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This Week in Legacy: A Big Week of Results


Hello everyone! Welcome again to This Week in Legacy. This week we'll be covering a huge amount of events that have gone on: Eternal Extravaganza 5, European Eternal Weekend, and the recent SCG Legacy Classic in Milwaukee. That's a lot of sweet data to look at and a lot of sweet lists to look at! Furthermore, I have a brief discussion of a tournament I went to, piloting a not-so-conventional deck.

Let's dive in.

Eternal Extravaganza 5

Eternal Extravaganza, held in Baltimore, Maryland, brought us a Top 8 below:

You can find the lists here.

Most of these lists were relatively normal. I'll summarize a few notes about the stockier builds that made the Top 8:

  • The winning Miracles list of Sam Roukas was a non-Mentor (in the main) build similar to what we saw last week, while Peter Villarubia's list was more of the stock build featuring two Mentors main. And then eighth-placing Scott Waldrin placed with the four Mentor build that has been making the rounds; indeed, the whole spectrum of Miracles lists were exhibited, excluding the Joe Lossett-style Legends list.
  • Two Grixis lists also made Top 8; these were relatively stock lists, though one featured a Ceremonious Rejection in the sideboard, certainly a nod towards the Eldrazi's plaguing the world.
  • The Death & Taxes list featured Recruiter of the Guard as a one-of, and had one Sanctum Prelate in the main, with a second in the side. Instead, Thalia, Heretic Cathar took up three slots. It seems these choices are the crux of Death & Taxes decision-making these days — cut down on the grindy tutor package for more redundancy of curving into turn three Heretic Cathar, or simply exclude her. Perhaps both avenues are viable.
  • The Infect list also featured was relatively straightforward too, though a Meekstone in the sideboard is a spicy one.

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UB Reanimator found its way to the Top 8 too. This list was very much a throwback to "classic" lists, unlike what I featured last week, though Collective Brutality did find a place as a sideboard option:

This list looks really tight and streamlined. I'm also a big fan of the two-of Hapless Researcher, as his inclusion is similar to how Insolent Neonate has been finding his way into the Black-Red lists to increase the density of looting effects, smoothing some otherwise janky-looking draws. Reanimator in particular had an incredible week, as we'll soon see, and I think people should be more than ready for these graveyard decks. Some Leyline of the Void may be a recommendation.

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It seems that this Top 8 is relatively dull, actually. Until you see Mark Strassman's finish with the most awesome of fair decks. Punishing Maverick takes the stage at seventh place, and what a sight it is to behold, complete with mana dorks of all shapes and sizes (Dryad Arbor, Deathrite Shaman, Noble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise), a dinky three-and-a-half color mana base (complete with Dark Depths combo, of course), along with a Worship in the sideboard. Very, very, cool. I'm sure Mark ate up a lot of fair decks on the day, with his Fires and big creatures beating up on Delver and Eldrazi.

In general, Maverick seemed to have a steady resurgence over the past few months, really carving its niche as still a solid deck in the format that can take down tournaments. 

Next, we'll move onto European Eternal Weekend.

European Eternal Weekend

The European Eternal Weekend went on during the 22nd-23rd and that of course meant a big Legacy event! Before we look at that, the Bazaar of Moxan site has a nice metagame breakdown of the entire event:

The breakdown is... Pretty vague, with Delver varieties and three-color good stuff decks lumped into categories. Nonetheless, Delver, Miracles, Eldrazi, Shardless, and Death & Taxes were certain to be what were found in bountiful amounts around the room.

Looking at the breakdown of the Top 8:

Find all the lists here.

Another Top 8, another three Miracles lists. Third place Nicklas Lallo and Anders Thiesen ended up running essentially the same seventy-five, and it seems to have served them incredibly Notably they found room for a main deck Vendilion Clique, trimming down on Terminus to three. Their sideboards also feature the lovely From the Ashes as a haymaker against decks such as Eldrazi and other greedy, non-basic heavy decks.

