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This Week in Legacy: Diving Into the Deep End

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 diving off the deep end! That's right,we're going to be talking about ways that you can access the Legacy format, and also discussing some basic concepts on being budget minded on approaching the format as well as whether the format is right for you. In addition, we'll be doing another lesson in our "Level Up" section on common Land-based interactions in the format, as well as our regular deck focus (Eldrazi Stompy), a look at the Legacy Challenge from last weekend, and of course, the Spice Corner.

Before we jump into the thick of it, I can't mention this just in the Community Updates section, because it's too big of a deal to not mention right off the bat. Jeremy Aaronson (aka MissouriMTG) has posted his Facebook event page for his $40k (you read that right, $40k) Legacy event which will take place in Collinsville, IL on September 19, 2020. The prize pool for this event is stacked, and will also include an UNLIMITED BLACK LOTUS as a DOOR PRIZE. Yes, Jeremy is insane, but he is supporting the community in the best way possible. It's this kind of support that is awesome to see for the Legacy community at large. Suffice to say, expect to see me there. I am not missing this event. Period.

Diving Into the Deep End - How You Too, Can Play Legacy

Some of the interesting comments I received on last week's article got me thinking this week of how to attack the subject of how new players to the format enter into playing Legacy, and the various pathways to that goal that exists. So I sought out to talk about that very subject this week and hope to help dispel some of the myths of getting into Legacy.

The Legacy Experience

Legacy at its core is a complex format, full of many different powerful interactions. This can often present intimidating situations to newer players to the format, but one of the best things about Legacy is that it is filled with a community that is willing to help teach and work with those players to learn the ins and outs of the format. Resources such as this column and Discord servers for specific archetypes can provide prospective Legacy players with loads of great information in understanding how to play various decks in the format.

Another common concern however that I often see is the price of the format. Legacy staples can often have great expense to them, and we'll be discussing that aspect of the format as well.

So let's start off the bat by asking some of the hard questions that might be weighing in on the mind of the prospective Legacy player.

Where to Play?

This is the biggest question that should be asked upfront before determining whether or not Legacy is a format that is for you. Knowing whether or not you have a place or a community to play the format in the first place is very important. The best way to determine this is to approach local Facebook groups and your local stores and simply ask the question of whether or not there is a local Legacy community.

If there is a local paper Legacy community, determining whether or not there are playtest card/proxy supported events. This can determine the extent of how involved you might become in the format.

If there isn't a local paper community, there are a few options to consider here. One of those options is to help develop a community, utilizing the philosophy of "if you build it, they will come" as the basis. I have seen this in action in local areas through the use of privately held tournament series such as Buffalo Chicken Dip Legacy, where players can approach playing full proxy Legacy in private grassroots community events.

The other option if there is no local paper community to consider is playing on Magic Online, which can provide for a consistent play experience and quite often competitive outlets.

Paper Legacy

If you have decided that you would like to learn more about playing paper Legacy, the question of what to actually play in the format will often come up. This is one of the more difficult things about getting into the format, since there are so many different decks and ways to approach the format that it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to actually play.

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This is often where I find the use of playtest/proxy cards can be very useful, since you can privately play around with different deck experiences and determine what kind of strategy appeals to you. Furthermore, if your local community offers experiences that allow you to utilize proxies on a regular basis (be it full proxy or a limited number of proxies such as 15), this can be a good way as well to acquire cards to build your deck long term, especially if local events offer prize support such as store credit or Legacy staples.

Now inevitably we do get to the subject of when a strategy is found that appeals to you, the ability to acquire and play that strategy comes into question. This leads right into talking about the price of Legacy staples and the concepts of budget. Yes, as we all know, Legacy Reserved List cards can be rather expensive, and these comments are generally relegated towards dual lands.

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Dual lands are often at the forefront of most discussions on the prices of Legacy cards/decks as they are the most visible of Reserved List cards in the format. It is important to keep in mind that the prices of dual lands have been proven to be historically linked more to Commander players purchasing them for their decks. However, dual lands are a huge crux of the format and do often put a kink in the idea of budget.

