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This Week in Legacy: GP Vegas Wrap-Up

This Week in Legacy we wrap-up the biggest Legacy event in quite some time, the Legacy portion of GP Vegas! There was certainly some amazing developments throughout the weekend, including piles and piles of Legacy coverage to look through, new technology to adapt moving forward and the clearest picture of where the metagame is going so far.

I'll also give a brief rundown of the Australian Eternal Weekend I previewed a bit with the interview last week, along with highlight some interesting lists from the recent Legacy Challenges that have gone by.

GP Vegas

Top 64

The first thing we'll jump into is a breakdown of the Top 64 from GP Vegas. Sadly, Wizards have only posted the Top 16 lists of the event (you can find those on Goldfish here) but in true Legacy community fashion many have banded together on The Source to fill out the unknown archetypes down to the Top 64 for a more comprehensive perspective. A huge shout-out to Bob Huang, who started up The Source thread, Callum Smith for spreading around the word, and the many contributors who made a Top 64 breakdown a reality; the Legacy community is truly amazing. I'd be on the look out for Bob's post-Vegas breakdown that I'm sure he's working on for Channel Fireball at some stage. Find the Top 64 thread here.

The Top 64 was expectedly dominated by the number one deck in the format - Grixis Delver, with eleven spots in Top 64, as predicted by May's statistics that we looked at last week.

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The deck is a perfect GP deck for both seasoned Legacy veterans and general grinders. The deck's flexibility (such as choosing between Cabal Therapy or Stifle main) and the variety of angles in terms of disruption and threats that Red-Blue-Black provides makes it a solid deck going into an open field. It is certainly the deck everyone should have (and likely did have) on their radars moving forward.

The next three decks were somewhat unexpected based on how previous statistics had fallen out. Bant Deathblade, Sneak & Show, and Elves proved to have equal prominence in the Top 64 with five slots each.

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Bant Deathblade has risen to prominence after its sterling performance at MKM Frankfurt and on Magic Online, being the next level fair deck above Grixis Delver. Its wealth of mana dorks lets it easily push through mana denial from Delver, and its bombs of Stoneforge Mystic, True-Name Nemesis, and Leovold, Emissary of Trest are very hard for most fair decks to beat once resolved. However, the deck can struggle against combo pre-board, but has a wealth of options in its sideboard fifteen due to spanning four colors. Unlike similar midrange decks like 4c Control, Bant Deathblade has an incredibly proactive gameplan that can decimate the variety of random decks in the format, and I'm sure this was appreciated in a field as wide as the GP.

Elves similarly would've been able to munch on the huge amount of Delver and any midrange decks due to it ability to grind via Glimpse of Nature and Wirewood Symbiote/Elvish Visionary. It also can decimate random decks thanks to the "I win" button of Natural Order. It has a terrible time against combo, and there's a pretty miserable match of Reid Duke on Elves against Sneak & Show, which is a little heartbreaking, that got covered. Although May's statistics showed Elves not quite reaching the hype initially claimed for it post-Top, GP Vegas proved that without the shackles of Counterbalance/Top, Elves is now free to tussle with the best decks in the format.

The big "pure" combo deck of the tournament was Sneak & Show. Always present in big events due to its sheer power that can easily out muscle whatever things opponents are doing in early rounds, it's also a perfect choice for those less acquainted with the Legacy format. Having an incredibly proactive gameplan means there's very few cards that you actually have to care about, and this appeal likely led to many grinders picking it up. Like many events prior, I'd be expecting most of the lists to be on the hybrid version featuring Omniscience.

The most interesting change was the absence of one other combo deck in the entire Top 64 - Storm.

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The deck failed to place any players there, though I'm sure there'd be some down to the Top 128. Nonetheless, Storm likely had a big target on its head being the second-most represented deck on Magic Online, and players came thoroughly prepared. The deck can also collapse in the early rounds to very weird stuff, like Dragon Stompy decks or other combo-hating brews. It's nonetheless a very surprising result, especially since Storm pre-ban showed at least some numbers in Top 64s of prior tournaments.

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BUG Delver, 4c Loam, Death & Taxes and Miracles followed after. BUG Delver has seen a huge loss in its equity thanks to Grixis being the variant of choice, but the tap-out power of Hymn to Tourach will always be worth something, and Tombstalker is still a monstrous threat, especially at breaking apart Delver mirrors. The non-Blue fair choices of 4c Loam and Death & Taxes are also still doing well. Loam has continued to achieve ever since its nascency, and with a diverse package of mana denial, toolbox cards, the grind of Bob and the disruption of Chalice it's always going to have reasonble game against the field. Death & Taxes is the true starlet of GP Vegas, which I'll move to talking about once we reach our Top 8.