Seventh placing Yohan also had a similar list, but found room for the Legends package. Interestingly, he also cut his Swords to Plowshares and Counterbalance down to three, something seen as heresy by some:

Louis Bachaud similarly broke the mold with his Grixis Delver list:

Some things of interest:

  • Only three Force of Will. Louis must've expected fast combo to be on the downswing with this decision (ironically, he lost to fast combo in the finals). This change really speaks volumes about what Grixis Delver is: not really a tempo deck, but almost more of a tempo-midrange hybrid, as card advantage and grinding out the opponent is something the deck can do well, but Force of Will is not conducive to.
  • Two Stifle. I'm sure he got some people with this one. When people see one Stifle, they expect four, and it's certainly a card that keeps people honest. Furthermore, it's a card great against many combo decks (Storm in particular) that shores up the lack of the fourth Force.
  • Three Lightning Bolt. Likely a concession to only having so many slots for removal in addition to his two main deck Abrupt Decay without softening the deck to combo, but it's pretty impressive that this sacred cow was slain. Again, this also speaks volumes about how Louis looks at the deck. Lightning Bolt is great in an aggressive Delver deck as excessive ones can clean up the opponent's life total, but if you're looking at the deck from more of a midrange perspective, you simply want to draw more flexible blanket answers. Lightning Bolt, in certain matchups, can be pretty atrocious.
  • Price of Progress in a four color deck. I'm sure this is the card that lets Louis switch gears against a deck like Shardless that can outgrind you. Just become hyper-aggressive and burn them to death. I also really like Electrickery in the board that not enough people play. It's excellent in the Grixis mirror due to not only being a great way to clean up a Pyromancer mess, but can also be an extra Bolt for unflipped Delvers.

Death & Taxes by Alexadre Dudziak also found its way to the Top 8. But this list was a very subtle Imperial Taxes list! Three Cavern of Souls and two Plateau are in the main for a haymaker out of the sideboard, Magus of the Moon.

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Only three Rishadan Port are in the main to make room for these goodies (another sacred cow slain), but Alexandre notably has eight basic Plains, making his mana base much more robust than other red-splashing lists of the past. Also in his main deck is a diverse Recruiter of the Guard package (featuring three Recruiters, which is the upper limit), and his three drop slot is actually quite filled, indicative of a more grindy version of Death & Taxes like old Imperial was.

Elves hasn't found itself in a Top 8 in some time, but Jan Lenger brought the little men back to the forefront.

This list, although featuring Natural Order, takes a lot of cues from Julian Knaab's "Chaos" Elves build with the main deck Cavern of Souls and Umezawa's Jitte. It looks like a nice blend of the two actually, though I'd certainly be in the mood for more Wren's Run Packmaster. Furthermore, the mana base is so tight (adding Cavern of Souls decreases the Forest count for Quirion Ranger) that a Savannah for Gaddock Teeg didn't find a place. Then again, he's basically exclusively a Green Sun's Zenith target.

Lastly, the winner of European Eternal Weekend. A deck I've featured multiple times in this column. A deck that continues to look to many as a fragile combo deck that loses to a single Force of Will, but actually has all the tools to win the trophy of one of 2016's prestigious events: Black-Red Reanimator.

Michel Chevallier Top 8'ed Bazaar of Moxen Paris with this deck and made some small adjustments for Eternal Weekend. Notably, he cut the Insolent Neonates for more main deck disruption: Collective Brutality and Thoughtseize. He also trimmed down the holy trinity of reanimation spells, going down to three Animate Dead. His sideboard also found room for something that should seem like a shoe-in for any Legacy red deck: Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast! I'm also still a big fan of the sideboard Blood Moon and Sneak Attack

With Michel's win, I expect people to be more wary of graveyard strategies going forward. For Reanimator players, I'd recommend packing some anti-hate going forward. Perhaps some Abrupt Decay or Reverent Silence, or just sidestepping hate with Sneak Attack and Blood Moon.

European Eternal Weekend brought out some exciting new developments, some very interesting card choices and the slaying of what was previously seen as the norm. I'm sure many people will be looking over their stock lists and raising questions. I'm glad that this tournament brought out a variety of subtle innovation and progression in what is typically seen as a slow developing format.

SCG Legacy Classic Milwaukee

Whew! There's still one more event to cover - the SCG Classic that occurred in Milwaukee. Here's the breakdown of the Top 16:

Unlike the two other tournaments flush with Miracles, only Joe Lossett found his way into the Top 8. Instead, we had some more exciting lists.

Two (yes, two) Aluren lists made Top 8. Many naysay Aluren as being a janky low tier deck, but two finding their way into the Top 8 is certainly speaking to its strength and now greater play thanks to Recruiter of the Guard making it more accessible. Interestingly, Alexander Barnett's list featured classic Imperial Recruiter though!

Somewhat similar to the stock list established, though Alexander leaned on the red splash with some sideboard choices: Blood Moon and Bloodbraid Elf. I'm surprised the tutorable equivalent, Magus of the Moon, didn't get the nod over the enchantment, but I do love the Bloodbraid in the sideboard to get the Cascade grind really going.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Barbeau brought the same seventy-five of Brennan Murphy who Top 8'ed the Classic in Indianapolis. This version used Recruiter of the Guard, but also the Nic Fit synergy of Veteran Explorer, different to the one piloted by Alexander.

