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This Week in Legacy: MKM Hamburg and GP Toronto

Welcome to another This Week in Legacy. This week, we’ll be looking at two events: the Legacy portion of MKM Hamburg in Europe and the Team Grand Prix that occurred in Toronto. Each week, we've been getting some pretty high-profile events, so there’s certainly a lot to see in terms of how the metagame is shifting. Let’s dive in!

MKM Hamburg

The first thing we can look at is the always-crazily coloured pie chart courtesy of the MKM website, providing us with a metagame breakdown of the entire event:

As always, Grixis Delver had the highest numbers by a large amount, but as always in Europe, Sneak & Show and Stoneblade made quite the showing, despite what appears to be poor positioning—Sneak & Show gets punished by the multi-pronged attack of Grixis Delver’s countermagic and discard, while Stoneblade has had significant problems with, of course, Kolaghan's Command. Czech Pile then understandably followed behind, along with a mix of the expected.

Interesting decks that are rising include Dragon Stompy, Turbo Depths, and Steel Stompy—Steel Stompy, probably most importantly, has gone from niche brew to joining the pantheon of other Tomb / City decks as a very viable choice!

Now, onto the Top 8 (find that here), where one of Legacy’s favourites took down the top spot: Mr. Julian Knab took down MKM Hamburg!

Julian took a very lean Elves list to the finish line, with the additions of Llanowar Elves and Fyndhorn Elves, although not uncommon, representing this list really yearning for a density of Turn 1 accelerators into a quick combo. There are no cute silver bullets in the main (like Scooze, which got relegated to the sideboard), nor are there main-deck bombs like Nissa, Vital Force, as seen in the past. To me, for any new Elves player, this looks like the best baseline list to learn the ins and outs of the deck from the beginning.

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In the sideboard, Julian also opted for something very interesting: most Elves lists have always had sideboard discard, but Julian’s list has zero, instead sporting a hefty three Surgical Extraction and two Mindbreak Trap as his combo hate of choice. Although discard typically works in tandem with Surgical, in certain matchups where things are put into the bin (Reanimator, Dredge, Storm), Surgical still does a stellar job as disruption. Trap also further damages Storm, though it's a bit narrow. I like how this list, post-board against combo, can keep developing its board without needing to tap mana for discard, ideally leading to Elves comboing itself off fast enough, with enough free disruption to aid in defence. There are certain combo decks this deck is certainly soft to, though—Turbo Depths and Sneak & Show, for example, can completely ignore the sideboard hate Julian has. I guess Elderscale Wurm is an excellent Natural Order target to halt death by Marit Lage, however!

Speaking of Depths, there were three who made the Top 8 of Hamburg, all varying in how they approached the deck. Let’s have a look at second-placer Felix Oswald first:

What makes this list particularly different is the emphasis on the “fair” plan—but not utilising Dark Confidant. Instead, the tutor Green Sun's Zenith is this list’s calling card, ramping the deck on Turn 1 via Arbor, finding Deathrite for early- / mid-game ramp / disruption, and probably most impressively, resurrecting the combo again and again via Ramunap Excavator. There’s also the combo-breaking Zenith-bullet Gaddock Teeg in the sideboard too.

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Another difference in this list is its combination of discard. Typically, lists have run Thoughtseize and Duress, but Felix opted for a combination of Inquisition of Kozilek and Cabal Therapy. I like Cabal Therapy in this list a lot, since it is very creature-dense compared to typical Depths lists and Dryad Arbor is particularly great sacrifice fodder—use it early to ramp into whatever big play you’re making, and then rip the last bit of opposing disruption away.

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Other unconventional choices include Rishadan Port (just like Lands can do: "tap down your Karakas, kill you" becomes a neat line) and the sideboard tech of Boseiju, Who Shelters All, which I imagine is particularly great against decks such as Miracles and Stompy with access to Counterbalance and Chalice of the Void, respectively, and can refuse tutors like Sylvan Scrying and Crop Rotation from ever resolving.

Amin’s Depths is relatively straightforward (certainly more “Turbo” than the other two), but probably the neatest thing Amin shows is that you don’t need duals for a top-tier deck! Amin’s list is entirely Bayou-less, which actually has its pros by always playing around cards such as Submerge. Definitely a great possibility for anyone looking to get into the format.

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Damping Sphere also makes its appearance here as an excellent form of disruption for Depths. Spheres and Chalices have been played in the past, but these can be a little awkward as they do slow down the Depths player too. Damping Sphere does not.

