Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / This Week in Legacy: GP Chiba

This Week in Legacy: GP Chiba

Once again, This Week in Legacy has come. And we have a big one. This week’s article will be entirely dedicated to the event that occurred during the weekend of November 27th-28th – Grand Prix Chiba! Certainly one of the highlights of the calendar when it comes to Legacy, this event showed off some interesting new technology, some relatively interesting metagame developments, and some pretty incredible matches to look over.

Anyway, we’ll start from the top and work our way through the data that can be found on Wizards's Grand Prix Chiba website. You can find all that here.

The Winner: Sneak & Show

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Gramd Prix Chiba was taken down by Sneak & Show, piloted by pro Kentaro Yamamoto. Interestingly, the list he piloted was very straightforward, unlike the recent Omni-Attack lists that have been running around.

If anything, the straightforwardness of the deck likely played to his strengths as a professional Magic player. Although I’m assuming quite a bit, many pro players focus little on the Legacy format, and when an event such as Chiba crops up they’ll pilot something that can utilise not their knowledge of the format, but instead the generic Magic skills they have honed over the course of their lives. Sneak & Show leverages all these things well by being incredibly proactive. Why understand what your opponent is doing when you can just focus your skills on cantripping effectively and assembling your combo?

That being said, the sideboard of Kentaro is very nicely tuned. Although his game one against the popular Death & Taxes is likely atrocious without Omniscience, Grim Lavamancer as a repetitive hatebear-killer, Blood Moon to turn off Karakas, and Engineered Explosives to clean up boards (that also gets around Mom and interacts favourably with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben) are all powerful options to swing games in his favor. The Vendilion Cliques are also very nice as a plan B that act as additional disruption or can ambush Containment Priests that would be otherwise problematic. What I love about these cards is that they’re also very good blanket answers. Blood Moon turboed out Stompy-style can ruin Shardless BUG and other greedy mana bases, Lavamancer can easily remove the pressure that Delver and other creature-based decks exert, and Explosives is the epitome of flexibility.

Probably more spicy is the other Sneak & Show list that found its way into the Top 8.

Keisuke Sato went very old-school with his creature package, opting to replace an Emrakul with two Progenitus. Although certainly inferior to the spaghetti monster, Progenitus is a likely hedge against Death & Taxes’ Karakas game one. Sato also included a little bit of additional fast mana with Simian Spirit Guide and hedged against blue decks with main deck (and another sideboard) Boseiju, Who Shelters All, both of which have been seen before.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

He, like Yamamoto, included a bevy of one-of permanent-based answers in his sideboard, such as Echoing Truth, Pyroclasm, Kozilek's Return, Sudden Shock and, interestingly, Ratchet Bomb. I find it difficult to rationalize how Bomb is better than Yamamoto’s Explosives, as to clean up a board of hatebears it takes much longer, and Chalice of the Void is answered in a similar timeframe with both cards. I guess it does function better under a Blood Moon. Unlike Yamamoto, Sato did find room for sideboard cards that are typically seen as staples of the archetype, such as Through the Breach and Red Elemental Blast effects.

The Runner-Up: Miracles

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Miracles had an expected excellent appearance throughout the tournament. Although we’ve largely seen a dip in the amount of Miracles placings across smaller tournaments, it certainly always shows up in significant numbers during the larger events. Three Miracles lists made their way into the Top 8. The runner-up list was that of Atsuki Kihara.

Atsuki’s list was similar to the lists not maining Mentor that have been appearing the past few months, such as the lists in American Eternal Weekend and Eternal Extravaganza 5. Of note is the Spell Snare in the main (likely inspired by Joe Lassett’s push of the card) and, interestingly, the Ensnaring Bridge in the sideboard.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Bridge actually appeared in many Miracles lists throughout the tournament. Although many may see it as a ‘budget’ replacement for Moat, I think it has a lot of advantages that Moat does not. Firstly, Bridge is colorless, and hence Eldrazi clean-up card All Is Dust does nothing against it. It can come down under a Thought-Knot Seer in certain scenarios, especially on the play, when the Eldrazi player only has a single Sol Land in play. Bridge also interacts very nicely with Top. Miracles is well known for being Hellbent but still able to easily control the game due to the virtual three cards it has access to from Top. And being Hellbent is, of course, favorable with Bridge.