When it comes to "budget" though, one of the most important things to remember is that "budget" does not generally mean spending little to no money on a deck (since it is typically impossible to get away with spending no money on a deck especially in older formats like Pioneer/Modern/Legacy), but rather it should mean the art of spending money wisely on Magic. Thus, a lot of the budget decks in the format generally can approach the range of $500-$1000. Decks like Death and Taxes, Burn, and even Cloudpost variant decks can be built in that range. Let's talk about a few of those decks, shall we?

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Death and Taxes is one of cheaper and competitive Legacy decks that exists, often boasting very little usage of Reserved List cards in general, and it can be one of the more powerful decks in a metagame if built well and piloted well. D&T is actually just a really great way of learning the format since you can learn a ton from playing games with it. However, that being said, don't get discouraged with the deck because it can be hard to pilot and takes time to get good with.

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Burn has some reasonable range of builds from typical 19-20 Mountain Burn which has become the defacto builds these days to builds utilizing fetch lands and cards like Searing Blaze. The 19-20 Mountain versions however are some of the strongest since Exquisite Firecraft is really powerful right now to push through uncounterable damage. Burn is the deck that keeps a lot of decks honest, since Price of Progress is incredibly strong in nonbasic heavy metagames featuring decks like Delver. There is a bit of a stigma to playing a deck like Burn, but honestly, don't let that dissuade you from playing such a deck. It has just as much of a learning curve as other decks in the format can have and does require a delicate and careful application of 3-4 damage spells in combination with either attack the opponent or having to choose with dealing with creatures in play.

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The 12-Post deck above utilizes a lot of cards that are already Modern legal like Ugin/Karn and Ulamog, which is helpful if you want to transition from a deck like Tron to basically the Legacy equivalent of Tron. The nice thing about 12-Post decks is that they generally require zero duals and can be built to maximize on Cloudpost's with the use of cards like Primeval Titan and Elvish Rejuvenator (yes this card sees LEGACY play) as well as cards like Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. More expensive versions of this deck often run cards like Candelabra of Tawnos, but those are not even required to make a viable build work.

In addition, decks that utilize cards like Arcum's Astrolabe can be built to an extent on an even cheaper budget by utilizing cards like shock lands for the manabase. Most decks utilizing Astrolabe rely more on Snow-covered basic lands and generally only run one of each dual, meaning that being able to use shock lands often presents very little downside to these kinds of decks.

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The nice thing about a decklist like above is that if you own this shell in Modern the transition is super easy, given that the primary pickups become a few Legacy legal cantrips like Brainstorm, but the biggest piece is of course Force of Will. This makes it a lot easier to transition into this kind of deck from Modern to Legacy.

Furthermore, some decks in the format have lesser or devolved versions of their own archetypes that can often be cheaper. Reanimator can be built in a mono black variant that can easily splash an Overgrown Tomb to activate cards like Reverent Silence or decks like UR Delver can simply start out as either Burn or Mono Blue Delver. There are also decks like Manaless Dredge, which are not nearly as expensive to build and can actually be competitive.

All being said, while paper Legacy can be expensive, it is not out of the realm of possibility. It is just important to keep budget in mind and keeping in mind that spending money wisely is very important and what type of strategy you'd like to pursue (unless you like playing Lands, and then well... get ready to empty your pocketbook).

Another thing to consider on a local level basis is the community itself and whether there are players in the community that can lend either cards or decks to play. There is often one of those players in an area that shows up to Legacy events with several decks to lend out. Becoming a part of the community and making genuine friendships can help you access playing the format as well. In turn, you are helping support the local community in this fashion by showing up to events.

Legacy on Magic Online

Legacy on Magic Online is in regards to price, very cheap, and can be excessively cheaper to play than in paper Legacy. Competitive deck options can be anywhere from 200 - 600 tix in price (1 ticket = $1). Not only does this make for a more budget-friendly experience, but it also offers a much greater competitive experience for those players looking for that sort of environment. Furthermore, card rental program options like Cardhoarder can help people not only use Magic Online to figure out what kind of strategy they would like to play but also can help players easily adjust for metagame shifts.

