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This Week in Legacy: Taking the Initiative

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week I'm going to be diving into some new additions to Magic Online in the form of two Initiative creatures that are already having an immediate impact on the format there. In addition we've got some paper news about Eternal Weekend scheduling! Also a reminder that the Magic Online Eternal Weekend events are the same weekend as US Eternal Weekend on December 10th-11th.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Roll for Initiative

One of the big things that occurred this past week with the release of The Brother's War on MTGO was another set of Treasure Chest updates as more Commander cards were added to the client. Out of the cards that were added, these two are definitely two of the more anticipated cards:

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The Initiative as a mechanic has not been explored as much as it had been in Pauper (resulting in bans of cards related to that mechanic) as the only available playable card for a while was Caves of Chaos Adventurer. However, the addition of White Plume Adventurer and Seasoned Dungeoneer presents an interesting opportunity to truly see just how good this mechanic is. While paper results have shown some players doing well with white based Stompy lists with these cards, having the full weight of MTGO behind these cards means that the iterations of how strong this deck could be will be very quick.

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It's very important that we discuss and understand the concept of the Initiative to understand how to play against and play with these new cards. The Initiative is a mechanic introduced in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate that acts sort of like a Monarch style mechanic but tied with the Venture mechanic from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Whenever you take the Initiative, if you are not already in a dungeon then you will venture into the first room of the Undercity, a special dungeon tied specifically to the Initiative mechanic. You can't venture into the Undercity anew with any creatures that use the "venture" mechanic, but if you're already in the Undercity a venture creature will progress to the next room of the dungeon. Also, any creatures that take the initiative will also trigger venturing into the next room of the dungeon. This is a big difference from Monarch where playing another Monarch creature would do really nothing if you already had the Monarch.

The Initiative functions very much like the Monarch does in other respects. Your opponent can steal it by dealing combat damage and the Initiative triggers every turn but instead of the end step it triggers on the upkeep to venture into the next room. If you play a creature that takes the initiative and your opponent has it, it steals it back. Quite simple for the most part.

The biggest aspect of this dungeon is the progression of rooms. For the most part, the left side of the dungeon is going to be the most important one to progress through as it represents the most aggressive path of the dungeon and the one that generally is going to kill opponent's the quickest. At the very start of the dungeon the first room is going to net you a basic land to hand. This is very good because it allows these decks to gain more mana resources to cast more spells in the following turns. In variants of these decks utilizing Mox Diamond it gives the decks a way to utilize future Diamonds and also recoup the loss of the land pitched to an initial Diamond.

The next few rooms of the Dungeon are where things go a little sideways. The room Forge and Trap! both do some crazy things if you are getting an Initiative creature on the board early. White Plume Adventurer on Turn 1 doesn't look too impressive until you realize that it becomes a 5/5 on Turn 2 and attacks with a pseudo vigilance ability. The Trap! room domes your opponent for five life, often meaning that by turn three you are dealing 15 damage alone with just the White Plume and the dungeon itself. Factor in any other creatures that come down (like a Seasoned Dungeoneer that progresses the room on Turn 2) and it's easy to see why this mechanic is so insane.

However, simply removing the Initiative creature is not going to solve most or all of your problems versus these kinds of decks. If you remove their Turn 1 White Plume Adventurer with a Swords to Plowshares, the Initiative mechanic keeps on rolling unless you have a way to steal it back via combat damage. In fact, the right side of the dungeon (Scry 2, Make a Treasure, and then make a 4/1 with menace) can help you rebuild after one of the creatures dies and gets you back on board, not to mention the fact that you could also just cast another Intiative creature and progress the dungeon that way.

The final room of this dungeon is pretty bonkers. You will get a creature from the top ten cards of your library and not only does it get three +1/+1 counters but it also gets hexproof until your next turn making it difficult to deal with.

The best way to approach fighting this mechanic is mainly to go after a few basic things. Number one: the fast mana in the decks. If you are aggressively countering cards like Chrome Mox or Mox Diamond, you can really slow down these decks and force them to a fairer axis quickly. Follow those counterspells up with a Wasteland or two because of these decks needing to have Ancient Tomb on board a lot of the time and you are able to really slow them down. Furthermore, it can be also appropriate to counter the Initiative creatures themselves while attacking the mana development of the deck. These decks do have a slight downside to decks like Red Stompy in that they do not have a Spirit Guide creature as an additional mana source, so attacking their mana can be very powerful.

If your opponent does manage to get one of these creatures on the battlefield, don't despair! You can easily attack your opponent and steal the Initiative away from them and use removal to manage the creatures on board. Keeping the opponent from having the Initiative can help win the game.

I do suspect that this deck and this mechanic is not fully set in stone just yet. We have yet to see the full final form of these decks and there are a ton of different options for them that people are currently iterating on. We even have cards that don't exist yet on MTGO that could see play in the deck like Triumph of Saint Katherine from the Warhammer 40,000 Commander product.

