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This Week in Legacy: 66th KMC, Landstill, Reanimator and a Different UR Delver


Hello everyone, and welcome to This Week in Legacy. This week has been a bit soft in terms of Legacy events that have occurred, primarily due to Pro Tour: Kaladesh. Of course, that didn't stop some Legacy action from occurring in other parts of the world, such as Japan and Spain, where a few interesting pieces of technology can be found. I'll take a close look at the Reanimator lists that have been seeing a resurgence, as well as get some questions answered by Matthew Brown, who came 6th at the Legacy Classic in Indianopolis two weeks ago, with his very impressive and different take on UR Delver.

66th KMC in Japan

The 66th KMC tournament occurred in Japan, and per usual from these Japanese Top 8s, a lot of interesting card choices and technology are to be found.  First, we can look at a breakdown of the decks that took Top 8 in this moderately-sized 56-player tournament.

There's a few lists we've seen before: Miracles, the typical Lands list, and the Esper Stoneblade list I highlighted a few weeks ago. 

However, Doomsday is not a deck I've highlighted before, though it is quite powerful. Doomsday is a Storm variant that typically uses Doomsday to finish off the opponent, instead of cards such as Past in Flames or Ad NauseumDoomsday is incredibly complicated, as although it gives the Doomsday pilot the ability to create a pile which can potentially win the game, even through opposing disruption, finding the exact pile can be very difficult, especially for beginning players. And if you screw up, well, you've lost the game to yourself. There is spreadsheets dedicated to creating Doomsday piles which can get through certain situations, which speaks to the complexity of the card, but also speaks to the rewarding nature of the deck. Furthermore, the Doomsday deck itself is very slow compared to its other Storm brethren, which is why it's generally a bit more unpopular than the others. It makes up for this lack of speed by sheer resiliency. Less of a critical mass of cards is needed to win when Doomsday can bail you out.

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If you can Top 8 with this deck, it means you have obtained some sort of mastery of one of the most difficult cards to cast in Legacy.

And that's exactly what Takemoto Shuhei did:

Takemoto's main deck is relatively straightforward including Rituals, Petal, and LED, cantrips, and the same discard suite as ANT. What differentiates Doomsday from other Storm variants is the rest of the deck: essentially six Doomsdays thanks to Burning Wish, four Sensei's Divining Top, speaking to the slow nature of the deck and the importance of Top's interactions with Doomsday, and Ideas Unbound, typically the top card of a Doomsday pile to draw all the others. The other interesting card Takemoto has in the main deck is Empty the Warrens, which is likely included to give the deck access to faster kills before problematic cards such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Chalice of the Void can  land. 

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The sideboard is where some beautiful technology comes about. A friend of mine has jokingly called his Miracles list touting four Monastery Mentor as essentially blue-white Storm due to Mentor's synergy with two Sensei's Divining Top and how this leads to some incredibly fast, Storm-like kills. I imagine Takemoto took a lot of inspiration with his transformational sideboard plan of Monastery Mentor, who has not only absurd synergy with Top, but also with the Gitaxian Probes and Cabal Therapy in the main. This so-called man-plan seems incredibly fluid, synergizing with most of what the deck is already doing, and I'm quite a fan. The rest of the sideboard is flush with Abrupt Decay, as well as some Surgical Extractions, and Wish targets.

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The other interesting list to look at is the Grixis Control list from the Top 8, which harkened back to the days of Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise. This deck, in its old form, was all about velocity, utilizing a huge suite of cantrips to fuel Young Pyromancer and Dig Through Time. Eli Kassis busted the deck out, coming 14th in GP New Jersey with this list, and it was further tuned into something like this until the end of the Dig Through Time-era. Although the deck has tried to be resurrected via cards such as Painful Truths, it has never been quite the same.

Yoshida Keisuke found Bedlam Reveler to be a suitable replacement though, running a full four copies in his version of Grixis Control:

Not only does this deck run a huge amount of cantrips to fuel Reveler and Pyromancer, but the greatest thief in the multiverse makes an appearance just like in Eli Kassis's classic build. Collective Brutality makes an appearance as not only an excellent piece of removal and disruption, but can also pitch cards such as Firebolt or Cabal Therapy which can be flashbacked at a later time. In the meantime, they can sit in the graveyard to fuel Reveler. Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast also makes an appearance in this list. I'm a bit more skeptical about his inclusion - I'd sooner prefer another Dack - but stealing artifacts and sacrificing them with Daretti looks like a powerful though incredibly cute interaction. Nonetheless, Yoshida Keisuke's list certainly proves that some cards from Eldritch Moon certainly have found their way into Legacy.

