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This Week in Legacy: GP Seattle


Welcome to another This Week in Legacy. This week we’ll be going through the big one – GP Seattle! This event will certainly be setting the tone for the metagame moving forward, especially concerning  which decks are our top decks, if that wasn’t already clear. As always, there’s also a few bits and pieces of spice to be looked at. Let’s dive in.

Metagame Breakdown

Let’s have a look at the Top 64 breakdown, courtesy of the work on MTG The Source by Bob Huang and all the contributors – keep it up, everyone! Note that there are three decks still missing from the Top 64, but the data should nonetheless give us a neat depiction of the Seattle Day 2 metagame.

Grixis Delver and Czech Pile somewhat expectedly took the largest numbers in the Top 64, though Grixis Delver interestingly converted less effectively than its midrangey cousin – perhaps representing it being the bane that everyone feared. For the twelve Grixis Delver decks that made the Top 64, only two of these found their way into the Top 8 (Top 8 conversion of 16.67%), while of the nine Czech Pile decks two made Top 8 (22.22% Top 8 conversion). Perhaps more interesting is the Top 16 conversion – a relatively lacklustre 25% for Grixis Delver but 55.56% for the Leovold, Emissary of Trest control decks! Miracles also made an incredible appearance despite its relative short lifespan in its current iteration, bringing two to the Top 8 – one featuring Monastery Mentor and the other not, with a few more scattered in through the Top 64. Lands and Dragon Stompy also made a strong showing somewhat expectedly, likely thanks to their excellent matchup against both of the current top decks.

Typical of Legacy too was the smattering of interesting fringe decks that populated the rest of the Top 64. We’ll have a look at those in a moment. Nonetheless, although the Deathrite Shaman hell expected somewhat materialized (and Grixis Delver won the whole tournament in the hands of Duterte), there still looks to be non-Deathrite fair Blue decks available for consideration, particularly Miracles operating in the Blue-White control deck archetype space, with Infect also interestingly making a few appearances. Furthermore, non-Blue archetypes like Dragon Stompy (and other newer Stompy variants, like Soldiers and the artifact-based Steel Stompy), Lands and miscellaneous non-Blue combo like Turbo Depths also mean Brainstorm is not necessarily a necessity. Although I will admit, 3.5-colour fair Blue decks look to be at the top of the format so far. There is still definitely room to maneuver in terms of deck choice, and, as always, mastering your particular deck within Legacy can bring something unique to the top tables.

Top 8

Let’s look a bit closer at the Top 8:

Deck Player Placing
Grixis Delver Daniel Duterte 1
BUG Control Jeremy Dezani 2
Lands Sam Black 3-4
Miracles Daniel Keaton 3-4
Grixis Delver Noah Walker 5-8
Czech Pile Steve Rubin 5-8
Miracles Luke Purcell 5-8
Maverick Miranda Keith 5-8

The Grixis, 4c Control, and Lands lists were as stocky as expected, and the Monastery Mentor-touting Miracles list of Keaton Wood aligns itself very closely to the Back to Basics lists we’ve seen a la Jim Davis. Luke Purcell’s however, draws from recent innovations mentioned in Rugved’s article on The Library at Pendrell Vale, the addition of Preordain and Vendilion Clique.

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I do find the lack of Search for Azcanta in the main deck a bit odd, however, especially with only a single Predict to recoup card advantage with, but I can certainly understand Gideon, Ally of Zendikar as an excellent bomb against Pile. The addition of Preordain also makes all the random singletons much more impressive as well because the deck is being churned through at a faster pace than most typical Miracles lists.

I’m not sure if I can get on board with the sixty-one card main deck though…

Jeremy Dezani, the French pro, also brought a somewhat innovative take on the Czech Pile deck. We’ve seen it a few times in the past, but this is perhaps the highest profile finish it’s found. I present, BUG Pile:

Unlike Pile, the leaner mana base gives this somewhat of a tempo aspect, being able to fit in Wasteland and some proactive True-Name Nemesis. Dezani also makes a big statement by playing three Abrupt Decay, addressing a big hole in many of the Pile decks, particularly in game one – a vulnerability to enchantments. Current Miracles lists are exploiting this with a smattering of Back to Basics, Counterbalance and Search for Azcanta, but Dezani does not have that issue. Furthermore, Grixis Delver lists running Spell Pierce have been exploiting Pile’s removal being relatively expensive – especially Kolaghan's Command. Decay has no issue with Pierce. Of course, being in BUG opens up issues with planeswalkers (particularly Jace) but True-Name and discard can hopefully make that less of an issue.