Now, the most common concern with this approach is the fact that Magic Online is older software and bugs do occur with it. It has become sort of a fad to rip on MTGO for its faults without really understanding the positives that it brings to the table. The application is far from perfect, but it does provide a pretty consistent experience of gameplay and also provides for ways to stress competitive play in older eternal formats. There is a thriving Legacy community on Magic Online, and that community provides for some of the most superb and quality gameplay typically.

In the End, Is the Format Right for Me?

This is a question that generally can only be answered on a case by case basis, but I do believe that if Legacy is a format that appears interesting and something you definitely would love to play, then there is definitely a path to play it. I have witnessed a general passion for Legacy as a format by those who really wish to seek out playing it, and this isn't just older players who have collected cards for a long time, but younger players as well.

So... whether or not Legacy is right for you is a question that inevitably you must answer yourself, but you can use the questions asked here to help determine that information. I certainly hope that you gleaned some important information here. It has always been my opinion that this format is definitely accessible if you are willing to keep an open mind and approach every factor of information to determine if the format is right for you or not, something that should be done with any playable Magic format, really. Many of these questions we're asking here can apply to any other format.

It has also long been my opinion that as a Legacy player, helping others achieve a goal of accessing and playing the format is what we should represent as a community. There is often talk of elitism within Legacy players from those on the outside who may not witness the community's interactions with each other, and while there are a few rotten apples in every group, the majority of the Legacy community is full of wonderful people who simply want to share the format and complexity of play they enjoy.

Level Up Lesson - The Interactions of Lands in Legacy

Our Level Up Lesson this week is all about the interactions of various lands in the Legacy format. There are multiple different utility lands in the format, and there are often different little interactions around these cards.

The first card to talk about is one of Legacy's more important lands: Wasteland.

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Wasteland has some really interesting niche interactions that many people might not be aware of, which can often provide for some higher-level understanding of the card. One of these is the timing of utilizing the card. Most of the time, Wasteland is used as a sorcery speed land destruction spell and typically activated as soon as it comes down to destroy an opponent's land. However, there is often plenty of merit in holding a Wasteland effect for times such as the opponent's upkeep for instance. This can force an opponent's hand on having to utilize instant speed plays on their turn, which puts them off having access to that card in the future and also pushes them down on their turn instead of on yours. This is often more mana efficient in many cases.

Another interesting corner case use of Wasteland is that the card can actually target itself with its ability. Because of how abilities are placed on the stack, targets are chosen first and then costs are paid once the ability is on the stack. The end result of this is that the Wasteland ability will be countered due to no legal targets. There are some very relevant reasons to do this in the format, and one of those is generally often tied to the use of the card Price of Progress. By being able to "remove" itself, you can reduce the number of nonbasic lands you control in order to reduce the damage coming from Price of Progress.

Wasteland also has plenty of interesting applications when it comes to interacting with other lands in the format, namely the cards Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage.

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These two lands interact to create a 20/20 flying indestructible Marit Lage, but how they specifically interact is actually very important in Legacy, so let's step through the whole process.

  1. Activate Thespian's Stage, choosing Dark Depths as the target.
  2. Ability resolves, and Stage becomes a copy of Depths. The game now sees two Legendary lands named Dark Depths in play and prompts you which land to keep.
  3. Choose to keep the Dark Depths that Thespian's Stage is now a copy of. The original Dark Depths goes to the graveyard.
  4. The game now sees a Dark Depths in play that has zero ice counters on it and puts a trigger on the stack stating "When Dark Depths has no ice counters on it, sacrifice it. If you do, create Marit Lage."
  5. The ability resolves, you sacrifice the land, and put into play a 20/20 flying indestructible Marit Lage.

If you can see the point at which you can interact with this combo via Wasteland, congratulations, you win a cookie! If you guessed Step 4, you would be correct. By destroying the copied Dark Depths with the trigger on the stack to create the 20/20, the player performing this combo cannot fulfill the "sacrifice Dark Depths" portion of the resolution of the triggered ability. Creating the 20/20 is contingent on this sacrifice, so if it doesn't happen, they will not get a Marit Lage token.

