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This Week in Legacy: Nebraska's War 5.0 and Beijing Orlov Legacy

Welcome to a pre-Christmas This Week in Legacy. This week we’ll be covering two large tournaments that happened in very different parts of the world. From earlier in this month, Italy’s Nebraska’s War 5.0 occurred on the 3rd of December, with a 292-player turnout for the Legacy event and tons of duals up for grabs. In Asia, Beijing’s Orlov Legacy tournament went by last weekend (Dec 16-17). With 106 players, it’s the biggest event in the Chinese Legacy calendar and certain to have some interesting technology.

So let’s dive in!

Nebraska’s War 5.0

European, and in particularly Italian, Legacy is always flourishing and there was some incredible diversity in the decks played within the Top 16 of Nebraska’s War 5.0 Legacy main event. Impressively, a few oddball blue-white-based control decks made an appearance in the Top 16 which can be seen below:

Deck Player Placing
Blue-White Control Pedro J Sanchez 1
Sneak & Show Luis Alberto Nunez Martin 2
Esper Stoneblade Tom De Decker 3
Merfolk Marco Santopadre 4
Miracles Riccardo Biava 5
Maverick Alexey Romanchuk 6
Food Chain Michele Bacci 7
Esper Deathblade Gabriele Ricci 8
4c Control Vincenzo Ferrato 9
ANT Nicola Guidi 10
Infect Andrea Lucania 11
Burn Umberto Rocchi 12
Lands Luca Loffredo 13
Eldrazi & Taxes Oscar Basart 14
Dredge Marco Pacilio 15
Lands Roberto Di Tucci 16

The first-placing list in particular showed a very different way to utilize the cantrips, Swords to Plowshares + Snapcaster Mage and Jace blue-white control core:

Although Search for Azcanta is present in this list like many modern Miracles lists, Terminus and Predict are absent and instead true sweepers (Supreme Verdict) and pseudo-sweepers (Humility) are used as mass creature suppression elements. Also notable is the huge suite of planeswalkers in this deck – a whopping six – featuring Jace, of course, and Miracles’ secondary walker of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, but also the now somewhat antiquated Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Gideon of the Trials. I’m not really enamored with including Knight-Errant, but Gideon of the Trials is certainly interesting. A piece of pseudo-creature removal, a quick clock and importantly a frustrating ultimate that can ruin the day of many decks unable to pressure planeswalkers, I think he may have a place, especially since he comes at the lean cost of three mana in total.

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Another cool piece of tech is the Enlightened Tutor in the sideboard. This isn’t really used as a toolbox kind of card, unlike other lists that have utilized it to find Rest in Peace + Helm of Obedience and other somewhat clunky combos. Rather, ET’s purpose in this list is to simply be extra copies of Humility, Engineered Explosives, Leyline of Sanctity from the sideboard or, I suppose, Search for Azcanta.

I’m not sure if just slamming planeswalker into the opponent is the best way to take the blue-white Control shell, but it certainly seemed to work for Pedro Sanchez.

The third placing Esper Stoneblade list (without Deathrite Shaman, note) continued Italy’s theme of successful super friends decks. Although only featuring three, Tom had a diversified suite of walkers, with the obligatory Jace (though only a one-of here) beside Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and black’s now Legacy all-star walker Liliana, the Last Hope. The most novel piece of technology in this list is Collective Brutality, however. Padding out hand disruption (and hence making the three Force of Will main a bit more reasonable) while also providing additional removal is very impressive. Sadly, this list has no cute Lingering Souls synergies or anything of the sort to really capitalize on the escalate ability of the card, but I’m sure the wide utility of Brutality is relevant without these. Another interesting note is the continued presence of Baleful Strix now in Stoneblade decks; I suppose its presence in Czech Pile has made it a staple in any Blue-Black-based deck.

In fourth was Merfolk?! It’s impressive to see the fish make another Top 8, despite being seen as an antiquated deck. There’s lots of impressive new technology in Marco’s list, however, many adapted from successful Merfolk lists Online. Smuggler's Copter is an excellent addition to this deck with so many dorks sitting around (especially Cursecatcher, a very reasonable disruptive one drop that does, however, soon get outclassed) and the deck is often in need of filtration (discarding Aether Vial must feel… Very nice). Harbinger of the Tides also makes his presence known. Two feels like the perfect number for these guys, since they can do absolutely nothing in certain matchups and can be lacklustre against value-creating creatures like Strix. But as a tempo play off a Vial (or even just casting on turn two, bouncing a Delver or Deathrite) he certainly has his moments.

