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This Week in Legacy: Checking In On The Legacy Metagame

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 looking at the current state of the Legacy metagame via the data collected on the Legacy Data Collection Project. In addition to that we've got some paper event news from the Axion Legacy event as well as two Challenges to dig into.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

First Legacy Metagame Update of 2023

We're making our way through 2023 at a breakneck pace and we've got one Standard set release under our belt in regards to Legacy, one that actually did seem to introduce a plethora of new and interesting options to the format. As such I did think this would be a good time to look at the past near 2-months and see what the format looks like right now. The data we are looking at here is coming from the Legacy Data Collection Project's work from the past months since the beginning of the year. You can find the Combined Aggregate sheet we use for this information right here. You can also find a comprehensive listing of all the Data Classifications within the project here.

Since the beginning of 2023, we have gathered a little over 1300 entries in the current data set, which is quite impressive for sure. Let's start by looking at some of the high level macro archetype charts.

One of the most important things to recognize about current Legacy is how much of the format is split between the "Tempo" and "Stompy" macro archetypes. Over 45% of the current format is between these two macro archetypes, which is a really strange place to be honestly. Even more awkward is that a good 75-76% of those macro archetypes is just two decks: UR Delver and White Stompy (Mono White Initiative). So roughly almost 45% of the current Legacy metagame is down to two decks, which is a lot.

Outside of these two macro archetypes is Permanent based combo decks, which actually tracks since that includes decks like Painter and Cephalid Breakfast, both of which have had solid outcomes of this current metagame. This also includes Elves which has had a fairly okay reaction to the current metagame.

Midrange/Control decks only making up a small portion below that is interesting enough and we have primarily seen control homogenize further into the 4C Uro variants overall.

Spell based combo decks like Doomsday and friends come next, and it's easy to see how much spell based combo is seemingly positioned rather medium in the current format, given that one of the primary decks of the format is a Chalice based deck with lots of hatebear effects.

Graveyard decks are the last of the decks above 100 copies, and most of that is Reanimator. Reanimator has actually had a really reasonable time in the current format given that it also just received some new cards like Atraxa, Grand Unifier that may hold a resurgence of straight Dimir based Reanimator decks with Force of Will.

The truly low of the low here however is the decks like the Land Based/GSZ decks and Vial/Aggro decks. Decks like Lands and even decks like D&T can still prove themselves in the current metagame, but the trends show those decks are not as popular as they were prior to Eternal Weekend last year.

Let's look at the subarchetype data.

As noted, the top of the format's popularity is currently skewed directly into both UR Delver and Mono White Initiative. Right below those however interestingly enough is Reanimator, as we discussed before. The speed of Reanimator does make it a very interesting deck against the top two decks despite potential hate for the archetype, but also the possible divergence we discussed of having a Dimir Reanimator deck in the format again makes things interesting.

Painter is up here as well, having steadily grown in popularity since the beginning of the month. Even lacking some of the current card options in paper Magic, this deck's core has a lot of strengths to it, especially when you account for the variants that are blue based and looping in on part of the 8Cast core as well.

Down the line here we have a good number of interesting decks as well as a good number of "Other Spell Combo" variants, as we've seen some fringe archetypes take form in the past few months such as the Black Saga Storm deck by TonyScapone.

Let's look at some win rate data.

Both UR Delver and White Stompy have a strong win rate with both having a roughly 52-53% non-mirror win rate. Both of these decks ae showing some strong performance across the board. Reanimator also boasts a roughly 52% win rate as well in non-mirror. For the decks above the cut, the worst performing ones listed are decks like Elves (at a 48.3% non-mirror win rate) and Painter (at a 49.6% non-mirror win rate which is not terrible) and at the lowest of the low is the Other Spell Combo variants at a 38.7% non-mirror win rate.

Cephalid Breakfast has the highest current non-mirror win rate above the cutoff with a 56.6% non-mirror win rate. This definitely tracks with how good that deck has been as of late.

With all this being looked at, it is obvious that even with the cards introduced in Phyrexia: All Will Be One that the Legacy format is definitely in need of some form of a change. The fact alone that two decks make up nearly 40-50% of the metagame and still both have positive above 50% win rates is a very awkward place for the Legacy format to be. There's a number of possible options here to make changes, but the easiest of these is to work towards a ban from something from both top decks of the format (UR Delver and White Stompy).

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The major cards here to look at are White Plume Adventurer from the White Stompy deck (which would massively depower the deck quite a bit by removing a Turn 1 Initiative creature from the gameplay) and more than likely Expressive Iteration from the UR Delver deck. I think if there was ever going to ban on Initiative, WPA would be the one because of how strong the three mana enabler is for that mechanic. I do not believe that hitting just something from White Stompy would be a positive for the format, as we would be returning more to a format we were already having issues with prior to the release of the Initiative cards.

