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This Week in Legacy: SCG Philadelphia and MKM Prague


Welcome to another This Week in Legacy. This week we’ll be looking at the events of July 21-22. In the United States, SCG Open Philiadephia, with another Team Open and Classic featuring Legacy, and in Europe the next step of the MKM circuit, Prague. Both these events are certain to provide some more data on how the Legacy metagame is shaping up moving forward. Let’s roll.

SCG Philadelphia Team Open

For the Team Open, the metagame broke down as given here. As always, take the result from these events with a grain of salt, since the team structure leads to Standard and Modern results influencing placings.

This is again quite similar to what we saw last week, with Death & Taxes and RUG Delver as the most popular fair decks, and then a smattering of other options afterwards. I suppose these two decks have already proven their strength in the past and are a natural “go-to” for many grinders participating in the tournament. Miracles interestingly did not put as many heavy numbers in the past, with the most popular fair Blue midrange deck being Jeskai Stoneblade of all things. Combo-wise, Infect continued its trajectory upwards and continues its newfound popularity, and Reanimator variants have proven to be not as popular as initially expected, with Show and Tell strategies still being popular despite the Death & Taxes and RUG Delver metagame we’re seeing.

Now, on to some of the interesting lists from the event:

There is not much to say about this Infect list, honestly, other than that I love the numbers that Christopher has selected. This is a very clean, straightforward Infect list, which is exactly what you want to be doing for a new metagame moving forward. I’ve already mentioned why Infect got a huge boon, but it deserves reiteration – Deathrite Shaman cut off some of the deck’s earliest kills, as well as facilitated shells like Czech Pile that really could beat up on Infect from all axis.

Furthermore, I truly believe that Infect is one of the best Noble Hierarch shells currently. Unlike fair BUG or Bant decks, where late game Hierarchs are useless (unlike Deathrite, who was an excellent mana dork earlier and a reasonable threat late), Infect has late game Hierarchs typically turn into a pseudo-pump spell when partnered with an Infect creature. Only when things are going really bad, and Infect has no creatures on board, do Hierarchs become a bit of a liability, but I’d say that’s less of the norm.

Oliver Tomajko had faith in Death's Shadow in Legacy. But he’s made a few different deck building decisions compared to the lists I’ve been playing. Let’s have a look at these:

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Wasteland has been notably trimmed down to two, and I can definitely see why. The Shadow decks are actually not particularly amazing Wasteland shells, since the deck’s reliance on Thoughtseize means that it disrupts more so via hand destruction, rather than mana denial. Having a few Wastelands for utility land destruction, rather than full-blown mana denial purposes, is therefore certainly useful. I am wary of less Wastelands making Daze less powerful, however.

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Preordain’s addition gives this deck a bit more added velocity, which we’ve been seeing pretty consistently to enable these Gurmag Angler shells. Of course, this list also has access to Street Wraith for added velocity already, so I’m not sure how necessary the Preordains are. But an extra cantrip or two never really hurt anyway.

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The removal suite of Oliver is notably lacking Lightning Bolt! Although finding room for Dismember and Snuff Out is definitely feasible, cutting Bolt entirely makes me question the reasoning for going into Grixis colors to begin with. A lot of Oliver’s list can already be achieved via the pure Blue-Black version of the deck. The reach of Lightning Bolt and its ability to be a “combat trick” for Shadows is also not to be underestimated. Although splashing for Pyroblast is a well-known option in Legacy, I think Oliver could’ve better utilized the Red in his mana base with powerful additions like Bolt and/or Temur Battle Rage.

I do like how the Shadow shell is being worked on more and more, and Oliver’s success and his deck building considerations are certainly something to take into account for versions moving into the future.

There was a heap of Blade decks that made an appearance in this Team Open. Let’s have a look at each of these, side-by-side:

Gerard’s list is a little on the nuttier side, incorporating some technology shared by Miracles, such as using Unexpectedly Absent as a permanent-removal option, along with sideboard Terminus which can be set up via Ponder, Brainstorm, or Jace. The main deck Daze are also definitely a bit odd but are likely there as a “gotcha!” factor that will force people to play in fear of them in post-board games (when Gerard often boards them out, I imagine).

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Joe Bernal, on the other hand, has deemphasized the deck’s reliance on Jace and instead has looked to Engineered Explosives and Academy Ruins as the deck’s “lock”. Crucible of Worlds furthers this, reviving Academy, if it’s ever destroyed, or just recurring Wastelands for a full lock out. Crucible is certainly a card that benefits from the lack of Deathrite now, and it’s nice to see this rather old-school technology coming back.

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Joe also realized that his cute fair lock-out plan did little against combo, and hedged strongly in his main deck by including a huge three Flusterstorms in addition to his two Counterspell. Although this makes the deck somewhat soft to permanents like Counterbalance, Chalice of the Void and co., those cards are neatly covered by Engineered Explosives anyway. Note this deck’s lack of Ponder as well!