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Many thought GP Vegas as the big debut of Miracles, but sadly none were able to make it to the Top 8, despite great players like Sam Roukas well into contention as Day Two was finishing up and two players finishing 9-0 with the deck at the end of Day 1. It did make its way on to camera, twice, and the power and the durdle of Jace and Predict was on display for all to see. The deck seems to of settled into a very solid Tier 1.5-2 option that requires a fair bit of mastery to take it all the way to the top. It's nonetheless the real deal, and I expect it to be popping up in tournaments around the globe and certainly making some Top 8s.

Looking at some of the decks in the "Other" category, Grixis Control has continued to push itself as a powerful "bigger brother" than its Delver peer. Pierre Dagen brought a very exciting version of the deck (from what I hear, it's been popularized by European mastermind Lejay after his finishes on Magic Online) featuring zero copies of Deathrite and only Pyromancer, Angler and a tantalizing suite of disruption, cantrips, removal, and Jace.

I really like this list's philosophy. All the threats in the deck are either unkillable (Angler, other than to Plow) or create value in some way (Pyromancer). The lightning rod of Deathrite is avoided for good reason. I also like the huge swathe of cantrips this deck has to fuel multiple Anglers, and the Probe/Therapy core is as disruptive as ever. Explosives and Jace mop up any other problems. 

This super-lean zero Ponder Stoneblade list also made it to the Top 16 of the tournament. A huge twenty-four lands, four-ofs of all the major creature threats in the deck and a well-rounded and flexible removal and counter suite signify this deck wanting to make land drops and hold up mana, eventually reaching an end game of sledgehammering the opponents with Stoneforge, True-Name, or Jace. Despite the pure Blue-White mana base, there is no cute stuff like Back to Basics, just Wasteland to punish opposing mana if needed. A really interesting build, and I'd be keen to see this streamlined list in action even more after its finish here and at a previous smaller event.

Death's Shadow also made its presence felt within the hands of pro Josh Utter-Leyton (well known for his shadowing in Modern). Josh brought a list purely Blue-Black without Deathrite Shaman, and instead capitalized on a lean threat base of Delver, Shadow and Angler, along with Stifle, Daze and Force of Will for disruption. It feels almost RUG Delver-like, in some ways, though a lack of Lightning Bolt is something to miss. Having both Angler and Shadow as monstrous, fast to deploy threats is pretty amazing, however, and it looks like there's definitely room for Shadow to grow in Legacy.

Top 8

The Top 8 broke down as below:

Deck Player Placing
Death & Taxes Andrew Calderon 1
UR Delver Jonathan Semeyn 2
Grixis Delver Chris Iaali 3
Lands Jody Keith 4
RUG Delver Patrick Tierney 5
Grixis Delver Samuel Thamaratnam 6
4c Control Jacob Haversat 7
Sneak & Show Daniel Cathro 8

The death of Death & Taxes was truly overstated, with Andrew Calderon taking first place with very-stock mono-White D&T!

Replacing a Spirit of the Labyrinth with a single basic Plains makes the main deck exactly like my classic mono-White list. I definitely don't like going to twenty-two lands in a deck so mana-hungry as Death & Taxes (if anything, I've always felt like 23.5 lands is the perfect number of lands in the deck but D&T can "cheat" on lands via Aether Vial). I also don't feel like one Containment Priest and Ethersworn Canonist is feasible. Having them as silver bullets is nice and all, but you often don't want to tutor these up and instead desire them in your opener against fast combo decks. Three Rest in Peace also seems like a lot, especially with BUG Delver not as prominent and that being the only true "fair" matchup where it's broadly applicable.

It's interesting to see Gideon, Ally of Zendikar so prominently in the sideboard. He was an excellent bomb against Miracles pre-Top, and I suppose his applications are still reasonable against 4c Control and the new Miracles lists. Though I wouldn't mind seeing a Jailer somewhere in the seventy-five.

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Sword of Light and Shadow I've always had somewhat mixed feeling about. It's an excellent card at breaking apart the mirror, and is powerful against Swords to Plowshares matchups. I'm sure it could be strong against the Bant Deathblade lists running around in particular. However, returning a creature from the graveyard is often irrelevant in matchups where the protection from White shines... It's a bit conflicting. Nonetheless, I like seeing a fourth piece of equipment, be it SoLaS, WaP, or FoF.

Nonetheless, Andrew's run through what he described as a sea of Delver and Sneak & Show sounds like heaven... But definitely shows that Death & Taxes is very much a top contender in its stock mono-White form. Maybe there's no need for the radical splashes. Maybe the metagame has settled into a place where Death & Taxes is ready to prey once again on the Brainstorm players of Legacy once more!

