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This Week in Legacy: SCG Baltimore Open and Classic

Welcome to another This Week in Legacy. There was actually a lot of Legacy action this weekend thanks to SCG Baltimore, which had a unique format — Team Constructed. This involved Standard, Modern, and Legacy players banding together to fight, and although it likely skewed a few of the deck choices, it certainly brought out some exciting technology for sure. Furthermore, to top off the weekend there was a Legacy Classic — something we haven't got in a long time, with more data there too! I'll also look at some other creatures from Aether Revolt that I missed in last week's article!

SCG Baltimore Open

There's a few bits of data to look at from this event: the Day 2 metagame breakdown and also the Top 16'ing lists. First, the breakdown. Do note, this breakdown may not be entirely indicative of the Legacy decks' success. They may of been carried by their Standard and Modern counterparts through the tournament! However, seeing the variety of decks people decided to bring nonetheless gives us some interesting points of discussion.

The "Others" encompasses a few decks, all with only singleton appearances, including Death & Taxes, Lands, Turbo Depths, Tin Fins, Belcher, and Elves.

Notable is the presence of Miracles at the top, a premier choice for grinders and those who feel competent with it. Its flexibility and power is sure to be an excellent choice in the relatively large field of the Open. Next were Sneak & Show and the Delver decks, all with three copies in Day Two. Sneak & Show is another expected choice for an large, open field. Grixis Delver retained its strength as the premier home of Lightning Bolt, disruption, and Delver of Secrets, while BUG Delver continued rank next to it, though Sam Pardee's True-Name BUG list has likely been lumped here.

Burn continues the trend of playing linear, proactive strategies, but the appearance of two Food Chain lists is really quite notable. Although Shardless BUG was once prominent, Leovold decks have appeared to largely supersede them, and Food Chain certainly lumps itself into that category. Shardless Agent has appeared to of lost his luster. BUG lists are gravitating to either Leovold or Delver (or both!), it seems.

Looking towards the Top 16, we have this breakdown:

Most lists were relatively stock, though there was a few lists which were essentially upgrades to decks pre-Aether Revolt.

Sam Pardee's True-Name BUG closely mirrors Reid Duke's Louisville list, but cuts Murderous Cut and the singleton tilting one-of Tarmogoyf for two copies of the more flexible Fatal Push. Cut is a great card, but being unable to kill early creatures like Deathrite or Delver certainly is a knock against it. His sideboard was also slightly altered, swapping Surgical Extraction for Grafdigger's Cage and a Dread of Night for Golgari Charm. Golgari Charm is a very poor choice in this shell with Hierarchs and True-Name Nemesis, and the new Make Obsolete or Marsh Casualties are likely the cards Pardee should've chose. That being said, Charm's flexiblity is certainly useful.

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Also notable was Dylan Donegan's BUG Delver.

Donegan's list looks like a mix of ideas from Dark Thresh and the 4c "Friedman" Delver lists. Its threat suite is highly nostalgic of 4c Delver - two Anglers, two True-Names, and a Leovold being very reminiscent and certainly being great against the current metagame of Decay and Push but interestingly opts out of Snapcaster Mage to play Stifle instead. Also notable in this list is the presence of a full four Fatal Push, giving the deck a huge seven cards that are dead against combo with Decay, not to mention the clunky Anglers and True-Names that can be a liability. The three Pierces and the addition of Stifle is likely a concession to shore these matchups up. I'm surprised that a Tombstalker was not chosen over an Angler in this list however, like what hoppelars opted for on Magic Online. As a deck that wants to consistently reach three mana, having two Underground Seas available should be an easy feat.

The other list I'd like to highlight is that of Patrick Sullivan. The SCG commentator we don't get to see playing Magic much these days, but for the Team Open he jammed some Legacy and played his old stand-by, Burn.

