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This Week in Legacy: MKM Prague and November Statistics


Welcome to another This Week in Legacy. I'll be running through the other, smaller (but still large) tournament that went on during the November 26th—27th  weekend concurrent with Chiba, MKM Prague, which featured a few rogue lists and interesting additions to existing archetypes. Furthermore, we have the summary of November to look through, as well as some innovative lists that have been popping up.

MKM Prague

The breakdown of MKM Prague, the last tournament in their 2016 series of events, can be found here on their website, and is summarized below:

Angelo Cadei took home the trophy, piloting a relatively stock Miracles deck, triumphing over Lands in the finals. However, this Top 8 does deserve some amount of interest. Esper Delver is a variant that has not been seen in quite some time, not since Steve Mann played it in an SCG event, Food Chain, alongside its strong placings in Chiba, also makes appearances here and the boogeyman Dredge cuts into the Top 8 after being dormant for some time.

First, let's look at this Esper Delver list by Nicklas Krull:

If anyone remembers the Jeskai Delver decks, these were created in a similar vein, blending both the aggressive Delver draws with a midrange backup plan of Stoneforge Mystic. I, however, have always disliked Jeskai Delver. The deck, although filled with cards of raw power, felt lacking in synergy that Delver variants so greatly appreciate. You could be bashing with a Delver, but then need to put the breaks on and Swords to Plowshares a large Tarmogoyf and waste your one or two turns of attacking. The deck also went against the Delver philosophy of working on as few mana sources as possible. Stoneforge Mystic is an incredibly mana-hungry card, especially if she gets killed, as casting and equipping a Jitte costs four total mana, while a Batterskull costs a whopping five upfront. That's pretty awful in a deck that wants to be Dazing the opponent's plays. Grixis Delver these days has understably taken over the mantle of tempo-midrange Delver variant of choice, as the midrange backup plan of Pyromancer is much more synergistic with the typical Delver draws.

Nicklas Krull's list I'm much more of a fan though, despite on paper looking to have the same problems as Jeskai Delver. But one card seamlessly blends the tempo and midrange aspects. And that card, of course, is Deathrite Shaman.

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Deathrite allows this Delver deck to leverage Daze and equipment very effectively, as Deathrite producing additional mana allows clunky cards like True-Name Nemesis and Umezawa's Jitte to be clunky no more. Furthermore, he increases the threat density of the deck, making equipment much more live, and provides a solid late-game clock! I think we all know how great Deathrite is, but in this shell he does some overtime work.

The deck has also gotten some relevant additions. Like Grixis, Gurmag Angler is a lategame monster to dominate the board. Krull has also incorporated Lingering Souls into his deck, which I'm less of a fan, but I can certainly see it being excellent as a "creature" to flip Delver. 

Sideboard-wise, this list has some excellent additions that most Delver variants lack. Zealous Persecution is a card I wish I could play in a Delver strategy, as it epitomizes aggro-control perfectly. It kills opposing creatures and makes your beatdown better! The list also seems able to further shift gears into an Esper DeathBlade style shell by adding in Strix, Snapcaster and Clique, along with Sorin, Lord of Innistrad as a bomb.

This deck, although it still has the "aggressive deck casting Swords to Plowshares" problem, looks to have found itself some reputation, and I'd been keen to see it make some more placings. Inspired by Krull but also with my own additions, I might try something like this sometime soon:

Next let's look at some Food Chain!

Quite similar to the lists we looked at last week, even down to the 3/1 split of Griffin and Eternal Scourge. However, the MKM lists emphasized the Shardless-esque fair plan more by adding...

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Just the best vanilla beatstick ever printed, Goyf adds nothing to the deck's combo plan, which is certainly a downside that irks me, but the simple efficiency Goyf adds is certainly useful at bridging the deck's somewhat lackluster early game into its almost unbeatable endgame of repetitive Griffins. It has a role, and although not synergistic, I'm sure from this placing it's valuable enough.

