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This Week in Legacy: MKM Hamburg (and an Interview!)

Welcome to another This Week in Legacy! Last week we had a look at Eternal Extravaganza 7. On the other side of the world, another big tournament, MKM Hamburg, was occurring! So we’ll be diving into that, along with a usual look at the recent Legacy Challenge!

MKM Hamburg

You can find the metagame breakdown, in all its fluorescent glory, here courtesy of the MKM website.

Interesting to see the trend in Europe of a lot of Blade decks, and honestly the two top decks – Stoneblade and “Leovold Control” – represents the big midrangey soup that Legacy has currently found itself. Following these were two more fair decks – the some-what expected Grixis Delver and Death & Taxes following behind. Sneak & Show, ANT and Reanimator were the most represented combo decks, but paled in numbers compared to the number of fair magicians.

Looking towards the Top 8, we have a breakdown as below:

Deck Player Placing
Sneak & Show Dennis Zans 1
Canadian Threshold Marius Bender 2
BUG Control Pascal Richter 3
Eldrazi Stompy Oscar Basart 4
4c Control Karsten Tuitjer 5
Jeskai Stoneblade Hannes Eriksson 6
BUG Delver Marc Lindrath 7
Food Chain Ole Walkenhorst 8

We’ll talk a little more about the Top 8'ing deck that gets me truly excited in moment, but for now let’s look at some of the odder choices in Eldrazi and some of the control decks!

The main deck of this list is somewhat stock – though does interestingly incorporate a full set of Thorns, which is somewhat uncommon. The main difference is that medium Eldrazi like Matter Reshaper have been replaced by the powerhouse that is Eldrazi Displacer, thanks to a full set of Cavern of Souls and some Caves of Koilos.

This hasn’t been too uncommon, but it certainly is interesting to see that one of the few Eldrazi lists that has had success has deviated from the only-colorless variants. Displacer has a lot of utility, locking down hard matchups like Sneak & Show while also allowing the rest of the beaters the ability to push through frustrating blockers like Gurmag Angler.

It’s the sideboard, however, where things get a bit more exciting.

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Edicts effects are incredible, especially with True-Name being a pain for Eldrazi. Bearer of Silence offers this along with a body – as long as mana co-operates (with Caves, Urborg and Cavern in the mix). He can also just be a Goblin Piker to assist curving out.

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More bizarre is Precursor Golem, who has always been a bit of a star in Vintage thanks to Mishra’s Workshop. Nine power on the board for five mana is very impressive, but I’m unsure of which matchups it would come in against. The mirror, perhaps, where decks are removal light and clunking up the board is key? The Golems have pretty poor synergy with Chalice and don’t seem particularly well-placed with the flood of Czech Pile and Stoneblade, so I’m certainly a bit curious to their purpose.

This BUG-based control deck takes a little bit of Czech Pile and a little bit from Reid’s True-Name BUG. The emphasis is less on acceleration involving Noble Hierarch and takes advantage of Baleful Strix’s current position in the metagame. The two-of Jitte is certainly a nod to Reid’s list, however, and does work well with the flying dorks!

09/25/17 Legacy Challenge

We’ll briefly look through the recent Challenge results! The Top 8 broke down as below:

Deck Player Placing
4c Loam Butakov 1
4c Control Condescend 2
Big Eldrazi Pathy 3
Elves ElfKid 4
Burn millennium9999 5
4c Control jacetmsst 6
Jeskai Stoneblade lawyer 7
BUG Death's Shadow Danker 8

Death’s Shadow makes a mark once again!

This list has omitted the Thoughtseize we saw in the previous lists to add Delver of Secrets as well as a package of Wasteland. Again, very clean looking, but I find problems constructing the mana base of these while also wanting Wasteland. Eighteen lands is a little too high (although four of these are really “spells”), in my mind, when the deck already has eight free cantrips, it is a bit full of “air”.

The sideboard takes the deck to a grindy extreme, transforming into a deck filled with Hymn to Tourach, Liliana of the Veil and Sylvan Library. I imagine this is particularly important against White decks, where Swords to Plowshares is a big issue and alternative game plans are required.

Speaking of White decks…

These didn’t place particularly well, but show interesting takes on alternative card engines in the Miracles shell. The first looks towards Intuition and Accumulated Knowledge, a very old-school engine which makes Intuition + Accumulate Knowledge a (somewhat expensive) Ancestral Recall. Intuition does, of course, have synergy with Snapcaster Mage anyway. AK can also be held up in a similar way to Predict and slotted into the opponent’s end step when a Counterspell is not required.

