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This Week in Legacy: Columbus, Legacy Challenge, European Tournaments and an Interview with Jonathan Orr


Hello and welcome, once again, to This Week in Legacy. This week we have a smattering of events to look through, from the November Legacy Challenge on Magic Online, the SCG Legacy Classic in Columbus, and a few tournaments from across Europe that I failed to cover from the last few weeks. We’ll have a look firstly at a breakdown of those events, and then have a look at impressive and interesting lists that have found play. We’ll also hear some words from SCG Baltimore winner Jonathan Orr, who won with Shardless BUG.

This Week in Statistics

To start with, let’s have a rundown of some of the larger tournaments that went on this past week.

Here's the breakdown of the Top 16 of the recent Legacy Challenge of November:

Miracles, Death & Taxes, Grixis Delver and Eldrazi – it looks like Death & Taxes has joined the trinity of well-placing decks, at least within this tournament. I’m surprised with such an abundance of D&T within this tournament due to its restrictive pricing, but nonetheless, it seems to have done well. Aluren found itself a 6-0, the list featured being the same Imperial Recruiter-based list of Alexander Barnett, complete with Skylasher and all. Probably the most exciting deck to see play in this Challenge is good ol’ Fish, piloted by Nikachu. We’ll have a look at his list in a moment, as there’s a lot of interesting technology there.

The next breakdown we can see is that of the Legacy Classic in Columbus, Ohio, that occurred last weekend:

Although not finding their way into the Top 8, an abundance of Elves players made themselves known in Ohio. Also notable is no Miracles and no Death & Taxes, which is incredibly strange. The lack of Miracles left a field ripe for the green creatures, with no Terminus to fear, and Elves and Maverick were rewarded – and many of these green creature lists featured some spicy additions we’ll get to later. The Jarvis Yu/Ben Friedman 4c Delver deck continued its monstrous tear with Frank Skarren winning this tournament with it. Other notables are MonoRed Sneak Attack in second, another Merfolk list (!), and a pretty wild Burn list.

Looking towards Europe, Arcanis Deluxe VIII was a tournament held in Spain on the 23rd of October that featured 173 players for its Legacy event, some quite well-known – such as Rodrigo Togores of GP Prague fame that came in 6th place of this event. Bant Stoneblade, however, took the title, coming out on top of a pretty varied metagame:

The Spanish seem to love their Storm, and I wonder whether Rodrigo has been an influence on that, and they certainly delivered with two making it into the Top 8. Dredge also got some love in this tournament, and Maverick once again found some finishes. Death & Taxes failed to crack into the Top 8 but found itself nonetheless in the Top 16, both lists going Recruiter-less.

The last event we’ll look at occurred on the 6th of November in Bolgna. It was the Autumn leg of the Legacy 4 Seasons tournaments that occur there. Well-known players such as Andrea Mengucci found their way into the Top 16, and had a breakdown as below:

Death & Taxes made its strength felt here, though again we have a variety of lists. The 6th placing Death & Taxes lists actually featured no Recruiter of the Guard and instead opted for a triplet of Thalia, Heretic Cathar. Other notables in this tournament are Belcher, Dragon Stompy (featuring Chandra, Torch of Defiance), Merfolk (again!), and Infect… featuring Standstill?! We’ll get to that later.

Although I’ve been covering larger tournaments over the last few weeks (with Chiba around the corner), it’s lovely to look at these smaller events from around the goble and appreciate the amount of variety and diversity within the Legacy metagame. It seems every week we get a far-cry from the Death & Taxes apocalypse or Miracles hell people expect. These decks have their place, but there’s certainly a lot of room for other strategies to appear, whether they be rogue, niche strategies, or more main stream ones. Legacy looks pretty healthy in my eyes.

Anyway, let’s have a look away from the birds-eye view and narrow it down to some interesting deck lists!

Merfolk Making Waves Again

Merfolk has experienced a bit of a resurgence this month, placing in three of the events I’ve highlighted. Most the lists have started to look quite similar, but each have a few pieces of technology that I’m personally fascinated by.