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Bitterblossom we have seen getting quite a bit of traction in BUG sideboards these days, and Life from the Loam everyone knows I’m quite a bit of a fan of. Loam is certainly a big upside to playing a pure BUG list that can include Wasteland. Waste-lock is the real deal, as is effectively Ancestral Recalling thanks to Loam + Brainstorm or Jace.

Miranda Keith’s Maverick list is notable mainly because… It’s Maverick. The deck is looking like more and more of a contender these days, especially compared to its cousin Death & Taxes. Miranda chose a pretty tight tutor package, only finding room for Ramunap Excavator and Tireless Tracker in terms of spicy one-ofs, and packed all the essential four-ofs (Thalia and Deathrite). Maze of Ith and Gaea's Cradle are some flex lands that found their way into the deck too. Cradle I’ve never been a huge fan of – dumping mana into Zenith is nice, but there’s not really too much else it can do in terms of utility – but Maze I think it’s an excellent additional piece of pseudo-removal. In the sideboard we see the typical fair, with the Black splash capitalized on for combo hatred and the excellent Zealous Persecution. I’m also a fan of Sigarda, Host of Herons as a big end game Zenith bomb, though other creatures like Titania, Protector of Argoth are equally acceptable.

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Top 16

There’s one deck I want to highlight from the Top 16 in particular. And man is it a spicy one from Matt Nass – it’s Reanimator Depths, with quite a twist.

Not only is the Depths combo here, but so is the Tin Fins combo, using Children of Korlis to keep the Griselbrand happy and healthy. And it’s all tied together by something somewhat unseen in Reanimator Depths – Living Wish.

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This gives the deck access to a huge angle of attack by finding either part of the Depths combo and finding Children of Korlis or Griselbrand to then bin with a Cabal Therapy, Unmask, Thoughtseize or Lion's Eye Diamond. Speaking of LED, Living Wish is also exceptional with it in a similar way to how TES uses Burning Wish. Crack that LED for BBB and go get that Hexmage to thaw out a monster…

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Some other fantastic targets include Loyal Retainers, allowing Wish to essentially transform into another reanimation spell, Laboratory Maniac to “complete” the Tin Fins kill (just keep drawing cards…), and Reclamation Sage for destruction of Rest in Peace or Cage.

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Silent Gravestone is also an incredible card in the sideboard of these decks not utilizing Reanimate. Shallow Grave and Exhume don’t target, so Gravestone is free to nullify all those Surgicals and Deathrites.

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I think this is perhaps the most innovative list to come out of GP Seattle, and I’m sure there’s some tuning to be done in this space. Collective Brutality, for starters, feels like it should be somewhere in this list. There’s also some exciting things brewing with Griselbrand and Magus of the Mind over on The Source.

Infect is also an exciting deck to see at the top tables once more. It’s in a tough place – the multi-pronged attack of Grixis Delver is tough to handle, as is the mountain of removal from Pile. I think it’s a reasonable GP choice though – it has its free wins (with countermagic) so it can cut through the early bizarre decks one may face in the early rounds. I also think Miracles growing presence is a great sign for Infect, which has always had a favorable matchup there.

There’s also ways to address those tough matchups, which James definitely found place for in his sideboard. The three enchantments – the two Shapers' Sanctuary and singleton Sylvan Library – cannot be destroyed by Pile (unless they find their scant Decays) or Grixis Delver, and can lead to insurmountable advantage. Sanctuary in particular can be hell. The main deck Dryad Arbor I also like, with main deck Diabolic Edict appearing often in Pile (and even now a Grixis Delver list!).

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Top 64

Denis got killed by Maverick in unspectacular fashion on camera (it’s like we’ve back in 2012!) but his list certainly is right up my ally, especially the inclusion of Predict in the main deck which apparently served him well. He has gone with seven removal spells and hedged in different directions with them – a Dismember for Angler and co., a Dead // Gone for small creatures and Marit Lages and a Forked Bolt to clean up Pyromancer. There’s more where that came from in the sideboard too, with Denis opting out of sweepers like Rough // Tumble for simply more removal. Denis also interestingly trimmed Stifle to three which I could certainly see as feasible, especially to make room for removal. Stifle looks very lackluster when a Deathrite is sitting on the table.

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Denis’ artifact destruction split also is interesting – gone is the two-for-one, but somewhat narrow Ancient Grudge and instead the Naturalize with slight upside and Abrade have made their way into the list. I can certainly understand this logic – RUG does not really pride itself on card advantage, and rather being able to deal with whatever is there to keep the tempo flowing.

