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This Week in Legacy: A Month Goes By

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be taking a look at where Legacy is yet another month in after the March bannings of Expressive Iteration and White Plume Adventurer. That's right, it's time for MOAR DATA! In addition to that we've got two Challenges to discuss.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

May the Legacy Be With You

It's the middle of May and it feels like a pretty good time to take a look at where Legacy is at since the bannings early March. Since March, the Legacy Data Collection Project has collected a little over 2,000 entries in the Legacy Challenge metagame with an estimated number of 11,826 matches of Legacy. It's definitely quite a bit, and while we have had some technical difficulties here or there (and this is something we'll discuss here) we have continued to have a solid effort of making sure we can see the data of what Legacy is like. It's obviously worth noting that our data only covers Magic Online premier level events like Challenges, Showcase Challenges, Super Qualifiers, etc. We do not cover League data at all, and even then League data is all over the place with how it is curated.

You can find all of our aggregate data over here. This sheet also contains all the links to our Discord and Patreon for the project.

The Challenges of Collecting Data

It's no shock to anyone that in the course of collecting data on these Challenge events we have run into some challenges of our own. To continue to allow people to understand the processes we use within the data collection project, all of what is done is mostly manual. Players who collect data playing in the events are inputting decks as they go and at the end of the event are watching replays from within the event to identify the other decks from the event. We then utilize OCR on screenshots of the Round by Round data so that we have that information to infom upon things like specific matchup data in the Challenges, etc.

As this is mainly a crowdsourced effort, it heavily relies on people who helping to collect data. These players (often people who do very well in events usually) are putting in a ton of effort to assist with this project. It's a lot of work, and when we have issues such as MTGO crashing or emergencies or even something as simple as player obligations (real life always comes FIRST here, to me) then we can run into the challenge of not having the full data for the event. When this happens usually a small group of our moderator staff (shout out to Karl191 and RonColpoCinese for being these awesome people) will reach out as best as they can to try to collect the rest of whatever is missing.

At the end of the day, if we don't end up getting data for an event, it does happen and while it's unfortunate it is important to remember that these players putting in this effort have lives and I greatly appreciate them putting their time in to help with this project. One thing that can help improve this long term is more people to help out. The most tedious portion of collecting data here is the replay watching, but even that gets far less tedious when there are more people around to do it. I'd definitely recommend if you are playing in events on MTGO on a very regular basis to consider helping to do this. It would help us get data quicker and would help for when we have technical issues or you know, when real life decides to rear its ugly head.

I would like to also note that I am still continuing to further a discussion with Daybreak Games on the possibility of just publishing all Challenge decklists, all the time. If that is something you think you would like to see, and you have an account on the MTGO forums, please consider going to this post to upvote it and comment. The more visibility on this sort of thing, the more willing they may be to do it.

Legacy as of May, 2023

So now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about where Legacy is at this month, going back to March. Since March we've had both March of the Machine and March of the Machine: Aftermath added to the format, with some of those cards having made a light splash into the format overall.

Let's look at Legacy's metagame shares at a high level here. You can find a breakdown of our current Data Classifications for 2023 here.

One thing that is very interesting since March is that for one of the first times in a long while, Tempo decks are not heads above all over decks in the format. In fact, there are a lot of Midrange/Control decks around. Midrange/Control is a super broad archetype, encompassing everything from the 4C Uro Control variants we have become accustomed to as well as Stoneblade decks and Yorion Zenith. It's an exceptionally broad macro archetype overall, which makes it interesting to see. Of the Tempo decks in the format, over half of those decks is UR Delver. The rest of those decks have been things like RUG Delver, Stiflenought, etc.

What is not very surprising is that Stompy is right behind the Tempo and Midrange/Control decks of the format. Even with White Stompy losing White Plume Adventurer we've seen a sharp uptick in decks like 8Cast as the predominant Stompy deck of the current format. White Stompy based decks including Boros Stompy have managed to stick around, but nowhere near on the same power level they had with WPA.

Permanent Combo-based decks are also quite prevalent behind Stompy decks, with us seeing decks like Elves and Cephalid Breakfast as well as Painter variants.

Right behind Permanent Combo however is Graveyard based decks, and really... it's mostly just one deck. 204 out of 234 decks in the Graveyard macro archetype are solely Reanimator. We'll talk about this for sure here, but it's not surprising to see how good Reanimator has become over time that it really is the defacto graveyard deck.

Fair GSZ/Land based decks, Vial decks, and aggro variants cover the bottom portion of the overall metagame. These decks didn't benefit a ton from the bannings as possibly theorized, but a good number of different archetypes here like Lands, D&T, and Hammer Time have had solid finishes across the board in events, which means they are still strong decks to consider playing.

Let's look now at some win rate data for the top subarchetypes.

