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This Week in Legacy: Leveling Up

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to talk about some tips and tricks you can use to learn to level up your play in Legacy. In addition to this we'll continue to keep an eye on upcoming community Legacy events, another hot deck focus, the Legacy Challenge on Magic Online, and as always The Spice Corner.

Level Up in Legacy

Last week I posted on Twitter asking for Legacy Masters to chime in on the subject of "leveling up" in Legacy: things that players either new to the format or established and looking to improve can do to learn more and level up their game. The response to the thread was fantastic, and thus I'm not going to really paraphrase too many of these, instead I'm going to go right to the masters themselves and share what they have to say on the subject.

Play More Legacy!

This is a pretty great piece of advice. One of the best ways to get ingrained in the commonality of Legacy and the format's intricacies is to play more Legacy. Practice can help make more of the format understandable when starting out. That being said, play games with purpose and generally with people you know and can talk to about the games as well. Simply playing more and more without taking the time to analyze and understand why certain game actions were taken can be problematic. That can cause situations where you might be tilted because of losing which might frustrate you further. If your goal is to take your game a little higher, play more but push more focused play than just random matches.

Don't Forget the Fundamentals

This is a really important piece of advice. Often we can get swept up on certain aspects of the format, but it is important to still recognize the fundamental basics of the game. Combat decisions can often be a big part of that if you're playing a Legacy deck that revolves around creatures, and occasionally as Jarvis indicates one of the best ways to reinforce these fundamentals is to play formats like Limited (Draft/Sealed) since they often involve those kinds of decisions. So even if you're aiming to play more Legacy, find some time foR Limited formats as well, as it might just open your eyes to possibilities you didn't know were possible before.

Know Your Cards and Your Deck

Knowing how to generally play your deck is a start to understanding the format, but as Lucksack Games mentions, it also helps to know all the little niche interactions that are involved in playing your deck. This can be anything from the plays that are already indicated to also just knowing how the cards in your deck interact with each other, especially if your deck includes a combo of some sort. Combo decks generally also require this to an extreme, since you should generally know how to perform the combo in question in order to win the game. Don't just assume that your opponent will concede to the presentation of a combo, be sure that you can perform it as well.

Furthermore, know what other cards in the format interact with your deck. This can lend a better understanding to matchups by allowing you to know what is important to your game plan and strategy.

Sequencing, Mapping, Sequencing!

One of the most important things to learn in Legacy is proper sequencing, and this can come down to even something as simple as fetching the wrong land on Turn 1 as Robert indicates. As Frank illustrates however, it can be important to slow down a bit and map out things ahead of time, figuring out how to develop a game plan and stick to it. Be especially understanding of some of the things Robert mentions as well, by being aware of the decks that play Wasteland and considering the implications of your manabase being attacked and how that will effect your game plan. Mana denial is an incredibly potent part of Legacy as a format, and knowing how to play around it (by either fetching for a basic or by even playing a deck that plays enough basics to be resilient to Wasteland).

Rely on Others

Legacy's learning curve can be difficult to pick up on at first, but that doesn't mean you should do it alone. There is a lot of merit in finding other Legacy players that have more experience and asking them for help in watching your play. As Cyrus indicates, a lot of bigger mistakes in the format come from interacting with the hand and the library. The biggest set of mistakes often come from the format's most defining card in Brainstorm. There are a huge amount of ways to properly resolve and make decisions with Brainstorm, and they're almost always all contextual. We could likely put down an entire article and then some on the subject, because every archetype that utilizes it approaches the use of it a little bit differently.

Furthermore, as our good friend Min mentions, one of the best ways to learn the format and to learn how best to beat certain strategies is to also play those strategies. This can really help your understanding in how those decks function and win, and further your understanding of how to beat those decks as well.

Also, as Cliffy indicates, if you don't know what matters in a specific matchup, talk to your opponent and ask their opinion of what they believe matters. While there's a possibility that you might get a different answer every time, you can often formulate an understanding based on your opponent's responses of what cards are important to the matchup.

Understand the Metagame

Matt brings up another really important thing to note. Local metagaming can often be pretty skewed and unlike formats like Modern where it really matters, in Legacy what matters most of all is knowing how to play your deck and your strategy. Build your deck with this in mind and not the local level and learn how to play the deck in the matchups as needed instead of selecting narrow sideboard cards for your local metagame. This will help you in the long run by providing you a solid basis and understanding of the overall metagame when you enter into either a larger event or even on Magic Online.