The first list we’ll look at is that of Nikachu who 5-1ed in the recent Legacy Challenge. The Merfolk these days can typically be distilled into a very solid core:

4 Cursecatcher
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Master of the Pearl Trident
4 Silvergill Adept
4 True-Name Nemesis
2-3 Phantasmal Image

4 Force of Will
4 Aether Vial

4 Cavern of Souls
4 Mutavault
10-12 Island

The rest of the deck is typically filled out via additional Lords such as Merrow Reejerey, more countermagic such as Daze, more disruption such as Chalice of the Void (excellent due to Vial and Cavern of Souls), and some miscellaneous Fish such as Harbinger of the Tides et. al. The mana base can also be tinkered with, adding some utility lands like Wasteland or Mishra's Factory, but cutting into Islands.

Nikachu filled his creature flex slots with Harbinger of the Tides and Merrow Reejerey, and opted for Chalice as a piece of disruption. I love Harbinger – it’s such a powerful play in a format defined by tempo, and coming in through a Vial makes it all the more impressive. I also like the conservative two Daze included in this list, as having a hand stacked with only countermagic but few threats, is not where Fish wants to be. The sideboard is where Nikachu’s list gets pretty wild. I imagine Tidal Warrior being an all-star against non-blue creature decks like Death & Taxes, where the board stalls out and having Islandwalk (and disrupting mana) is pretty awesome. Tidebinder Mage does a nice Submerge impression (Submerge being absurdly pricey Online), while having certain upside in other matchups. Overall, I love the clean numbers in Nikachu’s list and the interesting Fish he’s added.

Kerrick Long brought a very similar main deck, but replaced Harbingers with a Jitte and Wasteland in the main (Harbingers were in the side). A small equipment package found its way into the sideboard, for when Phantasmal Image copies a Stoneforge Mystic, along with game-ending hosers like Back to Basics and Mindbreak Trap (though I’d much prefer Flusterstorm). I’m also a big fan of the hard removal that Kerrick brought, a necessity with Eldrazi so prominent, though I’d imagine Harbinger does a solid job there too.

The tournament in Bolgna also found a Merfolk player – this time with Master of Waves as a haymaker in his main deck. Although I think Master is a bit sketchy, those who used to play Theros Standard or current Modern know how terrifying the card is. Ficcarelli similarly chose Chalice as a disruption piece, cementing it as now part of the stock list, which couldn’t be said a few years ago. An interesting choice of Daze in the sideboard is found in this list too.

Merfolk is a deck I quite appreciate. Aether Vial, bouncing things, and Force of Will sounds like some of the greatest things in Magic to me. I’d build my list like so:

I’m actually an absurd fan of this Tidal Warrior sideboard plan, since it keeps the curve nice and consistent when Cursecatchers are cut and gives you a great fighting chance against Death & Taxes. Four Harbingers have also found their way into my main deck, which certainly is overkill, and maybe one can be exchanged for a Phantasmal Image, but I do like bouncing some giant tentacle monsters these days.

Green Creature Comeback

Elves. Elves everywhere in Columbus. The first we’ll talk about is a list a little more stock: that of Josh Lacey. If you recall the list of Jan Lenger from European Eternal Weekend you’ll remember this Chaos/Order semi-hybrid he brought, featuring a high amount of utility lands such as Cavern of Souls and Pendelhaven and main deck Jitte, along with the ability to sideboard into a midrange grind engine thanks to Garruk Relentless.

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Brian Coval on the other hand brought true Chaos…

This is actually card-for-card the list of Chris Stagno from Baltimore, but nonetheless this list shows Leovold, Emissary of Trest doing some great work with his kinsman. Chris also cut down on some more stock numbers (only two Heritage Druids, only three Nettle Sentinels, only three Quirion Rangers, etc.) and added some spicy Dwynen's Elite, a Shaman of the Pack, a Wren's Run Packmaster, and a main deck Jitte. The sideboard also features some exciting ones. The Tropical Island that Leovold requires also gives access to Swan Song in the sideboard. Instead of Garruk Relentless in Jan Lenger’s list, Chris brought Nissa, Vital Force, from Kaladesh, as his planeswalker bomb of choice.