As we have noted, Reanimator is in the Challenge metagame one of the format's most played decks, but it also has a very reasonable win rate in the current Challenge metagame as well at around 51.4% non-mirror. I'm going to explain a bit more on Reanimator in a bit, but let's keep looking at the chart. UR Delver is also very popular still, but really for the first time ever we are seeing a format where UR Delver's Challenge non-mirror win rate is less than 50% (49.1%). This seems to jive well with the fact that while UR Delver remains popular, the banning of Expressive Iteration did in fact have a real effect on the deck's power level and we have truly yet to see if players can coalesce on a stock list for the deck that pushes innovation forward. In the contrast there in terms of Delver archetypes, RUG Delver has a lot less sample size, but it's win rate appears much better overall.

8Cast has proven to be quite popular again, and its win rate really jives with that popularity at an insanely good 56.5% non-mirror win rate. This is another deck we'll be talking about. Jeskai Control, while having some reasonable finishes overall has not done very well alongside its popularity with a rough 46.4% non-mirror win rate.

The Rise of Reanimator and 8Cast

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I'm going to say it, because quite frankly it's definitely true. Reanimator is a Tier 1 deck in Legacy. There, I said it. This deck has the overall win rate and the popularity that it is definitely that good currently. One of the big reasons behind this is the advent of newer printings that have forced innovation in deckbuilding. Legacy deckbuilding is often rather resistant to change, and Reanimator for a long time has been a "4 Griselbrand" deck because Griselbrand was the best Reanimation target of all time.

However, as the format has progressed along, so have Reanimator players. Much of the newer printings that have forced this period of innovation came from Modern Horizons 2 with cards like Grief, Archon of Cruelty, and Serra's Emissary. Grief especially was incredibly impactful as players figured out how strong it was to have eight functionally Unmask effects to strip an opponent of answers. What really tipped the bucket here though and I definitely believe it was the advent of Atraxa, Grand Unifier. A card that just ekes value by its very existence while being an absurdly powerful clock to end a game with is really quite strong.

It's because of this that I definitely believe that Reanimator is Tier 1 right now. It has the tools to attack the metagame, and a wider range of threats than it used to, along with strong disruption. While it may have some weekends that it doesn't do well in one event, it has seen some consistent top results across the format.

Another deck that I definitely continue to see results from is 8Cast.

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8Cast is another deck that I'm very confident in saying is Tier 1 here. It has a lot of tools and powerful ways to end the game, and it's absolutely absurdly consistent at doing it. Not much of the deck's overall construction has changed much, but it is much more refined overall and continues to perform. It's another deck that I have seen a ton of strong top results from and it constantly looks super powerful.

Delver and Control

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Looking at Delver here, it's hard to actually say that Delver is a Tier 1 deck in Legacy right now. In fact, it's more than likely that it isn't, which is interesting to see a format where this is not the case as it often usually is. That doesn't mean that Delver isn't *good* though. It's still occasionally nabbing top results here or there in the hands of experienced players, and especially RUG Delver has been shown to be a solid way to approach the deck. The banning of EI really did put a lot of pressure on deck builders to come up with ways to shore up that weakness, and I don't think that has been really found just yet. Of course, we are always a weird printing away from Delver being insane again, so I definitely wouldn't count it out just yet.

Midrange/Control decks on the other hand are an odd duck. They've definitely remained very popular since the bannings, but most of the win rates of the most popular variants of these decks have been less than average overall. Even 4C Uro variants have not performed very well despite being popular (60 deck copies since March). As we noted earlier, Jeskai is also not doing fantastic despite some top finishes here or there. I don't fully believe that Control as an overall broad archetype is Tier 1 right now, but definitely a Tier 2 strategy for sure.

Control overall is hard to grok as quite often Control has to shape itself to the metagame it is specifically trying to attack. As noted, it's a very broad overall archetype and there's a lot of different ways that Control players prefer to build within the format's context. We have seen a string of Control deck variants relying heavily on cards like Staff of the Storyteller as a grindy card draw option. Staff is a card I'm not 100% sold on at the moment due to powerful fast decks like Reanimator and 8Cast existing. While it's had some top finishes here of there, the card has not looked very impressive and often looks very slow overall versus some of those decks. However, the card is really good in very grindy games and getting the game into that space will mean the Control deck will often out draw the opponent then, which is what makes it an interesting card.

Respecting Painter

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One thing I've definitely noticed about current Legacy is that while Red Painter is a definitely good deck in the current format as well, decks are starting to really respect its presence in the format. I have seen cards like Gaea's Blessing and even Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in sideboards simply because they interact with the Painter-Grindstone combo in a positive fashion.

I do expect that Painter itself will receive a further boost when Chaos Defiler comes to Magic Online for sure. Speaking of MTGO...

The Missing Pieces of MTGO

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We are still missing some pieces of things on Magic Online, and while I definitely think some of those cards will be strong additions to the format (most especially Chaos Defiler), much of what is missing is not possibly going to really move the needle on the current format, but would definitely be great to have to maybe spur innovation in deckbuilding.

Also, give us Comet, Stellar Pup already!

How Is Legacy Right Now, Really?