These were all great responses by some wonderful people, and I'm really appreciative of the insight these players have provided. We'll be continuing this trend by including a Level Up Lesson every week in this column from now on, where we'll be discussing the ins and outs of various interactions. This week's lesson will be on the interactions of Oko, Thief of Crowns and how it relates to various Legacy cards.

Level Up Lesson #1 - Oko and Layers and Timestamps, Oh My!

Oko offers yet another Humility-like effect to the format of Legacy, an effect that a lot of players are typically not used to despite the fact that actual Humility exists in the format. However, Humility sees basically zero play in the format, so Oko presents some rules conundrums that are sometimes difficult to grasp.

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The interaction between Tabernacle and Oko is one of the more common ones to appear in the format and this is all dependent on the concept of timestamps as to how the effect occurs.

  • Example 1: You have a Tabernacle in play already and you use Oko's +1 ability to turn one of your creatures into an Elk. The creature loses all of its abilities, and thus also loses the ability given to it by Tabernacle. You now have a creature that does not have a Tabernacle trigger attached to it.
  • Example 2: You have an Oko in play and use the +1 ability to turn an opponent's creature into an Elk. You then play a Tabernacle. Tabernacle grants all creatures the triggered ability, including the Elk that was just made. All creatures now have a Tabernacle trigger.

This can get confusing for sure, given that you can end up in a board state where there are creatures without triggers and those that do have it, based on the timestamp of when actions occurred. The important rule of thumb here is that timestamps matter and what order these cards are played in will determine how and whether the creature in question has a trigger or not.

Oko and the concept of Layers begins to get a little more muddy, specifically when you start looking at cards like Magus of the Moon and Painter's Servant.

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This is where things get a little tricky. For example, the effects of Magus of the Moon apply to the game in Layer 4 (which is Type-changing effects), but Oko has multiple layers of abilities from 4 to 7b here. Let's give an example of a common situation.


Your opponent casts a Magus of the Moon. Magus' ability turns all Nonbasic lands into Mountains on Layer 4. You thankfully have a Basic Forest and Island in play. You untap and cast Oko and use Oko's +1 ability on the Magus to turn it into a 3/3 Elk.

What happens?

Well, let's examine what happens in each relevant layer:

  • Layer 4: Magus of the Moon sets the type of all Nonbasic Lands to Mountains. Because of Rule 305.7 all nonbasics lose their abilities from their rules text and become subtype Mountains. Oko then takes effect and sets Magus of the Moon's type to "Creature" and its subtype to "Elk".
  • Layer 5: Oko makes Magus into a green creature.
  • Layer 6: Oko removes all abilities present on Magus.
  • Layer 7b: Oko sets Magus' Power/Toughness to 3/3.

The end result of this is a Magus of the Moon that is a green 3/3 Elk, and all Nonbasic Lands are also Mountains. Because the layers are applied at different points top down, Magus' ability is not removed from Magus until it has already applied. This means that all your Nonbasic Lands are still Mountains and will still have no abilities other than tapping for red.

Furthermore, the same is true of Painter's Servant whose effect takes place in Layer 5 (Color Changing Effects), except for the interesting caveat that Painter itself will end up turned green due to how the effects apply to the card. Example:

  • Layer 4: Oko sets Painter's type to "Creature" and its subtype to "Elk". This overwrites the existing type present and Painter stops being an Artifact.
  • Layer 5: Painter's Servant applies, making all cards the chosen color. Oko then sets the color of Painter to green.
  • Layer 6: Oko removes all abilities present on Painter.
  • Layer 7b: Oko sets Painter's Power/Toughness to 3/3.

The end result here is a green 3/3 Elk Painter's Servant, and everything else in play and not in play is whatever color that was selected for Painter.

This can be confusing at first, but is hyper relevant to using Oko to shut off part of the Painter's Servant / Grindstone combo, since the opponent will still be able to execute the combo even if Oko turns Painter into an Elk!

Community Legacy Update

We have a few items on the docket for Community Legacy efforts. Mostly I want to point out the efforts of the website Bolt the Bird. This site started as an effort to strengthen local Legacy by giving people a place to submit their events. So if you have an event you'd like to have show up on their calendar, please go over and submit it and help this site out!

Ryan Freeburger from Maryland reached out to me once again to advise that a 1K (labeled the Dice City Games Legacy Rumble VII) was held this past weekend for The Revised City Open at Dice City Games that I mentioned a little bit ago. He was able to provide some information on the Top 8 and everything!

