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This Week in Legacy: New Archetypes

Welcome to another This Week in Legacy. With a cooling-off in terms of major events this week, I’ll be looking to highlight a few newer archetypes coming to the fore in Legacy. Interestingly, although the midrange slugfest highlighting recent Legacy favorites like Leovold, Emissary of Trest has seemed to put innovation to rest, Legacy always does find a way with such a vast card pool and new printings bolstering or creating new archetypes in unexpected ways. Furthermore, we’ll have a look at some older archetypes that have got some new tech with recent printings.

Steel Stompy

Whether you want to call it Steel Stompy, Affinity, “Men of Steel” or whatever, there is no doubt that this deck should now be on your radar as a Stompy deck of choice. Affinity style decks have always been somewhat viable in Legacy, but have typically utilized Memnite and Ornithopter to bolster the power of Cranial Plating, leading to a deck with some pretty miserable topdecks. These decks were also typically purely aggro with a backup grind plan of Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas; they suffered quite a bit against combo. Although this kind of strategy cuts the mustard in Modern, where the fundamental turn is later, in Legacy some form of disruption is required, since combo can easily race Ravager, Plating and a pile of cheap artifacts.

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Not the best top decks.

With the continued restriction of lock pieces in Vintage Shops, in that format “Ravager Shops” has become the best way to abuse Mishra's Workshop, and Legacy Steel Stompy takes direct inspiration from that. Unlike more prison-oriented versions used in the past, Ravager Shops is incredibly aggressive, taking advantage of a few new printings:

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Hangarback Walker’s synergy with Arcbound Ravager was very quickly realized, and Walker can create a very large army with sol lands pumping up his initial casting and him just being an excellent mana sink for the deck. In Legacy, Hangarback suffers from the prevalence of Swords to Plowshares, but this can be remedied or defended against thanks to other cards in the deck.

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The real gift to Ravager, however, was Walking Ballista. A scalable Triskelion, whose synergy with Ravager was already well-known, can be played at any point on the curve, be an excellent mana sink, shoot down problematic creatures and just burn the opponent out.

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A few older printings have now also got their Vintage (and Legacy) heyday thanks to these shells: The namesake Arcbund Ravager is one of the key pieces of the puzzle, while Steel Overseer’s +1/+1 counter granting is excellent with Ravager, Ballista and Hangarback. Vault Skirge has found itself an excellent roleplayer to recoup life lost from sol lands and also become a huge lifelinking threat with +1/+1 counters in the mix.

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In terms of lock pieces, Legacy also gets to take advantage of Chalice of the Void, Thorn of Amethyst and Lodestone Golem with no restriction. Phyrexian Revoker joins as a typical, flexible piece of disruption. Unlike old Affinity lists, the deck can now fit in potent disruption and an aggressive, cheap, synergistic package of creatures.

The first appearance began with Amadeus Grun at MKM Hamburg:

But it has now found its way into a GP Top 8 in the hands of Johan De Gruyter and continued Magic Online placing. Furthermore, although Thorns and Lodestones can make casting him an issue, Karn, Scion of Urza is another excellent new addition, especially incorporated ala Qernavak:

Thorns have been removed, making this list more disruption light, but Karn provides a huger-than-Tarmogoyf clock a lot of the time, while also being able to let the deck accrue card advantage on an empty board. Welding Jar is also an exciting, frustrating and zero-mana addition in this deck that can defend crucial artifacts like Ravager or even Chalice from destruction.

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Also note the diversity of options when it comes to the mana base. The full eight sol lands and some number of acceleration in Lotus Petal and Mox Opal are typical, as are Wastelands (to screw the opponent when the taxing effects of Thorn or Lodestone are in place). But after this, man-lands (Blinkmoth Nexus, Mishra's Factory), artifact lands (Darksteel Citadel, Vault of Whispers and co. if splashing), Cavern of Souls and utility lands (Inventors' Fair, Buried Ruin, Karakas) are all options.

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Find more about the deck at The Source where a lot of continued tinkering is going on. In particular, Sisyphos’s primer is an excellent place to get started crafting a list.

Bizarro Storm

The child of Reanimator and Storm was always Tin Fins, which aims to reanimate a hasty Griselbrand via Shallow Grave or Goryo's Vengeance, draw its whole deck via sacrificing Children of Korlis to recoup life loss (also known as Griselbrand “eating Children”). Versions have ranged from Blue-Black-based Brainstorm/Ponder/Probe and Therapy lists modeling themselves somewhat after ANT and Blue-Black Reanimator, to non-Blue versions that have taken inspiration from Black-Red Reanimator but added innovative kills using Burning Wish, Unburial Rites and other fun things.

However, a certain printing has made a new Reanimator-Storm hybrid possible…

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Magus of the Mind makes playing Yawgmoth's Bargain and Mind's Desire together possible in Legacy with a little bit of reanimation magic. Importantly, Magus makes the deck much less reliant purely on Griselbrand as a Storm engine (though Goryo’s Vengeance needs to be substituted for Dance of the Dead). The deck is also a truly powerful Entomb deck thanks to not only binning fatties, but also binning Past in Flames to go for Storm-based kills just like ANT.