You can also check out Dennis Aufermann’s Depths list as well, which was essentially one of the Dark Confidant-based lists we’ve seen a few times in the past. Rather than a fair beatdown plan involving Tarmogoyf in the sideboard, however, Dennis opted for Tireless Tracker, which I think is a great option for a beatstick that can also create incremental value.

Next, Michael Lambers brought Belcher to the Top 8!

I can’t say there’s anything too crazy about this Belcher list, though the trimming of Pyretic Ritual and Seething Song for more Manamorphose is interesting and, in my mind, does create a bit more variance (since it is tough to assess opening hands when you have more cantrips)­­. The sideboard has a full complement of Wish targets for odd situations (I am always a fan of killing with Goblin War Strike), though probably the card boarded in most is the Xantid Swarms against Blue decks, making Force of Will a non-issue post-board.

More interesting is the success that Belcher has had in the past few weeks, with it finding quite a few placings in recent SCG Classics too. I think Belcher’s success really is indicative of the top of the metagame currently: either fair, multi-colour Blue decks or decks such as Dragon Stompy or Turbo Depths that punish said Blue decks. Belcher punishes fair midrange and prison decks (by killing on Turn 1 before lock pieces can even come down), so it doesn’t seem like the worst place to be.

Lastly from MKM, let’s look at the only Blue deck in the Top 8: Miracles!

Overall, this is a relatively straightforward list utilising Monastery Mentor as the main-deck win condition and Counterbalance and Search for Azcanta as the card-advantage-generating enchantments of choice. It’s interesting that Ponder is shaved down to three in this list in favour of more Portent and that the flex answer spell of choice in this case is Unexpectedly Absent. With the two Predict and additional Portent, though (which is a number I’m a fan of, as many have started to trim Predict down to one or none), UA becomes a very clean and synergistic answer to a variety of problem permanents.

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Grand Prix Toronto

Lastly, let’s look at the Legacy decks from Grand Prix Toronto. There certainly wasn’t much data provided by Wizards' coverage, but the Top 4 decks certainly had some interesting points to look over:

Welcome to the land of tech. Lucas Siow teched out his Czech Pile list with two very exciting additions.

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Firstly, Collective Brutality (affectionately called CoBru now by many) is taking the place of what would typically be a third Hymn to Tourach, and I think it’s a very reasonable choice. Although inefficient in terms of its Duress mode, pitching a Baleful Strix only to have it revived by a Kolaghan’s Command seems like a sweet deal if it means killing a Delver or Deathrite and ripping away a cantrip at the same time. Of course, even as an overcosted split of Disfigure / Duress, it’s useful thanks to its flexibility.

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The other sweet addition is what would typically be the second Diabolic Edict: To the Slaughter! I harped on this card a lot in The Salt Mine’s recent episode on BUG shells, but Lucas saw its two-for-one potential even in typical Pile. Having main-deck answers to Jace is quite impressive, and Delirium is easy to achieve with so many Strix and friends.

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Lastly, one Force of Will?! If this doesn’t say anything about the fair metagame direction people are expecting, then I don’t know what does. I think this is a very risky choice, even though the payoff of having fewer “dead” cards for the mirror or even Delver is there. You end up soft to combo and soft to Stompy decks, which are ready to Blood Moon you out on Turn 1.

BBD’s Pile list is a little more streamlined, and the three Lightning Bolts give it a more aggressive stance than typical versions. Add some sideboard Tarmogoyf into the mix, and you have a very powerful plan of transforming into a tempo-Rock-esque deck post-board. BBD’s thoughts on Goyf's better-than-expected positioning are well-documented (see here), and I do think that it makes a great choice as a fast clock against combo and Stompy and a punishing fatty that Grixis Delver has trouble dealing with. Long live the big green idiot.

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That wraps up This Week in Legacy. Next week, we’ll look at some Battlebond. As always, here’s some content from around the Web:

‘Til next time.

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I’m Playing This Week

This list comes courtesy of champion brewer and friend Elton Wong, who loves a bit of Painter’s Servant action. And so, we have a rebirth of Painter…thanks to Karn, Scion of Urza?!

Not only is Karn a card-advantage machine, but with Welder, he also pumps out tokens that can Regrowth a variety of things. I think I might be tinkering with this some more, including Lotus Petal over the Apes and maybe even cutting Chandra to find room for more Karn action. More exciting times for everyone’s new favourite colourless planeswalker.

The Spice Corner

It’s Pox time. Japanese Pox is always a delight to behold, especially when it includes cards such as Ifnir Deadlands, Spawning Pool, and Nether Void!

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