Speaking of Brainstorm players, Andrew vanquished all three Delver players in the Top 8 in convincing fashion. One of which was a somewhat older version of Blue-Red Delver (not utilizing any new Soul-Scar Mage or Cryptic Serpent) sporting a Thunderous Wrath (that Jonathan Miracle'ed quite a bit on coverage, nice!). Another was a typical Grixis Delver deck. But one gave hope to all us Mongooses around the world. Patrick Tierney brought the RUG back to life, with RUG Delver making Top 8 in his hands. And everyone rejoiced!

Like many of us, Patrick modified his creature base, diminishing the numbers of dumb Green idiots and opting for two True-Name Nemesis over two Tarmogoyf. But the rest of his list remained very traditional. He did utilize a whole seven removal spells (four Lightning Bolt, two Dismember and one Forked Bolt) trimming into his counterspell suite. I also like the implementation of Sulfuric Vortex and Grim Lavamancer in the sideboard. But above all I like to see Nimble Mongoose in a Top 8. Battle on, little buddy, don't let that Elf Shaman get you down. Let the real Mongoose hours continue!

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4c Control by Jacob Haversat featured the usual mish-mash of cards, but interestingly incorporated the seemingly-antiquated Tasigur, the Golden Fang into his deck. With Death & Taxes on a so-called "decline" however, I can understand his decision, especially the value Tasigur can accrue with Snapcaster Mage, Kolaghan's Command and other shenanigans in the works. Jody Keith's Lands list is a little more interesting, mainly because of the sideboard tech it incorporated:

Yes, once again, we see Drop of Honey.

The hype of Lands players have pushed this Arabian Nights card to new pinnacles of price, with good reason, I suppose, with it being on-color efficient creature control, especially against Delver decks and Death & Taxes.

Jody also incorporated Ancient Tomb into his main deck (perhaps to free up sideboard slots, as it's mainly used hand-in-hand with the Sphere effects post-board), a full set of Ghost Quarter over Rishadan Port and the new cycle land Sheltered Thicket.

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GP Vegas I'm sure was an amazing event for many, and has revealed a lot on where the Legacy metagame is going. But it's also raised a lot of questions. Is Death & Taxes truly still in the upper echelons of the format? Has Storm dropped the ball? Is there more for Miracles to do before it becomes a true top deck? Will Grixis Delver ever be superseded? Is RUG Delver still awesome (yes, yes it is)? All these I'm sure are to be unraveled, with only more questions to come aswell, as the Legacy metagame keeps chugging along.

Magic Online Legacy Challenges

There's been two Challenges that need to be covered too. The first we'll look it will be the one from 18/06/17. Find the full breakdown here and the Top 8 here:

18/06/17 Legacy Challenge

Deck Player Placing
Turbo Depths DNSolver 1
Miracles ItIsUnfair 2
Grixis Delver egadd284 3
Turbo Depths Negator77 4
Punishing Dack Clashed 5
Big Eldrazi J.A.Eliso 6
Elves Mou 7
4c Control jhk_ 8

DNSolver has always been known for his work on degenerate combo decks, be it Red-Black Reanimator or Turbo Depths, the latter of which he took to first place. With a few new innovative spins:

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S-S-Sylvan Safekeeper! Olle Rade himself is here to defend the indestructible 20/20 from Swords to Plowshares and other problems. A full three Sylvan Library also give the deck a huge ability to grind through White removal and draw piles of cards after Marit Lage gets Plowed.

J.A.Eliso brought a deck to a strong finish that has looked to be off the radar for a bit of time. Big Eldrazi aimed to ramp a bit quicker than the more typical variants to bring Miracles lists to their knees, as Ulamogs and Kozileks allow complete inevitability. I'm not sure what niche this deck quite settles into currently, but I'm sure its still a fearsome contender. Turn three Ulamog is no joke.

11/06/17 Legacy Challenge

Deck Player Placing
4c Control motr3d 1
Tezzerator MrBlueSky 2
UR Delver managed_care 3
Merfolk Nikachu 4
UR Delver ur_frst 5
Eldrazi Stompy blastoids 6
Infect Gainsay 7
BR Reanimator ReinardBR 8

MrBlueSky truly, as the name suggests, is a pretty open-minded person, coming to the Challenge with Grixis Tezzerator:

A Planeswalker Stompy deck one would say, but the powerful, adorable combo of Liquimetal Coating and Dack Fayden is also here to steal anything of the opponent!

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MrBlueSky has also opted out of the Mind Sculptor for Daretti, Ignenious Iconoclast, who synergises perfectly as a repetitive removal spell with all the artifacts lying around in this list. This list is actually, despite how it looks, one of the leaner Tezzerator lists I've seen and looks very promising.

Gainsay, Andrew Cuneo, has been quietly but persistently pushing Infect to strong finishes within the Challenges. He's opted for Blossoming Defense in his main deck continuously, as well as always bringing a Green Sun's Zenith to the table. His mana base is also somewhat interesting - running seven fetchlands and only three fetchable duals, likely a concession to fueling Become Immense. A full four sideboard Swords to Plowshares are also an interesting staple of his, letting him carve through fair matchups quite easily, especially pesky Deathrite Shamans in the way of Glistener Elf.