The last deck we'll look at is Dredge:

I'm surprised Dredge reached the Top 8, in all honesty. Leyline of the Void is rampant currently, thanks to the prevalence of BR Reanimator, and Dredge certainly takes some splash damage from that. However, other pieces of hate that are also getting more play, such as Faerie Macabre and Surgical Extraction, Dredge can actually overcome quite easily, compared to Reanimator which can have its whole plan single-handedly busted by these cards. The four Nature's Claim in this sideboard are certain to do some heavy lifting against the expected Leylines, though I'm surprised to not see the innovation of either Serenity or Wear // Tear being utilized. These get around a situation that is becoming more and more common: Leyline of the Void and Chalice of the Void in play, thanks to most Eldrazi lists universally adopting Leyline.

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One of the most unfortunate consequences of the rampant adoption of Leyline is the lack of Force of Wills, as popularized by Damon Whitby, in the sideboard of Dredge. As we all know, I'm a huge fan of "Zombie tempo" and would love my LED-touting brethren to be sporting stack interaction. That being said, Force may have merits as interaction against BR Reanimator or other fast combo decks like Sneak & Show, that have been seeing an upswing. I'm also interested in why Dragonlord Kolaghan has not seen significant adoption in Dredge lists too. Having a flier is valuable against many of the Miracles lists touting Moat, and is at least food for Ichorid when going for natural beatdown. I understand that compared to Vintage, where she has been universally adopted, there's less Zombies on-board without Bazaar of Baghdad, and there's a likelihood of falling short, but her flexibility really appeals to me compared to the rather lackluster Flame-Kin Zealot.

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November Statistics - Paper

Let's next look to our analysis of November's statistics, along with some interesting lists that have been popping up along the way. Firstly, let's look at the Paper metagame:

Eldrazi has interestingly dethroned Death & Taxes as the top deck, though the white creatures still were well-represented, following the colorless ones as the second-most represented deck. Miracles has interestingly been knocked down to third most-played deck, followed by Shardless. Reanimator (the data here combining both Blue-Black and Black-Red variants) is for once well-represented in Paper (compared to last month, where it trailed behind decks such as Elves), more closely reflecting its Online prevalence and making brutal graveyard hate such as Leyline of the Void I mentioned before likely more universally adopted. Reanimator players, beware, the apex of success may be reached soon and strangled by powerful hate. Consider adapting sideboards or changing decks until people become a little more unprepared.

Interestingly Reanimator has even eclipsed the play of Grixis Delver, which itself was less represented than its BUG brethren. This is an interesting development in Paper that is certainly not reflected Online (as we'll soon see). Although BUG Delver has always been well-loved in Paper, and even last year, with the advent of Grixis Delver, people still shied away from transitioning to what was seen as the "superior" newer Delver deck. The trend this month shows somewhat of a backlash towards the Grixis archetype. And BUG Delver lists certainly haven't provided too much innovation from the past few years, maybe a Gurmag Angler or Murderous Cut here and there, but many are still touting Tombstalker! I feel the primary reasoning for this is BUG Delver's strength as the best Delver deck to utilize Deathrite Shaman. This is certainly helpful against the Black-Red Reanimator lists, where fetching green mana is at a premium and can be awkward for Grixis Delver to do at times. The tap-out playstyle of the deck is also very effective against a deck such as Eldrazi, where cards such as Hymn to Tourach and Liliana of the Veil line up well against Cavern of Souls and Reality Smasher compared to typical counterspells and removal. Not to mention Abrupt Decay and Tarmogoyf being excellent.

