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This Week in Legacy: Delver-less

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 diving into some deckbuilding concepts and what it means for Delver when you take its namesake card in Delver of Secrets out of the deck! We've also got two Challenge events from over the weekend to talk about as well as paper events in another Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy event as well as London Legacy Monthly!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

To Delver or Not To Delver, That is the Question

As we continue to progress into this new world of Legacy that is beyond Modern Horizons 2, we are finding ourselves in some very interesting times in terms of deckbuilding concepts and what it means for decks in the format. The primary deck that we've seen this greatly in relation to is of course... Delver.

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When we refer to Delver as an archetype in Legacy these days, more often than not we are not specifically referring to the card Delver of Secrets, for which the archetype has been named, but the overall strategy of cantrips, efficient threats, and free countermagic that has become the core of the Tempo shell over time in Legacy. As of late, players on the deck have started to challenge some of the deck's original assertions, one of which is the fact that the deck should play four copies of the card Delver of Secrets, as seen below.

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We've seen lists as of late cutting numbers on the eponymous card, even going as boldly to playing no copies of the card whatsoever. This does raise the question of how good Delver itself really is in the current climate of Legacy. Is the deck still Delver without its namesake card? Delver of Secrets still is definitely one of the best one drop creatures in the Legacy format, and I don't think this will give players incentive to drop them completely but it does bring to light whether Delver is good in the current context of deckbuilding. For example, Dragon's Rage Channeler is a very powerful card, but one of the best ways to maximize its effectiveness is via cards like Mishra's Bauble that makes it much easier to turn on Delirium. However, playing this card cuts into the numbers of instants and sorceries in the deck which then further reduces the natural chances of flipping Delver of Secrets, making Delver a little worse but maximizing on Dragon's Rage Channeler.

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Delver itself is merely a clock, while Ragavan is a less effective clock but also provide mana advantage and pseudo card advantage for the same cost. While Delver has the upside of being able to be pitched to Force of Will / Force of Negation, it's generally a pretty bad idea to ever do this in a game unless it is absolutely necessary. In theory, we can see that Delver's contextual power level is slowly being crept out for newer cards that do a lot of similar things but have a lot of incidental value attached to them as well. For example, DRC also has the Surveil 1 trigger and that in of itself is another form of pseudo card advantage. As we go forward into further sets where the possibility of cards just like Ragavan and DRC are very very realistic, I would not be surprised to see more players questioning the value of Delver of Secrets.

As for whether or not Delver is still Delver without its namesake card, I think that the terminology has become so ingrained into the community's language that it would hardly matter if the Delver deck played DRC or Ragavan or some other one drop over Delver, it would likely still be referred to as Delver. The Legacy community language of deck names has always latched onto certain deck strategies with core names, so I wouldn't be surprised to still see a Delver-less Delver still called as such.

The further question to ask is whether it is correct to be cutting Delver? There is a wide range of options available to these decks now and as we've seen by the advent of options such as Ragavan and DRC, but also the immense clock that is Murktide Regent that it honestly may be correct right now to trim either on some number of Delver or to possibly cut the card entirely from the deck and operate on a different axis of threats (such as how the Jeskai Ragavan deck has begun to operate). Don't get me wrong, it feels weird to say this, as Delver of Secrets has been a part of the format for a very long time, but we are I believe really seeing the long term effects of how sets like Modern Horizons 2 will continue to impact the Legacy format, and one of those effects could end up simply becoming the eclipse of Delver as a card in the format for as long as these powerful new threats are around.

To me it is always fascinating to watch the evolutions of the overall metagame like this, and I do expect we will continue to see how this set and further set printings will affect the format over time.

Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy 8/14

This past weekend was yet another event that is local to me in the Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy Series. Ran by Robert Wilson, these events are great prizes, great gameplay, and always well run. This particular event was held at Warp Gate in Westerville, OH. Unfortunately I couldn't make it out for this one, but I will hopefully be able to make it for future ones. The biggest draw of these events is the fact that they are full proxy but high entry and great prizing, as shown below:

Pretty awesome prizes all around for this one for sure. Let's take a look at the small metagame breakdown. We don't have any win percentages for this one since the event was in Companion and didn't have any info on win/loss records but we at least have a breakdown of what decks saw play.

As is typically expected of these kinds of events with solid prizing on the line, a lot of popular variants of decks in Tempo strategies was pretty well represented here. Still, with 47 players, it was a solid looking metagame overall.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Jeskai Ragavan Saga 1st Josh Shields
Mono Red Painter 2nd Roger Sikes
Stoneblade 3rd Zach Allen
Death and Taxes 4th Amin Ebady
UR Delver 5th Cory Lonas
UR Painter 6th Cody Balsizer
Lands 7th Randy Shin Lintz
Omni-Tell 8th Chris Day

Fairly solid Top 8 here for sure, with a good number of strategies represented here from fair to unfair. At the end of the event however it was Josh Shields on the Jeskai Ragavan deck that took down the event.

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Crucible of Worlds as a way to replay Urza's Saga is super solid and very interesting stuff. Also some real powerful stuff in the sideboard with Torpor Orb to deal with the resurgence of D&T.

The other finalist of the event is a good friend of mine in Roger Sikes (aka RogerSteady on Magic Online) with Painter!

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Roger has been a Painter player for quite some time and it is always great to see him continue to do well with the archetype.

All of the lists for this event should be on Goldfish at some point, so you can check them all out when they get put up on there!

London Legacy Monthly

Speaking of paper events, in London things started kicking back off this weekend with a set of London Legacy Monthly events at Rogues Quarter in Kentish Town. Our good friend Callum Smith posted about these events over on Twitter.