Dice City Games Legacy Rumble VII

Deck Name Placing Player
4C Miracles 1st Adam Groose
Food Chain 2nd Lowell Bisio
Sneak and Show 3rd Kevin King
Punishing Maverick 4th Mark Strassman
Mono Red Prison 5th Matt Bessel
Lands 6th Sam Wiles
Grixis Delver 7th Virgilio Bisio
Hogaak 8th Lucas Allison

This event was won by 4C Miracles by Adam Groose, proving yet again that Oko is broko. This player opted to play Accumulated Knowledge over Ice-Fang Coatl in this list.

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Congrats to Adam on his finish!

Another list out of this Top 8 that jumped out at me was the Punishing Maverick list in 4th, mainly because it had a copy of Klothys, God of Destiny in it!

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Also worth noting is the copy of Cindervines in the sideboard here. Seems like a really sweet card right now given the advent of Jeskai Breach.

Dutch Open Series

Big shoutout to Kasper Euser who took down the Dutch Open Series Legacy Open on Grixis Breach Delver! You can check out the official announcement here and a sample decklist by Peter van der Ham over here.

Other Events

There is also a 5K coming up at Miniature Market in Missouri on May 2nd, 2020 with proceeds benefiting the NAMI charity. You can find pre-registration and information for that here.

Just remember that if there's an event you'd like me to cover/talk about, please don't hesitate to reach out!

Deck Focus - Reanimator

In keeping up with last week's theme of decks that are solid and relatively inexpensive entries into the Legacy format, we come to the world of Reanimator as our deck focus this week.

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Reanimator as a deck is one of the more powerful strategies in the entire format. The deck is balanced out by the fact that there are numerous methods of permanent graveyard hate (the best of which being Leyline of the Void) in addition to countermagic such as Force of Will. In days gone by, Reanimator itself used to play blue for Force and cards like Careful Study, however the advent of Deathrite Shaman changed the deck greatly as pilots ditched blue cards for red and cards like Faithless Looting and Chancellor of the Annex, preferring to go under most hate instead of trying to set up a reanimation spell with countermagic backup.

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The result of this simply showed what was true all along of this kind of strategy. Instead of trying to aim for a win and protect it, the deck simply evolved to trying to win before the opponent was ready to beat it. Combined with disruption in the form of free discard like Unmask and cheap discard like Thoughtseize, Reanimator can stick a threat on Turn 1 if not disrupted (and even then, they can simply make you discard your disruption) and win the game from there. Chancellor of the Annex does a powerful job of preventing spell based interaction and even on its own is a solid reanimation target that presents not only a clock but additional ongoing disruption to the opponent as well.

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The primary reanimation targets in this deck are Griselbrand and Chancellor of the Annex, but the deck includes several silver bullet cards for dealing with specific situations, such as cards like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Iona, Shield of Emeria. In addition, cards like Ashen Rider are a great catch all to various permanents. Cards like Magus of the Moon provide a very interesting way to attack other decks in the format, as generally the Reanimator player does not often care if its Nonbasic lands are Mountains in most matchups. This can give the Reanimator player a solid play against decks with particularly greedy manabases.

Furthermore, by splashing both red and green, the deck gains access to a few powerful effects in its sideboard, the best of which is Reverent Silence. This card can easily defeat an opposing Leyline simply by fetching for a Bayou and allowing the opponent to gain 6 life, which is a pittance compared to the opponent having the one card that stops your entire game plan. Not to mention, Silence is free at that point, which then frees up your mana in order to start kickstarting your reanimation strategy.

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This is a deck that sneak through the window, winning solely on the back of just keeping strong hands. However, that is often where the deck lacks in regards to variance. Hands have to have early plays in this deck, either from the best hands of Turn 1 threat to the least of hands which include just enough disruption to keep the opponent off balance while you dig to a creature threat. The London Mulligan in general improves this to an extent, by allowing the Reanimator player to sculpt their hand and set up an appropriate win in mulligans. However, this still does not prevent the deck from falling prey to simple variance.

While this deck is cheap by Legacy standards to generally build, the deck can be built cheaper still, providing the player with a means of entry into the format that can be built up to over time. The way that this is generally done is by dropping the color splashes of red/green for sideboard cards and utilizing a monoblack heavy version that also has the option of playing cards like Collective Brutality. Because these variants can be hard-pressed by permanent based graveyard hate, they often include alternative creature conditions that can be cast from hand, such as cards like Pack Rat. In addition, these variants will include creatures like Grave Titan that can be hard cast via Dark Ritual if needed.