Furthermore, one other interesting application of Wasteland vs Thespian's Stage is the instance of when Stage copies a basic land. If you attempt to Wasteland a Stage and they use Stage to make it a copy of a Basic Forest for example, the card is now for all intents and purposes a basic land, and is therefore an illegal target for Wasteland (since it specifies nonbasic land). This can be a good way to protect your Stage against a Wasteland effect.

The last land we're going to talk about here is Rishadan Port, another common land in the format.

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Port is a powerful card, and can often be used to limit an opponent's access to mana. However, the timing of this is actually just incredibly important, and becomes even more important if you have multiple Rishadan Port in play. One trap you can fall into with this card is simply declaring that you're Port'ing two lands on upkeep with two Ports. While the majority of this time this is fine, the opponent now has the knowledge that you intend to tap two of their lands and can float mana in response to perform an action at instant speed. One way that you can play this to your advantage instead is to simply declare Port activation on a single land, and see how your opponent reacts. If your opponent intends to float mana in response, then Port on their other land at that juncture is a bad idea. Instead, allow the opponent to float their mana and then declare that are now allowing the game to move to their draw step. This forces the opponent to have to use the mana they have floated, possibly tapping a second land if they have an instant speed card, or they will lose this mana at the end of the phase. Then, in the opponent's draw step, you can activate your second Port on another land. This achieves a similar or possibly better result than merely Port'ing both lands at the same time since you gain information that your opponent may have cards they can cast at instant speed and what those cards are.

Another usage of Port that I see too rarely is the use of Port to ensure or force a response from an opponent on the Port controller's turn before being able to close out a game by swinging for lethal. This puts the onus on the opponent to use their mana immediately and maybe make an incorrect play.

Lands in Legacy have many different interactions from Fetch lands to the usage of things like The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale (which boasts probably a lesson on its own especially how that card interacts in competitive environments), so I hope this Level Up Lesson has helped you understand some of these niche interactions.

Community Legacy Update

Just a reminder to submit your Legacy events to Bolt the Bird! This website is great for collecting info on local Legacy events, so if you are running events be sure to submit your events!

Also worth noting that Card Kingdom streamed their most recent Mox Legacy Open, which you can find VODs of on their Twitch channel.

If there are any large events you think I should know about, please feel free to reach out to me and let me know!

Deck Focus - Eldrazi Stompy or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Spaghetti

This week's deck focus is on the Eldrazi variant known as "Stompy" or "Aggro". The goal of this variant is to not only present the opponent with a lock piece that stops their game plan, but to also deploy an aggressive clock that is fast and also disruptive.

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A variant of the "Stompy" archetype (which in Legacy is decks that utilize Chalice of the Void + Ancient Tomb), Eldrazi as a deck came about after the release of Oath of the Gatewatch due to the printing of a few very powerful Eldrazi creatures.

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Eldrazi creatures such as these quickly became the bread and butter of this archetype, creating a Chalice prison strategy that can often just be excessively aggressive. Sometimes this deck can present a lock piece and a piece of disruption, and then ride a card like Thought-Knot Seer to victory, Other times, this deck can deploy several Eldrazi Mimic into a Turn 2 Reality Smasher or Thought-Knot Seer to swing for the fences and put an opponent right out of the game.

The way that this deck works is that it utilizes plenty of fast mana known as "Sol" lands (so named because they often add double colorless much like Sol Ring does) and cheap efficient creatures to get on board quickly. Many of these creatures come with either a blazing fast clock attached to them or also have a measure of disruption (the best of which is Thought-Knot Seer of course) to either prevent the opponent from being able to win in a timely fashion or make it difficult to interact with (such as Reality Smasher's targeting trigger).

There is not much to this strategy overall and that is one of the downfalls of this type of deck. There is very little variation in games and how they go, and sometimes the deck can lose to itself. When Wasteland is great is when this deck has some issues since slowing this deck's mana development can make the deck not function well.