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Elves has actually seen a lot of shifting over the past few months, from Order to Chaos to a blue splash featuring Leovold to the Chaos/Order semi-hybrid of Jan, whose list I’m personally in favor of. And so it seems, is Elves master Julian, with him taking Jan’s list for a 5-0 spin recently. I’m looking forward to the next evolution the little elves make!

Some non-Elvish green creatures also found their way into a strong finish at Columbus. Two Maverick lists found their way into the Top 16, but Jessy Hefner’s was by far the most teched-out:

Like Josh Katine’s excellent finish, Thalia, Heretic Cathar made her way into this list (this time as a two-of) but more notable is the Zenith package. Lands all-star Tireless Tracker now also makes an appearance in Maverick where he seems similarly suited, especially with Knight of the Reliquary creating plenty of triggers. Courser of Kruphix similarly keeps the grind going.

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Meanwhile, in Spain Ivan de Castro brought a very interesting blend to Maverick:

The four Crop Rotation makes a statement that this is more of Maverick blended with Turbo Depths. Although the Stage/Depths combo has been seen in many Maverick lists, few have taken the combo pathway to this far an extreme. The most exciting piece of technology in this list, in my opinion, is the ability for tutorable Sylvan Safekeeper (a three-of in this list!) to protect Marit Lage from Swords to Plowshares and Karakas. Titania, Protector of Argoth is another exciting silver-bullet in this list that synergises nicely with the Crop Rotations.

Lastly of the green decks we have a different Infect list:

Infect has man-lands. Infect threatens a kill very quickly, and forces the opponent to react. What a perfect complement to Standstill.

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I’m surprised this card hasn’t been considered until now, as it makes perfect sense. At a parity situation Infect can really capitalize on a Standstill as either an Agent or Inkmoth can pressure the opponent very quickly and force them to respond and break it. Sadly, I think this strategy may be a bit weak to Wasteland, as unlike Landstill, Infect only has a few man-lands (and has no Crucible), but nonetheless Standstill as a card advantage option in Infect is something I may be trying in the future.

Red Deck Winners

A few Stompy variants made their way to the top of tournaments too. Mono Red Sneak Attack continues to put up numbers recently, finishing second at the Classic in Columbus:

Combustible Gearhulk and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, are continuing to cement themselves as some of the best new tools for MonoRed Sneak Attack. Kozilek's Return also continues its prominence as a Legacy staple against Death & Taxes, featured here as a three-of.

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Crotti Enrico also Blood Mooned some people into oblivion and also cast some Chandras. But accompanied these with the most classic Hellbent idiots.

Gathan Raiders and Rakdos Pit Dragon were the classic Dragon Stompy threats, and Enrico chose them over more current (and powerful) threats like Thunderbreak Regent. He did find room for Hanweir Garrison (and its corresponding land to mise,), but not Goblin Rabblemaster. Also interesting is Lodestone Golem finding its way into Dragon Stompy as an extra prison piece and threat, despite the rest of the creatures lacking synergy with it.

Lastly, a Burn list found a Top 16 in Columbus.

Fairly stock, though the main deck Bedlam Reveler and Exquisite Firecraft are cards to take note of. I’m personally not at all a fan of Reveler in the main, as he can be very difficult to turn on for Burn compared to something like Blue-Red Delver, as the deck lacks cantrips. I also feel that trimming down on Fireblast is absolute heresy, despite how clunky multiples in hand are.

I do find interesting the addition of Exquisite Firecraft to the main, however. The card has always proven excellent to me and can bust through that final Force of Will very nicely. It also kills creatures clocking the Burn player very effectively.