Landstill really isn't dead, as I mentioned last week... Dave Patwell brought this beautiful concoction:

Spellstutter Sprite in Legacy. This puts a smile on my face like no other. This list is actually very aggressive, having a huge amount of creatures, featuring a full four Grim Lavamancer, which in my mind seems a little overkill. The fliers also can all get geared up with the bevvy of equipment in the deck, featuring two Swords and one Jitte. The manlands can also get in there - while under a Standstill, of course. I'm surprised that Dave looked at the full four Mishra's Factory. I'd imagine four Mutavault to complement the Sprites, and then a fifth man-land in the form of Faerie Conclave would be the best synergy-wise. Nonetheless, Faeries in Legacy folks. This is really cool.

Slivers, whose deck is also known as "Meathooks" (because Slivers look very... Hook-like, right?) also found their way into the Top 16:

Very similar to Merfolk in style, except with a more fragile mana base but a greater density of lords. Also, Crystalline Sliver is an absolute monster for any fair deck, and staring it down is actually really scary. Hibernation Sliver also creates headaches and can even make Terminus look pretty lacklustre. I'm also a big fan of the Sylvan Library somewhere in the seventy-five, as unlike Merfolk there is no Silvergill Adept to churn through the deck.

One thing I'm less of a fan in Slivers is Brainstorm, though. Although the deck has fetchlands to utilize it, I'd much prefer to capitalize on utility lands and curve out. Brainstorm is great in a deck that can capitalize on ditching extra lands or excess situational cards - but in Slivers, all the cards have redundant effects and excess mana can be dumped into man-lands. So instead, we can take something out of Merfolk's book and play Chalice of the Void. I might try Slivers like this:

The last deck that was impressive in the Milwaukee event, other than another BR Reanimator list which was Michel Cavallier's old list from the Bazaar of Moxen, was a different deck abusing Griselbrand:

Mono-Red Sneak Attack found a new addition with Combustible Gearhulk. Some other cool pieces of technology are the Chandra, Torch of Defiance as an alternate win-con, along with Price of Glory as something to ruin countermagic decks. 

Conclusion

Phew! That was a lot of results to go through, and a lot of interesting decks to look at. Hopefully everyone found something that inspired or raised their eyebrows within this bevy of results. Next week we have the American Eternal Weekend to look forward to! Furthermore, we might have a few more interviews down the line. As always, feedback is appreciated, post in the comments wherever you see this, and feel free to contact me with whatever is on your mind concerning Legacy.

'Til next time,

Sean Brown

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

And catch me on The Salt Mine: An Australian Legacy Podcast, for more banter about Legacy!

What I'm Playing This Week

So, this week I'd like to highlight the deck I've been jamming considerably over the past week. Sadly, the deck I've been playing is a misunderstood beast, with people quitting games and mocking me as I either sit helplessly waiting to discard to hand size or slay them quickly with an army of Zombies, Angels, and Trolls.

I'm talking about Manaless Dredge.

I may not be the best player of this deck, but I have certainly felt its power. And I certainly would like to clear up the stigma around it.

This deck has quite a history since it appeared in a SCG Legacy Open a few years ago. Although it initially looked like a marvelous gimmick that could win just due to its strangeness (and indeed, that probably contributed somewhat), the deck also implemented a powerful gameplan that differentiated it from traditional Lion's Eye Diamond Dredge, despite appearing to operate similarly. Importantly, by opting to go on the draw and discard a Dredger via cleanup, the deck no longer had problems against countermagic stopping discard outlets from resolving. By utilizing no lands, the deck could avoid Legacy powerhouses such as Wasteland and other forms of mana denial. Furthermore, the removal of these enablers cleaned up the deck to now include a much larger suite of recursive threats, and hence Dredge into usable cards more consistently. You can see Nick Rausch's win with the deck that put it into the spotlight here:

However, what it lost for this redundancy is, of course, speed. LED Dredge can Dredge through a huge amount of its library thanks to cards such as Breakthrough, Lion's Eye Diamond + Faithless Looting, and Cephalid Coliseum. Although it may Dredge into some useless cards (such as land or more looting spells), the velocity in which it mills through its library is much more substantial than Manaless. Probably more importantly though, LED Dredge has actual lands it can use to fight against hate cards.

Manaless got further improvements upon the debut of Gatecrash and the introduction of Balustrade Spy. A deck with no mana that wants to get its deck into the graveyard as soon as possible, as well as feed Ichorid, certainly loves this guy, which can be Dread Returned into play and immediately converted into a win thanks to Flayer of the Hatebound. Spy did not add any tools for Manaless to fight against hate though. If anything it made most lists more fragile, as any lands at all were now completely out of the question. Although it did make occasional appearances on camera and Top 8'ed small tournaments every now and then, it was still seen as a gimmick by many.