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Lastly, Mark Torlone took a more standard approach that you can find here. The spicy inclusions of main deck Path to Exile as additional removal along with a very diversified countersuite of Spell Snare, Pierce and Fluster are all quite interesting however. As is a card essentially unseen in Legacy – Counterflux. I think Counterflux is a little too expensive for Legacy play, but against midrange or combo decks I can see the appeal, especially with its upside as essentially a hard cast Mindbreak Trap against Storm.

Lastly, I’d like to look at this Grixis Delver list, which has aimed to remedy the lack of Deathrite with Grim Lavamancer, while still including Gurmag Angler. As a result, additional cantrips in Thought Scour are being utilized instead of something like Preordain featured in lists such as that of Noah Walker. Additional cantrips certainly still make Young Pyromancer a viable threat, but the power level of Thought Scour is quite low and four feels like a little too many, especially if the card is primarily there to alleviate tension between Angler and Lavamancer. Twelve cantrips and nineteen lands also looks a little flood prone to me as well. Nonetheless, I am personally a huge fan of Lavamancer over Bomat Courier, and I hope to see a Grixis shell that has both Lavamancer and Angler in harmony at some stage in the future. I’ll be noting down my preferences for Grixis Delver in my “What I’m Playing This Week” in a moment.

SCG Philadelphia Legacy Classic

The Legacy Classic results can be found here and interestingly can be defined by the success of a lot of non-Blue decks.

And the winner a typically non-Blue deck splashing for Brainstorm!

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This is Negator77’s BGu Depths list that he’s been playing for a very long time. The Brainstorm, Stifle and Flusterstorms look marginal, but when one thinks of them as an additional consistency engine, an additional Pithing Needle effect (that can randomly Stone Rain people out, or have other utility) and additional protection/defense against combo (something which Spheres can’t boast), one realizes the powerful utility that the Blue cards provide. Mox Diamond is also an uncommon acceleration option in Depths shells but makes sense due to the often-redundant Legendary lands the decks plays. The Brainstorm, Diamonds and lack of further acceleration actually makes this version look a little more “stable” than other depths lists, adding consistency for a little bit of a drop in speed. It is still certainly a “Turbo” Depths list, however, rather than the slower lists sporting Dark Confidant.

The second-placing Miracles list takes the enchantment haymaker theme and dials it up to 11. We’ve seen these style of lists before, but many opted out of cards like Terminus and Predict and weren’t truly Miracles, but instead a Blue-White enchantment prison deck. Jeffrey has effectively incorporated Miracle staples like a set of eleven cantrips, Terminus and Counterbalance to his suite of Rest in Peace and other combo pieces, giving this deck a truly diverse way to attack the format and less of a single-minded game plan. As a deck that lives and breathes on the strength of Rest in Peace, the full four Rest in Peace I do wonder about now, however. Although they do incidentally hate on one of the top fair decks in the metagame (RUG Delver), it has many blind spots, unlike before where RiP capitalized on everyone abusing Deathrite and other graveyard synergies. Jeffrey’s result seems to show contrary to my speculation, however, and perhaps the card is still as well-placed as ever.

A few Eldrazi Post lists made the Top 16, featuring the artifact rocks such as Grim Monolith, but it’s been some time since we saw Blue-Green 12Post take the stage! The deck has gotten a few minor updates, such as Walking Ballista as an excellent piece of interaction early and a behemoth of a mana sink late. Interestingly, I’d expect Trinket Mage to make an appearance in these shells to Candelabra or Ballista, but Chris has opted to instead lean on a full eight cantrips to find his pieces instead of rely on the somewhat-clunky Mage.

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An excellent bit of technology in these shells is Broken Bond – both an artifact and enchantment destruction spell and a ramp spell, since 12Post should typically have a hand flush with additional land drops when Broken Bond is cast.

Other exciting decks from the Classic include Jody Keith having some fun, opting out of his traditional Land-based strategies (or I guess this still kind of is, sort of…) for Blue-White Emrastill and Dan Webb’s Sneak & Show now featuring main deck Arcane Artisan!

MKM Prague

The last event we’ll look at is MKM Prague, whose metagame looked as follows:

Again, RUG Delver and Death & Taxes are the most-played, followed by White midrange/control strategies in Blade decks and Miracles. Blade decks always seem to be popular in Europe, and it seems that many are rejoicing there after the death of Kommand, happily sleeving up the Squire. Following these were the three big combo decks – interestingly, unlike America, where Sneak & Show ruled supreme after the banning, Reanimator came out in force in Europe, despite many a naysayer. However, at the end of the event, two tribal decks really came out on top…

Firstly, the winner – Elves!

Lindus changed very little from his pre-banning list, opting to keep the fetch-dual configuration from the Deathrite era (which is better with Dryad Arbor, at least) and simply additional mana dorks to fill in Deathrite’s holes. I think RUG Delver and Death & Taxes being most popular helps out hugely for Elves, with both of these matchups being excellent and although the White-Blue control decks can be tough (especially Miracles), they are certainly winnable with some tight play. Combo will always be a bit of a struggle for Elves, but Lindus’ opting for the Black splash featuring discard and full four graveyard hate spells makes it quite reasonable. I am surprised that Lindus has not included a Gaddock Teeg for a permanent-based axis of attack against combo, as without Deathrite the deck is somewhat lacking in that regard.