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The last interesting list from this Top 8 was the Jund list:

Although there's nothing too different here, the main deck highlights Liliana, the Last Hope as being a card very viable in Legacy, particularly in these grindy midrange shells.

Who I'd like to see Liliana, the Last Hope next to is Grim Flayer. panottie 5-0'ed with a Delirium Jund deck this week, featuring the aforementioned Flayer, Tarfire, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance in the main, and cut Dark Confidant completely, making this Jund deck a bit more aggressive, while still retaining some amount of grinding power to make up for Bob, via Chandra and Flayer.

Still Time to Standstill

The other tournament that occurred over this week was a reasonably sized tournament in Madrid, Spain at Evolution Central with 60 players. BR Reanimator, which we'll look at in a moment, took the first place, but perhaps the most interesting deck to find its way into a Top 8 is the Legacy classic, UW Landstill.

This list looks a bit bizarre, essentially being a Miracles deck that showed up with Standstills rather than Counterbalance, but I've actually recently been quite impressed at how Standstill has performed in the current metagame, now that there's scant amounts of pure, efficient card advantage engines like Dig Through Time or Treasure Cruise. Of course, Standstill forces you to have to play with man lands, so that you can damage the opponent while not breaking the Standstill, but these aren't necessarily a bad thing, and are a boon against a few decks in the format. A few spicy cards make it to the main of this list too, like Humility, that can be tutored for and has excellent synergy with Mishra's Factory (as they stay as 2/2s) and the classic win condition before Entreat the Angels, Decree of Justice.

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However, a Landstill list I'd look towards is Lam Phan's, who burst onto GP New Jersey with UR Landstill that preyed on the high-velocity UR Delver decks with its efficient suite of removal and control elements. That's not to say he was a newcomer. Lam Phan has been a long contributor to Legacy, innovating with some of the first Canadian Threshold lists of the format. His lists certainly have a lot of elder statesman knowledge behind them. Find his GP NJ list here, and his updated list here:

This list features a rather large suite of mana denial (four Wasteland and a Dust Bowl), along with the singleton Stifle, but what I'm more impressed by is the continual power of Sudden Shock and Spell Snare in this list. Snare makes sure that Tarmogoyfs are no longer a problem, and Sudden Shock makes life hell for Death & Taxes and Infect. You can see an excellent piece of coverage where Lam gives Tom Ross a Sudden Shock just as he's about to go for the kill:

I'd be wary of fighting against Eldrazi with this list though. The removal lines up very poorly, they care little about Standstill, and counterspells are poor against Cavern of Souls.

The other Standstill list I'd like to take note of is the UB Landstill list by a local in Canberra, Australia. Brandon Owen won their small tournament there. I featured this list a few weeks ago, but it's got a few more recent updates, which I'll highlight below:


Importantly, Brandon has found room for a Bayou for sideboard Abrupt Decays and has opted to add some Dread of Night for the middling Death & Taxes matchup. Tolaria West has also found a slot, giving the deck five tutors to find the combo. Tolaria West importantly doesn't break Standstill, which is certainly a nice bit of synergy. I'd love to find room for an Engineered Explosives to further utilize Tolaria West, and I'm sure there's a few other fun things that the card can tutor for such as Tormod's Crypt. As always though, I'm loving how lean and focused this list is, and defending your Marit Lage with Force of Will, while drawing a bunch of cards, is a pretty lovely thing to behold.

Reanimator, Rebuilt Again and Again

Reanimator keeps redefining itself as the weeks have pushed forward. Interesting, BR Reanimator has continued to put up more results than its UB brother, finding a first place finish at an SCG IQ in Phoenix and winning the tournament in Madrid. Here are those lists, respectively:

Francisco took the list that Top 8ed the Bazaar of Moxen in Paris to a strong finish, featuring a greater lean on the red splash for Insolent Neonate, Blood Moon, and Sneak Attack. Joaquín Solís opted for a list a bit more stock and closer to those that have been found on Magic Online. One fatty that hasn't been utilized in awhile, that Joaquín found place for, was Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, essentially a delayed Griselbrand that makes the deck more resilient to Surgical Extraction effects.