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Gemstone Caverns is a cute bit of technology that has been seen Online before and is adopted here. You can get a little luck on the draw and slam a Chalice on turn one, or just accelerate your curve, certainly useful in a deck with such a glut of two drops.

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I’m also a big fan of Sorcerous Spyglass in this deck. Pithing Needle effects have always been relevant for Merfolk’s sideboard (being mono-blue you naturally have to turn to artifacts to cover sideboard options) but Spyglass differentiates itself similar to how it is played in Stompy shells – it doesn’t conflict with Chalice. The thirteenth-placing Lands list in this same event similarly included Spyglass over Needle to prevent conflict with Chalice.

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Other exciting lists from the event include Food Chain with main deck Liliana, the Last Hope, Maverick once again making a strong placing and Eldrazi & Taxes making an appearance. Find the rest of the Top 16 here and video coverage of the event here!

Beijing Orlov Legacy

Next, let’s look at China’s largest annual Legacy event. Huge credits go to friend James Hsu (of Humans of Magic fame, hurry up and go check it out) for providing me with the Top 16ing lists and breakdown of the tournament. It’s incredible to see Legacy blossoming around the world and kudos to Haobo Wang and the rest of the Chinese Legacy community for firing up a great tournament! Here's the metagame break down and Top 16:

Deck Player Placing
Sneak & Show Bin Jia 1
Dragon Stompy Jie Song 2
Esper Stoneblade Zhongting Wang 3
ANT Chi Zuo 4
Grixis Delver Mingshuai Wu 5
Angel Stompy Haobo Wang 6
Esper Deathblade Chao Lu 7
Grixis Delver Chunxue Gou 8
Elves Cong Li 9
4c Control Bosen Li 10
Maverick Yizhing Shen 11
Grixis Delver Jing Li 12
Grixis Delver Lixuan Liu 13
Death & Taxes Pengkai Shi 14
4c Control Jing Ge 15
Grixis Delver Jin Liu 16

The two titans of the format, Grixis Delver and Czech Pile, remained at the top. Grixis Delver took many of the spots in the Top 16, with one taking a spot in the Top 8 and two in the Top 16. Many of these were the typical Bob Huang Spell Pierce versions, though some more exotic choices (which we’ll look at later) did make some appearances. The same too could be said of the Czech Pile lists, with two making it into the Top 16 one very stock and one very wild. The third most-played deck was Sneak & Show, it’s traction seen in Japan continuing to another large Asian tournament. As mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m surprised that Sneak & Show hasn’t been performing spectacularly over the last weeks in the Western world, as the format seems somewhat unprepared for it. China did have quite a few Death & Taxes players to perhaps suppress the Emrakuls and Griselbrands, though only one cracked Top 16. Lands also had a strong presence, but failed to make a dent on the Top 16. ANT, Shardless BUG (interestingly, considering many see it as being supplanted by Czech Pile), Eldrazi and Reanimator followed. It’s interesting that the Eldrazi resurgence that has been occurring across the world was not reflected here, nor was the boost in blue-white control that can be seen on Magic Online and at the Nebraska’s War event.

In first place came a very straightforward Sneak & Show list:

Jia Bin’s list’s only slight oddity is the presence of the Omniscience as just a two-of and no Cunning Wish to instantly kill with it, but even this is becoming somewhat widely adopted. Its utility as a way to kill through Karakas by hardcasting Emrakul or just generally doing absurd things is well-worth it’s occasional clunkiness. At least it pitches to Force too!

In second came Jie Song with Dragon Stompy!

Although I’m never going to be super happy with the Goblin Rabblemaster + Ensnaring Bridge combo, I do like how Jia has opted for Sudden Shock and Abrade in the main deck as extra removal. The deck can often get plinked apart by a Delver going the entire distance, and just being able to uncounterably (in the case of Sudden Shock) say “no” to that is excellent. It can also kill Deathrites that may be making Blood Moon ineffective and kill through Mother of Runes. Further uncounterable removal (in this case, a sweeper) in the form of sideboard Volcanic Fallout I’m sure is of great value against Delver, especially Grixis' Young Pyromancer.

Waving the flag for blue-white-based control deck was Zhongting Wang on Esper Stoneblade. Quite streamlined, and interestingly including a full four Baleful Strix, really taking advantage of the black mana available to the deck. I suppose Strix are excellent with equipment too, alongside the duo of True-Names in this list. However, these Strix have stolen slots away from Ponder, with only one Ponder utilized in here. I suppose this list really wants to play the board rather than be faffing around with cantrips.

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Sorin, Lord of Innistrad makes an appearance as a planeswalker of choice alongside Nahiri,the Lithomancer. White-black certainly has a great selection of viable walkers, with the Lilianas, Gideons, Sorin, Solemn Visitor and Lord of Innistrad and even Kaya, Ghost Assasin all viable options.