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Unexpectedly Absent is a weird one to see in this shell though, especially with Predict absent. I’d sooner replace those with CJ or Engineered Explosives.

The second list is even odder, operating as an entirely Blue-White Flash deck, and looks more like a thought experiment than anything. I guess this could honestly be called “Quadlazer Miracles”. Opt is an interesting choice for a cantrip in Legacy, despite its soon-to-come prevalence in Modern. But I suppose it synergises nicely with Snapcaster, at least.

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Interview with Marius Bender and Kevin Wagner

At MKM Hamburg, as mentioned last week, Nimble Mongoose took center-stage in the hands of Marius Bender, taking 2nd place with Canadian Threshold. I was able to get some words from him and Kevin Wagner who together tuned the list, talking about their perspectives on Canadian Threshold, their card choices and how Hamburg went!

Sean: Hello there Marius and Kevin! Please give a little outline of your history with Magic and, in particular, Legacy!

Marius: Like many people I picked up Magic when I was younger (Masques Block in my case) but only really started playing seriously a lot later (Return to Ravnica). I got into Legacy relatively quickly, starting off with Pox, transitioning into Eva Green and Team America before finally settling on 4c Delver/"Die Burg" (4c Goodstuff with Stifle, Nimble Mongoose and Deathrite Shaman). In early 2015 I switched over to Canadian Threshold, and, with the exception of a short affair with Grinding Station during the DTT-era, have not looked back since.

Kevin: I started playing Magic around the Gatecrash release and after a short bout of Modern transitioned into (Online) Legacy. I met Marius after cashing out my Online cards for Paper Miracles in early 2015. We started extensively testing the Canadian vs. Miracles matchup (and by extensively I rather mean excessively; we are talking 1-2 7 hour sessions a week). During this time we started fine tuning the Canadian list more and more. Mid 2016 we started traveling to more international tournaments, including the Legacy GPs in Prague, Chiba and Las Vegas and a variety of MKM-series tournaments.

RUG Delver was once a dominate force in Legacy, but has fallen from its high perch with Deathrite Shaman Delver variants being now so prevalent instead. Why do you feel the deck is currently relevant and still a solid choice in the metagame?

Marius & Kevin: We have always joked that there is a lower limit to how bad Canadian can get when properly played. The deck can interact with almost anything the format can throw at it, and the mana denial plan can win a lot of games on its own. While it may lack the raw power of decks like Czech Pile, BUG Delver or Grixis Delver it has a lot more of a focused game plan. People like to say "But what about [insert card that is good against Delver/Canadian here], how do you handle that?" While it’s true that there is a variety of cards that hit Canadian very hard (Gurmag Angler, Baleful Strix, Knight of the Relinquary, Toxic Deluge) Canadian can answer them all in a similar way: never let them resolve, be it by mana denial or permission.

What kind of insights do you have concerning a few of the main deck choices?

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Marius & Kevin: Hooting Mandrills is the replacement for Tarmogoyf in a meta that has moved away from Swords to Plowshares to Fatal Push, Abrupt Decay, Baleful Strix and True-Name Nemesis. The 4/4 vs 4/5 body of Mandrills is almost entirely irrelevant in today’s metagame. The trample is a lot stronger than it looks, since it still represents a Lava Spike when attacking into True-Name Nemesis or Mother of Runes. It also can't be stonewalled by a variety of blocking tricks from Death & Taxes and Elves.

Something a lot of people comment on is the dissynergy with Mongoose. Not only is it not as big of a deal as people tend to present it as (If you attack with a 3/3 Mongoose and play a 4/4 Mandrills post-combat you will still have increased your clock by two damage each turn at least) but it’s also less of a factor because they are simply meant for different matchups. Mandrills is great in almost all the matchups where Mongoose is not strong enough (combo, Elves, BUG) and Mongoose is insanely strong in the matchups where Mandrills is less than stellar (Stoneblade, Miracles, Esper Delver). Something that is worth mentioning is that specifically against Burn and Eldrazi, Tarmogoyf is the better choice and is sometimes worth running in more local metas where more of these budget decks are to be expected. Without Tarmogoyf the deck loses a bit of it's "Zoo Factor", which makes winning against off-meta decks harder.

