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This Week in Legacy: GP Kyoto and SCG Cincinnati

Welcome to This Week in Legacy! We’re back to a more normal article, this week catching up on two team events – GP Kyoto and SCG Cincinnati, along with Cincinnati’s corresponding Classic.

GP Kyoto

GP Kyoto had a pretty limited amount of Legacy coverage, but we do have the Top 4 deck lists available. Let’s look at each of them, starting with the first-placing Sneak & Show list:

This a pretty stock list, with the Omnisciences in the main becoming more and more common to remedy problem matchups like Death & Taxes. These are, however, just supplemental Show and Tell targets rather than a focussed Omniscience package with Cunning Wish (which are becoming a little less common these days). The sideboard also sports nothing too notable, though Wipe Away is somewhat neat.

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I think more notable is that Sneak & Show took down another large event in Japan. Japan is a hotbed of Emrakuls and Griselbrands, and I imagine in a Team Event it is a particularly appealing choice. Many Legacy players will be somewhat unacquainted with the format in a Team Event and the brute force of Sneak & Show can trounce any odd deck easily. I do wonder how the ever-popular Grixis Delver matchup is though. Between Spell Pierces in the main now and a pile of targeted discard with Probe-Therapy after the sideboard, and Red Blasts, it seems pretty uphill to me.

Koji Takeishi took a relatively clean-looking Czech Pile to second-place, though the inclusion of two main deck Diabolic Edict is something that slightly raises eyebrows – I certainly think it is a good choice due to fighting a sub-section of combo decks (Depths, Sneak & Show) while also being excellent against True-Name. It is somewhat lackluster in the mirror and against Grixis Delver, with idiotic Baleful Strix or Pyromancer tokens sadly trading for the Edict.

I think most notable is some innovations in the sideboard. Go for the Throat has always been Legacy fringe playable. It occupies a unique niche, being able to take down Eldrazi, unlike Abrupt Decay and not leading to the self-harm that Dismember entails. Blood Sun is also quite exciting, I imagine primarily as anti-Lands tech. I like it a bit more than Blood Moon in Pile lists, which can, of course, be a little awkward in a deck trying to cast Leovold, Emissary of Trest and Moon.

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Masataka Shibata’s Aluren lists looks very different to what one would typically expect. Most popular Aluren lists have been pure BUG ones, aiming for the ability to grind rather than kill on the spot thanks to Recruiter of the Guard. But Masataka looks to actually not really want to combo out all that often either – he only plays three Aluren in the main similar to many current BUG lists. Even with the Recruiter package, I guess he feels that one Cavern Harpy to tutor for and then bounce things around is enough to grind with. Also exciting is his use of main deck Hymn to Tourach in a similar way to old Shardless BUG to accrue card advantage and damage combo significantly. 

Lastly, the Miracles list that Top 4'ed looks very inspired by that of Jim Davis from SCG Worcester – the Flusterstorm and Path to Exile certainly say so. What is different is the inclusion of the one-two punch of enchantment haymakers: Counterbalance and Back to Basics. Note that Search for Azcanta is not included, likely due to its dissynergy with Back to Basics and this lists determination to not play the long game – three Mentors and zero Predicts tell me this list is not about grinding, but instead about Monking out the opponent ASAP. The sideboard has a few neat ones, one of which is Sorcerous Spyglass and the now less-played Vendilion Clique. Information is always neat, indeed.

SCG Open Cincinnati

Now, onto Cinci. Let’s start by looking at the Day 2 metagame breakdown from SCG’s site:


Grixis Delver – 9
Miracles – 3
Sneak and Show – 3
Lands – 2
Mono-Red Prison – 2
Temur Delver – 1
Grixis Pyromancer – 1
Storm – 1
Elves – 1
Turbo Depths – 1
Punishing Abzan – 1
U/W Stoneblade – 1

Well that’s… certainly a lot of Grixis Delver. Nonetheless, it’s impressive to see Miracles still pushing onwards, likely thanks to its strong Grixis Delver matchup and quite a diverse slew of one-of decks – Grixis Pyromancer, RUG Delver, 4c Loam and Stoneblade are all still showing that Legacy has diversity to it. And once again, team events can certainly skew numbers due to many newer players picking up Legacy just for the event immediately picking up “the best deck.” Also note – no Czech Pile in Day 2!