I'd love to find a middle ground between these two lists, as I certainly like more looting effects like Neonate to smooth this deck's draws, which can often end up as heavily reliant on mulligans otherwise. I also appreciate some Simian Spirit Guide beatdown, as well as Collective Brutality and the [[Children of Korlis] kill. Uh... Can we fit this all into a deck?


Eschewing the green splash might be a nice idea, especially since it creates some problems with the sideboard Blood Moons. Spirit Guide is nice in that it critically adds more fast mana to the deck to make the Tendrils of Agony kill much easier.

That's not to say UB Reanimator hasn't seen some innovation due to Collective Defiance. Chase Hansen notably found success at GP Sea-Tac in 2015, coming 4th with his very grindy Reanimator list that eschewed Lotus Petal for cards to fight against Deathrite Shaman and a larger toolbox of creatures, such as Archetype of Endurance. Hapless Researcher also notably found a spot in the deck as extra loot outlets to smooth draws. The Researcher can also take people's life totals from twenty to zero, as Chase mentioned in his tournament report you can find here.

Well, Chase's deck lives on, with a sleeker two-color main deck and Collective Brutality replacing Izzet Charm.


The only other changes this list has from Chase's are the removal of Misdirection for Daze and a fixing of the mana base, now featuring a lovely amount of basic lands. The sideboard is also slightly tweaked but retains most of the core cards.

It's very interesting to see how the two Reanimator variants have diverged, with BR becoming faster via fast mana and leaning harder on its red splash. UB has become better at grinding. Nonetheless, for both variants, Collective Brutality has proven itself as a card incredibly worthy of consideration, and I'd encourage Reanimator players to start slotting the card into your seventy-five somewhere.

Interview with Matthew Brown

Two weeks ago Matthew Brown took fifth place in the SCG Legacy Classic in Indianopolis with a very different take on UR Delver. He was nice enough to reach out to me and let me ask him a few questions about his innovative list that, at first glance, looks a little strange. I'd like to give a huge shout out to him for being gracious enough to respond thoroughly to all my questions.

Here's his list:

And here's the interview!

Sean: How long have you been playing Legacy?
Matt: I've been playing Magic since around 3rd Edition but started playing pretty seriously since the Weatherlight saga. I've effectively been playing Legacy since Legacy started.

Sean: What is your deck of choice?
Matt: For the last five-ish years I'm either on some god-awful abomination of Delver or combo Reanimator.

Sean: What type of deck (tempo/control/etc.) would you categorize your deck? It’s quite different to typical UR Delver.
Matt: It's a control deck. The cards are versatile and aggressive enough to close games out quickly but make no mistake if you don't approach the game from a control standpoint you are playing essentially the worse Delver deck in the format. It is very playstyle oriented. If you wanna smash face play the normal version of UR Delver. If you want to slowly beat your opponent's face in multiples of three and effectively out value them at every turn of the game, this is a terrific deck.

Sean: Can you tell me the evolution of the deck and how you’ve developed it?
Matt: I utterly despise the tempo parts of Delver: Wasteland, Daze, and Stifle. They are too high variance; the novelty of "getting people" doesn't appeal to me. However Delver decks' creature package is very aggressive, flexible and efficient. I used to play a version I refer to now as 12 Bolts (12 Post but with 12 Bolts......get it?): 4 Bolts, 4 Chain Lightning, 4 Snapcaster Mage, and varying numbers of Forked Bolt and Price of Progress. You would play every game just throwing your deck at your opponent and played the absolute bare minimum number of interactive spells. However, I realized I couldn't manipulate the game the way I wanted. I was losing percentage points because like all Burn decks eventually your opponent gets to determine the action, and things don't wind up the way you want. I would go  6-3 or 5-4 (back when SCG had Legacy Opens) and wasn't able to get over that last hurdle. I did have two events where I reached 9th and another where I Top 16'ed - but I started to feel like I couldn't win one. I decided to cut soft counterspells for hard ones. I've never looked back.

Matt: I've tried every splash color. What I've found was there isn't a reason to play another color. I splashed black after Dig Through Time because I felt there was a need to play discard but I realized it didn't actually give me anything. I was making them discard spells I could've dealt with either on the stack or once it resolved. It did however hurt my deck in the one area I used to take for granted - my mana. UR Delver has the best mana. You need mana to make the deck work. So I made my mana base as solid as could possibly be - and once you have that solid foundation, the card choices and possibilities you can have in your seventy-five are almost unbeatable.

