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This Week in Legacy: Adaptation

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to talk yet again about Companions and how to potentially adapt to this new world with them around. We've also got our regular old Deck Focus (this week on Zirda Bomberman) and a mess of events to talk about with two Challenges from over the weekend.

Unfortunately, both the Super Qualifier results from last Thursday AND the Showcase Qualifier Season 1 Results have not posted yet on Wizards website before this article was due. I would like to note big congrats to JPA93 for winning the Super Qualifier, and to Newton Hang for winning the Showcase Qualifier on Elves!

We have a lot to cover, so let's dive right in!

You've Got a Friend in Me

Companions are here, for how long we can not truly tell, but if they are going to be here for some time, then the Legacy Metagame needs to adapt to their presence, be it with or without them. Adaptation is required to combat the various strategies that have become popular. We already discussed last week the basic impact that these cards have had on Legacy since release and my own thoughts on the mechanic/cards, so this week let's talk about the possibility that the more dominant ones just simply stick around.

Playing Without Companions

For whatever reason that you may have decided that playing without a Companion is what you'd like to do (no matter the reasoning), there are a few decks that can attack on an axis where the cards simply aren't needed or the overall power level of the cards involved make up for the loss of the free "Eighth" card in hand. One such deck on that axis is Eldrazi.

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Eldrazi has a lot of individually powerful cards, from Thought-Knot Seer to Reality Smasher, but most importantly Chalice of the Void. Chalice makes it much more difficult for Delver shells to leverage their cantrip pieces, and knowing up front that your opponent is on a Lurrus shell (since Companions are revealed before Mulligans / Opening Hands even) you can keep hands that have strong disruption vs those decks and also deploy cards like Chalice for 0 (to counteract Mishra's Bauble, etc). While you're not able to directly interact with getting rid of Lurrus until they cast it, you can very easily disrupt the rest of their hand and utilize Dismember to clean up Lurrus. Against a deck like Gigan's Clone Army, knowing up front that you need Chalice on 0 is great, and then you can utilize Wasteland to cut off your opponent's Sol lands and disrupt their mana engine.

Once Upon a Time is another great boon to this deck as it boosts this deck's consistency greatly.

Another deck that has some tools is Maverick.

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Maverick's power level comes from being a Swords to Plowshare deck mainly, being able to get rid of threats that Lurrus could rebuy (like Dreadhorde Arcanist and Delver), while also being greatly positioned against Gigan when on the play to have either Plow or Karakas. Maverick's toolbox contains a lot of tools to beat other fair decks, and Knight of the Reliquary has honestly never seemed better at dealing with all sorts of things. The downside of this deck vs decks like Gigan and Zirda is that being on the draw can be problematic if the combo deck has a fast combo. Overall however, I feel pretty happy with Maverick as a deck. It has a lot of power and subtlety to it and is a lot of fun to play.

Another deck that has a lot of potential is Elves!

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Elves can get by on the basis that because everyone is playing Lurrus, the playability of cards like Plague Engineer has basically disappeared because of Lurrus' CMC restrictions. This is a great thing for tribal decks, and the best of those is most assuredly Elves because of its fast combo power and card draw engine in Glimpse of Nature. Elves is in a great place right now, and well worth giving a try. It doesn't hurt either that the deck has a great matchup vs the Yorion Snow decks as well.

On the blue side of things, not everyone is giving into the Lurrus world, such as the combo deck Doomsday. While some builds are seen playing the card, many also aren't, and that's fine too.

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The big draw of not playing Lurrus is obviously getting to play Street Wraith as an additional cycler but also Teferi, Time Raveler. I think this version of the deck is still pretty powerful and still has plenty of good tools to handle the format, but we will see as time goes on.

Room for More Friends

If you are however, wanting to approach playing and adapting to a Companion world with playing them, but you don't want to play Delver, there are some places you can look as well such as Cephalid Breakfast.

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While you lose out on the Stoneblade aspect of this deck, Lurrus being able to rebuy Oracle immediately is a considerable thing, given that it allows you to either attempt to rebuy Oracle first, and then if that gets countered then you can attempt to Dread Return it.

Another deck to consider is utilizing Lurrus in a Lands shell with Dark Confidant.