Asia Eternal Weekend - 11/26-11/27

The Asia Eternal Weekend events are this weekend in Aichi in Japan, and we have the schedule of events for this weekend. You can find all of the information on these events over on BIG MAGIC's website here

The Legacy Championship event is on Sunday (11/27) and capped at 750 players. The winner of the event will receive a painted Gaea's Cradle trophy for winning the event in addition to store credit with BIG MAGIC. All Top 8 competitors of this event will receive a special Ponder printing.

US Eternal Weekend - 12/9-12/11

The US Eternal Weekend events have their full schedule posted now over on Card Titan's website. It is worth noting that like most other events have trended towards an Entry Badge is required to have been purchased to enter the event. This is an outside fee than the actual event entry fee. Registration is now open on Card Titan's website for the event.

The Legacy Championship event takes place on Saturday, December 10th. The entry fee for this event is $60. Much like in previous years, the Swiss rounds are played out on Saturday and any remaining Swiss rounds get played out on Sunday before the Top 8s. The Top 8 itself will take place on Sunday after the Vintage Top 8.

The playmat for this event is Pernicious Deed!

The winner of this event will receive the framed Scrubland painting in addition to $2500 in Card Titan store credit. Additional prizes are to be announced.

Legacy Challenge 11/19

The first Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Saturday Challenge. This event had 53 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 data sheet here.

While UR Delver had a large presence, it's win rate was poor and the real star of the show this week was the White Initiative Stompy decks, as all three of those decks in the event did very well win rate-wise, having a 90% non-mirror win rate out of the three decks.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
White Stompy 1st Maraxus_of_NL
Elves 2nd runkor
White Stompy 3rd Mogged
RUG Delver 4th JPA93
White Stompy 5th CoolUser
Hammer Time 6th CrusherBotBG
8Cast 7th Butakov
Reanimator 8th Eonwe7

As noted, White Initiative Stompy did so well that all of the players on the deck in this event made the Top 8. At the end of the event it was our good friend Peter van der Ham that won the event on the deck.

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This list is utilizing Chrome Mox and Lotus Petal as its primary accelerants and it also relying on cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Stoneforge Mystic as additional hatebears and threats. We also see another new card in Loran of the Third Path in the sideboard here as well. Definitely an interesting looking list for sure!

The Second Place finalist was our good friend runkor on Elves.

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Elves has definitely undergone a lot of interesting changes over time, with the advent of builds utilizing Fiend Artisan allowing the decks to play cards like Opposition Agent in the main deck. This deck is incredibly powerful though and does a lot of strong things.

Also in this Top 8 we had a showing by Hammer Time.

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CrusherBot is pretty well known for playing solely Hammer Time, and the deck in Legacy sure has its interesting aspects, such as being able to play cards that are now banned in Modern like Mox Opal. This is a pretty strong looking deck for sure.

Legacy Challenge 11/20

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the mid afternoon Sunday event. This event had 83 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 incomplete data sheet here. Due to a technical issue we did not quite get all of the data collected for this event. If you can help with this event, please let us know. This does mean that there are no graphs for this event, so let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Elves 1st Testacular
RUG Delver 2nd JPA93
White Stompy 3rd luinil
8Cast 4th TheWitchKing
UR Delver 5th WeareVenom
The EPIC Storm 6th MeTheKaptain
Painter 7th utley26
Red Stompy 8th grumsh

Pretty interesting Top 8. We had a showing by the White Stompy deck listed in the main part of this article, but it was our good friend Testacular on Elves that won the event.

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Again, the Fiend Artisan power behind this list makes for a very strong toolbox option and allows these decks to play some really solid cards. Shriekmaw is a very powerful answer to Murktide Regent in the sideboard.

In Second Place we've got RUG Delver.

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Nimble Mongoose is back y'all. No Delvers, no frills, just DRC, Mongoose, and Murktide. Spicy.

Also in this Top 8 we had a showing by Painter.

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Utley26 is a well known Painter player and this list looks to mix and match some of the ideas of the Fable heavy Painter lists along with the Karn Painter lists to an extent, while dipping into the white splash for sideboard cards and Enlightened Tutor plus Ethersworn Canonist in the main deck. Definitely a sweet list!

Around the Web

  • The EPIC Storm website has a new article on Reading the Opponent. Check it out here.
  • The Eternal Glory Podcast has a new episode on BRO cards and Initiative. Check that out here.
  • Both Legacy Pit Open II days are on YouTube now! You can find them both at their YouTube.

The Spice Corner

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

Winota Stompy! How far ahead we've come.

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While Third Path Iconoclast is the best new card here, we've also got Haughty Djinn (which is probably the best drag stage name ever, right?).

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Phyrexian Dragon Engine in Painter! This looks pretty sweet.

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Ephemerate Combo with Evoke Elementals! Sick stuff.

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Speaking of Painter, our good friend Tony Scapone has MONO BLACK PAINTER STORM.

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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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