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This Week in Legacy: I've Got the Eye of a Lion

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 into one of Legacy's older pillars of the format and decks that utilize it in different ways. That's right we're talking about Lion's Eye Diamond! In addition to that we've got an SCGCon event from Baltimore from this past weekend to discuss as well as two Challenges from over the weekend.

Next week we will do our set review of Dominaria United! This looks like an exciting set, so I'm curious to hear what you all think will be good for Legacy before my set review. Let me know in the comments!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Eye of the Lion

Legacy has quite a few various pillars that have become a long lasting part of the format. Cards such as Brainstorm and Wasteland have often been referred to as pillars (i.e. major cards that are built around as primary format strategies). One of those pillars is a card that was once thought to be utterly useless during its initial printing in Mirage, Lion's Eye Diamond.

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Lion's Eye Diamond (or LED for short) has been one of those cards in the Legacy format that has seen so many different functional uses over the history of the Legacy format. Initially this card's primary usage was with cards such as Infernal Tutor to achieve Hellbent for Storm based decks and for the longest time this card was relegated to Storm decks and Dredge decks because of its usage in discarding the hand for those decks.

These days however, LED has certainly transcended its initial functionality and has become a card that is used by a number of interesting decks and even in interesting ways. LED is one of my favorite cards because the use of such a wild card is always so interesting.

Before we get to looking at the various LED based decks in the current Legacy format, let's talk about the card itself. LED has a mana ability that has a timing restriction (which is a little weird yes) of only being able to be activated any time you could cast an instant. What this primarily does is not allow LED mana to be used as part of the mana payment portion of casting a spell/activating an ability. This makes the card require some workarounds in order to use the mana, which is what primarily many of the decks that utilize LED do.

That being said, let's take a look at some of the primary LED decks of the current format and how they use this card.

Storm Variants

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LED's most iconic usage has been historically with Storm based decks like ANT and The EPIC Storm. The usage of the card here has been to enable the power of cards like Infernal Tutor to make it into a functional Demonic Tutor but also to enable cards like Wishclaw Talisman and Echo of Eons. It also allows these decks to make more mana in response to a card like Burning Wish as well as being a zero mana value spell for Storm counts.

As far as Storm variants are concerned though, it's not just traditional Storm decks that are using this card. Newer variants of Storm based win condition decks such as Riddlesmith Combo are using it as well.

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In this deck, LED serves as more of a mana source than just enabling Echo of Eons to loop hands. It synergizes well with Containment Construct making the cards that are being discarded able to be actually cast and the mana actually useful. The card is also used as a Storm count enabler here as well.

Dredge / Graveyard Variants

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Another long-time mainstay of Legacy when it comes to LED variants, Dredge plays on a completely and utterly different axis than most other decks of the format, and uses LED as a way to pitch its hand so that it can begin using its namesake mechanic to win the game. It helps that LED makes three mana exactly in this deck, because it can then use mana generated by the card to flashback cards like Faithless Looting or to activate lands like Cephalid Coliseum.

While LED isn't truly required to play this deck as we have seen in the past, LED does make the deck incredibly more explosive on average and very much helps its game plan of being aggressive.

Speaking of aggressive though, while not a truly Dredge deck, the other deck in this space that utilizes LED is the Madness deck.

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Madness is one of the wilder decks in the format to use with LED, because it actually is utilizing LED mana to cast spells, from being able to cast spells like Anje's Ravager to escaping Ox of Agonas, this card casts these spells as it would spells in hand due to the usage of graveyard related abilities and the Madness mechanic itself. In addition, because hands are often pitched a lot with this deck, LED can also be used to help pump your Blazing Rootwalla and Basking Rootwalla, making it just an actual mana rock in this deck.

Other Combo Decks

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LED also has a lot of reputation as being a card that ties together various combo decks of the format that aren't Storm related. For example, mostly any deck with Echo of Eons in it is going to have LEDs in it to abuse that interaction with. The new Displacer Kitten decks that use Karn uses LED as a linchpin to generate a lot of mana quickly, and even decks like Painter can use the card to activate Grindstone with while welding in a Painter or something like that.

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Another common usage is with decks playing cards like Auriok Salvagers, as an infinite mana outlet that involves a kill with Walking Ballista.

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This functionality and the synergy between these cards and Urza's Saga is very helpful, since LED is a card that both be fetched off Saga and enhances Saga gameplay by sheer virtue of being an artifact in play.

Finally, this card also sees a measure of play here or there as a one-of in Doomsday.

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The primary usage of LED in this kind of deck is to actually interact with the piles that Doomsday makes. LED can be a mana source that puts a Thassa's Oracle into play by the sheer fact that it can be activated in response to the spell or ability that would draw the Oracle to hand.

And Many More

LED's usage on various axes is not just fully covered by these decks here. Every day we are seeing more and more innovation with various cards, and LED is one card that is often used heavily in innovative deckbuilding. While it's primarily a combo card at heart, being used to fuel aggressive decks too is a very unique and interesting part of the format, and I believe there is not another card in the format quite like it.

SCGCon Baltimore Legacy 5K 8/21

This past weekend was a large paper event in Baltimore at SCG Con! This event was a 5K event, and it had 115 players in it! Quite a turnout overall!