Patrick notably eschewed Grim Lavamancer for a very streamlined threat suite, along with a burn spell we haven't seen in a long time:

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Once Eidolon proved its worth Flame Rift was largely kicked out of Burn lists due to it no longer being an equal trade - "we take six?!" - but Patrick's list appears to be geared for the fastest gold fish possible, especially pertinent against combo decks which he expected to be plentiful, and he'd be right considering Sneak & Show's strong appearance. His sideboard was geared against Miracles most notably, overpowering CounterTop with Sulfuric Vortex and a package of five uncounterable spells: four Exquisite Firecraft and a singleton Sudden Shock. The Firecrafts are likely strong against all the other Blue decks of the format too. The Sudden Shock complements the anti-creature package of Searing Blood and Blaze too, all being great against D&T. Only two Smash to Smithereens shows his awareness of Eldrazi's downswing.

Probably the most notable choice is this though:

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Twenty Arabian Nights Mountains. That already stacks his vanilla-looking Burn list into the price range of many dual land-touting three color decks. I'm not sure whether playing fetch-less Burn was a conscious decision based on percentages or just for style points, but PSulli crafting a Burn list is always something every Burn player should take note of.

SCG Baltimore Classic

Looking to the Sunday Legacy Classic, the Top 16 broke down as follows:

This Top 16 had a lot more Eldrazi than we've been expecting! Perhaps the spaghetti monsters aren't as poorly positioned as initially thought, as the deck appears to still have a lot of brute force available to it. Shardless BUG also made a second place appearance despite the Open indicating it being less popular. Death & Taxes made a solid appearance too, with Thraben University's Phil Gallagher making a Top 8 finish.

There was some spicy ones in the mix too!

This is reminscent of the UR Delver lists of Matthew Brown, with a high amount of basics, but this list has removed Delvers for larger bombs such as Jace, the Mind Sculptor and spicy ones like Temporal Mastery.

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Super clunky, but can certainly act as a spell to close up the game — a Time Walk should usually pull the UR Control player far ahead.

Other Miracles in the sideboard include Bonfire of the Damned (should this just be called UR Miracles?!), a drastically underplayed card in the format. Even as an expensive Electrickery the card is solid, and the upside in the late game is huge.

Andrew Calderon brought a deck that has been making solid appearances on Magic Online, but had yet to make a Paper appearance. Sort of like a White-Blue Death & Taxes, this list is likely the best home for Spell Queller in Legacy:

Idiots like Judge's Familiar and Mausoleum Wander poke at the opponent while the opponent gets locked out by Thalia and Meddling Mage plus Gitaxian Probe. Very impressive. This list also gets to run brutal cards like Back to Basics, Heretic Cathar, Venser + Karakas, and a pile of Planeswalkers.

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The last interesting list is a four-color Enchantress list, deviating from the typical Junk-colored lists to add Energy Field in addition to the splashed Doomwake Giant. I'm not sure how much I like this, as having a hard splash of Black gives access to some powerful sideboard options like discard.

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More Aether Revolt Additions

There are a few Aether Revolt cards that I haven't covered that are also now making waves.

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Walking Ballista has certainly been making waves in Standard, but in Legacy he of course has tough competition. However, as we saw last week in the Bomberman list, he is an excellent sink for infinite mana combos, and there is another one that has been getting continued traction in Legacy, thanks to Leovold slotting nicely into it, that made its presence felt in Baltimore.

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The common ways to finish games with Food Chain currently have been via Fierce Empath for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (for a nice little package with Gurmag Angler too) or Genesis Hydra for a bunch, hitting Tidespout Tyrant and bouncing the opponent's board via repeated casting of Griffin or Scourge. Now dumping a huge amount of mana into Walking Ballista and then shooting the opponent for twenty is another option. This significantly decreases the number of 'clunky' cards in the deck. Not only can Ballista become a threat that quickly spirals out of control, it also doubles as additional removal spells or reach too. Although a bit mana intensive, the deck was already well-equipped to get to four mana for hardcasting Griffins, not to mention an active Food Chain can eat a bunch of fodder such as Baleful Strix to make Ballista even more monstrous.