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Elderscale Wurm also has led to a somewhat hilarious, frustrating and odd Legacy interaction. Julian outlines this in his reddit post here, speaking on how with an Elderscale Wurm in play on both sides of the Elves mirror, both players will draw, as without Deathrite there is no longer a life loss effect that can get around Wurm’s damage prevention clause. It might be time for Shaman of the Pack to make a comeback – as a mirror breaker!

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I mentioned another tribe was incredibly successful. Unfortunately, it was not Goblins. Rather, the spaghetti monsters are back to play, with two taking the Top 8. Both were relatively stock “aggro” Eldrazi lists, rather than versions that abuse the Post mana engine. Eldrazi are nonetheless proving that they are once again a deck to be feared and their sheer speed and efficiency leads it to have excellent game against a wide variety of decks in the format. Unlike Blood Moon Stompy decks, which have very polarizing matchups (such as Sneak & Show, for example), Eldrazi’s sheer aggression and disruption in Thought-Knot Seer makes any matchup a plausible win. No longer hampered by the Baleful Strix sitting on the battlefield all the time, I expect Eldrazi to be the primary Stompy deck of choice for many moving forward. And it is certainly an excellent one.

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Other than the tribal decks, Miracles went excellently with three copies making the Top 8. The one I would like to highlight, however, is Vojtech Mraz’s Blue-White list featuring a lot of Teferis!

Teferi plays very nicely with the Back to Basics in the deck, along with the diversified suite of countermagic in Counterspell, Spell Pierce and Spell Snare, which are chosen instead of more proactive cards like Counterbalance, which makes sense to synergise with Teferi’s plus ability.

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A card I adore in the sideboard here is Blessed Alliance, which I do believe should get a bit more play moving forward. It is fine as an additional removal spell, but its key ability to kill Nimble Mongoose and True-Name Nemesis to me is big game at breaking open the RUG Delver matchup. Terminus deals with these cards, of course, but eventually the Mongoose brigade will keep coming if the game goes long. But Alliance actually puts those cards in the graveyard! Its flexibility and ability to Escalate are also relevant in a deck like Miracles that can hit its land drops. I’m a fan.

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Other decks that found their way into the Top 8 include a BUG Control list (feat. Noble Hierarch) and a Sneak & Show list incorporating the now somewhat-dated technology of Cunning Wish and Omniscience main. Find all the lists here.

Conclusion

That’s all for this week, as always here’s some links from around the web!

  • Mengucci plays Grixis Delver on CFB. Find that here. Meanwhile, Reid Duke is back on Elves!
  • HammerandSickled has a great diagram of all the Legacy results post-banning here.
  • Alex McKinley does some cantrip calculations for The Epic Storm. Find that here.

And, as always, check out the Legacy Premier League! Find the Group B results here and everything else at itsjulian.com.

‘Til next time!

Sean Brown

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

What I’m Playing This Week

We all know I’m a fan of Delver and Lightning Bolt, and although Black cards aren’t really my jam, I can appreciate the diversity of disruption Black provides. I too have been trying to think on the best Grixis Delver list moving forward. Shadow variants have shown a lot of promise, and the version mentioned in this week’s article featuring Lavamancer also shores up the issue of lack of one-drops. Bomat Courier also seems to be incredibly interesting and perhaps feasible. But has everyone forgot about one of the classic Red one drops in a cantrip-laden shell?

Ms. Taylor Swiftspear is a well-known commodity in Blue-Red Delver, but people have forgotten she is an excellent partner with Pyromancer and Gurmag Angler, and nicely works with Black disruption. Unlike Spell Pierce or Flusterstorm, a Thoughtseize or Cabal Therapy triggers Swiftspear and keeps her beatdown effective. Inspired by an old list from 2015 by Tomoharu Saito, this way to take Grixis Delver also looks very promising, especially as a Gurmag Angler shell for the new world.

The removal suite could use some changing up (perhaps adding Dismember for more answers to Goyf or Angler), but this feels definitely not like a tempo deck, but more like an aggro deck that throws threats at its opponent until they die. It’s a bit more efficient than Blue-Red Delver at this plan because of Gurmag Angler being an excellent threat to turbo out, and Painful Truths acts like a pseudo-Dig Through Time/Treasure Cruise that keep the deck churning. I also think this is a great Young Pyromancer shell, since Pyromancer lets the deck naturally change gears from aggro to control and play a longer game. This definitely, to me, seems promising.

The Spice Corner

The Legacy Premier League is in full swing, with the Group B results out. I’m of course happy to see Caleb Durwald Bombermaning the competition with a relatively stock mono-White list, with the full four Karns and a Mind Stone making an appearance.

But probably more interesting is Javier Domniguez Cephalid Breakfast!

Is Breakfast viable now, with no Deathrite in the format anymore? With Kommand gone, does the awkward Stoneblade sideboard plan work effectively? Does Recruiter of the Guard give this deck new legs? Is the deck just something from a bygone era? I hope to see it pop up a bit more, but Javier’s results didn’t end up being particularly promising…


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