You can find the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

We had a good number of Unknown Decks in this event, largely because these are decks that were likely paper decklists that were turned into the TO at the event and they never got typed up and put into MTGMelee. This can possibly skew things slightly depending on what those decks are, so we have to sort of take this data with a grain of salt just a bit. While I wish we had more complete data like this, these things do happen with paper events.

That being said, UR Delver was certainly popular and looked to have a reasonable win rate based on the sample size.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Jeskai Delver 1st Kyle Lerch
Elves 2nd Eli Kassis
8Cast 3rd Kiet Ngo
Painter 4th Jack Kitchen
Standstill 5th Brian Coval
Death and Taxes 6th Jacob Luskin
UR Delver 7th Jay Wojciechowski
Reanimator 8th Cyle Yambo

This is a solid Top 8. Quite a bit of interesting decks here. At the end of the event it was Jeskai Delver that took it all down.

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This is quite an interesting list and really reminds me of lists from folks like Robert Wilson. No DRC is interesting, but the red splash is really mainly just a splash and Murktide is the real meat and potatoes.

The Second Place finalist was Eli Kassis on Elves.

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This is more of a traditional combo-focused Nettle Sentinel build, mixing in a bit of Once Upon a Time as a way to locate cards. Definitely a nice-looking list!

Also in this Top 8 we've got Jack Kitchen, a very well known Painter player on Painter of course!

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This list is really strong looking. The single copy of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is really cool, letting you pitch stuff to the graveyard in the second chapter to weld back in. Really solid-looking list overall.

Further down this Top 8 we have our good friend Brian Coval on SHARK STILL.

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Currency Converter is such an incredibly powerful card for these kinds of decks with all the cycling cards and especially with Timeless Dragon getting a land at the same time as creating a 2/2 off Converter. This is a solid looking list for sure.

Legacy Challenge 8/20

This past weekend's first Challenge was the early morning Saturday event. This event had 60 players in it, thanks to the partial data we were able to get through the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the incomplete datasheet here. Unfortunately due to technical issues we were not able to get a full data set for this event. With that said let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UR Delver 1st _INF_
Yorion Zenith 2nd McWinSauce
Reanimator 3rd snoopy-magic
Sneak and Show 4th Snapcaster-Bolt
Cephalid Breakfast 5th sora1248
GW Depths 6th wara
Jeskai Control 7th helvetti
Red Stompy 8th yPrincipe

Definitely a pretty varied Top 8 here overall. At the end of the event though it was UR Delver that took it all down.

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Definitely a very stock UR Delver list here. Very clean overall and looks quite powerful.

The Second Place finalist was on Yorion Zenith.

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There's a lot of power in these lists, and the toolbox nature of them makes them very adaptable to a lot of situations. Furthermore, it's a solid deck versus a lot of the Wasteland strategies in the format due to the fact that it's extremely basic land heavy.

Further down the Top 8 we've got Yorion Breakfast.

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This list is really strong and clean. Kaldra really devours a lot of decks so it's great to see it here as a solid backup plan. Kataki, War's Wage in the sideboard is a super sick inclusion versus the artifact decks in the format for sure.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we've got Red Stompy.

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This is an incredibly clean looking list. Lot of strong cards here and some powerful game play. Unlicensed Hearse seems like such a great card for this deck.

Legacy Challenge 8/21

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Sunday event, which had 87 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

UR Delver again was the most popular deck, but it's performance was very lackluster in this event. Yorion Zenith had a great performance, as did Red Stompy.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Yorion Zenith 1st LuisMJ
Jeskai Control 2nd trunks132
Riddlesmith Combo 3rd Killabee
Death and Taxes 4th Bobovic
Depths Combo 5th Sommertroll
Hammer Time 6th CrusherBotBG
UR Delver 7th Taiko77
Colorless Cloudpost 8th Funnyman31399

This is a neat Top 8, with a good variety of decks represented. At the end of the event it was Yorion Zenith that won based on a split with the Second Place Finalist. Let's take a look.

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This deck is definitely incredibly powerful, and has a lot of flexible space on what it wants to fight against. It's definitely a super powerful deck.

As noted, the Second Place finalist in the split was Jeskai Control.

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This is an incredibly solid looking list. Mentor is a really powerful card in these Jeskai lists, and the utilization of Mystic Sanctuary with Expressive Iteration is really very powerful.

Also in this Top 8 we've got repeat Top 8 competitor Killabee on their signature deck, Riddlesmith.

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The biggest change to this list is the absence of Karn, the Great Creator and the expanded sideboard that includes some sideboard lands to enforce the post board games a bit better. It's definitely an interesting bit of deckbuilding for sure!

Further down the Top 8 we have Mono Black Depths.

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This list is very cool! The dual functions of cards like Karn into Helm combo as well as the Depths combo lend a very Two-Card Monte aspect to this deck. Very strong deck!

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 deck lists over here.

Painter with Once Upon a Time is awesome stuff.

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Lands with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is pretty groovy.

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RUG 8Mulch is pretty sweet.

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Fiend Artisan ELVES.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next week as we continue our journey into Legacy!

As always you can reach me at all my associated links via my Link Tree! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGLegacy Discord Server.

Until next time!

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