Taking inspiration from my friend (and cast member) Matthew Vaughan, I’d probably play a Burn list like this:

Interview with Jonathan Orr

This week I was able to get SCG Baltimore winner Jonathan Orr to give some thoughts on his Shardless BUG deck and his experience throughout the tournament. Enjoy the interview!

Sean: Where are you from and where’s your local Magic scene?

Jonathan: I'm from Lowell, Massachusetts but in terms of my Magic origins I started playing competitively in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now that I'm out on the East Coast I most often play at Gaming Etc. in Acton, MA.

Sean: How long have you been playing Magic? How long have you been playing Legacy?

Jonathan: I dabbled during Lorwyn, and dove into things during Shards of Alara. I have been playing Legacy for a little over a year now.

Sean: What’s your typical deck of choice? Other than Shardless, is there any other decks/strategies you’re a fan of in the format?

Jonathan: My deck of choice is indeed Shardless BUG. I also play BUG Delver, and various flavors of Aluren. I tend to gravitate towards BUG value decks as you get to combine the value of Green-Black with the card selection provided by Brainstorm.

Sean: How did you come to your decision to play Shardless BUG for Baltimore? How do you feel about its position in the format?

Jonathan: I was between Shardless BUG, and Aluren for SCG Baltimore. I couldn't put Aluren together with enough time to get adequate practice in, so I put together ol' faithful and went to battle. I think Shardless BUG is well positioned as long as you can dodge the disruptive combo decks. Specifically Turbo Depths and BR Reanimator variants.

Sean: Could you outline the strengths of the various non-conventional card choices in the deck?

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Jonathan: Leovold is awesome! He fills a lot of different roles all at once. He pressures your opponents, pseudo-protects your other threats, and demands an answer. He also has the excellent quality of being a blue card for Force of Will. Notable matchups for Leovold are Lands, Miracles, D&T, Show and Tell, and the mirror.

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Jonathan: This is easily my favorite card in the 75. I was looking for a mirror breaker ever since the beginning of 2016. My search went as deep as Creakwood Liege, Whisperwood Elemental, and Master of the Wild Hunt. I was comparing all of these to the usual slot of Garruk Relentless. Through a lot of playtesting I found that Master of the Wild Hunt was better at pulling me back into the game from behind in cluttered board states, while surviving until I untapped at the same time. While Garruk is certainly better against Miracles, Master is aimed at Shardless, BUG Delver, Elves, and Infect. The last two of those matchups require nearly constant removal to lock down your opponent, something Master of the Wild Hunt does somewhat better than Garruk Relentless.

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Jonathan: This card is quite interesting due to its flexibility. Certainly the card is useful against Elves, Infect, and Death & Taxes. However, surprisingly the card is also impactful against Stoneblade variants and Miracles, granted they are playing Monastery Mentor.

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Jonathan: The sideboard Loam helps protect yourself from being Wasteland locked, and can allow you to turn the tables on your three-four colour opponents. It is also quite useful against Lands.

Sean: What would you call the deck’s best matchups?

Jonathan: I think that Shardless BUG doesn't have any incredibly favorable matchups, but I do think that you are slightly-to-moderately favored against several of the top decks, namely: Delver variants, Stoneblade, Miracles, and Eldrazi Stompy.

Sean: What do you feel are the deck’s worst matchups?

Jonathan: From my experience, Shardless BUG's worst matchups are against fast disruptive combo decks such as Turbo Depths, ANT, and BR Reanimator. The deck lacks enough interaction to be able to withstand a Therapy or Thoughtseize and then fight back against a resilient combo.

Sean: How did your tournament at SCG Baltimore go?

Jonathan: I wrote a short tournament report here.

Sean: What cards really shone throughout the tournament?

Jonathan: Master of the Wild Hunt, Life from the Loam, and Night of Souls' Betrayal were incredible all weekend. 

Sean: Any other comments on the deck? Some closing thoughts?

Jonathan: I'm looking forward to GP Louisville to enter the fray again! Legacy can be quite exciting and rewarding.