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Not sure I can agree on this singleton Leyline of the Void though…

Shout-outs to The Brainstorm Show’s Wilson Hunter for taking this exciting Grixis Control list to a strong finish. You can hear a bit about it in their recent episode, particularly the inclusion of Chandra, Torch of Defiance as a sideboard bomb (similar to cards like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in Miracles, I imagine). Unlike many other Pyromancer-based control lists, Deathrite Shaman has been include in this list, and I’m sure the aim here is to be the most busted Pyromancer/Probe/Therapy list possible. Also note – three Blood Moon in the sideboard. Time to get em’, especially the Pile decks with little ways to deal with such a card.

Soldier Stompy at it again. Just like previous lists, Aerial Responder is the big addition to deal with Delvers and also provide some evasion. Palace Jailer also has quite a focus in this list as a card advantage machine, findable via Recruiter of the Guard. As always though, this deck somewhat lives and breathes on resolving a Chalice or the incredibly disruptive Suppression Field.

Trial Winners

Before we wrap up, let’s highlight some of the trial-winning deck lists also from Wizards coverage.

The “stock” Spell Pierce version of Grixis Delver popularized by Bob Huang… Isn’t even being played by Bob! Rather, his list is taking a deeper dive into Pyromancer territory, trimming a True-Name to the sideboard and removing Pierces for an additional Pyromancer and two main deck Therapies. I can imagine that this is simply the next “level” for the deck to go. Pierces were an adaptation for the Pile matchup, but now that they’re a known quantity, they lose a bit of value. And so we go back in circles to this version.

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An interesting trim of Lion's Eye Diamond which I have seen before. Lion's Eye Diamond (and Breakthrough are some of the most busted cards in the deck but they can be quite high-variance and all-in. More consistent options like Putrid Imp and Street Wraith have been included here, especially useful to fuel the full four Ichorids. If going down this route though, I’m not sure I agree with the inclusion of the Dread Return package – if you’re trimming LEDs you’re definitely committing more so to the derpy beat down plan than “comboing out”.

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In the sideboard, this is not the first time we have seen Force of Will, but here it is again – but without Prized Amalgam available to this deck it looks a little weak in terms of Blue count. I’m surprised Crypt is also found in the sideboard here. In looking for any form of gravehate I think Silent Gravestone is the way to go for not only its ability to hate Reanimator but also fight Surgical and Deathrite.

Nothing spectacular to see here… Except a new draw (and mana!) engine in the form of Azor's Gateway!

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Not only does the Gateway let you filter your draws, something only really available cheaply via Smuggler's Copter, the variety of mana costs in this deck mean that there’s definitely a capacity to flip it into a mana engine that… Can cast all your giant Eldrazi for the tap of a single land. That’s quite a bit of ramp! Not to mention it can activate very quickly with the aid of Voltaic Key as well.

Reanimator variants got quite a bit of love at Seattle, and the Trial showed this too. This version is a little less all-in than other variants we’ve seen of Mono-Black Reanimator in the past, however, utilizing Liliana of the Veil, Hymn to Tourach and Collective Brutality, very powerful fair cards, to destroy the opponent’s resources and then carve away a win – whether it be via reanimating a monster or simply using a pile of mana to cast Grave Titan, be it from Rituals or Lake of the Dead.

Conclusion

That wraps us up for this week! Join me next week as we look at a little of the recent SCG Classic and a few other smaller events.

As always, links!

  • Mr. Mengucci has some more Legacy - this time playing Red-White Imperial Taxes! Find that at CFB.
  • Friends from Adelaide, Australia have some commentated videos! Find those here.
  • Eternal Durdles talk about Seattle and DRS on their new episode.
  • Julian has an article helping those playing Elves in Seattle - but I think it's pretty essential reading for any little green men aficionados. Find that at itsjulian.com.
  • Jasper and Tom Kellock run through a League with Mono-Blue Painter - find that at The Library at Pendrell Vale!
  • BBD talks about the five Legacy cards you should be playing - find that TCGPlayer.

‘Til next time.

Sean Brown

Email: sean_brown156@hotmail.com
Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I’m Playing This Week

Find Admiral_arzar’s report here, fighting his way into the Top 8 of one of the Legacy PTQ’s run after the main event of Seattle. The big benefit of Painter over traditional Dragon Stompy is, I guess, the ability to Blast and destroy a variety of permanents and, of course, combo out of nowhere. The deck’s fair plan is also excellent thanks to Imperial Recruiter finding either Goblin Welder for shenanigans or bombs like Pia and Kiran Nalaar. This might be the way to take Blood Moon Stompy decks soon, as they will be taken down a peg with the Dominaria rules changes to Chandra and Fiery Confluence's ability to pressure planeswalkers. Let’s hope the paint stays alive!

The Spice Corner

Who doesn’t love a good ol’ Standstill? I like how piscano decided on utilizing Lightning Bolt to close out the game but also capitalized on Black removal like Kolaghan's Command and Diabolic Edict. Also, Weaver of Lightning in the sideboard. Neat.


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