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This Week in Legacy: A Week of Spice

Another week, another This Week in Legacy! This week we have a smattering of interesting and varied lists to look at from around the globe, including a few decks which have had a bit of resurgence, a few decks which have found some new tweaks to adapt to the changing metagame, and some new brews! Let’s dive in!


Looking at Ovinogeddon

Ovinogeddon is a well-known tournament in Milan, Italy and one of the premier Legacy events of the year in Europe besides the Bazaar of Moxen. This year 213 people showed to play in the event. The Top 8 metagame broke down as follows:

Most of these lists are pretty straightforward. The three Miracles lists were typical clean-looking European Ponder/Mentor builds. The Shardless BUG, Eldrazi (splashing Eldrazi Displacer), and Elves lists had not too much to note, despite the Elves having main deck Ruric Thar, the Unbowed.

The Death & Taxes list has further solidified the numbers of the new Conspiracy: Take the Crown and Eldritch Moon cards, with two Recruiter of the Guard, Sanctum Prelate, and Thalia, Heretic Cathar finding their way into Marco Montani’s list. I’m actually quite a big fan of only two Recruiter of the Guard, as it offers just enough utility in the deck without drawing away from the powerful three drops that can be curved into naturally. Prelate in particular has impressed me as a card to naturally curve into, and I definitely think, despite its awkward body, should at least be a two-of in Death & Taxes lists moving forward. Thalia, Heretic Cathar has also proven to very reasonable, though I think it should either be a two or three-of or cut entirely. As a silver bullet, I’ve never wanted to tutor for it, but as a punishing turn three play I’ve been quite a fan. Marco’s list has also reduced the aggression of the deck by trimming Serra Avengers and leaving Crusader in the side, but has kept Mangara of Corondor in the main! He’s definitely leaning more towards the ‘Taxes’ side of the deck, rather than ‘Death,' but it must be remembered that the deck must be aggressive enough to close out the game before the prison is broken out of.

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The full breakdown of the Top 8 is here.

Most interesting is the first placing list, however. Tomas Mar of the Czech Republic has been known for stretching the mana bases of Legacy as far as possible, piloting and championing 4c Delver during the Dig Through Time-era. His old list from then can be found here.

To this event Tomas again brought 4c Delver… Sort of.

This deck features all the hallmarks of a BUG Delver deck, featuring Daze, Force of Will, Brainstorm, and Ponder… But no Delvers! Instead we find a full four Baleful Strix (as I’ve previously mentioned, an excellent card against both Eldrazi and Delver) to push the deck more into a midrange direction, along with Kolaghan's Command and Painful Truths.

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There’s a few bizarre one-ofs in the deck too – one-of Lightning Bolt (really bringing the red splash into question) and one-of Hymn, which are typically seen as staple four-ofs in the decks they’re found. His discard package also utilizes two of the uncommon Inquisition of Kozilek, in addition to a one-of Thoughtseize. His addition of Snapcaster Mage gives these one-ofs a bit more credit, as they are essentially all three-ofs with the two Snapcasters to flash them back. In fact, recently I’ve been very high on Snapcaster within these four colour shells (even 4c Delver) as once you’re accelerating with Deathrite into three mana, Snapcaster becomes excellent in both fair and unfair matchups.

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Nonetheless, there is no Sacred Cows with Tomas Mar, with Delver, Lightning Bolt, and Thoughtseize all hitting the chopping block. Although this deck offers a lot of questions in his approach to deck building, it also shows the strength of this atypical Delver-less 4c Delver list to power through tournaments and is perhaps a deck for others to look at, tune, and customize.

The Ovinogeddon Legacy side event of 64 people also brought some other interesting lists into light. Leovold, Emissary of Trest found his way into an effective non-Shardless BUG midrange list, similar to the one I suggested upon Leovold’s release.

The list looks incredibly similar to current Shardless lists, except the Cascade of Shardless Agent has been replaced by Leovold and Painful Truths as card advantage engines, which certainly seems feasible and removes all the restrictions Agent places on the deck. This openness is seen in the freed-up sideboard of powerful counterspell-based disruption such as Invasive Surgery and Flusterstorm, which normal Shardless does not have access to. Leovold himself is sure to help paralyze combo decks from sculpting their hand too, so I’d like to think of these lists as being essentially like Shardless, but with more potency against combo.