In 3rd place was Yuuya Watanabe, Hall of Famer, on Miracles. His list was a little bit more stock, featuring Mentors in the main. Like Kihara, he featured an Ensnaring Bridge in the sideboard, along with a pair of Sulfur Elementals for the Death & Taxes matchup. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar also made an appearance as an additional non-blue bomb next to Jace, and certainly can put a lot of power on to the board in combination with Monastery Mentor.

The 5th place Miracles list, however, looked completely bizarre.

There is a selection of interesting choices in this list:

  • A singleton Spell Pierce.
  • A singleton Stifle (!) I don’t think this card is aiming to mana-screw people. Rather, the flexibility of Stifle in countering activated/triggered abilities  is what I’m imagining this is useful against.
  • Singleton Venser, Shaper Savant to go with a singleton Karakas. A very small Legends package indeed.
  • Triple Counterspell. That’s a lot of Counterspells! Certainly, on paper, it looks quite clunky.
  • Two Terminus and one Supreme Verdict. Cutting down to three Terminus is pretty feasible for many lists, but exchanging one of these for a Verdict adds pros and cons. It’s great against Death & Taxes’ Prelate on six, but at the same time can be a struggle to cast against many decks taxing mana via Thalia, Wasteland, etc.
  • A singleton Misdirection in place of the fourth Force of Will. Essentially the same in a counter war, but also has upsides against Abrupt Decay from breaking the Counterbalance lock. Seems pretty unimpressive in many other scenarios, however.
  • Two main Back to Basics. This leads to Miyabi only playing two colors, instead of splashing for red. Back to Basics certainly is an excellent card to be main decking against Eldrazi and greedy three color decks, but I’m sure it’s a liability against a reasonable swathe of the field, such as the mirror, Death & Taxes, and a variety of combo decks.
  • The sideboard also featured some more spicy ones: Divert as an extra pseudo-Misdirection that can blow the opponent out and two Cavern of Souls to complement his suite of Mentors and Meddling Mages (and Snapcasters and Venser already main).

For further comparisons, I’d recommend having a look at /u/Maxtortion’s big spreadsheet displaying all the card choices of the Miracles lists in the Top 64. Find that here and the corresponding reddit thread here. I’m especially surprised at the variation of mana hatred between many lists, with no clear consensus on which of Back to Basics, Blood Moon, or From the Ashes is optimal.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

The Quarterfinalists: ANT, Elves and Death &Taxes

Other than Sneak & Show and Miracles, the Top 8 did accommodate three other archetypes. Storm was still represented with Ryo Takahashi piloting ANT to 6th place, featuring a relatively stock main, though featured a very diverse mix of business spells, including one-of's each of Empty the Warrens, Ad Nauseum, and Dark Petition. Most notable is his sideboard options. His answers included one-mana removal in Disfigure and Chain of Vapor to diversify his answers to Prelate, Krosan Grip padded his answers to Counterbalance, and a Hurkyl's Recall to fix the Chalice of the Void problem. Furthermore, an adaptation many ANT lists have been taking from their TES brethren is Chrome Mox, found in Takahashi’s sideboard as a two-of. Additional fast mana makes turn one or turn two Ad Nauseums very powerful, which were previously very gutsy to try with no floating mana, as Petals were the only starting mana sources available. This increased speed lets the deck get 'under' Chalice of the Void or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben by just killing the opponent early.

Elves also made an appearance in the Top 8, touting some new cards.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Leovold is a card we’ll get to later, as not only did he make a splash in Elves, but also a variety of other Legacy archetypes. He’s proving to many to be a staple one- or two-of in most decks that can accommodate the BUG color combination.

More interesting is Nissa, Vital Force. We’ve seen her in the sideboard of some recent Elves lists, but she has been previously unseen as a main deck inclusion. Although she is likely to clunk up hands and make Glimpse chains slightly more mediocre, she also can do some incredible things for the deck. Her minus ability really assists in the grinding ability of the deck, regrowing critical pieces required for the Elvish engine. Her plus also pulls a lot of weight. Not only can it just start the beatdown on an empty board (great against Elves' poor Miracles matchup), it can also create explosive mana: tap your Gaea's Cradle, cast a Nissa, and then untap the Cradle and potentially net mana! I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nissa become more of a consideration in the main.