I’m really glad I was able to get Jonathan’s thoughts on the technology he brought to Baltimore, which initially may of looked janky, but certainly proved effective. I’d highly recommend getting some Master of the Wild Hunt in your Shardless sideboards! Once again, I’d like to thank Jonathan for graciously lending me his time.

Conclusion

That’s all for this week. Hopefully this breakdown of recent events should be helpful for the GP soon to come in Chiba! As always, feel free to contact me at the details below, I’m always happy to hear of some sweet new brews and just general insights.

‘Til next time,

Sean Brown

Email: sean_brown156@hotmail.com
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

This week I’ll be featuring something a little different to what I usually look at. Last weekend myself and two friends joined a Team Eternal event held here in Melbourne. This event featured a team of three playing a different Eternal format – Legacy, Vintage and Australian 7-Point Highlander (if you don’t know what Highlander is, have a look here). Unfortunately, the three of us primarily being Legacy players had little clue on what to play for Vintage and Highlander. I was on the trusty Death & Taxes list I posted recently, My other friend piloted a Blue Moon list in Highlander, borrowed from a good friend, and in Vintage… Myself and cast member Steven brewed (with a little help from a friend in America who actually knows about Vintage) something that ended up… Bizarrely effective. Gleaning inspiration from Imperial Taxes in Legacy, and expecting a variety of Shops and Eldrazi (particularly since we expected many people to be bringing the Power-less JacoDrazi due to budget considerations), but also needing to fight against Mentor variants, we borrowed a few bits of Power and ended up with this monstrosity:

Magus of the Moon, despite how much he looks to ruin your own mana base, is an incredible powerhouse in many matchups, slowing down Shops considerably, ruining Eldrazi decks by stranding them without colored mana, turning off Bazaar of Baghdad, and making Gush useless. Stony Silence further cripples the opponent by shutting off their Moxen, leaving them stranded without mana.

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Steve ended up cutting through this tournament with some incredible luck certainly helping him out, beating Shops twice, then Dredge, and then Oath, only losing to Mentor. Overall we prevailed as winners of the entire Team Eternal event, with myself and Highlander team mate (who had barely played any of the format, but certainly put his Miracles-player mindset to good use in his Blue-Red Control deck) pulling through too.

Anyway, Blood Moons are awesome, and so this week I’d like to revisit good ol’ Imperial. Although Mono-White proved amazing for me in the recent event, beating a variety of decks thanks to the new-found power that Prelate and Recruiter provided, I often found Recruiter primarily being ready to start Flickerwisp chaining – which is certainly awesome, but I’d love for Recruiter to find cards that will just completely lock the opponent out of the game.

The main is basically a mirror of my mono-white list, with Serra Avengers eschewed for Magus of the Moon and a singleton game-ending bomb in Pia and Kiran Nalaar finding their way into the main. The sideboard is where things get a little fancy – Manic Vandal, Banisher Priest, Sparkmage and Crusader are all tutorable sideboard bullets, with Vandal and Sparkmage new ones that the red splash gives access to. Sudden Demise also makes an appearance as a strong card against Grixis Delver and Elves. I feel the mana base is a bit ropey and may need some refinements, but the triple Cavern of Souls looks very impressive in a list filled with Humans.

The Spice Corner

I’ve feature a Nic Fit list of Joe Dyer (/u/volrathxp) before, but the recent list he’s shown me looks incredible. Blending the core of Nic Fit and Sneak Attack comes… Sneak Fit.

Not only are many of the creatures castable in the usual Nic Fit way, but the majority have enters-the-battlefield triggers that either ruin the opponent (such as the Titans) or lead to an immediate kill finding Emrakul if a Sneak Attack is in play (such as Woodland Bellower > Fierce Empath > Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, or using Sidisi, Undead Vizier to tutor up the spaghetti). The deck also gets to run the grindy engine of Punishing Grove! Jund Nic Fit continues to impress with not only the typical midrange variation, but also two variants that can combo out – the ScapeWish variant and now Sneaky Fit. See Joe’s report at the SCG Classic in Columbus (where he came 32nd) here.


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