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Lurrus can rebuy dead permanents like Sylvan Library or Bob in this kind of shell, making it hard for your opponent to counter/destroy those cards.

If you're looking for ideas to play that isn't Lurrus, Yorion does offer some interesting concepts to tool around with and the ability to continue to play some egregious three drops like Oko and Uro.

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New World Legacy

That being said, we've entered yet another new shift in era of the Legacy format. While some archetypes look relatively the same, the balance and shift of everything is different, and adapting to that is very important. Sometimes the best way to adapt is to find your own stride within the confines of the format and simply try to survive or to spend your time attempting to attack the format from a new angle. Regardless of whether or not the Companions (especially Lurrus) stick around the format for longer or not, we all need to adapt to continue playing the format. My only major concern at this point is having to adapt on a constant set release basis it seems, and I do expect we'll see more going on for Core Set 2021 that may put more stress on Legacy.

Community Legacy Update

As always things are rather slow right now in the paper Magic world. However, there's some news worth sharing that the Eternal Fest Ohio 40K event in Ohio on August 1st-2nd did recently cancel this past month. I expect that we will continue to see these kinds of things happen, and it makes me feel for the possibility of the Legacy 40K in Missouri in September to cancel as well as the possibility of no US Eternal Weekend this year. Regardless we're going to continue to keep track of these events and what will happen to them for everyone.

Deck Focus - The Birda is the Worda of the Zirda

Our deck focus this week is on another evolution of an existing archetype with Zirda Bomberman.

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The utilization of Zirda, the Dawnwaker in this deck means that this deck's typical outlets of disrupting the opponent like Chalice of the Void can't exist, but instead what we end up with is more of a hyper mana deck with a lot of Plan A's and an even greater set of Plan B's. Zirda itself offers the best game plan, by being able to abuse the mana from both Monoliths to fuel Walking Ballista for lethal or the use of Karn to fetch either half of this combo.

However, the deck has access to a great number of other game plans that don't need to include Zirda, such as the usage of Karn, the Great Creator to fetch prison pieces out of the sideboard, or Karn, Scion of Urza to create large and hard to deal with creatures, to also having the Auriok Salvagers + Lion's Eye Diamond combo to generate infinite mana and kill with Ballista. The sheer redundancy of this deck's game plans is what makes it so interesting to play.

The power level of this deck is definitely high, as it feels often like a Vintage deck in terms of sheer ridiculousness of some turns with it. However, it can fall prey to disruption with cards like Null Rod. Post board the deck has some options to disable Zirda as a Companion when need be in order to play removal such as Swords to Plowshares, meaning that it can sideboard Zirda into the maindeck to have as an out/option.

This deck is exceptionally strong and well worth a look if you are looking for a deck that has a lot of redundant game plans and interesting ways to win.

Legacy Challenge 4/25

We had our first Challenge of the weekend on 4/25 and it was certainly an interesting one. First things first let's take a glance at the Top 32 Metagame breakdown.

A huge portion of this event was heavily slanted towards Lurrus Delver decks (if you combine both Jeskai/Grixis together) and overall Lurrus decks made up a big portion of the event overall (as we'll talk about later here). Also situated in the popular decks of this event was Eldrazi Aggro (as we discussed earlier in this article as a way to combat Delver). Lurrus Jeskai Delver, however, performed exceptionally well, converting three pilots into the Top 8 out of the five decks in the Top 32. Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus Taxes 1st MM_17
RUG Delver 2nd Samu_27
Lurrus Jeskai Delver 3rd MentalMisstep
Lurrus Jeskai Delver 4th Shorak123
Lurrus Jeskai Delver 5th JPA93
Eldrazi 6th iwanteatebi
Lurrus Miracles 7th Laywer
Gigan's Clone Army 8th Sora1248

The hot talk of this event was all centered around the winner of this event, and that was MM_17 on a very cleverly built deck with Lurrus (one of the most interesting brews to come out of these kinds of decks I've seen yet) with a White Weenie Taxes Build centered on fast mana like Mox Amber/Lotus Petal and low-cost tax elements like Leonin Arbiter and filter like Smuggler's Copter.