At 8th was Death & Taxes by Liu Jun.

Jun had some interesting main deck inclusions. He opted for two Mirran Crusaders (despite their tutorability), two Avengers, two of each of the Conspiracy: Take the Crown staples, and a one-of Palace Jailer. Interestingly, no Thalia, Heretic Cathar in his list! He also cut his lands to twenty-two!

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I do like the addition of Jailer somewhere in the seventy-five and may be trying him soon. Similar to Mangara of Corondor, he is a late-game bomb that in certain situations can create an insurmountable advantage when the Monarchy is held, while also being tutorable. He also has favorable interactions with flicker effects, as White Stompy has proven to me. However, twenty-two lands is something I really cannot get behind. The deck is incredibly mana-hungry now with its bevy of three drops, not to mention adding a four drop to the mix!

Just like /u/Maxtortion did for Miracles, I have done for Death & Taxes. Find the spreadsheet comparing all the Death & Taxes lists here and find the reddit thread about it here. Some things to note:

  • Recruiter and Prelate are consistently at least two-ofs, with some lists pushing up to three Recruiters.
  • Thalia, Heretic Cathar ranged from zero copies to two copies. Some lists ran only one as a tutorable bullet, though I find her lackluster in this role.
  • Flickerwisp and Revoker are starting to get trimmed down to three copies.
  • Avenger is seen in some lists as a two-of, while others sported zero. Crusader was more acceptable as a one-of beatstick that can be tutored.
  • One list ran Ghost Quarters over Rishadan Port. Budget choice or metagame consideration? The Ghost Quarters have certainly been excellent for the recent Lands lists.

I’d also like to shout out /u/Umezete, a common contributor on r/MTGLegacy, who went to Chiba with a pretty wild Death & Taxes list:

This deck feels sort of like a blend of typical Death & Taxes with some White Stompy elements. Smuggler's Copter is definitely the coolest addition in this list, and certainly with Ancient Tomb, turn one Copter into turn two Thalia (1.0 or 2.0) looks like a brutal way to both disrupt the opponent and obtain card selection (and beatdown for three!). Hangarback Walker is also exciting; I could see it as very powerful against decks such as Shardless or even Eldrazi, where it can be tutored lategame to create a large, growing monster. These modal Recruiter targets are actually very cool due to their ability to be reasonable early and very powerful late.

The Top 64

Moving away from the Top 8, we can look at the rest of the field within the Top 64:

Miracles was the most represented deck within the Top 64, followed by Eldrazi, Death & Taxes, and then Grixis Delver, whose numbers certainly paled in comparison. Sneak & Show converted incredibly well, having only a few decks within the Top 64, but two found their way into the Top 8. The same could be said for Elves and ANT, with the Top 8'ing ANT list the only one within the Top 64!

More importantly though, the Top 64 also showed off some rogue strategies. In particular, Dragon Stompy and Food Chain made more than one appearance.

In 18th and 22nd place were Food Chain lists. These decks aim to use their namesake, Food Chain, to generate infinite mana that can be used on creatures. This is done via Misthollow Griffin being sacrificed, though Eternal Scourge from Eldritch Moon was utilized by both players as an additional combo piece that is easier to cast (but does not have the advantage of being exiled to Force of Will and then re-cast!). Manipulate Fate gets these creatures into the exile zone, essentially drawing four cards. Once the combo is assembled, a giant Genesis Hydra can be cast, or Fierce Empath can go get Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Tidespout Tyrant, which both ruin the opponent.

Although the deck has a combo finish, it also functions incredibly well as a grindy midrange BUG deck, utilizing Deathrite Shaman and Delve creatures like Tasigur or Angler to keep Griffins exiled and coming back again and again. Baleful Strix holds the fort (and acts as ramp if a Food Chain is in play). Abrupt Decay does its usual job of demolishing whatever is required.

Leovold, Emissary of Trest also found a way into the Food Chain lists and, furthermore, found his place in a Shardless BUG list, another Elves list in the Top 64 and, perhaps most interestingly, in Ben Friedman’s newest iteration of 4c Delver:

Also new-ish is the addition of Kolaghan's Command, which certainly supplements the grindy nature of the deck.

