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This Week in Legacy: Beginning the Journey in 2021

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 talking about getting into Legacy, and the ins and outs of whether to play in paper vs MTGO. We've discussed this before, but it's time for a good update on this based on the new world of post Modern Horizons 2 and whatnot. We've also got two Challenges to talk about as well as some paper events to discuss!

Worth noting, in case someone doesn't see it. Due to time constraints I am going to talk about the Leaving a Legacy Open in next week's article as a bigger focus. So look forward to that!

For now though, let's get right into the thick of the things!

Getting Into Legacy in 2021

A lot has gone on in Legacy since the last time we broached the subject of getting into Legacy from a new player perspective, so I figured this was a good time to talk about that aspect of the format. I'm going to be splitting this into two primary sections, one about paper and one about MTGO because they both have some vastly different factors to them.

Paper Legacy

Paper Legacy at its core is an interesting conundrum, due to the fact that much of how paper has not existed in the past year and a half has made it kind of hard to want to jump into the format in paper, but now with paper events returning more and more it seems like a great time to discuss how to access the format in paper.

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The biggest issue going into 2021 with getting into paper Legacy is the determination of whether or not you intend to play "sanctioned" Legacy or not ever. This will inevitably lead to the introduction of the concept of the Reserved List and cards such as dual lands that would be needed for the format at that point. Reserved List cards in the past two years, especially dual lands, have spiked considerably into extremely high price brackets, pushing the idea of sanctioned paper Legacy off the radar for a lot of people. The Reserved List is its own major discussion point, and while many of us would be fine if it just simply went away one day, it is unfortunately here to stay for the time being and its presence does warp some things about Legacy.

There are ways to acquire Reserved List cards for the format on a longer term basis, and those methods often boil down either borrowing cards from another player or playing in proxy friendly tournaments and winning prizes. Borrowing cards has become a bit of a sticking point for some of the community, as card values go up up up so too does the reluctance to lend out cards to someone to borrow for an event, but there are often many players willing to still lend cards. If you have one of these in your community however and they are cool with it, this is one of the best ways to eventually acquire the cards you may need for your own deck by being able to borrow and play in events to win prizes or money to purchase those expensive RL cards.

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The caveat of this in 2021 is that thanks to sets like Modern Horizons 2 and the like, the cards surrounding the RL cards that see the most play are also pretty expensive, and new cards are being printed into the format that are replacing the old cards at a very speedy rate. This aspect of the format makes for a much different dynamic of the Legacy of the past where a player could figure out which deck style they liked and then slowly buy in either thanks to proxies or borrowing cards. Now entire decks or strategies are seeing upheaval over a shorter period of time, and that alone has made it harder to buy into Legacy if you are planning on playing in sanctioned events.

Of course, much of this is predicated on the fact that you need to play in "sanctioned" events. Sanctioned events currently don't do a whole lot for Legacy as a whole with the overall removal of the Planeswalker Points system as well as the major changes to Organized Play going into 2022. What this does allow for Legacy as a format is to move towards models that allow proxies either in full or some number to cover major RL cards (and maybe some of these newer expensive cards) to allow players to play and enjoy the format and learn it. Now, I should be rather clear that I still mean proxy as in a very clearly definable not real card that is clearly marked as a proxy, not a card that is fake but looks real (aka a counterfeit). These kinds of events allow for players new to the format to play and learn the format, but also perhaps long term acquire cards for their decks too. I've often talked quite a bit about Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy, and how the prizes they end up providing are often very expensive RL cards that help players be able to build their decks, but they also tend to provide format staple non-RL cards too that are expensive (Forces, Wasteland, etc.) that help players long term build into a deck style they enjoy.

For those that are new to the format and considering getting in now, finding out what your local community looks like is your biggest first step and whether or not you have a playgroup or a store to play with/at, and whether those events are sanctioned or not. This can really help you to decide whether getting into the format is really right for you overall in the first place. I also heavily recommend the use of proxies in determining what kind of deck style you might find yourself drawn to. There is nothing worse than buying a bunch of cardboard to find out that you hate the deck you decided to build and in Legacy that investment is often a lot more expensive in general. Knowing what you like up front is a great way to come up with a plan of attack if you do find yourself in the position of having to eventually buy cards.

Of course, if you're not new to the format and your area is lacking in these kinds of things, consider getting out there and starting them up! While it takes a bit of up front work, getting out there at the forefront of the local Legacy community and coming up with events and ways to play is a great way to build and expand that community.

As far as actually acquiring RL cardboard that you may actually need, it's also a great idea to shop around on condition of cards. Not every card from that era is going to be near mint, and near mint cards from RL eras are always going to be a lot pricier. Buying lightly played or even down to moderately played (sometimes even down to heavily played depending on condition) is a good way to often save some money on these kinds of cards.

In the end, Paper Legacy in 2021 is certainly attainable, and I hope to see more and more of these proxy friendly style events as we go deeper into 2022, giving players a chance to learn one of Magic's more interesting and deep formats.