Sean: There is a lot of interesting card choices in your list. Can you outline the reason for your choices?

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Matt: I want to play a control game, but I also want my creatures to end the game quickly. If you've played Modern you've been Bolt-Snap-Bolted more times than you can stomach. I see zero reason why Legacy is any different, and with Price of Progress you could argue it's even better. Past turn three I always want to draw Snapcaster. It's damn near the best card in every matchup. As the only way this deck has to accrue card advantage, learning the ins-and-outs of this bad boy will make the difference between winning and losing.

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Matt: If you look across the entire landscape of Legacy, creatures are either two or less toughness, or they're Tarmogoyf/Gurmag Angler or Griselbrand level butts. Even if it doesn't kill their Goyf it allows you to upgrade your removal. You even leave it in against Miracles, where it may initially look weak. But they have to spend a resource on it, since every creature they have dies to him. It also leaves your mana open and he can't be ambushed by their Snapcasters and co. while clocking them. You almost never side it out. Unless the metagame changes I would always want two copies.

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Matt: Ross Merriam did an article on my UR Pyromancer list that had four TNN. I obviously love this card. In fair matchups it is a house and you need him, otherwise you'll have difficulty with Goyfs and Gurmags. However, in fair matchups where your opponent has access to Wasteland you could almost never cast a big three mana creature, play around Daze and still be able to fight around other forms of counters - but this is where your basic-heavy mana base comes up as handy. In other lists TNN is unplayable and you shouldn't even be considering playing it. In this list though, the card is nuts.

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Matt: I kick Burst Lightning all the time, and you kick Burst Lightning more times than you think you're going to just looking at the deck on paper. All the basics mean extra mana for shenanigans like this. Against D&T it's much better than another Shock effect like Sudden Shock, Forked Bolt, or Fire // Ice. Killing Serra Avenger and Batterskull when kicked and the instant-speed is important against Aether Vial, when they can get a Stoneforge Mystic at your end of turn. Late game it's also actually better than Lightning Bolt a good majority of the time. I used to play three, but with Sanctum Prelate I needed a two mana burn spell, and hence I've added Fire // Ice, which has enough bleed over into other matchups.

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Matt: (on Spell Snare) Every single problem card for this deck in the meta is either two mana or a sorcery. As the metagame sits right now I would not play less than three; it has always pulled weight.

Matt: (on Flusterstorm) Flusterstorm right now is far and beyond better than Spell Pierce, in my opinion, and Spell Snare hits basically everything that Flusterstorm doesn't anyway. You have a plethora of ways to deal with planeswalkers too. Often you initiate a counter war and can create a Storm count where the opponent can't pay and you get to eat two or more spells, as no one ever plays around it main deck. I also didn't have room in the board so I just maindecked them, since they are always relevant. Against all the top decks, Flusterstorm is great, besides Eldrazi.

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Matt: My games almost always go on long enough, and with the slew of basics there's always extra mana floating around, so its not really that big of an investment to Top. It's also great against ANT, who can really never beat you floating a Flusterstorm or Invasive Surgery. I never cut the card but also wouldn't play more than one.

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Matt: Price of Progress beats all of the decks you have an inherent weakness to. Shardless can out value you. Lands has Punishing Fire, and you can't interact favorably with their lands since my list lacks Wasteland. 12 Post and MUD are the same, as they can go so way over the top of you and MUD can lock you out despite the three Smash to Smithereens in the board. But in these matchups just drawing one Price is almost always the game - let alone casting Snapcaster Mage and doing it all over again.

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Matt: Daze is terrible in this deck. Spell Snare and Flusterstorm do way more than make up for the missing Daze. Daze is only powerful if you have Wasteland, and even then I would only play with Winter Orb or Stifle like the RUG or Grixis Delver do.

Sean: How did your run in the SCG Legacy Classic in Indianapolis go?

Matt:
Round 1 and 2: vs. Jund Lands. 
This is a tricky one in that they actually play main deck ways to deal with TNN unlike regular Lands and they still have the parts of Lands I hate, except they play even more tutors in Entomb. Round one I turned into a Burn deck and Priced him out of games 2 and 3.

