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This Week in Legacy: September Wrap-Up

Hello and welcome to This Week in Legacy! This week we'll run through the statistics compiled for the month of September, as well as highlight some of the interesting decks from that month, as well as view the first tournament results after Kaladesh's release.

First, we have the Online breakdown:

Online, the usual suspects are out in full-force. Miracles continues to dominate Online, followed closely by Eldrazi Stompy and Grixis Delver. Notably, many Eldrazi lists have begun to diverge Online, with some opting for the Oblivion Sower package that I looked at last week, and some of the Grixis Delver lists are the turbo Gurmag Angler version that has become popular. Following these are Ad Nauseum Tendrils, still performing well despite Eldrazi's presence (representing the strength of Storm in general) and UR Delver. UR Delver has seen a lot of play Online recently, perhaps for a few reasons. For one, it is a very nice entry deck into the Legacy format, focusing on the precise cantripping that is a hallmark of Delver decks, but also has a very straightfoward Burn-style game plan that is appealing for entry-level players. Bedlam Reveler has also proven his worth in these shells as the Gurmag Angler threat of the deck, and although Reveler isn't that impressive against faster decks, in grindy matchups Reveler can shine, especially when they're chained together. The staple list of UR Delver has been championed on Magic Online by Hall of Famer Olle Rade, who has 5-0'ed with the deck multiple times.

He's notably shaved a Stormchaser Mage in order to accomodate the Reveler (you can't be so creature-dense when you need to run so many cantrips to fuel him) and has also added a thirteenth (!) cantrip in the form of Preordain. This feels pretty sensible as I've also found that, when I ran Reveler, an additional cantrip is all you need to activate him and get the gravy train rolling. I'm surprised Thought Scour hasn't been considered as an option though.

White Stompy also found itself with a 5-0 this month, with this version by ewlandon:

ewlandon opted for a full eight pieces of acceleration, really going hard at making a devastating turn one play, whether it be Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Thalia, Heretic Cathar, or a Stoneforge Mystic. ewlandon has also opted for Swords to Plowshares instead of Chalice of the Void, figuring Thalias are enough as lock pieces, and instead opted to improve his fair plan. I like Crucible of Worlds though, and perhaps I might look into incorporating the card with heavier mana denial, at least in the sideboard.

Looking at Paper, we have this breakdown:

Miracles and Eldrazi are again at the top, but Paper, per usual, shows something very different in terms of Death & Taxes' placing. Of course this placement is just Rishadan Port's scarcity Online being reflected. In Paper, Death & Taxes has become the third most played deck, unsurprisingly. The boons of both Sanctum Prelate and Recruiter of the Guard have proven themselves to be very valuable additions to the deck and have increased the deck's power level, letting it find itself into many Top 8's. Another Rishadan Port deck featured impressively in Paper is Lands, edging out Grixis Delver. Although it's death knell was sounded by many due to Prelate on two cutting off the entire deck's engine, the deck has continued to perform well into September, beating up all the fair decks of the format, such as Grixis Delver and Shardless, and preying on Eldrazi in particular. Other decks that have found a notable resurgence this month are Maverick, who I outlined last week as finding itself as an excellent shell for Thalia, Heretic Cathar (Josh Katine personally advised me that they were the best cards in his 75!) and keeps proving to many that fairest of them all can still fight.

Let's have a look now at what the Legacy Classic at Indianapolis brought us. Although Legacy tends to not be greatly impacted by new sets (unless they are something like Conspiracy 2), a few new cards found their way into an existing archetype.

This may have Metalworkers, Chalice of the Void, and Trinisphere, but this is not your typical MUD deck. This is Stax, defined by the inclusion of these beauties.

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This deck aims to lock out the opponent in an artifact prison of the typical Chalice and 3Ball, but also includes Crucible of Worlds to lock out the opponent with either Wasteland or Ghost Quarter, Smokestack to eat all the opponent's permanents, Tangle Wire to tap down their permanents, and Ensnaring Bridge to stop any attacks. To ensure the deck can refill its hand, Bottled Cloister provides a stream of cards (and protects the Stax player from discard), but more interesting is the incorporation of Ghirapur Orrery.