Dragon Stompy, and its relative, Imperial Painter, also found their way into the Top 64 with some new additions. We’ll look at Taishi Aoki’s Dragon Stompy list first, which differed only slightly from the other Stompy list.

Let’s look at the creatures first. Goblin Rabblemaster has been well-known as a staple, and Thunderbreak Regent has been the best Dragon for the job since Dragons of Tarkir’s printing due to him being certainly superior to other four-drop Dragons available. The cards we haven’t seen much before in the archetype were these:

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Sin Prodder raises the eyebrows most, but makes a huge amount of sense within this list. He has a relatively aggressive, slightly evasive body, but it’s his ability which is most important. It’s typically unlikely that the opponent will actually opt to give the Dragon Stompy player cards, instead letting them deal a few points of damage. These points of damage look inconsequential, until one realises… There’s a lot of burn in this deck. This is a Dragon Stompy deck that has potentially twenty-six points of burn. Taishi, on camera, very readily domed the opponent for six very often with Confluence. Of course, Confluence also has an incredible amount of flexibility, and it is for this reason I can see how four in the main is viable, at least in this list. I had always relegated it to sideboard, but I now see that this need not necessarily be the case all the time. Shaman of the Great Hunt found some slots within the 37th-placing list instead of one Prodder, and this also looks quite impressive (especially with Rabblemaster) as a card to curve into.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Chandra, Torch of Defiance also continues to impress as the Blood Moon planeswalker of choice. She does it all – ramping the deck, creating card advantage, and acting as a removal spell. She found herself as a three-of within the mains of both Stompy lists in the Top 64, but the Imperial Painter list of Yuki Aikawa added a full four copies:

Yuki’s list deviates from the ‘stock’ Red-White lists many American Painter players have opted towards, and instead looks to using red mana only, removing Enlightened Tutor and hence leaning less on the combo. Chandra certainly helps out with this, being a walker that can just keep ticking up and up behind an Ensnaring Bridge, digging for the combo, or just burning the opponent out. Other interesting choices are the trimming of Grindstone to three, indicative of leaning less on the combo.

The last list from the Top 64, other than the spicy ones I’ll outline later, was the old variant of Lands.

RUG Lands leans less on the Dark Depths / Thespian's Stage combo and instead simply wants to control the opponent and grind them out of the game. Crucible of Worlds acts as additional Loams and Engineered Explosives / Academy Ruins creates more value from Loams and can make sticking a permanent on the board very hard for the opponent. Tolaria West is probably the greatest addition the deck gets from adding blue mana, however. The land can Transmute to tutor for any land for any given scenario, as well as get Explosives or Chalice of the Void. Also of note is the Burgeoning in the main, acting somewhat as a fifth Exploration!

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Oh, and the main deck is sixty-seven cards. What.

Day 2 Metagame

Also of note is a look over the Day 2 metagame. I have simplified the chart from what the Wizard's website has, lumping all decks with less than twenty showings in the 'Other' category and putting a few archetypes together. The data gets a little bit skewed due to this, but this is the best representation I can get:

Delver variants understandably made up the largest proportion, but this of course lumps together archetypes of pretty different styles (UR Delver is very different to BUG Delver, for example). Eldrazi followed, topping Miracles. After Miracles, Shardless just elapsed Death & Taxes. D&T did obtain more places in the Top 64, with Shardless converting somewhat poorly. 

Grand Prix Trials

Also worthwhile is a cursory glance through the Grand Prix Trials for Chiba. The most notable of these were two Blue-Red Delver lists:

These differentiate significantly from the UR Delver that is well-known. This is certainly UR tempo as indicated by the Stifles and Wastelands. 

One other Blue-Red list was either UR Delver lacking Delvers… Or UR Landstill lacking Standstills?!

This list has a fair few unconventional choices that Matthew Brown enlightened us on a few weeks ago. Notably, multiple Spell Snares, main deck Flusterstorms, and Burst Lightning are all seen here. Three Fire // Ice also rounds out the removal suite, diversifying it away from only one-mana answers. The deck features creaturelands to finish the opponent too, using Mishra's Factory and Faerie Conclave. This list feels like someone took a UR Landstill list, cut the Standstills, and added some more burn. And it certainly seemed to work out for them!


