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The New Legacy through RUG Delver

After many hours deliberating how exactly this article should begin, I'm just gonna say it.

You've never heard of me. I get it.

So, I'm Jeremy. Pleased to meet you. I'm from Upstate New York, where people take their Legacy seriously. Real seriously. Have you ever tuned into a Legacy event on StarCityGame's coverage and heard them talk about the Jupiter Games crew who know a thing or two about how to shuffle up some expensive cards? That's me. That's us.

In the grand scheme of things, I'm still a relative newcomer to Magic. I started playing in Innistrad. That is relatively recent when compared to other Legacy players who have been playing since Revised. But I've held my own. I've Top 8'ed before. I've beaten some of the world's best. I even opened an unplayable sealed pool at the Battle for Zendikar prerelease and went 1-3. I don't claim to herald the truth from the mountaintops and expect kudos for doing so. I want to learn with the community and improve my game in hopes to improve yours along the way.

Alright. That's out of the way. Let's get down to business.

The king is dead. Long live the king.

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That's right. By the time this article comes out, Dig Through Time will have long passed.

*Ding dong* the witch is dead! Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores! Yes, I did Google how to spell that. And most importantly, the trumpet-esk sound Charlie Brown's teacher makes!

While this is old news at this point, it does raise several questions. The most important of which is where do we go from here? Where do you go from here?

Legacy is extremely slow to adapt. Granted, bannings tend to speed the process up. But with the lack of broadcasted Legacy tournaments every Sunday, it is going to take people a good amount of time to adapt their 75 accordingly. The most wonderful aspect of Legacy, to me, is the niche people put themselves in. Because of the sheer depth of the card pool, a player is able to bunker down in a strategy tailored just for them, like it came from Ollivanders. Okay, that's my one Harry Potter reference. I'll lay off those for a while.

The point is there are players in every community that insists on playing an extremely fragile but overwhelmingly pleasing and totally busted combo. There are players who refuse to play anything besides what is deemed the best deck. There are players who play Steam Vents because Volcanic Islands are too expensive and college ain't cheap. The best thing a Magic player can do is find their comfort zone. There should be a confidence felt in your finger tips every time you shuffle a stack of cards that could buy you a barely functioning automobile. These spells are your own, why not trust in them and trust in yourself?

RUG Delver

Me? I tend to gravitate toward a Delver of Secrets strategy. How terribly droll. But you know what? I feel like I know how to maneuver my way out of tough spots with that little guy. Also, I enjoy you not having stuff or being able to do stuff. Today I'm going to talk about the new Legacy metagame through the lens of a RUG Delver player.

Here's my current list:

I'm fairly stubborn on the main deck. I don't think I'll change anything without a significant reason poking me in the eye. RUG, not Temur by the way, was a solid deck choice in the last several months because of the popularity of Grixis and its variants. That matchup is in RUG's favor, and Grixis was running rampant. People were getting all sorts of cute with Grixis in the sideboard with silver bullets like Bitterblossom and Umezawa's Jitte just to beat the mirror and, coincidentally, RUG.

The sideboard is truly what's in question and the discussion point of this article. I'd like to focus on the metagame from a RUG standpoint, as that's what I currently have sleeved up. The sideboard has to reflect the player's best guess at what they are going to play against during the tournament and contain cards that blanket the most popular choices. There are always some decks a player has absolutely no shot of beating, so fitting in slots for those corner cases is fruitless. This point should be common sense. Nic Fit seems like a very difficult match for RUG, and if someone has the courage to stick a Frost Titan, Sigarda, Consecrated Sphinx, or other hilarious Standard nonsense in their Legacy deck, with the ability to cast them, I say more power to them. I'm not going to try and fight that fight from my sideboard. Those examples are real by the way. I've seen them in play in large sanctioned tournaments. Haters gonna hate.

BUG Strategies

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It seems people have begun to shift back to BUG strategies, whether they contain my insectile friend or not. Now that Papa Jazz Hands (Dig Through Time) is gone, I expect BUG to be very popular. It's just full of value. Much like drawing three cards off of Treasure Cruise, drawing three cards off of Ancestral Vision is equally backbreaking. At least players can't just Visions whenever they have seven cards in the graveyard hanging out doing nothing. It might be time for such blue hits as Jace, the Mind Sculptor (how did this card stop seeing play?!) and True-Name Nemesis to come back out of retirement. For me, Jace has always been like The Rolling Stones. Never really been my style, but it doesn't mean they plan on leaving any time soon. As long as BUG can keep Young Pyromancer in check, I expect the Grixis matchup to go well for the BUG player.