Chao Lu in seventh place also brought white-blue-black Stoneblade. But this one with Deathrite Shaman:

Note the absence of Snapcaster as well – this is much more about tapping out, gearing up a True-Name as fast as possible and going to town. Unlike other modern Deathblade decks, however, Chao has not included Leovold and the deeper Green splash required – making his mana a lot smoother; note the three basics available to him.

This is not Eldrazi & Taxes – this is Angel Stompy, very similar to lists played by Gordoape on Magic Online. And this is exciting. Haobo has, however, removed Stoneforge to make room for Suppression Field, a powerful lock piece found often in Soldier Stompy. Thalias and Thought-Knots complement these. The Angels of the deck include Angel of Sanctions – unkillable by most Legacy removal and excellent at pulling this deck from behind. Even if killed (somehow) the Embalm ability is incredibly relevant in a deck with such a wealth of mana thanks to the sol lands. Restoration Angel also appears to combo with Blade Splicer (and Thought-Knot to control the opponent’s hand) or just save any disruptive creature from removal.

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Just like Death & Taxes, Haobo has put a premium on having Mirran Crusader in his deck thanks to its strength against Pile decks. I’m sure Kolaghan’s Command can be a beating with so many delicious targets like the small creatures and Chalice or Chrome Mox, so having a card that is immune to almost all relevant removal from that deck is worthwhile to punk them out of the game.

I’m a big fan of these white Chalice decks, and Haobo has done a great job at tuning Angel Stompy to success. I’d look to his list for a lot of inspiration moving forward.

We’ve seen odd cards like Mask of the Mimic in 4c Control in the past, but Bosen truly takes the cake here. Notion Thief accompanies Leovold and combos with Dack Fayden similar to the Punishing Dack decks that have been around Magic Online. Tombstalker is included as a monster Delve threat in this list instead of Angler or Tasigur that some lists have opted for in the past. Interestingly, Gitaxian Probes and a singleton Cabal Therapy have been included in the discard suite of this deck, and Therapy is certainly reasonable in a deck with Strix always sitting around.

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The most bizarre card though is Reroute.

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This seems rather narrow, considering it only hits activated abilities. It does counter Wasteland, but Teferi’s Response (included in the sideboard) honestly does that work better. There are very few activated abilities that target a single player that would be worthwhile Rerouteing. I’m sort-of lost on its utility.

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The sideboard features further oddities: Big Game Hunter is actually pretty cool with Dack Fayden and was some initial tech people used to fight Eldrazi (you can trigger madness when discarding to Reality Smasher’s triggered ability, getting some nice blowouts) and Snapback, a little odd in a control deck, was a long time ago a flex slot of tempo archetypes in the past. Sudden Shock is also very neat for the reasons I already mentioned.

Other notables from this event include Yizheng Shen on Maverick (yes, Maverick in a Top 16 again) and Jing Li’s Grixis Delver feat. Liliana of the Veil, Stifle and Tombstalker. Keep your eyes peeled for all the Top 16 deck lists published as well as video coverage!


That concludes This Week in Legacy. I’ll be taking a little break over the holiday period but will be back and kicking into the New Year. Thank you everyone for your support and kind words throughout 2017, every email and every comment means a lot and keep me writing week after week. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As always, here’s some links to other Legacy content from around the web:

‘Til next time!

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I’m Playing This Week

Last week I made Top 4 of a 38-player local tournament and you can find my deck list here. Yes, it was RUG again.

I’ll likely be changing up the list ever so slightly going to Japan:

At the surface, this list is looking odder and odder, but it all makes sense to me. I’ve swapped a Dead // Gone for a Chain Lightning, as having the majority of my removal spells kill Leovold is important.

The real elegance lies in the sideboard, where the deck’s controlling elements take the fore. Sylvan Library and Predict not only “combo” together in a similar way to how Top and Predict accrued advantaged, but they’re both just very reasonable cards on their own. My second Flusterstorm I have changed for a Counterspell. It does work against combo similarly, sure, but its real power is in its ability to hard counter problematic non-blue threats post-board that Blasts cannot cover and Pierces and Dazes can no longer reach. I’m sick of getting punked out by Mentor, Gideon and Lilianas. Let’s just counter them!

The Spice Corner

This comes from the Beijing Orlov event! It’s… As Foretold and Stasis?!

Ral Zarek untaps things, Forsaken City let’s you pitch cards to let it untap… It’s all a bit wild, but when it’s in place it means misery for your opponent. And there’s a back up plan of just Blood Mooning them too!

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