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I have to admit this list is pretty cool. No Aether Vial makes a ton of sense in a deck like this since you aren't playing on the strengths of cards like Flickerwisp here. This is very much close to the decks that popped up in Modern after Mox Amber was printed, using a 1 CMC threat like Isamaru or Kytheon to enable the card into accelerative plays. Also being able to use Arbiter in conjunction with fast mana makes Ghost Quarter so much better. The only thing I felt like I was missing out of this list was a singleton Umezawa's Jitte. Even without a Stoneforge Mystic to fetch it, Jitte is still a really wildly powerful card.

The Second Place list of this event was a wild sight as well, with it being classic 2011 Stifle RUG Delver.

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Pretty cool to see a list like this and show that at least partially that the Goose is still pretty Loose.

In Third - Fifth Place we have a bunch of Lurrus Jeskai Delver. Let's take a look at the Third Place list.

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What really leverages the strength of this color combination here in a world with Companions is the usage of Meddling Mage main deck. Being able to cut off a deck like Gigan off by naming its payoff in Gyruda, Doom of Depths is usually unbeatable for those decks, and having a mess of free countermagic helps a ton.

In Sixth Place we have Eldrazi.

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This variant is splashing White slightly for mainly Eldrazi Displacer (which is great at resetting counters on Sprite Dragon and the like) but also for some removal in the sideboard. Eldrazi feels like a decent deck to play right now as we mentioned before due to its aggressive clock and ability to shut down removal.

In Seventh Place we have Lurrus Miracles, but it's really sort of a Miracles/Stoneblade hybrid.

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This deck utilizing Lurrus has to abandon the typical trappings of the Snow Miracles variants in Oko/Uro, meaning that it abandons green entirely, shifting more to Jeskai as a base coloration. This does give the deck an interesting angle in the use of the Thopter Foundry + Sword of the Meek combo. In addition, the deck has a minor Stoneforge Mystic package in order to fetch Sword of the Meek or Umezawa's Jitte.

Rounding ou the Top 8 we have Gigan's Clone Army!

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The idea I like here is the use of Maelstrom Wanderer as the haste enabler which is pretty cool. I'm not sure what led to this decision, but Sora1248 is killing it with this deck so I'm inclined to believe it's pretty good. Out of the sideboard it's cool to see cards like Snapback which can remove things like Meddling Mage, Drannith Magistrate, and other nasty hatebears.

Now let's take a look at both the number of 2019-2020 cards in this event, as well as a look at the percentages of Companions in this event. Again, we're only pulling 2019 cards if there are 10 copies or greater.

Card Name Number of Copies
Dreadhorde Arcanist 42
Force of Negation 37
Lurrus of the Dream Den 18
Once Upon a Time 13
Veil of Summer 13
Oko, Thief of Crowns 10
Sprite Dragon 9
Gyruda, Doom of Depths 8
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 6
Yorion, Sky Nomad 2
Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor 1
Zirda, the Dawnwaker 1

It seems incredibly insane to consider that prior to Ikoria we were deathly concerned about Oko/Uro/Astrolabe, and now we're not. Oko himself barely cracked 10 copies this Top 32, and Uro less. Astrolabe barely registered for the criteria for 2019 cards needing 10 copies to show up at 8 copies in the entire event (2 decks total). Companions seem to have completely shifted the overall power balance.

Furthermore, let's take a look at the overall percentage of Companions in this event.

Lurrus is most assuredly the most popular of the Companions in Legacy, taking a whopping 56.3% of decks out of the Top 32 (18 decks total). Zirda and Gyruda also registered, as did Yorion, while the rest of the field at NINE decks had no Companions, five of those nine being Eldrazi based.

Legacy Challenge 4/26

Our Second Challenge of the Weekend was also far more interesting as well. Let's take a look at the Top 32 Metagame Breakdown.

While there was a good number of Lurrus ANT (or ANT/TES hybrids) in the mix in this Top 32, none of them actually climbed up to the Top 8, but both Lurrus Grixis Delver and Lurrus BUG Delver did just fine. Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Lurrus BUG Delver 1st SilviaWataru
Lurrus BUG Delver 2nd Griselpuff
Lurrus Grixis Delver 3rd -Nicolo-
Lurrus Taxes 4th Aytor_92
Zirda Urza/Bomberman 5th Zaracias
Stryfo Pile 6th Stryfo
Lurrus Grixis Delver 7th Gsy
U/R Delver 8th TonyScapone

Delver was a huge chunk of this event, with 5/8 of the lists being a flavor of the deck either Lurrus or not (in the case of BUG Delver). At the top of the even was both BUG Delver lists, with SilviaWataru winning the event and our good friend Bob Huang taking Second Place.

