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This Week in Legacy: Not Gruul? Then Die!

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be talking all about Gruul Initiative and what those lists are shaping up to look like in the new post-EI/WPA ban era of Legacy. We've also got a nice sized paper event to look at from Brazil in addition to Challenge data, one of which was a Showcase Challenge event.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Not Gruul? Then Roll Initiative!

Since the banning of White Plume Adventurer and Expressive Iteration we have seen some interesting developments in the realm of the Initiative decks. As predicted we definitely have not seen the last of the mechanic at all, given that we were also given Undermountain Adventurer and Ravenloft Adventurer on Magic Online the same week as the bannings.

However, the more predominant shifts in the focused Initiative decks have moved mostly away from the White based Stompy decks that WPA made infamous, and instead have focused more on the Gruul based color pairing.

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The builds for these decks are pretty varying overall, as people are still working on the decks to hammer out the best slots for certain cards, but the core of the deck is definitely the setup of 8 Spirit Guides, 8 Initiative Creatures (Caves of Chaos Adventurer/Undermountain Adventurer) four copies of Fury, and generally four copies of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker.

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Beyond that, we've seen everything from Trinisphere, Blood Moon, Blood Sun and more as people have figured out what to wrap around that core. What is nice about this deck sofar is that the deck is very much an exercise in proper play sequencing, and requires a lot of finesse to understand how best to deploy cards. Overextending into a piece of countermagic can be drastically more difficult for a deck like this to recover and rebuild, given that it is usually expending mana from its hand in the form of Spirit Guides to do so. That isn't to say that the deck can't play something else and start to rebuild, but the process to do so is definitely a lot more difficult than the Mono White decks had it with all of their redundant hatebear effects and Initiative threats.

All in all, I'm pretty happy to see the experimentation within this shell and I'm curious where it goes from here. I'm sure we will still see a lot of differences and variations in the lists, which in my mind is a good place for an Ancient Tomb deck to be.

LPL Open - Season IV 3/18

This past weekend was also a reasonably sized paper Legacy event down in Brazil. The LPL Open - Season IV event had 55 registered players in it, which is pretty sweet for a paper Legacy event!

You can find all of the decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Cephalid Breakfast 1st Ronadlo Miyashiro
Jeskai Control 2nd Gustavo Ferreira
Cephalid Breakfast 3rd-4th Davi Erik Pereira
Goblins 3rd-4th João Bonini
Black Depths 5th-8th Danilo Kiyan
Goblins 5th-8th Guillherme Figueira
White Stompy 5th-8th Marwin Bravin
Lands 5th-8th Brian Takahira

What a definitely wild looking Top 8 here. Lot of Cephalid Breakfast and Goblins here, alongside Depths based decks and Jeskai Control. The event looks to have been a split between Cephalid Breakfast and Jeskai Control. Let's take a look at the Breakfast list.

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Pretty solid list overall. Fairly stock and super clean. Definitely a very powerful deck right now for sure.

Legacy Challenge 3/18

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Saturday event. This event had 65 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Reanimator had a huge presence here and a very strong win rate, followed by 8Cast. UR Delver and Gruul Stompy did quite poorly and Jeskai Control did very well.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Maverick 1st DNEELEY
Reanimator 2nd piao
Bant Control 3rd yPrincipe
Reanimator 4th duke12
8Cast 5th Butakov
Stoneblade 6th TheGenz
Elves 7th Testacular
Cephalid Breakfast 8th Enrichetta

Definitely a super interesting Top 8. Zero Delver decks here, and some powerful stuff. At the end of the event it was BCDL regular and Maverick afficionado extraordinaire Dan Neeley on... well Maverick of course!

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This list is pretty sweet really. Fiend Artisan is super cool as a finder of silver bullets, and Esper Sentinel seems quite strong. At the top end, Undermountain Adventurer feels very abusable and all in all this is just a really fun-looking list.

In Second Place we've got Reanimator.

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Having seen firsthand how strong Atraxa is in these shells, I'm not surprised to find people wanting to play this deck and that card. It's a solid straightforward strategy while people are figuring out how to approach the metagame for sure.

Further into the Top 8 we've got 8Cast.

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Very clean and straightforward list here. No frills, and there doesn't need to be. Sometimes very straightforward is the best way to go, and 8Cast is a good place to apply that level of thinking.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have our good friend Testacular on Nightmare on Elf Street.

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Fiend Artisan has really proven that it is just an absolutely nutty card all over the place. We also get to see here Atraxa as a NO target as well. Seems quite strong. Fun fact, did you know that Grist counts as a creature in every zone other than the battlefield? Think about that one.

Legacy Showcase Challenge 3/19

This weekend was also the first Showcase Challenge event since the bannings. Showcase Challenge events are large premier events that require QPs to enter, and the Top 8 of the events receive an invitation to compete in the Showcase Qualifier event at the end of the season. This event had a stunning 298 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Reanimator being the most popular deck in the event by a lot is actually not at all that surprising. It did very well, as did UR Delver with 12 less pilots. 8Cast did exceedingly well, and across the board was fair to medium overall.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
RUG Delver 1st Jacobisboss
GW Depths 2nd Moonmadness-_-
Gruul Stompy 3rd ecobaronen
RUG Delver 4th thescuba96
Bant Control 5th etoustar
4C Uro Control 6th Il_Livellatore
Doomsday 7th FGC
Stoneblade 8th roter_Erzengel

It's worth noting that while UR Delver seemed to do well in this event, in secret it was RUG Delver that had the best performance of the event overall because it pushed both of its two pilots into the Top 8, and one of those pilots (Jacobisboss) won the event on the deck!

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It's very interesting to see a RUG deck again, but the green splash here is fairly minimal for mainly Goyf and Ground Seal out of the sideboard. Goyf is a pretty big commitment though regardless, so it is very interesting to see how that card performed here. We may see further developments to this deck for sure going forward.

In Second Place we've got GW Depths.

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It is pretty nice seeing GW Depths back around given how much the deck seemed to have fallen off of the map during the days of White Plume Adventurer. The deck is a lot of fun to play and has a lot of powerful lines to it, making it really interesting and neat.

Further down the Top 8 we had some Bant Control.

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Without EI around, stretching yourself into red is a little awkward for just Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes unless you're on a big Yorion Zenith build, so seeing more focused Bant Control lists at 60 cards is pretty nice. Interesting inclusions here though are Back to Basics and also an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (which I can only imagine is for fighting Painter).

Down at the bottom of the Top 8 we have Bant Stoneblade.

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One of the more interesting things about post ban Legacy has been the slight revitalization of Stoneblade in the Bant colorations. While having all the regular advantages of Bant decks like Uro and friends, you also gain access to Noble Hierarch and sideboard green cards. However, the really interesting part is Trailblazer's Torch, which seems absolutely nuts to put into play off Stoneforge Mystic on an opponent's end step as an Initiative enabler.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 deck lists over here.

Slogurk in Lands!

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These Stiflenought builds are always so much fun to look at.

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WB Initiative Ephemerate is pretty silly.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next week as we continue our journey into Legacy!

As always you can reach me at all my associated links via my Link Tree! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGLegacy Discord Server.

Until next time!

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