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This Week in Legacy: The Dawn of a New Age

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week it should be super obvious what our topic is: the February 15th Banned and Restricted announcement! We're going to be chatting all about that and what it all means for Legacy going forward. In addition, I'm not going to be covering any of the events from this past weekend because of the fact that this BnR announcement was so massively impactful that many of the lists are simply no longer legal decks, so this article won't be incredibly long.

We do of course, always have our Spice Corner though, but it might be a bit light this week as well, so without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Dawn of the Age of No More Snow

February 15th brought about one of the biggest and most interesting shakeup bans in quite a while for Legacy. There was definitely a lot of speculation as to what was going to happen, and many people called solely for a single card to get banned (Oko), but Wizards went a little extra and banned a very real trifecta of cards that people have been discussing for a while in the format. You can read the full announcement here.

Let's just jump right to it:

Oko, Thief of Crowns is BANNED.

Arcum's Astrolabe is BANNED.

Dreadhorde Arcanist... is BANNED.

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There is a lot to unpack with this string of bannings, but before we dive too deeply into that, I do want to point out one other thing that came of this announcement. There was also a rules change made to the Cascade mechanic that functionally makes it so that you can no longer cascade into Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor with something like Violent Outburst or Ardent Plea. You can now only ever cast the Valki, God of Lies part of this card now off of a three CMC Cascade spell. This change doesn't affect much else other than completely killing off the "Turbo Tibalt" archetype we discussed last week. This is a substantial change, and I'm happy to see this happen.

Now, let's talk about some banned cards. One of the things that did come up in the BnR was that a good majority of why some of these things were banned was largely due in part to community feedback, and that balance hasn't looked problematic. This sort of jives with the data we've been collecting in the Legacy Data Collection project. Nothing in the format was really breaking things in half, but there were a lot of players simply unhappy with the state of the format, the play patterns of certain cards, and just general issues with how the format has evolved throughout this past year. I want to be clear about something, I don't think that this is caving to some sort of vocal minority at all. The community has proven that they have felt there were issues with these cards being legal in the format, and sometimes it is important to allow the community to provide feedback on the experience and environment that they wish to be cultivated in the format.

In regards to Oko, the announcement states that they had been waiting to see if the card would fall in line with the average power of the rest of the metagame, but it's pretty clear that didn't happen, and Oko continued to develop into a huge part of the Legacy format. They also further mentioned that Oko's gameplay patterns homogenize in a way that's counter to the spirit of the Legacy format being a large card pool with a lot of deck-building options. I definitely agree with this and have stated before similar opinions that Oko shuts off so many things but it also shuts off things you never would even want to try in the format due to the fact that Oko existed.

The banning statement for Arcum's Astrolabe definitively calls out one of the big reasons that cards like Deathrite Shaman were banned, by the fact that the card provides not only an ease of access to multiple colors but also a resistance to mana denial that is a unique and important piece of the Legacy metagame. Again, I have no issues with this ban. I think it's quite possible that the card could have existed without Oko around, but I'm not at all upset that it's gone.

Dreadhorde Arcanist is specifically mentioned as a card that would potentially get more powerful in the absence of Oko, and I can definitely understand this sentiment. I would have maybe liked to have seen if an uptick in Chalice would have prevented Arcanist from being an issue, but I am not upset still at its banning. This statement also mentions that community feedback and sentiment is that too much of the early games revolves around a resolved Arcanist, and this is incredibly true on so many levels. This is not a card that can just be left to its own for multiple turns, and that alone makes me feel glad to see that it is gone.

Finally, they mentioned talking about banning Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath in this announcement as well, and ultimately opted to not go for that at this point, given that they're banning cards like Oko and Astrolabe which Uro naturally slotted into decks with.

How Does Legacy Change Going Forward?

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It's really absolutely no surprise that a lot of the winners in the short term of this post ban period are combo decks. While the fair decks are doing their thing trying to re-figure out how to adjust and what fair decks become good, the combo decks are what capitalize on that. Decks revolving around Show and Tell especially have a huge bump in these sorts of post ban periods, because they're exceptionally linear and easy to pilot, and easier to scrape free wins with. In addition, decks like Oops All Spells are also poised to capitalize on this period of time because of how powerful the deck is in general and more consistent.

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Longer-term, decks like Doomsday stand to have a great place in the metagame going forward. As one of the premier Force of Will combo decks right now, DD is a good deck to be on and be comfortable within the metagame to come.

Furthermore, decks like Elves (which is a combo deck as well) are still poised to be exceptionally powerful. The deck received some powerful upgrade in this past year in the form of Allosaurus Shepherd and it is an incredibly strong but difficult deck to pilot, but in the right hands it is capable of some wonderful things.

Depths is another powerful unfair deck that can be excellent, and I suspect that it will continue to be good still. Attacking with a 20/20 is still very strong.

On another range of unfair decks, decks that cheat on mana in the Stompy manabase with cards like Karn, the Great Creator also stand to be pretty good as well. I'd relatively expect an uptick into cards like Collector Ouphe in general in some decks because of how powerful these decks are. Decks like the Karn Echo Hullbreacher variants stand to be pretty powerful, as do various versions of Poststill.

For fair decks, it's going to be based on just how good decks like Loam and Knight of the Reliquary decks end up in the ongoing format, but I do suspect we'll see a resurgence of those. Decks utilizing Stoneforge Mystic in general have a chance to come back as well, such as D&T and Stoneblade based decks. Ux Control decks will still exist, and likely those decks will shift into Bant variations due to the still present Uro (who I think it still probably pretty strong even without Oko/Astrolabe) or will be able to go into Jeskai as well.

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Delver is obviously highly contentious since losing Arcanist hurts the archetype a lot, but I suspect that while RUG Delver might be effectively dead, that the macro archetype itself still keeps going as it always does, looking for the next best thing. I generally expect to see much more U/R Delver in the format with cards like Ethereal Forager or Sprite Dragon/Young Pyromancer, and maybe even Grixis builds since Gurmag Angler is no longer a 3/3 Elk.

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Frankly however, I'm excited about this upcoming metagame because there is a period where we can try to hash out what is good and what isn't and those periods of discovery are very interesting. I'm looking forward to continuing to acquire Challenge data for this metagame, and really just overall excited at the dawn of a new age of Legacy gameplay.

Around the Web

  • 90sMTG had a nice stream with Phil Gallagher of Thraben University on it. Check out one of their videos here.
  • There was also a new episode of Eternal Glory Podcast this past week as well. Go check that out here.

The Spice Corner

This section is likely to be a little light this week mainly because of finding lists without banned cards in them, but I did my best. First off we've got Esper Thought Lash. It also includes Divining Witch!

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Maverick! With THREE Archon of Emeria in the sideboard!

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Sprite Dragon + Arclight Phoenix = FUN!

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What I'm Playing This Week

Seeing as how we got some shakeups, I'm still likely to be putting myself on the Karn Echo deck or Oops this week, but I am playing something fun on stream this coming Thursday at 9 PM EST (Have to wait until then to see what it is!).

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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 Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the /r/MTGLegacy Discord Server and subreddit.

Until next time!

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