EI is a bigger issue overall in the current format. It's power level has become steadily apparent in the format, from its usage in UR Delver with cards like Mystic Sanctuary and how much that card has fully homogenized the state of control variants in the format. Control has very much become homogenized into the Blue/White/Red/Green variants due to the sheer power level that Iteration grants to a deck. I do think this card is exceptionally good, and if I had to make a change to something out of Delver then this is the card I would pick.

While it may be possible that between Phyrexia and March of the Machine that we may hit upon some new cards that could adjust things, but until we also have all the non-MTGO cards in the format as well, I think letting the format sit like it is currently is not a good place to be. I would make the changes necessary to the format and work from that end while cards are being added to MTGO rather than let the format grow potentially stale.

Axion: The Gathering Legacy Event

This past weekend was the Axion: The Gathering weekend in the UK, held at the Birmingham University. One of the events held at this event was a Mega Legacy event. You can find Axion's events on Twitter. This event had 100 players in it, which is a superb turnout!

This sounded like a super fun event, and we were able to get some information on the Top of the Legacy event from the winner of that event, our good friend Sahar Mirhadi.

Deck Name Placing Player Name
White Stompy 1st Sahar Mirhadi
Doomsday 2nd Alex Hockey
Black Depths 3rd-4th Cyrus Bales
Yorion Zentih 3rd-4th Ryan Carter
Cephalid Breakfast 5th-8th Keiran Francis
White Stompy 5th-8th Chris Grimsey
Dredge 5th-8th Greg Nichols
Black Stompy 5th-8th Ibrahim Hussain

Definitely a super interesting Top 8 here. As noted, the winner of this event was our good friend Sahar on White Stompy.

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Definitely looks like a strong list here and a lot of fun. Congrats to Sahar on such a stellar finish!

Legacy Challenge 2/18

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Saturday event. This event had 61 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 of the event with a reasonably good win rate at 55.93% non-mirror. White Stompy also had a solid win rate. Definitely an interesting spread of decks here.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Death and Taxes 1st yoshiwata
Painter 2nd DNSolver
UR Delver 3rd Oceansoul92
Reanimator 4th duke12
UR Delver 5th _INF_
Grixis Delver 6th wiky
White Stompy 7th yPrincipe
Thought Lash Combo 8th Utsunomiya

Super interesting Top 8 here. Lot of Delver floating around it, but at the end it was Death and Taxes who took it down.

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Very sold looking list here, and it's cool to see D&T still floating about given how low in the metagame it has seemed as of late due to the presence of the White Stompy deck. Very cool.

In Second Place we've got the Painter/8Cast hybrid deck pushed by DNSolver as of late.

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This is definitely a powerful deck. It does a lot of strong things and has some really strong draws to it. Haywire Mite is definitely a powerful new card here.

Also down the Top 8 we had some Reanimator.

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Very classic looking Reanimator list here with no new cards like Atraxa. Atraxa is pretty much a million tickets at the moment so definitely hard for people to switch over. Still, this gets the job done and works great.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have Thought Lash Combo.

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This deck is super sweet. The combo aspects of it are very interesting and the fact that it has a bonafide tutor for the win condition in Step Through is wild.

Legacy Challenge 2/19

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Sunday event. This event had 86 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.

Both UR Delver and White Stompy were neck and neck in popularity here, both having an above 50% win rate. We had a solid showing by the 8Cast/Painter hybrid deck here, as we will see in the Top 8.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Painter 1st DNSolver
4C Uro Control 2nd AppleSK1nG_
White Stompy 3rd Elbegast
UR Delver 4th WingedHussar
Sneak and Show 5th JPA93
UR Delver 6th JakeTMS
Cephalid Breakfast 7th Dein_Freund_der_Baum
UR Delver 8th gravyS8

This Top 8 is pretty cool. Nice spread of decks here, with some Delver making up three copies. At the end of the event though it was DNSolver on a real tear with the Painter/8Cast hybrid deck.

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As noted, this deck is exceptionally powerful. It marries a lot of the major aspects of 8Cast and Painter together which really gives it an interesting spin. DNSolver's been really killing it with this deck, so it is super cool to see how well it has done.

In Second Place we've got 4C Uro Control.

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Mostly stock list but hey there is a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria in the main deck here so that is some cool spice for sure. Wild when the only creature here is Uro for sure.

Also in this Top 8 we had some Sneak and Show action.

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New Atraxa showing up here is pretty sweet. I have a feeling the card is really good in these kinds of decks where it is possible to hit a good number of cards off Atraxa.

Down at the bottom of the Top 8 we had some Cephalid Breakfast!

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I love this deck and how powerful it can be. Also, Void Rend in the sideboard is super sweet here.

Around the Web

  • Eternal Durdles is talking all about Mercurial Spelldancer! Check it out here.
  • PunishingWaterfalls has some 62 card Lands Trophy action. Check it out here.

The Spice Corner

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

Dreadnought and The Mycosynth Gardens!

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Super interesting Elves list here with Tyrranax Rex and Torsten, Founder of Benalia in here.

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Fire the Gyruda Cannon!

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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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