Well, if you read our recent Round Table on the format, I think the answer is pretty clear on how Legacy is right now. I think overall the format is in a reasonable spot, and the gameplay seems fun and interesting to play. There's definitely a lot of different decks to be playing around with and there are a few clear top decks to consider when deckbuilding and sideboarding, which is helpful for understanding the metagame overall.

I don't think there is a clear S Tier deck at the moment personally, and I think that's fine. The format seems fun and healthy for the time being. Only time will tell until we get to Lord of the Rings, for sure.

Legacy Challenge 5/20

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Saturday event. This event had 64 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

UR Delver was the most popular deck and it did have a strong win rate. Reanimator had a subpar winrate as did Boros Stompy despite Boros Stompy having a top finish. 8Cast did quite poorly overall.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
White Stompy 1st perez
UR Delver 2nd bernardocssa
Mystic Forge Combo 3rd Cherryxman
Boros Stompy 4th burrarun
4C Uro Control 5th trunks132
Merfolk 6th nakanishi
Elves 7th EronRelentless
Oops! All Spells 8th michaelvlevine

Highly interesting Top 8 here. Some very distinct archetypes really. At the end of the event though it was White Stompy that won the event.

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I really like the abandonment of Chalice in these decks. Having both Esper Sentinel and Swords to Plowshares is incredibly strong for sure.

In Second Place we've got UR Delver.

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Third Path Iconoclast is a pretty wildly interesting card, given that it works well with Mishra's Bauble being able to generate a creature while triggering Dragon's Rage Channeler. What is really attention getting here is the fact that we only have two Murktides and a full playset of Stifle.

Also in this Top 8 we had Mystic Forge Combo.

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This is another deck that I could definitely see The One Ring being ultimately pretty playable in. Giving yourself protection from everything during a turn is great, but also so is being able to untap it repeatedly in a turn with Keys (since this deck plays a bunch of those) makes it very interesting.

Further down this Top 8 we had Merfolk.

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This list is something else. Muddle the Mixture as a transmute creature tutor is silly and I love it. In addition I really like Thieving Skydiver. It's such a cool card.

Legacy Challenge 5/21

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid-afternoon Sunday event. This event had 79 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Reanimator was very popular in this event and it had a really good win rate. Jeskai Control also did fairly well, as did Doomsday and Sneak and Show.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Reanimator 1st shindy
Jeskai Control 2nd Iwouldliketorespond
UR Turbo Wheels 3rd Killabee
Doomsday 4th FirstToThirst
Omni-Tell 5th ACtuallyMeAmKing
Sneak and Show 6th JPA93
Lands 7th plaza23
Elves 8th EronRelentless

A very combo heavy Top 8 here for sure. With 6/8 of the Top 8 being combo, it is pretty wild indeed. At the end of the event though it was Reanimator that won.

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I'm very outspoken in that I do think Reanimator in general is a very powerful and Tier 1 strategy in this current format (something I discussed earlier in this article). The deck has received a bunch of cards that forced the deck builders to utterly reevaluate how the deck is built and a bunch of new Reanimation targets that are very strong. This list is kind of nutty, as it transformationally sideboards into Initiative. Insane.

In Second Place we've got our good friend Marcus Ewaldh on Jeskai Control.

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Staff of the Storyteller is certainly the new hotness in Control shells in Legacy, and Marcus' list is definitely putting in the work on it. This list looks pretty interesting. I like the Crucible of Worlds aspect in the main deck with Wasteland, and the Saga game plan is solid.

Also in this Top 8 we had Killabee with not Riddlesmith, but a really insane pile we can only call "Turbo Wheels".

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This deck looks absolutely nutty. Dream Salvage is actually insane when you are wheeling your opponent with Runehorn Hellkite and Wheel of Misfortune, and Waste Not plays into that as well. Just a ridiculously nutty deck.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Lands.

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Very much a strong stock list based on what I've seen of the deck lately. This is a good place to start if you have an interest in this deck.

Around the Web

  • Our good friend Jarvis Yu released a really solid document on Legacy Lands recently. Definitely check this one out right here, it's quite good.
  • has an article on Qualifying for the ELM with Maverick. Check it out here.
  • Everyday Eternal has a new episode on Spicy Decks. Check it out here.
  • PunishingWaterfalls has a video on RB Shadow-Scam. Check it out here.
  • Eternal Glory Podcast has a new episode out as well. Check it out here.
  • There is a Legacy 10K and a Legacy 5K up coming at SCG Con Baltimore in June. Check out the main event details here.

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 deck lists over here.

Our good friend Peter van der Ham is invading Tarkir!

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My My My My My Winota!

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4C Uro with Wrenn and Realmbreaker!

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I literally just reviewed Aftermath and talked about Coppercoat Vanguard, so of course someone 5-0s with Humans.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next week as we continue our journey into Legacy!

As always you can reach me at all my associated links via my Link Tree! In addition, I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGLegacy Discord Server.

Until next time!

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