Eldrazi Go Bigger

Colorless Eldrazi lists have remained reasonably static over the past few months, with the core of:

4 Eldrazi Mimic
4 Endless One
4 Matter Reshaper
4 Thought-Knot Seer
4 Reality Smasher
2 Endbringer

As the typical suite of creatures to power out with the explosive mana base and pieces of acceleration (such as Simian Spirit Guide). A deck such that of noloam’s (that he’s continually crushed on Magic Online with) is what I’d take as the standard colorless version.

However, Tyler Lund brought a different Eldrazi to the SCG Legacy Classic in Baltimore a few weeks ago, taking 12th place. That Eldrazi was Oblivion Sower. And his trend has started to make waves in Magic Online lists as well.

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Sower offers a lot of interesting utility for the deck. Potentially castable on turn three via a variety of land combinations, Sower allows Eldrazi to ramp into a very powerful end game by stealing a chunk of the opponent’s lands. Of course, in Legacy, a lot of these lands may be fetchlands, but increasing the number of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth makes this a non-issue. Once you have a bunch of mana, Eye of Ugin starts to look much more threatening, especially since it can tutor the final boss.

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Playing more Urborgs and more Eye of Ugins certainly may lead to some clunkier hands overall, and mana acceleration has to be cut for all these fancy toys, but Oblivion Sower certainly looks like a powerful addition to the suite of Eldrazi that has been explored little, and takes the deck down a somewhat different route.

Find Tyler’s SCG Classic report here if you’re interested in more information!

The winner of the Ovinogeddon side event also took Eldrazi to a top place finish. But again, it looked very different from typically expected:

Similar to the baby of MUD and Eldrazi I highlighted a few weeks ago, this list opts against main deck Chalice of the Void to play a game closer to 12Post (this list is essentially colorless 12Post), utilizing the Post mana base. Conduit of Ruin, another lesser-played Eldrazi, makes his appearance here as a way to tutor for the Eldrazi titans and end the game. Thorns, Lodestone, Seer, and Wail shore up the potentially difficult combo matchups.

What’s Old Is New Again

Last week also found favorite Maverick taking the top spot in the Orlando SCG Classic. It's bizarre, since many consider the deck dead or usurped by Death & Taxes. But, here it is, piloted by Josh Katine.

I’ve outlined Maverick a few weeks ago but seeing it perform so well made me have to look twice and reconsider why it’s currently performing well in the metagame. Not only did it take the Classic but it also took the top spot of an MKM Trial event and a smaller local tournament in Stockholm.

Maverick is at its core a Green White midrange/goodstuff deck that aims to dismantle its opponent’s gameplan with white hate creatures such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Mother of Runes, and then further apply pressure or disruption with its tool box of green creatures accessible via Green Sun's Zenith. Zenith acts also as a ramp spell early with Dryad Arbor (along with mana dorks such as Deathrite Shaman and Noble Hierarch) to ensure the deck isn’t tempoed out by the soft countermagic from Delver decks and can make monstrous plays, like Knight of the Reliquary, before the opponent. Speaking of Knight, although the hallmark beatstick of the deck, Knight also gives the deck a lot of utility by either machine-gunning Wastelands, ramping with Gaea's Cradle, drawing cards with Horizon Canopy, or bouncing Emrakuls with Karakas.

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Another monstrous play these decks now have access to is Thalia, Heretic Cathar (featured prominently in Josh Katine’s list) on turn two thanks to any of the turn one mana dorks in the deck. And I feel this addition is what helped push Josh to his finish, as Heretic Cathar fits very neatly with the decks plan of smashing in with giant Knights and giving the opponent mana difficulties. It is also a feature that lets Maverick distinguish itself from Death & Taxes, and I feel Heretic Cathar is much more powerful within the Maverick shell than in D&T.

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I also feel Knight of the Reliquary, despite often being just another giant beatstick, really holds its own in the current state of the format. Eldrazi struggles against gigantic Knights that its creatures cannot push through, and Death & Taxes, if too slow out of the gates, can have difficulties defending against a huge Knight, especially with Mirran Crusaders dropping in numbers in more recent Death & Taxes lists.

However, the nemesis of mana dork decks everywhere – Miracles – still represents difficulties for Maverick, and certainly makes Death & Taxes, with its mana acceleration provided by Aether Vial, look more appealing. Nonetheless, I’m a big fan of Josh’s Maverick list. It’s one of the leanest and most brutal lists I’ve seen in recent memory, with no fancy silver bullets or land shenanigans, and really looks to maximize Thalia, Heretic Cathar.

