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This Week in Legacy: SCG Open Worcester and Amonkhet Spoilers


Welcome to another edition of This Week in Legacy! Last weekend SCG Open Worcester occurred, one of the few big Legacy events in North America, and it certainly delivered. It was refreshing to see the dual lands and Brainstorms take the stage on SCG coverage, and the format once again revealed a wide array of decks, some new trends and new technology. We also have some new cards from Amonkhet revealed, with a few that could certainly be Legacy playable.

SCG Worcester

Firstly, let's have a look at the illustrious Top 8ers of the recent event:

And how the Top 8 broke down in terms of matchups:

Eli Kassis took down the final spot! Many long-time Legacy players would know that Eli as been a huge innovator in the format, relatively recently pioneering the Grixis Control lists of the Treasure Cruise / Dig Through Time era and his odd ball UR Delver list featuring hits such as Compulsive Research and Set Adrift. You can see him giving an interview of his old Mishra's Factory Lands list with Nate Price below too, just to give a bit of evidence to how far his format contributions go:

So it's not ultimately surprising to see him take the final spot, being the accomplished player that he is. Sadly, however, he came with a relatively stock Predict Miracles list, with just a few bits and pieces of Eli Kassis spice thrown in:

Eli squeezed in Engineered Explosives, Council's Judgment, and the fun-of Unexpectedly Absent (which is pretty great against Delve threats!), notably trimming down on the fourth Ponder and finding himself without any Counterspells in his seventy-five. He ultimately regarded his deck building decisions as somewhat of a mistake in his Player's Interview, realizing his list was a bit light on ways to attack combo, notably only running a single Flusterstorm!

His sideboard did, however, pack some oddities that look like carry-overs from the days of Eldrazi dominance: a two-pack of Blood Moons, Moat, and Ensnaring Bridge are all strong at stopping Eldrazi from casting anything or from attacking at all. Also interesting is that Eli chose notably 'slower' forms of graveyard hate in Containment Priest and Rest in Peace. Although Priest helps with Miracles' difficult Show and Tell matchup, Rest in Peace can be too slow against Red-Black Renimator, and Rest in Peace's damage against fair Tarmogoyf decks is almost non-existent due to the Lhurgoyf getting little play within the tournament. Although RIP does turn off Deathrite Shaman and Snapcaster Mage, Predict Miracles leaning so hard on Snapcaster themselves causes a bit of tension. It's definitely interesting Eli chose RIP over the more Snapcaster-synergistic Surgical Extraction.

Some big-mana decks also made a solid appearance in the Top 8. The aptly-named Nathaniel Red took Mono-Red Sneak Attack, while Tony Murata brought Blue-Green 12Post:

Nathaniel brought an almost exact net-deck of Jeff Hoogland's Top 8ing list, which ultimately utilized what looks like rather antiquated technology. Godo, Bandit Warlord has largely been replaced by Combustible Gearhulk in most recent lists, but in the end, these cards are largely interchangeable as big, Red idiots (though Godo's Batterskulls take up quite a few slots). The most important recent adaptation to these lists is Chandra, Torch of Defiance, which is something that should be somewhere in any Red Ancient Tomb deck, no matter if it focuses on combo or beatdown. She provides the ability to control the board, dig for combo pieces, or actually just kill the opponent given enough time. I'd look to Ecoscuro's list for something a bit more updated. Nonetheless, I'm always happy to see a Blood Moon / Chalice deck get into the Top 8!

Tony Murata's 12Post list is incredibly streamlined, and doesn't incorporate any new technology like Thought-Knot Seer or Warping Wail, other than Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Ugin. He also has Repeal as his main way of stalling creatures, which ain't as good as it used to be when Delver's mana cost was zero, but it's quite serviceable and can also lead to some explosive mana when combined with Candelabra. There's a few trinkets (but no Mage) in this list, like Explosives, and a full four Tops. Tony was definitely going for an incredibly consistent and streamlined main deck, and I really like the numbers he's got here.

The sideboard notably hedges hugely against combo decks (the deck's main downfall), along with some Tabernacles to ruin wallets and go-wide strategies, a duo of Krosan Grips for Blood Moon, which notably knocked Tony out of the tournament, and some Trickbinds for further Wasteland defense or other random utility.

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Also note there was a mono-Green 12Post list that also featured in Day 2 and notably had Conduit of Ruin as bit of spice. Hopefully I can gather that list for next week's column.