Magic Online

Getting into MTGO for Legacy is a bigger answer to the question of "who do I have to play with?" If the answer to that question ends up being "nobody local" then maybe it is fair to determine that playing on MTGO is right for you.

The biggest caveat with MTGO of course is the fact that the MTGO economy has its own quirks that are often pretty different than regular physical cards. Cards that are fairly old like duals, Lion's Eye Diamond, and the like where the RL does not exist are exceptionally cheap, especially since the set Vintage Masters released so much supply onto the overall MTGO market. The bigger issue overall is with the cards we mentioned before from Modern Horizons 2.

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The same cards that are moderately more expensive in paper are much more expensive on Magic Online, throwing a weird skew in the dynamics of cost of decks on the client. These cards also throw a little bit of a monkey wrench in the two major rental service providers on the client as well, Cardhoarder and ManaTraders.

The nice aspect of getting into Legacy via Magic Online however is the fact that the decks are primarily a lot cheaper in general, and one of the nice ways to approach this is to purchase up front staple cards that see play across whatever archetypes you might desire to play and then rent the revolving door cards that see play in those archetypes. Specifically, purchasing Forces (both Force of Will and Force of Negation), cards like Wasteland, and then fetches/duals on the client is a good way to maintain a small collection of the format's best staple cards and then simply rent the rest of the cards needed.

Renting has its own caveats to it. There are two major rental services that exist and each one has their pros and cons to them. I would advise someone new to research both and determine which fits their individual situation first before choosing one, as they both provide roughly the same service but in different ways.

Of course, you're not obligated to use the rental services at all either, but they do shine in a very large aspect of being able to try new cards when they come out, and also makes for more flexible sideboard cards by being able to rent different sideboard cards as needed instead of having to have purchased every little potential sideboard card. It is for this reason that I definitely heavily recommend using one of the two major services out there, because in the long run it will help save a lot of time.

The obvious large pro of playing on Magic Online outside of the reduced card costs in some cases is the fact that the amount of games one can play on MTGO is astronomical and the level of competition on the client is very strong. This does allow players new to the format to quickly level up and learn the format longer term as they are able to simply put in more and more games in a shorter period of time.

Choose Your Destiny

Regardless of which path you choose to pursue, each aspect of getting into Legacy in 2021 has its own pros and cons and one must weigh those individually for themselves to determine how best to approach getting into this format, and also learn how to present to themselves the decision of whether the format is right for them or not in the first place. Legacy is a fantastic format and there are definitely paths to allow players newer to the format to enter it.

Arizona Magic Series Legacy Championships 2021

This past weekend was a paper event in Arizona, a Championship event based on the many events that the Arizona Magic Series puts on throughout the year. This event had 49 players in it, thanks to some data furnished by Matt Hackbert of that local scene.

Let's take a look at the breakdown.


This metagame looks a lot like the current MTGO metagame, and glancing over the decklists that Matt provided to me, there's a ton of deck construction based on Modern Horizons 2 cards just like we've seen on MTGO. I suspect we will continue to see more events look a lot like this in general as time goes forward.

Let's take a look at the Top 8 of the event.

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Zenith Lands 1st Jesse James Adams
RUG Cascade 2nd Gary Wong
Lands 3rd-4th Anthony Rivera
Stoneblade 3rd-4th Alexander Lapping
Death and Taxes 5th-8th Nick Cowley
Mono Red Storm 5th-8th Chandler Molnar
ANT 5th-8th David Szatkowski
Doomsday 5th-8th Zachary Munson

Super interesting Top 8 for sure. The winner of this event was on a sweet Green Sun's Zenith Lands build, which you can check out below.

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One list that really caught my eye in the Top 8 of this event however was one of the Top 4 lists by Alexander Lapping. GRIEF BLADE.

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What a sick looking deck. I love it!

Legacy Challenge 8/28

We had two Challenges this past weekend, the first of which was the early morning Sunday event. Thanks to data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project we know this event had 70 players in it.

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

Definitely an interesting metagame here. D&T has continued to rise to the top of popularity, which in turn has sort of dipped its win rates a little bit as players either newer to the Yorion strategy or to the deck in general have picked up on it. It had a below average win rate here but not by much. UR Delver and Jeskai Ragavan both had a really solid performance as well. The other two big popular decks here, GW Depths and Bant Control, didn't fare as well in that regards, but this is only one event.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UR Delver 1st Diem4x
Sneak and Show 2nd ht991122
Lands 3rd aslidsiksoraksi
Jeskai Control 4th Wurst_
Blue Karn/Artifacts 5th aManaTease
Jeskai Ragavan 6th Oceansoul92
Enchantress 7th SpatulaOfTheAges
UR Delver 8th MaxMagicer

First off, I am loving seeing Enchantress in some Top 8s, so that's sick in general, but this Top 8 had quite a few different things including Delver, Sneak and Show, and even Lands. At the end of the event it was indeed UR Delver that won out.