Bernie’s 7th-place Miracles list is interesting. Mainly because it includes a rather contentious addition…

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Gitaxian Probe certainly goes well with Mentor, but the life loss is significant in a controlling shell and it’s a pretty poor card for a reactive deck like Miracles that wants to be Predicting and Counterspelling, which Probe is not conducive to. Rather, it promotes a proactive gameplan ala Grixis Delver or Pyromancer. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see.

Moving to other Blue-White decks, these Basic Blade lists are quite intriguing, and certainly these and Miracles are proving that Swords to Plowshares, Snapcaster, and cantrips are still a recipe for success. As well as proving that Back to Basics is where many people want to be in the format now flooded with land-based combos and greedy mana.

I sort of love this deck, even though it is a deck kind-of in-between Czech Pile and Grixis Delver. Unlike previous Pyromancer lists that opted out of Deathrite, this list has included the Elf Shaman, but does not include cards like Strix or as many Snapcasters as Pile that synergize effectively with Kolaghan's Command. Rather, the core of this deck, as any Pyromancer decks is, is Probe/Therapy/Pyromanceer. Interesting inclusions in this list is the rather dorky and non-synergistic-looking True-Name shoved in the list, as well as the removal suite showing again a premium on main deck Diabolic Edict.

This deck… Confuses me. And honestly, I feel like it’s a misnomer to call this RUG Delver. Once you have Deathrite in the deck, and three Probes, one really must consider how much you are skewing away from traditional Mongoose RUG to just being a poor man’s Grixis Delver. Going down this route I feel naturally leads to simply playing 4c Delver instead (if you want to play Deathrite, Goyf and Bolt).  I remember Jonathan Alexander at one stage trying a list like this, with Deathrite over Mongoose and it just didn’t work – the synergistic strength of RUG Delver just wasn’t being highlighted by adding such a “good stuff” card. Once you’re in that territory, Grixis Delver is the deck to be at.

SCG Cincinnati Classic

The Classic also came up with a pretty intense Top 8… Find that here.

That’s half the Top 8 playing Grixis Delver! However, a relatively pile-looking Czech Pile list took the first place, showing the validity of that strategy despite its lack of appearance in Day 2.

Also interesting was to see Death & Taxes back in the fold:

Andrew’s list harkens back to some old tech and a very diverse main deck Recruiter toolbox, signified by the three Recruiters in his list and the slew of one-ofs – though I do like how he has kept the curve lean by letting these be two drops in Ethersworn Canonist and Containment Priest. Seeing one of my loves Phyrexian Revoker cut down to one copy does make me a little sad, though.

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Mangara of Corondor, the original Death & Taxer, also has been an uncommon choice these days after the advent of cards like Palace Jailer for late game card advantage engines. Mangara is a little hard to set up, but when you have Karakas + Mangara + Vial on three well… That is when true happiness is found.

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The sideboard is also a bit old-school featuring an Enlightened Tutor toolbox. Spellskite is also an uncommon tutor target (for Enlightened Tutor, that is, Recruiter cannot find it) though I’m sure against Infect it is well appreciated. Blessed Alliance has also only shown up occasionally and it’s utility is quite diverse, coming in against certain combo (fatty combo like Depths, S&S), True-Name decks, and the life gain being relevant against fringe decks like Burn.

Other notables include a Bant Deathblade list kicking it circa Leovold’s printing; these decks I do feel took a big hit after Miracles gained in popularity again because their plan is naturally prone to a Terminus. The 11th-place Big Eldrazi list makes quite a statement that I quite like – four Sorcerous Spyglass main deck – cementing that card as a very reasonable main deck lock piece inclusion.