Esper Stoneblade is another classic that has found a lot of lime light in Japan recently in their 65th KMC Legacy tournament, which always ends up being well attended (71 players). Three players found their way into the Top 8 (with one of them winning) with meticulously crafted lists, their main deck and sideboard only varying by a scant few cards. You can see the whole Top 8 here, but here’s the first-placing list of Yao Shunsuke:

There’s a few important things to see here:

  • No Deathrite Shaman. Not that unsurprisingly, as non-DeathBlade lists have been around for a while, but certainly DeathBlade was the more frequent Stoneblade variant I had been seeing. This list is less of an aggressive midrange deck and certainly leans more towards control.
  • No True-Name Nemesis. This is a big one. As I’ve mentioned before, True-Name has been seen as the natural partner to Stoneforge Mystic, but is eschewed here. He’s powerful in fair matchups, certainly, but is an incredible liability against combo. He’s also very mana-inefficient, which is what this list seems to be all about: mana efficiency.
  • Tasigur, the Golden Fang. This guy has been eschewed for the big fish Gurmag Angler in the majority of Legacy lists, primarily due to his disappointing interaction with Karakas. However, this list might be a very natural fit for him, as it is more interested in grinding out opponents with a sea of card advantage than attacking with a 5/5 idiot. The deck can also go late enough into the game that getting Tasigur bounced isn’t even a liability. In fact, it might allow for shenanigans to clear your graveyard and ensure that his ability gives you exactly the card you need.
  • Lingering Souls. A durdly card against combo, but an excellent grind card in fair—matchupsit also synergizes nicely with Tasigur.
  • A pretty diverse disruption suite—four Thoughtseize, a Counterspell, a Pierce, and four Forces.
  • Flexible answers. Council's Judgment, four Plow, and main deck Explosives and Academy Ruins. Engineered Explosives in particular has recently seen a strong resurgence in midrange and control decks, and is nice as a way to break Chalices and kill Delvers. Notice Tasigur’s synergy with Ruins too?

The sideboard also features some powerful ones:

This list seems to refuse conventional wisdom, not playing True-Name and playing Tasigur in a metagame now flooding with Death & Taxers and their Karakas. But the further I look at this list the more elegant it appears. The tight mana curve emphasizing efficiency and frequent interaction with your opponent, the synergy Tasigur has with many cards in the seventy-five, and the typical power that Stoneforge brings to fair matchups are all here. Although unconventional, it has certainly proven itself to be very successful.

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Thanks for reading, and hopefully the interesting lists that popped out this week have been of interest. As always, any suggestions about recent lists or innovations to analyze are much appreciated!

‘Til next time,

Sean Brown

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

White Stompy… Takes me to the finals?

Last weekend I took White Stompy to a small Sanctioned local tournament and was happily able to split the finals! The deck felt very powerful and had some very busted hands, along with enough flexibility in the matches I played. You can find my tournament report here, but in summary:

2-0 vs. Infect
2-0 vs. UR Delver
2-1 vs. Sneak & Show
ID vs. BR Reanimator
2-0 vs. BURG Delver

Top 4:
2-0 vs. UR Delver
Split vs. Sneak & Show

There are a few new things I’d like to try with the list though:

  • Declaration in Stone. As much as I’ve loved Spatial Contortion overall, I do need more avenues to kill Tarmogoyfs and Seers and Smashers in the pseudo-mirror. Although the Clue is annoying, if I have enough enough momentum it should be less of an issue.
  • Gisela, the Broken Blade. Yes, as dumb as this seems I am considering her. The deck has notorious problems with fliers and Gisela stops those in their tracks. Furthermore, she massacres the BUG matchups, first striking through Strixen and flying over the Goyfs that brick the ground. She also has great synergy with Karakas, protecting her from Dismembers and the like (though making her awful against D&T). Although she loses to Lightning Bolt, Chalice and Prelate certainly help with that. The main problem is her mana cost – 2WW for a non-Human is an issue, as double white can be rough to obtain.
  • Sideboarding Palace Jailer. I liked him, but he felt overall a bit slow—perhaps he’s better in the sideboard for grindy matchups.
  • Some dumb, giant walker for Miracles and Shardless. Elspeth, Knight-Errant (flying Smashers sound awesome!) and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar seem like interesting options. In all honesty, I wish white had a planeswalker like Garruk Relentless which is easier on the mana.
  • Winter Orbs could very easily be cut for these things. Mindbreak Traps, although I understand their value in the sideboard and why I have put them there, I’ve been siding in little (a bit of a downswing in Storm here) and maybe more multi-purpose hate against combo (such as Ethersworn Canonist) is a good idea.

The Spice Corner

A very spicy cocktail indeed, featuring a pile of annoying enchantments, tutors for them, Brainstorm, Force of Will and a combo finish!

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