That being said, this is a proactive and powerful deck, and can be strong. This is a great deck if you already own pieces from Modern Eldrazi decks, and you can often sometimes budget cards like City of Traitors with cards like Crystal Vein. However, be aware of the fact that this is a deck that can get somewhat old really quick if you like a lot of variation in games. Many games with this deck operate on a very similar basis and that can be bad if you find yourself getting bored easily with strategies.

Legacy Challenge 2/16

We had yet another Legacy Challenge this past weekend (and it was the longest Legacy Challenge ever as noted by players in the Challenge having issues with a software problem preventing players from progressing from Round 4 to Round 5), so let's dive right into the thick of it!

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
BUG Zenith Oko 1st Pische10
4C Miracles 2nd Wurst_
Burning Wish Breach 3rd WonderPreaux
4C Miracles 4th Mannes
BR Reanimator 5th Orim67
Bant Maverick 6th DNeeley (Dan Neeley)
Spiral Tide 7th IWouldLikeToRespond (Marcus Ewaldh)
Planeswalker Post 8th Phill_Hellmuth

Despite the length of this event, this was an interesting Top 8, with everyone's favorite planeswalker Oko rearing his head once again to show people who the boss is. Legacy in general in these events seems like it's in a really interesting place right now.

At the top of the heap was Pische10 with BUG Zenith Oko!

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This list continues to just boast some of the most powerful threats in the format, and it's no surprise to see Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath here. The card is actually just pure gasoline powerful.

In Second Place, continuing the Oko train is 4C Miracles/Snowko.

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While most of this list is pretty close to what most 4C Miracles lists look like these days, the copy of From the Ashes in the sideboard is really cool to see.

In Third Place of this event we see another Underworld Breach-like Storm deck, this one more of a 4C version with Infernal Tutor and Burning Wish over the Silence effects of the Jeskai variants.

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This version hinges a lot less on Breach, running it as a one-of to maximize its incidental value when it does hit.

The big hit of this event's Top 8 however, was the presence of a deck that simply hasn't been around all that much competitively in quite some time. Piloted by our good friend Marcus, it's Spiral Tide!

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What a killer list. Marcus was kind enough to share his Tournament Report from this event on Twitter, so go check that out over here!

Further down this event, we got some real super spice from our good friend John Ryan Hamilton, piloting a UW deck we're just going to call "Dead and Taxes".

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Super sick list here, I love the Soulherder in it.

Now let's take a look at the 2020 cards appearing in this event as we like to do always.

Card Name Number of Copies
Underworld Breach 5
Thassa's Oracle 3
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath[[ 3
[[Cling to Dust 2
Soul-Guide Lantern 1

Fewer Breaches in this event, with only one in the Top 8 ANT hybrid deck and four in a Jeskai variant. It's interesting to see this card's evolution and whether or not it is too good for the format or not. I still think the most busted pile of Breach related cards has yet to be fully discovered, but it is interesting to see how the format has adjusted to its presence.

Around the Web

  • Reddit user Johanvl1981 posted a really sweet primer on Legacy Humans. This is some real in-depth content and is really worth checking out over here.
  • Alex McKinley (Vivarus) posted an article talking about the updating of the manabase for TES over here.
  • Jeremy Aaronson (MissouriMTG) was on Leaving a Legacy last week, talking about the 20K in St Louis in March as well as the 40K! Check out that event here.
  • Shout out to The Legacy Pit for being the 52nd most watched Twitch channel on Twitch! Keeping paper Legacy alive!

The Spice Corner

Our first entry of spice this week is really sweet. Maralen of the Mornsong? Yes please!

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This deck is the basis of "What if Death and Taxes was Mono Green??!"

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Uro Chalice? Uro Chalice. Thank you WhiteFaces (aka Callum Smith) for this spicy number!

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Two words: MYTHICAL POX.

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What I'm Playing This Week

I've been rocking Enchantress lately, thanks to the list that Phil Gallagher posted recently.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! I'm glad you are all enjoying this column. It's readers like you that are really killing it with your support of my content, and I love you all so dearly! Join us next week as we continue our lessons in leveling up our play and exploring the Legacy format!

As always, you can find me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition, I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server in addition to the /r/MTGLegacy Discord Server and subreddit.

Until next time, keep casting Terminus!

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