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The other not-so-standard deck in this Top 8 was Blue-Black Reanimator. Red-Black has largely become the default choice over its Brainstorming and Pondering cousin, but Reanimator in the hands of veteran Jonathan Morawski I'm not surprised to reach Top 8.

This... Largely looks like Reanimator from a couple of years ago, the only major addition being the one-of Collective Brutality, and a Fatal Push over a card like Disfigure. Coffin Purge is a lovely bit of technology that can be Entombed for to break open the Reanimator mirror, and flashback cards are exciting as toolbox options. That being said, it's very slow compared to the usual Surgical Extraction, but Blue-Black has access to Daze, Thoughtseize, and Force of Will for added defense. It's nice to see such a classic approach to the archetype still having the tools to get there, and perhaps the Blue cards are much appreciated now as defense and alternative ways of cheating in fatties, as Red-Black has such a target on its head.

Next, let's look to the Top 32 and how Day 2 broke down:

Miracles notably was at the top of the pack per usual, but Elves has been continually going on a tear throughout this month. Andrew Jessup was demolishing the Swiss at Worcester with a very stock list (the only slightly-exciting thing about his list was two Cavern of Souls), and the little Green men should very seriously be on people's radar. Grindy midrange decks should especially take note lest they be gobbled up by the forest of cards that Elves can accrue.

Infect made a very notably appearance in the Top 8 and throughout the Top 32. The list most interesting is that of Sean Liu, who took 22nd place:

The Tundra initially looks out of place, but Sean has an excellent bit of reasoning behind it here, along with a discussion of how it informed the rest of his list. I, really, really, really like four Ponders in Infect, as otherwise the deck is incredibly lacking in proactive turn one plays (four Elf and four Hierarch are really the only feasible ones, as turn one Brainstorm or Crop Rotation are going to be very uncommon). Four Ponders gives the deck an almost Delver feel, and although it can crowd out other slots and feel a bit clunky at times (I just want to draw pump spell, not durdle around for an extra turn!), the smoothness that multiple cantrips provide cannot be understated. Four Ponders became standard in Miracles for a reason, and who knows if four Ponder Infect can also be a thing.

In the sideboard... Mother of Runes?!

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This is the reasoning for a deeper White splash and is very compelling. Spellskite and Sylvan Safekeeper have definitely been options that I've tried, but Mom is far superior to these. Dipping into a tertiary color always feels a little awkward though, especially for a creature you want essentially on turn one the majority of the time. Swords to Plowshares is certainly great, but I'm not sure how relevant Rest in Peace really is currently. I understand the skewed mana base too, but I get conscious of how premium Forests are to turn on Invigorate. I do love the pushing of the envelope Sean has demonstrated here, however.

My current Infect list can be found here, for anyone curious. The only notables are the four Ponders and a spicy Umezawa's Jitte in the sideboard. It pumps and kills, exactly what Infect wants, right?

The breakout deck of the tournament was the so-called "Czech Pile" popularized by Tomas Mar quite some time ago, now making its way to America on the heels of Noah Walker's adoption of it during the recent Team Open. Of course, it's shot up through to the main stream thanks to Leovold, Emissary of Trest.

I'll never be able to look at one-of Lightning Bolt without wincing, but the selection of one-ofs certainly sticks out as the main bit of customization that can be made to these lists. Night's Whisper is the main carry-over from lists on Magic Online and Eternal Extravganza. Pyroblast in the main also says something about the metagame somewhat, I suppose. The sideboard, at least that of Edgar, hedges heavily against fatty decks, Lands, and True-Name Nemesis with the huge three-of Diabolic Edict.

It's notable that although seven 4c Control lists were in Day 2, only two scraped into the Top 32. Although its popularity and the adoption by excellent players certainly highlights its strength, there is something to be said about playing a deck with such a fragile mana base. I also question whether it can keep up with current Predict Miracles's ability to grind. Having Red for Blast effects certainly is appealing though. I look forward to seeing how the 4c Control lists progress in the weeks after Worcester.