There's a few decks from this breakdown that are worth a mention:

This is the updated list of Nicolas Amans, also known as the guy who went excellently with Soldier Stompy (and was featured on camera) during European Eternal Weekend. Soldier Stompy has been particularly in flux thanks to the new Soldier additions of Recruiter of the Guard and Thalia, Heretic Cathar, and this list certainly breaks the mold on what has previously been stock. Importantly, the core of Ballyrush Banneret and Recruiter of the Guard looks to create a Goblin-esque ability to chain creatures together and assemble a board very quickly. Thalia's Lieutenant also is a very cool addition to this list, keeping the curve tight and buffing itself if said chaining is undertaken, or if played as the last tutor target in a chain, it can create a very lethal boardstate with pumped-up Recruiters. I like how this list has trimmed down on some of the clunkier Soldiers such as Captain of the Watch who, although impressive as a top-end ala Siege-Gang Commander, is typically only great when ahead with a Preeminent Captain in play already. Taking inspiration from this list, I might try something along these lines:

I've added back Daru Warchief over some of the more speculative Soldiers such as Catapult Squad and Sunstrike Legionnaire, just so that the whole "chain Recruiters into anthem" game plan is a little more pronounced. I've also made some room for some interesting tutor targets. Longbow Archer, staple of Magic Online Soldier Stompy player DaPokPok has found a place in my list to brick Delvers and Selfless Squire from Commander 2016 can surprisingly swing a race in the Soldier Stompy player's favor, especially when a pile of Eldrazi are attacking.

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The next list that caught my eye was... Mardu?

Well, it's more than Mardu. It includes Punishing Fire / Grove of the Burnwillows not only as a creature-control measure but also to fuel Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor! These are also further given fuel thanks to Dark Confidant. There's also more sweet interactions going on. Cabal Therapy and Young Pyromancer is well-known, but Cabal Therapy and Pyromancer and Lingering Souls is also an incredible piece of synergy. The deck also gets access to Abrupt Decay and Choke due to the light green splash required for Grove and, of course, Deathrite Shaman. Very cool, and it's not often that this color combination gets much appreciation.

Speaking of Punishing Fire, here's another list utilizing it! But instead of fueling Pyromancer, this list uses it to take ice counters off Thing in the Ice, as we've seen before. The new innovation in this list, however, is Bedlam Reveler, which combines perfectly with Dack Fayden, though it is sadly slightly dissynergistic with Snapcaster Mage. Nonetheless, I'm sure in these midrange blue strategies Reveler is a much appreciated topdeck in the late game to fuel back up and take control of the game.

November Statistics - Online

Next, let's look at what was happening on Magic Online during November. Like last month, there's some pronounced differences.

Grixis Delver took the top spot this month, taking down Miracles and Eldrazi. As aforementioned, Grixis seems to have had a great divergence in terms of placings and popularity compared to Paper. Online the deck is certainly still going strong, and I'm sure many see it as a solid overall choice for a Legacy League 5-0, though BUG Delver, like in Paper, is seeing a little more play Online too. Just as in Paper, Reanimator has met a strong upswing. Interestingly, ANT has continued its presence Online, despite it being whittled away to only a scant few placings in Paper Legacy. Death & Taxes, of course, is still understandably underrepresented despite its Conspiracy: Take the Crown printings finally coming Online. A few Stoneblade lists have interestingly continued to crop up on Magic Online, primarily Bant, though Esper and pure Blue-White variants have been seeing some slots.

Some weird lists that have found their way Online include Grixis Delver, but with quite a twist:

Everyone spoke about Vial Smasher the Fierce being niche playable in a shell with Gurmag Angler, Force of Will and Fireblast, and yozo has gone and 5-0ed with just that. This list takes a lot of influence from the Grixis Delver lists that appeared immediately post-Treasure Cruise banning (such as this), which still kept to their UR Delver roots of Swiftspear and burn spells. Although I disbelieve this is better than typical UR Delver due to the overall clunkiness of Vial Smasher, it does make a more burn-oriented Grixis list look quite appealing.