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This card, although appearing symmetrical, heavily favors the Stax player, as they will typically have dumped their hand (thanks to acceleration from Mox Diamond/Grim Monolith or Metalworker), letting the draw three effect benefit them, and then, thanks to the deck's high land count or an active Crucible, the Stax player can take advantage of playing an additional land per turn, while the other, more land-light decks of Legacy will find difficulty abusing the card.

The deck runs a brilliant amount of utility lands. In addition to the mana destruction of Wasteland and Ghost Quarter and the acceleration of Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors, Buried Ruin allows for recursion of any destroyed artifacts (looping Tangle Wires seems disgusting!) to keep the lock in place, while Inventors' Fair allows for whatever missing artifact piece to be found. Typically, you'll look for a Crucible of Worlds to start with, so that the first Fair can be recurred, unless a Crucible is already in play. After that, Fair becomes a monstrous card advantage machine. It's interesting Michael Coyle has included the full four copies (despite it being Legendary), making a statement about how important the card is to his deck.

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Another interesting land is Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai, which, in addition to the Metalworker and Staff of Domination, seems to be one of the deck's scant few win conditions. Gods' Eye can be sacrificed to Smokestack, creating a 1/1 Spirit token, and then recurred to do this over and over again each turn (with Crucible). This should eventually lead to an air force that should close out the game.

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The deck came an impressive fifth, which has not occurred for a Stax deck in quite some time. Understandably, as Stax decks in Legacy have suffered as the metagame has gotten faster and faster, new flexible tools such as Abrupt Decay were printed, and the Stax deck itself has a lot of difficulties closing out the game. Notice its sideboard is filled with primarily anti-combo pieces such as Mindbreak Trap, Grafdigger's Cage, and Phyrexian Revoker. However, the new tools offered to it from Kaladesh, particularly Inventors' Fair seems to have given the deck a boost. Metalworker, despite MUD being on the downswing with Eldrazi around, looks to have a lot of work still to do.

The other deck that made Top 8, although not featuring new Kaladesh cards, featured Recruiter of the Guard from Conspiracy 2, but was not a Death & Taxes list. Finally, BUGw Aluren has found a placing:

Aluren is a deck that is a grindy BUG midrange deck with a two-card combo finish. Aluren + Recruiter of the Guard allows for the fetching of three more Recruiters (to play around removal), an Artic Merfolk (bouncing Recruiter) to find a Cavern Harpy, and then this loop can be performed again to find a Parasitic Strix to drain the opponent for the win. This Aluren list actually deviates from the expected "stock" list that Martin Goldman-Kirst stormed GP Sea-Tac with. Instead of running a full set of Shardless Agents and Abrupt Decays, Brennan Murphy found room for some number of Veteran Explorers, exploiting the Cabal Therapies already in the deck, giving the deck similar synergies to Nic Fit. This move also allows the deck to ramp very quickly to the four mana required to cast Aluren, while disrupting the opponent.

The sideboard also takes advantage of the white splash of the deck. White gives access tp powerful silver-bullets like Containment Priest, Orzhov Pontiff, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Thalia looks great as a hatebear that can hose combo while still allowing Aluren's combo to occur without issues. Force of Will is also in the sideboard of the deck, despite the deck's relatively poor blue count.

Aluren has also been appearing Online too but in a very different form:

Cartesian has been continual tinkering with a straight BUG Aluren list (you can see his prior lists here and here), eschewing any of the Recruiters for a better mana base, along with a higher blue count that can support Force of Will. This list no longer has a two-card combo with Aluren and a Recruiter, and instead has a three-card combo with Cavern Harpy, Aluren, and Parasitic Strix. Although this seems difficult to achieve, Parasitic Strix can be found in a variety of ways. Cavern Harpy + Aluren + Baleful Strix/Shardless Agent/Coiling Oracle essentially leads to a pseudo-Yawgmoth's Bargain which should get you there. This deck also needs not win with the combo. The grindy value of Cavern Harpy and Baleful Strix/Shardless Agent is sure to be problematic for certain decks in a similar way to Elves' card advantage engine of Wirewood Symbiote and Elvish Visionary.

