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This Week in Legacy: 07/10/17 Legacy Challenge


Welcome to another This Week in Legacy! This week we'll have a deep look at the recent Legacy Challenge that went past, which certainly brought a few newer strategies even further into the limelight. The Legacy metagame is still incredibly in flux, with the recent Challenge filled with innovation. It's deserving of all this week's attention.

07/10/17 Legacy Challenge

Firstly let's have a look at the Top 8 from the Challenge:

Deck Player Placing
Grixis Control MouT 1
Eldrazi Stompy JJMorris 2
4c Control Ark4n 3
Dark Knight Delver morticiansunion 4
Jeskai Stoneblade Mzfroste 5
Grixis Delver minyafriend 6
4c Control Lenny 7
Blue-White Stoneblade ballestin93 8

The most important revelation of this Top 8 is the huge amount of midrange decks that have begun to flourish in the post-Top world. It seems that the metagame has settled enough, allowing midrange/control decks the ability to tune themselves and find themselves at the top of the format. Going "bigger" than the top Grixis Delver seems like a great place to be, and with the typical Blue cantrip suite and the powerful combo disruption of Black or White, each of these decks seems to have a lot of power going for it. 4c Control has gotten a lot of love already, so let's jump first into Grixis Control, the winning list of the Challenge:

This is very close to Pierre Dagen's list from GP Vegas, but opted out of Jace, Vryn's Prodigy (who is a potential removal magnet).

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This deck is often dubbed "Grixis Pyromancer" from its days during Dig Through Time, and this is truly the best Pyromancer/Probe/Therapy list possible, with that truly the deck's single-minded game plan in the early-to-mid game. Tear apart the opponent's hand, then mop up with a bevy of Elementals or a fast Gurmag. And this is definitely a huge plus against combo, where the deck's "fair" gameplan intersects with disrupting combo and conventional decks alike, something that Czech Pile can't really say, with it running tones of removal that is ineffective against many combo decks.

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That's not to say the deck's almost aggro early-game plan peters out. An endgame of Jace and Kolaghan's Command means the deck can grind incredibly well too. The sideboard furthers this, with the deck becoming a little less "Jundy" and discard-heavy when actual sideboard Counterspell or Pyroblast come in. Some lists also run the obligatory Flusterstorm too, of course. The super-clean mana base of this list also means that Blood Moon is a very reasonable option to punk out some more difficult matchups like Lands.

That being said, the main change I would make is perhaps change the four Anglers to two Anglers and two Tombstalkers. Stalker is poor against combo (where Angler can, at times, be reasonable because of his mana efficiency), but Stalker has always been traditionally excellent at cleaning up the late game when the opponent has gone Hellbent from discard ruining their hand.

The next list is that of MzFroste, who won the previous week's Legacy Challenge too. This is... A very traditional Jeskai Stoneblade shell. And seeing it successful, both on Magic Online and in the GP Vegas Top 16, is quite refreshing. Some naysayed Stoneblade being too ineffective in the metagame, with Black-based control the place to be thanks to Deathrite Shaman and Fatal Push and Leovold, Emisary of Trest and... The list goes on. Turns out, White has some good tools too. People just forgot about them.

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These two have been criminally underrated since the post-Top banning, in my eyes. With Fatal Push the new hotness, many felt like the "Black Swords" would make White decks antiquated unless they could live up to Miracles's place. With decks adapting the Delve threats (see: the Grixis Control list above) however, Swords may be at an even higher premium than ever before. Stoneforge Mystic has been known as the way to go "bigger" than Delver decks, and Jitte and Batterskull, if they hit play, are lights out for Grixis in particular. That True-Name card is also still pretty good, from what I hear.

White has also always had the most sledge-hammery sideboard cards available to it to crush combo. Containment Priest, Rest in Peace, Ethersworn Canonist and Meddling Mage are also powerful combo-destroying two drops, that pad out the Flusterstorms and Force of Wills the deck gets to play. It's a bit of nightmare for combo post-board, I'd imagine. Mzfroste's sideboarding (and that of Vegas Top 16'er, Mitchell Nguyen, whose list he based it off) is notably something that Max "Maxtortion" Gilmore hinted at in his article Nonbos: Analysing Anti-Synergy Though a Legacy Lens - which, if you need to read any Legacy article this month, you should definitely have as first choice (yes, even over TWiL) - it's all about just throwing game-breaking bombs at combo opponents until they perish - even if it means Snapcaster Mage is a 2/1 flash due to Rest in Peace turning off graveyards.

Speaking of anti-synergy, there's another familiar name in the Top 8 of this Challenge. With a list that should baffle many, but puts into place many of the principles Max speaks of. This list speaks to the strengths of a few cards that have been underplayed in general, but particularly in tempo strategies. Ethan Gaieski (GP Montreal Top 8'er, interviewed in March, on the recent The Salt Mine and dear friend) has created a Frankenstein's monster from a confluence of his perspectives on the current Legacy format.

 This is Dark Knight Delver.

Essentially Esper Delver at its core, which I've featured a few times in the past, the more typical True-Name Nemesis have been eschewed for what is typically been thought of as a midrange threat - Knight of the Reliquary.