Ballista also has a likely home in Ancient Tomb decks that have an abundance of mana to sink. Myers Alexander brought this Eldrazi & Taxes list to a tournament in Switzerland and took a place in Top 8:

This list notably eschews Thalia, Heretic Cathar for Stoneforge and Vryn Wingmare, which is somewhat understandable. Smuggler's Copter also makes an appearance here as a piece of card filtration and more evasion in addition to the Wingmare. With the two Ballista, Wingmare, and Copter, Delvers going unchecked are unlikely to be an issue for this list. I also like how Myers trimmed down on Dismember, and I think this is where Ballista fits best. It may be replacing my Warping Wails in the future as my choice of flexible removal.

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Gifted Aetherborn has been getting a lot of hype in a few places too, but in decks even nicher than Food Chain. Vampire Nighthawk has many abilities that are incredibly appealing in Legacy, but the steep cost of three mana means it can be a little too late. Aetherborn cannot challenge a Delver, but it can effectively brawl with many of the ground creatures in the format. Also note how incredible Aetherborn is against the threats I outlined last week in a similar way to Baleful Strix: Mongoose, Mandrills, and Angler, no matter how many removal spells they're immune to, they cannot beat deathtouch, and a lot of the time lifelink will be very relevant in aggressive matchups.

Niwa Takahiro took a Black-Green midrangey Dark Depths deck to a solid placing in Japan, and this list had a very interesting suite of creatures: Deathrite, Bob, Goyf, Hexmage and Gifted Aetherborn.

Some other cards also have been getting a lot of traction in these midrange decks as sideboard choices too: Lost Legacy has largely become the Memoricide effect of choice, and Yahenni's Expertise is an interesting replacement for effects such as Night of Souls' Betrayal or Damnation.

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Speaking of Black-Green decks, not only did BUG decks get a shot in the arm, but so did Black-Green midrange variants thanks to Fatal Push. Perhaps something along these lines, close to something brewed by Melbourne friend Tim Sandrin, as well as taking some inspiration from Magic Online player Ghesizzi who crushed me in a recent League with the power of Tireless Tracker.

I've slot in Gifted Aetherborn here (nice with Volrath's Stronghold!) but this can be replaced by a lot of niche Black creatures. Gatekeeper of Malakir is also a card I particularly like with so many True-Name Nemesis around currently, and the solid mana base of this list can reliably support the Vampire.

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Sadly, without the hatebears the Junk color combination is very soft to combo, though Chains of Mephistopheles does help, if you can afford it! Without Chains, more discard may be necessary, and then this list becomes a solid budget-ish choice, especially with Tarmogoyf's price swinging pretty low at the moment.

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Thanks as always for reading This Week in Legacy! Again, some more shout-outs to other content providers around the web!

As always, feel free to contact me about anything Legacy related at the details below.

'Til next time,

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I'm Playing This Week

Last week I outlined PCK's Canadian Threshold, and I made some modifications to the list and found myself with a solid 4-0 at my local. Admittedly, I played against some pretty wild lists, such as Isochron Scepter + Orim's Chant, but the list was overall a blast, especially Life from the Loam.

I also have a new Dark Thresh list I've been running through some Leagues to some reasonable finishes, though I feel the sideboarding plans are a little less elegant than I'd hoped. Going "full shroud" and boarding out Delvers is something I loved in RUG, but Deathrite being so good means I often have to leave it in and turn on removal. Maybe I'm getting a little too tricksy and should just Delver people's faces off anyway.

The Cabal Pit mirrors the Barbarian Ring in RUG, and finally gives me an out to pesky Mirran Crusader.

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The Spice Corner

This list Top 8ed the recent 64-player event at KnightWare in Los Angeles. And oh my is it a spicy one. This list utilizes a huge amount of zero mana spells, including hits like Urza's Bauble along with Ad Nauseam to draw almost every card in the deck. Once this is achieved there's two combos that can be assembled: Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage or a natural Storm kill with Grapeshot or Wishable Lightning Storm, similar to the Modern Ad Nauseam lists! Find the rest of the Top 8 here, and I'd like to thank /u/DudeItsCorey for the tip-off!

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