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It is kind of wild to look at these lists and see cards like Nimble Mongoose and Dead Weight again, but the results speak great volumes on how strong Lurrus is with these strategies.

In Third Place we have Lurrus Grixis Delver.

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This is pretty on par with the Grixis lists now, with the neat exception of having Reanimate which is pretty cool.

In Fourth Place, we have the deck that won the other Challenge this weekend with Lurrus Taxes.

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This list looks pretty much exact to the list that won the other Challenge, so there's not much to say about it.

In Fifth Place we have Zirda Urza/Bomberman.

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While there's no Salvagers to truly make it "Bomberman" Urza serves sort of the same purpose in providing another outlet to win the game with in this list. Other than that, the core of the deck is basically the same.

In Sixth Place we have Chase Hansen (Stryfo) on his very own Stryfo Pile.

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Stryfo continues to push the envelope of his deck's development, running three maindeck Cling to Dust which can be really good at hitting cards that Lurrus wants to bring back.

Moving on down to the last of the Top 8 since Seventh Place was also Lurrus Grixis Delver, we have U/R Delver.

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There is a Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor in this list. That is all.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event. Again we are only looking at the cards from 2019 if they have 10 or more copies.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Negation 33
Dreadhorde Arcanist 25
Veil of Summer 23
Lurrus of the Dream Den 20
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 12
Oko, Thief of Crowns 10
Once Upon a Time 10
Gyruda, Doom of Depths 4
Cling to Dust 3
Sprite Dragon 3
Zirda, the Dawnwaker 2
Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor 1
Yorion, Sky Nomad 1

Arcanist took a hit in this Challenge due to the fact that there were more BUG lists with Lurrus and Delver than normal, but the card is still up  there. Uro and Oko also saw very medium play, and Arcum's Astrolabe simply seems to be nowhere, not even coming close to cracking 10 copies in this event.

Let's also take a look at the Companion percentages in this event.

Lurrus continues to be the most dominant Companion of the format, and will for some time until something happens. Out of the 32 decklists published, 24 of the 32 were running a Companion, leaving only 8 lists to not have them. It definitely seems like this is the most pervasive mechanic printed in a long time.

Companion Watch Weekend of 4/25

Since we only had real data from two events, this is a little low. If we had the information from the Super Qualifier and Showcase Qualifier it would be intriguing to see, but this is basically where Companions vs Non Companions decks sat this weekend.

This data is pretty intriguing and shows the obvious that Lurrus is the most played of all the Companions sofar. Now, there are a bunch of different Lurrus decks within this, so it's not all just the same Lurrus deck, but it is definitely interesting to see the power level of this mechanic so quickly overtake Legacy. Whether this will hold or this will be the new norm as people adapt is going to be interesting to pay attention to.

Around the Web

  • Green Sun's Zenith posted a great interview piece recently. Go check it out here!
  • Julian Knab posted a video with Jeskai Lurrus Delver that's well worth checking out over here.
  • Our good friends over at ELO Punters posted a new episode which you can find over here.
  • This week marked the Three Year Anniversary of the banning of Sensei's Divining Top. Reddit post commorating the event over here.
  • Eli (aka GoblinLackey) posted a great post on the Power Creep of Legacy on Reddit. This is a great read.

The Spice Corner

Umori Goblins!

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This BUG Dryad deck is pretty sweet, not gonna lie. Intuition looks great with Uro.

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This is just White Eldrazi, but Lavabrink Venturer and Winds of Abandon?! YEET.

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Baby Shark do do do doo....

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What I'm Playing This Week

Since Gyruda is back to being unbanned, we're on that hype train yet again for a while!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Join us next week as we continue our journey into the world of Legacy!

As always, you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! You can always find me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the /r/MTGLegacy Discord Server and Subreddit.

Until next time, keep casting Foxes!

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