Phew! Chiba brought a lot of incredible data to light and certainly made clear where the metagame is moving. For non-Japanese speakers, I’d highly recommend checking out Bob Huang’s Twitch Channel for the restream of the event he did with Anuraag Das, James Pogue, and Jarvis Yu. The replays should be available in their video archive.

If any readers would like to inform me of how their Chiba event went, I’d be all ears, especially if you ran a particularly spicy list. Per usual, contact me at the address below!

‘Til next time!

Sean Brown
Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I’m Playing This Week

The weekend of Grand Prix Chiba I actually played in a small Legacy tournament and took away the top spot. I ran my typical Death & Taxes, using the list I featured a few weeks ago and it played excellently, though winning die rolls and getting turn one Aether Vial many more times than usual certainly helped. My matchups were:

Miracles 2-0
Death & Taxes 2-0
Grixis Dever 2-1

Top 4:
Grixis Delver 2-0
Miracles 2-0

The number of Recruiters and Prelates felt perfect, but the rest of the beatstick core had some room for changes. With Grand Prix Chiba having past, it’s time to add some of these:

Mainly, I’ll finally be trying to reach my own conclusions about Thalia, Heretic Cathar by having her in the main. To do so, I’ve had to commit heresy. I cut the fourth Flickerwisp! Though this certainly seemed to be what most players in Chiba opted for, I’ll see how it goes. My sideboard has been filled with some more bullets. Containment Priest has been trimmed to one to make room for the now-sideboarded Crusader, and Palace Jailer will be tested over Mangara after seeing it be successful at Chiba, have received plenty of positive feedback from respected Death & Taxes authorities. I shall report back soon to see how everything fits together.

The Spice Corner

There were two lists which really caught my eye in the Chiba Top 64:

4c Ninja Midrange. Essentially a Shardless variant except sort of more aggressive, with Lightning Bolts added, more ETB creatures and, most importantly, Ninja of the Deep Hours to bounce things back to your hand. Baleful Strix, Shardless Agent, and Eternal Witness can sneak in, get a Ninja in to draw a card and then keep the cards flowing by getting cast again. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This UW Stoneblade deck is also very sweet as it takes a more proactive role than Stoneblade decks of past. Its counterspells are stuck on flying 1/1s that can hold equipment readily, flash in with a 2/3 body, or are the hatebear Meddling Mage. Then, Stoneforge and True-Name can finish off the game as they have before.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

More in this Series

Show more ...

More on MTGGoldfish ...

Image for This Week in Legacy: BoM Super Finals, KMC Events and SCG Legacy Classic Knoxville this week in legacy
This Week in Legacy: BoM Super Finals, KMC Events and SCG Legacy Classic Knoxville

Sean goes through some sweet technology in the high-stakes Bazaar of Moxen Super Finals, and looks at other events in the week past.

Nov 23 | by Sean Brown
Image for Podcast 452: MagicCon Vegas 2023 podcast
Podcast 452: MagicCon Vegas 2023

The whole MTGGoldfish crew gets together to talk about their experience at MagicCon Vegas live from the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas!

Sep 25 | by mtggoldfish
Image for Budget Magic: $100 Dredge (Modern) budget magic
Budget Magic: $100 Dredge (Modern)

Sometimes, the best way a game of Magic on a $100 budget is by not really playing Magic at all. It's $100 Dredge time!

Sep 25 | by SaffronOlive
Image for Weekly Update (Sep 24): Ixalan, Jurassic Park, The Evil Dead, The Princess Bride Previews weekly update
Weekly Update (Sep 24): Ixalan, Jurassic Park, The Evil Dead, The Princess Bride Previews

This week in MTG news: Ixalan, Jurassic Park, The Evil Dead, The Princess Bride Previews.

Sep 25 | by mtggoldfish

Layout Footer

Never miss important MTG news again!

All emails include an unsubscribe link. You may opt-out at any time. See our privacy policy.

Follow Us

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Twitch
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • Email
  • Discord
  • YouTube

Price Preference

Default Price Switcher