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12Post has always had quite a few variants running around, as I wrote about a few weeks ago, though this month one of the most bizarre lists I've ever seen has popped up. 12Post feat. the combo of Oblivion Sower and... Trade Routes?!

Sower has certainly been finding himself an excellent, although late-coming, addition to the Legacy format. But here he essentially draws a bunch of cards (as long as Trade Routes is in play). Note the main deck Relics also power-up Sower. The mana base also has a very Lands-like feel to it, featuring a full set of Thespian's Stage for utility amongst a bevy of other lands. Intuition and Life from the Loam, one of the good ol' RUG Lands combos, also makes an appearance here. I'm surprised there's not even a singleton Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in this list as a tutor target to "turn on" all the fetchlands that Sower will be stealing. Nonetheless, the synergy within this list is surprisingly deep and Oblivion Sower may have more exploration needed as a ramp creature of choice.

Interview with Brandon Owen

A few weeks ago I was able to ask some questions to a fellow Australian local, Brandon Own, who you might remember as the creator of this beauty:

I'm always intrigued by new and interesting archetypes, and Brandon has been staunchly fighting with this archetype to some solid success within the local scene in Canberra. Per usual, enjoy the interview.

Sean: Where are you from and where’s your local Magic scene?

Brandon: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

Sean: How long have you been playing Magic? How long have you been playing Legacy?

Brandon: Besides the odd game I had when I was a kid, I started playing Magic some time in Theros block. I was interested in Legacy immediately, but didn't really start playing until last year, when I built BUG Landstill for Eternal Masters (Note from Sean: Eternal Masters is the large, yearly Legacy event held in Australia - not the set!).

Sean: Speaking of DepthsStill, how did you come to the current innovative deck list of yours?

Brandon: I think I was getting a bit tired of the majority of my rounds going close to time. I play a pretty durdly Landstill list in Australian 7-Point Highlander, and was toying with Depths for a faster win condition. I found a couple of Vintage lists which were very all-in Hexmage / Depths strategies that also played Standstill and I kind of fell in love. I ported the deck to Legacy, swapping good tutors for bad tutors, and banned cards for Brainstorms. This was just before GP Sydney this year. I went 5-2 in the side event and ended up in 11th place, which I was really happy with considering it was my first trial run of the deck, and only my third large Legacy tournament. I could find a reason to jam Standstill into just about any deck.

Sean: What type of strategy would you call DepthStill? Control, combo, combo-control?

Brandon: Apart from the occasional games where you just Wasteland your opponent to death, I would say it's almost entirely a combo deck. It uses resources recklessly, and hopes that amounts to a quick win - or Standstill to refuel for the win. I think the main advantage of the deck is that it usually just makes the opponent have it. And often 'having it' means having it through a Force of Will.

Sean: Could you outline the strengths of the various non-conventional card choices in the deck?

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Brandon: Turn one Standstill is always strong, and being able to play it when your opponent already has a threat on board can be pretty exciting. It's a powerful way to get back the resources you spend on Force and Mox.

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Brandon: UB is pretty slim on decent ways to tutor lands, so Expedition Map and Tolaria West just have to make the cut. Intuition is probably in the same category. The deck is comprised of cards which are not usually found in Legacy decks that are trying to win with Dark Depths, so I think there's some amount of 'gotcha' value there. Also, cantrips are really good with two card combos, of course.

Sean: What would you call the deck’s best matchups?

Brandon: Grixis Delver is probably the best matchup. Generally their only meaningful interaction is Wasteland, and I think I've made the deck fairly resilient to that. Eldrazi is also quite a good matchup for a similar reason. You can often comfortably thaw the Lage during your turn to play around Wasteland, which is nice (though I have definitely been blown out by Phyrexian Metamorph). Midrange decks which skimp on Wastelands tend to be fine. Shardless is always interesting. The fact that these decks are very popular in the wider Legacy meta is good for this deck.

Sean: What are the deck’s worst matchups?

