hymn to Tourach over the first couple turns of the game to clean out counters, but it's really easy to lose to the powerful free counterspells when we don't. It's possible we should have aggressively mulliganed for discard, but it's really hard to ship a hand that has a guaranteed Grave Titan or Wurmcoil Engine on Turn 3 because that's the best thing our deck can do. 
  • Apart from counters, the biggest problem with Black Lake is that it loses to itself a reasonable amount of the time, mostly thanks to the mana. Drawing multiple copies of Lake of the Dead is brutal, and Cabal Coffers is a horrible top deck much more often than it is a great draw (which probably means it shouldn't be in the deck). 
  • Drain Life is weird. While it's a fun idea, it was rarely good. Most of the time, it's a really expensive way to kill a Delver of Secrets or Deathrite Shaman. While we had one game where we almost used it to kill our opponent, a timely Wasteland ruined our plans. 
  • Speaking of Wasteland, it's not as big a problem as you might think. While sometimes it's really punishing, the idea of the deck is to playing Swamps on the first two turns of the game and then follow up with Lake of the Dead on Turn 3e to make six mana and cast something game-ending. We don't really care if our Lake of the Dead gets hit by Wasteland as long as we get a Grave Titan or Wurmcoil Engine on the battlefield first. Just be careful about playing Lake of the Dead early, before you can use the mana on something powerful. 
  • As for the rest of the deck, the discard is essential, and I wish we had more of it to minimize our chances of losing to counterspells. Meanwhile, the random one- and two-ofs like Pack Rat, Phyrexian Obliterator, and Liliana, Death's Majesty are weird. They are good in some situations, but since we only have a few copies, the chances that we draw them in the right situation are pretty low. A more streamlined take with fewer one- and two-ofs and more three- and four-ofs could go a long way toward increasing the consistency of the deck. 
  • Night's Whisper felt really important to smoothing over bad draws, so going up to four copies might be worthwhile. One of the things that was very clear in our matches is how hard it is to be a non-Brainstorm deck in Legacy. Our opponents seemed to always have the right answer (or threat) at the right time, which is the power of being able to draw three new cards (and get rid of your two worst cards) repeatedly. While more copies of Night's Whisper still wouldn't make us as consistent as most Brainstorm decks, it would help.
  • It's also worth mentioning that we don't play Legacy all that often, so it's possible (or likely) that a true Legacy aficionado would have picked up another win or two by knowing the matchups and sideboard plans better. Still, I wasn't unhappy with our performance in general, all things considered. 
  • So, should you play Black Lake in Legacy? The deck feels competitive-ish but is somewhat easily disrupted and inconsistent. As such, I'd be surprised if we saw it winning a Grand Prix in the near future. On the other hand, it feels good enough to be a solid first Legacy deck. It's extremely cheap for the format, and a lot of the expensive cards are things you might already own for Modern, Standard, or Commander, which makes it even easier to build as a first Legacy deck. Basically, Black Lake feels like a reasonably competitive budget option and a good first Legacy deck that can win some games, but even with some fixes, it developing into a tier one deck seems unlikely. 


Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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