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Marius & Kevin: True-Name, while very expensive, fills a role as a late game card. Oftentimes you can throw down a True-Name to deal the last six-to-nine points of damage even after the opponent has "stabilized" and established their own gameplan. That said, TNN is definitely the first card on the chopping block if necessary and was a metagame choice, as we expected a lot of Czech Pile, Blade and similar decks.

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Marius & Kevin: This is again a metagame choice; the first Dismember is an auto-include. The second slot is in flux between the second Dismember and the first Forked Bolt. The second dismember didn't seem necessary in Hamburg.

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Marius & Kevin: Snare is incredible against the currently dominating midrange decks such as Czech Pile or Stoneblade, as you get to counter Strix, Stoneforge and Snapcaster. Those decks are so slow to come out of the gate and so low on permission that a resolved Snare can often seal up the game. The only matchup in the meta where Snare is actively terrible is Sneak and Show where it is only useful as a pitch to FoW.

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Marius & Kevin: Preordain is 25% land, 25% creature, 25% removal, 25% permission and 100% mediocre. Realistically it adds another bit of much needed velocity to the deck that helps you find the card you need in your current position in the game. Canadian can sometimes fall into the trap of drawing the wrong quarter of the deck and Preordain is a way to fight that.

Sean: The sideboard also has some interesting choices. Please highlight those too!

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Marius & Kevin: Compost was a cheeky last-minute choice after seeing a meta fully dominated by grindy midrange decks. It helps you to keep up with the card advantage of Czech Pile and against Storm it does a very good Leovold impression, better even, since it draws you cards at all points of the combo and post-board the deck is chock full of cards that stop Storm single-handedly.

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Marius & Kevin: Rough // Tumble simply has too many blind spots in the current meta. While it does hit DRS it crucially misses Strix and a variety of cards in DnT. Elves has a much harder time rebuilding from consistent damage via Staticaster vs. the one-time effect of Rough // Tumble. The awkwardness of Rough // Tumble killing your own True-Name Nemesis can not be understated, especially since you board into the second TNN a lot. When compared against Electrickery Staticaster is only rarely worse, as Staticaster gets around Mother of Runes, doesn't get taxed by Thalia and dominates the game in the matchups you board them in.

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Marius & Kevin: Abrade is not in the slot of a second Grudge but rather the slot that was previously occupied by Destructive Revelry. With the departure of Miracles from the meta and the displacement of Rest in Peace by Surgical Extraction and Containment Priest, Revelry has lost most of its use. Abrade is simply one of the most flexible sideboard cards, since it can safely be boarded in against decks such as Grixis Delver and Burn, which rarely have good targets for Grudge, but sometimes bring in cards such as Jitte or Ensnaring Bridge which can present real problems.

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Marius & Kevin: Sadly Winter Orb is simply not as strong as it was during the reign of Miracles. Currently there are nearly no matchups where Winter Orb is a lot stronger than Library. In contrast to Orb, Library can safely be brought in against decks with mana acceleration.

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Marius & Kevin: Surgery represents a way to diversify combo hate, specifically as another hard counter in the Sneak & Show and the Storm matchup (in which it synergizes strongly with Compost). It's worth noting that the Delirium part of the card is almost irrelevant, you could easily run an Envelop in the slot.

Sean: How did your tournament at MKM Hamburg go?

Marius: Frankfurt did not go particularly well (3-3 drop), Hamburg went a lot better.

My matchups there were Burn, BUG Delver, UR Delver, UWR Blade, Czech Pile, Sneak & Show, Grixis Delver, with the one loss going to Czech Pile. The match in the quarterfinals was against Food Chain on camera, the semi-final was a lucky win against Eldrazi and the final was a quick loss to Omni-Sneak.

Sean: What do you feel are the deck’s good and poor matchups in the current metagame?

Marius & Kevin: The hardest common matchup is certainly Death & Taxes. Most other matchups are pretty much even. The best matchup by far is Miracles, there is almost no way for the Miracles player to win against a competent Canadian player. The relative lack of Stifle certainly helps Canadian, as very few people currently play around it.

Sean: Any final words or shout-outs you’d like to make?

Greetings to the multiple (or even dozens) Canadian players around the globe who still like to beat people to death with 1/1 shroud dorks!


That wraps up TWiL! As always, here's some stuff from around the web:

'Tilllll next time!

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

The Spice Corner

Can Painter stay alive? Next week we'll have a look a the recent KMC tournament in Japan and this list that Top 8ed there!

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