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The trend of cutting to two copies of Delver is continuing, although this version is not on the full on UR Duals style gameplay (with Steam Vents). Instead we're getting more Baubles and the like here as well as some basic lands.

In Second Place we've got Sneak and Show.

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So much of this could be from pre-2019 era and still be very good, which is a testament to the overall strength of the archetype long term. We do see new cards Unholy Heat in the sideboard however.

Also in the Top 8 we've got an interesting take on a Jeskai Control shell.

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This plays many of the same threats the Jeskai Tempo/Ragavan decks are playing, but without the Daze package and instead leaning on Predict and Counterbalance. Predict is pretty solid in conjunction with Dragon's Rage Channeler, making it so you will always draw two off of it in general.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we do indeed have ENCHANTRESS.

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It's honestly pretty cool to see this deck do well. Paladin Class seems like a sick inclusion to this deck overall. I also really dig the Living Wish package here.

Outside of the Top 8 we get the answer to the question "What if we put Ragavan and Elvish Reclaimer in the same deck?!"

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Definitely a really wild take on Depths Combo, for sure.

Also down the Top 32 we've got.... Living End?!

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Okay yes, Living End.

As far as Modern hits go, we've also got Collected Company here in the Top 32 too.

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CoCo into Hullbreacher/Opposition Agent feels pretty super evil that's for sure!

Legacy Challenge 8/29

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Sunday event, which also had 70 players in it thanks to the data collected from the Legacy Data Collection Project.

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

Delver was again hyper popular, as was the Jeskai Ragavan deck. Delver's performance sat right on the line of 50% while the Ragavan deck had a solid high performance, as did Lands and Elves/GW Depths. Sneak and Show was highly populous in this event too, but had a pretty abysmal win percentage.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
4C Control 1st AnziD
Lands 2nd OnionLotus
UR Delver 3rd Beenew
Jeskai Ragavan 4th Andreas_Muller
Jeskai Ragavan 5th JPA93
GW Depths 6th Didackith
Jeskai Ragavan 7th Ozymandias17
Painter 8th utley26

The Jeskai Ragavan deck converted very well into this Top 8, claiming three of the spots, while the rest of the event was split between some Control, Land based strategies, and Painter. At the end of the event however, it was our good friend Anuraag Das that took it all down!

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Working Expressive Iteration into the Bant shell is incredibly interesting and definitely seems very powerful. Also we get to see a mild return of Jace, the Mind Sculptor as a powerful threat. This looks like a sweet list for sure, and Anuraag is always on the cutting edge of control tech.

The Second Place finalist was on Lands.

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All the new good Lands tech in one list! From Urza's Saga to Valakut Exploration, this deck has got it all. Very strong stuff indeed.

Down near the bottom of the Top 8 we've got GW Depths.

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This deck has continued to look very good in the current format with all the ways that it can attack the metagame. Also, old school sideboard card Gaddock Teeg makes an appearance here. Pretty cool!

Also at the bottom of the Top 8 is repeat Painter afficionad utley26.

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This list seems pretty solid overall. I like the main deck Ethersworn Canonist honestly, as that card seems pretty underrated right now with everything going on.

Just outside of the Top 8 we've got another Painter list, but this one is Dimir in coloration, piloted by our good friend Michael Mapson.

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Thought Monitor and Emry, Lurker of the Loch seems like a sweet way to take a Painter list, especially with Urza's Saga to fetch up your Grindstone. Main deck Hydroblast feels like a really solid card anyways right now with all the Ragavan and Dragon's Rage Channeler running amok.

Further down the Top 32 we've got a showing by UW Humans.

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Esper Sentinel certainly added a lot to a deck like this, combined with Recruiter of the Guard and cards like Solitude as additional Swords to Plowshares.

Even further down we have a deck that has been showing up a lot in Modern but translated to Legacy in RUG Cascade.

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Making a bunch of 4/4 Rhinos seems like a really solid way to put enough pressure on the board to win the game. This list is super fun looking for sure.

Around the Web

  • Sneak and Show Legend JPA93 wrote a solid primer/article on the deck over on Hareruya. Check that out here.
  • Our good friend xJCloud was on the Canadian Threshold! Check that out here.
  • All the Colors of The EPIC Storm!
  • Eli Goings goes over his Showcase Qualifier Top 8 on Goblins! Check it out here.
  • The Eternal Glory Podcast had a great episode this past week. Check that out here.
  • Likewise, Everyday Eternal had a great new episode as well! Check that one out here.
  • Peter van der Ham on Bant Paladin Infect! Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

Straight up Death's Shadow with Tombstalker is pretty spicy in this post MH2 world.

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Loam Pox with Urza's Saga is pretty groovy.

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Demigod of Revenge is not what I had on my mind this week, but now I do!

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Grixis Stiflenought with Dress Down and Kroxa? Mmmmmmmmm.....

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Stryfo, the King has returned.

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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 Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the /r/MTGLegacy Discord Server and subreddit.

Until next time!

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