It's only in Shadows Over Innistrad that Manaless Dredge got a powerful new tool to fight against hate, although it had been experimented with before. Michael "Hollywood" Keller, one of the innovators behind Manaless lists on The Source had advocated adding Force of Will to Manaless prior to Shadows. The deck's blue count, even if replacing Spies for cards such as the lovable Whirlpool Rider was still a bit too slow to cast the card consistently.

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Rollan Julien's Top 8 at the Bazaar of Moxen proved that Prized Amalgam had not only reinvented Dredge in Modern, it had also given Manaless a rebirth, as with the heightened blue count Force of Will was something that could now reliably be utilized.

His Bazaar of Moxen Top 8 made me reconsider the pile of Dredge cards I had at home, which was my first foray into Legacy many years ago and has made me fall for the deck all over again. Manaless is the finest example of Magic: the Gathering showcasing all of its historical oddities from the dawn of Alpha to the most recent sets, and how together they create this bizarre machine that can only exist is the most eternal of formats. Decks like Manaless are why I truly love Legacy.

However, I was cautious at first, as I'd experienced the dreaded feeling of hate resolving against me when I played it initially, and I understood the "gimmicky" nature that the deck had. But once I began playing again, I realized all the powerful, intricate lines that the deck could work on. How it could threaten to combo out or just grind out the game, how it can shred the opponent's hand (if you have powerful soul-reads), and how post-board the deck has an incredible strength not only because your opponent must find their hate, but also because they must resolve it. Although initially looking very linear, Manaless has an incredible amount of play to it, with a lot of not-so-obvious interactions.

And so today, I'll try to dispel the myth that Manaless is a gimmick. Today I'll investigate what makes the deck tick, the powerful interactions the deck has and how it can be beaten, but also try and give the deck some respect.

The Dredgers

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These guys are the lifeblood of the deck, filling your graveyard with every draw they replace. Grave-Troll is, of course, the best of these, milling you deep into your deck, and tends to be a great gigantic finisher. The smaller Dredgers importantly feed some of our creatures, thanks to being black, so they are at times exactly what you want. Also note that Stinky and Thug do have other abilities – a resurrected Stinky can save you from a giant flier, for example – and Thug's ability can be vaguely useful if you risk decking yourself.

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A little shout-out to Shambling Shell, once a staple of Manaless lists. Although previously Shell was added to aid in redundancy (since the deck must keep most of its openers to discard to handsize, a no Dredge opener is bad times). If he can be squeezed in, excellent, as more Dredging is always good, and he always can feed Ichorids otherwise.

The Discard Outlet

Discarding a Dredger to handsize looks incredibly stupid when your opponent cracks their fetch for a Tropical Island and then casts a Deathrite Shaman on the play.

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Luckily, the deck has numerous ways to overcome Deathrite, one of which is Phantasmagorian, which allows the Manaless player to dump multiple Dredgers in the yard and continue unhindered even if one is eaten.

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Furthermore, Phantasmagorian allows for a lot of tricks with the deck, surprising the opponent with discard spells they didn't know were coming, reviving a surprise monster, or creating more Zombies than expected. It's also itself a great target to resurrect, as well as another black creature to be fed to Ichorids. Holding priority with Phantasmagorian is a significant interaction to ensure six cards can be discarded.

The 'Free' Creatures

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Ichorid, Narcomoeba, and Bridge from Below need little introduction, being staples of all Dredge variants. Ichorid and Bridge create an incremental undying army, while Narcomoeba is the freest of the free, and is also, importantly, blue. Do note that knowing when to go all-in on reviving Ichorid or waiting until more reasonable cards to feed it is important. Also, stacking Bridge triggers when trading in combat so you still get Zombies is something to familiarize yourself with.

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The newest star of the show, this blue recursive creature is excellent in the deck. Although he needs to piggyback off other creatures, once his cost is fulfilled his huge body sticks around forever, and also comes in at end step, naturally playing around Terminus mid-combat. He's also great with Dread Return, as when sacrificed he will trigger off seeing the target come into play, essentially being free to sacrifice to the spell. There's a few other cool interactions he has, and notably, being blue means he aids our countermagic.

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Nether Shadow aids further in the deck's threat density, being a puny guy that has a weird clause to resurrect. Although he looks slow and mediocre, you'll be thankful you have him around as ready food for a Cabal Therapy, Dread Return, or as something to trigger Prized Amalgam. He's great, but due to his slow nature, he's been cut down a little bit recently from his previously four-of status.