The last incredibly interesting list is that of The Source regular iatee, real name: Eetai Ben-Sasson:

iatee has been a strong proponent of the Red-splash of Death & Taxes for some time, and certainly one of his on-camera matches showed Magus of the Moon's surprising power against his Miracles opponent, despite Magus typically being pretty mediocre against basic Plains and Island. His list is certainly more toolboxey, with a huge amount of one-ofs and a higher curve than most typical Death & Taxes lists due to the lack of Serra Avenger. He has Vryn Wingmare as additional tax effects and also has Palace Jailer in the main which really emphasizes the more grindy direction of the Red splash. In the sideboard, Pia and Kiran Nalaar make an appearance as more four-mana bombs along with a bevy of other tutor targets. Cunning Sparkmage is a great Human (for Cavern of Souls purposes) that can clear away obnoxious weenies.

Amonkhet Spoilers

It's spoiler time, and there may be some nice juicy new Legacy toys on the horizon.

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The Gods are all pretty exciting. Hazoret looks like a perfect fit in Dragon Stompy, and although facing stiff competition with Thunderbreak Regent and Pia and Kiran Nalaar, the indestructibility, haste, and notably an ability that synergises with Dragon Stompy's current burn-out plan makes her pretty compelling. Oketra I'm not sure will fit anywhere in Legacy. Her ability is just too mana intensive and Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar are excellent token producers at four mana. Gideon can even attack if needed. Keftnet looks pretty fun in Sea/Faerie Stompy, especially with Sea Drake being pretty helpful at getting more lands in hand, and as a draw engine he's pretty impressive.

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Gideon of the trials is very interesting. I feel like he will either end up excellent or not played at all. His Emblem can be a pretty big pain for a deck such as Storm if they are caught without  Abrupt Decay, and even Miracles could find him mildly annoying, though a large Entreat will eventually make him just shave a turn off the clock, probably. But currently there's better three drops for these roles. Sanctum Prelate, for example, has a similar mana cost, beats down and turns off huge portions of the opponent's deck, while Gideon actually does little other than stall. But maybe there is some way to abuse him...

Liliana on the other hand is pure Nic Fit goodiness, and her first ability synergizes great with Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Recurring Nightmare. She also can be a backup sweeper if needed too!

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He looks pretty useless... Until one realizes that he is an on-color combo piece with Splinter Twin and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker that is cheaper than Zealous Conscripts. This is pretty exciting, and I'm sure a Chalice / Blood Moon neo-Twin list can now be made. Sadly, Combat Celebrant can't be found with Imperial Recruiter, which would've made things much easier. I think there're two lists that could be made: a list that aims to lock out the opponent and then Twin the opponent, maybe having some random value creatures to supplement this, or Combat Celebrant being shoved into a Moggcatcher Stompy list that can support eight tutors for the second half of the combo.

Shout-out to /u/Nossman for the inspiration!

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This guy is pretty sweet as a potential addition to UR Delver. Having a full twelve one-drops, replacing Stormchaser Mage, is notable, though the lack of haste on this guy certainly means Swiftspear is superior. I like the Everlasting Torment-esque ability, helping creatures push through Anglers, Seers, or Goyfs that can block the road.

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This is the cheapest Embalm we've got so far, and sadly, as adorable as it is, it's not playable. If there is a creature with an Embalm cost zero, then we're talking a potential addition to Dredge variants. Note that Embalm is very poor with Bridge from Below!

Lastly, the reprints. Aven Mindcensor is always in my box of White creatures for Death & Taxes, and now he has sweet new art (and an easier price tag!). The Invocations, although I have mixed feelings about their border, have pretty amazing art. The Daze art in particular is absolutely stunning:

Conclusion

Again, here we are at the end of This Week in Legacy. Hopefully you enjoyed the run-down of Worcester and Amonkhet so far.

 As always, so more Legacy content around the web:

And most importantly...

 

Get hyped for the Legacy Premier League! Featuring some of Legacy's greats and not-so greats, it's certain to be an exciting series to watch. Go show your support for it!

Anyway, 'til next time,

Sean Brown

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

What I'm Playing This Week

Lots of 4c Control you say... Well, do I have a gift for you... 

Have a turn one Blood Moon. This is nothing too fancy, with me only filling the flex slots with Pia and Kiran Nalaar and Collective Defiance, which not only can kill the opponent, but also have the flexibility of killing a Delver beating us up.

The Spice Corner

It did it again, 3-0ing a small tournament. This time, with Magus of the Will.

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Infernal Tutor also partners with its old friend Lion's Eye Diamond to find the final combo piece when going off. Mishra's Bauble complements Urza's here, but with Lodestone Bauble being a win-condition in the previous list (thank you everyone for highlighting that interaction, by the way!) it may be superior.


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