Round 3: vs. Omni-Tell (Patrick Smith)
I got to Invasive Surgery his Show and Tell but he scooped. I ended up with two Delvers and a Vendilion Clique in play while I had seven counterspells in hand. Main deck Flusterstorm was huge here.

Round 4 vs. Wasteland Miracles (Matthew Tickle)
I was paid off handsomely for only playing basics. Beat him game one with two Delvers and a Grim Lavamancer, so he sideboard incorrectly and I grinded him out with TNN and Sensei's Top value.

Round 5 vs. Grixis Delver (Noah Walker)
I'll get into later.

Round 6 vs. Miracles (Joe Lossett)
I ended up winning but in game 3 he mulled to four and I took an aggressive route - I played my hand out real quick, flipped both Delvers then on his turn three he naturally ripped the Terminus. I let them go and then he drew a Counterbalance which I countered. He then proceeded to draw an Entreat the Angels for 1, which I double Bolted and then he ripped a Jace. He resolved a Moat and then I Bolted him to death. But that was way too close for comfort.

Round 7 vs. Junk
ID

Quarters: vs. Grixis Delver (Noah Walker)
So my only losses on the day were to Noah Walker and both times my deck took a big ol' dookie on me. I realized I probably went too combo-heavy with my board decisions and didn't have enough for the pseudo-mirrors. I'm not going to spend much time on the losses as I felt favored, but Noah had it all game two - both Pyroblasts and a Darkblast alongside a Bolt, Delver, and Deathrite. I unfortunately drew zero deck manipulation spells and only two creatures. Both in swiss and Top 8 I drew so poorly I sure everyone watching was like:  "How did this pile of garbage beat anyone?!"
 
Sean: Any concluding thoughts?
Matt: So the cliffnotes goes as follows: all the cards are better than advertised. Figuring out how, and when, to play your creatures is basically the key to the deck. Play the deck and see if you like it. I recommend it if you like control decks that can turn corners very quickly and are incredibly strong against combo. In terms of changes I do know that Chandra, Torch of Defiance has been amazing so far, and I'll at minimum have one going forward.

I really appreciated hearing Matt's thoughts about his deck, but also on the Legacy format in general, with his perceptions being excellent and well-reasoned.

I really do enjoy hearing about any interesting thoughts from people who have placed with some interesting decks, and would love to make those ideas exposed more to the Legacy community. If you have a deck you'd love to talk about, please give me a message in the contact details at the bottom of the article, and perhaps, similar to Matt's excellent interview, we can set something up.

Conclusion

Here finishes another This Week in Legacy, and as always, hopefully the analysis of the recent finishes and Matt's player interview was something enjoyable. Feedback is always appreciated, keep sending in any thoughts or ideas to me, I'd love to hear from you.

Til' next time,

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

What I'm Playing This Week

I've actually had very little time to play Legacy in the recent few weeks, due to other commitments. However, that hasn't stopped me from picking up a deck and goldfishing during my procrastination. And what better way to procrastinate than with Manaless Dredge?


Manaless keeps impressing me more and more and more, and I've tweaked my sideboard a little bit, now including Vengeful Pharaohs, to remedy the Death & Taxes matchup. In the light amount of play I've been able to do, I've Disrupting Shoaled Containment Priests by pitching Whirlpool Rider, cast Force of Will twice to fight against a Show and Tell, and beat Deathrite Shaman and Surgical Extraction with ease thanks to the power of Street Wraith. Although all these interactions look "cute" initially, they actually add up to a powerful package. Not to mention game one is often a cake walk, where your opponent can't do anything to stop the horde of zombies coming their way. The deck does have a surprisingly steep learning curve due to the card Cabal Therapy. Therapy, although we do have synergy with Probe, often really needs to hit when playing a deck like Manaless that is fragile to certain cards, and having strong soul-reads. I'd recommend Caleb Durwald's excellent Cabal Therapy article for fledgling casters of the card. I know it has certainly helped me step up my Therapy hits.

The Spice Corner

This list comes from Tony Hopkins, based on Hareruya Legacy listings. Thank you so much Tony for passing this on to me. This is a RUG Nic Fit list... But how do you sacrifice your Veteran Explorer without Cabal Therapy? Why, with Greater Gargadon of course.

As Tony also mentioned to me, the Hareruya Legacy archive is a treasure trove of bizarre, interesting decks from Japan, some of which look super janky, but others have a lot of powerful technology to take not of.
 


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