There were two events this past weekend and some interesting stuff going on!

You can find the decklists for the 8/14 event here and the 8/15 event here.

Some of the highlights of the two events were Marcelo Scatena on Goblins!

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Super fun list right in the same vein of our good friend Eli Goings' lists.

Another fun highlight was Callum himself playing our new favorite deck Madness!

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Definitely looks like a ton of fun! If you live in the area and want to check out these events, reach out to Callum on Twitter for some details!

Legacy Challenge 8/14

We had two Challenges over the weekend, the first of which was the Saturday morning event. Thanks to the efforts of the Legacy Data Collection Project we know this event had 77 players in it.

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

Plenty of Delver as usual and plenty of tempo in general, but also a lot of Permanent Based combo decks. The big loser of this event was Bant Control, having an exceptionally poor win rate in the event, with Jeskai Ragavan Saga having an incredibly solid win rate overall.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Ragavan Saga 1st Ozymandias17
Enchantress 2nd SpatulaOfTheAges
Yorion Bant 3rd Kihara_Works
Aluren 4th otaba
UR Delver 5th yusuke0923
Maverick 6th naosukesamurai
GW Depths 7th Sharkcaster_Mage
Merfolk 8th m-boy

Pretty wild Top 8 here, with a decent number of Knight of the Reliquary and Delver, Depths, Merfolk, and even... ENCHANTRESS. At the end of the event however it was our good friend Matt Vook who crushed the field with the Jeskai deck.

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Matt made some solid adjustments to the deck, dropping the Standstill from the list and playing Expressive Iteration instead as well as Dragon's Rage Channeler in addition to Ragavan and Murktide Regent. These decks are still heavily in flux it seems as they adjust and reassert themselves.

The Second Place deck was ENCHANTRESS.

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This pilot is a well known Enchantress player and I love the power here of this deck. Paladin Class seems like a super sweet card that makes it harder for the opponent to interact on your turn (and Enchantress does most of its things on its turn). The Living Wish package here includes some real bangers such as Grist, the Hunger Tide, Emrakul, and even the pitch cards of Endurance and Solitude. This list looks like a TON of fun for sure.

Down the Top 4 we've got a showing by a sweet Yorion Bant variant.

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There's so much going on in this list. It's absolutely incredible stuff. I love everything about this.

Down at the bottom of the Top 8 we've got Merfolk.

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Tide Shaper is such a great card in this deck, being able to shut off various lands in the format. In addition, Thassa's Oracle with Paradigm Shift in the sideboard is a groovy way of being a transformational kill.

Outside of the Top 8 we've got Ruby Storm!

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A copy of Wish! Super interesting to see this finally showing up in some lists. Ruby Storm is a powerful deck and definitely can make use of the extra mana.

Legacy Challenge 8/15

Our second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Sunday event, which had 68 players overall in it.

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

Quite a bit of tempo in the event as always, with most of that being tied up between the Jeskai Ragavan deck and UR Delver, both of which had solid performances in the event. D&T had a less than 50% win rate overall, but did manage to put one copy into the Top 8.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Jeskai Ragavan Saga 1st wooop_orc
Mystic Forge Combo 2nd susurrus_mtg
Sneak and Show 3rd Xpz98
Doomsday 4th wonderPreaux
The EPIC Storm 5th Bryant_Cook
UR Delver 6th handsomePPZ
Mystic Forge Combo 7th bparis15
Death and Taxes 8th fr0z3nsun4

Definitely a wildly interesting Top 8 here with plenty of combo and fair going on. At the end of the event it was the Jeskai deck again that took it down.

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This particular variant isn't as much of a "Saga" deck as it completely cut Urza's Saga for cards like Young Pyromancer and Narset as well as Expressive Iteration. This has become more of a lean tempo deck than the amalgam that the Jeskai deck typically is.

In Second Place we've got a real treat, the glorious return of one Michael Coyle to Magic Online with Mystic Forge Combo!

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Paradox Engine in this deck is super sweet. Untapping all your mana rocks and Forges is pretty solid. Michael is well known for playing many of these artifact prison heavy variants so it's great to see him back at what he loves.

Down the Top 8 we've got Bryant Cook on The EPIC Storm!

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Returning to the list this time is Orim's Chant, a card that hasn't seen much play at all in Legacy as of late (not really since the advent of Underworld Breach). Also working its way into the list is Prismatic Ending which just seems like truly flexible removal for a deck like this that can make all five colors.

Outside of the Top 8 we had a showing by Reanimator Depths.

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Super neat deck here, playing off the aspects of having either the quick Reanimator game or the Turbo Depths style game play. Also as always digging Archon of Cruelty in these lists.

Around the Web

  • Eternal Glory has had the Daze of their Lives in discussing the card Daze. Check it out here.
  • Noted D&T Specialist plays D&T. Check it out here.
  • Phil Gallagher and Brian Coval collaboration video! Check it out here.
  • Everyday Eternal had on Kai Sawatari on recently! Check that out here.
  • Legacy Goes Austria, from IN RESPONSE! Check it out here.
  • Bryant Cook with a great video on his run into Top 8 in a Challenge. Check it out here.
  • Format I don'tity

The Spice Corner

Let's kick things off with a Tin Fins variant known as BIZARRO STORMY.

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Grixis Shadow with the Monke? Monke.

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Esper Affinity with main deck four copies of Portable Hole?!

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Aluren is always sweet, but some people might recognize the username here...

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Reality Acid in Enchantress is SWEET with Riptide Chimera.

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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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