There’s certainly a few kinks to work out (such as what splash is optimal, whether Wishes are required etc.), but the deck is looking like a very solid and explosive candidate:

There’s a few bits of coverage it has also been featured on, such as on Geek Fortress’s Legacy coverage and on CBR MTG’s and Jeff Hoogland’s stream! Nonetheless, find all the bizarreness being tinkered with at The Source here.

Oops, All Spells!

Oops, All Spells! was probably not on your radar for improvement when Dominaria was printed. But the deck has gained a subtle improvement thanks to… Garna, the Bloodflame?!

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Previous iterations of the deck have used Angel of Glory’s Rise Dread Returned to get Azami, Lady of Scrolls and Laboratory Maniac, which together tap to lead to a game win – but makes the deck potentially prone to removal. Once Underworld Cerberus was printed this led to another win condition – [Dread Return]] the big dog, sacrifice it to Cabal Therapy and then use Spirit Guides and Wild Cantor to cast Laboratory Maniac. After that, cycle Street Wraith to win, dodging any removal on the Maniac, as you’d just cycle more Wraiths in response.

Now, with Garna, the Bloodflame we can skip one step – sacrificing the Dread Returned creature to Cabal Therapy – meaning less Therapies need to be run in the deck (at least one Therapy is required to use on yourself in case Garna is naturally drawn and cannot be revived…) and Bridge from Below is also not required. With these cuts the deck can be even leaner, with extra Manamorphose basically turning this into a forty-nine card deck. Extra Manamorphose, although sometimes a sketchy proposition, also makes one of the deck’s critical bottlenecks – Black mana – less of an issue. Pitch those Spirit Guides happily, convert them to Black mana and Ritual out your Rogue of choice.

The sideboard of these decks is of course always a mess, with the Belcher sideboard plan aiming to let the deck dodge graveyard hate but struggle a little more, since the fundamental mana count the deck must hit is seven, rather than the four it is typically designed for.

Food Chain

Food Chain’s infinite combo with Misthollow Griffin and Eternal Scourge is well-known, but Squee, the Immortal means that infinite mana can now be created in Red as well. Of course, the “BUG shell” of Deathrite is hard to pass up, but perhaps there is some exciting ways to take advantage of Squee, especially the fact that he is a Goblin and can also be essentially tutored for via Entomb.

This first list comes from ChristoferV from the The Source – find his report on the deck here. Although looking like a crummy Goblins list without Vial, this list can importantly win out of nowhere with a Food Chain and Goblin Recruiter, leading us to the closest possible replication of the old Type 1.5 Food Chain Goblins lists of yore. I think, although quite rough around the edges, this list shows quite a fun bit of potential and perhaps is a variant on Goblins that can bring the deck back into relevance.

Next we have a Jund-style list from maharis:

Remember that Entomb can get Squee into the graveyard, which lets him then be cast, which lets him then be exiled to Food Chain to make infinite mana. Other things you can do here is just Entomb / Reanimate Griselbrand, because that usually leads to a win. Cabal Therapy, while ramping the deck with Veteran Explorer, is also neat with Squee because its flashback turns into costing 1RR, rather than the sacrifice of a creature. Note how Imperial Recruiter is excellent due to it tying together both the enabler (Squee) and the kill condition (Ballista). Streamer thefrozendivide has a similar Jund list here.

And then of course, you can always just cram the deck into a Stompy shell:

Blood Moon and two-colour decks are always a little ambitious, since a fast Tombed-out Blood Moon can actually hinder the operation of Green mana if a Petal or Spirit Guide is not ready. Commune with the Gods, however, is an exciting piece of technology when you’re using both Moons and Food Chains which it can find, while also just digging deep for any creature combo piece required.


That’s all for this week, hope you enjoyed the explore into archetypes new and revised. Next week (I mean it this time), with the full spoiler out, I’ll check out what Battlebond has to offer Legacy. To mull over for the week ahead, here’s some content from around the web:

  • Megucci plays Miracles at CFB.
  • Julian Knab talks about the past few months of Legacy. He speaks on life, Elves, and other good things. Check out the man at
  • Melbournian Jack Jiggens throws in his two cents about Death & Taxes and comes up with some innovative (or crazy) brews of the deck. Find that at The Salt Mine.

‘Til next time.

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I’m Playing This Week

Well, okay, well. Hm. My darling Bomberman has some strange stuff floating around in it. But once you look at a few of these you realise – some of these are really great.

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Board the Weatherlight is a potent tool to dig deep, finding you a Lion's Eye Diamond, random trinket, or Ballista or big daddy Karn. In this list, it can also find The Antiquities War. This card has been seeing some Modern play, and although it requires dipping into a second color here (and I’m actually a bit more of a fan of something like Thoughtcast in a shell like this) the payoff is quite impressive – especially that likely game-winning ultimate. I might be tinkering around with this, starting with finding a way to incorporate at least Board the Weatherlight into a Karn-heavy mono-White shell. Wish me luck!

The Spice Corner

Someone forgot their Oppositions at home and decided “well, this’ll do”. Everyone knows the power of Symbiote and Visionary in Elves, why not add that to a Green Sun’s Zenith/Brainstorm/Leovold BUG shell? And why not let Visionary bounce the strictly better (if mana is no issue) Coiling Oracle? Neat.

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