The Disruption

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A lynchpin of the deck, acting as both a sacrifice outlet to trigger Bridge, but also as incredibly powerful disruption, especially when aimed with pinpoint accuracy. Cabal Therapy lends Dredge a pretty high difficulty, as assessing the game state and what you need to beat means hitting blind is very, very important. Sometimes it will just be used to stop a big Goyf from coming into play and gumming up the ground. Other times it will take opposing counterspells and let the combo win shine through.

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This card needs no introduction. Not only is it a great blanket answer to lots of random problems, but it also covers the numerous amount of hate cards that come up post-sideboard. The deck can cast it reasonably reliably game one (thanks to Amalgam's addition), but post-board, when more blue cards come in, having stack wars against opponents while beating down with Zombies is one of the true luxuries the deck has.

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Not only does Chancellor give Manaless a "buffer" against going on the draw with its turn zero trigger, allowing "the play" to be reclaimed (and devastating turn one plays like Deathrite or Grafdigger's Cage to be avoided), but it's also an amazing card to resurrect against most combo decks.

The Acceleration

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Wraith is a key card at making the deck have draws which are sometimes as speedy as typical LED Dredge, but also allows the deck to easily beat Deathrite Shaman game one by cycling Dredgers in response to his green ability. He's probably the best card to see in an opener. Also, feeds Ichorid!

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Similar to Wraith, this allows multiple Dredges in a turn, but can unfortunately be countered, which can be awkward when discarding to hand size is necessary. However, everyone knows of the Gitaxian Probe / Cabal Therapy by now. Yeah, Manaless gets that too. Also another blue card to pitch to Force of Will.

The Resurrection

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Dread Return is the finisher of the deck, leading to the fastest kills the deck has. Although four looks excessive, you want to see it all the time game one to finish off fast opposition like combo decks. Post-board it is often trimmed as comboing is less of a priority. Note that Dread Return can also be done just "for value." 

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Rider looks stupid, and isn't nearly as efficient as Balustrade Spy, but does the job well enough, while upping the blue count for counterspells in the list. Essentially shuffle back a few cards (note: shuffling back Narcomoebas is the best feeling ever) and then Dredge that many times. Note that you do need Dredgers in the yard and a reasonable hand size for Rider to function, but that requirement is usually pretty easy. Once you've dumped most of your library in the bin, you should've triggered some Narcomoeba and Bridges, and then you can go in for the combo kill...

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The combo method of the deck is to bring back this guy and then use another Dread Return for a big Grave-Troll to twenty the opponent. However, thiscombo is not even necessary most of the time. Prized Amalgam will enter at end of turn too, shooting the opponent multiple times, typically to their death. Flayer is just synergistic with the deck, and gets around random things like Moat, and I much prefer him to other kill conditions like Dragonlord Kolaghan or Flame-Kin Zealot, that can fail.

The Sideboard

You'd think a deck with no mana has not many options, but surprisingly, there's quite a few.

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These additional pieces of disruption are quite good. Disrupting Shoal is probably best, as Narcomoeba and Whirlpool Rider cost two, making crucial hate like Rest in Peace and Containment Priest no longer an issue. Mindbreak Trap is exclusively for Storm. Unmask is a pretty nice spell, and although discard isn't perfect (your opponent topdecking hate cards sucks), it's great for disrupting the opponent's countermagic. You can also target yourself to kick-start Dredging even when you can't discard to hand size.

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Shoal and Contagion are from their respective pitch cycles, and both do a good job of killing Deathrite Shaman or Containment Priest. These cards can also double as sacrifice outlets in a pinch by killing your own creatures for Bridge triggers. Vengeful Pharaoh, although having dis-synergy with Bridge from Below, is great at ambushing Thalia, Guardian of Thraben (thanks to Phantasmagorian) and other hatebears which can stop you comboing out, as well as giving the Manaless player some breathing room against a Delver pressuring their life total.

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Not only great as a piece of graveyard hate, but also feeds Ichorid and stacks above Nether Shadow. Surgical Extraction and Leyline of the Void are other options. Speaking of Leylines, Leyline of Sanctity is not bad one too to stop discard spells.

And so, we come to my list!

Nicely enough, I put my money where my mouth is and brought this deck to a Sanctioned event locally, making it to the finals. You can find my report here. In conclusion, Manaless is great; Manaless can win; Manaless is not a gimmick. If you think so, be prepared to fall to the Zombie beatdown.

The Spice Corner

Thanking /u/Fjaulnir from reddit for this one, this Top 8ed Finnish Legacy Champs. Featuring - Destructive Flow.


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