Brandon: Death & Taxes. There's not much to say. It's just so bad. It's recent explosion in Legacy popularity probably counteracts the last point in my previous answer. Storm is not very good either. You need to have enough interaction to stop them from winning, as well as a quick win yourself, but is still more winnable than D&T.

Sean: You’re known for DepthsStill, but is there any other decks/strategies you’re a fan of in the format?

Brandon: I'm a huge fan of traditional Landstill control decks in every format. Joseph Bogaard's Eternal Weekend winning Vintage EmraStill list makes me want to do something similar in Legacy. Probably something like Gerard Fabiano's Miracles list, but with Standstill. I'll give it a go once I've gotten back on the grind train. My current side deck is ANT, so it's fair to say that I'm just interested in winning or losing quickly at the moment.

Sean: Any other comments on the deck?

Brandon: As single minded as it is, it's actually still very fun.

I'd like to thank Brandon for his contribution and, for anyone around the Canberra area, I'd highly recommend checking out the Canberra Legacy Events group for information on how to get in contact with that scene.

Conclusion

Per usual, thanks for reading this week's edition of This Week in Legacy. Sadly, this week is also the first week of no more Legacy Classics from SCG, so the typical expected article structure may be deviating a bit in the weeks ahead with more varied content—which should be pretty sweet too. Also expect a big article coming soon, a primer of sorts for what to expect going into GP Louisville, including what decks to expect, and what archetypes I'd be jamming.

As always, feel free to contact me at the details below!

'Til next time,

Sean Brown
Email: sean_brown156@hotmail.com
Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

And catch me on The Salt Mine for more Australian banter about Legacy!

What I'm Playing This Week

After my solid win last week, I proceeded to also 4-0 my weekly local. But not with Death & Taxes; instead I brought Imperial Painter! I won over Infect, Reanimator, Elves and ANT, with a lot of luck coming my way, including keeping a no-land hand and converting it into a turn-two win thanks to topdecking Ancient Tomb and then City of Traitors. What a lucksack. Nonetheless, my updated Painter list is this:

Chandra, Torch of Defiance really is the real deal, and although I'm not as gutsy as the GP Chiba Painter list that ran four, I could see going up to a third. I've also been really happy with Goblin Welder and hence have added a second to the main. He can perform an incredible amount of tricks in a variety of matchups. Just watch out for Deathrite Shaman, who can eat your artifact creatures.

Although Painter feels like the "thinking man's" Blood Moon deck, sometimes I want to bring out my inner Timmy and bash some people in the face with badass Dragons. And so I've also crafted a Dragon Stompy list heavily derivative of the Chiba lists. Hopefully I'll be able to give this a spin sometime soon too.

I've remedied a few of the things I disliked about the Chiba lists, such as the low land count and the messy sideboards (I never really like Pyroblast in my Chalice of the Void deck), and have cleaned them up a little. I've still kept the Sin Prodder / Fiery Confluence / Chandra, Torch of Defiance burn core, though, which is what really appalled to me.

The Spice Corner

Although the Spice Corner lists I feature seem a bit dubious at times, this one I truly feel has the essence of a highly-competitive deck somewhere within it:

This list is ssentially a Stoneblade deck that concentrates more on permanent-based interaction, rather than countermagic and removal. In some ways it's like a Blue-White Death & Taxes, except it also gets to run Force of Will. It also has the Gitaxian Probe / Meddling Mage interaction that I so adore. Although Mausoleum Wanderer and Judge's Familiar look very dinky, I'm sure that their mild disruption and smoothing of the curve are much appreciated, though Spell Queller looks like the biggest all-star in this list. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben may be an ill-fit in this list due to Force and Probe, though maybe her sheer power makes up for this. Would this deck like Aether Vial too, perhaps? This is certainly a list I'd love to tinker with. It reminds me of the Spirits lists I featured awhile ago, except instead of synergy it ups the raw power of its cards.


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