Eternal Masters Australia – Legacy

As I mentioned last week, the Legacy portion of Australian's Eternal Weekend went by. The Top 8 lists are here, but to summarize:

Deck Player Placing
Sneak & Show Patrick Robertson 1
Ad Nauseam Tendrils Michael Webb 2
Team Australia Steven Stamopoulos 3-4
Sneak & Show Thomas Selitto 3-4
RUG Delver Brendan Watson 5-8
Food Chain Graham King 5-8
4c Control Trent Clarke 5-8
Shardless BUG Lewis Adams 5-8

We had a look at Patty's relatively stock Sneak & Show last week, but I'd like to highlight the Delver decks that were in this Top 8 because they were very different to what's typically seen:

I've been harping on about Steve and my own Delver variants, but after my unimpressive performance of 1-3 "drop and do text coverage" I think we clearly know the winner of that. Team Australia is truly proving that Tombstalker is a force that needs to be respected and should be deeply considered over Anglers in lists that can accommodate him. I'd be looking to finding room for Tombstalker in the Grixis Control lists, for example. Across the day I saw Tombstalker slam across boards of True-Names and Tarmogoyfs squabbling; it is truly worth the mana base consideration of Badlands for its evasive power. There's also a lovely fellow smashing Greg Hatch (love you Greg, you madman!) on camera at GP Vegas with Team Australia somewhere too, with Stalker flying over a stalled board of Fish. I'm truly proud of Steve vindicating his creation with his own impressive performance in one of Australia's larger events and it spreading across the world. So cheers to a good ol' Tombstalker backed up by Lightning Bolts, it's one of the finer pleasures in life. Find Steve's heart-warming report of his Top 4 here.

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Paralleling Patrick Tierney's success with RUG at Vegas, Brendan Watson also took RUG Delver to Legacy Masters, which seems to honestly be a recurring trend (2015 had three RUG Delvers in Top 8... So we're pretty RUG mad down under). His most interesting piece of technology is main deck Flusterstorm, which I think is a really impressive call, especially in Melbourne's very Sneak & Show-heavy metagame. He also has a four-pack of terrifying late-game three-drops in the sideboard - two Sulfuric Vortex and two True-Name Nemesis. Brendan has his own report of winning Vintage with an unpowered Blue-Red Delver list, and Top 8ing with RUG, here.


Legacy is in a pretty amazing place right now. With a GP just wrapping up, some new tech under our belts and a clearer direction on the metagame's trajectory, it's time to get brewing, tuning and jamming the greatest of Magic's formats.

As always, here's some stuff from content creators around the web:

Next week, we'll look at some of the applications of spoiled cards from Hour of Devastation and the leaks out of Ixalan. There's a lot to cover!

'Til then!

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I'm Playing This Week

Last week I jammed Bomberman to a wonderful 3-1 finish at my weekly, defeating Grixis Delver and BUG Delver handily (in Game One I killed them both on Turn Two... How nice!) and beating Aluren via summoning my own Mentor for free via Aluren-ed in Imperial Recruiter. I lost to Storm due to drawing no action and them eventually finding a Hurkyl's Recall for my Canonist, Chalice, and on-board Tormod's Crypt. How sad. I think the deck has a huge amount of potential and I will be jamming it through tons of Legacy side events at GP Sydney this weekend. If you see me there, feel free to say hello! My current list looks like this:

Nahiri, the Harbinger has been an absolute monster and has grinded me through otherwise problematic matchups. There's a lot of work to be done against decks like Death & Taxes and 4c Control (Kolaghan's Command and Decay is... Ouch, but I think the deck's strong Delver matchup and relatively fast kill can work wonders overall. Although linear looking, it's more flexible than it appears.

After seeing all this RUG going around though... I'm keen to turn some Tarmogoyfs sideways. But I might try something a little weirder.

I'm sure this is not good, but that turbo-tempo feeling of casting a 4/5 Goyf and holding up a hard counter is very appealing. Denial may be unnecessary in a format as mana-tight as Legacy, but maybe half a Spell Pierce is reasonable? Or not. Nonetheless, this is my attempt to make "Goyf is bad against Fatal Push" less of an issue. But I'm more than happy to go back to my four Delver, four Goose and two Mandrill list. Nonetheless, after Masters I can finally give Deathrite Shaman (and hence winning) a break!

The Spice Corner

Whitefaces brought something exciting to the recent Challenge. I think this is the second time I've featured Ninja of the Deep Hours in this column, but this time he's partnered up with Standstill and Spellstutter Sprite!

Bashing someone under a Standstill with a Ninjutsued in Ninja sounds so dreamy~

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