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Miracles. Everybody's favorite matchup. Playing against an inexperienced Miracles player is extremely frustrating. This deck can be quite complex for unfamiliar pilots, and I often find myself getting distracted while a new player takes the better part of a minute reordering the top three cards of their deck. After I realize I'm getting distracted, I have to reel myself back to reality to double check if they floated the same card on the top for as long as possible and other subtle clues I could easily miss while I think about how much I overpaid for the convention center salad between rounds.

The deck is powerful. Joe Lossett and Reid Duke swear by it. RUG also has to avoid walking into a Terminus by not overextending. Luckily, we have otherwise dead Stifles at our aid. Sidenote on Stifle: the card is just not good but is a necessary evil for the whole “you can't has stuffs” strategy. Several games come to mind where a Gitaxian Probe revealed a single fetchland in my opponent's grip, giving me the go ahead to Stifle their land and earn a free win. I already have several efficient options in my sideboard for Miracles, so I don't think more inclusions are necessary. I did cut a Sylvan Library to open up spots for Sulfur Elemental, and I'm sure I'll kick myself when that comes up, but fifteen cards can only be fifteen cards.

Death and Taxes

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While we're on the subject of Sulfur Elemental, how about Death and Taxes? Groan. This matchup is almost impossible against a mildly competent opponent. As you can see I've shored up two spots in the sideboard for Sulfur Elemental because of how terrible this matchup can be. Sure, we have access to Rough // Tumble, but it's not enough. I formally met Michael Derczo at StarCityGames D.C. and he gave me a beating with his white army. In our second game after losing the first, I had a pair of Rough // Tumbles in my hand that were uncastable or accomplished actual nothing. Vryn Wingmare is real, and when paired with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, the Wingmare can practically lock RUG out of the game. Two-mana and two life for a Gitaxian Probe? Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Death and Taxes has no deck manipulation besides the Demonic Tutor stapled onto a Kor in Stoneforge Mystic. It relies heavily on the cards it daws. However, before the recent banning, I would have been extremely happy to sleeve this band of brothers. Delver decks are a walk in the park. Taxation against Omni-Tell is crippling. Those sunflower Plains just look nice. And not to be underestimated, Karakas hedges against the deck that I predict to have the biggest surge in popularity: Reanimator.


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Having a Griselbrand in play that is not supposed to be there for the low, low price of 8 life with Reanimate is not only powerful, it tends to leave a smile on one's face. A huge fatty in play is usually game over. Emphasis on usually. Reanimator has begun to re-enter the scene in the last few months despite the popularity of Deathrite Shaman strategies. There has been a key component added to the deck: everyone's favorite, overpriced 0/2, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. Yes, even the babiest of Jaces has found his way into Legacy, and he is pretty darn useful. Putting the gigantic “Lightning Bolt Me” sign over his head aside, having a way to get a pesky monster out of your hand and into the graveyard is rather useful. Also, randomly having a difficult to deal with planeswalker in play never hurt anyone.

The New Metagame

To summarize, I expect BUG and Reanimator to be the soup du jour for the next few tournaments I attend. Obviously, the more Deathrite decks running around, the worse Reanimator gets, but people have already made their purchases. I expect the BUG presence to take some time to settle in before this knowledge is widely known. The deck seems too well positioned to not become the dominant force it once was before undercosted delve spells were printed. The ability to Abrupt Decay a Counterbalance, play an extremely quick clock in Tarmogoyf, and keep graveyards in check with Deathrite Shaman is extremely appealing.

Where does that leave the RUG sideboard? I think I'll be ditching Hydroblast and make sure I don't have any overdue spells at the Sylvan Library. That might have been the Dad-est of jokes I've ever come up with, and I'm not proud of it. I also believe that another graveyard hoser, such as Surgical Extraction, may be necessary. The card is good in the RUG Mirror and leaves me the ability to tap out against the oogie boogie men. Where that comes from is yet to be seen, but I've gotten burned too many times to keep my hand on the stove.


That's all for today. How do you think the Legacy metagame will shake out? Will BUG and Reanimator become as popular as I'm imagining? How are you tweaking your sideboards after the ban of Dig Through Time? Leave a comment below or you can reach me on twitter @r3tr0sp3ct.

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