I’d like to quickly overview a few bits and pieces from Dominaria spoilers before we finish up. There’s some new cards which definitely could be making waves in Legacy.

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Mox Amber, one of the marquee cards of the set is, well, a Mox! But a very conditional one, and I’m honestly unsure of how this card could be useful as a feasible bit of mana ramp. The only cheap legendary creatures available are White Weenies like Kytheon, Hero of Akros and Isamaru, Hound of Konda, so using it as early acceleration seems a bit dubious. Cheaper legendary creatures like Jace, Vryn's Prodigy also come to mind… It should be interesting to see if this does see play, because newer Moxen, as we know from Mox Opal, Chrome Mox and Mox Diamond, are still very, very powerful.

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Damping Sphere probably was one of the bigger splashes in terms of initial eternal format interest, particularly for Modern. In Legacy, this is primarily a card that interestingly damages both Storm combo decks and big mana decks like Eldrazi or 12-Post. Perhaps this will replace Sphere of Resistance or Thorn of Amethyst in some decks’ sideboards. Or maybe not.

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Zhalfirin Void could certainly take up some of the land flex slots in decks like Eldrazi to add a small bit of filtration at a relatively low cost.

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Karn, Scion of Urza I’ve already mentioned as having potential in Bomberman, but of course Tezzerator is another natural fit for the deck. I think Karn importantly needs to find a shell that appreciates both his ability to grind via his two first abilities, as well as make his third ability actually relevant. Only decks with artifact lands or tonnes of trinkets can really do this, so I think Bomberman and Tezzerator only really come to mind.

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Steel Leaf Champion is a hell of a beater. In Elves, I could see it as a singleton Zenith target for when you just want to smash face fast. But its utility else I can’t really see, when cards like Knight of the Reliquary and Goyf exist.

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Ghitu Lavarunner could replace something in the UR Delver shell. Stormchaser Mage has always seemed a little medium, and although Soul-Scar Mage has been tried, lack of haste is an issue. Enter the Lavarunner, which is basically always going to be a 2/2 in such an instant and sorcery dense shell.

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Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain I don’t think will really get any play, as her mana cost is pretty excessive… But as a lover of Bomberman this card can draw through one's entire deck when comboing, acting as essentially another enabler for the finish of Ballista-ing the opponent to death. And Baubles draw double the amount of cards! Also, the art of Jhoira is absolutely amazing.


Thanks for joining me for another This Week in Legacy. Here’s some links as always:

  • Cheng Zhi has given everyone access to his data from last week’s The Unfair Mana Base. If anyone is curious and wants to tinker with the numbers, find that here.
  • Eternal Durdles have a new episode feat. Back to Basics.
  • Corey Burkhart talks Punishing Fire in Pile here at CFB.
  • Julian and Matt return with Marius Hausmann for Everyday Eternal; yaaaay! Find the excellence here. Also check out Julian’s bizarre April Fool’s deck list here.
  • At the TES site: Matchup vs. Mulligan concerning Elves.
  • Mengucci plays BUG Control at CFB.
  • At The Library at Pendrell Vale, Rugved talks Miracles and Jasper talks about Mono-Blue Painter in a three-part series (1, 2 and 3 here).
  • At TCGPlayer BBD talks about the Under and Overrated decks of the format. Find that here.

That’s a lot of content to get through before GP Seattle coming up – enjoy!

‘Til next time.

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I’m Playing This Week

A different way to Bomberman, from Christian Hammer:

Rather than Chalice the opponent out, this list aims to take advantage of a comprehensive tutor toolbox via Imperial Recruiter and Trinket Mage to grind the opponent into dust or lock certain decks out with Salvagers + Hope of Ghirapur (which is very, very neat). Spicy additions include… Saheeli Rai?!

The Spice Corner

This list comes from Julian’s Twitter:

Curfew.dec. With all the fun ETB creatures BUG has to offer.

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