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Ethan has been having piles of success with Maverick variants, particularly Punishing Maverick, and has been taking those for a spin on twitch.tc/realmongoosehours. The power of Knight has of course been on full display there, why not alongside Delver of Secrets? Knight of the Reliquary is a Wasteland-producing machine that can leave opponent's in ruins, while becoming huge, outclassing the premier threats of the format such as Gurmag Angler. True-Name Nemesis is less of an issue when it cannot race a huge Knight, leaving the Knight free to grow into a monstrosity.

Another big statement (again, referenced in Max's stellar article) is Delver and Swords to Plowshares side-by-side.

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Delver's power against combo and breaking apart certain opposing strategies by just "Delvering them" with the package of Wasteland and Daze gives a lot of potential free wins and allows the deck a powerful proactive angle of attack compared to traditional Esper Deathblade decks, who can durdle out of the gates, particularly against combo. Swords, I would say, is now "good again." No longer is it outclassed by Fatal Push, as aforementioned. There is piles of large threats that a Delver deck can struggle with, but with Plow and Knight able to dominate them, no matter the casting cost, along with Stoneforge to go over the top, this is a Delver deck geared for the new metagame ahead.

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Zealous Persecution also remedies the deck's problems with True-Name Nemesis, and also acts as "reach" in this non-Red Delver deck if needed. The sideboard of Ethan's list also employs his typical "Jundy" sideboard plan, boarding into an abundance of discard and Snapcaster as a value-creating creature.

Moving on to the seemingly boring Eldrazi...

Eldrazi has been silently chugging along, although in its reduced prominence, having nowhere near the same success as initial "Eldrazi Winter." JJMorris nonetheless incorporated some newer additions, my favorite being Walking Ballista.

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The innocuous-looking Ballista I have seen do incredible work in Eldrazi, being a card filled with flexibility. It's reasonable in the early game to fill out the curve, but truly reaches strength in the mid-to-lategame, where it can gun down blockers ("Goodbye, Pyromancer and friends gumming up the ground!") or act as the final burn spell to the opponent's face. It also gives Eldrazi a meaningful win condition against strange permanents like Ensnaring Bridge.

This is the list of local friend Thomas Sullivan, which has utilised an important innovation:

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Copter has demolished me when I've played against him, and it makes the Eldrazi-light threat suite lacking Endless One and Matter Reshaper more reasonable. Mimic may look hard to trigger reasonably, but that's fine. He can happily Crew the Copter and take to the skies. A full suite of Warping Wail also looks more reasonable - although the card has always been medium-to-good, having a secret fourth mode of "attack with a 3/3 flier and loot" pushes it over.

Next, a Delver list from Cartesian a little more spicy...

That threat suite looks eerily familiar to Team Australia, with Clique replacing True-Name. But... What do we have here?! Three Fire // Ice and a Thunderous Wrath?!

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Thunderous Wrath is perhaps a nod to not just burning out the opponent... It's about dealing with huge threats like Gurmag Angler reasonably! It does require a bit of setup, I must say, with only eight cantrips... Fire // Ice likely has a similar purpose, stalling out the opponent's threats while the wholly evasive force of the deck dismantles the opponent. I do love me a Fire // Ice. But not killing Deathrite Shaman on turn one is a big knock, especially when Deathrite Shaman can make Tombstalker a little less effective.

Cartesian also interesting utilized a Bayou in the sideboard so he didn't have to deal with the awkward Tropical Island in the deck. Note that Cartesian has updated his list recently, adding Portent to get some more Miracle action!

Conclusion

That wraps up This Week in Legacy. Thank you for joining me in looking at the recent Challenge and investigating the changes in the Legacy format. There's been tones of other content to look at too, such as:

'Til next time!

Sean Brown

Email: sean_brown156@hotmail.com
Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I'm Playing This Week

Maybe you caught me on camera last week, where I Stubborn Denialed my way to a 4-0! Catch that on the wonderful General Games Legacy stream (commentated by friend Steven Stamopoulos) at around 3.08 in this video. So yes, I played this:

Honestly thrown 10 minuts before I had to leave for the event, I just decided to play some of the sweetest RUG cards I liked. Stubborn Denial was quite impressive, however, and I'll be looking to jamming the card a little more in the future. I think it has a fair bit of untapped potential. I know Modern players are well acquainted with the power of the card thanks to Death's Shadow, and maybe there's something to be said about it in Legacy. Hard counters are actually super-underrated.

However, Anuraag Das played something to moderate success that I can't help take notice of:

Bomberman is certainly becoming a little bit of a baby of mine, and Dark Confidant as suggested on The Source has now been adopted by Anuraag and Caleb. I'd replace the Probes with Lodestone Bauble for Paper play (but killing that way Online is impossible) and maybe tweak the mana to fit in Inventors' Fair, but otherwise it looks good! I don't mind Orzhov Pontiff as either an anthem for Mentor or a uncounterable sweeper in the sideboard.

The Spice Corner

Clashed always comes with some weird stuff to Magic Online... But Donate is back, apparently, ladies and gentlemen!

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This has seven main deck ways to get rid of the Pact - capitalising on the Pacts value over three turns - or actually killing the opponent via Donate or Burning Wish for Harmless Offering!


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