OmniTell also found its way into the Top 8 of the recent Classic.

I'm not surprised to see straight OmniTell (rather than the Sneak Attack and Omniscience hybrid that has been going around) have success. Although the hybrid versions aimed to remedy their Death & Taxes matchup somewhat, it's still quite difficult, and perhaps making Omniscience the Plan A, rather than the Plan B, should be in order to sidestep the uptick in Karakas.

OmniTell has also seen an unexpected boon, at least in some Magic Online lists, with a new card to resemble Dig Through Time, which shot the deck into the height of Tier 1 when legal.

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Pieces of the Puzzle is very castable (especially off a Sol land mana base) and looks at quite a number of cards when cast fairly. Although not the seven cards accessible from Dig, it performs a similar role when an Omniscience is in play, chaining cantrips together until a Cunning Wish or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is found for the kill.

mock_kun slotted Pieces of the Puzzle in his OmniTell list Online and also took advantage of the graveyard synergy the card has. Binned an Omniscience? Well, Replenish is now a fifth Show and Tell.

The white splash also has Swords to Plowshares as a nice removal option, and Monastery Mentor as the creature sideboard plan, replacing Young Pyromancer.

Speaking of white cards, Death & Taxes also found itself in 15th and 16th place in the recent Classic... But one of these was Imperial Taxes!

Although initially deemed defunct after Recruiter of the Guard's printing (since Imperial Recruiter was no longer a card exclusive to red), Imperial Taxes has still proven itself as a reasonable option, primarily due to the strength of Magus of the Moon. This list also incorporates Goblin Sharpshooter and Sudden Demise as anti-creature measures. However, this list has a lighter red splash, relying on Aether Vial and only six red sources (counting Cavern) to cast Magus of the Moon. Sadly, bombs like Pia and Kiran Nalaar cannot be supported with such a mana base. I personally am very happy to see the Plateaus still finding a place next to Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and I hope to see continued innovation within the red-version of everyone's favorite pile of white hate pieces.


That's all for this week. The metagame has continued its steady trajectory (as Legacy tends to do) with the typical contenders on the top. But Kaladesh has added some interesting pieces to some decks, and a few cards from other recently-printed sets are still finding their place in the format.

'Til next time!

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

And catch me on The Salt Mine: An Australian Legacy Podcast, for more banter about Legacy!

What I'm Playing This Week

With Kaladesh out, I'm finally keen to paint the town red. Pyroblasting away some lands, beating in with 1/3s and comboing people out (sometimes).

This list is actually inspired by the list of the friendly Elton Wong, who has been just as excited as myself about the prospect of Chandra, Torch of Defiance within the shell and contacted me after I looked at MonoRed Painter a few weeks ago. Chandra plays a lot of different roles for both the fair and unfair plan of the deck, drawing cards when at parity, shooting down threatening creatures and ramping if needed for a nice bit of a tempo boost. I also like Sudden Shock in the main (despite my love of Lightning Bolt), as Death & Taxes's uptick makes Sudden Shock look like the better removal spell.

The Spice Corner

Last week we looked at some interesting four-color lists, so we'll do so again. This time involving Dack Fayden and Punishing Fire!

Another leaner list took Top 8 in a small Hamburg tournament too. Find that here. Both these lists aim to abuse Dack Fayden as a grind engine with Punishing Fire, but the latter transforms these Punshing Fires into an army of Elementals with Young Pyromancer. The former instead uses creatures such as Strix, Snapcaster and Notion Thief to gain an advantage, along with Unearth to resurrect some of the smaller ones. A light green splash, essentially free thanks to Grove of the Burnwillows and Deathrite Shaman, gives access to Abrupt Decay. Both of these cards are interesting directions to take a Grixis Control shell.

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