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In short, this is a deck that can be built cheaply if need be, but is also a solid entry in the format and a deck that can have continual performance against most decks in the format. While it can sometimes suffer against permanent graveyard hate, its worst opponent is more or less itself by the way of mulligans and sequencing. Still, if you're looking for a deck that has a lower learning curve and is powerful, this is a great deck to start with Legacy.

Legacy Challenge 2/9

We had yet another Legacy Challenge on Magic Online this past weekend, so let's dive right into the thick of it!

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Eldrazi Aggro 1st Karatedom
RUG Delver 2nd SilviaWataru
Eldrazi Post 3rd Qernavak
Grixis Delver 4th ABombDiggity
U/R Delver 5th Condescend
Jeskai Underworld Breach 6th Arongomu
Eldrazi Post 7th Phill_Hellmuth
Oko Lands 8th _Pear

This is a very interesting challenge given that the theme of this Top 8 was basically Eldrazi vs Delver as three copies of three different Delver decks took on three copies of two different Eldrazi decks, with a smattering of Lands and Underworld Breach. In the end however, the spaghetti monsters won out as Karatedom took down the event on good old fashioned Eldrazi Aggro.

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There's no real tech to this list, it's just Sol Lands and sick beats from tentacle monsters all day backed up by Chalice of the Void. Can't go wrong with such a clean formula for victory!

In Second Place of the event we have RUG Delver playing four main deck Dreadhorde Arcanist.

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This list is also super clean and is also leaning on the power of free countermagic with 2x Force of Negation in addition to the Daze and Force of Will in the list.

In Third Place we've got another set of spaghetti monsters, this time on a grander scale and with the powerhouse that is Karn, the Great Creator in a Cloudpost variant.

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The raw power and speed of this kind of list can't be denied really. It's very strong, and the inclusion of Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is really great.

Rounding out the Top 4, we have Grixis Delver!

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The biggest change here from a few of the other Grixis lists kicking about is the inclusion of Gurmag Angler over something like Bedlam Reveler, and to be honest that is probably fine. Angler feels often way easier to cast since Delve is a little easier to find cards for over Reveler's cost reduction. The downside is that you're not getting Ancestral Recall with your creature, but that's fine in most cases where Angler is great.

Looking down at the bottom of the Top 8, we have a showing by Lands on a more Oko + BUG spells focus.

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This is basically just Lands but instead of Punishing Fire and Gamble you get stuff like Oko, Abrupt Decay, and Sylvan Library. Seems pretty powerful indeed.

Now let's take a look at how many 2020 cards appear in this event's Top 32. Remember, this only includes currently cards from Theros: Beyond Death.

Card Name Number of Cards
Underworld Breach 20
Thassa's Oracle 4
Soul-Guide Lantern 2
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 2
Ox of Agonas 1

It's really interesting seeing cards like Uro show up. It seems that the card is much better than it looks on paper and is pretty powerful indeed. I know people that have played it have enjoyed the card immensely. In addition as always as I expect, the top card of 2020 sofar is Underworld Breach, with a few of the Breach decks showing up in this challenge.

This is certainly interesting to keep track of and I will continue to do so for 2020 as long as we continue to get new and interesting cards coming down the pipeline.

Around the Web

  • Phil Gallagher of Thraben University posted a sweet 5-0 on Enchantress featuring Klothys, God of Destiny and Destiny Spinner! Check it out over here.
  • Steven and Lawrence had a great cast this past week, primarily focusing on Pioneer but had some great Legacy talk in it as well. Check it out here!
  • Leaving a Legacy had their Open Champion Freya Sanford on the cast this past week as well. You can check it out here.
  • CardMarket Paris streamed Legacy this past weekend as part of their Paris series. You can find all the VODs at their Twitch channel.

The Spice Corner

Thassa's Oracle seems to slot into just about everything as evidenced by this week's Spice. First off we have Cephalid Breakfast, a deck that functions on the interaction between Nomas en-Kor and Cephalid Illusionist.

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We also have yet another list playing Paradigm Shift and Thought Lash, but this one takes it a step further and plays Oracle, Laboratory Maniac, and even a copy of Jace, Wielder of Mysteries.

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RUG Food Chain?! Oh, Cartesian!

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What I'm Playing This Week

I got slightly roped into a weekly Legacy League on the MTGLegacy Discord, so I ended up coming up with this pile.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have for this week folks! Thank you all for your continued support! Join us next week as we continue our journey into the world of Legacy!

As always you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition you can reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord server as well as the /r/MTGLegacy Discord and subreddit.

Until next time, keep casting Show and Tell!

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